Thursday, November 30, 2023

A Thursday Without Turkey

Another Thursday, though not quite like last Thursday ... 


TigerBlog wrote about rebounding yesterday, which reminds him of something that Bill Carmody said to him before Princeton played Michigan State in 1989.

As TB recalls, Carmody said "we'll win if we get outrebounded by 15 or less." What happened? Princeton got outrebounded by 16 and lost by two.

Pete Carril once famously said: "A person's jumping ability is inversely proportional to his home's distance from the railroad tracks."

Sociologists can debate that all they wish. The reality is that at Princeton, rebounding was always an Achilles heel. The 1997-98 team, the one that went 27-2 and reached as high as No. 8 in the national rankings, was actually outrebounded by nearly three per game. You can put an asterisk on that perhaps because the Tigers shot just below 50 percent from the field for the year, so there weren't a lot of chances for offensive rebounds.

Carmody once said that his team played the "shoot and run offense," where "one guy shoots and four run back on defense." That is hardly the gameplan anymore. 

In last night's women's game against Seton Hall, Ellie Mitchell had nine rebounds despite fouling out after playing 31 minutes. With the nine rebounds, Mitchell became the four woman and sixth player in all in Princeton basketball history to reach 900 rebounds in a career. Mitchell now has 904.

As for the game, it was something of an early season classic, as the 25th-ranked Tigers and Pirates went to two overtimes before Princeton won 75-71. The biggest play of the night might have been a rebound, courtesy of Mari Bickley, a freshman who hauled in a missed Seton Hall shot in between three Pirates in the final minute of the second OT and Princeton ahead by one. 

The women are at Rhode Island Sunday.

The men defeated Bucknell 85-71 last night in Lewisburg in a game in which there were only 46 total rebounds, 23 for each team. Why so few rebounds? How about not a lot of missed shots. Both teams made better than 50 percent of their shots, including a blistering 58 percent for the Tigers, who host Furman Saturday at 2.

One of the highlights on the weekend schedule will be held in DeNunzio Pool tomorrow through Sunday, as the men's and women's swimming and diving teams host the Big Al Invitational. For a full schedule of events, click HERE.

The competing teams will be: Princeton, Cal State Bakersfield, Columbia, Denver, George Washington, North Carolina, Penn, Penn State, Army (divers only). That's a pretty good field, with teams who will fly in and others who will swim in a pool with which they are very familiar. 

The event is named for Alan Ebersole, a Princeton swimmer who drowned in the Atlantic Ocean during a fall break trip to Florida in October 2004. The program has turned over many times since then, but it's important for everyone involved to know the name of the person for whom the meet is named.  

TigerBlog remembers when Ebersole passed away and the shock and outpouring of grief that accompanied the news from the swimming and diving teams and the department as a whole. It was one of the most emotional times he's ever seen from Ford Family Director of Athletics Emeritus Gary Walters, and many others. 

TB never met Alan Ebersole, but he's also never forgotten the empty feeling when he heard the news and when he wrote his obituary. It's hopefully of some consolation to those who knew him that his name remains a part of DeNunzio Pool.

Wait, Ozzie Nicholas was the only defensive player to be a unanimous first-team All-Ivy League selection but was not a finalist for the Bushnell Cup? Actually, there were four unanimous first-team All-Ivy selections in all, with Harvard running back Shane McLaughlin and Yale wide receiver Mason Tipton on offense and Columbia punter William Hughes on special teams.

None of those four were finalists for the Bushnell Cup, which has two on offense (Yale QB Nolan Grooms and Brown WR Wes Rockett) and two on defense (Dartmouth DL Charlie Looes and Penn DL Joey Slackman).

Interesting, no? 

For what it's worth, Nicholas led the Ivy League in tackles with 103, or nine more than any other player and 16 ahead of third place.  

You know who didn't like that Nicholas wasn't a finalist? That would be none other than Andrei Iosivas:


The College Football Playoff rankings have Ohio State at No. 6, despite only a very close, could-have-gone-either way loss at unbeaten Michigan on an otherwise perfect record? What has Florida State done to deserve to be ranked fourth, ahead of Ohio State? 

The Princeton men's hockey team was at Ohio State last weekend for a pair of games and had the chance to be around an entire community that was crushed by the result of a football game. This weekend, the Tigers are on the road, at Union tonight and RPI tomorrow night (face-off at 7 both nights).

The women are home, against RPI tonight at 6 and then against Union tomorrow afternoon at 3. 

It's way, way too early to get too hung up on the ECAC standings quite yet, though a quick look shows Princeton men tied with Clarkson for sixth place with Union and RPI tied for ninth, while on the women's side Princeton is eighth, followed by Union in ninth and RPI in 11th.


Joe Dubuque's first dual match as Princeton head wrestling coach will be Sunday at 1 in Jadwin Gym against Indiana, who is the first team in the "others receiving votes" category in this week's poll. Indiana is also one of 13 Big Ten teams who are either ranked or receiving votes this week.

Oh, it's also Dubuque's alma mater. 

After the Indiana match, Princeton will be at No. 13 Rutgers Friday.

There is also home men's and women's squash this weekend, while the fencing teams are at the Sacred Heart Duals. 

Oh, and there's also NCAA men's water polo and basketball. TB will have more on those tomorrow. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

A Pair Of Threes

TigerBlog starts to today by thanking everyone who donated during another wildly successful TAGD yesterday.

When he wrote yesterday about what the investment for TAGD really is about, he saved for today a few thoughts on the people who do the donating. It's a sign of something that Princetonians perhaps take for granted — a loyalty that exists at this institution that is anything but common.

As you probably know, TigerBlog went to Penn. It's a school that has produces proud alums who become lifelong Quaker fans (there are exceptions of course), but TB can tell you first hand that there it is nothing like what he has seen at Princeton.

In fact, when he thinks about any of his friends or family who attended other schools, almost all of whom had excellent experiences, he realizes that they think of those schools mostly in the past tense, as opposed to something of which they are still actually a part. 

That's the difference with Princeton. It never goes away. You always feel like you're a part of it, and that's why things like Reunions, Alumni Day and, yes, TAGD are such successful enterprises.

It starts from Day 1. When TigerBlog went to college, he felt like he was an individual who was surrounded by other individuals. That's not a bad thing. He's still friends with some of those individuals to this day. 

What he never felt like was that he was part of something bigger than his own experience there. At Princeton, you immediately identify with your class year, and that never goes away. In fact, it just builds and builds as the years go on.

So again, thank you to everyone who showed their support again yesterday. And once again, TB isn't surprised. He hope you don't think this happens everywhere though.

With TAGD once again complete, you have a chance tonight to once again see one of the most exciting plays in sports — a missed shot in a Princeton's basketball game. The women's team hosts Seton Hall tonight, while the men are at Bucknell. Tip for both is at 7.

First, TigerBlog should say that's "the 25th-ranked Princeton women." The Tigers moved into the Top 25, again, with a resume that includes a win over Oklahoma, a three-point loss at No. 2 UCLA and a nine-point loss to Indiana.

If you asked TigerBlog 20 years ago to name the basketball statistic in which Princeton would have the third-ranked player in Division I for both men and women, he would have guessed something like free throw percentage or three-pointers per game. It wouldn't have been rebounding.

And yet, that's the case heading into tonight's games. Ellie Mitchell is third in Division I for women at 12.7. Caden Pierce is third in Division I for the men at 11.7.

When TB walked into Jadwin Gym for Saturday's game against Northeastern, he heard one person say "I'm here to see Caden Pierce rebound."

Mitchell leads the Ivy League by 2.2 per game, while only third-best is five behind her. Pierce is also the Ivy League leader, at 11.7 per game. That's 2.6 more than any other player and nearly four better than the third best total.

Mitchell has at least 13 rebounds in four of Princeton's six games. She has 34 — thirty-four — in the last two games, with 18 against Oklahoma and 16 more against Indiana. 

Her 18 rebounds against the Sooners were good for the second-best total in program history, after Margaret Meier had 30 against Villanova in the 1974-75 season. 

Mitchell enters tonight's game with 895 career rebounds. Only five Princeton basketball players (three women, two men) have ever reached 900 rebounds:

Meier 1,099
Bill Bradley 1008
Whitey Fulcomer 995
Bella Alarie 964
Ellen DeVoe 942

If Mitchell maintains her current 12.7 per game average, that would give her 266 more rebounds for this regular season. It would also make her the all-time leader in rebounds at Princeton. To match Meier's record, she would need 204 more rebounds, or 9.7 per game for the regular season. That doesn't count any Ivy League tournament or postseason tournament games.

Pierce stands at 6-6. The two players ahead of him in rebounding are 7-2 (Hunter Dickinson of Kansas) and 6-9 (Sam Alexis of Chattanooga). Pierce is outrebounding Purdue's 7-4 Zach Edey, who is at 11.5.

At his current pace, he'd get to around 1,200 rebounds for his career. Only eight men's players have ever reached even 600 for their careers, and Pierce is more than halfway to that in only 38 games. 

So that's the women at home against Seton Hall tonight at 7, and the men at Bucknell at the same time. Both are on ESPN+.

Let the rebounding begin.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

It's TAGD 10


It probably didn't come as a shock to anyone that Xaivan Lee was named the Ivy League men's basketball Player of the Week.

Lee might have won it on the strength of his game against Old Dominion alone, a game in which he finished with19 points on 8-for-13 shooting, four rebounds, three assists and one steal. Ah, but the follow up was pretty spectacular too.

