NCAA Lacrosse: Rutgers Hosts Princeton in Battle for Meistrell Cup

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NCAA Lacrosse: Rutgers Hosts Princeton in Battle for Meistrell Cup
Photo: Inside Lacrosse

In a rivalry almost as old as the college game itself, Rutgers will host Princeton tonight in Piscataway, N.J. Just a 30-minute trip up Route 1 for Princeton, the game against Rutgers will renew an in-state rivalry that began in 1921.

The two schools, although vastly different as far as lacrosse success, battle every year for the Meistrell Cup. Princeton has won 24 of the last 25 meetings against the Scarlet Knights, and are getting used to seeing the precious trophy in their locker room year after year.

Princeton is coming off of a disappointing 13-12 loss at the hands of Syracuse. The loss was the third of the year for the Tigers, who now find themselves in must-win mode for the remainder of the regular season. 

Syracuse is undoubtedly a great team, but the loss was a big setback for Princeton. Although it does not affect their conference record in the tough Ivy League, it does affect their resume if they must rely on an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Princeton is without a win against a Top-10 team, which is hard to believe at this point.

Rutgers, also without a signature win on the season, has been playing better lacrosse as of late. They are 2-9 on the year, but close games against Notre Dame, Army and Villanova have shown that the Scarlet Knights have the potential to win a big game.

Beating Princeton would not only boost Rutgers' record, but bring the Meistrell back to Rutgers in a week that most fans of Rutgers athletics would like to forget.

Rutgers has some legitimate threats on offense that could play a big part in tonight's game. Nicholas Depaolera has shown a balanced offensive skill set in scoring 16 goals and adding 14 assists thus far.

He is the leading points scorer, while Scott Klimchak leads the team in goals with 24. Sophomore Brian Goss has also been impressive for the Knights, scoring highlight goals in many games this year. 

Photo: ScarletKnights.com

Rutgers has also been pleased with first-year starting goalie Kris Alleyne. The freshman has recorded 146 saves on his way to a 59 percent save rate in his first campaign on the banks of the Old Raritan.

Although proving tough in big spots, the Scarlet Knights will have their hands full with a frustrated Princeton team. Princeton will look to rebound from the Syracuse loss with a convincing win away from home tonight.

Tom Schreiber, whose younger sister plays lacrosse for Rutgers, leads the Tigers in points with 37 on the year. He will look to break the 30-goal and 30-assist marks this year, a milestone he barely missed in 2012.

He has been ably assisted on offense by a wide variety of teammates that have stepped up to the plate thus far. Sophomore Mike MacDonald has been a goal machine with 24 so far, while senior Jeff Froccaro continues his outstanding career with 22 goals on the year.

The first midfield group have been outstanding for the Tigers, who must develop depth as they near the end of a strenuous Ivy League season.

Prediction:

This one may not go the Scarlet Knights' way, but it should be close for the majority of the 60 minutes. Look for Rutgers to try to win the face-off battle and dictate the pace of play early, as Princeton is notorious for starting slow.

Although Rutgers definitely has a chance to pull of the upset, Schreiber seemed frustrated after the Syracuse loss and will not let his team lose this one. I think the Tigers pull away late, but the score may not reflect the competition in this game. 

Princeton wins 14-9.

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