June 4, 2014
TAKING THE FIFTH: The Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 heads up Lake Carnegie in a race this spring. Last Sunday, the Tigers placed fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

TAKING THE FIFTH: The Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 heads up Lake Carnegie in a race this spring. Last Sunday, the Tigers placed fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

If one takes the glass half-empty approach, the fifth-place performance by the Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 crew in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta last Sunday was distressing.

The Tigers fell off the pace by the 1,000-meter mark and posted a time of 5:55.362 on the 2,000-meter course on Mercer Lake, nearly eight seconds behind the winning time of 5:47.921 posted by national champion Cornell.

“Rowing is a momentum sport; it is important to feel someone next to you,” said Princeton head coach Marty Crotty.

“Once you lose contact with the lead pack; it is really hard to feel that you are competitive. You are scrambling to hang on to the lead pack, showing desperation.”

But Crotty adopts a glass half-full perspective on the spring, refusing to let the season be defined by the last race.

“The season was good if you look at it as a process to work our way back to the top,” said Crotty, noting that the varsity 8 posted a victory at the Head of the the Charles in October and won the Harvard-Yale-Princeton regatta this spring and then took third at the Eastern Sprints.

“We had higher highs. We won at Head of Charles in the fall and that was a direct result of staying in shape over last summer; we only have 15-20 practices before that. By sweeping at H-Y-P and winning the Vogel Cup, we accomplished something that has been a nemesis for us. Harvard and Yale are tough programs. It was a great day and the last day that we had everyone healthy this year. At sprints we showed resiliency. We had some injuries and we had to do some reshuffling.”

With nearly the whole team returning next year, Crotty believes the Tigers have the potential for greatness.

“We have everyone back but three rowers and we have a couple of rowers who are coming back after taking a year off,” said Crotty.

“We have a strong freshman class coming in. I think the returning guys can learn things from the high highs. We showed that when we are healthy and clicking on all cylinders and put our best forward, we can do some good things.”

SILVER LINING: The Princeton University women’s open second varsity 8 crew heads back to the dock with bronze medals draped around their necks after taking third in the Ivy Championships. Last Sunday, the boat took a step up and earned a silver medal as it placed second in its grand final at the NCAA Rowing Championships held on the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind. The Tigers finished sixth of 22 schools in the team standings at the NCAA regatta.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

SILVER LINING: The Princeton University women’s open second varsity 8 crew heads back to the dock with bronze medals draped around their necks after taking third in the Ivy Championships. Last Sunday, the boat took a step up and earned a silver medal as it placed second in its grand final at the NCAA Rowing Championships held on the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind. The Tigers finished sixth of 22 schools in the team standings at the NCAA regatta. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

Moments after the Princeton University women’s open varsity 8 crossed the finish line in the semifinal at the NCAA Championships last Saturday, the boat members realized they had missed making the grand final by an eyelash.

Some of the rowers slumped forward in the boat in disbelief while others buried their heads in their hands as they sat on a corner of the 2,000-meter race course at the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind.

Princeton head coach Lori Dauphiny acknowledged that her Ivy champion 8 was heartbroken by the result.

“There were some people moving in the third 500 meters but we knew that would happen,” said Dauphiny, whose boat finished fourth in 6:30.54, with Michigan taking third place and a spot in the finals by .23 in a time of 6:30.31.

“What was really hard was going into the last 500, having led the race and then having boats moving. It was so tight. Brown and Stanford got the upper hand, they had a half a seat. Our coxswain was looking at the Michigan cox; they were level. It was really tough, it was a punch in the gut. No one wants to get aced out in the semis for a spot in the finals but it was by a whisker and so you start thinking about what you could have done differently.”

A day later, another Princeton crew, the second varsity 8 had an entirely different reaction after they placed second in their grand final. The rowers raised their arms in exultation and hugged across the boat.

“They really felt like they were getting stronger,” said Dauphiny, referring to her second 8 which posted a time of 7:02.03, trailing only Ohio State, which came in at 6:59.43.

“They fell short at the Ivies and it was great to get some redemption. They were very eager to get another chance. They handled it with maturity and seemed to get more and more confident over the weekend.”

The varying reactions of the crews reflects Princeton’s fortunes this spring. “We had some ups and downs,” said Dauphiny, whose program finished sixth of 22 schools in the team standings at the NCAA regatta. “It feels good when the kids finish up and feel they did the best they could. It was a season of development.”

The varsity 8 went out on Sunday and finished up in style, winning the ‘B’ final to place seventh in the nation.

“I thought it was a show of character, heart, and integrity,” asserted Dauphiny, whose top boat clocked a time of 6:51.80 in winning the race. “I was so proud of them, they felt like they redeemed themselves a bit.”

Dauphiny was certainly proud of her second varsity as they earned Princeton’s highest finish in the NCAA regatta in that classification since 1997.

“We wanted to capitalize on some of the things we had done in the semis; we wanted to have a sprint,” said Dauphiny of the boat.

“The 2V hung together from the beginning of the season to the end. It was good having the presence of two seniors, Kathryn Irwin and Maggie Cochrane, in the boat.”

The Princeton varsity 4 hung in there, taking fifth in its ‘B’ final to place 11th overall.

“It was a learning experience and extremely valuable for the depth of the program,” said Dauphiny, noting that the boat added a rower for the NCAAs who hadn’t competed since opening day due to injury.

“They handled adversity and they did their best to deal with it and move forward. They ran out of time; there was a lot of great competition out there and some really fast boats.”

Over the course of the spring, the Tigers displayed a great competitive spirit.

“The senior class did a nice job of making an impact,” said Dauphiny. “There are a number of people coming back and I am excited about that. I want them to learn lessons about being resilient and dealing with adversity.”

Princeton University seniors Lisa Boyce, Michelle Cesan, Julia Reinprecht, Susannah Scanlan, and Kelly Shon were named last week as winners of the 2014 C. Otto von Kienbusch Award.

The C. Otto von Kienbusch Award is the highest senior female student-athlete award at Princeton. C. Otto von Kienbusch was a staunch opponent of the addition of women to Princeton University in the late ’60s. Once women were admitted to the school, several early women athletes made a trip to his home in upstate New York to try to win him over. They were so successful that he became a major supporter of women’s athletics at Princeton and endowed this award.

Swimming star Boyce, an English major from Champaign, Ill., led Princeton to a pair of Ivy League team championships in swimming and diving, and she did so while winning nine individual Ivy crowns.

She holds four program records, and she was named the Ivy League Championships Career High Point Scorer at the 2014 league meet.

While her Ivy titles came in the 50 freestyle, 100 free and the 100 backstroke, her most historic swim at Princeton came in the 100 butterfly, when she finished seventh in the 2014 NCAA Championship meet. In so doing, Boyce became Princeton’s first first-team All-America since Alicia Aemisegger.

Field hockey standout Cesan, a politics major from New Vernon, New Jersey, is one of the greatest scorers in the history of Princeton field hockey.

A four-time first-team All-Ivy League selection, she ranks sixth all-time at Princeton in goals scored with 34 and is tied for sixth all time in points with 92.

Cesan was a four-time All-America, including a first-team All-America selection this past fall, after she led Princeton in scoring with 10 goals and 10 assists for 30 points. She was a four-time first-team All-Region selection, and she was the 2013 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year.

One of the key members of Princeton’s 2012 NCAA championship team, she has also been active with the United States national team program.

Another field hockey standout, Reinprecht, a politics major native from North Wales, Pa., was a four-time All-America and four-time All-Region selection, as well as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and a four-time first-team All-Ivy pick.

She was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and a second-team All-America as a freshman, and she was a second-team All-America again as a sophomore before being a two-time first-team All-America to finish her career. She also was on the 2012 NCAA tournament all-tournament team as Princeton won the NCAA championship.

Reinprecht was also a member of the United States Olympic field hockey team, and she was a starter at the 2012 Summer Games in London. She is currently in the Netherlands competing with the U.S. team at the field hockey World Cup.

Fencer Scanlan, an economics major from Minneapolis, Minn., earned a bronze medal with the United States epee squad at the 2012 London Olympics for the first medal in women’s team epee in U.S. Olympic history.

She helped Princeton to the NCAA team championship in 2013. Her career has taken place over six years, allowing for time off to prepare for the Olympics, and during that stretch Princeton’s team finish at the NCAA finals rose from eighth in her freshman year of 2009 to the team title in 2013 and a runner-up finish this past year.

Individually, Scanlan, a first-team All-Ivy League honoree in each of her first two seasons, has been a four-time All-America, only the second Princeton women’s epeeist to achieve that and first in 12 years. She advanced to the medal competition twice at the NCAA Championships, first with a runner-up finish last year and then with a third-place finish this year.

Golf star Shon, a sociology major from Port Washington, New York, is a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year after winning the honor the past two seasons. A four-time All-Ivy League honoree, including three first-team honors, she is one of just two Tigers and seven players in league history to earn All-Ivy League recognition four times since the Ivy began sponsoring women’s golf in 1997.

Making program history at the NCAA level as well, Shon was selected to three NCAA East Regionals as an individual and is one of only three Tigers to play in NCAA events in three seasons. Last year, she became one of just two players in program history to qualify for the NCAA Championship, doing so by finishing as runner-up, the highest finish in program history, at the 2013 East Regional. Her finish and her score to par were both the best in an NCAA final in program history.

ON THE HOP: Princeton University men’s track star Tom Hopkins flies through the air in a long jump competition this spring. Last week, senior Hopkins was named as one of the 2014 recipients of Princeton’s William Winston Roper Trophy along with classmates Alec Keller, Damon McLean, Caraun Reid, and Tom Schreiber.(Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

ON THE HOP: Princeton University men’s track star Tom Hopkins flies through the air in a long jump competition this spring. Last week, senior Hopkins was named as one of the 2014 recipients of Princeton’s William Winston Roper Trophy along with classmates Alec Keller, Damon McLean, Caraun Reid, and Tom Schreiber. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Princeton University seniors Tom Hopkins, Alec Keller, Damon McLean, Caraun Reid, and Tom Schreiber were named last week as the 2014 recipients of the William Winston Roper Trophy.

The award was originally given by Mrs. William Winston Roper and the Class of 1902 in honor of Princeton’s famed football coach. It goes annually to “a Princeton senior male of high scholastic rank and outstanding qualities of sportsmanship and general proficiency in athletics.” It has been awarded annually since 1936.

Track star Hopkins, a politics major from Haverford, Pa., is a multi-talented athlete who competed in the sprints, relays, and long jumps. He competed in two NCAA championships, earned two All-America honors, and qualified for the NCAA East Regional in each of his four years. He was part of a quartet that earned a Penn Relays win in the distance medley relay in 2012.

Hopkins was a six-time Ivy League Heptagonal indoor champion in events including 400, 500, long jump, and 4×400. Outdoor he won six titles in the 400, long jump and 4×400. Incredibly, he ends his career with 25 first- or second-place Heps finishes.

Baseball standout Keller, a politics major from Richmond, Virginia, became the second Princeton player ever to be named Ivy League Player of the Year when he earned the award this past season.

He is also the first three-time first-team All-Ivy League selection for Princeton since Ivy League baseball began in 1993 and the third three-time all-league selection in program history, after two others did so in the Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League.

Keller led Princeton this season with a .327 batting average and four triples, and he was second in RBIs, home runs, and doubles. His .545 slugging percentage was third in the league. For his career, he had a .336 batting average.

Track star McLean, a chemistry major from St. Catherine’s, Jamaica, is a two-time All-America in the triple jump and just the second athlete in Heps history — and first since 1975 — to win four straight triple jump titles. McLean also won the outdoor triple jump three times and was the runner-up as a freshman. He won the Heps Most Outstanding Field Performer at the 2013 Indoor Heps after sweeping the triple and long jumps and was named the Regional Field Athlete of the Year that same season.

He posted a personal best and school record this April with a mark of 16.11 meters. At the time that was the second-best jump in the nation. He will be competing later this month at the NCAA Championships for the third time.

Football standout Reid, a sociology major from The Bronx, N.Y., put together one of the most stellar careers in Princeton football history. The defensive lineman earned First-Team All-America honors this season and was the second Tiger ever to be invited to the prestigious Senior Bowl. His dominance resulted in Reid being chosen by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the NFL Draft last month, the highest for a Princeton football player in the modern draft era.

A two-time team captain, Reid’s leadership during the past season helped lead the Tigers to a championship campaign. After enduring back-to-back 1-9 seasons early in his career, Reid helped push Princeton to an 8-2 record in 2013 and a share of the league title.

Legendary lacrosse player Schreiber, a history major from East Meadow, New York, is one of the best midfielders in Princeton lacrosse history and one of the greatest ever to play Division I lacrosse. A three-time first-team All-America, he is also one of two two-time winners of the Lt. j.g. Donald MacLaughlin Jr. Award given to the nation’s top midfielder, an award first given in 1973 and whose first recipient was his father Doug a Hall of Fame lax player for the University of Maryland.

Schreiber is one of two Princeton players ever to be a four-time first-team All-Ivy League selection, and he was the No. 1 selection of the Major League Lacrosse draft by the Ohio Machine.

He ranks fifth all-time in scoring at Princeton with 200 points on 106 goals and 94 assists and is the only player in program history and one of only five in Ivy League history — and the only Ivy midfielder — with at least 100 goals and at least 90 assists, as well as the only player to rank in the top 10 in program history in both goals and assists and the school-record holder for goals, assists and points by a midfielder.

Schreiber won the Senior Class Award this year for outstanding achievement in the areas of competition, the classroom, the community and character. He is also a two-time finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy, the highest honor in college lacrosse.