The sophomore then put up 30 points on 11-for-21 shooting, with six rebounds, four assists and a block. He started his day by hitting a few three-pointers and spent the rest of it driving to the hoop almost at will. Lee is now the third different Princeton player to win the award this year, along with Caden Pierce and Matt Allocco.

In addition to his time with the Canadian U19 team at the World Championships, Lee also spent some time this summer as a worker in the Office of Athletic Communications. As TigerBlog watched Lee get to 30 Saturday, he started to wonder what the highest single-game total ever for a Princeton basketball/OAC student worker was. 

He's pretty sure it was either Maggie Langlas or Kate Thirolf, teammates and 1,000 point scorers in the Class of 2000. One of them, he's pretty sure, had a career best of 27.

And where are they today, more than 20 years later? Maggie is a lawyer. Kate has a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Michigan.

That is what post-Princeton success looks like for Tiger athletes. What you can't see on a resume, though, is how much the athletic experience has prepared them, inspired them, challenged them, taught them and made them who they eventually become.

There are senior athlete exit surveys that are done each year. It would be great to be able to gather similar data 20 years later, after all of these former athletes have the chance to really understand what playing at Princeton did for them. 

Today is Tiger Athletics Give Day. It's the 10th TAGD, a 24-hour fundraising challenge that has been overwhelmingly successful in so many areas.

This is from the TAGD website:

The first nine years of TAGD have been incredible successes, yielding more than 67,000 gifts to-date; last year alone yielded a record $3.9 million in gifts across more than 6,700 donors, demonstrating the investment and commitment of our Princeton Athletics community. The response to our call for support year-over-year has been overwhelming, and every student-athlete has been directly impacted by the money that has been raised. These funds have helped fund initiatives such as locker room upgrades, international and out-of- region team travel and advancements in student-athlete resources, to name a few.

Your generosity has and will continue to provide our Princeton varsity student-athletes greater opportunities to achieve, serve and lead and ensure that our Tiger programs are able to compete at the highest level. We sincerely appreciate everything you do to support Princeton Athletics, and hope you will join us again on Tiger Athletics Give Day and make our tenth year memorable.

All of that is true, but it doesn't tell the whole story. It's what you're investing in with your gift that really matters, and the dollars and gifts are only a part of that. These gifts directly impact the student-athlete experience in ways that provide them with the opportunity to learn about themselves, learn about teamwork, learn about putting aside individual accomplishment to focus on the bigger picture of team success, to find out firsthand what culture means to a successful organization. 

You know it as "Education Through Athletics." 

Your gifts are doing way more than just helping the Tigers win games. They're helping fully develop some of the greatest young people you'll see anywhere - the kids who compete in Princeton uniforms.

You're helping develop them into the people they become for long after they graduate. 

You're helping create Maggie Langlas's and Kate Thirolf's — and the hundreds of others are a credit to what intercollegiate athletics is supposed to be all about. 

Everyone at Princeton Athletics thanks you.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Sunshine Hoops ... And It's Almost Time For TAGD

How was your Thanksgiving? 

Hopefully it was good. TigerBlog's was. It included a woman who came late because she is an obstetrician who had to deliver a baby first. TB made sure to ask her if she'd washed her hands when she was finished. 

TB spent a lot of this weekend watching college football games. There were some crazy moments, none crazier than Alabama's 4th-and-31 touchdown in the final seconds against Auburn to win the Iron Bowl. It's not just that Alabama got a touchdown on the play; it's that somehow the receiver was wide open in the back of the end zone.

What else was there? The Iowa-Nebraska game was likewise nuts, especially the last two minutes, especially the fact that Iowa won the game on a last second field goal after Nebraska's clock operator didn't start the clock for 12 seconds a few plays earlier. What the heck? 

By the way, that game featured Tom McCarthy and Ross Tucker on the call on television. They are great together. 

And there was Washington-Washington State. With its entire season on the line and a chance to play to get into the College Football Playoff, Washington went for it in a tie game with 1:11 left from its own 29 and ran a perfect reverse for 26 yards, setting up the game-winning field goal.

Now that the holiday weekend is over, it's time to look ahead to TAGD — Tiger Athletics Give Day, which is now in Year 10. It comes up tomorrow and is a 24-hour fundraising challenge that has become a staple of the Princeton calendar.

TigerBlog will have more tomorrow about TAGD. For now, you can click HERE to get to the TAGD website, but only gifts given on the 24 hours of Nov. 28 will count. 

The Princeton women's basketball team really showed you something on its trip to Florida for the holiday weekend. And, ironically enough, Carla Berube's team may have shown more about itself in the game it lost as opposed to the game it won.

If you didn't pay attention, Princeton played a pair of ranked teams in Fort Myers, first against No. 20 Oklahoma on Thanksgiving Day and then against No. 19 Indiana Saturday. Princeton went wire-to-wire to take down 77-63 against the Sooners before falling to Indiana 72-63.

So why was the Indiana came perhaps the more impressive of the two? It's simple. 

Princeton came into that game already with a Top 20 win. Being assured of a split was already a big accomplishment.

The Tigers then got down quickly against Indiana, falling behind 16-11 after one and then being outscored 25-13 in the second to make it 41-24 at the break. The deficit was pushed to 20 early in the third quarter. 

At that point, you're definitely thinking that this was it. Take the split and head home.

Ah, but not these Tigers. They never gave up, and in fact they clawed their way all the way back within six in the fourth quarter. 

Remember, this is against a team that is ranked 19th nationally, a team whose 28-4 record a year ago include a one-point loss to NCAA runner up Iowa.

Yes, Princeton fell short by nine in the end. Yes, Princeton was impressive again.

The game against Oklahoma was a thing of beauty. Princeton never trailed in that one, getting out to a 17-3 lead in the first quarter. The lead was only seven at the half at 38-31, but Princeton put its foot down again in the third quarter, making it a 16-point lead heading into the fourth.

As a reminder, in case you forgot in the last few paragraphs, this came against a team that entered the week in the Top 20.

Keep in mind, Princeton also played UCLA to a three-point game in Pauley Pavilion. That's a UCLA team that is ranked second in the country.

These aren't results that happen accidentally.

Madison St. Rose had 35 in the two games. Kaitlyn Chen had 36. Ellie Mitchell had 34 — rebounds, that is, and TigerBlog will be back later in the week to talk about Princeton's amazing rebounding duo.

Next up for the women's basketball team is a home game Wednesday against Seton Hall. While Princeton was in the Florida sunshine, the Pirates weren't exactly in need of their winter coats; they were in the Bahamas, where they lost to Southern Cal and beat East Carolina. 

Seton Hall also has a loss at Columbia and a win over Rutgers as part of its 4-2 record (the other wins are Iona and Bryant).

And once again, it's a reminder that tomorrow is TAGD. 

TigerBlog will thank everyone who has so generously supported Princeton Athletics all these years as part of the giving challenge. He'll have more on all of that, especially on what the investment is all about, tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Have A Great Thanksgiving

The fall/winter crossover season is pretty much over, with only the men's water polo team's NCAA tournament appearance in California next weekend still to be played.

After several weeks of craziness all around, this week is a quite a bit tamer. The Princeton Athletics schedule is pretty quiet, with only six events — and one at home — from this past Monday through this coming Sunday.

This offers all of the people in the athletic department who have been all over the show these last few weeks to finally exhale. You know the names of the coaches and athletes who compete, but the names of those who work behind the scenes to make it all possible are largely anonymous. 

TigerBlog would list them, but he'd leave someone out and doesn't want to risk that. Rest assured that were it not for all of them, there would be no Princeton sports, and again, rest assured that every one of them has worked especially hard the last few weeks to make sure everything is covered.

That home game is Saturday at 2, when the men's basketball team hosts Northeastern in Jadwin Gym. The Tigers also have a game today at 4 at Old Dominion, which you can see on ESPN+ if you're not in Norfolk, Va.

The women's basketball team also has two games, though they are both in the same location — Fort Myers, Fla. Carla Berube's team will play a pair of ranked teams there, first taking on No. 22 Oklahoma tomorrow at 3 and then No. 21 Indiana Saturday at 11 am. 

For its part, Princeton isn't ranked, but it is fourth in the "others receiving votes" category. By the way, UCLA, who beat Princeton 77-74 last week, has moved up to No. 2 in the poll this week. 

The men's hockey team is at Ohio State for games Friday and Saturday, with puck drop at 5 both days. And that is that for this week's schedule.

Why is it so light?

As you know, tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

TigerBlog has included these thoughts on the holiday almost every year:

As holidays go, you can't do much better than Thanksgiving. It's got it all, really: a huge meal (with turkey, no less), football, family, history (dates back to 1621), start of a four-day weekend for most people, leftovers. It's even a secular holiday, so every American can dive right in, regardless of religion.

The Lions and the Cowboys, obviously, always play at home on Thanksgiving, and the NFL has now added a third game (maybe a little too much). Beyond watching football, how many out there have played their own Thanksgiving football games, all of which, by the way, are named "the Turkey Bowl?"

The holiday may lag behind Christmas in terms of great Hollywood movies, and "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" is no match for "A Charlie Brown Christmas" or "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Still, there are some great moments in movies and TV shows around Thanksgiving.

