On Wednesday, March 1, No. 15 Princeton women’s lacrosse (2–1 overall, 0–0 Ivy League) defeated No. 14 Rutgers (3–2, 0–0 Big 10) in their final game before beginning conference play.
Despite it being a close game at halftime, the Tigers dominated the second half and won 18–12. Junior midfielder Kari Bunnano and first-year attacker Jami MacDonald were key players for the Tigers. Bunnano put up four goals and four assists, while MacDonald added six goals and one assist.
“Our team culture is player-driven,” newly hired head coach Jenn Cook told The Daily Princetonian after the game.
Despite Rutgers scoring first in the game, MacDonald scored the first goal for the Tigers and her fourth of the season five minutes in. The Tigers came into the first period strong with two consecutive goals by junior attacker Grace Tauckus and junior attacker Ellie Mueller. Both came on assists from Buonanno.
Up 3–1, Princeton was still eager to score. Rutgers scored once after calling a timeout, but the Tigers quickly reciprocated off of a turnover that allowed MacDonald to score her second goal of the game, bringing the score to 4–2. Rutgers scored again with two minutes remaining — however, a successful free position shot for Buonanno allowed the Tigers to end the first quarter with a 5–3 lead.
Coming into the second quarter, Rutgers opened the scoring five minutes in with a free position shot. The Tigers were quick to follow with back-to-back goals from MacDonald and Buonanno, setting up a three-point lead for Princeton. Rutgers scored again, closing the gap. However, a goal by senior attacker Kate Mulham kept Princeton up by three.
The final five minutes of the second period were dominated by Rutgers who scored three times, killing Princeton’s three-goal lead to tie the game at 8–8.
Princeton fought hard to regain their lead, scoring four consecutive goals in the third quarter and setting them ahead 12–8. With a man-up, sophomore attacker McKenzie Blake kicked off Princeton’s run with her first goal of the game. Then, MacDonald and Buonanno went back to doing what they do best — scoring goals. MacDonald, then Buonanno, and MacDonald once again found the net to give the Tigers a significant five-goal lead.
This lead was short-lived. Rutgers scored three times in the last three minutes, making for a 12–11 Princeton lead headed into the final quarter.
Much like the previous quarters, Princeton opened the fourth with a string of five goals. First came a quick goal by Mueller, assisted by Buonanno who ran the ball off a turnover caused by sophomore midfielder Sophie Whiteway.
Two minutes later, Whiteway scored her own goal, bringing the Tigers up 14–11. In the following eight minutes, three more goals followed, two from Blake and another from MacDonald. Princeton capped off the game with a fourth goal from Buonanno. By the final whistle, the score stood at 18–12, Princeton.
“The goal we have been emphasizing with the team this year has really been focusing on getting better every day, having confidence in our play, and being in the moment,” Cook told the ‘Prince.’
“We view our games as an exciting opportunity to show the hard work all of us have put in and the growth our team will have from game to game,” Cook added. “Emotionally, our team and coaches want to be in a neutral mindset. It allows us to be in the moment and problem solve anything that might come our way. We believe in our team and what we can bring on game day.”
The Tigers will head to New Haven to take on their first Ivy League opponents of the season, a game against Yale (2–1, 0–0) on Saturday, March 4.
Cate Lee is a contributor to the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’
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