May 28, 2014
LIONHEARTED: Caraun Reid gets pumped up during his career with the Princeton University football team. Star defensive lineman Reid, who will be graduating from Princeton next week, was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions on May 10 and headed to the Motor City the next day to start his indoctrination into professional football.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LIONHEARTED: Caraun Reid gets pumped up during his career with the Princeton University football team. Star defensive lineman Reid, who will be graduating from Princeton next week, was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions on May 10 and headed to the Motor City the next day to start his indoctrination into professional football. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Caraun Reid will be among the more than 1,000 graduating seniors congregating next Tuesday in front of Nassau Hall for Princeton University’s 267th commencement ceremony.

While many of the graduates will be wondering what awaits them in the real world, Reid has already gotten a taste of his life after Princeton.

The star defensive lineman was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions on May 10 and headed to the Motor City the next day to start his indoctrination into professional football.

For Reid, his destiny started to come into focus when his cell phone rang early in the fifth round.

“I have a phone that identifies area codes and when I saw Michigan, I was excited,” said Reid, who watched the final two days of the draft from his family’s home in the Bronx, N.Y.

“I never thought this would happen when I started football. I was talking to everybody, [general manager] Martin Mayhew, coach [Jim] Caldwell, and the defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin. I was just really happy, I was smiling the whole time.”

In Reid’s view, joining the Lions is a good fit. “The coaches are great and I am in a position to compete and learn from some great players like Ndamukong Suh (Detroit’s Pro Bowl defensive tackle),” said the 6’2, 305-pound Reid, who is the 14th Princeton football player to be selected in the NFL Draft and the first in the modern era (since the 1970 merger) to be selected within the first five rounds. “It is is an ideal position for me to be in.”

While Reid didn’t have much contact with the Lions before the draft, he has immersed himself into the Detroit organization, staying out in Michigan since the draft and participating in a rookie minicamp, meetings, conditioning sessions, and one round of Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

“I met with them briefly at the combine but I hadn’t talked with them since,  my first time out there was last week,” said Reid, who officially signed with the Lions on May 15, entering into a four-year contract with a signing bonus of $188,880 and a total package of $2,408,880, according to the Pride of Detroit website.

“The minicamp was great. Getting into the competitive atmosphere helped me grow as a player. The rookie class is staying at the same place and we have gotten to know each other.”

Reid acknowledges that OTAs showed him how much he has to grow. “The OTAs have set the bar higher; you feel like a rookie out there,” said Reid.

“It is just the speed and being able to know where to go. The veteran guys know what is expected and the rookies don’t. You just compete as hard as you can. I just want to keep getting better and do better every rep.”

In Reid’s view, his Princeton experience gives him a better chance at succeeding in the NFL.

“I found out what I really loved, that was the biggest part of it, being able to pursue your passion,” said Reid, reflecting on his Princeton career.

“I am approaching this situation as a better man for having gone to Princeton. I think I will be more professional and have a greater maturity.”

Princeton head coach Bob Surace, who spent eight years on the coaching staff of the Cincinnati Bengals, believes that Detroit presents a good professional opportunity for Reid.

“Having had to play against Jim Washburn when he was at Tennessee, I know that he is one of the most respected defensive line coaches in the NFL,” said Surace.

“He likes hard-working, high effort guys who can rush the passer. The other part that is a good fit is that they have veteran guys on the line who are first round draft picks and who are productive. It will be good for Caraun to be in the same room with those kind of guys.”

In Surace’s view, Reid has what it takes to be a productive player in the NFL.

“The scouts got to know him; he has the physical traits plus the intangibles and work ethic,” added Surace of Reid, a 2012 and 2013 All-America and three-time first-team All-Ivy League honoree who had 20.5 sacks and 168 tackles in his career as he helped the Tigers rise from the cellar to a share of the 2013 league title. “There is a reason he went in the highest draft round of any player in Princeton history.”

Reid’s selection is another feather in the cap for a program that saw star defensive lineman Mike Catapano get chosen in the seventh-round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs and emerge as a special teams starter and rotation player for KC.

“I am so excited for Caraun; this is his dream and the career path he wants,” said Surace.

“It shows that we are developing guys in the right way. Our strength coach, Jason Gallucci, is doing as good a job as he can having the guys for one-and-a half to two hours. The coaches watch film and prepare; it shouldn’t be any different than Florida State. These are things we can do well and it doesn’t matter if you are D-III or Ivy League. The players have a heavy academic load but they value football too.”

Reid, for his part, is ready to do things the right way for the Lions and let the chips fall where they may this fall.

“I just want to be the best I can be,” said Reid. “I don’t know what is going to happen in training camp or in the season but as long as I am doing my best, that is the main thing.”

REEL DEAL: Kelsey Reelick, center, rows from the stroke seat this spring in action for the  Princeton University women’s open varsity 8. Senior star Reelick and the Tigers will be competing in the NCAA championships at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. Reelick will be looking to come full circle as she helped the Tigers to a title in the NCAA varsity 8 as a freshman.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

REEL DEAL: Kelsey Reelick, center, rows from the stroke seat this spring in action for the Princeton University women’s open varsity 8. Senior star Reelick and the Tigers will be competing in the NCAA championships at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. Reelick will be looking to come full circle as she helped the Tigers to a title in the NCAA varsity 8 as a freshman. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

Kelsey Reelick started this spring in the back of the Princeton University women’s open varsity 8, rowing from the bow seat.

But after an opening day loss to Brown, senior star Reelick was moved up to the front of the boat, getting switched to stroke.

“I had never stroked an 8 before; I had trialed there and had done it in practice,” said Reelick, who made her debut in a loss to Virginia on April 5.

“In the Virginia race, I turned to Annie [coxswain Annie Prasad] and said this is my first race at stroke. Every seat is important for different reasons. The bow is more zen; you are in the back and responsible for setting the boat straight. You are separated and not near the yelling. Stroke is more excitable; you are looking at the cox and there are seven girls behind you.”

With Reelick developing a comfort level in her new spot, Princeton righted the ship, going undefeated after the Virginia race and then avenged the Brown defeat in the Ivy championship as the Tigers took the varsity 8 title with a course record performance.

This week, Princeton will look to keep rolling as it competes in the NCAA championships at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis.

As Reelick looks forward to her final college competition, she acknowledges that the boat was steeled by its early struggles.

The first two weeks were rough; it made us more determined,” said Reelick. “Winning is fantastic but losing creates more of a change. We had some changes to make.”

During her rowing career, Reelick has proved that she can deal well with change. After taking up sculling as a teenager in New Zealand, Reelick and her family came back to the U.S. and relocated to Connecticut. As a senior in high school, Reelick went from the GMS Rowing Center to the Connecticut Boat Club (CBC), helping the CBC take first in the USRowing youth nationals in both the women’s 2- and women’s 8+.

“I had never done sweep rowing before; we had a good 2 that was speedy and we had a great 8,” said Reelick. “It was an amazing boat, a boat of superstars.”

A year later, Reelick competed on another amazing boat as she joined the Princeton open program and made a varsity 8 that went undefeated on the way to winning the Eastern Sprints and NCAA titles.

“It was tough,” said Reelick, reflecting on her transition to college rowing. “I do remember that there was a point where I stopped and looked around at the others; we had a big senior class that year and I thought they are just going hard all of the time. The intensity level is accelerated at the college level. I realized that I had to go harder everyday.”

Reelick realizes how lucky she was to be a part of back-to-back championship campaigns.

“I had an undefeated season in my senior year in high school and then as a freshman in college and I thought this is how it goes,” said Reelick.

“We won Easterns, we won NCAAs, and then we went to the Royal Henley. It was a massive year of rowing. It was amazing.”

After a rebuilding year in her sophomore season, Princeton got back on the medal stand last spring, winning the Ivy championships and taking second in the NCAA championship race. A more important development for Reelick in her junior year, was the arrival of her younger sister, Erin, who joined the Tiger program.

“It has been fantastic; we rowed together in my senior year in high school,” said Reelick of her younger sister, who rows on the No. 6 seat for the Princeton varsity 8.

“She was on the CBC 8, that was her first year of rowing. I love having Erin in the boat, she is a fierce competitor. She is also one of my best friends. It is great to have someone in the boathouse and on campus that I can rely on.”

Reelick and her boatmates were primed to compete hard this spring. “We knew there was something to be gained from the loss of 2013,” said Reelick.

“We jumped into the winter with some goals in mind. We had some good Erg (ergometer) scores and were looking to carry that conditioning on to the water.”

In going after its goals this spring, the boat has displayed an ability to learn from its mistakes.

“After each race, we would talk about what we did well and what we would need to build on,” said Reelick.

“Each week we would fix what we did wrong. I have never been on an 8 that has improved so much.”

That improvement was clearly evident at the Ivy regatta on the Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J. as Princeton got off to fast start in the final and never looked back on the way to victory, clocking a time of 6:15.412 to a set a course record in Ivy and Eastern Sprints competition at the venue.

“It was awesome,” said Reelick. “Going into the race, we knew it was going to be hard. We had pent-up nervous energy and right off the start we were locked into each other. It was interesting to set the record.”

Looking ahead to the NCAAs, Reelick believes Princeton has room for growth. “I think we can go faster; we have some things to work on,” said Reelick.

“We need to work on staying internal. You need to relax and execute. We are working hard to perfect things. Lori makes sure we don’t forget what each of us can do better individually. There is one change that each of us can make to help the boat collectively.”

Reelick is hoping to come full circle, ending her career with an NCAA crown to go with the one she earned in 2011.

“One of the things I remember from the NCAAs freshman year is that I am here now; we have been waiting a year for this race,” said Reelick.

“Throughout this spring, every race has meant a lot. Winning Ivies feels great as a senior and winning a medal at nationals would feel great as a senior.”

May 21, 2014
OPEN ARMS: Princeton University women’s open crew head coach Lori Dauphiny, far left, celebrates with the members of her varsity 8 after the Tigers won the final last Sunday at the Ivy League championships on Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J. Princeton clocked a time of 6:15.412 to a set a course record in Ivy and Eastern Sprints competition at the venue. In addition, the Tigers earned the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Championship regatta by virtue of the victory. The NCAAs are slated for May 30-June 1 at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind.(Photo Courtesy of the Ivy League)

OPEN ARMS: Princeton University women’s open crew head coach Lori Dauphiny, far left, celebrates with the members of her varsity 8 after the Tigers won the final last Sunday at the Ivy League championships on Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J. Princeton clocked a time of 6:15.412 to a set a course record in Ivy and Eastern Sprints competition at the venue. In addition, the Tigers earned the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Championship regatta by virtue of the victory. The NCAAs are slated for May 30-June 1 at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Courtesy of the Ivy League)

After the Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 lost to Brown and Virginia in the first two weeks of the season, Lori Dauphiny decided to do some tinkering.

“The lineup did shift,” said Princeton head coach Dauphiny, whose top boat finished 3.0 seconds behind Brown in the opener on March 29 and the same 3.0 second margin behind Virginia a week later.

“It was the same personnel as in the first race against Brown but the seats shifted. We were clicking better and the individuals within the boat all improved as the season went on. It was important to know that we had to improve. We got to see our weaknesses, as painful as that was.”

The Tigers shifted into top gear over the last month of the regular season, going undefeated and posting victories over Harvard, Cornell, Yale, Dartmouth, Penn, and Clemson.

“We were making progress,” added Dauphiny. “I did get a sense in the last two or three weeks that we were making big strides. We were homing in on race preparation. We were working on all aspects of the race. They had more racing experience. They have more savvy as a boat and had learned to handle different conditions. This boat has shown resilience.”

The Tigers knew that they would have to be resilient as they competed last weekend at the Ivy League championships on Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J.

“The competition was pretty deep; Brown was ranked No. 1 and was the favorite,” said Dauphiny.

“We knew the other boats were gaining speed. Harvard made changes. Dartmouth did well in its heat, it clearly improved. The schools further north tend to gain more speed so the speeds were unknown.”

Apparently, Princeton gained the most speed over the last few weeks as it roared out to an early lead in the final and never looked back, getting open water on its foes, posting a winning time of 6:15.412, more than four seconds better than runner-up Brown at 6:19.722.

The effort set a course record in Ivy and Eastern Sprints competition at the venue and earned the Tigers the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Championship regatta which is slated for May 30-June 1 at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind.

“It was our best start ever,” asserted Dauphiny, whose varsity 8 included junior Faith Richardson (bow), senior Angie Gould, senior Susannah Shipton, sophomore Meghan Wheeler, freshman Georgie Howe, sophomore Erin Reelick, senior Margy Bertasi, senior Kelsey Reelick (stroke), and senior Annie Prasad (cox).

“I didn’t know what would happen after that. I didn’t know the charge the other boats would make. I am always nervous. I did feel a little better after the heat. I thought this boat could do something good.”

In reflecting on the record-breaking performance, Dauphiny acknowledged that the top boat exceeded her expectations.

“It was an amazing performance,” said Dauphiny. “I didn’t realize it was a course record for the EARC and Ivy until I was on the awards dock. That is outstanding. I didn’t anticipate that at the beginning of the season. It is a nice surprise and a testament to their hard work.”

The hard work of the rowers throughout the program was on display as the Tigers finished second in the team standings at the regatta to Brown, earning a slew of medals.

“The accomplishments of the top boat are the accomplishments of all the rowers,” said Dauphiny, whose second varsity 8 and varsity 4 each finished third with the third varsity 8 and fourth varsity 8 each placing first and the varsity 4B taking second.

“Each girl who raced on Sunday had a medal around her neck. They push each other and support each other. It is a nice environment. It takes a team.”

The 2V and varsity 4 each produced efforts to build on as they will be joining the varsity 8 at the NCAA regatta.

“The 2V fell short of what they wanted to do but I am pleased that they did their best,” said Dauphiny, noting that assistant coaches Kate Maxim and Steve Coppola have played an integral role in getting the boats up to speed.

