February 14, 2007: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
By David Marcus ’92
You know a great one when you see one,” Bill Tierney said when explaining what he looks for in recruiting goalies. Even casual fans could understand what the Princeton men’s lacrosse coach saw in Alex Hewit ’08 after watching his performance in a 7–6 loss to the University of Virginia last March. Hewit almost single-handedly kept the Tigers in the game by making 20 saves against the Cavaliers, who won every other game on their schedule by at least four goals and averaged 16 scores a game on their way to an NCAA title. Hewit was just as impressive in the biggest Ivy League game of the season, making 15 saves in a 4–3 loss to Cornell.
Those heroics, and a .646 save percentage, made Hewit a first-team All-American, and he has a chance to be the first goalie since Scott Bacigalupo ’94 to win that honor in three consecutive seasons. But while Hewit returns along with most of the defense that held opponents to an average of 6.6 goals in 2006, the Tigers will have essentially the same offense that managed only 31 goals against their six best opponents, five of which defeated Princeton.
“If you look at every one of those defeats, we played great defense,” said Tierney of last year’s 11–5 team, which lost in the NCAA quarterfinals to the University of Maryland and shared the Ivy crown with Cornell. “Other than the Dartmouth and Maryland games, Alex played very well in goal. So what are we going to do offensively to score more goals?”
The answer may be to change how Princeton plays defense. Tierney’s teams historically have favored positioning over pressure to force opponents into low-percentage shots and errant passes. But this year he hopes to use the most athletic corps of defensive players he has ever had to take more risks, force turnovers, and create fast-break opportunities. The coach started to make the change last year. With All-Americans Dan Cocoziello ’08 and Zachary Jungers ’07 returning on close defense and the highly touted Chris Peyser ’09 joining them as the third starter, the Tigers could be even more aggressive this season.
The shift should affect how the team plays offense. From 1991 to 2004, the Tigers had a series of attackmen who were exceptional at managing games. Princeton has not had such a controlling force since Ryan Boyle ’04 graduated three years ago, though in Mark Kovler ’09, Josh Lesko ’09, Scott Sowanick ’07, Peter Trombino ’07, and Tommy Davis ’09, it does have a group of offensive players whose shooting ability should allow them to take advantage of an up-tempo game.
“We feel now is the time to have a high-pressure, transition offense, taking the shot when you have it and not looking for the best shot all the time,” Tierney said of his Tigers, who open the season Feb. 24 against Canisius at home. As for changing his style 20 years into his tenure at Princeton, he added, “It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s why you coach.”
David Marcus ’92 is a frequent PAW contributor.
The women’s swimming and diving Ivy League Championships and the men’s swimming and diving Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League (EISL) Championships will come to DeNunzio Pool in February, marking the first time in 10 years that Princeton has hosted both events.
In the women’s Ivy meet, Feb. 15–17, stellar newcomer Alicia Aemisegger ’10 is “without a doubt the person to watch,” according to Susan Teeter, head coach of the Princeton women. Aemisegger has shattered Princeton records in the 400-meter and 200-meter individual medleys and has contributed to relay wins as well. Kelly Hannigan ’07, Lisa Hamming ’08, Justina DiFazio ’09, and Ellen Gray ’08 also have performed well for the Tigers, who were 5–1 in their first six dual meets. Defending-champion Princeton and Harvard are the Ivy frontrunners, Teeter said, but standout swimmers from Yale, Penn, and Dartmouth could play an important role in the chase for team points.
The EISL meet, Feb. 22–24, decides the men’s Ivy title, and Princeton head coach Rob Orr expects an uncharacteristically open competition for the top spot. Princeton won the championship last season, and either Princeton or Harvard has won in each of the last 34 years. But Cornell, Yale, and Columbia should be in the mix as well this year. Meir Hasbani ’07, a 2006 All-American in the 200-meter butterfly, leads the Tigers. Other swimmers to watch include Tim Ruse ’07, Will Schaffer ’07, Rob Griest ’09, and Doug Lennox ’09.
The University recently completed $1.3 million in upgrades at DeNunzio Pool, funded by friends and supporters of the swimming and diving teams. Improvements include an expansion of varsity locker rooms, a new scoreboard and public address system, and a refurbished lobby that displays awards and photos of memorable moments in Princeton swimming.
When Zoltan Dudas took over as the head coach of men’s and women’s fencing last summer, he did not have to look far to see evidence of Princeton’s past success. “The whole history is on the walls,” Dudas said of the team’s home on Jadwin Gym’s C floor. “We’re just running out of space. It’s a good problem.”
Tradition is important for a program that has had just two head coaches — Stan Sieja and Michel Sebastiani — since World War II. Dudas has heard from alumni eager to fill in the stories behind the plaques and medals, including 2004 Olympian Soren Thompson ’05. The new coach was surprised to see such a young alumnus take the time to share his thoughts about the team. “He’s just really loved Princeton, and he loves fencing,” Dudas said. “He’s a great advertisement for the Princeton fencing program.”
Dudas has high hopes for the program in the long term, including Ivy League titles and national championships, but his immediate focus is preparing his young squad for a challenging Ivy schedule that includes bouts against Harvard, the defending NCAA men’s and women’s champion, and perennial power Columbia.
A native of Hungary, Dudas began his fencing education at age 7. He learned fundamentals and footwork before getting a chance to apply the lessons on the strip. “After two years, we got our first weapon,” he said. “You had to wait so long for that, and you could appreciate it better.”
Those early lessons shaped Dudas’ coaching style: demanding in practice, but calm and positive at tournaments. Getting to know each fencer on his team will take time, he said, but the addition of assistant coaches Hristo Hristov and Szilvia Voros should speed up the process and allow for more individual tutelage.
Before coming to Princeton, Dudas spent five years as an assistant coach at Notre Dame, where his pupils in the foil and epee earned All-America honors 29 times. This year’s Tigers include four fencers who qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2006.
Point guard Marcus Shroeder ’10, right, handed out a team-high six assists against Columbia Jan. 12, but MEN’S BASKETBALL could not keep up with the hot-shooting Lions in a 64–56 loss. The Tigers also lost at Cornell Jan. 13 to start the Ivy League season 0–2 for the first time since 1983–84.
Meagan Cowher ’08 averaged 29.3 points per game in WOMEN’S BASKETBALL’s first three Ivy contests as the Tigers beat Penn Jan. 6 and Columbia Jan. 12 before losing to Cornell Jan. 13. When Princeton resumed its schedule in February, Cowher needed 34 points to reach 1,000 for her career.
Against Brown Jan. 13, MEN’S HOCKEY’s Grant Goeckner-Zoeller ’07 scored 1:29 into overtime to give Princeton a 3–2 victory. WOMEN’S HOCKEY forward Marykate Oakley ’08 scored two of her team-high 13 goals in a 5–0 shutout at Union Jan. 14.
In WOMEN’S TRACK, Mia Swenson ’07 and Jolee Vanleuven ’09 placed first and second, respectively, in the 5,000-meter run at the New Balance NYC Gotham Cup Jan. 12. Jessica Kloss ’09 won the pole vault and a quartet of Princeton freshmen won the distance medley relay. MEN’S TRACK also had three first-place performances: Andrew Park ’07 (pole vault), Alex Pessala ’09 (weight throw), and Frank Tinney ’08 (5,000 meters).