Vol. LXII, No. 20
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
PAIN KILLER: Princeton University women’s lacrosse star Holly McGarvie looks for an opening in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, junior midfielder McGarvie shrugged off leg injuries to score two goals and add an assist as Princeton topped Vanderbilt 14-10 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The triumph gives Princeton a date next Saturday at top-seeded and three-time defending champion Northwestern in the NCAA quarters.
Holly McGarvie and the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team limped into their NCAA tournament opening round contest last Sunday against visiting Vanderbilt.
Junior star McGarvie went down with a leg injury a week earlier in Princeton’s 9-8 regular season loss to Georgetown and her right leg was heavily taped as she hit the field at the Class of 1952 Stadium for the clash with the Commodores.
The Tigers, meanwhile, had dropped their final two regular season games and four of their last six after a sparkling 10-0 start that had seen them rise to the No. 2 ranking in the national polls.
To make matters worse, McGarvie was just one of Princeton’s walking wounded with senior star Katie Lewis-Lamonica trying to play through an ACL injury and junior midfielder Kristin Schwab slowed by a gimpy right ankle.
Refusing to give in to her pain, McGarvie produced an inspirational effort, scoring two goals and adding an assist as eighth-seeded Princeton pulled away to a 14-10 win.
The triumph gives Princeton, now 13-4, a date next Saturday at top-seeded and three-time defending champion Northwestern (18-1) in the NCAA quarters.
In reflecting on her effort Sunday, McGarvie said she felt lucky to be on the field.
“Last weekend when I went down with a few ACL tears that we’ve had, I thought immediately that I might have blown out my knee,” recalled McGarvie, whose leg was encased with two bags of ice after the game.
“It was good to hear that it wasn’t like that. The team backed me up. I had to do some strengthening and my trainer really worked with me at the beginning of the week.”
Princeton head coach Chris Sailer maintained that the presence of McGarvie in the lineup gave the Tigers a dose of mental strength.
“You see the heart that she has on the field; that kid just fires out from the defense,” said Sailer.
“In transition, there is no stopping her. She was supposed to play midfield about two-thirds of the game but you knew that there was no way that she was not playing midfield. She just gives everything she has every second. I think by strength of will she propels our team. They see her making those plays and there is no way that they can’t help and try to give a lot themselves. She’s just been tremendous all over the field. She was an inspiration out there today, especially with her injury.”
McGarvie even served as an inspiration to Vanderbilt as former high school foe Cara Giordano, now a star midfielder for the Commodores, showed respect for her rival.
“Holly is a great competitor; it’s fun going against someone who is going to play their hardest and play their best,” said Giordano, who starred for Moorestown in her high school days with McGarvie playing for Shawnee. “They are a top team. We knew coming in that she was going to be a major threat and she definitely was.”
Princeton didn’t play its best in the early going against Vanderbilt as it fell behind 5-4 and found itself locked in a 6-6 tie at halftime.
“I think we came out a little nervous in the first half; it just took us a while to find our groove,” recalled Sailer.
“I think we knew at halftime that this was a game that we could break open if we just played like we could play.”
It took a little while for the Tigers to find their groove in the second half as the teams were deadlocked at 8-8 with 17:01 left. With Mcgarvie scoring a goal and senior co-captain Ashley Amo adding a goal and an assist, Princeton went on a decisive 5-1 run that broke open the contest.
“We came out much harder in the second half,” said Sailer. “We were able to feed off the momentum of a couple of big stops in the defensive end and then get some goals in the offensive end.”
In Sailer’s view, the win was a testament to the character of her team which was nearly derailed by its injury woes.
“Obviously we had our challenges this year,” said Sailer. “In the beginning of the year, the teamwork and the chemistry on the field was awesome. It came pretty easy to us because we were so used to playing with each other and there was just such great flow on this team. Then we had the series of injuries and we were moving people around. We were wondering hey are we still as good as we were earlier, it’s been more of a struggle for us. We’ve had to fight.”
Senior attacker Amo could feel the Tigers recapturing that early-season rhythm as the game progressed Sunday.
"I think at the beginning it was a little shaky,” said Amo, who ended the day with three goals and three assists.
“I think we got back into our comfort zone; we knew what each other wanted. We tried to set people up for some one vs. ones. We tried to play to our strengths, that’s one thing we have been really good at all season.”
For Amo, the win on Sunday was made sweeter considering the obstacles the Tigers have faced in the second half of the season.
“I think this year has been so special,” said Amo. “I remember somebody asking me is this our magical season. It wouldn’t be so magical if we didn’t have some bumps along the way. I think the fact that we pulled this out, I think it has just been such a great season. I think the upperclassmen have worked so hard to bring back Princeton lacrosse and the traditions that it’s had.”
McGarvie, for her part, wasn’t about to let some pain keep her from helping Princeton add to its tradition of NCAA success.
“It was a little painful,” acknowledged McGarvie. “When you are playing out there with your team, you don’t even recognize it. It’s fun, you are in the moment.”
And McGarvie’s grit helped Princeton enjoy a special moment last Sunday.
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