Friday, December 2, 2022

Feeling Old

TigerBlog thought for a few decades that he would only start to feel old when the children of Princeton athletes he covered started to compete here themselves.

That actually started to happen a few years ago, with athletes like men's lacrosse player Jack Crockett (son of former football player Todd) and women's lacrosse players Ellie Mueller (daughter of former men's basketball player Kit and Lane Calkins (daughter of former men's lacrosse player Ed).

As it turns out, that didn't really make TB feel old. You want to know what did? You want to know when TB has never felt older in his entire life? 

TB and TigerBlog Jr. (who is now 25, for those of you who remember when he was a ballboy at Princeton basketball games) were driving along the other day when the song "Love Stinks" came on. TB said that he saw the J. Geils Band and Billy Squier at the Philadelphia Spectrum back in 1981 and it was a great concert.

The fact that the concert was a more than 41 years ago isn't what made TB feel old. It's not that the Spectrum itself was torn down 12 years ago.

It's what TBJ said after that. It hurts TB to type these words:

"So, I have a question. How did you buy concert tickets back in those days?"

Ahhhhhhh. What do you say to that? 

"Well, there was the one cave where they sold the tickets, and it was next to the cave where they performed."

Now that was rough.

Anyway, speaking of ticketed events, HERE is the link to the Princeton Athletics ticketing site. For the record, this is not how TB bought his tickets to the 1981 concert.

There are two ticketed events at Princeton this weekend, and it is the home weekend set for the men's hockey team, who hosts Clarkson tonight and St. Lawrence tomorrow (face-off for both at 7). 

Princeton is coming off a split last weekend at RIT, who was ranked 20th heading in. The weekend began with this from the Princeton men's hockey Twitter feed:

That's pretty good. After RIT won last Friday, Princeton came back with a 5-0 win Saturday, as Ethan Pearson had his third shutout of the season.

The ECAC playoffs are still three months away, so it's way too early to start thinking about who would be playing whom and where come March. At this point, you're trying to improve and pick up points along the way, especially at home, where Princeton will be this weekend and next (against Union and RPI).

You'll need tickets for the Prudential Center Sunday, and you'll want them too. That will be where Princeton heads to wrestle against two more Big Ten schools, Wisconsin (at 2) and Michigan State (at 4).

The Badgers are ranked 11th nationally. Michigan State and Princeton are both in the "others receiving votes" category.

Both basketball teams play on the road this weekend, with the men in Philadelphia tomorrow to take on Drexel and the women in Maine tonight to take on, well, Maine. The Tigers, who already lost one game to a blizzard when they were supposed to travel to Buffalo, won't have that worry this time around.

The women's hockey team, one weekend removed from playing two games in Nashville, are at Union and RPI this weekend. The fencing teams are at the Sacred Heart duels.

Closer to home, the men's squash team hosts Rochester Sunday at noon.

The Princeton campus will also be the home to the Big Al Invitational for men's and women's swimming and diving. The event runs from today through Sunday, with much more information HERE.

The Big Al Invitational continues to honor the memory of Alan Ebersole, a Princeton swimmer who passed away in an accident in Florida in October 2004. TB never met Ebersole, but he remembers the outpouring of grief at his loss and the way the Princeton swimming community rallied around the Ebersole family. Having this event, which has grown into one of the best early-season meets in the country, has to be very special to everyone who knew him.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Congratulations Times Three

The NCAA men's water polo quarterfinals will be held today at the University of California.

Princeton, off its overtime win in the play-in game against Fordham last weekend, will take on top-seeded USC at 8 Eastern. You can watch the game HERE.

While the Tigers were getting ready for the Trojans, there was some interesting news yesterday morning out of Hamilton, N.Y.

Nicki Moore, Colgate's Director of Athletics, has been hired at Cornell to replace Andy Noel. Merrily Dean Baker probably never considered that there would be a time when five of the Ivy League's ADs and the league executive director would be women when she was hired as Princeton's first woman athletic administrator back in 1970.

TigerBlog wishes Moore, whom he has never met, all the best in Ithaca. He does know that she is inheriting a great Associate AD for Communications in Jeremy Hartigan. 

For TB, he was more taken by the second line of the release on the Colgate website than the first, which announced that Moore was leaving. This was the second line: 

Deputy Athletics Director Yariv Amir '01, who has built a wealth of experience during nearly 21 years of athletics administration at Colgate as well as Princeton, will serve as Colgate's Interim Vice President and Director of Athletics. A national search for Colgate's next athletics director will begin shortly in the new year.

