Lehigh junior attacker Courtney Henig runs the ball down the field at Ulrich Sports Complex during the team's game against Penn State University on Feb. 17. Lehigh lost 18-12 to No. 14 Princeton University Tuesday night at home. (Benjamin Wang/B&W Staff)

Sluggish start plagues Lehigh women’s lacrosse in 18-12 loss to Princeton

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The Lehigh women’s lacrosse team was unable to overcome its slow start and make a successful comeback against No. 14 Princeton University, losing 18-12 at Ulrich Sports Complex Tuesday night.

The contest was the first the Mountain Hawks (2-2) have played against the Tigers (2-1) in 25 years.

Freshman goalkeeper Samantha Sagi had six saves. The team took 24 shots, 20 of which were on goal.

Junior attacker Courtney Henig led the team in assists with four, and junior defender Olivia Kelly scored the first four goals — all of which were unassisted — of her college lacrosse career to lead Lehigh in scoring.

Kelly said she was happy she was able to contribute to the team in a different way than she’s been used to.

Sophomore midfielder Sondra Dickey scored three points, junior attacker Kellie Gough and Henig each tacked on two goals and fifth-year midfielder and captain Julianne D’Orazio added one of her own, before leaving the game during the second half because of injury.

Princeton started off the contest with an eight-goal run to establish its dominance early in the night.

Dickey notched the first goal of the game for Lehigh 12 minutes into the first half, and D’Orazio made her only goal of the night a little over two minutes later after the Tigers scored another goal.

Kelly scored the first goal of her college career less than a minute later, but Princeton answered with a three-goal run.

Lehigh seemed to have hit a wall until Dickey broke through and scored with a little more than three and a half minutes left on the clock in the first half.

Kelly made the last goal of the half. Princeton led 12-5 heading into the break.

At halftime, Henig said the team’s mentality changed.

“We came out with a good plan,” she said. “Kelly really helped get our momentum moving. We had some great plays on the defensive end too.”

The Mountain Hawks came out of halftime with a newfound momentum, pulling within three points of the Tigers twice.

Kelly started out the second half with two back-to-back goals.

Princeton responded with a goal of its own, but Lehigh took off on a three-goal run from the help of Henig and Dickey to bring the score within three points.

Each team scored another point, but Princeton still led by three.

Despite the team’s shift in execution out of the half, it was unable to recover from an injury in the middle of the second half to D’Orazio.

The Tigers secured their win by following up with four unanswered goals to put the game away.

Gough registered the last goal of the game, bringing the score to 18-12.

Coach Jill Redfern praised the defensive efforts of players like senior Kayleen Kelly. In addition, she applauded a notable shift in offensive execution coming out of the half.

“When we started moving the ball better, we found some really nice opportunities to finish,” Redfern said. “That made a big difference.”

Redfern is optimistic about her team’s performance. She said the Mountain Hawks reminded themselves and each other of how important it is to play together as a team with the chemistry they found on the field.

Kelly agreed and remains focused on the future.

“We wanted to follow our plan, fix little things and play fearlessly,” she said. “Ultimately, we just need to make our team better in the next games to come.”

Lehigh will look to rally on the road as the team takes on Wagner University in Staten Island, New York, Saturday.

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