Rocky and Adrian had their first date on Thanksgiving – "To you it's Thanksgiving; to me it's Thursday," Rocky said romantically – as did Meadow and Jackie Jr. on "The Sopranos" (it didn't quite work out as well as it did for Rocky and Adrian). "Everybody Loves Raymond" had two pretty good Thanksgiving episodes, the one where Marie makes a low-fat dinner and the one where Debra makes fish instead of turkey. As an aside, TigerBlog's Aunt Regina once made Cornish game hens instead of turkey, so he knows how they all felt. And of course, there was the Thanksgiving episode of "Cheers," which has the big food fight at the end.

The Woody Allen movie "Hannah and Her Sisters" starts and ends on two different Thanksgivings. "Miracle on 34th Street" is a Christmas movie, but it does start with the Thanksgiving parade in New York City.

And of course, there is the best of all Thanksgiving movies: "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." It'll make you laugh a lot and cry a little, and it ends on Thanksgiving.

TB wishes everyone a great holiday and hopes that maybe you take a few minutes to think about what you really are thankful for these days.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Catching Up From The Weekend

It's Thanksgiving Week, which means that today is a good day to catch up from last weekend:

When TigerBlog saw the women's basketball final score of UCLA 77, Princeton 74, Friday afternoon, he thought back to another Princeton-UCLA basketball game — and not the one from the 1996 NCAA tournament.

This one was on Dec, 28, 1969, and though it is largely unknown to the modern Princeton basketball fan, you can make the case that it was actually a greater accomplishment than the one of the 1996 Tigers, who took down UCLA in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

In 1996, UCLA was the defending champion. In 1969, UCLA was in the middle of the most extraordinary run in college basketball history. The Bruins would win 10 NCAA titles in 12 years, starting in 1964 and ending in 1975. There would be seven straight from 1967-73, and so the program was right in the middle of that run when Princeton came to Pauley Pavilion early in the season.

The final that night was UCLA 76, Princeton 75. Sidney Wicks, who would be the Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA Final Four the following March and who played in the NBA for 10 years, hit a buzzer-beater to give UCLA the win. 

That game, by the way, matched Princeton's Pete Carril against UCLA's John Wooden. TB has written this before, but he defies anyone to prove to him that Wooden was a better coach than Carril. 

The women's score Friday was similar to that 1969 game. It was a great near-miss for Princeton against UCLA, who is ranked third in the country.  

The Tigers bounced back quickly, knocking off a good University of San Diego team 62-51 Sunday in the second game of the California State swing. Kaitlyn Chen, from San Marino, had 24 points against UCLA and 13 more against San Diego, and freshman Skye Belker, from Los Angeles, had 20 against the Bruins.


Speaking of California, the men's water polo is headed there for the NCAA tournament at USC next weekend. 

The Tigers are the fourth seed — yes, the fourth seed. Just to have accomplished that is incredible.

The field has eight teams, the top four of whom are seeded. Princeton and Fordham are the only two non-California teams in the tournament.

Princeton's first game will be Friday, Dec. 1, at 5 Eastern, against UC-Irvine, a team Princeton defeated 11-9 at Irvine in the regular season. The winner of that game gets the winner of the game between top-seeded UCLA and Biola University, while the other half of the bracket has No. 2 Cal against Fordham and No. 3 USC against San Jose State.

Princeton earned its spot in the NCAA tournament by taking the Northeast Water Polo Conference title this past weekend, defeating host Harvard 8-5 in Sunday's final. Roko Pozaric had five for the Tigers in that game, moving the junior past the 200 mark for his career.


The women's basketball loss Friday came as the opener of the "oh what might have been" day for Princeton women's athletics. The women's soccer team, playing in the NCAA tournament second round at No. 4 Texas Tech, fell in penalty kicks after 110 scoreless minutes. Princeton outshot the Red Raiders 16-9 in the game.

The game drew a facility-record 2,346. It was the kind of game that you dream of being a part of as a college athlete, even if you come up just short. Just ask head coach Sean Driscoll:

"What a fantastic endorsement for college soccer. What a crowd, what an atmosphere, and I know even one percent was rooting for us, but still, such a great atmosphere. It was really, really intimidating in a lot of ways, but so amazing."

Texas Tech lost Sunday in the Round of 16 to North Carolina, 1-0. All four Ivy teams were eliminated in the second round after going 4-0 in the first.

* The men's cross country team finished 11th in the country at the NCAA championships in Virginia Friday. It tied the best finish in program history, set in 2012.

The Tigers finished the fall with an Ivy League Heptagonal championship, an NCAA Regional championship and a tie for the best NCAA finish the team has ever had (as well as the top this season by an Ivy school). 

That is a pretty good fall right there. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Ring The Bell

The Princeton football defense celebration after forcing a turnover? That rings a bell.

TigerBlog will get back to that in a moment. 

Around 3 or so this past Saturday afternoon, or an hour before Princeton finished off its season with a 31-24 win at Penn, TB sat in one of the last places the sun still reached at Franklin Field and watched the last 10 minutes of the game between Yale and Harvard.

Which team was he rooting for in that one? Dartmouth.

With Princeton eliminated from the Ivy League football race one week earlier, TigerBlog wanted to see Dartmouth win a championship. Never has an Ivy team deserved one more, after what the Big Green went through the entire off-season and into the season after the horrific injury and subsequent death of its beloved coach, Buddy Teevens.

For the Big Green to get that championship, it needed to beat Brown and Yale needed to beat Harvard. If those two things happened, then there would be a three-way tie for the title between the Green, Crimson and Bulldogs. If Harvard beat Yale, then Harvard would have the 2023 championship all to itself.

Princeton-Penn began at 1, an hour after Brown-Dartmouth and Harvard-Yale. The first time TB looked at the scores, it was 28-7 Dartmouth and 10-6 Yale. Okay, he thought. Dartmouth is rolling — and the Big Green would win 38-13.

That only left Yale and Harvard. It was certainly a great game. First Yale was up in the fourth quarter (17-12). Then Harvard (18-17). Then Yale had a chance to take the lead but turned it over. Then Harvard had a chance to put the game away but turned it over. Then Yale took the lead (23-18). Then Harvard drove down the field but turned it over on downs near the Bulldog goal line. Then Yale punted. Then Harvard threw an interception, and it was over. 

As cold as it became when the sun disappeared behind the hotel past the old stadium, TB got a warm feeling for Dartmouth.

It was the third two-loss championship in Ivy history, along with 1969 and 1982. How close did the two teams on Franklin Field get to being part of it, or even being the lone champ?

Consider this: Princeton and Penn played six OT games between them and went 1-5. Also, Princeton beat Harvard. Penn beat Yale. Princeton lost to Dartmouth on a late field goal. Penn lost to Dartmouth in overtime.

That's how close they came. 

There was still something to play for on Franklin Field, though. Princeton was looking to avoid a losing season, which would have been its first since 2011. And it was one of the 10 games on the schedule, which makes them all hugely important, regardless of championship aspirations. 

Penn dominated statistically, with big edges in yards, plays run, first downs and time of possession. Oh, and in turnovers.

There were lots of them. A total of seven from the Quakers, to be exact. That was seven times that Princeton's D took the ball away. That's seven times someone got to ring the bell.

Princeton did not turn the ball over at all. Has a team ever had a 7-0 edge in turnovers and lost a game? TB doesn't have a way to look that one up, but he's going to go out on a limb and say it's unlikely. 

He does know for sure that the seven turnovers Princeton forced are not the single-game record. The Tigers forced eight in a 44-14 win against Columbia in 1995, and there are probably others out there as well. 

Nasir Hill certainly had himself a day for the Tigers. The sophomore from South Jersey had a career-high three rings (that should be a stat), two on interceptions and one on a fumble recovery. His second INT ended Penn's chance at a miracle comeback that saw the Quakers score a touchdown with 44 seconds left and then get the ball back on the most perfectly executed onsides kick ever, only to have Hill swipe the last pass of the day on the Tiger 18.

No other Tiger had more than one ring. Tahj Owens had an interception at the goal line and a 29-yard return, not to mention 10 tackles. Collin Taylor, a defensive lineman, had an interception off a tipped pass from Jake DelGarbino. Ozzie Nicholas and Ryan Savage also had fumble recoveries.

Nicholas finished the year with 103 tackles, becoming the first Tiger since Jon Olafsson in 2010 to reach the 100-mark. Bob Surace won his 78th game at Princeton, tying Steve Tosches for second all-time for Tiger coaches, 11 away from Bill Roper's all-time record.

There were other individual accomplishments. There will be several All-Ivy League selections this coming week.

The one-word epitaph for the 2023 season will be "close," as in just how many close games Princeton played. The Tigers just played an entire season, 10 games, without either the Tigers or any opponent ever with more than a 14-point lead at any time. That's crazy.

And "close," as in just how close Princeton came to a championship again. 

And "close," pronounced differently, as in "It's always nice to close the season with a win."

Friday, November 17, 2023

Friday Catch Up

This week's catch-up comes a day later than usual:

* So TigerBlog made two bad mistakes the other day.

First, he said that before Wednesday night, Princeton's last game against Duquesne was in the 2020-21 season. It was actually in the 2019-20 season.

The second is a by-product of the first. He wrote that no Princeton player had played against Duquesne and that head coach Mitch Henderson had neither played nor coached against the Dukes. That was clearly wrong as well. 

Consider this a TB correction.

Henderson was actually 1-0 against Duquesne at the time. Now he's 2-0 after the Tigers won 70-67 in Pittsburgh Wednesday. 

It was a career-high night for two Tigers: Matt Allocco (23 points, 10 for 13 shooting) and Xavian Lee (20 points). Blake Peters did what he does (three three's, four steals) on a night when Caden Pierce "only" had eight rebounds.

