Category Archives: Sports

Football Gains Cultural Experiences, New Bonds in Trip to Japan

posterWhile the rest of the Ivy League’s football teams are gathering for spring practice, Princeton football has passed that stage in the calendar. Over the spring recess, the Tigers traveled across the Pacific to take on the Kwansei Gakuin University Fighters in Osaka, Japan. The “Legacy Bowl” was an exhibition game held March 21 in recognition of Kwansei Gakuin University’s 125th anniversary.

The Tigers prepared for their match against the Fighters, described as the Alabama of Japan (due to winning four consecutive national collegiate football titles and a record 27 total collegiate titles), while adjusting to reduced caloric intake due to smaller portion sizes, jet lag, and other obstacles.

“Usually we have a big projector, but we had to crowd around our coach’s laptop in a hotel room to watch game film,” said quarterback Garrett Gosse ’16.

The Tigers ultimately came out on top, scoring five touchdowns and a field goal in a 36-7 victory. Chad Kanoff ’17 paced Princeton with strong play at quarterback, completing 15 of 20 passes for 207 yards and earning game-MVP honors.

The score differential does not, however, truly capture the benefits of playing against the Fighters. “A big part of Japanese culture is discipline and respect, so even though we were winning by a lot in the fourth quarter, they were still trying as hard as they could,” said tight end Dylan White ’16. “From a football perspective, it’s awesome — it gets guys who usually aren’t playing a lot more experience.” Continue reading

Perseverance Pays Off for Perez ’16

Chris Perez ’16 (Beverly Schaefer)

Chris Perez ’16 (Beverly Schaefer)

Wrestler Chris Perez ’16’s path to the NCAA Championships this year was a demonstration of English writer Samuel Johnson’s statement that “great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.”

A Long Island native, Perez tore his ACL near the end of a strong freshman campaign during the 2011-12 season. Taking the following year off from school to heal, he experienced the sudden death of his father, Hubert, and tore his ACL a second time. When he injured his ACL a third time at the beginning of his sophomore season, Perez’s future prospects on the mat seemed grim.

But despite doctors’ recommendations that he stop wrestling, Perez refused to give in. “After I tore my knee the third time, I said to the coaches, ‘ESPN is going to make a sweet story when I win the NCAAs,’ ” Perez said. With his right leg completely wrapped, he became the starter at 149 pounds this season and compiled a record of 19-11.

At the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships at Lehigh University, he upset nationally ranked opponents Cody Ruggirello of Hofstra and Penn’s Charles Cobb. Perez finished second in the tournament as he and 141-pounder Jordan Laster ’17 made the finals at consecutive weight classes. The two were among five Tiger wrestlers who landed berths at the NCAA Championships March 19-21 in St. Louis, Mo., matching a program record.

At the NCAA tournament, Perez suffered a close loss in his first match against Alex Richardson of Old Dominion, but moved quickly through the consolation bracket. In his second wrestleback match, he gained revenge with a 10-6 decision over nationally ranked Ken Theobold of Rutgers, who had beaten him in February. Perez ultimately fell in the Round of 16 in a close 7-5 decision to Bryant Clagon of Rider, two matches away from All-American status.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned from these experiences is that life is unpredictable,” Perez said. “I never really lost focus on my goals, and just looked at it all as part of my journey.” Looking ahead to next season, that postseason journey could continue closer to home: The 2016 EIWA Championships will be held at Princeton, and the 2016 NCAA Championships will be at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Quick Takes:

TRACK AND FIELD throwers competed at the Monmouth Season Opener on Saturday, where junior Brielle Rowe threw a personal best in the hammer throw of 47.58 meters.

MEN’S TENNIS, currently ranked No. 28 in the nation, took down No. 57 Penn to open Ivy play on Saturday at Jadwin Gym. Senior Zack McCourt and sophomore Tom Colautti led the way in the Tigers’ 6-1 win.

WOMEN’S TENNIS also posted an impressive 6-1 victory over Penn to start the Ivy season. After posting a 7-0 league record last season, the Tigers have won their last eight Ivy matches.

SOFTBALL began its Ivy season with consecutive wins over Brown in a Saturday doubleheader. Senior Alyssa Schmidt’s home run in the top of the first was the only run of the first game, as junior Shanna Christian posted seven shutout innings to maintain the Tigers’ lead. Another low-scoring contest followed, with the second game scoreless until the final inning. With freshman Kylee Pierce on third, sophomore Haley Hineman dropped down a bunt to bring home the game-winning run and give the Tigers their second 1-0 win of the day.

