Colleen Smith is not afraid to make some noise on the field for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team.
“We emphasize the voice a lot,” said senior star defender and co-captain Smith.
“I want to bring a good voice to the defense always, just getting everyone pumped for the game.”
Last Saturday against visiting Yale, Smith and her teammates were pumped up to put the clamps on the Bulldogs.
“Our assistant coach Jen Cook always scouts the other teams and she does a great job,” said Smith. “She probably spends more than five hours on each team, scouting, watching films. We just had a really good game plan in place. She told us basically everything that was going to happen. It is just like studying for a test.”
The Tigers passed last Saturday’s test with flying colors, jumping out to a 9-1 lead at halftime on the way to a 15-8 victory.
“We knew that they were a feeding team so shutting off those feeds was a key,” said Smith, a 5’7 native of Wilmette, Ill. who scooped up three ground balls in the win over Yale and now has 10 on the season.
“We have been working on getting better angles all season. Something that we wanted to emphasize this week was that we know everything that we need to know and now we need to start implementing it. I think we did a great job today, especially on defense, with that. I think it was just one of those days where it came from the start.”
Smith has forged a great bond with co-captain Sarah Lloyd. “We never really get into arguments; we are always on the same page,” said Smith.
“She is definitely a leader by example and shows it every single day. I think we balance each other out a lot which is really nice. We never butt heads and we are great friends off the field which I think is really important as well.”
With Princeton riding a six-game winning streak as it has improved to 7-3 overall and 3-1 Ivy League, Smith believes the Tigers could do some really nice things this spring.
“I hope that we can keep ascending,” said Smith. “If we can keep rising, I think this has the potential to be a really special season.”
The Tigers will get a good opportunity to show how special they can be as they host No. 2 Maryland (13-1) on April 9.
“I am really, really excited for Maryland,” added Smith. “It is a good chance for us to show the team that we are. It is always great to play a big team. It is a really good opportunity so hopefully we can keep rising through that game.”
Princeton head coach Chris Sailer was thrilled with her team’s great first half against Yale.
“The first half was just phenomenal; it is one of the best halves of lacrosse that we played in a while,” asserted Sailer.
“Our defense did a phenomenal job. We really knew what they were looking for and we were able to shut it down. The attack had some beautiful scoring plays. I thought our ride was tremendous, we forced them into so many turnovers which was great.”
Sailer credits Smith with sparking the Tiger defense. “Colleen has just been fantastic, you see the level at which she performs,” asserted Sailer.
“She was playing their top kid and she was on every single move. Her angles are great, her understanding is great. She is such a voice kid, she is just such a passionate kid. She puts her heart and soul into everything; she is a physical player and a smart player.”
Princeton’s attack played smartly as well against Yale, displaying its trademark balance with Erin McMunn scoring four goals and the trio of Erin Slifer, Mary-Kate Sivilli, and Anna Doherty chipping in two apiece.
“That is something we have had all year; we have seven players with 20-22 points or something like that,” said Sailer.
“Everybody is capable of scoring and there is not one person who leads the charge. Every game, we have really balanced scoring and that makes us tough to stop.”
Like Smith, Sailer is looking forward to seeing Princeton test itself against powerful Maryland.
“I think absolutely it is a good challenge for us,” said Sailer, whose team plays at Harvard (6-4 overall, 3-1 Ivy) on April 12.
“We have got to be ready for the pace of play, they are very athletic, very explosive, and they have great sticks. I think we have been building up the entire season and I think it is a good point for us to take on a team like that and see what we can do and try to give them some great competition that they have to play against.”
Smith, for her part, is determined to give a great effort to the end. “We have two themes this year, the first one is treasure the present where you treasure the gift of playing at Princeton because not many people get to play at Princeton,” said Smith.
“We also treasure the moment which plays into the power of now. Through the homestretch it is just bringing everything to every practice and every game even if we are tired.”