The No. 20 Princeton men's water polo team is ready to lay
it all on the line in hopes of earning a berth to the NCAA Championship Final
Four this weekend at the 2012 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Eastern
Championship. The tournament runs from Nov. 16-18 and is hosted at DeNunzio
Pool. The reigning Eastern champions enter the conference tournament as the
third seed in the Southern Division and will face No. 2 seed Brown of the Northern
Division to open the tournament on Friday at 1 p.m.
Competing at Easterns, representing the Northern Division
(listed by seed): St. Francis, Brown, MIT and Harvard. From the Southern
Division (listed by seed): Bucknell, Mercyhurst, Princeton and Navy.
The Tigers (15-11, 5-3 Southern) are coming off a
third-place finish at Southerns on Nov. 4. Princeton easily topped opening
round opponents Notre Dame College, 16-7, and Penn State Behrend, 13-7, to win
its bracket, but was unable to carry that momentum into the semifinals versus
Mercyhurst. Despite taking a 10-8 lead in the third quarter, the Lakers rallied
back with a 4-1 run in the fourth to win 12-11 and advance to the championship
In the third-place matchup, Princeton faced top-seeded Navy
for the third time this year. After falling twice to the Midshipmen in the
regular season, the Tigers employed a first half 8-3 run to hold off the
then-No. 14 ranked Mids and win 10-7.
Entering this weekend, Princeton is led by sophomore Drew
Hoffenberg's team-leading 61 goals and 62 steals. The attacker also has drawn
55 ejections and dished 32 assists over 26 games played. Defensively, freshman
Alex Gow has taken over goaltending duties for the Tigers. Gow (8-7) has 166
saves, 19 steals, six assists and a .494 saves percentage over 20 games played.
Princeton is vying for its third Eastern crown in the last
four years and will faceoff with 14th-ranked Brown in the first round. The Bears (27-3) are
coming off a second-place finish at the Northern Division Championship on Nov.
4. Both squads have met once this season, with Brown edging past Princeton,
10-9, on Sept. 15 at the North-South Invite. The Bear offense is led by
Svetozar Stefanovic's 107 goals, 61 steals and 21 assists heading into the
conference championship. Stefanovic is 107-for-147 in shot attempts over 31
games played. In the cage, Walker Shockley has started and played in 29 games,
tallying 227 saves, 28 steals and 13 assists. He has allowed 234 goals against
and has a .490 saves percentage.