May 16, 2001: Sports

Women's lacrosse takes aim at Ivy title, Maryland

Former hurler becomes softball boss: Maureen Davies '97 moves up from volunteer assistant coach

Tigers and Fighters square off in "Dream Match": Football makes spring trip to Japan

Sports Web Exclusives! Matt Golden's From the Cheap Seats column

Women's lacrosse takes aim at Ivy title, Maryland

Entering the final weeks of the regular season, the Princeton women's lacrosse team had a formidable record (11-2 overall, 5-1 Ivy) and a number-three national ranking. So far, so good, according to senior defender Dayna Federici, but there are still two things her team is aiming to do.

First, Princeton wants an Ivy championship, which it hoped to secure with a win against Brown on April 28. The Tigers had a shot at the outright Ivy title after starting league play with a 5-0 record. But Dartmouth drew even in the Ivy race by handing Princeton a 13-5 whipping on April 21. The Big Green has proved a particularly difficult nemesis in recent years. "I've never beaten Dartmouth," says Federici.

Second, the team has its eye on another Final Four appearance. That probably means beating top-ranked Maryland at least once, and perhaps twice - a daunting task considering the Terrapins have been the dominant force in women's collegiate lacrosse. "They're a key focus of our season," reveals Federici. "We don't talk about it, but in the back of our minds we are thinking, 'Wouldn't it be great to beat them?' And we do think about what we have to do to make that happen."

In order to upset Maryland and make a return trip to the Final Four, the Tigers need to improve their consistency. "We've had a good season to this point," explains Federici. "But there have only been moments when we have clicked together."

Coach Chris Sailer agrees: "In some games, we've played great defense, but our offense didn't break into double digits. Other times we let in eight or nine goals, but our offense still pulled it out. For the rest of the year, we'll have to get all our cylinders running on both sides of the ball."

On the attack, Lauren Simone '02 and Kim Smith '02 have given Princeton's offense balance, with Simone's crafty passing sparking scoring chances and Smith's aggressive rushes to the net drawing fouls and leading to goals. Against a gritty Temple team on April 11, Simone, Smith, and senior Julie Shaner combined for 13 points (nine goals, four assists) in a 15-7 win. That threesome has paced the Tigers to an average of nearly 12 scores per game.

The Tiger defense, whose vocal leader is Federici and whose anchor is goalie Meghan McInnes '04, also strives for balance. "We try to make it a reciprocal thing," says Federici. "We talk through our mistakes and make sure they don't lead to goals by focusing on communication and desire." Princeton has held opponents to seven goals or fewer in eight of its games and has limited opponents to just three goals twice (a 16-3 win over Rutgers on March 7 and a 18-3 victory versus Columbia on March 27). With a freshman in goal, defensive communication will likely prove crucial to the team's continuing success in the postseason.

The Tiger's most integral player is captain and midfielder Shaner, the team's leader on the field. Shaner is the core of Princeton's "heart and hustle," according to Federici - the key to its defense and its offense. Federici says, "She's who we look to for leadership when we struggle."

With plenty of talent and a strong record thus far, the Tigers are making preparations for the season's home stretch by narrowing their focus to some small things - fundamentals like making a good pass, catching a ball, sliding to cover an open player on a double-team, and scooping a ground ball. "We're practicing with a lot of intensity now, trying to come together at a higher level," says Federici. "We're peaking at the right time and focusing on us."

But that doesn't mean the Tigers aren't dreaming, just a little, about what could happen: "If we beat Brown to win the Ivy title, that will be a successful season no matter what," Federici adds. "But I know that each player has a special place in their heart for beating Maryland. We know how great that would feel." The last time Princeton beat Maryland was in 1994 - a 10-7 victory that gave the Tigers their first national championship.

By Paul Hagar '91


Paul Hagar is a frequent contributor to PAW.


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Former hurler becomes softball boss
Maureen Davies '97 moves up from volunteer assistant coach

While she was pumping fastballs past opponents en route to College World Series appearances in 1995 and 1996, former Princeton softball pitcher Maureen Davies '97 was probably unaware that she was making her future occupation more challenging.

Named the Tigers' new head softball coach last summer, Davies will routinely face opponents who benefited from the national exposure that Ivy League softball received during those seasons. Davies, a Canadian national team member since 1997, spent last season as a volunteer assistant for Princeton and took over the program when Cindy Cohen stepped down after 19 years at the Princeton helm.

"I love it here at Princeton, and it's an honor to assume the position of head coach," Davies says. "I always thought I would coach, but to be honest, I thought I would be coaching my kids like my mom did. Last year as an assistant, I really developed confidence in my ability to communicate and a passion for coaching. I've always wanted to work with players, and everything seems to have just fallen into place."

