Sports: May 7, 1997
Lacrosse Survives in a Sea of Upsets
Men steam toward Ivy title with string of wins, women tread water after losses
A storm of upsets has swept through men's collegiate lacrosse in the first half of the season, as top-ranked teams have sunk left and right, victims of a growing parity in the game. Except, that is, in the sheltered "port" of Princeton. At press time, the Tigers (7-0 overall, 3-0 Ivy) were ranked first in the nation and were the only team still undefeated With a victory at Yale, 18-5, on March 29, and wins at 1952 Stadium against Harvard, 19-6, on April 12 and against Brown, 8-5, on April 5, Princeton also seems to be well on its way toward its third consecutive Ivy League crown.
Early on, facing Johns Hopkins, Virginia, and North Carolina, wins didn't come easily. The Tigers, without attackman Jesse Hubbard '98, who was injured, won the first two games in overtime and were down by four goals in the third quarter at North Carolina before rallying to win.
But once the team squeaked, unscathed, into the second half of March, it was smooth sailing. A win at Penn State, 18-6, on March 22 marked Hubbard's return, and the win at Yale showed that he and fellow junior attackmen Chris Massey and Jon Hess were no less powerful than during last year's title run.
On April 5, Princeton hosted Brown, which had shocked Syracuse the week before, scoring 20 goals on its way to an upset win. The Bruins outgunned a team of Orangemen known for its run-and-gun style. Through the first half at Princeton, it looked as though they'd outdo a Tiger offense known for its patience. Brown held the ball in the Princeton end for minutes on end, keeping it away from the sticks of Hubbard, Hess, and Massey.
Even when the Tigers did get the ball, Brown goalie Greg Cattrano, whom coach Bill Tierney terms "the best in the nation," stuffed their shots. He snared a wicked, behind-the-back shot from Massey, and did the same with a waist-high, point-blank attempt from Hubbard. At the end of the first half it was 2-1 Brown, and Princeton was clearly in trouble.
But in the second half, Massey caught fire, scoring two goals to give the Tigers the lead. He broke through by shooting low, bouncing shots that skipped past Cattrano, and the rest of the team followed suit. Princeton ended up winning, 8-5.
Several Ivy foes, in-state rival Rutgers, and perennial power Hobart stood between Princeton and an NCAA first-round game, which will be played this weekend. If the Tigers kept winning, they'll have home-field advantage for that game, and will clearly be aiming for the Final Four on Memorial Day weekend in College Park, Maryland.
Women's lacrosse rebounded from a 10-8 loss at Dartmouth on March 29 and a 15-2 loss to Temple on April 3 with wins over Brown, Penn, and Yale, but their hopes for a tournament appearance are slim. The team will need to win the rest of its games and get some help to make it into the postseason.
-Paul Hagar '91
At 25, 75, and 125 Women's and Men's Crews Celebrate Success
In 1996, Princeton rowers made history. The program produced national champions in men's heavyweight, men's junior varsity, men's freshmen heavyweight, and men's lightweight divisions, setting a precedent for collegiate crews. The women's crew finished second to Brown in the national championships after having won national titles in 1993, 1994, and 1995. History plays an even larger role this year, as Princeton celebrates the 125th anniversary of the men's heavyweight crew, the 75th anniversary of the men's lightweight crew, and the 25th anniversary of women's crew. All the rowers would like to add national championships to their list of reasons to celebrate.
The men's heavyweight crew is currently undefeated (4-0 overall, 2-0 Ivy), and while the team wants to win another national championship, coach Curtis Jordan also wants his rowers to improve. "My expectations are high, as are the expectations of my team," Jordan said. "Last year we were the national champions, but we lost to some teams that shouldn't have beaten us.
"We didn't prepare well for Easterns, and we finished third," he added. "We lost to Harvard and Brown in head-to-head races. My goal is not to have that happen again, to be national champions but not to underperform along the way."
On April 5, all the crews celebrated their anniversaries at the Lake Carnegie boathouse, along with fans and rowing alumni. The home crowd left happy, as the heavyweights outran Rutgers, 5:48.94 to 5:58.84, the lightweights beat Navy, 5:58.94 to 6:12.85, and the women got a win over Rutgers, 6:34.7 to 6:36.3. After the event, Jordan called the program's histories "a source of pride" for the crews. "The celebration really brought it to bear how much it means."