Yariv, you might recall, started in Princeton's Office of Athletic Communications before becoming the marketing director in the earliest days of videostreaming. A rower at Colgate, Yariv has been back at his alma mater since 2014. 

Speaking of people who deserve congratulations, there are two Tigers whom TB would like to recognize.

First there is Liam Johnson, the linebacker on the football team. Earlier this week, Johnson was named a finalist for the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.

As TB mentioned last week when the All-Ivy team was released, Johnson and his brothers Tom and James have become the first three brothers to become first-team All-Ivy football players at Princeton. Liam's selection as a finalist is a first for the family.

TB went back and looked at the defensive stats for Princeton football the last few seasons. If you go back to 2016, Luke Catarius led the team in tackles. Since then, one of the Johnson brothers has done so every year except one, and each brother has done so at least once.

The one exception, by the way, was the 2021 season, when Jeremiah Tyler was first and James Johnson was second. For the record, it was Tom in 2017 and 2018, James in 2019, Tyler in 2021 and now Liam this year.

The record for tackles in a season by a Johnson brother? That would be Tom in 2017, with 95. Liam had 90 this year, the second-best.

TB sends his congratulations to Liam on being a finalist, along with Harvard's Truman Jones. On the offensive side, the finalists are Harvard running back Adrian Borguet and Yale quarterback Nathan Grooms. 

The winners of the Bushnell Cups will be announced Monday, Dec. 12, in New York City. Three days later, the NFCHA will announce the field hockey All-American teams. 

Beth Yeager was a first-team All-American last year, when she became the first freshman to earn the award. She's also been a two-time Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year and two-time first-team All-Ivy selection, as well as a member of the U.S. Women's National Team.

She added another honor yesterday, when she was named the Mid-Atlantic Region Player of the Year. There are five regions in total.

Being a regional Player of the Year is a lofty accomplishment, but Yeager is clearly deserving. The most amazing thing about Yeager is that she led the Ivy League in goals and points, but she's probably a better player outside the circle than inside. 

It's impossible to count the number of shots the other team never got because of Yeager's ability to take the ball away (without fouling) and head the other way. Princeton, by the way, went 7-0 in the Ivy League and returned to the NCAA tournament this season.

Congratulations to Yeager as well.

And that's three congratulations in one day, which isn't too bad, right?

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

TAGD Thanks And Tip-Off Tonight

Another TAGD has come and gone, and once again Princeton Athletics — and more specifically, Princeton's athletes — have been the beneficiary of some incredible generosity.

On behalf of the entire department, TigerBlog would like to say "thank you." For the leaderboards and to see which Friends' Groups won each division, you can go to the TAGD website HERE.

As with every other TAGD, yesterday's event was filled with fun and laughs, much of which was capture on social media.

There was this, for instance: 

The field hockey team had a great social media day. What else would you expect from Gracie McGowan (with help from assistant coach Sarah Mansfield).

In addition, TigerBlog enjoyed what the baseball team put out as well, especially this blooper reel, which is really, really well done:

There were all kinds of social media successes. These were just two of them. Pick a team, and you'll get a feel for how much this all means to them.

Again, to remind you of what TB said yesterday, these are more than donations. They're investments in the future of the people who compete here.

Beyond that, the success of TAGD is a sign of faith in the direction of the current programs, a message of approval for the athletes - and a reaffirmation of what the Princeton experience meant to so many people who have competed here through the years. Princeton Athletics clearly appreciates it.

With another TAGD completed, there's a time for everyone involved in making it happen to exhale a bit, at least until 7 tonight, when the men's basketball team has a home game against Cairn. If you're wondering about the visitors, they're making a short drive from Lower Bucks County to Princeton.

It's a home game for Princeton, obviously, but it also comes on the heels of a very, very long ride, this one from London back to New Jersey after the London Basketball Classic over Thanksgiving weekend. It's a challenge that has never before happened for the program, the first game back after a Transatlantic flight. 

The game tonight will be a matchup of Tigers and Highlanders, as Cairn's teams are known. The Highlanders are one of the better defensive and rebounding teams in Division III, ranking in the top 20 nationally in both. Point guard Jesse Rivera, a first-team All-Colonial States Athletic Conference selection a year ago, is seventh in Division III in assists per game at 7.2.

The Highlanders reached the league championship game a year ago, falling 77-72 to Wilson College. 

