April 20, 2005: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
By David Marcus ’92
After losing its first four games, the Princeton men’s lacrosse team is off to its worst start since 1988, Bill Tierney’s first year as head coach. If the Tigers are to continue their streak of 15 consecutive playoff appearances, they likely will need to win the Ivy League title. “We lost four games to four pretty good teams,” co-captain Jason Doneger ’05 said after the team’s loss to Syracuse March 26. “It’s tough because you look and say, we’re 0–4. At the same time, our league starts this week.” With Ivy wins and losses holding increased importance, Doneger said the team would need to have a playoff mentality in April.
Some of Princeton’s woes reflect the quality of its opposition. The team’s first two losses, to Johns Hopkins by a 9–6 count on March 5 and at the University of Virginia 11–7 a week later, came to the nation’s top two squads. Princeton then fell 9–8 at Hofstra on March 19 and to defending national champion Syracuse 10–8 the next Saturday.
Entering the season, Princeton’s biggest challenge was replacing Ryan Boyle ’04, a two-time first-team All-American who ran the team’s offense for four years. So far, Princeton hasn’t been able to do that, though attackmen Scott Sowanick ’07, with eight goals and two assists, and Peter Trombino ’07, with six goals and five assists, have picked up some of the scoring slack. Princeton also misses the outside shooting threat posed by Drew Casino ’04. Tierney has been looking for ways to invigorate his offense, using about 30 different players in each of his team’s first four games, but so far has not found a solution.
“We’re young, and when you have a lot of freshmen and sophomores on the field, sometimes guys are thinking a little too much about the logistics of the offense they’re running,” said Doneger, a starting attackman. “As a young player, it’s tough to process the offenses and play instinctively.”
Princeton has been better defensively, though its goalkeeping has been inconsistent. Tierney pulled starter David Law ’06 after the first quarter of the Johns Hopkins game, in which Law allowed four goals and made no saves, and again in the third quarter against Hofstra. The coach gave Matt Larkin ’05 the start against Syracuse, and Larkin played well, making 13 saves and doing a good job of clearing the ball out of Princeton’s defensive zone. That performance and Larkin’s solid play when he replaced Law against Hopkins and Hofstra offer hope for some stability in the cage.
The Tigers have also struggled on faceoffs, winning only 40 percent of their draws in the season’s first three games. Here, too, Princeton showed improvement against Syracuse, winning 16 of 21 faceoffs. Some of the credit goes to Michael Wenzel ’06, a midfielder who played on one of the wings against the Orange. Mike DeSantis ’07 also has become more comfortable taking draws, a duty he has split with Ryan Schoenig ’06.
The Tigers can take some consolation in the knowledge that they recovered from a slow start in 2002 that included losses to Hopkins and Virginia in March, and rallied to reach the NCAA finals, losing 13–12 to Syracuse. But Doneger said, “Those guys had won championships, and they knew what it took to get to the top of the heap. The biggest difference now is that we’re a young team.” Some of that youth has looked good at times; Dan Cocoziello ’08 has been impressive on defense, and classmates Zach Goldberg, Alex Haynie, Bob Schneider, and Peter Striebel also may play a fair amount the rest of the year.
Princeton’s Ivy schedule concludes with three key games that may decide the league title: at Cornell April 23, vs. Dartmouth April 30, and vs. Brown May 7. The Ivy champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
David Marcus ’92 is a frequent PAW contributor.
When an injury stalled Kathy Sell’s professional tennis career in 2001, she began thinking about her next move.
“I made about six index cards — I still have them — of every thought of something that excites me, ranging from graduate school to being a teacher, starting a restaurant, working for Adidas or Nike — so many different things,” says Sell, the head coach of women’s tennis at Princeton.
Coaching made the list, but it was not at the top. The youngest of four siblings, Sell had always resisted following the path of sister Jenny Garrity, the head coach at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and brother Mike, a coach for the United States Tennis Association.
But after two seasons as an assistant coach and graduate student at the University of Oregon, Sell’s outlook changed. When she was chosen to fill the head-coach opening at Princeton last year, she jumped at the opportunity. “I picked up and moved in July,” she says, “and I haven’t really looked back since.”
Sell, 26, is the University’s youngest head coach, and since arriving on campus, she’s been mistaken for a player more than once. But she hopes that her youth and energy will be assets as she tries to lead the Tigers back to the top of the Ivy League. Princeton’s last Ivy championship came in 2000, and in the past two seasons, Harvard has emerged as the league’s dominant team, ranking as high as 14th in the nation this season.
Sell sees the same potential for Princeton’s program, which has the same academic and scholarship constraints as the Crimson and comparable tennis facilities. “I’m going to run this program like it’s a top-20 ranked program,” she says, “because everything is in place for us to get there.”
Entering the Ivy portion of its schedule, Princeton held a 6–6 record, including three losses decided by a single point. The six-player singles lineup includes three sophomores and a freshman, with senior captain Stephanie Berg and junior Jessica Siebel contributing experience and leadership. Sell credits Berg and Siebel for helping the program make its transition to the new coaching staff.
Sell tried to establish a sense of discipline and accountability in fall workouts, but in the regular season, she says she gives her players the freedom to make their own decisions on the court. When she does advise on strategy during matches, she speaks from experience: As an All-American at Duke, she ranked as high as seventh among NCAA singles players.
From her early days as a pupil at a tennis academy in Florida through her time at Duke and Oregon, Sell has worked with coaches with a range of personalities, from stringent drillmasters to lively mentors who stressed the fun of competition. “I’ll be a good coach,” she says, “if I can bring a little bit of all the coaches I’ve had into my philosophy.”
Cack Ferrell ’06 finished third in the 3,000-meter run at the NCAA indoor championships for WOMEN’S TRACK in March, earning All-American recognition for the second consecutive year. Ferrell, who finished 11th in the 3,000 last season, also has been an All-American twice in cross country.
SOFTBALL shut out No. 3 Stanford on March 20 for the eighth win in its 11-game spring break trip to California. The Tigers are off to a 15–7 start, including six shutout wins.
Pitcher Gavin Fabian ’07 allowed two runs in seven innings, and right fielder Andrew Salini ’06 drove in two runs as BASEBALL beat Stony Brook in Princeton’s home opener March 25. The Tigers won twice in the four-game series, improving to 4–11 for the season.
At the NCAA championships March 17, MEN’S FENCING tied for second among epee squads, led by a fifth-place finish by Soren Thompson ’05 and an eighth-place showing by Ben Solomon ’06. In WOMEN’S FENCING, Jacqueline Leahy ’06 placed third in the foil, and Erin McGarry ’07 finished sixth in the epee.
Defending national champion Virginia forced 22 turnovers and beat WOMEN’S LACROSSE 8–4 on March 26. Lindsey Biles ’05 scored her 19th goal for the 4–2 Tigers.
MEN’S HEAVYWEIGHT CREW opened its season with a dominant performance against Navy March 26, winning all three varsity races and the first of two freshman races. WOMEN’S OPEN CREW also started strong, beating the top varsity boats from Brown and Michigan State March 26.
MEN’S TENNIS won seven straight matches between Feb. 12 and March 14 behind top performances from Darius Craton ’06 and Sratha Saengsuwarn ’07. The Tigers were 10–4 entering their Ivy League opener against Penn.