“They got a medal. The lineups change and the speeds of the boats are unknown. The varsity 4 went through a lot, they made big strides; they had a lot of lineup changes and handled that well.”

Looking ahead to Indianapolis, Dauphiny is hoping that her rowers can make even more strides.

“We plan to keep working on it,” said Dauphiny, whose program is one of three programs, along with Brown and Washington, that have qualified for every championship regatta since the inaugural event in 1997. “We want to maintain our form.”

HEAVY MEDAL: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight varsity 8 heads down Lake Carnegie in a recent regatta. Last weekend, Princeton earned a bronze medal as it took third in the Eastern Sprints on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. The Tigers will look for another medal when they compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Mercer Lake in West Windsor from May 30 - June 1.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

HEAVY MEDAL: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight varsity 8 heads down Lake Carnegie in a recent regatta. Last weekend, Princeton earned a bronze medal as it took third in the Eastern Sprints on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. The Tigers will look for another medal when they compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Mercer Lake in West Windsor from May 30 – June 1. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

Seeing his Princeton University men’s heavyweight varsity 8 crew go to Brown in its regular season finale gave Greg Hughes confidence heading into the Eastern Sprints.

“There were a lot of things that we were working on that we executed well in that race,” said Princeton head coach Hughes.

“It was a boost. We built off a lot of things from that race in our preps for Sprints.”

Posting the fastest heat on Sunday morning at the Sprints on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. was another boost for the Tigers.

“We saw that we had the speed to compete at the top,” said Hughes. “We also saw that the league is pretty wide open, there was not one crew that stood out. Whoever put up the best race on the day could win.”

While Princeton didn’t win the final as it took third behind champion Harvard and runner-up Brown, it did produce some good racing.

“It was a tight, competitive field and the conditions were really quick,” said Hughes, whose boat clocked a time of 5:32.411 over the 2,000-meter course with Harvard coming in at 5:27.277 and Brown at 5:28.998.

“In a race like that you have got to get into the race. We were in the pack in the first 750-1000 meters. We established ourselves. We had a good battle on our side with Harvard and Northeastern. Brown did a great job on the other side; they had a really good piece.”

Moving up to the medal stand was a great step forward for the Tigers, whose varsity 8 had taken fourth at the Sprints the last two years.

“It was a solid race for our guys, we wanted to do a little better,” said Hughes.

“We know what we need to work on for the IRAs (the Intercollegiate Rowing Association national championship regatta). For a lot of the guys, it was their first medal in a varsity race and for others it was their first medal at sprints. To go into a race that competitive and step up and be strong and fast enough to get a medal when you are not at your best is a major stride forward.”

The Tiger second varsity 8 showed its competitive fire, taking second, an eyelash behind winner Northeastern.

“That was arguably the race of the day,” said Hughes, whose 2V clocked a time of 5:38.837 with Northeastern coming in at 5:37.781.

“It was just an awesome race; all of the boats were within five seconds. You could have been second or sixth just as easily and they found a way to be second.”

While the third varsity 8 didn’t medal as it placed fourth, Hughes was proud of its effort.

“That was their best piece of the year,” noted Hughes “In the regular season we were dealing with some sickness and injury and that trickled down through the boats. Guys were moving up. They raced a lot of different lineups and I was happy they built their speed and had a race like that.”

With the IRAs scheduled for May 30 — June 1 at Mercer Lake, Hughes is looking for his rowers to keep building their speed.

“I think it is more of the same; the work we have been doing has helped us technically,” said Hughes.

“We need to develop race skills and race mentality. That was a tight 6-boat racing last weekend, particularly in the final. That was the first time we saw that this season. We will be more capable of doing that for three days straight when we are in the IRAs.”

Hughes believes that competing at the nearby venue should spur a big final effort from the Tigers.

“We are definitely looking forward to it; it is close to home and close to our fans,” said Hughes.

“It is a good venue for racing, the athletes will feel like they are at a national championship. We saw that in Sacramento last year, they created an awesome environment for the athletes and I am sure it will be the same at Mercer Lake. It is some of the most exciting rowing racing in the world. The college crews are evenly matched, there is very little between them. It highlights the sport and what is so great about it.”

May 14, 2014
FINAL PUSH: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Sarah Lloyd, left, gets pushed by a Cornell player in the recently held Ivy League tournament. Last Sunday, senior midfielder Lloyd contributed a goal and two assists but it wasn’t enough as Princeton lost 13-11 to sixth-seeded Virginia in the second round of the NCAA tourney. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 12-7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FINAL PUSH: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Sarah Lloyd, left, gets pushed by a Cornell player in the recently held Ivy League tournament. Last Sunday, senior midfielder Lloyd contributed a goal and two assists but it wasn’t enough as Princeton lost 13-11 to sixth-seeded Virginia in the second round of the NCAA tourney. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 12-7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team, its NCAA assignment last weekend included a cast of familiar characters.

The Tigers faced Penn State in the first round on Friday, just weeks after falling 13-12 to the Nittany Lions in the regular season finale. The winner was set to face host sixth-seeded Virginia, who the Tigers had edged 15-13 on March 15.

“We were really excited about the draw,” said Princeton head coach Chris Sailer.

“We had as good a shot as anyone, any one of the three teams could win. We were closely matched.”

The rematch against Penn State was nearly as close as the first meeting with Princeton rallying from a 9-6 second half deficit to pull out a 16-13 victory.

“We executed the things we worked on,” said Sailer, who got four goals and an assist from junior star Erin McMunn with freshman Olivia Hompe tallying six points on two goals and four assists and senior goalie Caroline Franke making 12 saves off the bench.

“We have a habit of being able to score goals when we need them. Our Achilles heel has been starting slowly. We had some troubles early. We put Caroline Franke in at goalie, she is bigger and she had a great day in the cage. She gave us a spark.”

Sailer knew her team faced a big challenge in taking on host Virginia with a two-day turnaround.

“The tournament is set up to to give the top six teams an advantage; they can watch you play and rest,” said Sailer.

“UVa had two weeks off although you never know how that is going to play out. We played a really hard game on Friday but I thought the girls recovered quickly. It was 20 degrees hotter than what we had been used to. We did much better than we did at the Ivy tournament the week before.”

While Princeton is used to coming from behind, spotting an early  four-goal deficit to the Cavaliers proved to be too much as the Tigers lost 13-11.

“We got down 4-0 against UVa, you can’t keep digging holes like that and expect to win every game,” said Sailer.

“After those early minutes, we won by two. When you play a good team like UVa that is patient, they hold on to the ball and you have to come out eventually. That can lead to some easy goals for them.”

The Tigers certainly didn’t make things easy for Virginia, cutting the Cavalier lead to 12-10 with 3:29 remaining in regulation.

“I am really proud of how the players keep fighting,” said Sailer, who got four goals from junior Erin Slifer in the defeat with senior Mary-Kate Sivilli chipping in three goals and senior Sarah Lloyd contributing a goal and two assists.

“Sarah Lloyd and Erin Slifer and the middies worked their butts off. MK had some important goals for us.”

Sailer credited the team’s group of seniors with setting the tone in terms of work ethic as the Tigers finished with a 12-7 record.

“It was really a strong season for Princeton lacrosse,” asserted Sailer, whose group of seniors includes Liz Cutting, Colleen Smith, Grace Bowen, Kellie Ragg, and Erin Williams in addition to Lloyd, Sivilli, and Franke.

“I am very proud of the seniors and what they have done to change the culture of the team. We were unified, hard working, and driven.”

Despite the loss to Virginia, Princeton has a lot to be proud of when it looks back on the 2014 campaign.

“We got a share of the Ivy regular season title which is always the No. 1 goal coming into the season,” said Sailer, a Hall of Fame coach who has now completed 28 seasons at the helm of the program and has guided Princeton to 22 NCAA appearances and three national titles (1994, 2002, and 2003).

“We have 11 Final 4s and 10 regular season Ivy titles so that shows how tough the league is. I am happy that the team made it to the NCAAs as an at-large team and got a good draw. We advanced in the NCAAs which means we were one of the top 16 teams. We would have liked to be in the elite 8 and we were very close. In a few days, when we look back and get some perspective, we will realize that we took some really positive steps this year.”

With such standouts as McMunn, Hompe, and Slifer coming back along with freshman Madeline Rodriguez, sophomore Liz Bannantine, freshman Anna Doherty, sophomore Anya Gersoff, freshman Amanda Leavell, junior Annie Woehling, and sophomore Alexandra Bruno, the future looks positive for the Tigers.

“Looking at the returnees, we have strength across the board,” said Sailer.

“We have a lot of good players who saw a lot of action this year. There was growth and improvement in each class. Everybody on the team got better this year and that is the direction you want to go in.”

STROBE LIGHT: Princeton University women’s lightweight rower ­Maggie Stroebel pulls hard in a race earlier this spring. Senior co-captain ­Stroebel is looking to end her Princeton career on a high note as the Tigers wrap up the season by competing at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Mercer Lake in West Windsor later this month.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

STROBE LIGHT: Princeton University women’s lightweight rower ­Maggie Stroebel pulls hard in a race earlier this spring. Senior co-captain ­Stroebel is looking to end her Princeton career on a high note as the Tigers wrap up the season by competing at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Mercer Lake in West Windsor later this month. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Maggie Stroebel demonstrated plenty of athletic versatility as a high schooler.

A native of Saukville, Wisc., Stroebel lettered four times in track and cross country and twice in basketball for Cedarburg.

But a college trip east inspired Stroebel to add another athletic pursuit.

“My older brother (Spencer) went to Princeton in the Class of 2012 and had walked on to the men’s lightweight team,” said Stroebel. “I had visited him and I really loved the school.”

Joining the Milwaukee Rowing Club in the summer after her junior year in high school, Stroebel ended up following her brother’s footsteps, becoming a member of the Princeton women’s lightweight crew program in the fall of 2010.

Later this month, Stroebel will wrap up her Princeton crew career as she leads the lightweight varsity 8 at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Mercer Lake in West Windsor.

Stroebel has made up for lost time in her rowing career. “I actually started really late for someone who got recruited,” said Stroebel.

“Crew is not a sport like basketball or soccer that requires a skill set developed over the years. You can be recruited with a good ERG (ergometer) score. I picked up the technique quickly. I rowed my entire senior year in high and the summer after. We rowed at the Head of Charles in the fall of my senior year and did well. We went to club nationals in Tennessee that spring.”

In her freshman year at Princeton, Stroebel quickly made her presence felt. “We had a really strong team and a really strong group of seniors,” said Stroebel.

“I raced in the 1V (first varsity 8) in the fall. I was thrown into the fire and that was a good experience. I ended up helping the 2V get a bronze that spring at the Eastern Sprints.”

Over the next two seasons, Stoebel was a fixture in the program’s top boat.

“I was in the 1V in the spring; it was definitely a rebuilding year after losing so many seniors,” said Stroebel.

“That year we had some downs after the highs of the year before. In junior year, we did better; we were on the way to getting back to where we were in 2011.”

This year, Stroebel has led the way for the Tigers, serving as a team captain along with junior Rebecca Kreutter.

“It was such an honor; I have so much respect for the previous captains,” said Stroebel.

“I come down every day looking to be a leader and looking to be positive. Things can drag so I try to keep people motivated and keep us going.”

Princeton has enjoyed a positive spring, taking second in the san Diego Crew Classic, winning the Knecht Cup regatta, and taking third at the Eastern Sprints. “Every year, we want to medal at the sprints and IRAs,” said Stroebel.

“We were excited to win the Knecht Cup. We got a third at the Sprints; we had a good race.”

Learning from the Sprints where Princeton grabbed an early lead before getting passed by champion Harvard-Radcliffe and runner-up Wisconsin, Stroebel believes the top boat can race even better at the national championship regatta.

“We are looking forward to the IRAs; we think we can beat Wisconsin and Harvard-Radcliffe,” said Stroebel, who has been rowing in the No. 2 seat for the Tigers this spring.

“I like that strategy of going out fast. It is hard to sit back and get a medal. We are working on base pace and endurance. We have a young boat, with two freshmen and some sophomores. We have been very focused. Everyone comes down and even though we are in exams, they put that aside and work hard. We have a good group.”

As Stroebel heads down the homestretch of her Princeton career, she is determined to have a good time in the water.

“I am trying to relish it; talking about graduation seems unbelievable,” said Stroebel.

“I am trying to enjoy every day on the water. I hope to row later in life but this is the last time I will be on an eight like this. This is it for me with competitive rowing.”

No matter what happens, Stroebel is glad she followed her brother’s path.

“I think rowing has helped me so much, being on a team is special,” said Stroebel, who will be working in marketing for a New York City firm after graduation.

“I couldn’t imagine going through Princeton any other way; my teammates have really been supportive in so many ways.”

May 7, 2014
PUMPED UP: Princeton University women’s tennis player ­Lindsay Graff enjoying herself on the court. Junior standout Graff was named Ivy League Player of the Year this spring, helping the Tigers go 7-0 in league action on the way to the team crown. This week, the Tigers head south to the University of Alabama to take part in the NCAA tournament. Princeton, 18-5 overall, is slated to play Arizona State (18-7) on May 9 in the first round with the winner advancing to the next round on May 10 to face the victor of the Alabama/Jackson State opening round matchup. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

PUMPED UP: Princeton University women’s tennis player ­Lindsay Graff enjoying herself on the court. Junior standout Graff was named Ivy League Player of the Year this spring, helping the Tigers go 7-0 in league action on the way to the team crown. This week, the Tigers head south to the University of Alabama to take part in the NCAA tournament. Princeton, 18-5 overall, is slated to play Arizona State (18-7) on May 9 in the first round with the winner advancing to the next round on May 10 to face the victor of the Alabama/Jackson State opening round matchup.
(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

A 1998 match between pro tennis stars Lindsay Davenport and Steffi Graf changed the course of Lindsay Graff’s life.

