February 2, 2022

GOING FOR GOLD: Princeton University women’s hockey player Sarah Fillier ’24 celebrates after helping Canada defeat the U.S. 3-2 in the title game of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championships last August in Calgary, Alberta. This week, forward Fillier will be skating for Team Canada as it starts play in the 2022 Beijing Olympics. (Photo by Hockey Canada, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

The Princeton University women’s ice hockey program is excited for the return in the 2022-23 season of a vastly improved Sarah Fillier.

Star forward Fillier hasn’t played for the Tigers since being named Most Outstanding Player as the Tigers won their first ECAC Hockey Championship in the COVID-19 shortened 2019-20 season, but she’s been elevating her game during the last two years away while on a leave of absence from the University.

“I’m a completely different player than I was two years ago,” said Fillier. “Even if I wasn’t here being centralized, just that year off and completely focusing on hockey and training with the national team before centralization, I would have been a completely different player.”

Fillier put her college junior season on hold to chase a lifelong dream, one that came to fruition when she made Canada’s centralization roster for training, then was selected to their World Championship roster, and recently was named to the Canadian national women’s team for the 2022 Beijing Olympics along with former Princeton teammate, Claire Thompson ’20.

Fillier is hoping to return to Princeton next fall with improved skills as well as a second gold medal. Fillier and Thompson helped Canada win the World Championships in August. Each step has brought with it improvements in her game.

“Going into Worlds, my whole mentality was just trying to gain a lot of confidence,” said Fillier, a 5’5 native of Georgetown, Ontario.  more

BOUND FOR BEIJING: Princeton University women’s hockey alumna Claire Thompson ’20 celebrates after helping Canada defeat the U.S. 3-2 in the title game of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championships last August in Calgary, Alberta. This week, defenseman Thompson will be skating for Team Canada as it starts action at the Beijing 2022 Olympics. (Photo by Hockey Canada, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Claire Thompson is thankful that the Beijing Olympics won’t be her first international experience.

The 2020 Princeton University graduate was named a member of Team Canada for the Olympics. Thompson, who plays defense, was also a part of Team Canada along with fellow Princeton player Sarah Fillier when it won the World Championships in August.

“It was definitely helpful to gain confidence playing at a high pressure international competition like the World Championships,” said Thompson, a 5’8 native of Toronto, Ontario.

“During the Olympics, I’ll definitely look back on things I learned and how to handle the pressure of playing and representing Canada at such a high level. I’m definitely really grateful that I had the World Championships experience going into these Olympics.”

Thompson ranked 11th overall at Worlds in plus-minus at plus-7. It was a strong start to her international career and helped reassure her that she belonged at that level.

“That was my first real senior level experience,” said Thompson. “I took away a lot of confidence from that tournament in that I’m able to play at the senior level. That was the first time I had played with this group and this team so I took away a lot of friendships and a lot of support from the girls on my team, which was nice.” more

LABOR OF LOVE: Jerry Price proudly displays his book, “I Can Do Anything,” chronicling the first 50 years of women’s athletics at Princeton University, which came out on December 1. Price, who has been with Princeton University’s Office of Athletic Communications since 1989, spent 14 months and conducted nearly 100 interviews in writing the book. The 500-page opus is crammed with stories of the inspiring athletes who made Tiger women’s sports a powerhouse. (Photo provided by Jerry Price)

By Bill Alden

In a departure from his day job working in Princeton University’s Office of Athletic Communications, Jerry Price penned a romantic novel, With You, that came out in 2020.

In writing the well-received book, Price learned an important lesson about crafting fiction

“Somebody asked me the difference between fiction and non-fiction, and I said non-fiction is a lot harder because you can’t just make it all up,” said Price, who has been working in Princeton athletics since 1989 and was a sportswriter for the Trenton Times before that.

Now, Price has authored a second book, I Can Do Anything, chronicling the first 50 years of women’s athletics at Princeton that is crammed with stories that seem to be made up because of the improbable journey to success of the inspiring athletes profiled.

Starting with a pair of Princeton coeds entering the Eastern Intercollegiate tennis tournament as last-minute entrants in 1970, Tiger women athletes have gone on to achieve an astonishing array of accomplishments, including a slew of All-American honors, numerous Ivy League and NCAA individual and team titles, and Olympic gold medals, among many others. more

January 26, 2022

ON THE BALL: Princeton University women’s basketball player Chet Nweke (No. 25) battles for the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, sophomore forward Nweke scored six points in 16 minutes off the bench as Princeton rolled to a 78-35 win over visiting Dartmouth. The Tigers, now 13-4 overall and 5-0 Ivy League, play at Yale on January 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In developing into a college basketball player, Chet Nweke honed her skills through competing with her older brother Ike.

“We have fights when we play one-on-one, he definitely impacted my basketball career a lot,” said Princeton University women’s basketball sophomore forward Nweke, whose brother Ike is a senior star forward on Columbia.

