By winning Southerns, the team guaranteed itself one of the top two seeds in the tournament. Michigan’s win gave it the first seed, pushing the Tigers down to the second spot.
“Following our loss to Maryland a few weeks ago, we knew that we were likely to only get the second seed in the Easterns tournament,” senior goalie Kristen Ward said. “Knowing this, it was that much more important that we secured the two-seed by winning Southerns.”
Ward has been a dominant force in goal all season and earned her fourth Southern Division Defensive Player of the Week honor after her goaltending led the team to victory at Southerns.
“We’ve been maintaining a high intensity at practices, watching film and working to correct small details,” Ward said. “But it will all come down to our mental preparedness this weekend.”
Other players that will need to play well for the Tigers to win the tournament include sophomore utility Katie Rigler and junior attack Brittany Zwirner.
Rigler leads the team with 62 goals on the season, 26 more then the second-highest goal scorer, and has been reliable in the steals recorded department. If she continues her offensive dominance this weekend, the Tigers will be in a solid position to win.
However, while Rigler has undoubtedly been a great offensive weapon for the Tigers, the team prides itself in having many such weapons that can all score at any given moment, evidenced by the nine players who have recorded at least 22 goals on the season.
Among these players is Zwirner, who was crucial in Princeton’s defeat of Brown in the Southern finals. Zwirner hit the game-winning shot with under five seconds left in a 9-8 win, which led to her also receiving a Southern Division honor for Player of the Week. Zwirner has 24 goals on the season and has also been consistently getting steals and a few blocks.
The tournament includes a slew of tough opponents that Princeton could go up against, most of which come from the Western Division, which contains the rest of the top five seeded teams. Among these opponents is Maryland, the four seed, whom Princeton faced earlier in the season in a close match in which a 3-0 goal advantage in the fourth quarter was not quite enough for the Tigers, who lost 7-6.
The field of 13 will be down to eight by the time Princeton plays its first game. The Tigers’ opponent will be either Harvard or Mercyhurst — both teams that the Tigers have already beaten twice this season — although Harvard could be a dangerous threat, as the Tigers’ last victory over the Crimson came by a mere one goal.
The team would need to win this game plus two more in order to win the Eastern Championship and secure a bid in the national championship tournament. The team has won Easterns only once before, with that victory coming in the 2000 tournament.
“We have to take the weekend one game at a time, starting with Harvard on Saturday,” Ward said.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/04/25/30760/