Olivia Hompe ’17 leads Princeton with 19 goals, including five in Saturday’s win over Harvard. (Office of Athletic Communications)
Olivia Hompe '17 leads Princeton with 19 goals, including five in Saturday’s win over Harvard. (Office of Athletic Communications)

As it nears the midway point in the regular season, Princeton women’s lacrosse continues to look impressive. The Tigers are off to a 6-1 start (2-0 Ivy League) with their lone loss coming at No. 8 Virginia. On Saturday, the team delivered head coach Chris Sailer’s 350th career win with a 17-12 victory over Harvard, Sailer’s alma mater. Sailer, now in her 29th season at Princeton, has coached three national champions and 11 Final Four teams. In the weeks to come, Princeton enters the bulk of its Ivy season and prepares for another NCAA postseason run.

With the exception of No. 1 Maryland April 8, the Tigers have already faced their toughest non-Ivy competition. Wins against No. 9 Loyola and No. 11 Penn State have put Princeton in a strong position going into the rest of the season. Last year, the Tigers didn’t receive the Ivy’s automatic bid to play in the NCAA tournament, but earned an at-large bid due to strength of schedule and victories over ranked opponents.

“Getting that NCAA automatic bid is always a goal, but then again, we want to be a team that’s also able to qualify for the NCAAs as an at-large selection as well,” Sailer said. “To do that, you have to schedule a competitive slate of nonconference games and win more than your fair share.”

This year, with solid wins already behind them, Princeton is ready to face Penn, who received last year’s automatic Ivy bid and with whom the Tigers shared the 2014 Ivy title. Penn is the biggest hurdle Princeton will have to overcome in the Ivy race this year.

“Recent history has proven that to win the Ivies you have to beat Penn,” Sailer said. “But that game doesn’t even matter unless you do well in your other Ivy games, so we really do take a one game at a time focus. In our minds we have seven Ivy League championship games to play, each one as important as the others.”

The team’s success cannot be attributed to one superstar, but to a well-rounded and versatile group of players. The offense is balanced and unpredictable, with goals coming from different angles and different top-scorers, including 19 from sophomore attacker Olivia Hompe, 16 from senior midfielder Erin Slifer, 11 from sophomore Stephanie Paloscio, and nine from senior Erin McMunn. In the Tigers’ goal, sophomore goalie Ellie DeGarmo averages a .500 save percentage, the 13th highest in the country.

“We have a lot of young players on the field this year, including a very strong sophomore class that is making its mark as a force on the team, and at the same time we have strong leadership from our captains which holds it all together,” Sailer said. Moving forward, the team will focus on unity, energy, and execution to achieve its goals.

Quick Takes

In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, undefeated women’s basketball secured its first-ever tournament win with an 80-70 victory over ninth-seeded Green Bay. Princeton improved to 31-0 and will face Maryland, the number one seed in the Spokane Region, today at 6:30 p.m. The Terrapins have won 25 straight games and are 16-0 at the Xfinity Center, their home court, where the second-round NCAA game will be played.

Fencing finished fourth in the NCAA Championships March 19-22. This marks a fifth-straight top-4 finish for the program, breaking the NCAA record for consecutive top-4 finishes that the team set the previous year (team scoring includes men and women in all three weapons).

Five women earned All-America honors, including juniors Anna Van Brummen and Isabel Ford in épée (third place and seventh place, respectively); freshman Alison Lee and junior Gracie Stone in the saber (seventh and eighth); and sophomore foil Ashley Tsue (10th). Five men also earned All-American honors: junior épée Jack Hudson fenced to a second place finish, and sophomore Alex House finished 11th; in the foil, freshman Thomas Dudey placed ninth; and freshman Edward Chin and sophomore Peter Pak finished eighth and ninth, respectively, in the saber.

Men’s lacrosse improved to 6-1 (2-0 Ivy) with an 11-10 win over Yale on Saturday. The Tigers took an 11-7 lead early in the fourth period, but Yale scored three straight goals to cut the lead to one. Princeton goalie Eric Sanschagrin ’15 saved the Elis’ last shot at a tying goal with 1:30 remaining.