The regular season has come and gone, and the postseason starts now.
On Friday at 7 p.m., the women’s lacrosse team (12-3 overall, 7-0 Ivy League) will play its first match of the Ivy League tournament, taking on the Harvard Crimson (8-7, 4-3). As the league champions of the regular season, the Tigers will host all of the matches of the tournament. The other match on Friday will be between the University of Pennsylvania Quakers (12-3, 6-1) and the Cornell Big Red (9-6, 4-3).
Despite being regular season champions, the Tigers come into this weekend with more to prove. The 9-6 loss to Penn last year cost them the first place spot in the tournament. Now, the Tigers have a chance to avenge themselves for what could be some of these players’ last games on Tiger turf.
Princeton looks to continue the high-scoring offense that has been one of the cornerstones of its success. Led by senior midfielder Erin Slifer, senior attack Erin McMunn and sophomore attack Olivia Hompe, the Tigers have become the second highest scoring offense in the Ivy League, putting in 11.4 goals per game.
While the statistics may seem to indicate that defense has been an issue, the Tigers have found themselves improving on that end as the regular season concluded. They gave up 8.25 goals per game in the first four Ivy League contests but brought that average down to just 7 goals per game in the final three games of league play.
Junior defender Maddy Lynch pointed to improvement in transition defense as one of the keys to the Tigers’ recent success.
“Defensively, we have really improved our transition game, and it’s great to see. As a unit we’ve gotten much better at utilizing the speed we have.” Lynch said. “As a team, we have grown to celebrate all the little things that go our way in a game.”
As for areas of focus on the defensive end, sophomore goalie Ellie DeGarmo discussed the importance of communication for Princeton defenders, through both the Ivy and NCAA Tournaments.
“[Communication] is probably the biggest focus that we’ve had.” DeGarmo said. “We’ve been able to get away with not talking as loudly throughout the season because we’ve been so strong, but as the competition gets higher and higher communication is going to be huge. “
Another focus for the Tigers, on both the offensive and defensive end, is the ability to deal with long possessions. Particularly evident in the second half of the Brown game was the Princeton team’s ability to get moving in transition, as it had multiple instances of fast down-field movement to convert quick goals.
As the competition becomes steeper, however, the Tigers might have to deal with slower paced games. For the defense in particular, this means knowing how to be continuously disruptive, and break up the pace of the opposing offense.
“[We want to] not necessarily check them, but stress them out a little bit, make them fumble it.” DeGarmo said. “[We do] anything we can do to create chaos.”
DeGarmo’s comments indicate the mentality the team has going into the weekend — the strong results of the past have to be left behind if they want to come out on top.
Lynch herself noted that while the successes of the regular season may have built the team's confidence, winning in the postseason requires a solely forward-looking mentality.
“What we have already done is great, but it means little and less up against new opponents.” Lynch said. “We treated each Ivy game this season like its own championship, and we’re going to approach each new post-season game with a similar mindset.”
DeGarmo spoke similarly about the intensity of the postseason.
“Anything can happen on any given day.” DeGarmo said. “You can’t go in with any given complacency ... we have to go in like we’re hunting for the game.”