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As most of us recovered from New Year’s festivities, the Tigers (8-8-1, 6-5 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) were hard at work again taking on Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (4-13-2, 2-6-0 ECAC) in their fist game of 2015. It was a disappointing loss because Princeton took the first game at Hobey in overtime earlier this season. RPI took an early lead – scoring twice – but sophomore Hilary Lloyd had an outstanding two goals before the end of the first period, keeping the score even.

In season’s past, the Tigers have struggled on this road trip facing two difficult teams at a difficult time in the season. RPI proved a challenging team. While they are not talented, they are a strong, hardworking team.

RPI scored in the first 24 seconds due to a series of mistakes in the defensive zone.

“When we make one mistake we seem to make five on the same play,” junior forward Jamie McDonell said. “We were all over the place, and we seemed to have forgotten how hard we worked to win in overtime earlier this season. We were taken by surprise by how aggressive they were.”

RPI scored once more during the first period, but sophomore forward Hilary Lloyd came back with two goals, making up for the mistakes they made earlier in the period. However, the Tigers continued to struggle. In the second period, RPI scored again, but sophomore forward Molly Contini was able to tie it up to 3-3 soon after.

“After we realized just how tough RPI was it seemed like we couldn’t score,” McDonell said. “Every line had a shot at scoring, but it just wasn’t going in.”

Princeton is currently 7-0 when they score the first goal in a game.

“We usually win when we score the first goal,” McDonell said. “We have a hard time coming back when we’re down, but losing to RPI was unacceptable.”

The offensive was strong, but the Tigers had trouble sticking to their systems in the defensive zone. Going into the new year, Princeton wanted to focus on playing a full 60 minutes. However, the Tigers made a lot of mistakes, and RPI capitalized on them. Over the course of the game, Princeton took almost twice as many shots on goal as RPI but struggled to find the back of the net.

“Every mistake we made, we got scored on. You can’t take a shift off,” McDonell said. “We don’t start the game ready to go. It seems to take us ten minutes to get warmed up.”

Princeton struggled on its one-on-one battles as well as its speed. Although a fast-skating team, the Engineers beat the Tigers to loose pucks and outworked them in one-on-ones.

“Whoever wins more one-on-one battles usually wins the game. Once we actually got our game together, it seemed like the game was out of our reach,” McDonell said.

Despite their struggle, sophomore Hilary Lloyd and junior goaltender Kimberly Newell stood out. Lloyd is known for her skill around the net.

“She’s a natural offensive player,” McDonell said. “She’s good in all three zones on the ice, and she always does the little things that make a big difference. There was nothing more that we could have asked from Kim. Our defensive play in front of the net let her down.” Newell was able to block 17 shots made on Princeton.

The loss to RPI will hurt Princeton’s league standings but will affect them more at the end of the season. The standings are tight and the difference between teams comes down to two points.

After a disappointing loss against RPI, the Tigers were able to bounce back with an impressive 3-0 shutout against Union (4-13-3, 1-7-0 ECAC). Three Tigers found the back of the net – sophomores Contini, forward Morgan Sly, and forward Fiona McKenna.

“Saturday’s game was completely different. We started ready to go. We had a wakeup call, and we weren’t about to take Union lightly,” McDonell said. During the warm-up, Contini had a great feeling about the game.

“Union is a better team than RPI,” she said. “They have an amazing goaltender, but everyone was ready to play. Molly turned to me and said that she felt good about the game.”

Even though the Tigers feel that they struggle on this roadtrip coming off of the holidays, they were able to turn the weekend around with freshman Alicia DiSilva having her first shutout of the season. They pulled DiSilva onto the ice since junior goaltender Kimberly Newell was not feeling well, and she pulled off a great performance.

“We just did well. Passes were hitting the tape and everyone was doing their job. We took care of our defensive zone better, and worked together better as a team. Goals come if you can keep them from scoring,” McDonell said.

After its loss to RPI, Princeton lost the opportunity to add two points to their standing in the Ivy League. Due to the Ivy League’s depth, each point can make a huge difference in overall standings at the end of the season.

“Our coaches were not happy. Realizing just how important these games are helped us to regain our focus. We couldn’t take Union lightly,” she said.

Princeton did a great job on the defensive and outshot Union by a large margin. The Tigers were in full control and had greater control of the puck.

“We weren’t panicking, and we were playing the game we should have played against RPI. We weren’t scared of losing, and we were having a lot of fun on the ice and on the bench,” McDonell said.

The sophomore class really stood out against Union. Different players stepped up to the plate, which was a huge confidence builder for the team. “We aren’t just relying on a few people, which strengthens the whole team.”

Another standout was senior defenseman Brianne Mahoney, who has played well the entire season. While Mahoney is not a big scoring defenseman, she was the force behind many scoring opportunities during the game. It was her pass to sophomore defenseman Kelsey Koelzer that made the first goal possible.

Despite a rocky start to the weekend, the Tigers were able to come back and build their confidence with standout performances from all over the ice. It speaks to the depth of the 2014-15 team and the potential for success in years to come.

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