Vol. LXII, No. 15
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT: Princeton University womens lacrosse star Christine Casaceli heads to goal in recent action. Last Saturday, junior attacker Casaceli scored three goals to help second-ranked Princeton top Yale 9-6 and improve to 9-0. After scoring a total of 22 goals in her first two seasons with the Tigers, Casaceli has registered a team-high total of 20 so far this spring.
Christine Casaceli proved to be a solid contributor in her first two seasons with the Princeton University womens lacrosse team.
As a freshman in 2006, Casaceli scored 11 points on nine goals and two assists. Last year, she showed gradual improvement, notching 23 points with 14 goals and nine assists.
This spring, however, Casaceli has taken her game to a new level, emerging as one of Princetons go-to offensive players by scoring 17 goals in the Tigers first eight games.
Last Saturday, Casaceli added another chapter to her remarkable spring, scoring three goals as Princeton overcame an early 2-0 deficit against visiting Yale and went on to a 9-6 win over the Bulldogs.
Casaceli, who also added an assist in the win, now leads Princeton with 20 goals and is tied with Ashley Amo for the team lead in points with 27.
Sparked by Casacelis dramatic improvement in production, Princeton has shot to No. 2 in the national polls and is now 9-0 overall and 3-0 in Ivy League play.
The junior attacker from Longmeadow, Mass. acknowledged that it took Princeton a while to solve the Yale defensive approach.
They play a different defense than we usually see, they play a sag defense and our attack wasnt really clicking at first, said Casaceli.
I think that we all stuck together and thats what let us rise above any difficulties that we had in the first half.
Casaceli credits her rise up the Princeton scoring ladder to the teams balance.I think that for me personally, its just been my teammates, asserted Casaceli.
We just have such a balanced attack, everybody is really moving and working for each other. It has really opened up a lot for me; I think that has really helped me out.
Putting in some extra work on her skills has also helped Casaceli out. I did a lot of work with the coaches in the offseason to get my game back to where it needed to be, said Casaceli. It has all really clicked for me this year.
Things clicked like never before for Casaceli when she scored the game-winning goal with 2.7 seconds left in an 8-7 thriller over the then-No. 2 Virginia on March 22.
Ive had some game winners before but I have not had any in a game so momentous as that, said Casaceli who converted a sweet feed from freshman Lizzy Drumm on that goal.
It was the first time we have beaten Virginia in the regular season since I have been here.
While Casaceli was proud to get that goal, she saw it as another example of the teams unselfishness. I think again that was an awesome decision by Lizzy behind the cage; a freshman was in that situation with the ball and had that kind of composure to see me moving in there, said Casaceli.
I think that just goes to show the kind of attack we are this year, every single person has the capability of making decisions that the players need to have. You really can count on everyone. I think thats something Ive never felt before on a team. Im just as sure with one person having the ball as with another.
Princeton head coach Chris Sailer acknowledged that the Princeton attack was playing a bit unsure in the early stages of the Yale game.
We didnt do a great job of creating as much space as we would have liked or controlling the tempo and really working for better opportunities, said Sailer, who got a goal apiece from Kristin Schwab, Holly McGarvie, Ashley Amo, Allison Murray, Katie Lewis-Lamonica, and Kristin Morrison in the win over Yale
That really worked against us early. We went for first looks and forced things instead of just really moving the ball consistently, quickly and strongly.
Sailer wasnt surprised to see Casaceli come through once again for the Tigers.
Cas has had a great season, said Sailer. Its awesome to see her really coming into her own this year. She has become a really big goal scorer for us. Shes solid around the cage, she knows how to fake the goalie and find the opening. Shes a big scorer.
Princeton got a big all-around game from junior midfielder and co-captain Katie Cox, who was named the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week after helping to hold Yales top scorer Kat Peetz without a point.
Coxie always gives us a terrific job all over the field, asserted Sailer, whose defense limited Yale to three goals in the first 53 minutes of the contest.
She is just so solid, her one-on-ones, her slides, her communication, her ability to transition the ball and her speed. In the transition defense, if we get a man down, she has the ability to be able to hustle back and create plays.
Sailer knew that Princeton was going to have to hustle to come out with the win over a Yale program that had beaten the Tigers twice in the previous five seasons.
Yale has been a tough competitor for us these last few years, said Sailer, whose team faces another arch rival this Saturday when it plays at Harvard.
They really have a solid squad with some pretty incredible players in [Lauren] Taylor and [Jenn] Warden. We knew they were going to be a lot to handle. Were glad to get the win.
Casaceli, for her part, believes that handling such challenges will help the Tigers as they gird for another postseason run.
The competition in the Ivies is definitely something special, said Casaceli. Each team really believes that they can beat the team that comes in ranked higher. Its exciting. Its great to have these league games that are so competitive and hard fought. It really prepares us for the end of the season.
And with Casaceli proving herself to be something special, Princetons season could last to the end of the NCAA tournament.