July 16, 2014
WORLD CLASS: Katie Reinprecht controls the ball in action for the U.S. national field hockey team. Last month, the former Princeton University standout midfielder helped the U.S. take fourth at the 2014 Rabobank World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands.(Photo Courtesy of USA Field Hockey/Yuchen Nie)

WORLD CLASS: Katie Reinprecht controls the ball in action for the U.S. national field hockey team. Last month, the former Princeton University standout midfielder helped the U.S. take fourth at the 2014 Rabobank World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands. (Photo Courtesy of USA Field Hockey/Yuchen Nie)

Katie Reinprecht was a little rusty when she played for the U.S. national field hockey team in the Pan American Cup last fall.

Having taken a hiatus from the game after her senior season in Princeton in 2012, star midfielder Reinprecht lacked her characteristic sharpness.

But showing the savvy that comes from being the Longstreth/NFHCA Player of the Year in 2012 as Princeton won the NCAA title, and having competed for the U.S. squad since 2009, Reinprecht made her presence felt in the tournament.

“I had more experience than a lot of the girls so I was able to lead that way,” said Reinprecht, who helped the U.S. take second at the competition and earn a berth in the 2014 World Cup.

“We have a lot of new girls on the the team. I don’t think I got my groove back until later in the year, I was off that spring.”

This spring, the U.S found a groove as it defeated Ireland 3-1 to win the Champions Challenge in Glasgow, Scotland.

“In April we were in the Champions Challenge,” said Reinprecht. “The top 8 teams play in the 2016 Champions Trophy (the major warm-up tournament before the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games) and we had to win the Champions Challenge to qualify for that. It was a good step forward.”

Last month, Reinprecht starred as the U.S. took a big step forward, placing fourth in the 2014 Rabobank World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands.

Coming into the tourney, the U.S. made a big commitment to raise its fitness level. “We have a new strength and conditioning trainer, we train how we are going to play in the game,” said Reinprecht, noting that the U.S. national team is now based in Lancaster, Pa. at the Spooky Nook sports complex.

“It is high tempo, high intensity with more conditioning thrown in there. It makes it really tough but it is important to get through it. You get to rest the next week, it is very scientific and thought out.”

As it arrived in the Netherlands for the competition, the U.S. team was looking to keep its thoughts on the present.

“The big thing for this team is that we have only been together for a year so this is going to be a process,” said Reinprecht.

“We didn’t want to come into this with high expectations and put a lot of pressure on us. We wanted to finish higher than our ranking which would mean 9th or better. We wanted to take it one game at a time because when you are in a game there that is all that matters. Each game can have such impact.”

The 10th-ranked U.S. made an impact, going 4-0-1 during group play, tying No. 2 Argentina and posting wins over No. 7 China, No. 6 Germany, No. 11 South Africa, and No. 3 England.

“We were very pleased with how we played in the pool play, we took down some opponents that were ranked higher,” said Reinprecht, who was tied for the team lead in goals (3) in group action. “We stayed focused, we didn’t get ahead of ourselves.”

In Reinprecht’s view, the 2-2 tie with Argentina spoke volumes about the focus the U.S. brought into the competition.

“It is always a very intense game when we match up against Argentina; it set the tone for us,” said Reinprecht, who scored a goal in the contest.

“Getting a win in that first game was great but the fight we showed against Argentina sent a message on what kind of team we were going to be. It gave us a lot of confidence.”

Getting to compete for the U.S. with younger sister and former Princeton teammate, Julia, along with another fellow Tiger, Kat Sharkey, was a great experience for Reinprecht.

“It is very nice playing with Kat, we have had a lot of time training and playing together,” said Reinprecht, who has now played in more than 100 games for the national squad, more than any Princeton alum.

“I know what to expect from her. She is one of the most lethal finishers in the game so it is is nice to have her on the team. Julia returned from her injury and it didn’t look like it fazed her in any way.”

While falling to Australia in the semis in a shootout after the teams knotted at 2-2 through regulation and overtime hurt, Reinprecht was proud of how the U.S. played.

“It was the first time any of us had ever been in that situation at this level of competition,” said Reinprecht.

“We delivered a good performance in the semi. We just ran out of time. It was tough to lose in a shootout. We haven’t practiced shootouts much, that was the least of our worries.”

Ending the competition with a 2-1 defeat to Argentina in the bronze medal game left Reinprecht and her teammate hungry for more.

“It didn’t go the way we wanted but it was our first stab at the medal round and we have to be happy finishing fourth,” said Reinprecht.

“We wanted a medal, we were so close we could taste it. We learned some good lessons. It is hard to leave and not be pleased. It was a step in the right direction. We have raised the bar.”

Having played in the 2012 Summer Olympics, Reinprecht will be working hard to earn a trip to the Rio games in two years.

“Right now, playing in the Olympics is the projection,” said Reinprecht. “We have a good core group. I am excited to see what we can do. I will be doing full-time training. I think my game can definitely improve. When I look at the best players in the world, I know I have some ways to go. I excelled in some ways in the World Cup. I have been working a lot on my shot and having variety in the circle. I scored in some ways that I don’t normally score and coach said I guess that work is paying off.”

July 9, 2014
FAMILY BUSINESS: Spencer Washburn surveys the action as an assistant coach for the Princeton University men’s heavyweight crew program. Washburn, a former star Tiger rower who has been coaching at his alma mater for the last seven years, is heading to Deerfield Academy (Mass.) to be the head coach of its crew program. In so doing, Washburn is following in a proud family legacy as his father and grandfather both had legendary runs as prep crew coaches. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Rowing)

FAMILY BUSINESS: Spencer Washburn surveys the action as an assistant coach for the Princeton University men’s heavyweight crew program. Washburn, a former star Tiger rower who has been coaching at his alma mater for the last seven years, is heading to Deerfield Academy (Mass.) to be the head coach of its crew program. In so doing, Washburn is following in a proud family legacy as his father and grandfather both had legendary runs as prep crew coaches.
(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Rowing)

His grandfather coached crew at the St. Andrew’s School (Del.) for 40 years and his father became a legend in New England rowing circles during his three decades guiding the Phillips Andover Academy (Mass.) program.

