In the early minutes of its NCAA Tournament quarterfinal matchup against top-seeded Maryland May 21, the Princeton women’s lacrosse team seemed primed to pull off an improbable upset.
The Tigers controlled possession early, and two quick goals from midfielder Cassie Pyle ’12 and one from attacker Jaci Gassaway ’13 gave Princeton a 3–1 lead with 14:40 remaining in the first half.
But it was only a matter of time before Maryland’s offense, which averaged 15 goals per game heading into the contest, came to life.
After the No. 12 Tigers’ initial outburst, the No. 1 Terrapins went on to score seven unanswered goals and took a four-goal lead into halftime en route to a 15–6 victory at Maryland’s Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex.
“We started out the game strong and feeling good,” Princeton head coach Chris Sailer said. “We were really giving them some difficulties with our one-on-ones, but Maryland’s a great team, and they went on their runs. We never recovered from that.”
After Princeton took its early two-goal lead, Maryland head coach Cathy Reese called a timeout to settle down her players. The move worked to perfection as the Terrapins outscored Princeton, 14–3, in the remaining 44 minutes of action.
Early in the game, Reese said, “We weren’t clearing the ball well, and Princeton had great pressure on us. We just needed to believe in ourselves and have confidence in each other.”
In spite of the final score, Sailer pointed to vast improvements her team had made in just one year. Last year, the Tigers finished 6–10 and missed the postseason for the first time since 1997. Twelve months later, Princeton (12–7) won the Ivy League Tournament and knocked off No. 8 James Madison in the NCAA’s opening round.