 

 

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Women’s Basketball Falls to Maryland in NCAA Second Round

Blake Dietrick ’15 scored 26 points, but the Tigers couldn’t keep pace with the host Terrapins. (Beverly Schaefer)

Blake Dietrick ’15 scored 26 points, but the Tigers couldn’t keep pace with the host Terrapins. (Beverly Schaefer)

Princeton women’s basketball faced an unenviable challenge in its second-round NCAA Tournament game: a matchup against No. 4 Maryland on its home floor, where the Terrapins have not lost in nearly 14 months.

For the first 20 minutes, the Tigers were up to the task, keeping pace with a stellar offensive performance, particularly in the paint. Maryland led by just four at halftime, 42-38.

But after the break, Princeton’s fortunes turned. In one stretch, the Tigers missed six shots in a row while the Terrapins made all five of their attempts — plus two free-throws — and jumped ahead by 17.

Point guard Blake Dietrick ’15 did her best to will the Tigers back into contention, scoring 17 of her team-high 26 points after her team fell behind by double digits. But Maryland’s hot shooting never cooled. Princeton lost for the first time this season, 85-70. Continue reading

Princeton Women’s Lacrosse Improves to 6-1 as Sailer Wins No. 350

Olivia Hompe ’17 leads Princeton with 19 goals, including five in Saturday’s win over Harvard. (Office of Athletic Communications)

Olivia Hompe ’17 leads Princeton with 19 goals, including five in Saturday’s win over Harvard. (Office of Athletic Communications)

As it nears the midway point in the regular season, Princeton women’s lacrosse continues to look impressive. The Tigers are off to a 6-1 start (2-0 Ivy League) with their lone loss coming at No. 8 Virginia. On Saturday, the team delivered head coach Chris Sailer’s 350th career win with a 17-12 victory over Harvard, Sailer’s alma mater. Sailer, now in her 29th season at Princeton, has coached three national champions and 11 Final Four teams. In the weeks to come, Princeton enters the bulk of its Ivy season and prepares for another NCAA postseason run.

With the exception of No. 1 Maryland April 8, the Tigers have already faced their toughest non-Ivy competition. Wins against No. 9 Loyola and No. 11 Penn State have put Princeton in a strong position going into the rest of the season. Last year, the Tigers didn’t receive the Ivy’s automatic bid to play in the NCAA tournament, but earned an at-large bid due to strength of schedule and victories over ranked opponents.

“Getting that NCAA automatic bid is always a goal, but then again, we want to be a team that’s also able to qualify for the NCAAs as an at-large selection as well,” Sailer said. “To do that, you have to schedule a competitive slate of nonconference games and win more than your fair share.” Continue reading

Princeton Women’s Basketball Wins NCAA Tournament Opener

Annie Tarakchian ’16 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Annie Tarakchian ’16 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Against Wisconsin-Green Bay March 21, the undefeated Princeton women’s basketball team found itself in an unusual position, trailing at halftime for the first time since early November.

But after intermission, the Tigers reasserted themselves inside, led by 14 second-half points by Annie Tarakchian ’16 and 13 from Alex Wheatley ’16, and earned an 80-70 win, the first NCAA Tournament victory in program history.

Princeton’s defense improved in the second half, pushing Green Bay out to the perimeter, where the Phoenix settled for 3-point attempts. Midway through the second half, Princeton opened up a 10-point lead and held the Green Bay at arm’s length for the next eight minutes. The Phoenix cut the lead to four with 2:14 remaining. Wheatley then upped the lead to six with a layup, and the Tigers forced two Green Bay turnovers in the final two minutes. Continue reading

Women’s Basketball Completes Perfect Season, Awaits NCAA Seed

The 30-0 Tigers will find out their next opponent tonight when the NCAA reveals the 2015 tournament bracket. (Beverly Schaefer)

Princeton, ranked No. 13 in the AP and USA Today polls last week and No. 12 in the NCAA’s rating percentage index (RPI), has a chance to earn a home game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Selections and pairings will be announced tonight at 7 p.m. (Beverly Schaefer)

In chasing a perfect season and an Ivy League title, the Princeton women’s basketball team performed with an entertaining blend of precision, speed, flair, and grit. The only element missing from most games was suspense: Other than a 56-50 win at Yale in mid-February, the Tigers’ Ivy wins tended to be lopsided by halftime. Their average margin of victory through the first 13 league games was 26 points.

But in the Ivy finale March 10, second-place Penn provided a proper test for a team vying to finish the only undefeated regular season in Division I women’s basketball this year. Princeton was held to just 26 first-half points, and shortly after intermission, the Quakers trimmed the Tigers’ five-point lead down to one.

