April 10, 2019

Haney Helps PU Women’s Lax Pass Major Test, Coming Up Big as Tigers Rally to Edge Dartmouth

MAKING HAY: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Julia Haney gets ready to unload the ball in recent action. Last Saturday senior attacker Haney tallied four points on two goals and two assists to help Princeton rally to a 14-12 win at Dartmouth. The 16th-ranked Tigers, now 7-3 overall and 2-1 Ivy League, host No. 11 Loyola (9-3) on April and Harvard on April 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

In the midst of wrapping up her thesis, Julia Haney helped the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team pass a giant test.

The Princeton senior attacker had two goals and two assists in the Tigers’ 14-12 comeback win at Dartmouth on Saturday.

“The win against Dartmouth was huge,” said Haney. “Going into the game, we were super prepared. We knew we needed to come out ready to go from the first whistle. This stretch of the season is by far the most important. Every game counts and it’s always awesome when you come out on top.”

The win helped Haney get through a stressful time. The history of science major was completing her thesis, and at the same time balancing her role in helping Princeton to another Ivy League championship. After this week, her thesis behind her and the Ivy title pursuit ahead.

“It’s going well,” said Haney. “The thesis process is pretty stressful, but the fact that it’s a year-long process isn’t too bad. Tying up the loose ends is a little stressful at times.”

The victory over Dartmouth had major implications for the Ivy standings and the league postseason tournament. The Tigers improved to 7-3 overall, 2-1 Ivy and sit in the fourth and final spot for the Ivy tournament that grants the winner an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Princeton has won the last five Ivy tournaments and five straight Ivy regular-season crowns.

“We had the Columbia win,” said Princeton head coach Chris Sailer. “We knew with the early loss to Brown that we didn’t give ourselves a lot of wiggle room. We know what we want and so you have to go out hard every day. You can’t be too focused on it and have it make you tight. You have to focus on the game and prepare well for your opponent and put everything you have out on the field. That’s what we’ll do every game coming up and things will sort themselves out as they sort themselves out. Penn had to come from behind to get a one-goal win over Brown so they’ve proven to be a formidable opponent in the league. It’s going to be close at the top, and hopefully building off the two wins we had last week, we can keep the momentum going.”

Penn is 3-0 in Ivy play while Cornell and Dartmouth are each 3-1. Princeton sits ahead of Brown, which is 2-2, but beat the Tigers head-to-head. The 16th-ranked Tigers ended Dartmouth’s six-game winning streak and will play all Ivy teams the rest of the way after hosting No. 11 Loyola (9-3) on April 10.

“We are all so excited at this point,” said Haney. “Something that’s really cool about the season this year is it’s anyone’s game every time you step on the field. Every opponent we see is going to be a good one. We’ve realized the importance of preparing in practice. I think we’re really excited every time we step on the field. We’re really excited to see the Greyhounds on Wednesday and keep this little streak we have going.”

By edging Dartmouth, Princeton posted its second straight win since dropping two straight to Brown and Maryland. Princeton defeated Villanova 16-6, coached by former Tiger standout Julia Shaner Young, on April 2 before traveling to New Hampshire.

Princeton found itself in a dogfight on Saturday as the Big Green held a 12-11 lead with 10 minutes to go before Princeton scored three unanswered goals over the final 7:39. Kyla Sears scored the tying goal, and then fed Kathryn Hallett with 3:00 for the go-ahead score. Sears found Tess D’Orsi with an insurance goal with 1:02 left.

“Kyla is such a competitor and she’s always looking for ways to be threatening or to set her teammates up,” said Sailer.

“She’s playing a little different role for us this year. Last year she was very much a cutter and she would cut inside and get feeds and finish in tight. This year, she’s playing much more on the perimeter and dodging and feeding other people so you see her numbers really change and she’s becoming more of an offensive threat off the assist.”

Sears finished with two goals and five assists while D’Orsi finished with five goals on nine shots.

“Tess had a couple rough shooting games in a row so it was nice to see her break out of that,” said Sailer. “That’s really going to get her confidence going into the last third of the season. They do have a nice little connection. We try to get Kyla to see the whole field, but she does love to pass to Tess.”

