June 12, 2013
AUSTIN POWERS: Princeton University men’s track star ­Austin Hollimon heads to victory in the 400 hurdles this spring in the Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Track Championship. Last week, Hollimon wrapped up his stellar Princeton career by competing in the 400 hurdles and the 4x400 relay at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

AUSTIN POWERS: Princeton University men’s track star ­Austin Hollimon heads to victory in the 400 hurdles this spring in the Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Track Championship. Last week, Hollimon wrapped up his stellar Princeton career by competing in the 400 hurdles and the 4×400 relay at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore.
(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

While Austin Hollimon’s proficiency with musical notes in high school as a trombone player had him thinking about attending the Juilliard School of Music, a letter from a coach took his life in a new direction.

“Coming through high school, I was a classic trombonist,” said Hollimon, a native of Decatur, Ga.

“I studied with one of the best teachers in Atlanta; I had been playing since the fifth grade. I didn’t run track sophomore year. The coach at our school, Napoleon Cobb, who had trained Olympians, sent me a letter. He had seen me running in PE class and said I should come out for track because I could do amazing things.”

It didn’t take long for Hollimon to meet Cobb’s expectations. “My parents were skeptical, I did track my junior year and I ran under 48 seconds in the 400 meters,” said Hollimon.

“If you break 48 seconds in the 400 meters, you get on the radar of college programs. I had schools like Michigan, Georgia, and Georgia Tech reaching out to me.”

The Princeton University men’s track team reached out to Hollimon and he came to New Jersey in 2008.

“I was concerned; I was afraid I would come up here and get worse,” said Hollimon, reflecting on his freshman year at Princeton.

“I had seen superstars in high school who came to college and couldn’t match their PR. Mike Eddy, a 400 runner, was my gold standard for work ethic and getting better in the 400.”

Hollimon ended up winning a lot of gold medals for the Tigers, including six Ivy League Heptagonal titles and an NCAA indoor title in the distance medley relay this past winter. Last week, he culminated his Princeton career by competing in the 400 hurdles and the 4×400 relay at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore.

For Hollimon, getting better and better at track during his college years became a 24/7 enterprise.

“Track for me went from being an activity that I put a lot into, to being a passion that I was committed to,” said Hollimon.

“I wanted to learn the sport. I didn’t just want to work out my body, I studied the sport and I changed my diet.”

In early 2011, Hollimon produced a breakthrough that showed him he could hang with the best in the sport.

“I think in junior year when I ran a 46.4 and dropped my PR from a 46.8 in the very first meet of the season, that is the moment where I realized I could run with the best in the country,” said Hollimon. “All we had done was strength work with only a week of speed work.”

Over his Princeton career, Hollimon has drawn strength from competing on relays.

“I have never run 45 seconds in an open 400 but I always go 45 seconds in a relay,” said Hollimon, who ran the 400 leg for the NCAA champion DMR team.

“There is something powerful about running with your brothers. We were not expected to be able to compete on the national level and yet we won. Running an individual race is great but it is not as fulfilling as competing with your three brothers.”

During his junior year, Hollimon received another missive from coach Cobb which changed his individual focus to the 400 hurdles from the 400.

“Coach Cobb sent me another letter, these letters are serious,” said Hollimon with a laugh.

“In that letter, he said that in order for me to achieve that greatness, I had to be serious and come home and train with him. He thought that by pursuing the hurdles, I could end up being in the Olympics. It would require a return to home to purse this dream. My parents were not going to let me leave without graduating from Princeton My father asked the simple question, he said you have never run hurdles in your life, how is it that you are going to make it to the Olympics?”

Inspired by the example of Edwin Moses, who had never raced in the hurdles before 1976 but went on to win the Olympic gold medal that year in the Montreal Summer Games, Hollimon took two semesters off from school and went home to learn his new event.

“It came naturally; I did my first hurdles race at the Florida Relays and I ran a 50.6 even though I clipped the eight hurdle,” said Hollimon.

“Bershawn Jackson and Johnny Dutch were in the race and I finished third. It showed me that I have some ability to run that race. At the end of the day, if I made it, my life would be revolutionized. If I didn’t, I would be ready to do well at the college level.”

Hollimon ended up making the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials but suffered a setback as he hit a hurdle on his final turn in his opening heat and fell to end up in last place.

“The experience I had was a confidence builder,” asserted Hollimon. “I was right there; if I didn’t hit the seven hurdle I think I would have won that heat. Even though I fell on a national stage and had to deal with media questions in the toughest moment of my life, it was a good experience. I needed to show grace when they asked me how do you feel. I got an outpouring of support from friends and strangers.”

Upon returning to Princeton in January for his final semester, it took Hollimon a while to get up to speed.

“Things didn’t go as well as I had hoped,” said Hollimon. “It was very cold when I got back. I was trying to do some of the training stuff. I didn’t feel my body was responding. It was a challenge to go to class and do the things that college students have to do. I had gotten used to training all the time.”

Utilizing that training, Hollimon won the 400 hurdles at the Outdoor Heps and then went on to clock a time of 51.02 to win his heat at the NCAA East regional and qualify for the national championship meet.

“I was slightly concerned; in the open 400 at the Heps, I had the slowest time I have had in college,” said Hollimon.

“I ran a 48.1 when I was in the 45.6 range. I was confused. I was defending champion in 400 hurdles and I had a good performance. At the regionals, I had an even better time, I was feeling good about my race execution.”

While Hollimon didn’t execute as well as he hoped at the NCAA meet, placing eighth in his heat in 400 hurdles in 54.82 as he was hampered by the flu and then helping the 4×400 take seventh in its heat, his college experience has involved a lot more than success on the track.

“I like the perspective at Princeton; the athletes here are not glorified or deified,” said Hollimon.

“One of the great lessons is that character always counted more around campus than what I did on the track. Who I am is more important than what I do as an athlete. That is a wonderful lesson for me.

Hollimon is taking some important lessons with him as he leaves Princeton.

“I realize that they are teaching us here to teach ourselves,” said Hollimon, who will be taking part in Teach for America in Washington, D.C. as he trains for a shot at the 2016 Summer Olympics

“When I got into the 400 hurdles, I did film study. It is not just the physical; it is the mental, emotional, and spiritual. It is all encompassing.”

In hitting the right note as he shifted his focus to track at Princeton, Hollimon made his high school coach look like a prophet.

Last year, the Princeton University men’s heavyweight crew first varsity 8 just missed out on making the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) regatta.

The Tigers fell to Syracuse by less that a second for a place in the national championship race as they took fourth in the semis.

At the 2013 IRAs, the Tigers found themselves in a similar spot as they battled Stanford in the semis for third place and the last spot in the grand final.

Learning from last year’s disappointment, Princeton roared past the Cardinals in the last 500 meters and secured third by more than four seconds.

Princeton head coach Greg Hughes was proud of how his top boat responded when the chips were down.

“The semis at the IRAs are some of the most exciting racing at any level of rowing; there are nine or 10 boats fast enough to make the finals and only six spots,” said Hughes.

“We knew we were going to have a real race on our hands and we prepared for that kind of race. Both semis were tough; we were going against some of the Pac 12 boats. They knew each other. Our guys had never raced against them and were excited to test themselves. They rose to the occasion of the race. They really had a gutsy race.”

The Tiger second varsity 8 also took care of business in its semifinal, taking second in a tight race that saw the four top boats separated by 3.06 seconds.

“The 2V was in a really tight race and boats were close the whole way,” said Hughes.

“They were able to keep their spot. You learn a lot in those kind of races, going forward is a great experience.”

While Princeton’s top boats didn’t have the greatest races in the grand finals, they gained some valuable experience. The Tiger first varsity placed sixth while the second varsity finished fourth, missing bronze by 0.21 and silver by 0.83.

As for the first varsity, Hughes liked the way it competed. “Each race is different; we had a sense of how we could race against frontrunners,” said Hughes. “It didn’t play out that way. They rowed a tough, hard piece.”

The second varsity, for its part, left it all on the water. “The 2V had their best piece of the year,” said Hughes. “There were faster boats than us in the race. I wish they had been two tenths of a second faster and got a medal but I have no regrets and neither did they. They really executed everything they tried.”

In Hughes’ view, the execution across the board at the IRA regatta demonstrates progress.

“It was great to have two boats make the finals; last year we didn’t make any of the grand finals,” said Hughes.

“We have 13 rowers coming back from the top two boats so that is a good foundation going forward. They need to remember the things they did right and the things that they didn’t do right. They can’t stay the same.”

Hughes will always remember the role the seniors played in getting the program back on the right track.

“It was my most fun season in terms of boats being brave and taking risks,” said Hughes, whose varsity 8 featured seniors Michael Evans, Brian Wettach, and coxswain Keanan Clark.

“The seniors had a good long four years. The program is headed in the right direction. There was a different environment at the boathouse this year, the guys were excited to be there everyday and the credit for that goes to the seniors. The other guys get to come back and you never know what is going to happen. I would like to bring the seniors along with us.”

June 5, 2013
FINAL STATEMENT: The Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 powers to the finish in a race earlier this spring. Last weekend, the senior-laden boat ended the season on a high note, taking second in the grand final at the NCAA championship regatta held at the Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind. The boat’s performance helped Princeton take third overall in the team standings, trailing only champion Ohio State and runner-up California. (Photo Courtesy of PU Crew/Tom Nowak)

FINAL STATEMENT: The Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 powers to the finish in a race earlier this spring. Last weekend, the senior-laden boat ended the season on a high note, taking second in the grand final at the NCAA championship regatta held at the Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind. The boat’s performance helped Princeton take third overall in the team standings, trailing only champion Ohio State and runner-up California.
(Photo Courtesy of PU Crew/Tom Nowak)

While Lori Dauphiny was excited to see her Princeton University women’s open crew compete at the NCAA championship regatta last weekend, there was a tinge of sadness as the program’s seniors wrapped up their college careers.

“The senior class brought tremendous leadership, much of it by example, especially senior year,” said Princeton head coach Dauphiny, who is in her 17th year guiding the program and led the varsity 8 to national titles in 2006 and 2011.

“They had ups and downs and put issues aside and were united as a group. They decided they were going to lead and that started in the fall. I am really appreciative of what they did.”

That positive group dynamic paved the way to a superb performance at the NCAAs as Princeton took third in the team standings, trailing only champion Ohio State and runner-up California in the regatta held at the Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind.

“I am really proud of the team coming in third; we were the only Ivy team in the top 4,” said Dauphiny of the competition which included two varsity 8s and a varsity 4.

“That is something they had been shooting for. I am pleased with that; it just shows that everyone put something into the team being better, even those who were not there at the national championships. Even though not every boat was in the grand final, everyone performed at their best at the critical times.”

The senior-laden first varsity 8 performed well throughout the regatta. The top boat cruised to a win in its opening heat on Friday, topping runner-up UCLA by more than five seconds. In the semis a day later, Princeton encountered some rough water but finished in a strong second behind Ohio State, easily booking a place in Sunday’s grand final.

In the race for the gold, the Tigers didn’t waste any time showing their intentions as they led at the 500 and 1,000 meter marks. Cal made a move in the third 500 and edged ahead of Princeton. The Golden Bears were able to hold on for the win with a time of 6:21.43 over the 2,000-meter course, edging the Tigers by 1.17 seconds.

“It was awesome, it was courageous, it was bold,” said Dauphiny, reflecting on the grand final.

“I was extremely pleased and proud of them. It was hard to not come out in first but there is no doubt that it was their best race and they poured it out.”

Dauphiny acknowledged that she was taken aback by her top boat’s blazing start. “It was not our plan to be that far out,” said Dauphiny of her top boat which was spearheaded by a quartet of seniors in Gabby Cole, Molly Hamrick, Liz Hartwig, and Heidi Robbins and also included juniors Annie Prasad, Kelsey Reelick, Angie Gould, and Kathryn Irwin together with freshman Erin Reelick.

“We thought we could have a good first 500 and build on our base speed. It is not unusual for that boat to start like that. They notched it up a level.”

The second varsity (2V) had to take things up a notch in the semis as it edged Virginia at the finish line to take third and earn a spot in the grand final.

“The 2V had an amazing race,” said Dauphiny, reflecting on the semi which saw the Tigers clock a time of 6:55.26 with Virginia coming in at 6:55.52.

“It was dead level with an exchange of boats and no one boat really taking the lead. It was a photo finish and we were lucky we took that last stroke and got our bow ahead of Virginia.  That was their best race of the competition.”

In the grand final, the 2V faded to sixth, posting a time of 6:33.46, nearly six seconds behind champion Ohio State.

“They were disappointed but they did their best,” said Dauphiny, assessing the 2V’s final performance.

“It was the product of the dynamics of their race. They were on the edge on lane 1 and it was a challenge to not be in the middle. They did a nice job. They had a very difficult go at the Ivies. Bouncing back from that and turning it around going forward wasn’t easy.”

The varsity 4 had a tough time in its semifinal, missing third by an eyelash as Washington State edged the Tigers by 0.21. Princeton bounced back with a solid effort in the petite final as it took second behind Cal.

“The V4 needed another 10 meters,” said Dauphiny, reflecting on the semi. “They really poured it on in the last 300 meters. It was just not far enough for them. They were disappointed to be in the petite final but they had a good race.”

Dauphiny credits her Class of 2013 for pouring everything it had into their last weekend and hopes that effort will inspire those who follow.

“This senior class is really special,” said Dauphiny, noting that seniors Sarah Wiley and Astrid Wettstein competed in the 4 last weekend while the 2V included their classmate Sara Kushma.

“They are really going to be missed. It was a fantastic end. They gave everything they had. I am not sure what we are going to do without them. We have a good freshman class coming in but they haven’t done anything yet.”

MORSS CODE: Princeton University women’s lightweight rower Alex Morss competes in a race this spring. Last Sunday, senior star and captain Morss ended her Tiger career by helping the varsity 8 take fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

MORSS CODE: Princeton University women’s lightweight rower Alex Morss competes in a race this spring. Last Sunday, senior star and captain Morss ended her Tiger career by helping the varsity 8 take fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

With her family history, Alex Morss seemed destined to end up at Princeton University.

