The women’s lacrosse team has had its share of highs and lows in recent seasons. But the Tigers certainly do not back down from pressure – in several must-win situations over the last three years, Princeton has played its best games.
Entering the final game of the 2010 regular season, the Tigers had lost three straight games by a combined 16 goals, but they beat Dartmouth – which was ranked in the top 10 nationally – in overtime to qualify for the inaugural Ivy League Tournament. Last season, Princeton toppled Penn in Philadelphia before beating Harvard to win the conference tournament, snatching the automatic bid for NCAAs; the Tigers then extended their season once more with an 11-10 victory over James Madison in the first round.
And on Saturday, when a loss would have knocked Princeton out of postseason contention, the Tigers handed No. 8 Dartmouth its first Ivy League loss of the season with a 12-9 victory at Class of 1952 Stadium.
“We knew we had to win this game … but the one thing we didn’t want to do was to come in thinking that we had to win and focusing on the negative aspects of it,” said midfielder Cassie Pyle ’12, who scored four goals. “We wanted to think of how big an opportunity it was for us. I think that mindset was really what kept us so calm throughout the game.”
Just as they had two years ago, the Tigers fell behind Dartmouth early on, allowing three goals in the first six minutes to go down 3-1. But Pyle struck twice in a 40-second span to tie the score, and after attacker Erin McMunn ’15 scored consecutive goals to give Princeton a 7-5 advantage heading into halftime, Princeton never conceded the lead.
After a slow start, goalkeeper Annie Woehling ’15 played one of the best games of her young career. Woehling made nine saves, including three close-range stops in a two-minute stretch that led directly to McMunn’s second goal.
“She made some huge saves, she made the low-angle saves that we needed, and I think everyone just fed off of her play,” defender Lindsey deButts ’12 said.
The Tigers conclude their Ivy League campaign by hosting Penn on Wednesday. Though the Quakers have won five straight conference titles – and will be playing for a share of a sixth – Princeton has had their number lately, winning the last two meetings on the road. And, in what may be good news, Wednesday marks another must-win game: The Tigers are likely to qualify for the Ivy League Tournament with a victory (and could force a five-way tie for first place if other results break the right way), but a defeat would end their postseason hopes.
“We won one [must-win game] today, and we certainly have another coming up on Wednesday night,” head coach Chris Sailer said. “But if we can play like we played today, I like our chances there. I think we just gained a ton of confidence.”
After losing to Harvard in each of the last two seasons, MEN’S LACROSSE tasted some revenge on Saturday, dropping the Crimson 12-5 on the road. More surprisingly, third-ranked Cornell lost to Brown, ensuring Princeton at least a share of the Ivy League championship (the University’s ninth conference title in 2011-12). Saturday’s Princeton-Cornell tilt at Class of 1952 Stadium will still determine home-field advantage for the Ivy League Tournament, and the Tigers may still need to beat the Big Red – either this week or in the conference playoffs – to ensure a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
MEN’S VOLLEYBALL fell behind in each of its must-win matches last week, but Princeton came back to beat NJIT and George Mason in five sets, punching a ticket to the four-team EIVA playoffs. The Tigers will be major underdogs in Thursday’s semifinal at Penn State, but they have won six straight and came within one point of upsetting the No. 7 Nittany Lions a month ago.
WOMEN’S TENNIS beat Columbia and edged Cornell to secure second place in the Ivy League with a 5-2 record. MEN’S TENNIS lost its last four matches after a 3-0 start, but it wasn’t the fault of Matija Pecotic ’13, who went 7-0 at the No. 1 position in singles play without losing a single set and should earn Ivy Player of the Year honors for a second straight season.
After winning only one of four games this weekend, BASEBALL must sweep a four-game set against Cornell next week to return to the Ivy League Championship Series. SOFTBALL also still has a shot at the postseason after going 2-2 against Columbia, but its math is tougher – not only do the Tigers have to win four games at Cornell, they also have to hope Penn loses at least three of its last four.