December 8, 2004: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
Receivers Clinton Wu ’05 and Brian Brigham ’07 figured prominently in Princeton football’s game plan for the Nov. 20 finale against Dartmouth. But Wu aggravated a knee injury in pre-game drills, and Brigham was sidelined with a migraine that impaired his vision. On the first play from scrimmage, Matt Verbit ’05 completed a six-yard pass to Derek Davis ’06, one of the Tigers’ few healthy receivers, and a Dartmouth defender jarred the ball loose, giving the Big Green possession in Princeton territory.
For a team that had seen its share of misfortune this year, the opening was far from promising. But luck would find its way to the men in black.
Late in the fourth quarter, as Derek Javarone ’06 attempted a 42-yard field goal to give the Tigers the lead, Dartmouth’s Clayton Smith charged through the line, blocking the kick and sending it back to the holder, Colin McDonough ’07. McDonough caught the ball and burrowed toward the line of scrimmage, where John Langford ’05 and James Williams ’06 pushed him forward like rugby players in a scrum. As the 185-pound McDonough’s momentum stalled, Williams tore the ball from his teammate’s hands.
“He tells me he gave it to me,” Williams said after the game, “but I think I took it.”
Seconds later, Williams dashed across the goal line with the ball, drawing quizzical looks from both sidelines. The referees hesitated, deliberated, and finally raised their arms to signal a touchdown. With the extra point, the Tigers took a 17—10 lead and held on to win, snapping a four-game losing streak and finishing the season 5—5.
“What I’ve been preaching to them for the last two or three years is that if you just keep playing hard, good things are going to happen,” coach Roger Hughes said. “Finally, we got a break.”
Princeton gained just 75 yards rushing in the game, and Verbit completed 20 passes for an unremarkable 153 yards. But the Tigers’ defense made key stops, particularly in the final minutes, when Dartmouth had two chances to tie the game. Linebacker Zak Keasey ’05 finished his career with one of his most dominant games, making 22 tackles and two sacks.
Williams’ touchdown run provided some solace for the Tigers, who were haunted by miscues and near misses in the kicking game. At Cornell Oct. 30, Verbit threw for a season-high 260 yards and brought the Tigers back from a 14-point deficit, but the game-tying extra point by Javarone was blocked, allowing the Big Red to escape with a 21—20 win. Against Penn Nov. 6, Javarone attempted a 41-yard kick for the win with 18 seconds remaining, but the ball sailed a foot wide of the right upright.
The Tigers, who ranked sixth in the preseason Ivy League poll, opened the season 4—1, including a 2—0 start in Ivy games. Their hopes for a league title disintegrated with consecutive losses to Harvard, Cornell, Penn, and Yale, and the Dartmouth game was Princeton’s last chance to salvage a .500 season.
“Every time you lose a game, the next week you’re thinking about what you could have done and what you can do the next week to make it better,” Verbit said. “Week after week, this team came out and worked hard. Finally this week, we came out, made the tough plays, and got a win.”
"Against the background of higher education, intercollegiate athletics is off-center. It is askew. It is behaving in ways that show it drifting away from the world of the university and toward the world of sports entertainment."
Myles Brand, president of the NCAA, in a Nov. 1 lecture about fiscal responsibility in athletics. Ancillary, self-funded athletic departments, Brand said, are neither sustainable nor desirable for universities.
By David Mordkoff ’01
After beating Bucknell in the opening game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, men’s basketball advanced to play host Syracuse Nov. 12. The Tigers stood tall in their first major test of the season, staying even with the sixth-ranked Orange for more than 30 minutes before falling 56—45.
Syracuse found itself in an unfamiliar position early in the game, trailing 14—5 as Princeton shredded the Orange’s man-to-man defense. Will Venable ’05 drove to the hoop off strong feeds from center Judson Wallace ’05. “I don’t think anybody in the nation will be able to guard us [man-to-man] this year,” Wallace said after the game. “Everybody was cutting hard.”
