Monday, October 19, 2009

Opening Act

TigerBlog was a kid when the current Giants Stadium opened back in 1976 with a game between good (the Giants) and evil (the Cowboys), won by evil. The stadium was of course sold out for every game, and as TB watched the Giants on TV week after week, he wondered if he'd ever get to actually go to the new place.

Over the years, he's been there plenty of times, for football, soccer and concerts. And, last year, for lacrosse.

TigerBlog, and lacrosse fans, will not have to wait long to get a good, up-close look at the new stadium in the Meadowlands (which as an aside is apparently known as "Meadowlands Stadium" until someone pays for the naming rights), as the first event ever held there will be the Konica Minolta Big City Classic lacrosse tripleheader this coming April 10

Princeton will play Syracuse (who is trying to become the first team to win three straight NCAA titles since Princeton from 1996-98) in the third game that day, after Hofstra-Delaware actually becomes the first game ever played in the stadium and then Virginia and North Carolina meet up.

The 2010 season will be an extraordinarily interesting one for the Tigers, beginning with the opener on Feb. 27 against Hofstra. For those who have forgotten, Bill Tierney and David Metzbower have left the Princeton men's lacrosse program, Tierney to become the head coach at Denver. As another aside, Denver opens its season Feb. 19 at, of all places, Syracuse.

The transition of Princeton lacrosse from Tierney to Bates has been fairly smooth this fall, helped out by the return with Bates to Princeton of assistant coach Greg Raymond, who was on Tierney's staff for three years. The Tigers played for the first time under Bates last Thursday night against the English national team at Class of 1952 Stadium on a cold, rainy night, and Princeton then played against Delaware and Loyola at Delaware Saturday, again in cold and rain.

In many years, the schedule for lacrosse (and football) is basically the one from the year before, only with the home fields reversed. This won't be the case for men's lacrosse in 2010.

Gone is Canisius as the opening game. Gone from the schedule is Albany, whom Princeton played the last two years (scoring two goals in 2008 and 18 in 2009). Gone is a Tuesday night game against Penn. Gone is opening the league season against Yale. Gone is finishing the league season at Brown.

New to the schedule? Well, how about a March 16 trip to North Carolina and its potential national championship team, led by All-America attackman Billy Bitter, maybe the best player in the country. How about six Ivy regular-season games, all on Saturday?

And the biggest addition? The Ivy League tournament, which ironically had Bill Tierney as its primary driving force, debuts next spring for the men and the women. The teams (men and women) who win the regular season championship will be considered the Ivy League champion (or co-champion, if that's the case), but that title will not bring an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Instead, the team that wins the league tournament will get the automatic bid (but won't be considered Ivy champ unless it also won the regular season). The tournaments will be held at the site of the regular-season champ, meaning that it will probably be until the Saturday before that the location is known. The semifinals will be Friday, with the final Sunday. The women's tournament will be April 30/May 2; the men's a week later.

Princeton has a chance to be pretty good, even with the loss of eight seniors from last year's 13-3 team that shared the league title and made it to the NCAA quarterfinals but had bigger dreams in both areas squashed by Cornell.

The Tigers should have a very strong defense, led by captain Jeremy Hirsch and sophomores Chad Wiedmaier and Tyler Fiorito, and a solid offense, led by the McBride cousins, Jack and Chris.

TigerBlog stood under the tent at midfield for the scrimmage against the English team, at least for the first half. Much like football, it's a great spot to watch lacrosse from, though TB doesn't get to be there during the season.

Anyway, TB expected to find out somewhat shocking to see Princeton lacrosse without Bill Tierney and David Metzbower. Instead, much like the new orange practice pinnies, the new coach seemed to fit in perfectly, like nothing's changed.

And so, in no uncertain terms, Princeton lacrosse now belongs to Chris Bates. It starts for real next Feb. 27, with a pretty good schedule waiting for him and his first team.

1 comment:

'08 said...

how did the tigers do against the English national team?