For college seniors, missing graduation ceremonies might ordinarily be a big deal. For the six seniors on the Georgetown men’s lacrosse team, however, there is much more important business to attend to than listening to a commencement address and receiving a diploma. Tomorrow, they and their teammates will have the opportunity to reach the Final Four for only the second time in university history.

“It probably bothers our parents more than us,” senior co-captain Steve Dusseau said.

Fellow senior co-captain Scott Schroeder echoed Dusseau’s sentiments.

“I’d rather be playing lacrosse,” he said. “[Graduation] means more to our parents than it does to us.”

The fifth-seeded Hoyas will take on the No. 4 seeded Princeton Tigers at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. The challenge is a formidable one. The Tigers are the defending National Champions. Overall, they have won six of the last 10 national titles.

“It would be huge for us to beat a team like Princeton,” Georgetown Head Coach Dave Urick said. “Getting to the Final Four is a significant accomplishment and beating Princeton would make it even more so.”

At the beginning of the 2002 season though, the Tigers looked like anything but a vintage Princeton team. They dropped games to No. 1 Johns Hopkins, No. 2 Syracuse and No. 3 Virginia to start the season 1-3. While all the losses were to top-caliber teams and by three goals or less, Princeton’s trademark over the last decade has been its ability to pull out close games. Four of its six national championships have come on goals in sudden death overtime in the National Title Game.

After these three tough losses, Princeton was stunned at home by No. 16 Yale, 15-13. This loss left the Tigers’ NCAA Tournament hopes in jeopardy. But the defending champions were able to mount a counter assault. They recovered to win their final six games, including victories over No. 8 Cornell and No. 9 Duke. The Tigers 12-10 win at No. 16 Brown on May 4 gave them their eighth straight Ivy League Championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. The strong finish to the season as well as their NCAA Tournament reputation allowed them to receive a first round by in the tournament.

“They’re really well-coached,” Dusseau said. “But this year we match up with them as well as we’ve ever had.”

On offense, Princeton boasts Ivy League Player of the Year Ryan Boyle. The sophomore attackman led the Tigers with 44 points this year. He joins Jesse Hubbard, who graduated Princeton in 1998 after winning three national titles, as the only players to be named Ivy League Rookie of the Year as a freshman and Player of the Year as as a sophomore.

Senior B. J. Prager and junior Scott Hartofilis join Boyle at attack. The two earned first and second team All-Ivy League honors respectively. Prager has shown a knack for scoring goals at the most crucial times. His fourth goal of the game with 41 seconds left in sudden-death overtime of last year’s championship game gave the Princeton a 10-9 victory over Syracuse. Georgetown’s top defensive line of juniors Brant Gresham and Pat Collins and senior Mike Harney will need to be able the limit potent Princeton attack to give the Hoyas a chance to win.

Junior midfielder Brad Dumont, another First Team All-Ivy selection, anchors the Princeton midfield. Dumont will likely be matched up against Georgetown’s best, junior long stick midfielder Kyle Sweeney. All year, Sweeney has been able to shut down some of the nation’s best and will need to do so again tomorrow.

Junior defense Damien Davis, Princeton’s fourth First Team All-Ivy selection, leads the defensive unit. As Princeton’s best defender, Davis will have primary responsibility for containing Dusseau, the nation’s leading scorer. On the rare occasions when Dusseau has struggled, it has been when defenders have forced him to take difficult, long-range shots. Davis and the rest of the Tiger defense will look to do this tomorrow.

Junior Julian Gould will start in goal for Princeton. His 7.42 goals-against average is sixth in the nation while his 62.2 percent save ratio ranks fifth.

“We think we should win,” Sweeney said. “We are not the underdogs even though the rest of the lacrosse world thinks we are.”

It would be a win worth missing a lot for, including graduation.

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