Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun
March 10, 2012
Brown (7-7) at Princeton (10-3), Cornell (9-3) vs. Yale (9-4), Friday
The Ivy League appears to be a one-bid league; Princeton hosts. Cornell is reeling after Rob Pannell's injury and two conference losses. Yale has won seven straight, and Brown will try to emulate Cinderella.
Princeton is the "now" team — Saturday's win over Cornell was eye-catching. The Tigers played with great pace in an electric atmosphere. Senior goalie Tyler Fiorito (McDonogh) wasn't sharp early in the year but has come on strong. Their at-large playoff resume isn't overpowering, so mantra is simple: Leave nothing to chance and win out.
Brown had to win out and got help as Harvard crumbled, losing its last three games.
Cornell might need the automatic qualifier because its credentials are shaky after stumbling against Brown and running into a Princeton buzzsaw. It was not a typical Cornell performance. The Big Red was overaggressive sliding to dodgers, and that created easy offensive looks for Princeton. On offense, Cornell was sloppy and turnover-prone. And Pannell's future hangs over this team, creating uncertainty.
Yale (9-4) got punched in face by Sacred Heart on March 6 and lost three in a row to top opposition. Coach Andy Shay and his squad returned to the basics, focused on the fundamentals and are riding the longest winning streak at Yale in 22 years. The Bulldogs are battle-ready, having played 12 periods of overtime this year.
Championship weekend is about drama, the opportunity to extend your season by reaching your goals — and, for many teams, the reality of a sudden ending.