May 2, 2018

PU Women’s Lax Rolls Past Penn, Columbia,Will Host Ivy Postseason Tourney This Weekend

IN CONTROL: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Colby Chanenchuk controls the ball in a game last spring. Last Wednesday, senior attacker Chanenchuk tallied two goals and two assists to help Princeton rout Penn 21-8. On Saturday, No. 13 Princeton defeated Columbia 22-16 to improve to 10-5 overall and 6-1 Ivy League, clinching the league regular season title in the process. The Tigers will now host the Ivy postseason tournament, facing fourth-seeded Columbia in the semis on May 4 with the victor advancing to the title game on May 6 between the winner of the Penn-Dartmouth semi. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Colby Chanenchuk sensed that the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team was primed for a big performance as it hosted Penn last Wednesday evening in an Ivy League showdown.

“We have definitely been on a high, we have been improving from week to week and I think we are peaking at just the right time,” said senior attacker Chanenchuk, a 5’7 native of Natick, Mass.

The Tigers didn’t waste any time showing their improvement as they jumped out to a 7-1 lead over the Quakers, who came into game ranked 10th nationally and 5-0 in Ivy play with Princeton at 4-1 in Ivy action.

“We knew what we could do to beat this defense; we did a really good job of executing,” said Chanenchuk. “We knew we could pull them apart. It was setting the tone, coming out confident. Early in the season we were having trouble getting off to good starts, so this was really good for us.”

Building on that good start, Princeton produced an even better finish, outscoring Penn 13-5 in the second half on the way to a 21-8 rout.

“We started doing really well on the draws and that gave us momentum, pushing the fast breaks,” said Chanenchuk, who ended up with two goals and two assists in the win.

Taking advantage of the fast breaks, the Tigers had four players with at least a hat trick on the evening (Elizabeth George — five goals, Kyla Sears and Ellie McNulty — four goals apiece,  and Kathryn Hallett — three goals).

“I think that is what makes us such a threatening team, you can’t just shut down one player and kill our offense,” said Chanenchuk. “We have so many goal scorers and weapons, we are really hard to stop.”

Having set the program single-season record last spring with 38 assists, Chanenchuk thrives in a playmaking role.

“I love to play a team game, having plays where multiple people are part of that goal and leading up to it,” said Chanenchuk, who has 17 points this season on four goals and 13 assists and is at 99 in her career with 26 goals and 73 assists, the latter being the fifth-highest total in program history.  “I have always found that really fun.”

Princeton head coach Chris Sailer had a lot of fun watching her defense stifle the high-powered Quakers.

“I thought our defense was phenomenal; we just really scouted them well,” said Sailer. “The kids were well prepared and we executed what we needed to execute. Sam [Fish] made some made saves. Alex Argo just did a great job on No. 24 (Gabby Rosenzweig). We were switching on everything. We were really seeing it and communicating. It was awesome.”

As for the Tigers attack, Sailer pointed to a 13-6 edge in draw controls in the second half as a pivotal factor in the contest.

“I thought George was phenomenal with them, with the one-hand grabs and the balance,” said Sailer of junior star George, who had seven draw controls to go with her five goals.

Sailer likes the way Chanenchuk adds balance to the Princeton offense.

“Colby has really come on, she had a great game finding those opportunities to get inside and get the goals,” said Sailer. “She is sure in front of the cage; it has been nice to see her progression this year.”

With No. 13 Princeton defeating Columbia 22-16 to improve to 10-5 overall and 6-1 Ivy League and clinch the league regular season title, the Tigers will get to stay at Class of 1952 Stadium this weekend as they host the Ivy postseason tourney.

“It is so much fun to play on ’52 under the lights; it is an electric atmosphere here,” said Sailer, whose squad faces fourth-seeded Columbia in the semis on May 4 with the victor advancing to the title game on May 6 between the winner of the Penn-Dartmouth semi. “I felt that the crowd tonight was great and we have had some really great mid-week games here. Today we put the hammer down, that was good to see.”

Chanenchuk, for her part, is confident that she and her teammates can keep playing great lacrosse.

“We want to ride this high as much as we can and keep pushing,” said Chanenchuk.

“Obviously we still have stuff to learn from this game. We will watch the film and check out our mistakes. We definitely want to keep this confidence going into the tournament.”