Friday, December 28, 2018

Best Of 2018, Part 1

The six-day break for Christmas ends for Princeton Athletics ends today, as the men's hockey team hosts Maine at Hobey Baker Rink at 7.

Princeton hasn't played since Dec. 15, when a 4-4 tie against ninth-ranked Penn State felt more like a win after the Tigers trailed 4-1 late in the second period. Princeton and Maine will play again tomorrow night at 7 as well.

After that, the women's hockey team will take to the Baker Rink ice for a pair of games Saturday and Sunday at 3 against Merrimack.

While those two are home, the wrestling team will be at the Midlands tournament at Northwestern tomorrow and Sunday. The women's basketball team is at New Hampshire tomorrow, and the men's basketball team is at 17th-ranked Arizona State tomorrow as well. The men's volleyball team plays the first of two matches in California Sunday, at Pepperdine.

And that's the schedule for the rest of the calendar year for Princeton Athletics.

Because there are only nine events, TigerBlog feels confident that he can go ahead with his list of the top stories in Princeton sports for the last 12 months. If something happens in those nine events to shake up the list, then TB will amend it later.

In the meantime, here are the top stories in Princeton Athletics for 2018. This list was chosen solely by TigerBlog, and you can feel free to disagree with him if you like.

Also, only athletes who competed in the calendar year of 2018 for Princeton are eligible for the list, which lets out any professional or international accomplishments by current or former Princeton athletes, and there were several that were impressive in the past 12 months.

This is Part 1. He'll be back Monday with Part 2, which will include the top story for the year. You can probably figure out which ones will be in the top two, but they could still be in either order. He's still not sure, actually, which way he'll go.

For today, though, here is Part 1:

No. 11 - the men's lightweight rowing team finishes second nationally
The men's lightweight rowing team was second in the Eastern Sprints, behind Columbia, and then finished second at the IRA championships, also to Columbia. The margin of the grand final was less than one second after a great final sprint by the Tigers, who finished five seconds ahead of the third-place boat from Harvard. The second-place finish was Princeton's best since 2010.

No. 10 - the women's hockey team ties the school record for unbeaten streak while moving up the national rankings
The women's hockey team opened its season with a pair of close losses at Wisconsin, the No. 2 in the country. Since then? Princeton has not lost. In fact, the Tigers will take a 12-game unbeaten streak into those upcoming games against Merrimack. Also in fact, that 12-game unbeaten streak ties the record for the longest one in program history. Princeton, who has not played in four weeks, is still in first place in the ECAC with 18 points (8-0-2), and the Tigers are ranked sixth nationally. 

No. 9 - Michael Sowers breaks his own single-season scoring record
Michael Sowers set the Princeton men's lacrosse record for points in a season as a freshman with 82 - and then promptly broke that last year as a sophomore with 83, including a program-record 56 assists. Through two seasons, Sowers ranks first and second on the school's single-season points list, and he is already fifth all-time in assists and 10th all-time in points at Princeton. Should Sowers match last year's total, he'd have 248 through three years - the program career record is 247 and was set 25 years ago by Hall-of-Famer Kevin Lowe.

No. 8 - the men's track and field team completes another "triple crown" and starts its run for another
The men's track and field team won the indoor and outdoor Heps titles in 2018, which added to the 2017 cross country championship completed the "triple crown" that Princeton has now won nine times, and four times in the last eight years. No other Ivy men's track and field program has ever done it even once (Princeton is also the only one to do it on the women's side, having done it twice). The Tigers then started out the new academic year on the right foot with a dominant performance to win the 2018 Heps cross country title and then followed that with an NCAA regional championship and 22nd place finish nationally.

No. 7 - Leslie Robinson has Princeton basketball's first "triple double"
The Princeton women's basketball team clinched at least a share of the 2018 Ivy League title with a 79-44 win over Brown on March 2. That title, the seventh for the Tigers in the last nine years, was not the only history made that night, however. In that win over Brown, senior Leslie Robinson had 10 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, making her the first basketball player at Princeton - male or female - ever to have a "triple double." Princeton would go on to win the outright Ivy title and the Ivy League tournament championship (with a 63-34 win over Penn) as Bella Alarie was named the league's Player of the Year and Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Princeton fell to Maryland in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

No. 6 - the reliable women of spring were again reliable
Princeton won 11 Ivy League titles in the 2017-18 academic year, and four of those came from four women's teams in the spring - the women's lacrosse, tennis, golf and open rowing teams. These were hardly unique occurrences, by the way. Consider this recent history. The women's golf title was the second straight. The women's tennis title was the fourth in five years. The women's open rowing title was the third straight and fifth in six years. The women's lacrosse championship was the fifth straight. All four teams competed in the NCAA postseason events in their sport.

Coming Monday (New Year's Eve), the top five.

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