The 2017–18 academic year gave Tiger fans their fair share of memorable sports moments. From incredible comebacks to heartbreaking losses, from breakout performances by freshmen to career milestones attained by seniors, this year gave us plenty of unforgettable moments across Princeton sports. And as this year comes to an end, The Daily Princetonian takes a look back at some of the best memories from this season and counts down the top 10 moments of Princeton sports.
10. Men’s basketball defeats Southern California in Los Angeles 103–93 in overtime
The list starts with perhaps the best victory for men’s basketball this season. While this was not an Ivy League game, this matchup between 2017 NCAA tournament teams combined a thrilling game with critical non-conference implications, making it one of the most memorable non-conference games in recent memory. Starting the season with some tough losses, the Tigers knew they needed some key victories during winter break if they were to enter Ivy League play with a strong non-conference résumé. Facing off against the No. 10 Trojans in Southern California seemed like no easy task, but on the national stage the Orange and Black came through, pulling off the upset to start the year. Princeton let the Trojans back into the game late, but closed it out in overtime with some clutch baskets by juniors Myles Stephens and Devin Cannady. Stephens shattered his old career high in points by scoring 30 in the contest, as the Tigers lit up the floor with over 50 percent shooting for the game. While most of the season didn’t go as expected, Princeton still was able to garner national attention with this stunning upset of a perennial basketball powerhouse.
9. Women’s golf wins its second straight Ivy League Championship
With a plethora of talent returning for the women’s golf team, a second straight Ivy League Championship seemed like it could be attained. The Tigers did it in style by coming from behind on the final day of the NCAA tournament and beating No. 2 Harvard for a second straight year, this time via a playoff hole. The Tigers were three strokes back entering the final day, but carded a team low round of six over 288 to put themselves in a position to win their sixth Ivy League Championships. Freshman Anabelle Chang — a key addition to the Tiger squad — finished second overall individually in the tournament, while and sophomore Maya Walton, the Ivy League Player of the Year, finished the tournament tied for fifth. Rounding out the top ten was junior Amber Wang, the 2017 Ivy League Tournament champion and the third member of this year’s Tiger team to crack the top 10. The victory sent Princeton to the NCAA West Regional, and gives it a chance to make history next year as it shoots for its first ever three-peat.
8. Women’s basketball extracts revenge on Penn, winning 2018 Ivy Madness
Last season, the Tigers finished second to Penn in the Ivy League regular season and in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament. In 2017, the Quakers swept the Tigers and proved that they were the better team. This season, the Tigers extracted revenge, sweeping Penn by victory margins of 15, 20, and 29. The sweetest of the three was without a doubt the victory in the Ivy League Tournament final; Princeton used its trademark suffocating defense — ranked first in the league throughout 2018 — to win the second annual Ivy League Tournament and punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Sophomore Bella Alarie turned in a career high of 17 rebounds, and the Ivy League Player of the Year also took home the hardware for tournament MVP. Also named to the All-Tournament team were senior Leslie Robinson and freshman Abby Meyers, who was a menace from beyond the arc throughout the tournament. The win gave the Tigers their 24th victory of the season, and they cut the nets in the Palestra to celebrate their trip back to the Big Dance.
7. Ryan McCarthy stuns UVA with a game-winning double OT goal
If the women’s field hockey team was going to advance to its third straight NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, it was going to have to get by a tough Virginia Cavaliers team on its home turf. Trailing 2–1 in the second half against the No. 5 team in the nation, senior Ryan McCarthy put the team on her back and carried the Tigers to a thrilling victory that took a second overtime period to decide. McCarthy scored her 16th goal of the season in the 57th minute off of a penalty shot to even the game at two. Then, she almost ended the game in regulation with two fantastic chances in the closing minutes. But it was the double overtime chance — a back hander to the right side of the Virginia goalkeeper — that found the back of the net and sent the Tigers into the next round to take on North Carolina. It would be her final win as a Tiger, but scoring the game-winning goal in double overtime will probably be one of the most unforgettable moments of McCarthy’s illustrious career.
6. Men’s track and field wins the Ivy League Triple Crown
It’s quite difficult to be a champion at just one of cross country, outdoor track, or indoor track; how about winning it for all three? That is what the men’s track and field team did this season, winning for the ninth time in program history the cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track Ivy league Championships all in the same season to claim the “Triple Crown.” Even more impressive may be the fact that it’s the fourth time it has done it in the past eight seasons, continuing a trend of absolute dominance in the Ivy League. Starting in the fall, the Tigers won the Ivy League Heptagonal Cross Country Championships with the lowest score since 1987, with senior Noah Kauppila leading the way with a second place finish. Then, the indoor track team — finishing in the top two for the 25th year in a row — won by 68 points in the Indoor Track Ivy Heps to claim the largest margin of victory in the tournament’s history. Finally, the Tigers rallied in the Outdoor Heps after starting the final day in second, scoring in 14 of the last 15 events and emphatically closing out the final leg of the Triple Crown.