“When I was 5, I was watching TV and Lindsay Davenport was playing against Steffi Graf and I thought my name is a combination so maybe I should try tennis,” said Graff, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “I picked up a racket a few weeks later and I have loved it ever since.”

Graff moved up the ladder in tennis, breaking into juniors in middle school and starring at Pine Crest High, where she was a three-time Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel Player of the year and the Florida Class 2A doubles champ in 2009 and singles champ in 2011.

Joining the Princeton University women’s tennis team in 2011, Graff played like a combination of tennis legends Davenport and Graf this spring, getting named Ivy League Player of the Year as the Tigers went 7-0 in league action on the way to the team crown.

This week Graff and the Tigers, 18-5 overall, head south to the University of Alabama to take part in the NCAA tournament. Princeton is slated to play Arizona State (18-7) on May 9 in the first round with the winner advancing to the next round on May 10 to face the victor of the Alabama/Jackson State opening round matchup.

“It is a good matchup for us,” said Graff, reflecting on Princeton’s first NCAA appearance sine 2010. “We are on a roll and everyone is playing well. We want to win a few matches at the NCAAs and go on a little run.”

It took a while for Graff to get on a roll in her college career. “In college, the biggest challenge is the the physical level, there a lot of bigger and a lot of stronger players,” said Graff, noting that she has packed 20 pounds of muscle on to her 5’5 frame since freshman year. “They hit a heavier ball.”

After earning second-team All-Ivy honors at singles playing at No. 2 and first-team All Ivy at doubles as a freshman, Graff moved to the top spot in singles in 2013, finding a comfort level on and off the court.

“At high school, you are used to being at the top academically and at the top of your activity,” said Graff.

“At Princeton, you are competing with all these kids who were in the same position. I was able to get my priorities in line; it is tough to do everything at a high level. You have to choose the things that are important to you. I love tennis so I have focused on that.”

Last summer, Graff raised the level of her game as she won a regional qualifier for the U.S. Open at singles and mixed doubles.

“That was one of the best experiences for me; I spontaneously decided to play and ended up winning the regional,” said Graff, who ended up falling short of a bid for the U.S. Open as she lost in the national playoffs in New Haven, Conn.

“I was playing a lot and working hard all summer long. It was a great experience to be playing against top players like that. In the second round, I saw a lot of good players and saw where I stood. Coming into the year, I felt a lot more confident.”

Coming into this spring, Graff was confident that Princeton could be an Ivy title contender.

“We had the capability of having a big Ivy season,” said Graff, noting that the arrival of four freshmen this season had upgraded the talent level for the program which posted a 4-3 Ivy mark in 2013.

“We had 10 players and everyone was playing for a spot. I felt that we could be a good team and we would regret it if we didn’t work hard.”

A critical 4-3 win over three-time defending Ivy champion Yale on April 4 showed that Princeton had a very good team.

“We fell behind 3-0 and the girl playing No. 5 (Caroline Joyce) had a big win and our No. 2 (Amanda Muliawan) won and our No. 6 (Katie Goepel) was going into a third set,” recalled Graff.

“I lost the first and was behind in second. It was very much on my shoulders, I knew I had to win the match. I was not going to lose that third set. I was not getting off that court until I won.”

Graff ended up pulling out a 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 win over Yale’s Madeleine Hamilton to seal the victory for the Tigers.

“I showed mental toughness; my teammates were cheering me on from the sidelines and I wanted to do this for them,” said Graff. “They were so loud and so genuinely supportive. I try to fight for myself but I was really excited to win for them.”

Heading into the regular season finale against Columbia on April 20 with a one-game lead over the Lions in the league standings, the Tigers weren’t about to settle for sharing the title.

“Columbia did beat us a few weeks before the Ivy season but we were 6-0 we were so hyped up and so confident,” said Graff.

“We were a different team. We showed we weren’t intimidated from the first point of the doubles match; they saw how we had come together as a team. I saw we were up 2-0. In my match it was 7-6, 5-4 and our girl at No. 4 (Sivan Krems) was winning. I was focusing on the match point and then I was swarmed by the team. I realized that No. 4 had won just 20 seconds before so I got the point to clinch the match. It was the best feeling.”

In Graff’s view, the team’s feeling of unity has helped spur it to a title. “Our talent level is there but if our work ethic didn’t match our talent, we might be disappointed,” said Graff of the squad which is guided by second-year head coach Laura Granville.

“For the last 1½ to 2 months, all the players have jumped on board. People are putting it all on the court, we are fighting for each other. We realized we can accomplish more together.”

While accomplishing the Ivy Player of the Year award was exciting for Graff, its main importance to her comes in the context of the team’s success this spring.

“It was one of my goals at the beginning of the year,” said Graff, who has an 18-4 record this spring and is riding a nine-match winning streak heading into the NCAAs.

“I realized when I was 12-4 that each time I lost a match, the team had lost. I lost a match in Miami and I said coming off the court that day that was the last match I was going to lose. I want to win every match. Although every point counts the same, it is important to win at No. 1. Every match I have won has helped the team win so that is the important thing.”

Looking ahead, Graff hopes to someday win matches at the pro level. “I am a junior so I am thinking about that,” said Graff, reflecting on her aspirations to keep playing tennis after college.

“I would love to stay in the game. Tennis is my favorite thing to do; there is no other place I would rather be than on the tennis court. It is high priority. It is a long road to the pro tour. I would love to give it a shot.”

CIVIL WAR: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Mary-Kate Sivilli, left, races away from a pack of Cornell players last Friday in the Ivy League tournament semis. Senior attacker ­Sivilli tallied three assists in the contest to help Princeton win 12-5.  On Sunday, Sivilli had a goal in a losing cause as the Tigers fell 9-6 to Penn in the Ivy championship game. Princeton, now 11-6, will play in the upcoming NCAA tournament where the Tigers will face Penn State on May 9 in an opening round contest at the University of Virginia.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CIVIL WAR: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Mary-Kate Sivilli, left, races away from a pack of Cornell players last Friday in the Ivy League tournament semis. Senior attacker ­Sivilli tallied three assists in the contest to help Princeton win 12-5. On Sunday, Sivilli had a goal in a losing cause as the Tigers fell 9-6 to Penn in the Ivy championship game. Princeton, now 11-6, will play in the upcoming NCAA tournament where the Tigers will face Penn State on May 9 in an opening round contest at the University of Virginia. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Mary-Kate Sivilli and her teammates on the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team had a special message written on their arms as they hosted Penn last Sunday in the championship game of the Ivy League Tournament.

With senior co-captain Colleen Smith having been sidelined after injuring her knee on the opening draw in Princeton’s 12-5 win over Cornell on Friday in the Ivy semis, the Tigers brought her on the field with them in the final via magic marker.

“It is really hard to make up for Colleen, she is a big presence, she has a lot of spirit,” said senior attacker Sivilli.

“We actually wrote her number on our wrists today. We played for her, keeping a piece of her with us in our heart the whole game. Unfortunately it is not the same but we tried to embody her presence.”

The Penn players also scrawled some inspiration on their arms with the words “Penn Ball,” paying homage to the Duke men’s basketball’s team slogan of “Duke Ball” used as inspiration to go hard after any loose balls.

In the early stages on Sunday, the Quakers did a better job of staying on message, scoring the first six goals of the game on the way to taking a 6-2 lead at halftime.

“I thought they really came out and took the game today,” said Princeton head coach Chris Sailer, whose team was outshot 21-3 in the first half and lost 7-of-9 draw controls.

“I think you just have to give them a lot of credit, they went after it at the start of the game. We were slow starting today. I thought Friday night we played one of the best games, if not the best game, that we have played all season. Today was the other end of the spectrum. I think Penn just came out like a force. They worked really hard offensively and we were trying to just keep up defensively.”

In the second half, the Tigers took a page out of Smith’s book, playing with heart and fire as they cut into the Penn lead.

“I was really proud that the team showed a very different effort and fight in the second half,” said Sailer of the Tigers, who had a 9-3 edge on shots in the second half and won 6-of-7 draw controls.

“If you look at the draw control statistics, they were reversed, that was the name of the game. We were outhustled and outperformed on the draw in the first half and we did the reverse on the second half so we had an opportunity.”

But the early hole proved too big as Princeton ultimately succumbed 9-6 to the Quakers to drop to 11-6. The Tigers will get a chance to fight another day as they earned an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament and will play Penn State on May 9 at the University of Virginia with victor to face host Virginia on May 11 in a second round contest.

Princeton junior attacker Erin McMunn believes that the self-belief that the Tigers displayed in their rally will serve the squad well in the NCAAs.

“I think the first thought you have to have, and I think it is something our team has done a really good job of doing all year, is really buying in and believing in yourselves,” said McMunn, who scored three goals to lead the Tigers with Sarah Lloyd, Olivia Hompe, and Mary-Kate Sivilli chipping in one apiece.

“I think we did that and I think the second half shows you that. It is tough to come back from 6-2 at halftime but it didn’t get to us in terms of believing that we could take this game.”

Sivilli, for her part, sees team’s success coming down to taking care of the ball.

“Draw controls and momentum win games,” said Sivilli, who was named to  the All-Tournament team last weekend along with fellow Tigers McMunn, Liz Bannantine, and Annie Woehling.

“We didn’t have the ball the first half of the game and you can’t win a game without the ball.”

In Sailer’s view, 17th-ranked Princeton, which lost 13-12 to No. 11 Penn State in late April and beat 15th-ranked Virginia 15-13 on March 1, needs a fiery attitude along with ball possession to make an NCAA run.

“It is the mentality piece; we have to go after what we want,” said Sailer, who has guided Princeton to 22 NCAA appearances and three national titles (1994, 2002, and 2003).

“We have got to be ready from the first draw. Things are going to be hard but that doesn’t mean that we can’t prevail. We just need to have more of that gritty, fighting attitude from the start. I think you saw that in the game Friday night.”

LIGHT SHOW: The Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 crew races up Lake Carnegie in a regatta earlier this spring. Last Saturday, the Tigers were edged by Columbia in a regatta on Lake Overpeck in Ridgefield, N.J. Princeton is next in action when it competes in the Eastern Sprints on May 18 at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

LIGHT SHOW: The Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 crew races up Lake Carnegie in a regatta earlier this spring. Last Saturday, the Tigers were edged by Columbia in a regatta on Lake Overpeck in Ridgefield, N.J. Princeton is next in action when it competes in the Eastern Sprints on May 18 at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

Even through the Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 crew fell to Columbia last Saturday to suffer its second defeat to the Lions this spring, Marty Crotty is not pushing the panic button.

“During the H-Y-P (Harvard-Yale-Princeton) race (on April 26) one of our rowers was injured and we thought we could plug the hole this week but we didn’t,” said Princeton head coach Crotty, whose top boat clocked a time of 5:55.4 over the 2,000-meter course on Lake Overpeck in Ridgefield, N.J to trail Columbia by 2.2 seconds but edge third-place Delaware by 0.8 of second.

“We got off to another flat start on Saturday and Columbia is a good enough boat to take advantage of that. We were dealing with a different lineup. We have a lot to do in the next two weeks but we have eight strong rowers and a good cox. It is not like there is a significant time difference. Losing could be a step back but it wasn’t in this case, the race showed us what we need to work on.”

The second varsity 8 took another step forward last Saturday, winning its race to remain undefeated this spring.

“It is amazing to go through unscathed, they have had a different lineup in every race,” said Crotty, noting that injury, illness, and lineup changes come with the territory. “To be able to rotate guys through varsity and still win every week is an accomplishment.”

With the varsity 8 at 7-3, having also lost to Cornell, Crotty believes the boat has plenty of potential.

“It has been an up and down season,” said Crotty, whose boat was ranked second nationally coming into the regatta last Saturday.

“We are trying to get the pieces together. We have shown flashes. Even in the losses, we have matched the speed of the other boats over the last 1,500 meters.”

As Princeton prepares for Eastern Sprints, which are slated for May 18 at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., the focus is clear.

“We need to get off the line with the field so we are not working from behind,” said Crotty.

“I am not used to that as a coach. If anything, I have been known for getting boats out too fast. I need to get guys hyped up and aggressive in the first 40 strokes. We just need to be a little cleaner and a little sharper at the start.”

Crotty believes his rowers can clean up at the Sprints. “We are going into the next two weeks thinking that every boat can win at Sprints,” said Crotty.

“We are not using hope as a strategy. We have the talent to win. Cornell and Columbia have gotten the best of us so far. We just need to clean things up at both ends and this is the time of the year that you do that.”

MAC ATTACK: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Erin McMunn heads to goal last Friday against Cornell in the Ivy League tournament semifinals. Junior attacker McMunn scored a career-high seven goals in the contest to help Princeton prevail 12-5. On Sunday, McMunn led Princeton with three goals but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell 9-6 to Penn in the Ivy championship game. Princeton, now 11-6, received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and will face Penn State on May 9 in a first round contest at the University of Virginia.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAC ATTACK: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Erin McMunn heads to goal last Friday against Cornell in the Ivy League tournament semifinals. Junior attacker McMunn scored a career-high seven goals in the contest to help Princeton prevail 12-5. On Sunday, McMunn led Princeton with three goals but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell 9-6 to Penn in the Ivy championship game. Princeton, now 11-6, received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and will face Penn State on May 9 in a first round contest at the University of Virginia. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ay in the regular season finale for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team.

The star junior attacker managed just one goal on two shots as the Tigers fell 13-12 at Penn State on April 26.

