The Tigers faced no. 4 Duke last weekend, flying down to North Carolina on Saturday. This marked the start of a busy schedule for the Princeton field hockey team as they embark on a period of six games in two weeks. Unfortunately, the Tigers didn’t start this period the way they would have wanted to, losing narrowly to the Duke Blue Devils, 2-1.
The game, although a close one, was a disappointing result for Princeton who then stood at 1-3. The play was even in the first half, with both sides having great opportunities to be the first on the scoreboard; however, a penalty corner awarded in the final minute of the first half allowed Duke to take a 1-0 lead going into the second half. The initial shot was saved by sophomore goalkeeper Grace Baylis, but the rebound fell nicely to a Duke forward who finished calmly.
As the second half started, the Tigers made a few tactical changes and started to push the Blue Devils. The momentum seemed very much in Princeton’s favor, despite being one down. As the back-and-forth game continued, with both defenses standing strong, a ball that split the Princeton defenders into the circle bounced off a Princeton stick and dropped perfectly to a Duke forward. Duke would then double their lead later in the game.
However, as anyone that knows Princeton field hockey would say, it’s not over until it’s over. Being somewhat of a comeback team, the Tigers had some great scoring chances from penalty corners in the second half, and although Duke’s goalkeeper made a couple of good saves on the corners, she was unable to keep out senior captain Ryan McCarthy’s sweep on goal. McCarthy swept the ball from the top of the circle into the bottom right hand corner. The race was on once again, 2-1 with less than ten minutes to go.
The Tigers then scored a goal that would have tied the game, but it was disallowed after video referral deemed it dangerous. But Princeton didn’t stop there; the Tigers managed to create more scoring opportunities off corners. Even so, Princeton could not finish, and the final corner, with less than a minute left, saw the Duke goalkeeper once again save junior captain Sophia Tornetta’s final attempt on the cage.
Despite Princeton’s best efforts, the Blue Devils managed to wriggle out of an upset and hold onto their 2-1 lead. Although this was a disappointing result for Princeton, the energy that the Tigers brought was something that they will need to carry through the season if they are to replicate the success they saw last year.
A quick turnaround for Princeton saw them play no.10 Maryland on Tuesday. The Tigers went into this game with the same energy they had at Duke. Although not always an easy mindset to have with a midweek game, this energy saw them get on the scoreboard quickly. This was the first lead they had seen against a top-ten team this season. McCarthy picked up the ball off a mistake by the Maryland defender and found herself on- on-one with the goalkeeper. The senior kept her calm in front goal and slotted away the ball. The Tigers were off!
Freshman Clara Roth then doubled the lead off a penalty corner that sophomore Taylor Nolan earned. Despite continued pressure at the end of the first half, Princeton stood strong and took the 2-0 lead into the second period.
The second half was scrappier for both teams. Princeton again came close to scoring a third to give them some breathing room, but the Maryland Terps responded, creating lots of chances which eventually lead to a stroke. After a highly contested call, the Maryland sophomore Bodil Keus calmly flicked the ball into the net. There was still time left on the clock for Maryland to take the game to overtime. But incredible work ethic and grit from the whole team, along with a stellar defensive performance by sophomore Maddie Bacskai, saw the Tigers keep their lead. Baylis made a total of seven saves in the game, a season high so far. This is the first time in over 18 years that the Tigers have won at Maryland.
The Tigers start conference play this weekend against Dartmouth and their next home game will be Sept. 29 against Yale at 6 p.m.