Wednesday, November 4, 2009

15 For 16

The newsroom at the Trenton Times – or at least how it was back when TigerBlog worked there – was an L-shape, with the sports department on the short part of the "L" and the various news departments spread around the long arm.

The news side was usually done with its day when the sports people were just getting started, with the notable exception of election day. Each year on election day, the news side would come in late, bring in a big spread of food and stay past midnight as results came in.

In other words, it was the one day of the year when the news side did what the sports department did every night.

The Trenton Times was probably not unlike most any other newspaper in that respect, and in many respects, for that matter. One way the Times was different, though, was in the amount of space it devoted in the sports section to the coverage of local college sports, especially sports that might not have been considered "mainstream."

To that end, TigerBlog spent more time in the late 1980s and early 1990s covering sports like soccer, swimming, rowing, lacrosse (it wasn't mainstream back then), track and field and others than the average sportswriter. TB has certainly covered more women's sports (especially non-basketball) in his five years working with colleges than most lifers ever do.

One sport that has always stood out is field hockey. Back then, TigerBlog covered field hockey at Princeton and Trenton State (now the College of New Jersey), and in all the time he covered both teams, he can never remember either losing.

As an aside, when Trenton State changed its name to TCNJ, TigerBlog remembers the furor it caused on two campuses and found it funny because 1) he never met a person at TSC who loved that the school was affiliated with Trenton and 2) he never met a person here who was enamored with being associated with the state of New Jersey.

Princeton field hockey played back then on Gulick Field, a grass field located above old Lourie-Love Field. Today, Plummer Field (the practice FieldTurf field at Roberts Stadium) stands where Gulick Field used to, and the Gulick family is remembered with a plaza at the new stadium.

The field hockey team relocated to the artificial turf of Class of 1952 Stadium in 1995. The team underwent a coaching change in 2002, when Beth Bozman left for Duke and Kristen Holmes-Winn replaced her.

Through all that, Princeton field hockey has continued to win. In fact, the Tigers clinched at least a share for the 2009 Ivy League title last Friday with a 10-1 win over Cornell, and a win over Penn Friday night would mean the outright title and a perfect record in the league.

Princeton has scored 19 goals in its last two games, which is more than all but one other Ivy team has scored in all of its league games this year. The Tigers are currently 13-2 and ranked fourth nationally, and excitement is high for the program as the NCAA tournament bids are less than a week away.

The Ivy championship that the field hockey team salted away Friday was the 15th in the last 16 years, and it led TigerBlog to do some research about other Princeton teams and the championships they've won in their last 16 seasons of competing. TB found out that there were three other teams that have reached double figures in that time, and you now have two paragraphs to think about the answer.

In all, 21 of the 33 teams that compete in Ivy League sports at Princeton have won at least five Ivy League championships in their last 16 seasons. That means that 64% of the Princeton teams that compete in the Ivy League have basically won at least one title every three years.

For the record, the five teams that don't compete in Ivy sports are men's volleyball, men's and women's water polo, sprint football and women's lightweight rowing.

And the answer is: men's lacrosse (12), women's swimming and diving (10) and men's indoor track and field (10).

Here at TigerBlog HQ, there are all kinds of pictures hanging on the walls of great moments in Princeton sports. There are also the pictures that are used all the time in publications (at least the ones we still do) and videos.

One of the absolute favorites is a shot of the field hockey team as it celebrates its 4-1 win over UConn to advance to the 1998 NCAA final (Princeton has played in two finals and four Final Fours).

The 1998 semis were played at Franklin Field on a night when it poured, and the picture is fondly known here at HQ as "the rain-soaked celebration shot." It's a great picture, and it's the best picture we have here of the team during its remarkable run.

The best picture so far, that is.


Anonymous said...

Here's another perspective on the breadth of Princeton's competitiveness. Over the past four years, only eight Princeton teams out of 33 Ivy championship sports have NOT won a league title.

Only one women's sport, fencing, has not won an Ivy crown in the last five years. (And even they raised the trophy as recently as 2001.)

Of 33 Ivy sports, only two, men's tennis and wrestling, have not won a ring this decade.

By the way, don't tease us. Can't you display that field hockey photo?

Princeton OAC said...

TigerBlog will post that picture, as well as several others that he considers to be the best available here at HQ, in an entry next week.