Friday, December 29, 2017

The Best Of 2017, Part 2

Apparently, depending on when certain holidays fall, there will be either 253, 254 or 255 days in a year that fall on what you can call a work day.

It's on those days that TigerBlog comes to you here. Each year starting in 2010, there have been either 253, 254 or 255 entries.

There were 272 in 2009, back when there were still some in-game updates here and when there were a few days when multiple Office of Athletic Communications people wrote short entries.

The origins of the blog go back to 2008, when TigerBlog's former colleague Yariv Amir created it and then asked the question of what to do with it. At first, there were some really small news items posted here, like the change of a start time or one note about an upcoming game. Nobody read it.

Then there was a short time of in-game blogging, but that didn't really work either. Livestats, after all, basically told the same story.

With a blog but with no blog strategy, TigerBlog had one main thought - he didn't want to create additional work for the rest of his office. Then he figured he might as well write a few stories about his own experiences with Princeton Athletics, even though this was contrary to everything he thought and had been taught: that the news is the news; your reporting the news is not news.

As a compromise, he decided to do it in the third person, and that's where he's been every since. Each New Year, by the way, he thinks about switching over to first person, though he hasn't done it yet.

Lastly, he figured that if he was going to do this, he had to do it every day, or else the audience wouldn't grow to its fullest. He's not sure what he was thinking at the time about how long he figured to do it, but here he is, at the end of another year.

The opportunity to do this every day is important to him. It's a chance to talk about what's going on at Princeton and try to give his perspective, in any number of areas, including its history and its values.

So, as this is it for 2017, TigerBlog would like to wish a Happy 2018 to all of the loyal readers. And even to the disloyal ones.

Before 2017 ends, there are also a few athletic events to go, including four home hockey games - two for the men against No. 1 St. Cloud tonight and tomorrow and two for the women against Boston University tomorrow and Sunday - and women's basketball at home tomorrow at 4 against UMBC. The wrestling team is at Northwestern for the Midlands today and tomorrow.

And there is also the matter of the top five moments of Princeton Athletics from this calendar year.

Yesterday, TB brought you the Nos. 6-10, as well as seven honorable mention entries. Here is the top five of 2017 (again, TB chose these himself):

5. Chad Kanoff and Jesper Horsted destroy the record football record book
Some of the most glamorous records in the football record book dated back to the early and mid-1980s. They lasted through decades, through great players, through championship seasons. They couldn't outlast Chad Kanoff and Jesper Horsted in 2017 though. Kanoff, the quarterback, set 12 Princeton or Ivy League records, including passing yards in a season (Ivy record too) and career, completion percentage in a season for both the program and the league and touchdown passes in a season en route to winning the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy's Offensive Player of the Year. Kanoff also tied the Ivy record for 400-yard and 300-yard games in a season. His favorite target was Horsted, whose 92 receptions and 14 touchdown receptions were Princeton records.

4. Olivia Hompe destroys the Princeton women's lacrosse record book
When the football season started, it seemed like the career record for passing yards in a season was just too far out of reach for Chad Kanoff. On the other hand, the same had seemed true for Olivia Hompe when women's lacrosse season started, when it seemed like the Princeton record for career scoring was just too far out of reach. Instead, Hompe was just completely unstoppable all season, and when she was done, she held the records for single-season and career goals and points for Princeton. It wasn't just the Olivia Hompe show for the Tigers all spring though, as Princeton spent most of the year ranked in the top 5 and then reached the NCAA quarterfinals. Princeton also won the Ivy League regular-season and tournament championships and then defeated Cornell for the third time on the season in a thrilling 11-9 game, one in which the game-winning goal was scored by Elizabeth George, on a Hompe assist, just as one of the hardest rainstorms any team has ever experienced broke out.

3. The men's hockey team wins an epic series as part of a turnaround season
If you take away any historical context, then it's possible that Game 2 of the ECAC men's hockey series between Princeton and Colgate was the best game a Princeton team has played in a long, long time. Princeton, having dropped the series opener 3-2 in overtime, trailed by that same score into the third period. Late into the third period. Like the final seconds of the third period. And then, as time was about to expire, here came a diving Eric Robinson to knock the puck in with just one second to go. Tie game. Then Max Veronneau won it OT and Princeton won Game 3 in another nailbiter, 2-1, the next day. Princeton had expected to finish 12th in the 12-team ECAC men's hockey race for the 2016-17 season but instead finished seventh, to host the ECAC series in the first place. The resurgent Tigers became one of the highest-scoring and most exciting teams in Division I as Ron Fogarty continues to rebuild the program.

2. The men's basketball becomes the first 16-0 team in Ivy history
The year 2017 was going to special in Ivy basketball no matter what, since it was going to mark the first-ever Ivy tournament. Into that stepped a 14-0 Princeton team that in any other year would have won the league by four games. In 2017, though, Princeton needed to do something more to get to the NCAA tournament, and that was win two more games. The first was against Penn on Penn's home court, and it took a Myles Stephens (tournament MVP) put-back on an offensive rebound with five seconds left to force OT, where Princeton then won comfortably. Princeton then pulled away from Yale 71-59 to finish a perfect 16-0 against the league. Princeton then dropped a tough 60-58 decision to Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament opening round.

1. Women's soccer
The top story in Princeton Athletics for 2017 might have been debatable until Abby Givens ended any doubts 8:18 into the overtime back on Nov. 19. That's when Givens just got to a ball that she was able to get just past the goalkeeper and have it just make its way into the goal. This wasn't just any game. This was the NCAA Sweet 16. And this didn't come against just any opponent. This was against North Carolina, the No. 1 seed, the 23-time NCAA champion, the team that had allowed just four goals in 16 games prior to meeting up with Princeton. Givens' goal gave Princeton a 2-1 win in what is one of the greatest and most historic wins in Princeton history. It came two days after Princeton had another improbable win, this time in penalty kicks to North Carolina State when the Tigers were down to their last chance and needed a Natalie Grossi save to even get a shot at UNC in the first place. Princeton won the outright Ivy League championship during its 16-3-1 season and spent most of the year ranked in top 10. The season ended with a loss to UCLA in the quarterfinals.

1 comment:

Glenn Adams '63 said...

I agreed with your top two picks for sports highlights of the year but would have opted for the women's lacrosse and field hockey NCAA quarterfinal finishes in two huge sports for #3 and 4 in your list. (I realize that we have gotten spoiled by the usual high finishes by these two teams, but we shouldn't deny the significance of reaching the NCAA quarterfinals.) For #5 I probably would have selected the men's heavyweight rowers for their incredible IRA performance, where they had two medals and top 5 finishes nationally with all four boats. (As much as I was in awe of the sensational records established by the likes of Tiger individual athletic stars such as Chad Kanoff, Jesper Horsted, Olivia Hompe, Ashleigh Johnson, and Michael Sowers, I would prefer to highlight team performances in this list.) Thanks for your fine list and reminding us of what a great year Tiger teams and athletes had! Glenn Adams '63