As a freshman, Kelly Shannon was the last Princeton player to post a victory in the historic 2009 national team final against Trinity. Unfortunately, his was only the fourth win in an eventual 5-4 loss. Following Princeton's 8-1 quarterfinal win over Dartmouth Friday, Shannon is one match away from getting another shot at the national title on his home court.
Princeton will face sixth-seeded Cornell, which upset third-seeded Yale 8-1 in the first quarterfinal Friday. Princeton defeated Cornell 7-2 during the regular season, though the Tigers know they'll get a far different Big Red team Saturday during the 11:30 am semifinal.
"The regular season can be weird because of scheduling issues or other things that come up, so you don't know what you get every match," Shannon said. "For this weekend, with it being so exciting, you know you're getting everybody's best. Beating them in the regular season helps us, but we know they'll be excited coming off the big win over Yale. It will be a different match for everybody."
Six of the nine matchups will be the same, and Princeton won six of those seven. Cornell flipped its 3 and 4 players after previous No. 3 Aditya Jagtap suffered an injury last weekend against Princeton. Jagtap played Friday and was one of Cornell's eight winners in the marathon victory over Yale. Cornell also has a new No. 8 player in Todd Ryan, who won the clincher against Yale.
While the Big Red was forced to play several deep matches, Princeton was efficient in its victory over Dartmouth. The Tigers swept the first shift and got two wins in the second shift to clinch the victory.
"In a weekend like this, when you have to play three times, you need to be efficient," Shannon said. "We feel good. We beat them in the season 8-1, so we knew if we played well today, we could do well again."
Princeton opened with 3-0 wins by both freshman Tyler Osborne (No. 3) and senior David Pena (No. 9), and senior Clay Blackiston won a hard-fought fourth game to finish his match 3-1. Osborne dropped only 13 points in his match, while Pena fought off a game Brian O'Toole in four tough games.
Junior Steve Harrington continued his strong run with a win at No. 8, and freshman Samuel Kang finished the match with a victory over Robbie Maycock at No. 5. Kang was the most dominant of all Princeton players, dropping only nine points in his victory. It was another strong start for the freshman duo of Osborne and Kang, both of whom have played huge roles in Princeton's success this season.
"They deserve a lot of credit for what we have done this season," Shannon said. "For some of us seniors, we've been through all this before, and it can become a bit of a grind. They have come in with bundles of energy and really kept us accountable with their play. If the freshmen are doing this well, we better do the same."
Shannon did the same, topping Chris Jung in three games at No. 3. Junior Todd Harrity (No. 1) and sophomore Dylan Ward (No. 7) also won to clinch the 8-1 team victory. Harrity rallied in the final game to avoid being extended; he will face Cornell's Nick Sachvie tomorrow in a rematch of the 2011 national individual final.
All nine matches in both of tomorrow's semifinals, including the Trinity-Harvard match that follows the Princeton-Cornell one, will be streamed live on GoPrincetonTigers.TV.
PRINCETON 8, DARTMOUTH 1
2) Nick Sisodia (D) d. Chris Callis
3) Tyler Osborne (P) d. Luke Lee 2,4,7
4) Kelly Shannon (P) d. Chris Jung 7,6,9
5) Samuel Kang (P) d. Robbie Maycock 6,1,2
6) Clay Blackiston (P) d. Stephen Wetherill 6,5,(8),8
7) Dylan Ward (P) d. Fletcher Pease 6,6,10
8) Steve Harrington (P) d. Alex Kurth 5,9,8
9) David Pena (P) d. Brian O'Toole 7,8,9