Director of Athletics Gary Walters '67 is hoping that means first place. Princeton has not won an Ivy crown since Davies toed the rubber in 1996. A dominant force during the 1980s and 1990s, the Princeton softball team won 12 league titles during Cohen's tenure, including seven consecutive championships from 1983 to 1989.

Princeton's success in the national spotlight created a ripple effect throughout the Ivy League. The byproduct has been greater depth of talent within the conference and a balance of power.

Davies explains, "The level of play has definitely improved throughout the league, which is great. There may have only been two or three teams competing for the league title when I played, but now there's greater depth throughout. We've got a great senior and junior class that give us talent on the field and provide leadership. I don't see any reason why we can't win the league championship."

The Tigers opened their season with a pair of wins over Fairfield and LaSalle. Princeton then split a double-header with Villanova before embarking on a spring-break southern swing. After that trip, which was marred by several rainouts, Princeton held a 3-5 record. The Tigers currently stand at 17-14 overall and 6-6 in the Ivies.

Pitching wins ballgames in softball, and the Tigers' top two hurlers, Brianne Galicinao '02 and Sara Jane White '02 will undoubtedly benefit from Davies's greatest area of expertise. "Pitching has always been my main area of focus," Davies admits. "I will continue to work with pitchers, but it's exciting to work in all other areas with the team. I have great assistants who are very competent in teaching and planning practice.

"I think my coaching style will develop over time. I'm very comfortable with the game itself. I've played all my life. The most difficult part so far has been the administrative aspect of the job. I guess those were things you always took for granted as a player. The easy part has always been out on the field."

Those playing days may not be over just yet for Davies. She was an alternate on the 2000 Canadian Olympic team and still maintains a roster spot on the national squad. Visions of the 2004 Olympics are often difficult to ignore. "I may try to play this summer a little when I'm not recruiting," she says. "I haven't officially retired, yet. It's too great of a profession."

In the meantime, Princeton is hoping that putting Mo Davies back in orange and black will return softball to its championship ways.

By Mark Gola


Mark Gola is a frequent contributor to PAW.


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Tigers and Fighters square off in "Dream Match"
Football makes spring trip to Japan

The game was billed as the "Dream Match." Two universities with rich football traditions and half a world of distance between them met in Japan's Osaka Dome on March 24. The Princeton Tigers traveled across the globe to take on the Kwansei Gakuin University Fighters, who have played in 42 of the last 50 Japanese collegiate championship games, in a spring-break showdown that ended in a 27-25, come-from-behind win for the Tigers.

Despite having only five practices before the game, Princeton came out of the gate fast. The Tigers converted the game's opening possession into a 35-yard, Taylor Northrop '02 field goal. But KGU answered with a touchdown to claim a 6-3 advantage. The teams exchanged scores for most of the contest, and KGU crossed the goal line with 1:01 remaining in the game to take a 25-24 lead. But the Tigers drove 60 yards, and Northrop booted a game-winning, 41-yard field goal with two ticks left on the clock.

Princeton coach Roger Hughes said after returning to Old Nassau, "If you look at the score of the game, you can tell that the level of competition was good. They have been playing football for 60 years in Japan. Schematically they are very up-to-date, and in terms of skill they are very comparable to us.

"From a football standpoint the trip was valuable because it allowed our young players to get a feel for what game tempo is. We are also now able to evaluate people in some roles, like on special teams, that we don't usually spend much time working on during the spring."

The Tigers returned to the U.S. with more than just a win on the gridiron. The education and experiences the players accumulated during their week's stay in Japan will be as memorable as their victory. Hughes explained, "The people at KGU went out of their way to make sure that we had a tremendous experience. And we had three professors - Bob Tignor (history), Sheldon Garon (East Asian studies and history), and Dan Okimoto '65, an alumnus who teaches political science at Stanford - among our contingent, who really added to the trip from an educational slant."

After more than 24 hours of travel to start their trip, the Tigers were greeted with a standing ovation from their would-be opponents. The Princeton contingent toured KGU's two campuses on Monday and practiced on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Wednesday brought a visit to the Todai-ji Temple, which houses the Great Statue of the Buddha, and an authentic Japanese meal that included squid, raw tuna, and crayfish that were meant to be eaten whole (including the shell).

And though the trip made spring practice logistically challenging - Princeton was forced to start practice early and, at one point, took a week off between practices - Hughes feels this experience will help his team next fall. "We are starting to expect good things to happen when we step on the field." said the coach. "We have made great strides in our mental approach to the game"

By M.G.
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