Last night, Stony Brook struck first. And then again. And again. And the run did not stop until the Seawolves had taken a 7–0 lead, burying the Tigers’ hopes of a comeback in the back of the net.
Coming off of a flu-ridden weekend with a few missed practices, the No. 11 Princeton women’s lacrosse team (6–2 overall, 1–0 Ivy League) hosted the No. 5 Stony Brook Seawolves (7–2, 1–0 America East) at Sherrerd Field last night, losing in a 16–8 blowout.
The Princeton defense started out strong, not allowing a goal for the first six minutes of play and continually halting Stony Brook’s explosive offense, but eventually the Seawolves’ firepower became too much for the Tigers. Stony Brook scored four goals in the first quarter of play and seven to start the second half. The Seawolves dashed by the Tigers in one-on-one matchups and worked the ball around to get open shots right in front of the goal. 11 of their shots were stopped by senior goalie Sam Fish, but the Seawolves’ 27 shots on goal were simply overwhelming.
Offensively, the Tigers came out of the gate looking just as cold as the freezing weather. They were unable to score in the first quarter, struggling to hold possession and take shots on goal. Stony Brook brought heavy pressure right from the get-go, quickly stifling the minimal offensive momentum Princeton managed to gather in the first quarter.
“We had some trouble winning the draws early on; they had a lot of pressure on us in transition early on,“ Head Coach Chris Sailer, in the 36th and final year of her illustrious career, told The Daily Princetonian. “There were just too many errors to win a game like that.”
With three minutes left in the first half, senior attacker Kyla Sears weaved through defenders and fought through contact, finally scoring the first goal for Princeton and her 25th of the season. Hope for a change in the game’s momentum hung in the air, but everyone knew a miracle would be needed to overcome Stony Brook’s 7–1 lead at the break.
That miracle did not come. In fact, everything seemed to be going Stony Brook’s way no matter how hard Princeton fought. Loose balls seemed to bounce to the Seawolves and, much to the chagrin of the very vocal Tigers’ fans, every call seemed to favor Stony Brook. At one point, senior defender and team captain Marge Donovan was taken to the ground, but yet Stony Brook was awarded possession, a decision that provoked the ire of those in attendance.
Donovan, however, did not let the game’s physicality stop her. She fought through some heavy contact to take over the draw controls in the second half, often taking the ball down the field herself before dishing it off to an attacker to start the offense. As the third quarter wound down, Donovan scooped the ball and carried it coast to coast between Seawolves defenders to score her second goal of the season.
Aside from Donovan’s goal, sophomore attacker Grace Tauckus gave life to the Tigers’ offense in the second half with a hat trick. Scores from Princeton midfielders in sophomore Kari Buonanno, first-year McKenzie Blake, and first-year Nina Montes complemented the second half offense and landed the Tigers with seven goals in the second half after only scoring one in the first.
Such a tough loss at home certainly hurts, but the Tigers are still a top level team. They were able to keep up with Stony Brook in the second half, which is no small feat against the nation’s fifth best team. They have the potential and the skill to hang with some of the nation’s best teams, with their only two losses coming from teams in the top ten.
After the game, Donovan commented on the loss and the team’s goals for the next game:
“We can get a little bit too hyper-focused on trying to make things happen, but we’ve just got to take a deep breath and focus and play our game — do the things we know we can do right,” she said.
The Tigers take on the Brown Bears (5–3, 2–0) in their next game on Saturday in Providence, hoping to come home with a win after suffering their first two losses this week. Though no more top ten teams, there are a lot of Ivy League rivals who remain on their schedule, so the Tigers have the chance to finish out the season with a few conference wins before the NCAA playoffs start in May.
Eric Fenno is a contributor to the Sports and Prospect sections at the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.