A Letter-Perfect Win
Dartmouth Squeaks Past Princeton to Reach Title Game
Dartmouth’s Hana Bowers (22) celebrates her game-tying goal behind Princeton defender Erin Williams (16) with 5:11 left in regulation of yesterday’s Ivy League women’s lacrosse semifinal at Franklin Field. Bowers scored five goals on the day, the last the sudden-victory overtime game-winner in the Big Green’s 11-10 win. (Valley News - Greg Fennell) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth's Courtney Bennett (12) and Kelsey Johnson, obscured right, battle Princeton's Erin McMunn (20) and Sarah Lloyd (24) for a loose ball during the Big Green's 11-10 sudden-victory overtime defeat of the Tigers in yesterday's Ivy League women's lacrosse semifinal at Franklin Field. (Valley News - Greg Fennell) Purchase photo reprints »
With plenty of eyes upon them, Princeton defender Colleen Smith, second from left, and Dartmouth attack Sarah Byrne, center, stumble while pursuing the ball during yesterday's Ivy League women's lacrosse tournament semifinal at Franklin Field. Byrne eventually won possession of the ball in a game the Big Green won in sudden-victory overtime, 11-10. (Valley News - Greg Fennell) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth's Hana Bowers turns around the goalpost to get off a shot on Princeton netminder Caroline Franke and defender Caroline Reyfuss during the first half of the Big Green's 11-10 sudden-victory overtime defeat of the Tigers in an Ivy League women's lacrosse semifinal yesterday at Franklin Field. (Valley News - Greg Fennell) Purchase photo reprints »
Philadelphia — Success in women’s lacrosse can be boiled down to the three Ps: possession, passing, placement.
What happened in Dartmouth’s 11-10 sudden-victory overtime win over Princeton in yesterday’s Ivy League tournament semifinal at cavernous Franklin Field added more Ps than a Del Monte cannery.
The third-seeded Big Green (10-6) paid for its patience with persistence, surviving a pair of three-minute overtimes without much in terms of possession. Finally, with the arrival of a third OT — this one first-to-score-wins — Dartmouth’s defense pressured the second-seeded Tigers (10-6) into a key turnover, one that senior attack Hana Bowers further converted into a Princeton foul in the scoring fan.
Bowers didn’t miss on the ensuing free-position restart, placing a shot under Princeton goalie Caroline Franke with 1:22 left in the last OT. The strike capped a five-goal day for the Old Greenwich, Conn., native, the most in the short history of the Ivy tourney.
“I’m just real happy that the defense saved my butt out there,” Bowers said after upping her team-leading goal tally to 45 with her quintet. “That whole entire overtime was defense, just battling back constantly, stopping two three-minute sets of attack. They didn’t fall back for me in the end, so they totally had my back there. And when I had my second chance, I wasn’t gonna miss it.”
Dartmouth will meet top-seeded Penn in tomorrow’s league championship game after the Quakers dismissed fourth-seeded Cornell, 10-5, in the nightcap semi. The winner secures the league’s automatic NCAA tournament berth, something the Big Green grabbed with a 6-4 win over the Quakers on their home turf last May.
“You could call us the cardiac kids a little bit,” joked Dartmouth coach Amy Patton, whose squad is now 6-2 in one-goal games. “We’ve been in this a lot all year. Honestly, we practice this in practice. We try to put that kind of pressure on them. …
“The tide could have turned when we didn’t get that goal to win it in regulation. I kept telling the team in that time period, because I could tell they were looking down, ‘Guys, we didn’t give them a chance.’ To me, that was more important.”
Reminiscent of the Tigers’ 15-13 win in Hanover two weeks ago, no team held a lead of greater than two goals after the Big Green bolted out of the gate to a 3-0 cushion. Down 7-6 at halftime, Dartmouth traded goal bursts with Princeton until Bowers deadlocked the game at 10-10 with an unassisted tally with 5:11 to play.
