Monday, May 11, 2015

Sunday's Best

Princeton's top athlete yesterday was, well, TigerBlog isn't quite sure.

Where to start? How about on Long Island.

TigerBlog thought the Princeton-Stony Brook women's lacrosse game was at 1, not noon yesterday.

When he put the video for the game on, there were six minutes to play. Guess what TB never saw? If your answer was "the ball in a Stony Brook stick," you'd be correct.

Princeton defeated Stony Brook 8-4 in the second round of the NCAA tournament, advancing to the quarterfinals this coming weekend against Duke.

The Princeton-Stony Brook game was even at the half at 3-3 before the Tigers scored the first three of the second half. When TB turned the game on, Princeton was up 6-4 and had possession with six minutes to go.

And then with five. And four. And three. And two. And one.

Never in that time did Stony Brook get possession, though the ball was on the ground a few times.

Women's lacrosse does not have the timing rules that men's lacrosse has. It doesn't have any timing rules, for that matter.

You can argue whether or not the sport needs it. What you can't argue is that Princeton was surgically efficient in killing the clock.

Princeton has several opportunities to go to the goal but instead chose to maintain possession. Eventually, in the final 30 seconds, Princeton did score - and then scored again.

Hey, if you can possess it the way Princeton did, why shoot? In that case, shooting is going to bring about a few outcomes, most of which weren't better than simply having the ball and keeping the clock running.

A miss? A save? Stony Brook could get the ball back.

A goal? There'd be a draw control, and Stony Brook could again get it back. The Seawolves, for that matter, would have taken that in a heartbeat, down 7-4, three or four minutes left, draw control.

So Princeton held it. And held it. And ran out the clock on a team that had beaten Northwestern and Florida, had been 18-1 and was the sixth seed in the tournament.

Princeton's usual suspects on offense are Erin Slifer, Erin McMunn and Olivia Hompe. In the game yesterday, the Tigers instead got four goals - half of their offense - from freshman Abby Finkelston.

Before yesterday, by the way, Finkelston had five goals for the year.

Surely Finkelston was Princeton's top performer yesterday, no?

Well, not so fast.

Stephen Soerens was so fast, fast enough to give the men's track and field team the Ivy League Heptagonal championship, by a razor-thin margin.

Soerens won the decathlon, sprinting to the win in the 1,500 to put him over the top. It also put Princeton over the top.

The Tigers were supposed to win, but Cornell had some other ideas. In fact, the Big Red led by as much as 22.5 points with eight events to go.

Cornell still had the lead after the 4x400 relay. That left only the 1,500 for the decathlon, and Soerens needed to win it to get the 10 points that Princeton would need.

Soerens and Bryan Oslin went 1-3 in the 1,500 and finished 1-4 in the decathlon. The two gave Princeton 14 points for the event, six better than the eight Cornell got from Austin Jamerson's second-place finish.

The Tigers would win by 3.5 points - 163.5-159. Had Soerens not won the decathlon, then the points in that event would instead have been 12-10 for Princeton, and the final score of the entire competition would have been 161-159.5 in favor of Cornell.

So surely Soerens was the top Tiger Sunday, no?

Well, not so fast.

Yes, Soerens and Finkelston won. And yes, Ashleigh Johnson did not.

But how much better could someone be than Johnson, the goalie for the women's water polo team?

Johnson made 22 saves in Princeton's 6-5 loss to UC-Irvine in the fifth-place game at the NCAA championships.

Twenty-two saves? Is that a lot?

Well, it ties her own program record and bettered the old NCAA tournament single-game record of 18.

And for the three-game tournament? Johnson made 50 saves, an NCAA record.

The old record? Well, it was 40. Johnson destroyed that.

So who was the top Princeton performer of Sunday?

TB isn't sure.

How about a three-way tie for first?

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