September 14, 2022

POINTING AHEAD: Princeton University football head coach Bob Surace directs things in a game last fall. Surace guided Princeton to 9-1 overall record and 6-1 Ivy League last fall to tie Dartmouth for the league title and earn its fourth Ivy crown in the last eight seasons. The Tigers kick off their 2022 campaign by playing at Stetson (2-0) on September 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

The analytics from practice tells Bob Surace that his Princeton University football team is getting up to speed as it prepares for the 2022 campaign.

“We are doing a lot of measurements, we wear these straps that show our speed and distances,” said Princeton head coach Surace, whose team kicks off the season by heading south to play at Stetson (2-0) on September 17. “When I look at numbers and data, it is whoa, we have this many guys running over 20 miles per hour. We have had some really good teams, but we have not been that athletic that way which is good.”

Along with that speed, the Tigers are bringing intensity to their preseason camp.

“Our running to the ball, our pursuit, our effort, they are doing a great job with that and that is a good sign,” said Surace, whose team went 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy League last fall to tie Dartmouth for the league title and earn its fourth Ivy crown in the last eight seasons.

“We are putting more plays in as we are doing more scheme. The fact that their effort level is there and they are doing a good job sticking together with things is really nice. I think we are coming around really well. We had a true spring ball this year, we missed it last year. Both of our skill groups are really running well. We are deep on the lines, the competitiveness on the lines has been really good.”

While there is plenty to be optimistic about, Surace acknowledges that there are areas of concern. more

HAWAIIAN PUNCH: Andrei Iosivas displays his form as a multi-event star for the Princeton University track team, left, and as a standout wide receiver for the Tiger football squad. Senior Iosivas, a 6’3, 200-pound native of Honolulu, Hawaii, is looking to get his final college campaign on the gridiron off to a good start as the Tigers play at Stetson on September 17 in their season opener. (Track photo provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics, football photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Joining the Princeton University football team in 2018, wide receiver Andrei Iosivas soaked up lessons from such veteran stars as Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson.

“When I was a freshmen, those were the guys I looked up to a lot,” said Iosivas, a 6’3, 200-pound native of Honolulu, Hawaii.

Following in their footsteps, Iosivas has emerged as a go-to receiver for the Tigers. After playing on the junior varsity on 2018 as a freshman, Iosivas moved up to the varsity the next year and made 18 receptions for 263 yards and four touchdowns. Iosivas took a gap year when the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID concerns. Last fall, Iosivas produced a breakout season, making 41 catches for 703 yards and five touchdowns, earning second-team All-Ivy League honors as the Tigers went 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy, tying Dartmouth for the league title.

With Princeton opening its 2022 season by playing at Stetson on September 17, Iosivas has assumed a leadership role similar to what he experienced with Horsted and Carlson.

“Those guys have made me want to be who I am today,” said Iosivas, who is one of seven team captains for the Tigers this fall along with Carson Bobo, Henry Byrd, Dylan Classi, Matthew Jester, Uche Ndukwe, and Michael Ruttlen Jr.

“Now that I see me where they were, it is nice to see how some of the younger guys look at me and what I do. They ask me questions and it is nice to see that I am in that role. Me and Dylan are in that role; we always try to help out the younger guys.”

A key step in his development came when Iosivas spent much of his year away from Princeton concentrating on honing the fine points of playing wide receiver. more

POPPING OFF: Princeton University field hockey player Sammy Popper celebrates after a goal last Sunday as the Tigers posted a 4-1 win over Rutgers. Senior star Popper tallied a goal and an assist in the victory as the Tigers improved to 2-2. In upcoming action, No. 17 Princeton hosts Delaware (1-5) on September 16, defending national champion and top-ranked Northwestern (6-0) on September 18, and No. 3 Maryland (6-0) on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Sammy Popper made a pretty good case for staying up on the Princeton University field hockey’s attack.

