Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 8
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
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HOLLY HUNTER: Princeton University women’s lacrosse star midfielder Holly McGarvie looks for an opening in a game last spring. McGarvie, a first-team All-American selection last year, will be a key player as the Tigers aim to make their first NCAA Final Four since 2004. Sixth-ranked Princeton opens its 2009 season this Saturday when it hosts No. 18 Johns Hopkins.

Featuring Battle-Tested Corps of Seniors, No. 6 PU Women’s Lax Primed for Opener

Bill Alden

It is a class whose members made their presence felt the day they hit the field for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team.

Boasting such stars as Holly McGarvie, Kristin Schwab, Katie Cox, and Marie McKenna, the Class of 2009 has helped the Tigers go 35-18 with one Ivy League title and two trips to the NCAA quarterfinals.

“It is probably the biggest senior group we have had,” said Princeton head coach Chris Sailer, referring to her nine-member senior group who played key roles last spring as Princeton went 13-5 and fell to eventual national champion Northwestern in the NCAA quarters. “They have a lot of talent and they are really good leaders.”

With Princeton opening its 2009 season by hosting Johns Hopkins this Saturday, that group is looking to take the first step in its goal of leading the Tigers to the NCAA Final Four.

“They are disappointed they have not made it to the Final Four,” said Sailer, who recently made it to the US Lacrosse National Hall of Fame as a 2008 inductee.

“They want to get there; they set great examples with their work ethic. They hold people to high standards; they are good communicators on the field.”

Sailer is looking for a high standard of play from senior attacker Christine Casaceli, who scored 51 points last season on 38 goals and 13 assists after scoring a total of 34 points in her first two seasons with the Tigers.

“We need Casaceli to have a big year,” said Sailer, whose team is ranked No. 6 in this week’s Inside Lacrosse media poll.

“She put a lot of points on the board for us last year. She is a talented kid; she is good on the 1-on-1 and can go to the net well.”

Another Tiger who has plenty of talent on offense is sophomore Lizzie Drumm, who burst on the scene last season with 34 points on 28 goals and six assists.

“Lizzie is a pure attacker,” asserted Sailer. “She is talented with vision. She’s a lefty and she’s equally good behind the net and around the crease.”

Sailer is looking for a pair of seniors, Anne Murray and Sarah Steele, to come up big in the crease.

“We moved Anne Murray to attack from midfield and she seems more suited to that area of the field; she is a really good ball handler,” added Sailer.

“Sarah Steele is an X-factor; she puts the ball in the cage. She has crazy moves; she finds the net not the goalie. She needs to develop her all-around game.”

Another Tiger with some game up front is junior Kristin Morrison. “Morrison is really strong; she is a powerful player,” said Sailer of Morrison who had 24 points last year on 13 goals and 11 assists. “She has had some big goals for us; we need to get her more involved.”

In the midfield, senior co-captain and All-American McGarvie is a powerful force for Princeton, coming off a season in which she scored 46 points on 35 goals and 11 assists.

“Holly is such a competitor; she recently made the U.S. world cup team which is amazing for an athlete who plays two sports,” said Sailer of McGarvie, who also stars for the Princeton field hockey team.

“We need to rein her in a little bit at times because she is so gung ho. You know she is going to battle for you and make big plays all over the field. I always feel we have a chance to win when she is on the field.

Princeton also has two other key midfield playmakers in co-captains Cox and Schwab.

“Cox is a good two-way player, she may play a little more in defensive midfield this season but she will get her runs,” added Sailer.

“Katie is such a smart player. Schwab has great talent. She is quick and is so good with the stick.”

Sailer is also looking for a trio of freshmen, Barb Previ, Cassie Pyle, and Allison Behringer, to make an immediate impact in the midfield.

“Pyle is a very mature player,” said Sailer, noting that Previ played for the Tiger soccer team this past fall while Behringer competed for the Princeton field hockey team.

“Behringer is an aggressive kid who really goes after it. We are working on fundamentals with Previ and Behringer since they weren’t with us in the fall. They need to get better on defensive play.”

The Tiger defense will be led by senior co-captain Marie McKenna. “McKenna is the leader; she sees the game so well,” asserted Sailer

“We are trying to get everybody else to do that as well. She slides well and she is good on stick checks.”

Others in the mix on defense include seniors Marine Graham and Caity Manzo together with junior Sarah Vance and freshman Lindsey deButts.

“Marine is looking good but still not 100 percent after her injury last year,” said Sailer.

“Lindsey deButts will definitely play; she is a really smart player who picks off passes. Vance has picked things up. Manzo and Marine are competing for a starting spot. We will have depth.”

The Tigers have depth at goalie with junior Kaitlin Perrelle, sophomore Erin Tochihara, and freshman Jane Randall but Sailer isn’t certain who is going to emerge as her top option in the cage.

“I am not sure right now,” said Sailer, when asked who will be the starter.

“Randall is the best ball handler, she is good at getting the ball out of the crease and up the field. On any given day, Kait is a strong voice back there. Toch is so quick. We could do a rotation; we have been wavering. We are not going to play one goalie every minute, that is clear. It depends on who is playing well.”

The Tigers’ pre-season journey to Australia this past December has clearly helped the team’s sense of unity.

“The trip really helped with the team chemistry,” said Sailer, whose team dueled the Australian National team among others on the jaunt.

“It was great for the freshmen and developing closeness on the team. They got to see the game at a higher level which was also good.”

The Tigers need to raise their game to a higher level in order to meet the challenge presented by 18th-ranked Hopkins, which topped George Mason 15-10 last Saturday in its season opener.

“We have been concentrating on fundamentals; working on basic defensive strategies and things like that,” said Sailer.

“We need to be doing the little things that can make a big difference. I am hoping they get up to speed by Hopkins. I know they have a couple of good freshmen and they are usually a fast team.”

With her corps of seniors leading the way, Sailer is hoping to see the Tigers develop a special sense of urgency.

“We need to have everybody playing as well as they can,” said Sailer. “They need to be playing in the moment and be better at reading the game. They need to get better at seeing things before they happen and being aware off the ball. They need to have a good mental attitude.”

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