January 7, 2013

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#LMranks: No. 20 Princeton Tigers (Women)

Princeton missed the NCAA tournament last year but will they have better luck with an expanded 26-team Division I women's field?
© Craig Houtz

by Matt DaSilva | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | Team Page/Schedule

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

Today begins 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 19th-ranked teams in NCAA Division I men and women.

Power Ratings

Offense: 3*
Defense: 2
Goalkeeping: 2
Draw Controls: 1
*Out of 5

Top Returner

A Jaci Gassaway (Sr.)
First-team All-Ivy League attacker led Princeton with 54 points (38 goals, 16 assists) in 2012 despite a mid-season quad injury.

X-Factor

A Erin McMunn (So.)
The Ivy League Rookie of the Year greased the Tigers' offense with a team-high 30 assists in 2012, including a school single-game record six against Temple. She also can go to goal when needed, like when she scored two unanswered goals late in the first half to give Princeton a lead it never relinquished in a win over Dartmouth that briefly kept the Tigers' playoff hopes alive.

What's New?

Freshman Alexandra Bruno, Lacrosse Magazine's Northeast Region Player of the Year out of Garden City (N.Y.) High, is a prized recruit for the Tigers and should complement Gassaway and McMunn well on an attack unit that can do significant damage in the Ivy League.

What's Not?

The non-conference rivalry with Virginia. Princeton has met the Wahoos 30 times since 1989, with the all-time series split at 15 games apiece. Thirteen of the 30 games have been decided by just one goal. The Tigers defeated Virginia 9-7 last year. They reprise the series March 16 in Charlottesville.

#LMranks WD1 Preseason Countdown

Today: No. 20 Princeton
Tuesday: No. 19
Wednesday: No. 18
Thursday: No. 17
Friday: No. 16

More: Countdown schedule | MD1 | MD2 | WD2 | MD3 | WD3 | JuCo | MCLA | WCLA

2012 Recap

Record: 8-7, 3-4 Ivy

In a Nutshell: Wins over Virginia, Dartmouth and Penn State were not enough to overcome losses to Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, Cornell and Harvard, as Princeton missed the Ivy League tournament just a year after winning the championship. Third-team All-American defender Lindsey deButts anchored a top-20 defense and helped ease in freshman goalie Annie Woehling. But the Tigers' deficiencies on draw controls (60th in Division I) led to too few opportunities for its otherwise talented offense.

High Point: A 12-9 win over then-No. 8-ranked Dartmouth on April 21. After surprising losses to Cornell and Harvard, Princeton needed the victory to keep its hopes for an Ivy League tournament bid alive. The Tigers got the lift they needed from the freshman sensation McMunn (three goals, two assists) and timely free position saves by Woehling.

Low Point: A 13-8 loss to Penn four days later eliminated Princeton from playoff contention. The Tigers were undone by seven second-half turnovers that aided the Quakers' decisive 5-1 run. Penn goalie Emily Leitner needed just two saves to put down Princeton.

2013 Preview

Best Case: The future is now, as McMunn takes the next step and Bruno is Princeton's second straight Ivy League Rookie of the Year, while Gassaway keeps pouring in the points. The Tigers' solve their woes on draw controls, thanks to Sarah Lloyd, and do enough to be the third Ivy Leaguer to make the 26-team NCAA tournament.

Worst Case: No one steps in to fill the void left by deButts on defense — Caroline Rehfuss is a fourth-year starter and second-year captain, but she's no deButts — and Princeton's talented but young offense can't keep up in shootouts. The Tigers miss the Ivy League tournament for the second straight season and end up on the wrong side of the bubble Selection Sunday.


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