March 13, 2002: Sports
Sports Web Exclusives! The Varsity Typewriter column
Mens lacrosse looks to repeat
By David Marcus 92
Caption: Julian Gould 03 will try to fill All-America Trevor Tierney 01s spot in goal. (Photo by beverly schaefer)
Dynasties are boring, said Michael Mariano 92 to the press the day before he and his teammates beat Syracuse 109 in 1992 for the first of Princetons six NCAA titles in mens lacrosse.
If so, the Tigers and the Orangemen have cast a spell of ennui over college lacrosse for the last decade. Combined, they have captured nine of the last 10 NCAA titles and have met in the last two championship games. Both streaks should continue this year.
Syracuse returns the games most exciting player, attackman Michael Powell, who was a first-team All-America as a freshman and rallied his team from a four-goal deficit in last years title game before Princeton scored in overtime for a 109 win. The Tigers, meanwhile, have more than enough talent to repeat.
Princeton had so many good players last year that getting them all on the field was a challenge. In general were not as deep as we were last year, which makes this team a lot easier to work with, coach Bill Tierney said. The downside is that this year injuries will become much more of a factor than they were last year.
The only significant uncertainty Princeton faces is in goal. Trevor Tierney 01 started for two years, earning first-team All-America honors last year. Julian Gould 03 is the heir apparent, Tierney said.
Gould will play behind a veteran defense that allowed an average of 5.8 goals a game last year. Ryan Mollett 01, Princetons other first-team All-American, graduated, but starters Damien Davis 03 and Scott Farrell 02 return. Brian Lieberman 03, Joe Rosenbaum 03, and Ricky Schultz 04 all saw substantial action last year and will again this year, with Rosenbaum playing as a long-stick midfielder and Lieberman and Schultz challenging for a starting spot.
The Tigers top four attackmen are back. Creaseman B. J. Prager 02 led Princeton with 36 goals last year. Ryan Boyle 04 will again direct the offense, while Sean Hartofilis 03 is a potent outside threat. Brendan Tierney 02, an occasional starter as a sophomore, is an experienced, versatile understudy.
Princeton is strong and deep at midfield. Drew Casino 04 takes over from Matt Bailer 01 as the lead face-off man after winning 49 of 90 draws last year. Coach Tierney praises defensive specialist Kyle Baugher 02 as the most unsung of the best players in the country. Joining Baugher at defensive midfield will be Owen Daly 03. Anthony Perna 03 and Greg Golaszewski 02 will help out on face-offs and at defensive midfield.
Three of Princetons middies are converted attackmen: Will Maccoll 03, Matt Trevenen 03, and Josh White 04. They should cushion the losses of Chris Harrington 01 and Matt Striebel 01, both former attackmen who ran midfield last year. For versatility, Tierney can turn to Dan Clark 02 and Brad Dumont 03, who played on both sides of the field in 2001 and will do so again. They may be joined by freshmen Oliver Barry and Mac Bryson.
The Tigers schedule will test them early. The team visits Johns Hopkins and the University of Virginia the first two Saturdays in March before hosting Hofstra and Syracuse on the next two Saturdays. Princeton then faces the other six Ivy League teams, Duke, and Rutgers. Tierney says that Brown and Cornell are the Ivy teams most likely to challenge Princeton.
Princetons Ivy League dynasty seems secure for now. To find out whether the Tigers or Syracuse continue their joint hegemony over the rest of college lacrosse or, more likely, to see which team continues it fans will have to wait for the championship game on Memorial Day at Rutgers.
David Marcus 92 thinks lacrosse dynasties, at least Princetons, are exciting.
Womens lacrosse team hopes to make another run at national title
By Paul Hagar 91
Caption: Lauren Simone 02 will again lead the Tiger attack. (beverly schaefer)
Womens lacrosse has its sights set on an NCAA championship this year, after falling just short in 2001, when the team lost in the national semifinal to eventual champ Maryland. Princetons talent and experience gives it a good opportunity finally to win a second title the first came in 1994. Princeton began the season ranked third in the nation behind Maryland and Duke.
According to coach Chris Sailer, her teams experience has given it a stronger focus and work ethic than in the past several seasons. Princeton boasts five juniors, seven seniors, and two preseason All-Americans in attack Lauren Simone 02 and defender Rachael Becker 03. The teams experience is matched with a balance of talent from attack, through midfield, and on defense, which should enable the Tigers to play an aggressive and threatening style throughout games.
Were going to be versatile, because our attack can play defense and vice versa, says Sailer. Well be filtering through at both ends of the field, looking to fast break more than in the past, and playing a high-pressure transition defense.
Despite their talent, the Tigers face a challenging slate of games throughout the spring, playing each of the schools ranked in the top five, including their home opener against No. 4 Georgetown March 3, a game at No. 5 Loyola March 10, and one at home versus No. 2 Duke March 17.