As is to be expected, Cairn will be at a size disadvantage, with no player taller than 6-7 and only four players taller than 6-4. Princeton's leading rebounder is Matt Allocco, who himself is 6-4. Allocco averages 7.2 rebounds per game, which is actually more than last year's leader for the season, Ethan Wright, who 1) averaged 6.9 for the year and 2) is also 6-4.

The game tonight starts a run of games either in Jadwin (five) or not that far away from Jadwin (two) for the men's basketball team during the next month plus a day. The Tigers will start December with a short drive to Drexel Saturday, with tip for that game at 2.

Then it will be home against Monmouth (Dec. 6) and Lafayette (Dec. 10) before heading to Kean College in Union Dec. 13 to take on Iona, with home games against Delaware (Dec. 16), Kean (Dec. 23) and then Harvard in the Ivy opener on New Year's Eve. 

By the way, speaking of the Tigers and basketball, TB was briefly watching the Georgia Tech-Iowa men's game last night on ESPN. And what was the first thing said about the Yellow Jackets on their first possession? 

"They run that Princeton offense at you."

Ah, did Pete Carril hate that. And yes, if he was watching the game in heaven's sports bar, he probably frowned at the term, and smiled at the offense that seconds later got a layup.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

TAGD IX

For information on TAGD or to make a gift, click HERE.

TigerBlog mentioned yesterday that the men's basketball team won a pair of games at the London Classic last week.

In addition to the on-court success, the event spoke volumes to something else about Princeton Athletics. You can see for yourself:

Wherever Princeton goes to play, in whatever sport it is, there are always Tigers there. Whether they travel or live there, whether they played for Princeton or are just fans, whether they are Tiger parents or Tiger alums, they are always there.

TigerBlog has never seen an institution that generates the love and loyalty the way Princeton does. From his viewpoint, that applies even more so to Princeton Athletics.

Today is the ninth Tiger Athletics Give Day — TAGD, as former Friends' Group coordinator Diana Dreyfuss named it in 2014. Back then, it began as a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the first Princeton Athletic event, a baseball game in 1864 between Princeton and Williams.  

TAGD has grown into a stunning show of Princeton loyalty and support. A year ago, Princeton had 6,624 donors who contributed an extraordinary $3,741,823, raising the all-time total to just short of $20 million. 

Maybe stunning isn't the right word. Stunning, after all, would suggest that this was unforeseen. As TB said, the loyalty and support that exists should never be stunning.

That loyalty, by the way, was probably most on display during the pandemic, when TAGD endured and even thrived, something that said "hey, even when there are no games to be played, there is still a Princeton Athletics and that is something that is still hugely important."

This support is not to be taken for granted, ever. 

TAGD is a day of fun for everyone involved, especially the coaches and the athletes. It's a social media festival, and there have been some really, really creative posts that have been produced by the teams through the years.

These are seriously competitive people, of course. They don't want to lose at anything, whether that's against the outside opponents who make up the schedules or, in this case, against their intramural Tiger rivals.

More than anything else, though, TigerBlog has always seen TAGD as something a bit deeper. To him, this is more of an investment, in the young people who represent Princeton now.

It's an investment in their experience. It's an investment in Education Through Athletics, and all of the benefits that come from that philosophy.

Because of the generous support, Princeton Athletics is able to provide the best possible experience. Because of that, the lessons that are learned through intercollegiate competition are taught. Because of that, a set of values that last a lifetime are reinforced.

With that background, Princeton's athletes then head out into the world to do their best, in their communities and globally. Every step of the way, they are reminded of what their experience as Tigers meant to their own personal growth and development. In fact, what they learned becomes more acute as time goes on.

That is why there is such loyalty in the first place. The ones who will be donating today lived this experience themselves and have seen the enormous benefits it has brought.

And so have fun today on TAGD. And thank you again for all that you do. 

This experience wouldn't be what it is without you.


Monday, November 28, 2022

Smile, Keller

Before TigerBlog talks about anything else, he wants to mention first that tomorrow is TAGD.

If you are new here, TAGD stands for "Tiger Athletics Give Day." It's a huge celebration for Princeton Athletics and everyone who has given such generous support through the years. 

TB will have much more on TAGD tomorrow. For now, you can click HERE for more information.

Elsewhere, how was your Thanksgiving? Do you head out early for Black Friday savings? 

Is it safe now to listen to Christmas music, or do you need to wait a few more days? 