Both of her parents are Princeton alums along with her grandfather, an aunt, and an uncle.

But as a star soccer player and rower at the Groton School (Mass.), Morss had mixed feelings about following the family tradition. “Initially I didn’t want to look at Princeton because everyone had gone there,” said Morss.

Morss had a chance to attend Williams College where she could compete in both soccer and crew or she could come to Princeton and just do rowing.

“I visited Princeton and I realized that I would really like it,” said Rassam. “I really liked the lightweight crew coach Paul Rassam and the team.”

In the end, Morss added to her family legacy, deciding to attend Princeton and focus on rowing. Morss emerged as a star and captain for the Princeton lightweight program.

Last Sunday, she ended her Tiger career by helping the varsity 8 take fifth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.

In reflecting on her Princeton years, Morss views her rowing experience as a major highlight.

“I think that the boathouse and crew had been one of the fantastic parts of my Princeton years,” said Morss, whose father Stephen, was a lightweight rower for the Tigers.

“I really enjoyed being in the 8. It is one thing to be fast on the erg (ergometer), it is another thing to have eight people working together, getting connected.”

Coming in as a freshman in 2009, Morss worked hard to make an impact. “They had given us summer workouts and I did everything,” recalled Morss.

“I was in pretty good shape when I got to Princeton. I felt like it was a pretty smooth transition.

Things went very smoothly in Morss’ sophomore year as the Tigers won the Eastern Sprints and placed second at the IRAs, narrowly losing to Stanford in the grand final.

“I learned how to scull that summer and having a complete year under my belt gave me a better idea of the college scene,” said Morss.

“We went to the Head of Charles and had a good race. The workouts were harder; the boat had a lot of speed. Winning sprints was so great. The great thing was the a day before the final someone had to leave the boat and we had a new lineup. We had one day to practice with the lineup. The seniors were such great leaders; they made sure that we still raced well.”

Morss’ junior campaign didn’t go so well as the Tigers underwent a rebuilding season, taking fifth in both the Eastern Sprints and the IRA regatta.

“That was really hard; I had an injury and was out most of the fall; another captain had an injury and was out most of the fall,” said Morss.

“We pretty much had to start over in the winter. The attitude and determination was there. It took a little time. We only had eight people but we were still pretty competitive. We kept getting faster, no one gave up. A lot of it was attitude, the season could have been a disaster. We only had three returners and we had a novice cox. We kept fighting.”

Last summer, Morss took her fighting spirit to the international stage as she competed at the U-23 World Championships in Trakai, Lithuania in the U.S. women’s lightweight single sculls.

“That was a lot of fun, I wasn’t even planning on trying out for the team,” said Morss, who placed 15th overall at the regatta.

“I was working in Princeton last summer and my high school coach said I should try out. I borrowed a single and I went to the trials. I was able to get a couple of weeks off from the lab to compete.”

While Morss would have preferred to finish higher at the U-23 competition, the experience proved to be great preparation for her final college campaign.

“It was competing at a whole new level,” said Morss. “You know the other teams in college and the boats aren’t so deep.  You see the top people in the world and you see how good they are and how hard you have to work.  I am so glad I did that and randomly went to the trials. I was motivated to get to a higher level. I saw how important technique is. People are pretty similar physically but good technique can save you seconds.”

As the team captain for Princeton this season, Morss tried to pass on her experience to her younger teammates.

“I thought about other captains and what worked and didn’t work for them,” said Morss.

“I am always someone who works hard. I am not loud, I try to set a good example. I wanted to work hard right from the start in the fall. I know people can get overwhelmed so I try to make sure that everyone is on the same page.”

The Tigers were on the same page this spring, opening the season with a win over perennial power Wisconsin and going on to finish second in the San Diego Crew Classic, third at the Invitational Lightweight Cup, and second at the Eastern Sprints before the fifth place finish in the national championship regatta.

“I could feel something but you never know until you race,” said Morss, reflecting on the boat’s progress this season.

“The improvement came over winter and on spring break. I think we are definitely improving. The starts have gotten better; we are working on all aspects of the race.”

As Morss leaves Prince
ton, she is not ready to stop racing. “I am going to keep rowing; I am going to the U-23 camp and I would like to be on a boat with others,” said Morss. “It got a little lonely last summer.”

No matter where Morss’ rowing takes her, she has certainly added a special chapter to her family’s Princeton tradition.

May 29, 2013
SWINGING SUCCESS: Princeton University women’s golfer Kelly Shon displays her form as she follows through on a shot. Last week, junior star Shon became the first Princeton player to compete at the NCAA women’s golf championship since Mary Moan did so in 1997. Shon fired a 10-over 298 to tie for 37th in the 126-player field, the best finish ever for an Ivy League player in event history.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

SWINGING SUCCESS: Princeton University women’s golfer Kelly Shon displays her form as she follows through on a shot. Last week, junior star Shon became the first Princeton player to compete at the NCAA women’s golf championship since Mary Moan did so in 1997. Shon fired a 10-over 298 to tie for 37th in the 126-player field, the best finish ever for an Ivy League player in event history. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Kelly Shon has become used to carrying the torch on the golf course this spring.

In late April, the Princeton University junior star won the Ivy League women’s individual crown after shooting a 2-over 218 through 54 holes at Trump National in Bedminster and then beating Harvard’s Christine Lin on the first playoff hole.

“I had gotten emotional from the team finish,” said Shon, noting that she become upset upon learning that the Tigers had lost the team title by one shot to Harvard.

“I decided I had to gather myself and play for the team. I wanted to come through for the team. It meant a lot to have teammates and friends out there and players from the other teams.”

Two weeks later, Shon placed second at the NCAA East Regional, firing a 7-under 219 at the Auburn University Club to become the first Ivy League player to clinch a berth in the NCAA women’s golf championship since Princeton’s Mary Moan did so in 1997.

Last week at the NCAA Championships at University of Georgia Golf Course, Shon represented Princeton and the league with class, tying for 37th, the best finish ever for an Ivy League player in event history.

But showing her competitive nature, Shon was disappointed with her 10-over performance.

“The whole tournament was frustrating,” said Shon, a native of Port Washington, N.Y. whose score of 76-72-76-74 — 298 put her in the top third of the 126-player field

“Even on the second day, I should have been under par, I made doubles on the two par 5s, that is not what I was looking for. I actually liked the course. The greens were undulating and tricky but there were putts to be made. Even up to the end, I couldn’t get the speed of the greens.”

In the end, though, Shon was thrilled to have had the chance to compete in the national tournament.

“I am so grateful and so humbled to have had the experience,” said Shon, who became the second Tiger to win Ivy Player of the Year honors, an award that came about in 2009 when Susannah Aboff ’09 won the award as the last Tiger to win the Ivy individual title.

“Not all that many Ivy League players have made it. I wanted to represent my school and the league; I put more pressure on myself. I wanted to show on national stage that the Ivy League has some great players.

Shon displayed greatness in qualifying for the NCAAs, catching fire on the back nine of the final round of the regional with birdies the 10th, 13th, 14th, and 16th holes as she booked her ticket to Georgia.

“All I could think of was playing for my teammates and coming through,” said Shon, who was playing in her third straight NCAA regional.

“The last round was weird. I wanted to play well and not let myself get in the way. On the front nine my head did get in the way. I made a stupid mistake on No. 9 when I came up short on an approach shot. I thought I have a lot of people rooting for me and this was not the time to get mad at myself. It really means something when you are able to make birdies and good shots in that situation.”

While playing golf at Princeton means dealing with a heavy academic commitment and less time on the course, Shon believes she has become a tougher competitor
through the experience.

“I think it may come as a shock to other golfers but my time at Princeton has helped me become a better golfer,” said Shon.

“I have learned more about the game and how to handle things that people at other schools don’t have to deal with. There are different pressures and we have limited time to practice. It has helped me to be on my own. I saw at the nationals that the other teams had a big entourage with assistant coaches, trainers, and others.”

Shon learned a lot about herself last October when she fired a three-over 147 to win the two-round Lehigh Invitational at the Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa.

“I think the victory at Lehigh in the fall showed a lot; that was an example of my process of maturing,” said Shon, whose heroics helped Princeton win the team title at the event.

“Coming down the stretch, I knew I needed to birdie that last hole. I had three really good shots to get a 3 on a four. I am not sure I could have done that earlier in my career. It showed mental tenacity.”

As Shon looks forward to her final season at Princeton, she is contemplating a pro golf career.

“I am not exactly positive; it would be cool to be play professionally,” said Shon, who will be looking to play in the U.S. Women’s Open, the U.S. Women’s Amateur, and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links tournaments this summer as she has in the last two years. “I would need to be playing well and be comfortable putting in all that time on my game.

While Shon has thrived as she has flied solo this spring, she knows she can’t do it alone.

“I am so grateful for all the support from teammates, alums, and Tiger families,” said Shon.

“It was a meaningful experience to bring Princeton to the national stage and show what Princeton women’s golf can do.”

HAMMING IT UP: Princeton University women’s open crew star Molly Hamrick pulls hard in a race this season. Senior tri-captain and stroke Hamrick will be looking to end her Princeton career on a high note as the Tigers compete in the 2013 NCAA championship regatta in Indianapolis, Ind. from May 30-June 1. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

HAMMING IT UP: Princeton University women’s open crew star Molly Hamrick pulls hard in a race this season. Senior tri-captain and stroke Hamrick will be looking to end her Princeton career on a high note as the Tigers compete in the 2013 NCAA championship regatta in Indianapolis, Ind. from May 30-June 1.
(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Competing at the 2012 NCAA championships at nearby Mercer Lake, Molly Hamrick and her teammates on the Princeton University women’s varsity open 8 were hoping for some home cooking.

Instead, Princeton ended the regatta burning with frustration as it placed fourth in the grand finals, finishing 7.18 seconds behind champion Virginia.

“It was disappointing, it was lackluster,” said Hamrick, reflecting on the 2012 NCAA competition.

“It gave us motivation for this season. It fired us up to work. We had to start working hard in the summer; we all kept in contact even though we were all over the country.

That hard work paid dividends earlier this month as the Tiger varsity 8 won the grand final at the Ivy Championships. Princeton clocked a time of 6:29.961 over the 2,000-meter course on Cooper River in Camden, N.J. with Yale second in 6:36.859 and Radcliffe taking third in 6:41.108.

“All seven other Ivies were absolute contenders; we had no expectations,” said senior stroke Hamrick.

“If we rowed our race and put together our best piece of the year, we could win and that is what we did.”

This weekend, Hamrick and the Tigers will be looking to put together some more good racing as they compete in the 2013 NCAA championship regatta in Indianapolis, Ind. from May 30-June 1.

Hamrick brings some championship experience to her final college regatta as she helped Princeton win the NCAA grand final in her sophomore season.

“I remember there were a lot of nerves and lot of excited energy,” said Hamrick, recalling the 2011 NCAAs.

“We knew that we needed to keep our cool and row our race. Cal made a move on us but we were able to hold them off. We were very excited for the seniors, they had worked so hard and seen such improvement.”

For Hamrick, a native of Tampa, Fla., an important step in her improvement as a rower came when she first competed for the U.S. junior national program.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Hamrick, who helped her Plant High crew win 2009 Florida state title and the Southeast Regional championship.

“I went to China after my sophomore year in high school. It was awesome to be surrounded by people who loved the sport as much as I did. It takes a lot, you spend your entire summer rowing and you are practicing three times a day.”

Hamrick also learned a lot about perseverance from the national experience.

“We came in third in China,” said Hamrick. “We were disappointed, we thought we could do better. We stayed in touch with each other over the year. We got the gold in Austria the next year. It showed when you set your mind to something and absolutely work as hard as you can, you can accomplish it.”

Applying that work ethic upon her arrival at Princeton in 2009, Hamrick moved up to the varsity 8 by the spring of her freshman year.

“Making the varsity boat was something I hoped to do as a freshman,” said Hamrick.

“I rowed in the 2V in the fall. Our captains Sarah Hendershot and Ariel Frost were great leaders, they took the freshmen under their wing and taught us about working hard, mental toughness, and perseverance.”

Now that Hamrick is a team captain along with classmates Heidi Robbins and Liz Hartwig, she is looking to emulate Hendershot and Frost.

It has caused me to always think about my actions and be a role model for the team,” said Hamrick, reflecting on being a captain. “It has great being captains with Liz and Heidi, we have helped each other.”

In Hamrick’s view, the senior class has helped the program collectively. “I think all eight seniors have a sense of urgency,” said Hamrick, whose classmates include Nicole Bielawski, Gabby Cole, Sarah Kushma, Astrid Wettstein, and Sarah Wiley in addition to Hartwig and Robbins.

“We want to make every stroke and every practice matter. There are eight different personalities but we all click. The team would not be where we are without the seniors.”

Now the team is hoping to build on its Ivy success as it competes in Indianapolis. “I think that win was definitely a confidence builder,” said Hamrick.

“We know that Indianapolis will be a new ballgame. We need to refine things, and never be taking off a stroke. We have to keep the positive mentality. We have to keep our cool, stay confident, and row our race. We are excited to get out there on the course and see where we stand.”

Hamrick, for her part, is excited to continue rowing after she graduates from Princeton.

“I have been doing this for eight years,” said Hamrick, who was recently chosen to take part in the USRowing Under 23 national team selection camp.

“I don’t see myself quitting any time soon. I want to see where this will play out. I see myself as a person who when challenged will happily accept that.”

THE TY THAT BINDS: Princeton University men’s lightweight rower Tyler Nase in action this spring. Senior star and captain Nase will be in his final competition for Princeton this weekend as the Tigers compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta slated for May 31-June 2 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

THE TY THAT BINDS: Princeton University men’s lightweight rower Tyler Nase in action this spring. Senior star and captain Nase will be in his final competition for Princeton this weekend as the Tigers compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta slated for May 31-June 2 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.
(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

During the early days of his rowing career, Tyler Nase watched the movie Gladiator to get pumped up for competition.

