November 26, 2014
CAPTAIN’S CORNER: Princeton University women’s hockey player Brianna Leahy goes after the puck in action last weekend. Senior captain Leahy scored two goals on the weekend but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell 7-3 to St. Lawrence on Friday and then lost 3-2 to defending national champion Clarkson on Saturday. Princeton, now 6-3-1 overall and 4-2 ECAC Hockey, hosts No. 2 Minnesota, 12-1-2 overall, for a two-game set on November 29 and 30.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CAPTAIN’S CORNER: Princeton University women’s hockey player Brianna Leahy goes after the puck in action last weekend. Senior captain Leahy scored two goals on the weekend but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell 7-3 to St. Lawrence on Friday and then lost 3-2 to defending national champion Clarkson on Saturday. Princeton, now 6-3-1 overall and 4-2 ECAC Hockey, hosts No. 2 Minnesota, 12-1-2 overall, for a two-game set on November 29 and 30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Looking at the final score, it would appear that the Princeton University women’s hockey team was overmatched when it hosted St. Lawrence last Friday.

Although the Tigers dropped a 7-3 decision to the Saints, Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal saw no reason for his players to hang their heads.

“I thought we played decently overall, the score doesn’t necessarily indicate  how close a game it was,” said Kampersal, noting that the contest was tied at 3-3 heading into the third period.

“We played fairly well, both teams made mistakes but they capitalized on the big mistakes we made and that was pretty much the difference.

Trailing 1-0 after getting outshot 11-2 in the first period, Princeton came alive in the next 20 minutes, outscoring St. Lawrence 3-2.

“We didn’t funnel the puck to the net in the first period so we had more hunger to get the puck and crash the net,” said Kampersal, who got goals from Hilary Lloyd, Brianna Leahy, and Molly Contini in the period. “All of our goals were rebound goals. We had guts, we played hard.”

Sophomore forward Contini has shown guts, coming back from missing last year due to hip surgery to lead the Tigers in goals with six.

“Molly is very smart, she has incredible hands and she can set up a goalie,” said Kampersal. “She knows what she wants to do with the puck. She has improved a lot in her skating over the summer.”

The Tigers showed improvement the next day as they battled the defending national champion Clarkson tooth and nail, before losing 3-2.

Princeton fell behind 1-0 in the first period but evened things up on a goal by sophomore defenseman Kelsey Koelzer. After the Golden Knights took a 2-1 lead in the second, the Tigers answered back with a tally by senior captain Leahy. Clarkson scored the decisive goal early in the third period as Princeton dropped to 6-3-1 overall and 4-2 ECAC Hockey.

“We just need more fight,” said Kampersal, whose team hosts perennial power and second ranked Minnesota, 12-1-2 overall, for a two-game set on November 29 and 30. “No matter who we play in our league, everyone is going to be real tough.”

And despite going 0-2 last weekend, Princeton showed plenty of toughness.

November 19, 2014
OPENING STATEMENT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Spencer Weisz prepares to put up a shot in a recent practice session. Last Friday, sophomore forward Weisz contributed a game-high 18 points as Princeton topped Rider 64-58 in the season opener for both teams. The Tigers, who fell 63-60 at George Mason on Sunday to drop to 1-1, play at Lafayette on November 19 before hosting Incarnate Word on November 22.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OPENING STATEMENT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Spencer Weisz prepares to put up a shot in a recent practice session. Last Friday, sophomore forward Weisz contributed a game-high 18 points as Princeton topped Rider 64-58 in the season opener for both teams. The Tigers, who fell 63-60 at George Mason on Sunday to drop to 1-1, play at Lafayette on November 19 before hosting Incarnate Word on November 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Spencer Weisz gained some valuable lessons last winter in his freshman campaign with the Princeton University men’s basketball team.

Helping Princeton win eight of its last 10 Ivy League games after a 0-4 start in league play, Weisz averaged 8.7 points and 4.8 rebounds a game on the way to being named the Ivy Rookie of the Year.

Last Friday, when Princeton fell behind visiting Rider 39-30 in the season opener for both teams, Weisz applied some of that knowledge.

“We got down nine and I just felt with the experience that I had last year, it was time to step up and make some plays,” said Weisz.

Princeton proceeded to put together a 28-12 run with Weisz chipping in eight points during that stretch, seizing control of the contest on the way to a 64-58 victory before a crowd of 1,939 at Jadwin Gym.

In Weisz’s view, the comeback served as a valuable blueprint for the Tigers. “There was a long way to play and we needed to just settle in offensively and defensively,” said Weisz, who ended up with a game-high 18 points for the night along with six rebounds and two assists.

“Throughout the season there are going to be times when we are playing well but our shots aren’t falling. It is going to be scrapping and clawing for tough wins and fortunately we were able to come out with the win tonight.”

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson liked the mental toughness displayed by his squad on opening night.

“The biggest thing that I would talk about and would take away from the game is the poise,” said Henderson.

“I thought that they didn’t get rattled when they got down by nine. It is a fairly young group but they have the ability to stay with things. We said at the 16 minute timeout that we can’t play much worse so have some poise and let’s see where this thing goes and I thought they stayed with it. I thought Hans [Brase] made a couple of huge 3s to close the gap for us. We got to the line a couple of times. We were really good at getting to the line tonight, we took 20 free throws, which I was happy about. I thought the guys didn’t lose their cool.”

Princeton’s defensive effort also made Henderson happy. “It is the first game of the season, you don’t have a lot of information and we did some things we had only worked on a little bit,” said Henderson.

“I thought we came up with some really big plays, that is a tough Rider team so we are happy to get it. You have to count on your defense to get you back into the game. We were able to score but if we weren’t stopping them in that stretch, it would not have mattered.”

With senior star Denton Koon currently sidelined with a knee injury, Henderson is counting on his team’s depth and character to show through.

“Denton went down with a knee injury and I thought the group really responded well,” said Henderson, whose team went down last Sunday, falling 63-60 at George Mason to move to 1-1.

“Whenever you lose a senior, it is tough. Denton has been, in particular, very helpful in encouraging his teammates.”

Henderson is also encouraged by his squad’s diligence. “I just really like this team, I like the way that they are thinking about things,” said Henderson.

“They are concentrating on getting better. We really have so much to work on. I like the young guys, I like the old guys. I like the way that they are all going about their business.”

In assessing areas for improvement, Henderson focused on sharper offensive execution.

“There were a lot of turnovers (15),” said Henderson, whose team plays at Lafayette on November 19 before hosting Incarnate Word on November 22.

“We have potential to be good with the ball, we are trying to eliminate the dumb ones. There were a lot of walks called, which we will have to look at because we have been teaching that move for a long time around here. We have to look at that because I thought those were some really nice moves in the post. Overall, it is just valuing the ball and executing. Amir [Bell] is going to be on the floor for us and has to get us into something that everybody recognizes.”

Freshman guard Bell, for his part, produced a nice debut, contributing seven points, four rebounds, and three assists in 30 minutes of action.

“At the start, you just want to get into the flow,” said Bell. “As a team we  played really well. I was trying to help us in the best way possible and contribute to the game and, with my teammates, get a great win.”

Weisz sees a lot more wins on the horizon for Princeton as long as it plays sharper at both ends of the court.

“We have to execute better defensively and I think that starts with our veterans,” said Weisz. “From there we will be able to have better offense and be better as a team as a whole.”

FINAL PUSH: Princeton University senior quarterback Quinn Epperly gets ready to fire the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, Epperly rushed for three touchdowns in a losing cause as Princeton fell 44-30 at Yale. The defeat dropped the Tigers to 5-4 overall and 4-2 Ivy League, thereby extinguishing their hopes for a second straight Ivy title with Harvard leading the pack at 9-0 overall, 6-0 Ivy followed by Yale (8-1 overall, 5-1 Ivy) and Dartmouth (7-2 overall, 5-1 Ivy) as the teams head into the last week of the season. Princeton hosts Dartmouth on November 22 in its season finale.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FINAL PUSH: Princeton University senior quarterback Quinn Epperly gets ready to fire the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, Epperly rushed for three touchdowns in a losing cause as Princeton fell 44-30 at Yale. The defeat dropped the Tigers to 5-4 overall and 4-2 Ivy League, thereby extinguishing their hopes for a second straight Ivy title with Harvard leading the pack at 9-0 overall, 6-0 Ivy followed by Yale (8-1 overall, 5-1 Ivy) and Dartmouth (7-2 overall, 5-1 Ivy) as the teams head into the last week of the season. Princeton hosts Dartmouth on November 22 in its season finale. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Playing at the Yale Bowl last Saturday as the 100th anniversary of the venerable stadium was celebrated, the Princeton University football rolled up 29 first downs, 386 yards of total offense, and scored 30 points.

While that production would be sufficient to win a lot of games, it wasn’t enough against the highest-scoring Yale squad in a century as the Bulldogs pulled away to a 44-30 triumph before a crowd of 23,260.

The defeat dropped Princeton to 5-4 overall and 4-2 Ivy League, thereby extinguishing its hopes for a second straight Ivy title with Harvard leading the pack at 9-0 overall, 6-0 Ivy followed by Yale (8-1 overall, 5-1 Ivy), and Dartmouth (7-2 overall, 5-1 Ivy) as the teams head into the last week of the season.

Princeton head coach Bob Surace lamented his team’s lack of execution in key moments against Yale.

“It is just frustrating, we put so much time and effort into preparation and the effort was outstanding but we made fundamental mistakes,” said Surace.

“Against a team as good as Yale, you have to be more detailed and more exact. They had eight or nine explosive plays and we had one.”

Two critical mistakes in special teams play turned the tide against Princeton as Yale blocked a punt to score a touchdown to take a 17-14 lead early in the second quarter and then added a field goal after a botched snap led to a short punt and gave the Bulldogs good field position.

“Those 10 points against a team as good as Yale makes it tough,” said Surace. “They have been scoring, getting 54, 51, 49 points in games this season.”

In the early stages of the contest, it looked like Princeton may be headed to a 50-point afternoon.

“Offensively we got off to a good start, we went right down the field and scored,” said Surace, whose team took a 7-0 lead on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Conner Michelsen to James Frusciante.

Yale responded with a seven-yard scoring strike from Morgan Roberts to Robert Clemons to make it a 7-7 game. Two possessions later, Princeton’s defense came up big as Matt Arends intercepted a Roberts pass to give the Tigers the ball at the Yale 29. Princeton cashed in as Quinn Epperly scored on a 7-yard run to give Princeton a 14-7 advantage midway through the first quarter.

After getting 10 points due to Princeton’s punting miscues to go up 20-14, the Bulldogs kept rolling as star running Tyler Varga rushed 30 yards for a TD to make it 27-14.

Princeton answered with an 11-play, 63-yard march that culminated with a one-yard touchdown run by Epperly.

But blunting the Tigers’ momentum, Yale added a field goal with no time remaining to take a 30-21 lead into intermission.

In the third quarter, Princeton seemed to be poised for a comeback. “In the second half we stopped them and we got the ball inside their five,” said Surace. “But we dropped a snap and then had to go for a field goal and the kick hit the upright. It is not our day when the kick hits the upright. We continued to battle back.”

But it turned out to be a losing battle as Varga scored on a 13-yard pass to make it 37-21. After Epperly ran for his third TD of the day to narrow the gap to 37-27, Varga struck again with a six-yard run as Yale took its biggest lead of the day at 44-27. Bieck kicked a field goal for the Tigers midway through the fourth quarter to end the scoring.

Surace tipped his hat to the Yale offense, which totaled 568 yards and is now averaging 43.0 points a game.

“Varga is having an unbelievable year, you have got to be at your best to stop him,” said Surace of the senior tailback who rushed for 137 yards on 26 carries in the win over Princeton.

“He had a 30-yard run when a safety got tripped by an umpire. We did as good a job as anyone on him. Their quarterback was outstanding all game. When we had a rusher on him, he found the right guy. When he had time, he was almost automatic. They have some really good receivers.”

Despite the frustrating setback, Surace is confident that Princeton can end the fall on a high note as it hosts Dartmouth on November 22 in the season finale and assumes the spoiler role with the Big Green still alive in the Ivy title race.

“You only get 10 games and each one is important and enjoyable,” said Surace. “They present different challenges. You have peaks and valleys in a season and we have responded well to the low points this season.”

Dartmouth presents some major challenges for Princeton, who will be looking to end the season on a high note and avenge a 2013 loss to the Big Green that kept it from winning an outright Ivy crown.

“Their quarterback [Dalyn Williams] is one of the best players in the league and he is having his best year,” said Surace.

“They run the ball well and they are strong up front. They have a really good group of receivers, starting with [Ryan] McManus. They always play well on defense, they are well coached and they run to the ball. We have to be focused on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Emotions will be running high but all those things can be a distraction. We have to play our best game in order to have a chance to beat them.”

Surace turned emotional when he reflected on how senior stars Epperly and linebacker Mike Zeuli competed in the Yale loss.

“Seeing Quinn Epperly on Saturday was inspiring,” said Surace. “He has been in pain and has been been injured but he was fighting so hard. Mike Zeuli plays as hard as any player I have ever coached. They are not the only two guys doing that but they are the captains and they are out front. The guys follow that.”

SHANNY TOWN: Princeton University women’s hockey player Cristin Shanahan glides up the ice. Last Saturday, junior forward Shanahan scored the winning goal as Princeton edged Rensselaer 2-1 in overtime. The Tigers, now 6-1-1 overall and 4-0 ECAC Hockey, host St. Lawrence on November 21 and Clarkson on November 22.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SHANNY TOWN: Princeton University women’s hockey player Cristin Shanahan glides up the ice. Last Saturday, junior forward Shanahan scored the winning goal as Princeton edged Rensselaer 2-1 in overtime. The Tigers, now 6-1-1 overall and 4-0 ECAC Hockey, host St. Lawrence on November 21 and Clarkson on November 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Cristin Shanahan saw no need for finesse when she got the chance to give the Princeton University women’s hockey team an overtime win against visiting Rensselaer last Saturday.

With just over two minutes gone in the extra session, Shanahan received the puck on the doorstep of the goal on a nice pass from Kiersten Falck and she closed the deal with aplomb.

“I wasn’t really the playmaker there, my teammates did a good job,” said Shanahan, whose tally gave Princeton a 2-1 win as it improved to 6-1-1 overall and 4-0 ECAC Hockey.

“I don’t know how Falck manages to thread the puck through every single time. She got it to me, it was a perfect puck laying right there for me and I had the open net so I slammed it home.”

The triumph marked the third overtime win for the Tigers in their last four games as they had edged Union 3-2 in OT on Friday and had topped RIT 4-3 in overtime on November 7.

In Shanahan’s view, Princeton’s clutch play exemplifies the team’s special spirit.

“I have never played on a team that loves hockey so much,” said Shanahan. “We just love coming to the rink, we love being here. It just means a lot playing with kids who love it; coming through in those moments shows how much heart we have.”