So when Spencer Washburn got an offer in 2005 to serve as a coach for the Hun School crew team after completing his career as a heavyweight rower for Princeton University, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I grew up around the sport, the whole family has been involved,” said Washburn.

“I have been immersed in it since birth; there are lots of pictures of me as a little toddler out on the launch watching the practice. I saw the impact that my father had on the kids that rowed for him and that was really powerful to me. I had met people who had rowed for my grandfather at St. Andrews and remember hearing the stories about that. So coming out of here there was no question that this was a path that I wanted to take.”

After a two-year stint at Hun, Washburn came across town to his alma mater where he served three years as an assistant coach for the Princeton men’s lightweights and four years assisting for the Tiger heavyweight program.

But the tug of the family business is taking him away from Princeton as he will be taking over the Deerfield Academy (Mass.) crew program this August.

“There is no part of me that will ever want to leave this place but Deerfield is offering a great opportunity for our family and for us professionally so I think we need to go,” said Washburn, whose wife, Megan, will be teaching science at Deerfield as the couple raises their two young sons, Caden, age 3, and Teague, age 1. “It is a challenge we need to take on.”

In starting his coaching career at Hun, Washburn relished the challenge of putting together a team.

“Hun was a great opportunity for me,” said Washburn, who coached the girls’ team and was also the school’s Associate Director of Residential Life.

“At the time, I felt like I was in there doing a good job, the girls were doing a good job and the results were good. Looking back now, I realize I dove into it without any sense of what I was doing or how to do it well. I think it was a real testament to the girls that they were as successful as they were because it wasn’t really me. It was a great experience for me to go in there and have a program and to be able to have the freedom to try some things and make some mistakes. There were some coaches around there, like Geoff Evans, who were really helpful.”

Living in town, Washburn developed the itch to coach at Princeton and got the opportunity to join the Tiger men’s lightweight program after some pestering of head coach Greg Hughes and assistant coach Scott Alwin’s promotion to head coach at Columbia.

While Washburn knew the college drill from a rower’s perspective, he quickly realized that coaching at that level was all consuming.

“High school is a short season, just a couple of weeks in the spring,” said Washburn.

“You get here and it is rowing 24/7. As much as I have really enjoyed it, that was a big adjustment. You go from being able to balance out the rowing and being able to step back and think about the dorm stuff to where you are always thinking about the lineup or the training or recruiting.”

Washburn got the chance to cut his teeth by guiding the freshman lightweight boat.

“I had the freshman boat and Greg was really hands off,” said Washburn. “He said ‘I have got the varsity boats and this is your boat. If you have got questions, let me know and we will do stuff together here or there but this is your boat.’”

Handling a key aspect of college coaching, the recruiting of student-athletes, required Washburn to master new stuff.

“The recruiting piece really required a lot of time,” said Washburn “You have got to learn the rules and how to go about it. You also have to find your voice and you have to find the way that you connect with these kids who are going through a pretty significant time in their lives. I think over the time I have found my voice. I don’t think I am one of those coaches that tells a kid that you have to come here. It is much more let’s figure out if this is a good place for you and a place where you will thrive and where you will develop and enjoy things. If it is not, OK.”

Seeing the lightweight first varsity boat produce a historic 2009 campaign that saw it win championships at the Eastern Sprints, the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) nationals and the Henley Royal Regatta proved to be a key step in Washburn’s development as a coach.

“I was watching what he was doing from afar and that was where you saw those guys operating at maximum capacity and maximum ability,” said Washburn.

“Greg was reading what they needed and giving them what they needed as they needed it. To see that work was truly inspiring and you realized that OK when it is all working together, that is what you can achieve.”

Moving up to the Tiger men’s heavyweight program along with Hughes after that season was a natural step for Washburn.

“I knew the schedule, I knew the rhythm of that year, I knew the opponents much more so I felt much more comfortable,” said Washburn.

“It became much more personal, not that the lightweight stuff wasn’t, but this is the team I spent four years really trying to develop. All of my buddies who had graduated were excited to see me go back to that and they were saying let’s get it back up and going to where we know it can be. So for me there was a lot of personal pride tied up, not just in the team succeeding but it was my team succeeding. It was really exciting for me to have a chance to be involved with that program.”

With the heavyweights having hit a lull, Washburn and Hughes concluded that the rowers needed to put their noses to the grindstone.

“Greg and I spent a lot of time that summer talking,” said Washburn. “From afar, we saw where that program was and what we thought they might need. I think ultimately we felt like there were some good athletes there and they just might need a push.”

Over the last few years, Washburn became essentially a co-coach with Hughes.

“I think for me the first couple of years were hard because I had rowed for him so I still had this kind of feeling, he is the coach and I am rowing for him,” said Washburn.

“I think in the past couple of years that dynamic has adjusted from my end where I have allowed myself to come out of that and I have become much more of a partner with him. We are talking about the whole team and every guy. I really appreciate the fact that he takes my opinion and I think puts a lot of weight on it.”

Hughes, for his part, made his opinion of Washburn clear in comments on the Princeton athletics website upon the announcement of Wyatt Allen as the new assistant coach.

“Spencer’s impact on rowing at Princeton is immeasurable,” Hughes said.

“First as an athlete, then as a coach, he has consistently proven himself as a winner. This success was not just seen in results, but also in the way that Princeton trained and raced. Spencer is the hardest worker I’ve ever known and he leads by example with the kind of attitude and character that inspires those around him to strive for excellence in what they do and the way that they do it …. I wish Spencer all the best up at Deerfield. He is pursuing a passion that has long pulled him and the fact that he earned this opportunity is evidence that good things happen to good people.”

