March 28, 2018

Fighting Hard in 15-12 Defeat to Dartmouth, PU Women’s Lax Aims for More Consistency

CORE VALUE: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Annie Cory heads upfield against Dartmouth last Saturday. Sophomore midfielder Cory tallied a career-high three goals against the Big Green but it wasn’t enough as Princeton lost 15-12. The Tigers, now 4-3 overall and 1-1 Ivy League, host No. 12 Syracuse (6-4) on March 29 before playing at Delaware on March 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Starting last week with a bang, the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team produced a dramatic comeback at Penn State, rallying from a 9-5 second half deficit to pull out a 13-12 victory.

“That was really a great win from being down and really fighting back” said Princeton head coach Chris Sailer, reflecting on the March 19 contest.

“We showed a lot of grit, teamwork, and skill to pull out that win. It was really uplifting for the team.”

Last Saturday against visiting Dartmouth, the Tigers tried valiantly to pull out another dramatic victory, rallying from a 13-6 deficit to draw within 14-12 before falling 15-12 to the Big Green.

“You can’t live in that space all the time and think you are going to win every game,” said Sailer, whose team moved to 4-3 overall and 1-1 Ivy League. “We have got to work on getting off to better starts.”

Sailer acknowledged that Dartmouth got off to a great start against the Tigers, jumping out to an early 4-1 advantage and leading 7-4 at halftime.

“Dartmouth just played a really smart game, they went so hard at us and their zone was tough,” said Sailer.

“It was the first time we have seen a zone this season for the whole game and it took us a while to figure it out. We made some mistakes on the defensive end. We did not play our best game. You have to give credit to them. They really deserved it, they competed hard, they went after it.”

Although the Princeton comeback fell short, Sailer likes the competitive fire she is seeing from her players.

“That is a nice thing about the team, we may be down but we don’t think we are out,” said Sailer.

“We kept coming back hard. We were able to string together some goals on offense; we were winning more draws in the second half. That really helped but ultimately we could never quite bring it to even.”

The Tigers got a career-high three goals from sophomore Annie Cory, including two tallies in the last 4:47 of the contest.

“Annie has been a real success story for us this year, she has just really put in a lot of work and effort,” said Sailer.

“She is really coachable and is becoming a real key player for us. She is so smart on the inside and she can handle balls and find the cage. She did a good job in that game.”

Freshman phenom Kyla Sears is enjoying a lot of success in her debut campaign, tallying four points on three goals and assist against the Big Green to give her a team-high 32 points (24 goals, 8 assists) so far this spring.

“Kyla has been phenomenal, she is such a competitor,” said Sailer, noting that Sears was chasing down loose balls to prevent turnovers in the waning moments of the Dartmouth game. “She is capable of really big plays. We are just so fortunate that she is on our team. She is threat every time she is on the field.”

While the loss to the Big Green was disappointing, the Tigers still have plenty to play for.

“The season is still out in front of us and we get into the thick of the Ivies after this week,” said Sailer.

“We are a work in progress. We still have a lot of opportunities to get better and become the kind of team that we want to be. We are working hard to get there and hoping that it will pay off.”

Sailer is looking for her team to be sharper in all areas of the game. “We just continue to have to develop our chemistry and awareness on the field,” said Sailer, noting that winning more draw controls, more consistent goaltending, better defensive positioning, and sharper shooting are main areas of focus.

“We have that in some of our players but our decision making, at times, needs work and our awareness, at times, needs work. We just have to be OK about the work we have in front of us.”

With the Princeton hosting No. 12 Syracuse (6-4) on Thursday evening, it will need to produce some of its best work of the season to overcome the Orange.

“They have a lot of talent; they have kids that have have great sticks and stick skills,” said Sailer, whose team plays at Delaware on March 31.

“They have a couple of nice different looks in their zone defense. It’s going to be challenge, no doubt.”