The men's lightweight crew (4-0 overall, 1-0 Ivy) graduated six starters, and the scale forced another onto the heavyweight crew. However, the team still looks strong, with members of last year's successful junior varsity and freshmen squads stepping into the empty places.
The biggest win of the year so far belongs to the Princeton women (4-0 overall, 3-0 Ivy), who shocked defending-champion Brown, 6:36.79 to 6:39.95, on March 29. "That first race was a barn burner," coach Lori Dauphiny said. "It was a good sign for us to go out and take a [victory] from Brown." The women hope to repeat that success at Eastern Sprints, which will be held May 18 in New Preston, Connecticut.
The Tigers must perform well in the mid-Atlantic region in order to qualify for nationals. Princeton has a good shot at the Easterns title, but will face some stiff competition this year from Brown, Rutgers, and Massachusetts.
That's equally true of the Tigers' hopes for another national championship, especially since the NCAA expanded into rowing this year. In the past, approximately 100 rowers participated in the women's national championship, but this year nearly 300 are expected to race on June 14 in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the first NCAA-sanctioned title.
After the success of last year's campaign, Princeton's men's crews are the teams to beat. With their upset of the defending-champion crew from Brown, the women are also in that position. If its crews continue the effort that has made their recent histories so successful, the Princeton crews might just have more than anniversaries to celebrate at the end of this season.
-Sarah Slonaker '98
Sarah Slonaker is a senior sports writer and an editor of the editorial page at The Daily Princetonian.
This Year, Men's Volleyball Wants Its Upset
Even with a nearly perfect record, a bid to the April 17 Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association semifinals, a number-16 national ranking, and promotion to official club-varsity status, the men's volleyball team (23-1 overall, 6-0 EIVA) has experienced little change from its previous 18 seasons under head coach Glenn Nelson. As a volunteer coach with little funding and no support from the athletics department in admissions, Nelson (who also coaches the eight-time Ivy champion women's team) has quietly built his team into an eastern powerhouse. His players, who are largely from the volleyball hotbed of southern California, must get into Princeton on their own. Then, Nelson must prove that good volleyball does not require a view of the Pacific Ocean-even the eastern malaise of New Jersey can foster volleyball that is just as good as California's Stanford and UCLA.
On April 12, far from the Pacific shores on which most of the Tigers learned the game, second-seeded Princeton defeated seventh-seeded George Mason, 3-0 (15-9, 15-9, 15-11), at Dillon Gym to reach its second-straight EIVA Final Four. Five days later, the Tigers hoped to defeat semifinal opponent Rutgers-Newark and then to upset perennial EIVA champion (and national number two) Penn State. With such an upset would have come the EIVA title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Final Four. (Last season, Princeton lost to Penn State in the EIVA finals.)
The Tigers didn't face the Nittany Lions in the regular season, but they destroyed every other member of the 14-team league. In the three months that followed Princeton's sole loss-a sweep at number-eight Long Beach State on January 30 that marked the Tigers' fourth match in as many nights-the team won 20 matches in a row. During this stretch, Princeton lost only four games and six times held opponents to under 15 total points.
Had Princeton overcome exhaustion to defeat Long Beach in a match that was close nonetheless, it likely would have received a comfortable ranking among the top 15. Since then, a relatively weak schedule has kept the Tigers from moving up in the rankings, but their domination of foes suggests they may have been underrated as the postseason began.
But lately the Tigers have received a lot of attention from a growing body of supporters. Their home court in Dillon Gym has rocked with fan support on many occasions, and a strong following has developed both on campus and in the community at large. "There's been a lot of interest this year," Nelson said. "People I haven't seen in years are showing up at matches. It's really nice." The throngs have seen the Tigers roll over the usual EIVA doormats, such as Vassar, East Stroudbsurg, and New York University.
But in potentially tough regular-season battles against Southampton, George Mason, and Rutgers-Newark, Princeton maintained its form. In a league with no legitimate competition from the school's usual rivals from the Ivy League, Princeton crushed historically strong squads from George Mason, winning 3-0 on February 15, and beating Newark 3-0 on March 12. And when a visiting squad from Southampton scared the team by taking the first game of a February 25 match, the Tigers fired up for an eventual 3-1 win that virtually assured them the second seed in the playoffs. "Three years ago, we'd have wars with other teams," Nelson said. "Now we're sweeping them. We've sailed in to the number-two spot in the East without scholarships and without a budget."
