FEATURE: Casey Rahn Returns To Princeton
May 8, 2009
Casey Rahn has a few dreams when it comes to lacrosse. On Sunday, he'll get to live those out.
"To hear my name announced in Class of 1952 Stadium has always been a dream of mine," said Rahn, a Princeton High graduate who will be in the starting lineup for the University of Massachusetts when the Minutemen face Princeton on Sunday in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
"I've also always dreamt of getting a chance to play at Princeton and now that is also coming true. It's going to be a great day."
When Rahn and his UMass teammates were watching the NCAA selection show last Sunday evening, no one in the room was more excited to see the Tigers announced as their opponent than Rahn. He'll get a chance to play in his hometown, while also facing his best friend from high school.
"We were all watching the show and there was a film crew there filming it," Rahn recalled. "I think we were all expecting to play Cornell because that was what all the blogs were saying would be our matchup. So when we saw it was Cornell against Hofstra, I had a pretty strong feeling we'd be playing Princeton.
"Right then my best friend Tyler (Moni) sent me a text and said I'll see you on Sunday. I guess they knew somehow. I could not have been happier."
The trip to New Jersey comes a week after Rahn and his teammates topped Rutgers in overtime to secure the NCAA berth. Playing at Rutgers was nice. Playing in Princeton will be special.
"It's great to get to the area twice in one season," Rahn said. "The team has already put me in the position of being sort of the tour guide. We're already planning a stop at Hoagie Haven. One of our assistant coaches knows about it from working camps at Princeton and he has been telling the team about it. So we'll be there."
Whatever leads up to the game, Sunday will be all business for Rahn. After a disappointing season a year ago, the Minutemen are back in the NCAA tournament and excited to be playing Princeton.
"Last year we had some rough spots," said Rahn, who has started all 14 games this season as a long-stick defender in the midfield. "This season we came in with no expectations. We're underdogs and we prefer it that way. Our coach has referred to this as a bonus day for us. No one expects us to win."
No one had expected Rahn to be in the position he is in right now either. But his hard work has paid off and now he is a key player on an NCAA tournament team.
"I was not expecting too much coming into the season," Rahn said. "But I had a good season of fall ball and it's great to be in a starting spot. Last year I was mostly a utility player and I would play wherever I was needed. This year I went in and talked to the coach and said I would play anywhere to get onto the field. I shifted into the defensive midfielder role and it has been great."
So on Sunday, not only will Rahn get a chance to hear his name announced and play at the place he watched so many games growing up, he'll also match up against his best friend.
"Tyler and I have talked all week about it," said Rahn, who has one goal scored this season and it came on the first shot of his career. "From the scouting reports it looks like I might be covering him at some point. That would be like a shot from the past. At Princeton High, Coach (Peter) Stanton always had us matched up in practice. So I know him well and he knows me well."
Rahn and his family will be in the minority on Sunday, rooting for a UMass win at Class of 1952 Stadium. But the experience will certainly be a good one for him no matter what happens.
"I grew up watching Princeton lacrosse," he said. "To be able to play them, especially on Mother's Day, will be a real treat. My parents are at every game, whether it is in Amherst or at the Carrier Dome. This time they get to see me play and they could probably walk home after the game -- it is that close."