November 5, 2014
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.”

COSTLY DEFEAT: Princeton University men’s soccer player Brian Costa chases down the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore Costa provided the Tigers with a lot of energy in the midfield but it wasn’t enough as Princeton dropped a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker to Dartmouth in the Ivy League opener for both squads. The Tigers, who fell to 3-3-2 overall and 0-1 Ivy with the defeat, host Brown (3-3-3 overall, 1-0 Ivy) on October 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

COSTLY DEFEAT: Princeton University men’s soccer player Brian Costa chases down the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore Costa provided the Tigers with a lot of energy in the midfield but it wasn’t enough as Princeton dropped a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker to Dartmouth in the Ivy League opener for both squads. The Tigers, who fell to 3-3-2 overall and 0-1 Ivy with the defeat, host Brown (3-3-3 overall, 1-0 Ivy) on October 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

At around 6:15 on Saturday evening at Roberts Stadium, the players on the Princeton University men’s soccer team stood around glumly with heads bowed in unison as they listed to head coach Jim Barlow.

Across the way, the Dartmouth squad was all smiles as it went through its post-game stretch, with some of the players high-fiving and others chanting the ole, ole, ole soccer anthem.

The scene reflected the contrasting emotions after Princeton dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker to the Big Green in overtime in the Ivy League opener for both teams.

A subdued Barlow acknowledged that the loss was a critical setback for his side. “It is a killer,” said Barlow, whose team fell to 3-3-2 overall and 0-1 Ivy with the defeat.

“It is the first Ivy game, a game that everyone was pumped up for. It was at home and we didn’t get the result.”

The Tigers dug an early hole, falling behind 1-0 as the Big Green scored 12:26 into the contest.

“I think we started off really poorly tonight and we let Dartmouth dictate how the game was going to go in the first half,” said Barlow.

“They sat back, we weren’t sharp with our passing. They won it in the midfield and just kept looking to get behind us and it was pretty effective. We never got on top of things in the first half.”

After halftime, Princeton started playing more effectively, tying the game 1-1 on a Cameron Porter penalty kick with 25:45 remaining in regulation to force overtime. The extra session didn’t last long, however, as Dartmouth’s Matt Danilack found the back of the net on a header 2:45 into the first overtime.

“In the beginning of the second half, we started to get it going a little bit and I thought it was better,” said Barlow.

“At the end of the day, you can’t turn it on and off and have a bad 45 minutes and expect to win against a good team. We got back into the game and by overtime, it could have gone either way, a call here or there, a break here or there.”

Junior midfielder Brendan McSherry, a former Peddie School standout, nearly got the game to go Princeton’s way as he made some dazzling counters in the waning moments of the second half.

“He found a way to get through the midfield on a couple of plays,” said Barlow.

“He got on the end of one ball near the end of regulation and just hit it wide. He had a good game.”

Barlow liked the way his midfield rebounded collectively from a shaky first half.

“Brian Costa was our best player by a lot,” asserted Barlow of the sophomore star from nearby Warren, N.J.

“I think we really struggled in the midfield in the first half and then when we had Costa, Matt Mangini, and Andrew Mills in there, I thought we got it back.”

Princeton will have to show some strength of character in order to get back on the right track in the Ivy race.

“Now we will see what we are made of and whether we can bounce back from this and try to get it going,” said Barlow, whose team was slated to host Rutgers on October 7 and Brown (3-3-3 overall, 1-0 Ivy) on October 11.

“It is tough when you let one slip away. We will first think about Rutgers, they are coming in here Tuesday night, and then get ready for Brown.”

October 1, 2014
EXPLOSIVE START: Princeton University running back Dre ­Nelson heads upfield last Saturday evening in Princeton’s 56-17 win over visiting Davidson. Junior Nelson got the night off to a good start, returning the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown. Nelson also scored on a 23-yard run in the second quarter and ended the evening with 203 all-purpose yards, piling up 146 yards on returns, 28 yards rushing, and 29 yards receiving. Princeton, now 1-1, plays at Columbia (0-2) on October 4 in the Ivy League opener for both teams.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

EXPLOSIVE START: Princeton University running back Dre ­Nelson heads upfield last Saturday evening in Princeton’s 56-17 win over visiting Davidson. Junior Nelson got the night off to a good start, returning the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown. Nelson also scored on a 23-yard run in the second quarter and ended the evening with 203 all-purpose yards, piling up 146 yards on returns, 28 yards rushing, and 29 yards receiving. Princeton, now 1-1, plays at Columbia (0-2) on October 4 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Dre Nelson was determined to give the Princeton University football team a spark as it hosted Davidson last Saturday, looking to bounce back from an opening day loss to the University of San Diego.

Taking the opening kickoff, the junior speedster darted down the sidelines for an 89-yard return for a touchdown.

“Coach [Andrew] Aurich, the special teams coach, talks to us everyday about getting the game started right,” said the 5’5, 175-pound Nelson, who also competes in track and holds the Princeton record for the 60-meter dash at 6.84.

“Every time he talks about the kickoff, he always wants me to house the first one. The guys picked up the blocks; everyone was around when I scored. They were blocking hard. Everybody did their job and we got a touchdown. It is 11-on-11 so there is one guy and I have to beat him. It was one-on-one, I made the move and had the score.”

Nelson’s scoring jaunt was the opening salvo of an explosive night for Princeton as it rolled to a 56-17 win over the Wildcats before a crowd of 15,205 at Princeton Stadium that was treated to a postgame fireworks show as part of the program’s Community and Staff Day festivities.

In Nelson’s view, the Tigers ratcheted up the intensity in the wake of the 39-29 opening day loss to San Diego.

“Practice was the same as far as what we do but everybody was angry about the loss,” said Nelson. “We had to take it up another level as far as our effort and how intense we were from the top down. We practiced harder, that was a big difference.”

Nelson’s hard running led to another score in the second quarter as he raced for a 23-yard TD gallop.

“The line blocked really well and coach [Sean] Gleeson, our running back coach, has been on us, especially after last week’s performance, about running hard, breaking the first tackle, breaking arm tackles, and running through defenders,” said Nelson, who piled up 203 all-purpose yards in the win with 146 yards on returns, 28 yards rushing, and 29 yards receiving.

“So all of us, D’Andre [Atwater], Will [Powers], [Joe] Rhattigan, and me had our mindset to run hard this week and that is kind of what happened on that touchdown.”

Senior quarterback and co-captain Quinn Epperly, for his part, credited the win to an up-tempo mindset.

“We had a lot more energy with this week of practice and it definitely carried over into the game,” said Epperly.

