August 3, 2022

SIX SHOOTER: Zach Currier heads upfield against Yale in 2017 during his senior season for the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team. Star midfielder Currier helped Canada take gold last month at the World Lacrosse Sixes tournament at The World Games in Birmingham, Ala. Currier tallied five goals in the gold medal final as Canada defeated the U.S. 23-9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Zach Currier has been adding lacrosse titles each year since graduating from Princeton University in 2017.

Indoor. Outdoor. Major League Lacrosse. National Lacrosse League. And the Mann Cup for senior men’s box lacrosse in Canada.

Last month, the former All-America midfielder for the Tiger men’s lacrosse program added another championship in the newest version of the sport. Currier scored five goals to pace Canada to a 23-9 win over the United States, which included former Princeton star Tom Schreiber ’14, in the gold medal game of the inaugural World Lacrosse Sixes at The World Games in Birmingham, Ala., on July 12.

“I was pretty happy with the win,” said Currier, a native of Peterborough, Ontario. “I know it’s been perceived as a bit of a funky format for most native lacrosse fans, but I also think at the same time it’s the way that the Olympic committee thought we had to go to make the game more acceptable to the countries that it might not be more common on.”

The Sixes discipline was created to interest Olympic organizers by modifying the traditional game of lacrosse. Sixes is played on a smaller field, six-on-six, with a shorter shot clock and modification designed to speed up the pace of play. World Lacrosse would like to see the Sixes version in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

“It was cool to be in the first event and be a part of Team Canada,” said Currier. “Hopefully in 50 years when this is in the Olympics, people can look back and see my name on that roster and that would be a pretty cool thing.”

Currier’s name on a championship roster is nothing new. His name has become a significant force in the sport that he is deeply entrenched in from a variety of angles. He is working on a new collective bargaining agreement as president of the NLL Players Association, a position he has held since 2020. When he isn’t playing, that job takes up a lot of his time and energy. He also still works in product design for Warrior Lacrosse. And he works at building his skills and developing his game with no plans of exiting the game any time soon. more

July 27, 2022

HEADING FORWARD: Michael Sowers heads to goal in a 2020 game during his senior season with the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team. Star attackman Sowers, who ended his Princeton career as the program leader in points (302) and assists (181), is currently making an impact on the next level for the Waterdogs of the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL). After being sidelined last summer in his rookie season due to a head injury, Sowers has tallied 18 points on 11 goals and seven assists to help the Waterdog go 3-3. He played in the PLL All-Star game on July 16, tallying three goals to help Team Baptiste rout Team Farrell 33-13 in the contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Michael Sowers may be two years removed from ending his Princeton University career and is technically a second-year pro, but he feels like a rookie in the Professional Lacrosse League (PLL).

His debut season in the PLL for the Waterdogs in 2021 was limited by a head injury to two games last year, but he has rebounded this summer to help the club start 3-3. Earlier this month, Sowers played in the PLL All-Star game, tallying three goals to help Team Baptiste rout Team Farrell 33-13 in the contest. Capping the day, the shifty, acrobatic 5’9, 165-pound Sowers won the freestyle competition in the All-Star Skills contest.

For Sowers, getting the chance to participate in the All-Star weekend in Boston on July 16 had a special meaning after his abbreviated 2021 campaign.

“In college, when the PLL first got going, watching the all-star game, it just always was a super cool event,” said star attackman Sowers, who ended his Princeton career as the program leader in points (302) and assists (181). “It’s definitely a cool honor to be a part of it.”

Sowers accrued 15 points on eight goals and seven assists in his first four games this season to earn the All-Star selection. After scoring three goals to help the Waterdogs edge the Chrome 11-10 last Sunday, Sowers now has 18 points on 11 goals and seven assists. The second pick in the 2021 draft after finishing his college career at Duke as a graduate transfer, Sowers has fit in well in the PLL. more

July 20, 2022

HOMPE DAY: Former Princeton University women’s lacrosse star Olivia Hompe ’17 celebrates after scoring the winning goal to give England an 8-7 victory over Australia in triple overtime of the bronze medal game at the Women’s World Championship earlier this month. Hompe, who ripped a free position shot on the winning tally, scored 29 points on 21 goals and eight assists in the tournament. It was the second bronze for Hompe at the Worlds as she helped England take third in the 2017 tourney. (Photo by England Lacrosse, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Justin Feil

Olivia Hompe will take some time to finalize her future, but she may have played her last lacrosse game.

If so, the 2017 Princeton University graduate did so memorably. Star attacker Hompe ripped a free position shot to give England an 8-7 win over Australia in triple overtime of the bronze medal game at the Women’s World Championship on July 10.

“It would be a great way to go out even having fallen short of silver,” said Hompe, a native of New Canaan, Conn., who holds a British passport because her mother is a citizen of England.

“I’m really proud of the team and how we rallied in that game and persevered throughout the whole tournament and through a mix of adversity. I think we really rose to the occasion on the final day. It would be a pretty great last shot in my career.”

