Under the lights in New York City, the field hockey team held Columbia scoreless with an 8-0 shutout on Friday night. Princeton (8-1 overall, 3-0 Ivy League) snapped Columbia’s (6-3, 2-1) six-game win streak, giving the Tigers sole possession of first place in the Ivy League as the only team undefeated in conference play.
After the Tigers’ 16th consecutive victory over the Lions, only four Ivy League contests stand between Princeton and its 21st Ivy League crown. But before they resume conference play, the No. 3 Tigers will host No. 4 Maryland (8-2) in a marquee game at Bedford Field at 4 p.m.
“We will focus on playing a very connected style of hockey,” senior midfielder Katie Reinprecht said. “In some of our bigger games against top-ranked opponents, we tended to play a bit individually. We need to attack and defend in numbers and use our teammates around us more effectively. Defeating the fourth-ranked team in the country is going to have to be an entire team effort.”
On Friday night, the Tigers dominated the game from the very start, holding a 20-0 shot advantage in the first half. Columbia struggled to connect on offense and to stop the ruthless Princeton attack on the other end, surrendering six goals before halftime and two more in the second half.
“The forwards have been working on their off-ball movement in the front field,” Katie Reinprecht said. “I thought the forwards worked very well off each other, which made it rather difficult for our opponent to effectively mark them. Their movement really opened up the field for the midfielders coming through and helped us create a lot of scoring opportunities.”
The Lions were unable to get a shot off until the 56th minute of the game and finished with only eight. Princeton’s two goalies, junior Christina Maida and sophomore Julia Boyle, earned a joint shutout.
“We have been working on getting better pressure on the ball in the defensive end, and then once that happens, the periphery players must set up on their marks to cut off all passing options,” Katie Reinprecht said. “I think the emphasis on defensive intensity helped us earn the shutout.”
Junior striker Michelle Cesan scored first for the Tigers at six minutes, 21 seconds, with an unassisted goal. In the next four minutes of play, Katie Reinprecht and sophomore striker Allison Evans combined on a pair of goals. Reinprecht’s shot in the ninth minute was blocked, but Evans quickly grabbed the loose ball and fired it into the cage. Reinprecht earned another assist shortly after, with a cross into the middle that Evans collected for her second goal of the game.
Senior striker Kathleen Sharkey added to the lead, scoring her 18th goal of the season off of a penalty corner. Sophomore midfielder Sydney Kirby, back in action on Friday night after missing the previous five games because of her commitments to the U.S. Junior National team, immediately stepped up to make key contributions for the Tigers. Collecting her own rebound, Kirby sent in a shot to make the Princeton lead 5-0. Before the half, Evans sent a cross to sophomore midfielder Stephanie Goldberg, who scored the first goal of her career.
“Getting ahead early provides a cushion to have players try out new positions on the field,” junior midfielder Julia Reinprecht said. “It’s always great to gain experience, and I think the score line showed the depth within our team. Even after several positional changes were made, we continued to score and deny their attack.”
After the break, Princeton continued to dominate possession all over the field. About 10 minutes into the half, junior striker Allegra Mango helped freshman midfielder Debi-Michelle Jantzen earn her first career goal for the Orange and Black. Sharkey struck for her second of the match, unassisted at 67:36, while Princeton continued to hold the Lions scoreless.
“The defense definitely had a sound performance tonight,” Julia Reinprecht said. “We have been focusing on our tackling and our corner defense at practice, and that definitely helped us earn the shutout. The forwards and midfielders were also applying great pressure farther up the field, which led to several scoring opportunities and goals.”
The Tigers now begin a stretch of five straight home games, starting with tonight’s showdown against Maryland. Princeton dropped last year’s meeting 6-2 on the road, but in 2010, the Tigers defeated the then-No. 1 Terps 4-2 at home.
“Maryland has a long history of winning,” Julia Reinprecht said. “Every year, they have an athletic and talented team, and they will certainly test us. We are still making adjustments in our playing system, so we will continue to work on our structure over the next few practices.”
So far this season, the two squads have had two mutual opponents. Each team defeated No. 15 Wake Forest 4-2, and both easily beat Dartmouth.
“I think Maryland will be a huge game for us,” Julia Reinprecht said. “Everyone will have to play defense, and everyone will have to support each other on the attack. They are not a team that will just let you win — you have to earn it. I think this is just the kind of test that our team needs at this point in the season.”
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/02/31339/