Women's Soccer: Late goals keep hosts unbeaten in Ivy play
With less than 15 minutes to play in the second half and still no score, the women’s soccer team was in need of some late heroics against Brown to remain undefeated in the Ivy League. The Bears (6-4-0 overall, 0-3 Ivy League) had done well at keeping the Ivy League’s top scorer, senior forward Jen Hoy, at bay, so the Tigers (7-3-1, 3-0) needed someone else to provide a spark to their offense. Surprisingly, that playmaker was a defender: senior Alison Nabatoff.
In the 77th minute, Nabatoff sent a long ball from just inside Brown’s half of the field that made it all the way into the penalty area. Senior midfielder Caitlin Blosser, a Brown defender, and Bears goalie MC Barrett went up for it together, but no one got a secure hold on the ball, so it popped out right to the feet of senior midfielder Rachel Sheehy. With an empty goal, Sheehy had no problem finding the back of the net to put the Tigers up 1-0 after a very quiet offensive half.
“We were pretty confident the whole time that we would end up getting a goal,” Nabatoff said in a post-game interview with GoPrincetonTigers. “It was just a matter of time. We just kept fighting them the whole time, and it felt good to finally see it go in the net.”
Five minutes later, the Tigers secured the game when Hoy, leading a three-on-three attack, fed a ball out to sophomore midfielder Lynessa McGee, who trapped it, took one dribble and then launched a shot that sailed past Barrett to find the left side of the net.
Brown was unable to respond in the remaining minutes, so with the help of some unexpected heroes — Sheehy’s goal was her first of the season, while McGee’s was the first of her career — Princeton came away with a 2-0 win to continue its dominance in Ivy League play after having defeated both Yale and Dartmouth in prior weeks.
Despite entering as one of the top teams in the league, the Tigers had trouble finding a rhythm on Saturday. The Tigers started off the first half well, as Princeton did a good job of switching the field and finding the open player. They had two opportunities early on, but both ended with shots sailing over the net.
From there, the Tigers’ offense went cold and didn’t produce any serious threats until late in the half. Princeton’s best opportunity came when McGee played a ball into the box, which Hoy deflected forward to the right. But just before she caught up to it to take a shot, Brown goalie Amber Bledsoe dove in and grabbed it just in time. With five saves on the half, Bledsoe was a key reason why the Bears stayed in the game for as long as they did, though she was replaced by Barrett after the break.
Princeton dominated the first half with 13 shots to Brown’s four, but the second half was much more even as Brown started to get more touches on the ball. Both teams, however, were sluggish for most of the half and produced no real challenges to the opposing goalies. But just as in the first half, the Tigers came alive late, and within a five-minute span they were able to quickly take control of the game.
With the win, the Tigers are now tied with Penn as the only teams still undefeated in Ivy League play. Princeton has not had this type of success since 2010, when the Tigers last held a 3-0 conference record, so they are not taking anything for granted.
“We’ve been going into it where every game is a championship game,” Nabatoff said. “This is three, but we have four left so we got to keep fighting. We are not content yet until we get all seven done.”