Women's Soccer: Tigers win Ivy opener on own goal
Coming off a 5-2 pounding of Lafayette, the women’s soccer team continued its road trip with a visit to New Haven for a crucial game against Yale. With each team hungry to open up Ivy League play with a win, the Saturday matchup had nail-biter written all over it. The game proved to be just that as it took nearly 97 minutes of near goals and fantastic saves to determine a victor.
Although the Tigers dominated most of the game, they needed a little bit of luck to win. Ultimately, an own goal by Yale (5-4 overall, 0-1 Ivy League) propelled Princeton to a 2-1 win and an improved record of 4-3-1.
From the start, Princeton’s offense didn’t hesitate to take control as the Tigers opened up with two shots in the first 10 minutes. While the Tigers failed to convert any of these opening attacks, the Bulldogs were able to capitalize on their first attempt when midfielder Muriel Battaglia knocked in a header off a corner kick in the 11th minute to put Yale up 1-0.
“It was definitely a shift in momentum, but it ultimately motivated us that much more to keep going and get back in the game,” senior midfielder Caitlin Blosser said.
Just 13 minutes later, Princeton responded with a goal of its own in a spectacular play facilitated by Blosser, whose quick thinking set up a scoring opportunity for junior midfielder Gabby Guzman.
“[Defender] Kacie [Kergides], one of our juniors, played me the ball, and I didn’t really have a good opportunity to control it and get a shot off,” Blosser said. “So I heard Gabby behind me, and I just let the ball go through my legs, and she had a good opportunity to settle it and she had an awesome shot.”
Guzman launched the ball from 25 yards out to find the top corner of the net to score her first goal of the season and even the game at one apiece. The Tigers continued to dominate the rest of the half, not conceding any shots. They constantly tested the Bulldogs’ defense and goalie Rachel Ames who kept Yale in the game with three saves.
In the second half, Princeton threatened to turn the game in its favor again. Eight minutes into the half, Blosser nearly scored a goal off a header from a corner kick, but the ball sailed just high of the net. The near goal was one of many missed opportunities for the Tigers in the half as they failed to execute any of their seven shots. Meanwhile, Yale’s offense, which had been quiet in the previous half, was starting to come alive and pressure the Princeton defense.
In the 85th minute, the Bulldogs almost made the Tigers pay for their lack of execution when Yale midfielder Frannie Coxe put up a shot that found its way past senior goalie Claire Pinciaro. The ball was on its way into the goal, but Kergides got to it just in time to clear it at the goal line and prevent a repeat of last week’s heartbreaker against University of California, Irvine.
Princeton, however, was not in the clear yet. One minute later, the Bulldogs threatened with the ball eight yards out of the goal and probably would have scored if it hadn’t been for Pinciaro coming out of the goal box to slide in and break up the play. Soon after, the half ended, sending the game into overtime. Yale quickly started where it left off with another shot on goal that was thwarted by Pinciaro once again.
Five minutes later, the Tigers led an attack that resulted in the game-winning goal when a Yale defender inadvertently headed the ball into her own goal off of sophomore forward Liana Cornacchio’s throw-in.
“We got a little bit of luck with the own goal,” senior defender Alison Nabatoff said. “But Liana has a really dangerous throw-in that you never know what is going to happen. She can throw it all the way into the box. Once it went in, everyone sort of just ran out on the field to celebrate.”
Princeton will finish its road trip with a game at 4 p.m. today against a struggling Saint Peter’s team. The Tigers will then try to continue their hot start in conference play with a game home against Dartmouth at 5 p.m. Saturday.