Then, as it had so many times before, Princeton’s defense took charge. In a nine-minute stretch, Penn managed to score just four points and turned the ball over five times. By the time the Quakers’ offense revived, the Tigers held a double-digit lead. They went on to win 55-42.

“You want to battle, and that’s what we love about playing Penn,” head coach Courtney Banghart said afterward. “It makes for such a great story, and that’s how I categorize my team: This team has made for a great story all year. … We’re certainly glad we can help the story continue.”

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No. 25 Men’s Tennis Sweeps Weekend Opponents, Preps for Ivy Season

Three weeks before the men’s tennis team starts its Ivy League season, the conference is shaping up to be one of the toughest that Princeton has seen in years. As the Tigers rounded out this weekend’s 7-0 double-header victories over Army and Binghamton, Princeton solidified its spot on the national stage. Yet even at No. 25 in Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings, Princeton is the third-best Ivy team in what could be one of the most exciting seasons in Ancient Eight history.

Zack McCourt ’15 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Zack McCourt ’15 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Leading the pack is senior Zack McCourt, ranked 124th in singles and a member of last year’s first-team All-Ivy League singles team, building on that season with multiple clutch victories at the No. 1 spot this year. McCourt said that he is trying to end his collegiate career with “a punch and a bang,” with mental maturation and match-day focus being a critical component of that. A strong Ivy schedule only adds fuel to the fire.

“Competing at a higher level helps the team to improve even faster, so it’s definitely a privilege — particularly when you’re being tested on a national scale,” McCourt said.

The Tigers were forced to fill holes in their roster left by Ivy heavyweight Matija Pecotic ’13 and last year’s graduates Dan Davies and Augie Bloom. Sophomores Thomas Colautti and Alexander Day have been instrumental in adding depth to the lineup and clinching wins in the hot 13-3 start to this season. More importantly, McCourt added, is that this year’s team just loves to compete.

“The sophomore class returns with invaluable experience, while a deep freshman class fortifies the remainder of the lineup,” McCourt said. “I can’t remember ever playing with a group of guys who have so much fun on the court as our team does now. That kind of competitiveness coupled with the team’s talent and outstanding work ethic has made all the difference.” Continue reading

Unselfish Seniors Help Women’s Basketball Top Brown, Improve to 27-0

On Senior Night, all seniors traditionally start, even those who usually come off the bench. The seniors of the women’s basketball team, however, were less interested in that tradition than in preserving something else: their undefeated record. Seniors Mariah Smith ’15, Alex Rodgers ’15, and Jess Shivers ’15 told head coach Courtney Banghart they didn’t want to start.

“That’s the kind of senior class they’ve been,” Banghart said. “They have decided what’s important to them. What’s important to them is that the group excels.”

From left, the Princeton women’s basketball Class of 2015: Mariah Smith, Alex Rodgers, Blake Dietrick, and Jess Shivers. (Beverly Schaefer)

From left, the Princeton women’s basketball Class of 2015: Mariah Smith, Alex Rodgers, Blake Dietrick, and Jess Shivers. (Beverly Schaefer)

Of course, Banghart showed her appreciation for the group by starting them against Brown anyway. Rodgers and Shivers had an assist and a rebound apiece while Smith contributed eight points. It was the first time this season any of the three had started — only Smith had ever started at Princeton — but it only served to highlight the ways they have contributed to the team.

While Blake Dietrick ’15, the fourth senior on this year’s squad, has carved out a place in the record books and received attention from the national media, her classmates have helped hold the team together in ways that are harder to discern. Career substitutes, they have learned to gauge the tempo of the game, the feelings of the crowd and the mindset of both teams, mentally preparing to provide a shot of energy when Banghart calls them into action.

“They’re kind of my assistant coaches,” Banghart said. “They know that their piece in [the game plan] is the energy on the bench and all that.” Continue reading

All They Do is Win: Princeton Women’s Basketball Improves to 25-0

No. 16 Princeton, the only undefeated women’s basketball program remaining in the country, already has achieved the highest ranking of any Ivy League team. With two more wins this weekend — over Dartmouth, 70-31 on Friday night, and Harvard, 78-57 on Saturday night — the 25-0 Tigers are three wins away from tying the 1970-71 Penn men’s basketball for the best start by any Ivy team in history.

Taking control early, the Tigers had no trouble scoring on Friday night. They went into halftime ahead by 18 points, and came out to score the first 12 points of the second half. The Tigers held Dartmouth to only 12 points in the first half, the fewest of any opponent this season. Junior forward Alex Wheatley led all scorers with 20 points.

