The women’s soccer team closed its season with a disappointing 3-2 loss to Penn. The game was the career finale for nine seniors on the team and for head coach Julie Shackford, who is leaving after 20 seasons with the program. The Tigers (7-6-3 overall, 3-3-1 Ivy League) finished the season in a three-way tie for third place in the Ivy League with Penn (8-5-3, 3-3-1) and Yale (8-4-4, 3-3-1).
Penn’s Clara Midgley scored the first goal of the game with an assist from Jules Provini in the 10th minute. Quaker Kaitlyn Moore scored in the 41st minute with an assist from Erin Mikolai, who leads their team with six assists, to put Penn up 2-0 at halftime.
Reflecting on the game, senior forward and co-captain Gabrielle Ragazzo said, “We were trying to move the ball and keep pressure on them. We managed two goals; it was unfortunate we didn’t score another.”
The close game kept fans on their toes during the second half but ultimately ended in a heartbreaking defeat in the final minutes. The Tigers fought back ferociously in the second half to break through the Penn defense and even the score 2-2. The first goal was scored by senior defender Lauren Lazo on an assist from sophomore forward Tyler Lussi in the 48th minute. The second Tiger goal of the game came with less than five minutes left on the clock, when sophomore defender Jesse McDonough broke through a gap in the Quaker defense to the left side, passing it back to freshman forward Beth Stella for the goal.
With less than two minutes left on the clock and the crowd going wild, the Tigers and Quakers were at a standoff, each fighting for the upper hand. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Midgley got possession of the ball on a pass from Penn’s Lindsey Sawczuk and managed to score on a breakaway, shocking the entire stadium and winning the game for the Quakers.
Despite the loss, the Tigers dramatically outshot the Quakers 21-9. The Tigers dominated the Ivy League offensively this season, topping every offensive scoring category in the league and ranking highly in a number of categories in the NCAA. Both Lazo and Lussi finished the season with 28 career goals, tying them for fifth place on the Princeton all-time career list. Lazo also ended the season in a tie for the most career assists in the program's history with a total of 26. The Tigers also end a successful season with a strong roster complete with young developing talent that brought the team so far this year.
“We’re a pretty young team,” Ragazzo said. “There were a lot of underclassmen that came in and had to make an impact right away. It really speaks to them that they came in and made such a large impact.”
The game concluded the Princeton careers of seniors Lazo, MicKenzie Roberts-Lahti, Jessica Haley, Liana Cornacchio, Melissa Downey, Lindsey Heigh, Lynessa McGee, Ragazzo and Darcy Hargadon. Shackford also ended her legendary Tiger career with the Penn game, closing the book on a career that includes 203 wins, seven Ivy League titles and eight NCAA tournament appearances, one of which included a run to the NCAA semifinals in 2004.
With respect to Shackford, Ragazzo said, “I learned a lot from her. One of the biggest things she taught us was to always hold ourselves accountable for mistakes. She expected a lot from us because she knew we could bring it. She taught us accountability and to always bring our best.”