With Junior Goalie DeGarmo Emerging as a Force, No. 6 PU Women’s Lax Tops Dartmouth, Now 4-0
SAVING GRACE: Princeton University women’s lacrosse goalie Ellie DeGarmo makes a save in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, junior star DeGarmo recorded 12 saves as Princeton started its Ivy League campaign by topping Dartmouth 11-5. The No. 6 Tigers, now 4-0, play at No. 7 Notre Dame (5-1) on March 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
After seeing just 24 minutes of action during her freshman season for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team in 2014, goalie Ellie DeGarmo started last spring on the bench.
But coming on in relief in the season opener, DeGarmo starred and essentially never left the field after that. She started the next 19 games, posting a goals against average of 8.71, helping Princeton win the Ivy League regular season title and tournament on the way to the NCAA quarterfinals.
“I definitely gained a lot of confidence last year, that was a big focus for me,” said DeGarmo, a 5’6 native of Baltimore, Md.
This spring, DeGarmo is looking to take her game to a higher level.
“A big focus for me is consistency, last year I was up and down a lot,” said DeGarmo.
Junior DeGarmo is achieving that goal with aplomb. Last Saturday, she made 12 saves to help sixth-ranked Princeton defeat Dartmouth 11-5 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. DeGarmo now has a goals against average of 7.47 in 2016 and is averaging 11.2 saves a game.
“I guess I am seeing the ball better, I am a little bit more patient,” said DeGarmo, reflecting on her hot start.
“I guess it is experience and knowing what to expect in the game. Last year it was so new to me at the college level.”
In DeGarmo’s view, the Tiger defense lived up to expectations as it stifled Dartmouth, totally shutting down Big Green star Jaclyn Leto, who entered the game with 20 goals on the season.
“We were super excited and we knew that they had one of the top scorers in the country in No. 20 (Leto) and we were really ready, we scouted them hard,” said DeGarmo.
“We came in and we were really excited to play them. I am so proud of the defense, I could not have asked for a better game on defense. They were incredible.”
DeGarmo is excited by the progress of the defensive unit, which features senior captain and star Liz Bannantine along with junior Amanda Leavell, junior Madeline Rodriguez, and senior Maddy Lynch.
“Last year it was the same four on the line and then me,” said DeGarmo. “I thought we did a really good job last year but this year, we have a whole year under our belt playing with each other. We just know each other so well in terms of when we are on the field. We are all best friends off the field so we are really close. I think we have experience and it has really helped a lot.”
That experience together has led to increased communication on the field. “I am no more of a director than LB (Bannantine) or Madeline Rodriguez,” said DeGarmo. “We are all talking. I see everything so I am always talking. I am always saying where the ball is and if there is a drive coming.”
The Tigers were fired up to start their drive for an Ivy title encore with the big win over Dartmouth.
“It was awesome, it feels so good walking off the field knowing we beat them by six and we had eight goal scorers,” said DeGarmo.
“The defense perfectly executed the plan. We could not feel better about it, it was an awesome start.”
Princeton head coach Chris Sailer feels good about the play she is getting from DeGarmo in goal.
“The thing I like about Ellie this year is that she has just been consistent,” asserted Sailer.
“She has had double digits in saves in every single game. I think a lot of that you can attribute to Ellie but also the defense that is in front of her, giving her shots that she can see. She has always been able to make some big saves. She has been incredible, she has been a force all year.”
The Tiger defense was a force on Saturday, holding Dartmouth to one goal in the first half and giving up just two goals in the first 21 minutes of the second half.
“Jen Cook is our defensive coordinator and she came up with a great game plan,” said Sailer, noting that Princeton held Dartmouth star Leto scoreless on the afternoon.
“The kids really made those adjustments well. Leto had nine points in her last game and now she had zero. It is amazing, the kids were awesome on her.”
While the Tiger attack wasn’t awesome against the Big Green, it adjusted as the game went on.
“The first half was a low scoring half in general,” said Sailer, who got two and two assists from senior Stephanie Paloscio on the day with junior star Olivia Hompe chipping in three goals and Elizabeth George, Anya Gersoff, Ellie McNulty, and Kathryn Hallett chipping in one apiece.
“I think we are still working on developing that chemistry and that understanding of how to work a defense and wait for a good opportunity instead of trying to score really early in your possession. It still is something we have to figure out but we did have 11 goals against a nice defensive team.”
Sailer pointed to Paloscio as an offensive catalyst for the Tigers in the win.
“Steph played really well; she had a great game,” said Sailer. “I thought she played really inspired and made some really nice moves and feeds so that was nice to see especially when you have a kid like Liv (Olivia Hompe), who was getting face-guarded. It is nice to see a kid like that step up.”
All in all, it was a nice way for Princeton to start its Ivy title defense. “I think it is a great kickoff to the Ivy League; Dartmouth was 3-1 and they are a quality team this year,” said Sailer.
“There is so much history in this rivalry so we expect a battle every time we play and it was today. It was very physical on the field with a lot of stuff going on out there and I thought our kids really kept their poise and played well.”
The Tigers will need to keep their poise when they play at No. 7 Notre Dame (5-1) on March 13.
“It is a big challenge; we will be watching film all week getting ready for them,” said Sailer. “I think they are a really athletic group and dynamic offensively. We will be working hard to prepare.”
DeGarmo, for her part, is primed to keep up her good work in goal.
“I am so excited to play them; as soon as I knew we were playing them, I was thinking this is going to be a great game,” said DeGarmo.
“They are one of the top teams in the country and a team we would not usually play otherwise. It is going to be huge, I can’t wait. I am really excited for the challenge they are going to throw at us.”