Sports: November 27, 1996
FIELD HOCKEY POWERS TOWARD NCAAs
MacFarlane returns from Team Canada, leads Team Princeton to its third straight title
Last year, the rest of Amy MacFarlane '98's Princeton teammates celebrated a 14-4 season in which they advanced to the second round of the NCAA field-hockey tournament for the first time ever. Meanwhile, MacFarlane was learning to deal with disappointment.
A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, MacFarlane had taken a year off from Princeton to play for the Canadian national team. Last winter MacFarlane was playing in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Cape Town, South Africa. The Canadians fell short, and didn't earn an Olympic berth.
"Everybody on the team was a walking zombie for a month afterward," recalls MacFarlane. "You found yourself asking, 'Did I just waste the last six months of my life?' " Making lemonade out of those lemons wasn't easy, and the result was still pretty bitter. "Ultimately," says MacFarlane, "that experience taught me to keep on living if I worked toward a goal but didn't get there."
Fortunately, she had something to look forward to. "I was really excited to come back to Princeton," says the team captain and midfielder, who is also a religion major and premed. "We had a really talented group of players coming back." She knew that first-hand, having spent her time off from the Canadian team practicing with the Tigers in Princeton. ("Field hockey was my life," she shrugs.)
MacFarlane says it was hard at first to readjust to college-level play after seeing international competition. "During the preseason, I was too focused on what everyone else [on the Princeton team] was doing, she says. "I was trying so hard to make us into the Canadian team that I forgot I was a part of this team. It hurt my game."
But she made the transition quickly. "I try not to compare the two teams, but at the same time, I try to take anything I learned and transfer it." It helped that the squad she was returning to wasn't your average college squad. "Princeton's intensity is really high, and everyone is very focused," MacFarlane says. "It would have been hard [to come back] if the attitude was casual. I don't think I could have done it."
The Tigers' intensity was obvious in the early season, as the team (14-3 overall, 6-0 Ivy) tore through its opponents like so much tissue paper. Princeton improved to 6-0 by stopping Ivy rival Dartmouth 7-1 on September 28. Delaware was next, and the Tigers dealt the Blue Hens a 3-2 loss that wasn't as close as the score suggests. But then the razor-sharp edge of the Tigers began to dull just a bit. Yale put up an unexpected fight in New Haven on October 5, but MacFarlane knocked in an overtime goal for a 3-2 win.
Princeton was 9-0 four days later when it visited Lafayette. But a game that fans had expected to be a walkover ended instead in a shocking 3-2 defeat. Shocking, that is, to everyone but the Tigers. "You could feel it coming," says MacFarlane. "It's a point in the season where we sometimes have trouble. School pressure starts to lower the level of play. It's great that we were able to keep the level up long enough to beat Yale."
If the loss to Lafayette was a slap in the face, then Princeton's response was, "Thanks, we needed that." Three days later, a recharged Tiger team hosted Brown at 1952 Stadium and sent the Bears back to Providence with a stinging 8-0 defeat. In-state rival Rutgers fared no better, as attack Molly O'Malley '99 scored twice and MacFarlane and defender Anne-Marie Reich '99 scored once each in a 4-2 win. When the Tigers visited the University of Connecticut on October 26, the 15-1 and sixth-ranked Huskies got more than they bargained for, although Princeton lost, 3-1.
"We were pretty happy with the way we played in Connecticut," said MacFarlane. "I think we outplayed them. They were definitely getting frantic-which is a good feeling, to know you can make the number-six team nervous."
Once again, it was an Ivy League team that had to face the Tigers after a rare loss. Harvard was the victim, its position made worse because the Crimson was ranked ahead of Princeton in the NCAA Divison I poll. A 4-0 halftime lead let the visiting Cantabs know where Princeton felt it belonged, and the 5-1 final score left only mediocre Pennsylvania to beat in the league.
Fall break found the Tigers in Virginia for a three-game swing that climaxed in a battle with number-four Old Dominion on Halloween. (Princeton got things started by trouncing Richmond, 7-0, on October 29, behind a hat trick from attack Kirsty Hale '99.) The 14-4 Lady Monarchs, though, proved tough. Old Dominion jumped out to a 6-2 halftime lead, and although Princeton's defense gave up only one goal in the second half, the best its offense could do was make the final score a respectable 7-4. Two days later, William and Mary had to face the angry Tigers and suffered a 6-1 shellacking behind a typically well-balanced assault that had five different scorers.