Hompe finished with four goals and an assist in England’s third-place game. Hompe was among the championship’s leading scorers with 29 points on 21 goals and eight assists in eight games. She, Aurora Cordingley and goalie Brittany Read were the lone members of England to be named to the All-World Team. Hompe also played for England when it won bronze in 2017, but this year’s version was a much improved group that gave Canada an 11-9 challenge in the championship semifinals. It was a sign of the team’s growth in five years. more

July 13, 2022

NEW YORK STATE OF MIND: Kevin O’Toole controls the ball in game last fall during his senior season for the Princeton University men’s soccer team. O’Toole, who was named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year to help Princeton win the 2021 league crown, is currently playing for New York City Football Club (NYCFC)in Major League Soccer (MLS). Midfielder/forward O’Toole has yet to appear in an MLS game, but has been logging heavy minutes for NYCFC’s second team. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Kevin O’Toole got a jump start on his professional career. As his final semester at Princeton University approached this past January, the New York City Football Club (NYCFC) selected him with the 34th pick in the 2022 Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft.

“I was kind of thrust into my career while I was finishing up school, which was definitely a challenge to balance the two, especially with the senior thesis,” said O’Toole, who was officially inked in March to a contract for the 2022 season with options for 2023 and 2024.“That was the hardest thing to get done while doing both. It definitely kept me busy for full days.”

O’Toole was one of two Ivy League players selected in this year’s draft along with Cornell’s Tyler Bagley. His selection and subsequent signing helped him fulfill a goal he had set upon entering Princeton.

“I always wanted to play professional soccer,” said O’Toole, a 5’10, 165-pound midfielder/forward. “That was a goal of mine. I know a lot of guys come into Princeton and get obsessed with the academics and then have lucrative career paths awaiting them when they graduate. I never veered from the soccer course and continued on playing and working hard through the school seasons to make sure I was in shape and performing well enough to get looks from professional scouts. That was always my goal. Maybe I was a bit overconfident that would happen because it is pretty rare for guys to make it out of the Ivy League. I was very fortunate to do it and very happy how it worked out.”

O’Toole heard before the draft through his agent and through Princeton University men’s soccer head coach Jim Barlow that there was interest in him from four or five MLS teams. He was coming off a season in which he returned from a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic to post seven goals and nine assists to claim his second Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year. The three-time first-team All-Ivy forward had family on hand at his home in Montclair, and they joined in a chorus of screams when his name popped up on the draft board. more

July 6, 2022

MIGHTY HEAVE: Princeton University women’s track star Kate Joyce throws the javelin at the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore. Last month. Joyce capped her sophomore season at Princeton by taking sixth with a best heave of 179’5 at the NCAA meet to earn first-team All-American honors. She went on the compete in women’s javelin at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, also in Eugene, where she placed 16th with a throw of 145’4. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Justin Feil

Kate Joyce took a break from something she has been wanting to do in order to do something in track and field that she never anticipated.

Joyce is traveling the country photographing wildlife over the summer for a personal project as one of 13 Princeton University sophomore recipients of a Dale Summer Award. Joyce’s “Picture This….” project brought her to San Diego last week — after a stop to compete in women’s javelin at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore.

“It was a really cool experience to be throwing with such an elite level of competition and people who have been doing this a while,” said Joyce, who placed 16th with a throw of 145’4.

“Even just watching was great. It would have been cool to make finals, but just to watch them was a cool experience. And outside of javelin, being surrounded by such great athletes in that atmosphere was incredible.”

Joyce still is embracing her own elite level as a college javelin thrower. Her meteoric rise over the last three-plus years took her to sixth place and a medal in her first trip to the NCAA Championships in June and record-setting success.  more

June 29, 2022

UNIFIED APPROACH: Thomas Harrington, left, greets members of the New Jersey team in the unified competition at the Special Olympics USA Games held in Orlando, Fla., earlier this month. Former Princeton University women’s track assistant coach Harrington served as a technical delegate at the Games, running and coordinating the unified track competition. (Photo provided by Thomas Harrington)

By Bill Alden

Starting in the late 1980s, Thomas Harrington has experienced success coaching track at several levels.

Guiding Lawrence High and then moving on to Stuart Country Day School, Harrington’s teams amassed over 200 wins, 31 championships, and three All-America awards.

Stepping up to the college level, Harrington served as an assistant coach for the Princeton University women’s track program from 2005-2016, helping the Tigers win a number of indoor and outdoor Ivy League titles.

Over the last four years, he has been an assistant coach at Princeton High, focusing on developing the program’s sprinters and hurdlers.

But for Harrington, the highlight of his stellar coaching career has been his 30-plus years of involvement with the Special Olympics.

“I have coached at every level, from little people to collegiate to Olympian but what I have found as I dealt with the athletes at this level is that there is such a genuine appreciation that goes well beyond the coaching part,” said Harrington, who starting working with Special Olympics in 1989 when he ran coaches clinic for the organization at Lawrence High.

“There is a different energy level. Once a (Special Olympics) games is over, I am toast, I am completely tired and I am not going back. I end up in a ShopRite or Wegmans and I hear somebody say ‘hey coach,’ and one of the athletes comes running over and hugs my knees. They hooked me in. This is my passion.”

Earlier this month, Harrington ran and coordinated the unified track competition at the Special Olympics USA Games held in Orlando, Fla., from June 5-12 as it was held for the first time in the event.

Unified track involves athletes with and without intellectual disabilities competing alongside each other in a team competition in seven events, the 100 dash, 200, 400, 4×100 relay, 4×400, shot put, and long jump. more

June 22, 2022

ENJOYING THE RIDE: Princeton University women’s open rowing coxswain Roopa Venkatraman guides the varsity 4 in a race this spring during her senior campaign. Venkatraman, a Cranbury resident, helped the varsity 4 win both the Ivy League and NCAA titles this spring. (Photo by Row2k, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

Suffering a leg injury from running cross country at the Deerfield Academy put Roopa Venkatraman on a path that ultimately ended up with her winning an NCAA title in rowing.

