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No. 19 women’s lacrosse narrowly defeats Cornell, 13–12

Princeton women's lacrosse in orange and black uniforms warm up on lacrosse field in rain, with lacrosse sticks waving in the air.
Women's lacrosse warming up before facing off with Cornell.
Photo courtesy of @princetonwlax/X.

Nothing is certain except death, taxes, and the women’s lacrosse team playing a home game in the pouring rain. 

After a spring break spent in the Sunshine State, the No. 19 women’s lacrosse team (5–3 overall, 1–1 Ivy League) returned home to face Cornell (5–3, 2–1). Princeton, fresh off a 16–11 win against Jacksonville (2–6 overall, 0–0 Atlantic Sun Conference), came out on top in a 13–12 nail-biter for their first conference victory. The Tigers had six goal scorers, led by five goals from senior attacker Grace Tauckus.


The first quarter started off in Cornell’s favor with the Big Red winning the opening draw and scoring just 29 seconds into the game, off the stick of midfielder Dillyn Patten.

Cornell dominated draw controls in the first quarter — winning all six of them — to create offensive possession after offensive possession. This allowed them to extend their lead to 3–0 with goals from attacker Sophie Ward and midfielder Caitlin Slaminko. 

However, the Tigers could not be denied on offense for long. With just under three minutes left in the first, a foul by Cornell’s Alexa Donahoe set up a free position attempt for Tauckus, who found the back of the net for her first goal and cut Cornell’s lead to two.

Starting the second quarter, the Tigers came out more aggressive on both offense and defense. First-year midfielder Colette Quinn won the draw — the first draw control for Princeton in the game — allowing the Tigers to quickly press into the offensive third. In just 15 seconds, junior attacker McKenzie Blake weaved through a crowd of Cornell defenders and scored off a nifty bounce-shot. 

“We made some adjustments up the draw that really helped us get some more offensive possessions,” said head coach Jenn Cook in a postgame interview with the Daily Princetonian. 

Princeton followed up with another draw control by sophomore midfielder Abigail Roberts. After a turnover, the Tigers stayed aggressive on defense, and sophomore attacker Haven Dora knocked the ball loose from a Big Red attacker to allow senior midfielder Kari Buonanno, reigning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week, to pick up the loose ground ball. 


“We’ve always been, as a team, really, really good at the ride,” stated Cook.

The ‘ride’ is a strategy in lacrosse where an offensive player uses aggressive stick checks to force a turnover on an opposing defender.

“It gives us extra possessions and I think it is a momentum changer for us,” said Cook. “The ride, and how hard we ride, and the work that we put in there to get the ball back, is really an energy booster to the team.”

Though Cornell was able to score off a long-distance goal, from this point on, the second quarter belonged to Princeton. Just two minutes later, senior midfielder Samantha DeVito scored her first goal of the game off a pass from Buonanno in a highlight-reel play, converting a low shot while falling to the ground and losing her goggles in the process.

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First-year attacker Meg Morrisroe scored her fourth goal of the year shortly after to cut Cornell’s lead to 5–4 . 

“[Our offense] really started getting going in the second quarter, and that made a huge difference for us,” said Cook.

Sophomore attacker Jami MacDonald then tied up the game with her 16th goal of the season. After a blocked shot by Morrisroe , Cornell obtained possession of the ball for a fleeting moment, but not before Dora forced a turnover on goalkeeper Ellie Horner and lobbed the ball to MacDonald, who scored while falling down to the turf.

After yet another draw control by Princeton, MacDonald found the back of the net once again, giving the Tigers their first lead of the game, 6–5, with 5:08 left in the half. This score would hold into halftime. 

To begin the second half, Big Red midfielder Kylie Gelabert scored her 12th goal of the season to tie the game at six just 31 seconds in. Though Slaminko won the ensuing draw control again, a turnover by Cornell midfielder Ellie Bergin allowed Princeton to clear the ball. With the ball in her stick, MacDonald found a streaking DeVito to give the Tigers back the lead. 

Bergin countered just a minute later to make it 7–7, but Tauckus answered with her second goal off another free position attempt. A free position attempt from Slaminko later evened the score again for the Big Red. 

Consecutive goals by Blake and Tauckus then put Princeton ahead with a 10–8 lead, their largest of the game thus far. Tauckus’ third goal of the game came off an assist by Dora, but the counter-punching Big Red scored two goals of their own to send the game to the fourth quarter knotted at 10. 

With a decisive fourth quarter coming up, Cook’s message to the team was simple — to continue their toughness.

“Keep being gritty and tough, make good choices with the ball,” stated Cook to the ‘Prince.’ The plan was to “take care of the ball in the clear, get the stops that we need, executing our defensive points and taking care of the ball offensively. Still attacking cage, still playing our style.”

Roberts won the opening draw to give Princeton possession, and Tauckus found the back of the net for the fourth time in the game, cutting between three Big Red defenders to fire a high shot past Horner. Cornell countered with a long, four minute possession that culminated with a goal from Slaminko, tying the score up once again. 

With just over nine minutes left in the game, Cornell made a substitution on goalie, replacing Horner with Mackenzie Clark. Princeton won the draw control — their tenth of the game — and yet another free position attempt gave Tauckus her fifth score of the game, bringing her season total up to 20.

“Grace’s leadership is just incredible, she is always coming to play and is always lifting her teammates up,” said Cook to the ‘Prince.’ “Today, she really made such an incredible effort to finish her opportunities. She works incredibly hard and cares so deeply about this team’s success that there’s no surprise the success that she had.”

A tough defensive possession ensued for the Tigers, culminating in a save by sophomore goalkeeper Amelia Hughes. The defensive stand allowed Princeton to push back upfield, where junior attacker Nina Montes scored to give the team a 13–11 lead with just under five minutes remaining.

Cornell’s offense stayed on the increasingly desperate attack, but the Tigers’ defense stepped up to close out the series. 

“It’s really, really exciting to see the defensive unit gel, that includes Amelia, and they made the stops that we needed to make,” noted Cook. “It was huge, so I think there were a ton of players today that had big moments and important moments.”

A final goal by Cornell with 58 seconds left on the clock was not enough, and the Tigers walked away with a tough, 13–12 victory over the Big Red.

“Cornell is a great team,” said Cook. “I think anytime you’re playing an Ivy League game, it’s always going to be a dogfight and it’s always going to be competitive.”

Princeton’s victory extends their all-time record against Cornell to 44–5. Now with their first Ivy League win in hand, the Tigers look ahead to Wednesday night, when they will attempt to continue their win streak against No. 15 Penn (7–1, 2–0) at home.

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

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