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Following a 10-8 loss to Brown, one of Princeton’s most familiar rivals, men’s lacrosse (6-2 overall, 2-1 Ivy League) will renew a fixture contested only twice in program history. The Stony Brook University Seawolves (8-2, 2-1 America East) play host to the Tigers this Saturday in non-conference play.

Both previous contests ended in decisive decisions for the Orange and Black. In 1992, the then-NCAA champion Tigers topped Stony Brook at home by a score of 12-5 before routing the Seawolves in an 18-7 away win the following year.

But much has changed in college lacrosse since the early days of Bill Tierney’s tenure at Princeton. What do the rankings and statistics say about these two squads?

At this point in the season, fans of collegiate men’s lacrosse gain the insight of the objective Ratings Percentage Index, a metric which considers strength of schedule, or opponents’ records, along with wins and losses, in addition to subjective media and coaches’ polls. Some highlights from the NCAA’s RPI, updated March 30: all five Atlantic Coast Conference teams, including Nos. 1 and 2 Notre Dame University and Syracuse University, rank in the top 10, while the Ivy League comes in a somewhat distant second place for conference strength, with four teams in the top 15.

Princeton holds the No. 12 spot in the coaches’ poll and the No. 13 spots in the media rankings and the RPI. Receiving votes but unranked by the coaches, Stony Brook occupies Inside Lacrosse’s No. 20 spot and comes in 29thin RPI.

Over their ten contests, the Seawolves have accrued an impressive scoring differential of +5.50. Their 14.70 goals per game place them sixth among Division I offenses. Attackman Brody Eastwood can claim more than some credit for his side’s productivity, as his 3.50 goals per game rank fourth nationally. What’s more, the 3.60 assist per game average of attackman Mike Rooney trails only that of Albany University’s Lyle Thompson —the Great Danes’ star man tallied 10 assists against Stony Brook earlier this year.

Princeton’s close defense should nonetheless confidently approach Saturday’s challenge. Although Brown topped the Tigers in Saturday’s matchup, sophomore Brian Pickup kept the nation’s leading goalscorer, attackman Dylan Molloy, from finding twine even once.

Similarly, the Tigers’ previously top-scoring threat was held without a single point by Brown’s defense. Senior midfielder and solo captain Kip Orban ranks third on the team with 27 points (22 goals and five assists). When in prime form, his shot possesses a combination of speed and accuracy which no goalkeeper can withstand. However, twice this season (against Brown and Maryland) Orban has been held to zero points. Finding consistent and quality opportunities for their captain could unlock the Tigers’ offensive potential.

This task will prove all the more difficult in light of last week's announcement that junior midfielder Jake Froccaro will miss the remainder of the season due to injury. The Long Island native, poised to be one of the conference's top offensive threats, made his mark in the record books last season with a program-high 10-goal performance against Yale. Neither of Princeton's preseason all-American selections will exercise their eligibility this year, as sophomore long stick midfielder Will Reynolds likewise elected to withdraw following an early injury.

While Princeton’s midfield has not proven as prolific as in past years, the attack duo of senior Mike MacDonald and junior Ryan Ambler has been the backbone of the Orange and Black offense. Ambler’s 13 goals and 15 assists through eight games puts him on pace to top his career-high mark of 43 points. While his linemate has been impressive, MacDonald in particular has been sensational. His 5.63 points per game (25 total goals along with 20 assists) make him the only Division I player to rank in the top 10 in both goals per game and assists per game.

Orban and MacDonald, both of whom were recently named to Inside Lacrosse All-America second-team, will lead the Tigers against a Stony Brook defense that, save for a 15-17 loss to Albany, has proven incredibly stout. The Seawolves have held opponents to 9.20 goals per outing.

It remains somewhat unclear who head coach Jim Nagle will put between the pipes. Almost nothing separates the Seawolves’ tandem of Brandon Maciejewski and Hayden Johnstone, save maybe their last names’ pronouncability for American English speakers. The former has allowed 43 goals against 41 saves, while the latter’s managed 44 against 42.

The action is scheduled to begin Saturday at 3 p.m. Live audio will be available through WPRB, online or locally on FM channel 103.3.

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