Syracuse abandoned the man-to-man scheme and switched to a zone defense that befuddled the Tigers. Rallying behind strong play from Demetris Nichols and NBA prospect Hakim Warrick, the Orange took a 10-point lead three minutes into the second half. The Tigers, however, did not go quietly.
With a veteran unit on the floor for most of the second half, Princeton beat the zone and trimmed the deficit. Luke Owings ’07 tied the game at 37 with a layup, and when Nichols responded with a three-pointer that sent the Carrier Dome crowd into a frenzy, Princeton answered with a series of passes, culminating in a 3-pointer from Max Schafer ’07 that silenced the din and tied the game at 40.
Syracuse pulled away in the final 8:42, holding the Tigers without a field goal. But coach Joe Scott ’87 saw positives in the second-half performance. “I thought this team needed a challenge like this,” he said. “That’s why I’m happy. Our older guys figured that stuff out on their own. They made plays on their own.”
Princeton overcame a different set of challenges against Bucknell when a pair of early fouls sent Wallace to the bench. Owings picked up the slack, scoring a career-high 21 points, and Mike Stephens ’05 contributed 11 points as the Tigers beat the Bison 61—48 for Scott’s first victory as Princeton’s head coach.
David Mordkoff ’01 covers sports for the Associated Press.
(Photos by Beverly Schaefer)
Kristina Fontanez ’05, left, and the Ivy League Champion women’s soccer team held off Villanova in a mud-soaked NCAA tournament game at Lourie-Love Field Nov. 14. Maura Gallagher ’06 scored the game’s lone goal in overtime, carrying the Tigers to the College Cup’s round of 16. Later that day, in the final game of the Men’s Collegiate Water Polo Association Eastern Championships, Princeton’s Nick Seaver ’07, right, scored in the fourth overtime period, breaking a tie that had lasted more than 20 minutes, to propel the Tigers to a 3—2 win over St. Francis (N.Y.). Princeton earned a berth in the NCAA Final Four, Dec. 4 and 5 in Palo Alto, Calif.
Veteran WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL coach Glenn Nelson posted his 500th career victory when the Tigers swept Columbia 3—0 Nov. 5. Nelson joins former Softball coach Cindy Cohen (564 wins) and former men’s basketball coach Pete Carril (514 wins) as the only Princeton coaches with 500 wins. With a 3—0 win at Penn Nov. 17, the Tigers finished 10—4 in the Ivy League and earned a share of the Ivy championship for the 11th time in Nelson’s 23 seasons.
Cack Ferrell ’06 and Meredith Lambert ’06 led WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY to a third-place finish at the NCAA Middle Atlantic Regional in State College, Pa., Nov. 13. The Tigers earned an at-large bid to the NCAA championships. MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY finished sixth in the region, led by Austin Smith ’05, who tied for third place individually and qualified automatically for a trip to the NCAA championships.
MEN’S HOCKEY opened the season 2—3—1, with wins against Dartmouth (3—0, Nov. 6) and Brown (5—1, Nov. 12). Grant Goeckner-Zoeller ’07, the team’s top scorer, assisted on four of the five goals in the Brown game. WOMEN’S HOCKEY, ranked eighth nationally, played five of its first six games against other top-10 teams, posting a 3—2—1 record. Laura Watt ’07 scored the game-winning goal in a 3—2 victory over ninth-ranked Brown Nov. 12.
MEN’S SOCCER dropped its season finale to Yale Nov. 13, dashing the Tigers’ hopes of a share of the Ivy League title. Princeton finished 8—5—4 and tied for second in the Ivy standings.
Penn scored on penalty corner opportunity with no time remaining to edge FIELD HOCKEY 2-1 on Nov. 6. The loss dropped Princeton to 5—2 in the Ivy League and ended the Tigers’ 10-year run of Ivy championships.