Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Top 13 Princeton Athletic Moments Of 2013

At first, the goal for New Year's Eve is to stay awake until midnight. Then, several decades later, the goal is to not care if you're not awake at midnight on New Year's Eve.

In between, the struggle is to find something to do on New Year's Eve, even if you'd rather do nothing at all.

Whatever it is you do tonight, if you're out and about, have a great time - and be safe and careful. And Happy New Year to all.

Before 2014 rolls in, TigerBlog offers up the top 13 moments in Princeton Athletics for the year 2013. This is his list, put together without soliciting any feedback from anyone else, which means that it's his fault if it's completely off base.

Also, TB didn't want to just do the top games, because it leaves too much out, so he has settled on moments, which could be games or other happenings.

Anyway, here is TB's top 13 for 2013:

13. Princeton golf has a huge weekend
One year after the women finished sixth and the men fifth at the Ivy League championships, Princeton came within one shot of sweeping the team championships in 2013. The men won by five shots, with an 883-888 win over Yale to win the first Ivy title for the program since 2006. The women almost matched that effort but lost by one excruciating shot, 909-910, to finish second. Princeton did have both individual champions, as Kelly Shon won the women's title in a playoff and Greg Jarmas won for the men.

12. Princeton field hockey wins another Ivy League championship
Princeton once again dominated Ivy League field hockey, going 7-0 in the league to win its 19th championship in 20 years. Princeton outscored its seven league opponents by a combined 32-5 and beat second-place Penn 5-1 on the final day of the regular season for the outright title. Princeton then beat Penn State in the NCAA opening round and came within one goal of a return to the Final Four in a 3-2 loss to Maryland in the quarterfinals. Princeton won the 2012 NCAA championship.

11. Princeton defeats Cornell in the Ivy League men's lacrosse semifinal
Less than one week after Cornell easily handled Princeton at MetLife Stadium, Princeton came back to defeat the Big Red 14-13 in overtime in the Ivy tournament semifinal in one of the great games in program history. The game was tied 7-7 at the end of the third quarter, but there would be 13 more goals scored in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a wild, wild stretch in which the game went from 10-10 with less than four minutes to go to 13-13 three minutes later. Mike MacDonald had a ridiculous night with seven goals and two assists, including one on Kip Orban's game-winning laser late in the first OT.

10. Princeton finishes fifth at the NCAA women's water polo championship
Princeton rallied to defeat UC San Diego 12-10 to finish in fifth place at the NCAA championships for the best finish in program history, as well as the best finish ever by a CWPA team in the current eight-team format. Princeton, who advanced to the NCAA tournament by winning the Eastern championship, was led by freshman goalie Ashleigh Johnson, who had 14 saves in the fifth-place game and set an NCAA tournament record with 38 saves in three games. She also would represent the U.S. at the World Junior Championships, where she win a gold medal and be named the top goalie.

9. Princeton sweeps the Ivy League swimming and diving championships
Princeton's men entered the final day of the 2013 Ivy League men's swimming and diving championship with a 23-point lead over Harvard. By the time it was over, the final margin of victory was 68 points. The Princeton women actually trailed in the team standings at one point on the final night of their Ivy championship meet before winning by 100.5 points. For the men, it was the fifth straight Ivy title. For the women, it was the 11th Ivy title in 14 years.

8. Princeton comes from 20 points back in the final eight minutes to defeat Penn State in men's basketball
Playing in Penn State's Rec Hall, Princeton trailed by 20 at 56-36 with 8:29 to play before rallying to pull it out 81-79 in overtime. In other words, Princeton scored 36 points in the first 31:31 of the game and then scored 45 points in the final 13:29, connecting on 12 of its final 17 field goal attempts. Will Barrett scored 21 of his 24 in the second half and at one point scored 16 of Princeton's 25 points, while T.J. Bray broke the school record with 13 assists. The extraordinary win was Princeton's first against a Big 10 team since 1985 and first on a Big 10 team's home court since 1955.

7. Bob Callahan retires as Princeton men's squash coach
Bob Callahan played squash for four years at Princeton and then coached the sport for 32 before retiring after the 2013 season, going out in style after winning the Ivy League title. Since taking over the program he captained to the 1977 national championships, Callahan led Princeton to 314 victories, 11 Ivy League titles and three national championships (1982, 1993, 2012). He also coached the individual national champion 10 times. Callahan, a beloved figure in the Princeton Department of Athletics, has inspired his players, co-workers and competitors with his courageous fight against brain cancer.

6. Princeton wins its fourth-straight Ivy women's basketball championship
Before the Class of 2013 arrived at Princeton, the women's basketball team had never appeared in the NCAA tournament. When the Class of ’13 graduated, it did so with four Ivy League championships and four NCAA tournament appearances. Princeton's women's basketball Class of 2013 went 96-20 record (the 96 wins are the most ever by an Ivy women's basketball team in a four-year period) with four Ivy titles, a 54-2 Ivy record, the four best seeds by an Ivy team in the NCAA tournament (11, 12, 9, 9), the first national ranking by an Ivy team.

