Dawson McKenzie and the Tigers are at Yale Saturday at 1.
PRINCETON (3-3, 0-1 Ivy League) vs. YALE (5-1, 1-0)
Reese Stadium • New Haven, Conn. • March 24, 2018 • 1 p.m.
Series history – Princeton leads 73-27-2
Last meeting – Yale defeated Princeton 16-13 • March 24, 2017
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The 2017 Princeton-Yale game was the most lopsided regular-season game the teams have played in nearly a decade. Yale won by three.
Prior to that, Princeton and Yale played seven straight one-goal regular-season games – and that doesn’t even take into account the one-goal game they played in the 2015 Ivy League tournament final.
In fact, prior to the game last year, Princeton and Yale had played three straight 11-10 games – the 2015 and 2016 regular seasons and the 2015 Ivy final.
The game last year was a 16-13 Bulldog win on Sherrerd Field. Yale snapped an 8-8 third-quarter tie with a 5-0 run to take control.
That game turned out to be sort of the Ivy League championship game, since Yale won the Ivy title outright, though Princeton would have had it won that game.
For 2018, Yale is 1-0 in the Ivy League after its 13-11 win at Cornell last weekend, while the Tigers dropped their Ivy opener 14-7 to Penn at home.
This is the 103rd meeting in the series. Princeton leads 73-27-2.
Princeton vs. Yale
Princeton shot 13 for 29 against Yale last year, for an outstanding .448 shooting percentage. The problem for the Tigers was that they were outshot 47-29.
And why? It’s because Yale won the face-off battle by a huge margin.
Yale’s Conor Mackie went 26 for 33, with 18 ground balls, as Yale completely dominated possession. Mackie won 78.8 percent of the face-offs in that game, and that’s hardly his career high. Nope, Mackie recently went 15 for 15 in a game against Fairfield.
Yale’s edge in winning face-offs was hardly contained to the game last year. In the last 18 meetings between the teams, Yale has won the face-off edge 17 times. Added all together, Yale has won 259 of the last 387 face-offs between the teams, for a .669 percentage.
Princeton ranks 40th in Division I in face-off winning percentage, but consider that in its last two games, against Rutgers and Penn, Sam Bonafede has taken ever face-off for the Tigers and is 33 for 57 (.579), which is higher than Yale’s season percentage (Ivy best .528).
Princeton lost its Ivy League opener, which means that another loss to Yale would drop the Tigers to 0-2. Has anyone ever climbed out of such a hole?
Well, yeah. Yale made a habit of it for a few years.
In fact, the last four times that Yale has gone 0-2 to start the Ivy season, it has rebounded to win either the league championship or the league tournament (or both) and reach the NCAA tournament.
Star vs. Star
For all of the great players on both teams, Princeton and Yale are led by attackmen who among the very best players in the country.
Yale’s Ben Reeves is already Yale’s all-time leading scorer with 234 career points, and he has 131 career goals, two away from Conrad Oberbeck for second and 31 away from Jon Reese for the school record.
Reeves had four goals and four assists against Princeton last year in the 16-13 Yale win. For his career, Reeves has 11 goals and seven assists in four games against the Tigers and has at least two goals in every game.
Michael Sowers is already 28th all-time in points at Princeton with 127, an average of 6.05 per game. Sowers has at least two points in every game of his career, but it was Yale who held him to just two in the game a year ago.
Sowers is also 15th all-time at Princeton in career assists.
Sowers is second in Division I in assists per game and fourth in Division I in points per game. Reeves is eighth in Division I in points per game.
Princeton’s Tyler Blaisdell has 424 career saves, leaving him six away from tying Trevor Tierney for 10th all-time at Princeton.
Blaisdell, who made 18 saves last year against Yale, has started the last 40 games in goal for Princeton. If you want the complete list of players who have started at least 40 games in goal for Princeton, here it is: Billy Cronin ’74, Peter Cordrey ’80, Scott Bacigalupo ’94, Trevor Tierney ’01, Alex Hewit ’08, Tyler Fiorito ’12 and now Blaisdell. If “Cordrey” sounds familiar, it’s because Peter is the father of Emmet, a junior middie who is tied for sixth on the current team with six goals.
Yale has used two goalies this year. Brody Wilson, who started last year against Princeton, started in the win over Quinnipiac. Jack Starr, a freshman, has started the other five games, winning four.
The Princeton-Yale game will feature two players with Ivy League football championship rings.
Jason Alessi was a defensive back and punt returner for Yale’s Ivy champion last fall.
Chase Williams, a sophomore shortstick defensive middie, is also a Princeton defensive back and a key special teams player. Princeton won the Ivy League football championship in the fall of 2016, when Williams was a freshman. Williams is the only SSDM to play in every game the last two years for Princeton.
Other Princeton notes
* Princeton leads the Ivy League in ground balls per game, caused turnovers per game and extra man percentage. Princeton is second in the Ivy League but third in Division I in assists per game.
* At his current pace, Michael Sowers would finish the regular season with 52 assists. The school single season record is 48, shared by Ryan Boyle and Jon Hess.
* Michael Sowers and Chris Brown have combined for 35 of Princeton’s 51 assists. Sowers has 35 points on Princeton’s 70 goals, meaning he has scored or assisted on 50 percent of the Tigers’ goals. Brown has at least one goal in each of his first six collegiate games.
* Michael Sowers, Riley Thompson and Austin Sims have 284 career points between them. Every other active player has 100 career points between them.
* Princeton has had five defensemen start at least three games this year. Arman Medghalchi is the only one to start all six games.
* Sam Bonafede and Andrew Song led the team with 22 ground balls each. For Song, six of those 22 ground balls have come on the face-off wings in the last two games. Song also leads Princeton with nine caused turnovers.
* Michael Sowers, Austin Sims and Chris Brown are the only three Princeton players with at least one point in every game this year. Brown is the only one with at least one goal.
* Phillip Robertson has 13 goals on 20 career shots.