Author Archives: Victoria Majchrzak

Pedaling to Ireland: Ruggers Train, Tour Over Break

Men’s rugby spent a week training on the wind-swept west coast of Ireland. (Courtesy Chris Shin ’17)

Men’s rugby spent a week training on the wind-swept west coast of Ireland. (Courtesy Chris Shin ’17)

On night in mid-November when temperatures dipped below freezing, Nick Martin ’15 sat pedaling on a stationary bike outside of Frist Campus Center. He was one of 40 Princeton men’s rugby players and alumni to participate in the team’s “Dash to Dublin” — a round-the-clock, eight-day bike-a-thon to raise money for the spring break training trip that the team just returned from.

The tour, which has been part of Princeton rugby tradition since the mid 1970s, is critical for the team. The Tigers have traveled to England, Argentina, the Cayman Islands, and all over the world to see how their team stacks up against international standards in places where rugby is the most popular sport.

This year the team traveled to Ireland, where not only is the competition tougher, but the weather is too. The squad spent the majority of its time training on the west coast near notoriously windy Galway.

“The field was soaked in water. It was one of the windiest places I’ve ever been,” Martin said. “You’d be standing around the huddle and get blown over. You couldn’t even pass the ball. It’s definitely not like Princeton.” Continue reading

Princeton Men’s Volleyball Upsets Penn State

The last time the men’s volleyball team beat Penn State, Cody Kessel was six years old. On Friday night, the junior outside hitter contributed 14 of Princeton’s 55 kills and helped secure the Tigers’ first win over the Nittany Lions since 1998.

Cody Kessel '15 (Photo: Courtesy Office of Athletic Communications)

Cody Kessel ’15 (Photo: Courtesy Office of Athletic Communications)

After Princeton dropped the first set of the match 18-25, everything indicated that things would go in the same direction as they always have for Penn State. The No. 10 Nittany Lions have won every EIVA championship since Princeton’s lone title 15 years ago. Heading into Friday night’s match, Penn State had dropped just one conference loss in the last five years and entered on a nation-best 12-match winning streak.

Penn State’s circumstances quickly changed when Princeton clawed its way to a 22-25 second set victory. The Tigers ran away with the third set as well after jumping out to a formidable 8-1 lead off the serving of senior Pat Schwagler and freshman Chris Kennedy.

“We knew we had to be aggressive with our serving game to get Penn State out of system,” Kessel said. “We were able to do that this time better than we have in the past. Even though I think they hit better than us percentage wise, we were able to win the serve battle.” Continue reading

Men’s Squash Finishes Ivy Season With Loss at Jadwin

A lot has changed for the men’s squash team over the last year. The Tigers entered this season without two players from the top five spots on the ladder — most notably Todd Harrity ’13, the three-time CSA national finalist and 2011 champion. It would also be the first time in 32 years that Princeton would take the court not under the training of Hall of Famer Bob Callahan ’77, the head coach that led Princeton to the legendary 2012 national championship over Trinity and retired last year. 

The Tigers finished the year with a 5-7 overall, 3-4 Ivy League record after dropping their final match of the regular season 6-3 to Cornell. And although this year’s seniors finished their collegiate squash careers without Callahan or an Ivy League title, they made sure to end them on a personal high note. 

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Ash Egan ’14, left, and Dylan Ward ’14 (Photos: Office of Athletic Communications)

Seniors Ash Egan and Dylan Ward both earned victories in their final collegiate match on the Jadwin Gymnasium C-floor. Ward, playing at the No. 3 spot, dominated his match in three games and only gave up eight points. It was fitting that the courts where he played his last match at Jadwin were where he won victories in the 2012 national championship and the 2013 Harvard match that led Princeton to that year’s Ivy title. Egan got off to a rockier start, dropping his opening game at No. 8 before winning the next three to earn the victory.

“I was happy to finish my home career on a high note,” Egan said. “It was a hard fought battle against a solid team.”

New head coach Sean Wilkinson — the eighth men’s squash coach in Princeton’s 83-year-old program — hopes to have a more definitively positive ending at the looming CSA team championship after a season of mixed results. The team championships, hosted by Harvard in Boston, are just two weeks away, and Wilkinson will be heavily relying on his seniors as well as his top two players in the flight, All-America juniors Samuel Kang and Tyler Osbourne. Rookie Ben Leizman has also put in some solid matches at the No. 9 position. 

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Rookie Takes Over Top Spot in Women’s Squash

Julie Cerullo ’13 was a staple in the women’s squash lineup, playing almost every match of her Princeton career at the No. 1 position and earning All-America honors four years in row. When Cerullo graduated in June, she left a huge hole for the No. 1 incoming freshman in the country to fill.