Lee seems to have taken a major jump in his game from a year ago to now, and his time with the Canadian U19 team this past summer clearly has helped. Princeton basketball history is filled with players who were supporting players as freshmen who then became huge contributors as sophomores.

Here are a few examples. Can you name who the players are? TB will ask you at the end:

Player 1
Fr. - 18 total minutes, three total points
So. - 33.2 minutes per game, 9.7 points per game, second on the team in points, assists, rebounds

Player 2
Fr. - 14.6 minutes per game, 5.5 points per game, 2.4 rebounds per game
So. - 27.7 minutes per game, 12.5 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game

Player 3
Fr. - 4.4 points per game, 29 percent three-point shooting, 27 assists
So. - 11.3 points per game, 40.3 percent three-point shooting, 118 assists

Princeton is at Monmouth tomorrow at 2.


If you find yourself in Lubbock, Texas, this evening at 7 Eastern time, then TB invites you to attend the Princeton-Texas Tech NCAA tournament second-round women's soccer game. Princeton, who defeated Michigan 1-0 in the first round, is the No. 7 seed in this portion of the bracket. Texas Tech is the No. 2 seed in the bracket and fourth-ranked team in the country.

The day starts with the game between the third-seed in the bracket, North Carolina, and the sixth-seed, Alabama. The winners plays Sunday, and one of the four teams will advance on to the quarterfinals.

The Ivy League went 4-0 in the first round of the tournament, which means Princeton's league did better than Texas Tech's, as the Big 12 advanced three teams. That means nothing, of course, since Texas Tech was easily the Big 12's best.

The Red Raiders are 16-1-2 this season, including an 8-0-2 run through the league and an 11-0 record at home. On the other hand, the team's last eight games have all either been ties or decided by one goal, including the lone loss for the year (a 1-0 decision against Texas in the final game of the regular season) and the first round of the NCAA tournament (a 1-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast).


There is home men's hockey this weekend, as the Tigers host Colgate tonight and Cornell tomorrow, with face-off at 7 both nights. It's way too early to make any definite conclusions about what February and March will bring, but the Tigers have been really good to date. 

And really exciting, as in four ECAC games, three OTs, one shootout and one regulation one-goal game.

Princeton is 2-1-1 in its those ECAC games, with the only loss 5-4 to Dartmouth on the road. Princeton also has a shootout win over Harvard and the two OT wins last weekend at home, against Brown and Yale. 

Colgate is 1-2-1 in the league. Cornell is 2-1-1.

Looking for something to see on campus? There's home swimming and diving tomorrow, as the Tiger men and women host Cornell and Penn at DeNunzio beginning at 11 am, and home men's and women's squash Sunday (11 and 2).

Looking for something to do in New Haven? Princeton plays Brown in the first round of the Ivy women's volleyball tournament at Yale today at 4, followed by Yale-Harvard at 7. The winners play tomorrow at 7 for the league's NCAA bid.

Looking for something to do in Los Angeles? It's Princeton at No. 3 UCLA in women's basketball today at 5:30 Eastern time (and Princeton at the University of San Diego Sunday at 5 Eastern).

Looking for the full schedule? Look no further: HERE it is.


The 2023 football season ends at Penn tomorrow at 1. Neither the Tigers nor Quakers will win the Ivy League championship, but this figures to be a fun one. 

If the rest of the season is an indicator, it also figures to be a close one. At no point of this season, not for even one play, has a Princeton game had a larger margin than 14 points. 


The answers? 

Player 1 was Kyle Wente. Player 2 was Myles Stephens. Player 3 was Gabe Lewullis. There are countless others. 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Cross Country And Water Polo

TigerBlog starts today by wishing his cousin Janet a happy birthday. 

He starts with that because while she reads the blog every day, she is really not all that interested in anything to do with Princeton Athletics. That makes her loyalty even more impressive.

Rather than make her read the entire thing, he says "Happy Birthday" at the top so she can get on with her big day. She is still, by the way, two years older than TB, no matter how many years go by. 

And now that she has gone off to do other things, TB can tell you that the first NCAA cross country championship meet was held in 1938 and was hosted by Michigan State.

Who won? 

Hint - this school won again in 1940, tied in 1942 and hasn't won since. This school is not one of the 31 teams who will compete for the 2023 championship Saturday and finished eighth at its conference meet this year.

Michigan State won the 1939 championship, also at home. In fact, East Lansing was the host every year until 1965, when it was held at Kansas.

This year's event will be hosted by Virginia, at its picturesque Panorama Farms course. The women's race will begin at 10:20, followed by the men at 11:10, and both will be shown on ESPNU.

By the way, this is the second time that UVa will be the host. The other times was 1987.

Panorama Farms is actually in Earlysville, which is about 10 miles north of the UVA campus off a Route 29. It's also about six miles away from where the only Civil War fighting in Albemarle County occurred, and this was a minor, forgotten skirmish that resulted in no actual casualties and only some property damage. The Union General who commanded? George Custer.

And the first NCAA champion in cross country? That was Indiana.

On the men's side, Northern Arizona has won six of the last seven (BYU was the lone interrupter). On the women's side, North Carolina State has won the last two. Northern Arizona enters the weekend as the top-ranked team in the country for both men and women.

The Princeton men come in ranked 10th nationally. What is Princeton's best all-time finish? That would be an 11th place finish in 2012. 

Only eight times in Ivy history has a team finished in the top 10, and nobody has done so since Dartmouth finished ninth in 1989. That's 34 years ago.

Princeton comes into the meet having run away from the field to win the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional last Saturday at Lehigh. The Tigers had five of the top 12 finishers — Nicholas Bendtsen fourth, Jarrett Kirk sixth, Connor Nisbet eighth, Anthony Monte 11th and Daniel O'Brien 12th — for a total of 41 points, well ahead of second-place Villanova, who had 73.

The current rankings have Princeton 10th, Villanova 11th and Harvard 12th. Princeton edged out Harvard to win the Ivy League Heps championship last month on Harvard's home course.

It should be a fascinating race. If you're planning on going, HERE is information about parking and tickets. 

While the men's cross country team runs at Virginia, the men's water polo team will be swimming at Harvard. The Crimson will host the Northeast Water Polo Conference tournament this weekend, with seven teams on hand to chase the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The first round will see fourth-seeded Iona take on fifth-seeded MIT in Friday's quarterfinals, with the winner to take on top-seeded Princeton, who has a bye to the semifinals. The other side of the bracket has second-seeded Harvard against seventh-seeded Connecticut College and third-seeded Brown against sixth-seeded Long Island University.

Princeton will play its semifinal match Saturday at noon, and the championship match will be Sunday at 1. 

Princeton, with a record of 25-5, is the No. 7 team in the country right now. The Tigers have had a great season, with three wins over Top 10 teams from California, a one-goal loss to No. 4 Pepperdine and a two-goal loss to No. 1 UCLA.

Princeton went 4-0 against Iona and MIT this season, with each game decided by at least five goals. Harvard and Princeton both went 9-1 in the league, splitting their games with each other. They are the heavy favorites to meet again Sunday.

The NWPC tournament games can be seen on ESPN+. The NCAA championships will be held at USC's Uytengsu Aquatics Center Dec. 1-3.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Tipping In Pittsburgh

When TigerBlog was talking yesterday about Caden Pierce and his 26-point, 15-rebound outing against Hofstra, he forgot to include this:

Bill Bradley had 17 games in his Princeton career with at least 26 and 15. Yes. Seventeen.

Pierce is also the first Princeton men's basketball player with back-to-back games of at least 15 rebounds since Bradley did so. Bradley had 15 or more rebounds in back-to-back games five times in his career, and on one of those occasions he did it three times.

Bradley does not, however, own the longest streak in program history of consecutive games with at least 15 rebounds. That would be Al Kaemmerlen in the 1961-62 season.

Pierce has 15 rebounds in both of Princeton's games this season. He had 16 in the NCAA second-round win over Missouri last March.

Pierce is currently third in Division I in rebounds per game. Ellie Mitchell of the women's team is fourth in Division I, with 14.0 per game. 

At some point this year, TigerBlog will sit down with them to talk about their philosophies on getting loose balls. In the meantime, he'll just marvel at how well they do it.

Pierce gets a chance to match Bradley's longest streak and get halfway to Kaemmerlen tonight, when Princeton is at Duquesne. The game tips at 7 and can be seen on ESPN+.

The winner of the game will take the lead in the all-time series, such as it is. Princeton and Duquesne have played four times previously, with each team's having won twice.

The most recent game was Princeton's 2020-21 season opener, a game the Tigers lost 94-67 after leading by five at the half. That game seems like a long time ago, though not nearly as long as the first between the teams, which came in the 1952 NCAA tournament opening round, a game Duquesne won as well (60-49).

That, by the way, was Princeton's first NCAA tournament game ever. 

The two Princeton wins came in the 1973 Holiday Festival in Madison Square Garden (72-62) and the 2010 College Basketball Invitational at Jadwin (65-51). The Holiday Festival win came one year before perhaps the most famous Duquesne player began his career, and that would be longtime Los Angeles Laker Norm Nixon.

In other words, no current Princeton player has ever played against the Dukes, and Mitch Henderson has neither coached against them nor played against them.

Duquesne comes into the game 3-0 on the young season, with wins over Cleveland State, the College of Charleston and Stony Brook. The College of Charleston, you may recall, went 31-4 a year ago and reached the NCAA tournament, and, as you probably don't recall, beat Iona in its opener this season. Duquesne won that game by 18 (90-72).

