May 9, 2018

With D’Orsi Coming Through in Crunch Time, PU Women’s Lax Wins Ivy Title, Heading to NCAAs

TESS TIME: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Tess D’Orsi heads to goal in action last weekend at the Ivy League Tournament held at Class of 1952 Stadium. Sophomore attacker D’Orsi tallied four goals  and an assist as top-seeded Princeton defeated second-seeded Penn 13-10 in the championship game last Sunday. The Tigers, now 12-5, will face Syracuse (9-9) in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Boston College on May 11. The victor will face fourth seeded BC (19-1) is a second round contest on May 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With top-seeded Princeton University women’s lacrosse team locked in a 9-9 stalemate against second-seeded Penn in the second half of the Ivy League Tournament Championship game last Sunday, it became Tess D’Orsi time for the Tigers.

Princeton sophomore attacker D’Orsi scored a goal to put the Tigers ahead 10-9 and then after the visiting Quakers answered to make it 10-10, she tallied two unanswered goals to make the difference on the way to a 13-10 win.

“It just comes with the flow of the game; when the game gets more intense, I know I need to step it up and I keep my mental game calm and composed,” said D’Orsi, who ended up with four goals and an assist as the Tigers improved to 12-5 and booked a spot in the NCAA tournament where Princeton will face Syracuse (9-9) in a first round contest at Boston College on May 11. “I try to do what I need to do in the moment.”

The Tigers were expecting an intense effort from a Quaker team they had routed 21-8 in a regular season game played in late April.

“We can’t take away from the win we had on April 28 but we knew they would come out with a fire under them, ready for redemption with something to prove to us,” said D’Orsi. “We knew they would come out really, really hard.”

Princeton brought plenty of fire into the matchup, buoyed by a raucous student rooting section on hand at Class of 1952 Stadium.

“We matched it. Leaving the locker room and coming out the field, the whole time we had a great energy,” said D’Orsi. “We were ready for that.”

While Penn displayed energy in fighting back from an early 7-4 deficit to knot the game at 7-7 with 28:04 remaining in regulation, Princeton kept its cool down the stretch.

“The biggest thing is that we stayed calm,” added D’Orsi. “We knew what we could control and we did exactly that.”

D’Orsi enjoyed a big moment as her third goal of game marked the 100th point of her career.

“I didn’t know that was coming; I think it is a great accomplishment,” said D’Orsi, a 5’4 native of Sudbury, Mass., who now has 50 points this season on 38 goals and 12 assists and is up to 101 in her career on 76 goals and 25 assists.

“I couldn’t have done it without all of my teammates. All of my goals pretty much come off of feeds so my teammates set me up for that success.”

For D’Orsi, the team success in winning the Ivy tourney was more important than her personal milestone.

“It means the world. We loved hosting this weekend,” said D’Orsi. “We have worked really, really hard to get to this point. I think being here and having that familiarity was good. It means everything to go out here with an Ivy title.”

Princeton head coach Chris Sailer savored the Ivy crown, noting that the Tigers got off to a shaky 4-4 start as they dealt with some heavy graduation losses.

“We struggled early, we persevered through that struggle, and we just kept getting better and better,” said Sailer.

“I am just so proud of the team about how far we have come. It has been a lot of hard work and preparation and staying confident and working through this growing pains as a team.”

Sailer saw a  struggle coming in the championship game against a Penn team bent on revenge.

“It was so intense; the game we played 10 days ago was such a magical night. Everything went right for us and things didn’t go right for them,” said Sailer.

“We didn’t anticipate the same kind of game. We know Penn, it is tournament time and they are going to come ready to play. We thought it would be a battle and it was. It was close the whole way. I don’t think we ever lost the lead, it was tied or we had the lead. They never went ahead and I thought that was crucial.”

With the offense clicking better and better as the game went on, D’Orsi was able to get space for her crucial goals.

“She has really been coming on strong the last few weeks, being more confident and finding the net,” said Sailer of D’Orsi, a member of the U.S. Under-19 women’s lacrosse team.

“They were really sliding hard. They were sending two three people to every dodge we took. We just had to be a little smarter. We were trying to force some things, but once we stated moving the ball more, we were able to get better openings.”

Junior midfielder Elizabeth George helped open things up for the Tigers, getting named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, totaling six goals and 16 draw controls in the weekend.

“She did deserve the MOP. Her draw controls the other night and today were really big and being able to get goals when we needed them,” said Sailer, whose team topped Columbia 17-7 in a semifinal contest on Friday evening. “She is just a powerful kid and she is hard to stop on the drive.”

Against Penn, the Tiger defense came up big when it was needed the most, holding the Quakers scoreless over the last 12:57 of the contest.

“We made a couple of stops down there, Sam [Fish] made a couple of saves,” said Sailer. “We got some turnovers on them in the middle. Mary Murphy and Alex Argo were awesome, as were Sam and Marge Donovan. The whole group really did well. They really did step up and that was great to see.”

Sailer believes the Tigers, who have posted six straight wins, can make a great showing in the NCAA, starting with a rematch against Syracuse (9-9), which edged Princeton in a 17-16 thriller on March 29.

“I think we are a team that can make a run. I don’t think anyone in the NCAA tournament can underestimate us,” asserted Sailer, who has guided the Tigers to three NCAA titles.

“Since the Delaware game (a 15-6 win on March 31), our only loss was a one-goal loss to Maryland where we led the entire game. We are playing hot right now.”

D’Orsi, for her part, is confident that the Tiger will keep playing well.

“We are on our upswing right now; we have worked really, really hard this whole season to get to the point where we are, and we are showing no signs of stopping,” said D’Orsi. “We know each other’s tendencies; everything is coming together at the right time.”