Princeton at Cornell
Saturday, 1 p.m. | Schoellkopf Field
Tigers: 10-1 (3-0 Ivy League)
Big Red: 8-2 (4-0 Ivy League)
Webcast: Pay-per-view, available through cornellbigred.com.
Princeton -- A Jack McBride, Soph. (27 goals); MF Mark Kovler, Sr. (22 goals, team-high 83 shots); A Tommy Davis, Sr. (20 goals, 13 assists); G Tyler Fiorito, Fr. (7.86 goals against average, .590 save percentage).
Cornell -- A Rob Pannell, Fr. (14 goals, 30 assists); A Ryan Hurley, Jr. (34 goals); MF Max Seibald, Sr. (20 goals, 8 assists); MF John Glynn, Sr. (17 goals, 6 assists, 57 groundballs).
Cornell freshman Roy Lang may be the only shortstick defensive middie in the country who also plays extra-man offense.
"He clearly could have been in one of our top two midfields, but we have so many seniors there," Cornell coach Jeff Tambroni said. "He's one of our most dangerous offensive players, he's so athletic, but we had a more pressing need for him [this year] on defense."
Lang (St. Ignatius Prep/Calif.) is one of several Cornell players who is making a sacrifice for the better of the team.
Fifth-year senior John Glynn will play Saturday -- he missed only one game after he sustained a dislocated left elbow in a 15-8 victory over Yale on March 21. Glynn was injured in the second quarter against Yale but did not come out of the game. He is expected to take his usual lead role on faceoffs -- he has won 81 of 131 (62 percent) -- and also play on the first midfield and as a threat on E.M.O., where he has a team-high six goals.
"He's as tough a competitor as I've ever been around," Tambroni said. "He didn't come out of the Yale game, that in and of itself speaks a lot for his character. He's already sat out a year, this is his last chance and he didn't want to miss it sitting on the sideline."
One spot where Cornell has had a number of players participate isn't necessarily for the better: Three goalies have played at least three games each. The starting spot Saturday will be down to fifth-year senior Jake Myers (9.83 goals against average, .500 save percentage) or senior Kyle Harer (8.65 GAA, .519). Sophomore Mat Martinez has played in three games this year.
Harer began the year as the starter. Myers started in a 15-10 loss to Syracuse on April 7. Myers' start was partly because he was familiar with the Carrier Dome: He played at Syracuse for two years before transferring in 2007.
Each goalie played in a 19-6 victory over Dartmouth on April 11. Tambroni said that was part of a plan to see if one goalie outplayed the other, which did not happen.
"It's 50-50 right now," Tambroni said. "I am tending to lean toward [Harer], but Jake played well against Harvard and Syracuse when our defense gave him a chance."
The game-within-the-game features a couple of potential monster individual matchups. Though neither coach confirmed that this was the case, it is likely that Princeton freshman defenseman Chad Wiedmaier (Delbarton School/N.J.) will defend Cornell freshman attackman Rob Pannell (Smithtown West/N.Y.). Pannell has a team-high 30 assists; the next-highest Cornell player has eight assists.
"He's strong and he's quick and he's got great vision," Princeton coach Bill Tierney said of Pannell. "I haven't seen a player like that in a long time. He has the same vision as [former Tigers] Ryan Boyle or Jon Hess or Kevin Lowe. He can put the ball in a player's stick with both hands. He's an old-time feeder that not a lot of teams have."
Wiedmaier has defended most teams' No. 1 option, including Steven Boyle (Johns Hopkins) and Kenny Nims (Syracuse). He also stripped Harvard's Dean Gibbons in the final seconds to preserve a 10-9 victory last weekend.
The other matchup to watch is Princeton sophomore attackman Jack McBride against Cornell senior defenseman Matt Moyer. McBride enters with 27 goals and six assists. Moyer has more than held his own against Virginia senior Danny Glading (one assist) and Duke senior Ned Crotty (three assists).
Tambroni said McBride reminds him of Virginia's Matt Ward.
"He creates his own shots and he takes up so much attention that he loosens up even the toughest defenses," Tambroni said. "Princeton has always had a great defense, they have always been stingy each and every possession. But now they have a good top six on offense; they are clearly playing at a faster pace on offense."
One other potentially crucial aspect of the game may involve Lang. Princeton senior midfielder Rich Sgalardi (15 goals, 17 assists) has been "a pleasant surprise," according to Tierney, and Lang may defend him at times.
Sgalardi entered the year with seven goals and 11 assists in his career.
"If you look at the times when Princeton has had a great year, we always had a senior who stepped up who, for whatever reason, there wasn't much expected of him," Tierney said. "I wouldn't say we're surprised by Richard. It's something we knew was there. But give him a lot of credit; he worked very hard and now his confidence is very high. He can shoot and dodge and run and feed."
Lang and junior Austin Boykin lead Cornell's defensive midfield, a unit that is likely to be tested Saturday.
•Another key for the Big Red may be senior attackman Chris Finn. He was a starter last year and entered as a reserve this year but won back his starting job five games ago. He has nine goals and five assists since going back into the starting lineup.
•Cornell and Princeton have combined to win at least a share of 42 of the 52 Ivy League championships.
• The weather forecast in Ithaca, N.Y., on Saturday is promising; the last time the teams played in Ithaca, the game drew nearly 11,000 fans.
• Princeton is ranked No. 1 for the first time since 2001.
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