5. Chad Kanoff begins his pro career, signing with the Arizona Cardinals
Senior quarterback Chad Kanoff was one of the key pieces to the success of the Princeton football team in the past few seasons. At times, Kanoff looked like the best quarterback in Division I football and certainly showed the potential to make it on a pro roster. Kanoff got the chance to prove what he’s made of earlier this year, when he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League. Kanoff gets a chance to compete with other quarterbacks — including Sam Bradford, Mike Glennon, and the number 10 overall pick Josh Rosen — for a chance to make the 52-man roster this summer. Kanoff finished his senior year with a career best 73.2 percent completion percentage, 3,474 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, and only nine interceptions. His best performance this season came against Yale, with a season high 454 passing yards and four touchdowns, including a career long 88-yard touchdown bomb. And while the team may not have had the season they would have liked this year, Kanoff certainly left his mark, and he will look to join former teammate Seth DeValve ’16 on an NFL roster.
4. Leslie Robinson becomes the 2nd Ivy League player to be drafted into the WNBA
Women’s basketball makes its second appearance on this list, this time due to the individual performance of senior Leslie Robinson. A standout throughout her four years as a Tiger, Robinson will get to continue her career after being drafted 34th overall by the New York Liberty in the WNBA. In her final season, Robinson averaged 10.2 points per game for the Tigers and finished with 129 assists, the sixth highest single season mark in school history. Perhaps her most important accomplishment, however, was the leadership she brought to the team throughout her four years as a Tiger. She helped lead the Tigers to three NCAA tournament appearances, and she has been critical to the development and growth of the current young crop of Tigers on the team. Leslie became just the second player in the history of the Ancient Eight to be drafted into the WNBA and the second Princeton player ever to play in the WNBA.
3. Women’s lacrosse snatches Ivy League title, then downs Syracuse in same week
Go, women’s lacrosse! As the year wound down and attention for many students turned toward reading period, the Tigers were still focused on unfinished business in the postseason. Hosting the 2018 Ivy League Tournament, the No. 1 Tigers looked to take care of business and secure their place in the NCAA Tournament. After easily handling Columbia, the Tigers won a back and forth showdown against Penn 13–10 to win the tournament. Hours later, they found out that they would be squaring off against No. 19 Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Having already lost an epic 17–16 dogfight at home, Princeton looked to exact revenge. The two teams played another classic, with the Tigers taking a six-goal lead midway through the first only to watch Syracuse tie it up in the second half. Senior Colby Chanenchuk, playing in her hometown in front of friends and family, would seal the Tiger victory in double overtime with a brilliant shot on the Syracuse goalkeeper. The goal sent the Tigers into a frenzy, and onto the next round of the NCAA tournament.
2. Men’s hockey shocks the ECAC, clinching a spot in the NCAA tournament
Our Cinderella story of the year is without question the men’s hockey team. The Tigers were uncertain of their ECAC playoff fate heading into the final game of the season, which they won 4–3 against St. Lawrence to clinch home ice and the No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Expected to win a few games but fizzle out, the Tigers shocked the ECAC and the rest of the NCAA by winning six games in a row, punching their ticket to the NCAA Tournament in the process. Not only did the Tigers not drop a single series in the ECAC playoffs, they didn’t drop a single game. And it was one storybook moment after another for the Tigers. First up, Princeton defeated Union — a team it had not beaten in its last 20 attempts — in back-to-back games to make the ECAC semifinals. Then, the Tigers shocked the nation by thrashing the No. 2 Cornell Big Red 4–1 in the ECAC semifinals. Already riding a Cinderella story, the Tigers took it a step further by winning the final game and getting to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in nine years. On the same ice where the United States shocked Russia in the 1980 Olympics, the Tigers shocked No. 10 Clarkson when senior Max Becker roped a shot into the net 2:37 into overtime, sending the Tigers back to the biggest tournament in the sport. From No. 7 seed to ECAC champions, the men’s hockey team had a run that will never be forgotten.
1. Women’s soccer defeats UNC 2–1 in overtime to advance to the NCAA Elite 8
When you beat the best team in the nation, perhaps the best college program in the history of the sport, you are going to create the top moment of the year. The women’s soccer team took No. 2 UNC — holder of 21 national titles and the most wins of any NCAA school in history — and knocked them out of the tournament with a thrilling 2–1 victory in sudden death overtime. Despite being outshot 24–8 for the game, Princeton did enough to send the Tar Heels home on their home field. It was Abby Givens — the sophomore forward who was one of the team’s catalysts all year — who scored the game-winning goal in overtime. Beating a defender, then redirecting the ball in midair, the hometown player sent the Tigers into the Elite 8 for only the second time in school history. Givens and the Princeton women’s soccer team provide us our best moment of the 2017–18 year in sports. Here’s to hoping for just as exciting a season in 2018–19.