“That was something we have always tried to pride ourselves on, especially last year. It is something we didn’t do a good enough job in San Diego; you could see that we were way too flat. I think that just playing hard was big. Coach [Bob Surace] tells us all the time that will solve a lot of problems. You may not execute perfectly but if you are hitting hard and coming off the ball hard and you are just doing everything as fast and hard as you can, good things will happen.”

Princeton head coach Surace saw some very good things from his team last Saturday evening.

“We really looked fast; where if I watched the film last week, we looked not fast,” said Surace.

“We looked faster, explosive, we finished. I saw linemen downfield doing the things we have done, finishing our blocks and picking the runner up. There was so much more energy coming from those guys. That was really fun to see.”

It was fun watching Epperly on Saturday as he displayed his all-around talents, rushing for 118 yards and four touchdowns and going 15-of-18 passing for 176 yards.

After Davidson responded to Nelson’s TD return with a field goal to narrow the gap to 7-3, Epperly took over. The 6’3, 215-pound quarterback scored on touchdown runs of four yards, six yards, and one yard as the Tigers built a 29-3 lead by early in the second quarter.

Wildcat running back David Rogers made it a 29-10 game as he sprinted for a four-yard touchdown run. The Tigers answered with Nelson’s touchdown run and a 31-yard field goal by Nolan Bieck to take a 39-10 advantage into halftime.

In the third quarter, Davidson put together a 23-play, 75-yard march that took nearly 11 minutes and culminated with a 12-yard touchdown pass from J.P. Douglas to William Morris to make it 39-17.

The Tigers scored 17 unanswered points to put the finishing touches on the rout. Bieck hit a 40-yard field goal late in the third quarter and Epperly scored his fourth TD of the evening early in the fourth quarter. Senior Will Powers rambled for a nine-yard touchdown run with 3:24 left in regulation to close out the scoring.

For Surace, the victory was a testament to his team’s character and resilience.

“We looked heavy-legged and lethargic when we got to the game in San Diego,” said Surace, who got some heavy hitting from linebacker Rohan Hylton in the win over Davidson as the sophomore standout made 11 tackles and was later named the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week.

“We didn’t finish like we needed to finish. That was a big point on all three sides of the ball, that this doesn’t look like a championship team or a special team. This looks like an average team. I thought it was really great to see us respond. There is a lot of pride in that locker room and we hit on those words, pride and mentality. To see the seniors and upperclassmen do things that way, you felt that energy. The crowd was awesome, that is a big boost.”

The Tigers took their cue from Epperly when it came to playing with pride. “You didn’t see him this week pouting or throwing his helmet, he never does that,” said Surace.

“He just goes and plays football. You see a guy who just enjoys it. There were two or three runs where he was the hammer. It is just fun to see because he loves playing. He defines himself as a football player, who happens to throw the ball extremely accurately. You just love the leadership of our guys and the way he came out. It is not by rah rah, it is by how you finish and how you execute as a quarterback.”

Epperly, for his part, is motivated by Princeton’s poor execution in the defeat to San Diego.

“That is still unacceptable, we should have never lost,” said Epperly. “There is not going to be any letup with anything. We realize practicing hard just gets us to this point. We are going to face more adversity in the season so we have got to keep that mindset up and never let that taste out of our mouth.”

With Princeton heading to Columbia (0-2) on October 4 in the Ivy League opener for both teams, Nelson believes that tasting victory can get the Tigers rolling.

“It is a great win,” said Nelson. “I feel like we started to get our rhythm and get some great plays going. It is good to get a win and it is always nice to have a big win like we did today.”

GETTING LOOSE: Princeton University women’s soccer player Tyler Lussi heads upfield in action earlier this season. Last Saturday at Yale, sophomore star Lussi came up big, scoring a goal late in the second half to give the Tigers a 1-0 victory over the Bulldogs in the Ivy League opener for both teams. Princeton, now 2-3-2 overall and 1-0 Ivy, hosts Dartmouth (3-2-2 overall, 0-0-1 Ivy) on October 4 at Roberts Stadium.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GETTING LOOSE: Princeton University women’s soccer player Tyler Lussi heads upfield in action earlier this season. Last Saturday at Yale, sophomore star Lussi came up big, scoring a goal late in the second half to give the Tigers a 1-0 victory over the Bulldogs in the Ivy League opener for both teams. Princeton, now 2-3-2 overall and 1-0 Ivy, hosts Dartmouth (3-2-2 overall, 0-0-1 Ivy) on October 4 at Roberts Stadium. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As the Princeton University women’s soccer team headed into its Ivy League opener last Saturday at Yale, things weren’t going well.

The Tigers were coming off a Virginia swing which saw them lose 3-2 at Richmond on September 19 before getting defeated 4-1 at William and Mary two days later.

In addition, Princeton was forced to go with a number of young players as several key veterans were sidelined by injury.

“We have so many injuries, we literally had 12 or 13 healthy players,” said Princeton head coach Julie Shackford, whose starting lineup at Yale featured a quartet of freshmen in Natalie Larkin, Alessia Azermadhi, Vanessa Gregoire, and Beth Stella.

To make matters worse, starting goalie Darcy Hargadon had to leave the game after eight minutes due to a quad injury, giving way to unheralded sophomore Hannah Winner.

“It was wild,” recalled Shackford. “You are playing with 12 or 13, you lose your keeper, and you are playing on the road in a league game.”

Winner, for her part, felt some butterflies as she took the pitch. “It was a little nerve-wracking at first but I went back to all of my work in practice,” said Winner in a video interview on the Princeton sports website. “I had the support of my team behind me. I calmed down and I was ready to rock and roll.”

After a shaky start, the Tigers calmed down collectively. “We rallied for sure in the second half,” said Shackford. “We were putting a lot of pressure on them.”

That pressure finally yielded dividends as Tiger sophomore star Tyler Lussi struck, converting a feed from Gregoire into the back of the net, putting Princeton up 1-0 with six minutes remaining in regulation.

“Vanessa played a great ball in,” recalled Shackford of Gregoire, who was later named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week. “Tyler has been forcing things lately so hopefully this will help her relax.”

The Tigers didn’t relax after the goal as Winner and the defense held the fort and Princeton came away with a hard-earned 1-0 victory, the 10th straight game in the hotly-contested series to be decided by two goals or less and the third straight decided by one goal.

“We all just pulled it together; everyone was in it working hard,” said Winner, reflecting on the last six minutes of the contest.

“We know from experience that you can be scored on in the last two seconds of the game so everybody was focused. Our plan was to keep it up the field for as long as possible and just play our hearts out until the final whistle.”

Shackford was proud of how her team played to the final whistle. “We were phenomenal with game management after the goal,” said Shackford, whose team improved to 2-3-2 overall with the victory.