In all, Princeton will play a total of eight teams that made the tournament last year, including Ivy foes Cornell (March 30) and Dartmouth (April 20). The teams penultimate contest may prove its most telling. The Tigers will host No. 1 Maryland now defending its seventh straight national title on April 24. A win in this game would likely catapult Princeton into a strong tournament seeding, but a loss might refresh unpleasant memories.
While not denying the importance of performing well against Maryland, Sailer believes no single opponent will make or break her teams chances of success. This season is not about Maryland at all, says Sailer. One of our main goals this year is to enjoy the process. We have the talent, we have the mental toughness, and we know how to strive for excellence. So this year we arent focused on beating Maryland, but on being Princeton.
Paul Hagar 91 writes frequently for PAW.
Late in the season, a semblance of normalcy emerged at the top of the Ivy League mens basketball standings, thanks to Princetons 5946 victory against the upstart Yale Bulldogs in a sold-out Jadwin Gym on February 22.
The Tigers put on a defensive show against Yale, which had been averaging 78 points per game. Princeton (149, 92) also beat Brown 7347 the next night to sit alone atop the league.
This was the biggest game of the year, said Princeton coach John Thompson III 88 after the Yale game. If you lose this game, you dont have control of the title.
The Bulldogs (179, 93), who also lost at Penn (216, 83) the next night, had walked into Jadwin with only one conference loss and complete control of their chances for an NCAA tournament berth. But Princetons victories, coupled with Yales losses, left the Tigers in command. Barring any upsets, the March 5th showdown with Penn at the Palestra was to decide the league champion.
Sportswriter Alex Wolff 79 follows basketball around the world
Photo: Alexander Wolff 79 (photo: frank wojciechowski)
Alexander Wolff 79s inner assignment editor has led him to the four corners of the world, following a game born in the basement gym of a YMCA in Massa-chusetts and a love reared on the sights and sounds of Princeton basketball.
Wolff, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, has authored an account of his two-year journey entitled Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure, which begins and ends in Princeton. His aim, as he puts it, was to get a better understanding of what the game can tell us about the world, and what the world can tell us about the game.
One thing Wolff learned was that basketball is a great icebreaker. Whether he was in Iowa covering Bill Bradley 65 on the election trail; in Bhutan, where he got in on a pickup game with the Himalayan countrys royal family; or inside a frigid parochial hall in Ireland, the game transcended nationalities and stations in life.
Its the great leveler, said Wolff, who most recently covered college basketball for SI and is teaching a writing class at Princeton this semester. As a U.S. export, basketball does not have the baggage attached that other exports have, such as McDonalds and Pepsi. Some places took the U.S. game and duplicated it precisely, others developed their own characteristics.
His own love for the game took root in Princeton, where his father earned a Ph.D. and eventually worked for RCA. One of the earliest memories Wolff recalls in the book is being put to bed early so his parents could watch Bradley and the Tigers square off with Cazzie Russell and Michigan in the 1964 ECAC Holiday Festival.
His family moved to Rochester, New York, but Wolff returned to Princeton for college and furthered his education on basketball in what he calls Pete Carrils lecture hall as a play-by-play writer for the sports information office.
Wolffs route to commencement was indirect. The former high school hoopster took off for Switzerland with his jump shot after his sophomore year and spent a season with a club team. He returned and in the summer heading into his senior year, Wolff and a friend trekked across the U.S. in search of pickup games. They wrote a book about their hardcourt and asphalt adventures called The In-Your-Face Basketball Book.
His travelers soul fit his career choice. In his 20 years at SI, Wolff has covered several Olympics, the Tour de France, soccers World Cup, and countless basketball games.
But he says writing Big Game, Small World gave him the chance to follow his own instincts and discover what basketball means to people all over the world. Id been taking orders from week to week for 20 years. This time I could decide what Id be doing, even if it was just a hunch, said Wolff after speaking and signing copies of his book at a recent Princeton athletics department luncheon. The books 27 chapters are each named for a locale, including Philadelphia, where he revisits the Palestra on the night of the Princeton mens basketball miracle comeback in 1999, and Princeton, where he breaks down the legendary backdoor play and the offensive movements that are synonymous with Princeton basketball.
Currently on leave from SI, Wollf is living in Princeton this semester with his wife, Vanessa, and their newborn son, Frank. As one of the universitys Ferris Professors of Journalism, Wolff is teaching 16 students in his spring seminar, Writing about Sports and the Wider World.
He is happy to return to Jadwin Gym this time as a spectator. Its wonderful to sit in the stands instead of press row, he said.
PAW ONLINE: To read an excerpt from Big Game, Small World go to PAWPLUS at www.princeton.edu/paw/plus.