April 17, 2019

PU Women’s Lax Tops Harvard for 4th Straight Win; Star Defender Argo Enjoys Memorable Senior Day

GO TIME: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Alex Argo, middle, guards the crease in a game last year. Last Saturday, senior defender Argo picked up two ground balls and had two caused turnovers to help Princeton defeat Harvard 14-12 as the program held its annual Senior Day celebration. The 10th-ranked Tigers, now 9-3 overall and 3-1 Ivy League, head to Philadelphia on April 17 for a clash with No. 12 Penn (9-3 overall, 3-1 Ivy) and then play at Yale (6-6 overall, 1-4 Ivy) on April 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Alex Argo hasn’t scored a point in her four seasons on the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team, but she has established herself as a key performer for the Tigers.

Starting on defense from her freshman campaign in 2016, Argo has been a steadying presence on the Princeton back line, gobbling up ground balls, causing turnovers, and directing traffic.

Along the way she has developed some deep bonds with her six classmates on the squad, who have all emerged as valuable contributors in their own right.

Last Saturday, the team’s Class of 2019 was honored as the program held its annual Senior Day celebration as Princeton hosted Harvard in its home finale.

“I couldn’t be happier to end my time here with my class,” said Argo, reflecting on her emotions as she took the field along with fellow seniors Nonie Andersen, Allie Rogers, Kathryn Hallett, Izzy Mangan, Julia Haney, and Elizabeth George.

“It is so good that we are all either starting or playing a significant amount of time, that makes it so much more special. I couldn’t have better friends to play with. We alway have each other’s back. It is really emotional to end it here with my last game with my class.”

Although Harvard tried its best to spoil the party, Princeton pulled out a 14-12 win, improving to 9-3 overall and 3-1 Ivy League.

“We definitely made it closer than we would have liked, but we had some really big plays,” said Argo, a 5’7 native of Baltimore, Md., who ended up with two ground balls and two caused turnovers on the day.

“We were in the locker room at halftime and we were saying that we were playing well on both ends but we weren’t really putting the nail in the coffin. We weren’t playing a full 90 seconds on each side. We were falling asleep a little bit here or there but then we came out and really refocused. We came out really hard at both ends of the field and that really made the difference.”

The Tiger defensive unit has kept its focus most of the season, yielding a stingy 10.3 goals per game.

“The sophomores [Mary Murphy, Marge Donovan] are really big, anchoring the defense as much as me and Nonie are,” said Argo, a first-team All-Ivy selection last spring.

“Then we have [Sam] Fish in cage, who is just a brick wall and saves us so much in there. It might be a young unit overall, but it doesn’t feel like we are inexperienced.”

With Princeton posting its fourth win in a row with the triumph over the Crimson, Argo believes the team has learned to keep pushing all game long.

“What we figured out both defensively and offensively is that it is not going to be a perfect game ever,” said Argo.

“But we figured out how to be focused for an entire 60 minutes of a game. We have been a team of runs; we would go on a run and then we let up some defensively. We know how to play to the last whistle and that has made all of the difference.”

Princeton head coach Chris Sailer sees Argo as an unsung difference maker for the Tigers.

“Argo is just a tough competitor, you see her in there digging out ground balls, making big stops, and coming up with the ball on transition,” said Sailer of Argo, who has 97 ground balls and 62 caused turnovers in her career.

“She is one of the few kids who has really been a key factor for four years; she was a full-time player from day one. She is a great leader on the defense. She doesn’t get as much recognition or credit as she should. She does a lot with her communication and organization. She plays tough on good matchups; she has just been that stable leader back there for us.”

Sailer credited the squad’s senior class with providing leadership and competitive fire.

“It is quite a group, half of the kids on the field at any one time are seniors,” said Sailer.

“I think they have done a great job this year for us; you see their influence in every aspect of the game from offense to the draw, on midfield and defense. They are just tough and competitive kids who love playing the game. It is going to be tough losing them next year, but it was nice for them to get an important win over Harvard on Senior Day.”

In assessing the victory, Sailer saw toughness from the Tigers at both ends of the field.

“Nonie had some big draws and big defensive plays; Fish had some good stops,” said Sailer.

“We were getting some great looks on offense. We had a couple of series where you could not have scripted it any better but we just missed the cage. We were getting good looks; we just had to keep playing and know they were going to fall. The goal for us is to limit the unforced errors and I think we did a better job of that today.”

Having gone 4-0 so far in April, Princeton has done a good job of being resilient in crunch time.

“I am just happy about the way that we are coming together as a team,” said Sailer. “We have been tested in most all of those games and we have responded.”

The 10th-ranked Tigers face two tests this week as they play at No. 12 Penn (9-3 overall, 3-1 Ivy) on Wednesday evening and then head north to play at Yale (6-6 overall, 1-4 Ivy) on April 20.

“We have destiny on our own hands, we just learned that Dartmouth beat Penn; the game on Wednesday was hugely important regardless, now it is even more so,” said Sailer.

“We are both coming in with one loss and we have each other to play so that is going to be a battle at Franklin Field. This was a hard game in the heat, we have to recover from this and be ready to compete and then turn around and head up to Yale on Saturday. It is big week.”

Argo, for her part, is hoping for a big finish. “We have a big game coming up on Wednesday and we are ready to get back to work,” said Argo.

“A win is a win but we have a lot ahead of us and we are really excited for what it is coming ahead.”