A minute into overtime of the March 8 women’s hockey championship game against Cornell, Princeton defender Mariah Keopple ’22 fired a shot from about six feet inside the blue line that caromed off a defender, flipped over the goalie’s left shoulder, and settled in the net. The Tigers stormed the ice to celebrate the game-winning goal and their first ECAC title, not knowing they’d just played the final game of Princeton’s winter sports season.
Athletics cancellations in the wake of coronavirus concerns moved swiftly. The Ivy League was the first to cancel its conference basketball tournaments March 10. Ivy spring sports were called off the next day. By March 12, the NCAA had canceled all remaining championships for the winter and spring.
Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan ’91 said in a statement that the Ivy League presidents had given “tremendous thought and consideration for the seriousness of the situation” and health and well-being were her department’s top priorities. “We are truly heartbroken for the student-athletes, coaches, and staff who have proudly represented Princeton not only this year but over their careers, and who will not have the opportunity to do so this season,” she said.
The sudden stoppage affected championship teams competing in the postseason (women’s hockey, women’s basketball) and talented individuals vying for national titles, including men’s track miler Sam Ellis ’21, wrestling’s Pat Glory ’22, and men’s fencer Daniel Kwak ’21. It also cut short the seasons of spring teams that were off to stellar starts (5–0 men’s lacrosse, for example) or that had trained all winter but never had a chance to compete (the four rowing teams).
Many teams gathered informally before leaving campus to thank the seniors, snap photos, and in the case of the men’s heavyweight crew, row one more time on Lake Carnegie.
Men’s lacrosse star Michael Sowers ’20 recorded a video message for the athletics department’s Twitter feed, saying he respected and understood the difficult decision administrators had made. “Our hearts are with the athletes around the country, athletes on campus, [and] students around the country that are affected by this,” Sowers said. “We just hope everybody stays safe.”