Monday, October 30, 2017

Six For Saturday

It was 11:05 Saturday morning when TigerBlog pulled his car into the lot above Princeton Stadium.

There were maybe a handful of cars there already. There were no people.

It was 10:50 Saturday night when TB came back to his car. It was still in the same spot, never having moved in all that time.

Princeton had six home events Saturday, and TigerBlog decided he would see at least some of all six. If you're keeping score, he saw all of two (field hockey and football), most of one (women's hockey), just about half of one (women's soccer) and a little of two (women's volleyball, men's soccer).

Princeton's record for the day was 5-1, with one Ivy title (field hockey) and another team (women's soccer) that got the win and the help it needed to put itself in a win-next-week-and-get-at-least-a-share-of-the-title position. 

Here's the timeline of TB's day:

11:05 - Arrive at Princeton Stadium.

11:06 - For the first time on the day, TB tries to figure out if he'll be hot with his sweatshirt on or cold without out. He will repeat this often.

11:07 - Walk to Jadwin Gym to get cell phone charger, which he figures he'll need. Also, what to do about the Snapple diet peach he wanted for the football game, which was eight hours away. Should he put it in the fridge in Jadwin and go back and get it later, or should he leave it in the trunk of his car and not have to go all the way back to Jadwin later to get it, running the risk of having it be too warm to drink. TB leaves it in the trunk.

11:20 - TigerBlog has brought a sandwich with him but isn't sure when he should eat it. Though not particularly hungry at the moment, he eats it anyway, because, you know, what was he going to do, walk around with a sandwich all day?

11:30 - Arrive at Bedford Field. TB asks his colleague Cody Chruschiel whether or not he thinks that the Princeton lacrosse teams will play a home game on a day when the weather was this perfect. "Yes," Cody says. "But there's a better chance it'll be in February than in March or April."

11:50 - Senior day for field hockey.

12:00 - Game No. 1 begins - Princeton vs. Cornell field hockey. A win gives Princeton at least a share of the Ivy title and clinches the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

12:01:05 - First goal of the day - Ryan McCarthy drills one off a corner.

12:15 - TigerBlog sits on a golf cart behind the goal, next to his colleague Anthony Archbald. Two little children run by and duck behind the cart. As two others appear by the fence, it is clear they are playing hide-and-seek. "Five bucks or we tell them where you are," TigerBlog tells the kids. 

12:45 - The field is being watered at the half. TigerBlog chooses the wrong place to stand.

1:30 - Princeton puts the finishing touches on its 5-1 win over Cornell. That's Ivy title No. 25 for the program.

1:40 - TigerBlog is introduced to Laura Swezey, whose daughter Casey is a junior on the Princeton field hockey team. TB explains that his daughter played against the high school team Laura coaches. Laura reponds with a big hug.

2:00 - TB arrives at Roberts Stadium, which is located approximately 100 yards from Bedford Field. It's the second senior day of the year, this time before Princeton-Cornell womens soccer.

2:30 - Kickoff, Princeton-Cornell.

2:40 - Men's soccer coach Jim Barlow comes by to watch a little of the women's game. Subjects include a dream he had in which soccer ties are broken by a vote of a committee and the last book he read.

2:51 -  Vanessa Gregoire puts Princeton on top 1-0 with a rocket into the back of the net. Princeton would go on to win 2-0, improving to 5-1-0 in the league. Later in the day, Yale will beat Columbia 1-0, leaving Princeton and Columbia tied heading into the

3:05 - TB gets to Baker Rink for the women's hockey game, which has just started and is scoreless. This time, it is Princeton-Dartmouth. 

3:10 - Sharon Frankel scores the first goal of the day for Princeton and the first goal of her career. Frankel is the diminutive freshman who did 30 pull ups in a team video posted on Instragram a few weeks ago. TB is pretty sure he couldn't do that many.

3:11 - TigerBlog checks the line chart to see where Frankel is from and learns she is from West Hartford, Conn. He wonders if she's ever gone to Rein's Deli, which is about 10 minutes from there, and if so, does she get the Boston Harbor sandwich (whitefish salad, lox) that he does. 

3:35 - Princeton leads 3-0 after the first period. Cara Morey is well on her way to her first win as Princeton head coach.

4:10 - Dartmouth pulls starting goalie Christie Honor after she allows Princeton's fifth goal. This comes one day after Honor made 61 saves in a 1-0 win over Quinnipiac, which leads to a conversation between TB and Dartmouth athletic communications contact Charlotte Brackett that only people in athletic communications can fully appreciate - how the second game impacts Honor's chances at winning Goalie of the Week honors.

4:50 - Princeton is ahead 7-1, en route to what becomes an 8-1 final, when TB leaves Baker and heads to Dillon Gym.

