The No. 14 Princeton women’s field hockey team (11-6 overall, 7-0 Ivy) has defeated Penn (9-8, 4-3) in 13 consecutive match ups, but the Tigers' victory over the Quakers this past weekend held even larger significance: not only did the team continue its streak against an historic rival, but the Orange and Black also claimed their 25th Ivy League title. This victory is a channel to the team's 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance, which will take place on Nov. 11 against No. 4 Virginia (15-4 overall, 5-1 ACC).
Saturday’s game at Ellen Vagelos Field in Philadelphia was all about one thing — shots. Princeton outshot Penn 13-4 and held the Quakers to just one attempt in the second half of play. While Penn had the first shot right off the bat, the Tigers were able to have the last laugh. The game started with Penn’s Alex Hoover putting Penn on the scoreboard off a corner shot in just the third minute of play. The Quakers tried again at the 10th minute, but Princeton sophomore goalie Grace Baylis used this opportunity to nab her first block of the game.
The Tigers had two attempted corners in a row at the 12th and 13th minutes, but both were unsuccessful. Going into the first half, the Tigers were behind at halftime for the first time since they played the UConn Huskies on Oct. 8. This only kept them motivated and ready to come out fighting in the second half.
Right from the get-go, freshman midfielder Clara Roth netted her sixth goal of the season for the Tigers. She tied the game off an interception and dribbled along the baseline before letting it fly past Penn’s goalie into the net. The Tigers played with their most aggressive offense yet in the second half, shooting 10 corners in just 35 minutes.
The game-winner came at the 47th minute of play, when sophomore midfielder Maddie Bacskai knocked the ball into the cage off of a deflection from junior striker Sophia Tornetta. Bacskai was honored with not only a championship title, but also named Ivy League Player of the Week for her victorious goal.
Few teams can say they are used to clinching a spot in the NCAA tournament, but for the Princeton Tigers, it has simply become routine. Princeton has played in at least the NCAA play-in game every year since 2004 and went all the way to the Final Four last year.
Princeton has been seeded third in the tournament, right behind the Virginia Cavaliers. These two teams have matched up 13 times total, three of which have been in the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers lead the series 7-6, but Princeton has the advantage of having won NCAA quarterfinals last year.
Going into Saturday’s game, Princeton has four top-25 wins, taking down No. 22 Rutgers (Sept. 8), No. 10 Maryland (Sept. 19), No. 24 Boston University (Sept. 24), and No. 15 Harvard (Oct. 21). The combination of their winning record and their difficult schedule is evidence that the Tigers will be one of the strongest teams in this year’s tournament.