In his final Tiger campaign, Washburn had to put in some extra work to get his second varsity boat on track. “This was definitely a year where it took some time to come together,” said Washburn.

“Last year’s 2V, that got second in the sprints and fourth at the IRAs, jelled early on and we spent a lot of the spring trying to maintain that speed. With this year’s group, I think there was a lot more overlap between the 1V and the 2V. We spent more time doing selection so we didn’t set the boat until the late spring. Then once we did, the 2V showed lots of flashes of real ability but it just took us a little more time to figure out how to draw it all out.”

Figuring things out at the right time, the boat finished second at the IRAs, producing a fitting finale to Washburn’s Princeton tenure.

“That was such an exciting race, to see them out together, all of the elements of which they are capable of doing on that big stage against really, really good crews,” said Washburn, noting that the boat topped perennial champion Washington and trailed only a powerhouse Cal crew.

“That is what you hope you get as a coach and as an athlete. You hope you can produce your best performance when it matters most and they did. So that was amazingly gratifying to see them do it. It was a pretty good way to go out.”

As Washburn heads to Deerfield, he will be focused on getting his new rowers to produce their best.

“Whether it is high school or college rowing, you coach the same way,” said Washburn, noting that he will be going against his two younger brothers as Taylor will be coaching at Tabor Academy (Mass.) and Parker is coaching at Choate Rosemary Hall (Conn.).

“What I learned from Greg in the past two years is that kids have an amazing way of reaching the expectations you set for them. Sometimes, and I was guilty of this, you would set a bar lower because you wanted to make sure that they hit it. I think what we found in the last couple of years is that if you keep pushing it out there, they find ways of getting there. One of the big lessons that I learned was to challenge the kids and give them goals they might not think they can achieve but you help them and you provide the right structure for them to get there. When they do achieve them, they look back and say, wow I have come a long way, and they are pretty excited.”

Washburn’s goal now is to achieve special things over the long term at Deerfield.

“I look around at the people I admire the most and they have all found a program they can lock into and develop and make their own,” said Washburn, who will also be working in the school’s college advising office.

“My father and my grandfather did that and the fact that Greg and Lori (Princeton women’s open coach Lori Dauphiny) are doing it here is a really appealing thing. You can really create a standard and a culture that you can be proud of and the kids come in and want to be part of. I don’t think you can do that overnight and I don’t think you want to bounce around to do that at a million places.”

July 2, 2014
ATHLETIC MOVE: Michael Fagan uncorks a pitch this spring during his senior campaign for the Princeton University baseball team. Fagan earned first-team All-Ivy League recognition this year as he went 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA. The San Diego native was picked by the Oakland Athletics in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He signed with the organization and is currently pitching for the Vermont Lake Monsters of the New-York Pennsylvania League, a short-season A circuit.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

ATHLETIC MOVE: Michael Fagan uncorks a pitch this spring during his senior campaign for the Princeton University baseball team. Fagan earned first-team All-Ivy League recognition this year as he went 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA. The San Diego native was picked by the Oakland Athletics in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He signed with the organization and is currently pitching for the Vermont Lake Monsters of the New-York Pennsylvania League, a short-season A circuit. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

After a frustrating junior season with the Princeton University baseball team in 2013, Michael Fagan took a hiatus from the game.

“I got burned out and didn’t play over the summer last year,” said Fagan, who went 1-4 with a 7.99 ERA in 2013.

“I took an internship in New York City. It cleared my head, working 9-5, I saw how baseball could be fun again. I didn’t pick up a ball, except to play softball for my office. That was fun, I could hit and they needed me for my defense.”

Coming back to Princeton for his senior year, Fagan brought a fresh perspective.

“I went into the fall only expecting to lead the team and have fun,” said Fagan, a 5’11, 160-pound lefty who hails from San Diego, Calif.

“I thought it was going to be my last year of organized baseball. I worked with Matt Bowman (former Princeton star currently pitching for Binghamton in the New York Mets organization) that fall; he hammered in some mechanics for me. After the fall, I worked with a sports psychologist. He helped me develop a pre-pitch routine so one pitch didn’t carry over to the next. One of my big problems was that I would go to a 1-0 count and then start thinking that I was going to walk the batter. I learned that balls will happen, errors will happen.”

Applying those mechanical and mental lessons, Fagan developed into one of the top pitchers in the Ivy League this spring, going 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA as he earned first-team All-Ivy recognition. Fagan struck out 77 and walked 18 while allowing 46 hits in 58 innings pitched.

Turning heads with his dramatic improvement, Fagan was picked by the Oakland Athletics in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Signing with the A’s, Fagan started his pro career with the Athletics of the rookie-level Arizona League and was quickly promoted to the Vermont Lake Monsters of the New-York Pennsylvania League, a short-season A circuit.

Fagan, who had been chosen by the San Diego Padres in the 45th round of the 2010 MLB draft after finishing high school, sensed he was back on the pro radar after an outstanding effort against Cornell in late April when he struck out 11 in nine innings against the Big Red.

“After the weekend at Cornell I thought I would be taken,” said Fagan. “I went against the top pitching prospect in the Ivy League (Brent Jones who got chosen in the 4th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks) and there were 50-60 scouts there. After that I had some pre-draft workouts but no real contact with Oakland. In the 8th round, Oakland called and said if I was still available in the 9th, they would take me. I was excited. I thought it was a good fit and a good organization.”

For Fagan, getting organized at Princeton took some work. “Time management was a big thing, the baseball wasn’t so hard but it was balancing time with studies,” said Fagan.

“Going from high school to Princeton was a huge adjustment. I could spend 15 minutes a week on a course in high school and get an A; it was not like that at Princeton. Also in high school, baseball was basically 3-5 p.m. At Princeton, we had morning lifts and practices at night. It took me a few years to get used to the system.”

After going a combined 3-10 in his first three years with the Tigers, Fagan was ready to lift his game.