Needing to be on a team in the spring of her senior year at the Massachusetts prep school, Venkatraman hit the water.

“As we were required to play a sport for at least two seasons, I started looking for an alternative to running track in the spring,” said Venkatraman, a native of Cranbury. “Many of my friends were on the crew team at Deerfield, and I originally joined as a way to just spend some more time with them before we graduated. I didn’t know much about coxing, though many of my friends had told me I’d be a good fit for the role.”

Coming home to go to Princeton University in the fall of 2018, Venkatraman decided to join the Tiger women’s open rowing program.

With her limited crew experience, Venkatraman faced a challenge getting up to speed.

“Walking on to the team with 10 weeks of rowing experience, at best, I was put in a position to direct and lead people who had been rowing for five to 10 years, many of whom had national and international titles,” said Venkatraman.

“I was not incorrect to think that I was underqualified. I could barely tell port from starboard. It’s true that many people walk on to crew and the opportunity to do so is wonderful. But I think that walking on as a rower is, in some ways, different than walking on as a coxswain. As a coxswain, you’re automatically put in a position to lead. Your mistakes are literally broadcasted on speakers. If you underperform, you actively hinder the ability of the entire crew to practice and reach their potential.”

Reaching her potential, Venkatraman guided the Princeton varsity 4 win both the Ivy League and NCAA titles this spring in her senior campaign.

In becoming a national champion coxswain, Venkatraman applied a studious approach to the sport and her position. more

June 15, 2022

SUDDEN SAM: Princeton University men’s track star Sam Ellis working on his form last week at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. Senior Ellis ended his Princeton career on a high note, taking third in the 1,500 meters. In the team standings, the Tigers placed seventh, the best finish at the meet in program history and the highest for an Ivy League team since Yale took third in 1950. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Justin Feil

Sam Ellis was looking to make up for lost opportunities this year.

After the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and taking a gap year because of the uncertainties of the 2021 spring season, the Princeton University senior did so last week in his first appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Ellis came on strong in the home stretch to finish third in the men’s 1,500 meters in 3:45.82 Friday at the University of Oregon.

“It’s pretty surreal,” said Ellis, who earned All-America honors. “I think if you had told me I was going to get third the day before or any day in the last year leading up to this meet, I would have been pretty thrilled and satisfied with that. But I think just the nature of track and field, and how our sport works, as soon as you cross the finish line, you’re thinking about all the little things and the minutiae of the race and how you could have been just a little bit better.”

Ellis scored big points for the Tigers as the highest finisher on the track, with senior Ed Trippas (fifth in steeplechase) and freshman Sam Rodman (seventh in 800 meters) also scoring. In the field events, junior Sondre Guttormsen won the men’s pole vault, just as he had won the indoor NCAA title this year. Guttormsen soared over 5.75 meters to win. His brother, junior Simen Guttormsen, took fourth in the pole vault when he tied his personal record of 5.65 meters. The 27 points scored landed Princeton in seventh place, the best finish in program history and the highest for an Ivy League team since Yale took third in 1950.

“Without a doubt, we’re the best Ivy team in history,” said Ellis, a native of Decatur, Ga. “It’s not close. Just the fact that track is pretty much at its pinnacle, it’s so competitive now. There are kids from all over the world in NCAA. Four of the favorites in the 1,500 were a Belgium guy, a Spanish guy, a Kenyan guy and a Moroccan guy. I would call it almost on par with the U.S. national championships. I think my rank in the U.S. in terms of time, was higher than it was in the NCAA. There’s always going to be some top guys in the U.S. that are going to vie for that Olympic spot, but I think the NCAA is just as deep as any country is to make the Olympic team.” more

June 8, 2022

SHINING LIGHTS: Members of the Princeton University women’s lightweight crew program show off the spoils of victory last Sunday at Mercer County Park after they earned their first-ever team title at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta. The Tigers took first in the varsity 8 and the double sculls on the way to the title. Both boats went undefeated this season. (Photo by Row2K, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

Having not lost a race this season, the Princeton University women’s lightweight varsity 8 wasn’t messing around as it hit the water last Sunday for the grand final of the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta.

“Our race plan was to throw the kitchen sink at them; we wanted to get up on the first 500 meters, the first few strokes and just hold them to the last,” said graduate student Rebecca Mays, who rowed in the No. 2 seat on the boat. “I think we were really successful doing that.”

Even though Georgetown made a late push and narrowed the gap, Princeton held on for the victory, posting a winning time of 6:55.89 over the 2,000-meter course, 1.596 seconds better than the Hoyas.

“Not at all, we knew what we had left in the tank,” said Mays with a smile when asked if she was concerned about Georgetown’s surge.

The varsity 8’s win helped Princeton earn the national team title for the first time in program history as double sculls also placed first and its varsity 4 took fourth.

For Mays, the win by the varsity 8 resulted from months of hard work.

“It didn’t feel real at first because we have worked towards this all year long,” said Mays, a native of Annandale, Va. “The whole past year, this has been the goal. We finally accomplished that, it was really beautiful. It was really overwhelming.”

It was the second straight crown for the boat, which had won the title in 2021 by beating Wisconsin in a two-boat grand final.

