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Women’s lacrosse loses a close season opener against No. 16 Virginia

Women in black and orange yelling in celebration after a goal.
Senior attacker Grace Tauckus celebrates after a goal against Virginia.
Photo courtesy of Brian McWalters/

In their first game of the 2024 season, the Princeton women’s lacrosse team (0–1 overall, 0–0 Ivy League) fell 14–12 to No. 16 University of Virginia (3–0, 0–0 Atlantic Coast Conference) in a matchup that featured heavy offensive fireworks and standout defensive capabilities from both teams. Despite the loss, the Tigers had eight goal scorers, paced with four tallies by senior attacker Grace Tauckus.

Off the opening draw, the Tigers began the game with possession and controlled the ball for the first three minutes. However, the Tigers' attackers were unable to break through the Cavaliers’ defense, and Virginia midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg opened the scoring on the Cavaliers’ first offensive possession soon thereafter. Two minutes later, midfielder Kiki Shaw scored again for Virginia, creating a 2–0 deficit for Princeton.


The Tigers scored their first goal of the season on their next offensive possession. Sophomore attacker Haven Dora found the back of the net after cutting right and splitting two defenders, before shooting the ball across her body to beat Virginia goalkeeper Mel Josephson.

The two teams went back and forth in scoring as the first quarter went on. A goal by Virginia midfielder Kate Galica was countered by Princeton sophomore attacker Jami MacDonald, who scored her first goal of the season.

Princeton entered the second quarter only trailing 4–2, but this soon spiraled into a four-point deficit after two quick goals from Virginia in the first three minutes of the quarter. Although Princeton did a good job controlling the draw battle, Virginia’s defense continually disrupted their movements, forcing multiple turnovers and preventing Princeton attackers from reaching the offensive third. 

The Tigers were not to be left out of the scoring outburst, however. With twelve minutes left in the second quarter, senior midfielder Samantha DeVito scored her first goal of the season off a pass from MacDonald, falling forward into a defender as she propelled the ball towards the goal. DeVito’s goal signaled a sudden momentum shift, sparking a scoring run for the Tigers and additional goals by first-year attacker Meg Morrisroe and Tauckus. However, after a late goal by Virginia attacker Katia Carnevale, Princeton trailed 8–5 going into the locker room at the half.

Starting the third quarter, Virginia dominated the scoring with three goals by attackers Jenna Dinardo, Madison Alaimo, and Mackenzie Hoeg. The Cavaliers’ attack looked too lethal for the Tigers’ defense, as Virginia executed passes and shots to perfection. 


The Tigers refused to go away, however, as Tauckus provided a much-needed goal for Princeton with seven minutes left in the quarter off an assist by Dora. An ensuing draw control allowed the Tigers to regain offensive possession and for DeVito to score her second goal of the game. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Cavaliers did not allow the Tigers to gain too much momentum, countering with a goal of their own to bring the score to 12–7.

Despite the five-goal deficit to start the fourth quarter, the team continued to show their resilience as they battled for draw control and possession. Goals by junior midfielder Sophie Whiteway and junior attacker Nina Montes helped Princeton cut the lead down, but Virginia’s top-notch offense kept the Tigers at an arm’s length for the remainder of the game.

Princeton dominated the draw control battle throughout the game — winning 19 to 10 — but they were unable to capitalize on these opportunities, as Virginia’s defense denied Princeton valuable shot attempts and forced twelve turnovers. Josephson also came up with twelve saves that prevented Princeton from gaining any true momentum, compared to seven for Princeton sophomore goalkeeper Amelia Hughes.

Tauckus provided hope for a late comeback after scoring her third and fourth goals of the game off of free positions with less than two minutes remaining, but Virginia was able to hold a 14–12 lead for the win.

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Despite the loss, the team’s resilience provides hope for the upcoming season, as the team gave a top team in the country a stiff test. Princeton now looks to get their first win of the season next Saturday, Feb. 24, when they play No. 17 Penn State (1–1 overall, 0–0 Big Ten Conference) away.

Peter Wang is a staff Sports writer for the ‘Prince.’ 

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