Friday, May 22, 2020

Championship Weekend

Anish Shroff, the ESPN announcer, wrote a piece for US Lacrosse in which he chronicled what last weekend's NCAA men's quarterfinal round might have looked like.

His last game of the weekend matched Princeton and Cornell, and he wrote what essentially was a small summary of how the game might have gone. The only thing was that he didn't say how it ended.

Instead, in his story, Anish had the score Princeton 19, Cornell 19, less than a minute to go, shot clock off, Princeton ball. And he just left it at that.

This caused TigerBlog to send him a message, asking him how in the world could he leave the world hanging that way.

TB will say this. If there had been a Princeton-Cornell game in the quarterfinals that was 19-19 for the final possession of regulation, that would have been an extraordinary scene. Also, TB might have been a tad nervous at that point.

Christian Swezey did a different take on the NCAA quarterfinal, or actually the NCAA tournament as a whole. Christian, another member of the lacrosse media, has put together a Table Top Lacrosse game, one that uses dice rolls and statistical analysis to project a play-by-play.

He's applied this to a hypothetical NCAA field, and last weekend he had Princeton over Ohio State in the quarterfinals. According to his game, Princeton is one of three Ivy League schools in the Final Four, with a semifinal schedule of Princeton-Cornell and Yale-Syracuse.

TigerBlog is 100 percent positive that Princeton would have reached Championship Weekend this year in men's lacrosse. He's also 100 percent positive that the Tigers wouldn't have been the only Ivy League school represented.

The best part of all that is that there is no way for anyone to ever prove him wrong.

This weekend would have been the NCAA championships for men's and women's lacrosse. It's TB's favorite annual weekend on the athletic calendar, with great memories of Princeton championships (nine of them between the men and women) and other years where Princeton was not represented but TB felt that they would be there next time.

Since the first Princeton men's NCAA title in 1992, TB has missed only three men's Final Fours - in 1995, 1999 and 2003. And in 2003, he was in the Carrier Dome for the women's championship, which Princeton won by defeating Virginia 8-7 in overtime, something that the women's team celebrated earlier this week.

And by the way, speaking of the women's 2003 final, TB wrote about how Rachael Becker DeCecco shut down Amy Appelt in the final seconds of regulation to force the overtime in the first place. The news came out yesterday of the newest of inductees for the US Lacrosse National Hall of Fame, and there was Amy Appelt's name among the members of the class.

Rob Bordley was also on the list after an amazing career as the head coach at Landon, where he became one of five high school coaches ever to reach 600 wins. Bordley is a former Princeton men's player from the Class of 1970.

For every year since 2005, TigerBlog has been part of the official stat crew for the men's championships. This has always meant the men's semifinals Saturday, the Division III and Division II championships Sunday and the men's final Monday.

The Friday before, which would have been today, would have meant practices and press conferences for the competing teams, as well as troubleshooting and making sure everything was ready to go for TB and his colleagues.

All of those championship weekends have taken place in one of three venues - M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Gillette Stadium in Foxboro and Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, which would have been the site of the one that would be starting now.

It'll be a very strange Memorial Day weekend for TigerBlog with no lacrosse championships. It'll be a strange Memorial Day weekend in general, as with everything else in the spring of 2020.

Next year's men's championships will be in Hartford, at Rentschler Field. It'll be the first time there, and the first time at a non-NFL venue since 2002, when Syracuse defeated Princeton 13-12 in the final at Rutgers Stadium.

Hopefully by next Memorial Day, things will be back to the way they used to be.

As with every other year, TB thinks Princeton will be there.

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