“He would always push me to get into the gym. Working out with him has just made me tougher as a basketball player. I would go to his AAU practices, playing with boys was a nice thing to do to get stronger and more confident.”

Last Saturday, Nweke displayed her toughness, contributing six points, one rebound, and one assist in 16 minutes off the bench as Princeton rolled to a 78-35 win over visiting Dartmouth, improving to 13-4 overall and 5-0 Ivy League.

“Coming into this game, I wanted to feel like I was a big part of this team,” said Nweke, a 6’0 native of Woodbine, Md., who is averaging 2.4 points and 1.5 rebounds in 17 appearances off the bench. more

January 19, 2022

RETURNING WITH BANG: Princeton University men’s basketball player Jaelin Llewellyn dribbles past a foe in recent action. Last Monday, senior guard Llewellyn returned from being sidelined for two games due to a leg injury and helped Princeton defeat Penn 74-64. Llewellyn contributed 11 points, five rebounds, and an assist as the Tigers improved to 14-3 overall and 4-0 Ivy League, extending their winning streak to nine games. Princeton is next in action when it plays at Dartmouth on January 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the Princeton University men’s basketball team got ready to take the court against archival Penn last Monday at Jadwin Gym, it got a lift before the contest even tipped off.

Princeton senior star point guard Jaelin Llewellyn, who had been sidelined the last two games due to a hamstring injury, was back in the starting lineup for the Tigers.

“I felt pretty good, I was just getting back into it pretty much,” said Llewellyn, reflecting on his return.

“I just wanted to go out there and do whatever I could. It is hard sitting and watching because I wanted to be out there with my guys. It is good to be back.”

With Llewellyn back at the controls of the offense, Princeton jumped out to a 34-28 halftime lead. In the second half, the Tigers held off a rally by the Quakers who drew to within 51-49 midway through the half and trailed 61-56 with 4:49 left. In crunch time, Llewellyn hit two jumpers and had an assist as Princeton stretched its lead to 68-58 and never looked back on the way to a 74-64 win.

The Tigers, who improved to 14-3 overall and 4-0 Ivy League with the victory, extended their winning streak to nine games. The triumph marked Princeton’s 13th win in its last 15 games against the Quakers and fifth in a row in the rivalry. more

WILD CARDS: Maddie Bacskai, left, and Clara Roth handle the ball in action this past fall for the Northwestern University field hockey team. The two former Princeton University standouts competed for the Wildcats as grad students utilizing their fourth year of eligibility and helped the program win its first-ever NCAA championship. (Photos provided courtesy ofNorthwestern Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Maddie Bacskai and Clara Roth felt they were part of a potential national championship field hockey team at Princeton University, but ultimately had to go elsewhere to win one.

The two Princeton graduates, who competed for Northwestern University as grad students utilizing their fourth year of eligibility, started all season and helped the Wildcats capture their first NCAA championship as they defeated Liberty 2-0 in the national final in November.

“It was huge,” said Roth, the second leading scorer for the Wildcats with 34 points on 13 goals and eight assists as the squad finished the fall with an 18-5 record.

“It was probably the biggest success I’ve had in field hockey. Having that in your final season is honestly that’s the way you want to do it.”

Roth and Bacskai had hoped to be playing for Princeton in 2020, one year after the Tigers came up short in the national championship game. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the NCAA called off the fall 2020 season and the Ivy League did not play in the reshuffled spring 2021 NCAA season.

Those developments meant a second straight year off for Bacskai, who had also missed the 2019 season after injuring her knee in the spring of 2019. Without any eligibility left at Princeton, but with a year of NCAA eligibility left, Bacskai and Roth found Northwestern, where both are working toward a master’s degree in management studies at the Kellogg School of Management.  more

January 12, 2022

BIRTHDAY PARTY: Princeton University men’s basketball player Matt Allocco, left, lofts the three-pointer that beat Cornell 72-70 at the buzzer last Saturday evening. At right, his teammates mob Allocco after the shot which came on his 21st birthday as he made his first college start. The Tigers, now 12-3 overall and 2-0 Ivy League, host Brown on January 15 and Penn on January 17. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

By Bill Alden

Trailing Cornell 39-25 at halftime last Saturday, players on the Princeton University men’s basketball team trudged disconsolately across the court to their locker room with head coach Mitch Henderson walking behind shaking his head in frustration.

But about an hour later, the Princeton players were jumping for joy and mobbing Matt Allocco on the court after he drained a long buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Tigers an improbable 72-70 win after they trailed by 18 points early in the second half.

It was Allocco’s 21st birthday and his first college start as he stepped in the lineup to replace senior star guard and Princeton’s leading scorer Jaelin Llewellyn, who was sidelined after injuring his leg in an 84-69 win over Columbia the day before.

“It felt good coming off, it was straight,” said Allocco, recalling the buzzer-beater.

