Sitting at 3-0 and tied with Dartmouth atop the Ivy League, Princeton can feel like the king Tigers of the jungle – but they don’t.
Head Coach Richard Lopacki is fully aware of the pecking order in the league.
“I think every team in the Ivy League is capable of beating anyone else … except Dartmouth,” Lopacki said Thursday. “Dartmouth seems unstoppable, like the All Blacks of the Ivy League. The rest of us are much closer, and I think you have to respect every team you play.”
The undefeated Tigers travel to Penn to take on the Quakers Saturday, hoping to make it four out of four. It’s not a done deal, warned Lopacki, who pointed out that Penn is 2-1 and playing at home.
“Playing away always going to be slightly more of the a problem, but if we’re going to be a consistently good team we have to look forward to it,” said Lopacki. “We’re obviously pleased to have started the way we have, but we’re pragmatic about it. It’s just a start. But we just focus on the basics of the game, take each game one at a time, and try to keep our guys as healthy as possible.”
Princeton’s main worry might be their depth. They have CIPP’d only 22 players, so have to keep everyone ready to play through the fall.
“For us one or two injuries could completely disrupt the team ,” said Lopacki. “The great thing about this team is that no one is a superstar. We have had phenomenal team effort; everyone has worked hard to commit to his individual responsibilities. If we do that, we know we can deliver a performance.”
Meanwhile, Penn can upset the apple cart quite nicely with a victory.
The two teams do have some common opponents by wich to judge them. In their three matches Princeton have beaten Yale 58-7, Harvard 29-7 and Cornell 60-12.
Penn opened their season losing 38-17 to Harvard, but then beat Yale 27-12 and Columbia 21-12.
So in the two matches where they shared opponents, Princeton is 2-0 with a +73, Penn 1-1 and -6. But of course, throw all that out, because on any given Saturday …
This weekend Ivy League men’s games (Rankings are D1-AA)
Columbia (1-2) @ Cornell (0-3)
Harvard (1-2) @ Yale (0-3)
#19 Princeton (3-0) @ Penn (2-1)
#2 Dartmouth (3-0) @ Brown (2-1)