The Dukes followed that win by taking down Stony Brook 85-63. The score of the opener against Cleveland State was 79-77.

Princeton has been more than Pierce's rebounding, obviously. There's Matt Allocco, who like Pierce averages 17 points per game through two games but who is shooting .636 from the field and .400 from three-point range. Xaivian Lee has averaged 31.5 minutes in the first two games after averaging 13.4 a year ago. Blake Peters continues to make it look like he's going to make every three-pointer he attempts. 

Of course, it's only two games. There are weeks to go until the Ivy League season begins and months to go until the Ivy tournament at Columbia in March. Who knows what will happen by then? Who knows what directions the season will take? 

This is a time for interesting non-conference games, like the one tonight in Pittsburgh. It's also the time to do some experimenting with rotations, combinations, philosophies — all to be peaking at the right time, as Henderson's team did a year ago as it reached the Sweet 16.

It's fun to keep writing that every time TB talks about the men's basketball team. "The Tigers went to the Sweet 16 a year ago." 

Yes, that's a great sentence to be able to write. 

It's the Tigers and Dukes tonight in Pittsburgh.

Next up for Princeton after this game will be a shorter trip, to Monmouth for a game Saturday at 2.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Two Questions

 TigerBlog starts your Tuesday with two questions: 

1) When was the last time a Princeton men's basketball player had at least 26 points and 15 rebounds in a game before Caden Pierce put up those numbers Friday night in a 74-67 win at Hofstra? 

Pierce, not shockingly, was named the Ivy League Player of the Week. He is currently third in Division I in rebounding at 15.0 per game, and the 6-6 Pierce trails only a pair of 6-11 big men — North Carolina's Armando Bacot and Penn State's Qudus Wahab.

2) When was the last time the Ivy League had four teams win games in an NCAA tournament?

The answer to No. 2 is easy. Or at least recent. It was in 2022, when four teams won games in the opening round of the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament. You may remember Princeton was one of those four, and the Tigers ended up in the Final Four.

Why ask? This past weekend, the Ivy League had four teams compete in the NCAA women's soccer opening round — and all four won. That's an extraordinary statement on the quality of the sport in the league. 

Actually, the four wins might not be the most impressive part. The fact that all four played at home might be even more amazing.

It's been a little more than a week since the four teams — Princeton, Harvard, Brown and Columbia — played in the Ivy League tournament. TB can't even remember who won (Columbia, he thinks), because all four were guaranteed NCAA spots anyway. And to be among the 32 teams who played at home? 

Of those 32 teams, by the way, the record was 30-2, with home losses by only UCLA (to UC-Irvine) and Tennessee (over Xavier). The brackets were seeded 1-8; can you imagine a men's basketball tournament where 30 of the top 32 seeds reached the Round of 32? 

If TigerBlog may digress, UCLA women's soccer has now gone first round loss as a No. 1 seed, NCAA title, first round loss as a No. 1 seed in the last three tournaments. You'd take that for your team, right? Maybe Purdue men's basketball can do something like that this year. 

Back in the Ivy League, Princeton took down Michigan 1-0 Friday night on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium to get the Ivy party started. Harvard knocked off Maine and Brown knocked off Quinnipiac Saturday, and Columbia made it four for the league by beating Rutgers Sunday.

Princeton's goal came in the 80th minute, when Lexi Hiltunen pounced on a loose ball in the box and tucked inside the near post. If you saw the highlight, then you saw the great crowd reaction from the fans behind the goal. 

All four teams are on the road for the second (and possibly third) round this weekend, with Harvard-Michigan State at Stanford, Brown-Mississippi State at BYU, Columbia at Clemson and Princeton at Texas Tech.

If that last matchup sounds familiar, Princeton played in Lubbock in the 2018 NCAA tournament. For Princeton, the win over Michigan marked the fifth time in its last six NCAA trips that it has won at least one game; the lone exception was its first round game at Texas Tech.

The Princeton-Texas Tech game will be Friday at 7 Eastern, after the North Carolina-Alabama game starts the doubleheader. Those winners meet Sunday for a spot in the quarterfinals.

As for Question No. 1, TigerBlog is pretty sure the answer is Bob Roma, who had 29 points and 18 rebounds in a 67-65 loss at Seton Hall on Dec. 6, 1978. 

Roma almost won the game for the Tigers at the very end, as he was fouled going to the basket in the final seconds, only to see his shot roll out (there was no three-point shot yet). He then went to the foul line with one second remaining, making the first and missing the second intentionally before Seton Hall controlled it as the buzzer sounded.

Seton Hall's leading scorer that night was Dan Callandrillo, whose name should be familiar to basketball fans from that era. Callandrillo, who scored 21 against the Tigers that night, was one of the great scorers in Big East history, finishing his career with 1,985 points and winning Big East Player of the Year as a senior in 1981-82 after averaging 25.9 points per game, against without the three-point shot.

Oh, and the coaching matchup that night?

It was Pete Carril and Bill Raftery.

Monday, November 13, 2023


On November 13th, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his wife. Deep down, he knew she was right. He also knew that someday he would return to her. With no place else to go, he appeared at the home of his childhood friend Oscar Madison. Several years earlier, Madison's wife had thrown him out, requesting that he never return. 

If the world was a fairer place, then TigerBlog would have woken up this morning to a text from his friend Digger, like he did every Nov. 13. It's "The Odd Couple Anniversary," and Digger never missed it. 

There'd even be an accompanying photo. Perhaps this one:

Of course, the world isn't always fair, and so Digger — Steve DiGregorio, the former Princeton assistant football coach and longtime New Jersey high school coach — passed away more than two years ago. 

Zack DiGregorio, the oldest of Steve and Nadia's three sons, was in the press box at Princeton Stadium Saturday during the Tigers' game against Yale. So was Marc Ross, Class of 1995, one of the many former Tigers who played for Digger.

When TB introduced them, they immediately posed for a selfie to send to another former Princeton player from the 1990s, the running back Bill Jordan, with whom Zack had recently had dinner. It's always great to see the Princeton Athletics relationships that endure through the decades, as well as the next-generation ones that build off of those relationships. 

Ross, by the way, is currently one of the leaders of the XFL and an NFL Network commentator, as well as the possessor of two Super Bowl rings as an executive with the Giants. Should the team regret letting him go? Well, did you watch the Giants and Cowboys yesterday? 

Here is the picture they took:

The game that they saw, that everyone at Princeton Stadium saw, was another that has defined the 2023 Princeton season: Close. 

Princeton played its final home game of the year with the 36-28 overtime loss to Yale, and here is how they went: 

* 16-13 overtime loss to Bryant
* 10-7 win over Columbia
* 12-9 loss to Lafayette
* 21-14 win over Harvard
* 36-28 OT loss to Yale

Princeton opened the season with what would be, by 2023 standards, a blow out, with a 23-12 win over San Diego. The other three away games? A 28-27 loss in overtime to Brown. A 14-3 win over Cornell. A 23-21 loss to Dartmouth.

That's five games that have been decided by three points or fewer. When was the last time Princeton had a season with five such games? 

That would be 2005. When was the last time Princeton played three OT games in a season? That would be never. 

Princeton isn't the only Ivy team who is playing close games in 2023. In fact, of the four games this past Saturday, there were three that went to overtime — a total of six OTs. Princeton lost in two overtimes. Brown beat Columbia in one OT. Harvard beat Penn in three OTs.

That last one, by the way, was the defining game in the league race. Harvard now is 5-1 and has clinched at least a share of the championship, and the Crimson would win the outright title with a win over Yale. Should Yale win that game, then there would be a shared championship between the Bulldogs and Crimson, and it would become a three-way championship if Dartmouth defeated Brown.

Also, should Yale beat Harvard, then it would be the third time in league history that there had been a two-loss champ. 

There was no doubt in TigerBlog's mind that the Princeton-Yale game was headed to the wire. It was inevitable. 

It was a 14-14 game after three quarters. Then there were 28 more points scored in the fourth quarter. After having four touchdowns and 14 punts on 18 drives between the teams, there were four straight TD drives. 

Neither team scored on its first possession of the overtime. Yale then got a touchdown and two-point conversion, and the game ended after Princeton turned it over on downs on its second possession. 

That's the razor-thin margin that has been by far the norm in 2023 Ivy football.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Kicking Off With The Bulldogs

The picture day for the women's and men's lacrosse teams was Wednesday evening.

Among the thousands of pictures taken, there was this one:

Who are they? That would be the sister/brother combo of Ellie and Cooper Mueller. 

If that last name is familiar, it's because they are the children of Kit Mueller (and of course his wife Kristine). Kit, as you probably know, was a two-time Ivy League men's basketball Player of the Year before graduating in 1991, during one of the great runs in Princeton basketball history.

No list of the greatest Princeton men's basketball players of all time is worth anything if it doesn't have Kit near the top. 

Ellie is a senior who has 25 goals and 15 assists in 28 games in a career that has been shortened by Covid and last year's injury. Cooper is a freshman who figures to make an immediate impact as a shortstick defensive midfielder.

The photo session lasted nearly four hours between the two teams. There were individual photos, class photos, prop pictures — even one where Ford Family Director of Athletics John Mack jumped in with six women's lacrosse players. 

Which one do you like better? 

TigerBlog likes the smiling one better.

It was a very festive night, as TB has written before about such picture days. At one point, head football coach Bob Surace walked in, after his team's practice had ended. 

