Thursday, October 21, 2021

Seeing Crimson

It's just two days until the Princeton-Harvard showdown.

Princeton is the top scoring team in the Ivy League. Harvard is the top defensive team in the Ivy League. Both are unbeaten in the league and nationally ranked.

That's the background on the Princeton-Harvard field hockey game Saturday in Cambridge. What? You thought only the football game was big? 

Just as is the case in football, Princeton and Harvard field hockey are both perfect in the league. They're both ranked (Harvard 12th, Princeton 14th). Princeton has the top scoring offense. Harvard has the top scoring defense.

The current Ivy League field hockey standings have Princeton and Harvard at 4-0 each. There are four teams (Penn, Brown, Cornell, Yale) at 2-2 each. 

The winner of the Princeton-Harvard game will take a huge step towards the Ivy League's automatic NCAA tournament bid. To not get the bid, the winner of the game Saturday would have to lose its remaining two and then have the team that loses Saturday win its last two. 

Harvard's remaining league games are against Cornell and Brown. Princeton finishes with Brown and Columbia.

Harvard is 11-1 and has allowed only five goals all season. Princeton leads the league and is seventh in Division I in scoring offense, with 40 goals in 13 games. 

Princeton has won five straight games, including a pair of overtime wins last weekend, both by 3-2 counts, first against Cornell and then against Penn State, who was ranked fifth at the time. Princeton is 8-5 overall, with four of those losses to Top 10 teams, two of which, against No. 4 Louisville and No. 8 Maryland, were in overtime.

Speaking of last weekend, Ali McCarthy was the Division I (and Ivy League) Offensive Player of the Week after scoring twice and having two assists. The overtime goals were scored by Beth Yeager and Sammy Popper. 

The unsung hero of it all was Hannah Davey, who assisted on the two overtime games. To get there, she had to control the ball for about 100 or so total yards, which isn't easy to do. Both times she made long runs, and both times she set up the winner perfectly.

The field hockey game starts at noon. 

It's one of four Princeton-Harvard games Saturday, and they're all huge. The football game, of course, will be played in Princeton and kicks off at 1. The other three are all at Harvard.

In addition to the field hockey game in Cambridge, there is also a Princeton-Harvard soccer doubleheader. The women start it out at 1, followed by the men at 4.

The current women's soccer standings have Brown at 4-0 and Princeton and Harvard at 3-1 each, both with a loss to Brown. The current Division I RPI for women's soccer has Brown 17th, Harvard 18th and Princeton 28th.

Since it has wins over both Princeton and Harvard, Brown also has all the tiebreakers for the automatic NCAA bid should it come to that. The winner of the game Saturday will have a huge at-large chip come selection time.

On the men's side, Princeton is the lone perfect Ivy team so far, with a 3-0-0 league record that includes wins over Dartmouth, Brown and Columbia. Harvard is 0-1-2 in the Ivy League but 5-4-3 overall and playing at home.

The standings now have Princeton with nine points, followed by Yale with seven (2-0-1), Cornell with six (2-1-0) and Penn and Brown with four each (1-1-1). It was Yale who knocked off Cornell last week, after the Big Red had been nationally ranked.

Princeton, a 2-0 winner over Lehigh Tuesday night, plays its final non-league game Tuesday against Fordham. That game is an 8 pm start on Sherrerd Field, after the Princeton-Monmouth field hockey game at 5 on Bedford Field. 

As an aside, it would be interesting to have field hockey and soccer at the same time, since they share the same facility and have a press box that faces both fields. On the other hand, there's only one sound system there, so that might be confusing for the PA announcer.

Beyond Tuesday, Princeton then is home with Cornell, at Penn and then home with Yale on three straight Saturdays. 

Of course, there will be plenty of time to worry about those games later. For now, the focus in on Harvard Saturday. There are four Princeton teams doing just that right now.

1 comment:

D '82 said...

In other fall sports, this just in from Stockholm, Nobel Prizes: Harvard 1; Princeton 5.