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Women's lacrosse grinds out come-from-behind win against Cornell

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The Princeton women’s lacrosse team continues to storm through Ivy League play. This Saturday, it defeated the Cornell Big Red on the road to remain perfect in league play.

The Tigers (9-3 overall, 4-0 Ivy League) have had an offense that has been firing on all cylinders as of late. They put up 11.33 goals per game, good for second in the Ivy League. This would be particularly important as they faced a Cornell team sporting perhaps the league’s best offense. The Big Red (8-4, 3-2) stands at the top of the league in goals per game with 14.5. It also boasts one of the league’s best shots on goal percentages, at 78.0 percent.


The first half of the game was a tightly contested affair. Though Princeton held a one-goal lead early on, neither team was able to break away for the first 20 minutes. Princeton threatened to distance itself by going up 5-3 after a goal by senior Erin Slifer, but the home team managed to storm back. Cornell would end the half on a 3-0 run to go up 6-5 by the half.

The tide was firmly in Cornell’s favor. The Big Red would score the first two goals of the second half, and at this point was poised to make the game its own. A win against the Tigers would push the Big Red into second place in the conference, nipping at the heels of Penn, which is first in the Ivy League.

The Tigers, however, felt the intensity of the game and the need to pull out this victory.

“Everybody felt that [intensity] and we were fueled by it and pumped for it,” senior attack Erin McMunn said in an interview. “We’ve focused, for every game this Ivy season, on treating every single game as a championship game.”

The Tigers looked in championship form as they responded to those early Cornell goals. They scored five straight goals after that to put themselves on top of Cornell, 10-8.

Perhaps just as impressive as the run itself is the distribution of scoring Princeton had. Four different Tigers — freshman midfielder Abby Finkelstein, senior midfielder Erin Slifer, junior attack Stephanie Paloscio and junior midfielder Anya Gersoff — can take credit for those goals.


When reached for comment, Slifer emphasized how important this variety of scoring was to the Tigers’ play as they entered the most crucial part of the season: “[We focus on] executing one-on-one offensively, working together as a unit and using all of our offensive threats.”

McMunn reiterated those same points: “Game in, game out, we’re having six, seven different kids scoring, not just one goal, but two or three goals. That’s been huge for us.”

While Cornell would halt the run and bring the score to 10-9, Princeton would close out the game by relying on both Slifer and sophomore midfielder Anna Doherty to, between them, score Princeton’s last three goals.

“We were down against a really good opponent, a really strong Ivy opponent, and it was an important game where we had to respond,” McMunn said. “And we did.”

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McMunn again pointed to the team’s sense of urgency as critical for pulling out that come-from-behind win.

“Knowing how important that game was really sparked that comeback at the beginning of the second half,” McMunn said enthusiastically. “I was so proud of the way we responded.”

Ultimately, McMunn pointed out, it came down to how the Tigers performed in the minutiae, and how badly they really wanted to win that game.

“We knew we weren’t playing well on the draws, so we got really pumped to scrap on the draws.” McMunn explained “I know the biggest thing for us was [that] we started winning the draw control. That gave us the energy, that gave us the possessions, that gave us everything we needed.”

Slifer would highlight the same thing as key to the Tigers’ future success as well: “[It’s about] draws … if you win the draws, you win the game.”

With Cornell behind them, Princeton prepares for rival Penn

The Tigers’ win in Ithaca certainly carried some gravitas. By defeating the Big Red, they remain atop the Ivy League standings, along with nearby rival, the University of Pennsylvania. These teams are certainly no strangers — Penn defeated Princeton 9-6 in last year’s Ivy League championship tournament.

The opportunity for revenge has finally come. This Wednesday will be the first time these two teams have met since their championship matchup. This match shouldn’t be lacking for points; as with Princeton and Cornell, Penn relies heavily on their offensive play, scoring 10.83 goals per game, the third-most in the league, and puts up the second-best shots-on-goal percentage.

Both McMunn and Slifer stated that the team was totally aware of the significance this game had for the Tigers.

“Penn is the biggest game of the year,” Slifer stated, “We’re going into this week and focus[ing] on beating Penn and winning the league.”

McMunn points out that the pressure in the game against Cornell was a perfect setup for dealing with a powerhouse like Penn.

“In terms of preparation for the Penn, [the Cornell comeback] was the best spot we could have been in this weekend,” McMunn stated. “The team is just so excited. We’ve been thinking about this game all season, all Ivy season, all year. We’re just so excited for the chance to get back out there.”

With the regular season wrapping up, McMunn hopes that the intensity that the team exhibited against Cornell and that they exude now as they prepare for Penn will last through the postseason.

“Regardless of what happens, we have to bring the same focus and respect to every single team,” McMunn said.