“I don’t know how to react in those situations. It went in and I just put my arm up. It was a crazy moment. I did a buzzer beater when I was younger maybe but in this situation in conference play, against a really good team, it was really special.”

It was a crazy finish as Princeton trailed 60-51 with 6:30 left in regulation and then went on an 18-9 run to take a 69-68 lead with 23 seconds left in regulation. Cornell got a layup from Dean Noll to go up 70-69 and Princeton took the ball with six seconds remaining, setting up Allocco’s fantastic finish. more

SPLIT DECISION: Princeton University women’s hockey goalie Rachel McQuigge does a split to thwart a Clarkson player last Friday. Senior star McQuigge made 37 saves in a losing cause as a short-handed Princeton squad fell 3-1 to No. 9 Clarkson. The contest was a family affair as McQuigge battled her younger sisters, Clarkson forwards junior Brooke and sophomore Kristyn. The Tigers, now 7-6-3 overall and 5-3-1 ECAC Hockey, are slated to play at Union on January 14 and at RPI on January 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It turned out to be a fierce ECAC Hockey battle when the Princeton University women’s hockey team hosted No. 9 Clarkson at Hobey Baker Rink last Saturday afternoon.

The contest was spiced up by a sibling rivalry as Princeton senior goalie Rachel McQuigge battled her younger sisters, Clarkson forwards junior Brooke and sophomore Kristyn.

“That is always really exciting; I played with Brooke growing up a bit in the summer and when I played juniors,” said netminder  McQuigge, a 5’7 native of Bowmanville, Ontario.

“Her freshman year was the first time we ever played against each other. Both of my sisters are very talented. It added an extra level of compete to the game, there is definitely a little trash talk.”

While McQuigge competed hard between the pipes, making 37 saves, it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 3-1 to the Golden Knights to move to 7-6-3 overall and 5-3-1 ECAC Hockey. more

January 5, 2022

RISING STAR: Princeton University women’s basketball player Kaitlyn Chen heads to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, sophomore guard Chen made a superb Ivy League debut, tallying a career-high 15 points as Princeton defeated Harvard 68-50 in the league opener for both teams. The Tigers, now 8-4 overall and 1-0 Ivy, play at Columbia on January 7 and at Cornell on January 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the Princeton University women’s basketball team hosted Harvard last Sunday afternoon, it marked its first Ivy League game in 667 days.

The game also marked the Ivy debut for Princeton sophomore guard Kaitlyn Chen and she was pumped.

“It was a lot of fun, just coming out and playing with my team,” said Chen, a 5’9 native of San Marino, Calif., who didn’t get the chance to play last winter as the Ivy League canceled the season due to COVID-19 concerns.

“We have missed these games, this season has been so much fun. We have been waiting for this.”

Chen had a lot of fun in her first taste of Ivy action, making an immediate impact, scoring a career-high 15 points to help Princeton win 68-50 as it improved to 8-4 overall and 1-0 Ivy.

“I was just looking to be more aggressive and getting into gaps and finding my teammates,” said Chen, who chipped in three assists, three steals, and two rebounds in the win over the Crimson.

Making her third career start after recently having been inserted into the starting five, Chen is developing a comfort level with her new role.  more

STATE OF GRACE: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Grace Rebak controls the puck in a game last season. Senior captain and star defender Rebak is providing athleticism and leadership for PHS. The Tigers, now 0-2-1, return to action after the holiday break by playing the Lawrenceville JV on January 12 at their Loucks Ice Center and then hosting Princeton Day School on January 14 at Ice Land Rink. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It hasn’t taken long for a pair of freshmen, Cece Gibb and Cassie Speir, to form a potent one-two punch this winter for the Princeton High girls’ hockey team.

In a 10-6 loss to Randolph on December 14 in its final action before the holiday break, PHS got three goals apiece from Gibb and Speir.

Tiger head coach Christian Herzog knows he is lucky to have Gibb and Speir join the program.

“Cece is a Tier 1 Colonials player, it is a great pickup for us,” said Herzog, whose team started 0-2-1 before going on holiday break.

“She has the speed, she can shoot. We put her on defense and she has the green light any time she feels like it to make a play. She is a smaller player but she has speed like no other, she has amazing skating. Cassie is big for a freshman, she plays travel too with the Tiger Lilies. She is strong on the puck, she is aggressive and is not afraid. She has a great shot. Those two players are pretty much leaned on all the way.”

A third newcomer, Maya Hagt, is also making an impact in the early going.

“Maya is another freshman who plays for the Tiger Lilies,” added Herzog. “She moves well with the puck.” more

December 29, 2021

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE: Princeton University women’s soccer goalie Grace Barbara whips the ball upfield in a game this fall. Senior star and former Princeton Day School standout Barbara helped Princeton go 15-3-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy League as the Tigers advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After the Ivy League canceled competition for the 2020 fall season and the 2020-21 winter campaign due to COVID-19 concerns, Princeton University athletes got some limited opportunities to get back in action this spring.