After playing defense for the Tigers’ 0-2 Labor Day weekend against North Carolina and Louisville to open the season, Popper scored the first goal in each of back-to-back wins for Princeton this weekend. Senior tri-captain Popper was one of five different scorers as 17th-ranked Princeton beat No. 7 and previously unbeaten Syracuse 5-1 last Friday in its home opener. Two days later, Popper started the scoring for the Tigers in a 4-1 win over last year’s NCAA tournament top seed, Rutgers, on Sunday.

“When you do have a loss, it’s bounce back and win the next one and learn what you can from it and not dwell on it,” said Popper, a 5’5 native of Blue Bell, Pa. “I think that’s what we did this weekend.”

Popper’s move forward helped at the offensive end. She was pleased to be able to contribute up top, although says she valued her time on defense through last spring and the first weekend of the year.

“It was definitely good for me,” said Popper. “Because I’m a natural attack player, it was good for me to be back there and it helped me be more disciplined defensively. I can’t complain. I think it did teach me something. But I am happy to be back playing forward.”

Popper hasn’t actually played her natural forward position much since arriving at Princeton. The Ivy League Rookie of the Year played midfield as a freshman and again last year. And when defender Gabby Andretta was hurt last spring, Popper accepted the team-first approach to sliding back to defense until Andretta returned. Andretta was cleared just before the opening weekend.

“We kept Sammy back there because we had been working on it since the spring,” said Princeton head coach Carla Tagliente. “She can be a bit of a threat out of the back with her ability to hit the long ball. We figured it’s probably best to keep her up front because she is very dangerous in front of the goal. If she gets a little bit loose and gets the ball, she’s probably one of the most dangerous players in the country in the circle. I think you saw that with the first goal last game and first goal this game. Then we have some other players we’re breaking in in some other positions. It’s still going to take more time, but definitely it’s a big improvement from last week.”

After a pair of one-goal losses to Top-5 teams UNC (4-3 on September 2) and Louisville (2-1 on September 4), Princeton was able to bounce back strong in their second weekend. The Tigers weren’t satisfied with a moral victory by giving two top teams a scare, and they took it to Syracuse which came in as the nation’s leading scoring team.

“I think for us it really showed how good of team we are, how strong of a team we are when we just do everything right and bring our energy,” said Popper. “In the Louisville game we felt a little disorganized and didn’t have our best energy and didn’t have our best game. That’s normal to have in your first weekend of the season. It showed what we can achieve and how great we are. It felt great to have that. It instilled a lot of confidence in everyone, especially the younger players who haven’t been there before. It was really awesome for that.” more

September 7, 2022

FIRST TRY: Princeton University women’s rugby player Erica De San Jorge bursts past Sacred Heart players last Saturday on the way to the first try as Princeton made its debut as a varsity program. The Tigers, who started as a club program in 1979 and were granted varsity status in 2021, fell 53-21 to the Pioneers. Princeton will host Army on September 10 in its home opener. (Photo by Sacred Heart, provided courtesy of Josie Ziluca)

By Bill Alden

Josie Ziluca was behind the wheel in May 2021 when she learned the good news that the Princeton University women’s rugby team had been granted varsity status.

“It was amazing,” said Princeton head coach Ziluca, who came to the school in 2019 to guide the Tiger club program. “At that point I was driving cross country back to Princeton to attend graduation for our seniors who had a bizarre COVID year.”

That decision culminated a lengthy process as the club was founded in 1979 and enjoyed a lot of success. The Tigers won 57 straight matches in 1995-96 and two national championships and the seed was planted for an eventual move to varsity status.

There was discussion in 2012 to make the move but the players were content remaining as a club at that point. In 2017, the students made a proposal to go varsity which was ultimately approved four years later.

Last fall, Ziluca guided the Tigers through their last club season they prepared to make the jump to varsity competition. Princeton went undefeated in the fall rugby union (15 players a side) action and then placed third in national club 7s tournament this past spring.