Among all the wholesome Thanksgiving content that there was last week, this might have been the best, courtesy of the Instagram account of Ashley Madalon, the wife of head men's lacrosse coach Matt Madalon:

If you can't make that out, it's from kindergartener Waverly, the older Madalon daughter. It's her Thanksgiving wish list, and it goes in this order: Food, Dog, Mom and then something else that TB has narrowed to either "pots," "pets" or "Playstation 6." What it definitely does not say is "Dad."

How cute is that?

On more serious matters, there were some big moments in Princeton Athletics this weekend, most notably in DeNunzio Pool, where ninth-ranked Princeton hosted Fordham in the first round of the NCAA men's water polo tournament.

TB turned it on just as regulation was ending, with the score 9-9. As the teams were heading to overtime, there was a close-up shot of Princeton's No. 7, Keller Maloney as he leaned against one of the lane lines just before play restarted for the two three-minute OT periods.

What was he doing? Smiling. TB made a note of that. 

Then Keller got serious. First he scored to put Princeton on top 10-9 with a goal in the first OT. Then, after Fordham tied it, Maloney made a game-winning play when, with time running out, he didn't force a shot, instead making the extra pass to Roko Pozaric, who ripped in a shot with three seconds left to make the final 11-10.

Besides giving the Tigers a reason to smile, the win advanced Princeton to the quarterfinals against top-seeded USC Thursday at 8 Eastern from the University of California in Berkeley. It's a big ask of Princeton, who did not play USC during the regular season.

If you go by comparative scores, though, there's no reason to think Princeton won't give a good account of itself. For instance, both teams lost to UCLA by an 8-6 score (USC was 1-2 against the Bruins this season) and both beat Stanford (USC 19-14, Princeton 11-10).

Meanwhile, while the men's water polo team was competing in Princeton for the chance to head to the West Coast, the men's basketball team was competing in London, knowing it would return to Princeton after its two games there.

Princeton was part of the four-team London Basketball Classic, an event that gave the Tigers a chance to explore England, allowed reigning Ivy Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan a chance to return to his native country and presented the team with two very competitive games. When the team got back on the plane to come home, it had with it the championship trophy and the MVP trophy, which went to Evbuomwan.

Princeton started the tournament Thursday, which was not Thankgiving in Engand, which doesn't have an official Thanksgiving holiday. To get things started, Princeton turned around an early deficit to beat Army-West Point 74-66. 

After a day off Friday, which included watching the England-USA World Cup draw, the Tigers then came back Saturday and used a 12-0 second half run to take down Northeastern 56-54.

Princeton will be back in Jadwin Gym Wednesday to take on Cairn to start a run of six of its next eight games at home, a stretch that ends with the Ivy opener against Harvard on New Year's Eve afternoon. The two road games in that run are both within an hour of campus.

Before all that, though, don't forget about TAGD tomorrow. TB will be back with more on the subject tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving, With A Side Of All-Ivy

As you know, tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

TigerBlog has included these thoughts on the holiday almost every year, other than last year, for reasons he'll get to in a minute:

As holidays go, you can't do much better than Thanksgiving. It's got it all, really: a huge meal (with turkey, no less), football, family, history (dates back to 1621), start of a four-day weekend for most people, leftovers. It's even a secular holiday, so every American can dive right in, regardless of religion.
 

The Lions and the Cowboys, obviously, always play at home on Thanksgiving, and the NFL has now added a third game (maybe a little too much). Beyond watching football, how many out there have played their own Thanksgiving football games, all of which, by the way, are named "the Turkey Bowl?"

The holiday may lag behind Christmas in terms of great Hollywood movies, and "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" is no match for "A Charlie Brown Christmas" or "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Still, there are some great moments in movies and TV shows around Thanksgiving.

Rocky and Adrian had their first date on Thanksgiving – "To you it's Thanksgiving; to me it's Thursday," Rocky said romantically – as did Meadow and Jackie Jr. on "The Sopranos" (it didn't quite work out as well as it did for Rocky and Adrian). "Everybody Loves Raymond" had two pretty good Thanksgiving episodes, the one where Marie makes a low-fat dinner and the one where Debra makes fish instead of turkey. As an aside, TigerBlog's Aunt Regina once made Cornish game hens instead of turkey, so he knows how they all felt. And of course, there was the Thanksgiving episode of "Cheers," which has the big food fight at the end.

The Woody Allen movie "Hannah and Her Sisters" starts and ends on two different Thanksgivings. "Miracle on 34th Street" is a Christmas movie, but it does start with the Thanksgiving parade in New York City.

And of course, there is the best of all Thanksgiving movies: "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." It'll make you laugh a lot and cry a little, and it ends on Thanksgiving.