“I used to do that a lot in high school,” said Nase, referring to viewing the Academy Award-winning epic as part of his pre-race routine. “We watched it as freshman 8 and we won our first race so it became a superstition.”

Utilizing a Gladiator-like mentality, Nase, a Phoenixville, Pa. native and star for the LaSalle College High School crew program, earned a spot in the U.S. junior national program.

“At the beginning of my junior year of high school, I did well in the indoor world championships, an ERG competition,” said Nase.

“I got invited to the national identification camp and then I made the training camp. We got a bronze medal; it was my first taste of international competition. I decided that I wanted to make the Olympics. It showed me how to train.”

This weekend, Nase, now a senior captain and star for the Princeton University men’s lightweight crew, will be going after another medal as the Tigers compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta slated for May 31-June 2 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.

Nase is looking to pass on his training mentality as he helps guide an inexperienced Princeton varsity eight.

“Being such a young team, I want to be really approachable and have them comfortable talking to me,” said Nase. “I like to talk less and do more. It is a sport where you get better on what you put out. I want to give them a glimpse of that.”

In his first two years with the Tiger lightweight program, Nase got a first-hand glimpse of what it takes to reach a higher level.

“I loved being in the freshman boat,” said Nase. “We had a good coach Glenn Ochal, he was training and competing internationally at the time and that was a great inspiration for us. It was the next step of training. In high school, I was aggressive and rough. I learned that you needed harmony with the stroke. It was great rowing with the seniors the next year. They showed what kind of framework you need to be really successful.”

Nase has continued to enjoy success on the national level, helping the U.S. lightweight 4 place seventh in the U-23 World Championships last July.

“I was on the team the previous summer so I had more experience under my belt for last year,” said Nase.

“We didn’t make the grand final but we won the petit final in a time that would have been second in the grand final so that was bittersweet. There were 20 boats that could win. I think I have become a smarter rower every time I have competed with the national team. I always take a lot from that.”

While Princeton lightweight varsity 8 was disappointed to place fifth at the Eastern Sprints earlier this month, Nase believes the top boat took a lot from that experience.

“The Sprints were pretty tough,” said Nase. “It was amazing to see Dartmouth take third after having lost to Cornell in the regular season. It just shows how tough our league is. I thought we raced really, really hard, we were definitely in it. We have six guys on the boat who never raced varsity before this year. It was a little different than the dual meets.”

The Tigers are hoping for a different result this weekend in Sacramento. “I think we will be better in the IRAs,” maintained Nase.

“I think we need to step back and not get caught up in things. We need to be a little more relaxed and just race better. We need to do a little better in the second half of the race. We were right there at 1,000 meters. I want to leave everything on the water, I don’t want to have any regrets.”

Nase isn’t ready to leave the water any time soon. “The whole Princeton rowing experience has made me the person I am; the coaching, the friendships, and the work,” said Nase.

“I have matured as a rower. I want to continue in the sport. I am going for the senior national team. I am going to Oklahoma City on June 6 to train there. I want to go to the 2016 Olympics and then in 2020.”

May 22, 2013
OPEN SEASON: Members of the Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 celebrate with head coach Lori Dauphiny, second from right, after winning their Grand Final at the Ivy League Championships regatta last Sunday on Cooper River in Camden, N.J. The varsity 8’s win earned the Tigers the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA championship regatta and helped Princeton win the Ivy team points title, which it took with an 81-74 edge over second-place Radcliffe. Princeton is next in action when it competes in the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, Ind. from May 31-June 2.(Photo by Craig Sachson, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

OPEN SEASON: Members of the Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 celebrate with head coach Lori Dauphiny, second from right, after winning their Grand Final at the Ivy League Championships regatta last Sunday on Cooper River in Camden, N.J. The varsity 8’s win earned the Tigers the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA championship regatta and helped Princeton win the Ivy team points title, which it took with an 81-74 edge over second-place Radcliffe. Princeton is next in action when it competes in the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, Ind. from May 31-June 2. (Photo by Craig Sachson, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Coming into the Ivy League Championships regatta last Sunday, Lori Dauphiny was certain that her Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 faced a dogfight.

“It was wide open, we talked about it as a team,” said Princeton head coach Dauphiny.

“It is one of the most difficult years to poll the varsity 8s, everyone has beaten everyone else. We knew going into that it was going to be very close, that is a testament to the speed in our league.”

But in the end, Princeton’s top boat had the speed to pull away to a convincing win in the Grand Final as it clocked a time of 6:29.961 over the 2,000-meter course on Cooper River in Camden, N.J. with Yale second in 6:36.859 and Radcliffe taking third in 6:41.108.

The varsity 8’s victory gave the Tigers the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA championship regatta and helped Princeton win the Ivy team points title, which it earned with an 81-74 edge over second-place Radcliffe.

Dauphiny was pleasantly surprised by her 1V’s margin of victory. “We had a good heat, we felt pretty good about the final race,” said Dauphiny, whose top boat clocked a time of 6:39.257 in winning its heat with Brown next in 6:48.499

“We felt good and we knew it was going to be close although it didn’t turn out to be that close. The conditions were a factor. We had a nice, solid start and that put us in a good place and we went from there.”

In Dauphiny’s view, her varsity boat was in a good place as it prepared for the Ivy regatta.

“We were improving, we had a good race against Michigan to end the regular season,” said Dauphiny, whose 1V posted a 12.5 second win over the Wolverines on May 4 and has now won two of the last three Ivy titles and 13 overall.

“We had some time between that race and the sprints and they kept working hard and getting better.”

Dauphiny credits her senior class with helping the Tigers get better and better.

“We knew going in that the senior class was going to be a big key and a critical component to our results,” asserted Dauphiny,  whose top boat included senior stalwarts Heidi Robbins, Molly Hamrick, Liz Hartwig, and Gabby Cole in addition to juniors Annie Prasad, Kelsey Reelick, Angie Gould, and Kathryn Irwin together with freshman Erin Reelick. “It is a strong class with a wealth of experience.”

The Tiger second varsity had a strong finish as it placed third but had hoped for more as it hadn’t lost all spring.

“It was actually heart-wrenching,” said Dauphiny, whose 2V came in at 6:47.010 with Brown first in 6:41.366 and Radcliffe second in 6:43.507.

“They were undefeated going in so they were torn up about getting third. They did their best and executed their plan. A factor was that the racing was going on in lanes five and six and they were a little far away in lane three.”

Princeton’s other victory in the Ivy regatta came from the third varsity 8 which topped runner-up Penn by nearly 13 seconds.

“They were also undefeated coming in and it was awesome to see them win their race,” said Dauphiny of the boat which posted a time of 7:09.964 with Penn second in 7:22.321.

“It was a mix of youth and experience. They had some adversity with injury and lineup changes and fought through.”

The varsity 4 earned a medal, taking third as it prepares for the NCAA regatta which includes the 1V, 2V, and V4 boats.

“The varsity 4 did a great job of getting a medal, dealing with some injuries and lineup changes,” added Dauphiny, whose top 4 covered the course in 7:48.427 with Brown first in 7:39.511 and Yale second in 7:43.215.

In Dauphiny’s view, her rowers did a great job across the board last weekend.

“The whole team really played a role in our win, every boat and every rower stepped up,” said Dauphiny, crediting new assistant coaches Kate Maxim and Steve Coppola with fostering a positive and competitive team atmosphere.

“They are really excited and super proud of what they accomplished. It took a lot of hard work and it was well fought.”

Princeton is excited about competing in the NCAA regatta in Indianapolis, Ind. from May 31-June 2. In 2012, the Tigers took fourth in the team standings and qualified each of its three boats to their respective grand finals.

“They need to continue to improve and work on their weaknesses,” said Dauphiny, who has guided the Tigers to every NCAA regatta since the inaugural meet in 1997 and whose varsity 8 won national titles in 2006 and 2011.

“They have to finish exams. We only have a few days after exams before we have to fly out to Indianapolis. The nationals is a whole new ballgame. There are many schools that look strong.”

HEAVY DUTY: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight first varsity 8 displays its form in a race earlier this spring. Last weekend, the first varsity took fourth in the Grand Final at the Eastern Sprints at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. The Tigers will wrap up their season by competing in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta slated for May 31-June 2 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

HEAVY DUTY: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight first varsity 8 displays its form in a race earlier this spring. Last weekend, the first varsity took fourth in the Grand Final at the Eastern Sprints at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. The Tigers will wrap up their season by competing in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta slated for May 31-June 2 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

Greg Hughes has been fine-tuning the training approach for his Princeton University men’s heavyweight rowers this spring.

“I would say there is a change in intensity, not volume,” said fourth-year head coach Hughes.

“There is more hard work, it has had a positive effect on confidence. They have seen how much they can gain from that.”

As the Tigers prepared to compete in the Eastern Sprints last weekend, they showed some good intensity.

“We had some really great work,” said Hughes. “We made a couple of changes to combination which were beneficial. We changed the race plan which also helped.”

The Princeton first varsity 8 raced well in its opening heat at the Sprints, clocking a time of 6:05.776 on the 2,000-meter course at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. to take second to Brown and qualify for the Grand Final.

“You always go to sprints looking to do well in the heats because it is one-off,” said Hughes.

“The sprint heats have provided some of the greatest races in rowing.

There is a lot of parity in the boats this year. There are 10 boats with the speed to make the finals and there are only six spots. We handled things well in the heat. We showed great intensity and focus. When you make changes, they don’t always stick on race day as the competitive juices take over.”

In the final, Princeton was competitive but ended up falling off the pace to take fourth in a race won by Harvard.

“We were in lane six and we were separated from lanes one-two-three where the racing was taking place,” said Hughes, whose team posted a time of 6:08.917, more than 12 seconds behind the Crimson.

“The train took off and we missed it. It was hard to pick up from there. We had good speed. We raced better.”

With the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta slated for May 31-June 2 on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif., Hughes believes his top boat is primed to race even better.

“We are looking forward to the IRAs,” said Hughes. “I like the attitude of the guys; they are all excited. We could have done better in the final but they have another chance.”

The Tiger second varsity 8 will be looking for a second chance at Brown after Princeton placed second to the Bears at the Sprints, suffering its first loss of the season.

“That was an awesome race,” asserted Hughes, whose 2V clocked a time of 6:09.690 to take second, nearly three seconds behind Brown.

“We had a race like that with Brown two weeks ago and we came out on top. This time, Brown came out on top. Princeton and Brown are two really fast boats and we are excited to get another chance to race against them. From my standpoint, I am bummed for them, I wanted to see them get the finish they wanted. They have had a really great season, I am really proud of them. They have a great attitude and they have been a great addition to the boathouse, they have fun with what they are doing.”

Princeton did earn gold in the fourth varsity race, beating runner-up Harvard by more than three seconds.

“The 4V had couple of seniors mixed in with some youngsters; it great to see those seniors end their rowing careers with a win,” said Hughes.

“One of our few walk-on novices [Doug Guyett] was on that boat, it was great to see how he progressed.”

In Hughes’ view, the progress he has seen from his rowers has resulted, in part, from a coaching group effort.

“A big part of this is the staff and the coaches that we have,” asserted Hughes.

“With the new freshman rule [which allows freshmen to compete on varsity boats], we have changed the way we split things up. Spencer Washburn was really a co-head coach. He gets a lion’s share of credit for the 2V. Our interns, Ian Silveira and Rob Munn, worked with 3V and 4V. What it shows is that it is great to have a staff. You need to bounce ideas off of each other.”

As Princeton gets ready for the IRAs, it won’t be changing its focus on hard work.

“We don’t have a lot of time; we’ll be flying out on Friday,” said Hughes.

“We will be doing a lot of the work that we have been doing. We are not doing anything fancy but we are on the right track. We just need slightly better execution.”

May 15, 2013
HAND IN HAND: Princeton University men’s golf star Greg Jarmas, right, and Tiger head coach Will Green enjoy a fist bump after Jarmas completed his final round at the Ivy League Championship in late April on the way to the individual title. Jarmas’ 3-over total of 213 for the three-round event helped Princeton win the team title. The Tigers will be going after another crown this week as they compete in the NCAA regional at the Palouse Ridge Golf Club in Pullman, Wash. from May 16-18.(Photo by Greg Carroccio, Sideline Photos/Ivy League)

HAND IN HAND: Princeton University men’s golf star Greg Jarmas, right, and Tiger head coach Will Green enjoy a fist bump after Jarmas completed his final round at the Ivy League Championship in late April on the way to the individual title. Jarmas’ 3-over total of 213 for the three-round event helped Princeton win the team title. The Tigers will be going after another crown this week as they compete in the NCAA regional at the Palouse Ridge Golf Club in Pullman, Wash. from May 16-18. (Photo by Greg Carroccio, Sideline Photos/Ivy League)

Coming into the Ivy League Championship in late April, Will Green believed that his Princeton University men’s golf team was in the mix for the title.

“It was wide open without a doubt,” said Princeton head coach Green of the three-round event which took place at the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings, Md.

“Yale cemented themselves as the favorite, winning two tournaments and coming in second in another. With the depth of the team and the parity in the league, I thought there were six teams that had a chance if they played well. I knew what we had in our players and I knew we would compete. All spring, there had been an unwavering confidence.”

Although Princeton stood in fourth place going into final round, Green had a good feeling about his team’s chances as it got ready to take the course.

“There were five teams within four shots, that is one hole,” said Green. “I was quite emotional; I knew how hard these guys had worked. I was about 20 yards from Quinn [freshman star Quinn Prchal] as he walked to the first tee and I said ‘go get it and he said yes sir.’ I thought he is going to get a good number today; I could see that he had a quiet confidence.”

