After a heartbreaking 16-15 loss in Chapel Hill last Saturday, the Princeton Tigers will defend their home turf tonight as they host the Manhattan College Jaspers on Sherrerd Field at Class of 1952 Stadium.
Saturday's game against North Carolina saw 99 shots and 31 goals, with Princeton losing in the final seconds of a closely contested battle. Although it counts as a loss, Princeton certainly showed it can score with any team in the nation, with sophomore Mike MacDonald recording five goals and two assists in the effort. All-American Tom Schreiber scored four goals and added two assists while senior Jeff Froccaro added four goals of his own.
The Princeton defense looked vulnerable against UNC, a unit that is playing its first year together as a cohesive unit. Freshman Matt O'Conner looked good in goal considering the onslaught of shots he saw on cage from the Tar Heel offense.
Face-offs were once again a determining factor in the game as well. UNC handled Princeton at the face-off X, leading to extended time of possession and allowing them to secure the game late in the fourth quarter.
Princeton will use Tuesday's matchup against Manhattan to tighten up their face-off personnel, again trying to find a consistent go-to guy. The team has leaned on attackman Jeff Froccaro to provide late-game heroics on face-offs but would rather not have to move Froccaro around if it can help it.
Manhattan will count on goalie Michael Wiatrak to provide solid goaltending against the potent Tigers offense. Wiatrak has posted a 54 percent cumulative save rate thus far, recording an impressive 60 percent against the Providence Friars. Following the Providence game, Wiatrak struggled against Mount St. Mary's, only saving 36 percent of the shots he saw on the day.
He will certainly look to get back on track tonight, however, and will see plenty of shots.
Junior attacker Ryan Payton leads the Jaspers in scoring with six goals and four assists in 2013. Mike MacDonald leads Princeton in that category with 12 goals and four assists.
Look for Princeton to push the tempo early in an effort to give its big names rest late in the game. However, if the Tigers struggle at the face-off X and give up an early lead, this game could go for a full 60 minutes of tight action.
The game can be heard on 103.3 WPRB FM in Central NJ and will be shown on tape-delay by Verizon FiOs 1 Sports in New York City and Long Island.