Field Hockey: No. 2 Tigers host Crimson, No. 4 Huskies
Hoping to extend its four-game win streak even further, the field hockey team will host an Ivy League opponent as well as a fellow top-five team at Bedford Field this weekend. Princeton (11-1 overall, 4-0 Ivy League), currently ranked second in the nation, will face off against Harvard (3-9, 1-3) on Saturday afternoon and turn around to play No. 4 Connecticut (15-0) the following day.
The Tigers will try to stay alone atop the conference with a victory over the Crimson and to maintain their high national ranking against the highly respected Huskies on Sunday.
“Despite UConn being ranked higher, Harvard is technically a more important game for us — winning the Ivy League is our number-one priority,” junior goalkeeper Christina Maida said. “On Saturday, I think the team wants a shutout win and to really hone in on the basics to prepare for UConn.”
“We approach every opponent with the same mentality, and so we will look to bring the same energy, intensity and focus to both the Harvard and Connecticut games,” senior striker and captain Kathleen Sharkey said. “We’re aware of the difficulty of playing tough games on consecutive days, and so hopefully in our game on Saturday we will be able to substitute frequently, so that no one becomes too fatigued for the game on Sunday.”
While Princeton enters Saturday’s game with four consecutive victories, the Crimson arrives hoping to redeem its four-game losing streak. This will be a difficult task for Harvard, as the Tigers have consistently dominated their Ivy League opponents. Princeton’s back line has earned three shutouts, allowing only one goal in conference play this season, which came in its Ivy opener versus Dartmouth.
The Tigers’ attack stands atop the league statistics as well, boasting the best scoring margin and scoring the most goals, with 55 to their credit. Leading the offensive charge, Sharkey is the nation’s top scorer with 1.74 goals and four points per game.
Last year, Princeton earned its 18th consecutive win against Harvard with a 4-1 final score. So far this season, the Tigers and Harvard have played two common opponents. While Princeton decisively beat Yale 8-0 earlier this fall, the Crimson fell 2-1 in overtime; both teams shut out Brown, with the Tigers grabbing a 6-0 win and Harvard a narrower 1-0 victory.
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, Princeton will need to regroup and recharge their mental and physical efforts for Sunday’s tough opponent. Connecticut, the third top-five team to visit Bedford Field this fall, is currently undefeated and posting impressive scores. Last season, the Huskies outscored the Tigers 3-1 in the regular season and then ended Princeton’s season with a 3-2 victory in the NCAA tournament.
“I know that Connecticut has a very strong defensive unit,” Sharkey said. “They have not allowed many goals to be scored on them this year, and so I think it will be very tough to put the ball in their net. We’ve been working on our offensive movement in practice this past week, and so hopefully we will be able to manipulate their defenders and create some spaces that will lead to attacking opportunities for us.”
Earlier this season, both Princeton and Connecticut handed Penn State and Yale defeats. Against the Nittany Lions, the Tigers squeaked out a 3-2 overtime victory and Connecticut earned a 2-1 win in regulation. The Bulldogs were held scoreless by both teams, with Princeton netting eight goals and Connecticut three. Both teams have fared similarly against their common opponents, making Sunday’s matchup as competitive as they come.
“We’ve just completed a very physically demanding phase of our program,” Sharkey said. “Conditioning was a main focus of our practices over these past few weeks. It was definitely tough, but I think we have emerged from this phase as a more physically fit team. I think our fitness will help us maintain a high level of intensity for the entire 70 minutes of both games this weekend.”
Carrying with them the positive momentum of the last three weeks, the Tigers will have to have strong performances from both their high-scoring offensive unit and their shutdown defense to maintain their unbeaten Ivy record Saturday and to shatter Connecticut’s undefeated season on Sunday.
“We play our game regardless of the opponent — on our game plans, we don’t even write the opponent’s name on the paper,” Maida said. “We don’t underestimate lower-ranked teams, because that’s a surefire way to earn an unexpected loss. We are so excited for this weekend, and hopefully we can play our absolute hardest and come out with two wins.”
Reader Comments (0)
No comments yet. Be the first to post your opinion on this article.