Princeton rowers were thrilled to get the chance to row in a regatta against boats from Temple and Drexel in Philadelphia on April 25, their first racing since spring of 2019 and the first competition for Tiger athletics in 407 days. The women’s lightweight varsity 8 went on to make history, winning the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) grand final, its first national title since 2003. On the track, star thrower Obi Amaechi punctuated her stellar career by finishing 13th in the discus in the NCAA championships, earning second-team All-American honors.

It was full speed ahead in the fall for Princeton athletes and several teams produced memorable campaigns. Tiger football went 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy to share the league crown with Dartmouth. Overcoming a shaky start, men’s soccer caught fire down the stretch, going 7-0 in Ivy play to win the league crown. Led by Australian Olympian steeplechaser Ed Trippas, men’s cross country won the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships and went on to place first at the NCCA Mid-Atlantic regional. Men’s water polo won the Northeast Water Polo Conference (NWPC) tournament and topped Fordham 17-8 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Although women’s soccer didn’t win the Ivy title, it went 15-3-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy, earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Princeton posted a 2-0 win over visiting Vermont in the first round of the NCAAs before falling 3-2 in overtime to TCU in the round of 32.

While local high school teams did have a winter season, it was abbreviated and split into segments by sport. That limited campaign, though, didn’t prevent some highlight moments. Princeton High senior Chloe Ayres made history, earning her third straight state title, prevailing at 114 pounds at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) girls’ state wrestling championships.

Both the PHS boys’ and girls’ swimming teams went 12-0, competing in a virtual meet format. The Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team also went undefeated, going 5-0-1 while the Panther boys’ hockey team nearly matched that feat, posting a 4-1-1 record. The Hun School boys’ basketball team made the most out of its shortened season, going 8-2.

There was an increased sense of normalcy when the spring rolled around as postseason play resumed. The Hun baseball team rolled to a 19-2 record, winning its fifth straight state Prep A title in the process. The PHS boys’ tennis team also produced a dominant campaign, going 17-1 and winning both the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional and the CVC conference titles. Making coach Sheryl Severance’s 28th and final season coaching the boys’ golf program one to remember, Princeton High had a 15-0 record in dual match play, winning the first-ever CVC Match Play Tournament and taking second in the Central/South Jersey sectional. The Princeton Day School boys’ tennis team placed third in the state Prep B tournament, earning two individual titles as Aaron Phogat and Oliver Silverio won the first doubles flight while the pair of Will Sedgley and Mark Santamaria prevailed at second doubles.

In the fall season, a number of programs made history. Bouncing back from a 0-4-1 season in 2020, the Hun School girls’ soccer team posted a 12-5-2 record, edging Pennington 4-3 in overtime in a thrilling state Prep A final and also winning the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title. The Hun football team was a juggernaut, going 9-0 and outscoring foes 374-63 this fall. With Princeton Day School joining the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), two Panther teams earned the initial sectional titles in school history as the girls’ tennis team won the South Jersey Non-Public A championship and boys’ soccer prevailed in the South Jersey Non-Public B sectional.

Led by high-scoring striker Sophia Lis, the Princeton High girls’ soccer team produced a season for the ages, going 21-3, winning the CVC title, the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional championship, and making the program’s first-ever trip to the state Group 3 final along the way. The PHS girls’ tennis team added to its championship tradition, winning the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional crown. The Tiger cross country teams also excelled as the girls’ squad placed first at the Mercer County championship meet while the boys’ team prevailed at the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional meet. more

December 22, 2021

BOUND FOR GLORY: Princeton University wrestler Patrick Glory ties up a foe from Lehigh in a 2019 bout. Earlier this month, junior star Glory won the 125-pound title at the prestigious Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas. In upcoming action, the Princeton wrestlers are slated to compete in the 58th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships at Hoffman Estates, Ill. from December 29-30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Patrick Glory felt like an underdog when he arrived at Princeton University in 2018 out of the Delbarton School, but quickly established himself as one of the best in the nation in his first two seasons with the Tigers.

A year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic did nothing to interrupt his status. The start of his junior season has Glory on track to be the very best.

“Going into this year, I know what it takes and what needs to happen for me to win a national championship,” said Glory.

“With two years to go, I think the sky’s the limit with what can be accomplished, not only for myself but for the team.”

Glory ended the fall semester by winning the 125-pound title at the prestigious Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas on December 4. Glory scored a 13-0 major decision over Devin Schroder of Purdue in the final to close a dominant run.

“It’s still early in the season,” said Glory. “It was a good test to see where I’m at with some of the better guys in the weight class. At the end of the day, there’s one tournament that I really care about and that really matters. That one’s at the end of March.”