Shanahan acknowledges that the Tigers need to play better so they don’t have to keep going to overtime to get wins.

“I think our team just has to work on being consistent through the whole game,” said Shanahan.

“We are a very strong team. I think we have a ton of potential and that we can absolutely kill this season. One thing we have to do is play 60 minutes.”

With two seasons of college hockey under her belt, Shanahan feels she is getting more out of her potential this winter.

“I think I am way more confident, I have noticed that and the coaches have told me that,” said Shanahan, a 5’6 native of Ottawa, Ontario who is second in goals scored for the Tigers this season with four, trailing only Molly Contini’s total of five.

“I am doing my own thing and not worrying about how other people are playing. I am just focusing on my game and doing my thing; it is finally working out for me.”

Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal is looking for his team to do better at maintaining its focus.

“We have come up at big moments and have made big plays,” said Kampersal, whose team took a 1-0 lead in the first period on a goal by sophomore Morgan Sly.

“We have spurts of really hard-working play where we are really getting to work and we are strong on the puck and getting shots on goal and then other times when it is not very pretty and we are throwing pucks away, playing a little ping pong with the puck. We have done a good job defensively of keeping teams to the outside for the most part so we don’t let up a ton of shots, which is good.”

In the win over Rensselaer, the Tigers did a good job when it mattered most.

“We didn’t generate enough shots on offense tonight but again we killed off the big penalty at the end of regulation, which was huge, and then to get the goal right after was even bigger,” said Kampersal, who got 20 saves from junior goalie Kimberly Newell. “We got all the points, they are not drawing pictures on the scoresheet, luckily.”

Shanahan’s game-winning shot brought a smile to Kampersal’s face. “Shanny is solid, she slammed that home, which was great,” added Kampersal. “The pass by Falck was a big league pass. It was a really nice play all around. Leahy sent them in with a nice entry. That group played fairly well all day.”

While Kampersal is happy that Tigers are undefeated so far in ECACH play, he knows that won’t last long if the team doesn’t get more consistent.

“They are finding ways to win games,” noted Kampersal, whose team hosts St. Lawrence on November 21 and Clarkson on November 22.

“There has been adversity where we might have folded in years past, like getting down 3-0 to RIT last week or having Union score on us with 30 seconds to go last night and losing the lead late here. They kept with it and they kept resiliency. We will take where we are at, no question, but we definitely need to play a lot better and work on being consistent for 60 minutes.”

Shanahan, for her part, believes the Tigers can get better and better as the season unfolds.

“We are all pumped, I was just talking to some of my teammates and we think we are going to play home ice in the playoffs,” said Shanahan. “We are hoping to be Ivy champs. We think we have something special going here.”

November 12, 2014
SENIOR MOMENT: Princeton University field hockey star Sydney Kirby (No. 6) celebrates after a Tiger goal earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior midfielder Kirby starred in her final home game for the Tigers, chipping in two assists as Princeton edged Penn 4-3. The win give the Tigers the outright Ivy League title. In upcoming action, Princeton, now 7-10 overall, 6-1 Ivy, will head across the state to play at Monmouth (13-7 overall, 4-1 MAAC) on November 12 in an NCAA tournament play-in game with the winner advancing to face second-seeded Maryland in the Round of 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SENIOR MOMENT: Princeton University field hockey star Sydney Kirby (No. 6) celebrates after a Tiger goal earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior midfielder Kirby starred in her final home game for the Tigers, chipping in two assists as Princeton edged Penn 4-3. The win give the Tigers the outright Ivy League title. In upcoming action, Princeton, now 7-10 overall, 6-1 Ivy, will head across the state to play at Monmouth (13-7 overall, 4-1 MAAC) on November 12 in an NCAA tournament play-in game with the winner advancing to face second-seeded Maryland in the Round of 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Sydney Kirby was determined to do something special on her Senior Day for the Princeton University field hockey team as it hosted Penn last Saturday.

“Senior Day is always exciting and it is always a little bittersweet because you never know if it is going to be the seniors’ last game,” said star midfielder Kirby, reflecting on her thoughts before the Tigers took the field to host Penn in their home finale.

“I know the seniors wanted to play their best games for everyone. We spent four years here and we owe it to the program to play our best. We love playing for everyone, the team was so excited.”

Although Princeton came into the day tied with Columbia for first place in the Ivy League standings at 5-1, it could have been the last game for the Tigers. If the Lions prevailed in their game against Harvard going on simultaneously, they would get the league’s bid to the NCAA tournament by virtue of beating Princeton 3-2 in late September.

Kirby helped Princeton get off to an exciting start against Penn, assisting on a goal by Hailey Reeves off of a penalty corner to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

After the Quakers took a 2-1 lead, Kirby figured in another goal, setting up a Teresa Benvenuti tally with seven seconds remaining in the first half.

“It definitely helped our momentum, going into halftime losing would not have been awesome,” said Kirby.

“We came out in the second half and it is like the score was 0-0 so it’s anybody’s game. We would have come back no matter what, we had never lost hope.”

Building on the momentum from the goal just before intermission, Princeton ended up outscoring Penn 2-1 in the second half to pull out a 4-3 win. At the same time, Columbia lost to Harvard 4-1, thereby making the Tigers the outright Ivy champs.

Princeton, 7-10 overall, will now head across the state to play at Monmouth (13-7 overall, 4-1 MAAC) on November 12 in an NCAA tournament play-in game with the winner advancing to face second-seeded Maryland in the Round of 16.

Although the Tigers have suffered through a rough fall which saw them go 1-9 in non-conference games, winning the title makes up for a lot of the disappointment.

“This means everything,” said a beaming Kirby, reflecting on the program’s 20th Ivy title in the last 21 years.

“We have had ups and down for sure and we have never lost sight of what is important and winning the Ivy League title is what we all come here to do. Everything else is icing on the cake.”

With Princeton having gone 45-14 overall and 20-1 Ivy in Kirby’s first three years, highlighted by winning the 2012 NCAA title, dealing with 10 losses this fall has been tough.

“It has been a different season, people aren’t used to it and that is a fact,” said Kirby, a native of Cleveland Heights, Ohio and the team’s leading scorer this fall with 18 points on six goals and six assists. “We have learned to deal with the adversity and it has made us stronger now.”

Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn lauded her team’s strong character in coming through to win another Ivy crown.

“It has been so hard, it has been such a tough season but they persevered,” said Holmes-Winn.

“I am just so happy for them. I don’t think our record necessarily reflects the team that we have. Honestly we have been training well.”

Princeton had to navigate its way through a nerve-wracking second half to get the win over Penn.

“We would win the ball and turn it over, it was a lot of back and forth,” said Holmes-Winn.

“When you have a team that is chasing the game, they can take more risks which they were. Penn was trying to smash the ball into the middle of the field and hope for a mistake. I think we managed that chaos pretty well but this was not an easy game. I am so proud of the girls for sticking to it.”

The team’s core of seniors helped the Tigers stick with it through the topsy-turvy fall.

“They are just really sweet kids,” said Holmes-Winn of the program’s Class of 2015, which includes Cassidy Arner, Colleen Boyce, Julia Boyle, Allison Evans, and Stephanie Goldberg in addition to Kirby.

“One of the big things when the freshmen come in is helping integrate them into the fabric of the team. This year has been the best integration and it is largely due to the seniors and how they have chosen to include them and make them feel like a part of the family very quickly. I think that has been really good for the team. They have been great players and they have worked hard. They are great kids.”

Junior Maddie Copeland made great a play on the winning goal as she backhanded a blast past the Penn goalie with 8:56 left in regulation.

“It is execution, we have had breakaways like that,” said Holmes-Winn. “It was just really good to see the finish come through and it was just a sensational shot from Maddie. That’s the beauty of the game right there. She will go backhand 100 percent of the time; don’t even bother defending her forehand because she isn’t going to shoot there. She is really good at it.”

Holmes-Winn credited Kirby and sophomore Annabeth Donovan with providing good work all over the field.

“Sydney’s work rate is great, both she and A.B. work so hard in the middle of the field,” asserted Holmes-Winn. “They plug a lot of holes; they really keep our structure intact.”

Senior striker Evans also came up big, tallying Princeton’s third goal early in the second half.

“That’s been Allie, ever since she has been a freshman she has been coming up with huge goals for this team,” said Holmes-Winn of Evans, who now has 40 goals in her Tiger career. “I am not surprised.”

With Princeton having won four of its last five games heading into the clash at Monmouth, Holmes-Winn believes her team could pull some surprises in the NCAAs.

“I think our best games have been against the likes of UConn and Syracuse, I really rate those teams. We play better when there is a little more structure in the game. This is a game that had very little structure and we don’t necessarily thrive with that.”

Kirby, for her part, believes the Tigers can thrive in postseason play. “I 100 percent do,” said Kirby, when asked if the Tigers could make an NCAA run.

“No one is expecting it, everyone is underrating us. We have gotten better every day this week and we are only going to get better from here.”

GOOD HANS: Princeton University men’s basketball player Hans Brase (with ball) looks to make a move in a recent practice session. Junior forward Brase, Princeton’s leading returning scorer after averaging 11.2 points per game in 2013-14, figures to be pivotal player for the Tigers this winter. Princeton opens up its 2014-15 campaign by hosting Rider on November 14.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOOD HANS: Princeton University men’s basketball player Hans Brase (with ball) looks to make a move in a recent practice session. Junior forward Brase, Princeton’s leading returning scorer after averaging 11.2 points per game in 2013-14, figures to be pivotal player for the Tigers this winter. Princeton opens up its 2014-15 campaign by hosting Rider on November 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The concept of “next man up” has become a catchphrase in the pro football world as the injury rate that naturally results from the collision sport necessitates that reserves will be called on to get their opportunity to shine.

That principle is serving as a theme for the Princeton University men’s basketball team as it opens up its 2014-15 campaign by hosting Rider on November 14. Princeton is looking to make up for the void left by the graduation of T.J. Bray, who led the Tigers in points, assists, and steals last winter on the way to earning first-team All-Ivy League honors.

“It is who is stepping up, I can’t answer that question right now,” said Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson, speaking at the program’s annual media day.

“Of the teams I have had since I have been here, this is the most balanced team that we have had. I think this team’s strength is whose turn is it to score.”

Henderson does acknowledge that junior Hans Brase, the team’s leading returning scorer with 11.2 points per game last winter when the Tigers went 21-9 overall and 8-6 Ivy on the way to the second round of the CBI (College Basketball Invitational), will be expected to shoulder a greater share of the scoring load.

“Hans is pivotal for us,” said Henderson, who welcomes back a number of experienced upperclassmen including seniors Ben Hazel (6.1 points in 2013-14), Denton Koon (7.7 points), and Clay Wilson (4.5 points). “He has got to stay out of foul trouble, he is going to have the ball in his hands a lot. Can he understand time and place, and that there is a time for that, and not a time for that.”

Brase, for his part, is ready for his time in the spotlight. “The way we work, a lot of people say how are we going to replace T.J. but we never  really replace people,” said the 6’8, 231-pound Brase, who played with the German second national team last summer.

“Our program is built on the next people are up so now it is my turn. As juniors and seniors it is our turn. I don’t feel like I have a bigger load, it is just my turn next.”

Sophomore guard Spencer Weisz, the Ivy Rookie of the Year last winter when he averaged 8.7 points and 4.8 rebounds a game, is also prepared to take a star turn.

“I feel like I am going to have to make some plays more without T.J.  here but then again everyone on the team brings a little bit of diversity to the table,” said Weisz.

“People can put the ball on the floor and shoot pretty well. Maybe I will get some more post touches for myself. I need to play within the offense and take more of a leadership role than I did last year.”

Henderson is looking for a more balanced offensive approach from his club, which relied heavily on the three-pointer last year as it made a team-record 278 baskets from beyond the arc.

“There are a lot of stats out there that show if you make a lot of 3s, you are going to win a lot of games,” said Henderson, whose team will be without the services of Koon for a while as he is sidelined with a knee injury.

“I hope we don’t rely on it the way we did. We have the emphasis on going to the rim.”

Princeton will also be looking to stop foes from getting to the rim. “Defensively, I think we hit a skid in league play and we have got to have a little more fire in the eyes so to speak,” said Henderson, whose team started 0-4 in Ivy play last season before winning eight of its last 10 league contests.

“We have been zeroing in on that. We faltered defensively and then we got back on track, which I was proud of. We became the best defensive team in the league but it was a little too late.”

Henderson knows that his team can’t falter again early in league play if it wants to be a title contender.

“It is a tough league, I think the talent level is really good,” said Henderson, whose team was picked fourth in the Ivy preseason poll behind defending champion Harvard, Yale, and Columbia.

“We are the 11th highest rated league in the country. I do think that it is the most underrated league. Every team is well coached, everybody is making the extra pass and doing a little more to make sure you win. I was in the Big 10 for a long time and I thought there was some good coaching here. This is equally as tough.”

In Henderson’s view, some of the team’s new faces could do good things this winter.

“I like the freshmen a lot, the thing I like the most is a complete buy-in into what we do,” said Henderson, whose crop of newcomers includes Amir Bell, Alec Brennan, Jackson Forbes, Mike LeBlanc, and Aaron Young. “I am happy about the freshmen.”

The team’s group of sophomores, which includes Pete Miller (2.5 points), Steven Cook (4.5 points), Henry Caruso, and Hun School alum Hashim Moore in addition to Weisz, is also making Henderson happy.

“That said, the sophomore class has made a huge leap forward which is what you want,” added Henderson. “It is a very solid sophomore class, right now they are all showing signs.”

As the Tigers host Rider this Friday, they will be looking to show that are ready to make a leap forward this winter.

“We know the Rider guys pretty well, I like local games,” said Henderson. “Our non-conference is designed to help us trend up, that is what we want.”

ON THE REBOUND: Princeton University women’s basketball head coach Courtney Banghart answers a question at the program’s recently-held media day. The Tigers will be looking to regain the Ivy League crown they lost to Penn last winter after winning four straight league titles. Princeton tips off its 2014-15 season this weekend with games at Pittsburgh on November 14 and at Duquesne on November 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON THE REBOUND: Princeton University women’s basketball head coach Courtney Banghart answers a question at the program’s recently-held media day. The Tigers will be looking to regain the Ivy League crown they lost to Penn last winter after winning four straight league titles. Princeton tips off its 2014-15 season this weekend with games at Pittsburgh on November 14 and at Duquesne on November 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton University women’s basketball team, winning four straight Ivy League titles from the 2009-10 season through 2012-13 may have lulled the program into a false sense of security.

“You get numb to winning, it becomes — that’s what we do here,” said Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart, at the program’s annual media day.

While Princeton won plenty of games last winter as it posted its fifth straight 20-victory season, the Tigers fell to Penn in the regular season finale to finish second to the Quakers in the Ivy standings.

