Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Alive And Kicking

A little after 6:00 Saturday evening, TigerBlog turned right off 8th Avenue onto 44th Street, looked up and was completely amazed.

Oh, he'd been there before, many times, in fact. For some reason, this time it looked so much different, so much more awesome.

There he was, on a Saturday night, in the heart of the theater district. Everywhere he looked there were people and lights and theaters and restaurants. The area was so, well, alive.

FatherBlog is a city guy. He was born in New York, grew up in Brooklyn. He works in midtown every day. He was there for blackouts, on 9/11, all of it.

To him, the world is divided into two kinds of people - New Yorkers and hicks. He once was shocked to eat at a great restaurant in Trenton, wondering why such a place would be "in the middle of nowhere like this."

TigerBlog is not a city guy. He much prefers to stand on fields next to big parking lots just down the road from strip malls and highways.

And yet even he couldn't help but marvel at being in Manhattan on a Saturday night. It was exciting.

Living an hour away, it's easy to forget how many people never get to see New York City and how many people around the world would love the chance to see it for themselves.

Yes, it's crowded and expensive and has its dirty parts.

At the same time, it's the City That Never Sleeps, the Big Apple, the single most important city in the world. And it's just up the road.

While TB was driving through the Lincoln Tunnel, the Princeton men's soccer team was wrapping up its 0-0 tie with Columbia in Upper Manhattan. Shortly thereafter the women's team defeated Columbia 2-1.

This has been a great bounce back year for Princeton soccer after both struggled a year ago.

Of course, the men's team went to back-to-back NCAA tournaments the two years before that, and women's coach Julie Shackford has won more games than any Princeton soccer coach, male or female, ever has and is the only Ivy women's coach who has ever taken a team to the Final Four.

This year, both teams are in the thick of the races for Ivy League championships and NCAA tournament bids. And coming up Saturday will be another great doubleheader on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium, which, as TigerBlog has said, makes for as good an athletic experience at Princeton as there is.

The visitor Saturday will be the Harvard Crimson, with the men's game at 4 and the women's game at 7. If you're looking to make a Princeton-Harvard day of it, there is Princeton-Harvard field hockey at noon and football at 1.

The Princeton men are currently in fourth place in the league but with a national RPI of 32, which shows you how strong Ivy men's soccer is. The men do have a great schedule the rest of the way, with games against Penn, Harvard and Yale, who are a combined 0-7-2 in the league, as well as undefeated Cornell (12-0-0 overall, 3-0-0 in the league).

At the same time, the teams above Princeton (Cornell, Dartmouth and Brown) all play each other.

Meanwhile, the women's team can say that it is the only undefeated team in the league and that it has the leading scorer in the nation with the wondrous Jen Hoy. If you haven't seen her play, it's must-see viewing.

Princeton still has considerable work to do this season, of course.

Right now, the Tigers are 4-0-0 (9-3-1 overall), followed by Penn and Dartmouth at 3-1-0. Princeton has already defeated Dartmouth and finishes its league schedule with Harvard, a trip to 0-3-1 Cornell and then a home game against Penn.

The Quakers are at Yale, home with Brown and then at Princeton. Dartmouth is at Columbia, home with Harvard and at Cornell.

Harvard is still thinking championship as well, as the Crimson sit at 2-1-1.

Princeton doesn't need to go 3-0-0 the rest of the way to win, and in fact there are combinations that would have the Tigers lose to Harvard and still win the league. Still, the best way would be to keep winning.

No matter what, this soccer season has already been more fun than last, and as the seasons enter their final few weeks, both of Princeton's teams are playing to get to the postseason.

As we know now, there won't be any NCAA games at Roberts Stadium.

TB is pretty sure either Princeton team would be happy to go on the road come November.

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