Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 17
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
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VETERAN’S DAY: Princeton University women’s lacrosse star Christine Casaceli fires the ball up the field in recent action. Last Saturday, senior attack Casaceli matched her career high, scoring four goals on the program’s Senior Day to help fifth-ranked Princeton edge Brown. Princeton, now 12-2 overall and 6-1 in Ivy League play, hosts No. 15 Loyola on April 29 before playing at No. 2 Maryland on May 2.

Casaceli Comes Up Big on Senior Day, as No. 5 PU Women’s Lax Edges Brown

Bill Alden

It wasn’t a thing of beauty but Christine Casaceli and the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team weren’t in a position to worry about style points.

With No. 5 Princeton locked in a 6-6 tie against upset-minded Brown midway through the second half last Saturday, senior attacker Casaceli prepared to take a free-position shot just outside the crease.

While Casaceli had visions of burying a top shelf volley that snapped the back of the net, she bounced a shot that glanced off the Brown goalie and barely trickled cross the line for a score.

The goal put Princeton ahead to stay as it pulled out a 8-7 win to improve to 12-2 overall and 6-1 in Ivy League play.

In reflecting on the free position goal, Casaceli said the result was all that mattered.

“I was glad I got the free position and I was confident I was going to make it,” said Casaceli, who ended the afternoon with a game-high four goals as she matched her single-game best.

“When that goal squeaked across the line, I was just so happy. I’ll take anything for a goal.”

The Tigers struggled for goals right from the start, making nine turnovers and generating just 10 shots in the first half as they led by 3-2 at halftime.

“I think that we dropped a few balls and passes in the 1st couple of minutes and that rattled us,” said Casaceli. “We weren’t able to pick it up for the rest of the first half. We hit the goalie a couple of times and our shooting wasn’t on.”

When Brown knotted the game at 6-6 with 7:11 left in regulation, Casaceli and her teammates knew they needed to pick it up.

“I think it was gut check time,” recalled Casaceli. “We know we are a good team; we know we should definitely be beating Brown. At the same time, it was in the middle of the second half and it was tied. We needed to dig our heels in and really come out with this win.”

With the program holding its annual Senior Day celebration before the game, Casaceli hit the field with a surge of emotion. “It has come so fast for all of us,” asserted Casaceli, who is one of nine seniors.

“I think we can remember each and every time when we had senior day so it felt kind of crazy for us.”

Casaceli produced a performance to remember as she stepped up when things got a little crazy for the Tigers.

“Our team is really spread out among our attackers,” said Casaceli, who now has 31 points on the season, tied for third best on the team with fellow senior Kristin Schwab.

“I think you look at any game we have had this year and you see one of our attacker stepping up in a particular game. I think today was just my day.”

Princeton head coach Chris Sailer acknowledged that it wasn’t a great day for her team.

“We just did not execute early; we kept throwing away the ball,” said a grim-faced Sailer.

“I think we showed vulnerability to Brown and they capitalized on it. They were really holding the ball a lot so when we finally got chances and turned the ball over, it didn’t give us a lot of opportunity to score.”

When the game was hanging in the balance at 6-6, though, Sailer sensed that her players would come through.

“I have confidence in our kids; I thought we would be able to get it back there,” said Sailer. “It was like OK, we gotta make some stops and we set up a couple of things on offense. We were able to get a couple of goals.”

Princeton was lucky that Casaceli was able to find the range. “She was good at faking the keeper; everyone else was shooting right at her,” said Sailer, who got one goal apiece from Holly McGarvie, Lizzy Drumm, Anne Murray, and Schwab. “She had a great game. Cas has great fakes and she was able to finish.”

Sailer is looking for a big finish to the regular season as Princeton hosts No. 15 Loyola on April 29 before playing at No. 2 Maryland on May 2.

The Tigers have gone to 11 straight NCAA tournaments and will have to gain entry this year as an at-large selection with No. 3 Penn having clinched the Ivy title.

“They are both really good teams so it is going to be important for us to play well to get into the tournament,” said Sailer, whose team will find out its 2009 tourney assignment on May 3. “I think we still have to secure our bid to the tournament so those are two really big games.”

Casaceli is looking forward to the games against Loyola and Maryland. “Those are always big competitors and we love having them at the end of the season,” said Casaceli. “We feel that really prepares us for the tournament.”

With Princeton having not gotten past the NCA quarterfinals since 2004, Casaceli is hoping for a long stay in this year’s tournament.

“We really feel confident in everyone at every position,” said Casaceli.

“I don’t think anyone feels especially burdened on any particular day because they always know that their teammates will be there for them.”

And the Tigers were certainly lucky to have Casaceli there for them last Saturday.

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