With PU Grad Hompe Providing Offensive Punch, England Takes Bronze at Women’s Lax World Cup
BRONZE STAR: Olivia Hompe looks for the ball in action for England at the 2017 FIL Rathbones Women’s Lacrosse World Cup last month. Recently graduated Princeton University player Hompe starred as host England took the bronze medal at the competition. (Photo From England Lacrosse, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)
Staying in the moment helped Olivia Hompe produce a lot of big moments for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team over the last four years.
Star attacker Hompe graduated from Princeton this June as the program’s all-time scoring leader with 282 points and top goal scorer with 195 goals and finished second all-time in assists with 87.
Moreover, she displayed a propensity for coming up big in the clutch, culminating her senior campaign by matching her career-high of seven goals in a 12-9 win over Cornell in the Ivy League championship game and tallying two goals and two assists against the Big Red in an 11-9 triumph in the second round of the NCAA tourney while causing two turnovers, grabbing two ground balls, and winning one draw.
Playing for host England in the 2017 FIL Rathbones Women’s Lacrosse World Cup this summer, Hompe proved she could come through under pressure on the international stage. She starred as England defeated Australia 10-9 in overtime in the bronze medal game. With the English trailing 9-6 with less than 17 minutes remaining in regulation, Hompe rattled off three straight goals to tie the game with 2:22 remaining in regulation and was named the Most Valuable Player of the game.
True to form, Hompe’s intense focus helped her to excel down the stretch of the contest as she was more concerned about executing than with the score.
“In the interview right after the game, the woman said you guys were down 9-5 at one point, I had no idea,” said Hompe, who holds a British passport becuse her mother is a citizen of England.
“I think the game felt really back and forth to me. I probably wasn’t looking at the scoreboard enough. I really felt we were in that game, based on the tempo of the game. When I was in front of the net, it was just taking that extra second and finishing. The crowd was amazing, you could really could hear them. That helped us get back into it.”
For Hompe, earning a World Cup medal was an amazing experience. “It is indescribable, winning in front of that crowd in the pouring rain,” said Hompe of the achievement which was England’s first medal in the competition since 2005. “I was so excited to play in the World Cup and compete for England.”
It was exciting for Hompe to help Princeton enjoy a big season this spring in her final campaign with the program.
“Winning the Ivy League for the fourth time stands out,” said Hompe, who tallied a Princeton single-season record of 110 points on 75 goals and 35 assists in 2017 as the Tigers went 15-4 overall and 6-1 Ivy, winning the league postseason tournament and advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals.
“They announced at our athletic banquet that we were the only team out of all the boys’ and girls’ teams in our class to have won four Ivy League championships. We were the second Princeton women’s lacrosse team to do so. When I think about that, I think about some of those hard-fought games, like the regular season Cornell game we won in OT, losing to Penn and then fighting back to beat them in the tournament. The Ivy League tournament was just an incredible weekend.”
As her career went on, Hompe assumed more and more responsibility.
“It was a lot about stepping into a leadership role and being a captain as a junior and a senior,” said the 5’9 Hompe, a resident of New Canaan, Conn.
“Chris [Princeton head coach Chris Sailer] trusted me to run the offense in a lot of ways on the field and run the pace of the game, execute plays. In terms of the role I have played on the team, I have really enjoyed teaching the younger girls and bringing them up and watching those freshmen become sophomores like Elizabeth George, Kathryn Hallett, and Alex Argo, and seeing them really rise and play to their capabilities.”
Hompe’s heroics this spring helped her garner a slew of honors including being named as a Tewaaraton Award Top-5 Finalist, First-Team All-America, First-Team All-Region, First-Team All-Ivy League, and the Ivy League Attacker of the Year, among other accolades.
“I think it is obviously amazing, I had a great season,” said Hompe. “I remember when I got nominated as a Tewaaraton finalist, I talked to a lot of girls on our team and I said this is, in a lot of ways, a team award being nominated for the top five. Our whole team worked so hard. So many of my goals are assisted goals. Colby Chanenchuk playing behind me is a great feeder and it was just the whole team really trusting in me to give me the ball in big moments and make passes.”
Excelling in the classroom as well, Hompe was selected as the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She was also named to the IWLCA Academic Honor Roll and as an Academic All-Ivy League honoree.
“I knew it was going to be a tough school academically and athletically, that is what I wanted,” said Hompe, who will be returning to Princeton this fall to study for a masters in public affairs at the Wilson School through a fellowship where she will do one year of graduate school before getting two years of work experience in the federal government.
“I wanted to challenge myself in both regards. Princeton definitely challenged me. I am excited to go back for grad school.”
Joining the England team days after graduating on June 6, Hompe faced a challenge, combining with Maryland star Megan Whittle to spark the squad’s attack.
“The defense had been training together for a while so they looked really good,” said Hompe.
“Megan and I both play attack so I think that was definitely a bit of a learning curve. We saw that through the beginning of the tournament, just really getting used to how the offense was going to run. We really got better over the course of the tournament in terms of how we wanted to run it.”
The English squad hit some bumps in the road in pool play, suffering defeats to the U.S. (18-1), Australia (13-4), and Canada (8-6).
In the wake of the loss to Australia, the team did some soul searching. “We had an off day to give us some time to watch film and talk through some stuff,” recalled Hompe.
“The next day we played Canada and although we lost, it was 8-6 and that was just a much better game for us. We came away from that game feeling much better about going into the knockout round. We knew we could compete with everyone.”
After topping Wales 9-5 in the championship round quarterfinals, England competed hard in falling 19-8 to the U.S. in the semis. In the wake of that loss, England got another shot at Australia as the foes met in the bronze medal game.
“I think for us it was about controlling the pace, shooting, and finishing,” said Hompe, assessing the rematch with the Aussies.
“We didn’t shoot very well in the first game against them. Draw controls were also a really big focus for us. They outdrew us in the first game. We didn’t think that they had any more skill than us on the draw; they just really hunted the ball down better than us in the first game. We thought we could do much better.”
Hunting down the victory in extra time was no easy task for England.
“The overtime was a nail-biter,” said Hompe, who totaled 18 points in the competition with 12 goals and six assists.
“We held them scoreless the last 25 minutes of play, which is just incredible. They had the ball at their end a couple of times. Our defense just played fantastic, especially in the OT, pulling it back. It was just incredible stands by our defense and good clears up the field.”
Reflecting on her experience at the competition, Hompe is bringing home some incredible memories.
“I think the last night was a lot of fun; after the tournament all the teams were together,” said Hompe, who was joined at the competition by Princeton teammate Nonie Andersen, a rising Tiger junior who helped Ireland finish 13th.
“The medal ceremony was really cool; being in London for two months was great.”
After having so much fun at the World Cup, Hompe is looking to keep playing for England.
“I am excited to see where we can take the team,” said Hompe, who plans to take a volunteer role with the Princeton women’s lax program in the 2017-18 season to stay around the game.
“One of the things that coach said afterwards is that of the 18 player roster for the World Cup, 10 girls were 24 or younger, so we are a young team. I think a lot of us want to come back and get another shot at a medal.”