The 2014 season is months away. Let's punch fate in the face and make wild assumptions about what could be the best 20 teams in the country next year.
Important People: Tom Schreiber (M); Mike MacDonald (A); Jake Froccaro (M); Derick Raabe (D); Nick Fernandez (D); Mark Strabo (D); Tucker Shanley (M)
Formerly Important People: Jeff Froccaro (A); Chris White (SSDM); Greg Raymond (Coach); Luke Armour (M)
Final 2013 Poll Positions: Media: 14; Coaches: 16
2013 Record: 9-6 (3-3, Ivy)
2013 Snapshot: Kaboom!
* * * * *
Eric Sanschagrin and Matt O'Connor rotated in the crease for Princeton last season and the results were . . . tough:
|Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities||31.11||44|
|Team Save Percentage||50.49%||45|
|Shots per Defensive Opportunity||1.12||37|
|Raw Defensive Shooting Rate||27.21%||23|
|Defensive Assist Rate||20.00||49|
|Adjusted Defensive Efficiency||29.97||23|
|Strength of Schedule: Opposing Offenses Faced||31.31||16|
A Thousand White Doves
Princeton returns all kinds of assets and value after a year in which the Tigers were on the fringe of accomplishing important things:
- There are currently 15 -- 15! -- seniors listed on Princeton's roster. 15. That's important for leadership, but it's also important in a more tangible way: Many of those seniors are experienced contributors, and their vision should guide the Tigers through what could be an explosive Ivy League in 2014.
- Princeton rebuilt its defense in 2013, but almost every important piece to that unit returns in 2014: The close defense comes back intact, Jack Strabo is a factor at short-stick midfield, and Alex Beatty and Brandon Bonvino are still around to wreak havoc at the long-stick midfield position. The field defense has all the parts to make an engine purr, and that unit should improve on its effort from 2013 (the Tigers finished 23rd in adjusted defensive efficiency last season).
- The Human Weapon -- Schreiber -- returns for his final campaign at Princeton. The nation's best offensive midfielder is a prism of offense, able to distribute and shoot on the run -- and from difficult spots -- as well as any player in the nation. The Tewaaraton candidate is a show by himself, but what makes him especially dangerous in 2014 -- and what is pushing the Tigers toward the top of the country in many folks' minds -- is that he's surrounded by weapons: Froccaro had a breakout season in his freshman campaign; MacDonald is an underrated finisher; Ryan Ambler is just a sophomore and put up 28 points in 13 games last year; Kip Orban is an undervalued contributor; and Forest Sonnenfeldt and Shanley return from injury in 2013 to fill out an already deep and face-melting offense. The offense has it all: The star, role players that excel at their skills, and depth. If the Tigers play with tempo, 15 goals an outing isn't just possible, it's probable.
The Stars, The Moon, Six Feet Under
The Stars: Princeton takes its first trip to Championship Weekend since 2004; Schreiber is the nation's leading point-generator, putting together a season that outshines that of Lyle Thompson; Princeton's coaching staff easily adopts the Tigers' tradition and pushes the team's momentum; Ivy League Tournament champions.
The Moon: Princeton's goaltending situation stabilizes; finishes as Ivy League regular season champions; eight players generate at least 20 points; the close defense starts hammering skulls and coalesces as one of the nation's better units; the opposition has difficulty generating assisted tallies, an issue for the Tigers in 2013.
Six Feet Under: The Tigers would be better off putting a plywood cutout of a goalie in the net as Princeton yields goal after goal in a season filled with shootouts; the injury bug bites the Tigers again; a muddled Ivy League catches the Tigers; a bad loss potentially keeps Princeton out of the NCAA Tournament; the Tigers struggle to adapt to the new coaching staff, creating inconsistency.