Olivia Hompe struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the first two games of her career with the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team.
The highly touted freshman attacker from New Canaan, Conn. tallied just one assist as the Tigers started this season 1-1.
Last Saturday against visiting Georgetown, Hompe found the back of the net for the first time in her college career, tallying a first half goal.
“I was really excited to hear my goal song playing,” said a grinning Hompe. “It was definitely a good way to start the game. I think that the pace of our attack was definitely heightened in this game from past games.”
As the game unfolded, Hompe picked up the pace, ending the day with three goals and three assists in a losing cause as the 19th-ranked Tigers fell 17-16 in overtime to the No. 14 Hoyas.
For Hompe, assuming a playmaking role came in the flow of the attack. “I think that we had a lot of open girls; our offense was cutting and moving so well that it was really a matter of finding who was open and getting them the ball,” said Hompe. “We shot very well so that was great.”
With Princeton trailing 16-15 with less than two minutes left in regulation, Hompe found junior star Erin McMunn in the crease area and fed her for the game-tying goal.
“She was just open in front of the net,” said Hompe. “You could just see it in her eyes when she knows she is open and I just knew I had to get it to her.
Unfortunately, Princeton couldn’t get anything in overtime as the Hoyas scored the only goal in the six minute extra session.
“I think a big part of OT was getting the draw controls,” said Hompe. “We didn’t come up with those which was disappointing but our defense worked incredibly hard to hold them to just one goal. We almost came back a couple of times, six minutes isn’t that long.”
Going through an overtime contest should pay dividends down the road for the Tigers.
“I think this was a good game for us to get under our belts early on,” said Hompe.
“I think it gave us a lot of experience, particularly going into overtime. Myself and a lot of the younger girls haven’t had that experience so I think there are a lot of positives to take from the game.”
Breaking out with six points has Hompe feeling more positive about her role on the Princeton offense.
“I think I found a different level of comfort in the offense and found where I can look for shots and where I am looking to feed,” said Hompe. “I think it was nice to finally strike that balance.”
Princeton head coach Chris Sailer was thrilled to see Hompe reach a higher level.
“We have been looking for that from her; she was a little slow starting in her first two games,” said Sailer.
“I think she was just getting used to what the real competition is like and then today she was really on fire. Her eyes were up, she was seeing things really well. She was finishing really well. It was a breakout game for her. I really hope that she is going to run with this and know that she is an incredible player and capable of so much.”
Sailer was proud of how her players responded to Georgetown’s runs, which saw the Hoyas build leads of 9-5, 14-10, and 16-14.
“I thought we really showed our fight today, getting down 9-5 and coming back and tying it up,” said Sailer.
“Then after Colleen [Smith] scored the goal at 10 and they came back and had four straight, that could have been really defeating and deflating. We kept fighting to even the score. I just think the kids showed a ton of heart and a ton of fight today.”
In Sailer’s view, senior defender Smith exemplified Princeton’s fighting spirit.
“Colleen Smith was unbelievable; she had a goal and an assist today,” said Sailer, who also got four goals from Alexandra Bruno with Anya Gersoff chipping in two goals and Erin Slifer contributing one goal and two assists.
“Her draw controls were great. She is just a player who doesn’t stop, and her heart is amazing.”
In the overtime, the Tigers were unable to take control as they never had the ball.
“We had our play ready to go and we never had an attack possession but we shot ourselves in the foot,” said Sailer.
“I think the last thing I said before we went out for overtime was no yellow cards and then we had two of them. We played four of the six minutes a man down and we didn’t win the draw so we never had the ball in overtime. Having said that, the kids fought to the end. We have to not make the mental mistakes that hurt us in the end.”
While the result was disappointing, Sailer saw a lot of good things from her club.
“I think we have grown so much in just the last week from the Loyola game [a 15-10 loss] to the Rutgers game [an 11-4 win] to this game,” asserted Sailer.
“I am really excited about how the kids played today and where we are moving forward. We saw a lot about the character and the heart of this group and the talent of this group.”
Princeton will be looking to regroup when it opens its Ivy League campaign by playing at Brown (3-0 overall, 1-0 Ivy) on March 8.
“It will be great to open the Ivy season at Brown, they should be tough,” said Sailer.
“Last year they finished their season within an overtime of beating Penn. They are getting better every single year so we are going to be focused this week, just like we were this
past week in practice.”
Hompe, for her part, is confident that the Tigers are going to get better and better.
“I learned a lot about the resilience of our team,” said Hompe. “We are not going to give up and I think the way we acted in this game just shows how we are going to act over the season. This is just one more obstacle for us.”