The field hockey team’s undefeated record was snapped Sunday when No. 2 Syracuse beat No. 3 Princeton 2-0 on Bedford Field. The Tigers (7-1 overall, 2-0 Ivy League) had extended their win streak to seven on Saturday afternoon when they shut out Ivy League rival Yale 8-0, remaining perfect in conference play.
“I think we’re in better spirits than people probably think,” junior goalkeeper Christina Maida said. “Syracuse is a really good opponent, and it is better to lose now than later.”
After playing on the road Saturday, the Tigers were back on their home turf Sunday afternoon to face their toughest challenge yet this season. Syracuse (9-0) also entered the game with an unbeaten record, ready to test Princeton’s squad. In the first half, neither team was able to convert its offensive opportunities into goals, though there were a combined eight shots taken. Syracuse earned two penalty corners, but Maida and the Princeton defense stopped both; the goalie finished with eight saves.
The second half started out much like the first, with both teams sharing possession and stringing together nice passing sequences but unable to put the final piece together for a goal. Three corners for Princeton and one for Syracuse within seven minutes of the halftime whistle were sent wide, deflected or saved, leaving the score tied at 0-0.
But with 14 minutes, 54 seconds remaining, Syracuse midfielder Leonie Geyer scored with a hard, low shot directly off of a corner play. After calling a time-out to regroup, the Tigers controlled play for 10 minutes, keeping the Orange at bay but struggling to answer with a goal of their own. With five and a half minutes remaining, Syracuse’s Emma Russell snuck a shot in by the far post. Princeton sent two more shots at goal, but there was not enough time left to overcome the 2-0 lead.
The previous day, Princeton dominated the Bulldogs (3-4, 1-1) in New Haven, Conn., outshooting the hosts 33-4. Senior striker Kathleen Sharkey had another impressive performance, netting four goals to bring her season total up to a league-best 17. Seven other Tigers contributed offensively with goals or assists.
The first goal of the game came 12 minutes into the first period, as Sharkey put the Tigers ahead 1-0. Ten minutes later, the co-captain struck again, finishing a pass from junior striker Michelle Cesan to put the Tigers ahead by two. Princeton added one more goal before halftime, when junior midfielder Julia Reinprecht fed junior defender Amanda Bird for a score.
The defense was a force for the Orange and Black in the first half, not allowing a single shot on goal.
“Our defense is always focused on getting a clean slate,” Maida said. “We want to maintain our reputation in the Ivy League as the best team.”
Coming back after the break, the Tigers quickly put the game further out of reach. Less than five minutes into the half, Sharkey completed a hat trick, and just one minute later, she added her fourth goal when freshman midfielder Teresa Benvenuti, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week, sent the ball into the middle for Sharkey to finish.
Freshman striker Maddie Copeland scored the Tigers’ third goal in a 126-second span; she would add another later in the half before senior midfielder Charlotte Krause completed the 8-0 rout. Sophomore Julia Boyle played the second half in goal and made three saves to help preserve the Tigers’ clean sheet.
“We had the energy up the whole game,” Maida said. “Everybody got to play, and different people got on the board, which was cool.”
Friday night, the Tigers will visit their third Ivy League opponent, Columbia, with the hopes of maintaining their unbeaten conference record. Columbia is the only other Ivy League team without a loss this season, so both teams will be heading into this game eager to win and move into the solo league lead.
“What matters most is winning the Ivy League and getting into the [NCAA] tournament,” Maida said. “But for now, we are focused on Columbia this Friday. We scrimmaged them earlier this year, and hopefully we will score some goals in that game and get our confidence back up.”
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/09/24/31216/