April 2, 2009

Courtesy of Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Perennial powers Syracuse and Princeton will meet at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 4 at Giants Stadium in New Jersey as part of the inaugural Big City Classic presented by Inside Lacrosse. The game between the Orange and Tigers is the centerpiece of the tripleheader which also features Virginia-North Carolina (12 p.m.) and Hofstra-Delaware (5 p.m.).

Both second-ranked Syracuse and No. 5 Princeton enter the game with 7-1 records. Syracuse won its fifth in a row with a 14-13 come-from-behind win at Loyola last Saturday. The Tigers posted an 11-7 decision over Yale in its most recent outing.

Saturday's game will air live nationally on ESPNU. Fans can also listen to the action via the Syracuse ISP Sports Network’s flagship station TK 99 (99.5 FM). The audio stream of the broadcast is available world-wide on SUathletics.com as part of Orange All Access.

Syracuse’s involvement in the Big City Classic marks the third straight year it has participated in an event organized by Inside Lacrosse. The previous two seasons, the Orange faced Virginia in the Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The Cavaliers got the better of the Orange in both games, winning 11-8 in 2007 and 14-13 in overtime in 2008. Princeton has also been a regular participant in Inside Lacrosse events. Its annual meeting with Johns Hopkins has been part of the Face-Off Classic for the last three seasons.

The Orange has won five of the last six meetings with the Tigers and holds a 16-8 advantage in the all-time series. Ten of the 24 meetings in the series have come in the NCAA playoffs. Four of those contests have decided the national championship. The Orange defeated the Tigers in 2000 and 2002 to win the title. Princeton knocked off the Orange in overtime in both 1992 and 2001 for the championship. In 1999, the two clubs played an epic four-overtime game won by the Tigers, 15-14, which stands as the longest game in SU history.

Orange head coach John Desko is 11-4 all-time against the Tigers. He’s won four in a row against Princeton twice in his career, most recently from 2003-06. Three of his four losses to Princeton have been by one goal.

Overall, Syracuse and Princeton have combined to win 15 of the last 21 NCAA Championships.

During the 1990’s Syracuse and Princeton ruled the college lacrosse world combining to win eight of the 10 national championships during the decade. The Orange claimed the championship in 1990, 1993, and 1995. The Tigers took home of the crown in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1998. Three of Princeton’s title-game wins came at Syracuse’s expense (1992, 1996, 1998).

Syracuse and Princeton’s dominance continued into the 2000’s as the two programs have won five of the NCAA Championships handed out this decade. The Orange and Tigers met in the NCAA title game three years in a row (2000, 2001, 2002). SU emerged victorious in those head-to-head championship meetings in 2000 and 2002. The Orange also won titles in 2004 and 2008.

Orange head coach John Desko and Princeton head coach Bill Tierney have combined to win a total of 10 national championships. Tierney is the active leader with six NCAA titles, tied with SU legend Roy Simmons Jr. for the most by a Division I head coach. Desko is second on the active list with four NCAA Championships.

The Tigers are 7-1 this season and 1-0 in Ivy League competition after defeating Yale, 11-7, in their conference opener on March 28. Princeton’s only loss of the season was at Hofstra on March 14. Sophomore attackman Jack McBride is the team’s leader in points (24) and goals (20) despite playing in only seven games. McBride was the 2008 Ivy League Rookie of the Year last season. Senior Rich Sgalardi leads Princeton with 12 assists. Sgalardi, a midfielder, is the reigning Ivy League Player of the Week after scoring nine points in wins against Rutgers and Yale. Senior attackman Tommy Davis is second on the club with 13 goals and 10 assists. Two of his 13 tallies have been game-winners. Freshman Tyler Fiorito has started all eight games in goal. He owns a .591 saves percentage and a 7.48 goals-against average. Junior goalie Nikhil Ashra has appeared in five games. He has 14 saves and was credited with the victory in Princeton’s wins against Manhattan and Canisius. Junior Paul Barnes takes most of the faceoffs for the Tigers. He is 83-for-154 (.539) and leads the team with 23 ground balls.

Syracuse overcame a four-goal deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Loyola, 14-13, at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field. The Orange outscored the Greyhounds, 6-1, in the final 8:06 after trailing 12-8. Senior Dan Hardy scored three goals in the game-clinching rally, including the winner with 1:17 to go. Hardy, senior Pat Perritt and sophomore Stephen Keogh combined for 15 points in the victory as each player finished with five on the day. Junior Gavin Jenkinson won a career-best 10 faceoffs, including eight in the fourth quarter to help fuel the comeback.

The Orange returns to the Carrier Dome for the start of a three-game homestand on Tuesday, April 7 versus Cornell.