July 3, 2002: Sports

Without peer
Princeton streaks to its second NCAA women’s lacrosse championship

Men’s lax falls in finals

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Without peer
Princeton streaks to its second NCAA women’s lacrosse championship

By Paul Hagar ’91

Photo: Lauren Simone ’02 (Beverly Schaefer)

Princeton’s 12—7 win over George-town in the NCAA finals on May 19 in Baltimore, Maryland, was the final victory of the season for the women’s lacrosse team. It was also the sweetest.

The Tigers (7—0 Ivy League, 19—1 overall) not only avenged their sole loss of the year — the Hoyas won 15—13 in overtime in March — they also topped off the most successful season in program history.

Before the team played its first match, Coach Chris Sailer described her senior class as one of the most talented in Princeton women’s lacrosse history. In the end, they and their teammates proved her right.

Among the year’s accomplishments: A second national title — the Tigers’ first came in 1994 — and a sixth Ivy League crown. Nineteen straight wins, a school record. Princeton’s 12th appearance in the NCAA tournament and a ninth turn in the Final Four. And that’s not to mention a record 275 goals, an average of 13.75 per game, or a case-hardened defense, which held opponents to 6.5 goals per game, for an amazing average margin of victory of more than 7 goals.

The Tigers’ capabilities were evident versus Georgetown, a speedy, skillful, and intense team coached by former Princeton star Kim Simons ’94. Although the Tigers struggled early on to win draws, they showed outstanding strength on defense. Thanks to superb efforts from senior defenders Rachael Becker and Brooke Owens, as well as goalie Sarah Kolodner ’05, Georgetown could score only four times despite holding the ball on offense for much of the half. Princeton’s Lindsey Biles ’05 answered by notching two of her three goals, and the teams were tied 4—4 at halftime.

In the second half, it was the Tigers who won most of the draws, and they wasted few opportunities, building a five-goal lead after about 15 minutes. “We were outplayed and outcoached in the second half,” said Georgetown coach Simons. “They controlled the tempo, and they controlled the game.” Each possession built the Tigers’ confidence along with their lead, until at 10-5, the game was effectively out of the Hoyas’ reach. Princeton scored six of the first eight goals in the half, including a spectacular pair of low outside shots from senior captain Lauren Simone ’02.

The stretch of dominance was nothing new for the Tigers. In the first half of their national semifinal game, they blitzed North Carolina for an 8—1 lead at halftime. They eventually won 16—2, the fewest goals allowed in a Final Four game. Princeton was similarly dominant in the tournament’s first two rounds, drubbing LeMoyne 25—3 (an NCAA record for goals scored) and beating Notre Dame 11—5.

With so much to celebrate, what’s made Sailer most proud? One gets the sense it is not her team’s success on the field. After winning the title, her first words recalled the philosophy she and her team set forth last fall, months before the start of the season. “At the first team meeting, we decided that this year, the journey was the reward, regardless of the outcome,” she said. “This year’s journey has been incredible. From that day on, we’ve come together as a fantastic group — the most special I have ever been around. Today is a fantastic day, but it’s one of many.”

That’s not to say Sailer isn’t thrilled by her team’s success, particularly for her seven seniors. “I hope the three classes below them have taken advantage of every second they’ve had,” she says. “They built a group that was cohesive, responsible, and accountable, setting the standard and leading this group.”

The coach’s praise for her senior class probably applies best to Simone, the team’s captain in title and in action on the field. This year, the measure of this team’s leader was the measure of the team. Simone led Princeton in goals, shots, assists, and groundballs, earning recognition as a first team All-American, along with Becker and Theresa Sherry ’04, and as the most outstanding player in the NCAA tournament. It may be that what Princeton was seeking this year was the journey itself, but she supplied the drive that propelled them to the championship. For Simone and her classmates, this season’s historic success is a fitting reward.

Paul Hagar ’91 is a former senior editor of PAW.


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Men’s lax falls in finals

By David Marcus ’92

Photo: Ryan Boyle ’04 (Beverly Schaefer)

Princeton’s men’s lacrosse team showed atypical vulnerability in 2002. Coming off an NCAA championship, the team had its worst start since 1988, lost five games for the first time since 1990, and saw its 37-game Ivy League winning streak snapped in a 15-13 loss to Yale. For the first time since 1991, no Tiger was selected to the All-America first team.

Faced with the possibility of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1989, the underachieving Tigers shook off their 2-4 start with an eight-game winning streak that instead netted them their 10th Ivy League title in 11 years. Their run ended with a 13-12 loss to Syracuse in the NCAA title game on May 27 at Rutgers University.

Princeton played more aggressively on offense this year to compensate for losing first-team All-Americans Trevor Tierney ’01 in goal and defenseman Ryan Mollett ’01. The Tigers gave up an average of 8.7 goals a game this year, the most since the 1990 season.

“At some point, maybe after the Yale game, we said, ‘If we’re not going to be holding teams to six or seven goals a game, we’ve got to get out there and score some goals,’ ” head coach Bill Tierney said.

Tierney could make the switch thanks in part to attackman Ryan Boyle ’04, this year’s Ivy League player of the year and one of the smartest players Tierney said he’s ever coached. Boyle’s skills were decisive in a 14-13 NCAA quarterfinal win over Georgetown on May 18. After a timeout, he took the ball at midfield with 13 seconds left and used a series of picks to free himself for the game-winning goal.

The Georgetown game also highlighted the development of goalie Julian Gould ’03, who stopped a point-blank shot in the game’s final minute to set up Boyle’s heroics. Gould made 12 saves in an 11-9 semifinal win over Johns Hopkins on May 25 and added 13 saves against Syracuse.

Though the Tigers rallied from a 12-7 deficit in the final, they could not overcome a Syracuse attack that accounted for 10 goals and pressured Princeton into bad passes that led to four goals.

Tierney would not let the loss obscure his team’s achievements. “A lot of people look at where you’re ranked during the season,” he said. “I measure Princeton lacrosse by what happens at the end of the season. These kids, more than any team I’ve coached, had their backs to the wall and responded as well as any team I’ve had.”

David Marcus ’92 writes frequently for PAW.



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Photo: Lauren Simmons ’02 (Beverly Schaefer)

High jumper Tora Harris ’02 closed out his phenomenal senior year with his second individual NCAA title – a first for any Princeton track and field athlete. He won his second national title with a jump of 2.25m (7' 4.5") at the 2002 NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Louisiana on June 1, finishing the year undefeated at collegiate meets. “It was a great year. I couldn’t have done any more than what was asked of me,” said Harris, who earned the Princeton Varsity Club award for special achievement this year. He also won the NCAA indoor title in March and had the second-best high-jump mark (2.31m, 7' 7") in the U.S. and fourth-best in the world. Harris will be competing in national and international meets as he trains for the 2004 Olympics.

Lauren Simmons ’02 may also have the Olympics in her future after placing second in the 800m at the NCAA championships. Simmons’s time of 2:03.87 in a preliminary heat was the third fastest by a collegian this year, earning her All-America status. The run also shattered her own Princeton record of 2:05.23.

Two Tiger baseball stars were selected during June’s Major League Baseball draft. Princeton’s career hits leader, shortstop Pat Boran ’02, was taken in the 24th round by the Boston Red Sox. Southpaw Scott Hindman ’03 was selected by the Anaheim Angels in the 22nd round.


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