The November 7 Ivy finale against Penn was the last on the Tigers' regular-season schedule. Kirsty Hale '98 got Princeton's first goal; the amazing attack's 45 points set a new standard for single-season scoring, besting a mark previously set by Lisa Rebane '96. The Tigers added four more goals and kept the Quakers from scoring to win, 5-0. Princeton's third straight championship-and third straight undefeated league record-also set new records for success.
Last season, the Tigers advanced to the NCAA tournament's second round before losing to North Carolina, 6-0. November 12. As this issue went to press, the Tigers faced Colgate of the Patriot League for an NCAA tournament berth. If they won the play-in on November 12, they headed to the first round of the tournament November 14, with a second-round game scheduled for November 17. The semifinals and finals were played at Boston College on November 23 and 24. MacFarlane, who has seen the game played at its highest level, has no doubt Princeton has the talent to get there. Confidently, she says, "We can play with anybody."
Rob Garver is an editor at Town Topics.
TIGERS BLANKED BY HARVARD, THEN UPSET LIONS
On November 2, the 1-5 football team traveled to Manhattan to face the 6-0 Columbia Lions . . .
No, wait, that can't be right.
Take 2: On a beautiful fall day at Wien Stadium, Princeton sought to end its longest losing streak in Coach Steve Tosches's tenure. The Tigers hoped to halt a four-game skid against a Columbia defense ranked number one in Division I-AA . . .
There must be a mistake. Try again.
Take 3: Before 9,100 spectators enjoying the view of leaves falling softly into the Harlem River, Columbia's Lions needed a win to guarantee that they would finish ahead of Princeton in the Ivy standings for the first time since 1978 . . .
Cut! Cut! Columbia undefeated?
Princeton last in the league?
The mighty have fallen, and the perennially weak have inherited the chase for the Ivy title. Entering the seventh week of the season, Princeton (2-5, 0-3 Ivy) and Penn, which had each won two of the last four Ivy titles and were a combined 40-7-1 against the rest of the league since the start of 1992, had identically miserable 0-3 league records. Columbia (6-0 overall, 3-0 Ivy) and Dartmouth, meanwhile, had not lost a game.
Early in the season, Princeton had at least stayed close. But after a school record string of six straight games decided by seven points or less, Princeton's fifth loss of the year was an embarrassing 24-0 disappointment to Harvard on October 26, during Charter Weekend. So although "upset" and "Columbia" are two words rarely paired, the Tigers needed to upset Columbia if they were to salvage a season spiraling out of control.
"This has been the most frustrating season of football I've ever played in my life," said tailback Marc Washington '97, Princeton's captain, after the Harvard loss. "We had great expectations coming into this year, and week after week of losses has been pretty frustrating, but I refuse to get used to losing."
The Tigers maintained their confidence somehow the following week and used emotional outbursts from Columbia defensive end Marcus Wiley and from the Lions' fans as inspiration to dominate the first half. With QB Brett Budzinski '97 feeling more comfortable in his second game back from mononucleosis, Princeton went on a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive at the start of the second quarter.
The key play occurred with the ball on Columbia's 36-yard line. Wiley, a 6' 5", 270-pound behemoth, creamed Budzinski just after the QB released the ball. Then Wiley stood over Budzinski and roared to the crowd, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. On the next play, Washington broke two tackles and stumbled 21 yards into the end zone.
On Princeton's next drive, sophomore punter Matt Evans-who has more yards kicking this season than Princeton has in total offense-pinned the Lions on their four-yard line with a 61-yard boot. When Columbia subsequently punted, junior Damani Leech's 22-yard return put Princeton on Columbia's 20-yard line. Six plays later, Budzinski hit receiver Kevin Duffy '97 across the middle for 12-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
The defense won a moral victory with a goal-line stand at the end of the half, when Columbia had a first-and-goal opportunity at the Princeton two-yard line. In such situations, the Lions use a wishbone set that features Wiley as the key ball-carrier. But the Tigers actually pushed the Lions backward, allowing only a 22-yard field goal for a 14-3 lead.
"This was the most fired up our defense has been all season," said defensive tackle Bob DeBolt '97. "Our walk from the locker room had a lot to do with it." (The locker room is outside Wien Stadium, and players from both teams have to walk through the crowd to get to the field.) "There were a lot of tailgaters taunting," he added. During the Tigers' walk back after the first half, the crowd was substantially more subdued.