TB wishes everyone a great holiday and hopes that maybe you take a few minutes to think about what you really are thankful for these days.

Why didn't he post this last year? It's because he wrote about how he ran into James Johnson, who was a senior linebacker on the football team, and shared with Johnson the news that he had been named first-team All-Ivy League.

Even a year later, the memory of that moment makes TB smile. You can read it HERE.

The 2022 All-Ivy League football team was announced yesterday, and Princeton had 16 players who were honored, including seven on first-team. One of the first-team picks was sophomore linebacker Liam Johnson, who along with wide receiver Andrei Iosivas and offensive lineman Henry Byrd were unanimous picks. 

You can read the entire story HERE. TB is really happy for Dylan Classi, whom TB figured might not be first-team because of the presence of Iosivas at the same position.

Liam Johnson is the younger brother of James Johnson, and they're both younger brothers of Tom Johnson, who was also a first-team All-Ivy League linebacker (in both 2017 and 2018). Liam's selection marks the first time in Princeton football history that three brothers have all been first-team All-Ivy.

The closest any other brothers have come would be the Garretts in the 1980s. Judd and Jason were both first-team picks, and John was second-team.

Beyond football, the first siblings who popped into TB's mind were the Reinprecht sisters, Sarah, Julia and Katie. They took the "three siblings named first-team All-Ivy" to another level, with 11 selections between them (four each for Katie and Julia and three for Sarah). 

Elsewhere, TB also thought of the Behncke family, who had three first-team All-Ivy soccer players at Princeton (brothers Griff and Matt, sister Emily). 

Are there others? There must be. TB will give it more thought.

First, though, he'd like to wish everyone the happiest and healthiest of Thanksgivings, even to the men's basketball team, who is in England and will play Army at 2:30 tomorrow afternoon and then will play again Saturday against either Northeastern or Manhattan. 

In England, tomorrow is not Thanksgiving. In fact, there is no official Thanksgiving holiday in the U.K.

The men's basketball games won't be streamed, but you can listen to Derek Jones HERE.

Happy Thanksgiving, Tigers.


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

In The ’56 Lounge

Lola Wheeler, a current senior, was a netball player in her native England before coming to Princeton. 

Eager to continue her athletic career, she decided to walk on to the women's open rowing team when she got here. She's been part of the program ever since.

Cosmo Iacavazzi is one the greatest athletes Princeton has ever had, a legendary football player on the great Tigers teams of the mid-1960s.

TigerBlog introduced them to each other Saturday afternoon in the Princeton Stadium Class of 1956 Lounge. As he did so, he couldn't help but think about what this meeting says about Princeton Athletics and what it has almost meant.

First, some background.

Lola emailed TB last week to talk about a project she was doing for a class. The basic idea is that she is writing about what it is like for highly competitive athletes when their athletic careers come to an end, whether that is on the college, professional or international level.

TB put her in touch with the first two people who came to mind, both of whom are Princeton alums who were former Olympians. The first was Donn Cabral, the 2012 NCAA steeplechase champion and two-time Olympic finalist whose running career has recently ended. The other was Cathy Corcione, a 1968 Olympic swimmer when she was only 15 who was one of Princeton's first women athletes (and a four-time individual national champion with the Tigers).

Beyond those two, the lounge Saturday figured to be a great place for Lola's research, since there would be a reception (organized by Associate Director of Athletics Kim Meszaros) there that figured to be teaming with former athletes. As it turned out, that was the case.

During the course of the game, Lola was able to talk to several former athletes, from different decades, different sports, different levels of competition. She got answers that were funny, serious, in-depth, heartfelt — often from the same people. 

At halftime, Cosmo walked past the two of them, and that's when TB introduced them. Here you had so much of what is great about Princeton Athletics, all in one really quick snapshot. 

You had two people for whom the ability to compete in sports has meant so much, and in Lola's case, that meant learning something completely new just to be able to continue her athletic career. You have two people whose athletic experience at Princeton has done so much to shape who they are.

And yet they have almost nothing in common. Princeton didn't have women when Iacavazzi played. Now it's been more than 50 years since women first competed. Cosmo is a Hall of Fame football player. Lola is a walk-on rower. Cosmo is from Scranton. Lola is from England. Cosmo graduated nearly 60 years ago. Lola will graduate this year. 

None of that matters, though. They share that common bond of being Princeton athletes. It's special, and it lasts forever.

It certainly did in the case of Ed Weihenmayer. He wasn't at the reception Saturday, at least not in body. He was certainly there in spirit.

