Women's Soccer: Seniors lead team into 1st round of tournament play
A major factor in the team’s success has been the leadership brought by its oldest veterans, which head coach Julie Shackford said is a major similarity between this year’s team and the one from 2004.
“Senior leadership helped us win the tighter games and kept us hungry and motivated through the few losses,” she said.
Sophomore forward Lauren Lazo agreed, adding, “The senior leadership has been unparalleled this year. We have a large senior class, and the desire and fight they have all exhibited this year has been very contagious.”
One of those seniors, forward Jen Hoy, scored 17 goals this season, second-most in Princeton’s history — current assistant coach Esmeralda Negron ’05 scored 20 in 2004 — to earn the Ivy League Player of the Year award. At the regular season’s end, Hoy was third in the nation in goals per game, leading the Tigers to the third-best team scoring total.
“[Hoy] took her game to another level and took us all with her too,” Shackford said.
Senior defender Alison Nabatoff, junior midfielder Gabriella Guzman, senior midfielder Rachel Sheehy and Lazo joined Hoy on the All-Ivy first team, while senior forward Caitlin Blosser, senior goalkeeper Claire Pinciaro and junior defender Diane Metcalf-Leggette also received postseason honors from the league. The eight awards set a Princeton record.
No. 21 West Virginia (11-4-4) — which beat Princeton 2-1 in the first round of the 2008 NCAA tournament — will once again be a tough opponent. It is the first West Virginia team in any sport to win a Big 12 Conference title, taking the crown with a 7-0-1 record in its first year after moving from the Big East.
The Mountaineers scored almost twice as many goals as their opponents, 33-18, while the Tigers outscored their opponents 49-27. Shackford said the Mountaineers are “athletic” and that the Tigers will look out for defender Bry McCarthy and forward Kate Schwindel. Schwindel led West Virginia in points this season with nine goals and eight assists.
“We know they are going to be good, strong and physical, but if we stick to our game and continue to play the way we have been, we should come out Saturday with a victory,” Lazo said.
If the Tigers defeat West Virginia, they will face the winner of No. 4-seed Marquette and Illinois State in the second round of the NCAA tournament next weekend.
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