Last Friday, McMunn made plenty of noise, scoring a career-high seven goals as top-seeded Princeton defeated fourth-seeded Cornell 12-5 in the semis of the Ivy League postseason tournament at Class of 52 Stadium.

“I was really lucky, the kids were looking to hit me today and the shots were falling,” said McMunn, reflecting on her outburst.

“I think more than anything it was just that we were really working together well tonight and we were looking for those feeds inside and I happened to get a little lucky that I got seven of them. It was a lot of fun to be out there today.”

Two days later, McMunn had a lot less fun, scoring three goals in a losing cause as Princeton fell 9-6 to second-seeded Penn in the Ivy title game.

The 17th-ranked Tigers, who dropped to 11-6 with the defeat, are still alive in postseason play as they received an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament where they will get a rematch against No. 11 Penn State in a first round contest on May 9 at the University of Virginia. The victor will face host 15th-ranked Virginia in the second round on May 11.

In the view of Princeton head coach Chris Sailer, the lessons McMunn learned from her subpar game against Penn State helped her explode last weekend.

“I don’t think there is a bigger turnaround in six days than Erin McMunn showed on the field,” asserted Sailer after the victory over Cornell.

“Today, I think she learned how to play against a tight mark. She saw what is going to happen when she works hard and when she puts herself in a position to make a difference. She worked hard, she saw the opportunities,  she got separation but then her teammates were ready to hit her and they didn’t hesitate to make the pass.”

In McMunn’s view, the team’s balanced attack opens things up for everybody.

“I think in terms of flow, it is just the fact that any person on our attack could score at any time; we have eight kids with 20-plus points and that is amazing to me,” said McMunn, who leads Princeton with 40 goals and 52 points.

“I think a huge part of it is that everyone is a threat when they have the ball, regardless of who it is.”

McMunn and the Tigers will look to use their performance against Cornell as the blueprint for a run in the NCAA tournament.

“We know that we have put in the prep work, we are excited to play but at the same time we know that we have to keep doing those little things to continue having this kind of performance,” said McMunn, a first-team All Ivy selection on the season and was an All-Tournament honoree last weekend.

“You want to be confident to the point that it really pushes you to play well and puts you in a good mental state but not so much that we become complacent. We are doing a good job right now of finding that balance so I think that is going to be big, not just for the attack, but for the whole team going forward.”

April 30, 2014
STINGING SENSATION: Princeton University women’s water polo player Molly McBee looks for an opening. Last Sunday senior star and co-captain McBee scored a team-high three goals but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers suffered a heartbreaking 11-10 loss to Indiana in the CWPA (Collegiate Water Polo Association) title game with a bid to the NCAA tournament on the line. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 31-2, setting the program’s single-season bests for most wins and fewest losses.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STINGING SENSATION: Princeton University women’s water polo player Molly McBee looks for an opening. Last Sunday senior star and co-captain McBee scored a team-high three goals but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers suffered a heartbreaking 11-10 loss to Indiana in the CWPA (Collegiate Water Polo Association) title game with a bid to the NCAA tournament on the line. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 31-2, setting the program’s single-season bests for most wins and fewest losses. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Molly McBee thrives under pressure, feeling that high-stakes contests have brought out the best in her as she has starred for the Princeton University women’s water polo team.

“In my way of playing, I step up in big games,” said senior co-captain McBee. “There is an excitement, I don’t feel as tired.”

As Princeton faced Indiana last Sunday in the CWPA (Collegiate Water Polo Association) title game with a bid to the NCAA tournament on the line, McBee showed her clutch gene, scoring a team-high three goals.

While McBee’s heroics weren’t enough as the top-seeded Hoosiers edged second-seeded Princeton 11-10, she gained some satisfaction from leaving it all in the pool.

“I was pleased with the way I played; I did all I could,” said McBee, who earned second-team All-Tournament honors in her final weekend with the Tigers. “I have a little more peace of mind because I felt like I brought it all to the table.”

McBee was not pleased to see Princeton come up short as it ended a superb spring at 31-2, setting program single-season records for most wins and fewest losses.

“We let it slip away,” said McBee, noting that Princeton jumped out to a 4-0 lead over Indiana.

“I was definitely feeling good, we were playing well. I knew we would come out strong even before the game. They had some goals here or there and we had some mistakes here or there. The last goal was a heartbreaker, it barely went in.”

It was heartbreaking for the Tigers to miss out on a third straight trip to the NCAAs.

“We had produced a high level of play in other games and against some big teams,” said McBee, a native of Palos Verdes, Calif.

“I was not ready to be done with this sport. It would have been great to have a few more games and to go to Southern California where I am from and where a lot of my teammates are from.”

While her final season ended earlier than McBee had hoped, she won’t soon forget the bonds forged this spring.

“It is just the friendships that develop on a team like that; we have such a huge travel schedule,” said McBee, a team co-captain along with classmate and fellow Californian Katie Rigler.

“We are together on the road most weekends. This year, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls. We are really all best friends; it is awesome.”

Princeton head coach Luis Nicolao desperately wanted his girls to keep playing. “I am depressed; it was a brutal loss, we made one too many mistakes,” said Nicolao.

“We let a 4-0 lead slip away. We made turnovers that led to fast breaks and made it hard on Ashleigh (sophomore goalie Ashleigh Johnson). It was a nailbiter, back and forth. Sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don’t. We had two or three 6-on-5s in the last three minutes and and we didn’t score. It was just the way things fell.”

Nicolao was thrilled with the way McBee played in her final action with the Tigers.

“Molly McBee probably had the best weekend of anyone on the team,” asserted Nicolao of McBee, who ended the season with 49 goals and 36 assists.

“She was good in all the games and really deserved to be first-team all tournament.”

Although the defeat to Indiana stung, it couldn’t undo all the good things Princeton accomplished in its record-breaking campaign.

“My main message was that one game doesn’t define a season,” said Nicolao.

“We were 31-2. That is a great year and I would take that record every year. We had great balance from top to bottom, everyone contributed. Ashleigh is a great player and we played good defense in front of her. We had great chemistry and we were able to win a lot of close games. We just didn’t win that last one.”

The longtime coach credited senior stars McBee and Rigler with setting a great example. “They have had great careers,” said Nicolao. “They won two Eastern (CWPA) titles and they are leaving a great legacy.”

Looking forward, Nicolao is confident that next year’s team will add to the legacy established by McBee and Rigler.

“We have a lot of talent coming back and some freshmen on the way who should help,” said Nicolao who welcomes back All-America goalie Johnson along with such offensive threats as Diana Murphy (46 goals in 2014), Ashley Hatcher (53 goals), Taylor Dunstan (19 goals), Morgan Hallock (18 goals), Pippa Temple (33 goals), Hannah Lapkin (17 goals), Kimi Klein (22 goals), Jesse Holechek (42 goals), and Kelly Gross (16 goals).

“Some of our best seasons have come after tough losses. I think they will work that much harder to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

For McBee, the hard work over the last years in and out of the pool had been more than worth it.

“The sport itself is great, getting away from the academics,” said McBee, who will be working in IT consulting for a firm in Dallas, Texas after graduation.

“It is a balancing act. I was writing my thesis during the season and captaining the team. You get a break from school, you go to the pool with your friends and you have a physical activity and it is the only thing you think about for those two hours. It is another passion. We have so much fun with this team and our coaches.”

LAST UP: Princeton University softball player Maddie Cousens waits for a pitch in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, senior outfielder Cousens ended her college career on a high note, helping Princeton sweep Cornell 3-2 and 5-2 in its final action of the season. Cousens went 4-for-4 with two runs in the nightcap as the Tigers ended 2014 at 17-26 overall and 9-11 Ivy League.(Photo Courtesy of PU’s Office  of Athletic Communications)

LAST UP: Princeton University softball player Maddie Cousens waits for a pitch in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, senior outfielder Cousens ended her college career on a high note, helping Princeton sweep Cornell 3-2 and 5-2 in its final action of the season. Cousens went 4-for-4 with two runs in the nightcap as the Tigers ended 2014 at 17-26 overall and 9-11 Ivy League. (Photo Courtesy of PU’s Office of Athletic Communications)

The numbers 21, 19, and 2 were stenciled in purple near first base at the Class of 1895 Field as the Princeton University softball team hosted Cornell last Sunday in its season-ending doubleheader.

The message in the dirt was a tribute to the program’s Class of 2014 as it celebrated Senior Day.

While No. 21, outfielder Maddie Cousens, and No. 19, third baseman Tory Roberts, were on hand to wrap up their Tiger career and accept the cheers for a superb four-year run, it was No. 2 that sparked the most heartfelt emotion as it represented Khristin Kyllo, a high-spirited infielder/outfielder who entered Princeton with the Class of 2014 but passed away in her freshman year on January 13, 2011 from natural causes.

As Cousens reflected on the day, she noted that she experienced a wide range of emotions. “I think it was mostly just remembering Khristin,” said Cousens.

“We had her jersey here today and looking at that and remembering the games we did get to play with her in the fall of her freshman year. Also I just tried to make it happy and just think about how amazing our time has been here for Tory and I. It is really nice having a small class because we are really close; so together we were able to celebrate today and celebrate Khristin.”

Cousens proceeded to celebrate a special day on the diamond as Princeton rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the opener to pull out a 3-2 victory and then won the nightcap 5-2 as the Albany, Calif. native went 4-for-4 with two runs in her final appearance in orange and black.

“My trainer calls it swiss cheese defense and thinks you have got to find the holes so that was my goal for the day,” said Cousens.

“I didn’t really hit the ball that solidly but I found some holes. It was a little senior luck; it felt really good to end that way.”

While Princeton didn’t achieve its goal of winning an Ivy League title this spring, ending at 17-26 overall and 9-11 Ivy, Cousens saw plenty of positives.

“I just think we played with a lot of heart,” asserted Cousens, who ended the 2014 campaign with a .300 average, going 33-for-110 with 3 homers and 12 RBIs.

“The team is really young and it is amazing to meet all of these freshmen. It makes me sad that I don’t get to spend more time with them.”

Cousens believes good times are ahead for Princeton under the guidance of head coach Lisa Sweeney and assistant coach Jen Lapicki.

“It is coach Sweeney’s and coach Lapicki’s first two years here,” said Cousens.

“They are building a dynasty and it is just going up from here. It is going to be great.”

Sweeney, for her part, believes things are headed in the right direction for the Tigers. “Every season has its challenges but I think for this team there was a lot of emotional and mental growth that had to happen for us,” said Sweeney.

“I think a lot of people will be introspective about that and say what can I do better. Our coaching staff will do the same, taking a step back and saying how can we improve, how can we figure this out, and make sure that next season is more of a reflection of the work that we put in.”

The program wanted to make sure that Cousens and Roberts had a special finale.

“It is always emotional on Senior Day, regardless of how the season has gone,” said Sweeney.

“It is so special for them. You remember it from your own career. Being able to play our last games at home is a big deal for them. It was cool, it was a good day for both of them.”

It was also good for the late Kyllo to be honored. “It is so fantastic because Tom and Julie (Kyllo’s parents) have stayed a part of the program, they are at every game and it was just so nice to be able to represent her today as well,” said Sweeney. “It was important closure for the seniors to feel like she was with us today.”

In  Sweeney’s view, Kyllo’s impact will be felt beyond the softball field. “The awareness for epilepsy is Kristin’s legacy now,” said Sweeney of Kyllo, who suffered a series of seizures, starting in high school.

“All of us try to do our job to make sure that people are educated about the causes. It is important.”

Cousens and Roberts have played an important role in leading the Tigers this spring.

“I think they were dedicated to pushing the program in a different  direction,” said Sweeney.

“Although this season, the wins and losses didn’t reflect that, they understand and the girls understand that we are on a different path and that we always have bigger and better goals. They were just great leaders, and more importantly, great people for the rest of the girls to look up to and model their careers after.”

As the Princeton players took the field on Sunday, they were primed to come up big for their seniors.

“We challenged the girls with it yesterday, saying when you come tomorrow, you are not playing for yourself, you are  playing for your seniors,” said Sweeney.

“There is a special element to that, you are competing both for your own pride but  also for somebody else on the team standing right next to you and you know how much this program means to them. The team came through today, it was great.”

For Cousens, spending four years in the Princeton program is leaving her with a lifetime of memories.

“Honestly, most of the things I am going to remember are off the field, the kind of things like the long bus rides, stressing out over homework and having teammates be there for you, and all the little traditions we have” said Cousens, who will be working for a startup firm in New York City after graduation.

“There are the big games that really stick with you but most of the moments are the bonds I have created with all of these people on the team and that is what I am going to look back on.”

END GAME: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Forest Sonnenfeldt gets stymied in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior midfielder Sonnenfeldt and the Tigers lost 12-10 to Cornell in their regular season finale. The defeat ended any hopes Princeton had of being awarded an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament as the Tigers ended the spring at 7-6 overall and 2-4 Ivy League.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

END GAME: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Forest Sonnenfeldt gets stymied in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior midfielder Sonnenfeldt and the Tigers lost 12-10 to Cornell in their regular season finale. The defeat ended any hopes Princeton had of being awarded an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament as the Tigers ended the spring at 7-6 overall and 2-4 Ivy League. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)B

The last time the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team met Cornell, the rivals produced a battle for the ages as Princeton prevailed 14-13 in overtime in the 2013 Ivy League semis.

When the teams faced off last Saturday in the Battle of Bethpage, it looked like they may be headed to another run-and-gun classic.

Princeton took a 6-5 lead at half and then the teams combined for 10 goals in the third quarter with Cornell emerging with an 11-10 lead.

In the fourth quarter, though, the defenses rose up and the Big Red tallied just once but it was enough to pull out a 12-10 win, ending any hopes Princeton had of being awarded an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament.

