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Vol. LXII, No. 11
 
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
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SEVEN UP: Princeton University women’s lacrosse star Katie Lewis-Lamonica races up the field in a game last season. This past Saturday, Lewis-Lamonica shook off a gimpy right ankle to score a career-high seven goals as Princeton upset No. 3 Duke 13-8.

Lewis-Lamonica Storms to 7-Goal Effort as PU Women’s Lax Upsets No. 3 Duke

Bill Alden

Last Wednesday night, Katie Lewis-Lamonica was sidelined by an injured right ankle as the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team cruised to an easy 16-8 win over Rutgers.

Despite the storm that hit the area Saturday, the senior star had the feeling that her ankle was not going to bother her as the seventh-ranked Tigers hosted No. 3 Duke.

“I woke up this morning and I felt the confidence and the energy that we had the last couple of days,” said Lewis-Lamonica, a former Lawrenceville School standout.

“I’ve been doing work with our trainer Cheri [Drysdale] and it felt great today. She’s been doing a great job getting me back.”

Lewis-Lamonica ended up doing a great job Saturday, scoring the Tigers first four goals as Princeton jumped out to a 4-1 lead over the Blue Devils.

The speedy Lewis-Lamonica kept raining goals on Duke, ending up with seven, matching her career-high as the Tigers pulled off a 13-8 upset of the Blue Devils.

The win set off a raucous post-game celebration as the Tigers gathered en masse before their cheering section at Princeton Stadium, waving their sticks amid the shrieks of joy.

A smiling Lewis-Lamonica said afterward that she could feel Duke getting tentative as she produced her deluge of goals.

“You know that a defense is really starting to doubt its ability to stop you,” said Lewis-Lamonica, who has eight goals on the season for the 3-0 Tigers and is up to 125 in her career.

“The confidence keeps growing but you have to keep tough and smart. There is a point at which I knew I needed to pull back. I couldn’t keep shooting; we need to spread the ball around.”

The Princeton defense, meanwhile never lost its confidence as it stifled a high-powered Duke team that came into the game averaging 16.2 goals a game.

Sophomore goalie Kaitlyn Perrelle, who had six saves on the day, said the Tiger defense was a step ahead of the Blue Devils.

“We had practiced a lot of their offensive movements in a practice the day before so we really knew what they were doing out there,” said Perrelle, who also stars for the Princeton field hockey team.

“The defense played really well today; they were all working very well together. The communication was really good.”

The Tigers relished their underdog role in the clash with Duke, who brought a 5-0 record into the contest.

“It’s so much more intense,” said Perrelle, reflecting on the challenge of playing Duke.

“I live for the intensity and the pressure situations. That’s when our whole team steps up the most. I think we show our best and really go for the win. I know that everything counts, everything matters, and the adrenaline is really flowing.”

Princeton head coach Chris Sailer liked the way things flowed for her team collectively. “I think this team really has the chemistry and cohesiveness,” said Sailer, who got three goals from Christine Casaceli with Holly McGarvie scoring two and Katie Cox adding one.

“You saw so many kids making big plays for us; you see the feeling on the bench. It really is an unselfish team. They look for each other; they cover for each other.”

And the win over Duke will give the players even more belief in each other.

“It’s huge, I think Duke came in at No. 3,” said Sailer, who has three national titles in her 22-year Princeton tenure but hasn’t guided her team into the NCAA Final Four since 2004.

“It’s been a few years since we have had a win over a team ranked that high. We have often been competitive but it has’nt been since 2005 since we have beaten them so it’s good to actually get the win against a team that already has won a lot of good games. It’s going to give us a tremendous amount of confidence.”

The Tigers drew confidence from their fast start on Saturday. “It was very important,” said Sailer, whose team was ahead 6-3 at the half and then outscored the Blue Devils 5-2 in the first 16 minutes of the second half to keep control of the contest. “We were intent on winning this game. To get off to a good start was important for us and deflated Duke.”

It was important for Princeton to have Lewis-Lamonica back in the lineup.

“It’s been two and a half weeks now so we were hoping we could play her at attack today and at midfield next week,” said Sailer.

“I don’t think anyone expected her to have seven goals but the girl is dangerous any time she touches it. She took advantage and showed what she can do.”

Perrelle’s work in goal also impressed Sailer. “Kaitlyn really came up big today,” added Sailer. “She had some big saves that were awesome and came when we really needed them.”

In Sailer’s view, the team has the mindset that could result in some big progress this spring.

“I feel like this team is on a mission,” asserted Sailer, whose team rose to No. 5 in the national rankings and plays at No. 13 Penn State on March 15.

“They want to get back to the Final Four. Winning a game like this against a team that is going to be in the picture down the road is really going to help us. We want to keep the momentum going.”

Lewis-Lamonica, for her part, is looking to get the most out of her senior season.

“It makes me enjoy the fact that today I get to be on the field and today I get to play lacrosse,” said Lewis-Lamonica.

“More importantly, I get to put the Princeton uniform on and play with the rest of my teammates. We are just a connected bunch; we have a lot of fun together.”

If Lewis-Lamonica can keep producing like she did last Saturday, the Tigers figure to have a lot of fun this spring.

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