For most teams, a trip to California would be a trip across the country to train, compete, and bond with teammates, but for many on the women’s water polo team, it is also a trip home. With a schedule that affords them only six home games at DeNunzio Pool all season, the trip provides an additional opportunity for friends and family of 11 of the 15 women to see them play.
“We are luckily to get to stay with teammates’ families while we are in California,” junior Kelly Gross said of the visit home. “It’s really nice to be in a home instead of a hotel for the whole week and get some home-cooked meals, too. My mom even brought our new puppy to our tournament, which was definitely a highlight!”
The two-time reigning CWPA champion Tigers continued what has been a strong start to their season as they headed to the West Coast on an eight game trip that left them with a 21-1 mark and a six-game winning streak. The Tigers started off the week with a triple-overtime 14-13 win over No. 13 UC San Diego, but lost 10-6 the next day to No. 14 San Jose State, giving them their first loss of the season. However, they would win the remaining six games of the trip, including a decisive 9-3 victory over No. 8 Loyola Marymount during the second weekend.
Sophomore Ashleigh Johnson continued her dominant performance in goal, where she has earned five CWPA Southern Division Defensive Player of the Week honors this season, adding to the four she earned last season. Johnson has recorded a save percentage of .681, just slightly better than her .668 save percentage that earned her CWPA Southern Division Rookie of the Year and All-Southern First Team honors last season.
While Johnson anchored the defense from the net, senior Katie Rigler continued to dominate for the offense. Last season’s leading scorer for the Tigers earned Southern Division Player of the Week honors for the second time this season after an 11-goal, three-steal, and two-assist performance to open the trip. One of the 11 on the team who call California home, Rigler posted a pair of four-goal performances against No.13 UC San Diego and Cal Lutheran, including the game winner against San Diego, and a three-goal effort against No. 10 San Jose State.
“She is a dominant player on both offense and defense and she always steps up when we really need a goal,” Gross said. “We are very lucky to have her leadership on this team and she also knows how to get us pumped up for a game.”
The Tigers were ranked No. 8 in preseason polls following Princeton’s fifth-place finish at the 2013 NCAA Championship, but have since dropped to No. 10 in the rankings despite their impressive record.
“We won two really big games for our season [this week],” Rigler said. “So I think our confidence is where it needs to be going into the last month of our season.” The Tigers return from their trip to open CWPA Southern Division on Saturday against Mercyhurst and Bucknell.
Men’s and women’s fencing earned second place at the NCAA Championships March 20-23, and nine Tigers finished with All-America honors: Peter Pak ’17 (men’s saber); Michael Dudey ’16 (men’s foil); Jack Hudson ’16 (men’s epee); Gracie Stone ’16 and Diamond Wheeler ’14 (women’s saber); Ambika Singh ’15 and Sharon Gao ’15 (women’s foil); and Susannah Scanlan ’14 and Katharine Holmes ’15 (women’s epee).
The women’s basketball season ended with a loss to Seton Hall in the second round of the WNIT March 23. The Pirates’ Sidney Cook converted a three-point play with 10 seconds remaining, giving Seton Hall a 75-74 victory. Princeton finished the season 21-9 overall.
Women’s lacrosse has won three straight games, including an upset of No. 6 Virginia and two wins in California against USC and San Diego State. The Tigers resume Ivy League play at Columbia on Wednesday.
Jake Froccaro ’16’s school-record-tying 10 goals were not enough to get Princeton past Yale in men’s lacrosse on Saturday. The Bulldogs edged the Tigers 16-15, scoring the winning goal with 38 seconds left.