Sam Fish made 11 saves and Princeton got terrific defensive efforts from Nonie Andersen and Alex Argo to hold Dartmouth down after the Tigers took the lead late.

“My heart was definitely beating hard in the last minutes of the game,” said Haney. “The sense of belief we have in each other from start to finish of that whole game, and definitely in that stretch was amazing, and I have full confidence that that belief is what brought us the win. We had so many people step up. Sam Fish in the goal making save after save, to our defense making some unbelievable plays to get us the ball back, especially when we were having some trouble with the draw. We had many attackers scoring goals, getting the assist, making that next play that fueled us.”

The trio of Sears, D’Orsi, and Elizabeth George, who had a goal and an assist Saturday, garner a lot of attention on the attack end, but what makes Princeton even more dangerous is some of the strength they have beyond them. Hallett had two goals and an assist to log her 100th career point. And Haney had four points to match her career high set earlier this season against Penn State.

“I’m just so thankful to be on such a supportive team,” said Haney. “That’s what I love, that we have such unselfish play on the field. I attribute every time that I’m on the field getting points, I attribute that to my teammates. We’re always trying to make each other better. I’m so thankful I have such an awesome cast with me on the attacking end. It’s been such a blessing and honor to play alongside them and finish out my last year at Princeton on what we’re anticipating will be a high note.”

Haney, for her part, has seen an increase in production in each of her four years. She played in five games as a freshman, but did not score. She had seven points as a sophomore in a reserve role. She jumped to 17 points last year and this year ranks fifth on the team in points with 20 on nine goals and 11 assists. She was one of the bright spots in the loss to No. 2 Maryland with two goals and an assist.

“It’s been great to see Julia in the Maryland game and this game, in particular, she stepped up early for us,” said Sailer.

“She’s such a poised player and I think she’s having a great year. She’s a leader on the field and she knows what we need at any given time in the game. When she has the opportunities or sees an opening to cut inside or to take the drive, she’s composed and poised in front of the net and is able to get some nice finishes. We’re really pleased with her continued development as a senior. We have a lot of kids on the attack that get a lot of attention and focus and she’s one of the critical pieces of that unit that makes that unit work.”

Haney appreciates being a cog in the offensive machine, having filled her role well this year as the attack looks to become even more productive.

“Honestly, my main role on attack is being that behind cage feeder,” said Haney. “We have awesome players all over the attack – Kyla, Tess, and Elizabeth, who are powerful in so many ways. Being in the right place at the right time and if I’m flashing back to ball after I give a pass to the elbow or something and I’m able to catch and score, that’s great, but I love the opportunity to be behind cage, have my eyes up and see open cutters when they’re there and hit them. I think we’re really dynamic as a whole on attack, and that’s something I hope we can continue to showcase in upcoming games.”

Sailer was happy with the team’s development in its most recent games as the Tigers improved in their shooting and decision making.

“We were really smart how we moved the ball against their zone and we were really patient and waited for looks,” said Sailer. “We’ve become a much better team against the zone than we were when we played Brown a couple weeks ago.”

Princeton is ready for another stern test from Loyola on Wednesday. Beyond that, the remainder of the Ivy schedule begins with Harvard visiting Class of 1952 Stadium on Saturday before the Tigers finish the Ivies with three straight road games.

“That’s the beauty of the season, seeing the improvement you have through the course of the couple months that you’re on the field,” said Haney.

“There are lots of things we’re aware of that we can improve on. We’ve started to see some of those improvements take hold. Speaking from the attack end, something we’ve been focusing on and trying to get better at is realizing the value of possession, being smart with the ball, and trying to capitalize every time we’re down on our attacking end. But something that I love is we’re always ready and we’re always bringing the intensity to every game, so that’s something I’m never worried about not being there.”

The intensity and focus was there to the end last week when Princeton needed it to pull out a close road game, giving the Tigers momentum as they head into the Ivy stretch drive.

“When they made their run we were able to respond and ultimately pull out the game by scoring the last three goals,” said Sailer.

“That’s a huge testament to our resilience, toughness, and belief. I’m really proud of the team for the way they played against a really good Dartmouth team.”