Women's Water Polo: Princeton falls to No. 12 Indiana on first road trip
Princeton started its weekend by doubling up Wagner 16-8 and solidly defeating Marist 13-6. Sophomore utility Jessie Holechek and junior utility Katie Rigler each had four goals on the first day, and 12 different Tigers found the net in the first game. Senior attack Brittany Zwirner had six steals that day, and freshman goalie Ashleigh Johnson and freshman utility Pippa Temple, who made her first appearance in the cage, combined for 17 saves.
Johnson, who set the team record for saves in a game with 19 against No. 4 Cal earlier this month, had her work cut out for her on Sunday. In an impressive performance against Indiana, she blocked 16 of 20 shots, normally an excellent number.
“She never allows more than two goals a period, and that keeps the game under eight goals, which is pretty remarkable for a water polo match,” Rigler said of Johnson.
Johnson also recently became the first player in CWPA history to sweep the league’s divisional awards, being named Southern Division Player of the Week, Defensive Player of the Week and Rookie of the week.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Hoosiers’ defense ceded only two goals, one from sophomore utility Taylor Dunstan and one from Holechek on a power play. For the most part, Princeton was kept quiet by Indiana’s drop. In a drop, the perimeter is left open when the defense converges on the set near the net — water polo’s equivalent of a center in basketball — but it does not mean easy goals for the offense.
“In order to beat a drop, you need to be shooting well,” Rigler said. “I don’t think any player on our team was shooting well that day.”
Not to be outshone by the precocious Johnson, Indiana freshman goalie Jessica Gaudreault had 12 saves and allowed only two goals on 24 shots to sink the Tigers. Gaudreault kept Princeton off the board until the third quarter, and during that time the Hoosiers were able to get the ball past Johnson three times to ensure their victory. The final score of 4-2 was indicative of what a defensive struggle the game was.
Later in the day, it was Princeton who eked out a victory thanks to an outstanding defensive performance. Putting the loss to Indiana behind them, the Tigers rallied — or rather, prevented Hartwick from successfully rallying — to end the weekend with a 7-6 victory.
The Hawks allowed the Tigers to build an early lead with four goals in the first quarter and were down 6-3 by the half. They mustered three goals in the final two periods while stopping Princeton’s offensive onslaught, but the Tigers managed to add another score and Johnson, who finished the night with 12 saves, came through in a high-pressure situation and sealed the 7-6 win.
Overall, though they are disappointed by the loss to a team with a lower ranking, the Tigers believe that the Bucknell Invitational was a good learning experience.
“It was a good loss for us, just because it exposed what we need to work on,” Rigler said. “So we’re definitely confident.”
The Tigers have now lost to the only two ranked opponents they have faced. Their next ranked opponent will be U.C. Davis, currently ranked 14th, in California on March 16 in the Aztec Invitational. Last year’s trip to San Diego went well for the Tigers, as they defeated two ranked opponents and went 3-1, losing only to No. 8 San Diego State.
Princeton’s next match will be against Brown (2-6, 0-1) in DeNunzio Pool this Friday.
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