Sports: October 20, 1999
Field hockey prospects strong, boosted by able freshmen
Despite Tiger loss, team often sparkles against sixth-ranked University of Connecticut
Ten minutes into the field hockey team's 3-1 loss to sixth-ranked Connecticut, it was clear that while the Tigers might lose on this particular afternoon, predictions of Princeton's fall from the top tier of teams were greatly exaggerated. Although the Tigers (4-1 overall, 2-0 Ivy League) were inconsistent, the team played brilliantly in stretches, and, after the game, coach Beth Bozman said, "I think [Connecticut coach Nancy Stevens] was shocked at how good we were. She told me she wasn't happy with what she'd just seen on the field."
Stevens may have been most surprised by the swift development of a group of freshmen who arrived at Princeton heralded as one of the top recruiting classes in the country and who have done nothing to dispel that notion during their first few weeks on campus. The team is starting five members of the Class of '03: goalkeeper Kelly Baril, defenders Naela El-Hinnawy and Emily Townsend, and attacks Kristen Skorumski and Ilvy Friebe. Baril has already established herself as being nearly impossible to beat on any shot she can see. "You're going to see really great things out of Kelly," Bozman says. And although the young defense broke down several times against Connecticut, it has the speed and size to eventually be a barbed wire fence in front of the talented goalkeeper.
Up front, Friebe and Skorumski have already begun feasting on the weaker defenses in the Ivy League. Friebe, who is from Germany and has more offensive moves than Andrew Dice Clay, has been frustrated, however, by the physical defensive play of the top teams in this country. "It's not as technical as Europe," Friebe says. "It is frustrating, but I need to learn to concentrate all the time." So far she's concentrated well enough to have seven points in five games.
But it would be a mistake to let the glare from the team's young talent obscure the seniors and juniors. This team will go as far as players such as cocaptain Robin Dwyer '00, an outstanding defensive midfielder who moved back to defense this season, can take it. Dwyer, who earned a regional All-America at midfield, made the move without complaint because defense was where the team needed her most. In addition to leading by example, Dwyer has tried to fill the leadership void left by the graduation of the Class of '99. "I'm trying to remember all the things they told me," she says. "I want to pass along to the younger players what this program represents."
Other players have also contributed. Melanie Meerschwam '01, who is from the Netherlands, has assisted Friebe in adapting to the realities of the North American game. "It's great playing with [Melanie]," Friebe says. "She's helping me make adjustments." Being raised in the European system also seems to have given Friebe and Meerschwam a link on the field-the two are developing a creative synergy that was occasionally spellbinding during the early games.
If this team can mesh its Europeans and Americans, young and old players, it has the talent and coaching to go a long way. The winner of the Ivy League-and it would take a massive upset for Princeton not to win the Ivy League-gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. And while some of the other top teams, which began sharpening their knives with the graduation of the Class of '99, may be eagerly awaiting the Tigers, Connecticut has seen enough to have no interest in running into Princeton again.
-Wes Tooke '98
Changes abound in Tiger football
Cameron Atkinson '03 scores first freshman touchdown in team history
On September 25, 1999, after 130 years of Saturday afternoon football, the Princeton Tigers moved their act to prime time. Following a season-opening loss at Cornell, the Tigers hosted the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks (ranked #15 in the NCAA's division 1AA) and their high powered offense in the first night football game in Princeton's history.
As the 7 p.m. kickoff approached, an air of excitement settled over Princeton Stadium. While the fans in attendance were clearly ready for the night, the Tigers, unfortunately were not.
As it had in the season opener, the Princeton offense stumbled out of the gate. The Tigers were unable to mount much of a threat in the early going as the Mountain Hawk defense consistently stuffed Princeton runners and pressured quarterbacks Tommy Crenshaw '02 and John Blevins '01. In contrast, the Tiger defense opened aggressively. The heralded Lehigh offense was stifled by the consistent presence of Tiger defenders in the Mountain Hawk backfield.
Things began to unravel for the overmatched Tigers when Lehigh quarterback Phil Stambaugh connected on a third down and long pass for 34 yards to the Princeton 35-yard line. Lehigh tailback, Ronald Jean capped the 12-play, 71-yard drive at the 2:57 mark of the first quarter. Jean scored on a tackle-breaking, 10-yard touchdown dash that, after the extra point, gave the Mountain Hawks a 7-0 lead.
As the Tiger offense continued to struggle, the defense once again forced the Mountain Hawks into a critical third down and long situation. Stambaugh then hit Avon Mack for 25 yards down the right sideline to bring the Mountain Hawks to within one yard of a first down. With the Tiger defense still reeling, Stambaugh completed a fourth and 1, play action pass to Kody Fedorcha. The play covered 30 yards to the Princeton 12-yard line. A 12-yard touchdown pass to Josh Snyder and the point after gave Lehigh a 14-0.