As Princeton hosts Dartmouth (3-2-2 overall, 0-0-1 Ivy) on October 4, Shackford is hoping the Tigers can build on the win over Yale.

“I think it gives you a lot of momentum,” said Shackford, whose team currently sits atop the Ivy race along with Columbia (5-1-3 overall, 1-0 Ivy) and Harvard (6-2 overall, 1-0 Ivy). “If you had just 12 players and had a league loss going into Dartmouth, that would be a big hole to get out of.”

Princeton is lucky to have a great group of freshman players. “The freshman class is phenomenal,” said Shackford, who also inserted freshman Mikaela Symanovich as a sub on Saturday. “They are leaders, they are hard, they want it, they have adapted so well.”

Going forward, the injury-depleted Tigers face a hard task in their bid for a league crown.

“We have to defend well and stay together,” said Shackford. “People have to have some extraordinary performances.”

Winner is confident the Tigers will stay on task. “We are taking it one day at a time and working hard in each practice,” said Winner.

“Having a win under our belt is great but we are looking forward to the next game. It is a clean slate and we have got to just get those next three points.”

September 24, 2014
ROUGH WATER: Princeton University running back DiAndre Atwater carries the ball in 2013 action. Last Saturday, junior Atwater rushed for a game-high 80 yards but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 39-29 at the University of San Diego in its season opener. The Tigers will look to get on the winning track when they host Davidson on September 27 at Princeton Stadium.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ROUGH WATER: Princeton University running back DiAndre Atwater carries the ball in 2013 action. Last Saturday, junior Atwater rushed for a game-high 80 yards but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 39-29 at the University of San Diego in its season opener. The Tigers will look to get on the winning track when they host Davidson on September 27 at Princeton Stadium. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Princeton University football team having lost the season opener in each of his four years at the helm of the program, Bob Surace sensed that things would be different this fall.

As the Tigers prepared to kick off the 2014 campaign at the University of San Diego last Saturday, head coach Surace liked what he was seeing from his players in the build-up to the contest.

“We had a good week of practice,” said Surace. “We got on the bus after Friday’s practice, feeling good. In practice there had been very few corrections.”

But practice didn’t make perfect as the Tigers shot themselves in the foot on several occasions in falling 39-29 to San Diego before a sun-splashed crowd of 3,324 at Torero Stadium.

The Tigers dug an early 14-0 hole, forcing them to fight an uphill battle the rest of the afternoon.

“We get off to a slow start and gave up a 90-yard drive, that hurt,” lamented Surace.

After the teams exchanged punts in the first two possessions of the contest, San Diego got rolling as quarterback Keith Williams hit Reggie Bell for an 82-yard pass play that got the Toreros to the Princeton 11-yard line. Two plays later,  Williams hit Brandon White for a 10-yard touchdown.

Princeton went three and out on its next possession and Bell struck again with a 55-yard punt return that gave San Diego the ball at the Tiger 31. Williams ended up scoring on a one-yard quarterback plunge as the Toreros extended their lead to 14-0.

With senior quarterback Quinn Epperly finding a rhythm, Princeton went on the march. The reigning Ivy League Offensive Player of the year hit 4-of-8 passes and then ran 12 yards for a touchdown to complete a 15-play, 78-yard march as the Tigers narrowed the gap to 14-6 in the waning seconds of the quarter.

It seemed like Princeton was righting the ship in the second quarter. Getting the ball at the San Diego 36, the Tigers started moving again. Connor Michelson came on in a multi-quarterback set and hit Epperly with a 12-yard pass to get the ball to the Torero 11. Two plays later, Joe Rhattigan found paydirt for the Tigers on a 12-yard touchdown scamper to make it a 14-12 game.

The Toreros answered two possessions later as Williams hit White with a 25-yard pass and then found that man Bell again for a 26-yard scoring strike to push the San Diego advantage back to 21-12.

Princeton fought back putting together a 58-yard drive that culminated in a 34-yard field goal by Nolan Bieck and cut the Torero lead to 21-15 at the half.

Surace, for his part, was happy with what he saw after the shaky start. “We were playing well in the second quarter, we had more consistency,” said Surace. “In the first quarter, we didn’t tackle well but after that we had only a handful of missed tackles. We played better on all three sides of the ball.”

Building on the progress in the second quarter, the Tigers nosed ahead 22-21 early in the third quarter. Dre Nelson returned the second half kickoff 35 yards to give Princeton the ball at its 36. Running back DiAndre Atwater then broke loose for a 54-yard gallop to get the ball to the San Diego 10. Two plays later, Epperly hit Matt Costello for a 4-yard TD pass and Bieck hit the extra point to make it 22-21 in favor of the Tigers.

But the Princeton offense sputtered from that point, doomed by a series of mental miscues.

“We got the ball back and had a third and one and they stuffed us,” recalled Surace.

“We had six drives in a row without a first down. It was a number of errors. One time it was a missed block, then it was a missed throw, and then a missed catch.”

While Princeton stalled, Bell kept rolling, scoring on a 48-yard touchdown pass with 5:25 left in the third quarter as San Diego regained the lead at 29-22.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Toreros got their advantage back to double digits as Williams hit D’Angelo Barksdale for a five-yard touchdown strike as San Diego extended the margin to 36-22. Minutes later, the Toreros added a field goal to make it 39-22.

The Tigers kept battling and Epperly found Seth DeValve for a 22-yard TD pass with 2:25 remaining as Princeton closed the gap to the final score of 39-29.

“We better concentrate on detail or we are going to struggle,” said Surace, reflecting on the loss which marked the eighth straight opening day defeat for the program.

“To go into a game and not play the coverage the way we played in practice, that makes no sense to me.”

Although disappointed by the result, Surace did see some positives coming out of the afternoon.

“There were a number of things,” noted Surace, who got 237 yards passing for two touchdowns from Epperly with DeValve making nine catches for 123 yards and Atwater rushing for 80 yards.

“We didn’t have the typical first game penalties. We stopped the run very well, they averaged 2.2 yards. The effort was good, not great. DiAndre and DeValve ran hard.”

The Tigers will need to take care of the little things as it hosts Davidson (1-3) in its home opener with a big crowd expected at Princeton Stadium as the program celebrates community and staff day with a postgame fireworks display to cap off the festivities.

“We need to fix things; we need to work on being more exact in the details,” said Surace.

“The veterans did some things that were uncharacteristic. It will be good getting that game film. We need to make a good leap from the first to the second game.”

