Former Princeton women’s lacrosse defender Marge Donovan ’22 isn’t done just yet.
This past break-out season with the Tigers, Donovan earned All-American honors from the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA), a slate of Ivy League awards, and led the team to the NCAA tournament as one of the 2022 captains.
On July 28, No. 3 Maryland women’s lacrosse announced that Donovan would use her year of graduate eligibility to join the Terps roster. Donovan is the second women’s sport athlete to commit to Maryland, joining women’s basketball guard Abby Meyers in College Park. The move is also a homecoming for Donovan, who played high school lacrosse in Catonsville, Md.
Donovan’s five-year stint with the Tigers was one for the history books. She joined the Princeton squad in 2017 as a part of the second-best recruiting class in the country that year after wrapping up an undefeated 86–0 high school career. Snagging an All-Ivy Honorable Mention in her rookie year, Donovan quickly became a cornerstone of Princeton women’s lacrosse. Donovan currently holds the Princeton all-time draw controls (DC) record for a career (214), a single-season (112), and a single-game (12). Donovan is also eighth all-time in career caused turnovers (CT).
"That individual milestone is definitely a reflection of all the intentional, hard work that the team and coaches put into draw work," Donovan wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian. "I take a lot of pride in that accomplishment because it reflects the passion and joy I play with on the field."
The accolades Donovan has accumulated are extensive: three All-Ivy selections, 2022 Ivy Defender of the Year, a 2022 IWLCA All-American third-team selection, and the 2022 Ivy Tournament's Most Outstanding Player, to name a few. In last year's perfect 7–0 Ivy League regular season, Donovan’s 1.68 caused turnovers (CT) per game was first in the League, while her 5.89 draw controls (DC) per game was second in the league. In Princeton’s 15–9 win over UMass Amherst, which sent them to the second round of the NCAA tournament, Donovan led Princeton's defenders with six DC and two CT.
But, beyond the awards, it's the Princeton community Donovan says she'll miss most. "My teammates and the team's alumni are my best friends and role models," she wrote. "It was a privilege to play under Coach Sailer, and her legacy will always live on in that program."
Sailer, who coached the Tigers for 36 years, announced her retirement earlier this year.
Donovan’s excellence has already extended beyond the Orange Bubble. Donovan was the only Ivy League player to be invited to tryout for Team USA ahead of the 2021 World Championships, and most recently won silver at the 2022 World Games.
Donovan enters a Maryland program well-known for its defensive players. Every year since joining the Big Ten conference in 2015, the Terps have secured a Defender of the Year award and make frequent appearances in the National Defender of the Year race.
“[Donovan] is an incredible defender that we have admired for years while watching and facing her at Princeton,” said Maryland head coach Cathy Reese in Donovan’s commitment announcement. “We know she will fit in seamlessly on our defense and help us accomplish big things next season.”
For Donovan, who's spent the last five seasons with the Tigers, the prospect of change brings excitement and motivation. "I'm most looking forward to the adventure and challenge of being on a new team at a new school," Donovan wrote. "I look forward to being the best version of myself, to be the best teammate and most effective player I can be to help the team win."
As for Donovan's future in the sport, she's remained focused on the present. "I try to stay in the moment and take things as they come," Donovan told the ‘Prince.’ However, she also noted her future dreams of playing professionally, citing Athletes Unlimited (AU) as an inspiration.
Currently in the midst of its third season, AU features weekly rotating rosters, as well as opportunities for players to win as individuals and as part of a team. "[AU] is an incredible league with unbelievable talent," Donovan wrote. "I'm very excited for the future of AU and the future of the sport in general."
Ambitious goals and big roles to fill will await Donovan when she joins the Terps, who have won five NCAA championships in the last twelve seasons, most recently in 2019. Maryland will have their eyes on getting back to the finals in 2023, and Donovan will play a significant role in helping the Terps reprise their championship success.
Isabel Rodrigues is a contributor to the Sports section at the ‘Prince’ who typically covers women’s basketball. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @IsabelBarroso78.