5:00 - TB arrives at Dillon Gym in time for the starting lineups and national anthem before Princeton-Brown women's volleyball. TB doesn't see a lot of volleyball, but he does love the longsleeve dri-fit orange "Princeton Volley" shirt that Sam Shweisky gave him.

5:10 - Volleyball is loud. Princeton, by the way, defeats Brown. Yale's loss to Penn leaves Princeton one game back of the Bulldogs in the Ivy standings.

5:11 - TigerBlog walks back to Roberts Stadium. When he arrives, he sees that Cornell is up 1-0 in the men's soccer game. It is the first time this year that Princeton has given up a first-half goal.

5:18 - Harry Heffernan ties it with a header. The game-winner would come from Jeremy Colvin in the second half, and Princeton would win 2-1.

5:19 - TigerBlog walks back towards the football stadium. He detours to his car in the parking lot.

5:25 - The Snapple is warm, but he brings it with him anyway.

5:30 - TB heads up to the press box. He hasn't eaten since the sandwich six hours earlier, and he's hungry. He awaits the food at the pregame reception in the Class of 1956 Lounge.

5:45 - TB has a Philly pretzel as an appetizer.

6:00 - The food is out. TB goes with the rare "pulled pork sandwich without the bread and grilled veggie hoagie" double. As he heads back into the press box side, he runs into former Princeton offensive lineman Ross Tucker, now a very successful member of the national football media. Ross is there to do the color for NBC Sports Network, which will be televising the game. TB points Ross towards the food.

6:10 - TB says hello to Cornell's very likable athletic communications contact Jeremy Hartigan. They go over Cornell pronunciations, since TB is the PA announcer.

6:28 - TB gets a text message from his colleague Kellie Staples from the field. She's taken a picture of Tucker and former Princeton great Dean Cain with Derek and Zack DiGregorio. Derek, the honorary captain for the game, suffers from Ataxia-Telangiectasia, a rare disease affecting only 500 or so Americans. Despite that and the grim prognosis, Derek has recently graduated from Princeton High and is attending Mercer County Community College, and he's also a World Champion in Tae-Kwon-Do. Zack, Derek's older brother, is a Penn senior who plays sprint football and does a lot of writing. Their father Steve is a former Princeton assistant football coach, and he and his wife Nadia, along with current Associate Head Coach Steve Verbit and former Princeton basketball player and assistant coach Howard Levy have done amazing things to raise money to fight the disease.

6:55 - Derek comes out with his walker to midfield with the captains from Princeton and Cornell. The crowd give him a big ovation.

7:00 - Kickoff

7:00-10:20 or so - TigerBlog has no memory of how the football game went.

10:30 - Fifth quarter is going on on Powers Field. Do these little kids ever get tired?

10:45 - TB and Patrick McCarthy, part of the Princeton radio team, walk back to the parking lot. Patrick says he'll see TB on Nov. 15, for Princeton-BYU men's basketball. It dawns on TB that this is two weeks from Wednesday.

10:50 - Back to the car.


Anonymous said...

Actually, it went really well for 45 minutes. Then downhill for about 14 minutes and then terribly. Which leads to a column suggestion: over TB's tenure, there're been a number of football games (and other sports, to be sure) with all the drama squeezed into the last minute. Which are your top five?

Anonymous said...

Princeton is not the first football team to succumb to the cumulative effect of too many injuries to its starting line-up. However, Saturday night's game was that rare instance in which the injury problem seemed to reach the critical tipping point between challenging and insurmountable during the course of one game.

The defense appeared to fight gallantly in the second half but, by the fourth quarter, we were essentially playing our second team front seven against Cornell's starters. If my diagnosis is correct and our guys don't bounce back immediately from their injuries, we are going to have trouble winning any more games, let alone tie for the rare 5-2 co-championship. It could be a shocking turn of events starting one game after it looked like we could have easily beaten Harvard by eight or nine touchdowns.

I'm glad that you identified Sharon Frankel as the Princetonian who banged out thirty pull-ups in that Instagram video. Thirty is a staggering number. I wouldn't be surprised if she doubled the next highest number on the women's hockey team and exceeded more than half of all the male varsity athletes on campus.

It reminds me of a post-lunch conversation on a trading floor where I once worked. The topic turned to pull-ups and one co-worker casually said that he could do fifty. A group of colleagues quickly wagered him $1000 and a collection was raised to hold him to his seemingly ridiculous boast, particularly for a guy who spent eleven hours a day sitting in front of a screen. We headed to a small gym downstairs in the building, whereupon he without much difficulty --wearing a dress shirt and tie, no less -- completed 49 pull-ups. He had made his point but, as he huffed and puffed before failing the reach the fiftieth, it became clear that, like the football team, sometimes you can fight gallantly and still go home a loser.