ON TARGET: Princeton University men’s soccer player Cameron ­Porter controls the ball in recent action. Senior forward Porter leads Princeton with four goals, helping the Tigers to a 1-2-2 start. In upcoming action, Princeton plays at Drexel on September 24 before hosting Binghamton on September 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON TARGET: Princeton University men’s soccer player Cameron ­Porter controls the ball in recent action. Senior forward Porter leads Princeton with four goals, helping the Tigers to a 1-2-2 start. In upcoming action, Princeton plays at Drexel on September 24 before hosting Binghamton on September 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While the Princeton University men’s soccer team had trouble keeping the ball against 13th-ranked Georgetown last Wednesday, Tiger forward Cameron Porter made the most out of the limited possession.

Late in the first half, senior star Porter found the back of the net on a feed from Andrew Doar to give Princeton a 1-0 advantage going into halftime.

“I saw the ball going wide from Myles [McGinley] with a quick switch and once I see that coming in I know I have to get myself in a good position in the box,” said Porter. “Once it comes in to me, it is my job to finish it.”

In the second half, Princeton didn’t do a good job as Georgetown scored three unanswered goals to pull away to a 3-1 win.

In Porter’s view, the Tigers need to learn from the setback. “It was challenging to keep the ball, they had the best of the possession and I think it was a good lesson for us,” said the 6’1, 175-pound Porter, a native of Centerville, Ohio.

“It really teaches us that if we are going to be out here and we are going to compete against the top teams, we are going to have to learn, when we have the ball to make connections that make sense. What it seems like was happening is that we would win the ball and lose it right back. We need to learn how to keep the ball and learn how to go forward with meaning.”

With a team-high four goals this season, Porter has emerged as the team’s most dangerous player going forward.

“I am feeling good; I think it’s important as a senior that I score consistently,” said Porter, a two-time All-Ivy League performer who now has 20 goals in his Princeton career.

“The last few seasons it has kind of eluded me to score the goals in the big games and now it is coming along. Hopefully as the season develops those can turn into game winners.”

Getting moved inside on the field has helped Porter be more of a scoring threat.

“Last year I played more of an out wide position and now I am getting to play more of the center forward position,” said Porter. “You get those services and the opportunities to finish more often.”

Porter is hoping the experience of playing against Georgetown will help Princeton down the road.

“It is really all about preparing for the Ivy League and that’s why we play teams like this,” said Porter.

“They are going to be better than any team we play in the league so it is important to learn from this and take it to the other Ivies.”

Princeton head coach Jim Barlow concurred, acknowledging that Georgetown proved to be a handful for Princeton.

“They are all athletic and good on the ball, they stretch you out,” said Barlow.

“I thought we were a little disappointed that more guys didn’t have a better game. When you are playing a team that good, everyone has to have a good day. We had a lead and we felt like we could still raise the level at the start of the second half in terms our ability to go forward and making it harder for them to possess. We struggled in both of those areas. We had a few big breakdowns defensively and we couldn’t keep it when we wanted. Credit them, they put so much pressure on you. They press hard; we just felt like we could never get it going.”

Barlow credits Porter with getting Princeton going offensively. “He has done well with his opportunities,” said Barlow. “He didn’t have many chances tonight, he didn’t have the ball much either but he still winds up with a goal. He is off to a good start. Hopefully he can keep it going in this next stretch of games.”

As Princeton girds for Ivy League play, Barlow is hoping to get it going as it wraps up its non-conference slate.

“We don’t have much time now, we have three more games now before we get to the Ivy League,” said Barlow, whose team rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie Boston University 2-2 last Saturday in moving to 1-2-2 and plays at Drexel on September 24 before hosting Binghamton on September 27.

“We want to try to continue to improve and get some momentum as we get into the Ivy League season.”

Porter, for his part, believes the Tigers can make a run for the Ivy title after coming up just short the last two seasons.

“We have a lot of seniors and juniors in the starting lineup and that is something we haven’t had in a while,” said Porter.

“The team has a sense of maturity and a sense of urgency. I think we are all learning from these games.”

NO DOUBTING THOMAS: Princeton University men’s water polo player Thomas Nelson looks for the ball in a game earlier this season. Junior star Nelson has tallied 14 goals this fall, helping the Tigers to an 8-1 start. In upcoming action, Princeton hosts George Washington and Bucknell on September 28.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

NO DOUBTING THOMAS: Princeton University men’s water polo player Thomas Nelson looks for the ball in a game earlier this season. Junior star Nelson has tallied 14 goals this fall, helping the Tigers to an 8-1 start. In upcoming action, Princeton hosts George Washington and Bucknell on September 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Things started on a down note for the Princeton University men’s water polo team as it competed in its first full weekend of Southern Division action.

The Tigers fell 10-9 at Johns Hopkins on Saturday morning, suffering their first loss this season after a 6-0 start.

“We had chances to get up but we missed,” said Princeton head coach Luis Nicolao.

“Alex Gow had a good game in goal for us but they know how to play in their pool. The mistakes are compounded in a smaller venue.”

Princeton, though, rebounded from the setback and took advantage of its chances the rest of the weekend, topping Navy 12-7 on Saturday evening and then edging George Washington 14-12 on Sunday.

“We were a little upset with some of the mistakes we made Saturday morning,” said Nicolao, whose team scored six unanswered goals in the second quarter against the Midshipmen.

“Any time we play Navy, we know it’s going to be a battle and the guys are always up for that. We got a jump on them and then we steamrollered them. We missed some chances in the first quarter. We came out in the second quarter and put away some opportunities and capitalized on their mistakes. Our lefty freshman Connor McGoldrick had a good game against GW. It is another smaller venue and it is one of those games you have to get through. We capitalized on their errors.”

Having lost heartbreakers in the CWPA semis in 2012 and in the finals last year, the team’s core of veterans are primed for battle.

“The senior class, in general, is excited to go out on top,” said Nicolao, whose Class of 2015 includes Drew Hoffenberg, Sam Butler, Kayj Shannon, and Kevin Zhang.

“They are doing everything they can to not end the season like the last two years.”

With the Tigers at 8-1, Nicolao believes things are headed in the right direction.

“We have depth,” said Nicolao, who has gotten 22 goals from Hoffenberg already with freshman Jordan Colina adding 16, junior Thomas Nelson chipping in 14, junior Jamie Kuprenas tallying 11, and sophomore Jovan Jeremic with 10.

“Drew has always been an amazing player for us. Jordan and Thomas are having big years. Jamie Kuprenas has stepped up. Kayj Shannon is out for a while and it seems like every game, someone else steps up. I think our team defense overall has been a strength, particularly in our big wins over Irvine, Navy, and Cal Baptist. We have two quality goalies (junior Gow and freshman Vojislav Mitrovic), we are playing both of them a lot. We have balance, guys are coming off the bench and helping us.”