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Maria Elena Ubina ’17 (Photo: Courtesy Office of Athletic Communications)

Rookie Maria Elena Ubina started her first collegiate squash season as the top-ranked player at the under-19 level and boasts an impressive resume. A four-time member of the U.S. World Junior team, Ubina won the 2011 U.S. Junior Open Squash Championship in the under-19 category when she was just 16 years old.

Ubina, however, says that playing on the collegiate level is different than competing on the junior circuit.

“Playing for [head coach] Gail [Ramsay] and playing with the team was a different experience because college squash is so different from junior squash,” Ubina said. “Junior squash is very different because you’re playing for yourself. This is more team-oriented. Even playing for your country, it’s a little more individual. The kids are younger and they’re a little more self-centered, but here everyone is rooting for the University instead of for themselves.”

Ubina has had an interesting start to her season thus far. After easily sweeping her opponents in the season’s first two matches, she was forced to sit out Princeton’s match against Drexel due to an ankle injury. She returned to the court on Saturday at “pretty much” 100 percent to take on George Washington’s Gaby Parras in a high-scoring match that went to five games.

It was an important test for Ubina, who will face off against reigning national champion Amanda Sobhy when Princeton plays Harvard after its return from winter break in January. The match will prove to be an interesting parallel between Ubina and Cerullo, given Princeton’s recent rivalry with the Crimson on the court.

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Sherburne ’14 Leads Men’s Basketball to Opening Win

“It feel’s good to be back. It’s been a while,” Jimmy Sherburne said with a smile. 

After taking a one-year hiatus due to injury, the senior guard from Wisconsin is back with a bang. In the men’s basketball season opener at home against Florida A&M in Jadwin Gymnasium on Sunday, Sherburne finished second on the team in points with 13, sinking three of five 3-pointers and pushing the Tigers to a 67-50 victory over the Rattlers.

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Hans Brase ’16 attempts a shot in Princeton’s opening win over Florida A&M. Brase scored six points and led the Tigers with 10 rebounds. (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)

Sherburne’s not the only player who has returned to the team after a long break. Junior guard Ben Hazel and junior forward Dan Edwards are also back on this season’s roster after taking last year off, and the trio’s return couldn’t be more critical. Sunday’s game was the first test for a Tiger team playing without last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year, Ian Hummer ’13.

Hummer’s absence will have a huge impact on this year’s Princeton squad. He led his team last year scoring, assists, blocks, rebounds and offensive rebounds, leaving a large hole to fill by both returning players and new faces, and the Tigers’ freshmen class did not disappoint Sunday. Forwards Pete Miller and Spencer Weisz looked comfortable on the court throughout the game, culminating in dunk from Miller towards the end of the game on a pass from his fellow rookie.

“We got a lot of new pieces this year, a couple of freshmen in the lineup, with Pete and Spencer. Early in the year, especially, it’s important to play the right way and get a new flow,” said junior forward Denton Koon, who had added a team-high 17 points.

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With Final Four Team Watching, Men’s Soccer Stays Unbeaten in Ivy Play

When the Princeton men’s soccer team took the field at Roberts Stadium on Saturday, trying to stay undefeated in the Ivy League against Columbia, no one was rooting for the Tigers more than a group of men in the stands who had found themselves in the same position 20 years ago.

The 1993 squad returned to campus, as the program honored the NCAA Final Four team at halftime. That year, when the Tigers reached the semifinals of the national tournament for the first time in history, the only blemish on their Ivy record was a 3-1 defeat to Columbia. The loss meant that Princeton would share the Ivy championship with the Lions.

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Brendan McSherry ’16 (Photo: Office of Athletic Communications)

Two decades later, Columbia and Princeton both entered the match as undefeated Ivy teams, but history did not repeat itself. Sophomore midfielder Brendan McSherry scored his first career goal in the 87th minute, giving the Tigers a 2-1 victory and knocking the Lions out of the top of the Ivy standings.

At an alumni banquet after the game, assistant coach Jesse Marsch ’96 read a letter written by Bob Bradley ’80, the coach of the ’93 squad. Bradley, who was not able to attend because of his obligations as the head coach of the Egyptian national team, said that the Final Four team had a huge role in starting his career at a professional level, and that he always loves reading about the program because Princeton was such a special time for him.

Bradley also stressed how special the history of Princeton’s soccer program is. The Tigers played their first game in November 1906, and their first game against the Lions was a year later. With Saturday’s victory, Princeton’s record against Columbia in over a hundred years of athletic competition now stands at 21-31-9.

Junior defender Myles McGinley said that the alumni offered important advice and emphasized the importance of sportsmanship and playing not as individuals, but as part of a larger unit.

“They talked a lot about taking the ego out of it and putting the team first,” McGinley said.

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