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Crimson goes down in crunch time: No. 18 Tigers women’s lacrosse defeats No. 25 Harvard in OT

A woman holding a stick in her hand on a lacrosse field as she looks to make an offensive move.
Senior midfielder Kari Buonanno has 18 assists for the Tigers this year, trailing only sophomore attacker Haven Dora.
Photo courtesy of @princetonwlax/X

It’s often said that diamonds are born under immense pressure. This is no different for junior attacker McKenzie Blake, who scored the game-winning goal on Saturday that gave the No. 18 women’s lacrosse team (10–5 overall, 6–1 Ivy League) a crucial win over No. 25 Harvard (10–4, 4–3) in their final regular season game. Princeton’s thrilling 18–17 overtime victory clinched them the No. 2 seed in the Ivy League tournament next weekend.

After three early goals by Harvard in the first five minutes of the game, first-year midfielder Colette Quinn put Princeton on the board with a free-position shot. Less than a minute later, senior attacker Grace Tauckus converted on another free-position shot to bring the Tigers back within one score. 


A Harvard scoring run, led to a large 8–3 lead for the Crimson with a little over a minute left in the first quarter.

Despite the large deficit, Princeton remained undeterred. Junior midfielder Sophie Whiteway won the draw control, leading to a scoop and score for Blake. Using the most of their time, the Tigers scored again off the stick of sophomore attacker Haven Dora, cutting Harvard’s lead to 8–5 to end the first quarter.

Princeton continued their positive momentum to start the second quarter with two more goals by Blake and another by first-year attacker Meg Morrisroe to tie the game at eight. Head Coach Jenn Cook also made the decision to replace Hughes with junior Tia Reaman as goalkeeper, allowing Hughes to reset.

The move paid off, as Reaman made an instant impact on the game. A Reaman save led to a quick transition, culminating in a goal by Whiteway to give Princeton its first lead of the game, 9–8, with a little over eight minutes left in the half.

“I think the group this year has a ton of belief in themselves and each other,” Cook told the Daily Princetonian. “It doesn’t matter if we’re down a couple goals or how the game is going, there is no doubt. [There is] always this immense amount of belief in each other and in themselves to get the job done and get the goals we need or stops we need in any moment.”

From there, both teams tightened up on defense, going back and forth in the remainder of the quarter. Another goal by Morrisroe off the free position was sandwiched between two by Harvard, culminating in a 10–10 tie to finish the first half.


Coming out of the locker rooms, the Crimson struck first with a goal by midfielder Charlotte Hodgson, giving the lead back to Harvard a minute into the quarter. Blake responded with her fourth goal of the game, but three goals by Harvard brought the Crimson to a 14–11 lead. 

A goal from each side followed, maintaining Harvard’s three-goal lead as the third quarter progressed. Despite Harvard’s constant attempts to pull away, the Tigers never relented, continuing to fight for loose balls.

Throughout the game, the Tigers dominated the draw control battle, winning 24 to just 14 by Harvard. Cook credits Associate Head Coach Kerrin Mauer and Assistant Coach Kayla Wood for coming up with different schemes to win the draw, as well as sophomore midfielder Abigail Roberts and junior midfielder Sophie Whiteway for executing key plays down the stretch.

“Abigail Roberts [came] up with some really, really big 50–50 balls off the draw, and Sophie Whiteway’s play on the draw today was unbelievable,” Cook told the ‘Prince.’ “She did such a good job controlling where the ball was going to and really hunting and coming up with draws.”

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“[Controlling the draw] really does help your mentality because it gives you … more opportunities to score,” Cook added. “The play by Abigail Roberts and Sophie Whiteley today was massive for us in terms of momentum and confidence.”

Harvard and Princeton continued to battle as the quarter progressed trading shots and goals. After tying the game up at 16–16, Morrisroe scored her fourth goal of the game to give Princeton its second lead of the game off a brilliant rebound shot with just under two minutes left, setting the stage for a thrilling finish to the game.

The first-year attacker, named Ivy League’s Offensive Player of the Week just two weeks ago, has burst onto the scene as of late, providing a much-needed spark to the Princeton offense.

“Meg has always been a fantastic finisher. She’s taken the time to really learn our offensive system and to be mentored by our upperclass [students],” Cook said. “She just has a knack for finding the back of the cage.”

The game was far from over, however. Despite another successful draw control by the Tigers, a turnover allowed Harvard to march back down the field and force overtime off the stick of Riley Campbell.

From the whistle marking the start of overtime, it was all Princeton. Off an assist by senior midfielder Kari Buonanno, Blake fired her fifth goal into the back of the goal in walk-off fashion, crushing the Crimson’s hopes of victory. The goal was Blake’s 56th of the season, the third-highest total in the Ivy League.

“Everybody really trusts McKenzie, that she’s going to get the job done,” stated Cook. “She just has this keen ability to get the job done, and she plays like she has ice in her veins.”

“It’s great to have an overtime game and a regular season game under our belt, as it gives our team that experience,” Cook continued. “To come out with the ‘W’ was awesome.”

The game saw Princeton’s first overtime this season. With its win over Harvard, Cook’s squad clinched the No. 2 seed for the Ivy League Tournament, setting up a rematch against No. 11 Penn (12–3, 5–2) on Friday. In their last matchup, the Tigers upset the Quakers at home, 14–9. The winner of that matchup will then likely play against Yale in the championship game on Sunday.

“The Ivy League this year is extremely competitive. You’ve got four teams in the top 25,” Cook said. “We’ve been focusing on one game by game and executing our game plan and playing at the highest level that we can.”

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

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