Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Top 14 Of 2014

So this is it for 2014, huh?

TigerBlog can't remember the first time he stayed up until midnight for a New Year's Eve. He'd guess Richard Nixon was President though.

The evolution of New Year's Eve goes like this: 1) try to stay up til midnight, 2) desperately try to find something fun to do at midnight, 3) pretend you don't care if you have something fun to do at midnight even though you do, 4) don't do anything other than stay up to watch the ball drop at midnight while sneering at those who are in steps 2 and 3, and finally 5) not care that it's New Year's Eve.

TigerBlog always liked New Year's Day better than New Year's Eve, with the big bowl games and an annual New Year's Day brunch that he used to go to way back when. He has never even thought about going to Times Square for New Year's Eve, let alone done it.

Last New Year's Eve featured a great text exchange between TigerBlog and his two children, all of whom were in different spots at midnight. It went like this:
TB: Happy New Year
TigerBlog Jr.: Happy New Year
Miss TigerBlog (referencing TBJ's cell phone number): Who is this?

Anyway, whatever your New Year's Eve plans, be smart and safe. As TB tells his kids: make good decisions, especially when it comes to drinking and driving. And Happy New Year to everyone.

In the meantime, TB offers up the top moments in Princeton Athletics in 2014. Last year, he did the top 13 moments of 2013; this year he'll go with the top 14 of 2014.

A few ground rules first though. First, this is only what athletes did at Princeton. Second, it can be a specific game, moment or story. 

Again, this is his list and his list only. Feel free to disagree. And he apologizes if he overlooked anyone obvious:

14. Mike Zeuli shares the Bushnell Cup as the top defensive player in the Ivy League - Mike Zeuli led the Ivy League with 16.5 tackles for loss, was second in the league with 8.7 tackles per game and tied for fifth in sacks with four. He had 16 tackles in his final collegiate game, which moved him over the 200-tackle mark for his career. He also ranked 12th nationally with an average of 1.8 tackles for loss per game this season. He had double-digit tackles in four of Princeton's last seven games averaged 13 tackles per game against the top three teams in the standings.

13. Princeton field hockey gets a win, some help and another championship - Want to know who the best 8-11 field hockey team of all time was? It was the 2014 Princeton Tigers. Princeton lost 4-3 to UConn (NCAA champ), 4-3 in two OTs to Syracuse (NCAA runner-up) and 2-0 to Albany (NCAA Final Four), with four other one- or two-goal losses, including a 3-2 setback to Columbia. Princeton still came all the way back from that loss to the Lions to win the Ivy League title on the final day of the regular season by beating Penn and having Harvard beat Columbia, making it 20 Ivy titles in the last 21 years and earning a return to the NCAA tournament, which included a win over Monmouth in the play-in round.

12. Women's open rowing wins an Ivy title - The women's open rowing team flew past the No. 1-ranked team in the country, Brown, to win the Ivy League championship by an astonishing margin of more than four seconds. The Ivy championships saw a seven-second swing from the first time Princeton raced against Brown, back on the opening day of the season, when the Bears won by three seconds on Lake Carnegie. It was the second straight Ivy title for Princeton, who would finish sixth at the NCAA championships.

11. The women's lacrosse team sweeps Penn and Dartmouth in four days to win the Ivy title - Princeton lost its Ivy opener to Brown, putting the Tigers in a must-win situation every time out from there. The biggest stretch of the league season would be when Princeton hosted Penn and Dartmouth, on a Wednesday and Saturday in April. A pair of wins would mean the league championship, and that's exactly what Princeton got, knocking off Penn 9-5 and Dartmouth 12-10. By winning the title, Princeton also hosted the Ivy League tournament and then advanced to the NCAA tournament, beating Virginia in the opening round.

10. Heps cross country comes to Princeton on a rainy Saturday - The Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championships were held on Princeton's Washington Road Fields, and the weather on Nov. 1 was only slightly better than it was three years earlier, when the event was held in a near-blizzard. This time, it was heavy, heavy rain, but nobody with the Princeton men's team was complaining after the Tigers went 2-3-6-7-12 to run away with the team championship. Michael Sublette, who had been the No. 4 Tiger most of the fall, finished second overall. On the women's side, Princeton finished second in the team race, though sophomore Megan Curham won the individual race by nearly four seconds. Curham would be the only Tiger runner to qualify for the NCAA championships, where she finished 18th to earn All-America honors for the second-straight year.

9. Tyler Lussi, Cameron Porter score a lot of goals - Cameron Porter led Division I goals per game. Tyler Lussi was second in Division I in goals per game. Each led the Ivy League (and was named the Offensive Player of the Year), and between them they scored 33 goals. Porter led Princeton to a share of the Ivy League championship, scoring the only goal in the 1-0 win over Yale in the season-finale to give Princeton a tie for the title with Dartmouth, who got the league's automatic NCAA bid after having beaten Princeton on Oct. 4. The women's soccer season marked the end of Julie Shackford's 20-year career as head coach, and she left Princeton with the most wins (203) of any soccer coach in Princeton history, male or female. For that matter, she is one of only five coaches in Ivy history to reach 200 wins and the only woman to do so.