Banghart is relishing being in the role of the hunter this winter. “It is a  different mentality in terms of chasing a title versus protecting a title,” said Banghart, who guided Princeton to a 21-9 record last winter as the program won its first postseason game by advancing to the second round of the WNIT.

“It is something the program hasn’t had in a few years. We have proven it’s not what we do here, it is what we earn here and we didn’t earn it last year.”

As Banghart looks ahead to the the 2014-15 season, which starts this weekend with games at Pittsburgh on November 14 and at Duquesne on November 16, the eight-year head coach believes that tightening up things defensively is the key to earning another league crown.

“We went to four NCAA tournaments and in every one of those years we were the best defensive team, whether we played one-on-one, two-on-two, or three-on-three,” said Banghart.

“I always say you want to go into a competition and if the ref said by the way it is two-on-two today, you would still win it. Last year no way, we were not the best defensive team. So come hell or high water, we are going to be the best defensive team in the league this year if we are going to be champions.”

Princeton welcomes back a lot of experience in its quest to regain the league crown as the roster includes 12 letter winners from last year.

“We pretty much know what we are made of because we bring so much back,” said Banghart, noting that Princeton had four sophomores and a junior in its starting lineup for the WNIT win over Virginia Commonwealth University.

“I was able to focus a lot on the films from last year this summer to figure out where the holes were. We are certainly ahead of where we were. I don’t know if we will be where we need to be but we are certainly ahead of where we were in a lot of facets.”

One of those key returners, junior shooting guard Michelle Miller, said the Princeton players have come back with a more hungry attitude in the wake of last year’s second-place finish.

“I think we are all really driven this year,” said Miller, who averaged 11.7 points a game last winter.

“We are all really hungry to get the league title back and I think that has really changed our mentality. We hadn’t lost before so it became something like winning is what we do but you realize it is not, by any means, something that is given to you. You have to go out and earn it every single game and that starts with the way you practice.”

Senior point guard, Blake Dietrick, a first-team All-Ivy selection last year when she averaged a team-high 14.3 points a contest, is ready to earn it on the defensive end.

“From top to bottom, we have totally renewed our defensive commitment and desire,” said Dietrick.

“That is just being accountable on every play. If someone misses a help rotation we are not going to say it’s OK, get it the next time. We are going to say that is unacceptable.”

Banghart likes the commitment she has seen so far from the team in the preseason.

“I like the energy of this group,” said Banghart. “I like the enthusiasm, I like the youth, I like the experience.”

The trio of freshmen Kenya Holland, Tia Weledji, and Leslie Robinson should provide Princeton with a burst of energy.

“We are making it an obligation of our upperclassmen to ensure that our freshmen help us,” said Banghart, whose top returning veterans include juniors Alex Wheatley (10.2 points per game in 2013-14), Taylor Williams (6.7 points and 4.1 rebounds), Annie Tarakchian (6.1 points and 4.7 rebounds), and Amanda Berntsen (5.7 points) along with senior Mariah Smith (3.0 points) and sophomore Vanessa Smith (5.1 points).

“We tried last year to play without freshmen and it didn’t go so well. If we want to be as good as we can be, those freshmen have to help us. The seniors and juniors have been doing a really good job of bringing them along.”

Banghart believes that the 6’0 Robinson, the daughter of former Princeton men’s hoops standout Craig Robinson and the niece of President Obama, is poised to have a really good debut season.

“Leslie Robinson is a really special talent,” said Banghart. “Leslie’s dad played here, he was a two-time player of the year, and she obviously has some pretty famous family history. She comes at the game honestly. She brings toughness and she brings coachability.”

The Tigers face some tough tests on opening weekend. “Those are two really good challenges on the road,” said Banghart. “I haven’t even worried about what Pitt and Duquesne do yet, except that I know they are programs that carry with them a tradition as do we. I want our kids to be thrown into the fire early.”

As Princeton looks to add to its recent tradition of winning Ivy titles, competing well in non-conference games will lay the foundation for success.

“Yesterday’s thought of the day at practice was that what gets evaluated is performance, not potential,” said Banghart.

“We haven’t had any performance yet so we will see. I think it is a better league than it was four years ago. It means that the top teams have to be legitimately good and we have a role in that. We are obligated to do well nationally and represent our league well.”

SPECIAL EFFORT: Princeton University kicker Nolan Bieck boots the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, junior Bieck hit three field goals, including a career-long 46-yarder, to help Princeton top Penn 22-17. Bieck was named the Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance as the Tigers improved to 5-3 overall and 4-1 Ivy.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SPECIAL EFFORT: Princeton University kicker Nolan Bieck boots the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, junior Bieck hit three field goals, including a career-long 46-yarder, to help Princeton top Penn 22-17. Bieck was named the Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance as the Tigers improved to 5-3 overall and 4-1 Ivy. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As the calendar headed into the second week of November, it was Survival Saturday around the world of college football.

On the national scene, there were four top-20 clashes that had directly impacted the race to make the final four in the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff.

Closer to home, the Princeton University football team was playing to stay alive in the Ivy League when it hosted Penn as the Tigers were locked in a three-way tie for second in the league standings with Dartmouth and Yale, one game behind undefeated frontrunner Harvard.

While it wasn’t a thing of beauty, Princeton kept pace atop the Ivies as it pounded out a 22-17 win over the Quakers before a crowd of 9,486 at Princeton Stadium.

The win left Princeton at 5-3 overall and 4-1 Ivy as the Tigers remained tied with Yale and Dartmouth for second with Harvard still one game in front.

Princeton head coach Bob Surace, for his part, saw beauty in winning ugly. “We played with such great heart and how we finished that game with a stop on defense and running out the clock is how we had to play today,” said Surace.

“I just loved how physical we played, we finished things terrifically on both sides of the ball. We came up with some huge stops on defense as they got inside the 50 a number of times throughout the day. Offensively, we just continue to finish runs.”

Senior quarterback and co-captain Quinn Epperly, who ran for one touchdown and passed for another, liked the grit displayed by the Tigers.

“We want to score more than we did tonight,” said Epperly. “I think the games that you grind out, that are tough, physical games, almost taste a little better to you. You are proud that everyone manned up and at the end of the day, got done what we needed to do. That was a good win.”

It was good for Epperly to get back in action after having been sidelined due to injury for two of Princeton’s last three games.

“I try to come out and practice every day I can, regardless of what is going on with my body,” said Epperly.

“It is extremely important to me and especially to the seniors. We have put so much work into it. The only thing we are striving for right now is to come out next week and get another win.”

Junior DiAndre Atwater made a nice return from a three-game hiatus due to injury, rushing for a game-high 98 yards.

“It was a great feeling, I miss being out there with the guys,” said Atwater. “Just going out there everyday, I saw how hard they were working. I knew I wanted to get back out there with them and I wanted to contribute today.”

On the other side of the ball, sophomore defensive back Dorian Williams made a big contribution, returning a recovered fumble for 85 yards, getting an interception, and making a career-high 13 tackles.

“My job on the play is to stay outside contain; I saw the fumble so I bit on it,” said Williams, recalling his fumble return which gave Princeton the ball at the Penn 9 and set up a field goal.

“I am not sure who made the tackle but coach [Jim Salgado] stresses scoop and score so I just got it. I had blockers in front of me so I just ran with it.”

In the first half, Princeton ran out to an early 6-0 lead, courtesy of two field goals by junior kicker Nolan Bieck. He hit a career-long 46-yarder to put the Tigers up 3-0 with 10:40 left in the first quarter. He added a 21-yard boot two minutes later.

Epperly doubled the Princeton advantage to 12-0 as he scored on a one-yard plunge with 5:33 left in the quarter. Penn responded with a five-yard TD pass from Alek Torgersen to Connor Scott to make it a 12-7 game.

Princeton regained its 12-point cushion when Epperly found Connor Kelley on a one-yard TD pass as the Tigers went up 19-7. Penn added a field goal in the waning seconds of the quarter to narrow the gap to 19-10 at halftime.

The only scoring in the third quarter came on a  22-yard scoring strike from Torgersen to Justin Watson as the Quakers pulled to within 19-17.

Early in the fourth quarter, Bieck, who was later named the Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week, hit a 20-yard field goal to give the Tigers a 22-17 lead.

The Quakers responded by marching to the Princeton 27 where they were stopped on downs. The Tigers took over with 5:23 remaining and were able to run out the clock. The big play on the possession came when senior running back Will Powers bulled eight yards for a first down on a third and four at the Penn 47.

Powers, for his part, gave his all to gut out the first down. “The line got a good push and there was one guy in the hole and I knew we needed four or five yards,” said Powers.

“I just did what I had to do to get the first. I broke off the guy to get a few more yards.”

In Surace’s view, Powers’ effort exemplified the team’s battling spirit. “I think our team is a little more of an ugly team right now, we have to win that way where we are fighting each play,” said Surace.

“We want to score every drive. There is no doubt in my mind when we start a drive, that is the emphasis on offense. But the way we are doing it, we are struggling to get the explosive plays. We need to get those ugly first downs and keep the drives going. I thought we played the game the way we needed to.”

While Epperly likes the way Princeton has bounced back in winning two straight games since its 49-7 loss to Harvard on October 25, he believes the team’s ultimate legacy will be determined by how it does in its last two games as it plays at Yale on November 15 before hosting Dartmouth on November 22.

“We’ll see how we come out and finish the season and I think that will show how well we recovered,” said Epperly.

“When you go back and look at this year, these next two games are going to be a lot of how this season goes down in the books.”

MYLES TO GO: Princeton University men’s soccer player Myles McGinley, left, goes after a ball in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior midfielder/defender and tri-captain McGinley contributed an assist as Princeton edged Penn 3-2 to stay alive in the Ivy League title race. The Tigers moved to 10-3-3 overall and 4-1-1 Ivy with the win, remaining tied for first with Dartmouth (10-4-2 overall, 4-1-1 Ivy). Princeton wraps up regular season play with a game at Yale on November 15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MYLES TO GO: Princeton University men’s soccer player Myles McGinley, left, goes after a ball in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior midfielder/defender and tri-captain McGinley contributed an assist as Princeton edged Penn 3-2 to stay alive in the Ivy League title race. The Tigers moved to 10-3-3 overall and 4-1-1 Ivy with the win, remaining tied for first with Dartmouth (10-4-2 overall, 4-1-1 Ivy). Princeton wraps up regular season play with a game at Yale on November 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Myles McGinley relishes being a jack-of-all-trades for the Princeton University men’s soccer team.

“It is wherever the team needs me and I have prided myself on being a bit of a utility player,” senior midfielder/defender and tri-captain McGinley.

“I have done that my whole career. Since youth, I have played a lot of positions so it is nothing new for me. I am just happy to be on the field.”

McGinley’s final regular season game on the field at Robert Stadium last Saturday had a happy ending as Princeton edged Penn 3-2 to stay alive in the Ivy League title race as the Tigers moved to 10-3-3 overall and 4-1-1 Ivy, tied for first with Dartmouth (10-4-2 overall, 4-1-1 Ivy).

“There was a lot of nostalgia, I am pretty sad to see my last home game,” said McGinley, a 5’8, 160-pound native of Oakton, Va.

“We won, which is awesome. We really won for the two guys who are injured tonight, Andrew Mills and Joe Saitta. Mills is another captain and Saitta has been a guy in the back all season. We missed both of them but we are really happy to get the win.”

McGinley was involved in the first goal of the evening, picking up an assist on a tally by classmate Cameron Porter.

“I nicked it off of a guy who was under pressure and passed it to McSherry, who did a brilliant one-touch to Cam, who beat the keeper from a pretty tight angle,” said McGinley, who now has a team-high five assists on the season. “We were off to the races from there.”

Although Princeton raced out to a 3-1 lead, the Quakers got a late first half goal to turn the contest into a nail-biter.

“They play with three guys up top and their dangerous plays came from a forward dropping back into the midfield which we were having trouble picking up,” said McGinley.

“In the second half I dropped back a little more and paid attention to their forward dropping into the midfield and we neutralized it from there.”

With the win extending Princeton’s unbeaten streak to 7-0-1, McGinley feels that the squad has been displaying a sense of urgency.

“I think it is just a mentality among the guys,” said McGinley. “Since the loss to Dartmouth, we have had the mentality that the next game could be our last real one. We have had some really good leadership, not just from the seniors but throughout all of the classes. We have really been able to keep that mentality going, it is awesome. I think that is really the key to our success so far.”

Princeton head coach Jim Barlow credits the team’s seniors with setting a winning tone.

“It is a big class,” said Barlow, whose Class of 2015 includes Julian Griggs, Alex Wettermann, Samuel Suskind, Cole McCracken, and A.J. Swoboda in addition to Mills, Saitta, Porter, and McGinley.

“We have got guys who have dealt with injuries over the years, we have walk-ons in that class. They have found a way to all provide very good leadership. Whether on the field, on the reserve team, or injured, the whole group has found a way to keep the team together. We got off to a rocky start and we had a bunch of injuries early but the senior class did a good job of keeping things together.”

The Tigers held things together as they thwarted a dangerous Penn squad over the last 45 minutes of the contest. “At halftime, you got the feeling that the game was going to be 9-8 or something like that. I thought we did a pretty good job of getting it settled down in the second half,” said Barlow.

“We don’t play many teams whose attacking guys are as dangerous and crafty as Penn’s. All three of the attacking guys, Alec Neumann, Duke Lacroix, and Forrest Clancy, are very clever, good players and can make things happen. I thought our guys did a good job of dealing with their major threats in the second half.”

Barlow thought McGinley did a good job of dealing with a last-minute position switch.

“Myles was scheduled to be the right back today until Mills went down in warmup and then we had to throw him in the midfield, which is something he wasn’t even expecting,” said Barlow. “I thought he did a very good job.”

McGinley’s mentality reflects the qualities that have helped Princeton produce its late surge.

“We think this team has the mentality and attitude to deal with adversity and stick together and have the belief that we are going to find a way,” said Barlow.

“It helps when you have guys who can make goals out of nothing. Cam is one of those guys and Thomas Sanner can score. Nico Hurtado had a great goal today. In that way, it is a special group and we are hoping that we can keep it going a while longer.”

With the Tigers wrapping up regular season play at Yale (1-12-3 overall, 0-5-1 Ivy) on November 15, Barlow hopes that won’t be Princeton’s last game.

“We feel at this point that we control our own destiny,” said Barlow. “If we win, we are co-champs at worst with Dartmouth. I would hope we would be in good shape for an at-large bid. You just don’t know what the committee is going to do. If you had asked at the start of the year, I would have said that 10 wins would have been enough.”

McGinley, for his part, isn’t ready for his senior season to end. “I think it is every senior’s dream to win it going out and we have, in my opinion, quite a talented class,” said McGinley.

