Fall sports in review: 5 Princeton teams win conference championships, Jack Graham , Molly Milligan , Sam Lee and Tom Salotti | Nov 25, 2018
In the 2018 fall sports season, a remarkable five Princeton teams earned conference championships. Here, we briefly recap those seasons.
Field hockey (Molly Milligan, staff writer)
This season, field hockey (15–5 overall, 6–1 Ivy) established themselves as one of the top-tier teams in the nation. The Tigers began the 2018 campaign ranked 10th in the Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I Coaches’ Poll and would only see their stock rise as the season wore on.
The Tigers got off to a hot start with impressive wins over then-No. 5 Penn State and then-No. 4 Duke in the span of less than a week. Junior fullback Carlotta von Gierke said those two games showed the team they “not only had the ability to compete with the top teams but also beat them…. It showed us that our hard work during the off-season and preseason really paid off and that we are able to build and grow from there.”
Princeton built off its early wins by dominating Ivy League foes, save for a 3–1 defeat at Harvard. Sophomore striker Clara Roth was named Ivy League Co-Offensive Player of the Year. Roth was the centerpiece of a sustained Tiger attack, scoring 32 points on the year. Senior fullback Elise Wong was named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. Wong anchored a defense the served five shutouts in conference matches and allowed just 1.21 goals per game.
Just 10 days ago, Princeton rose to number four in the rankings, just in time to finish up a stellar campaign at the NCAA Final Four in Louisville, Ky. The Tigers earned a spot in a national semifinal against the No. 2 Maryland Terrapins after defeating No. 13 Virginia and exacting revenge on No. 6 Harvard in the tournament’s early rounds.
What would be Princeton’s final match of the season was a classic overtime thriller, and the first national semifinal since 1989 to go scoreless through regulation. Though Maryland would score in extra time to advance the championship, any fan could see that Princeton played an amazing game, owning possession of the ball and putting up an incredible defensive front.
The team is poised for another strong season next year, as it returns with all but two starters.
Football (Jack Graham, associate sports editor)
In its most successful season in recent memory, football finished undefeated for the first time since 1964 and won the Ivy League title outright for the first time since 1995.
The team began the season with three blowout victories in non-conference play, taking down Butler, Monmouth, and Lehigh. The winning continued as Ivy League play began and Princeton defeated all seven of its conference foes. The closest games came against Harvard (29–21) and then-undefeated Dartmouth (14–9).
Throughout the season, Princeton was dominant on both sides of the ball. The offense scored 470 points, making it the highest-scoring unit in Ivy League history. The Tigers were led offensively by senior quarterback John Lovett, named unanimously to the All-Ivy first team, who rushed for 99 yards per game and passed for 204, and senior receiver Jesper Horsted, who led the Ivy League with 15 touchdowns. Senior tight end Graham Adomitis, senior offensive lineman George Attea, junior offensive lineman Reily Radosevich, and senior running back Charlie Volker were also named to the All-Ivy first team.
Defensively, Princeton limited its opponents to just 13 points per game. The defense was anchored by the senior linebacker duo of Tom Johnson and Mark Fossati, both named to the All-Ivy first team, who finished first and second on the team in tackles respectively. Junior safety TJ Floyd had six interceptions on the year and was also named to the All-Ivy first team.
In the offseason, the Tigers will be faced with the daunting task of replacing seven All-Ivy first-teamers. However, a plethora of young talent waiting in the wings should make Princeton fans hopeful about the future.
Women’s soccer (Tom Salotti, staff writer)
Women’s soccer (11–4–2 overall, 5–1–1 Ivy) took home the Ivy League championship and appeared in the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row.
The Tigers opened the regular season with a 3–0 win against Yale, boosting confidence for a successful repeat of last year.
But the euphoria did not last long. The Tigers tied Dartmouth in their first home game in conference play, 0–0. The scoreless match was followed by a devastating loss to Brown at home, in which the Tigers gave up a 2–0 lead and ended up losing 3–2.