The competition that Glory has his sights on is the NCAA Championships in Detroit, Mich. from March 17-19. His anticipation has been magnified because the NCAAs were canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic in the 2019-20 season just before nationals began. Then the Ivy League canceled the 2020-21 season as well.

“It was tough to know there were people competing and we were kind of sitting there watching the whole time,” said Glory.

“People were forgetting about us and that excitement and kind of aura we built winning the Ivy title for the first time in 40 years. And having six or seven guys make it to the NCAA tournament, there’s a lot of mojo that goes into that and you kind of ride that.”

As Princeton has returned to the mat for the 2021-22 campaign, Glory has picked up where he left off. He has proven himself with early wins over top-10 foes and sits ranked second in the latest InterMat Division 1 rankings.  more

December 15, 2021

BOOK OF ELIJAH: Princeton University men’s basketball player Elijah Barnes defends Keondre Kennedy of UMBC last Monday night at Jadwin Gym. Senior forward Barnes tallied nine points in 13 minutes off the bench against the Retrievers, going 4 of 4 from the floor, to help Princeton pull away to an 89-77 victory. The Tigers, now 9-3, will be on a hiatus for exams and will return to action when they host Kean University on December 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton University men’s basketball team deadlocked at 71-71 against UMBC last Monday evening at Jadwin Gym, an unlikely one-two tandem turned the tide in favor of the Tigers.

Little-used senior reserve Elijah Barnes scored seven points on a jumper, a dunk, and a three-pointer while senior star guard Jaelin Llewellyn hit a three-pointer and a layup to spark a 12-0 run as the Tigers pulled away to an 89-77 victory, posting their fourth straight win in improving to 9-3.

For Barnes, who had just played 33 minutes this season in six appearances off the bench entering Monday, coming up big was a matter of staying in the moment.

“I come to work every day in practice and try to be there for my teammates and support them,” said the 6’7, 215-pound Barnes, who ended up with nine points in 13 minutes on 4 of 4 shooting with two rebounds and a blocked shot.

“Whether it is helping somebody else get extra work in everyday or talking to Tosan [Evbuomwan], Zach [Martini], or Mason [Hooks] and making sure they know what they have to do. It prepares me. I watch to see that they are doing and what they need to do. As a senior, being here for a fifth year is big time. I have been around the program for a long time and I have waited my turn. I got an opportunity and I made the most of it so that is all anybody has to do.” more

GOING TO THE GLASS: Princeton University women’s basketball player Ellie Mitchell heads in for a layup in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore forward Mitchell pulled down a career-high 19 rebounds in a losing cause as Princeton fell 70-60 to Seton Hall. The defeat snapped a 21-game home winning streak for the Tigers, the third longest in the nation heading into the day. Princeton, which fell to 6-3 with the setback, hosts Texas on December 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton University women’s basketball team hosting a tall and skilled Seton Hall squad last Saturday afternoon, Ellie Mitchell knew she had to hit the boards for the Tigers.

“In our last loss (76-67 to Fordham on December 5) we got out-toughed so that is one of the things we can control, work hard and hit a body and go chase the ball,” said 6’0 sophomore forward Mitchell, a native of Chevy Chase, Md.

“I think that all comes back to being a team effort, everyone boxes out. That is a big thing, whether or not shots are falling, rebounding what I need to do.”

Mitchell displayed her toughness against the Pirates, pulling down a career-high 19 rebounds, the most in a game for Princeton since Bella Alarie had 19 against Quinnipiac on December 8, 2018.

But Mitchell’s hard work on the glass wasn’t enough as Seton Hall defeated Princeton 70-60, snapping its 21-game home winning streak, the third longest in the nation heading into the day as the Tigers fell in Jadwin Gym for the first time since losing 86-76 to Yale on February 8, 2019.

“They had some great offensive players, they had two girls averaging high teens and a really big post player and we were ready for that,” said Mitchell, reflecting on the setback which dropped Princeton to 6-3. more

December 8, 2021

RALLY TIME: Princeton University men’s basketball player Tosan Evbuomwan, right, goes after the ball in recent action. Last Sunday, junior forward Evbuomwan scored a career-high 27 points to help Princeton rally for an 81-79 overtime win against visiting Drexel. The Tigers trailed by six points in the last minute of regulation and by six points early in the overtime before pulling out the win over the Dragons. Princeton, who improved to 6-3 with the victory, plays at Lafayette on December 11 before hosting UMBC on December 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Twice it looked like the Princeton University men’s basketball team had lost the game as it hosted Drexel last Saturday afternoon.

With 42 seconds left in regulation, Princeton trailed 71-66 but reeled off five straight points on a pair of free throws by Jaelin Llewellyn and a dramatic three-pointer by Ryan Langborg to knot the game at 71-71 and force overtime.

In the extra session, the Tigers were trailing 77-71 with 3:29 left but once again battled back, outscoring the Dragons 10-2 down the stretch. Tosan Evbuomwan hit a pair of clutch free throws and the winning bucket as Princeton pulled out an improbable 81-79 victory before a frenzied crowd of 1,312 at Jadwin Gym.