The Tigers went out and played with a collective confidence, firing a final round total of 288 to post an 883 and win the title, topping runner-up Yale by five strokes. The triumph qualified Princeton for the NCAAs and the Tigers will take part in the regional at the Palouse Ridge Golf Club in Pullman, Wash. from May 16-18.

In reflecting on how things unfolded on the final day of the Ivy tournament, Green said his team followed a winning script.

“It was going to take a solid round from everyone and some some special play and that is what we got,” said Green, who got an even par round of 70 from junior Greg Jarmas, the Ivy individual champion, with Prchal firing a 69, Bernie D’Amato carding a 74, Nicholas Ricci getting a 75, and Matt Gerber posting a 76. “It was a collective effort.”

In the view of his team’s superb effort, Green wasn’t overly focused on the standings.

“Yale still had five guys on the course when we finished,” recalled Green “I was so happy with how the guys played, it didn’t matter whether we won or not. With our season on the line, we played great.”

Jarmas certainly played great as he ended up with a three-over 213 to finish three shots better than Penn’s Max Marisco and P.J. Fielding.

“Greg and I talked during the week, he has been playing well and he knew he could be the variable for us,” recalled Green.

“If he played well, we would have a good chance of winning. I walked all 54 holes with Greg. I wasn’t his caddie but I wanted to keep him calm and focused. We were talking about his shots and what he needed to do.”

Over the final two holes, Jarmas made some huge shots. “He made a 17-foot for par on 17,” said Green.

“On 18, he hit a 320-yard drive, he said to me I am jacked up, I told him to slow things down. We walked really slow and took in the environment around us. It is a beautiful setting. He had 124 yards to the hole and he hit a gap wedge 25-30 feet past the hole but still on the green. He made the 30-foot putt and I knew what we had and where Yale was and that he had a chance to win the individual title.”

Once the team and individual titles were confirmed, Green’s emotions bubbled over.

“The joy I had was for the players who had put in so much effort,” asserted Green.

“I texted an alum from 40 years ago who been so supportive and helped us financially and said this was for you. He texted back that he had tears in his eyes and so did I.”

In Green’s view, the win is important on both the short term and long term for the Tigers.

“We have had an exceptional golf program as long as the sport has been played in the Ivy League,” said Green, who is in his 14th season guiding the Tigers and has now led Princeton to seven Ivy crowns.

“It is our 24th title but we hadn’t won since 2006. It was good to know that we still have it and that we are one of the premier programs in the league and the northeast.
We’ll see what impact it has; hopefully it will help us with recruiting.”

Green is confident the Tigers can make an impact at the NCAA regional.

“Our goal is to advance to the finals,” said Green, whose team will need to finish in the top five to qualify for the NCAA Championship at the Capital City Club in Atlanta from May 28-June 2.

“We are not going out there to be a sacrificial lamb or for ceremonial purposes. We are going to compete.”

IN VAIN: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Erin Slifer controls the ball in a game earlier this spring. Last Friday, sophomore star Slifer tallied four points on two goals and two assists but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 10-9 in overtime to Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Annapolis, Md. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 10-7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN VAIN: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Erin Slifer controls the ball in a game earlier this spring. Last Friday, sophomore star Slifer tallied four points on two goals and two assists but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 10-9 in overtime to Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Annapolis, Md. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 10-7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Earlier in the spring, the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team appeared overmatched as it fell to such powerful non-conference foes as Georgetown and Maryland.

But catching fire, the Tigers won seven of their last eight regular season games and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament despite an overtime loss to Dartmouth in the Ivy League tournament.

Facing national power Duke in the first round of the NCAAs last Friday evening in Annapolis, Md., the Tigers showed how much they have grown as they jumped out to a 7-5 halftime lead over the Blue Devils.

“It was an incredible 30 minutes of lacrosse at both ends of the field,” said Princeton head coach Chris Sailer, reflecting on her squad’s first half performance.

“We went out and played hard and competed. We dominated the draws all night, that was a huge focus for us all week. We dominated the draws against Dartmouth the first time and then they dominated the draws against us in the Ivy semis.”

Princeton never stopped competing even as Duke forged ahead in the second half.

“They were leading by one with a couple of minutes left and we went into our pressure defense and threw some doubles at them,” said Sailer.

“Caroline Rehfuss made a nice steal and then Erin Slifer made an unbelievable shot to tie it up. It was a great moment.”

Slifer’s tally and a save by junior goalie Caroline Franke in the waning seconds of regulation helped force overtime as the teams were knotted at 9-9 after 60 minutes of action.

“I thought we had momentum going into the sudden victory period,” said Sailer.

“We made a mistake at the end of the first overtime and we were on a yellow card for the first two minutes of the second overtime. They didn’t make a move to goal, I was surprised by that. They held the ball for all three minutes and they weren’t able to get off a good shot. We played some really good defense.”

But Duke solved the Princeton defense and scored to pull out a 10-9 victory and end the Tigers’ season and leave them with a final record of 10-7.

“I am so proud of how they improved and how much they grew,” asserted Sailer, who got two goals and two assists from Slifer in the defeat with Erin McMunn and Charlotte Davis chipping in two goals apiece.

“We made a lot of progress during the season, for the first few games to the end, there was no comparison. We accomplished a lot. We went 6-1 in Ivy League for the first time since 2009. We made it back to the NCAAs and the Ivy tournament.”

Sailer credits veteran leadership with playing a key role in the team’s accomplishments this spring.

“It was a great group of seniors,” said Sailer, whose Class of 2013 included Sam Ellis, Jenna Davis, and Jaci Gassaway in addition to Rehufuss and Charlotte Davis.

“They did a great job of laying the foundation for what we did this year. I credit the seniors for setting the right tone. The team went as they went. The chemistry and camaraderie was great and there was an overall good work ethic. I enjoyed the season; it was a fun team to coach.”

The Tigers appear well positioned to have a lot of fun next year as they return such standouts as Sarah Lloyd, Alex Bruno, Mary-Kate Sivilli, Anya Gersoff, and Liz Bannantine along with Franke, Slifer, and McMunn.

“I think we can build on what we did,” said Sailer. “All five seniors were starters and these five will be missed. We have a great group returning and some talented freshmen coming in. I am excited to see what we can do.”

May 8, 2013
KC PRIME: Princeton University football star Mike Catapano, right, battles a Dartmouth lineman in action last November. Catapano, a defensive lineman who was 2012 Bushnell Cup recipient as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year last fall in his senior season, was chosen last month by the Kansas City Chiefs in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. This week, Catapano makes his pro debut as he participates in the team’s opening mini-camp.(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

KC PRIME: Princeton University football star Mike Catapano, right, battles a Dartmouth lineman in action last November. Catapano, a defensive lineman who was 2012 Bushnell Cup recipient as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year last fall in his senior season, was chosen last month by the Kansas City Chiefs in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. This week, Catapano makes his pro debut as he participates in the team’s opening mini-camp. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

In January, Mike Catapano knew he had to stand out on the practice field as he took part in the 88th annual East-West Shrine all-star college football game in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“I needed to show I could play against a higher level of competition,” said Catapano, a star defensive lineman for the Princeton University football team who was the 2012 Bushnell Cup recipient as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year last fall in his senior season.

“If I were the Player of the Year in the ACC, I would be a first round draft choice but I was coming from the Ivy League. The practices were the biggest part for me. There were a lot of one-on-one drills and a lot of NFL coaches watching the practices.”

The 6’4, 270-pound Catapano caught the attention of the pro coaches and ended up getting selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the seventh round of the NFL Draft on April 27.

This week, Catapano will be looking to turn heads as he makes his pro debut by participating in the team’s opening mini-camp.

“I want to make a great first impression and show the coaches that I am going to be their hardest worker,” said Catapano. “I want to show that I have a high motor.”

When Catapano arrived at Princeton in the fall of 2008, it was hard to imagine him as a future NFL draft choice. He was a 215-pound fullback before being switched to defensive line. Gaining 50 pounds between his freshman and sophomore year, the Bayville, N.Y. native grew into a force.

After earning second-team  All-Ivy League honors in 2011, Catapano caught the eye of NFL scouts and he realized that his dream of playing at the next level was viable.

Getting the chance to come back for a fifth season in 2012 due to being sidelined as a freshman, Catapano decided to hone his skills by working with former NFL player Chuck Smith, who has been training defensive linemen and pass-rushing outside linebackers through his company, Defensive Line Inc., since 2000 in Suwanee, Ga.

“I took the spring off from school so I could play that fifth year,” said Catapano.

“I couldn’t play spring ball because I wasn’t in school. I saw an online clip from Osi Umenyiora (former New York Giants star defensive lineman) talking about a six-sack game in the day and how he had been helped by Chuck Smith. I called him and sent some tapes. I stayed there a month and a half; we did pass rush drills everyday. It was mostly technique-oriented. It was developing an arsenal of moves. It paid off last fall.”

As a senior, Catapano led the Ivies with 12 sacks and helped Princeton go 5-5 as it bounced back from two straight 1-9 campaigns. As a result, NFL scouts made daily pilgrimages to Princeton to check out Catapano.

“There was one at every single practice my senior year,” said Catapano. “They don’t talk to me. You see them there. They would talk to the coaches, my defensive line coach and my strength and conditioning coach. They would go up in the office and look at film.”

After the season, Catapano’s first stop on the road to the NFL was the East-West Shrine game. He then headed up to northern Jersey to train for nine weeks at the Parisi Speed School to get ready for his pro day at Princeton where he performed running, jumping, and weight lifting drills. Catapano ended up posting some impressive numbers in the March 20 session, putting up 33 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press, running the 40-yard dash in 4.75, and doing a vertical leap of 37.5 inches.

Between pro day and the draft, Catapano had contact with several NFL teams. “I was able to do workouts on site for local teams, the Giants and the Jets,” said Catapano.

“I was able to work out for other teams at Princeton or my high school. The Vikings sent their defensive line coach and the Eagles sent a coach. I visited other teams out of the area and I was only able to do physicals and interviews with them. I went to New Orleans, Minnesota, Green Bay, and Cincinnati.”

Once the draft started on April 25, Catapano was based at home in Long Island as he waited to be chosen.

“I watched the draft in Bayville with a small group of family and friends,” said Catapano, who was not picked on April 25 or 26 as the first three rounds were completed.

“I knew who was calling my agent. I was confident and hopeful. I tried to stay positive and not let negative thoughts flood in.”

As Catapano woke up on April 27, he was confident that he would get some good news. When the seventh round approached at around 5 p.m., it became clear that his dream of getting a shot at the NFL was about to come true.

“I heard from my agent that a couple of teams were ready to take me with their next pick,” recalled Catapano.

“Then I got a call from Missouri from the Chiefs’ general manager asking me if I wanted to get aboard the big red train. I was passed to coach [Andy] Reid and then the defensive coach. I was flooded with emotion; I couldn’t think. I can’t remember what I said; I hope it was good. It was so emotional seeing my name flash up on the board.”

The Chiefs have told Catapano that they plan to have him switch positions. “They want me to play outside linebacker,” said Catapano. “

There is a lot of pass rushing and I get to show my athleticism by stepping back in coverage. It is a good mix of the things I have been doing.”

Princeton head coach Bob Surace, a former assistant coach with the Cincinnati Bengals, is confident that Catapano will do the things necessary to succeed in the NFL.

“I saw that he had the work ethic and professionalism,” said Surace, recalling his first impressions of Catapano after he took the helm of the program for the 2010 season.

“He was a guy who was going to work harder than anyone else; that is a trait that separates good players from great players. It is like Jason Garrett [former Princeton star quarterback and Surace’s college teammate] even though he played a different position. When he wanted to get better on his three-step draw; I had to make 500 snaps a day.”

In Surace’s view, Catapano’s success reflects well on the Princeton program.

“It is great; first and foremost, you want the 25 seniors to all get jobs in the fields they have chosen,” said Surace.

“It is great to see that happen for Mike, you know how much this means to him and how hard he has worked for this.”

Drawing on his NFL experience, Surace has given Catapano some advice on making himself invaluable to the Chiefs.

“I told him to find out who is the special teams coach and live in his office,” said Surace.

“Mike is a tough, hard-working, no-nonsense guy but there are a limited number of players who can dress for games. The late-round and middle-round picks need to be able to play special teams. I think he can be a good special teams player, he is explosive. He has a motor that doesn’t stop, that is what the pro guys all say after they watch him.”

Catapano, for his part, believes he is already on the same page with coach Reid, who in his first year with the Chiefs after 13 seasons guiding the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I look at what he wants as he starts a new era for Kansas City,” said Catapano. “He drafted tough-minded guys, that was the commonality. I like that he appreciates my college career and what I bring to the table.”

After exceeding expectations in his college career, Catapano has some big goals as he enters the NFL.

“I am not satisfied,” said Catapano. “I want to earn a spot and show the league that I can be a starter. I want to be in the Pro Bowl. I have been used to setting the bar high.”

While choosing to play Ivy football made Catapano a longshot to end up in the NFL, he wouldn’t trade his Princeton years for anything.

“In the end, it was a blessing,” asserted Catapano. “It was not the normal path but it was so fulfilling. It was such a long road, there was so much emotion. There were so many up and downs and some really low moments. It was a great experience.”

FINAL SALVO: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Kip Orban unloads the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore midfielder Orban scored the winning goal in overtime as Princeton topped Cornell 14-13 in the Ivy League tournament semifinals. Two days later in the Ivy title game against Yale, Orban scored a goal but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell 12-8 to the Bulldogs. The loss left Princeton with a final record of 9-6 as it didn’t receive an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FINAL SALVO: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Kip Orban unloads the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore midfielder Orban scored the winning goal in overtime as Princeton topped Cornell 14-13 in the Ivy League tournament semifinals. Two days later in the Ivy title game against Yale, Orban scored a goal but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell 12-8 to the Bulldogs. The loss left Princeton with a final record of 9-6 as it didn’t receive an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though his Princeton University men’s lacrosse team ended regular season play by falling 17-11 to Cornell on April 27, Chris Bates sensed things would be different when the teams met in the Ivy League tournament semifinals last Friday evening in Ithaca, N.Y.

