Two of the nation’s most improved programs in recent years have agreed to play each other in the upcoming season.
Princeton coach Sam Shweisky said Tuesday in an interview with Off the Block that his team will travel to play a non-conference match against Cal Baptist in January 2014.
“I’m excited to play them,” Shweisky said. “Usually they have some foreign players and it is great to play those guys because they are so experienced. It’s exciting. They have a nice crowd and a good following in their school.”
Princeton last season for one of the first times in almost a decade received votes in the national coaches poll and national media poll as it reached the EIVA Tournament semifinals. In addition, the Tigers return all but one starter for the upcoming season, including All-American outside attacker Cody Kessel.
Cal Baptist in the midst of its transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II finished its inaugural MPSF season in sixth place and in the top 10 of the national coaches poll. The Lancers will also be eligible for the upcoming postseason after being ineligible for the 2013 MPSF Tournament because of their NCAA transition.
Princeton and Cal Baptist have not played each other since 2012, which the Lancers won in four games.
This match will be part of a two-match West Coast trip for the Tigers. Princeton following its Cal Baptist match will also play non-conference match against Concordia, an NAIA school.
Shweisky said he would have liked to schedule more matches against MPSF opponents. However, the coach said that has become difficult since Cal Baptist joined the league and the MPSF opted to expand its conference schedule to 24 matches.
“It’s been tough to get MPSF matches,” Shweisky said. “In years past it’s been easier with more bye weeks and easier to get in games. We were trying to work out some other matches with other teams but it’s just so tight.”
The Tigers have annually opened their seasons with a West Coast road trip since the 1990s. In addition, the last two season Princeton has defeated a MPSF team with road victories against UC San Diego in 2012 and UC Santa Barbara in 2013.
Unlike previous seasons, Princeton will not begin the 2013 season on the road. Shweisky said Princeton will play a home matches against Limestone and Juniata before beginning its West Coast road trip this upcoming year.
Shweisky also said he is looking forward to the beginning of his team’s schedule because it will help Princeton get ready for the EIVA season and to potentially make run at a NCAA Tournament berth.
“Sure you want to win, but you want to get battle tested,” he said. “The goal is to go to a Final Four and to win the conference.”