The defense had to take charge in the second half because, as has happened too often this season, the offense went on hiatus, managing to gain just 43 yards in the last 30 minutes. The Tiger defenders only buckled after two Princeton turnovers. Damani Leech fumbled a punt on his own 40-yard line in the third quarter, leading to a field-goal attempt by the Lions' Matt Linit, but it missed left.
Columbia's next chance came after a Budzinski pass was batted into the air by Wiley, who then caught the ball for an interception at Princeton's 35-yard line. Fourteen plays later, on fourth and goal, Columbia's David Ramirez grabbed a pass in the endzone. A two-point conversion narrowed the lead to 14-11 with four minutes remaining.
Washington had gone down with a strained knee in the third quarter, leaving sophomore Derek Theisen, who had never carried the ball in a college game, as the featured back in the Princeton offense. Five straight times Theisen ran the ball, picking up a key first down, but the drive stalled. When Evans punted to Columbia's 40-yard line, the Lions had no time-outs and 33 seconds on the clock. Two passes later, Columbia was on Princeton's 32-yard line with 0:15 left. The Lions' coaches sent Linit out to try a 49-yard field goal.
Linit had made 10 of 13 kicks during the season, including a 48-yarder against Harvard, and he had the wind at his back. His kick had enough distance, but sailed wide right, and Princeton had its first Ivy win. "They have put a pin in our balloon before," said Tosches after the game, recalling three losses to Columbia in his four previous trips to Manhattan. "We were able to return the favor. Maybe this was the first time this year that we went out and we played to win, as opposed to playing not to lose. Maybe subconsciously this was a very tentative team early in the year, trying to protect the championship, and it got us in trouble."
The Tigers had certainly looked tentative against Harvard in Princeton a week earlier. Despite myriad reasons to celebrate-Princeton's 250th birthday, Tosches's induction into his alma mater's Hall of Fame at the University of Rhode Island, and Washington's scholar-athlete award (Burger King donated $10,000 to the university's general scholarship fund) -Princeton's offense was flat and ineffective. The 14,410 on hand saved their loudest cheers for three streakers who sprinted the length of the field at halftime. They had what would prove to be Princeton's longest run of the day, before being hauled off by security.
Of the 28 drives by both teams, 18 ended in punts. Princeton mustered just 185 yards of offense and never reached Harvard's 31-yard line. The only scoring in the first half came when Harvard's Derek Yankoff intercepted Budzinski and criss-crossed the field 63-yards for a touchdown. The Tiger defense made a valiant effort, but eventually succumbed, allowing 17 fourth-quarter points.
"Offensively, that was a horrible performance by us," said Tosches after the game. "We couldn't get our run game going. We're not a program that's going to drop back [to pass] 40 times. [Budzinski threw over 40 passes against Harvard.] We're just not able to put together a typical Princeton offense the way we have over the years."
Princeton's upset of Columbia made some noise in the league, but since Dartmouth beat Harvard to go 4-0 in Ivy competition, the Tigers' hopes of a repeat championship season were over. They had been mathematically eliminated.
-Phillip R. Thune '92
Phillip Thune is the CFO of Broadcasting Partners, a radio-station group in New York City.
MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
(2-0 overall; 2-0 Ivy)
WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
(2-0 overall; 2-0 Ivy)
(14-3 overall; 6-0 Ivy)
Princeton 5, Harvard 1
Princeton 7, Richmond 0
Old Dominion 7,
William & Mary 1
Princeton 5, Penn 0
(2-5 overall; 1-3 Ivy)
Harvard 24, Princeton 0
Princeton 14, Columbia 11
Penn 10, Princeton 6
(0-3 overall; 0-3 ELFL)
Navy 24, Princeton 20
Cornell 31, Princeton 0
(5-7-3 overall; 0-3-2 Ivy)
Harvard 2, Princeton 0
Princeton 2, Rutgers 2
Columbia 2, Princeton 1
Farl. Dickinson 0
(6-8-2 overall; 1-3-2 Ivy)
Harvard 2, Princeton 0
Army 1, Princeton 0
Princeton 2, Columbia 2
Princeton 3, Bucknell 1
Princeton 2, Lafayette 1
(9-9 overall; 5-2 Ivy)
Princeton 3, Penn 1
Villanova 3, Princeton 0
Princeton 3, Columbia 0
Princeton 3, Cornell 1
MEN'S WATER POLO
(10-11 overall; 6-5 CWP So.)
Princeton 13, George Washington 8
Slippery Rock 15
Navy 12, Princeton 10
Princeton 16, Dartmouth 7
Harvard 13, Princeton 8
Princeton 11, Dartmouth 5