This August, the players arrived at campus to start preseason practices for their varsity debut.

“It was crazy; it was a lot of hard work, it was a lot of fun,” said Ziluca, who spent the summer of 2021 leading the fitness programming for elite senior and U-18 women at the American Rugby Pro Training Center in Arkansas. “The students came back on August 16 and then we started training on August 18. It was filled with multiple two-a-days. I was putting them through some programming I do with the national players. For some of these students, it was something they had never experienced. They came out on the other side after every training session saying wow.”

Last Saturday, the players experienced a wow moment when Princeton made its varsity debut as it played at Sacred Heart, falling 53-21.

Appropriately, the squad left with some fanfare as it headed for the trip to Sacred Heart. more

August 31, 2022

STATE OF GRACE: Princeton University women’s soccer player Grace Sherman celebrates after scoring a goal against Fairfield University last Sunday night at Class of 1952 Stadium. The Tigers ended up prevailing 2-0 to improve to 2-0. In upcoming action, Princeton plays at Rhode Island (0-3-1) on September 1 and at No. 3 Rutgers (4-0) on September 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton University women’s soccer team knotted in a scoreless draw with visiting Fairfield University last Sunday evening in the first half, Grace Sherman got free in the box and took advantage.

Princeton senior forward Sherman took a pass from Heather MacNab, calmly dribbled past Fairfield goalie and slotted the ball into the net to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead at the 13:22 mark of the contest played at Class of 1952 Stadium.

“I just saw space behind behind their back line so I decided to make a cutting run through,” said Sherman. “Heather [MacNab] played the ball to me and I took a touch and I tried to stay calm. I took a touch around the goalkeeper and I knew I was going to finish it.”

The score felt particularly good since Sherman would have been unable to do that a year ago as she was sidelined for much of the season after suffering a leg injury on the first day of preseason.

“I have been waiting for this moment for so long, I played a little bit last year but was never truly healthy,” said Sherman, who made only nine appearances last season. “I was never truly ready. I had the summer and now I am ready.”

Despite Sherman’s tally, Princeton struggled to find the back of the net, clinging to 1-0 halftime lead even though it had outshot the Stags 10-0.

“We have been working on possession this week in practice, just being able to keep composure and have confidence to keep the ball,” said Sherman. “We were pretty proud of the ability to keep the ball. It is frustrating not to score more but I know that will come.”

With 7:43 left in regulation, Princeton came through as junior midfielder Aria Nagai blasted a volley into the net for her first career goal and the final score of the night as Princeton prevailed 2-0 and improved to 2-0. more

KNIGHT MOVES: Princeton University men’s soccer player Ryan Clare, left, battles for the ball against Rutgers last year. Senior midfielder/forward Clare should help spark the Tiger offense this fall. Princeton starts its 2022 season by facing the Scarlet Knights (1-1) on September 2 in Piscataway. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After rolling to the Ivy League title last year, going 12-6 overall and 7-0 Ivy, the Princeton University men’s soccer team knows it can’t rest on its laurels as it heads into the 2022 campaign.

“I think one of the things that we have been talking about with these guys since the season ended last year is that there has never been a Princeton team that has won back-to-back Ivy titles,” said Princeton head coach Jim Barlow. “It is such a competitive league and when you win, the target is just on your back so much. I think our guys have tried to think of themselves with the mentality that they had last year that they are the underdogs. They are going into every game, competing like crazy to get better. That is going to be a really important mentality.”

The Tigers face a competitive opening week as they kick off the season by playing at Rutgers (1-1) on September 2 and then host Vermont (1-0) on September 5 in their home opener.

“We are trying to make the most out of every session and take care of our little details,” said Barlow, whose team was picked first in the Ivy preseason media poll. “We know that all of our games come down to a play here or a play there and not taking a break defensively and being alert enough to pounce on a mistake from the other team. All of these things start to come along when you play more games — we are going to learn where we stand.”