Blake Dietrick ’15 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Blake Dietrick ’15 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Saturday, however, proved to be slightly more of a challenge for the Tigers, as Harvard kept the game close into the second half. After four quick points by Harvard cut the Tigers’ 28-19 halftime lead down to 5, the Tigers opened up a 12-4 run, led by senior co-captain Blake Dietrick and juniors Annie Tarakchian and Amanda Berntsen, to give them a double-digit lead, which they would hold for the remainder of the game. While the Tigers shot only 30.8 percent in the first half, they improved in the final 20 minutes, shooting 61.5 percent from the floor.

The Tigers are making history as a team this season, but in the midst of their collective successes have also been personal triumphs. On Jan. 10, Dietrick became the 22nd player in program history to reach 1,000 points, and currently ranks third in three-pointers with 199. Continue reading

Men’s Lacrosse Opens With Win Over Manhattan

Jake Froccaro ’16 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Jake Froccaro ’16 (Office of Athletic Communications)

The Princeton men’s lacrosse team was at midseason form despite the Valentine’s Day snow, burying Manhattan 14-4 in its first game of the season Feb. 14. The Tigers return nine of their 10 2014 starters, and it was clear that they were already in sync Saturday.

The Tigers got to work before the snow started to fall with a flurry of goals in the first quarter. In less than three minutes, Princeton drew first blood and built up a 4-0 lead, with attacker Bear Altemus ’17 opening the scoring with 8:16 to go in the period. Midfielder Zach Currier ’17 struck next, assisted by midfielder Jake Froccaro ’16. After assisting Gavin McBride ’17’s first career goal, Froccaro won the ensuing faceoff and quickly dished the ball to Ryan Ambler ’16, who found the back of the net for the Tigers’ second goal in eight seconds.

Attacker Mike MacDonald ’15 notched an unassisted goal with under a minute to go in the quarter, and the Tigers never looked back. Ambler would add three more goals while MacDonald scored again and logged three assists as Princeton built up an imposing lead.

Manhattan showed only flashes of offensive prowess, striking at the beginning and end of the second quarter and twice at the end of the game after Princeton head coach Chris Bates replaced his backup goalkeeper with rookie Tyler Blaisdell ’18. Blaisdell made two saves in his first collegiate game. Continue reading

21-0: Women’s Basketball Remains Undefeated, Matches Program-Best Winning Streak

Michelle Miller ’16 scored a combined 31 points in the weekend wins over Columbia and Cornell. (Beverly Schaefer)

Michelle Miller ’16 scored a combined 31 points in the weekend wins over Columbia and Cornell. (Beverly Schaefer)

A new semester did nothing to stall the women’s basketball team’s winning ways: The No. 18 Tigers won their fifth straight Ivy game and extended their undefeated record to 21-0 after beating Columbia and Cornell at Jadwin Gym Feb. 6 and 7.

Friday’s 83-44 victory against Columbia showcased Princeton’s domination in the paint, as the Tigers held a 50-6 margin in points there. Junior guard Michelle Miller continues to be a force to be reckoned with, sinking 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Upperclassman duo Blake Dietrick ’15 and Taylor Williams ’16 put up eight points, six rebounds, and four assists, and joined by junior Alex Wheatley’s 10 points and three rebounds, rounded out the defensive block to thrash the Lions.

On Saturday against Cornell, Princeton never trailed, paced by Miller’s double-double (15 points and 11 rebounds). Wheatley followed close behind with 14 points and eight rebounds, and the Tigers routed the Big Red 75-47. The win matched the 21 straight wins record that was set during the 2009-10 season.

Dietrick said that a huge factor in the team’s success this year is that the Tigers have “recommitted this season to our defense,” as Princeton leads the Ivy League in rebounds and has won by at least a 20-point margin of victory in all but three of its matchups. This points to Princeton’s incredible depth as well — Tigers hold three of the Ivy League’s top five spots in both field goal percentage as well as three-point percentage. Continue reading

Bell ’18, Men’s Basketball Split Weekend Set Against Harvard and Dartmouth

After staying close with Harvard but ultimately coming up short in Friday’s 75-72 loss, Princeton men’s basketball knew it needed to come back strong on Saturday as they took on Dartmouth for the second half of an important weekend in Ivy League play. The Tigers rose to the occasion, beating Dartmouth 64-53 to return to a winning record in league play.

“[We had the] luxury of getting the chance to play again, which we were very happy to do,” Head Coach Mitch Henderson ’98 said after the Dartmouth game. “I did not think last night was a great showing for us, so I’m pleased with the win, very happy for these guys and getting ready for a huge stretch of games here coming up.”

bell-oacThe first half of Saturday’s game echoed Friday night’s, with Dartmouth playing the role that Princeton had against the Crimson — constantly trailing, but within striking distance. The Tigers went into halftime up by nine. Dartmouth cut the lead to five after halftime, but the Tigers would rally to lead by as many as 17 and win by 11.

