Princeton vs. Johns Hopkins: Three things to watch

When the No. 4 Blue Jays and No. 19 Tigers meet Saturday at noon in the first game of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium, Johns Hopkins will try to win for the seventh time in the last eight meetings between these programs. Here are a few factors to look for:

1) Princeton walloped Canisius, 14-6, in the season opener for both teams Saturday, but the Tigers launched 60 shots. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but senior midfielder Mark Kovler shot just 1 of 13, and junior midfielder Scott MacKenzie went 1 of 8. Coach Bill Tierney pointed out that Princeton must be much more efficient against the Blue Jays’ stingy defense. "I learned that we can’t hit the broad side of a barn without a snow shovel with our shots," Tierney joked before turning serious. "I think the kids executed pretty well, but we didn’t shoot very well. The Canisius goalie played very well, but in a game, to miss 46 times, that’s usually our average number of shots. So we learned that we’ve got guys willing to let it fly. Now the idea is to try to get a few more on goal."

2) Blessed with two talented goalkeepers in junior Nikhil Ashra and freshman Tyler Fiorito, the Tigers are going with a two-man rotation for the first time in Tierney’s career. Fiorito, a Phoenix native and McDonogh graduate, started against Canisius, and Ashra replaced Fiorito to begin the second half. Tierney won’t tip his hand as to who will get the start Saturday or if one goalie will play the entire game, but Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said the challenge is preparing for two players who don’t show up in a lot of game film. "Obviously, it worked well for Princeton this past Saturday. I thought both of their goalies played well," Pietramala said. "I think they’re both very different, and that’s probably the greatest challenge presented, that maybe just when you start to get a bead on a goalie, the next thing you know there’s a new guy in there."

3) Go ahead and count Tierney among the coaches who are breathing a sigh of relief that they don’t have to game-plan for Paul Rabil, Kevin Huntley and Stephen Peyser. But Tierney was cognizant that the Blue Jays got goals from six different players in the team’s 11-3 season-opening victory over Siena. "You’re absolutely right in thinking that they’ve got guys who are very talented and have done a lot of good things already," Tierney said. "So it is going to be spread out, which means you can’t just say, ‘If we stop Rabil or if we stop Peyser, we’re going to get a shot at winning.’ Now you’ve got eight or nine guys that can all score. It becomes a little more difficult in that you really don’t know who’s going to have the big day or who they’re going to go to in crunch time."

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