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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

LOCAL HERO: Princeton University freshman lacrosse star Katie Lewis-Lamonica races past a Johns Hopkins defender in action earlier this season. Last Wednesday, Lewis-Lamonica scored a career-high three goals to help the Tigers beat Georgetown 13-12 in overtime. Lewis-Lamonica has scored 10 points so far in her debut season with eight goals and two assists.
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Former Lawrenceville Star Lewis-Lamonica Makes Sudden Impact for Tiger Women's Lax

By Bill Alden

In her mind's eye, Katie Lewis-Lamonica has been hoping for a night like last Wednesday for about five years.

From the time she started playing lacrosse in middle school at nearby Lawrenceville School, Lewis-Lamonica set her sights on someday playing for the Princeton University women's lacrosse team.

That desire deepened as Lewis-Lamonica became a standout for the Big Red varsity, helped by sessions at the Tiger summer lacrosse camp where she learned valuable lessons from Princeton players.

By last spring, Lewis-Lamonica had emerged as one of the top players in New Jersey, utilizing her speed and stick skills to lead Lawrenceville to the state Prep A title and become a coveted recruit for Princeton.

The talented Lewis-Lamonica achieved her childhood goal, opting to come to Princeton where she has been a starter since day one. Last Wednesday, Lewis-Lamonica fired in a career-high three goals and added an assist to play a key role as fourth-ranked Princeton edged No. 8 Georgetown 13-12 in a scintillating overtime affair.

After joining her teammates in a raucous celebration in their locker room in which they alternated screams with thuds from pounding their sticks in joy, Lewis-Lamonica beamed as she reflected on the evening.

"It's definitely been a dream of mine," said Lewis-Lamonica, referring to playing for the Tigers lacrosse program. "In middle school I was taught by some girls who went to Princeton and ever since then I wanted to come here. It's also great because I get so much support from family and friends. My high school team was here tonight."

With Princeton coming into the contest with Georgetown, having suffered a tough 8-4 loss to defending national champion Virginia four days earlier, Lewis-Lamonica was looking to play a bigger role in the Tigers' offense.

"We just can't have a two-person attack," said Lewis-Lamonica, referring to Princeton's high-scoring senior All-Americans, Lindsey Biles and Elizabeth Pillion.

"We've been working on having our other attackers step up and really play the game. It was really great tonight because we had so many attackers who came to play."

Lewis-Lamonica acknowledged that she was struggling a bit in the transition from high school to college. "Today, I played midfield," said Lewis-Lamonica, who played attack at Lawrenceville and also starred in soccer and track for the Big Red.

"You just run for the whole game and never stop. It's hard to do both ends and do everything in the middle, too. The upperclassmen who really know what they are doing have helped me bridge that huge gap between high school and college."

For Lewis-Lamonica, earning the respect of her older teammates by coming through in the clutch makes all the work worthwhile.

"To me the most enjoyable part of the season is how close our team is right now," said Lewis-Lamonica, who had a crucial overtime goal in Princeton's win over Georgetown. "It's so much fun to score one of those goals when we really need it and then get to celebrate together. It's the best feeling."

Princeton head coach Chris Sailer certainly got a great feeling from watching her club come through against Georgetown in a game that saw the Tigers fight back from a deficit early in the second half and then blow an 11-9 lead as the Hoyas forced overtime.

"In my eyes, that was a must-win for us," asserted a relieved Sailer with a smile. "We needed to play well, play a competitive game and get a win out of it."

In Sailer's view, it was the Tigers' balance on offense that paved the way to the victory. "In the Virginia game, we had two scoring options (Biles and Pillion), today we had a lot of people score," said Sailer, who got three goals from Ingrid Goldberg, three from Kathleen Miller, two from Biles, one from Pillion and the game-winner from freshman Ashley Amo. "It was a really good balance. Biles was more quiet today. You get Iggy [Goldberg] and Miller stepping up."

Sailer had special praise for her precocious freshman from Lawrenceville. "Lewey was fabulous today," asserted Sailer. "She made so many clutch plays throughout the game. She is such a great player and she is getting more confident every game."

According to Sailer, Lewis-Lamonica provides Princeton with a special package. "She has such speed and she is learning how to maintain that throughout the game," added Sailer, whose star freshman has 10 points on eight goals and two assists.

"We can put her at defense and give her a marking assignment or we can put her in the midfield which is where we really want her because we want to use her scoring. She is such a great shooter, she has good moves to goal and such great acceleration."

Sailer is hoping the thrilling win over Georgetown can accelerate things for her club which heads into the meat of the Ivy season this month in its quest to reach its fourth straight NCAA Final Four.

"I hope this is going to be a catalyst for good things to come the rest of the season," said Sailer whose club followed up the win over Georgetown with a 9-8 overtime win at Cornell last Saturday to improve to 6-2 overall and 2-0 in Ivy play. "Our hard work paid off for us and I think it's really going to do a lot to take us far the next month."

From her vantage point, Lewis-Lamonica believes the performance will be something Princeton can build on.

"We really wanted to step up and play as a whole today," said Lewis-Lamonica, who will look to keep up her hot play as Princeton hosts Temple on April 6 before playing at Yale on April 9. "This was a really big deal, especially going into the rest of the Ivy League season. We want to be the Ivy champs so playing like this is a good start to that."

Lewis-Lamonica is unquestionably off to a great start as she realizes her long-held dream of starring for Princeton.

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