Princeton comes into a matchup with Villanova as the underdog, something that has been rare in the history of college lacrosse.
Coming off of two losses against No. 2 Johns Hopkins and No. 13 North Carolina, the Tigers face another ranked test as they travel to Philadelphia to face the No. 10 Villanova Wildcats.
Villanova, enjoying success in recent years as their program has flourished, boasts a 4-1 record thus far in 2012. With victories against Lehigh, Bucknell, Drexel and Penn, the Wildcats already have four quality wins on their resume as they look forward.
Led by attackmen Will Casertano and Kevin Cunningham on offense, 'Nova is averaging over 10 goals a game in their 2012 campaign. Their stingy defense is holding opponents to eight goals a game, always a recipe for success.
After beating Princeton 10-9 just a year ago, Villanova would like to continue that trend as they host the Tigers at Villanova Stadium this evening.
The No. 15 Princeton Tigers are coming off of two close losses to quality opponents. Had they pulled out those victories, we are talking about a top-five team. Instead, the Tigers sit in the 15 spot, looking to improve as they near an always-tough Ivy League schedule.
With perennial all-American goalkeeper Tyler Fiorito looking vulnerable in the net, Princeton's talented defense has had a hard time finishing games in the fourth quarter.
The senior goalie has a 43 percent save percentage this year, almost 20 percent below his career average. Fiorito will need to find his golden touch soon if the Tigers look to capitalize as they move along.
On defense, senior Chad Wiedmaier anchors a unit ranked near the top of the nation in total defense. Their ability to match up with their short-stick defenders has been a welcome surprise as Jack Srabo, Nick Fernandez and Chris White have emerged as essential pieces.
Who will win this match-up?
Princeton is a quality team. Losing to No. 2 Hopkins by two goals and a talented UNC squad by one, they are on the brink of having a big year. As they move towards playing their best lacrosse, they will continue to excel on offense.
Led by sophomore midfielder/attackman Tom Schreiber, Princeton has newfound versatility on the offensive end. Schreiber's eight goals and 10 assists lead the team, with Tucker Shanley emerging as another weapon at the midfield position. Shanley has been pulling the trigger more often, showing great ability to shoot on the run.
After a breakout performance against UNC, Princeton will look to Alex Capretta to continue his hot streak. The senior had three goals and an assist against the Tar Heels, displaying great accuracy and velocity on his ferocious shot.
Freshman teammates Kip Orban and Mike MacDonald will look to continue their success, seeing major minutes on the offensive end. Their ability to produce has left opposing defenses with just too much to worry about.
With only three days to prepare for this game, both teams cannot underestimate the importance of this matchup.
Should Villanova win, we are looking at a team that could make a run for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Princeton will look to right the ship and get back towards the top of the national rankings. Villanova is riding high as Princeton looks to regain confidence in Philly.