“By the time I got to the fourth year, I could lead on and off the field,” asserted Fagan.

“I had my worst outing at Greensboro, I went out after four innings and then I had a great outing against Cornell and there was no discernible difference with the way I walked off the field.”

When Fagan walked on the field for his first pro outing on June 20, he was definitely feeling some butterflies.

“I had the A’s home uniform on and my heart was racing,” recalled Fagan, who went 1 2/3 innings, giving up no runs and one hit with two strikeouts.

“I walked the first batter on four pitches and none of them were close. After the first batter. I got two ground balls. In the next inning, I got two strikeouts before I reached my pitching count. I calmed down my emotions; it is a testament to how well things went with Matt and the sports psychologist.”

Since signing with the A’s, Fagan has benefitted from some intense training on the nuances of pitching.

“It has been great,” said Fagan. “I spent the first two weeks in Arizona, honing mechanics, working on pitching philosophy and learning what pitches to throw when, there is so much to learn.”

While Fagan has been mainly a starting pitcher on his way to the pros, it looks like he will be coming out of the bullpen for the A’s organization.

“I think they will be using me as a reliever for the most part,” said Fagan, who had one more outing for Arizona before getting promoted to the Lake Monsters, where he has posted a 3.38 ERA in 2 2/3 innings of work in two outings with a 0-0 record and three strikeouts.

“They are into velocity. I throw 89-91 mph as a starter; I can bring it up to 91-93 as a reliever. In summer after sophomore year, I played in the Northwoods League and I was a reliever the whole time. I like the idea of coming in and throwing my best for 25 pitches. It is a different type of game, you are not trying to set batters up, like showing less on a slider and then showing more the second time through the lineup.”

Now, Fagan is looking to spend a long time in the game. “I just want to be a professional everyday and continue learning,” said Fagan.

“I have 3+ pitches but I need to learn when to use them and learn the sequence of pitching.”

 

June 25, 2014
VOICE OF CHANGE: Ron Fogarty makes a point at his introductory press conference last week after he was named as the new head coach of the Princeton University men’s hockey program. Fogarty spent the last seven seasons as the head coach at Adrian College in Michigan where he posted a 167-23-10 record with the Bulldogs making four appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament, advancing to the championship game in 2010-11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

VOICE OF CHANGE: Ron Fogarty makes a point at his introductory press conference last week after he was named as the new head coach of the Princeton University men’s hockey program. Fogarty spent the last seven seasons as the head coach at Adrian College in Michigan where he posted a 167-23-10 record with the Bulldogs making four appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament, advancing to the championship game in 2010-11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ron Fogarty has proven that he can build a college hockey program from scratch.

Starting the men’s hockey team at Adrian College in Michigan seven years ago, Fogarty experienced instant success, guiding the Bulldogs to a 26-3 record during their inaugural campaign in 2007-08.

During his tenure at Adrian, Fogarty compiled a 167-23-10 record as the Bulldogs made four appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament, advancing to the championship game in 2010-11 where they lost 4-3 to St. Norbert.

Now Fogarty is getting the chance to prove he can rebuild a proud but struggling program, getting named last week as the new head coach of the Princeton University men’s hockey program, which posted an overall 6-26 record last winter as it sank to the cellar of ECAC Hockey.

True to character, Fogarty, a former standout player at Colgate in the mid-1990s, is hitting the ground running as he takes the helm of the Tigers.

“I am so excited to be here at Princeton; this opportunity doesn’t come up much in someone’s life,” said Fogarty, 42, at his introductory press conference on June 17.

“I can’t wait to call the current players and incoming freshmen today. I am looking forward to seeing what their goals are individually and what their team-oriented goals are for the upcoming season. I want them to have full ownership in the team. This is their team, it is not my team. It is the Princeton’s community, our alumni, our staff, administrators, faculty, and fan base; it is our team.”

Fogarty is unfazed about making the jump to coaching at the Division I level as he replaces Bob Prier, who resigned this spring after three years at Princeton where he compiled an overall record of 25-58-12.

“It is not a challenge, it is the same thing with hockey; I think there are three things that you have to have regardless of what level you are being a coach,” said the amiable and earnest Fogarty, citing trust, enthusiasm, and ownership as those bedrock qualities.

“You can win everywhere and anywhere. I think you just have to treat people the right way and get the most out of them.”

Fogarty’s squads at Adrian played offense at a high level, leading D-III teams in scoring four times.

“I am a puck possession coach,” explained Fogarty, who served as an assistant coach at Colgate, Clarkson, and Bowling Green before coming to Adrian.

“I want to keep the puck, I want to control the middle of the ice and outnumber them in the defensive zone but also allow the forwards and defensemen to join the play and create. At the end of the day, you want to score one more goal than the opponent and our mission is to score one more goal than the opponent. I want the guys to play freely and come back to the bench, to tell what they see during the game. The style of play is going to be predicated on the practices and what is coming into the program and then we’ll go from there.”

Fogarty’s experience in the ECACH as a player and assistant coach will come in handy as he takes the reins at Princeton.

“It helps me greatly, I am familiar with the arenas and I am very familiar with the other coaches in the conference and their styles,” said Fogarty, a native of Sarnia, Ontario who scored 141 points in his playing career at Colgate, ranking 20th on the program’s all-time scoring list at the time of his graduation in 1995.

“I follow college hockey at the D-1 level albeit I am in Adrian, Michigan but I am a hockey fanatic. I appreciate the coaches, I am going to have to prepare smarter, harder, and longer because it is a great fraternity of coaches in the ECAC, look at the two past national champions (ECACH members Union and Yale). A lot has changed since I left the ECAC, it has become a stronger conference in terms of the hockey product. I am eagerly looking forward to the challenge.”

Incoming Princeton Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux believes that Fogarty is up to the challenge.

“Ron knows how to build a winning program,” said Marcoux in her introductory remarks at the press conference.