This match was the “hardest moment to stomach” of the season, said Head Coach Sean Driscoll. “But without it, we wouldn’t have had the response we did for the rest of the season.”
The Tigers won all of their remaining conference matches. They took down Columbia University 1–0 in New York, followed by an exciting 2–0 win over Harvard at home. Cornell University was up next and were toppled by the Tigers 2–0. In the crucial, final match of the season, the Tigers defeated Penn to earn their 10th ever Ivy League title and a spot in the NCAA tournament.
In the first round of the tournament, the Tigers fell to Texas Tech University 3–0 in Texas, conceding goals at the start of each half and one 24 minutes before the final whistle.
Princeton earned two Ivy League post-season awards — senior forward Mimi Asom was named Offensive Player of the Year and Coach Driscoll was named Coach of the Year.
Asom was unanimously selected for the All-Ivy first team, and sophomore defender Lucy Rickerson earned a spot on the first team as well.
Junior forward Courtney O’Brien, sophomore defender Eve Hewins, and junior goalkeeper Natalie Grossi were named to the second team. Freshman midfielder Emma Davis, junior midfielder Tomi Kennedy, and junior defender Olivia Shephard were named honorable mentions.
The team’s seniors, after concluding their final season this fall, have a whopping three Ivy League titles and have made three NCAA tournament appearances.
Men’s soccer (David Xin, head sports editor)
When the men’s soccer team tied Dartmouth in the first Ivy League game of the season, few saw it as an auspicious start. None would have suspected this would be the beginning of an eight-game unbeaten streak that saw the Tigers clinch the outright Ivy League title. Despite their success, the margin for error was slim, the Tigers narrowly edged out opponents like Columbia and Penn on their way to an NCAA bid. Senior forward Jeremy Colvin scored five game-winning goals to help secure the championship. Princeton’s only Ivy League loss of the season came at Yale’s hands. But by that time, the Orange and Black had already won the league due to a Columbia loss that eliminated their only challenger.
Leading the Ancient Eight, Princeton would make its tenth appearance in the NCAA championships facing Michigan. As with much of their season, the Tigers would once again find themselves in a tough spot. The two teams finished regulation with a goal apiece. Twenty additional minutes in overtime failed to produce a difference between the two teams as neither side could find a golden goal before heading into penalties. Adding to the intensity, the penalties took a nerve-wracking 14 rounds to deliver what would be a heartbreaking result for the Princeton side. Still, the Tigers have plenty to be proud of as they look back on a thrilling and exciting 2018 season that showcased the best of Princeton soccer.
Men’s water polo (Sam Lee, contributor)
For the first time since 2015, men’s water polo finished the season atop the Northeast Water Polo Conference, securing the fifth conference title in the program’s history. The Tigers progressed through the NWPC tournament with wins over Iona and St. Francis-Brooklyn, before defeating Harvard 12–10 in the championship game. Sophomore utility Casey Conrad was named the tournament’s most valuable player, while first year head coach Dustin Litvak was honored as top coach. The NWPC win resulted in an NCAA tournament bid for the Tigers, in which Princeton fell to No. 16 George Washington in the opening round.
The loss to George Washington marked the end of a strong final season from the Class of 2019. Senior attacker Matt Payne and senior utility Ryan Wilson were both selected to NWPC All-Conference teams, with Payne named to the first team and Wilson the second team. Payne, who paced the team with 73 goals this season, ends his Princeton career tied for fourth all-time leading scorer, with 238 goals. Wilson graduates as Princeton’s all-time leader in assists, with 215, while Payne sits behind him in second with 143.
The Class of 2022 was also key in the Tigers’ success this season. Freshman attacker Keller Maloney finished tied for first on the team with 25 steals, while freshman center Wyatt Benson led the team with 80 ejections drawn. Benson and Maloney, along with freshman attacker Mitchell Cooper, combined for 87 goals this season. The strength of this year’s freshman class bodes well for the Tigers’ future, as it will look to replicate its success in seasons to come.