Princeton head coach Chris Bates was pleased with the effort he got from his team as it ended the season at 7-6 overall and 2-4 Ivy League.

“The team knew what was on the line; we talked about how this was a do or die situation,” said Bates. “We came ready to play, no doubt.”

Bates acknowledged that the Tigers didn’t play well when it counted down the stretch.

“We just didn’t do what we needed to do to win the game,” said Bates. “We had bad decision-making on offense and some of those turnovers turned into early offense for them.”

Noting that five of Princeton’s losses this spring came by a total of seven goals, Bates rued what might have been.

“Until there was 40 seconds left in game Saturday, I thought if we got into the tournament we could peak, and with some breaks, could go on a run,” said Bates, whose team had already failed to qualify for the four-team Ivy postseason tourney.

“I feel like on any given day, we could beat anyone so it is very disappointing to be sitting here without a game to prepare for this weekend.”

It was a disappointing ending for the squad’s Class of 2014, who only made one NCAA appearance in their careers, falling 6-5 to Virginia in a 2012 first round contest.

“There were 14 seniors in the room and they had given their blood, sweat, and tears,” said Bates, who got a career-high four goals from senior Tucker Shanley in his finale with freshman Zach Currier adding two goals and senior Tom Schreiber, junior Kip Orban, sophomore Ryan Ambler and sophomore Jake Froccaro adding one goal apiece.

“I feel like they deserve more. They gave so much and worked so hard. They set a good example. Tom [Schreiber] gets a lot of attention but there were a lot of guys who worked very hard. The expectation when you play for Princeton is that you are going to play into May. They can hold their heads high. They may be disappointed but there is no reason for regret.”

While All-American midfielder Schreiber was held to one goal in his final game for Princeton, that tally helped him accomplish more milestones as it gave him 30 goals for the season and 200 points in his brilliant career.

“He is an all-time great for the position he plays; everyone recognizes his  numbers and what he has done in his career,” said Bates.

“He is a humble kid and a team guy and I think he would trade it all for some wins in the NCAAs and a shot at a title.”

In Bates’ view, the team’s failure to make the NCAAs this season was the product of several factors.

“It was a combination, it was a little bit of everything,” said Bates. “We didn’t have the edge to make the big plays and grab the jugular. On any day it could be any of the above, it could be poor defense, bad decision making, or bad luck. We faced a lot of good goalies and hit a lot of pipes.”

While Princeton has a good foundation in place, Bates acknowledges that both coaches and players need to engage in some soul-searching over the off-season to regain the edge that made the program a perennial NCAA power.

“There is very good young talent here and some good players on the way,” said Bates.

“The challenge is to right the ship and notch things up in a different way, starting with the leadership approach. It is not a comfortable feeling. I have faith in the staff and our players. We will find out how hungry the players are. We need to play offense differently. We can’t be playing 15-14 games. We need to do a better job of managing games. We will have a more experienced defense, we have an incumbent goalie coming back.”

April 23, 2014
NEW DIRECTION: Mollie Marcoux smiles during her press conference last week at Jadwin Gym after being named as Princeton’s new Ford Family Director of Athletics. Marcoux, a 1991 Princeton alum who starred in ice hockey and soccer for the Tigers, is succeeding Gary Walters, who is retiring after 20 years at the helm. Marcoux is the fifth Director of Athletics in school history and the first female to hold the post. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

NEW DIRECTION: Mollie Marcoux smiles during her press conference last week at Jadwin Gym after being named as Princeton’s new Ford Family Director of Athletics. Marcoux, a 1991 Princeton alum who starred in ice hockey and soccer for the Tigers, is succeeding Gary Walters, who is retiring after 20 years at the helm. Marcoux is the fifth Director of Athletics in school history and the first female to hold the post.
(Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

When she was a senior at Princeton University in 1990-91, Mollie Marcoux wrote her thesis on the history of women in sports.

The choice of subject was appropriate in view of the fact that Marcoux made plenty of history during her athletic career at Princeton on the ice and soccer field.

As a hockey player, Marcoux was a four-time All-Ivy League performer, a three-time team MVP, an All-ECAC selection, and a member of the ECAC Team of the Decade. In soccer, she earned second-team All-Ivy honors. Marcoux won the C. Otto von Kienbusch Award in 1991, the top senior female student-athlete award at Princeton which recognizes “high scholastic rank, sportsmanship, and general excellence in athletics.”

Last week, Marcoux was front and center in another historic moment for Princeton, getting named as the first female Director of Athletics in school history.

Speaking at an introductory press conference at Jadwin Gym on April 15, Marcoux made it clear that she was thrilled to come home.

“To return to a university that played such a formative role in my life and to do everything I can to be sure that future generations of Princeton students continue to have the educational and character building experience that I had while being a student here is just very, very exciting to me,” said a smiling Marcoux, the replacement for the Princeton’s current Ford Family Director of Athletics Gary Walters, who is retiring after 20 years at the helm.

Being a trailblazer doesn’t faze Marcoux, who will be the fifth AD in school history. “It is fantastic; the funny thing is that when I told my current bosses about this opportunity that was the first thing they thought of,” said Marcoux, who has worked the last 19 years with Chelsea Piers Management, which owns and operates two major amateur sports complexes, Chelsea Piers New York and Chelsea Piers Connecticut.

“It hadn’t really dawned on me yet that it was going to be something different. I think it is phenomenally exciting and I couldn’t thank everyone enough to give me that opportunity to have that role.”

Rising to the post of senior vice president in the Chelsea Piers organization has given Marcoux a good foundation for the Princeton post.

“I have had the opportunity to market and develop sports programs for athletes of all ages and abilities, to design and maintain world class facilities, to help an organization full of very talented people grow and help mentor them,” said Marcoux.

Marcoux is looking forward to working with the talented group of coaches at Princeton.

“I am also really truly awed by the quality of coaches that Gary has hired; I am not alone in believing that Princeton has the best coaches in the Ivy League, and I would argue, in college sports,” said Marcoux.

“Princeton’s coaches across the board are exceptional, not only for their personal accomplishments but for their integrity and commitment to the overall development of our student athletes as competitors, leaders, and scholars.”

Praising Walters’ steadfast commitment to the department’s guiding principle of “Education Through Athletics,” Marcoux is looking to further that mission.

“First and foremost, I just firmly believe in what we do with respect to academics and athletics,” said Marcoux.

“Princeton truly values the roles sports can play in the education of our students and deeply appreciates the role coaches can play in shaping all dimensions of their lives.”

As Marcoux gets acclimated to her new role, she plans to tap the knowledge of her predecessor.

“I have huge, huge shoes to fill and Gary has graciously offered to help me with this and I will need him at every step of the way,” said Marcoux, who is married to Andrew Samaan, and the couple are the parents of three children, aged 10, 8 and 5.

“I hope to work closely with our talented athletic department staff and the university leadership to build upon the enormous success of Gary and my other predecessors in this role. I will do everything I can to make sure that I uphold the traditions and excellence you have created.”

With Princeton having won 214 Ivy titles and 48 national championships over the last 20 years, Marcoux is determined to add to that ledger.

“Our unrelenting pursuit of Ivy, and in some cases, national championships is very important,” said Marcoux.

“We have had great competitive success throughout our history, and particularly in the last 20 years, and we have amazingly talented athletes on campus. But everyday we need to work to get better and challenge ourselves. We need to be well prepared, creative and disciplined, and dedicated to excellence is all areas. We just have to continue to love what we do.”

For Marcoux, taking the helm of the Princeton athletics program is a labor of love.

“I truly and passionately loved playing soccer and hockey for Princeton and being a student here,” said Marcoux.

“Having the opportunity every day to engage with Princeton’s talented student athletes and help them reach their goals is something I never imagined could be true.”

Marcoux brings a wealth of experience to help the athletes reach goals at Princeton and beyond. “I know the beginning of the academic life here is very challenging,” said Marcoux.

“Having lived that and knowing that it gets a lot better as the years go and knowing that you can make it if you just stick to it is an important thing to be able to pass on to the students. In terms of the things I learned that help me everyday, they are the things we all learn as being athletes — determination, hard work, and working as a team. Some of the things I didn’t pick up as much while I was here and more reflecting back on the experience, I just think most of what I know is from my days playing sports and being here.”

CUTTING EDGE: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Liz Cutting heads upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, senior defender Cutting and the Tigers edged Dartmouth 12-10 to win the Ivy League regular season title. Princeton, now 10-4 overall and 6-1 Ivy, plays at No 12 Penn State (9-6) on April 26 to end regular season play. A week later, the 19th-ranked Tigers will host the four-team Ivy tourney from May 2-4, which will decide the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CUTTING EDGE: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Liz Cutting heads upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, senior defender Cutting and the Tigers edged Dartmouth 12-10 to win the Ivy League regular season title. Princeton, now 10-4 overall and 6-1 Ivy, plays at No 12 Penn State (9-6) on April 26 to end regular season play. A week later, the 19th-ranked Tigers will host the four-team Ivy tourney from May 2-4, which will decide the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The chant could be heard throughout one end of Class of 1952 Stadium last Saturday after Princeton University women’s lacrosse team topped Dartmouth.

The Princeton players repeatedly hollered “Ivy Champs, Ivy Champs, Ivy Champs” in their team room after posting a 12-10 win over the Big Green which clinched the Ivy regular season crown.

For senior defender Liz Cutting, the emotional outburst was the culmination of a Senior Day to remember.

“I think we realized how much we have to play for, especially this morning when we watched a video made by all of our teammates with special little things said about each senior; it was so nice,” said Cutting, a  5’7 native of Towson, Md.

“We really decided even from September what we wanted and we weren’t
going to stop until we got that Ivy championship. It is
really awesome.”

The victory improved Princeton to 10-4 overall and 6-1 Ivy with the Tigers earning the title and the right to host the upcoming Ivy tourney by virtue of its 9-5 win over Penn, (8-4 overall, 4-1 Ivy) last Wednesday.

“To have this come back to Princeton is super important for us because we have worked so hard to change the culture on our team to one of hard work and determination,” said Cutting. “I think having this really shows our efforts and shows the fruits of our labor.”

After getting off to a 1-3 start this season, Princeton changed the course of its season by heading west and beating USC 14-7 and San Diego State 16-9.

“I think our trip to California over spring break really got it going for us,” said Cutting. “We realized how good we could actually be. We decided we couldn’t stop and we couldn’t regress from that point on. It showed in practice and the way that we worked with each other and the way the coaches held us to a higher standard.”

Having won nine of its last 10 games, the one loss in that stretch, an 8-7 defeat to No. 2 Maryland on April 9, may have been Princeton’s most impressive effort of the spring.

“The Maryland game was a huge game for us; just growing up wise because we do have a few young players,” said Cutting.

“I think not only of them growing up but the team chemistry really increased after that game because we realized we can play with top dogs. It is not a game of talent it is also a game of hard work and we put in that hard work.”

The Tiger defense realized that it had to work together better with the team’s attack.

“We came together at one point in the season and decided that we need to be the starting point of our attack,” said Cutting.

“It is not one side of the field versus the other, it is more as a whole team. It begins from keeping people out of the 8-meter arc and doing the little things right. The little things are the big emphasis for us through the last couple weeks of the season so ground balls, balls down on the 8 are super important for us.”

While Princeton was sharp on defense against Dartmouth early, taking a 4-1 halftime lead, things got a little dicey in the second half.

“I think we may have been a little jittery and a little too excited,” said Cutting, who was credited with two draw controls, two caused turnovers, and a ground ball on the afternoon.

“We were sliding a little too hard, not to the right space. We just needed to be a little stronger. We came together multiple times and said we can do this, we can play better to your potential. We really emphasize the draws and while we didn’t have the best draw stats, we had hustle and hard work to get the ball back even when we didn’t win them. It was really impressive and important.”

An important factor in Princeton’s success this spring has been the bond among the team’s eight seniors.

“The eight of us have stuck together and it is not usual that you see a big class of eight seniors in this league,” said Cutting, whose classmates include Sarah Lloyd, Colleen Smith, Caroline Franke, Grace Bowen, Kellie Ragg, Mary-Kate Sivilli, and Erin Williams.

“I think it is definitely commendable, not only to Chris (Princeton head coach Chris Sailer) and the coaches, but the team in general to stay together and really help each other through our ups and downs and through the hard practices, the cold practices. It is really important to us, we are all best friends and there is nothing better.”

Princeton head coach Chris Sailer credits the team’s Class of 2014 with setting the right tone.

“Our senior class has created a great culture,” said Sailer. “Since they were freshmen, they have had an impact on the team with how close they are, how giving they are, how hard they work. They put a lot into it this year and I am just so happy for them that we could finish it with a title. Every single one of those kids, whether they are starters for us or not, makes a difference for us. It is a special class; each one finds a way to contribute and add her unique qualities to the team and have made it what it is.”

Sailer points to Cutting as making a difference in the defensive unit. “Liz is just such an intense competitor; she is a driving force,” said Sailer.

“She is always ready to compete. She has had huge ground balls for us all season long. She has just been part of a really great defensive unit.”

Although Princeton didn’t play great in the second half against Dartmouth as it was outscored 9-8 by the Big Green, Sailer liked the grit her team showed in pulling out the win.

“It is always hard to close it out, especially against Dartmouth,” said Sailer. “We have a lot of history of knocking them out of what they have wanted to do and them knocking us out of what we have wanted to do. I knew this was going to be a battle no matter what their record is, they are a tough, tough team and they really pushed us to the limit. I think we showed some nerves out there today. There is a lot on the line but you have to give the kids credit for coming through.”

Capturing its first Ivy regular season crown since 2006 made Saturday’s struggle more than worthwhile.

“It is just a great win for the program,” said Sailer, who has guided the Tigers to 10 Ivy crowns and three NCAA titles in her 28 seasons at the helm of the program.