“That is an incredible win for us; I hate saying it, we weren’t deserving for parts of the game,” said Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson, whose team improved to 6-3.

 more

December 1, 2021

MAKING A SPLASH: Princeton University men’s water polo player Roko Pozaric fires the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, freshman star Pozaric scored four goals to help 19th-ranked Princeton defeat No. 16 Fordham 17-8 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Tigers, now 26-7, will face No. UCLA on December 2 in Los Angeles in the second opening-round game of the tournament with the victor advancing to the semis on December 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

The Princeton University men’s water polo team had some options when it set up its schedule this year.

The Tigers could have looked at their less experienced roster after a year off from competition and scheduled to build momentum against East Coast teams. Instead, they challenged themselves from the get-go against a parade of talented West Coast squads and the resulting reward is a trip to the second opening-round game of the NCAA tournament.

“To me, it was worth the risk,” said Princeton head coach Dustin Litvak.

“Otherwise we’d end up playing the same teams we always play every weekend. If that was going to be the reality, it was almost going to be better that we’d end up just practicing. If we ended up getting a ‘no’ on our two California trips, I was fine with just practicing through those weekends. Thankfully it worked out and we were able to go out there and play a lot of great teams at a lot of great pools.”

Last Saturday, things worked out very well for the Tigers as 10th-ranked Princeton pulled away from 16th-ranked Fordham for a 17-8 win in the first opening-round game of the NCAAs. It is the program’s first NCAA win since 2011. The Tigers will play at No. 1 UCLA in the second opening-round game of the NCAA tournament Thursday.

“We want to compete and we want to play with confidence,” said Litvak. “If we do that, we give ourselves a chance.” more

TRIPLE THREAT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Tosan Evboumwan dribbles to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, junior forward Evboumwan scored a career-high 19 points and added eight rebounds and five assists as Princeton defeated Fairleigh Dickinson 89-79. The Tigers, now 5-2, play at Hofstra on December 1 before hosting Drexel on December 4 and Bucknell on December 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Tosan Evboumwan was sidelined when the Princeton University men’s basketball team played at Monmouth last Wednesday, and he was missed.

Princeton built a 46-39 halftime lead against the Hawks but faltered down the stretch, falling 76-64, lacking the inside presence and playmaking ability that the 6’9, 215-pound junior forward Evboumwan brings to the table.

Last Sunday,  Evboumwan, a native of Newcastle, England, returned to the lineup as the Tigers hosted Fairleigh Dickinson University and he certainly made a difference. Evboumwan tallied a career-high 19 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists as Princeton topped FDU 89-79.

“It is great to be back and playing with my teammates,” said Evboumwan.

“We got a win after the loss to Monmouth. It was tough to watch and not be out there. I am glad to be back.”

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson was certainly glad to see Evboumwan back in action. more

SHOOTING STAR: Princeton University women’s basketball player Abby Meyers puts up a shot in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, senior guard Meyers scored a game-high 21 points to help Princeton defeat Maine 82-43. The Tigers, now 5-1, play at No. 22 Florida Gulf Coast on December 1 and at Fordham on December 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Abby Meyers knows that she has to be a go-to offensive player for the Princeton University women’s basketball team this winter.

After playing a supporting role to such stars as Bella Alarie and Carlie Littlefield in the past, it is time for Meyers to carry more of the scoring load.

“As a senior, I have gotten a lot of trust from my coaches and teammates, which I really value and appreciate,” said Meyers, who averaged 9.4 points a game in the 2017-18 and 6.3 points in 2019-20.

“I almost have the green light and that is something that not many people are lucky enough to have. I am working really hard on my game. My teammates are looking for me. In the end, we need the scorers to score. I really want to try and internalize that role, being a good scorer for our team. We need it.”

Last Sunday against visiting Maine, Meyers displayed her offensive game, tallying a game-high 21 points as the Tigers pulled away to an 82-43 win in improving to 5-1.

“Getting 100 shots a day is really key to keeping your shot good,” said Meyers, a 6’0 native of Potomac, Md., who is now averaging a team-best 17.7 points a game this season.

“It is just having fun with and not overthinking it. I think a lot of our players in the beginning started to overthink stuff because there is a year off. They pictured a lot of things, like I am going to do this, this, and this. It is just going in with no expectations and having a short term memory and playing the best that you can.” more

99 AND COUNTING: Princeton University women’s hockey player Maggie Connors fires the puck in recent action. Last Saturday, junior forward Connors scored the lone goal for 10th-ranked Princeton as it fell 3-1 to No. 4 Northeastern. The tally marked the 99th point for Connors in her college career. The Tigers, now 5-4-1 overall, play a two-game set at Providence on December 3 and 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton University women’s hockey team having not scored in its previous two games heading into its contest against Northeastern last Saturday, Maggie Connors and her teammates came out firing.

