December 17, 2003: Sports
Sports Web Exclusives! P-nut Gallery column
of the pack
All-Americans Emily Kroshus 04, left, and Cack Ferrell 06 led Princeton to its first N.C.A.A. meet in 21 years. (david zinman)
With space limited at the starting line, Emily Kroshus 04 and Cack Ferrell 06 were the only Princeton runners in the front row at the November 15 N.C.A.A. Middle Atlantic cross-country regional meet in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. The other five began behind the leaders, and after one mile, they hovered near 60th place, 35 spots behind their intended pace.
The Tigers stayed together, even as they weaved their way through the crowd. By the end of the 6,000-meter race, Laura Petrillo 04, Carrie Strickland 05, and Meredith Lambert 06 were exactly where they needed to be, finishing 21st, 24th, and 26th, respectively. Combined with Kroshuss and Ferrells top-five performances, Princeton earned second place, clinching a bid to the N.C.A.A. championships for the first time in 21 years.
One of the other coaches told me, That team doesnt rattle, and its true, says Coach Peter Farrell. Emily and Cack have been absolutely unshakable up front. And the pack is coming together.
Princeton placed ninth at nationals November 24, and Kroshus and Ferrell finished in the top 25 to earn All-America honors.
Kroshus was the first Tiger to cross the finish line in all but one race, and in most she was the top finisher overall. She became the first Princeton woman to win the Ivy League championship since 1987. After competing as an individual at the N.C.A.A. meet for the last two seasons, her supporting cast made sure she wouldnt have to run alone this year.
Twelve different runners scored points in Princetons seven meets, including Petrillo, Kroshuss roommate and training partner; Strickland, a converted middle-distance runner in her first season with the cross-country team; and Ferrell, the heir apparent to the number-one spot.
Coach Farrell, who has won 16 Ivy titles in track and cross-country, cites last years track season as the beginning of this years cross-country success. A series of personal bests showed that the women were making strides. But Farrell saw changes coming even earlier, when Kroshus, a heralded high schooler from Calgary, arrived on campus.
From the beginning, shes been an amazing athlete, Farrell says. Shes also a tremendous student. She works hard and makes the people around her work hard. They take their key from Emily.
The teams eight seniors, including captain Rebecca Snyder, kept the group in sync in the off-season and set ambitious goals for the fall. We have a really big and strong senior class, Kroshus says. We really wanted to make our mark.
The Tigers won their first three races, the Battlefield Invitational, the Iona Meet of Champions, and the Harvard- Yale-Princeton meet, which the seniors had never won. They werent leaving without that trophy, Farrell says.
Two weeks later at the Pre-National Invitational in Waterloo, Iowa, a taxing pace brought out Princetons best performance to that point. Ferrell climbed to Kroshuss level, crossing the finish line in sixth place. Farrell says that opposing coaches stood on the plains of Iowa with their jaws on the ground.
But despite that momentum and a strong start in the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships on October 31, the Tigers lost the league title to defending champion Columbia in the final 600 meters. Kroshus and Ferrell finished first and second in the race.
Emotionally, Heps is the highest point of the season, Kroshus says. The Tigers had to regroup in the two weeks before the regional meet, and at Lock Haven they proved again that they could run with the nations best teams, finishing second to Georgetown and beating Villanova for the first time in two decades.
They really are a team, and not just a bunch of runners, Farrell says. They enjoy a common suffering and a common exhilaration.
till next year, again
Princetons football season came to an unceremonious close November 22, when Dartmouth intercepted a Matt Verbit 05 pass with 1:08 remaining to end the Tigers fourth-quarter comeback hopes and preserve a 2115 win for the Big Green.
But the teams worst year since 1986 reached its emotional low a week earlier when the Tigers fell in double-overtime at home against Yale, 2724, losing an Ivy League game on the final play for the third time of the season.
It hurts worse than any of the losses Ive experienced in my life, Coach Roger Hughes said after that defeat, adding that a fresh loss always stings more than the previous ones.
Princeton controlled the Yale game for nearly 59 minutes and pinned the Bulldogs on their own eight-yard line with 1:03 remaining. Yale quarterback Alvin Cowan marched his team down the field, completing eight passes, including a 22-yard touchdown to Chandler Henley as time expired. With the extra point, Yale tied the score, 1717, forcing overtime.
After exchanging touchdowns, Princetons defense held the Bulldogs to a field goal in the second overtime. Verbit took over with Princeton needing a touchdown to win, or a field goal to tie. He completed a pass to B. J. Szymanski 05 darting in from the left side, but as Szymanski neared the 10-yard line, a Yale defender jarred the ball loose. The Bulldogs recovered the fumble, ending the game.
