Friday, December 28, 2012

Do You Hear The People Sing Of The Top 10 Moments In 2012

As TigerBlog said yesterday, he went to see the "Les Miserables" movie.

As a result, he will have the song "Do You Hear The People Sing" stuck in his head the entire time he runs down what are, in his opinion, the top 10 moments in Princeton's 2012 athletic year.

Again, as he said yesterday, this is a tough year to pick the top Princeton moment from the last 12 months. Since then, he's heard from a few people and has gotten no consensus on what the top story is.

That, alone, shows you what a great year it's been.

So, understanding that at least three national champions couldn't be No. 1, TigerBlog gives you his list of the top 10 Princeton athletic moments from 2012, with the full acknowledgement that not everyone's would be the same.

Oh, and the only caveat is that only what was done in a Princeton uniform counts, which eliminates the seven Olympic medals won by the Tigers. Otherwise, it's possible that Diana Matheson's goal in the bronze medal game or Caroline Lind's gold medal in rowing or Donn Cabral's eighth-place finish in the steeplechase might have been No. 1.

And with that said and the words "will you join in our crusade" playing over and over, here we go:

No. 10 - Men's swimming and diving wins fourth straight Ivy title.
Princeton's men's swimming and diving class of 2012 became the first in the program in 20 years to win the Ivy title all four years. John Christensen went 3 for 3 in finals at the Ivy championships as Princeton defeated runner-up Harvard by 79.5 points.

No. 9 - Men's lacrosse wins the Ivy League championship
Princeton, one year removed from an injury-destroyed 4-8 season, went a perfect 6-0 in the Ivy League to win the 26th league title in program history. Princeton, which outscored its six league opponents by a combined 81-35, defeated Cornell 14-9 on the final day of the regular season to clinch the title. 

No. 8 - Men's cross country wins the Ivy League and finishes 11th at the NCAA championships
Princeton went 1-2-4-7-12 to run away with the Heptagonal title, held on Princeton's own home course, as Chris Bendtsen and Alejandro Arroyo Yamin were the ones who finished 1-2. Princeton went on to finish 11th at the NCAA championship race, as Bendtsen (43rd), Arroyo Yamin (58th) and Tyler Udland (79th) all finished in the top 100.

No. 7 - Women's basketball reaches the national Top 25
The women's basketball team became the first Ivy League team ever to reach the national Top 25, as the Tigers moved into the No. 24 spot in the final poll of the regular season. Princeton went 14-0 in the Ivy League and was the only team in Division I - men's or women's - to have a perfect league record while winning every game by at least 10 points; Princeton, in fact, won 11 of its 14 league games by at least 20 points. The season ended with a three-point loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Kansas State.

No. 6 - Women's soccer goes a perfect 7-0-0 in the league and wins its opening round NCAA tournament game
The women's soccer team had the second-best season in program history (behind the 2004 NCAA Final Four team) and did something that no other Princeton team had ever done before. The women's soccer team, like men's lacrosse one year removed from a very rare losing season, had an 11-game winning streak in midseason that included a perfect run through the Ivy League, including a 4-2 win over Penn on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium to clinch the outright championship and automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Princeton then defeated West Virginia at West Virginia, winning on the road in the NCAA tournament for the first time.

No. 5 - Jonathan Yergler wins the NCAA epee title; Princeton finishes second
Jonathan Yergler earned a spot in the epee playoffs by the complex tiebreakers after the long qualifying session and then took full advantage, becoming the first Princeton fencer in 11 years to win an individual championship. Princeton also had its best finish in the combined team championship, finishing second behind Ohio State. Princeton swept the Ivy League championships for both men and women.

No. 4 - Donn Cabral wins the NCAA steeplechase championship
Donn Cabral ran away from the field at the NCAA's 3,000-meter steeplechase final in Iowa and in doing so, he became the first Princeton runner since 1934 to win an NCAA championship. Cabral's Princeton resume featured Ivy League championships and All-America honors in both cross country and track and field, and he went on from graduation to qualify for the Olympic team, reach the steeplechase final and then ultimately finish eighth.

No. 3 - Princeton defeats Harvard 39-34 in football
This football game is the only event on the list that didn't directly result in a championship, which shows you just how great a football game it was. Princeton trailed heavily favored Harvard 34-10 with 12 minutes to play and then came flying back, scoring three touchdowns with two two-point conversions to make it 34-32 and then having the dramatic final drive, which ended with Quinn Epperly's 36-yard touchdown pass to Roman Wilson with 13 seconds to play. It was a total classic, one of the greatest football games ever played in the history of the Ivy League.

And so this brings us to the final two, and TigerBlog is relatively sure that just about anyone's list of top events at Princeton in 2012 would end with these two. He's also reasonably sure that it would be split 50-50 as to which is No. 1.

This is how TB sees it:

No. 2 - Men's squash wins the national championship, ending Trinity's 13-year title streak
Trinity had won 13 straight national championships and had defeated Princeton to end the regular season. When the teams met again in the national final at the jammed courts in Jadwin Gym, Trinity held a 4-2 lead after the first two shifts and needed only one win in the final three matches to get its 14th straight title. Only it never came. Princeton won all three, with the deciding point from senior Kelly Shannon, to win 5-4 and spark a wild celebration. The party turned bittersweet when Princeton's beloved coach Bob Callahan was diagnosed with a brain tumor shortly after his team won the championship and then became an inspiration to everyone with the way Callahan continues to fight it.

No. 1 - Princeton wins the NCAA field hockey championship
Princeton had four players - Michelle Cesan, Julia Reinprecht, Katie Reinprecht and Kathleen Sharkey - miss the 2011 season as they trained for the Olympics. Their return for 2012 made Princeton immediately one of the main contenders for the NCAA title, but it would not be simple. Princeton stormed through the Ivy League at 7-0, outscoring its league opponents 45-1, but winning a national championship was going to be another matter. The previous 11 championships had all been won by teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Princeton had to defeat three ACC teams in its final three games, knocking off Virginia in the quarterfinals, two-time defending champ Maryland in the semifinals and then No. 1 seed North Carolina in the final. It was the first NCAA field hockey championship in Ivy League history.

Anyway, that's how TigerBlog sees it for 2012.

Hopefully it'll be just as tough in 2013 - and for the same reason.


Anonymous said...

"Princeton had to defeated three ACC teams........."

C'mon, Blog. This is Princeton!

TigerBlog said...

Good catch. It's been corrected.

B.McD. '83 said...

Great list - great year - thank you TigerBlog for another year of excellent posts and insights into Princeton Athletics.

Glenn Adams '63 said...

Excellent and well-justified list of a terrific group of Princeton athletic performances. My only quibble is placing the significance of a single football win (albeit over Harvard after an incredible 4th quarter comeback) over the season-long unparalleled domination by teams such as women's soccer, women's bball, men's x-country, men's lax, and men'swimming. Kudos for your great coverage of Tiger sports.

Anonymous said...

No room for men's basketball beating ranked Harvard at home? Just shows how amazing 2012 was.

Anonymous said...

Except for the final 12 minutes, was the football game really all that good? The score until that point looks like the usual good team beating a bad team.

George Clark '69 said...

So many few slots...One Tiger who should be noted for the body of work over his career is Mens Basketball player Doug Davis,'12, who rose to the #2 spot on the Tigers' career scoring list this year, trailing only the incomparable Bill Bradley, '65.