February 14, 2018

Featuring Depth, Speed All Over the Field, PU Women’s Lacrosse Shooting for Final 4

MIDDLE OF THE ACTION: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Camille Sullivan looks to unload the ball in a game last spring. The Tigers are relying on senior co-captain Sullivan to provide production and leadership in the midfield this season. The Tigers open their 2018 season when they play at Temple on February 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With Olivia Hompe triggering the attack and Ellie DeGarmo anchoring the defense, the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team has been a dominant force in the Ivy League over the last four years.

The Tigers won or shared the Ivy crown every season over that span with attacker Hompe ending up as the program’s all-time scoring leader with 282 points and a two-time All-American and netminder DeGarmo emerging as a two-time All-American and the national goalie of the year in 2016.

While Hompe and DeGarmo graduated last June, their influence is being felt as Princeton’s retuning players look to build on their legacy.

“The juniors have been to the NCAA tournament every year and getting so close, especially last year, is motivating for everybody to work really hard,” said Princeton head coach Chris Sailer, who guided the Tigers to a 15-4 record and the NCAA quarterfinals in 2017. “The upperclassmen have done a great job of bringing the freshmen along. They are doing awesome too. It is definitely a motivated group.”

With Princeton playing at Temple (1-0) on February 17 in its season opener, Sailer is confident that her attack group will be formidable.

“We have a lot kids who scored goals but Olivia obviously was such a force in all sorts of different ways on the field so we are definitely going to need more people to produce,” said Sailer.

“We have talented kids returning. Tess D’Orsi (38 goals and 13 assists in 2017 as a freshman) was a big scorer for us last year. Colby Chanenchuk (14 goals, 38 assists as a junior) was a big feeder. You have Allie Rogers (13 goals, 10 assists as a sophomore) who is really quick footed and incredibly dynamic in terms of lateral movement and her ability to get in and get good dodges. We have a freshman, Kyla Sears, who is a major threat on offense for us. She is a great finisher and has incredible hands. She is going to be a big part of the offensive unit along with Julia Haney (5 goals, 2 assists as a sophomore), who has been doing a great job.”

The Tigers boast some great threats in the midfield. “The midfield is our most experienced unit; we have Ellie McNulty (23 goals, 8 assists as a junior) back; she is a phenomenal competitor and is doing a great job on the draw,” said Sailer.

“We have Elizabeth George (27 goals, 9 assists as a sophomore) another draw kid for us and a powerful dodger. She makes things happen on the field. Cammie Sullivan (11 goals, 3 assists as a junior) is one of our senior captains. She is a great two-way player. She is an awesome defender and showing offense. Kathryn Hallett (22 goals, 9 assists as a sophomore) is incredibly speedy and is looking to play an even bigger role this year. Those four are really experienced.”

In addition to those four, sophomore Annie Cory (9 goals, 2 assists), junior Izzy Mangan, and freshman Jordan Marcus will round out the midfield unit.

At goalie, the trio of senior Mary Kate McDonough, sophomore Winnie Brandfield-Harvey, and freshman Sam Fish are vying for the starting spot,

“We have three of them and they are doing pretty well, we are still evaluating,” said Sailer.

“The good news is that they are all pretty good. They all have their strengths and areas that they can continue to work on. With Ellie for the last three years she played every game; it may be a different situation when we determine a starter. I would imagine that you would see some other goalie get time as well during the season.”

The defense will be be spearheaded by juniors Alex Argo and Nonie Andersen.

“Our two returning defenders, Alex and Nonie, are going to be the anchors of that group,” said Sailer. “Argo is just so tough and Nonie with her speed and conditioning.”

The defensive group will feature a number of young faces. “We are bringing  two freshman defenders into that starting mix,” added Sailer.

“We have Olivia Pugh who has a good stick and is really smart defensively. She can get interceptions and is a great stick checker. Mary Murphy has done a great job, she has the inside nod for the other starting spot. She is athletic, smart and has been working really hard learning the systems. Those four, at this point, will be our starting defense. We have Maddie Staczek, a sophomore, who will be a good option in that defensive end. Marge Donovan is another freshman defender who is going to be working for some time.”

In Sailer’s view, the keys to success for the Tigers center on how the team fills the void left by DeGarmo and Hompe.

“The goalies need to make saves and be efficient on the clears; that is a point of emphasis for us with a new person in that position,” said Sailer.

“Then on offense, we need to be developing more of those scorers with kids ready and eager to have the ball when it is crunch time. It is how well we all play together as a team. I think our speed is going be good, especially through the defense and the midfield.”

Princeton will be looking to get off to fast start against Temple, who topped Rutgers 12-8 in its season opener last Saturday.

“They have been a strong team in their conference the last three years; they tend to be pretty tough and competitive kids so I think it should be be an exciting first game for us,” said Sailer of the Owls, who have Princeton High standout Julia Ryan on their roster.

“We need to be doing what we do well at a good level and adjusting to whatever we see from Temple. People are throwing all sort of different defenses at people these days.”