Friday, April 27, 2018

The Weekend In Lax

If the question is "what was the score," the answer usually is met with something along the lines of "oh."

Every now and then, though, you get more than "oh." You get "wow." That was the case Wednesday night after the women's lacrosse game.

Princeton 21, Penn 8? Wow. That'll get everyone's attention.

For starters, Penn was the lone unbeaten team in the Ivy League, while Princeton had one loss. That made it something of a championship game, or at least a "have a shot at a championship game" for Princeton.

For another, Princeton and Penn are huge rivals.

For another, there's the possibility of a rematch not that long from now.

Princeton, Penn and Dartmouth will all be in the Ivy League tournament next weekend. The questions remaining are: 1) who will join them, 2) where will it be and 3) how many teams will enter as the league champ?

The answer to one is Columbia (if it beats Princeton tomorrow or if Harvard beats Cornell) or Cornell (if it wins and Columbia loses). Yale can finish in a three-way tie with Cornell and Columbia at 3-4, but Yale has lost to both.

The answer to the third is that Princeton, Penn and Dartmouth (who plays Brown) are all 5-1. Should they all win or all lose, they'd be tri-champs. If two win, they'd be co-champs. If one wins, it would be the outright champ.

As for the last question, should there be co-champions, then the tournament would be hosted by Princeton (if it's tied with Penn), Dartmouth (if it's tied with Princeton) and Penn (if it's tied with Dartmouth). If there's a three-way tie at 6-1, then Princeton would host, since it has the edge in goal differential. If there's a three-way tie at 5-2, well, then TB isn't sure, because he's not sure what order the tiebreakers go.

If it's goal differential before how you did against the other teams going down the standings, then it would still be Princeton. If it's how you did against the other teams in the standings, then it would be Penn, because Columbia would be fourth, Princeton would have lost to Columbia, Penn and Dartmouth have already beaten the Lions and Penn beat Dartmouth.

Still, TB has a really hard time imagining it would get to three teams at 5-2.

Meanwhile, there's the small matter of what happens if Princeton and Penn play again. Well, let's see what happened a year ago. Penn beat Princeton 17-12 during the regular season. Then, a little more than two weeks later, Princeton beat Penn 17-8 in the Ivy semifinals.

So yeah, the game the other night doesn't guarantee anything in the future.

Anyway, it'll all be sorted out tomorrow. The same is true on the men's side, where Yale will be the top seed, Cornell will be the second seed and then four teams are left for the last two spots, including Princeton, who can only get in should Dartmouth defeat Brown.

Princeton hosts Cornell tomorrow at 1. The game will showcase two players who have done extraordinary things in their first two years of college lacrosse.

It's not fair to say the game is Michael Sowers against Jeff Teat. They won't be guarding each other. You can't even say that whoever has the most points had a better game, since there are a lot of factors involved.

What you can do is simply enjoy their talents.

Right now, Teat is averaging 6.12 points per game for his career, slightly ahead of Sowers at 5.96. Does that sound impressive? Do you want some context?

Well, for all of the great players in college lacrosse right now, that makes Teat No. 1 and Sowers No. 2 among current scorers. And that also makes Teat No. 5 all-time and Sowers No. 6 all-time in career points per game. That's in NCAA history - and no player since 1981 has averaged more for a career.

That's extraordinary.

Sowers and Teat are also 1-2 in points per game this year (Teat first) and 1-2 in assists per game this year (Sowers first). They're also on pace to finish 1-2 all-time in the Ivy League in points scored in a career.

Sowers will enter the game needing three points to tie the Princeton single-season record for points of 82. Of course, Sowers already has that record, which he set last year as a freshman.

Beyond the two super sophs, it's also Senior Day for the Princeton men. And there will be a halftime ceremony honoring Cookie Krongard, a longtime supporter of the program, a 1961 first-team All-America, a 1985 US Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee and 70-something year old who still jumps in as a goalie in the annual alumni game.

Actually, TB has watched Cookie play in those games. The players start out shooting gingerly, but then instinct takes over and they start firing away. It's quite a sight.

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