Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday, With A Cherry On Top

When Peter Farrell ducks his head into the OAC, it's usually followed by some funny story. It's been 17 years of this now, and the women's track and field/cross country coach hasn't run out of them yet.

So this is how it went this morning:

"Are you a baseball fan? When I was 11 and played CYO baseball, my father told me two things: Never make the last out of the season, and never strike out looking."

The Phils' Ryan Howard did both Saturday night, though in fairness to Howard, it looked like the 3-2 pitch was a bit low. Still, as Mr. Farrell said, don't strike out looking, especially to end the season.

Howard took the called third strike with two on and his team down 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth of Game 6. The result was that the Giants will play the Rangers in the World Series, a thought that has to be thrilling for Fox, which has paid a lot of money to show the event. Hey, it may turn out to be a great World Series. Will it draw big ratings? Unlikely.

So maybe Howard didn't have a great weekend. You know who did? Jim Barlow.

As a matter of fact, you can't ask for more out of a game than Barlow got against Harvard yesterday. For Barlow and Princeton men's soccer, it was a great Sunday - with a cherry on top.

It wasn't just that Princeton defeated Harvard 2-1, coming from behind after allowing a goal off a free kick in the first half to win on second-half goals from Josh Walburn and Matt Sanner three minutes apart - though the win was huge for the Tigers.

No, this was more than just getting a win. It was getting a win over a huge rival, which gave Princeton back-to-back wins over Harvard for the first time since 1999-2000.

And, it was getting that win on national television. Okay, the audience was smaller than the one that saw Howard strike out (though it might rival the one the World Series will draw), but still, those who were watching had to come away impressed with Princeton and the facility.

Certainly the announcers were, including color man Taylor Twellman, formerly of the U.S. national team.

TigerBlog was going to go to the game, but he decided instead to watch in on ESPNU to get the full effect of how the game played on television. It was a great decision.

For starters, it wasn't something that you ordinarily can do, so why not see Princeton from that perspective.

As the game unfolded, it turned into almost an advertisement for the program and facility.

Princeton worked with ESPNU to ensure that the cameras were on the far side of the field shooting into the stands, rather than on the press box side shooting into the benches with a background of the turf practice field, which doesn't capture the true feel of the stadium.

ESPNU obliged and then set its announcers up in the end zone, giving them a different view of the play. ESPNU also set a camera up high behind the end zone, so the TV audience was given the wide angle view as well. For the announcers, it worked out pretty well, as all three goals were scored into the goal directly in front of them.

TB isn't sure where you were yesterday, but if you were in the Central Jersey area, you couldn't beat the weather, which reached the low 70s with low humidity and brilliant sunshine.

The day led to awesome looks at the campus and Nassau Street through numerous cut-aways by ESPNU. And the on-air guys? They couldn't say enough great things about the campus, the stadium, the coaching, the players.

There were a ton of references to the fact that the U.S. national team trained there before the World Cup, and there was a halftime feature with video of the Americans at Roberts Stadium.

And, of course, in the end, it was a win, Princeton's ninth in a row.

The result is that Princeton and Penn are now 4-0-0 in the league, followed by Brown at 2-1-1 and Harvard at 1-1-2. Both Brown and Harvard have suffered their only league loss (and in Brown's case, only loss period) to Princeton.

Princeton and Penn meet on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium in two weeks, after Princeton is at Cornell and Penn is home against Brown. Penn also has to play Harvard, while Princeton's final league game is against Yale.

Men's soccer is a sport where it's hard to run the table in the Ivy League, and the season is one week past the halfway point. The stretch run could be a great one for Princeton, or the depth and strength of Ivy soccer could catch up to the Tigers.

Not to jinx anyone, but Princeton, with a rising RPI, is in great shape for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament if it doesn't win the league's automatic bid. Last year, four Ivy teams played in the NCAAs, and Princeton, Penn and Brown seem to be in line at least this year. Should Princeton go to the NCAA tournament, it would be the eighth time that the Tigers did so - but the first time in program history that they would be there in consecutive years.

Whatever happens, that's for the next few weeks. For today, with nearly a full week until the game at Cornell, Jim Barlow can smile a big smile at what his team did yesterday.

It was a perfect game to watch on TV. Through the eyes of the head coach, it had to be even better than that.

1 comment:

Glenn Adams said...

Indeed, the ESPN coverage of this very well-played soccer game was terrific. Coach Jim Barlow and his very skilled and aggressive team have every reason to be proud, as does the media staff at Princeton for gaining ESPN coverage of this and other less than high profile sports. Good luck to Coach Barlow's team the rest of the year. Glenn Adams '63