Chris Sailer’s first win this spring will be the 400th of her Hall of Fame career coaching the Princeton women’s lacrosse team.
“I’ve been the beneficiary of a ton of great players and great teams over my career to get to that number,” said Sailer before opening her 33rd season as Tigers head coach on Feb. 16 against Temple. “I’ve been a part of a lot of special seasons and coached some pretty incredible kids and teams. I just feel really grateful for that and that I’ve been able to stay at a place that I really believe in as an institution and in its approach to athletics and to build a program that all Tiger alums are proud of.”
The Tigers are primed to add to their success. Princeton has won the last five Ivy League championships and is the two-time defending Ivy Tournament champion in an ever improving conference.
“You can’t get complacent and just think you’re going to win because you won the year before,” Sailer said. “It’s great to have that confidence and that can carry you a long way because you know you’ve done it. But you also have to have that fire, that burning desire to be the best in your conference.”
Princeton is ranked top 10 nationally after returning all of its defense and most of its offense from a team that went 13-6 overall and 6-1 in the Ivies last spring. Preseason All-American Elizabeth George ’19 leads an offense that features fellow preseason All-American Tess D’Orsi ’20 and Kyla Sears ’21, a second-team All-American as a freshman last year.
“I think we’re going to be pretty potent offensively,” Sailer said. “We were last year as well. Between Tess D’Orsi, Elizabeth George, Kyla Sears, and Allie Rodgers ’19, those kids alone are studs and tough to contain, so I think we’ll be able to put a lot of balls in the net.”
Princeton should be tough to score on as well. The Tigers return starters Alex Argo ’19 and Nonie Anderson ’19 along with Marge Donovan ’21, Mary Murphy ’21, and Olivia Pugh ’21 on defense in front of returning starting goalie Sam Fish ’21.
“We have the same group returning and have good depth,” Sailer said. “Last year, Maddie Staczek ’21 came off the bench for us when we had an injury and she did a great job. Now we have depth as well as seasoned players. So there’s going to be some competition for playing time, which is only going to elevate everything.”
The biggest question mark will be the midfield, where the Tigers have to replace Ellie McNulty ’18 and Camille Sullivan ’18. Princeton will lean on Kathryn Hallett ’19, Izzy Mangan ’19, and a bevy of freshmen; Shannon Berry ’22, Lucie Gildehaus ’22, Maria Pansini ’22, Shea Smith ’22, and Lillian Stout ’22 are all in the mix to play. Princeton will use George and a combo of freshmen to make up for McNulty’s lost contributions on the draw control. They will be tested immediately.
“It’s arguably the hardest schedule we’ve ever had,” Sailer said. “Adding Florida and Stony Brook on top of a schedule that already included Maryland, Penn State, Virginia, Loyola … it’s going to be tough. Our first six games are kind of incredible with the teams we’ll be facing.”