The senior could have settled things well before then. Bowers had a pair of free positions stopped by Franke (12 saves) in the final 7½ minutes. She also held the ball unopposed behind the Princeton cage for the last three minutes of regulation, with the Tigers content to deny the Big Green’s last bid to avoid OT.
“We knew we wanted to have the last shot on goal,” Bowers said. “We didn’t want to go too early and let Princeton have a chance with the ball. As long as they weren’t going to come back and attack us, we were going to sit on our heels and wait out that time.”
So Princeton instead owned in every facet of overtime save for the most important one — the scoreboard.
Erin McMunn won the draw to start the first three-minute session, and the Tigers set up their offense behind Dartmouth goalie Kristen Giovanniello (six saves). The Big Green’s defense denied a shot, Princeton turned the ball over with 19 seconds left and Dartmouth ran out the clock.
The second OT followed in similar fashion, only with McMunn’s win sending Princeton into an offense set outside the semicircle. The Tigers finally freed attack Erin Slifer for a shot to Giovanniello’s right in the final 10 seconds, but the sophomore’s bullet rang off the goalkeeper’s facemask and out of danger.
“(Slifer) is a great player for us, but I think she just took the shot too early,” Princeton coach Chris Sailer said of the late attempt. “She took it a little side-arm. All she had to do was take another step, fake and put it around her. In the moment, she went with her power shot, and their keeper came up with a good save.”
The Tigers took possession again in the sudden-victory OT, but this time Dartmouth’s pressure paid off in errors. Princeton’s Erin Williams gifted a turnover to Bowers at midfield, but the Dartmouth scorer gave the ball right back when defender Colleen Smith drew a charging foul to the right of goal.
Princeton threw the ball away one more time on the ensuing clearance, and this time Dartmouth didn’t let it get away. Bowers drew a foul inside the fan and converted when awarded the score-to-win restart.
“It was a lot about discipline, knowing they wanted to hold the ball behind (the goal) and do same thing we did to them,” Dartmouth defender Courtney Bennett said. “Amy made a smart coaching move, trying to flush them out. We’re never going sit back on our heels and let a team take that time off the clock, so we went to a high-pressure defense and tried to rattle them. And it worked.”
The game wasn’t without its poppycock moment, one that may affect Dartmouth come tomorrow’s final.
After losing a midfield draw with 8:34 left in regulation in a 9-9 game, Sailer called over an official and issued a protest: Dartmouth’s white-bordered uniform numbers didn’t adequately contrast from their green background, the 27th-year coach claimed. After a delay of more than 10 minutes, a consultation of the NCAA rulebook and much eye-rolling from Patton, the stripes ruled for the Tigers … with the earth-shattering result of a midfield throw — like basketball’s jump ball — which Bowers promptly secured.
“It was a close game; I thought that draw was really critical at that point,” said Sailer, who admitted noticing the uniform issue while scouting Dartmouth. “You don’t want to wait too long. You might never have that chance again.”
Instead, the Big Green must find a solution for a problem that didn’t exist. One potential possibility: pinnies.
But that’s too many Ps for this one pod, no?
Lax Facts: Jaclyn Leto and Liz Calby had two goals each for Dartmouth, which also received scores from Bennett and Kelsey Johnson. Slifer finished with a team-best five points for Princeton, including two goals, while Alexandra Bruno netted a hat trick. … Franklin Field’s capacity is listed at 52,593. The opening-game crowd was in the neighborhood of 200. … The 113-year-old edifice’s past tenants include the Philadelphia Eagles (1958-70), the World Football League’s Philadelphia Bell (1975) and the North American Soccer League’s Philadelphia Atoms, who played out the last year of their four-summer life in 1976. … All four Ivy tourneys have been held either at Franklin or neighboring Penn Park. … Dartmouth’s fan contingent included former athletic director and coach Josie Harper and, for the second half and overtimes, the Big Green softball team, which meets Penn in an Ivy Championship Series doubleheader at Penn Park this afternoon.
Greg Fennell can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3226.