November 21, 2007: Sports
Sports Scores Updated weekly
Against Cornell Oct. 26, Princeton football used a handful of explosive plays to pick up its third win of the season. But the Tigers’ offensive fireworks fizzled eight days later at Penn in a 7–0 loss to the Quakers.
Princeton coach Roger Hughes, who wryly observed that the Penn game may have “set offensive football back about 50 years,” listed the reasons for his team’s stagnation: poor execution, ineffective blocking, impatience in the passing game, sloppy special teams, and a few missed tackles in an otherwise strong defensive performance.
The Tigers (3–5, 2–3 Ivy League) were shut out for the first time in Hughes’ eight-year tenure. Their best scoring chance came early in the second quarter, when quarterback Greg Mroz ’08 connected with Rob Toresco ’08 on a 66-yard pass play. Toresco was tackled from behind at Penn’s 4-yard line. After two Princeton rushes were stopped at the line of scrimmage, Mroz returned to the air, but his pass was tipped by a defender and intercepted by Penn’s Britton Ertman.
Injuries to Mroz, who hurt his shoulder tackling Ertman, and wide receivers Brendan Circle ’08 (bruised hip) and Will Thanheiser ’09 (concussion) contributed to Princeton’s struggles on offense. But the Tigers’ defense kept the game close. While Penn’s All-Ivy running back Joe Sandberg looked impressive, scoring the game’s only touchdown and accounting for 212 yards on offense (158 rushing, 54 receiving), the rest of the Quakers combined for just 52 yards. “I think the defense played the best they’ve played all year,” Toresco said. “They gave us plenty of opportunities.”
Against Cornell, Princeton’s offense had taken advantage of its opportunities, reaching the end zone five times. Backup tailback Jordan Culbreath ’10 was the game’s star, breaking through tacklers to score on touchdown runs of 49 and 58 yards, and Circle, the holder on placekicks, ran 22 yards for a touchdown on a fake field-goal play late in the first half.
The most important play, though, was one that did not count. With nine seconds remaining in the game, the Big Red lined up for a 47-yard field goal that would have tied the score. Hughes planned to use a time-out to put added pressure on the kicker, but when he turned to make the call, the referee had moved down the sideline. “I had to actually run and scream at the top of my lungs,” Hughes said. “I just got the time-out [called] in time.” As the whistle blew, Cornell snapped the ball and kicker Peter Zell drove it through the uprights. Moments later, on the kick that counted, Zell booted the ball wide right.
Princeton’s good fortune did not carry over to the Penn game. Culbreath was ineffective running the ball (20 yards on eight carries), and the Princeton passing game never found its rhythm. Hughes admitted he was frustrated by his team’s uneven performances this season. “We try to pride ourselves on the consistency with which we play, the intensity and the passion with which we play the game, every week, regardless of the situation,” he said. “For whatever reason, we’re not [living up to that]. Clearly, we need to find that answer.”
On the cross country course, Liz Costello ’10 is one of Princeton’s most vocal runners. Some of her words are strategic — keeping tabs on the team’s pace — but the rest is encouraging chatter, usually just after the start of a race. “It’s a reminder to the other girls, to make sure nobody’s getting psyched out,” she said. “We’re all right here, we have our group.”
At the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships Oct. 26, the Princeton women had their group at the end of the race, too. Costello crossed the finish line first, in 17:14.4 (the third-fastest Heps time in Princeton women’s history). Christy Johnson ’10 was nine seconds behind in second place, and the next three Tigers — Megan Brandeland ’09, Jolee Vanleuven ’09, and Ashley Higginson ’11 — finished in the race’s top nine. Four other Princeton runners placed in the top 25 as the women dominated the field for their second straight Ivy championship.
Not far from the finish, the Princeton men watched the steady procession of black tank tops and prepared for their own race. After posting a somewhat surprising win last year, the Tiger men aimed to “win with an exclamation point” this fall, according to Michael Maag ’09.
Maag led the charge, becoming the first Tiger to win the Heps individual men’s title since 1999, and teammates Ben Sitler ’10 (third place) and Dave Nightingale ’08 (sixth) were close behind. Frank Tinney ’08 and James O’Toole ’08 rounded out Princeton’s five scoring runners, finishing 11th and 17th, respectively. The first-place Tigers finished 29 points ahead of second-place Cornell in the team standings.
The strong performances at Heps were just the latest in a remarkable season, particularly for the Princeton women, who won their race at the prestigious Pre-Nationals Invitational at Indiana State University in mid-October and earned a No. 4 ranking in the national coaches’ poll. “I think we’ve done a good job of being level-headed,” Costello said, “knowing there’s a lot left to accomplish.”
With wins over Cornell and Columbia Oct. 26 and 27, WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL improved to 9–0 in the Ivy League and extended its winning streak to 16 matches. Middle blocker Lindsey Ensign ’09 led all Ivy players in hitting percentage through Princeton’s first 20 matches.
Cam MacIntyre ’10 scored three goals in the first two periods as MEN’S HOCKEY defeated Yale 6–2 in its season opener Oct. 26. WOMEN’S HOCKEY earned its first win the same night, defeating Clarkson 3–2 at Baker Rink.
Diana Matheson ’08 scored her team-leading fifth goal Oct. 27 as WOMEN’S SOCCER beat Cornell 1–0. MEN’S SOCCER also topped the Big Red 1–0. Brandon Busch ’11 scored the lone goal in the 59th minute.
Director of Athletics Gary Walters ’67, author and commentator
Frank Deford ’61, and sportswriter Alexander Wolff ’79 were
named to the Institute for International Sport’s list of the 100
most influential sports educators in America Oct. 17.