But even head coach Bates could not have foreseen the spectacle that ensued as the Princeton outlasted Cornell 14-13 in overtime on the Big Red’s home field, with each team scoring six goals in the fourth quarter before the Tigers got the final salvo of the evening on a Kip Orban tally.

“We knew that it was going to be that kind of game and a dogfight,” said Bates.

“It was a matter of who was going to have the ball last. The game really exploded in the fourth quarter. From a fan’s standpoint, it was a great game, going back and forth. It was one for the ages in terms of the number of goals scored in the fourth quarter and overtime.”

Tiger sophomore Mike MacDonald produced a performance for the ages, scoring nine points on seven goals and two assists.

“MacDonald was lights out, that was a game that will go down in history,” said Bates. “He had seven goals on eight shots. They were really tough shots, we witnessed something really special.

Things ended on a tough note, though, for the Tigers as they didn’t turn the tables on Yale, falling to the Bulldogs for a second straight year in the Ivy championship game, dropping a 12-8 decision.

While Princeton picked up where it left off on Friday, jumping out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Orban and Tom Schreiber, it ran out of steam.

We started off quickly, Tom rips a shot that literally rips the net and caused a delay,” recalled Bates, whose team had beaten Yale 10-9 on March 22 but lost 20-of-24 face-offs on Sunday and was outscored 6-2 over the last 23:08 of the title contest.

“We seemed to lose some momentum after that. I give Yale credit, they were hungry. I think Friday night caught up with us in the second half and we were hurt by our lack of depth. It is tough to get and keep momentum against a kid [Dylan Levings] that is facing off like that. They got the ball and played a good possession game. I think our defense got a little tired and Eric [goalie Eric Sanschagrin] wasn’t his sharpest.”

While the loss to Yale kept Princeton from getting the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament, the Tigers were hoping that they could get an at-large bid as they did in 2012. But Princeton received another setback later in the evening when the NCAA bracket was released and Cornell turned out to be the only other Ivy team to get a berth in the national tourney.

“We held out hope and when we got off the bus we said we’ll see how everything goes and regroup,” said Bates, whose team ended the season at 9-6 and ranked 14th in the final Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll of the regular season.

“I think we had the sense that we were going to be on the outside looking in. It was hard to see them taking three teams from the Ivy League, the numbers didn’t add up for us.”

Bates was left with a sense of what might have been as Princeton battled several of the teams in the NCAA field on even terms, losing by one goal to top-seeded Syracuse and fifth-seeded North Carolina and posting victories over Cornell and Yale.

“We beat one of the top teams in the tournament and we had one-goal games with some of the other teams in the field,” said Bates. “It is emotional for the seniors to have it end after being so close.”

While the emotions were raw on Sunday, Bates believes that the program can draw plenty of positives from a 2103 campaign that saw it top Hofstra, Johns Hopkins, and Villanova in non-conference play in addition to other league victories over Harvard and Brown.

“It is Princeton and expectations are high regardless of any circumstance,” said Bates.

“We had a good year, I am pleased by the big wins. I am disappointed that we didn’t beat Yale and get the chance to show ourselves in the NCAAs. We showed that we can play with and beat anybody in the country.”

In the wake of the disappointing end to the campaign, Bates will engage in some tough analysis.

“It is a blank slate,” said Bates. “I don’t reinvent the wheel but I look critically at everything.”

Things are looking up for Princeton, according to Bates. “We have a really solid foundation; there is cause for optimism,” asserted Bates, whose team returns five of its top six scorers in MacDonald, Schreiber, Orban, Ryan Ambler, and Ivy Rookie of the Year Jake Froccaro.

“We have reinforcements on the way. We have a spectacular class of high school seniors coming in. We have players coming back from season-ending injuries (Tucker Shanley, Forest Sonnenfeldt, Rob Castelo) and that will help. We will have more depth and on day one next year we will be a better team than we were at the end of this season.”

Bates didn’t waste any time setting the tone for next season. “We texted the high school seniors on Sunday night and said the process to play on championship weekend begins tonight so they know what our DNA is and what the expectations are,” said Bates. “I am anxious to take the next step and get back to competing.”

LIGHTING IT UP: The Princeton University women’s lightweight varsity 8 shows its form in a race earlier this season. Last Sunday, the Tigers took second in the Eastern Sprints on Cooper River in Camden, posting a time of 7:26.0 with top-ranked Radcliffe winning the title in 7:17.8. Princeton is next in action when it competes in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championships on June 1 in Sacramento, Calif.     	              (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

LIGHTING IT UP: The Princeton University women’s lightweight varsity 8 shows its form in a race earlier this season. Last Sunday, the Tigers took second in the Eastern Sprints on Cooper River in Camden, posting a time of 7:26.0 with top-ranked Radcliffe winning the title in 7:17.8. Princeton is next in action when it competes in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championships on June 1 in Sacramento, Calif. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

Paul Rassam knew that his Princeton University women’s lightweight crew was going to hit some choppy water last spring.

“I think some coaches are afraid to use the word rebuilding but that is where we were at last year,” said Princeton head coach Rassam. “We had a great season in 2011 and then we took our lumps last year.”

It became clear early this spring that Rassam’s rowers had been steeled by last year’s struggles. “Things started really promisingly,” said Rassam.

“We handled Wisconsin easily, I think part of that was because they hadn’t been on the water as much as we had. What was even more promising is when we went out to San Diego and had two hard-fought races with Stanford [defending national champion]. That gave us confidence that the rebuilding had paid off and we had arrived back to where we want to be.”

Last Sunday, Princeton built some more confidence as its varsity 8 placed second in the Eastern Sprints on Cooper River in Camden, posting a time of 7:26.0 with top-ranked Radcliffe winning the title in 7:17.8.

“It was a step in the right direction from the race in Boston,” said Rassam, referring to Invitational Lightweight Cup held on the Charles River on April 21 which saw it place third in 7:17.5 with Radcliffe first in 7:05.7 and Stanford second  at 7:11.1.

“We were in lane four and there was a strong crosswind. To weather that and to stick with Radcliffe much longer than in Boston was great. We think we can get even closer.”

Rassam credits his group of seniors with playing a major role in getting the program back up to speed.

“We have a senior class of five that has been amazing for us,” maintained Rassam of the class which includes Christy Kaelin, Alex Morss, Olivia Panaccio Tresham, Alexa Powers, and Madigan Stanley. “They are different, some are quite vocal and others are quiet and steady.”

Senior co-captain and U.S. U-23 rower Morss sets the tone around the boathouse.

“It would be a mistake to think that she is just a phenomenal athlete and that is why she is successful,” said Rassam of Morss.

“That is only a piece of it. She is a very hard worker; she loves to train. She enjoys pushing herself. We have a lot of underclassmen. They are talented but they are still underclassmen. They need to see the next level of commitment.”

With Princeton next in action when it competes in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championships on June 1 in Sacramento, Calif., Rassam is looking for a high level of commitment over the next few weeks.

“The Sprints are earlier than usual and we have a whole month to prepare for the IRAs,” said Rassam.

“We usually just have two weeks between Sprints and IRAs. We have time to make changes. We want to improve everything and keep the upward trajectory. We need to be faster out of the blocks and get in an early rhythm. We need to be settling harder in the first 30 or 40 strokes.”

In Rassam’s view, his rowers are poised to keep up their progress. “In other years, we were going well early and we had to hold on to that,” said Rassam.

“In 2011, we had such an experienced crew, it was holding your breath that they would maintain their speed. Each week this season, we are getting better and better. Our best is coming in a month, everything points in that direction.”

May 1, 2013
SAVING GRACE: Princeton University women’s water polo goalie Ashleigh Johnson guards the net in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, freshman star Johnson made 15 saves to help Princeton edge Michigan 7-5 in the Eastern Championship title game and earn its second straight trip to the NCAA Championships. The sixth-seeded Tigers (26-5) will face No. 3 UCLA (26-6) in the quarterfinals on May 10 at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SAVING GRACE: Princeton University women’s water polo goalie Ashleigh Johnson guards the net in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, freshman star Johnson made 15 saves to help Princeton edge Michigan 7-5 in the Eastern Championship title game and earn its second straight trip to the NCAA Championships. The sixth-seeded Tigers (26-5) will face No. 3 UCLA (26-6) in the quarterfinals on May 10 at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Its quest to repeat as Eastern champions looked to be in serious jeopardy as the Princeton University women’s water polo team found itself trailing Hartwick College 7-3 at halftime in the semis last Saturday.

Princeton head coach Luis Nicolao wasn’t surprised that his team found itself locked in a battle with the Hawks.

“It was a struggle, we knew that going in,” said Nicolao, whose team edged Hartwick 7-6 in a regular season contest on February 17.

“Hartwick is very good, they are big and physical. We didn’t play well in the first half. I wanted to get the girls to relax and play our game. All year we have been saying we can control how the other teams play by how we play. We were doing things uncharacteristic of us. We were making mistakes offensively and defensively and we weren’t communicating.”

The Tigers, though, took control in the second half, outscoring Hartwick 7-3 to force overtime. After a scoreless first overtime period, the Tigers got goals from Katie Rigler and Jessie Holechek in the second extra period to pull out a 12-11 victory.

“We played well in the fourth quarter and the overtime,” said Nicolao, who got four goals and an assist from Rigler in the victory with Diana Murphy and Holechek each adding two goals and freshman goalie Ashleigh Johnson making 10 saves.

“Rigler had a great game, no doubt, but so many girls did. Players like Holechek, [Saranna] Soroka, and [Kelly] Gross got key goals. We would not have been there at the end without those goals. We are very balanced.”

Princeton ended up earning its second straight Eastern crown as it edged host Michigan 7-5 in the championship game on Sunday.

“We looked at it as an opportunity,” said Nicolao, reflecting on taking on the Wolverines in their home pool.

“The atmosphere was great, the place was loud. I have a lot of respect for Michigan. It was a fun game to be in, win or lose.”

In the early going, Princeton wasn’t having much fun as it fell behind 2-0.

“It was critical to stop the bleeding,” said Nicolao, whose team went on a 3-1 run to make it a 3-3 contest after the first period and then outscored Michigan 3-0 over the next two periods to seize momentum.

“They got a couple of quick goals and the crowd was into it. We needed to settle down. The game plan was to play a zone defense and keep one or two shot blockers in front of their shooters with Ashleigh in the front of the net. We didn’t want to let their 2-meter players (centers) beat us. We wanted to make them beat us from the outside. Defense wins championships. We got a great defensive effort and we got the crowd out of it after the first quarter. They were quiet with no goals being scored.”

Star netminder Johnson gave Princeton another outstanding effort in her superb debut campaign, making 15 saves in the championship game as the Tigers improved to 26-5.

“She is wonderful, she is great,” asserted Nicolao of Miami, Fla. native Johnson, who was named the Rookie of the Tournament and was earlier selected as the CWPA Southern Division Rookie of the Year.

“She gives your team confidence. Even if you are not playing well, she can make the saves to keep you in the game. She is extremely athletic and extremely smart. She is a pure athlete. She is so explosive and has great leg strength in the water.”

In Nicolao’s view, winning back-to-back Eastern titles is a great accomplishment for his players.

“We have never done it before,” said Nicolao, who is in his 15th season overseeing both the men’s and women’s water polo programs at Princeton.

“It is hard to do it once. When you win, everyone is looking at you, you are a target. You have to play with a different mindset. I am so proud of the girls, they are the first group to do this for us.”

The Tigers have a special group with talent throughout the lineup as 10 players have at least 20 goals, led by Rigler, the Southern Division Player of the Year and Eastern tournament MVP, at 61, followed by Ashley Hatcher (36), Soroka (33), Diana Murphy (31), Pippa Temple (31), Holechek (29), Molly McBee (29), Brittany Zwirner (25), Gross (21), and Camille Hooks (20)

“Over the last two or three years, we have had the same nucleus of girls,” said Nicolao.

“The pieces we have added have fit in well. We have a great chemistry; they all like each other. It is like one big family.”

After going 1-2 and placing six at the NCAA championships last year in its first trip to the competition, Nicolao is hoping his team can take a big step forward in this year’s national tourney, which is being held at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool.

“We can’t be satisfied to just be there,” said Nicolao, whose team is seeded sixth in the NCAAs and will face No. 3 UCLA (26-6) in the quarterfinals on May 10.

“The other teams will be traveling so we need to come out ready to play. If we do, we can pull some surprises. The excitement of going is over, three-fourths of the team has already been there. They want to have a better showing.”

In order to have a better showing, the Tigers need to be stingy. “It is all about defense,” said Nicolao, who will need a big tournament out of Johnson, who has a 0.669 saves percentage with 328 saves, 41 steals, and 20 assists in 31 starts.

“The other teams are hard to score on and we can’t afford to make mistakes and give up easy goals.”

SENIOR MOMENT: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Sam Ellis heads to goal in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior attacker Ellis enjoyed a big day in her final game at Class of 1952 Stadium, scoring a career-high six points on four goals and two assists as No. 12 Princeton defeated No. 6 Penn State 14-9. The Tigers, now 10-5 overall, face Dartmouth on May 3 in the Ivy League tournament semifinals at Franklin Field in Philadelphia with winner advancing to the title game on May 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SENIOR MOMENT: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Sam Ellis heads to goal in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior attacker Ellis enjoyed a big day in her final game at Class of 1952 Stadium, scoring a career-high six points on four goals and two assists as No. 12 Princeton defeated No. 6 Penn State 14-9. The Tigers, now 10-5 overall, face Dartmouth on May 3 in the Ivy League tournament semifinals at Franklin Field in Philadelphia with winner advancing to the title game on May 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Sam Ellis, being honored along with her classmates on the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team last Saturday for the program’s Senior Day triggered some deep emotions.