“It was incredible, last year we knew we could have done it against a full field,” said Mays. “It is just really exciting to finally put that into action and see it through to the end.” more

HEAVY MEDAL: Members of the Princeton University men’s heavyweight varsity 4 celebrate after they won the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta last Saturday. The boat clocked a winning time of 6:20.001 over the 2,000-meter course on Mercer Lake, edging runner-up Washington, who came in at 6:20.897. The boat included coxswain Eleanor Bauer, Greg Le Meur, Matthew Wagner, Emmett Infante, and Samuel Kleiner. (Photo by Row2K, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

Heading into the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta last weekend at Mercer Lake, the Princeton University men’s heavyweight rowing program was girding for a dogfight.

“It has been an interesting year, we faced plenty of challenges,” said Princeton heavyweight head coach Greg Hughes. “The [Eastern] Sprints for us was just an awesome breakthrough. It was a really, really positive step forward. We knew coming in that the level is high and there is a lot of depth. There are new programs in that top mix. Syracuse has done a really amazing job. Northeastern has done an amazing job. Dartmouth has done an amazing job, they are in the mix now. Look back to 2018 and 2019, those teams are here now and they are players. We knew that. We did a decent job preparing. We were in a position to be a contender and I think we were.”

The varsity 4 provided the highlight of the regatta for Princeton, winning its grand final on Saturday to earn a national title. The boat posted a winning time of 6:20.001 over the 2,000-meter course, edging runner-up Washington, who came in at 6:20.897.

“It was amazing, that was such an inspiration for me to watch,” said Hughes of the boat which included coxswain Eleanor Bauer, Greg Le Meur, Matthew Wagner, Emmett Infante, and Samuel Kleiner.

“What is great is that learning to win matters and that is something we will bring into the program next year. All of those guys will be back. That was phenomenal and it was an inspiration to the rest of our team too. That was really, really rewarding and positive.”

Another positive moment for Princeton came on Saturday when the second varsity 8 battled hard to take third in its semi to earn a spot in the grand final. more

CHASING A TITLE: Princeton University men’s track star Ed Trippas heads to a hurdle in a steeplechase race. Trippas, who competed in the Olympics for Australia last summer, set the top mark at the NCAA East Regional with a 8:33.93 time for the 3,000-meter steeplechase in late May. This week, he will be competing at the NCAA Championships, which begin on June 8 and run through Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. Trippas will be joined by 10 teammates as the Tigers are sending a program-record 11 athletes to the NCAA meet. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Justin Feil

Princeton University men’s track and field coach Fred Samara was confident a year ago that the Tigers team would be special this spring.

The Tigers have more than fulfilled that hope while rewriting the record books with what could be argued is its best team in school history. Excelling at the NCAA East Regional in late May, Princeton advanced to the NCAA Championships in a program-record 11 events. The NCAAs begin on June 8 and run through Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. 

“You can say you’re going to have a good year, but to back it up is incredible,” said Samara, who brought 27 athletes to the East Regional. “The credit goes to the guys. They believe in themselves and they want to do well.”

Princeton finished fifth at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, but matching that is a tall order, even with its record numbers. No other school in the East had as many qualifiers. Add the qualifier numbers to the long list or records that Princeton athletes set this year.

“We knew we had a great team, but I was telling John Mack, our new AD who understands track and field, it’s the level of performances that we were a little surprised in,” said Samara.

“If you go down event by event, starting with the 100 meters and the relay, we knew we had good guys but to run 39.1 in the relay is unbelievable. In the 100, we had a 10.17. We had two guys at 20.5 in the 200, a 45.8 in the 400, a new record in the 800, a new record in the 1500. Field events, discus almost 206 (feet), 65 (feet) in the shot, the pole vault we knew we’d be good, high jump. I think in every event we exceeded our performance level that we had hoped for. It’s been remarkable.” more

June 1, 2022

RUNNING INTO TROUBLE: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Alexander Vardaro, left, heads to goal last Saturday night against Maryland in the NCAA semis. Junior midfielder Vardaro scored a team-high two goals as the Tigers fell 13-8 to undefeated and eventual national champion Maryland at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn. (Photo by Noel Valero)

By Bill Alden

After the start of its NCAA semifinal game against Maryland was delayed for four hours by stormy weather, the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team was greeted by blue skies as it hit Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., last Saturday.

Princeton, though, was seeing red about a half hour later as undefeated and top-seeded powerhouse Maryland built a 5-1 first quarter lead over the fifth-seeded Tigers.

But a scrappy Princeton team, which started the season unranked and clawed its way to the Final 4, didn’t flinch, narrowing the gap to 7-4 by halftime.

“We’ve kind of been there before, been through a lot of up and downs, been all over the place this season,” said Tiger senior goalie Erik Peters. “We had all the trust in the world in each other and just the next play. I think that kind of mentality let us get back in the game and keep going.”

Maryland kept going after the break, going on a 4-0 run, as the sun set on the Tigers with the Terps pulling away to a 13-8 run. Two days later, Maryland went on to edge seventh-seeded Cornell 9-7 in the championship game to end the spring with an 18-0 record.

While the loss to the Terps stung, Princeton head coach Matt Madalon was proud of what his team accomplished as it went 11-5 on the way to making its first Final 4 since 2004.

“Credit to an outstanding Maryland team, they capitalized on every mistake we made,” said Madalon. “It is a heck of a team, very well coached. Our senior class group that brought us back to this weekend. I am very proud for our program. Obviously it didn’t work out the way we wanted, but we’re very happy to be here.”  more

FAMILIAR WATERS: Nathalie Verlinde, far left, competes in the bow seat as the Princeton University lightweight women’s varsity 8 churns through the water in a race this spring. Sophomore Verlinde, a Princeton High alumni, will be looking to help the Tiger top boat repeat as national champions when it competes in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) championships from June 3-5 on Mercer Lake. During her high school career, Verlinde competed on Mercer Lake as a member of the Princeton National Rowing Association (PNRA) Mercer Junior rowing program. (Photo by Row2K, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Justin Feil

Nathalie Verlinde feels at home on Mercer Lake, where she will try to help the Princeton University lightweight women’s varsity 8 boat repeat as national champions June 3-5 at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) championships.

