Women's Soccer: After 5-goal outburst, Princeton heads to Yale for Ivy debut
Mere days after a grueling weekend that included a seven-goal hammering by UCLA and a heartbreaking loss against University of California, Irvine, the women’s soccer team set itself up for a strong run in the Ivy League with a 5-2 pasting of Lafayette on Wednesday evening. The Tigers (3-3-1) will kick off conference games with a trip to Yale (5-3) on Saturday afternoon.
The win papered over a rough patch that cast some doubts on Princeton’s credentials as a serious title challenger. Conceding seven goals in one game and two in the last five minutes of the next are not normally signs of a settled team, but junior midfielder Gabriella Guzman looked at the games as a positive learning experience from which the team could only benefit.
“I think we learned how to organize defensively, because we had to do a lot of that, and that’s just going to help us in our future games,” Guzman said. “Also we have to learn that our game is 90 minutes, and we have to focus every single one of those seconds.”
However, Guzman emphasized that she didn’t think a tactical overhaul or change in formation was required to succeed in the future.
“I don’t think that we have to [make significant tactical changes] after those two games,” Guzman said. “I think after the second game — I mean it was just unlucky because we were a player down, so during that game, yeah, we had to make some changes and basically have everyone back. But going forward, I think that we’ve been scoring a lot of goals, and everyone’s been playing well, so I think we just have to go back to what we were doing before California.”
Yale comes into the matchup riding a three-game win streak and a perfect 4-0 home record. The Bulldogs have scored on 18 occasions in only eight matches, with midfielder Kristen Forster providing much of the threat in attack with five goals and three assists thus far. Forster is also the reigning Ivy League Player of the Week, while freshman Paula Hagopian, who has a team-high four assists, won Rookie of the Week honors a fortnight ago.
But even though Guzman listed Yale, alongside Harvard and Penn, as one of the early-season favorites, she discounted its status as holding any importance for the match itself. “When it comes to Ivy League games, it’s always a battle and every team’s a challenge,” she said.
On closer inspection of the two teams’ stats, she may well be right. Eight of Yale’s goals came in a single encounter against a mediocre Saint Peter’s side that will face the Tigers next Tuesday. Seven of Princeton’s 17 conceded goals came against UCLA, the No. 3 side in the nation.
The Bulldogs also do not seem to have figured out yet who their best goalkeeper is for the current season. Their three stoppers have each started two or three games, played between 199 and 275 minutes and conceded between two and four goals.
Moreover, the Tigers have found a rich source of scoring in senior forward Jen Hoy, who notched her second natural hat trick of the season against Lafayette on Wednesday night to lead all Ivy League players with nine goals this season. In the process, she leapfrogged 2012 Olympian Diana Matheson ’08 into fourth place on the list of Princeton’s top all-time scorers.
“I think we’re ready,” Guzman said. “I think we want it and that we have a lot of confidence — more than last year — and I don’t think we have to make any more changes. I think we just have to keep playing the way we know we can play.”
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