“It is a very special moment to go through this program for four years and just have my class’s day,” said senior attacker Ellis, reflecting on the pregame ceremony that preceded No. 12 Princeton’s clash against visiting No. 6 Penn State at Class of 1952 Stadium.

“I love playing with this team. I love playing with these girls all four years and especially this team. Just going on the field like this is an incredible feeling. I had a lot of adrenaline pumping.”

Ellis channeled that adrenaline into some offensive heroics as she scored two goals in the first five minutes of the game, helping the Tigers jump out to a 6-1 lead over the Nittany Lions.

“We worked in some new offenses,” said Ellis, a 5’5 native of Bryn Mawr, Pa. “There are no regrets now, senior year, push it to the limits, do what you can and do it for the team.”

Ellis kept doing it all afternoon, ending the day with a career-best six points on four goals and two assists as Princeton pulled away to a 14-9 victory and improved to 10-5 overall.

“It is special to do it on Senior Day,” said Ellis, reflecting on her scoring outburst, which gave her 20 points on the season with 16 goals and four assists.

“It is special that I got to do it in such an important win for us. I really owe it all to my teammates. If it weren’t for them pushing me everyday in practice, I would not have gotten here.”

In Ellis’ view, the team’s work in practice in preparation for the Penn State game helped spark the superb performance.

“We just had incredible practices this week,” said Ellis, who was later named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week for her performance.

“We were all dedicated, watching film, working extra on the field. We were really prepping each other and pushing each other hard in practice. It just really helped that the offense and the defense was playing so well. We were really able to go off of each other’s momentum and carry that on for the entire game.”

Being pushed by her teammates over the last four years helped Ellis make the Israeli women’s lacrosse national team, which will be competing in the upcoming world championships.

“This is the first year the women were making a team; the tryouts were conveniently in New Jersey,” said Ellis.

“I went and I made it. It is a pretty cool thing. I have become an Israeli citizen. I get to train in Israel, spread the lacrosse image, and get it national. I would be nowhere as good as I am if it weren’t for this team, this school, this coach; and just everything that has gone into this past four years has made me grow into the person I am.”

Princeton head coach Chris Sailer believed her squad showed offensive growth in the win over Penn State.

“We had a great offensive practice yesterday; we were moving the ball well,” said Sailer.

“We have been trying to attack the corners more. So much this year, we have been attacking up and down. We just put in a little different look so we could attack the corners.”

The Tigers brought an intensity to go along with their tactical wrinkles.

“I could tell when I walked into the team room before the game that they were ready to play,” said Sailer.

“I think they showed that from the very opening whistle. There was just great energy; they fought really hard.”

The team’s seniors fought particularly hard in their final home appearance.

“All of them have contributed since the time they got on campus,” said Sailer, reflecting on the program’s Class of 2013 which includes Caroline Rehfuss, Jaci Gassaway, Charlotte Davis, and Jenna Davis in addition to Ellis.

“This year, they have really come together as a senior class. They have been incredible leaders. They have really set a great culture of being compelled and doing the extra. They have really unified this whole team and I think today was their showcase.”

Sailer pointed to Ellis as exemplifying the seniors’ big day. “Sam really got us started with some great moves early,” said Sailer, who got three goals apiece from Erin McMunn and Erin Slifer in the victory over Penn State with Sarah Lloyd chipping in two.

“Sam was just fantastic today. She really attacked hard. She finished her shots well. I thought all of the seniors played well and it was great to see.”

With Princeton having won seven of its last nine games, Sailer believes her team has a great chance of winning the Ivy League tournament this weekend in Philadelphia.

“We are not always ready at the first or second game of the season,” said Sailer, whose team is seeded second in the Ivy tourney and will play No. 3 Dartmouth in one semi on Friday with top-seeded and host Penn facing No. 4 Cornell in the other and the victors to meet in the title game on Sunday.

“To see them get better and better as the season progresses, that is exactly what you want. The goal is to be peaking come tournament time.”

Princeton is ready for its rematch with Dartmouth at Franklin Field. “We just played them so we will have that tape on them,” said Sailer, whose club edged the Big Green 15-13 on April 20.

“That was a very competitive game. I think if we can keep our intensity level up and really study that film and continue to work, we will have a great game. Right now we are all about winning that tournament. We have got to get by Dartmouth.”

Ellis, for her part, believes that Princeton is primed to keep winning. “We already know that we are going to see Dartmouth in the first round,” said Ellis.

“We already beat them but you take every game like it is a new game. Coming off this win, we are definitely going to feed off that energy. I feel like whenever we get to the end of the spring season, this is when we hit our momentum. We don’t have as much prep time as other schools so it is really nice to see what we have grown into.”

Facing No. 6 Cornell last Saturday in the Big City Classic at MetLife Stadium, the 12th-ranked Princeton University men’s lacrosse team outscored the Big Red 10-9 over the last 38:46 of the contest.

Unfortunately for Princeton, it dug an 8-1 hole in the first 21 minutes of the Ivy League showdown on the way to a 17-11 defeat.

SEEING RED: Princeton University men’s lacrosse star Tom Schreiber heads upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, junior All-American midfielder Schreiber scored two goals and had an assist in a 17-11 loss to Cornell. Schreiber now has 25 goals and 26 assists for the season. Princeton has had a player have at least 25 goals and 25 assists six times in program history, and two of those 25/25 seasons belong to Schreiber, who had 32 goals and 28 assists last year. The Tigers, now 8-5 overall and 3-3 Ivy League, will get another shot at the Big Red (12-2 overall, 6-0 Ivy) this Friday in the Ivy League tournament semifinals at Cornell’s Schoellkopf Field in Ithaca, N.Y.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SEEING RED: Princeton University men’s lacrosse star Tom Schreiber heads upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, junior All-American midfielder Schreiber scored two goals and had an assist in a 17-11 loss to Cornell. Schreiber now has 25 goals and 26 assists for the season. Princeton has had a player have at least 25 goals and 25 assists six times in program history, and two of those 25/25 seasons belong to Schreiber, who had 32 goals and 28 assists last year. The Tigers, now 8-5 overall and 3-3 Ivy League, will get another shot at the Big Red (12-2 overall, 6-0 Ivy) this Friday in the Ivy League tournament semifinals at Cornell’s Schoellkopf Field in Ithaca, N.Y. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Princeton head coach Chris Bates acknowledged that his squad was out of synch in the early going as it fell to 8-5 overall and 3-3 in Ivy play.

“I think offensively we didn’t capitalize on opportunities,” lamented Bates “We moved the ball and had shots but we weren’t attentive to the scouting report on shooting. They ground-balled us all day. They had two long poles on face-offs and that unit did a good job. Pannell [Cornell All-American Rob Pannell] got two early goals and that set a tone for them; they were feeling good about themselves.”

Bates felt good about how his team refused to throw in the towel after finding themselves facing the large early deficit.

“At halftime, we challenged them a little bit; we talked about things we weren’t doing well and adjustments we needed to make,” recalled Bates, who got four goals and an assist from Mike MacDonald in the loss with Tom Schreiber chipping in two goals and an assist.

“Each time we would get it to four, they would make a big play and get it back to five. I think if we had got it to three, we would have felt differently but we never had a puncher’s chance. This team keeps scrapping and fighting,”

The Tigers face a huge challenge as they play the Big Red (12-2 overall, 6-0 Ivy) again this Friday in the Ivy League tournament semifinals at Cornell’s Schoellkopf Field in Ithaca, N.Y.

“As a competitor, that excites me,” said Bates, reflecting on the rematch which will see the winner advance to the Ivy championship game on Sunday against the victor of the Yale-Penn semifinal.

“It is a chance to exact revenge. We are disappointed; we are much better than the way we played on Saturday. All of us are a bit embarrassed by that game. It is a chance to not only show ourselves but to show Cornell that we are better.”

Bates is hoping that his team will take some lessons from Saturday and bring some extra hunger into the rematch.

“We need to make some adjustments; we tried to make some at half but they didn’t stick,” said Bates.

“We need to put in a couple of different wrinkles and looks to slow down Pannell. We need to do better on ground balls and be more physical; they beat us up a little bit. They were dancing around and celebrating after the game; they don’t think they have much to worry about.”

April 24, 2013

sports1It has been a bumpy ride for Jeff Froccaro and his senior classmates over the course of their time with the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team.

The group was recruited by Bill Tierney but never played for the Hall of Fame coach as he headed to University of Denver in the spring of 2009 and was replaced by Chris Bates.

During Bates’ tenure, the players endured with a nightmare 4-8 season in 2011 and two tough opening round losses in the NCAA tournament. Injury and transfer reduced the class to five as the Tigers hosted Harvard last Friday night in their final regular season game as Class of 1952 Stadium.

After a brief Senior Night ceremony, a fired-up Princeton team went out and dismantled Harvard 14-6 before a crowd of 1,809, improving to 8-4 overall and 3-2 Ivy League.

In the wake of the win, senior attacker Froccaro was all smiles as he reflected on his last home appearance.

“It is great,” said Froccaro, a 5’11, 185-pound native of Sands Point, N.Y. “Our class has lost a bunch of guys from injury and stuff like that so it is really great to have the five us play four years and finish up with a win and a pretty dominant win really. We are all very, very happy and proud.”

Coming off a disappointing 10-9 loss at Dartmouth on April 13, Princeton was looking to dominate possession against Harvard.

“This week we were trying to make sure that we took a little bit of time off the clock in the beginning of possessions,” said Froccaro, reflecting on the win which clinched a spot for Princeton in the upcoming Ivy tournament.

“We were trying to get the ball around at least once and then go into a play that we wanted to call. That hurt us in Dartmouth because were just taking the first shot that we saw, the goalie was pretty hot and made a couple of saves. Today we just possessed the ball, took great shots and the goalie really couldn’t get into a rhythm.”

Froccaro got into a good rhythm against the Crimson, tallying two goals and two assists.

“I think I played well; there are so many weapons on our offense,” said Froccaro, who recently passed the 100-point mark in his Tiger career and now has 117 points.

“If I am not having a great day, Tom [Schreiber] steps up. If Tom is not having a great day, my brother [Jake] steps up. It’s all around, there are six really, really good players. We don’t discriminate on the scoring sheet, so it has been good.”

Playing one college season with his younger brother has turned into a really good experience for Froccaro.

“I am thankful he is having a great year, which I kind of expected just knowing how he was in high school,” said Froccaro, who has 40 points this season in 28 goals and 12 assists while his brother has piled up 30 points with 21 goals and nine assists.

“It has been amazing playing with him. We have played behind the cage a bunch in games and we just have a knack for finding each other. It has been really good.”

The Tigers knew that they had to ratchet up the intensity for Harvard. “We dropped one to Syracuse and we beat Rutgers but it wasn’t a great win,” said Froccaro.

“After Dartmouth, it was wow, we have to get ourselves together. We came out this week and practiced really hard. Guys were rededicated to the program and we got a good win.”

Princeton head coach Bates likes the dedication his seniors have displayed over their careers.

“We have had four years together,” said Bates. “It is a little bit of a maligned class in some ways. They have three guys that aren’t here. Chris White has given us phenomenal leadership as a senior captain. The other four guys, Jeff, Bobby [Lucas], Tom [Gibbons] and Luke [Armour], have just been consistent. They have been there everyday and they have kept us on track. It is fitting for those guys to win on Senior Night.”

It was fitting for the senior Froccaro to come up big in his Class of 52 finale.

“We challenged him this week and he knew he needed to play his ‘A’ game and I thought he responded well,” said Bates.

“He played with energy and we need that. When Jeff is involved and active, we tend to be successful.”

Princeton got a superb response from sophomore goalie Eric Sanschagrin, who got his first start of the season as Bates opted to bench freshman Matt O’Connor. Sanschagrin made eight saves and looked solid all night long.

“Matt has had a rough couple of games in terms of saving the ball; Eric has consistently been a higher percentage stopper,” said Bates.

“We felt like we needed a spark. We just felt like we needed to make a few more saves a game. Eric had played really well in practice so we had an inkling here the last couple of weeks that this was a possibility. We just decided to make the change and it worked out. We’ll see where we go from there. We have faith in both of those guys.”

The Tiger offense played well as it bounced back from a subpar effort against Dartmouth.

“Facing off early helped us, I think we were 6-of-9,” said Bates, who got four goals from Mike MacDonald with Jake Froccaro and Kip Orban both adding three.

We got into a little bit of a rhythm. I thought we played with great energy and pace. We challenged our offense pretty hard this week. We felt that they let us down against Dartmouth; we were clear about that. I think they accepted that responsibility and they came out with something to prove. We are tough to stop with those first six guys.”

No. 12 Princeton faces another tough challenge this Saturday as it faces No. 4 Cornell (11-2 overall, 5-0 Ivy) on Saturday in the Big City Classic at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

“They are high-paced, they share the ball, they pose match-up problems,” said Bates of Cornell, who will be hosting the Ivy tournament from May 3-5.

“They are tough, they are physical. But you know what, I believe in our team and the way we rebounded today. We had some questions that are natural coming out of the last couple of weeks. I thought that with the way we played today with a sense of purpose and passion was exciting to see so it’s going to be an exciting game.”

Bates is hoping that Princeton can build on the way it played against Harvard.

“Our guys needed this, we needed to feel good,” said Bates. “To come out and play the way we did and handle our business the way we did, I think is a real positive. That’s what we need, we want to play our best lacrosse now, going into tournament, hopefully it gets us back on that positive momentum.”

Froccaro, for his part, sees the Cornell game as a chance for the Tigers to feel even more positive about themselves as they head into postseason play.

“I think we match up fine talent-wise; I think our systems can break them down,” said Froccaro.

“We are just going to put our noses down and worry about ourselves all this week and see what happens. We want to start rolling at the end of the season. Obviously the Dartmouth loss was a hit. We feel confident that the offense is clicking and the defense played absolutely amazing today.”

sports2Alex Peyton has saved her best for last in wrapping up her career with the Princeton University softball team.

