Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Calm Before The Storm, And After A Bunch Of Storms

It's supposed to be sunny today.

TigerBlog remains skeptical. The weather has been simply awful here for the last few days. It's May, though it feels like November.

There have been snow flurries in Princeton this week. Well, maybe one or two at least.

It's not just that it's been raining. It's that it's been really cold and raining non-stop. Even when it seems like it's about to clear up, it starts to rain again.

The wind hasn't helped much either. It just makes it colder and rawer and just plain nasty.

The forecast, though, is improving. There might be actual sunshine today. And temps in the 60s, which is about 20 degrees better than it's been the last three days. Hey, there's even been a wind chill - in May.

If there's one team that's either due for a nice day to play or is used to playing in bad weather, it's the Princeton women's lacrosse team.

Look at the last three weekends for the Tigers. There have been five games, all of which had major championship implications, and four of those five were played in really bad weather. As for the fifth, it was played on an evening when the forecast was for really bad thunderstorms that just happened to not show up.

It started with the last game of the regular season, when there really was snow, on the final Saturday of April, in Ithaca. Undaunted, Princeton beat Cornell 18-15 to win its sixth straight Ivy League championship.

Next up was the Ivy League tournament. Game 1 was a rematch with Cornell in the semifinals on a cold and cloudy night. Princeton won that one 11-6.

Then it was the championship game against Penn, which Princeton won 13-9. This was played in driving rain from star to pretty much finish.

And finally there was the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament. Princeton defeated Wagner 19-7 in the first round on what was a pretty nice night, even if the threat of t-storms were everywhere.

And then there was the second round, a 17-13 win over Loyola, again played in a driving, cold, miserable rain.

That win advanced seventh-seeded Princeton to the quarterfinals, against No. 2 Boston College. That game will be played Saturday at 1 at BC.

If you look at the forecast now for Boston, you'll see that Saturday is supposed to be cloudy at 66 degrees, with a 10 percent chance of rain. Yeah right.

It's been a great year for the Tigers, who bring an 11-game winning streak into the matchup against the Eagles, who are 20-1 and who made it to the NCAA final a year ago, ending Princeton's season 16-10 in the second round along the way.

This figures to be a good one. It's two very good, very confident teams who are playing with a lot of confidence and would love to be playing next weekend in the Final Four at Johns Hopkins.

There's an intensity to that sort of matchup, and it was about 180 degrees away from what the Princeton women experienced last night, when they had their annual banquet. This was the calm before the storm, or, if you prefer, the calm after a bunch of storms.

This was a celebration of Princeton's tremendous senior class, the fourth in program history to win four Ivy League titles.

It featured some typical team banquet stuff - players, parents, gifts for the seniors and coaches, dinner and a lot of laughs. There were also two really well-done videos, one that showcased those seven seniors with pictures of them from when they were babies through the present and humorous commentary from the juniors, and then another video made by primarily the seniors that made fun of pretty much everyone on the team.

Both were really endearing.

TigerBlog has been to a lot of these banquets. In this one, it was impossible to miss the genuine affection and closeness that permeates through the program, something that goes deeper than just winning championships.

He was also struck by how relaxed and comfortable everything was, tucked in between three straight weekends of intense competition and with the huge one at BC just a few days away. It was good for everyone to have a night like that.

And now today it's back to practice and preparation. And then the chance to move on to championship weekend.

That will be the storm after the calm.

Hopefully, at least, it'll be a dry, clear storm. This is a team that deserves to play a big game on a day like that.


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