Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 19
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
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HAVING A GAS: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Jaci Gassaway eludes a defender in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, sophomore attacker Gassaway scored three goals to help fourth-seeded Princeton top third-seeded Harvard 12-10 in the Ivy League Championship game at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. Gassaway was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. Princeton, now 11-6 overall, will play at No. 8 James Madison in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on May 14 in Harrisonburg, Va.

Tiger Women’s Lax Wins Ivy Tournament; To Play at No. 8 James Madison in NCAAs

Ed Benkin

One year away from the NCAA Tournament was too long for the Princeton Tigers.

After suffering through a frustrating 6-10 season a year ago, the Tigers are back in the Big Dance after beating Harvard 12-10 last Sunday in the Ivy League Championship game at Franklin Field in

Princeton, now 11-6, will play at No. 8 James Madison in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on May 14 in Harrisonburg, Va.

Getting its return ticket to the NCAAs wasn’t easy as fourth-seeded Princeton had to upset No. 1 seed and host Penn 10-8 in overtime in the Ivy semis to get a shot at third-seeded Harvard in the title game.

After having lost to Harvard 9-8 in the regular season when a late rally fell short, the Tigers were thrilled to turn the tables on the Crimson.

“It’s a great day for Princeton lacrosse,” said longtime Tiger head coach Chris Sailer, whose team’s 2010 struggles were tough for a proud program that has won three national titles and has been to the NCAA tournament 18 times since 1989.

“I thought it was a great championship game. Both teams were really fighting hard. There were definitely stretches of brilliance for both teams. Harvard pushed us to the limit.”

The game started as a role reversal of the first meeting between the two teams. Harvard jumped out to a 5-0 lead before edging Princeton on April 16. This time, it was Princeton that scored the first five goals of the game.

Barb Previ opened the scoring with 22:05 left in the first half. The Tigers then struck four times in a span of 2:28. Lizzy Drumm scored the first two goals before Jaci Gassaway and Charlotte Davis gave Princeton its five goal lead. It was 7-3 at the half and Princeton appeared to be in complete control of the game, but Harvard came out strong to start the second half.

Three straight goals by the Crimson cut the Princeton lead to 7-6. Gassaway and Harvard’s Jess Halpern traded goals before Drumm completed her hat trick to put Princeton back up by two. Harvard scored the next three goals to take its first lead at 10-9.

That’s when Davis stepped up and helped Princeton regain control of the game. The sophomore midfielder put together a brilliant sequence, tying the game just 16 seconds after Harvard took the lead. Davis then won a ground ball battle off the ensuing draw control and scored on a free position shot with 9:24 remaining.

“Harvard had its stretch where it took the lead and we knew it needed to change,” said Davis.

“Typically, our go-to players have been Lizzy Drumm and Cassie Pyle. They were double-teaming and triple-teaming them, so I knew someone had to go hard to the goal.”

The Tigers got possession with just over three minutes remaining and did a brilliant job of playing keep away from Harvard. The Crimson never regained possession and Gassaway sealed the victory as she scored with six seconds remaining. Gassaway, who scored both overtime goals in the semifinal win over Penn, was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

“I think it’s just being in the right place at the right time,” asserted Gassaway, who had three goals on the afternoon.

“They were all assisted, so it was everyone working together on those last-second goals.”

Gassaway, Davis, Drumm,
and Cassie Pyle were all named to the all-tournament team as was senior goalkeeper Erin Tochihara who also made the all-tourney list.

Tochihara held the fort against Harvard in the first half when she made nine saves.

“I thought she had a phenomenal first half,” said Sailer. “Harvard was coming on strong and she was stopping almost everything they threw at her.”

Princeton’s defense shut down Harvard’s top scorer, Jennifer VanderMeulen. She was held scoreless after tallying 48 goals during the season, with four coming in Harvard’s first meeting with Princeton. Junior defender Lindsey deButts was the primary reason why VanderMeulen couldn’t find the back of the net.

“Lindsey is just a phenomenal defender,” asserted Sailer. “She didn’t play all fall and didn’t play until our first game because of injuries and surgery. She’s our top matchup kid and I think she did a phenomenal job all weekend.”

In a year where the Ivy League produced four strong teams and an extremely competitive tournament, the Tigers’ phenomenal turnaround stole the show in Philadelphia.

“We’re really excited to be back in the NCAA’s representing the Ivy League,” said Sailer. “I think the whole weekend just showed the parity in Ivy League lacrosse. It was really exciting for us.”

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