“He knows the value of teamwork and working hard toward individual and team improvement everyday. He values the overall student-athlete experience and the role coaches play in helping athletes achieve their goals. We are confident that those qualities coupled with his tremendous hockey knowledge will allow him to bring greatness back to Baker Rink. Under Ron’s leadership and with the very talented student athletes that we have in our program, we are confident that Princeton will consistently compete for Ivy, ECAC, and national titles and will be a team that is admired and respected by all.”

Fogarty, for his part, is confident that Princeton can be great on and off the ice under his stewardship.

“It is a work in progress and it starts after I leave here to start calling those incoming freshmen and returning players to see what their goals are and how collectively we are going to get there,” said Fogarty, noting that he is considering retaining one of the two current Tiger assistant coaches, Scott Garrow or Greg Gardner, to aid continuity.

“We will win and we will be successful in the classroom. We’ll be ambassadors on and off the ice in the community and we will have relentless competitors on the ice.”

June 18, 2014
FAREWELL ADDRESS: Gary Walters speaks at a press conference during his tenure as the Ford Family Director of Athletics at Princeton University. Walters, who announced last September that he was stepping aside, will be on the job until June 30, at which point he will have been Princeton’s athletic director for exactly 20 years.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FAREWELL ADDRESS: Gary Walters speaks at a press conference during his tenure as the Ford Family Director of Athletics at Princeton University. Walters, who announced last September that he was stepping aside, will be on the job until June 30, at which point he will have been Princeton’s athletic director for exactly 20 years. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Despite the seemingly idyllic scene as he lounged in his backyard a few weeks ago on Memorial Day, casually dressed in a t-shirt and shorts with birds chirping overhead and the pool gleaming in the sun nearby, Gary Walters felt something was out of place.

“I believe in my 20 years in Princeton, this is the first Memorial Day that I haven’t been at an event,” said Walters, the school’s Director of Athletics since 1994. “In many years, it was lacrosse. You could have track, you could have crew.”

As Walters reflected on his successful run at the helm of Princeton Athletics, he acknowledged that he had to track a multitude of issues.

“When you look at the athletic director’s (AD) role here, as I like to say or observe, other than the presidency, I don’t know of any other position at Princeton that intersects with the students, the faculty, the staff, the alumni, and the community,” said Walters, 68.

“This position is at the intersection of all of those constituencies on campus and so it is one of those jobs that is a 7-day-a-week job and, in particular, the role of social media has made the job even more difficult obviously.”

While being in that vortex can be disconcerting, Walters has thrived in the role.

“On the one hand, it is daunting,” said Walters. “On the other hand it is fun too because it is intellectually challenging. There is never a dull moment but you are also developing a comprehensive portfolio of skills because of the multi-faceted nature of the job. Candidly I have enjoyed that, that is the essence of what management is, and then the most important thing is sustaining change over a period of time.”

Walters welcomes the changing of the guard in his post as former Tiger hockey and soccer star Mollie Marcoux ’91 was named in April to succeed him, becoming the first woman to hold the AD job.

“I am absolutely delighted that Mollie has been appointed,” said Walters. “She obviously has had a distinguished student athlete career at Princeton. She represents the balance we seek as it relates to the hyphen connecting student and athlete. Mollie is going to have a learning curve but she is surrounded by very, very good people. The senior administrative staff is solid. The administration, staff and  coaches are all outstanding people and so she is going to inherit, I think, stability, competence, and people who care about their job and love their job. This is after all athletics and the athletic world is a calling because we are student-athlete centered and my people are.”

It didn’t take long for Walters to start his learning curve upon assuming the AD post.

“I was walking over to the first press conference and Kurt says to me Gary I have been asked to share with you this fact, Palmer Stadium has some really significant structural issues, it is basically falling apart, all the engineering reports said that, so if you get any questions about the football stadium, try to tap dance around them,” said Walters with a laugh. “Can you imagine that?”

Palmer Stadium was razed and the facility that ended up being constructed on Walters’ watch stands as an extension of the campus that is designed to be integrated into the daily life of the University with a north end containing large openings that serve as windows to the campus just up the hill. It also fulfilled the marching orders Walters received when he took the helm.

“When I came here, I got a distinct charge from the president and the trustees and that was to strengthen the relationships between the athletic department and, in particular, the academic side of the house,” said Walters. “I feel very good about the initiatives we took to do that.”

Taking that charge to heart, Walters created the Academic-Athletic Fellows program and the Princeton Varsity Club and coined the phrase “Education Through Athletics,” which has become the mantra for Tiger sports program.

Walters was uniquely qualified to bridge the gap between athletics and academics. A son of a welder who came to Princeton from blue collar Reading, Pa., Walters became the point guard for the school’s legendary 1965 Final 4 team and was featured in 1967 on the cover of Sports Illustrated with teammate Chris Thomforde.

In the classroom, Walters graduated with a BA degree in psychology. As an undergraduate he co-authored, with psychology professors Marvin Karlins and Thomas Coffman, a study entitled “On the Fading of Social Stereotypes: Studies in Three Generations of College Students,” which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1969.

“I played on a basketball team with three guys, one guy who got a Rhodes scholarship, Bill Bradley, and two guys that were Rhodes Scholar finalists, Larry Lucchino and Chris Thomforde, just think of that,” said Walters, who went on to serve as a basketball head coach at Middlebury, Union, Dartmouth, and Providence and an assistant at Princeton before going into business and working at Kidder, Peabody & Co., Woolf Associates Sports Management, and Seaward Management. “In addition, there were guys who went to Harvard Business School, law school, and so on.”

For Walters, teamwork is the key to success on and off the court. “In the athletic world, what differentiates it is that the coaches and players take their exams in public and they take it together so people keep score; there is accountability,” said Walters, whose personal scorecard includes 220 Ivy League championships and 47 team or individual national titles during his tenure.

