It has been a dominant year for Princeton athletics. After being ranked the No. 14 athletic program in the country, Princeton not only boasts the best undergraduate education in the world, but the best athletic program in the Ivy League. In terms of the performance of teams, there was no shortage of success for Princeton.
Princeton basketball takes over March Madness
If the New York Yankees ask you to throw the first pitch, then you have done something exceptional. For men’s basketball Head Coach Mitch Henderson ’98, his team’s March Madness run was nothing short of that.
Henderson led Princeton basketball to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1967. Led by senior forward Tosan Evbuomwan and senior guard Ryan Langborg, the Tigers became only the fourth No. 15 seed to make the Sweet 16, defeating No. 2 seed Arizona Wildcats and No. 7 seed Missouri Tigers before succumbing to the No. 6 seed Creighton Blue Jays. Already making history, Princeton beat the Missouri Tigers by the largest margin for a No. 15 seed in March Madness history.
Following their historic March Madness run, Evbuomwan declared for the 2023 NBA draft, while Langborg and senior forward Keeshawn Kellman used their graduate year of eligibility to transfer to Northwestern and Florida Gulf Coast, respectively.
“This year was a great experience for me personally and the team too,” first-year guard Xavian Lee told the Daily Princetonian. “Making the Sweet 16 was a great experience, it sets the bar high for us next year.”
Women’s basketball also had a successful season. Down two points to No. 7 ranked NC State in the first round of March Madness, senior forward Grace Stone hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to secure the victory and advance. Though the Tigers’ run was cut short after a loss to the No. 2 ranked Utah Utes, their journey to the Round of 32 was memorable.
“This senior season was special,” senior guard Julia Cunningham told the ‘Prince.’ “Winning the Ivy League for the fourth time in a row and winning the Ivy championship on our home floor in front of our home crowd was something I am never going to forget.”
Stone will play basketball next year overseas.
Women’s rugby begins its first season as a varsity team
Although women’s rugby faced challenges adjusting to the new level of competition, this year marked an exciting start as the first year for the University’s newly established varsity women’s rugby team.
“We faced a tough first varsity season and had to overcome injuries and setbacks throughout,” first-year eight-person Amelia Clarke explained. “While the scoreboard may not have always reflected it, we can be proud of the progress we made and look forward to building on it in the next season and years to come.”
Women’s rowing dominates for a second consecutive year
No. 1 Princeton crew finished third at the NCAA championships this year for the second season in a row. With a time of 6:22.17, the first varsity was only bested by first-place Stanford and the second place Washington Huskies.
For the first time in program history, women’s crew finished top three for two consecutive years, marking their best performances since their second-place finish in 2014.
Women’s lightweight rowing is currently the No. 1 ranked team in the country. They will look to defend their team points and varsity eight titles in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championships on June 3–4.
Men’s and women’s water polo make history
With four All-American men’s players for the first time in program history, a win against Stanford men’s water polo for the first time in program history, the first-ever NCAA semifinals appearance for women’s water polo, and the most ever men’s water polo wins in a year, this season has arguably been the greatest of all time for an East Coast water polo program.
“I am very proud of how our season went,“ first-year goalie Lindsey Lucas told the ‘Prince.’ “Making it into the top four felt incredible, but I know, when I look back on this season, it won’t be our accomplishments that I remember the most. It will be that our team became a family.”
Men’s Head Coach Dustin Litvak and women’s Head Coach Derek Ellingson led Princeton water polo to a record-breaking year. The men’s team, led by senior captain and attacker Keller Maloney, reached their second NCAA quarterfinals in two years, an unprecedented feat for an East Coast team.
“By many counts, this was the most successful season in Princeton water polo history,” Keller said. “We sent a clear message to the traditionally dominant West Coast. Coach Litvak helped us believe that, despite our disadvantages, we could be one of the best teams in the country.”
Tiger fencing enjoys its best season since 2014
With three bronze and three silver individual medals, an Ivy championship, and a national second-place finish, Head Coach Zoltan Dudas rightfully earned his Coach of the Year award.
The last time the Tigers had managed to place top two in the country was from 2012 to 2014, with two second-placed finishes and a national title in 2013.
Though the Notre Dame Fighting Irish took first place for the third year in a row, the Tigers overcame the tough Columbia (No. 1 in women’s) and Harvard (No. 1 in men’s) teams to finish second in the country. Eleven of their 12 competitors finished with All-American honors.
Four-peat for Tigers Tennis
For the fourth year in a row, women’s tennis won the Ivy League championship. In her first year as head coach, Jamea Jackson led the Tigers to a 7–0 conference record.
Continued Field Hockey and Swim and Dive dominance for the Tigers
Women’s Field Hockey went undefeated in the Ivy League to take their 20th undefeated Ivy Championship.
Similarly, Women’s swimming and diving earned their 24th swimming and diving Ivy League title by edging past Harvard. The Tigers were in control the entire meet, taking 12 event titles in the tournament.
Other notable finishes
Men’s cross country won the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, and the Tigers placed 30th in the NCAA cross country championships. Meanwhile, women’s cross country finished second in the Ivy Championships and fourth in the NCAA regionals.
Men’s golf finished first this year in the Ivy League championships, and placed 18th in the NCAA regionals.
After an erratic season, Men’s Lacrosse won the Ivy League Championships before losing to Penn State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Men’s heavyweight rowing won several cups this year, concluding the season with their first second-place finish in the Varsity Eight since 2016. Men’s lightweight rowing won their first EARC title since 2010. Both men's rowing teams will look to finish their seasons strong at the IRA national championship on June 2–4.
This year has been one to remember for the Tigers. The year of the Tiger might’ve ended in 2022, but, at Princeton, it stayed a little longer.
Brian Mhando is an associate editor for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’
Please direct any corrections requests to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.