PU Grad Hompe Came Through With Dramatic OT Goal As England Took Bronze at Women’s Lacrosse Worlds
HOMPE DAY: Former Princeton University women’s lacrosse star Olivia Hompe ’17 celebrates after scoring the winning goal to give England an 8-7 victory over Australia in triple overtime of the bronze medal game at the Women’s World Championship earlier this month. Hompe, who ripped a free position shot on the winning tally, scored 29 points on 21 goals and eight assists in the tournament. It was the second bronze for Hompe at the Worlds as she helped England take third in the 2017 tourney. (Photo by England Lacrosse, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)
By Justin Feil
Olivia Hompe will take some time to finalize her future, but she may have played her last lacrosse game.
If so, the 2017 Princeton University graduate did so memorably. Star attacker Hompe ripped a free position shot to give England an 8-7 win over Australia in triple overtime of the bronze medal game at the Women’s World Championship on July 10.
“It would be a great way to go out even having fallen short of silver,” said Hompe, a native of New Canaan, Conn., who holds a British passport because her mother is a citizen of England.
“I’m really proud of the team and how we rallied in that game and persevered throughout the whole tournament and through a mix of adversity. I think we really rose to the occasion on the final day. It would be a pretty great last shot in my career.”
Hompe finished with four goals and an assist in England’s third-place game. Hompe was among the championship’s leading scorers with 29 points on 21 goals and eight assists in eight games. She, Aurora Cordingley and goalie Brittany Read were the lone members of England to be named to the All-World Team. Hompe also played for England when it won bronze in 2017, but this year’s version was a much improved group that gave Canada an 11-9 challenge in the championship semifinals. It was a sign of the team’s growth in five years.
“Our talent definitely rose,” said Hompe. “Our defense throughout the entire World Cup was just phenomenal, and our goalie, obviously MVP of the bronze medal game with 13 saves, played amazing. We really have narrowed the gap with Canada. Our semifinal game — 11-9 — was one of the closest games of the tournament other than the bronze medal game. I think even though it’s disappointing not to come up with silver, we still walked away with a medal and a big win and ended on a high note. For us being in that top bracket now — when people talk about the U.S. and Canada, England is also in that top tier of teams vying for gold and silver.”
Plenty has changed for Hompe since 2017. After completing her schooling at Princeton, she went to work for the U.S. Department of Defense in Washington, D.C. She also volunteers as an assistant coach for the Potomac School girls’ lacrosse team since playing experiences are harder to find.
“That helped me stay around it,” said Hompe. “In the past five years, I’ve done a lot more coaching. I’ve tried to still play as much as I could. But coaching helps as far as leading the attack and explaining things. A lot of the players who grew up in the British system don’t always speak the exact same lacrosse language, and we want to get everyone on the same page and make sure everyone understands how we want to run the plays and the timing. Having more exposure to coaching better prepared me to take on a leadership role in the attack. It’s definitely tough having stepped away in large part from lacrosse compared to in 2017.”
Hompe felt coming out of college in 2017 was a big advantage to being physically ready to compete in the world competition that year. With that prior World Championship experience, Hompe understood better the mental side of the intense tournament challenges, and the years between allowed her to connect more with teammates.
“I feel like I was pretty much thrown into the last one coming off a college season,” said Hompe. “I had played with the girls for like a year at that point. Now I’m really close with a lot of girls on the team. My relationships with other girls, it really felt like that final game we wanted to win it for each other and we came out firing and working together.”
Although she is one of England’s most talented players, Hompe had to work her way back into playing condition for this year’s World Championships. She had a torn labrum repaired in April 2021, and a bone spur on her femur shaved down. Rehabbing after those surgeries presented an additional challenge in her return to world-class level, but she credited her surgeon, physical therapist, and England’s medical team for helping her show up ready to go.
