For Rutgers and No. 3 Princeton men’s lacrosse, it’s been a close two years. On March 10, 2018, the Tigers claimed a 15–14 overtime victory on Sherrerd Field. On March 9, 2019, they fell 9–8 in Piscataway, N.J. This weekend, they (4–0) will face the Scarlet Knights (3–2) on Sherrerd Field again.
The Tigers are eager for redemption, and they’ve already gotten a taste of it this season. Last weekend, they defeated Johns Hopkins 18–11, avenging last season’s 14–12 loss. Senior attack and Princeton’s all-time leading scorer, Michael Sowers, put in two goals and seven assists. Following Sowers were senior midfielder Connor McCarthy with five goals, and sophomore midfielder Alexander Vardaro with four. Junior goalie Erik Peters accumulated 15 saves.
But despite the Tigers’ undefeated record, their No. 3 national ranking, the presence of superstar Sowers on the field, and last weekend’s ego boost, the team isn’t breathing easy.
“Rutgers is an outstanding team,” head coach Matt Madalon said. “The Princeton-Rutgers game has always been a great game, a good rivalry. [We’re] two extremely competitive programs at crucial points in [our] seasons, and we expect another very tight game.”
He went on to reflect upon his team’s effort from the past few games.
“Right now, our offense is doing a good job in moving the ball defensively,” he said. “We've got some good plays out of our defense, our goalie, and faceoff guys. We just try to continue to get better in each of our spots so that hopefully, when Saturday rolls around, we’re playing our best lacrosse for that week.”
After Rutgers, Princeton heads into Ivy League Play, beginning with a home game against Penn and an away game at Yale.
“Looking ahead,” Madalon said, “we’ve got two of the best teams in the country. They’re two top-10 teams, and they’ve both been in national championship contentions over the last two years. We’ve got our work cut out for us. We’ve got to have great weeks of practice, and we hope to match up well.”
Not only have the Tigers been showing their skills on the field this season, but they’ve been showing their sense of service off the field as well. A few days ago, 40 players shaved their heads for Lacrosse for Life, raising $40,000 for the Boston Children’s Hospital.
“It’s just really remarkable,” Madalon said. “The lacrosse community is so tight-knit … and that’s as cool as it gets, to shave their heads and show support. For us to have 40 guys do it is just remarkable, and it was not mandatory by any means.”
Princeton will take on Rutgers this Saturday at 1 p.m. on Sherrerd Field. Then, on Saturday, March 14, Penn will make its way to Princeton to kick off the beginning of Ivy play. Both games will be streamed on ESPN+.