George Helps PU Women’s Lax Storm Past Loyola, Tigers to Play at Boston College in NCAA Quarters
DRAWING ON HER EXPERIENCE: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Elizabeth George, right, controls the draw as Princeton defeated visiting Wagner 19-7 last Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Two days later, senior star attacker George scored six goals to help the seventh-seeded Tigers defeat Loyola 17-13 in a second round contest. Princeton, now 16-3, will play at second-seeded Boston College, 20-1, in the NCAA quarterfinals on May 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Two years ago, a torrential downpour hit Class of 1952 Stadium as the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team hosted Cornell in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Princeton star Elizabeth George was undeterred by the conditions, scoring four goals, including the last two of the game, as the Tigers prevailed 11-9.
Last Sunday, a chilly downpour greeted the players as seventh-seeded Princeton hosted Loyola in a second round contest of this year’s NCAA tourney.
History repeated itself as senior attacker George thrived on the damp day, scoring six goals to help the Tigers earn a 17-13 win over the Greyhounds. By virtue of the triumph, Princeton, now 16-3 and riding an 11-game winning streak, will play at second-seeded Boston College, 20-1, in the NCAA quarterfinals on May 18.
In reflecting on the triumph, George acknowledged that she feels a comfort level when the rain drops start falling.
“I think a little bit of rain adds intensity,” said a smiling George, a 5’9 native of Lutherville, Md. “It favors the attack a little bit; there is more proactive rather than reaction footwork.”
With Princeton clinging to a 9-8 lead at halftime over a Loyola team bent on revenge after falling 14-10 in a regular season meeting between the foes on April 10, the Tigers knew they needed to be proactive over the last 30 minutes of the contest.
“We came in the locker room and we said we know this is an intense game just like we expected,” said George.
The big thing for us has been coming out in the second half. We haven’t started out second halves in the strongest way all season. So today coming out really strong in the second half was huge for us.”
George led the charge in the second half, tallying two unanswered goals in the first 1:40 of the period, sparking an 8-1 run for the Tigers.
“Getting some goals early and starting out on a run was really good for us to get rolling,” said George, the 2019 Ivy League Attacker of the Year, whose six goals gives her 61 this season and 141 in her career.
“They never gave up, they played the whole second half too. The run was huge. We always say it is a game of runs so going on them through the whole game was really important.”
George’s work on the draw was another important factor in the win.
“We know that Loyola is a great draw team, we wanted to scrap it out and really battle on those balls,” said George, who was credited with seven draw controls on the day.
“Especially on a rainy day, you don’t know where it is going to do. That is just a bunch of hustle and playing together as a draw unit. We have some great scrappers on the circle..which is huge.”
The Tigers also boast a bunch of scoring threats as sophomore Kyla Sears, junior Tess D’Orsi, and senior Izzy Mangan each had three goals in the win, with senior Kathryn Hallett and freshman Lillian Stout adding one apiece.
“Individuals are feeling their confidence in the postseason,” said George.
“We are going to need all seven attackers out on the field to really be a huge threat. I think that showed really well today and we will just keep riding that wave.”
The team’s senior group relished getting the NCAA win in their final home appearance.
“It is emotional; we love ’52 and we love playing our home games,” said George.
“Every game is a fun game no matter where we are playing it. As long as we have the Tigers on the field, we are going to have that great feeling and play our best.”
Making NCAA quarters for the first time since 2017 is a great feeling for the Tigers.
“We came into this season thinking that we have really good potential; we have so much talent,” said George.
“We do have eyes on the last game of the NCAA tournament. We know we have a special group that can get us there. We are feeling good to be on track right now.”
Princeton is feeling good about a rematch with BC, who defeated the Tigers 16-10 in the second round of the NCAA tourney last spring.
“In comparison to last year, we are excited to have a week to prep for them rather than a tough double overtime game (a 12-11 win over Syracuse) that we came off last year,” said George.
“We are excited to get out for practice this week and get our mindset on BC and prep well for them. I am excited for a rematch.”
Princeton head coach Chris Sailer liked the winning mindset displayed George against Loyola.
“Georgie just made some big plays; she said after the game, I just don’t want my season to end, that goes for all of our seniors,” said Sailer.
“Loyola has one of the best draw players, and she got moved off the draw in this game. That really speaks to Georgie and the kids we had on the circle. We really battled.”
Sailer sensed that Loyola was going to give Princeton a battle in the NCAA rematch between the teams.
“We know it is always a new game; they wanted to make sure it was a different start than they had in the last game,” said Sailer of the Greyhounds, who trailed Princeton 10-3 at halftime in the regular season meeting between the teams.
“They came out really hard. It was a bit of wakeup call for us in the first three or four minutes of that game.We had to adjust and start moving harder defensively.”
Princeton also needed to be sharper offensively. “We wanted to execute a little bit better and be smarter with some of our possessions,” said Sailer.
“We were rushing some things and taking dodges into two or three people. We talked about trying to control the pace a little bit more offensively and we did that well.”
The team’s offensive balance helped the Tigers take control of the contest.
“It was different people scoring,” said Sailer. “Once they face-guarded Georgie and took her out, we made the decision to play more in the 6-on-6 and open up a little more space. The kids responded well; we were able to find some good looks.”
The defense found its form, holding the Greyhounds to one goal in the first 21:47 of the second half.
“I thought the defense really played well; Loyola is an incredible offensive team, they have so many weapons,” said Sailer.
“Livy Rosenzweig and Hannah Powers are just really tough for them, their numbers are pretty crazy. I thought we did a really nice job as a unit defensively. For the most part, we were on their cutters and had good one-on-one angles. Sam [Fish] had a nice second half in goal, she made some big saves.”
In order to overcome BC, which has advanced to the last two NCAA championship games, Princeton has to come up big at both ends of the field.
“They are a powerhouse, they have two Tewaaraton Award finalists (Sam Apuzzo and Dempsey Arsenault),” said Sailer.
“They are pretty tough offensively. We are going to have to have a great day on defense and compete on the draw. Sam is going to have to have a good day in goal. We are going to have to be able to find ways to score against their defense at the other end. It is one of those games where you have got to play a great game all over the field. If we do that, we are confident in our chances that we can compete and win.”
With Princeton having posted 11 straight victories, Sailer believes her team is bringing confidence into the matchup.
“We are playing great lacrosse,” said Sailer. “The last two weekends have been pretty tough in terms of conditions. You have to be gritty to gut it out. Our kids have done just that.”
Sailer credits her seniors with providing the grit that has helped the Tigers pull out a number of close wins this spring.
“It is tough to think about not having them on the field,” said Sailer. “We have them now and we are going to ride that wave as long as we can. They lead at every part of the field — defense, offense, draw, and midfield. I am just really happy for them, they are one of the last eight teams and hopefully we can keep it going for a littler longer.”
George, for her part, is happy to keep playing for another weekend.
“I think we are peaking at the right time and that is what we need,” said George.
“Everyone is channeling their confidence at the right time and seeing what we can really do and taking advantage of that. I am very confident that if we all show up and play our best game, it is going to be an amazing match against BC.”