Despite a 25 Ivy record, Princeton was outscored only by a total of six points. Running back Jon Veach 05 says the Tigers can contend for the title in 2004. If you look at our games, were one play away, Veach says. Take one play the other way in Columbia, Harvard, and Yale, and we have one loss in the league and were still battling for a title. Were not far off.
Columbias last-second touchdown pass and overtime losses against Harvard and Yale were the difference between a record of 2-8 and 5-5 for the Tigers. Their only lopsided Ivy loss came in a 377 drubbing at Penn, which might have been closer, if not for Princetons five first-half fumbles.
On offense, Verbit, Veach, Szymanski, and tight end Jon Dekker 06 will be back next year, along with four interior linemen. The Tigers will miss receiver Blair Morrison 04, who caught nine passes for 118 yards at Dartmouth, but the rest of the passing attack returns.
Defensively, the Tigers have holes to fill, with four starters graduating. Standout ends Joe Weiss 04 and Tim Kirby 04 were in the first class to spend four years under Hughes, and while the coach would have preferred to send them away with more than two wins, he was thankful for their contribution. One of the things that they leave as legacy is a tremendous work ethic, he says. Theyve taught the team how to prepare to win, how to prepare for a game, how to prepare in the off-season, and that should carry on.
When mens water polo lined up against Navy November 16, the players knew what was at stake: the lone East Coast berth for the N.C.A.A. Final Four. The Tigers never before had reached a Final Four, and only once in 1992 had they won the Eastern Championship. With a victory, they had a chance to make history.
They knew their opponents, too. The two teams already had squared off four times this season: a 76 overtime victory for Princeton in Annapolis; another victory, 86, for the Tigers first-ever E.C.A.C. Championship; an 86 loss in Princeton, one of only two it suffered at home; and on November 2, a 107 triumph that gave Princeton the Southern Division Championship.
In the fifth and final meeting, Navy played a strong game of constant pressure, earning three good chances to every one by the Tigers. Princeton fell behind early, before clawing back to a 43 halftime lead. But Navys 30 third quarter put the Midshipmen back in control. The final score, 86, paid tribute to the rivalry forged in a season that, for Princeton, was filled with surprising hope and rising expectations.
The Tigers came into the year knowing they would miss the size, leadership, and talent of Robert Urquhart 03 and Kevin Foster 03. Instead of merely rebuilding, they improved, going 234 and claiming every award on the table at the Eastern banquet. Luis Nicolao won Coach of the Year, and Reid Joseph 07 Rookie of the Year. Peter Sabbatini 05 was named Southern Division M.V.P.
By Nate Sellyn 04
team, similar results
The team has changed, but Princetons Ivy League field hockey success remains the same. With a new coach, a small senior class, two freshmen splitting time in goal, and no dominant scorer, the Tigers won their 10th consecutive Ivy title before falling to Penn State in the N.C.A.A. Tournament for the second straight year.
The Nittany Lions took a 30 lead and held on to beat Princeton, 31, in the N.C.A.A. opening round November 15. Last year, Penn State beat Princeton, 32, in the second round.
During the regular season, balance was the key for coach Kristen Holmes-Winns team. After two-time Ivy League Player of the Year Ilvy Friebe 03 graduated, Princeton needed to find scoring from a variety of sources. No player had more than eight goals in the 2003 campaign, and nine different Tigers had at least three. Claire Miller 04 won Ivy League Player of the Year honors from the midfield with modest numbers (six goals, three assists) and a knack for distributing the ball.
Defensively, the Tigers were among the nations best, giving up more than three goals just twice in 18 games. Goalie Allison Nemeth 07 was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
With a 5-6 nonleague record, the Tigers showed room for improvement, particularly on the road. But against the other Ivies, Princeton was indefatigable, extending its conference winning streak to 31 games. I cant remember an Ivy League game that was gorgeous hockey, says Miller, who, along with Cory Picketts 04, will graduate undefeated in the league. It was just guts, and you have to stay in it the whole time because everybodys out to beat you.
The women of Lady Clockwork, Princetons ultimate-Frisbee team, play to win. They practice three times a week and spend most of their weekends away from campus at tournaments. Next spring, they will train for a shot at their first trip to nationals since 1999.
But win or lose, the Frisbee femmes always get a second chance to show their talents. In keeping with womens ultimate tradition, players from both teams change the words to popular songs and sing to each other after games. Tone and pitch are irrelevant, as long as you get some laughs. Our team is particularly good at it, especially when we lose the game, says cocaptain Erica Shein 04. Its easier when you can be self-deprecating.
Not all the Universitys club sports have singing traditions, but most mirror the attitude of Lady Clockwork: Prepare well for competition, play hard, and enjoy the experience, with your teammates and your competitors.
