Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Apologies, Olivia

TigerBlog isn't wrong often. When he is, he's the first to admit it.

Okay, he's joking a bit. Not about the admitting it part. Just about the not being wrong often.

Anyway, he wrote this about Olivia Hompe back in the first week of April:
In the process, [Hompe] moved into second place all-time at Princeton in career points with 225. The record of 270, held by 1999 grad Crista Samaras, is probably not going to be challenged, but getting to second is pretty impressive.

He was wrong. And he'll get back to that shortly. First he wants to tell you about his weekend.  

Probably like you, TigerBlog watched a lot of lacrosse on television. And just like TigerBlog, you were probably really disappointed that the Big East men's final between Marquette and Providence wasn't televised.

His viewing Saturday started with Hobart-Bryant in the Northeast Conference final, a game that was streamed on NEC Front Row. TB connected it to the television so he could watch it on the bigger screen, which was great, except that he couldn't simply change the channel during timeouts and such. That's the only drawback.

After that was Albany-Binghamton in the America East final, Towson-UMass in the Colonial final, Army-Notre Dame and Syracuse-Colgate in regular-season games and then finally Ohio State-Maryland in the Big Ten final.

All of those games were on regular television.

Then, come Sunday morning, it was Monmouth-Marist in the MAAC final and then Yale-Brown in the Ivy final.

TigerBlog was happy to see Monmouth win. For one thing, it's good for New Jersey lacrosse. For another, the team was 0-14 in its first year four years ago and now is headed to the NCAA tournament. For another, head coach Brian Fisher is known to be a pretty good guy.

Mostly, though, TB was happy for Jake Henze, a sophomore shortstick D middie for the Hawks. Jake and TigerBlog Jr. go back to sixth grade, when they first started playing club lacrosse together. After the game, Jake's dad, Steve, who had been one of TBJ's summer coaches for six years, sent a picture of him, his wife Lisa and Jake with the MAAC trophy. They looked happy.

If you had told TB 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, that there would be that much lacrosse on TV in one weekend, he never would have believed it. Back when he first started here, there was no lacrosse on television, and when there was a game, it was on satellite, with coordinates like "transponder 7, channel 443," as opposed to "ESPNU" or "CBS Sports."

If you're a lacrosse fan, you have no complaints at all about how much coverage there is. It was like the World Cup for soccer, only better.

It will only get better still this weekend, when the eight opening round NCAA tournament games are on ESPNU as well.

The other game TB watched Sunday was the Ivy League women's final between Princeton and Cornell. This game started at 11 am, an hour after the MAAC final and an hour before the Ivy men's final.

Princeton defeated Cornell 12-9 after jumping out to a 7-2 lead in the first half and holding off a Cornell challenge.

Even before the final, Princeton, Cornell and Penn - whom Princeton defeated 17-8 after losing 17-12 to the Quakers earlier this year - knew they'd be headed to the NCAA tournament. The teams played this weekend for seedings - but also for the pride of being the top dog of the league after the three-way tie in the regular season.

The Ivy tournament turned out to be a showcase for Princeton's two senior stars, goalie Ellie DeGarmo and attacker Olivia Hompe.

To show you how good DeGarmo was, Hompe scored seven goals and had two assists for her fifth nine-point game of the season - and second of the tournament, after her three-goal, six-assist effort against Penn in the semifinals - and yet DeGarmo was still the tournament MVP after her own record-setting performance with 15 saves against Cornell and 27 for the tournament.

Getting back to Hompe, when she moved into second place all-time, she trailed Samaras by 45 points. It seemed like way too high of a hill to climb. Instead, she chased it down in less than eight more games.

She went into the final against Cornell one point away, and of course she sprinted past the record in almost no time. As of now, she has 278 points, as well as the program record with 193 career goals. A little context for that would be that only eight other players in program history have at least 193 career points; she has that many goals.

Princeton drew the No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament, which comes with it a first-round bye, something the top six seeds get. The top eight get to play at home on the first weekend.

TigerBlog watched the women's selections on ncaa.com, and he was happy for the team to see the No. 5 come up next to Princeton's name.

Then he saw who the opponent will be. That sort of surprised him.

Princeton will play Sunday at 1 against the winner of the game on Sherrerd Field Friday night at 7 between ... Cornell and Notre Dame. Princeton is 3-0 against those two this year, with a pair of wins in Ithaca during the last three weekends and a win over Notre Dame in Princeton back on March 11.

If Princeton can get past the winner of Cornell-Notre Dame, it's possible that waiting ahead will be Penn State, a team who defeated Princeton earlier this season. Beyond that would be the Final Four.

Ah, but that's thinking about. Maybe it's an advantage to play a team you've already beaten. Maybe it's an advantage to play someone new. None of that will matter in the second half Sunday.

If you were going to build a women's lacrosse team, you'd do so around a goalie and an all-time great offensive player. That's where Princeton is right now.

The challenges ahead are defined now. And it's another chance to play at home.

And again, TigerBlog was wrong when he said Hompe probably wouldn't catch Samaras. She did - with some time to spare.

Hey, there's nothing wrong with saying you're wrong - especially when you're usually right.

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