The senior pitcher/first baseman has sparkled at the plate and in the pitching circle this spring. She is hitting .366 with team highs in homers (9) and RBIs (33). The 5’10 native of Fullerton, Calif. has been equally valuable at the top of the Tiger rotation, going 7-7 and leading the Tigers with a 2.47 ERA and 74 strikeouts.

For Peyton, her superb final campaign is the product of a calmer mindset.

“I feel good this year,” said Peyton. “I am a little more relaxed and confident this year and it has definitely helped me.”

Last weekend, Peyton experienced some bittersweet feelings as the Tigers played their last home games of the season with doubleheaders against Columbia on Saturday and Sunday.

“It is definitely sad; I have been playing since I was five,” said Peyton, who has 22 career homers, tied for fifth-best in program history. “I am just going to go out and play as hard as I always have and enjoy it while I have it.”

Peyton enjoyed Game 1 on Saturday as she hurled a four-hit shutout and got an RBI in a 3-0 win over the Lions.

“The umpire was giving me a good zone,” said Peyton, reflecting on her pitching effort.

“I just went out there and threw my pitches, not trying to think too much. I knew my defense was going to make the plays today and I just did what I have been doing all season.”

In the nightcap, Peyton went 3-for-4 as the Tigers pulled out a 2-1 decision in nine innings.

“We have had a couple of heartbreaking losses in the past couple of weeks so we needed this,” said Peyton.

“So many people stepped up in that game and made a clutch play when we needed it and got hits. I think our defense was great. Shanna [Christian] threw a great game; that was really good for a freshman.”

For Peyton, the extra-inning triumph spoke volumes about the progress Princeton has made this spring as it rebounds from a 14-32 campaign in 2012.

“We have come together really well and there is a whole new energy that we just haven’t had,” said Peyton. “I think in the past, this is a game that we would have lost.”

While Princeton split the doubleheader on Sunday to move to 24-18 overall and 9-7 Ivy League, four games behind Ivy South leader Penn (24-16 overall, 13-3 Ivy) with four league games remaining, Peyton is leaving college with great memories even if the Tigers don’t get a title in her final season.

“I could not have asked for more, playing Division I softball at the best school in the country,” asserted Peyton. “I am getting a great education and getting to play the sport I love.”

Princeton first-year head coach Lisa Sweeney has gotten all she could ask from Peyton.

“It is funny, people have to bring it up because I am never surprised,” said Sweeney, reflecting on Peyton’s performance this spring.

“I expect her to have two or three hits. She has been just an unbelievable leader on the field and whenever we need a spark, she is the spark. She threw a great game in the first game. She is just a solid player all the way around.”

Sweeney viewed the Game 1 win on Saturday as a solid effort for the Tigers.

“I was really happy with everything that went on,” she said.

“We haven’t had great defensive games and I think today we really did. Some outs that were recorded were diving plays and just fantastic defense.”

The victory in the nightcap exemplified a resolve that Sweeney was happy to see.

“We really had to reset our minds and get back to a spot where it was like let’s take one pitch at a time and we’ll just try to win every inning that we play in,” added Sweeney.

“If we win every inning, we’ll win every game. We knew we were going to win; it is just a matter of how long it was going to take us to get it done.”

In Sweeney’s view, the team was primed to go the extra mile last weekend for its senior group.

“I think everyone, because of the group that we have, the whole team wants to play for them as much as we want to win as a group,” said Sweeney, whose squad wraps up regular season play with doubleheaders at Cornell on April 27 and 28. “This weekend is special for them and that makes it special for everybody because they are that close of a team.”

Sweeney credits the team’s seniors with making this spring special. “I think they were just so dedicated to turning things around that they were willing to do whatever it took,” said Sweeney, whose Class of 2013 includes Liza Kuhn, Nikki Chu, Candy Button, and Lizzy Pierce in addition to Peyton.

“I don’t think that would have been possible without their leadership. Every game means something to those guys and people follow that.

It means a lot to Peyton to have seen things turn out better for Princeton.

“There is a whole new fight in the team,” said Peyton. “We had a team talk this week where we looked at our goals and values as a team and said we are going to keep going after them.”

#4 turns a double play. Please run photo full frame.As the Princeton University baseball players gathered for their post-game huddle after falling 10-2 to visiting Columbia to split a doubleheader last Sunday, their heads dropped in unison.

The Tigers brought high hopes into the weekend, trailing the Lions by just a game in the Ivy League’s Gehrig Division standings with a pair of home doubleheaders.

On Saturday, Princeton lost 4-0 and 7-1 to fall three games behind. Needing a sweep on Sunday to get back to where it started the weekend, the Tigers got off to a good start, winning the opener 2-0 behind a five-hit shutout from junior Mike Ford, a former Hun School star.

In the nightcap, the teams were knotted at 2-2 in the sixth but then things started to fall apart for the Tigers. In the top of the frame, Columbia got a two-run single to go up 4-2. Princeton appeared to have tied the game as John Mishu knocked the ball over the right field fence for a two-run homer but the ball was called foul. The roof fell in on the Tigers as the Lions tacked on six unanswered runs to pull away to a 10-2 win.

Princeton head coach Scott Bradley reflected the mood of his players as he assessed the weekend.

“It was disappointing, they outplayed us,” said Bradley, whose team ended the weekend at 12-25 overall and 9-7 Ivy while Columbia improved to 20-17 overall and 12-4 Ivy with just four league games remaining.

“It is not how often you get hits and how many hits, it is when you get them. I thought our pitching was pretty good; it kept us in. But when you score five runs in four game series, you are not winning. They got some big hits and we were not able to.”

Bradley tipped his hat to the Lions, who just need to win two of four games against Penn next weekend to eliminate Princeton no matter what the Tigers do in their season-ending four-game set with Cornell.

“They pitched the daylights out of it,” said Bradley. “They are good, Columbia plays the game really well. Coach [Brett] Boretti does a really good job with them. They have really developed a knack for getting big hits in big situations. It came down to them making a big two-out hit in a tied ball game to make it 4-2 in the sixth inning.”

Princeton thought it had a big hit when Mishu blasted the ball over the fence but it never recovered from the controversial call. 

“I thought the ball was fair from where we were,” said Bradley. “It is a tough call, it is probably the toughest call umpires have to make. I sit almost on the line and I thought it was a fair ball and so did the other guys. It changed the tone a bit. Again, you have to turn it around. At that point, we were in the game but we let the game get away from us.”

While barely alive in the title chase, Princeton is looking to keep the heat on the Lions as the Tigers play a home-and-home four-game series with Cornell this weekend.

“It is nice playing games that mean something,” said Bradley, whose team hosts Cornell (21-14 overall, 9-7 Ivy) for a doubleheader on April 26 before heading up to Ithaca, N.Y. for a twinbill against the Big Red on their home field two days later.

“We get to play on Friday; we need to come out and throw up a couple of wins and at least get them to the point where they are going to think about us. We want to put pressure on them so that they are going to have to come out and earn it.”

As the Princeton University men’s lightweight first varsity crew learned the hard way in a loss to Cornell earlier this month, there are no shortcuts in the process of reaching top speed.

“I think we got ahead of ourselves in the race with Cornell which is something I haven’t seen before,” said Princeton head coach Marty Crotty.

“We were trying to race with late season cadence and late season fitness. I don’t think we were ready for that yet. The message was to get back to basics; we need to build a better foundation and a sustained base.”

The top boat came back with a better performance last Saturday as it won the Wood-Hammond Cup by beating Penn and Georgetown. Princeton covered the 2,000-meter course on the Schuylkill River in 5:32.4 with Penn next in 5:38.4 and Georgetown taking third in 5:44.2.

“We had a great week of practice,” said Crotty, reflecting on the victory. “Every race you win in the league is something to savor. Any win should be savored in this league. With the youth of our crew a win like that is a step forward. I think the best thing is that it came after a really good week of practice. We have to keep building because the competition gets stiffer and stiffer.”

In Crotty’s view, his program is building something special. “The whole team as a group, all 39 oarsmen and four coxswains have improved during the year and from year to year,” asserted Crotty.

“We were coming into the spring in a good spot. It gave a lot of guys an opportunity. We had 14 or 15 guys with a chance for the first boat and 20 for the second. We also had the permissibility of the freshmen to row in the top two boats. That gave me a lot of options and permutations.”

Senior captain Tyler Nase has given the program a lot in and out of the water.

“It has been a tradition with the lightweight program to have one senior captain and he is it,” said Crotty. 

“He is a great captain. He leads in training and he is excitable on the water. He brings enthusiasm and energy to every single practice. He is down at the boathouse all the time and the guys gravitate to him. He has the ability to communicate with me and lets me know what some of the guys are feeling. I put a lot of trust in him, he helps dictate some of the training.”

With the fourth-ranked Tigers hosting No. 1 Harvard and No. 2 Yale this Saturday on Lake Carnegie for the Goldthwait and Vogel Cups, Crotty is feeling good about his top boat’s mindset as it faces the key test.

“Harvard and Yale are the two best crews in the league,” said Crotty. “We have to be at our best and then some to beat them. The guys are up for the challenge, they can’t wait. We will take a crack at them this week and whatever happens, we will see them in three weeks. It is going to give us a chance to see where we stand against the best and see what we have to do in the next three weeks.”

April 17, 2013
MAKING A FUSS: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Caroline Rehfuss leads the defense in a game earlier this season. Senior co-captain Rehfuss has provided consistent play and a vocal presence as the Tigers have gone 8-4 overall and 5-0 in Ivy League play. No. 13 Princeton, which topped Harvard 11-9 last Saturday and has clinched a berth in the upcoming Ivy tourney, plays at Penn (7-4 overall, 5-0 Ivy) on April 17 and at No. 16 Dartmouth (8-5 overall, 4-1 Ivy) on April 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING A FUSS: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Caroline Rehfuss leads the defense in a game earlier this season. Senior co-captain Rehfuss has provided consistent play and a vocal presence as the Tigers have gone 8-4 overall and 5-0 in Ivy League play. No. 13 Princeton, which topped Harvard 11-9 last Saturday and has clinched a berth in the upcoming Ivy tourney, plays at Penn (7-4 overall, 5-0 Ivy) on April 17 and at No. 16 Dartmouth (8-5 overall, 4-1 Ivy) on April 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Caroline Rehfuss showed a good finishing touch in her freshman season in 2010 with the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team, scoring 13 goals as a midfielder.

But when Rehfuss was switched to defense as a sophomore, it didn’t require much of a transition.

“I was always more of a defensive midfielder,” said Rehfuss. “I actually like defense a lot better than attack.”

Rehfuss made an immediate impact on defense in 2011, getting 23 ground balls with 19 draw controls and 18 caused turnovers.

Last year, Rehfuss served as a team co-captain and earned honorable mention All-Ivy League recognition.

This spring, Rehfuss is the unquestioned quarterback of the Tiger defensive unit.

“I try and be a vocal leader when we are down there on the eight, telling people who is hot, who is going to be sliding next, and just reminding people on the one-on-ones that their hips have to be square,” said the 5’7 Rehfuss, a native of Latham, N.Y. who is a team co-captain for a second straight year. “I do feel like I do a lot of the talking.”

On Saturday against visiting Harvard, Princeton needed Rehfuss’ leadership as the Crimson utilized a deliberate offensive style to put the Tigers on their heels.

“We haven’t faced an offense like that which stalls through the whole game,” said Rehfuss, reflecting on the contest which was knotted 4-4 at the half.

“Usually we are used to it in the last 10 minutes. Typically we do a really good job with it. We threw in a couple of plays to try to send the early doubles but it was definitely very tiring.”

Princeton fought through the fatigue to pull out an 11-9 victory, improving to 8-4 overall and 5-0 in Ivy League play.

While the win wasn’t pretty, it beat the alternative. “It was a little bit of a struggle but at the end of the day a win is good so we are real happy about that,” said Rehfuss, noting that the win sealed a spot for the Tigers in the upcoming Ivy tournament which includes the league’s top four teams.

“I have to give it to our attack who I felt like tired out the Harvard defense so they really helped us. We know what we have to work on to get better.”

The Tiger defense had to work hard at the end when Harvard had possession and could have made it a one-goal game in the last minute of regulation.

“We didn’t want to give them anything else and we knew they were either going to look for a crease challenge or a two-person crease play,” said Rehfuss. “We talked about our high angles and how that had to be that much better.”

Princeton head coach Chris Sailer acknowledged that Harvard’s patience posed a challenge for the Tigers.

“It was a tough game to play because Harvard was all about ball possession and they wanted the ball for long, long stretches,” said Sailer.

“When you get the ball, you press. We didn’t have that many offensive looks. They beat us on the draw controls. When you are playing a team that beats you in the draw controls and is looking to kill the clock as their main strategy, it is tough. They didn’t turn the ball over; they kept it moving. They wear you down a little bit defensively.”

Sailer credited her team with showing some mental toughness in overcoming the Crimson.

“To play a difficult kind of game that you are not used to playing and then not playing at your best and you are still able to pull out a win, that’s important at this time of the year,” asserted Sailer.

“We are trying to get better every time we step on the field but you have got to get the ‘w.’”

Senior Mary-Kate Sivilli and junior Sam Ellis both played a major role in helping Princeton get the win as they each scored three goals.

“They had big games and that was great,” said Sailer. “They are two kids who haven’t necessarily been biggest producers. Sam probably got almost half of her goal total. Sam had a couple of goals against Maryland and another good day today. She is finishing 8 meters. I thought MK played really well so it was nice.”

Sailer depends on Rehfuss to be a big producer for Princeton at the defensive end.

“Caroline is the one who tries to get kids talking,” said Sailer. “She really organizes things down there, she is such a leader for us on the defense with consistent play and a vocal presence. She is fantastic.”

On Wednesday, 13th-ranked Princeton heads to Penn (7-4 overall, 5-0 Ivy) in a battle for the league lead which could determine who will host the Ivy tourney. Three days later, the Tigers play at No. 16 Dartmouth (8-5 overall, 4-1 Ivy) in another critical Ivy contest.

