Coming off two straight overtime losses, the tactical approach was basic for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team as it hosted sixth-ranked Virginia last Saturday.
“We were looking to get the draw controls, because we hadn’t been doing that in the past few games, and take our time on attack, and take a little pressure off our defense,” said Princeton senior star midfielder and co-captain Sarah Lloyd. “In the past few games, they have been playing the majority of time.”
The Tigers were also looking to bring a little more intensity to go with the emphasis on patience.
“We were ready to just give it our all,” asserted Lloyd. “We know we are a good team and so we were just so ready to come out and play the way we knew we could.”
The red-headed Lloyd played with fire and precision against the Cavaliers, scoring four goals, winning three draw controls, and getting four ground balls to help Princeton earn a 15-13 triumph and improve to 2-3.
In Lloyd’s view, the win was the product of sharp execution all over the field.
“I think we all concentrated on sighting the cage and making the keeper move because we know she is really a good goalie,” said Lloyd, a 5’8 native of Severna Park, Md. who now has 9 goals on the season and 60 in her Princeton career.
We just really went all out on the draws. In practice we worked a lot on boxing out because that was our struggle in the past couple of games.”
Lloyd believes that overcoming the Cavaliers should give Princeton a big boost of confidence.
“Virginia is always a great team to play against; I personally love playing against this team,” said Lloyd, a first-team All-Ivy League performer last spring.
“It is always a good game every year. It just feels great to win this as a senior. It shows us that when we play the way we know we can play, we are a great team.”
Princeton head coach Chris Sailer knew her team had to control the tempo to be successful against
“We have been a really great fast break team this year, scoring a lot of goals quickly,” said Sailer.
“But we have been carrying that over into our settled offense and just forcing the first thing that we see. We have put way too much pressure on our defense and our goalkeepers.”
Sailer liked the way that Lloyd put pressure on the Virginia defense.
“She is phenomenal; Sarah is such a competitor,” said Sailer who also got two goals and three assists from Erin Slifer with Alexandra Bruno chipping in three goals and two assists, and Anya Gersoff contributing two goals and an assist.
“She is a quiet kid on the field but she doesn’t play quietly. She plays big and you saw that today.”
A big moment for the Tigers came when freshman Olivia Hompe scored with less than a second left in the first half to give Princeton a 7-6 lead at intermission.
“That was just huge because we had just gone a man down,” recalled Sailer.
“To get that goal at the end of the half was such a great momentum for us heading into the locker room.”
The play of junior goalie Annie Woehling, who was making her first start of the season, gave the Tigers some momentum.
“Annie was great; we didn’t make that decision until just before the game,” said Sailer of Woehling, who recorded nine saves in the victory.
“We knew that we had struggled with that position so far and were looking at all three of our goalkeepers equally this week and seeing who we thought was most ready. We went with Annie and honestly we didn’t give her a lot of time to think about it. We told her before the game that she was in and she just went with it. She did a really good job.”
Sophomores Gersoff and Bruno did a good job of triggering the Princeton offense.
“Anya was getting great looks in the first half but just shooting it high; she has to pick her shots a little better,” said Sailer. “Bruno finished a couple of nice plays near the cage.”
In Sailer’s view, the victory over the Cavaliers could get Princeton on the right track as it heads out to California for games at USC on March 19 and at San Diego State on March 22 before getting into the thick of its Ivy League campaign.
“They were ranked sixth; I feel like this is a turning point for us to win a game like this,” said Sailer. “We can’t expect any less of ourselves moving forward.”
Lloyd and her classmates are looking to keep things moving in the right direction.
“As seniors, we want to be a good presence on the field and make sure everybody is communicating and on the same page for everything,” said Lloyd. “We also have to worry about keeping the energy up and we definitely did that today, all the seniors.”