He was also in a lighthearted, easy-going mood. He's always like that — during the week. He talked about anything and everything, mostly in his understated, self-deprecating way.

Come game days, his more competitive side comes out. His team has two more game days for the 2023 season. That's eight weeks gone already? 

Those last two games are tomorrow at home at NOON against Yale (again, a reminder the game is at noon) and then next Saturday at Penn. 

By the time the season ends, Princeton would have itself a championship — or finish ahead of only one team. Of course, the same is true about almost everyone in the league.

Harvard is 4-1. Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth and Penn are all 3-2. Brown and Cornell are 2-3. Columbia is 0-5. 

As has been pointed out in basically any story about 2023 Ivy football, one more Harvard loss would mean that for the third time there would be a two-loss champion. Ah, but having said that, Harvard would win an outright title by sweeping its last two, which would be Penn tomorrow at home and then next Saturday at Yale.

The other two games tomorrow are Cornell at Dartmouth and Brown at Columbia. 

Everyone in the league who doesn't wear Crimson is rooting for Penn tomorrow. Should Penn win, then it would be pure chaos heading into the final week.

Surace told his team after last weekend's tough loss at Dartmouth that all it could do was focus on what's directly in front of them. That would be Yale, a team that was the overwhelming preseason favorite but who finds itself in the same quagmire as everyone else.

Yale knows that winning out would mean no worse than a share of the title. It also knows that it loses that advantage by losing to Princeton.

The Bulldogs have won five of their last six, which means nothing this season. Every team that looked like it was about to sprint away from the others and play like the best of the bunch has come back down to earth. 

Yale is the No. 3 scoring offense team in the conference (30.0 per game). Princeton leads the league in scoring defense (14.4). Yale also averages nearly twice as many rushing yards per game as Princeton allows (159.8 vs. 78.3). 

If TigerBlog is seeing things correctly, this game will be the second time in league history that two returning Bushnell Cup winners go head-to-head. The first time was in 2014, when Princeton quarterback Quinn Epperly and Harvard linebacker Zach Hodges were both returnees. 

This time it's Yale quarterback Nolan Grooms and Princeton linebacker Liam Johnson, last year's winners. Grooms leads the Ivy League in passing TDs with 19, including four a week ago against Brown. 

It's the home finale for Princeton. It's a huge November game for two championship aspirants. It's the 145th meeting in the second most played rivalry in college football, behind Lafayette-Lehigh.

It's time for the competitive sides to come out.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

It's Another Thursday

It's Another Thursday ...

* TigerBlog posted a feature story on a subject that has always made him think. What's it like for Princeton athletes in the year or two after their playing careers end?

Maybe it's because he's witnessed it so many times through the years. It's next year. The same team is playing. The recently graduated are back to watch from the stands, not to compete on the field.

What must that be like? 

For his story, TB spoke to four athletes who have graduated in the last two years: Weston Carpenter of the men's lacrosse team now at UConn Medical School, Hannah Davey of the field hockey team now in sales in a tech company in London, Trevor Forbes, a football player now a consultant, and Kyla Sears, a women's lacrosse player who is also a consultant. 

Here is one quick quote from each of them:

“It hasn’t been that long,” Sears says, “but it feels like a lifetime ago.”

“It’s a really strange feeling,” Davey says. “It’s weird. When we graduated, we’d all been there so long together, it felt like Princeton field hockey was going to end when we left.”

“I can’t believe,” Carpenter says, “that I was a college athlete this year.”

 “It was weird,” Forbes says. “The first time I went back to a game, I was thinking ‘I should be in pregame meal now. I should be in the locker room now.’”

 That gives you a sense of what it means to be in that situation.

You can read the whole story HERE.

* The women's soccer team will host Michigan tomorrow night at 7 on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. It's the fourth time in the last eight seasons that Princeton has played at home in the NCAA tournament. 

That says a lot about the program that Sean Driscoll has built. It's the 15th NCAA appearance for Princeton women's soccer, which says a lot about the program's history as well.

Both the Ivy League and Big Ten have set records this year for number of teams in the NCAA tournament, with four Ivies (that actually ties the record from 1999 and 2001) and nine B1G teams. This will be the first meeting between Princeton and Michigan in women's soccer.

They do have two common opponents this year: Rutgers (Princeton tied, Michigan lost) and Penn State (Princeton lost, Michigan tied). Michigan is 3-5-2 in its last 10 games.

* Speaking of the B1G, TB's former Ivy college and longtime friend Chuck Yrigoyen once suggested — jokingly — that the league rebrand from "The Ivy League" to "The Big Ivy." 

It has a ring to it, no? 

* When TB went to vote the other day, he went into his polling place and was asked his name. The woman looked it up and then said "can you confirm that you live on so-and-so street?"

This struck TB as a bit odd. He told her that she should mix it up. Say "do you live on Main Street" when the person actually lives on Fifth Ave. Then she could catch people who were trying to cheat.

* The women's volleyball team finishes its regular season at home against Dartmouth (tomorrow at 7) and Harvard (Saturday at 5) this weekend in Dillon Gym. Next week, the team will be at Yale for the Ivy League tournament.

Yale, currently 12-0, will be the No. 1 seed. Princeton is currently 9-3, with two losses to Yale and one to Harvard, who is tied with Brown at 7-5. After that, it drops back to Dartmouth and Cornell at 5-7 each, meaning there can still be multiple ties for third and fourth. Regardless, Harvard and Brown are in the Ivy tournament, since they're both 4-0 against Dartmouth and Cornell.

One win this weekend guarantees Princeton the No. 2 seed. 

* The NCAA cross country regionals will be held tomorrow in Bethlehem, with the women at noon and the men at 1. Princeton's men are ranked second in the region behind Villanova, while the women are ranked fourth. 

The top two teams in each race get an automatic spot in the NCAA championships. Teams who finish behind those spots may get at-large bids.

* Looking for something to go to in Princeton this weekend? 

In addition to the women's soccer and women's volleyball, there's also a lot of hockey, four games worth to be exact. The women will host Mercyhurst tomorrow at 3 and Saturday at 1, and both of those games will be followed by men's games later in the day. 

Tomorrow night it'll be Yale at Princeton, with face-off at 7, followed Saturday at 7 by Princeton-Brown.

There is also home swimming and diving, with the men against Columbia tomorrow at 5 and the women against Rutgers Saturday at 11 am. 

Of course, there's also football Saturday at noon against Yale. That game is at noon, not at 1 pm. Again, that's a NOON kickoff.  

TB will remind you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Tipped Off

Princeton opened its men's basketball season with a 68-61 win over Rutgers Monday night at the Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton.

How did the NCAA's March Madness X account see it? 

Here's how:


The only "upset" was TB's friend Corey, a Rutgers alum who was among the better than 6,000 who watched the game. Bless his heart, by the way. One day Rutgers will reach the College Football Playoff and the men's basketball Final Four, and he'll be able to say that he's been watching the Scarlet Knights for decades.

Upset? Princeton went to the Sweet 16 last year. 

It's somewhat insulting to the Tigers to shortchange who they are on the national level. Even as Princeton was taking down Arizona and Missouri, there were those who went back to the games of the 40s and 50s (scores, not decades) that used to define the team. 

Not any more. Rutgers is a strong Big Ten team, and Princeton matched up no problem. 

At the same time that Princeton was defeating Rutgers on the men's side, the women were defeating Duquesne 65-57 in Jadwin Gym. 

Like the men, the Princeton women find themselves in November after a winning March. In fact, it's been two winning Marches in a row for Carla Berube's team, which defeated Kentucky in the 2022 NCAA tournament and N.C. State in the 2023 NCAA tournament.

When you've had a taste of it, you want to get back there and experience it all over again. You can't do it in November, of course, but it's still good to get the season underway, however long the road is.

That road, by the way, is literal for both teams in their next games. The men will drive out to Hofstra Friday night (tip at 7), while the women will fly to Middle Tennessee State for a game Sunday at 2. 

As an aside, it can take longer to drive Hofstra than it can to fly to Murfreesboro, Tenn.

So what stood out on Opening Night? 

Well, first of all, there was rebounding. This wasn't a shock to anyone who paid attention a year ago (and before that for the women), but Ellie Mitchell and Caden Pierce both had 15 rebounds in their wins. There are great, great, great Princeton basketball players who never came close to getting 15 rebounds in a game. These two seem to do it routinely.

Of their 30 rebounds, just short of half (13) were on the offensive end. When you have players who can go get the ball like that and extend possessions, that is a huge advantage. It's a far cry from the "Shoot-and-Run" that Princeton used to be known for, as in, "one player shoots and four run back on defense."

What else? 

Matt Allocco had 21 points to be the Jersey Jam MVP. Xavian Lee, fresh off a summer with the Canadian U19 team (and as a student worker in the Office of Athletic Communications) had 16 points and five assists after having high games last year of 12 and three while averaging 4.8 and 1.8. 

It's one game, but there's reason to be optimistic about the jump that Lee is going to make.

For the women, Madison St. Rose was the Ivy Rookie of the Year a year ago. She started her sophomore year with a 26-point night, including 5 for 11 from three-point range. 

As a freshman, her high game was 19 and she shot just over 25 percent from three. She too looks like she's making a second year jump.

Of course, you don't talk about Princeton women's basketball without talking about defense. How was this for D? Princeton allowed 28 third-quarter points (28? That's crazy) and trailed 52-49 heading into the fourth quarter.

And then what? And then the Tigers allowed only five points in the final 10 minutes, holding the visitors to 2 for 11 shooting, which broke down to 1 for 1 from three and 1 for 10 from two.