Like every other team at Penn State, the Nittany Lions-with red-shirting, international recruiting, and scholarships-epitomize big-time college athletics, but they will encounter a resourceful Tiger squad the likes of which they may have never seen. "We dig the ball and distribute better than anybody," said Nelson. "We're deeper than last year and more motivated." In spite of a near-perfect regular season, the Tigers remain unfulfilled. "In 1994 we played Penn State in the EIVA semis, and it was kind of like an honor just to play them," senior outside hitter Jon Wimbish said. "Now I think it's a possibility to beat them. Going to the national Final Four . . . it would be beyond a dream come true."
Princeton is a far less physical team than many of its opponents, but makes up in ball control what it lacks in strength and height. Entire games have gone by in which the rotating trio of outside hitters-Wimbish, Joe McCarthy '97, and Jeff Cooper '98-did not shank a single ball. Meanwhile, the Tigers' team defense frustrates larger opponents not accustomed to having their powerful spikes dug and hit back over the net. The happy recipient of the Tigers' precise ball control, freshman setter Jason Morrow, has shown few signs of rookie jitters. A 1996 Junior Olympic all-American, Morrow runs a balanced offense that is third in hitting percentage and includes the most effective middle attack in the nation.
A four-year starter, middle hitter Dan Eggers '97 ranks 13th nationally in hitting percentage at .430, yet he isn't even the Tigers' most consistent hitter. Opposite him, junior middle hitter Derek Devens emerged from a mediocre 1996 season to provide Princeton's most consistent firepower. With crafty hitting and quickness, he has vaulted to a .586 hitting percentage, an astronomical number that leads the nation by over 50 points.
Princeton's leader on offense is opposite hitter Scott Birdwell '98. His 5.30 kills-per-game (KPG) average is the Tigers' best for the third season in a row. And Cooper (who was a teammate of Birdwell at the Brentwood School in Los Angeles) follows him closely with an average of 4.83 KPG. Cooper, whose rare combination of hitting and passing prowess earned him MVP honors at the 1994 Junior Olympics, turned down generous offers from such powerhouse programs as third-ranked Brigham Young. He preferred to put his efforts towards helping Princeton reach the Final Four and at press time, just days before the EIVA semifinals, neither he, his teammates, nor Princeton's fans have found reason to abandon that goal. "On any given night, I think we're capable of beating anyone in the country," Nelson said.
-Josh Stephens '97
A former chair of Princeton Club Volleyball, Josh Stephens covers men's and women's volleyball for The Daily Princetonian.
Softball Starts Its Run Slowly; Pitchers Excel for Baseball
After an early-season performance left the Tiger softball team (19-16 overall, 2-0 Ivy) with an unexpected sub-.500 record, Princeton swept Cornell in a rain-shortened first weekend of Ivy League play. The victories over the Big Red by scores of 9-0 and 3-2 are a sign, hopes coach Cindy Cohen, that Princeton is finally "beginning to gel."
"The kids did some things better than they've done all season," she said. "We got great pitching and played clean defense. On offense, we attacked the ball and showed patience and discipline.''
The opening weekend was supposed to feature doubleheaders against both Penn and Cornell, but rain postponed the Penn contest to April 23. Pitcher Lynn Miller '99 started the opener, hurled a no-hit shutout, and had a perfect game through 5.2 innings until she lost it by walking Cornell's Kelly Olino.
The Tiger bats were generous in their support of Miller, scoring nine runs on 13 hits. Injured center fielder Tara Christie '97 returned to the lineup as a designated hitter and went 2-for-2 with a run scored. Bevin Keenen '98 was 2-for-4 with a three-run home run and two runs scored, while right fielder Wendy Herm '99 was 3-for-4 with a double, a run scored, and four RBI.
In the second game, senior righthander Maureen Davies took the mound and threw a two-hitter. A two-run home run in the sixth put Cornell on the board for the first time all afternoon, but Princeton already had all the runs it needed. With two outs in the first inning, Keenen drew a walk, stole second, and scored on a double from Mandy Pfeiffer, then Pfeiffer scored on a single by Michelle Morale. The Tigers got another run in the third when Peiffer doubled and scored on a single from Christie.
Looking forward to the remaining Ivy League games on Princeton's schedule, Cohen said the Tigers' goal is another league title. ''I think if we play the way we are capable of, we can win this thing again. If we don't play the way we are capable of, as we saw in our own tournament, we can lose to anybody."