Weihenmayer passed away in June at the age of 81. He was the captain of the 1961 team, so he was there just before Iacavazzi.

An undersized offensive lineman (it's possible he was the last Princeton offensive lineman who didn't weigh at least 200 pounds), Weihenmayer had a zest for life that was remarkable, and he and his family traveled the world for one adventure after another. Wherever he went, though, he never fully left Princeton, a place that he loved his entire life.

Weihenmayer was an engineer who stepped away from that career to become a Marine Corps fighter pilot who flew 118 missions during the Vietnam War. After he returned, he had a long career on Wall Street in human resources, and he then retired and became the manager of his son Erik's climbing career. 

Ah yes, Erik Weihenmayer. 

If the name is familiar, it's because there has never been anyone else quite like Erik Weihenmayer. Born with a degenerative eye disease, he fully lost his sight by the time he was 13. Has that slowed him down? Uh, no.

Erik is one of about 250 people all time who have summited the highest mountain on all seven continents. That includes Mount Everest, by the way. He did all this without the benefit of vision (check out the documentary on his Everest climb entitled "Farther Than The Eye Can See").

Erik was one of about 10 or so members of his family who were also in the ’56 Lounge Saturday. TB had met him before and had spoken to him last week to write THIS STORY about his father, but everytime TB is around him or hears him speak, he is just mesmerized. 

How can you not be? Here is a blind man who has summited the highest peaks in the world and who has served as such an inspiration to so many others. Like his dad, he is also defined by his humility and absence of any pretentiousness. 

So maybe the game itself didn't end the way TB and every Princeton fan was hoping. Still, the lounge provided something that in many ways was as special as a championship would have been.

It was a reminder, once again, of what Princeton Athletics is trying to be and is.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Sports Drama

The football game had just ended Saturday, and now TigerBlog sat down in front of his computer to write the story for goprincetontigers.com.

Where to start? What to say? As he sat there, he just figured he'd go with what he was thinking in the moment, and so he began:

"Sometimes, sports can be brutal."

If ever that happened to be true, it was Saturday for the Princeton football team. The Tigers, needing a win to get a share of the Ivy League championship, instead fell 20-19 to Penn on a touchdown on a fourth-down play with five seconds left.

It was harsh, for sure. TB's next sentence was this: "Sometimes you find yourself on the wrong end of the drama."

There was all kinds of drama at the end. Penn's winning drive lasted 17 plays and included two huge fourth-down conversions before the touchdown, which made it three successful fourth downs. When that happens, you have to tip your hat to the other team, but it doesn't make it any easier to digest if your team is the one that lost.

TB, of course, is always an optimist who likes to look on the bright side. And so for him, the disappointment spoke volumes about where the program is right now. To go 8-2 and come within a few seconds of another Ivy title and feel the sting? 

Your program has to be a really good place fort that to be the case.

A loss like that will also be a motivator for the players who come back. Every lifting session. Every workout. Every rep. They'll all be done with the memory of how the 2022 season ended.

The seniors who were introduced on Powers Field before the game Saturday finish their Princeton careers with a record of 33-5, as well as Ivy titles in 2018 and 2021. TB was struck by this tweet from senior offensive lineman Henry Byrd after the game:

It's impressive that a young man whose Princeton career ended in such heartbreaking fashion had the composure and maturity to post that.

The day began with the possibility of a four-way tie for the championship, but that ended when Yale closed out Harvard 19-14 in Cambridge about an hour before the Tigers and Quakers finished up. As Penn was driving at the end, TB was hoping that the score would stay the way it was, and that Princeton, like Yale, would celebrate a championship off a 19-14 win.

Obviously, as TB said, sometimes you're on the wrong side of the drama. 

Yesterday, one day after the football game, the men's water polo team found itself on the right side of the drama. The Tigers, who were the heavy favorites, defeated St. Francis (N.Y.) 13-8 yesterday at Brown to win the Northeast Water Polo Conference title.

The championship was the second straight for Princeton, marking the first time in program history the men's water polo team has won back-to-back titles. It's also now three championships out of the last four seasons for the Tigers.

Princeton also won its 26th game of the year, equaling last year's program record for wins.

The NCAA selections were announced late last night. Princeton will return to the NCAA tournament.

The men's water polo team is the fourth Princeton team this fall to win a league championship, after men's cross country, field hockey and women's volleyball all won Ivy titles. The field hockey team did so after their own Ivy title hopes of 2021 ended in similarly heartbreaking fashion as the football team this year. 