“To not get any sort of silverware or not get any tangible results in our four years would be a shame so we are hoping to beat Yale and take a share of the Ivy League, if not win it outright. Hopefully the other two teams in contention will drop points next week. It is in our hands and hopefully we will get a bid to the tournament.”

RALLYING POINT: Princeton University women’s hockey player Ali Pankowski thwarts a foe’s shot in a game last season. Last Friday, senior defenseman and co-captain Pankowski scored the game-tying goal in the third period as Princeton rallied from a 3-0 deficit to edge Rochester Institute of Technology 4-3 in overtime. The Tigers, now 4-1-1 overall, host Union on November 14 and Rensselaer on November 15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RALLYING POINT: Princeton University women’s hockey player Ali Pankowski thwarts a foe’s shot in a game last season. Last Friday, senior defenseman and co-captain Pankowski scored the game-tying goal in the third period as Princeton rallied from a 3-0 deficit to edge Rochester Institute of Technology 4-3 in overtime. The Tigers, now 4-1-1 overall, host Union on November 14 and Rensselaer on November 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Princeton University women’s hockey team trailing Rochester Institute of Technology 3-0 after the first period last Friday, Ali Pankowski decided to speak up in the Tiger dressing room at the first intermission.

“There was a lot of negativity, everyone came in the locker room upset,” said senior defenseman and co-captain Pankowski.

“It is my job as a captain to stifle it so we turned it around in the locker room and the tone totally changed.”

The Tigers scored two unanswered goals in the second period to get back into the game and then Pankowski added a tally early in the third period on a power play goal to make it 3-3.

“We have been working on that power play,” said Pankowski, reflecting on her goal. “In the second intermission, I told Molly [Contini] that pass back to me is open for the one timer and it came through.”

After the game went into overtime with the teams knotted in a 3-3 deadlock through regulation, Princeton came through as sophomore Morgan Sly notched her first career goal to give the Tigers a 4-3 victory.

In Pankowski’s view, the comeback win reflects Princeton’s work ethic. “We work hard, and we want it really bad,” said Pankowski. “We might not be a team of big names, we don’t have a bunch of national team players. We are a bunch of hard workers, we play our systems and we come out and try and play every period as hard as we can.”

A renewed commitment to conditioning has helped Princeton play hard to the final buzzer.

“We have a lot of buy-in this year, coach says this is what we are going to do and that’s what we do,” said Pankowski.

“We go to the weight room twice a week. A lot of us hit the weight room really hard this summer to come back as strong as we could. We have done more cardio and long distance running this year, just trying to cross train and be the best athletes we can be.”

In looking to be the best defenseman she can be, Pankowski has focused on the fine points of her position.

“I have been working on my footwork and getting quick in the corners,” said Pankowski, a 5’10 native of Laguna Hills, Calif., who has two goals and an assist so far this season.

“My shot has always been my strength. I am working on staying out of the box. I think I have the least amount of penalties that I have had so far in a season. It is just being smart and knowing what to do when the play moves forward.”

As a co-captain, along with classmate Brianna Leahy, Pankowski is looking to be a strong leader for the Tigers.

“It is a lot of responsibility,” said Pankowski. “I really have to lead by example and come out every day ready to play. If I am not ready to play, it probably means that the rest of the team is not ready to play so it is trying to set the tone early.”

Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal didn’t like the way his team came out to play on Friday.

“It was a really lousy start, a focus for us is to be consistent for 60 minutes,” said Kampersal. “If we are focused and intense and make mistakes, they are livable but to be lazy and get walked around, that is not acceptable.”

Kampersal was heartened by the focus he saw from his players over the rest of the contest.

“We turned it around in the next 45 minutes and I thought we played great,” said Kampersal.

“We had a bunch of chances to score. RIT is a solid team, they are well- coached. Their power play is like tic-tac-toe. They scored in five seconds on that first power play in the first period. We defended a little bit better as we went.”

Kampersal credits Pankowski and fellow senior Brianne Mahoney with leading the team’s defensive unit.

“She and Mahoney have been great in the back, they have logged in a lot of minutes,” said Kampersal, whose defense stood tall on Saturday as the Tigers and RIT skated to a scoreless tie as Princeton moved to 4-1-1 overall.

“It is tough. We have to monitor their minutes but they are also really necessary to be on the ice so it is a hard balance. They have both been great.”

In Kampersal’s view, the mental toughness the team showed in topping RIT will make it hard to beat.

“It is huge to be down three and not give up,” said Kampersal, whose team hosts Union on November 14 and Rensselaer on November 15.

“In years past we could easily pack it in. Last year, we had a game where we  were down 5-0 to Cornell after the first and scored four goals in the next period. That was the first start of our fightback ability, that we are not going to just fold, and showing we can be tough.”

Pankowski, for her part, likes Princeton’s blend of talent and character. “We have a lot more depth than we have had in the past, we have four lines that we can put out there and seven defensemen,” said Pankowski.

“Really having depth has helped a lot. Also, having the knowledge that if you come out in that first period and don’t do so well, you can come back to the locker room, reset, and come back out there and play as hard as you can. It is a really resilient team.”

November 5, 2014
POWERFUL RESPONSE: Princeton University running back Will Powers heads upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, senior standout Powers rushed for a team-high 83 yards as Princeton topped Cornell 38-27. Princeton, now 4-3 overall and 3-1 Ivy League, hosts Penn (1-6 overall, 1-3 Ivy) on November 8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

POWERFUL RESPONSE: Princeton University running back Will Powers heads upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, senior standout Powers rushed for a team-high 83 yards as Princeton topped Cornell 38-27. Princeton, now 4-3 overall and 3-1 Ivy League, hosts Penn (1-6 overall, 1-3 Ivy) on November 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Bob Surace sensed that his Princeton University football team was in the right frame of mind when the players complained vociferously about some unfavorable officiating calls at Cornell last Saturday.

“The big word this week was passion,” said Princeton head coach Surace, whose team was coming off a deflating 49-7 loss to Harvard on October 25.

“We didn’t want to ignore the technical things but it was let’s see guys flying around the field and enjoying themselves. The guys were hooting and hollering when Dre Nelson’s 50-yard kickoff return was called back on a penalty and we didn’t get an interception because they said the Cornell quarterback’s knee was on the ground.”

Channelling that passion into some good execution, Princeton posted a 38-27 win over the Big Red before 5,313 at Schoellkopf Field, improving to 4-3 overall and 3-1 Ivy League.

While the Tigers sputtered in the early going, things clicked as the game went on.

“We got rolling from the the mid-first quarter to the fourth quarter,” said Surace. “We executed well in all three sides of the game.”

Senior quarterback Connor Michelsen executed superbly, hitting 23-of-33 passes for 281 yards and a career-high four touchdowns.

“He has a strong arm, we got the ball downfield to Trevor Osborne, Connor Kelley, and Scott Carpenter,” said Surace of Michelsen.

“As good as that was, I liked the way he handled things play to play. He scrambled when reads broke down and he hit his checkdowns. He showed a general maturation as a quarterback. You want a QB to be an extension of the coach and execute the plays well.”

Senior receiver Kelley played the game of his career, making a personal-best 13 catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns.

“We have had a few injuries at the wide receiver position; we wanted to do some things and get him the ball in different ways,” said Surace.

“When [Matt] Costello went down, that added to his plate. He was exceptional, he ran the ball hard and finished plays. It seemed like every catch gave us a first down.”

Princeton drew first blood as it took a 3-0 lead on a 36-yard field goal by Nolan Bieck late in the first quarter.

After Cornell forged ahead 7-3 early in the second quarter on a halfback option touchdown pass from Luke Hagy to Ben Rogers, Michelsen started clicking. He found Dre Nelson on a three-yard touchdown pass to put Princeton up 10-7. Minutes later, he connected with Carpenter for a 16-yard scoring strike as the Tigers increased their advantage to 17-7.

The Big Red narrowed the gap to 17-14 at halftime as quarterback Robert Somborn hit Lucas Shapiro on a five-yard TD pass.

The third quarter turned into the Connor Kelley show. In the first minute of the quarter, he hauled in a 21-yard touchdown pass from Michelsen as Princeton took a 24-14 lead. With just seconds left in the quarter, he made a 28-yard scoring reception to give the Tigers a 31-14 cushion heading into the last 15 minutes of regulation.

Cornell made it a 31-21 game when Somborn found Shapiro for a 10-yard TD play. The Tigers responded with an 11-play, 78-yard march that culminated with a two-yard touchdown run by Kedric Bostic. The Big Red added a late TD on a 6-yard run by Hagy and got the ball back on an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff.  Princeton held the Big Red on downs and was able to run out the clock.

Although the defense yielded 447 yards, Surace liked what he saw on that side of the ball.

“We forced some turnover opportunities early,” said Surace, noting that the Tigers had one interception called back and had a sack/fumble where it didn’t get the ball along with an Anthony Gaffney interception.

“We still have to tighten up some things. We need to be tighter in coverage. We didn’t generate a pass rush in the fourth quarter after doing that well in the first three. Overall, we did a number of good things.”

It was a good thing for Princeton to pull away from Cornell in Ithaca, where it had lost seven times in its last nine games.

“The objective is to score more than the other team,” said Surace. “It was good to see us come out and play as hard as we did and finish it off the way we did. We have struggled up there, I think I read that the last nine games there were within a TD so it was good to come out and win like we did.”

Princeton will be looking for another win to keep pace with Ivy leader Harvard (7-0 overall, 4-0 Ivy) as it hosts Penn (1-6 overall, 1-3 Ivy) on November 8.

“It is not the record you expect from a Penn team, they play a brutal non-conference schedule with teams like Villanova and Fordham,” said Surace.

“They have had some heartbreakers. You watch them and they are the tough, physical Penn team you are used to. They throw the ball more. They get the ball down the field, they are the most explosive Penn team we have seen. We have to come ready to go. When the guys come out on Tuesday, they won’t be thinking this is a one-win Penn team, they will be thinking it is a tough, physical team that played Brown to the last play and had a tough, physical loss to Dartmouth.”

GETTING IT DONE: Princeton University women’s hockey player Jaimie McDonell goes after the puck in action last season. Junior forward McDonell has contributed five points on one goal and four assists this season to help Princeton get off to a promising start this season. Last Saturday, McDonell contributed two assists as the Tigers beat Colgate 4-2 to improve to 3-1 overall and 2-0 ECAC Hockey. Princeton hosts a two-game set against Rochester Institute of Technology (5-3-2 overall) this weekend with games slated for November 7 and 8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GETTING IT DONE: Princeton University women’s hockey player Jaimie McDonell goes after the puck in action last season. Junior forward McDonell has contributed five points on one goal and four assists this season to help Princeton get off to a promising start this season. Last Saturday, McDonell contributed two assists as the Tigers beat Colgate 4-2 to improve to 3-1 overall and 2-0 ECAC Hockey. Princeton hosts a two-game set against Rochester Institute of Technology (5-3-2 overall) this weekend with games slated for November 7 and 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Unsettled by some travel issues, the Princeton University women’s hockey team lost its way early in its season opener at Penn State on October 26.

The Tigers surrendered two first period goals on the way to a 2-1 defeat. “We didn’t start sharp and we paid for it,” said Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal, noting that the team had problems finding accommodations due to a scarcity of hotel rooms in the area resulting from Penn State’s home football game against Ohio State that weekend. “They play a disciplined system and caught us in traps and neutralized our speed.”

The Tigers got up to speed from there, outplaying Penn State in the latter stages of the opener and then posting a 4-1 win over the Nittany Lions in the final game of the two-game set. “I thought we played well the next five periods,” said Kampersal. “We played really well on Monday and possessed the puck.”

Last weekend, the Tigers played really well, opening up its ECAC Hockey campaign by beating Cornell 5-4 on Friday and then topping Colgate 4-2 the next day.

“We were going into Cornell where we finished the ECAC season last year,” said Kampersal, who got goals from Fiona McKenna, Molly Contini, Audrey Potts, Kiersten Falck, and Ali Pankowski in the win over the Big Red.

“We got out to a good start. We had three really good minutes in the second period. They play aggressively and we took advantage of some 2-on-1 situations.”

In the victory over Colgate, the Tigers exorcised some demons. “We were 1-4-1 at Colgate our last six years, it is a place where we haven’t played well in a while and we made that point to the girls,” said Kampersal, who got two goals from Molly Contini in the triumph with Cristin Shanahan and Kelsey Koelzer adding one apiece and Jaimie McDonell picking up two assists. “We won the opening face-off and got the puck deep and I knew it was going to be a good first period. We kept playing well.”

The pair of Contini and McDonell have been triggering the Princeton offense in the early going.

“Contini had a wraparound and finished on an entry play we have been working on,” said Kampersal, reflecting on the sophomore’s tallies against Colgate.

“She almost had a third one; she has a knack for finishing the puck. Molly is picking up where she left off freshman year. Jaimie has been our best overall player, she sets the tone.”

On defense, sophomore defenseman Koelzer and junior goalie Kimberly Newell have been leading the way.

“Kelsey has been great in the back, she should be under consideration for ECACH Player of the Week,” asserted Kampersal of Koelzer, who leads Princeton in scoring with seven points on a goal and six assists.

“Kimberly had different forwards thrown at her last weekend and was up to the task. She was smothering things down low and played big.”

Kampersal is hoping his team keeps playing well as it hosts the Rochester Institute of Technology (5-3-2 overall) this weekend with games slated for November 7 and 8.

“RIT plays quick and aggressive,” said Kampersal. “We are in that mode after playing Cornell and Colgate. We have that pace going.”

For the Princeton University men’s hockey team, it was a fresh start in more ways than one as the Tigers opened the season by playing Yale last Friday in the Liberty Hockey Invitational at the Prudential Center in Newark.

First, it was the dawn of a new era for the program as head coach Ron Fogarty made his debut behind the bench for the Tigers.

“It is great to be part of Princeton as a head coach, I am very honored to be in that role,” said Fogarty, reflecting on his first game at the helm of the program as he replaces Bob Prier.

On the ice, the team’s corp of freshmen made a good first impression as the Tigers battled Yale to a 2-2 tie through overtime before losing in a shootout as the Bulldogs advanced to the title game of the event. Newcomers David Hallisey and Eric Robinson accounted for both Princeton goals while fellow freshmen Matt Nelson and Joe Grabowski picked up assists.

“The freshmen did a great job, they were all over the ice for us,” said Fogarty.

“Eric Robinson had a great weekend, every time he was on the ice, good things happened for us. Yale scored first and we quickly responded as David Hallisey got his first career goal.”

Another young Tiger, sophomore goalie Colton Phinney, came up big, making 45 saves on the evening.

“Colton was called on in the second period when they had some power plays,” said Fogarty.

“He made some big saves and we were able to take a 2-1 lead into the third period We held them to four shots in the third but gave up a goal on a quick breakout and that cost us the win.”

While Princeton ended up falling 6-1 to Merrimack in the third-place game on Sunday, Fogarty wasn’t fazed by the result.

