Monday, May 14, 2018

Striking 12

When college websites first started to offer the function known as "live stats," TigerBlog was against it.

You know what live stats are.  When a game is going on, the in-game stats are constantly updated, going directly from being inputted into StatCrew to a webpage where fans can follow along.

TB felt like it was irresponsible of him to promote something like that, something whose function was to keep people glued to their computer screens to follow a game that wasn't on TV or the radio. It was like promoting sitting on the couch watching TV all day instead of going outside.

This, of course, was before the smart phone came along.

Since then, TB has probably checked the live stats on his phone from more college games than anyone else in the world. It's second nature now.

If there's a game, in basically any sport from any college league, TB assumes there's live stats. They're great - at least since they became mobile.

The Princeton women's lacrosse team had its NCAA tournament opener against Syracuse Friday. Miss TigerBlog had a game of her own, a game that, in fact, was the last of her four years on her high school's home field, the one she'd played on for both field hockey and lacrosse.

Afterwards, some of the parents - not TigerBlog, so he can't take credit for any of it - organized a very nice postgame tailgate. As it unfolded, the women's lacrosse game was in overtime, and TB followed along on the livestats.

On his phone, the screen showed the words "Princeton" and "Syracuse," and each had "11" underneath. Then there was the time and the situation, along with recent plays as they were added.

The obvious beauty of live stats is that you can follow the game without watching. The hidden beauty is that you can see what play gets entered and picture it unfolding in your mind.

During the majority of the game, TB had looked every now and then just to see the score. Princeton was up big. Then Syracuse came back and took the lead. Then Princeton would tie it.

Now in overtime, TB looked around every 30 seconds. He also kept hitting "refresh," even though he knew it refreshes itself.

Each time he looked, both teams still had "11" under the names. This, in many ways, was a more suspenseful way to follow a game than actually watching it.

The first three minutes of overtime went by. No goal. The next three. No goal. As he said, it got more and more dramatic.

At some point, it would strike "12" for one of them. And eventually, there it was, under the "Princeton."

It turned out to be a Colby Chanenchuk goal, and an Allie Rogers assist. The result was a first-round NCAA tournament win, and it was the 22nd time that Chris Sailer had taken Princeton past the opening round.

Unfortunately for Princeton, the clock struck 12 on the season two days later. The opponent in Round 2 was a Boston College team that is seeded fourth but could easily be seeded No. 1 and could be the eventual champion, a BC team that defeated Princeton 16-10 yesterday, improving to 20-1 on the year.

Of course, BC is hardly assured of even reaching the Final Four. That's because the women's tournament seedings resulted in having arguably the two best teams at No. 4 and No. 5. That fifth-seed is Stony Brook, the only unbeaten team in the country and winner of every one of its games by at least four goals. The Seawolves were a unanimous No. 1 team in both major polls, only to end up at No. 5 because of the seeding criteria.

It makes for what might be the best quarterfinal matchup any NCAA tournament has seen, a matchup of teams who are a combined 40-1 and who both presumably have chips on their shoulders about where they're seeded. Stony Brook, by the way, beat Penn 18-5 in the second round yesterday.

As for Princeton, it was a season that ended at 13-6 after a 4-4 start. Princeton won yet another Ivy League championship, and yet another Ivy League tournament championship.

The Tigers featured a freshman goalie (Sam Fish) who took over in midseason and ended up as a second-team All-Ivy League selection and a freshman (Kyla Sears) who was the team's leading scorer (64G, 83 Pts, both of which are freshmen records and the second-highest single-season totals overall in program history).

Sears is one of three returning first-team All-Ivy players, along with Ivy tournament MVP Elizabeth George and Alex Argo. Sears, George and Tess D'Orsi all scored at least 40 goals, and all three are back.

In other words, Princeton seems set for another run at it next season.

As TB said last week, you can always count on Chris Sailer.

You know who else you can always count on? Women's open rowing coach Lori Dauphiny.

More on that tomorrow. 

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