It looked as though the score would remain there as time wound down in the first half. However, with the Mountain Hawks near midfield, Stambaugh completed a short pass to Snyder, who broke a tackle and raced 37 yards after the catch. He was brought down by a shoestring tackle at the Princeton 3-yard line. Lehigh's Ronald Jean bulled his way into the endzone from there to give the Mountain Hawks a 21-0 half-time lead.
In the second half, sophomore quarterback Tommy Crenshaw led Princeton to the Lehigh 20-yard line. However, the threat ended when Crenshaw was intercepted at the 6-yard line. Despite his team's 31-0 defeat, head coach Steve Tosches saw some bright spots. "Lehigh is as good a team as we will face this year, and I thought Tommy Crenshaw threw the ball pretty well."
In week three of the 1999 campaign, with the Tigers slated to host the 0-3 Fordham Rams, Tosches handed the reins to Tommy Crenshaw. But it was freshman tailback Cameron Atkinson who put his stamp on the Tigers' first win of the season: he is the first freshman in the history of Princeton football to score a touchdown and the first freshman to rush 100 yards in a game.
Princeton broke out of a season-long offensive slump on its first possession. Behind several Crenshaw passes and excellent blocking by the offensive line, the Tigers marched 74 yards to the Fordham 1-yard line. Derek Thiesen '00 then plunged across the goal line to score Princeton's first touchdown of the season. The extra point gave Princeton a 7-0 lead that it would hold into the third quarter.
Fifty-four seconds into the second half, Tiger safety Ryan Demler '00 extended the Princeton lead. Demler intercepted an errant Fordham pass and raced 22 yards into the endzone, making the score Princeton 14, Fordham 0. From there, it was all Atkinson. In the third quarter, Atkinson etched his name in the Tiger record books by running 38 yards for his first career touchdown. He later tallied the game's final score with a 12-yard scamper to the corner of the endzone.
Despite the slow start to the 1999 season, things are looking up for the Tigers. As Tosches said, Tommy Crenshaw and Cameron Atkinson are athletes who can "make things happen." Just ask the Fordham Rams.
-Matthew Golden '94
Women's volleyball bounces back
Varied offense, steady passing, and good defense define team's strategy
Last year was hardly a stellar one for the women's volleyball team. Having graduated three starters from the Class of '98, the Tigers faced the challenge of defending their 1997 Ivy title with three new starters stepping into positions that had last been vacated when Mosaic was the Web browser of choice and binge-drinking had not yet been declared a problem.
The 1998 team lost to Brown in the Ivy finals, but this season Princeton is already stoked for a comeback, and the Tigers (10-2) are determined to prove that an "off" year is one in which they finish in second place.
This year a strong freshman crop of Californians has filled the place of star outside Rose Kuhn '99. As a result of a varied offense, steady passing, and ridiculously good defense that averages over 17 digs per game, head coach Glenn Nelson, whose teams have won eight Ivy titles in 17 years, says this is "one of our best starts ever."
In 10 preseason wins including victories over three Big East teams and a first-place finish at the Drexel Invitational, the Tigers have regained their consistency and have taken advantage of their collective experience to baffle stronger teams.
"Things couldn't be better," said Nelson, who recently earned his 400th career win. (Nelson, who has the third most wins in men's volleyball history, now ranks in the top-30 in all-time women's NCAA wins.)
"We have five starters back, and everyone is a year better," said Nelson.
Returning starters include two all-Ivy selections: outside Sabrina King '01, averaging nearly four kills per game, and setter Melissa Ford '00, whose freshman jitters have given way to maturity. And in this, Ford's fourth starting year, life at the helm of the Tiger offense has gotten even easier.
"The passing is so good that I can set anybody," said Ford. "It's a setter's dream."
And lest Ford be tempted to go only to her classmate, opposite Erika Hansen, or middle Emily Brown '01, whose .294 hitting percentage leads the Tigers, she also has at the other outside spot a rotating arsenal of freshmen, including Michelle Buffum '03, who is, in Nelson's estimation, already "the biggest banger on the team" and has fully embraced Tiger spirit.
"It's a great team," said Buffum. "I love everyone."
Though the league as a whole has improved since the days when Nelson's squads used to thrash all but one or two rivals, Princeton has never ceased to set the pace for talent and accomplishment.
"We have very high team and individual expectations," said middle Alexis Collins '02. "Winning Ivies would be the bomb."
As a freshman in 1995 with only one match to her credit but a whole lot of enthusiasm, Kuhn boldly declared that her team was "the best team in Princeton volleyball history." Though Kuhn is dearly missed, this year's team may prove her wrong.
-Josh Stephens '97
In Memoriam: Bill Quackenbush
Bill Quackenbush, a longtime Princeton University coach and a member
of the National Hockey League Hall of Fame, died from pneumonia in Newtown,
Pennsylvania, on September 12. Quackenbush coached three varsity sports
at Princeton: men's hockey (1967-73), men's golf (1971-85), and women's
hockey (1979-85). He played for the Detroit Red Wings (1942-49) and Boston
Bruins (1949-56), appearing in eight straight All-Star games. He was 77.
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