It's the nature of sports. It's what makes it great. It's also what makes being a player or coach — or even just a fan — so emotional sometimes. 

You hope you'll be on the right side of the drama, but it doesn't always break in your favor. When it does, there's nothing better. 

When it doesn't, it can be brutal. Saturday afternoon on Powers Field was an example of that. 

When you've built what Princeton football has of late, though, you take a little time and then you focus on the task ahead. These Tigers will be back.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Week 10

It appears that the women's basketball team picked an unfortunate weekend to schedule a game at Buffalo.

What does the forecast for that city say? Possibly six feet of snow? What the heck? 

TigerBlog isn't sure what the NFL will ultimately do regarding the Bills-Browns game that is scheduled for Sunday. If you're a football fan, though, there's nothing you like more than watching a snow game. And kudos for the Bills for planning an outdoor stadium for their new facility. 

Remember when it was nearly 80 degrees a week ago? TigerBlog still hasn't worn a coat this entire fall. And now, it's getting to be wintry, if not winter (or even Thanksgiving).

There won't be any snow in Princeton tomorrow, though it will easily be the coldest day of the football season. Still, that shouldn't make a bit of difference. The whole point is to play big games this time of year, and that's exactly what Princeton will be doing on Powers Field tomorrow at 1.

The Ivy League football season has reached its final Saturday. As always, another 10 weeks have flown by.

As you already know, this Week 10 is unlike almost any in Ivy history. This time around, there is a chance for the league's first-ever four-way tie for the championship.

With six Ivy games in the books, Princeton and Yale are tied for first at 5-1. Penn and Harvard are a game back, at 4-2. 

Harvard plays host to Yale tomorrow at noon. Princeton hosts Penn at 1. Should Harvard and Penn win, then Princeton, Harvard, Yale and Penn will share the championship.

This is not news to you, if you're an Ivy fan. You probably also know that there have been three seasons that have ended in a tri-championship (something that can't happen this year mathematically) — 1966, 1969 and 1982.

If you remember the 1995 season, that's the closest to a four-way tie that there has been. Had Alex Sierk not kicked his field goal on the final play of Princeton's game at Dartmouth, then Princeton, Dartmouth, Penn and Cornell would have all been 5-2. Instead, Sierk, aided by a great drive put together by Brock Harvey, rallied the Tigers for a 10-10 tie, one that gave Princeton the outright championship.

That season was the final one before college football adopted overtime, by the way.

Should Princeton and Yale both win tomorrow, they'd be co-champs, Should one of them win and the other lose, then the one who wins will be the outright champ.

All of this got TB to thinking. If you look at the Ivy League statistics, in which categories would you see the four contenders ranked 1-2-3-4 in the league. In other words, what stats might be the most predicting of success, if this year's Ivy football season is an indicator.

What would you guess? There are actually five stats, out of the 28 team stats the league keeps, in which Princeton, Yale, Penn and Harvard are the top four in some order.

It is said that defense wins championships, and there are two defensive stats among the five. First is fewest yards allowed per game, in which the teams are ordered Princeton, Penn, Harvard, Yale. Then there is sacks (Penn, Harvard, Yale, Princeton).

For special teams, there is net punting yardage (Penn, Princeton, Yale, Harvard). 

On the offensive side, there is passing efficiency offense (Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Penn). The final one is scoring offense (Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Penn).

Would you have guessed scoring defense over scoring offense? 

There is no stat in which the four teams are 5-6-7-8, though there is one where they are 4 (Penn)-5 (Yale)-7 (Harvard)-8 (Princeton). What is that one? Opponent penalties. In other words, Princeton's opponents has drawn the fewest penalties in the league. 

What does that say? 

What does any of it say?

TB can tell you after the game if any of this matters. In the meantime, it's the last week of the football season, which is somewhat sad. 

Of course, you want to get into the final game in this position, playing for a championship. It's not something that should ever be taken for granted, and it's always something to get excited about.

So TB will see you at Powers Field tomorrow. Dress warm, but be there.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

One Of Those Days

Ethan Pearson had to be the easiest choice ever for a league Player of the Week award.

The Princeton men's hockey sophomore goalie had back to back saves last week, leading Princeton past Yale 3-0 and Brown 1-0. He even assisted on one of the goals against Yale.

If you're adding it up, Pearson's weekend was 46 saves, no goals against, one assist. That's pretty astonishing. It's no wonder that Pearson now leads Division I in goals-against average and save percentage.

Those two games were his first career shutouts. They were, for that matter, his first two career wins. 

