Men's Lacrosse: Offensive stars return as defense rebuilds
The Tigers’ offense, which ranked 13th in the country with 11.2 goals per game, is returning four of its top five scorers and should pick up right where it left off a year ago. Senior attackman Jeff Froccaro, senior midfielder Tucker Shanley, junior midfielder Tom Schreiber and sophomore attackman Mike MacDonald each netted 20 goals or more in their 16 games last season.
Schreiber’s 60 points (32 goals, 28 assists), the ninth-most in Princeton history, earned him first-team All-America recognition, while Froccaro’s 39 (27, 12) earned him a place on the All-Ivy League first team. The four sharpshooters will continue leading their team while senior attackman Forest Sonnenfeldt, who chipped in 17 goals off the bench in 2012, will likely step in to replace graduated attackman Alex Capretta ’12.
In 2013, the team’s biggest challenge will be replenishing its defensive core, which graduated goalkeeper Tyler Fiorito ’12, the unanimous selection for 2012 Ivy League Player of the Year, at the end of last season. Fiorito and defenseman Chad Wiedmaier ’12 were selected in the top 10 picks of the 2012 Major League Lacrosse draft, while defenseman John Cunningham ’12 earned a sixth-round pick. Together, the three senior captains served as the backbone of a tenacious unit that allowed just 7.25 goals per game — the sixth-fewest of any team in the nation.
In the wake of his departure, Fiorito leaves behind a three-way position battle for the starting goalie job between junior Brian Kavanagh, sophomore Eric Sanschagrin and freshman Matt O’Connor. During their brief stints in the net last season, Kavanagh and Sanschagrin both posted impressive numbers. In their respective three and five in-game appearances, Kavanagh saved three of six shots-on-goal while Sanschagrin stopped 11 of 19.
When an undisclosed team conduct code violation prevented Fiorito from starting for the only time in his 58-game career, Sanschagrin received the nod in his place. The then-freshman saved 11 shots while allowing only five goals, leading his team to a 13-7 road win over Manhattan. The rookie also scooped three ground balls and caused a turnover without having any of his own.
Head coach Chris Bates has some talented goalies to choose from, but whomever he selects will have some gargantuan shoes to fill while replacing the Chesapeake Bayhawks’ 10th overall draft pick.
Looking beyond the issue of Fiorito’s replacement, the Tigers’ defense will have to rely on more than just returning starters — they have none. Jonathan Meyers ’12, the fourth member of Fiorito’s 2012 defensive crew, is gone, along with junior defenseman Rob Castelo, who will watch from the sidelines with his second season-ending knee injury in three years.
To cope with the lack of depth on the defensive side of the ball, Bates has moved juniors Nick Fernandez and Derick Raabe from their defensive midfield positions to full-time defense and made each a starter. The two defensemen played in all 16 games last year without starting any of them, combining for 33 ground balls and eight caused turnovers.
The third defensive starting job remains up for grabs, though the discussion will likely include juniors Brian Reilly and Rob Posniewski, each of whom appeared in only four games last season. Freshman defenders Brian Pickup and Mark Strabo may also be called upon to help restore the rapidly changing defensive landscape.
While Princeton’s reloaded offense seems poised to ignite a relatively young team seeking its return to the postseason, the uncertainty surrounding its defense leaves room for many feasible outcomes in 2013. A slew of eager new starters will have the opportunity to prove their worth in supporting the unit’s powerful offensive attack, and their ability to answer the call will determine the fate of this year’s team.
The potential for men’s lacrosse is sky-high this spring, and our first glimpse of its materialization will come this Saturday at Hofstra.
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