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Women’s water polo earns sixth place in NCAA Tournament


Battling in a pool of the best teams in the nation, the women’s water polo team (31-5 overall, 9-1 Collegiate Water Polo Association) finished its season at Stanford, Calif. in the NCAA Championship Tournament. It went 1-2 in its time there, earning sixthplace in the tournament.


The Tigers opened up the weekend with a daunting task — taking down the hosts and reigning NCAA Champions the Stanford Cardinal (24-2, 6-0 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation). The Cardinal came out ready to go — it held Princeton scoreless in the first half and scored six goals. While the Tigers were able to get themselves on the board via goals from senior utilities Taylor Dunstan and Ashley Hatcher, it wouldn’t be enough to surmount the early deficit as the team would fall 7-2. Despite the loss, junior goalie Ashleigh Johnson turned in another stellar performance, making 18 saves in the game.

Knocked out of the running for the national championship, the Tigers entered their first consolation game against the University of Hawaii (19-10, 3-2 Mountain West Conference). It was the Tigers’ chance to get revenge, after falling to Hawaii 7-6 at the Aztec Invitational over spring break.

The game was tightly contested end-to-end: neither team would get ahead by more than two goals. Heading into the final period up 5-4, the Tigers pushed their lead back out to two via a breakaway by junior utility Pippa Temple. It was at this point where things got tense – Hawaii scored the next two goals in just over a two-minute span. With the game level, Hawaii got their next big chance with just under a minute to play, as a save by Johnson just prevented the Rainbow Warriors’ go-ahead goal.

The tide, however, turned soon after. Following the Johnson save, the ball found its way to senior utility Jessie Holechek. With just seconds to go in the game, Holechek buried the ball in the back of the net to put the Tigers up for good, giving them a 7-6 victory.

In the Tigers’ final battle of the weekend, facing the University of California – Irvine (21-9, 4-1 Big West Conference), Johnson would shine once again, setting a record for saves in the NCAA Tournament with 22. The game, like the previous one, was a neck-and-neck affair, neither team able to break away. The Tigers entered the fourthquarter with a 4-3 lead — an exchange of goals by UC-Irvine’s Mary Brooks and senior utility Ashley Hatcher pushed the score out to 5-4. UC-Irvine, however, would convert on a power play to bring the score level. Afterward, in a counterattack off of a Hatcher near miss, Brooks would put in the go-ahead goal to put the Anteaters up 6-5. The Tigers were unable to capitalize in their final offensive opportunities, and fell in their final game of the tournament.

The game marked the end of a career for six seniors on the team: Dunstan, Hatcher, Holecheck, attack Cece Coffey, utility Camille Hooks and left attack Kelly Gross. These players have gone to the NCAA Championships in three of their four years at Princeton and have helped the Tigers amass a record of 119-19 in that time span.