Monday, October 26, 2015

Three Out Of Four

Winning a little differently since 1864.

TigerBlog likes that little slogan. It's catchy. Creative. Says a lot in a few words. Whoever came up with it should get a big, big raise.

Okay, it was TigerBlog who came up with it.

So what does it mean?

The point is that Princeton Athletics started in 1864, so right away you know that there's a ton of history there. And you know there's a lot of winning there too.

The different part? Princeton has built one of the best programs in the history of American intercollegiate athletics, with a legacy of more than 200 national championships and nearly one-quarter of all Ivy League championships won. And it's done so while also staying loyal to the University's academic standards, with participants who are equal parts students, athletes and citizens.

Let's brag for a few seconds. There are very, very, very few schools who can make the same claim. And none who have done it without athletic scholarships.

So yeah, Princeton has been winning a little differently for the last 151 years.

Part of the difference is that the entire school does not revolve around football, as is the case in much of the college athletics world. If you don't believe that, then just look at the number of conference realignments in recent years that have destroyed decades old rivalries and left much of the country geographically displaced.

And for what? Football. And the money it generates.

At many schools, the football coach is the more powerful person on the campus. Princeton head coach Bob Surace is among the nicest and funniest on Princeton's campus, but he'll be the first to tell you that he's not the most powerful.

In fact, a football coach who didn't buy into the institutional philosophy wouldn't last here.

Now, that doesn't mean that football isn't important. And nothing other than Reunions can bring the number of people to campus that a big football game can.

All of this begs this question of Princeton fans: Were you happy with how Princeton did against Harvard in Cambridge Saturday?

Princeton got huge wins in women's soccer, field hockey and men's soccer. Princeton lost 42-7 in football.

At, say, Alabama, TigerBlog would suppose that 95% or more of the fans wouldn't be happy with a weekend like that. He wonders what the percentage at Princeton would be.

Anyway, the football game was 7-7 at one point and 14-7 at the half. In the second half, Harvard wore Princeton down and pulled away.

TigerBlog wonders if an offensive lineman can win the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League's Offensive Player of the Year. Harvard has a lot of pieces, yes, but what really separates the Crimson is its offensive line.

The big game in the Ivy League will be Friday night, when Dartmouth is at Harvard in a matchup of teams who are 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Ivy League. The league appears to be those two at the top, with Columbia and Cornell winless in the league and the other four sort of bunched in the middle.

Harvard and Dartmouth went into the weekend both unbeaten in the league in men's soccer. Only one of them - the Big Green - came out of it the same way.

Princeton handed Harvard its first league loss as Jeremy Colvin, Daniel Bowkett and Thomas Sanner had goals in a 3-2 win. Harvard is home with Dartmouth Saturday, and a win there will put the Crimson back in a tie for first with the tiebreaker for the automatic NCAA bid. On the other hand, a Dartmouth win and the Big Green will be nearly impossible to catch for the NCAA bid.

But hey, that's for Harvard and Dartmouth.

For Princeton, the biggest winners were field hockey and women's soccer.

The field hockey team trailed Harvard 1-0 with 13 minutes to go before Maddie Copeland scored twice in just about nine minutes to give the Tigers a 2-1 victory. Princeton lost 4-1 yesterday at No. 2 UConn in a matchup of teams who have combined for the last three NCAA tournaments.

The win over Harvard improved Princeton to 5-0 in the league. No other team is unbeaten, but Cornell and Penn are both 4-1. Those two just happen to be Princeton's two remaining opponents. A win in one of those games means no worse than a share of the 21st field hockey title in 22 years.

Wins in both mean an outright title and the automatic NCAA bid. Princeton can also get there by going 1-1 and having the team who beats the Tigers lose its other game.

And then there was women's soccer.

TigerBlog watched the last 20 minutes of Princeton-Harvard field hockey on the Ivy League Digital Network, where Princeton was wearing white and Harvard was wearing crimson. He then watched the women's soccer game, with no sound, and he thought for basically most of the game that Princeton was again in white, even though it was in orange. It was very confusing.

Once he finally figured it out, he realized that Mimi Asom and Tyler Lussi did it again, each with goals, in Princeton's 2-1 win. The Tigers and Harvard had come into the game with perfect league records.

Princeton, led by first-year head coach Sean Driscoll, has 15 points, followed by Harvard with 12. Every other team in the league has been mathematically eliminated.

The Tigers will get at least a share of the league title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with a win in either of its last two games, this Saturday at home against Cornell or Nov. 7 at Penn. There are all kinds of scenarios where Harvard can catch Princeton, but none of them work unless Princeton doesn't win either of its last two.

It's a good spot to be in.

So that's your weekend in Cambridge.

Do you think it was a great one?


Anonymous said...

Congrats to the women's soccer team! Go TIGS!

Anonymous said...

Is there any way the field hockey team can schedule their mid to late season non-Ivy matches better than they do currently? I mean, geez, they play Brown/Harvard in Providence/Cambridge on a Saturday, then take the bus to Syracuse #1/UConn #2 to play again on Sunday. The team led both Sunday games at the half, so I can't help but think that the home teams rallied to win partly because the Tigers couldn't maintain their energy level and wilted in the second half.

Anonymous said...

Losing is always unpleasant. Losing to Harvard is particularly painful because we and they dominate Ivy sports. Losing to them 42-7, well, ouch.

But, in my opinion, Princeton athletics is first and foremost in the business of winning Ivy League titles. Going into the weekend, football's chances were already tenuous because of the loss to Brown. More important was keeping alive the league-leading status of the field hockey and women's soccer teams.

So to answer your question TB, yes, the weekend was a success despite the regrettable developments within Harvard Stadium.

Glenn Adams '63 said...

Totally concur with the last anonymous poster. What makes the weekend even more remarkable was the success of all the Tiger teams on the road other than football. Apart from the Tiger wins at Harvard in men's soccer, women's soccer, and field hockey, our men's water polo team had a huge win over arch-rival Navy in Annapolis, our very good women's volleyball team had an impressive 4-set win over Penn in Philadelphia (after having lost to that Penn team earlier in Princeton, and our women's ice hockey team swept Mercyhurst in two games on the road. Apart from defeating those strong rival teams in 6 sports, individual Tiger stars walked away in each sport with Ivy honors as Player or Rookie of the Week. Quite a weekend indeed for Tiger sports! Glenn Adams '63