Sailer knows her team will have its hands full when it takes on the Quakers at venerable Franklin Field.

“They are very athletic, they are pretty deep and they have a lot of offensive firepower,” said Sailer, referring to Penn, that edged Dartmouth 8-7 last Friday to remain undefeated in league play.

“They have really good sticks, they go really hard. We are going to have to be ready defensively. They have a transfer goalie who has been playing pretty well for them. Just like any other game, so much will be dependent upon ground balls, draw controls, keeping our unforced errors down which we did much better this game. We had a bunch of unforced errors against Maryland (a 15-9 loss on April 10) and we didn’t today so that was a step in the right direction.”

Rehfuss, for her part, is confident that Princeton will be ready to go hard when it takes on the Quakers.

“Penn has always been a great matchup and we are really excited for it,” said Rehfuss.

“Our goal is to win the Ivy outright so we have to buckle down on Monday and Tuesday during practice. We need to get out the little kinks that we have and pay attention to detail.”

GREEN DAY: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Jake Froccaro fights off a foe in recent action. Last Saturday at Dartmouth, freshman attacker Froccaro scored three goals but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell 10-9 to the Big Green. No. 13 Princeton, now 7-4 overall and 2-2 Ivy League, hosts Harvard (6-6 overall, 2-2 Ivy) on April 19 at Class of 1952 Stadium. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GREEN DAY: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Jake Froccaro fights off a foe in recent action. Last Saturday at Dartmouth, freshman attacker Froccaro scored three goals but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell 10-9 to the Big Green. No. 13 Princeton, now 7-4 overall and 2-2 Ivy League, hosts Harvard (6-6 overall, 2-2 Ivy) on April 19 at Class of 1952 Stadium.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

On the face of things, it seemed like the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team took a step forward when it topped Rutgers 13-8 last week.

But upon closer review, Princeton head coach Chris Bates concluded that the April 9 victory over the Scarlet Knights didn’t actually represent progress.

“It was good to get a win coming out of Syracuse,” said Bates, referring to Princeton’s 13-12 loss to the Orange three days before the Rutgers contest. “Once we watched the film, we saw that we played relatively poorly. We saw a ton of errors.”

Last Saturday at Dartmouth, Princeton continued to make errors, squandering two three-goal leads on the way to a 10-9 loss to the Big Green as it dropped to 7-4 overall and 2-2 Ivy League.

Bates sensed early on that his squad had not learned from the post-game analysis of the Rutgers game.

“After we scored our first goal, I almost called a timeout to dress down the offense,” said Bates, whose team jumped out to a 3-0 lead over Dartmouth.

“They had not taken the next step in terms of decision-making. In our first three possessions, we took the first shot instead of extending possessions.”

Princeton eventually built an 8-5 advantage midway through the third quarter, appearing to right the ship enough to pull out another win. But an inspired Big Green outscored Princeton 5-1 from that point as it rallied for the victory and just its eighth win over the Tigers in 60 meetings.

“Historically, Dartmouth is a team we have pulled away from; I don’t think we gave them the respect that they deserved,” said Bates of Dartmouth, which was sparked by three goals from former Princeton High star Mike Olentine, later named the Ivy Co-Player of the Week.

“It was one of those games where we were looking around and waiting for someone else to make plays. We didn’t make many plays after we were up 8-5. To Dartmouth’s credit, they had a good game plan. They neutralized us and played harder.”

Things were made harder for a Princeton squad as it was missing four key players, Ryan Ambler, Alex Beatty, Jack Strabo, and Chris White, due to injury.

“We were a tired team down the stretch,” said Bates, who got three goals from freshman Jake Froccaro in the loss with junior star Tom Schreiber chipping in two goals and two assists. “When we needed to be fresher and to execute, we didn’t. We are thin on defense; we broke down and made mistakes.”

The breakdown put the 13th-ranked Tigers in a precarious position as it looks to place in the top four in the Ivy standings in order to qualify for the upcoming league tournament. No. 6 Cornell is the frontrunner at 4-0 in Ivy play with Yale (3-2 Ivy), Princeton, Harvard (2-2 Ivy), and Penn (2-3 Ivy) battling for the other three spots.

“That was a punch between the eyes and our backs are to the wall,” said Bates. “We are fighting for our playoff lives.”

Bates is expecting a tough fight when Princeton hosts Harvard (6-6 overall) on April 19 in a game to be televised by ESPNU.

“We are playing a very strong Harvard team that is coming in here playing its best lacrosse of the year,” said Bates of the Crimson, who edged Penn 8-7 in overtime last Saturday.

“We are banged up and not playing our best lacrosse. They have a balanced offense and they are playing with a lot of confidence. They went toe-to-toe with Cornell and Duke in losses. Their defense is sound. They have good scorers and a good distributor behind the net in Devin Dwyer. They know how they play and they don’t beat themselves.”

The Tigers know they have to play better if they are going to qualify for postseason play.

“We need to have possession and we need a more consistent game out of our goaltender,” said Bates.

“On offense, if we are one and done, we are going to lose. On Saturday, we had 15 possessions with one shot and nine with no shots. You are not going to win any game that way.”

Bates, though, still believes his team will find a way to get it done against Harvard. “It was a tough loss, no question,” said Bates. “It comes down to how we respond and I am confident in our guys.”

SURVEYING THE DAMAGE: Princeton University men’s basketball head coach Mitch Henderson surveys the action during a game this winter. Henderson was down in Atlanta earlier this month for the NCAA men’s basketball Final 4. While Henderson enjoyed the action as he took in the semis at the Georgia Dome, disappointment lingered over the fact that a bad weekend cost his squad a chance at taking part in March Madness. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

SURVEYING THE DAMAGE: Princeton University men’s basketball head coach Mitch Henderson surveys the action during a game this winter. Henderson was down in Atlanta earlier this month for the NCAA men’s basketball Final 4. While Henderson enjoyed the action as he took in the semis at the Georgia Dome, disappointment lingered over the fact that a bad weekend cost his squad a chance at taking part in March Madness.
(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

While the Princeton University men’s hoops coach enjoyed the action as he took in the semis at the Georgia Dome, disappointment lingered over the fact that a bad weekend had cost his squad a chance at taking part in March Madness.

Coming down the homestretch of the regular season, Princeton held a one-game lead on Harvard at the top the Ivy League standings. The Tigers were at Yale and Brown on the last weekend with the regular season finale at Penn.

A sweep of the three games would have clinched the league crown and a berth in the NCAA tourney, while two wins would have ensured at least a playoff game against Harvard for the trip to March Madness.

With destiny in its hands, Princeton stumbled, losing at Yale and Brown while Harvard topped Columbia and Cornell to clinch the title and knock the Tigers out of the race.

In reflecting on the lost weekend, Henderson said his team’s struggles came down to some defensive issues and nerves.

“We were a bigger team so how we guard smaller players was an issue,” said Henderson.

“That weekend we got hurt by perimeter shooting. We couldn’t stop the flow of shots. As the games were going on, there was some tightness, which was surprising given the experience of our group.”

Going forward, Henderson and his staff will take some valuable lessons from the defeat.

“It is tough to win the league and there are a lot of good teams,” said Henderson.

“Just because you are in the hunt for the league title doesn’t mean that teams are going to roll over. We need to be as flexible as we can; we have to have many ways to play. We weren’t the best pressing team.”

Showing its character, Princeton didn’t roll over in the season finale as it topped Penn 71-58.

“It was a pretty obvious message, we needed to win for the seniors,” said Henderson, reflecting on victory at the Palestra in Philadelphia which left the Tigers with a final record of 17-11 overall and 10-4 Ivy. “It was bittersweet; we wanted to be playing for a title or a playoff.”

The Tigers do say goodbye to some stalwart seniors in Brendan Connolly, Mack Darrow, and Ian Hummer. Connolly and Darrow were solid performers, who made an impact on and off the court, while Hummer leaves as one of the greatest players in program history.

The 6’7 forward was named the Ivy League Player of the Year this season and ended his Tiger career with 1,625 points, second only for Princeton to the legendary Bill Bradley’s 2,503. This winter, Hummer became the first Tiger since Kit Mueller ’91 in 1991 to lead Princeton in a season in scoring (16.3 points per game), rebounding (6.4 rebounds per game), assists (115), and blocks (23).

“We are losing a great senior class; Ian carried us and helped us in so many ways,” said Henderson.

“We were where we were because of him. He made everyone better. There are a lot of good players in the league. We haven’t celebrated that a lot around here but it is a great award. He is one of the very special players we have ever had here.”

Harvard showed the country something about the talent of the Ivy League as the 14th-seeded Crimson upset No. 3 New Mexico in the second round of the NCAAs.

“It is good for the league, it shows how competitive it is. I like seeing teams in the league do well,” said Henderson.

“We have all the motivation that we need. We don’t talk about other teams much but it does reflect well on the league.”

Henderson believes that Princeton has the foundation in place to do well going forward.

“We are returning four starters; I like the group we have coming back,” said Henderson, who welcomes back two All-Ivy performers in junior T.J. Bray (9.9 points per game in 2012-13) and sophomore Denton Koon (10.5 points) together with junior Will Barrett (9.3 points) and freshman Hans Brase (5.4 points).

“The message is you have to keep improving but don’t lose sight of what got you into first place coming into the last weekend. You have to be hungry to make improvements; they need to focus on getting better in every way.”

The Tigers will be different in some ways from the 2012-13 squad which featured eight players 6’8 or taller.

“We will be smaller but we are still pretty big,” said Henderson, noting that such returners as Clay Wilson, Bobby Garbade, Ben Hazel, and Jimmy Sherburne could emerge as key contributors.

“It will be really competitive, good players are made over the summer. We are doing individual workouts for the rest of the spring until the end of classes.

Henderson is chomping at the bit to get back into competition. “I know I am ready to get going,” asserted Henderson.

“We want to get better and make improvements. We aren’t defined by one weekend; we did a lot of good things this winter.”

A STEP BEHIND: Princeton University softball catcher Cara Worden chases after a ball in a game earlier this spring. Last weekend, sophomore Worden and the Tigers battled hard but dropped three out of four games at Penn in a key Ivy League South series. Princeton, now 21-15 overall and 6-6 Ivy, finds itself in a tough situation, trailing first place Penn (20-15 overall, 10-2 Ivy) by four games with eight Ivy contests to go. In upcoming action, the Tigers host Lehigh (23-14-1 overall) at Class of 1895 Field for a doubleheader on April 17 and then welcome Ivy South rival Columbia (18-18 overall, 6-6 Ivy) for twinbills on April 20 and 21.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

A STEP BEHIND: Princeton University softball catcher Cara Worden chases after a ball in a game earlier this spring. Last weekend, sophomore Worden and the Tigers battled hard but dropped three out of four games at Penn in a key Ivy League South series. Princeton, now 21-15 overall and 6-6 Ivy, finds itself in a tough situation, trailing first place Penn (20-15 overall, 10-2 Ivy) by four games with eight Ivy contests to go. In upcoming action, the Tigers host Lehigh (23-14-1 overall) at Class of 1895 Field for a doubleheader on April 17 and then welcome Ivy South rival Columbia (18-18 overall, 6-6 Ivy) for twinbills on April 20 and 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Playing at Penn last weekend in a pivotal four-game Ivy League South series, the Princeton University softball team was determined to get off to a strong start.

“They threw A.C. Borden in Game One and we know how talented she is,” said Princeton head coach Lisa Sweeney, whose team entered its trip to Philadelphia trailing the Quakers by two games in the division standings.

“We were able to get some hits and some runs. We felt that was a game we needed to win to set the tone for the weekend.”

Princeton seemed to be set for a big weekend as it got to Borden and took a 9-6 lead into the bottom of the seventh and final inning. But then things unraveled as Penn scored four runs to pull out a 10-9 victory.

Sweeney acknowledged that her players faced a challenge in regrouping for the nightcap.

“It was hard to swallow, there are only 20 or 30 minutes between games so it is tough to re-set after something like that,” said Sweeney.

“We told them this doesn’t determine the rest of the weekend. We have to come back and prove that we are a team that is not going down without a fight.”

The Tigers showed their fighting spirit as they prevailed 5-3 in the second game with Maddie Cousens, Tory Roberts, Rachel Rendina, and Candy Button each knocking in a run. Freshman pitcher Shanna Christian came up big in the circle, striking out five and scattering 10 hits in going the distance.

“We showed our true colors in the second game, I was really proud of them,” said Sweeney.

“I was particularly proud of freshman pitcher Shanna, she set the tone, doing everything she could to help us win.”

On Sunday, though, the Tigers failed to get a win as they lost 9-2 and 5-4. “It was one of those things, we came in fairly positive,” said Sweeney, whose team fell to 21-15 overall and 6-6 Ivy in the wake of the sweep by Penn.

“The hitters went in confident but A.C. threw a great game. She really challenged our hitters. We were able to score runs. The first game got away from us but in the second game we were right there. One hit in a couple of situations would have given us the win.”

Now Princeton finds itself in a tough situation, trailing first place Penn (20-15 overall, 10-2 Ivy) by four games with eight Ivy contests to go.

“We are not losing sight of the things we can control,” said Sweeney. “We have to take care of our business and the things we can control. A lot of things can happen.”

Sweeney is looking for some good things to happen this week as the Tigers host Lehigh (23-14-1 overall) at Class of 1895 Field for a doubleheader on April 17 and then welcome Ivy South rival Columbia (18-18 overall, 6-6 Ivy) for twinbills on April 20 and 21.

“It will be nice to be at home on Wednesday against Lehigh,” said Sweeney. “We are expecting a big crowd this weekend. It will be Senior Day on Sunday and that class is really special.”

While Princeton faces an uphill battle in its quest for the Ivy South crown, it knows it can still enjoy a special spring.

“We talked about fighting the entire season and earning everything,” said Sweeney.

“When you work so hard for something, you can’t let one bad weekend destroy that. They have good confidence, they know this is bigger than any of us.”