Last Saturday, the Princeton players had a good learning opportunity as they traveled to Philadelphia for scrimmages against Swarthmore and Penn.

“I think it was really good for the guys, a third of our team is new so it was good for those guys to get their feet wet in what a college soccer game looks like,” said Barlow. “Our incoming guys have played at really high levels but nothing compares to college soccer with the frenetic place and the competing and the physicality. From that standpoint it was really good.” more

August 24, 2022

GETTING UP TO SPEED: Princeton University women’s soccer player Heather MacNab races upfield in a game last fall. Coming off a superb freshman season which saw her tally three goals and seven assists, MacNab should be a key weapon for the Tigers this fall. Princeton opens its 2022 campaign by hosting Colgate on August 26 at Class of 1952 Stadium. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Youth will be served this fall for the Princeton University women’s soccer team.

“There are a lot of new players, we are really, really young,” said Princeton head coach Sean Driscoll. “We have 17 freshmen and sophomores on the team and we have eight upperclassmen.”

The young players are benefiting from the legacy left by the 2021 squad that went 15-3-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy on the way to making the second round of the NCAA tournament as the program returned to action after the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

“The culture of last year’s team has trickled to this year’s team,” said Driscoll, whose team opens the 2022 season by hosting Colgate on August 26 at Class of 1952 Stadium. “When you had COVID going on, there was a down time. The post-COVID year has given us a greater sense of appreciation and gratitude. In terms of culture, we are definitely farther ahead, just moving forward on last year.”

While the Tigers may experience some growing pains this fall, he believes they have the depth to overcome that.

“We are talented attacking-wise but we are different than we have been,” said Driscoll, whose team is looking forward to the opening of the new Roberts Stadium later this fall. “We have different skill sets, it is exciting. We have option A and we have option B. We have got options in certain situations and other options in different situations. We have a lot of pieces who we can play for different reasons. They have very different skill sets. When we make our rotations during the game, we are going to ask different questions of our opponents. It is going to be a different thing that people have to cope with.” more

HANDS-ON TEACHER: Former Princeton University men’s basketball head coach Pete Carril greets well-wishers in February 2009 before a ceremony where the main court at Jadwin Gym was officially renamed “Carril Court” in his honor. Hall of Famer Carril, who passed away at age 92 on August 15, left an indelible legacy on the players he guided.

By Justin Feil

When Pete Carril returned to watch Princeton University men’s basketball games, the former Tigers head coach sat high in the Jadwin Gym rafters.

Seeing the game was important to him. Being seen was not.

“He taught you how to play, how to see, how to think,” said current Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson, who played two seasons for Carril before he retired in 1996. “There are these incredible gifts that you’re being given and you don’t realize it. And how to work – how to come into the gym early, how to stay late. And his presence … that was what he was. He was a teacher.”

Carril, the Hall of Fame coach who spent so much time teaching players how to see the game the right way, died on August 15 at age 92 after complications following a stroke.

Carril’s coaching tree is one of the fullest in college basketball with six former players currently serving as head coaches, and former players continue to pass along his lessons while adding their own wrinkles to what was branded the “Princeton Offense” because of Carril’s success and since has seen its concepts emulated from high schools to the NBA.

“The reign of Coach Carril did not end in 1996 when he retired,” said former Princeton athletic director Gary Walters. “The reign is still going on in the eyes of all those players who played for him and eventually succeeded him at Princeton.”

 more

SUMMER HEAT: Jackson Emus fires a pitch this past spring in his sophomore season for the Princeton University baseball team. Emus enjoyed a big summer competing in the high-powered Cape Cod Baseball League. He posted a 0.52 ERA in 13 appearances for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks with 21 strikeouts in 17 innings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Jackson Emus is back on track after a successful summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League.

Emus, who will be a junior for the Princeton University baseball team in 2022-23, allowed just one earned run in 13 appearances for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. His 0.52 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 17 innings of work was a testament to getting back to trusting and executing his variety of pitches.