“I felt my age a bit more and felt I had personally worked and put a lot into being ready for this World Cup,” said Hompe, 27. “In the last one, I was lucky enough to be coming off four years of college lacrosse and training, conditioning, running, lifting. It was all built in for me. For this one, it was much more of me, disciplining myself and getting in my rehab and training and my body and stick to where I could compete again. I think that was a personal point of pride for me that I was able to get my body where it needed to be to run around with the fastest girls in the world.”
Over and over, Hompe proved her abilities, including a highlight goal in England’s quarterfinals win over Israel. She was cutting to her left with her back to the goal when she took a feed in midair, turned and flicked it into the top corner of the cage while still floating in the air.
“Thank god it went in,” said Hompe. “It was a great feed from one our defenders who had sprinted the ball down the field past everyone. As a cutter, you have to credit the feeders. I played with amazing feeders in college. I was very lucky. When I was young, Erin Slifer and Erin McMunn were two years above me, then my junior year and senior year, I had Colby Chanenchuk. Playing with players that keep their eyes up is so important in lacrosse. That’s what makes those beautiful goals happen is having the people that are willing to loft that ball up.”
After defeating Israel 13-5, England fell to Canada in the semifinals. The 11-9 loss was a closer contest than their 13-8 defeat in pool play earlier in the tournament. The squad defeated Australia for the second time in the tournament for the bronze medal, similarly to beating them for the bronze in double overtime in 2017 in another tense game.
“It was tough initially,” said Hompe. “We really wanted to strive to get in that gold medal match. I think losing in the semifinals to Canada definitely took the wind out of our sails and it took a full day for us to recover and refocus on getting the bronze. The Australians really showed up. They played really hard. We had to fight tooth and nail into triple overtime to win it. It was definitely one of the more dramatic endings I’ve played in a sports game. It was a great way for the team to go out.”
The dramatic ending closed a five-year stretch of ups and downs for Hompe. She dealt with travel restrictions that made it difficult for her to join her teammates at times in England for preparation, and then her surgeries set back her training. But she was determined to bring her experience to the team.
“It’s pretty unique to play the volume that they play in the World Cup,” said Hompe. “Being ready for the pace and trying to learn from all the games as you go, and learn from the opponents without getting too wrapped up around the axle about one game because there are a lot of games, a lot of time, a lot of opportunities. Just not being afraid to make mistakes and trying to learn and get better every game.”
Hompe had plenty of support from her former Princeton team. Now retired Princeton head coach Chris Sailer texted Hompe encouragement regularly through the tournament and attended one game. Hompe missed Sailer’s send-off ceremony in the spring, but could not be more appreciative of how much Princeton and Sailer helped her develop.
“The more time I spend in and around the sport now, it makes me really grateful for her as a coach,” said Hompe, who scored 285 points in her Princeton career on 198 goals and 87 assists, getting named as the Ivy League Attacker of the Year as a senior and earning first-team All-American honors.
“I think she was such a phenomenal coach and I don’t think I realized it because I was so immersed in the Chris Sailer Universe. You have to go away to realize what a fantastic job she did, even with little things and setting culture and leading the team in such a fantastic way. Princeton will sorely miss her, but I’m excited for Jenn (Cook) to take the helm and I’m sure the program will continue being just great.”
Hompe will be considering her own lacrosse future over the next weeks and months. After getting herself in condition to perform at an All-World Team level, she has to decide if she will remain in the mix for Team England as they look ahead to the 2025 World Championships. Hompe could still coach, but playing is a tougher choice.
“Sports has been such a huge part of life since
I was a little,” said Hompe. “That’s something my parents passed on to us. Both my mom and my dad loved sports, grew up playing sports, and that’s something they passed along to me and all my siblings. It’s hard to imagine letting go of it. There are also a lot of other experiences in life that I would enjoy doing. That includes work, travel, all sorts of opportunities that have maybe taken a back seat while I’ve gotten to run around playing at this level, which has been an incredible experience. I have to think hard about what I want these next couple years to look like.”