A road trip to Hanover this past weekend marked a successful start to the field hockey team’s quest for another NCAA bid. They hammered Dartmouth on Sunday, rolling to a 7-3 victory.
With this win, the Tigers (3-4 overall, 1-0 Ivy League) continued a streak of recent victories against Dartmouth’s team, this most recent game representing their fourth straight win against the Big Green (3-4, 0-1). Their goal total was also the highest it has been in two seasons. Their last 7-goal performance was coincidentally also in Hanover, where they defeated Dartmouth 7-1.
As the score indicates, Princeton jumped all over Dartmouth from early on. First to draw blood in the game was freshman striker Sophia Tornetta, scoring just 18 seconds into the battle. The rookie has already established herself as a force on the team, ranking second so far in total points (4 goals and 4 assists).
However, continuing to lead this team with her excellent production is senior striker Maddie Copeland. Heading into this game, she was just a week removed from her first career hat trick against American, spurring the Tigers to a 5-1 victory. She was in just as sharp form this past weekend, following Tornetta’s goal by putting in two of her own, pushing Princeton out to a 3-0 lead. Princeton ultimately ended the first with a 3-1 lead.
Entering the second half, Dartmouth initially indicated they weren’t going away quietly. They inched closer to Princeton, scoring just over 3 minutes in to cut the lead down to 1.
From there, however, the Tigers stomped out all forms of life in the Big Green. It was Copeland who sparked the Tigers’ great push, picking up one more goal to give herself her second career hat trick. Her efforts were followed by goals from freshman striker Elizabeth George, junior midfielder Cat Caro and Tornetta once more, this time from a penalty goal. The 4 unanswered goals were more than enough for the Tigers to leave Hanover with a 7-3 victory.
Despite the victory, the Tigers look to continue to tighten up certain aspects of the game, particularly on the defensive end. The three goals actually represent a high number for the Tigers in their Ivy League matches – they allowed an average of 1.3 goals per game against league foes last season, and shut Dartmouth out 4-0 in the teams’ previous matchup.
Senior goalie Anya Gershoff points out that the performance on both offense and defense will need to be stellar, especially as the Tigers return to their (typically tougher) out-of-conference opponents.
“[There was] obvious need for defensive improvement,” Gershoff said. “Our goal is to dominate the Ivy League and we cannot concede three goals to a team like Dartmouth.”
The Tigers have shown improvement from last Tuesday’s loss to Maryland in terms of, as their head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn put it, “the little things that are going to give us higher quality opportunities.” In particular, when looking towards their first Ivy League game this weekend, Holmes-Winn had emphasized the importance of off-ball movement in the Tigers’ offensive game.
Caro pointed out that, this time around, the Tigers had off-ball movement on the top of their minds.
“I think the off-ball work allowed us to capitalize on a lot of our opportunities, and that was a product of people just doing their job,” Caro said. “When we played simple, it worked in our favor in the end.”
The team will continue league play as they face off against the Yale Bulldogs (2-5, 0-1). The Tigers, if the Dartmouth game is any indication, are looking for their 11th consecutive league champs title.
Indeed, instrumental to earning those titles is the team’s cutting its teeth with top-ranked, out-of-conference foes. Though the Tigers are at the moment slightly below .500, they believe the improvements they’ve made from facing such tough teams will become clear when November and the postseason roll around.
“Playing tough competition so early serves as a test to see where our team is at the beginning of the season,” Gershoff said. “We expect to compete with the best, and these games allow us to see where we must improve in order to accomplish our goals.”“I think playing such talented teams early in the season has helped us because it allowed us to see the best of the best teams and get an idea of the kind of competition we'll see in November,” Caro said. “Playing them early in the season will give us the most time to improve and get better throughout the weeks.”