Despite the promising start, Princeton has plenty of room for improvement.

“We need to learn each other better; we have some big games coming up and we go to California in three weeks,” said Nicolao, whose team hosts George Washington and Bucknell on September 28.

“It is just the first phase of the season. If we can stay healthy, it could be a special year.”

 

September 17, 2014
HAPPY DAYS: Princeton University football head coach Bob Surace is all smiles at the program’s recent media day. Last fall, Surace had a lot of smiles about as the Tigers went 8-2 overall and 6-1 Ivy, tying Harvard for the league crown. Princeton will be looking to build on that success as it kicks off its 2014 campaign by playing at the University of San Diego (1-1) on September 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HAPPY DAYS: Princeton University football head coach Bob Surace is all smiles at the program’s recent media day. Last fall, Surace had a lot of smiles about as the Tigers went 8-2 overall and 6-1 Ivy, tying Harvard for the league crown. Princeton will be looking to build on that success as it kicks off its 2014 campaign by playing at the University of San Diego (1-1) on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 2013, the Princeton University football team answered the question of whether it was ready to compete for an Ivy League title in resounding fashion.

Overpowering its foes by scoring 43.7 points a game, the Tigers went 8-2 overall and 6-1 Ivy, tying Harvard for the league crown.

As Princeton looks ahead to its 2014 campaign, the issue now is whether the program can handle prosperity.

Speaking recently at the team’s annual media day, Princeton head coach Bob Surace said that his staff is invoking a bit of Japanese philosophy to inspire his players as they prepare for their season opener at the University of San Diego (1-1) on September 20.

“We use the word, “kaizen,” which means continuous improvement,” said Surace, a 1990 Princeton alum and All-Ivy center who is bringing a 15-25 record into his fifth year at the helm of his alma mater.

“Instead of competing and worrying about all the things down the road, you compete against Princeton to see how good we can be. So Quinn Epperly (star senior quarterback) is competing to be a better Quinn Epperly. I love that.”

Surace and his staff have gone out of their way to stifle any feeling of complacency among their players.

“Our guys went right back to work,” asserted Surace, whose team was picked to finish first in the Ivy preseason media poll.

“Last season ended and we had our final meeting and our banquet and before that meeting we told them they will get a few days to celebrate and do the bonfire and some of those good things that came with last year. On that next Monday, we are back in the weight room and we are 0-0. They have done a great job with that approach and working to get better.”

In Surace’s view, the team’s season-ending 28-24 loss at Dartmouth last November has helped reinforce that mentality.

“We put ourselves in a hole a number of times last year and that’s tough to do repeatedly,” said Surace.

“There was Brown, Lafayette, Penn and then you get to Dartmouth and at some point it is going to catch up to you. It caught up to us, they are a terrific team and we’ll worry about them when we get there. I think that it just shows all year long we were great at executing certain things — not having penalties in the red zone and we had them that game, catching the ball, we had some drops, being aligned in the right gaps and they had a few long runs where we were misaligned. Those types of things are huge things.”

Princeton is looking for even better execution from senior quarterback and co-captain Epperly even though he is coming off a huge campaign which saw the 6’3, 215-pound lefty throw 25 touchdown passes and rush for 18 more on his way to being the 2013 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year.

“Quinn’s a guy who has played a lot of snaps and no matter how much he has played and how much experience he has, he wants to get better,” said Princeton offensive coordinator James Perry of Epperly, who passed for 2,137 yards and rushed for 570 last fall.

“That was true in the winter and that was true in the spring and in camp it has been true so far. He has been an extremely hard worker and his intention this fall will be to play better than last year and I know he played very well. I think he can play better but he left some room for improvement there and I expect him to with the work he has put in. He clearly had a tremendous year from an accuracy standpoint and he did a lot of things very well last year throwing the ball but we expect him to be able to read defenses like a guy who has played a ton of football.”

Epperly will have a corps of good receivers to target in a quartet of seniors, Matt Costello (48 catches for 534 yards in 2013), Seth DeValve (49 catches for 527 yards), Connor Kelley (44 catches for 444 yards) and Robby Templeton.

“We have got four seniors at wideout who have all played a ton of football,” said Perry. “It’s as hard a working group as you will find. That’s a position we have leadership and some things that, especially the way we play, are very beneficial.”

The Tigers also feature depth at running back with the return of juniors DiAndre Atwater (457 yards rushing in 2013) and Dre Nelson (287 yards rushing) along with senior Will Powers (215 yards rushing).

“Atwater has done well, we have a lot of returners, it is not just coach speak,” said Perry.

“That is a position we are extremely deep in. Will Powers has been playing for 4 years; he is a guy who has played a ton of football and is doing very well. Dre Nelson is another guy who has played a ton of football and probably had the best offseason you could possibly have. You can’t be in better shape than he is right now, he has done everything we have asked for.”

With five senior starters on the offensive line in Spenser Huston, Jack Woodall, Joe Tull, Taylor Pearson, and Mike Ramos, Princeton should be in good shape in the trenches when it has the ball.

“At the line position, we are fully committed to playing guys,” said Perry. “If you are really going to play fast the way we want to, you are going to have to play them. Those guys really embrace it because not many lines in the country are going to play eight or nine people with the regularity that we do. If you are the 10th guy you know you are one guy away from getting on the field against San Diego. We have a lot of guys who have played and know the drill so they know if they can get into the mix, they are going to play.”

On the defensive line, however, the Tigers don’t feature a lot of guys who have played, losing all three starters, most notably All-American Caraun Reid, now playing in the NFL for the Detroit Lions.

As a result, defensive co-coordinator Steve Verbit will be mixing and matching things with that unit.

“We have a lot of guys who are doing some good things, both young and old alike,” said Verbit, noting that his DL rotation currently includes senior Victor Prato, juniors Dan Dreher, Evan Kappatos, and Ian McGreary, sophomores Ty Desire and Brannon Jones, along with freshmen Kurt Holuba and Logan Dziak.

“All eight of those guys are working extremely hard and taking it one day at a time and we are seeing improvement in each of them. I am sure at one point during the course of the season, and it may be as early as San Diego, all eight of those guys may be in the mix.”

At linebacker, Princeton will be depending on two battle-tested seniors, co-captain Mike Zeuli (72 tackles in 2013) and Garrit Leicht (61 tackles), to hold the fort on the inside.

“Mike has played a ton of football so has Garrit; they are having a solid camp and we are leaning on those guys,” said defensive co-coordinator Jim Salgado, who will be using junior Marcus Stroud and sophomore R.J Paige at outside linebacker.