“We had four or five breakdowns, it was just a few small mistakes,” said Fogarty, who got a goal from another freshman in the loss as Ryan Berlin found the back of the net.

“We are not that far away. We told them not to quit, it is a 60-minute game. We sagged a little when we got down 2-0; we just have to refocus. I liked how we responded in the third period.”

Senior Tucker Brockett showed good focus for the Tigers. “Tucker Brockett played well; he gave us some solid work,” said Fogarty.

“We asked him to play a lot of minutes. He wasn’t on the score sheet but he did a lot of things on the penalty kill and in the 5-on-5 for us.”

Fogarty saw plenty of good things as he assessed the weekend. “Overall it is great to have 125 minutes of tape and see where we are at,” said Fogarty.

“We need to solidify strengths and shore up weaknesses. We had some good support in the d-zone. I love the energy and the togetherness of the team even when we were down to Merrimack. There is a desire to get better.”

With Princeton opening ECAC Hockey action by hosting Cornell (0-1-1 overall) on November 7 and Colgate (6-2 overall) the next day, Fogarty knows that his team has to get better to break into the win column.

“We want to make sure we keep working on ourselves,” said Fogarty. “We are not going to show a lot of tape of other teams to them. We will go over key points. We want to keep supporting the puck in the defensive zone. We didn’t get a lot of sustained pressure in the offensive zone. Most of our chances came on breakouts. We need to reload and keep the puck in the offensive zone.”

October 29, 2014
COMING ON: Princeton University men’s soccer player Brendan ­McSherry, left, comes after a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, junior midfielder and former Peddie School standout McSherry contributed a goal and an assist as the Tigers edged Harvard 3-2. The Tigers, who are 4-0-1 in their last five games, improved to 7-3-3 overall and 2-1-1 Ivy League with the win. Princeton plays at Cornell (9-4-1 overall, 2-2 Ivy) on November 1.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

COMING ON: Princeton University men’s soccer player Brendan ­McSherry, left, comes after a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, junior midfielder and former Peddie School standout McSherry contributed a goal and an assist as the Tigers edged Harvard 3-2. The Tigers, who are 4-0-1 in their last five games, improved to 7-3-3 overall and 2-1-1 Ivy League with the win. Princeton plays at Cornell (9-4-1 overall, 2-2 Ivy) on November 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After starting the first 12 games of the season, Brendan McSherry found himself on the bench for the Princeton University men’s soccer team as it hosted Harvard last Saturday evening.

With the junior star midfielder and former Peddie School standout bothered by a nagging ankle injury, the Princeton coaches weren’t sure how much he could help the Tigers in the vital Ivy League clash.

But at the 17-minute mark, McSherry entered the fray and immediately made his presence felt in the midfield. Late in the half, McSherry looked perfectly healthy as he lofted a free kick into the top corner to give Princeton a 1-0 lead.

“The goalie was off on the back post and they didn’t have too many guys on the wall,” said McSherry, recalling his tally.

“I thought I could dip it over the wall and beat the keeper and that worked out.”

Princeton had to put in some extra work as it went down one man minutes later when junior star Thomas Sanner was sent off on a red card. Undeterred, the Tigers took a 2-0 lead late in the first half on a penalty kick by Cameron Porter. Early in the second half, senior star Porter struck again as he scored to make it 3-0. From there, Princeton hung on for dear life as Harvard scored two unanswered goals.

In the end, McSherry left the field with his hands raised in triumph as the Tigers pulled out a 3-2 thriller, improving to 7-3-3 overall and 2-1-1 Ivy League.

“It was a classic Ivy League game, two teams battling it out,” said McSherry, who was credited with an assist on Porter’s second goal.

“It was really intense with the nerves and everything. It was not as sharp as we would all hope but it was just a great effort all around.”

Princeton produced a superb effort offensively, generating offense despite being shorthanded.

“You think that we would be defending for our lives,” said McSherry. “We managed to score two more goals a man down, which is really impressive. It shows a lot of character out of our attack and out of our guys.

The Tigers showed character in holding off a Crimson team that came into the game riding an 8-0-1 unbeaten streak with a 2-0-1 record in Ivy play.

“We get that third goal and at that point we just have to defend,” said McSherry.

“It was a little nerve-wracking. I am really proud of the guys that we pulled that one out.”

The win extended an unbeaten streak for Princeton, who is 4-0-1 in its last five outings.

“We are playing well, we are moving the ball around,” asserted McSherry.

“We are confident and that’s a big key, being confident going into these games.”

McSherry, for his part, has gained a lot of confidence with two seasons at Princeton under his belt.

“I think college soccer as a whole is an adjustment, the more you play, you just get used to it,” said the 5’9, 160-pound McSherry, a Freehold native who now has two goals and three assists this season. “It is more physical, it is faster. I think I am slowly adjusting.”

In assessing his role on the Tigers, McSherry looks to bring speed and skill to the midfield.

“I think they have thrown me in there to generate some chances and set other guys up,” said McSherry.

“I am not the most natural goal scorer but I am good at setting other guys up and they just want me to be hard to play against in the midfield, defensively as well.”

Princeton head coach Jim Barlow acknowledged that losing Sanner made things hard for his squad.

“The thing that is different about it is losing a guy midway through the first half,” said Barlow.

“You have a lead at that point so we knew we had to keep ourselves organized and keep things tight but the guys responded with so much energy that we went out and got two more goals. We knew at some point that Harvard was going to come at us and throw a lot of numbers forward. Fortunately, we were able to hang on and the clock ran out.”

Barlow was surprised at how much energy he got from the gimpy McSherry.

“He wasn’t even going to play tonight,” said Barlow. “He didn’t train yesterday, he couldn’t kick a ball yesterday. His ankle was killing him from an injury in training. We didn’t start him because we didn’t think he would be able to give us much tonight and he wound up being great. He had a great goal to get things started.”

The Tigers got great contributions from a number of players, including senior striker Porter and sophomore midfielder Brian Costa.

“Porter was clutch,” said Barlow of Porter, who was later named the Ivy League Player of the Week. “Brian Costa had another good effort in a game that required so much defending.”

Princeton’s clutch win kept it alive in the Ivy title hunt as it locked in a three-way tie for second with Penn (6-6-1 overall, 2-1-1 Ivy) and Harvard (8-4-1 overall, 2-1-1 Ivy) behind frontrunner Dartmouth (8-4-1 overall, 3-1 Ivy).

“We are still in the hunt; we knew if we lost tonight we were out of the race,” said Barlow, whose team plays at Cornell (9-4-1 overall, 2-2 Ivy) on November 1.

“It says a lot about how much these guys put into it. They knew it was a really, really important game and they responded.”

McSherry, for his part, believes that Princeton has a lot going for it.

“We are excited about where we sit in the Ivy League,” said McSherry. “I think looking past the Ivy League we are excited about where we stand in the overall picture.”

CAUGHT IN A BIND: Princeton University receiver Matt Costello makes a catch in recent action. Last Saturday, senior star ­Costello had a game-high eight catches but it wasn’t nearly enough as Princeton fell 49-7 to Harvard. The Tigers, now 3-3 overall and 2-1 Ivy League, will look to regroup when they play at Cornell (0-6 overall, 0-3 Ivy) on November 1.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CAUGHT IN A BIND: Princeton University receiver Matt Costello makes a catch in recent action. Last Saturday, senior star ­Costello had a game-high eight catches but it wasn’t nearly enough as Princeton fell 49-7 to Harvard. The Tigers, now 3-3 overall and 2-1 Ivy League, will look to regroup when they play at Cornell (0-6 overall, 0-3 Ivy) on November 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the third straight season, the Princeton University football team scored a touchdown in the waning seconds of its annual showdown against Harvard.

The last two years, those touchdowns came on circus catches by Princeton star receiver Roman Wilson ’14 and they provided the margin of victory in two famous triumphs over the Crimson.

Last Saturday, when the Tigers scored on a two-yard TD run by Joe Rhattigan with 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter, it was meaningless window dressing that prevented a shutout as Harvard rolled to a 49-7 victory over Princeton before 12,164 at Princeton Stadium.

A grim Princeton head coach Bob Surace didn’t mince words as he assessed the damage afterward.

“There are not a lot of positives when you look at the stat sheet,” said Surace whose team was outgained 698 yards to 244 in dropping to 3-3 overall and 2-1 Ivy League.

“We are going to have to find our way and come back tomorrow and move forward. That is what you have to do in life and it is what we have to do in sports. I am very confident that the leaders on the team will do that and we’ll come back and we will find a way to be a better team and better coaches. I am confident of myself and my coaching staff will do the same thing. Our butts are going to be sore because they got kicked.”

Senior running back Will Powers and his teammates had the sense early on that they had run into a buzz-saw in Harvard, which improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 Ivy with the victory.

“We could tell that we were in a dogfight from the very beginning, they were a very physical team,” said Powers, who was Princeton’s leading rusher in the defeat with 26 yards on six carries.

“They just out-physicaled us today and exposed some weaknesses. It is something we are going to remember but we will move forward and start working tomorrow.”

Senior quarterback and co-captain Quinn Epperly acknowledged that the Tiger offense misfired all afternoon.

“We couldn’t get anything going in the running game, we didn’t make any big plays in the passing game,” said Epperly, who went 12-of-20 passing for 66 yards. “Hats off to their defense as a whole for the fact that they did stop us.”

The Princeton defense, meanwhile, couldn’t slow the Crimson juggernaut.

“They are good,” said senior linebacker and co-captain Mike Zeuli. “We just needed to play more physical and get in our gaps but we didn’t and they were able to push us around and get some good runs.”

Princeton started getting pushed around in the first quarter as Harvard jumped out to a 7-0 lead after a 39-yard touchdown pass from Conner Hempel to Joseph Foster.

Hempel was a one-man wrecking crew in the second quarter, accounting for three touchdowns, one on a 49-yard aerial to Seitu Smith and two on scoring runs of one yard and 14 yards. Sparked by Hempel’s heroics, Harvard took a 28-0 lead into halftime.

Having rallied in its wins over Harvard in 2012 and 2013, there was no comeback for Princeton on Saturday. The Crimson got the lone score of the third quarter on a 33-yard run by Paul Stanton to extend their lead to 35-0.

In the fourth quarter, Hempel got his third TD pass of the afternoon, hitting Anthon Firkser on a 42-yard scoring strike as the lead increased to 42-0. Hempel’s back-up, Scott Hosch, got into the act as he found Matt Brown on a 10-yard touchdown pass to make it 49-0 midway through the fourth quarter.

Showing some pluck, Princeton did put together a 60-yard scoring march late in the quarter, culminating with the Rhattigan touchdown run.

Surace tipped his hat to Hempel, who hit on 35-of-31 passes for 382 yards and rushed for 52.

“Their quarterback player played terrifically,” said Surace. “I don’t remember one guy impacting a game against us like that, maybe the Lehigh receiver (Ryan Spadola) a couple of years ago. It was probably one of the two finest performances against us.”

To compound matters, it was also a Murphy’s Law kind of day for the Tigers.

“It just seemed that whatever it is, everything that could have went wrong, went wrong and it went wrong against a team that was going to make you pay for every mistake,” lamented Surace.

“Our margin for error is a lot slimmer. It is probably slimmer right now than any time I have been here just because we do have to grind out drives more than we ever had.”

Epperly, for his part, vowed that the Tigers are going to keep grinding as they prepare to play at Cornell (0-6 overall, 0-3 Ivy) on November 1.

“We just have to work as hard as we can,” said Epperly. “As much as this one tastes bad, we have to move on. It is only one loss, there is still a season to play. I know the guys in the locker room are not going to back down and it is not going to be a quitting situation. We are going to come out and we are going to be ready to play down the road. You can just draw on the fact that we are going to fight. I think all you can do at this point is to come back and prepare as much as we can next week and just be ready for a fight next weekend.”

FRESH START: Princeton University men’s hockey player ­Jonathan Liau goes after the puck in game last season. Junior forward Liau and the Tigers will be seeing their first regular season action under new head coach Ron Fogarty this weekend when they head to the Prudential Center in Newark to take part in the Liberty Hockey Invitational. Princeton plays Yale on October 31 and will then face either UConn or Merrimack on November 2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FRESH START: Princeton University men’s hockey player ­Jonathan Liau goes after the puck in game last season. Junior forward Liau and the Tigers will be seeing their first regular season action under new head coach Ron Fogarty this weekend when they head to the Prudential Center in Newark to take part in the Liberty Hockey Invitational. Princeton plays Yale on October 31 and will then face either UConn or Merrimack on November 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ron Fogarty is not making any bold pronouncements or predictions as he prepares to start his first season at the helm of the Princeton University men’s hockey program.

With Princeton coming off a rough 6-26 campaign in 2013-14, Fogarty sees rebuilding morale as job one.

“Team cohesion, team chemistry, and team unity are the keys right now,” said Fogarty, the former head coach at Division III Adrian College in Michigan and the replacement for Bob Prier, who resigned in the spring after a three-year tenure at Princeton that saw him compile an overall record of 25-58-12.

“We have agreed on our mission and that is to get better every day and be prepared for the playoffs.”

So far in the preseason, Fogarty is seeing daily improvement. “It is good, we are progressing,” said Fogarty, who posted a 167-23-10 record in seven seasons at Adrian, guiding the Bulldogs to four appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament, advancing to the championship game in 2010-11.

“It is different for everybody, both players and coaches. We are seeing what each player brings and they are learning our systems. It is going to take some time for us to go from average to good to great. We haven’t had any competition against us so it is hard to know how things are working.”

The Tigers will get into regular season competition this weekend when they head to the Prudential Center in Newark to take part in the Liberty Hockey Invitational. Princeton plays Yale on October 31 and then will face either UConn or Merrimack on November 2.

“The players are looking forward to seeing a different color jersey,” said Fogarty. “They are eager to get started, they are enthusiastic.”

Fogarty is enthusiastic about his core of veterans, noting that junior forwards Mike Ambrosia (4 goals and 7 assists in 2013-14) and Kyle Rankin (3 goals and 3 assists) along with senior forward Tyler Maugeri  (5 goals and two assists) have made a good early impression as well as a pair of defensemen, sophomore Quin Pompi (3 assists) and junior Aaron Ave (3 goals and 6 assists).

“Mike Ambrosia is doing a good job, he is showing some chemistry with Kyle Rankin and Tyler Maugeri,” said Fogarty.

“On the other end, Aaron Ave and Quin Pompi have done well, they are picking things up.”

At goalie, sophomore Colton Phinney (3.56 goals against average and .901 save percentage in 18 games in 2013-14), freshman Ben Halford, and senior Ryan Benitez (4.80 goals against average in one game) have all done some good things in the preseason.

“Colton is looking solid,” said Fogarty. “Adding Halford is good, he is pushing him. Benitez is first on, last off the ice. I am not sure who we will be starting. It will sort itself out.”

