Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sunset, Sunrise

TigerBlog was at Drexel Tuesday night for the men's soccer game.

Drexel plays soccer on Vidas Field, which is about 10 blocks west of the main part of the campus. Drexel's campus, of course, touches Penn's campus in the University City section of West Philadelphia.

If you're sitting in the stands at Vidas Field, you'll see the field, the benches and a small press box as you look out. Beyond that stand two tall apartment buildings.

As the game Tuesday night started, the sun was setting, and some forces of the universe combined to turn the sky all kinds of incredible colors as it reached those two buildings.

TigerBlog took a picture and put it on Twitter and Instagram, only to find that a few minutes later, the sky was even more picturesque. So TigerBlog took another picture and posted that one.

When he checked yesterday morning, he had nearly 200 likes on the sky pictures. Actually, as he thinks about it, he wouldn't mind going back to that moment and staring up at that sky again. There was something very intoxicating about it.

Anyway, it was complete darkness at Vidas by the time Princeton's Henry Martin scored with 4:45 to go in the half. Nicholas Badalamenti scored in the second half, and Princeton had itself a 2-0 win.

Princeton has now won three straight after dropping its first two. Princeton has also shut out Drexel six straight times and now has held the Dragons scoreless for 568:08.

Princeton now has no player on the year with more than two goals but six who have at least one. That's pretty good balance.

Next up for the Tigers is Fairleigh Dickinson, Saturday night at 7 on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium. The Ivy League opener is still a week away in men's soccer.

This weekend, though, marks the start of the Ivy League season for three teams, all of whom are the defending Ivy champ.

The field hockey team plays Dartmouth Saturday at noon on Bedford Field. Princeton isn't just the defending Ivy League field hockey champ; the Tigers have owned Ivy League field hockey for more than two decades.

In fact, Princeton has won 11 straight Ivy League championships and 21 of the last 22. The only blemish in that run was in 2004, when it took a Penn goal on a penalty corner after time had expired (penalty corners are played out even if the clock reaches 0:00 in field hockey, unlike corner kicks in soccer) to keep Princeton from that championship as well.

Princeton has played a brutal schedule to date this season. Of its six games, five have been against teams ranked in the top 14 at the time they played the Tigers, who are 3-3.

The field hockey team is the only one of the three defending champions to open the league season at home.

The women's volleyball team will be at the Palestra Saturday night to take on Penn. If you remember women's volleyball from a year ago, Princeton went 3-4 the first time through the league (including an 0-3 start) and then 7-0 the second time through to tie Harvard for the Ivy title. It was one of the great comebacks any Ivy team has ever had, from 0-3 to a share of the championship.

Princeton is off to a 6-3 start this season. So far this year, Princeton has had two different players - Devon Peterkin and Maggie O'Connell - win Ivy League Rookie of the Week, including most recently O'Connell, after earning MVP honors at the tournament at Rutgers that saw Princeton defeat Seattle, Rutgers and Seton Hall.

Oh, and if Peterkin's name is familiar, it should be. Her older sister Kendall graduated from Princeton a year ago after being a three-time first-team All-Ivy League selection.

The final team to start its Ivy season this weekend is the women's soccer team, who opens at Yale Saturday. That game starts at 4.

Princeton went 6-0-1 in the Ivy League a year ago. The 2016 Tigers are off to a 7-1 start, with the loss to No. 2 West Virginia.

The initial RPI rankings for the year were announced this week, and Princeton came in at No. 34. The next best Ivy team? Brown at 88.

Don't get fooled by those numbers though. Of the eight Ivy League teams, six are above .500 and five are above .700 to date. Yale is 4-3-2 heading into the league season.

Playing at home in this series has been no guarantee of success. Princeton defeated Yale 3-0 a year ago at home; the visiting team had won seven straight before that.

It'll be the first three Ivy League openers for Princeton for this academic year.

Sunrise on the Ivy League schedule, as it were, after a gorgeous sunset at Drexel.

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