November 7, 2007: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
By David Baumgarten ’06
After spending the week learning the tendencies of the two quarterbacks who had split time leading the Princeton football team this season, the Harvard defense found a way to simplify its task: Knock both quarterbacks out of the game.
With Bill Foran ’08 forced to the sidelines by a concussion and Greg Mroz ’08 rendered ineffective by a reinjured throwing hand, the Tigers’ offense ground to a halt in the second half, allowing the Crimson to pull away for a 27–10 win Oct. 20 at Harvard Stadium.
“We were very inconsistent on both sides of the ball,” head coach Roger Hughes said. “A lot of the things that caused us duress were where we didn’t do some fundamental things right.”
Struggling with fundamentals has become a familiar story for this year’s Princeton squad, which lost its third consecutive game and dropped to 1–2 in the Ivy League (2–4 overall). After turning over the ball a combined 17 times in their three previous losses, the Tigers added three more give-aways against Harvard — a fumble and two interceptions. All three came in a horrid second half in which the orange and black gained just 36 yards and failed to advance past midfield. The defense contributed several miscues of its own, as Crimson quarterback Chris Pizzotti picked apart the Princeton secondary to the tune of 365 yards and two touchdowns.
Most of the Tigers’ bright spots came in the second quarter, after Princeton fell behind 10–0 early in the game. With Foran at the helm, Princeton mounted a 15-play drive that resulted in a field goal, employing an assortment of option pitches, end-arounds, and quarterback keepers that kept the Harvard defense on its heels.
The Crimson scored its first quarterback knockout early in Princeton’s next drive, when Foran left the game after a collision. But Mroz kept the offense moving in his first series, and R.C. Lagomarsino ’09 took an option pitch around the left corner, scampering untouched down the sideline for a 29-yard touchdown to tie the game.
Harvard missed a field goal on the ensuing possession, giving Princeton a chance to take the lead, but the Tigers could not capitalize. On fourth down and four at the Crimson 25-yard-line, Hughes elected to go for the first down, but Mroz was flushed out of the pocket and unable to find an open receiver.
“I felt like we were into the wind and out of field-goal range,” Hughes explained afterward, “and from then on we kind of backslid.”
Indeed, the Tigers never threatened again. A field goal just before halftime gave Harvard the lead, and a touchdown on the Crimson’s first possession after the break made it 20–10. Mean-while, Mroz clearly was not himself in the third quarter. Several egregiously off-target throws made it evident that he had injured his right hand and was unable to grip the ball. (A similar injury knocked Mroz out of Princeton’s Sept. 29 win over Columbia.)
With his team running out of chances, Hughes turned to third-string quarterback Brian Anderson ’09 to start the fourth quarter. Seeing his first collegiate action, Anderson showed bursts of athleticism in picking up several first downs with his feet, but otherwise was unable to move the ball. Anderson’s second possession under center was emblematic of all that went wrong for Princeton: Starting from their own 2-yard line, the Tigers were called for three false-start penalties in the span of five snaps.
“It gives you a sense of how fragile offense is,” Hughes said. He was talking about the game, but he could have been discussing the entire season. With four games to play, the Tigers’ hopes of defending their Ivy League title already were all but gone.
David Baumgarten ’06 is a first-year student at Harvard Law School.
After a difficult start, playing against three of the nation’s top 25 teams without its best player, the Princeton women’s soccer team rebounded in spectacular fashion in late September and early October, winning six straight games by a combined score of 18–3 and emerging as a contender in the Ivy League title chase.
Diana Matheson ’08, Princeton’s star midfielder, spent parts of August and September with Canada’s national team at the Women’s World Cup in Beijing. In Matheson’s absence, Princeton opened 2–4–1, losing three one-goal games despite playing strong defense. Matheson’s return added a welcome spark to the offense: She scored three goals and assisted on six others in her first four games, including a one-goal, one-assist performance in Princeton’s 2–0 win over Columbia Oct. 13. Midway through the Ivy League season, Princeton and Penn were tied for first place at 3–0.
Head coach Julie Shackford said that Matheson’s play has been “off the charts” since the World Cup, while Princeton’s defense, led by All-Ivy player Taylor Numann ’09, has shown consistency and maturity. The Tigers’ final two games, at Penn Nov. 3 and against Yale Nov. 11, could be pivotal in determining the league champion. Shackford’s teams have won four Ivy titles, most recently in 2004.
No matter what the score, no matter how many shots he makes or misses, men’s basketball forward Kyle Koncz ’08 can count on seeing two supportive faces in the bleachers. His parents, Lennie and Linda, rarely miss a game, driving from Strongsville, Ohio, near Cleveland, to Princeton or wherever else the Tigers happen to be playing. This month, they plan to fly to Hawaii to watch their son at the EA Sports Maui Invitational. “They’re using it as their first vacation in like 15 years,” Koncz said. “It’ll be good for them.”
Koncz is hoping it will be a good trip for the Tigers as well. Princeton, under new head coach Sydney Johnson ’97, faces a challenging schedule in Maui that includes games against Duke Nov. 19 and either Arizona State or Illinois Nov. 20. Those matchups, and the memories of an 11–17 record last season, have motivated the Tigers in their preseason workouts. They open the 2007–08 campaign at home against Central Connecticut Nov. 11.
For Koncz, last season was particu-larly frustrating. In the first 12 games, he made 51.8 percent of his shots and led the team with 11 points per game. The Tigers were 8–4. But as the Ivy League season approached, Koncz noticed pain and swelling in his left foot. The injury, diagnosed first as a stress reaction and later as a stress fracture, forced him to wear a protective boot off the court and stop practicing between games — a significant setback for a 3-point specialist. He missed two games, and in the next 14 that he did play, his shooting percentage dropped to 32.9.
After nearly two months of rest and a full summer of training, Koncz is eager to put those late-season struggles behind him. Under Johnson, he said, the Tigers will increase the tempo on offense and maintain their defensive intensity. Three starters — Koncz, Marcus Schroeder ’10, and Lincoln Gunn ’10 — return, along with key reserves Noah Savage ’08, Zach Finley ’10, and Mike Strittmatter ’09.
“Even though the results weren’t good last year, we have some guys who played a lot of minutes,” Koncz said. “They know what Ivy League basketball is about — how competitive that 14-game schedule is and what every game means. A lot of guys are hungry to prove that what happened last year isn’t who we are.”
WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY won its fourth race of the season at the Pre-Nationals Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind., Oct. 13. Princeton, led by Liz Costello ’10 (seventh place) and Christy Johnson ’10 (10th place), finished first among 35 teams in its race, defeating Arizona State, Colorado, and a host of other top programs.
Kyle McHugh ’08 scored his team-leading fifth goal as MEN’S SOCCER beat Columbia, 2–0, Oct. 13 for its first win in Ivy League play.
New head coach Courtney Banghart and the WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
team will open the 2007–08 season at Maryland Nov. 9 in the first
round of the Preseason Women’s NIT.