Thursday, September 15, 2016

Barlow 3, Inverso 1

Charlie Inverso inherited a Rider men's soccer team that went 2-15-1 the year before he got here.

Now in his fifth year, he's already taken them to one NCAA tournament and into the national rankings. This was after he won five national junior college championships and had a 434-46-14 record as the head coach at Mercer County Community College.

It was during his time with the Vikings when TigerBlog first met Inverso. Every now and then when TigerBlog was working at the newspaper, he covered MCCC events, usually either men's basketball or men's soccer.

Mercer County Community College connects with Mercer County Park in a huge, spacious, in some ways beautiful piece of land in West Windsor, about 15 minutes from the Princeton campus. The park includes a rowing center that has been the home for NCAA championships and U.S. national teams, as well as walking/biking paths, a ton of baseball and soccer fields, an ice rink and tennis courts.

If you walk through the park, eventually you end up at the college. For a junior college, it has great facilities.

One of TB's all-time favorite stories from his newspaper days involves covering a men's basketball game at Mercer. During a particularly heated game, the Mercer coach (an excitable type, and not Howard Levy), argued a call, stormed down the end of the bench, kicked open the door - and found himself locked outside when it closed behind him.

This was while the game was going on. Mercer kept playing. Eventually the coach, who had to run around the side of the building, past the tennis courts, over to the front door and then back into the gym, came flying around the corner and back to the bench, just in time to get T'd up by the ref. It was the only time TB can remember a ref laughing as he issued a technical foul.

Anyway, TB would cover a few games there a year. And in soccer. From the first time TB covered Inverso's teams, he could tell he was dealing with a special coach. And a personable one.

And, as it turned out, a talented one. TB wrote this about Inverso in 2010:
TB remembers being at a Rider men's basketball event that included the top sports-talk duo of all time, Mike and Mad Dog, back at their absolute peak in the early '90s. The night at Rider (it wasn't a game; it might have been a Midnight Madness type of thing) included a Mad Dog sound-alike contest, and Inverso stunned the whole crowd and the two radio big shots with his imitation of a conversation that the two would have had about how Judas betrayed Jesus (TB's people don't have a great working knowledge of this situation, but he has a basic understanding of what happened). Inverso, as the Mad Dog, went on and on about how appalled he was by Judas, and finally interrupted himself as Mike and said: "hey, Judas was a bad guy; what do you want?"

TigerBlog didn't realize until he read Inverso's bio on Rider's webpage yesterday that he had been an assistant coach at Princeton from 1980-85, which means he finished his career here under Bob Bradley and started it under the coach who preceded Bradley.

Jim Barlow, the current head coach, followed Bradley. The one who came before Bradley was Bill Muse, who coached here for 11 years and won more than 60 percent of his games.

Barlow, by the way, has won 156 games in his Princeton career, the most of any Princeton coach. His most recent win came against Inverso, with whom Barlow goes way back.

Princeton defeated Rider 3-1 Tuesday night. The game was scoreless for 60 minutes and then had four goals in a stretch of 22:04. Luckily for the Tigers, three of them were by Princeton, including the first two in the career of Greg Seifert, a senior defender.

For that matter, Princeton scored one goal in the first 240 minutes of the season and then had three in those 22 minutes (and four seconds).

And, for that matter, Princeton is now 0-2 against unranked teams and 1-0 against ranked teams. Rider, who had been 4-0-0, is ranked 22nd this week. It's a testament to the job that Charlie has done at the school, which is about eight miles from Princeton, in Lawrenceville.

Actually, now that TigerBlog thinks about it, Inverso is probably the only person with a connection to all five schools he used to cover in the newspaper business: coaching at Princeton, Mercer, Rider and Rutgers and graduating from the College of New Jersey (formerly Trenton State College).

Next up for Princeton is Boston University, tomorrow at 5:30 on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium. Can't be there? It's on ESPNU.

BU isn't ranked, which might be a negative for Princeton.

The Tigers have three more games after that one before the Ivy League season starts. Only one is at home, but both are easily attendable, with games Tuesday at Drexel and Wednesday the 28th at Villanova. In between Princeton hosts FDU, on Saturday the 24th.

After that, it's Dartmouth at home on Saturday, Oct. 1.

As for Barlow, TB was talking to one of his colleagues, Andrew Borders, about how he actually covered Barlow as a high school player at Hightstown High School, which isn't far from Mercer County Community College and the park. Barlow's high school team was loaded.
Now Barlow is in Year 21 as Tiger head coach.

Princeton opened the season with losses to West Virginia and St. John's. The win over Rider is a really good sign that Princeton is now rounded into game shape and ready for the next set of challenges.

The next one is on national TV, tomorrow at 5:30.

A few members of the team filmed a funny video in advance of that game. You can see it HERE.

It's funny, right?

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