I don't know how this slipped through the cracks but it did: Princeton released its lacrosse schedule, like, two months ago. I missed it; totally bonked on the whole thing. I've been trying to figure out what upper-crust contenders still haven't released their dates yet -- Syracuse, Virginia, Maryland, Colgate, North Carolina, Duke, etc. -- and I was wondering why I hadn't seen the Tigers' slate. As it turns out, I'm just horribly stupid, unable to work the Internet because my fingers look to type "Princeton lacrosse schedule" into Google and instead punch out "I am a stupid moron." This is livin'.
Anyway, the Tigers are going to play lacrosse this upcoming season. Hooray! All-Deathblow member Tom Schreiber returns to anchor Princeton's offensive midfield (as well as any other place that Schreiber chooses to incinerate his enemies), but Princeton will need to replace the core of its defense with the departures of Tyler Fiorito, John Cunningham, Jon Meyers, and Chad Wiedmaier. That isn't a fun situation for Chris Bates who last year engineered a nice campaign -- the Tigers finished 11-5 on the year with a trip to the NCAA Tournament -- after a dismal 2011 effort in which the six-time national champions went a woeful 4-8. This will be another year of transition for Princeton, but there are a lot of interesting parts kicking around Class of 1952 Stadium.
Break it down, homeboy!
February 23: @ Hofstra; March 1: @ Johns Hopkins; March 5: Villanova; March 9: @ North Carolina; April 6: Syracuse
When your blood is blue and your genetic helix actually looks like the pocket of a lacrosse head, you play big games against similarly situated caste members. I wouldn't say that the Tigers are overextending themselves in the overall, but this schedule isn't exactly a cakewalk. Princeton starts out of the gate with four difficult dates: a trip to Long Island to deal with a dangerous Pride team at Shuart Stadium; six days later the Tigers will travel to Baltimore for a big Friday night game against what should be around a top five Johns Hopkins squad; four days after that Princeton will host a Villanova squad that has some buzz on them but still has questions defensively (especially in the cage); and the Tigers will close their opening stretch just four days after their game with the Wildcats with a trip to Chapel Hill to face an immensely talent North Carolina squad.
That's four face-smashers in a row, all in a three-week span to start the year. Then, because wrestling alligators is fun, the Tigers will face Syracuse right in the middle of its Ivy League stretch. So it's a road-filled and difficult non-conference grind to start the year, followed by the onset of the program's Ivy League stretch, and then a date with a dangerous Orange squad before trying to close the year on a hot streak to try and find room in the Ivy and NCAA Tournaments. Good times.
Bring Your Corduroy Blazer
March 16: @ Pennsylvania; March 22: Yale; March 30: Brown; April 13: @ Dartmouth; April 19: Harvard; April 27: v. Cornell
When I look at conference schedules I look at two things: (1) Where are opponents situated on a consecutive week basis; and (2) What are potential "traps" around these league games. At the end of the day, the league schedule always provides an opportunity to save a season if things go awry in the non-conference portion of a team's slate, and I don't think that Princeton is necessarily dealing with an especially onerous situation with its conference schedule makeup.
The conference schedule starts with three decent opponents -- Pennsylvania, Yale, and Brown -- but those three teams don't exactly constitute a three-game stretch of impossibility. The Tigers will get the last two of those games at Class of 1952 stadium, which should make things a little easier for Princeton. What is a little worrisome is that Princeton will see Brown just a week before they play the Orange, which could lead to focus issues (and, eventually, lots of laps and wind sprints).
After the Syracuse game (and a mid-week date against Rutgers in Piscataway), the Tigers are all-Ivy all the time: A trip to Hanover should allow Princeton to work out the kinks before a dangerous game against a young but talent Harvard team and the season closer against Cornell
in Ithaca at MetLife Stadium. There's nice build and release throughout this conference slate, and the Tigers should be able to manage it fairly well unless things really go sideways.