Spencer Weisz ’17 led Princeton with 16 points. Amir Bell ’18 had an impressive all-around game, finishing with seven rebounds, four assists, and four points.

“Amir Bell had one hell of a game defensively,” Weisz said of his teammate. “Coming in as a freshman, he’s been playing great for us and to stop one of the best shooters in the league [the Big Green’s Alex Mitola] … is just a great benefit for us.”

Though new to the team, Bell has been a key contributor, starting all 19 games. Henderson said he has noticed significant growth in Bell’s play. Continue reading

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

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

Quick Takes: Men’s Cross Country Team, Women’s Standout Curham ’17 Wins Heps; Football Rebounds, Tops Cornell

Editor’s note: The Monday sports column is on a brief hiatus for fall break and will return Nov. 10.

Women’s Heps champion Megan Curham ’17. (Office of Athletic Communications)

Women’s Heps champion Megan Curham ’17. (Office of Athletic Communications)

The men’s cross country team earned Princeton’s first Ivy League championship of the 2014-15 academic year, outpacing the field on a cold and rainy day at the Heptagonal Championships Nov. 1. Michael Sublette ’16 led the Tigers, finishing second on the 8,000-meter course at West Windsor Fields. Princeton’s five scoring runners each placed in the top 12. Women’s cross country placed second in the Heps team standings, behind Dartmouth, and Megan Curham ’17 won the individual crown, becoming the first Tiger to win gold since Alex Banfich ’12 in 2010. She ran the 6,000-meter course in 20:24.3.

After struggling to find the end zone against Harvard last week, Princeton football rebounded on the road at Cornell, scoring 38 points to defeat the Big Red, 38-27. Receiver Connor Kelley ’15 had a career day, catching 13 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Quinn Epperly ’15 was sidelined by an injury for the second time in three weeks. Connor Michelson ’15 played well in Epperly’s place, completing 23 of 33 passes for 281 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. Continue reading

For Princeton Football, High Hopes Turn to Stunned Disappointment

At Saturday’s Princeton-Harvard game, packed stands eagerly awaited a thrilling victory reminiscent of the past two meetings between last year’s Ivy League co-champions, but alas it was not to be. Instead, Tiger fans were stunned as they watched their team lose 49-7 to drop into third place in the Ivy standings.

Joe Rhattigan ’17 scored Princeton’s only points against Harvard with a rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter. (Office of Athletic Communications)

Joe Rhattigan ’17 scored Princeton’s only points against Harvard with a rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter. (Office of Athletic Communications)

The past two weekends the Tigers (3-3 overall, 2-1 Ivy) came out strong, and the defense showed no indication that the day would be any different on the opening drive. But when the offense took the field for its opening drive, it became apparent that this was not going to be the case.

The Tigers were their own worst enemy, with penalties proving too costly to overcome as they prevented the offense from extending drives whenever they seemed to be gaining momentum. Harvard’s explosive offense took away the rest of the Tigers’ momentum as it dominated in the second quarter.

“I’m definitely surprised, but they played really well,” senior linebacker and co-captain Mike Zeuli said. “They executed better than us and that’s what happens.”

With Princeton and Harvard leading the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) with two of the top five run defenses, Harvard’s initial success came from its passing game, which exploited mistakes in the Princeton secondary. But the Crimson did not stop there: the visitors threw for 392 yards, compared to the Tigers’ 190, and rushed for 306, compared to the Tigers’ 54. Continue reading

New History Covers Swimming and Diving’s 110 Years

Future Olympian Jed Graef ’64, center, dives into the water on the Feb. 8, 1963, cover of PAW. (PAW Archives)

Future Olympian Jed Graef ’64, center, dives into the water on the Feb. 8, 1963, cover of PAW. (PAW Archives)

About 300 alumni of the Princeton swimming and diving teams returned to campus last weekend to commemorate the program’s 110th anniversary. The celebration included receptions, a dinner, and a preseason scrimmage meet. It also served as the impetus for a new and expansive history of the program, written by Sanford Thatcher ’65, longtime secretary for the Friends of Princeton Swimming and Diving and a former director of the Penn State University Press.

