By JOHN BOGLE
On Saturday the women’s lacrosse team (6-3 overall, 3-0 Ivy League) will head to Reese Stadium to take on Ivy League rival Yale (6-4, 0-3) for Yale’s Alumni Day. Princeton is currently riding a three-game win streak, highlighted by big wins over then-No. 12 Johns Hopkins and then-No. 11 Cornell, which has earned the Tigers a No. 14 ranking in the Inside Lacrosse polls. However, the Cornell victory was Princeton’s first road win of the season — they are 1-3 on the road. Couple these road troubles with Yale’s impressive 2-1 home record — their only loss coming to a talented Dartmouth team (7-3, 3-0) — and the stage is set for an intriguing matchup.
Princeton comes in boasting the current Ivy League Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week: sophomore attack Erin McMunn and junior goalie Caroline Franke. McMunn earned her second straight Player of the Week honor by putting up eight goals and five assists over the weekend against Columbia and Cornell. These performances pushed her point total to 40 on the season, good for second in the Ivy League. On the other end, Franke saved 17 shots over the weekend, while only allowing 17 goals as well.
However, the other reigning co-Offensive Player of the Week plays for the Bulldogs — freshman midfielder Nicole Daniggelis. Daniggelis broke the Ivy League record for draw controls against Lehigh with 15, while also putting up four goals. She currently leads the Ivy League with 46 draw controls on the season, and Princeton will have to figure out a way to deal with that dominance if it hopes to get consistent possession. Also dangerous for Princeton is senior attack Devon Rhodes, who sits fourth on the Ivy League scoring charts with 36 points.
Dealing in part with that dangerous Yale offense (11.5 goals per game) will be senior defender Caroline Rehfuss. Rehfuss leads all Princeton defenders in ground balls with 14. Rehfuss also leads the team in caused turnovers with 13 and earned the first Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week honor of the 2013 season. She will also be assisted in defense by freshman Liz Bannantine and junior Liz Cutting, who have combined for 25 ground balls and 15 caused turnovers this season.
On the offensive end, McMunn is the primary offensive threat, but she has an impressive supporting cast. Freshman attack Alex Bruno had a breakout six goal performance against Columbia and is currently second on the team with 18 goals. Another key player for the Tigers is senior attack Jaci Gassaway, who led the team last season with 54 points (38 goals, 16 assists). Gassaway has seen a bit of a scoring dip this year, but remains an important contributor with 12 goals and three assists on the year.
The keys to the game will be Princeton’s road woes and possession. The Tigers can play with the best teams in the country, as evidenced by their ranking, but have not yet proven that they can win consistently on the road. Another obstacle for Princeton will be Yale’s Daniggelis and her draw control dominance this season. If the Tigers cannot get possession off draw controls and struggle to find a rhythm away from 1952 Stadium, look for a possible Yale upset.