December 13, 2006: Sports

Football shares Ivy League title
Close wins define a championship season

Swinging for first place
Women’s volleyball’s young guns finish 21–3

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Pete Ploszek ’09

Tailback Pete Ploszek ’09, center, and the Tigers celebrate their first championship since 1995. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer)

Football shares Ivy League title
Close wins define a championship season

In the opening half of Princeton football’s Nov. 18 finale against Dartmouth, quarterback Jeff Terrell ’07 made long, steady touchdown drives look routine, leading the Tigers to a 14–0 lead. But the march toward Princeton’s first Ivy League title since 1995 began to slow when the Big Green charged back to tie the game, 17–17, late in the third quarter. “Somehow I knew we were going to have to work for this one,” Terrell said, “just like we had to work for every one, all year.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Princeton regained its advantage on a 25-yard field goal by Matt Lichtenstein ’10. With 6:35 remaining, Terrell again took command of the offense, covering 67 yards on 12 plays, eating up all but one minute of the clock, and pitching to Rob Toresco ’08 on an option play for the game’s final touchdown. Princeton won 27–17 to split the Ivy championship with Yale, which had won earlier in the afternoon at Harvard.

That the game came down to the final quarter was no surprise to head coach Roger Hughes, who had seen his team win three of its previous four games by three points or less. “That’s how we win,” he said. “That’s how we roll, as the kids say.”

The win over Dartmouth completed Princeton’s title claim, but much of the heavy lifting came a week earlier at Yale, when Terrell led the Tigers to a 34–31 come-from-behind win.

In that game, Terrell completed passes on all five plays of a 65-yard touchdown drive midway through the fourth quarter, finding Brendan Circle ’08 in the end zone and cutting Yale’s lead to 31–26. Princeton’s defense held the Bulldogs to five yards on their next possession, forcing a punt, and when Terrell took the ball again, he wasted little time. On the Tigers’ first play, he lofted a deep pass to Brian Brigham ’07, who hauled in the ball and ran for a 57-yard touchdown. With a two-point conversion pass from Terrell to Circle, Princeton led 34–31 with 7:36 remaining. The Tigers’ defense stopped the Bulldogs’ last drive, and Terrell and the offense ran out the clock to preserve the win.

Princeton had lost four straight to Yale entering this year’s contest, including a devastating setback in 2005 that ended the Tigers’ Ivy title hopes. Hughes said that loss loomed over the Tigers when practice opened in August. “They had worked so hard and still came up short,” he said. “Would they put that same kind of effort in [this year]?”

The Tigers answered with an emphatic “yes,” winning their first six games and entering the Yale game 7–1. Terrell carried a significant load of the offense, with a hand in 21 of the season’s 29 touchdowns (17 passing and four rushing). Against Yale and Dartmouth, he threw for more than 700 yards combined, completing 61 of 93 pass attempts with two interceptions and four touchdowns.

Princeton’s defense was impressive as well, allowing just 24 fourth-quarter points in 10 games. Linebacker Luke Steckel ’07 said the Tigers made steady improvement, from a porous start in a preseason scrimmage against Yale through the key win in New Haven. “Some of the Yale players tried to size us up based on the scrimmage,” Steckel said. “We thought that worked in our favor because we knew we weren’t the same team.”

The title season’s end was bittersweet, Steckel and Terrell said, because of the Ivy League’s long-standing ban on postseason football. They would have enjoyed facing the nation’s top teams in the Division I-AA playoffs. But, Steckel added, “You’re not going to see us frowning over this Ivy League championship.” end of article

By B.T.



(Photo by Beverly Schaefer)


(Bill Allen ’79--NJ Sport/Action)

The championship road

Sept. 16 Princeton 14, Lehigh 10

Safety Tim Strickland ’07 intercepted two passes, and the Tigers’ defense held the Mountain Hawks scoreless in the final three quarters.

Sept. 23 Princeton 26, Lafayette 14

Quarterback Jeff Terrell ’07 sparked Princeton’s second straight come-from-behind win against a Patriot League opponent.

Sept. 30 Princeton 19, Columbia 6

The Tigers’ stifling defense held the Lions to 23 rushing yards; Princeton tailback R.C. Lagomarsino ’09 ran for 98 yards and a touchdown.

Oct. 7 Princeton 27, Colgate 26 (OT)

When the Raiders gambled in overtime, attempting a quarterback sneak on a two-point conversion, lineman Tom Methvin ’09 stopped the runner in his tracks.

Oct. 13 Princeton 17, Brown 3

Under the lights on a Friday night, the Tigers’ defense sparkled, neutralizing the Bears’ strong passing attack with two interceptions and four sacks.

