Tuesday, August 25, 2015

17-0, And Donn Cabral

It's game week for Princeton Athletics.

The first athletic event of the 2015-16 season is this Friday night, when the women's soccer team hosts Howard on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium. It'll be the first game as women's soccer coach at Princeton for Sean Driscoll.

Howard has already played two games this season, having opened this past weekend, as did most of Division I women's soccer. The quick version is that Howard split its two games, losing to Radford and defeating Hampton.

Or TigerBlog could give you a little more detail if you like.

Howard's loss to Radnor was 4-2. Howard's win over Hampton was 17-0.

Like you, TigerBlog thought the score was a misprint when he saw it. But no. The final was 17-0. That is, by the way, one off the NCAA record for goals in a game, something that has been done four times.

Hampton is a first-year program, one that has now lost 16-1 (to Canisius) and 17-0. Hampton has been outshot 114-2 in the two games.

TigerBlog doesn't really know what to say, other than to wish the Pirates good luck as they get their program off the ground. Hampton's first-year schedule includes a trip to play at Yale and Dartmouth, by the way.

Hampton added two sports for this academic year. The other one is men's lacrosse. Hampton is one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which means that adding women's soccer and especially men's lacrosse gives the school a pioneering role in the world of intercollegiate athletics.

As for Howard, the team that Princeton will face, the Bison were 13-9-1 overall and 9-1 in the SWAC a year ago. They then won the SWAC tournament but could not get the league's automatic bid, as it was the team's first year in the SWAC, since the MEAC - Howard's normal home - does not have women's soccer.

This year, TigerBlog believes, Howard would be good to go, as it were, if it could win the SWAC tournament. In the meantime, the Princeton-Howard game will be the first of the 2015-16 academic year.

By the time the NCAA track and field championships roll around in June to end the year, Princeton will have played more than 600 games and competed in a bunch of other multi-team competitions, bringing the total number of events to more than 700.

The 2016 NCAA track and field championships will precede by two months the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, which will be held in Rio August 5-21. In other words, a year from today, they'll be over.

Princeton fans are of course rooting for Donn Cabral to be on the U.S. team in Rio for the Games. Cabral competed in the 2012 Olympics in London and, yesterday, ran in the final of the 3,000 meter steeplechase at the World Championships in China. Presumably the majority of China was more preoccupied with its economy yesterday, but that's another story.

As for Cabral, he ran an 8:35.44 to win the steeplechase at the 2012 NCAA championships (by five seconds, by the way). He then finished eighth at the London Olympics in 8:25.91.

He ran an 8:13.37 to finish second at the U.S. outdoor championships in June, running a time that would have been the meet record had Evan Jager not run an 8:12.29.

Yesterday in Beijing, Cabral's time was 8:24.94, earning him 10th in the race. The top four spots all went to Kenyans.

TigerBlog would definitely be as a better consultant to the new Hampton men's lacrosse program than he would be as an analyst of steeplechase times. As such, he asked head men's track and field coach Fred Samara and director of track operations Mike Henderson why Cabral's times could vary so wildly from June to August, or from the 2012 NCAA championships to the Olympics.

The answer turned out to be pace. It's all about the pace that gets set in any given race.

So TigerBlog learned something new.

As TigerBlog said earlier and wrote yesterday, he's a huge fan of Cabral, one of the most likeable and easy-to-root-for Princeton Athletes TB has seen in nearly 30 years here. He'll definitely be rooting for him to get back to the Olympics and to reach the finals again. And improve on the eighth place finish in 2012 and 10th place finish this year.

He's not sure if Cabral, who is 26, would have another Olympic cycle in him. Maybe he would. TB doesn't know if 30 is old for the steeplechase.

In the meantime, there's the start of a new athletic year a few days away.

TB's prediction is that Howard doesn't match its goal total from its previous game. 

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