Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Stopwatch

Jim Barlow has been the men's soccer coach at Princeton for 20 years?

Wait. Wait. This isn't more nostalgia, though that has been a theme this week. This is more history than nostalgia.

The whole point about Barlow and 20 years is that he was presented with a stopwatch by a former teammate of his, Tim Foley. It had an inscription on the back that indicated it was given to Al Nies in 1925.

The inscription mentions the "championship team" of 1925, which begs the question of which championship?

Going back to 1925, there was no Ivy League or NCAA tournament. In fact, the Ivy League predated the NCAA tournament in men's soccer by four years, as 1959 was the first year of the national championship event and 1955-56 was the first year of Ivy competition.

Was there a national champion voted on prior to that? TigerBlog can't find a record of it, though he'd guess one exists.

The NCAA record book doesn't list a champion prior to the start of the tournament. It only lists final polls back to 1971.

As for Princeton's record book, game-by-game results don't exist prior to 1938. Only coaching records do.

About the only reference TigerBlog could find was the Princeton Companion, sort of a Princeton encyclopedia. This is what it said about Princeton soccer:

The Intercollegiate Association Football League was formed in 1905 by Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Haverford, and Penn, and joined by Yale in 1908 and by Princeton in 1911. Princeton competed in this league until 1926, in the larger Intercollegiate Soccer Football Association until 1932, in the Middle Atlantic League until 1955, and after 1955 in the Ivy League. 

It also had something funny to say, in the way writing was done at the time:
Princeton's best season in the early years came in 1916 when it tied for first place but lost the postseason playoff to Penn, 3 to 2, on a snow-covered field a week before Christmas. Center forward Arthur Preyer '19, who had learned to play soccer in Holland, scored both of Princeton's goals. Two of Penn's three goals were scored by its inside right, an All-American whose name was William Nassau. ``Just how we let this man get away from us,'' the Alumni Weekly commented, ``is a matter worthy of consideration.'' 

And finally this on Al Nies:
Al Nies, the first full-time coach, who served from 1919 to 1934, saw Princeton soccer through one of its most successful eras. Five of Nies's sixteen teams were league champions: 1921, 1922, 1925, 1926 (tied), and 1927; and five finished second: 1919, 1920, 1923, 1924, and 1932 (tied).

Al Nies was the third soccer coach in school history, after J. Duncan Spaeth coached the Tigers to a 2-4 record in 1909 and then someone known simply as "Holden" coached the team in 1915 and 1916. There is no record of Princeton's having played in between in the athletic record book, though the Companion suggests Princeton had a team in 1911.

As for Al, his record was 76-38-19 at Princeton as the men's soccer coach.

TigerBlog recognized the name Al Nies from the men's lacrosse record book. Nies was the first coach Princeton ever had in men's lacrosse, and his numbers with the lacrosse team were remarkably similar.

Nies coached 133 games with the soccer program to get that 76-38-19 record. He coached 120 games with the men's lacrosse team from 1921 (when the program was restarted after a nearly 30-year absence) until 1935.

His record? 74-39-7. Two fewer wins. One more loss.

Anyway, that's a little history lesson.

As for the present, if that stopwatch that Barlow was given works, then perhaps he could take it to Philadelphia today for Day 1 of the three-day Penn Relays.

The Penn Relays are older than soccer at Princeton, dating to 1895. They began as a series of relay races between Penn and Princeton, by the way.

The 2016 event will feature more than 15,000 athletes, from high schoolers to international competitors. And of course collegians.

Princeton will be there. If you want the complete list of Princeton's entries, you can go HERE.

If you want to see the races themselves, you can go to Franklin Field. Attendance the next three days will far surpass the numbers who go there to watch Penn football.

This will be the last Penn Relays for Princeton women's head coach Peter Farrell, who is retiring after 39 years this season. TigerBlog has spent enough time talking to Farrell to know that he loves the Penn Relays.

There's another big track meet next weekend. That would be the Ivy League Heptagonal championships. That's serious business, with Ivy League titles on the line for men and women.

The Penn Relays? They're serious too, but in a different way.

The official name is the Penn Relays Carnival, and that's exactly what it is.

A three-day carnival.

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