Category Archives: Sports

Ayala ’16, Wrestlers Have High Hopes for 2015

Abram Ayala ’16 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Abram Ayala ’16 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Princeton wrestling awards the Triede Trophy each year to the member of the team “who by his spirit, ability, and sportsmanship has contributed most to the sport.” Last year, that privilege went to Abe Ayala ’16, who had a standout sophomore season in the 197-pound bracket. His 27-win season included a fifth-place finish at the EWIA Championships, which clinched a debut appearance at the NCAA Championships.

“Last season felt like a dream,” Ayala said.

The dream followed a freshman campaign that was more like a nightmare for Ayala, who was dismissed from the team late in his first season. Ayala admitted that as a rookie, he invested a lot into the season too early on and in the wrong places. He said that he didn’t account for the jump from high school to college wrestling.

Ayala also was cutting a lot of weight. He walked onto campus weighing around 190 pounds, but started the season wrestling at 165. He was locked in a position battle for the starting spot, and he wrestled poorly in his first tournament.

“After that performance in the first tournament, I was losing morale,” Ayala said. “And with the combined pressure of the wrestle-off, I kind of mentally broke, that’s the bottom line.” Continue reading

Contini ’17, Women’s Hockey Look to Return to Winning Ways

Molly Contini ’17 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Molly Contini ’17 (Office of Athletic Communications)

A year ago, Molly Contini ’17 was taking a year off from school to recover from hip surgery. This season, the Tiger forward has returned to the ice at full strength — and then some — earning ECAC Hockey Player of the Month honors in November.

Contini led Princeton’s freshmen in scoring in 2012-13 with 10 points (nine goals and an assist), despite an injury that plagued her throughout the second half of her season. Through 15 games this year, she has scored six goals (a team high) and added seven assists.

Before coming to Princeton, the Ontario native spent three seasons in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League — the highest level of junior women’s amateur hockey in the province — twice leading her team, the Waterloo K-W Rangers, in scoring. Continue reading

#ThrowbackThursday: Princeton’s Role in the Birth of Thanksgiving Football

Princeton and Yale played their first Thanksgiving Day game in 1876. (Athletics at Princeton — A History)

Princeton and Yale played their first Thanksgiving Day game in 1876. (Athletics at Princeton — A History)

Detroit and Dallas may have cornered the market for pro football’s Thanksgiving Day games, but the holiday’s gridiron tradition began well before the creation of the NFL.

On Nov. 30, 1876, Princeton and Yale faced off in Hoboken, N.J., playing what would best be described as an 11-on-11 form of rugby. Princeton entered the game with a 3-0 record and a fresh set of uniforms — black tights and jerseys with an orange P on the chest — but the Elis prevailed, two goals to none. The Princetonian, then in its first year of publication, questioned a few key calls by the referee, noting that he was “a Yale man.”

The Princeton-Yale game would eventually move to New York’s Manhattan Field, where it briefly became a Thanksgiving phenomenon. In 1893, some 40,000 spectators turned out to see the Tigers win a showdown of two unbeaten teams, 6-0. Richard Harding Davis of Harper’s Weekly described the stream of fans heading north before the game: Continue reading

Football Falls to Dartmouth in Class of 2015’s Final Game

After slipping out of contention for a second consecutive Ivy League title, Princeton football will have plenty of work ahead to prove that the end of the 2014 season was not the end of an era.

Two bonfires, an Ivy League championship, two Ivy League Player of the Year awards, two NFL draft picks, and an 18-12 combined record is an impressive run for three seasons. But with the Tigers’ top two starting quarterbacks graduating in the spring, the program will be tested as it searches for players to follow in the footsteps of the senior class, which played its final game in Saturday’s 41-10 loss to Dartmouth.

“All the work that it takes to put in to be great — it starts tomorrow,” sophomore defensive lineman Ty Desire said. “We have to realize we’re not the team we were last year up front, and we can’t ride anyone’s coattails.” Continue reading

Princeton Men’s Soccer Shares Ivy Title, Waits for Postseason Fate

Cameron Porter ’15, left, in action vs. Penn Nov. 8. (Beverly Schaefer)

Cameron Porter ’15, left, in action vs. Penn Nov. 8. (Beverly Schaefer)

As the clock wound down in New Haven Saturday night, the men’s soccer team was faced with the possibility of ending its Ivy League season the same way it had started — with a long, drawn out match in which the Tigers (11-3-3 overall, 5-1-1 Ivy) came out on the wrong side.

“We knew the game would be a challenge,” senior forward Cameron Porter said. “No team wants to end the season on a loss.”

Porter — No. 1 in the NCAA in total goals, goals per game, and points per game — stepped up with the league title on the line. With 32:35 to play in the second half, he scored the only goal of the match. Princeton held on and clinched a share of the Ivy championship.

“For parts of the game they definitely had the better of us, but it was great to see the defense step up and get a huge shutout,” Porter said. Continue reading

Penn Spoils Princeton Women’s Soccer Finale

Not every ending can be storybook. Saturday afternoon’s heartbreaking loss to Penn was certainly not the way women’s soccer head coach Julie Shackford wanted to end her 20-year, 203-win career at Princeton, but she could not have asked for a harder-fought or more exciting finale.

Lauren Lazo '15 scored her 28th career goal in her last game for the Tigers. (Office of Athletic Communications)

Lauren Lazo ’15 scored her 28th career goal in her last game for the Tigers. (Office of Athletic Communications)

The Tigers conceded a goal early and let up another just before the break as Penn came out in surprisingly strong form. During the first half, news broke that Harvard had defeated Columbia 2-1, dashing the Tigers’ already dwindling hopes for an Ivy League title.

If there was nothing left to play for, nobody told forward Tyler Lussi ’17. Lussi was constantly in the attacking third, pressing even the slightest advantage and once colliding mid-air with Quaker goalie Kalijah Terilli. She hugged the sidelines all afternoon, frustrating one defender after another, and stayed in the game after a shot hit her in the head at point-blank range.

Lussi started the second period with a cross to Lauren Lazo ’15, who netted her 28th and final collegiate goal, good for fifth on Princeton’s all-time list. After that, it was all Tigers: Princeton took 16 shots to Penn’s two in the second half, earning seven corners. After 30 minutes that saw several inspired saves from Terilli, the Tigers broke through again as Beth Stella ’18 bounced the ball in off the crossbar from the top of the box. Continue reading