The Tigers aren’t sure at this point what they are going to get out of their crew of freshmen.

“We’ll bring the freshmen along slowly and let the upperclassmen take them under their wing,” said Fogarty. “Eric Robinson is playing well, we will give him opportunities with a top line.”

The new coaching staff plans to give the players every opportunity for success.

“It is up to them, we are laying the tracks for them to be successful,” said Fogarty.

“Each player on the ice has to do his job and trust that the other four guys will also do their job. We want it to flow but it takes time to do that. They have to invest trust in the team.”

Fogarty acknowledges that it is going to take time for Princeton to rise up the ranks of ECAC Hockey.

“We are going to be patient,” said Fogarty. “We are indifferent to results at the outset, that is not going to impact how we prepare for each game. We are going to be a solid team that plays all 60 minutes and looks to eliminate mistakes.”

October 22, 2014
RELIEF PITCHER: Princeton University senior quarterback Connor Michelsen lofts a pass last Saturday against visiting Brown. Starting in place of injured classmate Quinn Epperly, Michelsen had a big day, hitting on 33-of-45 passes for 367 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers prevailed 27-16. Princeton, now 3-2 overall and 2-0 Ivy League, faces a critical league clash when it hosts Harvard (5-0 overall, 2-0 Ivy) on October 25.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RELIEF PITCHER: Princeton University senior quarterback Connor Michelsen lofts a pass last Saturday against visiting Brown. Starting in place of injured classmate Quinn Epperly, Michelsen had a big day, hitting on 33-of-45 passes for 367 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers prevailed 27-16. Princeton, now 3-2 overall and 2-0 Ivy League, faces a critical league clash when it hosts Harvard (5-0 overall, 2-0 Ivy) on October 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Over the past two seasons, Connor Michelson has become the understudy for Quinn Epperly at quarterback on the Princeton University football team.

The two seniors started last fall on equal footing but lefty Epperly emerged as a star, capturing Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year honors as Princeton shared the league title with Harvard.

Michelson, meanwhile, was relegated to a change of pace role in 2013, hitting on 73-of-129 passes for 757 yards while Epperly passed for 2,137 yards and rushed for 570.

The 6’0, 205-pound native of Plano, Texas has been utilized in the same capacity for the first four games this season, passing for 177 yards while Epperly had thrown for 800.

But last Saturday against visiting Brown, Michelson stepped into a leading role as Epperly was sidelined for the contest, due to being banged up after Princeton’s 31-30 loss to Colgate on October 11.

“When you get opportunities, you have to take advantage of them,” said Michelson.

“I was lucky, it was my first game to play the whole game by myself. Any time you get an opportunity, you have to execute.”

Michelsen proceeded to execute very well, hitting on 33-of-45 passes for 367 yards and two touchdowns as Princeton topped the Bears 27-16 before 5,807 at Princeton Stadium, improving to 3-2 overall and 2-0 Ivy League.

“I just felt good throwing the ball,” said Michelsen, who passed for 267 yards in the first half as the Tigers built a 24-6 lead.

“I had Seth [DeValve] out there which is nice. Anybody can throw balls to Seth and throw for a lot of yards. There were still a lot of throws that I missed and some mental errors, especially late in the game. They are unacceptable and you can’t win tight games with some of those missed throws and errors.”

DeValve, for his part, felt comfortable with Michelsen at the control of the Tiger offense.

“I have just as much confidence in Connor as I do in Quinn,” said DeValve. “Both of them have run this offense for a long time, they both bring different things to the table. When the guy at the time goes down, we have other guys who can play football and Connor can sling the ball. I was excited for him to be able to play, he played a helluva game.”

After missing the last three games due to injury, senior DeValve had a big game against Brown, making 10 receptions for 120 yards.

“It was a joy to be back, it was maybe the most fun game I have played in college,” said DeValve.

“When you are out, you realize what you really have and that you sometimes take it for granted. I was just really happy to be able to play today and go out and help my team win. I was very pleased to have the opportunity.”

Princeton head coach Bob Surace was pleased with the intensity his team showed from the start against Brown.

“I showed a clip yesterday of Muhammad Ali fighting Ernie Terrell, just about his identity, saying what’s my name,” said Surace.

“I thought our identity today was how physical we played. I told them in the locker room how proud I am of them. It was really fun to see, some of those effort plays on all three sides of the ball. The finishes were terrific. There are some execution things that we have to work on but when we play that hard, it is very gratifying to see.”

It was gratifying for Surace to see his team’s depth on display as the Tigers prevailed without leading rusher DiAndre Atwater, who was sidelined along with Epperly.

“Will Powers plays every week and it is next man up,” said Surace, referring to senior tailback Powers.

“When Seth is out, other guys had to step up. The beauty of our offense is that we have got a lot of guys playing on any given week. When we have some guys out, it tightens down just a little. Any time we give them any type of role, they just step up to the challenge. We didn’t have some big pow-wow and say my god DiAndre is out, Quinn is out, what are we going to do. Connor has played a lot of football and the football he has played this year, last year and the year before has been terrific so it is not like there is any panic. We just keep playing and it meant he played 70 plays instead of 30 or 40 plays.”

Michelsen started making big plays from the outset on Saturday, completing passes to Matt Costello and Powers to get the Tigers deep in Brown territory on their first possession. The 42-yard drive culminated with a 26-yard field goal by Nolan Bieck as the Tigers took an early 3-0 lead.

Hooking up with DeValve on four completions, Michelsen engineered another scoring march later in the first quarter. The drive went 80 yards and ended with a nine-yard touchdown run by Powers as Princeton increased its advantage to 10-0. The score marked the fourth straight game that Powers has rushed for a touchdown.

Minutes later, Michelsen hit Costello with a 49-yard scoring strike as the Tigers made it 17-0 with 2:14 left in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Michelsen found Costello again in the end zone as the pair combined on a 17-yard touchdown pass to put Princeton on top 24-0. Brown responded with field goals on successive possessions to cut the gap to 24-6 at halftime.

In the second half, the Bears went to the air repeatedly as quarterback Marcus Fuller put up 43 passes, giving him a school-record 71 attempts on the evening. He completed a total of 29 on the evening for 454 yards. Despite the aerial assault, Brown was only able to generate a third quarter field goal and a touchdown pass with 6:13 left in regulation.

The Tiger defense showed its mettle, utilizing a bend-but-not-break mentality to stall the Bears when they were knocking on the door, holding Brown to field goals for the most part.

“One of the things that we have had trouble with the first four games is the red zone defense,” said junior safety Matt Arends, who had eight tackles and two pass breakups in the contest.

“This week, we stepped up and I know that it was a huge confidence boost. Each time it happened, we felt the energy. I think that carried on throughout the entire game.”

Michelsen, for his part, kept chucking the ball. He found DeValve for a 31-yard completion in the third quarter that set up the final Princeton score of the day, a 26-yard field goal by Nolan Bieck with 2:56 left in the quarter.

With powerful Harvard (5-0 overall, 2-0 Ivy) coming to Princeton Stadium on October 25, Surace knows that his team has to display even more intensity and execution.

“We have got to clean some things up obviously,” said Surace. “We talked about getting ready starting tomorrow and we will do that. To play a Brown team, that is extremely tough and physical year in, year out, like that was fun to see.”

But no Tiger had more fun Saturday than Michelsen. “I am always comfortable when I get out into the game because I know the coaches trust me,” said Michelsen.

“You go out on the field with confidence and you play every game with confidence.”

BRINGING IT: Princeton University women’s hockey player ­Brianna Leahy goes after the puck in action last winter. Senior forward Leahy, Princeton’s leading returning scorer after tallying 8 goals and 13 assists last winter, figures to be a go-to player for the Tigers in 2014-15. Princeton starts regular season play this weekend with a two-game set at Penn State on October 26 and 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BRINGING IT: Princeton University women’s hockey player ­Brianna Leahy goes after the puck in action last winter. Senior forward Leahy, Princeton’s leading returning scorer after tallying 8 goals and 13 assists last winter, figures to be a go-to player for the Tigers in 2014-15. Princeton starts regular season play this weekend with a two-game set at Penn State on October 26 and 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In an effort to skate past its foes this winter, the Princeton University women’s hockey team is putting in some extra time on its dry land training in its preseason preparation.

“The kids are working hard,” said Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal, who guided the Tigers to a 14-13-4 record last winter and a spot in the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals.

“We are looking to build a good aerobic base so we have been having them do a lot of weight lifting and running in addition to what they are doing on the ice.”

The Tigers have also been putting in some good work on the ice so far in the preseason.

“We had our first full practice on October 10 and we had a scrimmage on October 11,” said Kampersal. “The scrimmage against McGill went better than I expected. We showed a good compete level.”

With the Tigers opening their regular season action by playing a two-game set at Penn State on October 26 and 27, the players are chomping at the bit to compete.

“They are looking forward to getting over preseason and getting into games,” said Kampersal, whose team topped Brown 4-0 last Saturday in its final scrimmage. “They are pushing each other, the seniors are leading on and off the ice.”

Princeton is looking for senior forward Brianna Leahy (8 goals and 13 assists in 2013-14) to lead the Tiger offense.

“We are expecting Bri to step up,” said Kampersal, a 1992 Princeton alum and former Tiger men’s hockey star who is in his 19th season at the helm of the program and has a record of 270-228-51.“She gets up and down the rink well. She is sneaky good on angles and can make explosive plays.”

A pair of juniors, Jaimie McDonell (6 goals, 9 assists) and Molly Contini, along with sophomores Audrey Potts, Cassidy Tucker (7 goals, 6 assists), Morgan Sly (1 assist), Hilary Lloyd (3 goals, 8 assists), and Fiona McKenna (4 goals, 2 assists) have the potential to make some big plays this winter for the Tigers.

“We expect Jaimie to be a solid all-around player for us; Molly is back and should do well,” said Kampersal.

“The whole sophomore class is looking good. I think the biggest improvement usually takes place in the summer between freshman and sophomore year. Kiersten Falck is the most ready of the freshmen; she is strong on her skates and has good hockey instincts.

The corps of defensemen features seniors Ali Pankowski (6 goals, 10 assists) and Brianne Mahoney (1 goal, 2 assists) along with sophomores Kelsey Koelzer (6 goals, 4 assists,  and Molly Strabley (3 assists).

“Ali has had a good career, she has a heavy shot from the blue line and is good in the offensive zone,” said Kampersal, noting that he is still figuring out his pairings along the blue line.

“Bri is a really good skater and sees the ice well. We moved Kelsey Koelzer to defense and she played well in the McGill scrimmage; it looks like she may be tailor made for that. Strabley is coming back from shoulder surgery. She is almost at full speed. We will see how the freshmen (Hannah Sorkin and Emily Achterkirch) fit in.”

Junior goalie Kimberly Newell (2.74 goals against average and .906 save percentage in 2013-14) figures to be particularly sharp after competing with Canada’s national team this September at its 2014 Fall Festival.

“Any time you play for your country it is an honor; each time she plays with them she learns something new,” said Kampersal, whose back-up goalies are senior Ashley Holt (1.66 goals against average, .934 save percentage) and freshman Alysia DaSilva.

“It helps to be going against the best players in the world; she will come back even better. We are looking for her to be consistent in each practice and game. She has been looking good in practice so far.”

Kampersal is looking for his players to show consistency and grit collectively this winter.

“The mantra is to compete for 60 minutes and make good hockey plays,” said Kampersal.

“I think we have to stay out of the penalty box and when we get opportunities on the power play, we need to be a 20 percent team. We need to do the little things on the ice, like blocking shots.”

Starting the season on the road should be a positive thing for the Tigers as they look to develop some early chemistry.

“It will be good to be on the road; we haven’t done that with this group yet,” said Kampersal.

“It is a great rink, Penn State will have six games under its belt so it will be interesting.”

ON TARGET: Princeton University field hockey player Ryan ­McCarthy makes a hit in a recent game. Last Saturday, freshman striker McCarthy scored two goals to help Princeton beat Brown 4-0. The Tigers, now 4-9 overall and 3-1 Ivy League, host Harvard (5-5 overall, 2-2 Ivy) on October 25.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON TARGET: Princeton University field hockey player Ryan ­McCarthy makes a hit in a recent game. Last Saturday, freshman striker McCarthy scored two goals to help Princeton beat Brown 4-0. The Tigers, now 4-9 overall and 3-1 Ivy League, host Harvard (5-5 overall, 2-2 Ivy) on October 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ryan McCarthy had the sense that she would be a good fit for the Princeton University field hockey program.

“I am the third Oak Knoll player in the past few years to play here,” said McCarthy, a resident of Madison, N.J.

“There was Michelle Cesan and now there is Teresa Benvenuti. I just knew that this was the school for me, visiting here, meeting the team and the coaches, it is a special place.”

Those previous Oak Knoll standouts have made a big impact for the Tigers. Cesan, a four-time All-American, helped Princeton win the 2012 NCAA title and graduated in 2014 with 44 goals. Benvenuti, currently a star junior midfielder, has earned All-Ivy League honors in her first two seasons for the Tigers.

McCarthy is following in those footsteps, emerging as a bright spot as Princeton has struggled in the early going.

Last Saturday, striker McCarthy scored two goals to help Princeton top Brown 4-0 and improve to 4-9 overall and 3-1 Ivy.

Coming off of an 8-1 loss to No. 2 Maryland on October 15, McCarthy and the Tigers were determined to get back on the right track against Brown.

“We were fired up, Kristen told us to treat this like it is the most important game of the season,” said McCarthy. “All the Ivy games are important to us. We need to get that good record to win the title.”

The Tigers came out fired up against Brown as Allison Evans scored with 27:19 left in the first half and then McCarthy added a second tally 25 minutes later.

“Getting those two goals really pumped us up and got us fired up for the second half,” said McCarthy.

In reflecting on her tally, McCarthy said it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

“It was a lot of commotion in the circle,” said McCarthy. “My teammates did all the work and I tapped it in.”

Princeton did some good work in the second half, pulling away from the Bears as McCarthy scored at the 36:17 mark and Evans scored four minutes later.

“We sort of calmed down and were composed for the second half,” said McCarthy. “We were excited to get out there and finish it off.”

On her second goal, McCarthy was excited to take advantage of another good feed. “It was a great pass from Sydney and I just finished it,” said McCarthy.

With 13 games under her belt in her college career, McCarthy is calming down on the field.

“I think getting used to the transition and the speed was a challenge,” said McCarthy, who now has five goals, tied with senior Sydney Kirby for the second-most on the team. “The team really helped all the freshmen get into it and get excited.”

Princeton University head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn was excited to see her team’s hard work pay off against Brown.

“They have been training really well,” said Holmes-Winn. “They need to trust that and bring the same level of intensity that they exhibit in the training environment and apply that on game day.”

Princeton showed intensity from the start of the game on Saturday. “It was really good,” said Holmes-Winn.