“Competition is part of a continuum and the other end of that continuum is collaboration. Unless you have teamwork and people working selflessly for each other, you are not going to be successful and every team I have been on, the assist has always been as important, if not more important, than the person who is scoring the goal. So my takeaway as I now complete a significant arc of my life and career is never forget that success in competition is almost always the outcome of the collaborative experience that people share.”

Walters has enjoyed experiencing his victory lap, even though his last few months on the job have been a whirlwind.

“It’s been a roller-coaster for sure, it is like being seated in a centrifuge which has ironically gone faster and faster,” said Walters.

“One would have thought it would have decelerated and a lot of that has to do with the celebratory function, for sure. Some of it has to do with the fact that in this job you always have unguided missiles that are coming your way so that tends to keep you occupied.”

One of the grander celebrations took place in April when Princeton held a “Roast and Toast” to Walters at Jadwin Gym.

“The nice thing about that night were the various threads of my life that were represented,” said Walters, who received a number of gifts that evening to add to the treasure trove of photos and mementos cramming the walls of his upstairs office in Jadwin.

“To see 600 people there was truly remarkable. I enjoyed the evening immensely, how could you not, since I was being recognized for my years of service to the university, but I never got a chance to savor it. I always had two or three people in front of me during the reception.”

As he steps aside, Walters isn’t straying from the university that he loves.

“I am going to have a small office in Dillon; I’ll have a computer and I will be operating on a volunteer basis,” said Walters, who was recently granted emeritus status by the Board of Trustees.

“I’ll be far enough away that I am out of Mollie’s hair but close enough that she can call me if she wants to. I am still so engrossed with this job. Everything that is out there when I step aside is sketchy. I was just recently appointed to the board of a publicly held company. I am probably going to get involved in one or two charitable things. In addition to that, I have to figure out other things; do I want to coach, do I maybe want to do some writing, do I maybe want to do some TV work. Those are all open items.”

For Walters, being in the middle of campus holds a special significance. “Princeton is defined by pathways and intersections,” added Walters. “As a result, you get a chance to see everybody every day and thus broaden the reach of friends that you have. You are not defined by the rectangles of a city.”

In Walters’ view, sports has a unique broadening effect on its participants.

“People who compete in athletics are having a sociological experience as it relates to the roles and norms of the team and the understanding of how all of the functions and pieces fit together,” said Walters.

“But is also a psychological experience where it tests you when you are confronting adversity and where you have to evaluate yourself and look yourself in the mirror. As far as I am concerned, those are aspects of athletics that are not fully understood.”

As a result, Walters believes that those co-curricular aspects merit recognition in their own right.

“Were I a president at a liberal arts school, I would give an athlete who plays for four years academic credit for that experience,” asserted Walters with his voice rising.

“It is the sweatiest of the liberal arts. It is not only in terms of time, but the reality is that what you learn through osmosis in that experience translates directly into the organizational challenges that you will face in the real world. You are basically learning leadership and organizational behavior.”

Applying those lessons over the last 20 years, Walters deserves credit for providing a brand of leadership that has enhanced Princeton’s mission to provide education through athletics.

June 11, 2014
HAMMER TIME: Princeton University sophomore Julia Ratcliffe displays her form in the hammer throw. This week, Ratcliffe will be competing in the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. ­Ratcliffe, a native of Hamilton, New Zealand, is undefeated in 11 competitions this spring and is ranked No. 1 nationally in the event. She has produced the best mark in the nation this year at 230’7, the furthest throw in the college hammer since 2011 and the fifth best throw in collegiate history.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

HAMMER TIME: Princeton University sophomore Julia Ratcliffe displays her form in the hammer throw. This week, Ratcliffe will be competing in the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. ­Ratcliffe, a native of Hamilton, New Zealand, is undefeated in 11 competitions this spring and is ranked No. 1 nationally in the event. She has produced the best mark in the nation this year at 230’7, the furthest throw in the college hammer since 2011 and the fifth best throw in collegiate history. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

When Julia Ratcliffe was about 12, her father brought home a special surprise one day.

“He said Julia I have got you a present,” said Ratcliffe, a native of Hamilton, New Zealand.

“I thought oh great, he never gives me presents out of the blue. It was on my bed and I said what the hell was that, that looks serious.”

The mystery package turned out to be hammer throw equipment and it didn’t take long for Ratcliffe to show that she had a gift for the event.

After dominating local and national competitions, Ratcliffe started to make her mark internationally.

“The Australian Youth Olympic festival in 2009 was my first big one,” said Ratcliffe.

“I got a gold in that. It was cool to have some success overseas especially because I wasn’t picked to win that one. I started getting more and more into it as I got older in high school. I started going to bigger international meets and things like that.”

Ratcliffe set the New Zealand U-18 and U-19 record for the women’s hammer throw on her way to placing fourth in the 2012 IAAFWorld Junior Championships.

In 2012, Ratcliffe came to the U.S., joining the Princeton University women’s track team and made an immediate impact, setting a school record in the weight throw in her debut meet and going on to take second in the event at the Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor championship. In the spring season, she broke the school and Ivy record in the hammer throw several times and won the outdoor Heps title in the event.

This week, Ratcliffe is in Eugene, Oreg., competing in the NCAA Championships. Having won all 11 of her competitions so far this spring, sophomore star Ratcliffe is ranked No. 1 nationally in the event.

Ratcliffe is bringing some extra motivation into the NCAA meet, having finished 11th at the nationals last spring.

“I was ranked second, even if I had an average day I should have done a lot better,” said Ratcliffe, who boasts the best mark in the nation this year in the hammer throw at 230’7, the furthest throw in the college hammer since 2011 and the fifth best throw in collegiate history.

“I just tried too hard so coming off that, I had renewed energy, really wanting to get better, do my best, and just figure out what went wrong and fix it.”

Staying in the moment this spring has helped Ratcliffe produce a brilliant campaign.

