Women's Water Polo: Princeton wins Southern Championship for second straight year
As the tournament’s top seed, Princeton reached the final by dispatching fifth-seeded Bucknell and fourth-seeded George Washington on Saturday by scores of 13-4 and 16-2, respectively.
The Tigers played Bucknell last week and struggled in the first half, facing a 4-1 deficit after a quarter and a 5-5 tie going into halftime. This time, however, Princeton opened on a scoring tear, scoring seven goals in the first half to take a 7-1 advantage into the half.
Princeton opened even faster against George Washington, tallying six goals in the first quarter alone for what would prove to be an insurmountable lead. Ten Tigers scored in the victory, with leading scorer junior utility Katie Rigler and senior center Saranna Soroka netting three goals apiece.
As they have done all season, the Tigers’ defense spurred the championship victory by stymying Brown’s potent offense all game. Freshman goalie Ashleigh Johnson had two shutout quarters en route to collecting 13 saves and holding the Bears to nearly five goals below their season average of 8.7 goals per game.
For the tournament, Johnson recorded 44 saves, six assists and a steal. She also notched six shutout quarters, with two coming in each game, and looks to be in top form heading into the rest of postseason action.
Over the year, Johnson has started every game and allowed just over 5.3 goals per game while saving over 65 percent of the shots attempted on her. She also leads the team in steals and has contributed 13 assists.
Offensively, the Tigers were led by Rigler and Soroka, who both scored three times. Rigler finished the weekend with 10 goals in three tournament games; Princeton’s opponents managed a combined 10 goals in those games.
This season, Princeton has averaged over 11 goals per game and scored in double digits in 20 of its 28 games. Meanwhile, Johnson and the defense have surrendered over ten goals in only three games. Overall, the Tigers have outscored their opponents by an average of nearly six goals per game while they outscored their opponents by over 10 goals per game in the tournament.
The weekend’s wins moved Princeton’s overall record to 23-5 in advance of the CWPA Eastern Championship, which will take place in two weeks (April 26–28) in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Of the Tigers’ five losses this season, four have come at the hands of teams from California that will not compete in the Eastern regional. 15th-ranked Indiana is the only team that Princeton has lost to that will be competing in the Eastern Championship.
In last year’s Eastern Championship, Princeton snuck by Maryland 7-6 in the final to advance to the NCAA championship for the first time ever, where they lost to third-ranked USC and finished sixth in the tournament.
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