Winning a lacrosse game at Princeton is never an easy task, but as the Yale women’s team prepares for a Saturday showdown with the Tigers, it need only look to its male counterparts for inspiration.
The men’s team ended a decade losing streak to Princeton and, in the process, ended Old Nassau’s 37-game Ivy League winning streak last Saturday.
Now its the women’s chance to end their own 10-game losing streak to the Tigers and upset the No. 2 team in the nation.
“It gives us hope,” Katie Sargent ’05 said. “It goes to show that on any day, it is the team that comes to win that walks off the field better off than the other.”
When the No. 12 Bulldogs (7-1, 3-0 Ivy) take on No. 2 Princeton (8-1, 2-0) in a battle for first place in the Ivy League, it will take more than hope to earn a Yale victory — it will take 60 minutes of the team’s best lacrosse. Riding a six-game winning streak and featuring an aggressive young lineup, this may be Yale’s year to finally end its Tiger troubles.
“This is as close as we have ever come to being able to win an Ivy championship,” head coach Amanda O’Leary said. “Our team sees that and they know what’s at stake.”
Last year, the Bulldogs were in a similar situation when they took on Princeton — the team had an 8-0 record before losing 13-8 to Princeton, prompting a season-ending tailspin in which the Elis lost five of their final seven games.
In that game, the score was 8-2 in favor of the Tigers before a five goal flourish in the second half by Yale narrowed the score to 8-7. Princeton dominated the rest of the contest, though, en route to the victory.
This year, Yale cannot afford to let the Tigers prey on them early.
“We can’t let them get the momentum,” O’Leary said. “We have never been able to put a 60-minute game together [against Princeton]. We play well in spurts, but against a team that is No. 2 in the country, you can’t do that.”
Playing in spurts was a problem for the Elis in wins over Boston University and Harvard last week, but they did a better job of keeping up their intensity in a 16-9 win over a lowly Fairfield team Wednesday.
Another difficulty the Elis have had against Princeton in the past is containing dangerous attacker senior Kim Smith. In last year’s Tiger win over Yale, Smith, a First Team All-Ivy player, erupted for six goals. Smith, along with sophomore Theresa Sherry, creates a Princeton scoring tandem that has O’Leary concerned.
“We need to be able to play a good team defense, so that if someone does get beat, they need to have help right behind them,” O’Leary said.
All around, the Yale performance will need to be nearly flawless, but O’Leary believes her young team is up to the challenge.
“Clearly, I think we are the underdogs and I actually like being in that position,” O’Leary said. “These kids, they like to win. They like to step up and play their best.”
Notes: Yale has not beaten Princeton since a 5-4 squeaker in the ECAC Tournament in 1991 — The last time Yale won at Princeton was 1988 — O’Leary hopes Sarah Driscoll ’05, one of Yale’s main scoring threats, will be available to play this weekend. She has missed the last two games with a ankle sprain suffered in practice last week.