“As long as I go out there and give it everything and just be mentally and physically prepared as best as I can, you can’t complain about the result,” said Ratcliffe, citing her experience at the Penn Relays as an  example of her progress, noting that she fouled out of the 2013 competition and then uncorked a heave of 216’2 to place first this year and record the third best throw in the history of the storied meet.

“I just feel a lot more mentally prepared this year and I feel like I have the process better understood in my head. I understand myself a lot better when I am competing.”

Ratcliffe has enjoyed competing at and for Princeton. “It was unreal, we have nothing like this in New Zealand, just in terms of all these sports complexes in one place,” said Ratcliffe, who came to Princeton sight unseen and had only been to the U.S. for a family trip to California when she was 10.

“It was 60 ready made friends on the team. I would have probably found it a lot harder if I weren’t on a team. I am pretty social though but it is nice to have a wide range of interests on the team.”

In looking to the U.S. for college, she followed in the footsteps of high school friends.

“There were a few girls in my high school who went overseas on field hockey scholarships and so I thought that might be something I would like to do; I think I might have a good enough academic record to do that,” said Ratcliffe, who attended the Waikato Diocesan School for Girls.

“I didn’t know how I ranked academically and athletically against kids applying to different colleges.”

Considering such schools as Duke, Stanford, and Cornell, Ratcliffe concluded that Princeton was her dream school.

“I decided to go for my top choice which was Princeton because of the economics program here,” said Ratcliffe.

“I just really wanted to study economics. In New Zealand, it is expected that when you go into university that you know what you want to study so you start specializing immediately. I actually reached out to Ed Roskiewicz, who was the Princeton field coach at the time, and so I said hi, these are my distances, these are my SAT scores, will you have me.’”

Princeton women’s track head coach Peter Farrell is certainly glad to have Ratcliffe.

“There is an uncertainty with foreign athletes, you never know how they are going to mesh, it is a different system,” said Farrell.

“I was at a football game her freshman year and I saw a bunch of our freshman athletes there and one of them was in a tiger outfit and it was Julia. I said look at that, she has picked up on the college spirit.”

Farrell believes the lessons Ratcliffe gained from her freshman year has helped her pick it up this spring.

“She had ups and downs as a freshman and that is to be expected; she seemed to do well at home and not as well when she left the confines here,” said Farrell.

“She has one year of maturity and one year of competition under her belt. She is so methodical and consistent in her training, it is like a distance runner who runs 100 miles a week. She throws five to six days a week and not many throwers do that. She is devoted to her craft; it is her passion. She is incredibly fast at the end of her four turns but is still in control.”

Ratcliffe has also made an impression through her engaging personality. “She is an outgoing person, she has made friends easily with teammates,” added Farrell of Ratcliffe, who was recently named the Regional Field Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

“She has made friends with her opponents, she talks to every single competitor. It is not condescending, she is inclusive with her opponents. We have a grandfather class, 1966, for 2016 and there are three guys that have been coming to the meets and she talks and jokes with them.”

For Ratcliffe, there is no kidding around when it comes to her training regimen.

“I do a lot of power lifting and Olympic lifting, cleans and snatches and things like that,” said the 5’7 Ratcliffe, noting that her dad helps set her weight training program.

“The key muscle groups are the rotational core and quad strength. I do a lot of squats and dead lifts. I take 20 throws generally in a session. I throw different weights for speed and strength work. It is the power you can get into it from getting in the right body positions because I have been doing it for so long, especially in competition.”

As Ratcliffe looks forward to the hammer competition in Eugene, which is slated for June 11, she is focused on having the right frame of mind.

“I just want to throw well and keep it together because it is so easy to get overexcited and really nervous,” said Ratcliffe, who will be joined at the meet by five Princeton teammates, freshman Megan Curham (10,000 run), sophomore Adam Bragg (pole vault), senior Damon McLean (triple jump), junior Eddie Owens (steeplechase), and senior Chris Bentsen (10,000 run).

“So it is just having a solid series. I obviously want to throw far and the goal is obviously to win but you can’t control what everyone else does on the day so you can only do the best for you. In team sports, like field hockey, you can react to how the other people are playing. In this, you have to focus on yourself and do the best for you.”

Having qualified to compete in this summer’s Commonwealth Games, a major international meet being held in Glasgow, Scotland, Ratcliffe has her sights set on the world stage.

“I would love to go the Olympics in 2016 so that’s a big goal,” said Ratcliffe.

“I would also like to make it to a world champs. It would be kind of cool to get the NCAA record. I am not entirely sure what it is but if it is within reach that would be good.”

June 4, 2014
WILL TO SUCCEED: Princeton University men’s heavyweight rower Will Gillis (wearing visor) pulls hard for the Tiger men’s heavyweight varsity 8 crew in action this spring. Last Sunday, senior captain Gillis culminated his college career on a high note as he helped Princeton’s top boat take fourth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake.(Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

WILL TO SUCCEED: Princeton University men’s heavyweight rower Will Gillis (wearing visor) pulls hard for the Tiger men’s heavyweight varsity 8 crew in action this spring. Last Sunday, senior captain Gillis culminated his college career on a high note as he helped Princeton’s top boat take fourth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

In taking the reins as the captain of the Princeton University men’s heavyweight crew this past fall, Will Gillis was determined to be there for the program’s younger rowers, on and off the water.

“I wanted to make myself available to the underclassmen; I have a wealth of experience academically and athletically as does the whole senior class and I wanted them to tap into it,” said Gillis, a native of Seattle, Wash. who helped the U.S. men’s 4- take third last summer at the U-23 World Championships in Linz, Austria.

“I think compared to my junior year, lots of underclassmen took the opportunity to talk to me about what they should major in and classes they should take. I have been helping them navigate the academics.”

Last weekend, Gillis helped the Princeton varsity 8 boat take a major step forward on the water as it placed fourth in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta at Mercer Lake.

Gillis had the sense that the Tiger 8 would emerge as one of the elite boats in the country.

“I always knew we had the guys and horsepower to be a very good boat,” said Gillis.