Thatcher, who still swims at about a dozen masters meets each year near his home in Frisco, Texas, began researching Princeton swimming history in the 1970s, for a column in the Friends’ newsletter. He drew on those notes, as well as contributions from recent alumni, to create a 99-page history. It covers the great seasons, legendary coaches, and top-ranked swimmers, but it also touches on less traditional topics — marriages between swimming alumni, the achievements of former Tigers after college, and other historical tidbits, such as diver Alan Routh ’59’s role on the first Navy SEAL team. “That is what makes this, I think, a document that is unique in sports histories [at Princeton],” Thatcher told PAW. Continue reading

Tigers Prove Quarterback Depth is Useful for More Than Creative Formations

Last year, Princeton football made headlines for lining up its three quarterbacks on the field at the same time, alternating who took the snaps. As unusual as the strategy seemed, it paid off—the Tigers led the Ivy League in yards per game and rushing yards last season. Of that trio, then-junior Quinn Epperly was the most familiar face on the field. The 2013 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year topped the conference in both rushing and passing touchdowns, leading the nation in points responsible per game.

Connor Michelsen ’15 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Connor Michelsen ’15 (Office of Athletic Communications)

But as Ivy football rolls into its midpoint this season, Princeton saw a change of scenery in its quarterback spot during a 27-16 victory over Brown. Senior Connor Michelsen, taking over for his injured classmate Epperly, looked comfortable in the pocket throughout the game, throwing for 367 yards and two touchdowns to keep Princeton perfect at 2-0 in Ivy play (3-2 overall).

On Saturday, there was no trace of the sluggish starts that plagued the Tigers last season. Princeton sealed its victory early, scoring on each of its first four drives to the Brown end zone. Kicker Nolan Bieck ’16 converted on a 26-yard field goal to start things off, bringing him to twelve consecutive conversions since last season. Michelsen later connected with Matt Costello ’15 for a 49-yard touchdown, moving the seasoned wide receiver into sixth place on Princeton’s all-time receptions list. Continue reading

Women’s Soccer Dominates Brown, Keeps Pace in Ivy

On a gray Saturday in the Orange Bubble, the women’s soccer team put on a dazzling performance for their head coach, Julie Shackford. The Tigers recorded their 200th win under Shackford and had plenty of time to celebrate, scoring in the third minute and adding four more goals as goalkeeper Darcy Hargadon ’15 and her defense kept Brown scoreless.

Haley Chow ’17 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Haley Chow ’17 (Office of Athletic Communications)

The 5-0 margin of victory was the team’s biggest since 2012, and it may have been a sign of things to come. All the scoring was done by two sophomores: Haley Chow ’17 scored at 2:19 and 15:02, and just three minutes after Chow’s second goal Tyler Lussi ’17 netted the first goal of her hat trick. Chow’s first score came from well out of the box as Brown attempted to clear, and she headed in her second goal on a Natalie Larkin ’18 free kick.

Defender Lauren Lazo ’15 set up Lussi’s first goal of the night with a perfect cross. Lazo set up another cross 11 minutes into the second half, and Lussi found the net again after Mikaela Symanovich ’18 got control in front of the net and slipped the ball past a Brown defender and to her sophomore teammate. Lussi completed the hat trick in the 62nd minute, heading a long pass to herself and firing the ball off the far post and into the net. Continue reading

Men’s Soccer Tries To Regain Home Field Advantage

Home field advantage is an expression for a reason—familiar turf comes with knowledge, comfort, and an atmosphere of success. At least it’s supposed to. But for Princeton men’s soccer, the pressure of playing on the road, away from the supposed advantages of home, has brought them more victories this season.

Cameron Porter ’15 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Cameron Porter ’15 (Office of Athletic Communications)

A tough 2-1 overtime loss to Dartmouth on Saturday was the Tigers’ second loss at Roberts Stadium this season, bringing their home record to 1-2-1, while their away record sits at 2-1-1. The loss to Dartmouth also was the Tigers’ first Ivy League match of the season.

“It’s a tough loss because when you look at the teams who end up winning the Ivy League and getting the bid into the [NCAA] tournament it generally takes six wins, and so losing your first game means you have a lot to do,” senior forward and co-captain Cameron Porter said. “Going into the rest of the season it really puts the pressure on you because its also kind of out of your hands. Dartmouth is a good team, [so if] they go win out, you’re kind of out of luck no matter what.” Continue reading

Women’s Volleyball Tops Penn, 3-0, in Ivy Opener

Sarah Daschbach ’16’s serves helped Princeton open the Ivy League season with a win over Penn. (Office of Athletic Communications)

Sarah Daschbach ’16’s serves helped Princeton open the Ivy League season with a win over Penn. (Office of Athletic Communications)

For the last four years, Yale has held an iron grip on first place in Ivy League women’s volleyball. Each Ancient Eight team knows that the key to dethroning the Bulldogs is winning out their other Ivy matches, since Yale has gone undefeated in league play only once in that time.