“Brown is a good team, they know how to hang around so we knew that if we had opportunities we had to find ways to capitalize and we did. We had lots of shots.”

Senior star Evans was due to cash in some opportunities, having scored only two goals on the season before Saturday.

“That was so good for her and they were great goals,” said Holmes-Winn.

“I think personally that she needed that. She has been getting some good balls, it has just been one of those things so we have been working on trying to get her the ball in better spots on the field here so she can use her hits.”

McCarthy has been giving Princeton a lot of good things. “Ryan is all over the field,” said Holmes-Winn.

“She looks dangerous, she gets a lot of touches and she creates a lot. She is starting to find ways to combine a little bit more effectively and picking those moments of when do I take it on and when do I create for someone else. She is making better decisions there.”

While the Tigers have dealt with some tough moments this fall, Holmes-Winn believes better days are ahead for her squad.

“We are a good team; we played a lot of really good teams and there were a bunch of overtimes so we are close,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We haven’t been able to do enough to create and have those lucky moments turn in our favor. I tell the girls I don’t believe in luck, it is what we do every single day and the choices that we make.”

With Princeton locked in a four-way tie for first in the Ivies with Columbia, Cornell, and Dartmouth, the Tigers have a big day coming up this Saturday as they host Harvard (5-5 overall, 2-2 Ivy).

“I think we just have to stay the course and be smarter,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We have looked pretty critically at where we are turning the ball over and how we are turning the ball over and making sure that we are shoring that up.”

McCarthy, for her part, knows that Princeton must stay on the ball if it is going to emerge as the Ivy champion.

“This was a confidence builder for the whole team,” said McCarthy. “We just need to keep up the hard work and keep our confidence going. We have to stay composed in all of the games.”

October 16, 2014
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GOAL RUSH: Princeton University women’s soccer player Tyler Lussi chases after the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, sophomore forward Lussi notched her first college hat trick, helping Princeton beat Brown 5-0 as the Tigers improved to 4-3-3 overall and 2-0-1 Ivy League. Lussi, who has eight goals in her last four games, was later named the Ivy Player of the Week. Princeton, that is tied with Harvard (7-3-2 Ivy, 2-0-1 Ivy) atop the Ivies, will look to keep on the winning track when it plays at Columbia (5-2-5 overall, 1-1-1 Ivy) on October 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After leading the Princeton University women’s soccer team with 10 goals in 2013 as a freshman, Tyler Lussi found herself in a scoring drought this fall.

Lussi scored only one goal in Princeton’s first six games as the Tigers got off to a shaky 1-3-2 start.

In the seventh game, Lussi scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win at Yale in the Ivy League opener and something clicked for her.

“I think that Yale was a nice, simple goal and if I keep myself doing simple things, it works out easier,” said Lussi. “I think that definitely started me off and kept me hungry for goals.”

Satisfying that hunger, Lussi scored two goals in each of Princeton’s next two games, a 2-2 tie with Dartmouth on October 4 and a 4-1 win over Lehigh last Wednesday.

Last Saturday against visiting Brown, Lussi was simply great, scoring three goals in a 5-0 win, recording the first hat trick of her college career.

“It is an amazing feeling,” said Lussi, whose heroics helped Princeton improve to 4-3-3 overall and 2-0-1 Ivy, tied for first in the league with Harvard (7-3-2 overall, 2-0-1 Ivy).

“I think I have had a couple of two-goal games but I think getting the third one was definitely good and I was really excited.”

The Tigers came into the evening excited by their outburst in the win over Lehigh.

“Coming off that really motivated us and in the first 25 minutes, we were coming in very strong and hard,” said Lussi.

After sophomore Haley Chow scored twice in the first 15 minutes to give Princeton a 2-0 lead, Lussi found the back of the net on a feed from senior star Lauren Lazo.

“It was an amazing pass from Lauren,” said Lussi, who scored with 26:29 remaining in the first half. “I just had to ‘nice and easy’ put it in the corner and it worked out.”

In the second half, Lussi scored on a rebound at the 56:48 mark and then blasted a volley off the post five minutes later for her third tally of the evening.

“I think we were moving the ball and I think just getting the little touches and it worked well,” said Lussi, a native of Lutherville, Md., who was later named the Ivy League Player of the Week.

“We were all moving off the ball and moving for each other, it was very good.”

With a season of college soccer under her belt, Lussi is moving more smartly on the field.

“I think as a sophomore I know where each of my teammates is, how they play, where they play, and what type of balls they want,” said Lussi, who now has a team-high and league-high nine goals.

“I know where I need to be on the field and what type of runs I need to make. I am more confident, so going forward it is definitely good.”

Tiger head coach Julie Shackford enjoyed a milestone herself in the win over Brown as the triumph marked the 200th win in her 20-year tenure at Princeton.

“It means I have been here for a long time,” said a smiling Shackford, reflecting on her achievement which comes in her final season at Princeton as she announced this summer that she will be stepping down at the end of the fall. “It’s cool to do it at home for an Ivy League game in a game we played so well.”

Shackford credited Chow with breaking the game open for the Tigers. “She was a big-time catalyst; she is definitely coming into her own,” said Shackford.

“She is starting to defend better and because of her size, she is always going to be good in the air.”

In Shackford’s view, Lussi’s big-time scoring prowess comes down to desire.

“I just thinks she wants it so much, she has a phenomenal work rate,” said Shackford.

“She has gotten a little better tactically. Last year in the league, she had a hard time shaking defenders and I think that she is starting to figure out how to get herself into spots and good goal scoring positions. I think most importantly it is just her will to score, she just has it. She was holding the steering wheel too tight earlier.”

Shackford liked the way her defense tightened things up in the shutout of the Bears.

“Jesse McDonough had a great game for us today, she stepped into the plays and read things better,” asserted Shackford.

“I thought our shape in the back was better overall. Lauren Lazo was phenomenal, she did a lot of dirty work, she does so much dirty work. Darcy Hargadon played well in goal tonight, everything was clean, everything with her feet was good.”

With Princeton having dealt with a rash of injuries, everything seems headed in the right direction for the Tigers.

“I think just getting people relatively healthy has been a big piece of it,” said Shackford, whose team is 3-0-1 in its last four games after the 1-3-2 start and plays at Columbia (5-2-5 overall, 1-1-1 Ivy) on October 18.

“I would say also getting to this point that a lot of people have stepped up to do things and have done them really well. Kids played in different spots and I think they did well adjusting to people being out. It is a fighting team, they have a really good spirit about them. They are really fun to coach.”

Lussi, for her part, believes the Tigers have developed a special spirit from facing adversity.

“I think with all the injuries we have just come even closer as a team and worked even harder for each other,” said Lussi.

“I think it has showed and we are improving every game. We are hitting it right on the head and we are moving forward and getting stronger.”

 

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STOPPED AT THE GATE: Princeton University linebacker Mike ­Zeuli heads up the field in recent action. Last Saturday, senior co-captain Zeuli made 10 tackles in a losing cause as Princeton fell 31-30 at Colgate. The Tigers, now 2-2 overall and 1-0 Ivy League, will look to get back on the winning track when they host Brown (2-2 overall, 0-1 Ivy) on October 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Showing a distressing penchant for falling behind early in games last season even as it went 8-2, a major point of emphasis for the Princeton University football team in 2014 has been getting off to faster starts.

Playing at Colgate last Saturday, Princeton achieved that goal. With junior speedster Dre Nelson returning the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to get things rolling, the Tigers roared out to a 16-0 lead.

“It was the second time in three weeks that we returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown,” said Princeton head coach Bob Surace.

“It was really good execution and really good blocking. We forced some three-and-outs and got the ball in good field position. We ran the ball well.”

Things didn’t go as well in the second quarter as Princeton was outscored 21-7 to find itself clinging to a 23-21 lead at halftime.

“They are a good football team, they will probably finish first or second in the Patriot League,” said Surace. “They hadn’t thrown the ball quite as much as they did on Saturday.”

Although Princeton’s lead had been cut to just two points at intermission, Surace wasn’t pushing the panic button.

“At halftime, it was play the next play,” said Surace. “Focus on the next play and on not anything that happened at the end of the half. We were our worst enemy with the turnover and then their QB throws a TD pass. We were still ahead. We came out in the second half and played well.”

Princeton scored a touchdown on its first possession in the third quarter to increase its lead to 30-21 but it never scored again, succumbing to a Colgate rally in losing 31-30 before a crowd of 4,402 at Andy Kerr Stadium.

“Ten of our 12 drives went to the 50 or beyond,” said Surace, whose team dropped to 2-2 overall with the setback. “We didn’t finish drives as well as we need to. It was a penalty here or a thing there.”

Things were looking very good for Princeton in the early going. In its second possession after Nelson’s jaunt to paydirt, the Tigers put together a 90-yard scoring march that culminated with a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Quinn Epperly.

Princeton forced a three-and-out and was on the move again. Sparked by a 38-yard pass from Epperly to Matt Costello, the Tigers got deep in Colgate territory. Although the drive stalled, the Tigers cashed in with a 38-yard field goal by Nolan Bieck to go up by 16-0.

The Raiders, though, started to get going in the second quarter as quarterback Jake Melville started finding the range with his passing game. Midway through the quarter, Colgate got on the board as a 3-yard TD run by Demetrius Russell capped a 64-yard march and narrowed the gap to 16-7.

Princeton answered back as Connor Michelsen hit Costello with a 28-yard TD pass to make it 23-7.

But that lead was short-lived as Melville hit some big passes, including a 24-yard scoring strike to Alex Greenawalt to draw Colgate to within 23-14.

Then, in a pivotal sequence, Epperly threw an interception which Colgate later converted to a touchdown on the last play of the half as Melville found John Quazza in the end zone for a 13-yard TD to make it 23-21 going into halftime.

Seemingly stemming the Raider tide, Princeton started the third quarter by forcing a three-and-out and then going on a scoring march. Driving 64 yards, the Tigers took a 30-21 lead as Will Powers scored on a 12-yard run.

Colgate responded with a big drive of its own, going 76 yards and scoring on a 24-yard pass from Melville to Risley Lesko to narrow the gap to 30-28.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Raiders forged ahead for the first time as Jonah Bowman hit a 23-yard field goal.

Princeton advanced to the Colgate 29 and 35 on its next two possessions but both drives ended with incomplete passes. In the waning moments of the contest, the Tigers forced a fumble and got the ball at their own 28 with 1:15 left in regulation. After picking up one first down, Princeton’s bid for a last minute victory ended with incomplete passes on the third and fourth downs.

In reflecting on the defeat, Surace rued his team’s failure to come through on a day when it outrushed the Raiders 201 yards to 111.

“The effort and physicality were there, they are one of the more physical teams we will see in four or five years,” said Surace, who got 131 yards on the ground from DiAndre Atwater with Powers gaining 43.

“We needed to execute a little better with all the good things we did in the running game.”

One of the things that has hurt Princeton is coming up short in the turnover battle.

“We were +10 in turnovers last year and this year we are -3,” said Surace. “We are not taking care of the ball as well. We have to keep attacking the ball in defense. We are playing with physicality but we are not doing a good job of getting the ball away from the other teams.”

With Brown (2-2 overall, 0-1 Ivy League) coming to Princeton Stadium on October 18 for a key Ivy clash, Princeton is poised for another physical battle.

“Coach [Phil] Estes and his group year in, year out does a good job,” said Surace, whose team is 1-0 in Ivy action. “They always play physical and have a really solid defense. I think the Colgate game prepared us well for them.”

In Surace’s view, Princeton is prepared to play a complete game. “We were close on Saturday; we are playing good teams and that is what it looks like when two good teams play each other,” said Surace.

“We have got to be better on a few plays. If we are playing 200 plays, I can’t be talking about seven where we were a little off. We need to take better care of details.”

 

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HEADLINER: Princeton University men’s soccer player Thomas Sanner, left heads the ball in recent action. Junior forward ­Sanner tallied three goals and an assist in a 5-2 win over Rutgers on October 7. Last Saturday, Sanner and his teammates rallied from a 1-0 deficit to pull out a 2-1 win over Brown in improving to 5-3-2 overall and 1-1 Ivy League. Sanner was later named the co-Ivy League Player of the Week along with Dartmouth senior forward Alex Adelabu for the week ending October 12. The Tigers resume league action with a game at Columbia (4-5 overall, 1-1 Ivy) on October 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After suffering a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime loss to Dartmouth in its Ivy League opener on October 4, the Princeton University men’s soccer team could have felt sorry for itself.

Instead, the Tigers displayed an upbeat mentality under the circumstances. “This team has shown some resilience and good leadership,” said Princeton head coach Jim Barlow.

“We have had good training sessions and the spirit is high. They were not discouraged after the Dartmouth loss, they still believed they could do some good things.”

In its next game against Rutgers three days later, Princeton did a lot of good things as it pulled away to a 5-2 over its local rivals.

“We came out and went down by one goal but we responded well, it was our best 90 minutes of the season,” said Barlow, who got three goals and an assist from Thomas Sanner in the win over the Scarlet Knights with Cameron Porter adding two goals and an assist.

“We were sharp with the ball. It was not just that we got five goals but four of them were really good goals. We were on the same page in the buildup. It was a lot more of an open game than some of the others.”

Heading into a critical Ivy contest against visiting Brown last Saturday, Barlow sensed that the game wasn’t going to be as open.

“They had four shutouts in a row so we knew it was going to be tough,” said Barlow.

“If we had lost the first two games at home in the league, it would have greatly diminished our chances of winning the title.”

Despite finding themselves trailing the Bears 1-0 at half, the Tigers still liked their chances.

“When we got to the half, the theme was that we had the ability to get goals, we just had to pass sharper to open up their defense a bit,” recalled Barlow

Senior star Porter got things going, drawing a penalty kick and then burying it as the Tigers knotted the game at 1-1 at the 68:46 mark.

“Cameron is a big, strong guy and there are a lot of big, strong, defenders and they get tangled up a lot,” said Barlow. “It is tough on the referees. He was in a good spot and Brendan McSherry did a really good job getting a cross into him.”

About 15 minutes later, Princeton took the lead as senior midfielder Joe Saitta scored his first career goal, a tally that proved to be the difference as Princeton prevailed 2-1.

Nico Hurtado started the winning play in the midfield, finding Vikram Pothuri, who crossed the ball to Saitta.

“Vikram is a good passer; we haven’t used him a lot but we started him in the second half and he had a really good game and helped set up the winning goal,” said Barlow, whose team improved to 5-3-2 overall and 1-1 Ivy with the victory.

“Saitta has had a lot of games recently where he has been strong. He didn’t have his best game against Dartmouth but he had a great game earlier against St. John’s and he was really solid against Rutgers. He did a great job against Brown, not only scoring the winning goal but passing really well.”

Barlow knows that the Tigers have to keep playing well to stay on the winning track in a league known for its parity.