“It is our first regular season title in eight years. That’s huge, just to break through. To follow up the win against Penn with a big win today; those two have been the traditional teams we have been battling for the title with so it is just awesome. The team has really been driven, they have worked really hard. I think they have just really embraced the work. They are confident. They rise to challenges but they do the work every day.”

After playing at No 12 Penn State (9-6) on April 26 to end regular season play, 19th-ranked Princeton will host the four-team Ivy tourney from May 2-4, which will decide the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“It is really exciting; it is great for the seniors,” said Sailer, noting that the tourney has been hosted by Penn the previous four years.

“We had a fantastic crowd today; to be able to play in front of them will be great. We definitely draw energy from them playing here at Class of ’52. It will be nice to not have to travel to Penn and keep our normal routine for the Ivy League tournament. We know that we have a lot of battles ahead. It is a great achievement for the team, it is our No. 1 goal. Now we have got to move forward.”

Cutting, for her part, is confident the Tigers will give the home fans something to cheer about.

“It means we have more games at home,” said Cutting. “We really draw from our support from our fans and family. It couldn’t be better that we are having it here. We are super excited. We are going to see these teams again and the Ivies are always a battle. We are making baby steps to the big tournament.”

TITLE SHOT: Princeton University women’s water polo player ­Katie Rigler unloads the ball in a game earlier this season. With senior star Rigler piling up a team-high 62 goals and 27 assists, Princeton has gone 29-1 this spring. The 11th-ranked Tigers head to Bucknell this weekend to compete for the CWPA title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TITLE SHOT: Princeton University women’s water polo player ­Katie Rigler unloads the ball in a game earlier this season. With senior star Rigler piling up a team-high 62 goals and 27 assists, Princeton has gone 29-1 this spring. The 11th-ranked Tigers head to Bucknell this weekend to compete for the CWPA title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Katie Rigler got an eye-opening experience this fall in preparing for her senior season with the Princeton University women’s water polo team.

The Fullerton, Calif. native took part in the USA Water Polo Futures 50 Classic and had to push herself to keep up with the nation’s elite.

“It was tough, it was a very good reminder of what I needed to work toward,” said Rigler.

“I saw what players from other college teams were doing and how hard they were working.”

Developing some extra toughness from the experience, the high-scoring Rigler has helped Princeton solidify its standing as one of the top college teams in the country as the Tigers have gone 29-1 this spring and are ranked 11th nationally.

This weekend, Princeton heads to Bucknell to compete for the CWPA title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

With the Tigers having won the 2013 CWPA crown on the way to going 28-6 and taking a program-best fifth at the NCAA tourney, Rigler had the sense that this year’s team would be a force to be reckoned with.

“I think we are even better than we were last year,” said Rigler. “It is encouraging and a little scary because we know we have a target on our backs. There is a lot of pressure on us as well.”

In Rigler’s view, the squad possesses a potent blend of chemistry and skill. “I think this is the most positive team I have been on,” asserted Rigler, Princeton’s leading scorer this season with 62 goals and 27 assists. “We have a strong, hardworking team, the recruiting classes get better every year so we are getting more talented.”

As a team co-captain along with classmate Molly McBee, Rigler strives to set a positive tone for the Tigers.

“I try to set a good example,” said Rigler, a two-time Southern Division Player of the Year who now has 260 goals and 69 assists in her career. “I try to be very encouraging. I try to keep things relaxed at practice. My teammates know that come game time, I am extremely serious.”

As Rigler has matured, she has gotten more serious about her training.

“I don’t have statistical goals; I have practice goals,” said Rigler. “I want to work hard on sets and different skills. I also want to get into the pool more and more. There is never a year where I haven’t felt in good swimming shape so I work more on water polo drills.”

Princeton’s lone loss this season, a 10-6 defeat to No. 10 San Jose State on March 15, helped the Tigers ratchet up their work ethic down the stretch of the regular season.

“We weren’t working as hard as we should be; we didn’t play well against UC-San Diego and Michigan but we still won,” said Rigler.

“I think the loss to San Jose State was good. It made us re-evaluate what we needed to do and where we wanted to go. We don’t want to just be good on the east coast. It is important to have the confidence that we can compete with the teams out west.”

Gaining more confidence in her teammates has helped Rigler set a career single-season high in assists this spring.

“As the years have gone by, I am getting more attention from the other teams,” said Rigler, whose previous season-high in assists was 15. “As the team has gotten more talented, I can rely on my other teammates to score.”

As the Tigers prepare for the CWPA tourney, they are paying attention to the basics.

“We are working on our play in 6-on-5 situations; that is important and we are focusing in on that,” said Rigler, who came up big as Princeton defeated Brown 11-4 in the Southern Division championship game, tallying five goals and two assists in the April 13 contest.

“It is also working on mental focus, trying to get everybody on the same track and the same page and making sure the girls all know their roles. We try to tell the freshmen what its about, how exciting the games are. It can seem like an out of body experience and you have to stay calm. We have been behind in the semis for the last two years and we have learned that you can’t give up.”

Having been seeded second behind Indiana at the CWPA, Princeton is fired up about its chances to earn a title repeat.

“We are definitely confident,” said Rigler, noting that the Tigers boast seven player with 20 or more goals. “We are using the disrespect angle as motivation with the way the seeds came out. We are hoping we get to play Indiana in the final.”

No matter how Princeton does in the final days of her career, things have turned out better than Rigler could have hoped when she came east four years ago.

“It’s been an unreal experience, meeting all the different girls and getting to know the different personalities,” said Rigler, who is looking to play professional water polo overseas after graduation, potentially in Italy or Greece.

“The experiences I have had with Molly [McBee] are great, we have become really close friends. Playing sports in college builds up your discipline and patience.”

When the Princeton University baseball team won its first four Ivy League games this spring, Alec Keller wasn’t surprised.

“We knew we were going to be good,” said Princeton senior outfielder Keller. “We are talented.”

But then the Tigers dropped a doubleheader at Yale before suffering through a 0-4 weekend at Columbia to sink in the Ivy League’s Gehrig Division.

In Keller’s view, some untimely lapses knocked Princeton off track. “The season is so quick that any bad weekend can kill you and that’s what we had,” said Keller.

“I wouldn’t say it is a complete failure; a lot of guys have had really good years. It is just kind of tough that it is so quick and so unforgiving. Give credit to Penn and Columbia, they have taken care of business.”

Princeton showed a business-like attitude last weekend as it split two doubleheaders with Penn, who is tied for the Gehrig Division lead along with Columbia with 13-3 league marks. The Tigers fell 2-0 to Penn in the opener on Saturday before pulling out a 6-4 win in the nightcap. On Easter Sunday, Princeton won the opener 4-2 and then lost the nightcap 6-1.

“It was important, they came in with one loss but we knew we could stack up with them,” said Keller, reflecting on the 2-2 weekend which left the Tigers at 12-22 overall and 7-9 Ivy.

“I think they are not quite as good as their record and we are better than ours. We knew we could get wins. It was disappointing in the first one but we came back and won two hard-fought games.”

The 6’2, 200-pound Keller, a native of Richmond, Va., starred in the wins, going 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI in the second game on Saturday before going 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs and a homer in the opener on Sunday.

“It felt good to calm myself down,” said Keller. “I just stay loose up there, not think too much, and just react.”

Keller’s cool approach at the plate has helped him enjoy a big spring, hitting a league-best .369 in all games and .440 in Ivy action, the second highest average for league contests.

“I am trying to not put too much pressure on myself,” said Keller who has a team-high 45 hits with two homers and 18 RBIs.

“The worst thing you can do is trying to press and do too many things. I have tried to stay within myself, just know what I can do and play to my strengths.”

With Princeton wrapping up the spring by playing at Rider on April 23, playing a doubleheader at Cornell on April 25, hosting a doubleheader against Cornell on April 27, and then playing at St. John’s on April 29, Keller and his teammates are looking for a strong finish.

“We have to get a lot of young guys that need to finish the season and get some confidence going into next year and that is really important,” said Keller. “And heck it is fun to win, it beats losing. We are playing these games no matter what so we want to win. Hopefully we can get a few more in these next couple of weeks.”

Keller is savoring his final days in a Princeton uniform. “It is bittersweet, I am just trying to have fun everyday,” said Keller.

“I feel you can’t think too much about it, saying it is my last this or that, you just have to live it. I am looking forward to the next few weeks.”

The last few years have been unforgettable for Keller. “It has been great, these guys are a like a family to me,” said Keller, a two-time First-Team All-Ivy selection who has a career average of .347 (173-for-499).

“It is a great release from school. While school is good in its own right, this is something that is great as a relief. At the same time, it is really fun to focus on something and put your heart into it.”

Keller is hoping to continue his love affair with the game by playing at the professional level after graduation.

“That’s the plan, we’ll see what happens,” said Keller. “Hopefully baseball is not done. I will definitely miss Princeton and playing with these guys for sure.”

BROUGHT TO THEIR KNEES: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Jake Froccaro, left, gets defended by a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore midfielder Froccaro had a goal and three assists but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 9-8 at Harvard. The defeat coupled with wins by Cornell and Penn knocked the Tigers out of contention to make the four-team Ivy League tournament. No. 20 Princeton, now 7-6 overall and 2-3 Ivy, will wrap up regular season action by facing 12th-ranked Cornell (10-3 overall, 4-1 Ivy) in Bethpage, N.Y. on April 26.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BROUGHT TO THEIR KNEES: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Jake Froccaro, left, gets defended by a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore midfielder Froccaro had a goal and three assists but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 9-8 at Harvard. The defeat coupled with wins by Cornell and Penn knocked the Tigers out of contention to make the four-team Ivy League tournament. No. 20 Princeton, now 7-6 overall and 2-3 Ivy, will wrap up regular season action by facing 12th-ranked Cornell (10-3 overall, 4-1 Ivy) in Bethpage, N.Y. on April 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team, losing 9-8 at Harvard last Saturday was a punch to the gut.

Falling behind 7-1, Princeton made a valiant rally but came up short in dropping to 7-5 overall and 2-3 Ivy League. The defeat coupled with wins by Cornell and Penn knocked Princeton out of the four-team Ivy tournament contention, putting a big dent in any hopes the Tigers have of making the NCAA tourney.

In reflecting on the setback, Princeton head coach Chris Bates didn’t mince words. “It was a devastating loss, we just didn’t do everything we needed to win the game,” said Bates. “We were solid everywhere; we just didn’t solve their goalie.”

A nightmarish first 21 minutes ultimately doomed Princeton as it trailed 7-1 with 9:06 left in the first half. “We got a goal early and then they capitalized on every mistake that we made,” said Bates.

“We had chances but I give their goalie (Jake Gambitsky) a lot of credit, he was lights out and stole a lot of goals. We dug too big a ditch to get out of. We hit a lot of pipes, it was just one of those games. Unfortunately it came at a bad time.”

For the rest of the game, Princeton had the upper hand, outscoring the Crimson 7-2.

“We settled down,” said Bates, who had three goals from Ryan Ambler and two tallies from Kip Orban in the defeat with goalie Eric Sanschagrin making 13 saves. “We played 39 minutes of good defense where we gave up just two goals. On offense we were pretty good. We got plenty of looks, but we hit plenty of pipes.”

Over the course of its Ivy campaign, Princeton has hit a roadblock in tight games, losing three one-goal contests, falling 16-15 to Yale and 11-10 to Brown in addition to last Saturday’s nailbiter.

“In the close losses, we haven’t had the ball a lot,” said Bates. “We haven’t faced off well in those games. The theme is if we have to play a lot of defense with our young guys back there, we make mistakes.”

With No. 20 Princeton ending regular season play by facing 12th-ranked Cornell (10-3 overall, 4-1 Ivy) in Bethpage, N.Y. this Saturday, Bates believes his squad has plenty to play for, including a potential at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tourney in view of wins over a trio of nationally ranked teams, No. 11 Hofstra, No. 8 Penn, and 18th-ranked Lehigh.

“It is Cornell and we are not going to lay down for them,” asserted Bates. “We feel like something is still on the line in terms of the NCAAs. It is not a 50/50 chance but nothing stands out about the others and our numbers are not bad. We need Hofstra, Penn, and Lehigh to do well. We still have a puncher’s chance and we are going to keep punching. We know it is a long shot but if we beat Cornell, I will be interested to see our numbers and RPI (Rating Percentage Index).”

April 16, 2014
UPLIFTING EXPERIENCE: Princeton University men’s lacrosse star Kip Orban celebrates a Tiger goal earlier this season. Junior midfielder Orban came up big in the clutch last week, scoring a goal with 2.7 seconds left in regulation on April 8 to help Princeton top Lehigh 10-9 in overtime and then tallying two goals last Saturday as Princeton defeated Dartmouth 13-10. Orban has now scored at least one goal in 24 straight games, the longest scoring streak among Division I midfielders. The 14th-ranked Tigers, now 7-4 overall and 2-2 in Ivy League action, head to Harvard (7-5 overall, 3-1 Ivy) on April 19 for a critical league contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

UPLIFTING EXPERIENCE: Princeton University men’s lacrosse star Kip Orban celebrates a Tiger goal earlier this season. Junior midfielder Orban came up big in the clutch last week, scoring a goal with 2.7 seconds left in regulation on April 8 to help Princeton top Lehigh 10-9 in overtime and then tallying two goals last Saturday as Princeton defeated Dartmouth 13-10. Orban has now scored at least one goal in 24 straight games, the longest scoring streak among Division I midfielders. The 14th-ranked Tigers, now 7-4 overall and 2-2 in Ivy League action, head to Harvard (7-5 overall, 3-1 Ivy) on April 19 for a critical league contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having lost a pair of one-goal games in the last two weeks of March, the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team was moments away from another excruciating defeat as it hosted Lehigh last week.

