Monday, November 3, 2014

At Home In Ithaca

When summer lacrosse tournaments or camp games end in ties, a standard tiebreaking procedure is the dreaded "Braveheart."

What's a Braveheart? It's one-on-one, full-field lacrosse, along with goalies. Each team sends out one player to face-off and then play one-on-one until somebody scores. It usually doesn't last too long, since it's a bit difficult to chase someone the length of a lacrosse field once you've given up a step.

TigerBlog thought this would have been a much cooler way to decide who advanced at the Liberty Hockey Invitational first round games Friday at the Prudential Center in Newark, rather than having a conventional three-round shootout.

UConn and Merrimack opened the tournament with a 2-2 tie, and Princeton and Yale concluded the day with their own 2-2 tie. Because of the tournament format, though, someone had to advance to the final, so there was a shootout.

How about a Braveheart instead? Each team sends out the goalie and one skater. They face off and play until someone scores. How much more fun would that be?

Hey, the NHL should adopt this too.

TigerBlog doesn't know much about hockey. He does know that Princeton has scored three goals this year, and they're all by freshmen. That's a good sign.

The Princeton-Yale game was a good one, the first for head coach Ron Fogarty with the Tigers, against the team that won the NCAA championship two years ago. The incredible thing about the game is that the teams meet again twice more in the regular season, and the next meeting was to be one day short of exactly three months later.

What will happen between then and now? A lot. But still, it was an entertaining day of hockey in Newark, and TB got a chance to see the arena, which he had not before.

At the same time, the Princeton women's hockey team was knocking off Cornell, who has dominated Ivy League women's hockey for the last few years. That game was played in Ithaca.

And this weekend, if it was Princeton-Cornell in Ithaca, Princeton won.

The Tigers and Big Red played in Ithaca in six different sports in a 28-hour stretch beginning with that women's hockey game, and Princeton went 6-0 in those six events. Maybe it's because Ithaca is Mollie Marcoux's hometown?

Anyway, if you're keeping track, Princeton defeated Cornell in women's hockey, field hockey, football, women's volleyball, women's soccer and men's soccer between last Friday and Saturday. It's left some of those teams right in the thick of the Ivy championship hunt.

* Field hockey

Princeton is tied with Columbia at 5-1 in the Ivy League. The Tigers host Penn Saturday, while Columbia is at Harvard.

Should only one win, then it would be outright Ivy League champion and the league's NCAA tournament representative. If they both win, then they share the title, but Columbia would be the league's automatic bid by virtue of its win over Princeton. In other words, Princeton needs to beat Penn and have Harvard beat Columbia to get to the NCAA tournament.

Penn and Harvard are both 3-3 in the league.

Things can get a bit murkier if Princeton and Columbia both lose and Cornell defeats Dartmouth, which would mean a three-way tie for the title. In that case, TigerBlog is pretty sure that there would be a random draw for the Ivy automatic bid, since all three would be 1-1 against each other and have a loss to either Penn or Harvard, who would be tied in the standings. TB has been wrong about these things before.

* Men's soccer

Don't look now - or actually look now - but Princeton is tied for first in the Ivy League men's soccer race. Princeton and Dartmouth are both 3-1-1, for 10 points. Harvard and Penn are both next with eight points.

There are two weeks left in the Ivy season, and Princeton hosts Penn and is at Yale. There is also a game Wednesday at American, a team earning votes in the national poll.

Should Princeton win its last two league games, it would be assured of at least a tie for the championship. Because Princeton's loss is to Dartmouth, Princeton would not get the league's automatic bid in a two-way tie, though TB figures the Tigers would be right in the mix for an at-large NCAA bid.

* Women's soccer

This is the final week of Julie Shackford's 20-year career as the women's soccer coach at Princeton. Her team can still get a share of the Ivy League title but cannot get the league's NCAA tournament bid.

Princeton has 10 points, trailing Harvard (13) and Dartmouth (12). A Tiger win over Penn Saturday, coupled with a Harvard loss to Columbia (eight points) and Dartmouth loss or tie in its game with Cornell (three points) gives Princeton a tie for the league championship. The Tigers cannot win a tiebreaker in either a two-way tie with Harvard or three-way tie with Harvard and Dartmouth, and Princeton cannot have a two-way tie with Dartmouth.

* Women's volleyball

There are two weekends and four matches left for each Ivy League women's volleyball team. Princeton is currently 7-3, trailing only Harvard and Yale, who are both 8-2.

The good news for Princeton is that they play both again, this Friday at home against Harvard and then the following Friday at Yale. Princeton is also home with Dartmouth Saturday.

The bad news? Princeton went 0-3 against those three the first time around. Still, the Tigers have a chance, and that's all they could really ask for at this point.

* Football

Princeton defeated Cornell 38-27 Saturday, going to 3-1 in the Ivy League with three games left, including one this Saturday at home at 3:30 against Penn.

Right now, Harvard is 4-0, followed by Princeton, Yale and Dartmouth all at 3-1. Princeton ends it season at Yale and home with Dartmouth.

Harvard knocked off Dartmouth Saturday in a match of the last two Ivy unbeatens. Harvard has also beaten Princeton.

Obviously, the Crimson finish the season against Yale, at home no less. Yale appears to have the best chance to knock off Harvard, who also has Columbia (0-4) and Penn (1-3) to go.

Princeton needs to win out and have someone beat Harvard. If that happens, then Princeton would be co-champion.

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