February 20, 2019

Hallett Helps Trigger Offense for PU Women’s Lax As it Tops Temple in Opener, Giving Sailer 400th Win

LETTING IT FLY: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Kathryn Hallett heads upfield last Saturday as Princeton hosted Temple in its season opener. Senior midfielder Hallett tallied four goals to help the eighth-ranked Tigers prevail 16-7 and make history in the process as the victory marked the 400th career win for longtime Tiger head coach Chris Sailer. Princeton will look to keep rolling as it plays at 12th-ranked Virginia (2-0) on February 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming into the 2019 season, Kathryn Hallett knew that it was up to her to lead the midfield for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team.

“There are definitely some big shoes to fill, we graduated two really good impact starting midfielders last year,” said senior Hallett, referring to Ellie McNulty and Camille Sullivan.

“We have a lot of freshmen in the lineup. In the past I have been more of a lead by example type of person. I have really been making an effort to be more vocal, giving them tips during practice.”

Hallett didn’t waste time setting a very good example as eighth-ranked Princeton hosted Temple last Saturday in its season opener, scoring a goal to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead just 55 seconds into the contest.

“One of my teammates set a early good pick off ball; I just saw an opening and I decided I might as well go through,” said the 5’2 Hallett, a native of Manhasset, N.Y.

“You work the entire fall and preseason and  you have been waiting for this moment finally to see the hard work translate into the first game.”

Hallett ended up with three goals in the first half as the Tigers built a 16-8 halftime lead and then added another tally in the second half to help Princeton cruise to a 16-7 win.

“Everyone on the attack was doing really well, there was a lot of open space, working off ball, and feeding,” said Hallett, reflecting on the squad’s offensive outburst.

“It is not just me, but having those three goals gave me a little confidence playing the rest of the game.”

In Hallett’s view, the win over the Owls was a confidence builder for the Tigers.

“A strong season opener like this will set us up for a great season moving forward,” said Hallett. “We won a lot of the draw controls in the first half so that definitely helped get the offense rolling. That was awesome.”

It was an awesome day for the program as the victory marked the 400th win for longtime Princeton head coach Chris Sailer.

“She is the best; she deserves more celebration than we gave her today,” said Hallett of Hall of Famer Sailer, who is only the second Division I women’s lax coach to reach 400 wins (along with Navy coach Cindy Timchal, who also coached at Northwestern and Maryland).

“She is just so passionate about everything she does. She is always willing to lend a hand; her office door is always open if you ever want to watch film or ask her questions. She knows the game so well and she has been doing it for so long. She probably has the deepest understanding of the game I have ever seen.”

A beaming Sailer, for her part, was deeply moved by the postgame celebration of her achievement, which saw the current players don “400 win” T-shirts and pose for pictures with their coach with a throng of former women’s lax players in the stands cheering and waving sticks containing cardboard cutouts of Sailer’s face.

“It was amazing, I just feel a lot of love right new, which is just fantastic,” said Sailer, who is in her 33rd season at the helm of the program and has posted a 400-158 record with three NCAA titles (1994, 2002, and 2003) along the way.

“To see a lot of those alums in the stands, the faces on the sticks, the T-shirts, it was a hugely special moment for me. I am one of a staff of coaches. It is the kids who go out and fight hard everyday for Princeton lacrosse. It is pretty awesome to have them all back.”

Sailer has enjoyed leading her kids over the last 33 years. “It is quite a milestone and it is reflective of a long career,” said Sailer, who has coached the Tigers to 14 Ivy League championships and 25 NCAA appearances.

“I am so grateful that I have been able to coach at a place like Princeton that I truly love and be able to work with amazing student athletes and fellow coaches. It reflects a lot of work, a lot of great players, a lot of fun times, and a lot of big wins that I have been fortunate to be a part of. I am really happy to reach it with this group; they are a great group of kids.”

In reflecting on the win over Temple (1-2) which got three goals from former Princeton High standout Julia Ryan, Sailer saw a lot of great things.

“We were on fire in the first half; we came out with such a great start,” said Sailer.

“It is hard to maintain that momentum sometimes over the whole course of the game. It was our first game, their third game; I thought we did a really nice job. We talked about that beforehand to go out and play our game and try and control it right from the start. Our defense was on point for most of that game. Sam Fish (11 saves) was amazing in the cage. We really dominated the draws in the first half.”

It was also a milestone day for senior attacker Elizabeth George, who tallied the 100th point in the.

“It is pretty cool for Georgie to have the kind of career that she has here at Princeton,” said Sailer of George, who notched two goals and two assists on the day. “You saw her importance to us on the draw circle, She plays so hard and goes so hard. I think she is one of the top attackers in the country.”

Hallett gave the Tigers some top-level play in the midfield, coming up with five draw controls to go with her four goals.

“Hallett is so fast, she plays with such fire,” said Sailer. “She is a pretty special player.”

Junior Tess D’Orsi produced a special performance, scoring a game-high six goals.

“D’Orsi is a hard kid to stop, she is so shifty and so dynamic,” said Sailer. “Her ability to finish around the cage is phenomenal.”

Heading south to play at 12th-ranked Virginia (2-0) on February 23, Princeton will need to produce another dynamic performance to come away with a win.

“We have a big challenge against Virginia, no doubt,” said Sailer. “We will have to watch a lot of video the next few days, trying to get ready for them and then traveling down to Charlottesville. We are excited.”

Hallett, for her part, is excited for the clash with the Cavaliers. “It has definitely been a battle,” said Hallett. “The last time we played them there it was under the lights with a big rainstorm. It will be good to get back there.”