“They have got to make sure they get everybody lined up, make the proper call, and the proper checks. They have been doing a good job of it in training camp so far.”

The secondary figures to be a very good unit for the Tigers with junior and two-time All-Ivy performer Anthony Gaffney (22 tackles and two interceptions in 2013) starting at corner along with classmate John Hill (36 tackles and three interceptions) and the pair of juniors, Matt Arends (61 tackles and one interception) and sophomore Dorian Williams (43 tackles and one interception), at safety.

“It is nice to have guys that have played a lot of football for us at the back end; we have got guys who have played at the corner position and the safety position,” said Salgado.

“It definitely gives us comfort back there if we need to get somebody down in the box, maybe to stop the run or to send pressure, because you feel comfortable with guys who have done it and can cover.”

The return of junior Khamal Brown, who missed last season after having brain surgery in 2012 when he suffered an arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, a tangle of blood vessels connecting to arteries, that had ruptured and sent blood pooling into his brain, provides inspiration and depth in the defensive backfield.

“He looks good, he’s made some plays now in practice in camp,” said Salgado.

“Obviously being out for a year, he has to get used to playing again. All in all, he is ready to go. He is as physical a defensive back that we have as a corner or if you put him in at safety. There is no worry about him going in there and making contact. I am real excited to have him back. I love that kid, he was with me up in the box all last year and that helped him. When you are sitting up there and watching a game and really absorbing what we are trying to get done, it has given him a great understanding of what our defense is all about.”

This week, the Tigers are all about beating San Diego. “I know that these guys are totally focused on starting the season well, in four years now we haven’t won that opener,” said Perry.

“When we go out and play that opener, we have got to go out on that first drive and perform well. Come September 20, they will be ready for that first drive.”

Surace, for his part, vows that his team will be ready to throw everything at its foes this fall.

“I like the way we have been progressing throughout the practices, we have got a long ways to go before San Diego.” said Surace.

“We are going to play the best players and the best plays. Whatever we think is the best personnel for a given play, that is who will be in on all three sides of the ball.”

 

SERIOUS BUSINESS: Princeton University football co-captains, senior linebacker Mike Zeuli, left, and senior quarterback Quinn Epperly, strike a serious pose during the program’s recent media day. The Tigers kick off their 2014 campaign at the University of San Diego (1-1) on September 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SERIOUS BUSINESS: Princeton University football co-captains, senior linebacker Mike Zeuli, left, and senior quarterback Quinn Epperly, strike a serious pose during the program’s recent media day. The Tigers kick off their 2014 campaign at the University of San Diego (1-1) on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After playing defensive back in his first two seasons with the Princeton University football team, Mike Zeuli was switched to linebacker last fall.

It didn’t take long for Zeuli to make an impact in his new spot, making 18 tackles in a season-opening loss to Lehigh.

“There was definitely a couple of challenges as far as learning a new spot, being more physical and playing more in the box,” said Zeuli, reflecting on the move. “I feel like I got more comfortable and I really liked it.”

As the fall unfolded, Zeuli made things uncomfortable for Princeton’s foes, recording a team-high 72 tackles and earning second-team All-Ivy League honors.

Shifting Zeuli to linebacker helped shore up a defense that came up big as the Tigers went 8-2 overall and 6-1 Ivy to share the league title with Harvard.

“Once we would see our offense get rolling we would get off the field so we can get them back on the field and they can score some more points,” said the 6’2, 230-pound Zeuli, a native of Marlton, N.J. “It was definitely feeding off of each other.”

For Zeuli, helping the Tigers win the title was a high point, particularly considering that Princeton went 1-9 in his freshman season.

“You come in and it was just one of the toughest years being a freshman, with a lot of work, a lot of everything,” said Zeuli.

“All of a sudden you are losing every game and it was bad but last year was awesome. It made up for it.”

This fall, Zeuli is looking to enjoy an awesome senior campaign, taking a leadership role as team co-captain as the Tigers are primed to win a second straight league title.

“You only have 10 games left and you have to make the best of all of them,” said Zeuli, who is fired up to kick things off in 2014 when Princeton plays at the University of San Diego (1-1) on September 20.

Serving as co-captain along with classmate and star quarterback Quinn Epperly, Zeuli is determined to be the best leader he can be.

“It was just humbling to think that guys on the team look to me as a leader,” said Zeuli, reflecting on being voted captain.

“I hope that I can live up to that and do a good job. I am definitely more lead by example. Guys have problems or questions, they come to me. I am trying to be more vocal as a leader on the defense. I still just have to go out there and do the job and play.”

Assessing how things have gone in the preseason camp, Zeuli believes the Tigers are putting in some good work.

“It has been going well, we are out here working, trying to make plays, trying to get better everyday,” said Zeuli.

While the Princeton team has a bull’s eye on its back as a defending league champion and being picked to finish first this fall by the preseason media poll, Zeuli said the Tigers aren’t feeling pressure to repeat.

“I don’t know if we think about that,” said Zeuli. “You just take every game as it comes and just try to win every game. It’s no different than any other year.”

As Zeuli and his teammates gird for the season, their focus is on seizing the moment.

“You are always trying to fight complacency, whether you are up 20 in a game or coming off an Ivy League championship,” said Zeuli.

“You always still want to play your best. You need to just relax, play, and have fun.”

SISTER ACT: Princeton University field hockey player Annabeth Donovan brings the ball upfield in recent action. Last Sunday, sophomore defender Donovan played a strong game in a losing cause as Princeton fell 1-0 to visiting Bucknell in overtime to drop to 0-4. Donovan is the third member of her family to star for the Tiger field hockey program as older sisters Kaitlin ’10 and Amy ’13 played before her. Donovan and the Tigers will look to get on the winning track this weekend as they host Dartmouth on September 20 in their Ivy League opener and then play at American University a day later.(Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

SISTER ACT: Princeton University field hockey player Annabeth Donovan brings the ball upfield in recent action. Last Sunday, sophomore defender Donovan played a strong game in a losing cause as Princeton fell 1-0 to visiting Bucknell in overtime to drop to 0-4. Donovan is the third member of her family to star for the Tiger field hockey program as older sisters Kaitlin ’10 and Amy ’13 played before her. Donovan and the Tigers will look to get on the winning track this weekend as they host Dartmouth on September 20 in their Ivy League opener and then play at American University a day later. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Annabeth Donovan was initially looking to buck the family trend when she started looking at college options.

Although her grandfather, both parents, and two older sisters are Princeton University alums, Donovan wanted to go elsewhere.

“When I was little I looked forward to going to Princeton but when I was actually looking at colleges, I said I was never coming here because of my sisters,” said Donovan.