5. Princeton wins the NCAA fencing championship
Princeton's men's team kept it close and the women's team dominated, giving Princeton the combined co-ed NCAA fencing championship for the time in program history. Princeton had finished eighth, sixth, fourth and second the last four years before winning the national title in 2013. The win for the Tigers is even more impressive considering that Penn State, Notre Dame and Ohio State - the three schools who finished 2-3-4 behind Princeton - had combined to win 19 of the 23 championships in the current format. In addition to the co-ed team title, Princeton's Eliza Stone won the individual women's saber championship.

4. Dick  Kazmaier passes away
Princeton has had three athletic icons who have always stood above all the other great athletes who have competed for the Tigers during the 150 years that the school has fielded a team. One of them was Hobey Baker, the football/hockey legend who died in 1918. One is Bill Bradley, who is probably the greatest athlete in school history. The other was Dick Kazmaier, the 1951 Heisman Trophy winner who led Princeton to perfect seasons in 1950 and 1951. Kazmaier came to Princeton from Maumee, Ohio, as an undersized back who was given little chance to make an impact for the Tigers, but instead he became a passing/rushing/punting threat, not to mention the personification of the student-athlete ideal. He went on to a long career in business and philanthropy while remaining one of Princeton's most loyal and respected alums, as well as a lifelong supporter of the football program. Kazmaier passed away on Aug. 1 at the age of 82.

3. Princeton wins the NCAA indoor track and field distance medley relay
In one of the great individual performances Princeton has had in years, Peter Callahan ran a brilliant final lap to break open a close race and give the Tigers the 2013 NCAA distance medley relay championship. Michael Williams led off in the 1,200, followed by Austin Hollimon in the 400 and Russell Dinkins in the 800 before it was turned over to Callahan. As he battled with runners from Penn State, Arkansas and Villanova, Callahan stayed near the front until the bell lap, at which point he seemed to find a different gear, turning a close race into a, well, runaway. Callahan ran a 4:01.1 leg, and Princeton would win by nearly a full second over Penn State.

2. Gary Walters announces he is stepping down as Princeton Director of Athletics
Gary Walters came to Princeton as a freshman in 1963. Nearly 50 years later to the day, Walters stood a few yards away from where his father had first dropped him off and announced to the Department of Athletics coaches and staff that he was stepping down as the Ford Family Director of Athletics at the end of the current academic year, completing a 20-year run as AD, during which time his on-field record is extraordinary. Princeton has won the Ivy League's unofficial all sports points championship each of his 19 years, and Princeton has won 216 Ivy League championships in his time as AD, a total 82 higher than the next highest total in the league during that time. There have also been 48 national championships, including at least one team or individual national champion each of his years as well. Princeton has been the highest finishing Ivy League school in the Directors' Cup 16 of the 19 years it has been awarded, and the Tigers routinely finish in the top 40 nationally, usually as the top non-BCS conference school. Beyond the athletic success, he has also been a tireless advocate for Princeton's coaches and athletes while holding them to his high ethical standards. He has worked to provide Princeton's athletes with the best possible undergraduate experience, and his belief in the co-curricular value of intercollegiate athletics became his signature philosophy of "Education Through Athletics." In addition, he has overseen a complete overhaul of Princeton's athletic facilities and has also been a national voice in the NCAA, including a five-year run on the Division I men's basketball committee.

1. Princeton football wins the Ivy League championship
If you were a senior on the Princeton football team, then you lived through consecutive 1-9 seasons to start your career, not to mention a 1-3 finish to your junior year that had you 7-23 overall and 5-16 in the Ivy League through three years. Then you were part of a magical senior year that saw Princeton break the Ivy League records for total offense and points in a season, reach the 50-point mark five times, sweep Harvard and Yale to have a bonfire and ultimately win a share of the Ivy League championship. Princeton, picked to finish fifth in the league's preseason media poll, lost its opener to Lehigh and then ripped off eight straight wins, culminating in a 59-23 win over Yale on a brilliant fall afternoon in front of a partying crowd at Princeton Stadium that nailed down the league title and the bonfire. It was a completely balanced effort on offense and defense, but it was led by Quinn Epperly, who won the Bushnell Cup as the league's Offensive Player of the Year after, among his many other amazing achievements for the year, accounting for 43 touchdowns (25 passing, 18 rushing) and setting an NCAA record by completing his first 29 passes against Cornell.


Anonymous said...

Football co-championship as #1. Really? Sorry, but NCAA titles (track, field hockey) rank higher in my book.

Princeton OAC said...

TigerBlog respects the opinion of anyone who thinks the DMR title should have been No. 1. The NCAA field hockey championship was in 2012. It was the No. 1 accomplishment of last year, according to TB.

Anonymous said...

Women's crew deserves to be included in TB's list. The open weight team finished 3rd at the NCAAs as a team, and second in the 1V race. The team has also finished top 4 at the NCAAs for four straight years. If that's not enough, they also happen to be the 2013 Ivy Champions, both in the 1V and on points…