The Tigers are no longer undefeated.
On Wednesday, March 23, No. 10 women’s lacrosse battled against No. 7 Loyola Maryland in a shootout, through pouring rain and muddy conditions. Princeton (6–1 overall, 1–0 Ivy League) and Loyola (8–0, 1–0 Patriot League) fought hard throughout, and in the end, the Tigers found themselves on the losing end of the 16–15 nail-biter at Loyola’s Ridley Athletic Complex. Both teams were undefeated coming into the game, but only Loyola maintained their spotless record.
The Tigers pulled into Baltimore looking for the rare opportunity to upset a team with a ranking higher than their own. Instead, they found pouring rain, 40-degree weather, and a Loyola team with no intentions of backing down on their home turf.
The game started with first-year midfielder Sophie Whiteway’s brilliant draw control and pass to sophomore midfielder Kari Buonanno. Buonanno quickly ripped a shot into the back of the net only 13 seconds into the game to give the Tigers an early, but brief, lead; the Greyhounds responded with four goals in a row within the next 12 minutes.
Loyola took a commanding 7–3 lead by the end of the first quarter, but veteran coach Chris Sailer and her Tigers are not a team to roll over and give up because of a measly four-point deficit. Senior attacker Kyla Sears’ second quarter hat trick led the Tigers to outscore Loyola 6–3 that period, cutting the deficit to one goal. Still, they could not tie up the Greyhounds after their hot start.
“We let them gain a lead early that we closed dramatically in the second quarter, but if we hadn't let them run in the first quarter the outcome of the game would have been different,” Whiteway told The Daily Princetonian.
Momentum shifted back to Loyola’s direction to start the second half with the Greyhounds ripping four straight goals past former Ivy League goalie of the year, senior Sam Fish. The Greyhounds’ scoring streak is a true testament to their skill offensively as they went up against not only Fish but some of the nation’s top defenders including senior defender Marge Donovan.
Once again, the Tigers clawed their way back into the game. Goals from Princeton attackers sophomore Grace Tauckus and junior Kate Mulham ended the third quarter with the Tigers down 14–11. To start the fourth, the Tigers made a huge defensive stand despite having three of their players sitting in the penalty box. With momentum on the Tigers’ side, first-year midfielder McKenzie Blake dove through the rain to score, and Whiteway notched her third goal of the game off of an assist from fellow first-year midfielder Nina Montes. With these goals, they closed the gap to 14–13.
That one goal proved insurmountable. The two teams traded goals in the remainder of the fourth, and with Donovan sidelined by a penalty and the Princeton defense down a key player, Loyola was able to hold the ball until the final buzzer, ending the game at 16–15.
Coming off of their first loss, the future is still extremely bright for this Princeton team, which has been dominating all year.
“Loyola is a great team that has been crushing every opponent they face, until us, proving we are right there with top 10 teams and can compete with anyone,” Whiteway said.
On Friday, March 25, the Tigers take on Columbia, hoping to bounce back with a win and regain some confidence against the Lions, who currently sit at the bottom of the Ivy League table.
Eric Fenno is a first-year and a contributor to the Sports and Prospect sections at the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.