Oct. 21 Princeton 31, Harvard 28

Princeton won the much-anticipated matchup of unbeaten teams when Brendan Circle ’08 caught the winning touchdown pass.

Oct. 28 Cornell 14, Princeton 7

A lackluster offensive performance in Ithaca that included turnovers on Princeton’s final two drives led to the season’s lone setback.

Nov. 4 Princeton 31, Penn 30 (OT)

Rob Toresco ’08’s quick thinking and Terrell’s quick feet helped the Tigers survive a Quaker comeback and win in overtime.

Nov. 11 Princeton 34, Yale 31

Terrell’s finest performance came in the Tigers’ most important game. Princeton took its first lead in the fourth quarter and held on for the win.

Nov. 18 Princeton 27, Dartmouth 17

The Tigers sealed their first nine-win season since 1964 with 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. end of article

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Emily Turner ’08

Emily Turner ’08 led Princeton in digs per game. (Beverly Schaefer)

Swinging for first place
Women’s volleyball’s young guns finish 21–3

By Josh Stephens ’97

With a veritable nursery of eight freshmen and only three upperclassmen, this year’s women’s volleyball team never embraced the dubious virtue of patience. They wanted an Ivy League title, and they wanted it now.

On Nov. 11, the young Princeton squad had its chance in a championship showdown at Cornell. But the Big Red, fueled by a raucous home crowd, capitalized on 27 Tiger hitting errors and won its third consecutive title, 30–24, 30–26, 32–30. The Tigers were left to find contentment in, or at least tolerance for, second place.

“It’s unbelievably disappointing,” said outside hitter Parker Henritze ’09. “We had been playing well and felt we had a real chance of winning.”

With a regular lineup of four sophomores and two freshmen, Princeton (21–3 overall, 11–3 Ivy) opened the season with 11 straight wins before lapses at Dartmouth and Brown. Head coach Glenn Nelson said the losses were a “mark of inexperience,” but the Tigers seemed to learn from their missteps, winning six matches in a row before heading to Ithaca for the Nov. 11 title clash.

Though finishing second obscured the Tigers’ wins, Nelson advised against too much disappointment. Princeton’s three losses were the fewest in the program’s history, and despite a potentially unwieldy 15-player roster, the players — whether starting, coming off the bench, or cheerleading — used camaraderie to their advantage. “This is the most together team I’ve ever had,” Nelson said.

On the court, the majority of the Tigers’ offense came from three stalwarts: outside hitter Sheena Donohue ’10, middle blocker Lindsey Ensign ’09, and Henritze. Ensign and setter Bailey Robinson ’09 relied largely on a low back-slide play that they have been perfecting together since elementary school; Ensign’s hitting percentage was a team-high .454. Imprecise defense, however, often forced Robinson to set the ball to the outside hitters, who took more swings than the rest of the roster combined.

With no foreseeable changes to the lineup — save the return of all-Ivy libero Jenny McReynolds ’08, who is taking a year off from school — the Tigers will carry their experiences and their drive to next year. Said Henritze: “We are hungry to finish what we started this season.” end of article

Josh Stephens ’97 is a contributing writer to Volleyball Magazine.

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Tina Bortz ’10

(Photo by Beverly Schaefer)

Sports Shorts

In the opening round of the NCAA Championships Nov. 11, FIELD HOCKEY scored an upset win over No. 3 Old Dominion in overtime. Katie Kinzer ’09 stole an Old Dominion pass, broke toward the goal, drew the defense toward her, and passed off to Tina Bortz ’10, above, who directed the ball into the goal for the game-winning score. The Tigers’ 3–2 victory was their first postseason win since 2002. Princeton lost 3–0 to Connecticut in the second round Nov. 12.

At halftime of football’s Nov. 18 game, the artificial turf surface at Princeton Stadium was renamed POWERS FIELD in honor of Bill Powers ’79, a former defensive back and All-Ivy punter who donated $10 million to the football program, the largest gift in the history of Princeton athletics.

WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY continued its stellar season with a first-place finish at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Nov. 11 and an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. In MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY, David Nightingale ’08 placed sixth individually, earning a trip to the national championships.

MEN’S BASKETBALL lost to Loyola (Ill.) and beat Virginia Military Institute and Alabama A&M at the Black Coaches Association Classic in Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 10–12.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL dominated Wagner, 70-52, in its season opener Nov. 11. Ariel Rogers ’08 led the Tigers with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY opened the season with a 10–game unbeaten streak for its best start in program history. end of article

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