According to ancient rivalries, “Harvard sucks and Princeton doesn’t matter,” and the Elis’ easy win against the Tigers’ football team on Saturday certainly proved that. But with a series of upcoming contests against the school during the winter sports season, Princeton might be a bigger deal for the Bulldogs than most Yalies would like to think.
Each year, for instance, the centerpiece of the track and field team’s season is the H-Y-P event. The team, which is getting ready for its season opener in early December, is the source of a budding rivalry with Princeton. The Tigers did not make their mark on the Elis until last season, when they made a strong comeback from their loss to Yale the year before. Princeton earned 20 of 29 first-place rankings at the H-Y-P meet as opposed to 14 of 32 in the same meet the previous season.
Gabriella Kelly ’12 looks ahead to Princeton’s talent in track and field.
“Princeton has some really good athletes and they always have a good incoming class,” she said. “Their coaching is really hardcore they might work [their runners] too hard to get the results they want out of them. But they’re definitely a threat.”
But members of the track team seem to think that last year’s defeat was just a matter of bad luck and that this year’s squad will be ready to take on rival Princeton.
“In terms of winning events we should do a lot better than last year,” Jared Bell ’09 said. “There were events that we should have won, but we lost points to injuries. We have a stronger team this year.”
On the water, competitions against Harvard and Princeton have equal footing, especially in the men’s lightweight crew team’s joint Goldthwait and Vogel Cups against the pair.
This season, men’s heavyweight crew had more luck against the Tigers at the Princeton Chase on Oct. 25. The Bulldogs boasted a victory in the first and fourth varsity races, tying Princeton and eventually winning the Chase. The previous year, the Bulldogs took a 13.8-second lead to the Tigers in the first varsity race, and came in fourth ahead of Princeton in the second varsity race.
The women’s crew raced the Crimson and the Tigers in their national title run in the spring of 2008 in consecutive weekends, marking their final wins before the all-important Sprints.
The women’s crew team won the first varsity race in this season’s Princeton Chase, ultimately taking the whole event. In the spring they again take on Harvard and Princeton in two of their final matchups before Eastern Sprints.
On the gridiron, the football team’s contests against the Tigers have become more important for both schools.
In last year’s match against the Tigers, the Bulldogs snatched a 27-6 win at Princeton Stadium and dominated the field starting in the third quarter.
With their hopes of snagging an Ivy League title pinned to the match against the Tigers, the Elis had faith going into last Saturday’s game that they would be able to exploit Princeton’s apprehensive playing style and steal a victory on home field in the game before The Game.
Despite the heightened stakes weighing on Yale’s (6-3, 4-2) shoulders, the Elis scored all their points in the first half when tailback Mike McLeod ’09 rushed 70 yards. They snatched victory in a muddy brawl at the Bowl in the last home game of the season, 14-0.
“We all felt great as a team and defensively, we shut them out,” fullback Josh Kozel ’12 said. “We played a nearly perfect game of football. Despite the whole ‘Princeton doesn’t matter’ thing, we take them as seriously as we do Harvard. We went all out, so I think that Princeton really does matter.”
Maybe next year, as the game travels back to Princeton, the game will matter even more for the newly budding rivals.
“Princeton is a part of the Ivy League schedule so they’re absolutely important every year,” punt returner Gio Chrisotodoulou ’11 said. “I personally like [the rivalry]…there is a 130 year tradition with us.”