Facing a team with 13 Ivy League championships and six national titles within the last 15 years can certainly be daunting. But for the men’s lacrosse team — which will play three top-10 teams in its next six games — this weekend provides an opportunity to make a statement heading into one of the toughest stretches in its schedule.
After struggling in their first two league contests, the Bulldogs (4-2, 0-2 Ivy) will be hungry for an upset against No. 8 Princeton (4-2, 0-0) at Reese Stadium tomorrow. Even though the Tigers’ historically powerhouse play is the favorite, the Elis have high hopes for the game, which could have a serious impact on the direction of their season.
“We’re expecting a good game,” goalie George Carafides ’08 said. “It is definitely very winnable for us. They are a good team, but if we can continue to execute and do the things we do well, we’ll be happy with the outcome.”
On Tuesday, the Bulldogs rebounded from last weekend’s dismal loss to No. 1 Cornell by destroying Hartford, 18-3. The non-conference game was a good opportunity for the Elis to work on some of the areas of their play that they struggled with against the Big Red, which should be valuable heading into tomorrow’s contest.
“We played very sloppy at Cornell, and we did a poor job communicating and a poor job on ground balls,” attacker Tyler Casertano ’08 said. “Those were our two game goals going into [the Hartford game], and I think we accomplished both of those.”
But getting a win against Princeton will not be as easy. The Tigers have a 44-game edge in the 125-year-old series, and have bested the Bulldogs in three of the last five contests. When the two squads met last year, Princeton took home a 12-8 decision as a result of a strong defensive effort. It boasts one of the top defenses in the league yet again this year — with the lowest goals-against average among the Ancient Eight teams — that will look to shut down the Elis tomorrow.
But coming off a season-high offensive output against Hartford, the Bulldog attackers will aim to penetrate the highly touted Tiger defense and produce similar results. Five Elis had at least four points in Tuesday’s game. Among them were top scorer Casertano, who leads the Ivy League in assists and ranks second in the nation, and Brendan Gibson ’10, whose goals-per-game average is the 11th best in the NCAA.
And although Yale does not have any national or recent Ivy titles of its own, the Bulldogs have mirrored the season record of the defending league champions thus far. Both squads have suffered defeats to top-ranked teams in the last month — the Bulldogs to the Big Red and the Tigers to No. 6 Johns Hopkins and No. 3 Virginia in consecutive double-overtime contests — and both head into the weekend fresh off victories by a margin of 14 goals or more.
“We know that Princeton is a good squad, as they always are,” captain Chris Kempner ’07 said. “But we feel that regardless of who we play, if we take care of what we need to do it will be a close game, and hopefully we’ll have the heart to pull it out.”