If you're wondering the last time Princeton had back-to-back shutouts, it was in 2008. They came by scores of 4-0 against Yale on March 16 in Game 3 of the ECAC quarterfinals, and then 3-0 against Colgate in the ECAC semifinals. Princeton would win the championship game that year 4-1 over Harvard.

Who was the Princeton goalie in those two games? TB will tell you in a few paragraphs.

If you're wondering the last time Princeton had back-to-back shutouts in the same weekend, it was against Williams and Amherst — on Jan. 8-9, 1932.

The men's hockey team has two games this weekend against Quinnipiac, it's ECAC travel partner. The game tomorrow is in Baker Rink, and the teams meet again in Hamden, Conn., Saturday. Both games start at 7.

Only twice has Princeton ever had at least three straight shutouts. The first time was when the Tigers blanked Yale on Dec. 31, 1908 and then Jan. 1-2, 1909. For some reason, those games were played in Pittsburgh. Princeton also had four straight shutouts the season before. 

And that's it. 

So yes, that made Pearson an easy choice for ECAC Goalie of the Week. He made quite a bit of history last weekend. 

And the Tiger goalie in 2008? Zane Kalemba.

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What else does TB have for you today? It's one of those days where it turns out he has a bunch of stuff:

Joe Dubuque, associate head coach for the wrestling team, strolled into TigerBlog's office yesterday morning.

It's always good to spend a few minutes with Joe, or any other member of the wrestling coaching staff, whose offices are next door to where TB's is. The conversation yesterday centered around Bloomington, Ind., where the wrestling team will open its season tomorrow night at 7 against the University of Indiana.

The Princeton-Indiana wrestling match, which will be held in Assembly Hall, will be a homecoming for Dubuque and Tiger assistant coach Nate Jackson, both of whom are Hoosier alums. Dubuque was a two-time NCAA champion at Indiana, while Jackson was a two-time All-American.

The trip to Indiana kicks off a Big Ten-heavy start for the Princeton schedule, as the Tigers will next face Wisconsin and Michigan State at the Prudential Center in Newark Dec. 4 and then host Rutgers in Jadwin Gym Dec. 11. After that is a trip to Northwestern for the Midlands Tournament.

With two returning NCAA finalists and a wrestling room full of talent, Princeton should be pretty excited to get going.

It's actually a hockey doubleheader tomorrow, as the women will play St. Lawrence at 3. The Tigers are also home Saturday, facing Clarkson, also at 3.

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TigerBlog has been to Assembly Hall once, back in 1996, for Bill Carmody's first game as Princeton's head men's basketball coach. 

That was quite a day. TB was traveling to that game on the day it was played, with then-play-by-play man Tom McCarthy and then-local sportswriter Mark Eckel, and the group missed their plane at Newark due to a truck fire on the New Jersey Turnpike — even though they got to the gate while the plane was still sitting there, only to be told that the doors had been closed. 

TB can still remember watching the plane back away slowly, taunting them through the windows. Anyway, they ended up getting on a flight out of Philly to Indianapolis and then driving a rental car to Bloomington, an hour away, barely arriving in time for the game.

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As a reminder, the Ivy League women's volleyball tournament begins tomorrow in New Haven. Princeton, the Ivy League co-champ, takes on Brown at 4, to be followed by Yale, the other co-champ, and Dartmouth at 6.

The winners play Saturday at 6 for the Ivy League's automatic NCAA tournament bid. For more on the tournament, click HERE.

TigerBlog was hoping to be headed to Storrs, Conn., this weekend for the NCAA field hockey Final Four. Instead, the Ivy League champion Tigers fell a week ago against Syracuse in the first round. It was still a great year for the Tigers, who went 7-0 in the league to win their 27th Ivy title.

TB did watch the end of the quarterfinal between Syracuse and Maryland and then Northwestern and Iowa. Both games went to penalty shootouts, and TB cannot state enough how much he can't stand that (or PKs in soccer). Keep playing overtime. Someone will score.

As for the Final Four, it's North Carolina-Penn State and Northwestern-Maryland in the semis. TB says UNC-Maryland in the final, with UNC the winner.

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Among the other highlights of the weekend are Saturday's NCAA cross country championships in Stillwater, Okla., the men's water polo league tournament at Brown, a men's basketball game at Marist tomorrow and a women's basketball game at Buffalo, also tomorrow.

Oh, and a football game on Powers Field too. TB will have more on the Princeton-Penn game tomorrow.

The complete weekend schedule is HERE.