Again, when you defend the way Princeton does, good things happen. And seasons continue well into March. 

Both teams have been there before. Both want to get back. 

If you recall a year ago, they both had their hurdles and stumbles along the way, and they will again.

For Opening Night, though, it was once again pretty special to be a Princeton Basketball fan.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

The Ungrateful Trio

So TigerBlog walked outside of Boston's AC Marriott Hotel in Cleveland Circle Saturday morning and found himself in the middle of the most ridiculous conversation ever. 

There were three people standing in the driveway in front of the hotel, and TB couldn't help but overhear what they were saying. And, well, even now he can't believe what he heard.

They were Boston sports fans. And they were complaining about ... the Patriots. And Bill Belichek. 

C'mon people. Are you serious? The Patriots won six Super Bowls with Belichek (and Tom Brady). Had they forgotten?

TB had this to say to them: "If the Patriots never win another game for the rest of your lives, you've already had more than your share."

They laughed ... and then went back to talking about how Mac Jones isn't as good as Tom Brady, and what a gip that is. 

For the record, their names were Savon, Thierry and Barbara. The only one in their group who wasn't going on and on about the Patriots was Friedrich — and that's because he's a dog. 

What the heck, people? 

TigerBlog told them he was going to have to mention this in his daily blog, and then they asked how they could get it. Barbara gave him her number to text her the link, and TB entered her in his contacts as "Barbara the Ungrateul."

TB was in Boston for the Ivy League field hockey tournament, one that ended heartbreakingly for the Tigers (if that is a word). After defeating Cornell 1-0 in the semifinal, Princeton had to face top seed Harvard for the Ivy League's automatic NCAA tournament bid. That's a Harvard team that had beaten Princeton 4-0 23 days earlier.

This time, the Tigers and Crimson went head-to-head for the full 60 minutes, back-and-forth, both teams on top of their games. In the end, all that separated the two was about an inch, which equated to the distance that Harvard's game-winning goal crossed the line with 35.7 seconds left before Princeton slapped it away a millisecond too late. 

It was a great game, one certainly worthy of the stakes. When it was over, TB felt a great sense of pride in what Princeton had done, how far the team had come in those three-plus weeks, how it had battled through three straight win-or-go-home games. 

He also marveled at what head coach Carla Tagliente told her obviously emotional team afterwards. "Sports can break your heart wide-open," she told them. "She should be emotional. If you're not, why do it?"

Princeton fell just short of its goal of returning to the NCAA tournament, but this was a fun team all year to watch. And a team it was: This was the first time since 1991 that Princeton had only one first-team All-Ivy selection (freshman Ottilie Sykes). Princeton played 17 games this year, of which 12 were one-goal games, against one of the toughest schedules in the country.

With the return of Beth Yeager next year and the maturation of the younger players, along with another strong incoming class, Princeton will again be back among the top teams in the nation. The 2023 season, though, will always have been a special one.

The field hockey's team only path into the NCAA tournament was with the Ivy autobid. In women's soccer, Princeton was already a lock for the tournament before the Ivy tournament began Friday at Brown.

In fact, all four Ivy teams were locks for the NCAA tournament, which made the first women's soccer tournament a fascinating showcase for how strong the league is. 

When the tournament bids came out yesterday, there were all four Ivies, not only in the field but also seeded. Brown was a No. 3 seed. Harvard was a No. 4. Columbia was an 8.

And Princeton? The Tigers were a seventh seed, and as such will play host to Michigan in the opening round. The winner of that game will take on the winner of Texas Tech-Florida Gulf Coast.

Princeton and Michigan have never met in women's soccer (though their men's teams played an epic NCAA game a few years back, going 14 rounds of PKs before Michigan won, in the snow no less). 

There won't be any snow this Friday in Princeton. Michigan, who missed the NCAA tournament last year but reached the 2021 quarterfinals, comes in after having gone 0-4-1 in its last five games. There was probably a big exhale when the team saw its name came up on the bracket. 

Michigan ranks second in the Big Ten in saves per game and fourth in save percentage. On the other hand, the team ranks 11th in the league in scoring offense. TB is pretty sure there are 14 women's soccer teams in the Big Ten now. 

More details on game time and ticket information will be available soon. 

Monday, November 6, 2023

Opening Tip-Offs, Closing Kick-Offs

So here's a list for you: UCLA, UConn, Texas, Miami, Tennessee.

What do they have in common? Hint, it's basketball related.

Give up? 

They're the other schools besides Princeton to have its men's team reach the Sweet 16 while its women's team won at least one game in last year's NCAA tournaments. Think about that for a few minutes.

Of course, a few minutes are all you get, because that was last season. This season is only a few minutes away, or at least a few hours. 

As hard as it might be for you to believe, tonight is opening night for the Princeton basketball teams. 

The men, fresh off one of the great achievements in Princeton Athletics history, play Rutgers in the Jersey Jam at the Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton. The women, who have won an NCAA game in back-to-back NCAA tournaments — host Duquesne in Jadwin Gym.

Rutgers and Princeton have met 110 times but have not played since the 2013-14 season. Duquesne is picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic 10. 

By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, the men and women will have combined to play nine games. The women will have played games in Tennessee and California.

There will be plenty more to write about Princeton Basketball between now and March. The Ivy League tournaments will be held this year at Columbia, and those events are a little more than four months away. 

The magic that can come with March is the culmination of a long road. The goal of both teams is to be playing their best at that time of year, which is how it worked out a year ago. For now, enjoy watching how these teams develop, which players take a big step up in their roles, which newcomers step right in and get big minutes. 

Yes, it's basketball season. 

At the same time, it's still football season and will be for two more weeks. This past game didn't go the way that Princeton might have hoped, with a frustrating 23-21 loss at Dartmouth Friday night, but there is still a ton left to play for these last two games.

Right now, Harvard is 4-1, followed by 3-2 Princeton, Yale, Penn and Dartmouth. Those first four teams all finish the season with games against two of the others:

Princeton vs. Yale, Penn
Harvard vs. Penn, Yale
Yale vs. Princeton, Harvard

As for Dartmouth, the Big Green finish the year with games against Cornell and Brown, who are both 2-3 after this past Saturday's games.

Unless Harvard wins out, then this will be the third time in league history that the champion will have two losses (the other times were 1969 and 1982). In other words, that's not something that doesn't happen often.

Will that happen? Would it shock you if Harvard finished 6-1 and was sole champ? No. Would it shock you if the Crimson lost to Penn, Yale or both? No. 

With the head-to-head matchups that remain, the permutations for the final standings are numerous. Bob Surace's message to his team after the Dartmouth loss Friday night was to worry about what Princeton can control and not worry about what it couldn't.

As for the game itself, what is it about Dartmouth's Memorial Stadium? It's a House of Horrors for Princeton. The Tigers haven't won there since 2009, and the game Friday was as frustrating as any of those. 

Princeton trailed 10-0 after 10 minutes and then rallied twice to take leads of 14-10 and 21-17 before a pair of late Dartmouth field goals ruined it for the Tigers. It was one of those games that as it ends, it's hard to consider how it got away. 

Of course, the last time Princeton had that feeling, it was when it lost to Brown in OT in Week 2 of the Ivy season. The next week? Princeton came out and derailed Harvard, who had been cruising to that point.

Will that happen this coming weekend, at home against Yale, the preseason favorite? You'll find out in five more days.

First, though, it's time for the opening tip-off for Princeton Basketball. 

Remember, that's Princeton-Rutgers men at the Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton. It's Princeton-Duquesne women at Jadwin Gym. 

Tip for both is 7.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Congrats, Congrats And Good Luck

TigerBlog will get to tonight's Princeton-Dartmouth football game in a minute.

First, there are congratulations to be offered.

He starts with Chris Young and Will Venable, two Princeton baseball/basketball alums who between them played 22 years in the Major Leagues. While they were never teammates at Princeton or on the field in the Majors, they have now won a World Series together.

Young, the GM, and Venable, the associate manager, became champions Wednesday night when the Texas Rangers closed out the Arizona Diamondbacks in five games. The deciding game came after Arizona's Zac Gallen took a no-hitter into the seventh, only to lose that, the shutout and the game essentially in three batters. 

Venable almost surely is on his way to becoming the manager who takes over for Bruce Bochy when he retires from the Rangers, unless he gets another job first. And Young? He has brought the first World Series championship to his hometown franchise, as he grew up in Highland Park, about 25 miles from where the Rangers play.

Beyond that, he is now part of a wildly exclusive club. There are only three people to have won the World Series as a player and general manager: Stan Musial (who won the Series with the Cardinals in 1942 and 1944 and then again in 1946 World Series after being in the Navy in 1945 and then was the Cardinals GM for their 1967 title), Johnny Murphy (who won seven World Series with the Yankees and then was the GM of the 1969 Miracle Mets) and now Chris Young. How amazing is that? 

As you recall, Young was a member of the Kansas City Royals' 2015 World Series championship team and was the winning pitcher in Game 1 that year, against the Mets.

As for the other congratulations, that goes out to Yariv Amir, TB's former colleague in the Princeton Office of Athletic Communications. In fact, he was the baseball contact when Young and Venable played at Princeton.

Yariv has been the interim athletic director at Colgate, his alma mater, for nearly a year now. He finally had the "interim" label dropped yesterday, when he officially became the Colgate AD. That's what happens when you're given an interim chance. Make the most of it, and good things will happen. That's how it worked for Yariv, and TB is thrilled for him.