Verlinde graduated from Princeton High and started rowing for the Princeton National Rowing Association (PNRA) Mercer Junior rowing program. as a high school freshman. The Mercer Juniors train on Mercer Lake, and last year her high school teammates came out to see her Tigers team win the national title in a field reduced to two by the COVID-19 pandemic. Princeton won by more than 26 seconds over Wisconsin for its first national crown since 2003.

Now a sophomore, Verlinde and Princeton will face a full field as it tries to cap a perfect season. The Tiger top boat has not been beaten this season, as it won another gold at the Dad Vail Championships in Philadelphia on May 14 to follow up an important win at Eastern Sprints in Worcester, Mass., on May 1. more

PASSING THE TORCH: Jenn Cook, right, and Chris Sailer are all smiles last Wednesday after Cook was named to succeed Sailer as the head coach of the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team. Cook served for 10 years as an assistant and associate head coach for the Tigers before getting promoted to the top job. Sailer, a Hall of Fame coach who led Princeton to a 433-168 record and three NCAA titles in her 36-year tenure guiding the program, announced last fall that she was retiring after the 2022 campaign. (Photo provided by Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

Princeton University Director of Athletics John Mack didn’t have to go far to find a successor to legendary Tiger women’s lacrosse head coach Chris Sailer.

After conducting a nationwide search for a new head coach upon Hall of Famer Sailer announcing last fall that she was retiring after the 2022 campaign, longtime Princeton assistant and associate head coach Jenn Cook was named last week to take the helm of the program.

In her introductory press conference last Wednesday at Chandler Lounge, Cook vowed to be herself as she fills the big shoes of Sailer, a Hall of Fame coach who led Princeton to a 433-168 record and three NCAA titles in her 36-year tenure guiding the program.

“When I was interviewing for this job, a lot of my friends in the lacrosse world said those are big shoes to fill and I couldn’t agree more,” said Cook, a former University of North Carolina star who coached at her alma mater for four years and one year at Drexel before coming to Princeton in 2013.

“What Chris has taught me is that I have to coach in my own shoes and lead authentically. Chris has always led authentically in her coaching style and I am going to do the same. Those are big shoes and I think that the traditions that she has brought here and the tradition of winning is incredibly important. Those are things that I am going to continue to believe in and do but of course have my own spin on it.”

Cook believes she is more than ready to handle the top job. more

May 25, 2022

TITLE SHOT: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Sam English fights to get off a shot against Boston University in the first round of the NCAA tournament on May 14. Last Saturday, junior midfielder English tallied three goals to help fifth-seeded Princeton top fourth-seeded Yale 14-10 in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Tigers, now 11-4, will face top-seeded Maryland (16-0) in the NCAA semis on May 28 at East Hartford, Conn., with the victor advancing to the title game on May 30. It marks Princeton’s first Final 4 appearance since 2004. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Matt Madalon could have felt an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu as the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team fell behind Yale 3-1 in the NCAA quarterfinals last Saturday afternoon.

With fourth-seeded Yale having beaten fifth-seeded Princeton six straight times and Tiger head coach Madalon never having experienced a win over the Bulldogs in his five-year tenure, history seemed to be repeating itself in the contest played at Hofstra University.

But Madalon wasn’t fazed by the early deficit. “We were down 3-1 but we were still getting some of the shots off that we would like to get, they just weren’t dropping,” said Madalon. “I think at that point, it was ‘hey, just stick to the game plan and keep working. If we get some shots to drop, we can flip this pretty quickly.’”

Princeton did flip the script in a hurry, going on a 7-0 run over a 14-minute stretch from the latter part of the first quarter into the second to seize momentum.

“It was really important, I don’t know if we have been on a 7-0 run at any other point of the year,” said Madalon.  “It was a couple of good bounces, a couple of good saves, and a couple of really good shooting performances.”

Building an 8-5 lead at halftime, the Tigers held off the Bulldogs over the final 30 unites of the contest to pull out a 14-10 win. The Tigers, now 11-4, will face top-seeded Maryland (16-0) in the NCAA semis on May 28 at East Hartford, Conn., with the victor advancing to the title game on May 30. It marks Princeton’s first Final 4 appearance since 2004.

Madalon liked the way his squad took care of business in the second half. more

OPEN THROTTLE: The Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 churns through the water in a race this spring. The Tiger top boat, along with the second varsity 8 and varsity 4, will be competing in the NCAA Championships from May 27-29 in Sarasota, Fla. (Photo by Sideline Photos, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

Heading into the Ivy League Championships earlier this month, the rowers in the Princeton University women’s open crew program experienced a range of emotions.

“They were definitely fired up for it; we hadn’t had an Ivy championship for almost three years,” said Princeton women’s open crew head coach Lori Dauphiny.

“The interesting thing is that most of them had not been in an Ivy championship. There was a little bit of anxiousness as to what is this all about. I thought the seniors did a really nice job of trying to walk them through what is was going to be like.”