The 10th-ranked Tigers outshot the visiting No. 4 Huskies 15-6 in the first period.

“After last night’s game, we really regrouped,” said junior forward Connors, referring to a 2-0 loss to Northeastern last Friday.

“We wanted to come out strong and really push the pace, knowing that they are a very fast team, respect to them.”

Even though the game was knotted in a 0-0 tie after the first with Northeastern goalie Aerie Frankel coming up big to repel Princeton, the Tigers were confident they would break through.

“We stuck together, we knew that it was going to come if we keep putting pucks on net,” said Connors. “She is an amazing goalie, we had to keep pushing.”

After the Huskies took a 1-0 lead with 6:38 left in the second period, Connors got a puck in the back of the net in the waning moments of the frame, stealing the puck from Frankel and flipping it past her.

“I just wanted to forecheck, I knew I was the closest there,” said Connors, whose tally was her eighth goal of the year and the 99th point in her Princeton career. more

TACKLING MACHINE: Princeton University star linebacker Jeremiah Tyler corrals a ball carrier in action this fall. Last week, Tyler was named as a finalist for the 2021 Stats Perform Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Buck Buchanan Award. The Buck Buchanan Award is presented to the FCS National Defensive Player of the Year. The award, in its 27th season, is named for Buchanan, a legendary Hall of Fame defensive lineman who starred with the Kansas City Chiefs and played collegiately for Grambling State. Tyler produced a team-high 58 tackles this season, adding seven for a loss as Princeton went 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy League, to tie Dartmouth for the league title. The senior captain also had two sacks, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and six pass breakups. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Pito Walton has been around Hobey Baker Rink for around a decade.

Growing up in nearby Peapack, Walton played in youth hockey games at the historic rink. Going on to star at the Lawrenceville School, Walton was in the stands to watch Princeton University games.

Now as a junior defenseman for Princeton, Walton relishes the chance play on a daily basis in the storied building.

“It was a real privilege to come here and it is a dream come true,” said Walton.

“I came here to games when I was at Lawrenceville. When I was a kid, I played mite games here.”

Last Saturday, Walton was all over Baker Rink, helping Princeton produce a superb defensive effort as it battled RIT to a scoreless stalemate through regulation before losing 1-0 in overtime and moving to 3-5-1 overall.

“We definitely put an emphasis on our d-zone, making sure that we focused,” said Walton, reflecting on the contest which came on the heels of a 5-4 loss to RIT on Friday evening.

“We are just focused on staying connected in the d-zone and making sure that we are communicating, knowing that we are really a positionally-sound team. When pucks are turned over, we are going to pounce on them and get it going the other way.” more

November 24, 2021

TITLE RUN: Princeton University quarterback Cole Smith runs past a Yale defender. Last Saturday, senior star and co-captain Smith passed for 214 yards and ran for 69 yards to help Princeton defeat Penn 34-14 and clinch a share of the Ivy League title. The Tigers went 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy to tie Dartmouth (9-1 overall, 6-1 Ivy) for the crown. It marked the fourth league title in eight seasons for the program. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As evening descended on Philadelphia last Saturday, the Princeton University football team held an impromptu party in one corner of venerable Franklin Field.

After thumping Penn 34-14 to earn a share of the Ivy League title, Princeton players, coaches, family and friends mobbed each other on the turf with the revelry including bear hugs, countless cell phone photos, cigar smoke wafting into the air, and dumping buckets of water on Tiger head coach Bob Surace.

The Tigers ended up 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy to tie Dartmouth (9-1 overall, 6-1 Ivy) for the crown after having last season canceled by the league due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns. It marked the fourth league title in eight seasons for the program, which came into the game ranked 20th nationally in the AFCA Coaches Poll.

Princeton senior quarterback and co-captain Cole Smith, who passed for 214 yards and rushed for 69 and a touchdown in the win over the Quakers, savored the moment of triumph as the celebration went on around him.  more

NEAR MISS: Princeton University women’s soccer player Aria Nagai dribbles the ball upfield in a 2-0 win over Vermont in the first round of the NCAA tournament on November 12. Last Friday, sophomore midfielder Nagai picked up an assist in a losing cause as Princeton fell 3-2 to TCU in overtime in the second round of the NCAA tourney. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 15-3-1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Rutgers University played host to two major landmark moments in the Princeton University women’s soccer season in 2021. Both visits showed just how good the Tigers were this year.

Back on September 5 in just the fifth game of the season, the Tigers rallied for a 4-3 overtime win over a Rutgers team then ranked ninth in the country. On the heels of a 1-1 tie with then-No. 8 ranked Georgetown, it set expectations high for the remainder of the year.