But the school’s excellence in field hockey and academics swayed Donovan to follow in family tradition.

“Once you know Princeton, it is hard to turn it down, especially in the field hockey aspect because it is one of the best programs,” said Donovan, a native of Unionville, Pa. “It is such a good school.”

Joining the field hockey program last fall, Donovan got a good education, soaking up lessons from senior star Julia Reinprecht on the way to making first-team All-Ivy League and being named the league’s Co-Rookie of the Year.

“The biggest things I learned from her is her sense of leadership and her composure on the field and the way she was able to motivate and lead the team,” said Donovan, whose sisters, Kaitlin ’10 and Amy ’13, also starred for the Tiger field hockey program.

“I think she really taught me a lot about playing in that central position. I learned a lot, just how to organize and control a game.”

As a sophomore, Donovan is looking to apply what she learned from Reinprecht.

“It is definitely more calm but it is a new team and we are figuring out our new dynamics,” said Donovan. “There is still a lot of things that we have to work out, it is early in the season.”

Princeton is definitely a work in progress as it fell 1-0 in overtime to Bucknell last Sunday to drop to 0-4.

“I think we definitely improved, we have been working on our mentality during practice and I think it is starting to show,” said Donovan, reflecting on the loss which came two days after a 5-2 defeat to No. 8 Penn State.

“We are just trying to be tougher, trying to stay on marks, recovering back into lines and having the feeling of urgency. I think we showed that today, which is a big improvement.”

Noting that Princeton faced nationally ranked Duke, Virginia, and Penn State in its first three contests this fall, Donovan said that experience has toughened up the squad.

“We are lucky enough to play three top-10 teams early in the season and those top 10 teams are really going to exploit our weaknesses and show us what we have to work on,” said Donovan.

“So while yes it is hard going in and playing such highly ranked teams and maybe not winning, we learn exactly what we need to do because they capitalize on every mental breakdown or tactical error that we make. It just helps improve and recognize what we need to work on.”

Donovan acknowledges that the Tigers need to sharpen up their finishing around the goal.

“We have lots of freshmen and young players filling in there so right now it is just working on that dynamic,” said Donovan.

“Up front, especially, learning how players move and where they go is a big aspect so it is working on that chemistry and that will come in games. We are  getting it up there, we are getting chances. It is just learning how each other plays.”

Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn concurred, frustrated by her team’s failure to score on a day when it outshot Bucknell 10-7 and built a 5-2 edge in penalty corners.

“We had a lot of pretty good opportunities but you have to find a way to finish,” said Holmes-Winn. “I know that sounds simple but when you have opportunities you have to find a way to put them into the net.”

In assessing the loss, Holmes-Winn said her team has to find a way to maintain possession.

“We gave the ball up a ton in our midfield and that is something we just have to fix,” said Holmes-Winn.

“It is more mental errors than really a lot of physical stuff. We just have to get into a groove and we haven’t found that groove yet.”

In the view of Holmes-Winn, Donovan has found a groove along the back line.

“She has energy and she is consistent,” said Holmes-Winn. “She is mentally very strong and sharp. It just has to be a balance between that energy and that composure. I really think she has that balance right, just having that role model in Julia was really key. We need other players stepping up and providing a little more direction.”

Princeton also needs to play more directly. “We have to attack the game mentally,” said Holmes-Winn.

“When, for example, we are defending and the ball hits their foot we know it’s our free hit, get on the ball instead of wondering whose free hit is it. Mentally, we are not engaged enough in the moment and understanding how we can manipulate the moment to our advantage.”

While Princeton, which won its 19th Ivy League title in the last 20 years last season on the way to the NCAA quarterfinals, is not happy with its 0-4 start, Holmes-Winn is far from discouraged about the Tigers’ prospects.

“It is a long season and we just have to find a way to win the mini-moments throughout the match and capitalize in the form of a finish,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team opens its Ivy campaign by hosting Dartmouth on September 20 and then plays at American University a day later.

“We certainly have the capability, we absolutely do. I think the belief is there; it is just on game day being able to show what we are capable of.”

Donovan, for her part, believes the Tigers are capable of doing some big things this fall.

“We have definitely been improving every game, slowly but surely,” maintained Donovan. “It is not where you start, it is where you finish.”

 

HEAD GAMES: Princeton University men’s soccer players, Andrew Mills. left, and Thomas Sanner use their heads during Princeton’s scoreless draw with St. John’s last Wednesday. The Tigers, who edged Seton Hall 5-4 last Sunday to improve to 1-1-1, host Georgetown on September 17 in a game to be televised on ESPNU before playing at Boston University on September 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HEAD GAMES: Princeton University men’s soccer players, Andrew Mills. left, and Thomas Sanner use their heads during Princeton’s scoreless draw with St. John’s last Wednesday. The Tigers, who edged Seton Hall 5-4 last Sunday to improve to 1-1-1, host Georgetown on September 17 in a game to be televised on ESPNU before playing at Boston University on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Andrew Mills is shouldering additional leadership responsibility for the Princeton University men’s soccer team, by necessity.

With fellow senior and All-Ivy League defender Josh Miller having been sidelined by injury, Mills, a midfielder at times during his college career, is spearheading the Princeton backline.

“I played center back in all of my youth so it is nothing new,” said Mills. “I played a little center mid last year so that was kind of a switch up. I am pretty comfortable back there.”

Last Wednesday evening, Mills showed his comfort level in the central defender role, helping Princeton battle St. John’s to a scoreless tie through two overtimes as the Tigers tightened things up after a 3-2 opening day loss to Fairleigh Dickinson University on September 5.

“On Friday, we gave up three soft goals off of set plays and today we
really limited their chances on restarts,” said the 6’2, 195-pound Mills, a native of Sacramento, Calif.

“We gave up a couple of corners that could have been avoidable but we seemed to deal with them pretty well. There were only a couple that I felt they were really getting dangerous. Beyond that, we were just tighter with our line. We were making sure that we were more organized, keeping our communication high.”

There is good communication between Mills and his eight classmates on the squad.

“We are a really tight knit group, just among ourselves as a friend group,” said Mills, a team tri-captain along with classmates Miller and Myles McGinley.

“We have had a lot of experience on the field so one of the things we are really stressing is our leadership between all of our seniors. We have three captains right now, it shows that our team is really geared towards leadership up and down. Our senior class is leading from the guys who are playing and the guys who aren’t playing a lot, all nine.”

Princeton head coach Jim Barlow likes the leadership he is getting from Mills.

“Mills has done a great job being a leader in the back,” said Barlow. “He is keeping the team connected and has a good way of keeping shape and starting the team attack.”

