Monday, November 8, 2010

Fall Back

There is no more depressing time of the year than around 5:00 in the afternoon on the day the clocks are set back. Spring ahead, fall back, remember?

There it is, bright sunshine around 4, and then just an hour later, it's already getting dark. It's like being hit by a giant brick that says "you may have been going to the pool two months ago, but winter is just around the corner."

Of course, if you're the parent of a kid (or worse, multiple kids) under the age of 3 or 4 or so, then the morning after you set the clocks back could be worse. You know it's an hour earlier, even if your little angel(s) don't.

As an aside, Louise Gengler, the lovable-if-somewhat-absent-minded former longtime women's tennis coach at Princeton (who recently got married; mazel tov Louise), once came into TigerBlog's office and had this actual conversation:
LG: Is it 2 or 3?
TB: 2.
LG: Good. I have a meeting at 3, and I can't remember if I set my clock back or not.

The whole idea that you get an extra hour of sleep is ridiculous as well. All you do is get up an hour earlier.

It'd all be different if you could turn the clock back on Sunday night into Monday morning. How great would that be? Then you wouldn't have to be at school/work until an hour later than usual. Then you'd really get an extra hour of sleep.

Contrast it all with March 13, 2011, when Daylight Savings Time will begin. It'll be like being hit the face with the spray off the ocean, announcing that spring and summer are on the horizon after the long winter.

Anyway, let's turn back the clock to the past weekend at Princeton, especially for the five matchups against Penn.

Princeton and Penn met in five sports and went 2-2-1. Penn won football and sprint football, while Princeton won men's soccer and field hockey. Women's soccer finished in a tie, which sure felt like a loss for the Tigers.

The result of the five events? The winner of each either won a championship or put itself in position to do so, while the tie resulted in a championship.

The Penn sprint team tied Army for the CSFL championship after the Quakers beat Princeton 70-0 and Army edged Navy 32-30. Navy actually scored late to pull within two and had Army jump offsides on the two-point attempt, making it a 1.5-yard try to tie the game, one that came up about six inches short. Navy got the onsides kickoff back but couldn't get the winning score. TB knows all this because he was following the livestats for both games.

The sprint game was 10 touchdowns to zero, which was reversed in the first of the four games on Princeton's campus, at which the field hockey team defeated Penn 10 goals to zero. The result of that one was that Princeton completed the season with a perfect 7-0 record to take the Ivy title for the 16th time in 17 years. Princeton will find out its NCAA opponent and whether it's playing at home or on the road at tomorrow night's selection show.

Penn won the football game Saturday, scoring four first-quarter touchdowns on its way to a 52-10 final. The result is that Penn plays Harvard Saturday with first-place on the line, as the Quakers have no league losses while Harvard and Yale have one each.

A Harvard win, and then the Harvard-Yale game the following week becomes a co-championship game, provided Penn would come back to beat Cornell. A Penn win over Harvard would clinch at least a tie for the Quakers, who would be a huge favorite over Cornell the following week.

As for Princeton, the Tigers have games at Yale and then home against Dartmouth to end the year.

Then there was the soccer doubleheader at Roberts Stadium, which the biggest crowds that the facility has seen in its three-year history and the largest crowds for Princeton soccer on campus since the 2004 women's quarterfinal game against Washington at Lourie-Love Field.

The women's game began with Princeton in need of a win, while Penn merely needed a tie or a win to take the championship. The best chance - the haunting chance - for Princeton's women came in the final minute of the second overtime, when Caitlin Blosser's header that appeared to be going in was instead knocked away by Penn defender Colleen Barry, who was standing on the goal line.

As a result, the game ended at 0-0, which gave the league title to the Quakers. It's a helpless feeling, knowing that a tie was a loss and having the immediacy of the end of a season come up on you like that.

None of that applied to the men's game, where both teams were ranked in the Top 20 and assured of NCAA tournament spots regardless of who won the league. Still, for the Princeton men, it was as big a game as the program has had in a long time.

Princeton's last Ivy title was in 2001 - until Saturday. The Tigers got out on Penn 1-0 at the half and then 2-0 in the second before a late Quaker goal made Princeton sweat out the end.

Ultimately, 2-1 was the final, giving Princeton a program-record-tying 11th straight win, its second win over a Top 20 Ivy opponent, the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament - and no worse than a share of the league championship.

The Tigers finish the regular-season this Saturday at Yale (game time was moved from 4 to 3), and a win or tie or Penn tie or loss would mean the outright league title for Princeton.

If you feel good for anyone, it's Princeton head coach Jim Barlow, who endured a stretch of difficult seasons as Ivy League men's soccer grew into a minefield of national powerhouses all over the schedule. Rather than accepting the status quo, Barlow instead has turned his team into one that has now gone toe-to-toe with six league opponents - and beaten them all.

They've done it with a few stars at the top of the lineup, some great depth and a lot of toughness, and they are now what the men's hockey team was a few years ago - the team that reversed the tough times and became a must-see event.

After Saturday's win, they also became a championship team.

Of course, with the five Princeton-Penn matchups this weekend, being a championship team was not unique.

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