Princeton did not disappoint over the course of a memorable season that ended at 15-3-1 overall after a 3-2 double overtime loss to fourth-seeded Texas Christian University (TCU) on Friday at Rutgers. The Tigers were less than two minutes away from extending a season that had included a second-place finish in the Ivy League, a home NCAA tournament game that they won, and the third-most wins in a season in program history on the heels of a full year away from competition.

“I absolutely adore the group, I love the group,” said Princeton head coach Sean Driscoll.

“That’s what makes losing so difficult because I wanted to keep the season going. As I said to them Thursday in training, I want to keep it going because I don’t like the idea of not having a tomorrow with you guys, that’s all it comes down to.” more

RESERVE STRENGTH: Princeton University men’s basketball player Ryan Langborg guards a foe in game earlier this season. Last Wednesday night, junior guard Langborg scored a career-high 14 points off the bench to help Princeton defeat Marist 80-61. On Sunday, he chipped in eight points as the Tigers edged Oregon State 81-80 in improving to 4-1. In upcoming action, Princeton plays at Monmouth on November 24 before hosting Fairleigh Dickinson on November 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Ryan Langborg came off the bench in the early going for the Princeton University men’s basketball team as it hosted Marist last Wednesday and didn’t waste any time making an impact.

Entering the contest with 15:56 left in the first half, junior guard Langborg drained a three-pointer 58 seconds later. That bucket was a harbinger of things to come as Langborg ended up tallying a career-high 14 points to help Princeton pull away to an 80-61 victory.

“We had a good game plan, we were trying to get the ball inside,” said Langborg.

“If we get the ball inside to Keeshawn [Kellman], Mason [Hooks] and Tosan [Evbuomwan] and they make something happen and they crash on those guys, we move and we knew we would be open and get good shots. We like getting the ball inside and getting it back out and swinging it around for a good three. They fell tonight so I just kept taking them.”

In reflecting on his performance, Langborg credited defense with leading to offense. more

OH BOY: Princeton University men’s soccer player Kevin O’Toole dribbles past a foe in recent action. Senior star O’Toole, who was named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year this season as he helped Princeton go 7-0 in league play, saw his brilliant career come to an end as the Tigers fell 1-0 at St. John’s in the first round of the NCAA tournament last Thursday. Princeton ended the fall with an overall record of 12-6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In late September, the Princeton University men’s soccer team lost a hard-fought 1-0 battle to St. John’s.

Last Thursday, Princeton got a rematch at St. John’s in the first round of the NCAA tournament and the Tigers were primed to turn the tables on the Red Storm.

“The last couple of games were really hard to grind out results; we had stretches during those games where I thought we played well but I think the guys were so determined to win the league and get through the league unbeaten,” said Princeton head coach Jim Barlow, whose team came into the NCAA game at 12-5 overall and 7-0 Ivy and riding an 8-game winning streak.

“At times it was more about competing than it was about putting the best soccer out there. At times we were able to do both. We had stretches down the stretch where I thought we were really connected, defending as group, moving the ball well and creating chances. I think there was a lot of confidence going into the tournament.”

Barlow knew it wouldn’t be easy to overcome St. John’s. “They are just so hard to score on, they concede so few goals,” said Barlow.

“They are big, they are athletic. It is a tough matchup. We didn’t create many chances in the first game against them and I don’t think they did either. It was a pretty competitive game with neither team able to generate many chances.”

The NCAA contest turned out to be competitive but with same result as the Red Storm won 1-0, finding the back of the net at the 43rd minute and holding off the Tigers from there. more

ON BOARD: Princeton University men’s hockey player Finn Evans (No. 16) battles a St. Lawrence player for the puck along the boards last Friday at Hobey Baker Rink. Senior forward Evans tallied a goal and an assist in a losing cause as Princeton fell 6-4 to the Saints. The Tigers, who lost 8-3 to Clarkson last Saturday to move to 3-3-1 overall and 2-2 ECAC Hockey, host a two-game set against RIT on November 26 and 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although their 2020-21 season was canceled by the Ivy League due to COVID-19 concerns, Finn Evans and his teammates on the Princeton University men’s hockey team still made progress.

“We were just skating at local rinks around New Jersey and working out,” said senior forward Evans, who was enrolled in school and living in the Princeton area with some of his teammates last school year.

“We were brought back in the spring and we were able to skate and work out. That was good, the freshmen were here. It brought us closer together as a group. I think it shows this year. We are all really tight, everyone is contributing.”

That group effort had been reflected in scoring balance across the team’s lines.

“It is nice this year, in previous years it has been a top-heavy contribution,” said Evans.

“The great thing about our lineup this year is that you look throughout the lineup and it is evenly spread right through. I think the theme of our team is that it doesn’t matter who scores. It is all just working hard and playing the game.”

Last Friday against visiting St. Lawrence, Evans contributed an assist and a goal as Princeton overcame an early 2-0 deficit  to build a 4-2 lead over the Saints with 14:38 left in the second period.

Evans set up the first goal, feeding Nick Seitz who banged home the pass. more