Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 17
 
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
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MAKING A FUSS: Princeton University women’s lacrosse star Caroline Rehfuss heads to goal in recent action. Last Sunday, Rehfuss scored four goals, including the game winner in overtime, as Princeton rallied to stun No. 7 Dartmouth 11-10 in overtime. Rehfuss was named the Ivy League Co-Offensive Player of the Week and the Rookie of the Week for her performance.

PU Women’s Lax Sparked by Rehfuss, Tochihara, as It Stuns Dartmouth in OT to Make Ivy Tourney

Bill Alden

With the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team knotted at 10-10 against Dartmouth late in overtime last Sunday and needing a win to make the Ivy League tournament, Tiger freshman Caroline Rehfuss appeared to be wilting under the pressure.

The attacker blew a free position chance, winging the ball high over the cage and against the wall at Princeton Stadium. Seconds later, she got another shot but misfired again.

But showing the resolve that characterized the underdog Tigers as they clawed back from a 7-3 halftime deficit to the No. 7 Big Green, Rehfuss made good on her third attempt, taking a Charlotte Davis feed in a traffic jam in the crease and finding the back of the net.

“I was a little frustrated but what Chris [PU head coach Chris Sailer] has been telling me over and over is to keep taking shots and keep taking chances and eventually it will go in,” said Rehfuss, who ended the day with a career-high four goals.

“I saw three Dartmouth girls right in front of me and I saw Charlotte Davis who fed the ball to me and I saw the back of the net.”

As a result of the win, the fourth-seeded Tigers (5-10 overall, 4-3 Ivy) will play at No. 1 Penn (12-3 overall, 7-0 Ivy) on April 30 in one Ivy semifinal with the winner to face the victor of the Cornell (6-7 overall, 4-3 Ivy)-Dartmouth (10-3 overall, 5-2 Ivy) semifinal in the championship game on May 2. The winner of the title game gets the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

While Rehfuss was thrilled to tally the game winner, she knows that it was hardly a solo effort on her part.

“It is huge for me, especially as a freshman, knowing that my whole team trusts me and has confidence in me to pass me the ball in a critical time like that,” said Rehfuss, who was named the Ivy League Co-Offensive Player of the Week and the Rookie of the Week for her performance.

“It was a total team effort the entire game. From the first whistle to the end, we played our hearts out and I think that made all the difference.”

Junior goalie Erin Tochihara made a big difference for the Tigers as she made 14 saves in the win, including some critical stops in the waning seconds of regulation and in overtime.

“I try to keep things as simple as possible,” said Tochihara, reflecting on her big day.

“When I am playing in those high pressure situations, I start to just focus on the ball. I love it when the pressure is on because they are going to shoot the ball and I just prepare for the early shot.”

Even though they brought a 5-9 overall record into the clash against 10-2 Dartmouth, the Tigers were determined to take their best shot with the season on the line.

“Everyone just came out fired up and we laid it out there on the field,” said Tochihara. “Every single person on that field had so much heart. It showed even when we started to get down a little bit. It didn’t bother us. We didn’t look at the scoreboard. We didn’t look back. We just battled and I think that was the big thing for today.”

Tochihara credited the Tiger defense with putting up quite a battle in front of her.

“The defense was playing so well this entire game; they were really fighting hard,” said Tochihara. “They had a lot of caused turnovers. There was good pressure on the ball all up and down the field.”

Princeton head coach Chris Sailer was thrilled with the way her team withstood the pressure Sunday.

“I was just so proud of how they played,” said a smiling Sailer. “We have been talking about getting to this point and just to get over that hurdle and actually doing it and making the plays when it counted was great. We wanted to earn it today and we did.”

In the early going, it looked like Princeton’s frustrating season was destined to end Sunday as the Tigers found themselves down 7-3 at halftime.

“We could have folded; in other games we have come out in the second half and let the other teams take over the game,” said Sailer, whose team started the second half with 6-2 run to tie the game at 9-9 with 6:40 left in regulation.

“I think getting those two early goals made a huge difference for us and our confidence. We knew if we just cleaned up our play, we felt like we could compete with this team and win this game.”

Sailer liked the way Rehfuss competed to the end. “Reh was awesome; she missed some critical shots in the overtime and she just kept shooting and finally got that game winner,” said Sailer, who cited the efforts of Lindsay DeButts (three ground balls, four caused turnovers) and Barb Previ (three goals, two assists, six ground balls). “She had 11 shots so she was getting herself open and getting opportunities.”

Goalie Tochihara impressed Sailer with the way she snuffed out Dartmouth’s scoring opportunities.

“Erin was incredible, especially at the end of the game and in overtime,” said Sailer. “They had good looks and she just picked their pocket. She just played so well in the cage.”

Getting into the Ivy tourney was an incredible feeling, considering how Princeton has struggled this spring.

“It is so important for us; I could not have imagined the first ever Ivy League tournament without Princeton,” said Sailer, who has guided the Tigers to three national titles.

“I am so happy for these kids, the senior class and the entire team, that we had this kind of a win. We really needed this; it was at a critical time and against an opponent that we have such a rivalry against.”

In Sailer’s view, the Tigers could be a dangerous foe in the postseason. “Everyone comes in with the same record; it doesn’t matter what has happened before,” said Sailer.

“I think we are going to be excited and just play as hard as we can. I am excited to see what they are going to do. I think after this game, we feel a lot different about ourselves and what we are capable of. I think that’s going to help us heading into the tournament.”

Rehfuss, for her part, is looking differently at things after Sunday’s triumph.

“Even though we haven’t done as great as we would have liked to, we thought of this game as the start of a whole new season,” said Rehfuss. “Once we got into the tournament, it didn’t matter what we did in the past. I am so happy.”

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