July 6, 2005: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
After a 1-for-6 start in Princeton’s first two NCAA tournament games, softball co-captain Melissa Finley ’05 knew she had to improve her hitting for the Tigers to get past their May 22 elimination game against Oklahoma State. And with two powerful blasts, the Princeton center fielder nearly propelled her team into the regional finals.
Finley hit two home runs in her first two at-bats, driving in three runs, to give Princeton a 3—0 lead through three innings. Oklahoma State erupted for six runs in the last two innings and won 6-3, but Finley’s performance provided a fitting ending to a remarkable four years.
“She came out swinging,” said head coach Maureen Davies Barron ’97. “She’s just had a great career here and really helped the program get to where it is.”
Finley’s reliable bat led an offense that complemented the dominant performances of All-Ivy pitchers Erin Snyder ’06 and Kristen Schaus ’08 during the Ivy League season. The home runs against Oklahoma State brought Finley’s career total to 37, a Princeton record, and she also tops the program’s all-time list for RBIs. The Tigers’ Ivy title this year was their third in Finley’s four seasons.
Princeton’s postseason games came after a three-week layoff because the Ivy League does not have a conference tournament, and Barron said the extended break might have been partly responsible for a sluggish start in the NCAA tournament. The Tigers surrendered four runs in the first inning of their opener against Oklahoma State May 20, allowing the Cowgirls to coast to a 6—1 win.
Against Lehigh in game two, May 21, Princeton trailed 1—0 through five innings despite strong pitching by Snyder. In the sixth inning, Snyder and Stephanie Steel ’07 each hit singles, and Ty Ries ’05 drove in both runners with a low liner up the middle. Tiffany Andras ’07 brought Ries home with another single, and the Tigers held on to win 3-1 for their first victory in an NCAA regional since 1996.
Getting back to the NCAA tournament was Princeton’s target this season, after falling short in 2004. According to Barron, determination, combined with a better understanding of how hard it is to win a championship, gave her team an edge. “There was definitely a hunger to go out there and do well,” she said. “They knew they had to work to make it happen.”
The Princeton women’s lightweight crew finished second in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships June 4 on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J. Wisconsin crossed the finish line three and a half seconds before the Tigers. In the men’s heavyweight final, Princeton also settled for silver, finishing one second behind Harvard, the only team to beat the Tigers this season. A week earlier, women’s open crew placed second in the varsity eight final at the NCAA Championships in Rancho Cordova, Calif.
In May, WOMEN’S RUGBY advanced to the national semifinals for the second straight year, losing by five points (one try) to eventual-champion Stanford. Natalie Johnson ’05, Liz Harvey ’06, Ruth Bryson ’05, and Gretchen Tonnesen ’06 led Princeton to an Ivy League title.
The spring season was also a successful one for CYCLING, particularly on the women’s side. Graduate student Laura Stark finished the year ranked 12th in the East.
MEN’S CLUB LACROSSE posted strong results, sweeping its regional opponents and finishing first at the University of Maryland’s Beltway Bash tournament in April. After an opening-round win at the club nationals, Princeton fell to West Chester, formerly an NCAA Division II varsity program.
Clockwork Orange, the MEN’S ULTIMATE FRISBEE team, suffered an early defeat in sectional competition in May, losing to Columbia in a tight game.
For WOMEN’S ULTIMATE FRISBEE, the spring was a time for growing, as the team focused on recruiting to compensate for players studying abroad. The young group exceeded expectations at the sectional tournament, laying the foundation for a successful fall.
Princeton’s fourth season of CLUB BASEBALL was the first without its founders, Sean Dowling ’04, Brian Zakutansky ’04, and Dan Tirrell ’04, and despite a 2—10 record, the team showed promising signs for the future. All but three players will return next year.
CLUB SOFTBALL, led by captains Nicole Dilello ’05, Sara Scarritt ’05, and Maureen O’Hern ’06, played a full schedule against local community colleges and showed improvement throughout the year, bolstered by the addition of nine freshmen.
In MEN’S TRACK, Justin Reed ’05, Brian Shields ’07, Richard Stewart ’07, and Mike Kopp ’05 ran a school-record 3:08.47 in the 1600-meter relay May 15 to qualify for the NCAA East Regional Meet.
MEN’S LIGHTWEIGHT CREW head coach Joe Murtaugh resigned in June after 17 years at the helm, citing family commitments. Murtaugh’s varsity crews posted an 87—33 record, capturing four national championships and four Eastern Sprints titles.
USA Hockey named MEN’S HOCKEY goaltender Jeff Mansfield ’08 its Disabled Athlete of the Year May 27. Mansfield, who is deaf, appeared in three games last season. In other hockey news, left wing Scott Bertoli ’99 helped the Trenton Titans win the Kelly Cup, the championship of the East Coast Hockey League.
Princeton senior athletes were honored with several awards on CLASS DAY May 30. Neil Mehrotra ’05 (men’s lightweight crew) won the Class of 1916 Cup, awarded to the senior varsity letter winner with the highest academic standing.
The William Roper Trophy for the top male athletes was presented to Soren Thompson ’05 (men’s fencing) and Will Venable ’05 (men’s basketball and baseball).
Stephanie Hsiao ’05 (women’s swimming), Avery Kiser ’05 (women’s golf), Esmeralda Negron ’05 (women’s soccer), and Elizabeth Pillion ’05 (women’s soccer and lacrosse) shared the Otto von Kienbusch Award for the top female athletes.
The Arthur Lane ’34 Award, given by the Princeton Varsity Club to honor selfless contribution to sport and society, was presented to Alexandra Brown ’05 (women’s volleyball), Chanel Lattimer ’05 (women’s track), and Joseph Robinson II ’05 (football).