“We had a lot of freshmen and sophomores in the mix and it was a matter of taking the talent we have and doing the hard work.”

There were some hard moments this spring as Princeton fell to Harvard and Yale in April competition.

“We raced a number of the top boats in the country in Harvard, Yale, Brown, Cornell, and Navy,” said Gillis.

“The fun part about the college regular season is that it allows for some ups and downs.”

Ending the regular season with a victory over Brown on May 3 had the Tigers on an upswing going into the postseason.

“We harnessed some things in practice and had a big win over Brown,” said Gillis of the triumph which saw Princeton clock a time of 5:31.9 to post 4.4 second win over the Bears and earn the Content Cup. “But it was in the week of practice before Brown that we had a boost.”

Turning those practice habits into more success, the varsity 8 broke through with a third place finish at the Eastern Sprints in mid-May, moving to medal stand after placing fourth the previous two years.

“It’s always big; I told all the guys after the race you only get one opportunity to do this a season,” said Gillis, reflecting on the crew’s bronze medal performance in which it posted a time of 5:32.411 on the 2,000-meter course at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. with champion Harvard coming in at 5:27.277 and Brown next in 5:28.998.

“It was big to step onto a place on the medal dock, there are not many spots. We left the race thinking that we wanted more for the boat and the program. The boat and the team is on the verge of becoming a strong force in the league.”

Princeton head coach Greg Hughes credits Gillis with being a major force behind the progress the program has shown over the last few years as it rose to fourth in the IRAs.

“Will is one of those guys who is great in and out of the boat,” said Hughes, whose varsity 8 came in at 5:43.715 to take third in the IRA regatta with Washington first in 5:37.113, Brown second in 5:39.626, and California third in 5:42.063.

“He leads by example, through the way he handles things in school and still performs on the water. He steps up in big situations. The experience he has had in that boat and in the summer time, racing for the U-23 team against tough competition and getting a medal, showed up in the tenacity of that boat over the weekend.”

Gillis, for his part, has made sure to savor his final weeks in a Princeton boat.

“After the Sprints, when I crossed the finish line, it hit me that this was over and that I would never be racing here again,” said Gillis, a politics major with a certificate in American Studies who graduated Tuesday and is going on to teach U.S. history to 11th graders at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School which provides a college prep program for low income students.

“I talked to Greg and he said it is amazing how your perspective changes from 10 minutes before the race to 10 minutes after. I was thinking today, I will have to clean out my locker. In other years, it was I’ll be back. I am really enjoying the boat and the guys; they have made the experience amazing.”

SECOND WIND: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight second varsity 8 crew churns up Lake Carnegie in competition this spring. Last Sunday, the Tiger second varsity took second in their grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta held on Mercer Lake.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

SECOND WIND: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight second varsity 8 crew churns up Lake Carnegie in competition this spring. Last Sunday, the Tiger second varsity took second in their grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta held on Mercer Lake. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

With the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta being held at nearby Mercer Lake, the Princeton University men’s heavyweight crew was looking to feed on its supporters.

“We were excited to be racing close to home,” said Princeton head coach Greg Hughes.

“It was reunion week so there were a lot of alums who would be back. It was pretty remarkable to see them; it was neat for me as a coach and it was great for the guys.”

The Tiger varsity 8 provided the Princeton fans with some exciting moments as it produced superb efforts in the opening heat on Friday and semifinals on Saturday and then placing fourth in the grand final on Sunday.

“The plan was take things one day at a time; we knew we needed to have three great races to do what we wanted to do,” said Hughes, whose top boat placed first in its opening heat and second in the semifinals.

“We started off with a heat against Brown. We were executing things we had been working on in the down time since Eastern Sprints; that gave us a boost for the whole weekend. On Saturday, the race was just fun to watch. We were aggressive in pretty tough conditions, there was a crosswind and it was choppy at times. It was fun to get out in front in a race like that. Sometimes we are too cautious, worrying about making the finals.”

In the grand final, Princeton battled hard as it missed third place by less than two seconds.

“We carried that into the final on Sunday,” added Hughes, whose top boat clocked a time of 5:43.715 with Washington first in 5:37.113, Brown second in 5:39.626, and California third in 5:42.063.

“It was  apparent that there were 6-8 really good boats and it would come down to who had the best piece on the day. There was no question that Washington stepped up, I was even more impressed with Brown; they raced beyond themselves and that’s what you have to do. That was our best piece of the year. We were in front of Harvard for the first time in years, that was a big step for us. We have six guys returning on that boat and they have a sense of what it takes to go to the IRAs and compete.”

The second varsity 8 provided the best moment of the weekend as it placed second in the grand final, clocking a time of 5:45.133, trailing only Cal which came in at 5:42.880.

“That was the race of the year for our program, the credit goes to Spencer [Washburn] because he worked hard with that crew,” said Hughes referring to trusted assistant Washburn, who is leaving the program to become the head crew coach at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts.

“They brought an emotional intensity to that race. That was the culmination of a lot of hard work and spirit. They took control of the race and made everyone race to their standards. They beat Northeastern, who had beaten them at the Sprints. They beat Washington, a boat that hadn’t lost a race at the IRAs for the last four or five years.”

Over the last few seasons, the heavyweight program has raised its standards.

“The results we saw at the IRA speak to the progress of the year,” said Hughes, whose third varsity 8 took sixth and varsity 4 placed 12th.

“The team has changed its culture. It has developed a stronger work ethic and character. It has taken a lot of hard work and we are starting to see the result of that. Spencer and I played a part but the lion’s share of the credit has to go to the senior class; they had places where they wanted to see the team go to. They stayed true to that through some ups and downs. They were remarkable and they are going to be missed. They are leaving a legacy.”

In order to live up to that legacy, the returning rowers will have to keep going hard.

“We can’t take things for granted,” said Hughes. “The senior class has shown us that it is possible and we are good enough if we do the work.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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