January 14, 2014

#LMRanks: No. 19 Princeton Tigers (WDI)

by Sean Burns | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | College Preview 2014

It's not often a sophomore wins Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year honors. It's also not often that a sophomore scores 69 points against the schedule that Erin McMunn and Princeton faced in 2013. (Kevin Tucker)

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2013 Record: 10-7 (6-1 Ivy League)
Coach: Chris Sailer, 28th Season
Record at Princeton: 332-131

Top Returner

A Erin McMunn (Jr.)
The Ivy League's Attacker of the Year after a 69 point sophomore season, McMunn returns with all eyes on her in 2014. She set the Princeton assists record (30) as a freshman but was more of a goal scorer (40) as a sophomore, making life difficult for defenses trying to pigeonhole her into a role.


D Colleen Smith (Sr.)
A leader at the back line for Princeton, Smith brings both defensive intensity (14CT, 21 GB) and assists with the work at the circle, controlling 24 draws in her first year as a starter. Has taken on the vocal leadership role for the Tigers as a captain for 2014.

NCAA Tournament Trend

2009 – Quarterfinals
2010 – DNQ
2011 – Quarterfinals
2012 – DNQ
2013 – First Round

Telling Number

Of seven losses a year ago, five of them came by two goals or fewer for Princeton, including back-to-back double-OT losses in the Ivy league Tournament (11-10 against Dartmouth) and NCAA tournament (10-9 to Duke). If the Tigers can reverse a few of those close ones, things will be much different in 2014.

"Our goal is to be a little better as a team, because when a game's tight and on the line, [that helps]," Sailer said. "Instead of having those close losses, things may go the other way."

Enemy Lines

What Rival Coaches Say
"The Tigers need to reload, but have a talented freshman class, so that shouldn't be a problem. If they can find their identity early, they will compete for the Ivy League title... It's an Ivy League program with consistent success, but will the Ivy League remain a top conference against top 20 programs?... With Penn, Dartmouth, Cornell and Princeton, the Ivy battle will continue and as always will come down to the conference tournament... I don't think they lost a lot. Erin McMunn is their quarterback and she's composed and runs that attack. If you can limit her opportunities to goal and limit her touches, then you can be successful. She's the key for them."

2013 Recap

"We're motivated to get Princeton back in the limelight. We expect a lot of ourselves, and we're not satisfied with 1 and out in the NCAAs."

-Princeton head coach Chris Sailer

In a Nutshell: A solid campaign was derailed by some close losses – perfection in the Ivy League's regular season was narrowly missed with a 10-9 overtime loss to Penn and the tournament title slipped with a 11-10 OT loss to Dartmouth in the league semis before Duke ended the Tigers season with another OT loss in the NCAA tournament. Princeton had wins over solid Johns Hopkins, Cornell and Penn State teams in the regular season, but failed to advance beyond the NCAA tournament's first round for the second straight season.

High Point: Beating then-No. 6 Penn State 14-9 to close the regular season. The Tigers completed a perfect home slate behind a 13-save performance from goalie Caroline Franke and six points each from senior Sam Ellis and sophomore Erin McMunn. It was the Tigers' only win against a Top 10 team on the year.

Low Point: Losing to Dartmouth 11-10 in the first round of the Ivy tournament. Just 13 days after beating the Green Wave in the regular season in New Hampshire, the Tigers failed to repeat on neutral ground in Philadelphia. Princeton led by a goal at the half, and held leads after goals by Erin Slifer and Sarah Lloyd late in the second half, but couldn't hang on, falling in the second overtime.

2014 Preview

Best Case: One of the winningest coaches in NCAA women's history, Sailor made no bones about the team's hopes for this spring. "We're motivated to get Princeton back in the limelight," she said. "We expect a lot of ourselves, and we're not satisfied with 1 and out in the NCAAs."

The schedule is stocked as usual with quality non-conference battles, beginning right from the jump with No. 10 Loyola on the road in Princeton's opener. No. 9 Georgetown is a week later, and No. 7 Virginia a week after that. All would be 'upsets' by the preseason rankings, but with players like reigning Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year McMunn, midfielder Sarah Lloyd (19G, 14A, 52DC) and second-team All-Ivy defender Liz Bannatine and goalie Caroline Franke, the Tigers could find themselves in the Top 10 if they play above their ranking before hitting the teeth of their Ivy schedule.

Worst Case: With no teams in the preseason Top 10 and only Penn (No. 13) besides the Tigers in the Top 20, it doesn't look like the Ivy League is going to be a boon in terms of strength of schedule this spring. That quality non-conference slate won't be of much help if Princeton can't win more than its share.

Lacrosse Magazine will continue its 2014 college lacrosse preview throughout January and into February, with team-by-team breakdowns of the top teams in NCAA Division I, II and III men's and women's lacrosse. Follow the countdown at LaxMagazine.com/LMRanks and on twitter at #LMRanks.

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