The Harvard women’s lacrosse team came out the gates firing, taking a commanding 5-0 lead, which proved to be too much for favored No. 12 Princeton.
With the 9-8 victory Saturday at Princeton Stadium, the Crimson (7-4, 4-1 Ivy) clinched a spot in the Ivy League tournament and moved into a second-place tie with Dartmouth in the Ivy League standings.
“We knew it was going to be an even game,” sophomore Jennifer VanderMeulen said. “[But] I think we knew if we stuck to the game plan and played our game, it was going to be close, and we should come out on top.”
Princeton (6-5, 3-1) has been a strong team throughout the year, entering the weekend matchup undefeated in Ivy League play and with losses only to teams ranked in the top 12 in the country.
The Crimson got off to a quick start, taking a 1-0 lead two minutes into the game off a free-position goal by sophomore Danielle Tetreault.
VanderMeulen then took over the game, scoring three unassisted goals in the span of just over five minutes, giving Harvard a 4-0 lead with 19:02 left in the half.
“We haven’t come out hard in a couple of games,” VanderMeulen said. “This game I was determined to set our pace early and set our pace fast. I was lucky that I had some open lanes to go, and I was successful.”
Junior tri-captain Melanie Baskind added another score for the Crimson, pushing the lead to 5-0 with 16:35 left in the half.
But two scores by sophomore Jaci Gassaway and one goal by sophomore Charlotte Davis led the Tigers’ comeback, as Princeton tallied three consecutive goals to cut the Harvard lead to 5-3.
Tetreault ended the rally with her second goal, giving the Crimson a 6-3 halftime lead.
Coming out of the break, Baskind won the opening faceoff and sprinted straight to the goal, where she put one past the goalie only eight seconds into the second half.
But following Baskind’s goal, both defenses tightened up, as neither team scored over the next seven and a half minutes. Gassaway ended the drought by netting her third score for Princeton with 22:37 remaining.
VanderMeulen came back with a quick response, firing one past the Tigers’ goalie on an unassisted tally only 49 seconds later.
The teams traded scores with Tigers’ junior Cassie Pyle putting one on the board for Princeton and Crimson junior Tyler Petropulos answering, setting the score at 9-5 Harvard.
The Petropulos goal came off a forced turnover by Crimson freshman Lauren Tomkinson who picked up the ground ball and found Baskind who assisted the score.