The Princeton women’s lacrosse team, ranked No.14 in this week’s Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Poll, has already experienced a season’s worth of highs and lows, though they’re just three games into their schedule.
The women’s lacrosse team has been one of Princeton’s most consistently competitive squads in recent memory. Much of that can be owed to head coach Chris Sailer, a 2008 inductee to the U.S. Lacrosse National Hall of Fame. Sailer, who is now in her 33rd year at the helm of the program, has won three national titles at Princeton in 1994, 2002, and 2003.
On Feb. 16, Sailer became the first Division I head coach, male or female, to record 400 wins at one school. The Tigers defeated Temple University in their home opener to help their coach reach that milestone.
Princeton dominated their opponent from Philadelphia, winning 16–7. Junior attacker Tess D’Orsi led the way, scoring six goals, and senior midfielder Kathryn Hallett added four. Senior attacker Elizabeth George, an All-America honoree and Ivy League Tournament MVP last season, recorded two goals and two assists to reach 100 career points.
"It's fun to get it in the first game of my senior year, and it's really special to get there as part of my coach's 400th win," George said. "It's so cool to be part of that and to play for a legend. As soon as you sit down with her on a recruiting trip, you see what kind of a person she is. She cares so much about us as students and as people and not just as athletes. We are very excited that she got to 400."
But the day belonged to Sailer. "This is a place I truly love," Sailer said after the game. "This team has been my family and my baby. I've had amazing student-athletes and coaches here. It's been a lot of hard work, a lot of great players, a lot of big wins. I'm really happy to get it with this group. This is a very fun team."
This team has already faced some challenges, though. The Tigers dropped their second game of the year at then-No. 12 Virginia this past Saturday. Virginia led 3–0 after the first five minutes, then snapped a 9–9 tie and scored the final five goals over the last nine minutes of play.
"We want to challenge ourselves and play the best teams, and Virginia is certainly one of them," said Sailer. "We learned a lot about ourselves today. We don't have a lot of time to dwell on this one, with Penn State coming up Wednesday. It's all part of the process of becoming the team we want to be as the season goes on."
The Tigers took on No. 8 Penn State last night at home. Last year, the Tigers came back from five goals down to earn an exciting 13–12 victory in State College. George and sophomore attacker Kyla Sears each scored three goals and sophomore goalie Sam Fish made eleven saves in the effort.
This year, Princeton earned a resounding 21–10 victory, breaking the previous record for goals scored in the teams’ series. Both George and D’Orsi recorded five goals and an assist.
This isn’t the only big game left on the Tigers’ schedule, however. There will be meetings with No. 11 Florida, No. 10 Stony Brook, and No. 2 Maryland. The team will travel to take on the Florida Gators in Gainesville over spring break before getting into the meat of the Ivy League schedule in April. Princeton was picked to repeat as Ivy League Champions, but the team cannot overlook the University of Pennsylvania. The Quakers are currently ranked No. 12.
In order to rack up wins, Princeton will aim to maintain its momentum from last season. The team is coming off its fifth straight — and 14th overall — league title and its 26th NCAA Tournament appearance.
In addition, four Tigers garnered preseason All-America honors in Inside Lacrosse Magazine’s 2019 Face-Off Yearbook issue. Sears was named to the third team, while George, D’Orsi, and and Fish were listed as honorable mentions.
The season has just begun, and the outlook for these Tigers is bright.