Add that kind of heavy Ivy pressure to the fact that Princeton’s league opener against Penn has gone deep into the fifth set in each those four years, and the odds start stacking up against the Tigers. But this Friday in Philadelphia, Princeton broke with this tradition and pulled out a quick three-set victory, pulling the team up to 6-5 overall on the season. The 25-15, 25-16, 25-14 win was a much needed confidence booster for the Tigers—it is their only three-set victory this season.

The match didn’t look so bright for Princeton at first. Penn held a 10-8 lead early in the first set, until junior libero Sarah Daschbach embarked on a 10-0 service run to blow the Quakers away. Daschbach’s serves would be critical in the second game as well, when she built up the Tiger lead in an opening 9-0 run.

“Smart and aggressive hits were the key to success,” Daschbach said. She also pointed to junior Kendall Peterkin and sophomore Cara Mattaliano’s offensive skills, saying on the backcourt, “Kendall and Cara are great at hitting from the back row and giving us plenty of offensive options.” Continue reading

Princeton Football Shows Room to Improve After Opening Loss

Tiger fans don’t need to panic after the football team lost its season opener to San Diego — last year’s 8-2 season, after all, began with a loss. But the team has much to learn from the 39-29 result.

Bad news first: Princeton’s defense let up some explosive plays. The Toreros scored on passes of 29 and 48 yards, and that’s not to mention quarterback Keith Williams’ 82-yard completion to Reggie Bell, which took San Diego from its own 7 to Princeton’s 11 yard line, setting up the first touchdown of the game.

Receiver Seth DeValve caught nine passes for 123 yards in Princeton’s loss to San Diego Sept. 20 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Receiver Seth DeValve caught nine passes for 123 yards in Princeton’s loss to San Diego Sept. 20 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Khamal Brown ’16 had two tackles in his first game since 2012 and Matt Arends ’15 was in on five, one for a loss, but overall it was a disappointing day for Princeton’s defensive backfield. Linebacker Mike Zeuli ’15 led the team with eight tackles and recorded the Tigers’ only two sacks, but his teammates could not keep up the pressure he put on Williams. The worst fears about the defense seemed to be realized: Without Caraun Reid ’14 to terrify the quarterback, Princeton’s opponent was free to carve up the defensive backfield.

The offense got off to a slow start as well. Quinn Epperly ’15, whose completion percentage is usually not a concern, went 25 of 53, throwing two touchdowns but also two interceptions. He was sacked twice, canceling out his 15 yards rushing, although he did score a touchdown on the ground. Epperly by no means had a bad game, but San Diego was able to disrupt his much-lauded rhythm in a way that few teams have in the past. Continue reading

Q&A with Dave Revsine, Author of ‘The Opening Kickoff: The Tumultuous Birth of a Football Nation’

Dave Revsine (Courtesy Dave Revsine)

Dave Revsine (Courtesy Dave Revsine)

When Princeton football hosted Yale last November, the Ivy League-leading Tigers drew nearly 15,000 fans to Princeton Stadium. But that turnout pales in comparison to the frenzy surrounding the 1893 Princeton-Yale game, a clash between two undefeated powerhouse programs. In his new book, The Opening Kickoff, author and sports broadcaster Dave Revsine opens with a chronicle of that Thanksgiving Day game in Manhattan, which drew an estimated 50,000 spectators and illustrated how “football had become a big business.” Even before the turn of the century, the sport’s headlines had a distinctly modern feel: disputes about eligibility and improper benefits, concerns about the safety of the game, and coaches who aimed to use their celebrity status to stay on top. Revsine spoke with PAW in July about the role that Princeton and other prestigious institutions played in the early history of college football.

Your book begins with the 1893 Princeton-Yale game, which followed a decade of rapid growth in the popularity of college football. What was behind this explosion of interest?

There are a couple of factors. From the schools’ point of view, I think they very quickly understood that it was a great public-relations vehicle and that it was a way for them to make money. So, you had this huge explosion in the number of colleges … and you had this period where people were founding colleges and then searching for students to serve. Obviously this wasn’t a problem with the Princetons, Yales, and Harvards of the world, but it was certainly a problem with other schools: How are we going to differentiate ourselves? And they quickly saw football as a way to do it.

From the fans’ point of view, I think the newspapers play a huge role. People had some leisure time on their hands that they hadn’t had before, and football gave people an entree into the social elite because these teams were associated with these universities. You might not be a Yale or a Princeton grad, but you could be a Yale or a Princeton fan — and being a fan, by association, made you a part of Yale or Princeton. I think that was appealing to a lot of people.