“This summer, I’ve really wanted to focus on giving the hitter my best stuff,” said Emus, a 6’5, 240-pound native of Clinton, Mass. “I’ll live and die with playing my game. So far, it’s worked out.”

Emus and the Tigers had a roller-coaster spring last year in their return from the COVID-19 pandemic canceling the 2021 Ivy League seasons. Emus went 2-6 with a 4.76 ERA in 12 appearances, 11 as a starter. It was his first season of college baseball due to injury and the pandemic. His ERA was outstanding through the first couple games of the year, shot up, and then was working its way down until his final outing of the year.

“This was kind of the first spring where I went through things a bit, had some struggles, had an up-and-down spring,” said Emus, reflecting on a season which saw Princeton go 7-33 overall and 3-18 Ivy League.

“When our season ended, I had about three weeks at home between when I left school and when I had to report to the Cape. I kind of had to do a bit of soul searching and re-evaluate what went right and what went wrong from this past spring.”

Coming to the Cape League — one of the most prestigious collegiate summer leagues — helped to motivate him. Emus knew he had to be better to be able to contribute in the league.

“I thought early on, coming from a smaller program, playing with a lot of SEC/ACC guys, maybe not having the type of spring that I wanted to, that I had to leave my impression right away with the team as to why I was someone that deserved to be there, someone that they wanted to keep on the roster,” said Emus. more

August 17, 2022

HOLDING COURT: Former Princeton University men’s basketball head coach Pete Carril addresses the crowd in February 2009 after the main court at Jadwin Gym was officially renamed “Carril Court” in his honor. Legendary Hall of Famer Carril passed away at age 92 on Monday, August 15.

By Bill Alden

One of the most legendary and colorful figures in in Princeton University sports history, Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Pete Carril, died on Monday, August 15 at age 92.

The Carril family issued a statement on Monday posted on the Princeton University Athletics website indicating that Carril “passed away peacefully this morning.” He died at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, where he was recuperating from a stroke.

Carril, a native of Bethlehem, Pa., who played college basketball for Lafayette College, took the head coaching job at Princeton for the 1967-68 season and guided the Tigers for the next 29 seasons. During his storied tenure, Carril posted a 514-261 record, leading the Tigers to 13 Ivy League championships, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, and the 1975 NIT title.

Prior to coming to Princeton, Carril started his coaching career as an assistant at Easton Area High (Pa.) in 1954 and then became a head coach at Reading High in 1958 where he guided Gary Walters, a future Princeton star and director of athletics at his alma mater. He served as the head coach at Lehigh University for one year before taking the Princeton job.

The hallmarks of the style that Carril perfected at Princeton included a deliberate offensive game that featured constant motion, crisp passing, and quick cuts to the basket. That disciplined approach was complemented by a stifling defense which had the Tigers among the national leaders in fewest points allowed per game on a yearly basis. Princeton led the country in scoring defense 14 times from 1975 to 1996, including eight in a row from 1988 to 1996.

That method of play, which became known as the “Princeton Offense,” has left a lasting influence on the game as teams from high school to the Golden State Warriors of the NBA have employed that style to spread the floor and wear foes down before getting open looks from the perimeter or in the paint.

While orchestrating that precise and confounding brand of the game, Carril himself made a rumpled appearance. He wore sweaters on the sidelines and with tousled gray hair often flying, he commanded his players in a raspy voice while waving a rolled up program. Off the court, he had a fondness for cigars and was known for spending long nights at Conte’s breaking down games over pizza and beer. He was also a regular at Andy’s Tavern.

With his blue collar background in Pennsylvania as the son of a steelworker, Carril often dispensed his wisdom with ample doses of profanity. He penned a book with Dan White, The Smart Take from the Strong, in 1997, detailing his basketball philosophy which included hundreds of nuggets explaining his tough-minded, no-nonsense approach to the game.

