Ivy League team wins undisputed outright championship
Chase Sutton | Sports Photo Editor
March 26, 2018 at 11:59 pm
This past fall, the history of Ivy League athletics was forever altered. Princeton women’s soccer defeated Penn in its final conference game, finishing 6-0-1 in Ivy play and winning an undisputed, outright Ivy League championship.
“We really didn’t know how to handle this situation,” explained Tigers coach Sean Driscoll. “All along, I told my girls to just worry about what we do, and let everything else fall into place. But this was just unprecedented.”
Most preseason polls predicted some combination of Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, Penn, Yale, and Brown to share the title in groups ranging anywhere from three-way to five-way ties. And even after the Tigers won their first three Ivy games, the idea of a solo champion was merely something that news outlets joked about.
But as the season progressed and the Tigers kept winning, athletes and fans alike began to wonder if the impossible could happen. But when the clock struck zero at Rhodes Field on November 4, myth turned to reality: Princeton had clinched more than a fraction of the Ivy title for the first time since 1981.
“I know people might not say it’s a ‘real’ title because we didn’t share it with anyone else, but we don’t care about the haters,” said Princeton leading scorer and sophomore Abby Givens. “It doesn’t matter what anyone else did; all we know is that a banner’s going up with our name on it.
“Wait, we still get a championship banner for winning solo, right?”
The Ivy League’s by-laws barely even address such a scenario, only including the prospect of an outright champion “as a formality,” according to Executive Director Robin Harris.
Despite the fact that the regular season ended five months ago, the conference has not yet announced if Princeton will receive the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Without any head-to-head, point differential or three-legged race tiebreakers to enforce, the conference’s front office appears lost on figuring out how to choose the one team that would represent the league best on the national stage.
“I understand this result goes against our core Ivy League principle of ‘everybody wins,’ but the results are the results,” said Harris. “Still, with so many [eight] teams, we never intended for one to establish itself as better than all the others.”
As for Princeton, the team’s status still remains in flux. Not only are the Tigers unsure about their postseason fate (the NCAA tournament finished in December), but also they have not yet learned if they will receive championship rings. Reportedly, the school still does not know how to deal with the fact that Princeton was the Ivy League’s sole best team.
“There’s just no real precedent for this,” stated Senior Associate Athletic Director Jeff Graydon. “We had already made rings in advance that are one-fifth the size of a normal championship ring. Should we give each player five mini-rings? Should we save some money and just wait until next year to give them out? It’s a conundrum all around.”
One thing is certain, though, for the Black and Orange. Though the Tigers are proud of this year’s technical “championship,” they hear the talk from the outside world, and they plan on proving the doubters wrong by getting it done the old-fashioned way.
“That trophy might say ‘Ivy champs,’ but there’s more work to be done,” said Givens. “Mark my words: next year, we’re gonna share that baby.”