Wednesday, June 18, 2014

0-0, And 167-23-10

TigerBlog didn't get in front of the TV until only 25 minutes or so were left in the Brazil-Mexico game yesterday.

As it turned out, TB didn't miss any goals, and there would be none after he started watching either.

Some 0-0 ties are tediously boring. Some are sloppy. Some have a near-miss or two and that's about it.

And then there was the Brazil-Mexico game. This had to be the greatest 0-0 game ever, with great chances, tons of drama, a ton at stake and a epic performance by Mexico's goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa to keep it scoreless.

In a World Cup that to date has had some fairly high-scoring games, the Brazil-Mexico game has been the best one so far. And that includes the U.S. and its own fairly dramatic game, a 2-1 win over Ghana.

Belgium's 2-1 comeback win over Algeria was another exciting game, as both goals came late and from players who had subbed in. For that matter, John Brooks' game-winner for the U.S. team was the first in World Cup history for an American sub.

The 2014 World Cup is off to a great start, as almost every game has been entertaining. There can be a tendency to play scared on the biggest stage, afraid to take chances for fear of giving up a tournament-changing goal on a counter.

TB is very interested in seeing how Spain bounces back today against a Chilean team that defeated Australia 3-1 in its opener. Spain, the defending champ and No. 1-ranked team in the world, lost 5-1 to the Netherlands in its first game.

TigerBlog can't imagine what it must be like to play in the World Cup for these players, what a complete thrill it must be. He also wonders what percentage of the players in Brazil for the 2014 event will never play in another World Cup, and for that matter how many players will play in their three games of the Group stage, not advance to the knockout rounds and have that be their only World Cup experience for their lifetimes.

Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery, way back when he was first starting out as a volunteer assistant coach at Penn, told TigerBlog that there's nothing like playing in the NCAA basketball tournament, even if it's done only once in a career. TB assumes the World Cup is like that, only on an order about 100 times higher.

For those in this country who still resist the World Cup, TigerBlog says that you're really missing the boat. It's a phenomenal event, unlike anything else in the world. It's bigger than the Super Bowl, World Series and NCAA tournament - even the lacrosse one - rolled into one.

TigerBlog thought the 0-0 tie was extraordinary in that both teams were going all-out to score, as opposed to playing it conservatively for the tie, even though the time really helped Mexico, a team that barely got into the field in the first place.

TigerBlog wondered about how common 0-0 ties were in soccer at Princeton.

Princeton's men have played one 0-0 game in each of the last three seasons and last played consecutive 0-0 ties in 2004. Princeton played two in 2013 and last played consecutive 0-0 ties in 2009.

It's apparently much rarer in Princeton hockey than it is in soccer.

The women have played exactly 800 games in program history and have two 0-0 ties, in 2004-05 and 2007-08.

And the men? The Princeton men have played 2,323 games and have had exactly one 0-0 tie, in 2006 against Union.

Between the teams, that's 3,123 games and three 0-0 ties, or one every 1,041 games.

Princeton and incoming Ford Family Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux introduced Ron Fogarty as the new head coach of men's hockey. Fogarty comes to Princeton from Division III Adrian College in Michigan.

Fogarty spent seven years coaching at Adrian, a school that did not have a hockey program before that. In those seven years, Fogarty took Adrian to a 167-23-10, five NCAA tournaments and one NCAA championship game. That's pretty impressive stuff.

Fogarty also knows his way around the ECAC. He was a player at Colgate, graduating in 1995, and he also coached at his alma mater and Clarkson before moving on to Bowling Green and then ultimately to Adrian.

The trip back to the ECAC lands him at Princeton, a team against which he was 3-4-1 as a player. Princeton hockey has a strong fan base and a rink that is a great place to see a game, and now it has a new head coach.

Princeton went 6-26-0 last year, but 12 of the 26 losses were by one or two goals.

And now the transition to the Ron Fogarty era begins. His track record is extraordinary, with that gaudy 167-23-10 record for a .860 winning percentage that led active Division III coaches.

And that was with a program that didn't exist before he got there.

Now he's at Princeton. It'll be 90-something degrees today and the World Cup is just getting into full swing, leaving it fairly far away from thoughts of the winter. Opening day for Princeton hockey is more than four months away.

When it comes, it'll be with Ron Fogarty on the bench.

Welcome to Princeton. Hopefully it'll be for a long and successful tenure.

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