The powers of college football then were academically distinguished institutions — Harvard, Yale, and Princeton — yet the game then was exceptionally brutal and bloody. How did the leaders at these places reconcile the brutality of the sport with the larger mission of their universities?

It depended on the school. Harvard, for years, was sort of the conscientious objector — but the conscientious objector who still participated. The president of Harvard was adamantly opposed to football and resisted getting into the fray with Yale. Yale was the first football factory, and as I say in the book, Walter Camp was the foreman. At times [Yale] would deny the brutality of football. They would say that while it might be brutal the way that it’s played out in the hinterlands, the way that we play it — the science of the sport — is not very brutal. Continue reading

Ratcliffe ’16 Wins NCAA Title, a First for Princeton Women’s Track and Field

Julia Ratcliffe ’16 (Beverly Schaefer)

Julia Ratcliffe ’16 (Beverly Schaefer)

Record-setting hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe ’16 made history June 11, winning her event at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., and becoming the Princeton women’s program’s first individual national champion. Ratcliffe, a native of New Zealand, outdistanced the field by nearly seven feet with a winning toss of 219 feet, 5 inches (66.88 meters).

Ratcliffe has set school records in the hammer throw (outdoor) and weight throw (indoor). She also holds two Ivy League Heptagonal titles in the hammer and was named to the Bowerman Trophy watch list.

By winning the championship, Ratcliffe extended a notable streak for Princeton athletics: In 43 consecutive years, at least one Tiger team or individual has won a national title. Track and field winners in recent years include the men’s indoor distance medley relay team in 2013 and men’s steeplechase star Donn Cabral ’12 in 2012.

Quick Takes: Women’s Open Crew Wins Ivies

Kelsey Reelick ’14 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Kelsey Reelick ’14 (Office of Athletic Communications)

At the Ivy League Championships on the Cooper River, Princeton women’s open crew avenged a season-opening loss to top-ranked Brown, beating the Bears by 4.3 seconds in the varsity eight final May 18. It was the third Ivy title in four years for the Tigers; stroke Kelsey Reelick ’14 has rowed for each of the three championship boats.

In the men’s heavyweight crew varsity eight, Princeton earned bronze — its first Eastern Sprints medal since 2011 — and collected additional medals in the second- and fourth-varsity eights. Continue reading

Women’s Tennis Makes History in NCAA Tournament

Freshman Alanna Wolff won the clinching singles match against Arizona State. (Beverly Schaefer)

Freshman Alanna Wolff won the clinching singles match against Arizona State. (Beverly Schaefer)

When the women’s tennis team arrived in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to compete in the NCAA Championships, it was the Tigers’ fifth appearance in the tournament in program history. No Princeton team had ever won a match on the national stage before. Across the court stood Arizona State, back for its 27th consecutive year.

The Sun Devils’ No. 25 ranking and longstanding NCAA tradition, however, did not daunt this year’s Ivy League champions, who came into the competition riding a 10-match winning streak.

“It was a great draw for us and we knew we were capable of beating them,” junior Katie Goepel said. “Knowing how far we had already come, I think all of us had the belief that we could win if we went into it with the same mentality that we had throughout the entire Ivy season, which we definitely did.”

Despite a hard fought win from sophomore duo Emily Hahn and Amanda Muliawan on the court, Arizona State took the doubles point after Princeton’s remaining matches could not rally. Continue reading

Defensive Lineman Reid ’14 Prepares for the NFL Draft (and Sings Sam Cooke)

Caraun Reid ’14, left, made an impression on Ivy League quarterbacks. He’s hoping to do the same in the NFL. (Beverly Schaefer)

Caraun Reid ’14, left, made an impression on Ivy League quarterbacks. He hopes to do the same in the NFL. (Beverly Schaefer)

Always respected by the football community for his skills, defensive lineman Caraun Reid ’14 has used his fifth year as a Tiger to develop as a vocal leader on and off the field, as well as thrive as a leader among the campus Christian and arts communities. Known for his faith and his singing voice (see below) in addition to his ability to put pressure on the quarterback, the pro-football hopeful will be waiting to hear his name called during this week’s NFL draft, which begins May 8.

Reid credits his work ethic for allowing him the opportunity to take on his initial leadership role on the football team; those leadership responsibilities, he said, were heightened over the past year.

“I definitely stepped up more in terms of vocal leadership.  Granted I was one of the better players on the team so everyone always saw my work ethic and being able to make plays on the field as leadership, but I took more responsibility over the lives of my teammates and how they developed,” Reid said.  “I think more and more it just drove me to work harder knowing, if I’m doing a lot of talking then I have to be at the level where no one can question my work ethic. … That’s what I want to bring to the pros, just being one of those guys that always stands out, on and off the field.” Continue reading