With Biles Hitting Stride in Assault on Record Books, Tiger Women's Lax Primed for Dartmouth Showdown
By Bill Alden
She has been plagued by iliotibial band syndrome in her knees for much of her career with the Princeton University women's lacrosse team. Last Saturday, in the first half of Princeton's game against Harvard, she got smacked in the nose with a stick and hit on the shoulder by a teammate's errant pass.
But it appears that nothing is going to slow Lindsey Biles as she winds up her assault on the Princeton record books. The senior from Annapolis produced a single-game career-high of nine points on six goals and three assists to pace fourth-ranked Princeton to a 21-12 win over Harvard.
The output gave Biles 40 goals on the season and 160 in her career. She now trails only Crista Samaras (189), Lisa Rebane (162), and Theresa Sherry (161) in all-time career goals at Princeton. As she reflected on the win over the Crimson which improved Princeton to 10-2 overall and 5-0 in Ivy League play, Biles asserted that she is saving her best for last.
"I'm definitely working on it as hard as I can," said Biles, who has tallied 17 goals in Princeton's last four games. "I have only three regular season games left so I'm trying to hustle my butt off until it's over."
In Biles' view, the Tigers collectively are showing a lot of hustle as they have now won six straight games. "Our attack is moving so well," said Biles, who was joined at the top of the scoring sheet in the win over the Crimson by Katie Lewis-Lamonica with three goals and by Kathleen Miller, Ashley Amo, Ingrid Goldberg, and Mary Minshall, who scored two apiece. "We're finding each other. Most of our goals were assisted today. There has been a lot more focus."
With a chuckle, Biles acknowledged that her focus has been sharpened since she recently completed her senior thesis. "That took it out of me for a good month," said the history major, referring to her thesis which focused on former CIA director William Colby. "Finishing my thesis, that's what it is. I finished it a week and a half ago."
Another factor in Biles' recent hot streak has been her improved injury situation. "It's kind of plateaued," said Biles, referring to her nagging knee injury. "It's still painful. Last year, I hardly practiced but this year, I'm practicing most every day."
Biles is savoring every day on the field as she culminates her childhood dream of being a Princeton lacrosse star. "Crista Samaras is from Annapolis and she is my idol," said Biles, who noted that she first decided that she wanted to play lacrosse at Princeton when she saw the Tiger men's and women's teams both win national titles in 1994.
"I wanted to come play for Chris Sailer and an amazing program. I've been playing since third grade and it was a dream to come here to play. It's shocking, I can't believe it's almost over."
For head coach Sailer, watching Biles develop into one of the program's all-time leading scorers has been a dream. "Lindsey has been part of some really good attacking teams here," said Sailer of her attacker who had 71 points last year, the fourth best season in program history.
"In her first two years, she was helped because we had so many good attackers that could get her the ball. She could get 30 goals for you because the other teams had so many people to mark. She is the marked person now and she is still able to come up with the points, that's really saying something."
In Sailer's view, Biles' accomplishments are even more remarkable considering her ongoing injury problems. "She has struggled with aches and pains her whole four years," added Sailer.
"We've gone long stretches where she hasn't done much in practice. This season has been different. Lindsey has been able to play consistently in practice which is important because we need her in there. It's great to see her hitting her stride."
Princeton is hitting its stride at just the right time. "I think we are starting to jell, definitely," said Sailer, who has guided Princeton to five straight NCAA Final Fours with the Tigers taking the national title in 2002 and 2003.
"I think we are just starting to play together better. We're starting to read each other better. We're more in control on the field. Our re-defending is so much better than it has been at any point in the season. We're just starting to get better in crucial aspects of the game."
The Tigers will have to be at their sharpest this Saturday as they face one of the season's most critical tests when they play at undefeated Dartmouth (11-0, 5-0 Ivy) with the league title on the line.
"We're going to have our hands full and they're going to have their hands fulls," said Sailer of the match-up with the fifth-ranked Big Green who lost to Princeton in a 6-5 overtime nailbiter last spring in the NCAA quarterfinals.
"I imagine it's going to be the typical, incredibly competitive game that we usually have with them. This game is usually won in the goal and in the midfield by whoever wins the ground balls and makes the hustle plays. We need 60 minutes all over the field, that's going to be huge."
As the Tigers head into crunch time, Biles believes that they can benefit from last year's disappointing finale which saw Princeton's bid for a perfect season end with a loss to Virginia in the NCAA title game.
"It's hard staying on top all season," said Biles. "This year we lost two games that were definitely eye-openers. We realized that we had to get our act together. The good thing is that we're not plateauing too early. I don't think we've played our best, we're still building."
With Biles reaching plateaus at Princeton only seen by her idol Samaras, the Tigers could end up building something very special.