In Barlow’s view, the team’s defensive unit did a great job collectively in the draw with St. John’s.

“That was about as well as Joe Saitta has ever played,” asserted Barlow. “He was really solid, plugging holes and getting all of his passes right, winning balls in the air. Patrick Barba was solid. Andrew Doar must have run 20 miles, he doesn’t get every play right but he gives you so much in terms of competing, mobility, and covering ground.”

Even though Princeton didn’t find the back of the net on the evening, Barlow was encouraged by his team’s offensive energy as it outshot the red Storm 13-11.

“I think we are going to get goals,” said Barlow, whose team piled up the goals last Sunday as it edged Seton Hall 5-4 with Julian Griggs and Cameron Porter each scoring twice as the Tigers improved to 1-1-1.

“I liked Cam’s play tonight, he is such a handful. Thomas [Sanner] had a very good first half. Brendan McSherry had his moments. Nico [Hurtado] had his moments. I think we are going to be a tough team for teams to deal with. We just got to keep trying to push it and keep getting results as we are doing it.”

While Barlow had hoped that the game would result in a win, he drew plenty of positives from the effort.

“It is a step in the right
direction, we still have a ways to go,” said Barlow, whose team hosts Georgetown on September 17 in a game to be televised on ESPNU before playing at Boston University on September 20. “I think we all feel good about the team we have and where it can go from here.”

Mills and his classmates are hoping to go on an Ivy title run this fall. “This is our last chance, the last two years we were one game away,” said Mills.

“We let the Harvard game and the Penn game both slip away from us last year and this year, I don’t feel that we are letting those slip. I look back toward the year we went 7-0, that was the year before our senior class came in. We are looking to replicate something like that special team did.”

 

September 10, 2014
OPENING MOVE: Princeton University men’s soccer player ­Cameron Porter goes after the ball in a 2013 game. Last Friday, senior star Porter scored the Tigers’ first  goal of the season as Princeton fell 3-2 at Fairleigh Dickinson University in its season opener, squandering a 2-0 second half lead. The Tigers will look to get on the winning track when they host St. John’s (0-3-1) on September 10 at Roberts Stadium.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OPENING MOVE: Princeton University men’s soccer player ­Cameron Porter goes after the ball in a 2013 game. Last Friday, senior star Porter scored the Tigers’ first goal of the season as Princeton fell 3-2 at Fairleigh Dickinson University in its season opener, squandering a 2-0 second half lead. The Tigers will look to get on the winning track when they host St. John’s (0-3-1) on September 10 at Roberts Stadium. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last fall, the Princeton University men’s soccer team opened its season by giving up two first half goals at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) on the way to a 3-0 defeat.

Kicking off its 2014 campaign by playing at FDU last Friday evening, Princeton flipped the script, jumping out to a 2-0 lead on a tally by Cameron Porter early in the contest and a goal by Andrew Doar at the 55-minute mark.

Princeton head coach Jim Barlow liked the way his squad got out of the gate.

“We started well, we scored a nice goal about 4-5 minutes into the game; there was a good build-up and a lot of players touched the ball,” said Barlow.

“We felt that we were not only getting forward, we were solid defensively. We were not letting them get any chances. We were on top of things for a long stretch. In the last 20 minutes, they picked it up and had some half-chances. We felt we were in pretty good shape at halftime. We scored a goal about 10 minutes into the second half. It was a little flukey, Andrew Doar meant to cross it but it went in.”

But, stunningly, FDU produced an encore performance, repeating history by scoring three unanswered goals to pull out a 3-2 win in double overtime.

In assessing the harrowing finish, Barlow acknowledged that his squad let things slip away.

“It ended up being a really, really disappointing ending,” said Barlow. “We conceded goals on some silly mistakes.”

The Knights scored twice within a 15-minute stretch to force overtime, tallying at 64:00 and 78:58.

“On the first one, we let a guy make a run through the midfield and then we committed a foul,” said Barlow.

“The free kick deflected off of our wall and into the corner. The second was a penalty kick. Patrick Barba and their forward were running side by side; they were both looking at the ball and got tangled up. The ref called a foul on Patrick; we were disappointed but those things happen and you have to deal with them. They scored and that got them psyched up. It was a big goal.”

Despite that sequence, Barlow didn’t think the Tigers were hanging their  heads as the game went into overtime.

“I still feel like we bounced back from that,” said Barlow. “We went into the second overtime still tied and we made a silly foul in the midfield. On the free kick, our goalie, Ben Hummel, got his hands on it but it bounced off and they scored on rebound.”

While Barlow declined to blame the defeat on the fact that FDU had two games under its belt coming into the evening, he acknowledged that the Tigers lacked game sharpness.

“We were not looking at each other and saying we had to get fresh legs in; we were still getting chances and going forward,” said Barlow.

“We certainly have fitness but we need to manage the game and get all of the little details right and that only comes with playing games.”

The setback didn’t dim Barlow’s belief that Princeton can win a lot of games this fall.

“I think the biggest positive is that we feel that we have a really good team,” asserted Barlow.

“We are strong at every part of the field. We are explosive. We are athletic, we have some speed and strength. We put together a lot of good plays and kept tight in the back.”

The loss, though, did expose Princeton’s need to improve on set pieces.

“We have to be better on the restarts,” said Barlow.

“We did well in the air and on corner kicks but we have to focus on not making fouls and giving up free kicks and penalties. Every game is close so you have to lean on experience and leadership to get through stretches when the other team is throwing the kitchen sink at us.”

A quartet of veterans, seniors Andrew Mills, junior Brendan McSherry, junior Nico Hurtado, and senior Porter, displayed leadership on Friday night.

“Andrew Mills had a really good game at center back,” said Barlow, noting that senior defensive star Josh Miller is still being hampered by injury.

“Brendan McSherry was very good in the midfield; he was an engine for us. He was a leader and organized the team and had a lot of good passes. Hurtado and Porter did a solid job of getting dangerous up top.”

In Barlow’s view, the players have done a good job of rebounding from Friday’s loss.

“You could make the case that this morning’s session was the best one of the season so far,” said Barlow.

“They bounced back and showed intensity; they are feeling a lot of optimism. We would have liked to get a 1-0 start and be growing while we are winning. That didn’t happen, the game is over, and we have to move forward.”

The Tigers will look to make some good things happens as they host St. John’s (0-3-1) in their home opener on September 10 at Roberts Field.

“They are an attacking, exciting team,” said Barlow, whose team plays at Seton Hall on September 14.

“They have a great history and we always have exciting matchups. It is the first day of school and we are hoping for a big crowd; that makes Roberts an exciting place for us.”