In the introduction to the book, coaching great Bob Knight, who guided Indiana to three NCAA titles, said that Carril has “been a tremendous asset to the game of basketball and a great credit to it.” Knight added that “I can think of no better compliment that a basketball coach could ever receive than to be told, ‘You know, your teams play a little bit like Pete Carril’s Princeton teams used to play.’ ”  more

STRIKING GOLD: Princeton University men’s basketball player Blake Peters, left, and Tiger assistant coach Skye Ettin celebrate after helping the U.S. win the open men’s basketball gold medal last month at the 2022 Maccabiah Games in Israel. Sophomore guard Peters had a strong tournament, ending the event by scoring 10 points with three rebounds two steals as the U.S. rallied to defeat France 81-70 in the gold medal game. (Photo provided by Skye Ettin)

By Justin Feil

Blake Peters returned from the 2002 Maccabiah Games in late July with a gold medal and renewed confidence.

Peters, who will be a sophomore guard for the Princeton University men’s basketball team in the 2022-23 season, had 10 points, three rebounds, and a pair of steals to help the United States rally to win the title game, 81-70, over France. Princeton assistant coach Skye Ettin celebrated alongside Peters as part of the U.S. coaching staff.

“It was a really humbling experience,” said the 6’1, 190-pound Peters, a native of Evanston, Ill. “I’m not obviously ever going to have the opportunity to play for the Olympic team so this was the closest thing I could get to that. I have a lot of pride in my country and where I’m from. And I have a lot of pride in my identity as a Jewish basketball player. So to be playing there and representing a whole bunch of groups of people was just an awesome experience. And I did it with my assistant coach at Princeton, Skye Ettin, and a great group of guys. I just thought we represented the country well and the Jewish community well, and it was an incredible experience.”

The gold medal experience — Peters’ first time playing internationally — gives him a boost of confidence as he returns to Princeton after playing sparingly in his first year. Peters and the Tigers’ rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors will head to Spain for an overseas trip in August to kick off this year.

“I’m already familiar with how international basketball is played, and how physical it is, especially off the ball,” said Peters. “I don’t think you have an appreciation for it until you play international basketball. It’s grown man strength. It’s very different than college strength, that’s something I noticed immediately. I have high aspirations for the season. I didn’t play much last year. We had a great team. This year I’m definitely looking to be more of a significant piece. Just getting back to competing and making winning plays on Maccabiah, getting back into the rhythm of playing is important. Once I get back to Princeton, it’s going to be very fun.” more

SKYE HIGH: Princeton University men’s basketball assistant coach Skye Ettin, right, and Doug Gottlieb enjoy the moment after they guided the U.S. open men’s team to the gold medal at the 2022 Maccabiah Games last month in Israel. Ettin, a former Princeton High and The College of New Jersey basketball standout, served as an assistant coach for the squad, focusing on the team’s defense. Gottlieb, a former Oklahoma State standout point guard and longtime hoops broadcaster, was the team’s head coach. (Photo provided by Skye Ettin)

By Bill Alden

Skye Ettin first traveled to Israel in 2013 for his Birthright trip to get immersed in the cultural heritage and traditions of the country.

This summer, Ettin, a former Princeton High and The College of New Jersey basketball standout and current Princeton University men’s hoops assistant coach, went on a return trip to Israel and made some history in the process.

Serving as the assistant coach for the U.S. open men’s team at the 2022 Maccabiah Games, Ettin helped guide the squad to a gold medal.

For Ettin, taking part in the Maccabiah Games was a career goal.

“I have wanted to be involved for a while, I had never played or coached in it,” said Ettin. “Howard Levy (former Princeton men’s basketball standout and longtime head coach of the Mercer County Community College men’s hoops program) is really heavily involved. He had told me a lot about it. I had heard really good things about it. It seemed like an amazing opportunity so this time, I wanted to get involved.”

