No team in the nation defines the tradition of lacrosse better than the Princeton Tigers. They’ve got it all, national championships, Ivy League titles, All-Americans, you name it.
“They are a powerhouse,” head coach Jenny Graap ’86 admitted. “They are consistently strong, and their dominance is impressive.”
However, tomorrow afternoon’s game between the Red and the Tigers will establish a new chapter in the relationship between the programs. For Cornell (6-0, 2-0 Ivy) is no longer playing just to avoid a blowout, but rather to put up a blowout of its own.
“For a while, we were playing to keep the game close, but now we’re formulating a strategy to win,” Graap confirmed.
Since Graap has taken the head coaching post, Princeton’s dominance over the Red has slipped, as it has won by margins of 11, eight, and five in the past three years.
Last year, the Red had its best chance to win as it shot to a 3-0 lead in the first four minutes of play. It took 10 minutes before then No. 2 Princeton finally tied the game. After the teams played neck and neck well into the second half, a goal by then freshman Sarah Averson pulled Cornell to within one, 8-7. But the Princeton defense finally tightened the screws, and the Tigers held off a major upset by winning 12-7.
The Red has only lost one player from that squad and has gained an incredible amount of experience since. A healthy squad combined with a good week of practice has infused the women with a great amount of confidence.
“There’s a great amount of mental preparation involved,” Graap said. “They’ve have to be confident in themselves and each other, and they can’t be awestruck when they take the field.”
A smidgen of awe is certainly due, though: the Tigers (5-1, 1-0) are ranked third in the nation, have knocked off three top-20 opponents, and have scored over 15 goals twice this season. Their only loss is to No. 2 Loyola.
The team isn’t without weaknesses, however.
“They have a freshman in the goalie cage,” Graap revealed. “She’s young and inexperienced, and struggling a bit. But they have the toughest defense in the country guarding her.”
On defense, Cornell will look to stop Princeton’s fast breaks.
“That’s their bread and butter,” Graap noted. “They get a lot of goals off of that, and we want to be strategic against it.”
The team must also adjust to Princeton’s four left-handed players. It is quite rare to find a left-handed lacrosse player, let alone four on one team.
“We had a good practice, we juggled the lineup a little bit to match speed for speed, and we’re fired up and ready to go,” Graap assured.
The game will be played on Shoellkopf Field at 1:00 p.m.
Archived article by Sumeet Sarin