Women's Lacrosse: Ivy League Tournament hopes on the ropes after defeat at Harvard
Harvard (7-6 overall, 3-2 Ivy League) raced off to a three-goal lead at the beginning of the first period and later negated the effect of senior midfielder Cassie Pyle’s first goal by scoring again to put itself up 4-1. In a trice, however, the Tigers (6-6, 3-2) managed to tie it up. Pyle led the Princeton charge with a free-position shot to score her second goal of the game, setting the tone for a fighting first half that ended at six apiece.
Although the second period saw the Tigers pull even at 7-7 with about 20 minutes to play, offensive struggles led to a three-goal defeat. The visitors held the edge in draw controls at 5-1 after the break, but once Harvard captain Melanie Baskind gave the Crimson an 8-7 lead, the Tigers lost their ability to score, later missing three free-position shots in the span of less than five minutes.
“We just didn’t capitalize on the opportunities we had,” sophomore midfielder Sarah Lloyd said.
Pyle scored a team-high three goals, while freshman attacker Erin McMunn and junior attacker Jaci Gassaway added two goals and two assists, respectively. Midfielders Danielle Tetreault and Kyleigh Keating each contributed four points for the Crimson.
The Tigers had made the trip to New England on the back of a 15-9 loss against No. 4 Maryland on Wednesday. In that game, they found themselves fairly matched in terms of shots and draw controls, taking 27 shots to the Terps’ 30 and winning only one fewer draw control than their opponents. However, they lost the battle for ground balls 17-11, which certainly made the scoreboard look a little more lopsided than it should have been.
Princeton again fared well against Harvard in draw controls, but the visitors were comfortably surpassed in shots taken and ground balls collected. The Crimson took seven more shots than the Tigers and held a 14-9 edge on ground balls.
“On ground balls, I felt we were a step behind, or were in situations where one Princeton player would jostle for possession with two from Harvard,” Lloyd said.
Before the sequence of games against Maryland and Harvard, Princeton had gone five straight games while holding the edge in ground balls and had either won or been outscored by only one goal. These losses are the Tigers’ largest since a match against powerhouse Duke on March 3, and they perhaps offer a firm reminder that Princeton’s undoubted potential must be paired with scrappiness in order to gain possession from 50-50 situations.
The Tigers have left themselves with much to do, as their last two league games are against the two teams at the top of the standings: Dartmouth and Penn. Currently tied with Cornell and Harvard for third place and losing the head-to-head tiebreaker with both teams, the Tigers may need to win both games to ensure a place in the four-team Ivy League Tournament.
Harvard faces Dartmouth and bottom-placed Columbia, which has lost all six of its Ivy League matches thus far. Cornell only has games against similarly struggling Brown and Yale, who have only mustered wins against Columbia in the Ivy League season. Hence, Princeton likely needs two more wins to qualify for the postseason.
The Tigers host Dartmouth at 1952 Stadium this Saturday.
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