January 14, 2013

#LMranks: No. 15 Princeton Tigers (Men)


"He's arguably the best middie, if not best player, in the country on an experienced offensive team," an opposing coach said of Princeton midfielder Tom Schreiber.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

by Justin Feil | LaxMagazine.com | Team Page/Schedule

Lacrosse Magazine is counting down its preseason rankings throughout the month of January exclusively on LaxMagazine.com.

Today continues a look at our NCAA Division I Top 20 rankings. For more, visit LaxMagazine.com/LMranks. Follow @LacrosseMag on Twitter and Tweet using the hashtag #LMranks. The countdown will resume Tuesday with profiles of the 14th-ranked teams in NCAA Division I men and women.

Power Ratings

Offense: 4*
Defense: 2
Goalkeeping: 3
Faceoff: 3
* Out of 5

Top Returner

M Tom Schreiber (Jr.)
A first-team All-American in 2012, Schreiber will be asked to do more both ways this year. "You're going to see him play more defense and create more in transition," Princeton coach Chris Bates said. "He likes to clear the ball. He likes to take the ball on transition." He will also quarterback the offense from up top, and remains a playmaker and scorer.

X-Factor

D Nick Fernandez (Jr.)
Rob Castelo's knee injury means that the Tigers have lost last year's three starting defenders and goalie Tyler Fiorito. Princeton will break up its dynamic midfield duo of Jack Strabo and Fernandez for a close defender. "Nick's a freak of an athlete and he would be very good at it," Bates said. "He's experienced. He's tough. He has great lateral movement and he's as strong as an ox."

What's New?

The goalie. Four-time All-America Tyler Fiorito started all but one game in his career. Eric Sanschagrin made that one start last year, and the sophomore is battling freshman Matt O'Connor. "They're very different," Bates said. "Eric is patient and very good ball stopper. He's on the smaller side. They both need work on clearing, but that's to be expected. Matt is big. He's 6-foot-2 and has a big presence in the cage. He's very high energy, very vocal."

What's Not?

Jeff Froccaro is back for a second year on attack after two seasons in the midfield. A high school attackman, the senior showed no rust last year in putting up first-team All-Ivy League numbers with 39 points, one more than he had in his first two years combined.

2012 Recap

Record: 11-5, 6-0 Ivy

#LMranks MD1 Preseason Countdown

No. 20 Bryant
No. 19 Hofstra
No. 18 Fairfield
No. 17 Villanova
No. 16 Yale
Monday: No. 15 Princeton
Tuesday:
No. 14
Wednesday:
No. 13
Thursday:
No. 12
Friday: No. 11

More: Countdown schedule | WD1 | MD2 | WD2 | MD3 | WD3 | JuCo | MCLA | WCLA

In a Nutshell: Princeton underwent the second greatest turnaround in program history when it went from a four-win 2011 to 11-5. The Tigers didn't have a signature out-of-conference win, but their 6-0 mark in the Ivy League earned their first outright title since 2001 and secured an NCAA tournament berth. "You run the Ivies, you're 6-0, that's job No. 1," Bates said. "That was our first goal of the year and we accomplished it." The Tigers relied on an overwhelming defense highlighted by Fiorito and Chad Wiedmaier and an offense that leaned on Schreiber for an 81-35 scoring edge in Ivy play.

High Point: A 10-9 win over Yale in five overtimes, the longest game for either program, in the second Ivy game of the year. Alex Capretta's game-winner ended a marathon contest that featured momentum swings on both sides. The victory avenged their overtime loss of a year ago, fought off their toughest Ivy challenger and sent them on their way to a title. No other Ancient Eight foe would come within five goals of beating Princeton.

Low Point: Six weeks after their epic win, the Tigers were demolished, 15-7, by Yale at home in the Ivy League tournament final. The loss left Princeton on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, with plenty doubtful that they would get in. The Tigers' other four losses came by a combined five goals, but nothing went right in the championship game.

2013 Preview

Best Case: Surrounded by the perfect complement of attackers and a legion of athletic midfielders, Tewaaraton Award winner Tom Schreiber leads a Princeton team that outguns opponents. The defense has people asking "Chad who?" as it meshes quickly to contribute to a second straight Ivy League title.

Worst Case: The defense is a year away from being able to stop anyone, and the Tigers have to play from deficits too great for their attack to overcome. The result is an up and down season in which they can't get any flow, and by the time the defense starts to come together, they've missed the Ivy League tournament.

Inside Scoop

Coach Chris Bates' comments on a trio of Tigers...

A Ryan Ambler (Fr.)
"He's got great IQ. He's a strong dodger. He distributes the ball well, he cuts well, and he finishes well."

A Mike MacDonald (So.)
"He was an off-ball guy last year. He had a great freshman year. He's worked on his dodging. We think he's poised to take the next step."

M Kip Orban (So.)
"He's bigger and stronger and more confident. He's had a good fall. He's going to be tough to stop. He's a big kid, and he can shoot with both hands. He can distribute and be a better team offensive player."

Rival Coaches' Say

"Schreiber makes them a threat. He's arguably the best middie, if not best player, in the country on an experienced offensive team. Huge losses at the defensive end, it will be intriguing to see how they hold up. ... They have a ton to replace, but they have the horses to do so."


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