8. The women's fencing team wins its fifth straight Ivy title - Princeton's women's fencing team swept its Ivy opponents to win a fifth-straight Ivy League championship. Only one streak in Ivy history has been longer, and that was when Penn won six straight from 1983-88. Princeton's Ivy League dual meet winning streak grew to 31 straight heading into 2015. The Tigers finished second at the NCAA combined men's and women's championship.

7. Gary Walters farewell party - Gary Walters spent 20 years as the Ford Family Director of Athletics, during which time Princeton experienced great successes on the field combined with a genuine commitment to providing a well-rounded educational experience to all of the athletes who wore the Orange and Black. In appreciation, the entire Princeton community gathered in Jadwin Gym on April 12 for a celebration of Walters' tenure. The "Roast and Toast" featured several speakers who made poked fun at Walters, most notably University of Chicago AD Erin McDermott, whose speech was littered with most of Walters' favorite sayings and cliches. There was also a video tribute to Walters that had moments of sincerity and humor that mixed together perfectly.

6. The men's volleyball team defeats Penn State - Back in 1988, the Princeton men's volleyball defeated Penn State to win the EIVA title and earn a trip to Hawaii for the NCAA championships. After that? It was 35 straight losses to the Nittany Lions. All that changed on Feb. 28, when 1,565 fans jammed into Dillon Gym for what would turn out to be probably the single best athletic event of the Princeton year. After a pregame talk with University president Chris Eisgruber, Princeton lost the first game, won the next two and then lost the fourth, setting up a winner-take-all Game 5, which Princeton would win 15-11.

5. The women's tennis team wins an Ivy title and makes some national noise -The women's tennis team went 7-0 in the Ivy League to win the outright championship. Playing without a senior in the lineup, the Tigers won six of their seven Ivy matches by a score of at least 5-2, with only a 4-3 win over second-place Yale mixed in. It was what the Tigers did next, though, that was even more impressive. First, Princeton knocked off Arizona State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Then, Princeton almost took out the No. 2 team in the country, Alabama, before being eliminated.

4. The women's basketball team starts out 15-0 - The 2014 Ivy women's basketball championship came down to a winner-take-all game at Jadwin Gym between Princeton and Penn, and that night it was all Quakers, who ended Princeton's four-year Ivy championship run. So how did Princeton react to that? Well, it appears that Princeton didn't exactly roll over. Instead the Tigers started out the 2014-15 season by going 15-0, including a 67-53 win over Fordham yesterday in the final of Fordham's Holiday Classic. Princeton has two wins over ACC teams and one over teams from both the Big East and Big Ten, and the team is on the verge of cracking the national Top 25. Of Princeton's 15 wins, all but one are by double digits. The 15-0 start is the best in Ivy women's basketball history and only the 28-0 start by the Penn men was better in all of Ivy history.

3. Tiger Athletics Give Day - Princeton Athletics turned 150 on Nov. 22, which was exactly 150 years to the day of when Princeton defeated Williams College 27-16 in a baseball game (on Nov. 22, 1864). In conjunction with the anniversary, Princeton Athletics held its first "Tiger Athletics Give Day," a 24-hour online fundraising initiative that resulted in more than 7,400 gifts totaling more than $1.2 million. The funds raised from the day will be used to support a wide range of needs and opportunities for each of the 38 varsity athletic teams, including: international and out-of-region travel, specialized equipment and technology, marketing and branding, on-campus recruiting, team banquets, community service opportunities, and more. Sparked by a huge social media campaign from each of Princeton's 38 varsity teams, the Give Day showed just how loyal Princeton's athletics alums remain.

2. Mollie Marcoux becomes Ford Family Director of Athletics - Mollie Marcoux, a 1991 Princeton grad who was an All-Ivy hockey and soccer player as an undergraduate, became Princeton's fifth Director of Athletics, as well as the second to hold the formal title of Ford Family Director of Athletics and first female in the role. Marcoux was introduced as the new AD in April and officially took over on Aug. 4. Since then, Marcoux has reaffirmed Princeton's commitment to the student-athlete experience and re-energized the marketing of Princeton's athletes and events while starting down the path of creating her own vision of the future Tiger Athletics.

1. Julia Ratcliffe extends an incredible streak - Princeton had won at least one team or individual national championship for 42 years heading into the 2013-14 athletic year. By the final event of the year, the NCAA track and field championship, that streak was stuck at 42. Enter Julia Ratcliffe, the sophomore hammer thrower from New Zealand. Ratcliffe entered the NCAA championships as the top-ranked thrower in the country and a prohibitive favorite to win, and she didn't disappoint at all. Ratcliffe didn't even need her final of six throws, and of the five she did make, she had the three best of the event. Her winning throw was more than two meters better than the second-place finish. Thanks to Ratcliffe, Princeton's streak extended to 43 years.

1 comment:

Nassau83 said...

Thank you TigerBlog for another year of thoughtful and insightful blogging and Happy New Year!