Ettin reached out to Josh Schachter, the chair of the U.S. open men’s basketball team, to get in the mix for the coaching staff which was originally going to be headed by Duke assistant Jon Scheyer.

“I went through an interview process and interviewed with both of them a couple of times,” said Ettin, noting that former Princeton star and American associate head coach Scott Greenman was slated to be an assistant coach for the team. “I just got lucky enough to get it as an assistant.” more

August 10, 2022

GOLDEN GIRL: Former Princeton University women’s basketball player Abby Meyers displays the gold medal and MVP trophy she earned after helping the U.S. open female team to victory at the  Maccabiah Games in Israel. Meyers posted a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds in the gold medal game in an 88-55 win over Israel and averaged 18.4 points a game at the tournament. Star guard Meyers, the Ivy Player of the Year in her senior season last winter, will be playing for the University of Maryland in the 2022-23 campaign as a graduate transfer.

By Justin Feil

Abby Meyers passed up the chance to play in the Maccabiah Games in 2017 in order to prepare to start her career for the Princeton University women’s basketball team.

Now at the tail end of her college career, Meyers made the most of another opportunity to compete in the Maccabiah Games this summer as she joined the United States open female team for the event. Meyers averaged 18.4 points per game and was named Most Valuable Player while leading the U.S. open women’s team to the gold medal at the Maccabiah Games.

“Just coming back and showing my family the medal, showing my grandmother the MVP trophy, it definitely is a very special thing to win gold representing Team USA and bring back the hardware,” said Meyers, a 6’0 guard who hails from Potomac, Md.

“What I learned going to Israel in the first place though was I thought it was going to be all about basketball and winning that gold medal. It’s an important part, but ultimately it was a small part of the overall experience.”

Meyers had not played overseas before competing in the Maccabiah Games and she had not yet visited Israel. The chance to combine the two made for a remarkable experience.

“What I most valued from it was getting to meet other Jewish athletes from all over the world, going to the Dead Sea, going to the Yad Vashem, which is the Holocaust Memorial site, and taking the whole experience in,” said Meyers of the competition which brings together 10,000 athletes from 85 countries taking part in 45 sports. “And I still happened to play basketball. It was awesome.” more

WORLD STAGE: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Marge Donovan races upfield against Yale in a game this spring during her senior season. Star defender Donovan has enjoyed an eventful few months. She capped her final Princeton campaign by getting named as the Ivy League Defender of the Year, the Most Outstanding Player in the Ivy postseason tournament, and as a third-team IWLCA All-American. In mid-July, Donovan helped the U.S. women’s team earn a silver medal in the inaugural World Sixes tournament at the World Games in Birmingham, Ala. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over the last few months, Marge Donovan has reached new heights in her lacrosse career.

This spring, Donovan produced a superb senior season for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team, getting named as the Ivy League Defender of the Year, the Most Outstanding Player in the Ivy postseason tournament, and as a third-team Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-American. Along the way, Donovan set a program single-season record in draw controls (112) and a career record in draw controls with 214.

Donovan’s heroics helped Princeton go 7-0 in Ivy play, win the league postseason tournament, and advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament on the way to a 15-4 record.

In July, Donovan, a native of Catonsville, Md., competed for the U.S. team in the inaugural World Sixes tournament at the World Games in Birmingham, Ala. The athletic, rangy 5’10 Donovan helped the U.S. earn a silver medal at the competition.

In reflecting on her lacrosse whirlwind, Donovan credited her Princeton experience with laying the groundwork for her to excel on the world stage.

“I would say I owe much of who I am as a person and a lacrosse player to that program,” said Donovan. “I grew a lot. It is just a fantastic program. You have a coaching staff of Chris [Sailer], Jenn [Cook], and Kerrin [Maurer] that cares about you. Of course they care about your performance on the field but what drives the coaching is that they are culture coaches. When you have people that are genuinely invested in you, you can grow on and off the field. You feel supported.” more

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