“It is still going to be the same thing every week,” said Barlow. “There are four teams that are 1-1 in the league (Princeton, Penn, Brown, and Columbia), two are 2-0 (Dartmouth and Harvard) and two are 0-2 (Cornell and Yale). From week to week, you could be really happy or very disappointed.”

After hosting Loyola in a non-league contest on October 14, the Tigers head to New York City on Saturday for what shapes up to be another hotly-contested Ivy battle.

“We have a tough game at Columbia (4-5 overall), they lost their first league game, and then they came from behind to beat Penn on Saturday,” said Barlow.

“It is a tough place to play, we have benefitted from having four home games. Now we have to see if we can win on the road.”

 

October 8, 2014
LION TAMER: Princeton University linebacker Rohan Hylton is fired up during a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, sophomore standout Hylton contributed five tackles to help Princeton top Columbia 38-6 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. The Tigers outscored the Lions 28-0 in the second half to turn the contest into a rout. Princeton, now 2-1 overall and 1-0 Ivy, plays at Colgate (3-2 overall, 2-0 Patriot League) on October 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LION TAMER: Princeton University linebacker Rohan Hylton is fired up during a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, sophomore standout Hylton contributed five tackles to help Princeton top Columbia 38-6 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. The Tigers outscored the Lions 28-0 in the second half to turn the contest into a rout. Princeton, now 2-1 overall and 1-0 Ivy, plays at Colgate (3-2 overall, 2-0 Patriot League) on October 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Anticipating a rainy day for its trip to Columbia last Saturday, the Princeton University football team prepared accordingly.

“Since we started practice on August 24, I think we had a drizzle once,” said Princeton head coach Bob Surace. “We got tubs of water out last week because we knew the weather forecast so we were throwing with a wet ball.”

In the early going on Saturday in the Ivy League opener for both squads, the Tigers looked all wet as they repeatedly mishandled the ball in a downpour. On their first possession, there was a dropped pass by senior receiver Matt Costello. Senior quarterback Quinn Epperly fumbled on Princeton’s next drive but was able to recover the ball. The Tigers lost 10 yards on the play, though, and had to settle for a field goal.

Minutes later, junior back Kedric Bostic lost a fumble which led to a Columbia field goal as the Lions knotted the contest at 3-3. Early in the second quarter, sophomore running back Joe Rhattigan fumbled the ball away to Columbia and the hosts converted that into a field goal to take a 6-3 lead.

“It was terrible weather for both teams,” said Surace, reflecting on his team’s shaky start. “We didn’t handle the elements well, we were sloppy with the ball.”

But in the waning minutes of the half, the Tigers got a handle on things, marching 98 yards in 14 plays. The drive culminated with a one-yard quarterback plunge by Epperly as Princeton took a 10-6 lead into halftime.

“I gave the same speech at halftime as before the game, I told them to play fast and physical on offense and be relentless on defense,” said Surace, recalling his message at intermission.

Taking Surace’s message to heart, the Tigers never looked back as they routed Columbia 38-6 before a crowd of 3,321 at Wien Stadium, improving to 2-1 overall and 1-0 Ivy.

“Once we stopped putting the ball on the ground, I thought we executed really well,” said Surace.

After intermission, the Tigers didn’t waste any time jumping on the Lions as junior Di Andre Atwater raced for a 51-yard TD run in the first minute of the third quarter to put Princeton up 17-6.

Later an Anthony Gaffney interception and accompanying 25-yard return gave the Tigers the ball at the Columbia 46-yard line. Three plays later, Princeton found paydirt as Epperly scored on another 1-yard touchdown run to make it a 24-6 game.

The Tigers ended the quarter with a 14-yard TD pass from Epperly to senior Connor Kelley as they increased their cushion to 31-6.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Princeton produced another scoring march. Going 80 yards on 10 plays in 5:09, the Tigers got the final points of the afternoon on a 19-yard touchdown run by senior Will Powers.

“Those last five drives we were finishing our runs, finishing our blocks, and putting defensive pressure on them,” said Surace, whose team outgained Columbia 472 yards to 231 with Epperly passing for 170 yard and Atwater rushing for 107 and Kelley making four receptions for 66 yards.

“It was play after play with good execution. From the last two minutes of the first half to the end of the game. That was as encouraging as we have played all year.”

Surace was encouraged by the defensive effort against Columbia as the Tigers held the Lions to 1.0 yards a rush (27 yards on 28 carries) and got two interceptions from junior star Gaffney.

“Defensively we have to do a little better on screens and shovel  passes,” said Surace.

“I thought Columbia ran efficiently against two top-25 teams earlier this season, they had efficient runs half the time. I think they had one or two efficient runs on us. We struggled on pass defense against San Diego. We had tighter coverage against Davidson but their quarterback got the ball in tight windows. On Saturday, we were much better on the ball.”

The Tigers will have to play even better this Saturday if they are to win at perennially tough Colgate (3-2 overall, 2-0 Patriot League)

“They are kind of a mirror image of us,” said Surace of the Raiders, who are bringing a three-game winning streak into the October 11 contest.

“They have an athletic quarterback who makes plays. They run the ball extremely well. Their defense is a big and strong group. They are playing well on special teams. They lost a close one to Ball State, an FCS team. They were ahead of Delaware 25-14 and then lost 28-25.”

While Surace was pleased with how Princeton righted the ship in the second half against Columbia, he cautions that the team can’t rest on its laurels and has to ratchet things up this week in its preparation for Colgate.

“We have had some guys turn it on in practice lately and it is translating into games,” said Surace.

“Momentum is how we go through our meetings and how we practice, starting on Tuesday.”

NATTY LOOK: Princeton University women’s soccer player Natalie Larkin kicks the ball in a recent game. Last Saturday, freshman defender Larkin contributed an assist as Princeton pulled out a 2-2 tie against visiting Dartmouth. Princeton, now 2-3-3 overall and 1-0-1 Ivy, plays at Lehigh on October 8 before hosting Brown on October 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

NATTY LOOK: Princeton University women’s soccer player Natalie Larkin kicks the ball in a recent game. Last Saturday, freshman defender Larkin contributed an assist as Princeton pulled out a 2-2 tie against visiting Dartmouth. Princeton, now 2-3-3 overall and 1-0-1 Ivy, plays at Lehigh on October 8 before hosting Brown on October 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Natalie Larkin acknowledges that moving up to college soccer has been intimidating at times.

“I think the physicality is something you don’t really see at the club level,” said Larkin, a freshman defender for the Princeton University women’s soccer team.

“That is something you have to adjust to pretty quickly or you are going to get manhandled. Going into Ivies is something I have heard a lot about; the battling mentality in those games.”

Last Saturday evening, Larkin displayed her battling mentality as Princeton hosted Dartmouth in a game that turned out to be a classic Ivy nailbiter. Larkin made a number of clears and runs up the flank from her spot on the backline, helping a gritty Princeton team battle back from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1. Showing her attacking skills, she made a nice feed to set up Tyler Lussi’s game-tying goal in the second half as the teams ended regulation in a 2-2 stalemate.

When Princeton went a player down early in the overtime due to a red card, Larkin helped shore up the Tiger defense and held Dartmouth at bay as the game ended in a 2-2 draw, a result that moved Princeton to 2-3-3 overall and 1-0-1 Ivy.

In Larkin’s view, the tie reflected Princeton’s strength of character. “Our mantra is heart and we are committed to that; we have a young team and we have been waiting to rise to the occasion,” said Larkin.

“We all knew what was at stake today with Dartmouth; they tied their last game so they were going to be hungry. It was just that everybody stepped up together and we knew what we had to do. We got it done so it was good.”

Larkin got it done offensively in making the assist on Lussi’s goal which forced overtime after Dartmouth had grabbed a 2-1 lead 10 minutes into the second half.

“We kept going at them, it was going to come and it did,” said Larkin, reflecting on her first college point.

“Tyler is always getting in positions to be in front of the goal and ready to score so it is getting a line and whipping it in. Usually you can count on her to get something on it. I did my best.”

When Princeton was reduced to 10 players early in overtime, the back line had to step up.

“We definitely had the momentum but it is obviously a hardship when you lose a player,” said Larkin.

“We are still playing to win but we knew that we had to be a lot more conservative in the back so that changed the game a little bit. I don’t think it changed the momentum at all. It was just a matter of everyone stepping up a little more. We were ready to do it.”

The team’s group of freshmen, which includes Vanessa Gregoire, Mikaela Symanovich, Alessia Azermahdi, Beth Stella, and Katie Pratt-Thompson in addition to Larkin, has proven that it is ready to make an immediate impact.

“We have a great class, off the field we are really close which helps us a lot,” said Larkin, a native of Washington, D.C.

“We are really, really supportive of each other; that helps on and off the field. At the beginning of the season when we had a lot of injuries, we knew that there were going to be chances for us to come in. We had to do our best to be contributors to the team all around.”

Princeton head coach Julie Shackford marveled at her team’s resilience. “We have been hurt all year, we have just battled all year,” said Shackford, noting that senior star Lauren Lazo was sidelined on Saturday, the latest in a number of key veterans to suffer the injury bug. “I always felt like we were in control of it tonight.”

In Shackford’s view, Larkin has been in control along the backline since day one.

“Natalie works so hard, her work rate is incredible,” said Shackford. “She is  more of an attacker than anything. We would love to play her in the midfield but because we are so low on backs this year, we had to play her in the back. She is something else, she is such a positive person. She is good with the ball. She combines, she can score, and she can assist.”

Sophomore Lussi showed her scoring prowess against the Big Green, tallying on a penalty kick in the first half before finding the back of the net with less than 30 minutes left in regulation.

“Tyler scored the game winner against Yale (in a 1-0 win on September 27) so I think she is starting to come into her own,” said Shackford. “I think she has relaxed. She got the equalizer and I liked the way she stepped up on the PK.”

The Tigers stepped up in the overtime, holding the fort playing shorthanded.

“We just played Mikaela Symanovich back and I thought we did well,” said Shackford. “Sometimes when you play with 10 you are ultra organized there just because you have to be.”

While the Tigers were disappointed to not get a win, achieving the draw kept them tied for first in the Ivies along with Harvard and Columbia.

“Everyone else ties and Penn lost so we don’t lose any ground,” said Shackford, whose team plays at Lehigh on October 8 before hosting Brown on October 11. “We are still in the lead with Harvard and Columbia so I think it is all positive.”

In Larkin’s view, the Tigers have the ability and mentality to do some positive things this fall.

“We had all underclassmen on the field except for our senior goalkeeper [Darcy Hargadon],” said Larkin.

“We know we have a team that is deep enough so no matter who is on the field, everyone is going to step up. I think it is important that we battled through that tonight. We are going to have a lot of momentum going into the next game.”

BALL CONTROL: Princeton University field hockey player Maddie Copeland controls the ball in recent action. Junior striker Copeland, a former standout at Stuart Country Day School and Peddie, scored two goals against No. 13 Syracuse but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 4-3 in double overtime. The Tigers, now 3-7 overall and 2-1 Ivy League, host Delaware on October 10.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BALL CONTROL: Princeton University field hockey player Maddie Copeland controls the ball in recent action. Junior striker Copeland, a former standout at Stuart Country Day School and Peddie, scored two goals against No. 13 Syracuse but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 4-3 in double overtime. The Tigers, now 3-7 overall and 2-1 Ivy League, host Delaware on October 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The weekend started off on a shocking note for the Princeton University field hockey team.

Heading north to upper Manhattan on Friday evening, the Tigers fell 3-2 at Columbia, their first-ever loss to the Lions and their first setback in Ivy League play since 2011, snapping a 22-game winning streak in conference play.

As Maddie Copeland and her Tiger teammates hosted No. 13 Syracuse two days later, they were hungry to show that they could still play at an elite level.

“Syracuse is always a huge game for us and we knew that we had a lot to prove in this game,” said junior striker Copeland, a former standout at Stuart Country Day School and Peddie.

Showing fight as it battled back from a 2-0 deficit, the Tigers ended up losing 4-3 in double overtime.

While Princeton fell short of pulling off a shocker in dropping to 3-7 overall, it proved something to itself.

“We have a lot to be proud of from that game,” said Copeland. “It stinks that we didn’t get the win but we worked really hard. I think it just shows that we can keep up with anybody.”

Although falling behind the high-powered Orange was tough, the Tigers kept plugging away. “It is hard being down at first,” said Copeland.

“We had a really, really great warm-up. We were scoring a ton in warm-up and all of us knew we could get the ball in the goal. We were keeping up with them even though we were down 2-0. We just had to finish and we did.”

The Tigers ended the first half with a goal as Cassidy Arner tallied on a penalty corner that was played out after the clock hit zero.

“It was really, really important,” said Copeland, reflecting on Arner’s tally. “Every goal is important. It changed everything for the team. It showed that we can finish and get the ball in the goal.”

Copeland then displayed her finishing touch, scoring two goals in the first 4:40 of the second half as Princeton forged ahead 3-2.

“It was a great passing pattern, it started off right outside the circle,” said Copeland, reflecting on her first tally.

“We have been working so hard on getting to spots and being in the right spot in the circle. I was right there to put the ball in. They gave me a great pass so it is a tap-in goal. It was kind of the same thing on the second goal, another spot on the far post. Ryan [McCarthy] gave me a nice ball and I put it in.”

For Copeland, her scoring prowess comes from being in the right place at the right time.

“I am always looking for tips and touches right in front of the goal,” said Copeland, who is tied with senior Sydney for the team-high in goals with five.

“Luckily we have a lot of great players who can get you the ball there and you just have to finish.”

Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn liked the way her team moved the ball against Syracuse.

“At Albany we had a similar type of effort in terms of mindset, level of intensity and focus across the entire game but what I liked here was the connection between the our mids and the strikers,” said Holmes-Winn.

“They were connected. They were dangerous and were really threatening. That was a positive and something we can take away for sure.”

Copeland’s finishing has been a positive for the Tigers. “Maddie just has a nose for the goal; she gets in really good spots,” said Holmes-Winn. “She receives some phenomenal passes; she got set up which was great.”

Princeton got a great effort from junior goalie Anya Gersoff, who stood on her head for the most of the afternoon, making 12 saves with six coming in overtime.

“We know she is one of the very best goalkeepers in the country and that’s from the national team to all levels,” said Holmes-Winn. “I think she is absolutely sensational and that was on display today.”

The Tigers’ depth was also on display against Syracuse. “Honestly the entire team and the bench did well, every single player,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team hosts Delaware on October 10.

“They went in and just played hard. I was happy with everyone. I wish we could have found a way to finish; we had some really good looks.”

Copeland, for her part, believes the performance against Syracuse portends some good things to come for Princeton. “It just shows that we can keep up with pretty much anyone,” said Copeland.

“We just have to finish beating Ivy League teams. That is the most important thing right now for us, to win the Ivy League and hopefully make it to the NCAA tournament.”