From aikido to volleyball, Princetons 32 club sports cover a broad spectrum, with varying levels of experience and commitment from the more than 800 athletes involved. Paid coaches or any coaches, for that matter are not required. Students manage club finances, plan trips, and raise money to make sure their teams can get everywhere they need to go. The University also assists with the expenses. Paperwork can eat up valuable social time, but the club leaders dont mind, since they are usually among the beneficiaries. Sometimes it can seem like a burden, says womens rugby cocaptain Kim Nortman 04. But you end up having people with a higher investment in the club.
Some clubs, such as sailing and rugby, have long and storied traditions. Others, including ultimate Frisbee, tae kwon do, and surfing, are still gaining respect as team sports. A few varsity sports also have club teams. They provide a more serious level of competition than intramurals, with games against teams from other colleges. Its a chance to play sports and not have it dominate your life, says Tracy Gertler 04 of the womens soccer club, who is president of the club sports executive council.
While clubs generally are less time-consuming than varsity sports, that idea might seem laughable to members of the sailing team, who devote about six hours to each practice session for travel, rigging, and sailing. They make up for it by only practicing twice a week. For less time-intensive clubs, a steady commitment is still a large part of being successful. The womens club soccer team once had a roster of 40 moderately devoted players. But for the last three years, the club has made cuts in the fall to form a tight-knit traveling team of about 20 women. The plan worked, as the team qualified for club nationals in each of the last two seasons.
Mens rugby has taken a different approach, forming two separate traveling squads. The first team requires consistent attendance at practice and games, but the less-competitive second team, primarily a training program, provides another option for players with time constraints. Cycling is even more flexible, allowing riders to train on their own time. As a club sport, you sort of have to respect the fact that some people are doing it because its not structured, says captain Elliot Holland 04.
Princetons club programs have been successful in recent years, winning unofficial Ivy championships as well as regional and national honors. Cyclist Tyler Wren 03 won national titles in both road and mountain biking, and the womens rugby team, a two-time national champion in the mid-1990s, won the Ivy and the East Coast Rugby Union tournaments in 2003. Working toward championship goals forges lasting friendships between teammates, and many alumni support the clubs for which they played as undergraduates. Some even make it back to mingle with the current players. Its sort of a family, Nortman says of womens rugby. Once youre in, youre always a part of it.
For a closer look at 10 of Princetons club sports, click here.
On November 17, members of last years WOMENS LACROSSE N.C.A.A. championship team met with President Bush at the White House. Senators Bill Frist 74 and Paul Sarbanes 54 were on hand as Bush congratulated the Tigers on their second consecutive national title. I asked the team if they were going to be here next year as well, Bush said, according to a press release. And one of them said, Are you?
MENS BASKETBALL started the season with a 7364 win at home against Colgate November 21. The Tigers will be featured nationally on ESPN2 twice in the next three weeks, December 17 at Duke and January 3 at Oklahoma. WOMENS BASKETBALL lost its opener, 7561, at Nebraska.
Tristan Colangelo 04 finished ninth in the N.C.A.A. Middle Atlantic regional meet for MENS CROSS-COUNTRY November 15, earning a spot in the national championships. The men placed third in a field of 27 teams. WOMENS CROSS-COUNTRY placed ninth at nationals after a second-place regional finish.
Playing for a share of the Ivy championship in the season finale at Penn November 19, WOMENS VOLLEYBALL rallied to win the third game but lost the match in the fourth. The Tigers finished second in the Ivy League and 176 overall.
WOMENS SOCCER, an at-large selection to the N.C.A.A. tournament, lost 21 to Villanova in the first round November 14. The Tigers played in the 64-team College Cup for the fifth consecutive year. Esmeralda Negron 05, who tied a 22-year-old school record with 13 goals this season, was named Ivy League Player of the Year. In MENS SOCCER, Jeff Hare 04 was named All-Ivy for the third consecutive year. The Tigers finished 683.
WOMENS SWIMMING opened the season by beating Boston College, Northeastern, and Binghamton, and with its third win the team set a school record of 44 consecutive victories. The Tigers last loss came at Brown in 1998. Mens tennis previously held the record, with 43 straight wins from 1975 to 1980.
In WOMENS HOCKEY, the 10th-ranked Tigers scored a 42 home-ice win over No. 6 Providence on November 15 behind a hat-trick by Gretchen Anderson 04. Coach Jeff Kampersal 92 notched his 100th career win in the November 1 season opener at Connecticut. MENS HOCKEY upset Harvard, 42, November 14 in Cambridge. The Tigers win ended a four-game losing streak that included two overtime defeats.
For the first time in 75 years, all eight Ivy League schools have at least one alumnus playing in the N.F.L. Princetons pros are JASON GARRETT 89 (New York Giants), DENNIS NORMAN 01 (Seattle Seahawks), and ROSS TUCKER 01 (Buffalo Bills).