March 2, 2016

Fueled by a Career-High 5 Goals From Gersoff, No. 6 PU Women’s Lax Edges Georgetown 10-9


GOING OFF: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Anya Gersoff sprints upfield last Saturday as Princeton hosted Georgetown. Senior attacker Gersoff scored a career-high five goals, including the game-winner with 7.4 seconds left, as the Tigers pulled out a 10-9 win over the Hoyas. Sixth-ranked Princeton, now 3-0, hosts Dartmouth on March 5 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having managed a pair of goals in the first two games of the season for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team, Anya Gersoff had assumed a supporting role in the Tiger attack.

Last Saturday against visiting Georgetown, senior Gersoff stepped up into a starring role, exploding for a career-high five goals, including the game winner with 7.4 seconds left, as the Tigers pulled out a 10-9 nail-biter over the Hoyas and improved to 3-0.

“I think today I played with more confidence than I have so far in this season and I owe a lot of that to my teammates, they are all great,” said Gersoff.

“I think the special thing about this team is on any given day, anyone can step up and contribute. All I am looking to do is to be the best teammate I can be and fill whatever role I can on a given day. I guess today was my day.”

In the early stages of the contest, it looked like Princeton was going to cruise to victory as it jumped out to a 6-2 halftime lead.

“We started off well, our offensive ball movement and movement through space off ball was really good in the first half,” said Gersoff, who scored two goals in the first half.

“That is something we have been working on this week; it was really great in the first half.”

But things weren’t so great for Princeton in the second half as the Hoyas went on a 6-2 run to tie the game at 8-8 and then added another tally with 3:07 to make it 9-9.

“I got to give them a lot of credit, they played so hard, with that mentality that anything can happen and we weren’t ready for that,” said Gersoff. “I think more so than anything, it was what they brought mentally, they kept attacking.”

Despite the Georgetown surge, Gersoff was confident that the Tigers would ultimately prevail.

“They are a great team but I always believed in my team to pull it out, I knew we had what it took to pull that game out,” said Gersoff.

Gersoff ended up having the game on her stick as she earned a free position opportunity with 7.4 seconds in regulation and proceeded to fire the ball past the Georgetown goalie for the game-winning goal.

“The only thing I was thinking is do your job for your teammates,” said Gersoff, a 5’8 native of Greenwood Village, Colo., who has done a good job the last four falls for the Tiger field hockey program as a star goalie.

“I have never really been in that situation before but the only thing that I felt was when that went in, is that we have to get the ball off the next draw because the game isn’t over.”

In Gersoff’s view, pulling out the win on a day when it didn’t play its best speaks to Princeton’s resolve.

“Obviously it is better to win than lose but I think it does say something about us,” said Gersoff.

“I think it was clear that we believed in ourselves and our teammates the whole game, and that is what allowed us to be successful.”

While Princeton head coach Chris Sailer was relieved to see her team prevail, she acknowledged that the shaky second half was cause for concern.

“It does a lot for us, ultimately you have to win the game and we were able to do that today but we just need to execute better,” said Sailer.

“We were 0-for-2 on man-ups, that was not a good showing at all. We had too many turnovers in our attack end. We stopped going hard, it was a huge difference. We were making poor decisions, we were shooting too early after we were on defense for long stretches. We have to do a better job understanding tempo and the pace of the game and making better decisions offensively.”

By contrast, the Tigers came out of the gate controlling tempo at both ends of the field.

“I thought we started really well, we were moving the ball well,” said Sailer. We were playing hard, we were finding some nice looks. The defense was playing brilliantly.”

Sailer was pleased to see the brilliant effort from Gersoff. “Anya was amazing, she gave a senior speech yesterday to the team at the end of practice and talked about all that she has learned through being a part of the program and that inspired the team,” said Sailer of Gersoff, who now has 81 points in her career on 68 goals and 13 assists. “She really played her heart out, and heart is the word on her team t-shirt for warmups.”

Despite having her left knee heavily wrapped, junior star Olivia Hompe produced another amazing effort in the win over the Hoyas, contributing five goals and an assist.

“She keeps going, that kid is such a threat,” said Sailer of Hompe, who was later named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week.

“In the first half, especially, she was able to get free and get some nice looks and then she had a big one late in the second half.

With No. 6 Princeton going into Ivy League play by hosting Dartmouth (2-1) on March 5, Sailer knows that each league foe poses a threat.

“We are excited to start the league, it is so competitive,” said Sailer, whose team went 7-0 in league play last year and went on to win the Ivy tournament.

“I think this game was good; it is a great prep for us as we head into the Ivy League games, knowing that we have to play 60 minutes and that every game is going to be a battle. You can’t go in with any other expectations other than you are going to have to work your hardest and be ready to compete.”

Gersoff, for her part, is excited to get into the Ivy campaign. “My favorite thing about lacrosse season compared to field hockey season is that the Ivy League is such a battle,” said Gersoff.

“Every game is such a battle, especially Dartmouth. It is so fun to play in those kind of competitive games so we will be ready for them.”