There were some anxious moments at the regatta held on May 15 in Pennsauken, as Princeton found itself in a tight battle with Yale and Brown for the Sally P. Shoemaker Trophy given to the crew with the most points. A victory by Princeton’s varsity 8 in its grand final proved to be the tiebreaker as the three squads each had 74 points.

The Tiger top boat clocked a time of 6:11.703 over the 2,000-meter course on the Cooper River to edge Brown (6:13.730) to win its grand final.

“We knew they would be a tough competition,” said Dauphiny of Brown. “We did not change the race plan that we had but we were ready. We knew that it would be close. We talked a lot about that and to be prepared for that and stay internally in the boat. They did that because the team hit a goose in the race and a kid almost lost her oar. They also hit a log somewhere in the race so there were two bobbles in which they hit something. It was a great race. It just heightened the fact that they had a lot of resilience through the year with inconsistencies, different lineups, and sickness. They were able to race through some things that were thrown at them in the race.” more

May 18, 2022

BY GEORGE: Princeton University men’s lacrosse star defender George Baughan heads upfield last Saturday as Princeton hosted Boston University in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Baughan came up with three ground balls and had one caused turnover to help key a superb defensive effort as fifth-seeded Princeton defeated BU 12-5. It was Princeton’s first game in the NCAA tournament since 2012 and its first triumph in the event since a 10-7 win over Massachusetts in the first round of the 2009 tourney. The Tigers, now 10-4, will be facing fifth-seeded and Ivy League rival Yale (12-4) in the NCAA quarters on May 21 at Hofstra University. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team prepared to host Boston University last Saturday in its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2012, the Tigers went back to basics.

Not playing on the first weekend of May because it didn’t qualify for the Ivy League postseason tourney, Princeton used the extra time to fine-tune its skills.

“We looked at it like a preseason; we did ground ball drills, fundamental drills, ball protection drills, slide and cover drills and stick protections, just really simple stuff,” said Princeton head coach Matt Madalon, whose team had defeated BU 12-7 in a regular season meeting on April 9.

“We went at them pretty hard for four days and then we gave them a couple of days off to let them get through exams and let them heal their bodies. We just took a full week of prep with BU and the guys did a good job. We got to wind it down Thursday and Friday and try to come out here as fresh as possible. Having those two weeks off allowed us to taper down our prep week a little earlier which gave us a better opportunity to start the game using our legs to create some pressure.”

Looking sharp and fresh, the fifth-seeded Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first quarter and never looked back on the way to a 12-5 win, earning its first triumph in the NCAA tournament since a 10-7 win over Massachusetts in the first round of the 2009 tourney.

Princeton, now 10-4, will face fourth-seeded and Ivy rival Yale (12-4) in the NCAA quarters on May 21 at James Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

Tiger senior star defender George Baughan, who helped key a superior defensive effort by getting three ground balls and one caused turnover, credited the extra prep time with helping the Tigers. more

TOUGH SAILING: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Kari Buonanno gets stymied by a Yale defender in recent action. Last Sunday, sophomore midfielder Buonanno tallied three goals in a losing cause as Princeton fell 13-9 to fifth-seeded Syracuse in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The loss left the Tigers with a final record of 15-4 and marked the last game for legendary Princeton head coach Chris Sailer, who is retiring after this season. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team fell 13-9 to Syracuse last Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament, many fans in Class of 1952 Stadium rose for a standing ovation and the Tiger staff exchanged hugs on the sideline.

While the result was disappointing, the show of affection recognized the end of an era as legendary Princeton head coach Chris Sailer left the field for the last time heading into retirement with the Tigers seeing their 2022 campaign come to an end.

While Sailer had hoped to see her squad make it to the Final 4, she had no qualms with the effort she got from her players this spring as they posted a 15-4 record.

“I couldn’t be prouder of how they have competed all year long in the journey we have been on,” said Sailer, a 2008 inductee to the U.S. Lacrosse National Hall of Fame, who ended her 36-year tenure at Princeton with a 433-168 record, three NCAA titles (1994, 2002, 2003), 16 Ivy League titles, and six Ivy Tournament Championships.

“We had so many young kids on the field for us. We had a lot of freshmen and sophomores who were really frustrated because there was no competition last year. We had great senior leadership. I am really proud of how far we have come, how we competed, and how well we represented Princeton.”

Last Sunday, the Tigers competed well from the opening draw, jumping out to a 3-0 lead over the fifth-seeded Orange. But high-powered Syracuse responded by outscoring the Tigers 6-3 in the second quarter to seize momentum and edge ahead 7-6 at halftime. The Orange then went on a 4-1 run after the break and never looked back on the way to the 13-9 win. more

TITLE RUN: Princeton University softball player Lauren Sablone sprints to first base last weekend in the best-of-three Ivy League Playoff Series. Freshman Sablone’s hitting helped Princeton top Harvard in the series as it overcame a 5-2 loss in the opening game to win 8-4 and 6-1. Sablone went 5-for-11 in the series with five runs, five RBIs, two doubles, a triple, and a homer. The Tigers, now 27-15-2, will be playing in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional this weekend where it will be facing host and fourth-seeded University of Arkansas (44-9) on May 20 to open play in the double-elimination competition. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After the Princeton University softball team fell 5-2 to Harvard in the opener of the best-of-three Ivy League Playoff Series last Friday, the Tigers found themselves trailing 3-1 after three innings in game two and facing elimination.

But Princeton freshman star outfielder Lauren Sablone wasn’t overly concerned by the deficit.

“We weren’t put on our heels too much at that point, we knew that a couple of runs wasn’t going to win that game,” said Sablone. “We knew we were all hitting the ball really hard, we just weren’t finding spots.”