Trailing 9-8 with less than 10 seconds left in the April 8 contest, Princeton had a shot turned back and the ball bounced on the turf at the Class of 1952 Stadium.

Then lightning struck as Tiger junior midfielder Kip Orban took a Mike MacDonald feed and rifled it onto the back of the net to tie the game at 9-9 and force overtime.

Princeton came through with the win on a goal in the second overtime by All-American senior midfielder Tom Schreiber to reverse its fortune and finally come out on top in a nailbiter.

For Orban, the tally was unlike any in his career. “I never had a goal like that; I was fortunate to be the recipient of a really hard play by Mikey,” recalled Orban, a 6’2, 190-pound native of Westport, Conn.

“He got that ground ball. He always has the greatest vision. He skips it through all the time. He found me at the top of the box and I was just fortunate to put it past the keeper.”

The Tigers, though, worked hard to make their luck.  “We executed at the end of the game which is what we have to do moving forward,” said Orban, who was later named the Ivy League Co-Player of the Week along with Penn goalie Brian Feeney.

“I think we are finally starting to grit it out. Coach is instilling a great work ethic and teaching us to work really hard when we are tired and execute.”

Against Dartmouth, Orban was up to his late heroics again, scoring goals in the waning moments of both the first and second quarters to help the Tigers take an 8-4 halftime lead on the way to a 13-10 triumph.

“I think in the first half, we came out pretty well,” said Orban, reflecting on the victory which improved No. 14 Princeton to 7-4 overall and 2-2 in Ivy League action.

“Dartmouth played well, they showed some zone. We slowed down the pace of our offense a little bit and I think we were able to adapt pretty well and we were able to win it. We put enough on the board and we were fortunate to win it.”

In tallying those two goals, Orban has now scored at least one goal in 24 straight games, the longest scoring streak among Division I midfielders.

“I don’t really think about it, I just go out on the field and it is just being part of the system,” said Orban, reflecting on the streak.

“When I score those I am generally the recipient of great off ball movement. Our two-man system really forces us to play well together and I think our offensive first six guys work well with each other. Tommy [Schreiber] does a great job finding me. Mikey [MacDonald] does a great job finding everyone. Ryan Ambler is stepping up. I think we all work well together. It is just whoever is in the right spot at the right time.”

With two college seasons under his belt, Orban is better able to take advantage of the scoring opportunities that come his way.

“I am a little older; I definitely feel a little more comfortable than freshman year stepping out there and starting,” said Orban, who has 25 points this season on 18 goals and seven assists and is up to 70 points in his career with 53 goals and 17 assists. “It was a lot more nerve-wracking then.”

Orban acknowledged that the Tigers showed some nerves in the second half on Saturday as the Big Green narrowed the Princeton lead to three goals on three occasions over the last 30 minutes of the contest with former Princeton High star Mike Olentine scoring a third quarter goal for Dartmouth.

“I would say we have to come in the second half as we do in the first with the same amount of energy; we can’t come out flat,” said Orban.

“I feel like sometimes we get a little comfortable and I don’t think that should be the case. I feel after a couple of tough ground balls and some face-offs, we broke the seal in the second half. It started to flow and eventually we closed out on top. The team did well today but we definitely can do better moving forward.”

Princeton head coach Chris Bates concurred with that analysis. “I thought we showed some grit on Tuesday night to get that W,” said Bates.

“Today was a little bit lackadaisical. We let them know we didn’t practice well that last two days. We thought we would get a crisper effort today. We’ll take the win but we didn’t feel like it was a real disciplined team effort.”

In Bates’ view, his team needs to develop a better killer instinct. “We talked about that during the week, making the next play and being able to put a team out versus getting a little undisciplined,” said Bates.

“Dartmouth believed they could win until the very end of the game. Frankly, we could  have pulled away and ended this thing a little earlier. It is a credit to Dartmouth. They did a nice job and hung with us.”

The Tigers did do a better job on face-offs, winning 17-of-27 on the day, sparked by the return of Justin Murphy from injury.

“Getting Murph back helped, he grits there; he is our go-to guy,” said Bates. “We struggled a little bit without him, We have faced some pretty high caliber competition over the course of the last few weeks. We created some scoring off the transition and the face-off which was nice but we still gave up a few which is a little bit mind numbing. We don’t communicate real well on the wings. Overall, I think it was a pretty decent day.”

Freshman midfielder Zach Currier had a big day, tallying three goals and an assist and scooping up five ground balls.

“Zach was clearly the star of the game; he gave us a ton of energy, he made some highlight reel plays,” said Bates of Currier who was later named the Ivy Rookie of the Week.

“He had a big assist so it was nice. We have been waiting for him to break out and if there is a bright spot today, it was Zach. He works hard; he is really competitive. He was fired up before the game, you could tell. He has got that edge and it is nice to see that rewarded.”

Princeton will need to play fired up as it heads to Harvard (7-5 overall, 3-1 Ivy) on April 19 for a critical Ivy contest.

“We’ll see how we react, it is a team that still fights it a little bit,” said Bates, whose club is riding a three-game winning streak.

“You can’t put the jersey on and expect to win. We control our own destiny. I think there is a clear positive with Harvard losing (8-7 at Penn) but we don’t look at that stuff. We just know that if we win, we are in good shape. The focus here immediately was to start thinking about what we need to do to prepare to beat Harvard with the emphasis on the word prepare.”

In Orban’s view, the Tigers are on board with Bates’ approach. “We just have to take care of what we have to take care of and to put ourselves in the position we want to be in at the end of the season,” said Orban.

“We have got to win out and then all the rest is up to chance. I don’t really focus on that; I don’t think our team does either. We just focus week to week and take care of what is in our hands and that is just Harvard this upcoming Saturday so we have to work hard this week and come out on top then.”

Having guided his Princeton University men’s heavyweight varsity 8 to the grand finals in both the Eastern Sprints and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta last spring, Greg Hughes has his rowers going full throttle as they look to get on the medal stand.

“We have changed the way we have practiced, we are doing more work in training,” said Tiger heavyweight head coach Hughes, who is in his fifth year guiding the program and led the Tigers to fourth place in the Sprints and sixth at the IRA regatta in 2013.

“We are doing things I wasn’t able to try before. I am able to take risks. I am getting good feedback and we are working together. We are doing more hard strokes than we would normally do.”

While the frigid winter kept the Tigers off the water until mid-March, Hughes believes that the extra work on the ergometer machines has paid dividends.

“Historically, before global warming, we used to get on the water in mid-March,” said Hughes.

“You get on later and develop speed as you go through the season. Being inside longer allows the rowers to develop a really good base of fitness.”

Based on early returns, that work has paid dividends as Princeton opened its season by defeating Navy on April 5 and then won the Childs Cup last weekend, topping Penn and Columbia.

Hughes credits senior captain Will Gillis with being an ideal role model for his teammates.

“Gillis has done a really good job of leading the team,” asserted Hughes, whose varsity 8 is currently ranked fourth nationally.

“The impressive thing is that while he is obviously a talented athlete, he has rowed for the U-23 team the last two years and got a bronze last summer, he is the full package. He is a top student in his department (politics).When you have a guy who is a top athlete and a top student, it gives such a good message to the younger guys. They see that you don’t have to sacrifice academics for athletics and vice versa.”

Those callow rowers have sent a message of their own. “The younger classes have come in and have pushed up the level of competitive spirit,” said Hughes.

“It has created a positive environment on the squad. They beat each other up everyday in practice and that’s great.”

The Tigers got off to a great start with their win at Navy which saw the varsity 8 speed across the 2,000-meter course on the Severn River in a time of 6:06.2 with the Midshipmen coming in at 6:07.6.

“We were going to Navy and it is a tough place to race,” said Hughes. “They are a good program. We are starting the regular season with three races in a row on the road, it requires attention to detail and focus to be ready to race in different environments. That was a good effort.”

Last Saturday, Princeton produced an even better effort in retaining the venerable Childs Cup, posting a time of 5:33.9 over the 2,000-meter course on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia with Penn next in 5:41.2 and Columbia taking third in 5:42.0.

“That was a step forward,” said Hughes. “Within the varsity boat, we have a couple of returners but we also have a core of new kids. Five are new, a couple are sophomores and one is a freshman. We have to keep learning things and continue to get better each week. We aren’t going to hit top speed in March.”

Next weekend, the Tigers will need to pick up their speed as they head up to Boston, Mass. to face top-ranked Harvard and MIT with Compton Cup on the line.

“It is a good program,” said Hughes of rival Harvard, the runners-up in the last year’s IRA national championships.

“We are going up there looking to get better. We have had our best piece each week, starting with the scrimmage before Navy.”

Hughes is confident that his rowers can get better and better as the spring unfolds.

“There is a lot of time left,” said Hughes. “There are lot of things that we have to do. I think we are on track. We are in position to have a good May.”

AMERICAN HISTORY: Scott Greenman, right, congratulates an American University player after a win this winter.  Former Princeton University men’s hoops star and assistant coach Greenman joined the AU staff this winter as an assistant coach and helped guide the Eagles to a 20-13 record and the Patriot League championship.  (Photo provided courtesy of American University’s Office of Athletic Communications )

AMERICAN HISTORY: Scott Greenman, right, congratulates an American University player after a win this winter. Former Princeton University men’s hoops star and assistant coach Greenman joined the AU staff this winter as an assistant coach and helped guide the Eagles to a 20-13 record and the Patriot League championship.
(Photo provided courtesy of American University’s Office of Athletic Communications )

After serving as an assistant coach for the Princeton University men’s basketball team from 2007-10, Scott Greenman left his alma mater and took on another role in the college hoops world, handling basketball operations at Georgetown.

While Greenman had an eye on getting back into coaching, he gained a lot from the operations post.

“I got to see how other people do things, being at the highest level was a good thing,” said Greenman, a former Tiger hoops star who was a first-team All-Ivy selection as a senior in 2005-06.

“I learned a lot from listening into recruiting calls. I was learning from coach Thompson (former Princeton head coach John Thompson III) and good assistants. It was a very productive four years. Even though I was not in coaching, I was seeing things from a different perspective.”

When one of those Georgetown assistants, Mike Brennan, a former Princeton star guard and assistant coach himself, took the head coaching job at American University, Greenman saw an avenue back into coaching.

“When he was interviewing and going through the job process he said if he got the job would I be interested in coming on as assistant and I said I was,” said Greenman.

“All of the offices at Georgetown were close. It was open and there was a lot of interaction. Having played for coach Brennan, this was a different dynamic; I had a level of comfort with him.”

Greenman joined Brennan’s staff as an assistant coach last May and the two former Tigers worked well together over the winter, helping American go 20-13 and win the Patriot League championship.

As Greenman returned to coaching, his main focus was getting his new players used to the Princeton style that Brennan was installing.

“It was getting the players used to a new system and a new everything; working with them to increase their skill sets and doing stuff to educate them on what to expect,” said Greenman.

While American got off to a slow start, going 3-7 in its first 10 games, Greenman could see the players becoming more familiar with the new approach.

“Even when we lost, coach Brennan was seeing signs of improvement, telling the guys you got better at this and that but need to work on that,” recalled Greenman.

“It is about improving so you are good enough to win the games at the end of the year. From day one, there was no push back whatsoever. It was fun for the team, with forwards getting to dribble, shoot and pass and to get as good as they can be.”

The Eagles started looking good in January, going 9-0 in the month. After enduring a bad stretch in February where it went 1-4, American entered the Patriot League tournament with plenty of confidence.

“We won 10 league games and three or four of those could have gone the other way,” said Greenman.

“In the rough patch, things went the other way. We were stagnant for a week but then we started to get better. We had a sharper focus at practice, we focused on a few things and made more adjustments. On the second time around the league, the other teams know you better. Heading into tournament, we thought we had a good shot if we played to the best of our ability.”

After topping Colgate in the Patriot quarterfinals and Holy Cross in the semis, the Eagles produced their best performance of the season in the championship game as they topped host Boston University 55-36 to earn a bid to the NCAA tourney.

“We zoned in on defense, we did a good job of making their shots difficult,” said Greenman, reflecting on the win over the Terriers.

“The guys were unselfish. We had an issue with turnovers and throwing the ball to the other team earlier in the season but they really handled the ball well. I give credit to the guys; they were so open to things and they improved so much. It was great to see them make that transformation.”

It was a special moment for Greenman as the team enjoyed a raucous celebration after the buzzer sounded.

“It is great, you aren’t able as a coach to get too high or too low,” said Greenman.

“Even when you are winning, you are concentrating on the next game and how you can get better. It is an indescribable feeling. Every team in a one-bid league is shooting for that moment.”

For American, its next game proved to be its last as it fell 75-35 to Wisconsin in the NCAA tourney.

“You know going in that there are no good options when going against a No. 2 seed, you are expecting to play a great team,” said Greenman, noting that Wisconsin ended up advancing to the Final 4.

“We knew it was going to be very difficult; they are a well coached team. Everyone can score. They have a 7-foot center (Frank Kaminsky) who can step out to the perimeter and make shots.We started well and made some shots. Once they got on that run, it snowballed.”

Although the defeat stung, Greenman enjoyed making a fifth trip to March Madness.

“It doesn’t lose its luster, I went three times at Georgetown and going as a player was the best feeling,” said Greenman. “Doing it as a coach is awesome.”

Looking back on the winter, Greenman feels he has become a better coach.

“I think in terms of time management, I grew a lot,” said Greenman.

“At Princeton, I had different responsibilities and then I had different responsibilities at Georgetown. Now I have the most responsibility. I want to try to be as organized and as efficient as I can be administratively and with recruiting. I love being in the gym, coaching and teaching and seeing the guys improve.”