Two weeks prior to the Cornell game, Princeton had suffered the indignity of an 0-4 performance in the Princeton Invitational. On the opening day, the Tigers fell, 5-0, to Connecticut and lost, 1-0, to Southwest Louisiana. The next day, Hofstra stopped the Tigers by a score of 5-3, and Southwest Louisiana closed out Princeton's weekend by winning 5-2.
The four home losses undid much of the repair work the Tigers had performed on their record after a season-opening swing through South Carolina left them 9-10. Returning to 1895 field, they took a pair of games from Massachusetts on March 27 and split a doubleheader with Boston College on March 29. Princeton stood at 12-15 after the Invitational, but righted itself by sweeping a doubleheader from Delaware two days later and splitting with Drexel the next afternoon.
Cohen sees the Tigers' main competition for the Ivy title as Harvard and Brown, but believes that the league is more competitive than it has ever been. The other Ivy teams are playing better softball, she says, and the coach likes to think that Princeton's performance over the years has contributed to the league-wide improvement. "I think some of the other schools look at us and think, 'If they can do it, we can do it,' " she says.
On Princeton's other diamond, the baseball team recovered from a 1-5 start to sweep undefeated Harvard in Cambridge. At 3-5 in the league (8-15 overall), Princeton is in second place in the Gehrig Division, behind 5-6-1 Penn. The Tigers' young pitching arms have been outstanding so far this season: sophomore southpaw Tim Kilgoar earned statewide Pitcher of the Week honors for his two-hit, complete-game shutout in the second game at Harvard on April 13; freshman righthander Jason Quintana won Fireman of the Week honors for his 2.2 innings of relief in the first game of the doubleheader. A week earlier, leftie Jay Tedeman '00 won Ivy Rookie of the Week honors with a two-hitter against Brown.
Rob Garver has also covered football and basketball for PAW and is an editor at Princeton's Town Topics newspaper.
(8-15 overall, 3-5 Ivy)
Princeton 2, Pace 1
Princeton 6, Pace 3
Princeton 12, Monmouth 11
Yale 3, Princeton 0
Yale 1, Princeton 0
Princeton 4, Brown 1
Brown 3, Princeton 1
Rider 8, Princeton 7
Dartmouth 2, Princeton 1
Dartmouth 3, Princeton 2
Princeton 8, Harvard 6
Princeton 2, Harvard 0
(4-0 overall, 2-0 Ivy)
(4-0 overall, 1-0 Ivy)
(4-0 overall, 3-0 Ivy)
(6-5 overall, 4-1 Ivy)
Dartmouth 10, Princeton 8
Temple 15, Princeton 2
Princeton 15, Brown 4
Princeton 16, Penn 8
Princeton 12, Yale 5
(7-0 overall, 3-0 Ivy)
Princeton 18, Yale 5
Princeton 8, Brown 5
Princeton 19, Harvard 6
(11-9 overall, 4-2 Ivy)
Penn 4, Princeton 3
Princeton 4, Columbia 3
Princeton 4, Temple 3
Princeton 6, Brown 1
Yale 4, Princeton 3
Princeton 6, Geo. Wash. 1
Penn St. 6, Princeton 1
Princeton 4, Navy 3
Princeton 4, Army 3
(6-9 overall, 1-3 Ivy)
Penn 7, Princeton 2
Princeton 8, Columbia 1
Princeton 6, Brown 3
Yale 5, Princeton 4
Princeton 7, Rutgers 2
Princeton 8, Fairfield 1
Princeton 7, Seton Hall 2
(19-16 overall, 2-0 Ivy)
Princeton 3, Mass. 1
Princeton 9, Mass. 5
Boston Coll. 3,
Boston Coll. 0
SW Louisiana 1,
Hofstra 5, Princeton 3
SW Louisiana 5,
Princeton 2, Delaware 0
Princeton 4, Delaware 2
Princeton 7, Drexel 2
Princeton 4, Drexel 2
Princeton 9, Cornell 0
Princeton 3, Cornell 2
Princeton 1, Rider 0
Princeton 5, Rider 1
(24-1 overall, 6-0 EIVA)
Princeton 3, NJIT 0
Princeton 3, Queens 0
Princeton 3, California 0
Princeton 3, Geo. Mason 0