Monday, April 30, 2018

Coming This Weekend To Sherrerd Field

TigerBlog was out on the bike yesterday, on John McPhee's 15-mile loop around Princeton.

There are some pretty steep parts of it, places that don't look like they would be brutal but are, especially when the wind is whipping in your face. Very little of the ride is actually on the Princeton campus, though the exact midway point is the Streicker Bridge, the one that goes over Washington Road.

Just before that, there is one lap around the concourse of the football stadium. As they reached that part of the ride, John asked how long it takes to take down the bubble.

Hey, the bubble was gone. TigerBlog hadn't even noticed it. And yet it was gone, stored somewhere until the end of next football season.

And with that, the first year of the bubble has come and gone. As TB has said before, the bubble is amazing on the inside, and there's the strange sensation of knowing you're standing on the middle of Powers Field without having any realization that you're in the middle of the football stadium.

The bubble accomplished everything it was meant to do, offering outdoor teams a home when the weather was awful, for practice or for conditioning. The athletes TB talked to about it universally loved having it there, and there were numerous occasions when teams were able to get things done that they otherwise would have had no chance of doing if they'd had to be outside.

It doesn't seem all that long ago that the two lacrosse teams were doing individual workouts in the bubble, waiting for practice to start. Now the regular season for both has come and gone.

Both teams are playing their best right now. Only one has a chance to keep it going. The men have been blisteringly hot in April, going 5-0 - all by at least five goals, including a 14-8 win over sixth-ranked Cornell Saturday - while trying to climb out of an 0-3 Ivy start. In the end, Princeton finished in a three-way tie for third with Penn and Brown but didn't have the tiebreaker on either of them.

As a result, Princeton is excruciatingly not part of the Ivy tournament this weekend at Columbia.

As for the women, they're playing their best right now and will have their season continue. And it will continue on the Tigers' home turf.

Princeton has won six out of seven, with the only loss by one goal to defending champ Maryland. Included in that run was a 21-8 win over Penn last Wednesday in what was a must-win for the Tigers to have a shot at an Ivy title.

Of those six wins, five came in the month of April, leaving Princeton lacrosse a combined 10-1 in the month. That's pretty good. 

The Penn win set up this past weekend, the final one in the regular season. Heading into it, Princeton was tied with Penn and Dartmouth for first place in the league, while Columbia and Cornell were alive for the fourth spot in the tournament.

On the women's side, the tournament was still going to be played at the home of the highest seeded team.

Princeton entered the game with scenarios by which it could win and not host the tournament and lose and still host the tournament. As it turned out, the one that played out saw Princeton and Penn win and Dartmouth lose. And Cornell lose to Harvard.

When it all unfolded, Princeton and Penn were the Ivy League co-champs, and Princeton's win last week over Penn put the tournament on Sherrerd Field.

Princeton will immediately turn around and play Columbia again, since Columbia finished ahead of Cornell. If it's anything like the first game, expect lots and lots of offense, since it was 22-16 Princeton Saturday.

The rematch will be the second of Friday's doubleheader, which starts with Penn, the two seed, and third-seeded Dartmouth at 4.

The winners meet Sunday for the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The final will be at 11.

If you're looking for some individual news, freshman Kyla Sears had six goals in the game the other day, giving her 53 for the season. That's sixth all-time on Princeton's single-season list, one back of tying Olivia Hompe for fifth (and tying the men's record for a single-season, set in 2017 by Gavin McBride). It's also the most ever by a Princeton freshman, male or female. Michael Sowers holds the men's record at 41, by the way.

As for Chris Sailer, this was Ivy League championship No. 14. That's one more than Pete Carril won in basketball and equal to the number Bill Tierney won in men's lacrosse.

Sailer is hoping to come out of next weekend with her 25th NCAA tournament appearance. That's another insane number.

First, though, there's the Ivy League women's tournament, this weekend on Sherrerd Field. Once again, that's Penn-Dartmouth Friday at 4, followed by Princeton-Cornell at 7. The winners meet Sunday at 11.

The winner of that is assured a spot in the NCAA tournament.

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