Sablone ended up hitting the ball hard to the right spots, smacking a two-run double in the top of the fifth to put Princeton ahead 4-3 and then lining a two-run homer over the left field fence to give the Tigers a 6-4 lead as they went on to prevail 8-4.

“I have been seeing the ball pretty decently lately and knowing what I had to do in a clutch situation to help my team out, that was the most important part,” said Sablone, reflecting on her double.

As for the homer, Sablone was surprised to see it clear the fence.

“That felt great; I didn’t think it was going out, I was stoked,” said Sablone. “I thought, ‘line drive to the wall, nice, OK, Cate [Bade] in front of me will probably score and we will get a run out of it.’ All of a sudden it goes out of there and I was like ‘oh.’ That was just a bonus.” more

May 11, 2022

QUICK DRAW: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Marge Donovan races upfield against Yale in regular season action. Last Sunday, senior star defender Donovan had a single-game record 12 draw controls, adding two caused turnovers and two ground balls and an assist to help Princeton defeat Yale 19-9 in the final of the Ivy League women’s lax tournament. Donovan, who also had seven draw controls in 13-6 win over Harvard in in the Ivy semis on Friday to move into No. 1 all-time (192) in program history and No. 1 in a season (90) in that category, earned tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. Princeton, now 14-3, will host Massachusetts (16-3) in an NCAA tournament first round contest on May 13. The victor will play the winner of the first round matchup between fifth-seeded Syracuse and Fairfield in the second round on May 15 at Class of 1952 Stadium. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Marge Donovan seemed stunned, shrugging her shoulders and striking a “who, me?” pose upon learning last Sunday that she had been chosen as the Most Outstanding Player of the Ivy League women’s lacrosse tournament.

“I was pleasantly surprised, I am so blessed,” said Princeton University senior star defender Donovan, reflecting on the honor.

“Kyla [Sears] said it a couple of seconds ago, it is such a team effort. That award goes to every single person.”

Donovan, though, should not have been taken aback, having produced a memorable weekend. On Friday, she had seven draw controls in top-seeded Princeton’s 13-6 win over fourth-seeded Harvard in the Ivy semis to move into No. 1 all-time (192) in program history and No. 1 in a season (90).

Two days later, Donovan had a single-game team record 12 draw controls, adding two caused turnovers, two ground balls, and an assist to help Princeton defeat second-seeded Yale 19-9 in the final.

Princeton, now 14-3, will be staying at home this weekend to start action in the NCAA tournament as it will face Massachusetts (16-3) in a first round contest. The victor will play the winner of the first round matchup between fifth-seeded Syracuse and Fairfield in the second round on May 15 at Class of 1952 Stadium. more

ALL IN: Princeton University softball pitcher Ali Blanchard fires a pitch in a game earlier this spring. Junior star Blanchard has excelled with her arm and bat, helping Princeton win the Ivy League regular season title. The Tigers, 25-14-2 overall and 17-4 Ivy, will be hosting Harvard (21-18 overall, 15-6 Ivy) in a best-of-three Ivy Playoff Series this weekend which will determine the league’s automatic berth to the upcoming NCAA tournament. Game one is scheduled for May 13 with game two and game three, if necessary, slated for May 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It didn’t take long for Ali Blanchard to sense that the Princeton University softball team could be special this year.

Upon returning to Princeton last fall after a gap year, junior Blanchard was impressed by the work ethic she saw across the board.

“I was super excited to get back, a few of us took the year off and it made us more appreciative of things,” said Blanchard. “Everyone was super excited to get working. I think from the fall everyone had a feeling that his Ivy League season was going to be a pretty good one, based on our practices and how everyone showed up ready to get better every day. As soon as we set foot on campus, everyone was willing to put in the extra work.”

After a rough start in Florida where the Tigers went 1-4, Princeton started picking up wins when it went 4-1 in the UCSB Tournament in Santa Barbara, Calif., from March 11-13.

“I think everyone started to get their feet under them there,” said Blanchard, a 5’10 native of Lincoln, R.I. “We really started taking it game by game. Once we started to figure things out, I think everybody started to settle down.”

The Tigers got off to a big start in its Ivy campaign in mid-March, sweeping Brown in a three-game series as it posted 4-2, 2-0, and 7-0 wins.

“It was a good confidence booster for sure,” said Blanchard. “That was something that made us realize we can do it this year because I don’t think anyone saw that as our best softball. We wanted to peak at the right time. Every weekend, we keep trying to get better, even if it is one percent better.” more

May 4, 2022

HISTORIC DAY: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Kyla Sears races upfield last Saturday against Yale. Senior star Sears tallied five goals and two assists to help Princeton defeat the Bulldogs 17-14 in an Ivy title showdown as the rivals both entered the game with 6-0 league marks. Sears broke the program record for career assists and tied Olivia Hompe for the most points in team history, ending the day at 285 points and 93 assists. The triumph also gave Princeton’s Hall of Fame head coach Chris Sailer a win in her final regular season home game. After the game, she was honored in a special ceremony with hundreds of her former players on hand. The Tigers, now 12-3 overall and 7-0 Ivy, while be hosting the Ivy postseason tournament this weekend. Princeton will face fourth-seeded Harvard on May 6 with the victor advancing to the final on May 8 against the winner of the semifinal between second-seeded Yale and third-seeded Cornell. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

History and emotion intersected in a memorable fashion as the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team hosted Yale last Saturday afternoon.

