Soaking Up the Bennies
Last weekend was club weekend at Princeton and an amazingly impressive group of girls from all over the Eastern seaboard were bussed in to trim the horns of the Princeton boys. But as clubbies and their dates splashed through the three inches of beer which accumulated on the basement floor of one of the clubs, few probably stopped to realize that Harvard's victory over the highly-touted Tiger lacrosse team Saturday was the third major upset of Princeton by the Crimson squad this year, all before Princeton crowds.
In February, coach Edo Marion's fencers were at a low point and were settled in last place with an 0-2 record as the prepared to face league-leaders Princeton. Two sophomores, Geza Tatrallyay and Larry Cetrulo, were triple winners, and Cliff Rudermann and Tony Abbott also contributed key wins to give the Crimson a 15-12 triumph.
Harvard went on to win its two remaining Ivy contest to finish with a 3-2 record, but Princeton emerged as the champion since no one else was able to beat the Tigers.
Only 10 days ago, the varsity tennis team rallied to edge the Bengals, 5-4. Princeton beat the other serious challenger for the Eastern title, Penn, by an 8-1 margin. It appears that, as in fencing, Harvard will be the only team to top the Tigers.
Thrilling as the fencing and tennis wins were, the lacrosse triumph was probably even more exhilarating. The court-men's upset was, for one thing, accomplished against a team rated as one of the favorites to take the league title.
A quick look at comparative scores ruled the Crimson lacrosse team an over-whelming underdog. Brown and Penn had both downed Harvard, but Priceton had dumped the Bruins, 10-5, and had completely crushed Penn, 12-2. Statistically, there was no way that Harvard could win.
Also, the Crimson looked beaten as the fourth period rolled on. Strong play early in the game had given Harvard a 10-7 lead, but Princeton suddenly netted five goals to lead by two with less that five minutes remaining. The Tigers had the momentum: it was asking too much for the Crimson to rally. But somehow it happened.
From a spectator point of view, the lacrosse contest was different because lacrosse is a team game, whereas fencing and tennis consist of many individual matches. To watch the exceptional team-work and then the reaction of the reaction of the group as a whole to the crucial goals was a stirring experience.
One thing that many probably over-looked was the makeup of the Crimson defense on Saturday. Three of the four starters--Bill Bennett, Don Gogel, and John Cosentino--are sophomore who were considered question marks earlier in the spring because of their inexperience on the varsity level.
Originally, the defense was the unit with the most experience on the team. Mike Ananis, Kirby Wilcox, Bob McDowell, and Pete Barber were all back in their familiar positions. But injuries eliminated all but Ananis, though McDowell is seeing some action now. The young defense could have folded under the pressure of Saturday's game, but did not.
Scoring Machine Comes Alive
The offense has collapsed several times this season late in the game, and threatened to do so against Princeton, but in the last crucial minutes, the Crimson scoring machine somehow came alive to win it.
On five occasions, Harvard shots bounced off the pipes. One by Phil Zuckerman appeared to go in, but was ruled no good. Earlier in the game, however, the Crimson got credit for a goal on a John Ince shot that Princeton claimed did not go in the goal. So the offense could very conceivably have scored about 17 goals against a previously stingily Tiger defense. Even the pretty girls couldn't help Princeton.
There were many heroes, but two veterans especially stood out. Tom Nicosia, captain for the second year, netted two goals including the game winner. The rest of his play was also exceptional, and he worked hard to keep up the team spirit. "Nic was super. It's the best game I've ever seen him play," midfielder Jim Anderson said afterwards.
And on defense, it was Mike Ananis's job to contain Peter Johnsen, Princeton's sensational attackman who has been scoring with ease this spring. Johnsen managed three assists, but only one goal as Ananis hung on him, many times taking the ball away. "The poor guy," Anderson said, "really got annihilated by Vito [Ananis],"
It was a wonderful for team which has suffered so many disappointments this season. When Nicosia's goal rolled in with 1:40 left in the game, it was like Pete Varney joyously holding the football high in the air in the end zone on November 23.
"That was too much," Hregan raved after Saturday's conquest. Words of wisdom came from Wilcox: "This has a high cosmic significance quotient." Gorby Grand said, "I'm glad we won."
Perhaps the tipoff came in the third period. A small rabbit ran across the field. A dog took chase and seemed to have the small creature in its mouth when the rabbit ran off again and the dog couldn't catch it.