And now that brings TB to the football game. Will there be congratulations for the Tigers tonight? 

Kickoff in Hanover will be at 7 pm (ESPNU), and gametime temp will be 45 degrees. What's at stake? In the world of Ivy League football in 2023, the same thing that's at stake every week — a lot.

Princeton and Harvard are 3-1. Dartmouth, Penn, Yale, Cornell and Brown are all 2-2. There are three weeks left.

The task tonight for the Tigers is to win in a place where they haven't done so since 2009, when Kenny Gunter ran for 173 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-11 victory. Forget history, though. There are way more contemporary issues to deal with tonight.

Statistically, Dartmouth and Princeton rank 1-3 in the league in rushing defense, allowing 183 rushing yards per game between them. Princeton is second in the FCS in rushing defense, allowing 78.4 per game, trailing only Montana. 

When it comes to scoring defense, the teams allow a combined 32 points per game. There are 24 FCS teams who average that many by themselves.

Dartmouth's Nick Howard is another bruising quarterback, and he in fact leads the league in rushing touchdowns with seven. Princeton linebackers Ozzie Nicholas and Liam Johnson, by the way, combined for 17 tackles last year against the Big Green.

With two such bruising teams, and with the first really cold weather game of the year, this doesn't figure to be an offensive explosion. Both teams are equipped to play that kind of game. 

Finally, there is the emotional issue that Dartmouth is dealing with this season, after the death of its beloved head coach Buddy Teevens. He and Princeton head coach Bob Surace were very close, and Surace clearly is speaking from the heart when he talks about his former rival.

During the week, Surace talked about how odd it will be to walk out onto the field and not see Teevens there, not have the usual pregame chat with him. Odd, and sad, he said. 

When the game starts, those emotions will shift to the background, as Princeton and Dartmouth will both playing as if their seasons depend on this game. 

In 2023, that's true of every Ivy football game.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

The Passing Of A Princeton Legend

Another Thursday catch-up:

* TigerBlog starts today with the sad news of the passing of the great Jackie Jackson.

A member of the Class of 1978, Jackson was one of the great early woman athletes at Princeton. To this day, she holds the distinction of being one of only three Princeton women's basketball players ever to average at least 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds for a career.

The other two? Do the names Niveen Rasheed and Bella Alarie ring a bell? 

TigerBlog got to know her when he wrote his book on the first 50 years of women's athletics at Princeton, and he's glad he did. There is an entire chapter devoted to Jackson, her early life and her post-Princeton missionary work around the world.

It includes this: 

She came to Princeton in the fall of 1974, when the women’s basketball program was about to start its fourth season. The first three years had seen the Tigers go a combined 15-13, which is more fascinating for the low number of games played each year as much as the record. 

By the time she graduated, she had helped the Tigers to an overall record of 63-22, as well as the first four Ivy League championships.

And this: 

 “We did a lot of international travel,” she says. “I was working with pastors and churches in underdeveloped countries. I enjoyed the exposure to the different cultures. I loved being on the ground with the different people. South Africa was the most interesting. Some of that was from being a history major, I suppose. I interacted with a white South African of British descent and a Black pastor and heard their stories of getting through apartheid. And I saw the poverty, and what they were trying to bring to the people there. And I felt the hospitality, despite their poverty. The goals were different wherever we went. We worked with pastors and asked them what their vision was for their village or community."

 She'll be remembered as a great basketball player and a great humanitarian, as well as the first Black captain of any Princeton women's team.

She was 67 years old at the time of her death. Her loss stings the entire Princeton women's basketball family.

* Andrei Iosivas made it two NFL touchdown receptions in two weeks when he caught a two-yard scoring pass from Joe Burrow in the Bengals' win over the 49ers this past Sunday. To date in his young career he has caught three passes for 14 yards, and he's turned two of those three into TDs.

He has been targeted four times, and he just missed making an insane catch along the sideline in the one in which he didn't get a reception. On that play he hauled in an overthrown pass but just barely missed getting a second foot down.

The fact that Burrow has found him on two passes near the goal line shows you the faith that the quarterback and team have in the rookie.

* Speaking in the NFL, last weekend's Jets-Giants game was possibly the worst game in the history of professional football.

* November is National Diabetes Month. As part of that event, TB's colleague Elliott Carr had a chance to write a feature story about women's tennis player Leena Bennetto's battle with Type 1 Diabetes.

Included in the story is this:

Playing in a tournament on Vancouver Island, a 10-year-old Leena Bennetto, now a junior on the Princeton women’s tennis team, was forced to retire during a match for the first and only time of her career. Despite making it through the first few matches of the tournament, she had lost weight and struggled with her vision. She felt more tired than normal. Throughout the week she had been pestering her mom about having tennis ball fuzz in her eyes. In the weeks leading up to the tournament, however, she felt fine.

Immediately following her retirement, Bennetto and her mom, Dimple, took the ferry back to Vancouver and went straight to an optometrist. In the moment her greatest fear was having to wear glasses like her brother, Ryan, as the siblings already bore an uncanny resemblance. After the optometrist she went to an Emergency Room, where would receive a piece of life changing news.

Bennetto was informed she had Type 1 diabetes.

It's definitely worth the read. You can see the entire story HERE.

* The women's volleyball team hits the road this weekend at Cornell and Columbia. The Tigers find themselves in second place in the league at 7-3, behind first place Yale, who is 10-0, and ahead of third-place Harvard and Brown, both 6-4. Dartmouth is next at 5-5. 

There are two weekends remaining in the regular season, and the Tigers will finish at home against Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend. While it looks like the Ivy tournament will be headed to New Haven, Princeton can clinch its spot in the field this weekend with a sweep of its matches and one Dartmouth loss. 

*  You do realize that there are basketball games to be played Monday, right? The women are home against Duquesne, and the men are taking on Rutgers in the Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton in the Jersey Jam.

* If you're in Hanover, N.H., this weekend, you can see Princeton football tomorrow night and Princeton men's hockey Saturday night. Of course, if you're in Boston, you can see Princeton field hockey tomorrow and men's hockey tomorrow night. 

If you drive fast, you can see Princeton field hockey at Harvard at noon, women's soccer at Brown at 2 and then the men's hockey game back in Cambridge tomorrow night. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Tournament Time

Before the subject turns to this coming weekend's Ivy League tournaments for field hockey and women's soccer, TigerBlog would like to go back to this past Friday night in New Haven.

The Princeton-Yale field hockey game would determine which team got the fourth spot in the league tournament. To overtime it went, and then 51 seconds in, Bridget Murphy scored the game-winner for the Tigers. 

As you might expect, it set off a pretty good celebration on Princeton's part. And as celebration pictures go, this one is pretty good, no?

Okay, so there's a little more to it than that. TigerBlog was in his third game as a photographer for the field hockey team, this time with a larger lens that enabled him to presumably get better shots. When Murphy scored her goal, it was at the far end of the field from where TB stood, and he got ... nothing. 

None of the pictures he took were remotely good. Now what was he supposed to use? 

Ah, but there was a video review. The officials left the field and headed to the review booth, and it dawned on TB that if the goal stood, there would be a second celebration. As such, he positioned himself pretty much at midfield, camera pointed at the players huddled on the bench. 

When the officials signaled that the goal was good, he got his picture. If only it could always be that easy. Just pause everyone, let TB get in the right spot, and then reenact the big moment. 

Oh well. Whatever it took, he came out with a pretty good shot. 

He'll have his camera again at Harvard, where the Tigers will play in the field hockey tournament Friday at noon. Princeton, who finished in a three-way tie for second in the regular season, is the No. 3 seed and will face No. 2 Cornell in the tournament's first game. Top-seed Harvard will face fourth-seeded Penn in the second semifinal, and the final will be Sunday at 1.

About two hours later and 45 minutes south, the women's soccer team will play at Brown in its Ivy tournament. The first game matches third-seeded Princeton and second-seeded Harvard, while top seed Brown will take on fourth-seeded Columbia in Game 2. The final will also be Sunday at 1.

The winner of each tournament will get the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The field hockey team defeated Cornell 3-2 in a penalty shootout during the regular season. The Big Red played Harvard this past Saturday in Ithaca for a chance at a share of the league title and the host spot for the tournament, and that game ended 2-1 Harvard on a goal with two seconds left. Yes, two seconds. And it wasn't on a penalty corner. How many times does that happen in field hockey? Never? 

Harvard's current RPI is nine, which suggests the Crimson are in pretty good shape for an NCAA bid no matter what happens in the tournament. Cornell is 20, followed by Princeton at 22 and Penn at 30. Those three all need the automatic bid to keep playing beyond this weekend.

On the women's soccer side, all four teams in the Ivy tournament figure to be in good shape for the NCAA tournament, though you never actually know. 

Brown's RPI is five. Princeton is 14. Harvard is 16. Columbia is 24. 

There are two points to make about those rankings. First, it shows you how strong the league is. Second, like the men's lacrosse RPIs of 2022 that resulted in six NCAA bids, every time one of those four plays another of those four, its RPI is helped, regardless of what happens in the game.  

This is the first year of the tournaments for field hockey and women's soccer, as well as men's soccer and women's volleyball, which are a week behind. 

Had this been every other year in Ivy field hockey history, Harvard would have clinched the bid already. For the other three, this is a second chance to keep the season going, something Princeton did a week ago with that win over Yale.

In women's soccer, it's a chance to get ready for the tournament atmosphere that will follow after the NCAA bids come out.