Monday, April 24, 2017

Good Times Never Seemed So Good

TigerBlog was the leaving the men's lacrosse game Saturday afternoon - walking towards Lot 23, past the field hockey field, soccer fields and tennis courts - when he heard a commotion from where the softball team was playing.

Had someone just hit a game-winning bomb?

TigerBlog couldn't be sure. Then he heard a familiar sound, though one he'd never heard from softball before. It was the Princeton band.

From the distance, he recognized the song immediately. Even if he hadn't, what happened next would certainly have reminded him.

Around the corner from Roberts Stadium came a bunch of soccer players in blue shirts. They were from Seton Hall, there to play the Princeton men's soccer team in a spring game.

As they walked, they sang - loudly. "Sweet CAH-ROH-LINE. duh-duh-duh. Good times never seemed so good ..."

The sight of Seton Hall's men's soccer team with its rendition of "Sweet Caroline" as the Princeton band performed at softball? That's not quite what TB was expecting to hear.

A few minutes earlier, he had been finishing up his story on the men's team's 12-9 win over Harvard, one that locked up the No. 2 seed in the Ivy League tournament. After that, he watched the overtime of the Princeton-Cornell women's game.

It was quite a weekend for a few of Princeton's women's teams. One of them won an Ivy League championship for the first time since 2005. Another won a divisional title and took a huge step towards hosting the league championship series. The third didn't win anything, but came really close to not having a chance to win its own title; as for hosting, well, that's a bit complicated at this time.

TigerBlog will start with the softball team. As the band played on, Princeton was salting away a second-straight South Division title, first with a big comeback win over Columbia (it was the Lions who actually hit two bombs before the Tigers rallied from 5-2 down with four in the seventh to win Game 1) and then with a Penn loss in Ithaca against Cornell.

Princeton enters its final four games of the regular season with an Ivy record of 13-3, five games up on Columbia. With the division now won, the next question is whether or not Princeton will host the Ivy League championship series.

The North Division has not yet been settled, and in fact three teams are still mathematically alive. What matters most to Princeton is whether or not it can have the best league record, which determines the host team.

Dartmouth is currently 10-6, followed by Harvard at 9-6 and Yale at 8-8. Dartmouth and Harvard will play four games this coming weekend, and Yale will play Brown four times. Harvard still has one game to make up against Brown.

The North Division is complicated. Princeton's math is simpler - if the Tigers win two of four against Cornell, then they will host. They can even if they lose all four, depending on what happens with the North teams.

The softball team will play for an Ivy title, hopefully at home. The women's golf team did something this weekend that TigerBlog can't imagine has happened too often, if ever, before.

The Tigers won an Ivy League championship in Florida.

The Ivy League women's golf championships were held in Orlando. Why? TB has no idea.

What he does know is that Princeton came within one stroke of the Ivy record for a three-round championship with its 891. The Tigers completely took the drama out of this championship early on and cruised to a 31-stroke victory.

Princeton had the individual champion, as Amber Wang shot a two-over 218, beating her teammate and runner-up Alison Chang by three shots. Hana Ku was two more strokes back, tied for third.

Lastly, there was the women's lacrosse game against Cornell.

Princeton had lost to Penn 18-12 Wednesday night, leaving Cornell as the only unbeaten team in Ivy League women's lacrosse prior to the game against Princeton. A Big Red win would have meant the Ivy tournament was in Ithaca and that Princeton would not be able to get even a piece of the league championship.

On the other hand, a Princeton win would throw things into a bit of chaos, as Penn has only one loss (to Cornell) and Harvard has only two losses, with a game against Cornell still to play.

Princeton led 6-3 at halftime and 7-3 early in the second. Cornell led 11-9 as the second half reached its final minutes.

Much like its last game on Schoellkopf Field, Princeton made the end of regulation wildly dramatic. Last year it was the NCAA tournament game against UMass, when Olivia Hompe tied it with one second left.

This time, against Cornell, Hompe had all kinds of time to spare before she tied it - 2.9 seconds to be exact. Colby Chanenchuk then won it in the second OT.

As a result, Princeton, Penn and Cornell are all tied heading into the final weekend of the regular season. A win in that final game (Princeton hosts Columbia, Penn hosts Yale in addition to Cornell-Harvard) guarantees any of the three at least a share of the championship.

Those three, plus Harvard, will be the four teams in the Ivy tournament. There can actually be a four-way tie for the title if Harvard wins and Penn and Princeton both lose.

Should it finish in a three-way tie with Princeton, Cornell and Penn all at 6-1, then, TB believes, Cornell would host the tournament, based on goal-differential in the head-to-head matchups.

And that was the weekend for those three teams: One Ivy title, one division title and one "needed-to-win-it-to-still-have-a-shot-at-a-title."

Coming tomorrow - more about Trevor Tierney's French bulldog.

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