The contest marked the regular season finale for the program’s Class of 2022 which had already won two Ivy League titles during their time with the program.

It also marked the final scheduled home game for Princeton’s legendary Hall of Fame head coach Chris Sailer who had announced before the season that the 2022 campaign, her 36th guiding the program, would be her last year at the helm.

The occasion was marked by banners hanging around Class of 1952 Stadium depicting highlights of her tenure with Chris Sailer bobbleheads distributed to fans on hand. Hundreds of former Tiger players showed up, many wearing T-shirts in honor of their coach, marked “GOAT” (greatest of all time) on the front with the words “vision, keystone, impact, love, legend” printed on the back.

Adding to the drama, the clash with Yale, which drew a crowd of 1,223, was an Ivy title showdown as the rivals both entered the game with 6-0 league marks.

Princeton senior star Kyla Sears sensed the gravity of the moment.

“It was a huge day, there is obviously a lot going on,” said Sears. “We wanted to win for our senior class and for Chris. At the end of the day, there was one job that we had to do and that is win.” more

April 27, 2022

CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT: Members of the Princeton University men’s volleyball team display the trophy they earned for topping New Jersey Institute of Technology 3-1 (23-25, 27-25, 27-25, 25-18) in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association final last Saturday evening. The Tigers, now 15-12 overall and riding a 10-match winning streak, will be facing North Greenville University (20-5) in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on May 1 at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

When the Princeton University men’s volleyball team fell 3-1 to Penn State on March 18, it looked like the squad was going nowhere this season.

The defeat left the Tigers at 5-12 overall and 4-6 Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association and out of the mix for the EIVA playoffs.

But Princeton head coach Sam Shweisky saw something special in his squad’s performance that night.

“We took a set off of them and you could see that we had really improved from before,” said Shweisky, referring to a 3-0 loss to the Nittany Lions on February 4. “It was a better product, it wasn’t about winning. They beat us, they were better than us but we felt proud about what we put out there. We also felt excited about learning.”

The Tigers defeated St. Francis 3-0 a day later and haven’t lost since, producing some exciting volleyball along the way. They ended the season on a seven-game winning streak, finishing in fourth place and earning a spot in the EIVA playoffs.

Last week, Princeton defeated St. Francis 3-0 in the opening round of the playoffs on Wednesday, setting up a matchup against the top-seeded and second-ranked Penn State, the tournament host a day later. Princeton turned the tables on the Nittany Lions, pulling out a thrilling 3-2 win to earn a spot in the final. Last Saturday, the Tigers defeated New Jersey Institute of Technology 3-1 to earn the EIVA title.

Now the Tigers, 15-12 and riding a 10-match winning streak, are headed to California where they will face North Greenville (20-5) in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on May 1 at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, Calif.

In reflecting on the team’s late surge, Shweisky points to an increased emphasis on defense. more

HEAVY LIFTING: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight rowing varsity 8 churns through the water in a race earlier this spring. Last Saturday, Princeton finished behind Yale and topped Cornell in the race for the Carnegie Cup. Yale was determined to have cut to the inside of a turn buoy and was disqualified, giving the Tigers the cup. In upcoming action, Princeton hosts Brown on April 30 in the race before the Content Cup. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

It has been a steep learning curve this spring for the rowers on the Princeton University men’s heavyweight rowing team.

With the 2020 season having been canceled due to the global pandemic and the 2021 campaign limited drastically due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, many of the program’s athletes lacked any meaningful college rowing experience coming into 2022.

“In a normal year, in each of the boats, you have one or two first-years that are in that lineup and are learning from six or seven guys who have had a racing season at that level and have the experience and the knowledge and expectations for what it is all about,” said Princeton head coach Greg Hughes.

“This year, you have the exact opposite, you have one or two guys in each boat who have had a racing season and six or seven guys who have never done it before. It is very different. There is a lot more to talk about, to work on and teach.”

With a full schedule for the first time since 2019, the Tigers have been getting that racing knowledge. more

April 20, 2022

ENGLISH LESSON: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Sam English shows his intensity last Saturday as the Tigers hosted Dartmouth. Junior midfielder English tallied three goals and two assists to help the third-ranked Tigers pull out a 12-10 win over the Big Green. Princeton, now 9-2 overall and 3-1 Ivy League, plays at No. 17 Harvard on April 23. (Photo by Shelley Szwast, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

On paper, it looked like a mismatch when the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team hosted Dartmouth last Saturday afternoon at Class of 1952 Stadium.

Princeton came into the contest riding high, ranked third nationally, and boasting a record of 8-2 overall and 2-1 Ivy League while Dartmouth, 4-6 overall and 0-3 Ivy, was mired in last place in the Ancient 8 having lost 31 straight league contests since a 12-11 overtime win against Harvard on March 21, 2015.

But at halftime, the rivals were locked in a 5-5 deadlock and Princeton junior midfielder Sam English knew the Tigers were in a battle.

“Anybody on any day can come into wherever and beat anyone,” said English. “At halftime, it was just lock it in, just play better. We were a little sketchy on the clear in the first half.”

English got locked in as he scored two straight goals in the third quarter to help Princeton go up 9-5.

“We call it the NASCAR offense, run it up and down the field,” said English, a 6’1, 180-pound native of Burlington, Ontario. “We got it from coach Mitchell (Princeton offensive coordinator Jim Mitchell) at Rutgers. The first one was just coming across the top and capitalizing on the matchup. The second was a 6-on-6 goal that kept the run going.” more