June 7, 2006: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
A 10–4 regular season record, a shared Ivy League title, and an NCAA playoff berth showed how much the Princeton men’s lacrosse team improved from last year’s 5–7 campaign, but an 11–6 loss to Maryland in a May 21 NCAA quarterfinal game in Towson, Md., revealed how much the Tigers must improve to contend for a national title.
Maryland capitalized on Princeton’s two most glaring weaknesses: poor clearing and a sputtering offense. The Tigers had trouble handling the ball all year and completed only 13 of 23 clears against the Terrapins, who were seeded second in the tournament. “On March 12, we lost to Virginia by a goal because we couldn’t clear the ball,” Princeton coach Bill Tierney said after the game, “and on May 21, we still couldn’t clear the ball.” The errors put added pressure on the team’s defense and deprived its offense of possessions that the Tigers could ill afford to lose.
Princeton played each of the nation’s top six teams this year and averaged a paltry 5.17 goals in those contests, winning just one of the six (a 6–4 victory at Johns Hopkins on March 4). But a stingy defense and the often-spectacular goaltending of Alex Hewit ’08 kept the Tigers close in their most challenging games, including a 7–6 loss to Virginia, a 7–5 setback at Syracuse, and a 4–3 heartbreaker against Cornell.
The Terrapins fared much better against Princeton’s defense, jumping out to a 5–1 lead in the first quarter. The Tigers rallied to tie the score, 5–5, midway through the second quarter, but Maryland reasserted control with two goals before halftime and held the ball for long stretches in the second half.
With a 5–1 record in the Ivy League, Princeton tied Cornell for the Ivy title in a year when four of the league’s seven teams reached the NCAA playoffs, and the Tigers’ freshman class proved to be as good as Tierney had hoped. Midfielder Mark Kovler ’09 was third on the team in goals, assists, and points, which earned him second-team all-Ivy honors. Classmate Tommy Davis scored 15 goals despite missing six games with a dislocated shoulder. Davis scored three times in the Tigers’ 11-8 win over the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in the first round of the playoffs and added two more goals against Maryland. Josh Lesko ’09 scored 11 goals as part of Tierney’s regular midfield rotation, and Chris Peyser ’09 and Charlie Kolkin ’09 both saw substantial time on defense.
Princeton’s future drove Tierney’s remarks after the Maryland game. The coach said he was proud of his players but acknowledged that they were often tentative in big games. “They have to learn to not back down from that pressure,” Tierney said. “I thought sometimes we weren’t ready to look adversity in the eye and take that next step, and a year from now, we will be.”
David Marcus ’92 is a frequent PAW contributor.
Katie Lewis-Lamonica ’08 scored four goals, including the game-winner, as women’s lacrosse beat second-seeded Virginia 8–7 May 14 in the biggest upset of the NCAA tournament’s opening round. The Tigers looked poised for another win in their quarterfinal game against Dartmouth May 20, holding the Big Green scoreless in the second half and tying the game with 2:40 remaining. But Dartmouth’s Casey Hazel ended her team’s scoring drought — and Princeton’s Final Four hopes — with a goal in the second overtime period for a 7–6 win.
Midfielder Alison Murray ’08 led the Tigers with three goals against Dartmouth, but the key to Princeton’s performance came on defense. The Tigers frustrated a Big Green attack that had averaged more than 11 goals per game.
A week earlier against Virginia, the Tigers were unlikely frontrunners, building a 7–2 lead in the second half before the Cavaliers exploded with five unanswered goals in a seven-minute span to tie the game. With 2:14 remaining, Lewis-Lamonica tilted the score back in Princeton’s favor, scoring an unassisted goal to help her team avenge a lopsided loss at home to Virginia on March 25.
The early-season loss to Virginia proved to be a turning point for the Tigers, who shared the Ivy League title with Cornell. After starting 2–4, Princeton won nine of its last 10 regular season games, including six of seven against Ivy teams, and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for the ninth consecutive season.
By David Baumgarten ’06
After losing seven straight games to open the Ivy League season, it would have been easy for Princeton baseball head coach Scott Bradley to tell his team to wait until next year. As badly as the Tigers were playing, though, Bradley saw potential in his lineup, so he delivered a different message: “Forget yesterday.”
Over the next month, a bit of amnesia proved to be just what the doctor ordered. The Tigers won 11 of their last 13 Ivy games behind a dominating starting rotation — Erik Stiller ’06, Eric Walz ’07, Michael Zaret ’07, and Christian Staehley ’08 — that posted a combined 9–0 record with a 2.39 earned run average over the stretch. “Our kids,” Bradley said, “did a pretty good job of forgetting.”
Thanks to Princeton’s residence in the weaker Lou Gehrig Division, its 11–9 final record earned a spot in the Ivy League Championship Series against Red Rolfe Division champion Harvard. The Crimson, who swept the Tigers en route to a 14–6 Ivy record and held home-field advantage in the best-of-three championship series, appeared to be the heavy favorite. But Bradley told his team — and anyone else who would listen — that the regular season was now meaningless.
He was right. Senior catcher Zach Wendkos belted a two-run home run in the top of the first inning of opening game May 6, and Princeton’s bats never cooled. Stiller hurled a masterful complete game as the Tigers waltzed to a 9–3 victory. There was more of the same in the second game, as Princeton broke the contest open with a seven-run sixth inning. After Staehley kept the Crimson at bay for 61/3 innings, Walz shut the door, retiring eight straight batters to clinch an 8–2 win and the Ivy title.
With the victory, Princeton moved on to the NCAA tournament June 2–5, where the Tigers again would be underdogs (results were not available for this issue of PAW). But Bradley said experience — this is Princeton’s third tourney trip in four years — gave his team a fighting chance for an upset. Either way, the Tigers will end up remembering this season after all.
David Baumgarten ’06 is a frequent PAW contributor.
SOFTBALL swept Dartmouth April 24 to clinch its fourth Ivy League title in the last five seasons. Senior Erin Snyder earned Ivy Pitcher of the Year honors for the second consecutive year. Freshman Kathryn Welch was named Ivy Rookie of the Year.
MEN’S GOLF edged Columbia by a single stroke to win its third straight title at the Ivy League Championships April 23. Jason Gerken ’06 led Princeton with a pair of even-par 72s in the last two rounds of the three-round event.
Senior distance runners Frank Macreery and Cack Ferrell led MEN’S and WOMEN’S TRACK at the Ivy Heptagonal Championships May 6 and 7. Macreery won the 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs for the Princeton men, who finished second in the team standings, while Ferrell topped the 3,000- and 5,000-meter events for the women, who finished fifth.
In its last two Ivy matches, April 21 and 23, WOMEN’S TENNIS beat Columbia and Cornell to tie for third place in the league standings.
WOMEN’S WATER POLO dominated Maryland 13–4 to win the College Water Polo Association Southern Championships April 22. At the Eastern Championships April 28–30, the Tigers finished third.
Led by U.S. national team player Adam Hugh ’09, CLUB TABLE TENNIS finished second in the National Collegiate Table Tennis Championships April 9.
The University named Thomas Cocuzza head coach of SPRINT FOOTBALL on April 18.