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Field Hockey defeated Penn and earned the right to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament

By Emily Colborne

On Saturday, No. 5 Princeton field hockey (13–4, 6–1 Ivy) finished up its regular season schedule with a 3–2 comeback win over the Penn Quakers. It was also Senior Day for the Class of 2019. The team honored seniors Nicole Catalino, Jane Donio-Enscoe, Annabeth Donovan, Sarah Holland, Casey Swezey, Sophia Tornetta, and Elise Wong prior to the match.

Penn got on the board early, with Alexa Schneck slipping a ball by junior goalkeeper Grace Baylis in the eighth minute. Midway through the first half junior fullback Maddie Bacskai scored off a corner, assisted by midfielder Wong and striker Tornetta. But after the first 35 minutes of play, the score would read 2–1 in the Quakers’ favor.

To avoid dropping a second Ivy League meeting, the Tigers needed a strong second half. Luckily, Donovan, a senior fullback, had her stick right in front of the goal to receive a pass from freshman midfielder Hannah Davey, which she converted to a goal.

From then on, Princeton found its stride. Sophomore midfielder Julianna Tornetta scored by rebounding a strong shot by freshman striker Ali McCarthy with 14 minutes left. The Tiger defense would not allow a shot even after pulling its goalie.

Last season, the Orange and Black also had to come from behind to beat the Quakers. The 3–2 decision was Princeton’s 13th of the season — the program’s highest tally since 2013.

Back in September, junior fullback Carlotta von Gierke said: “The ultimate goal for our 2018 season is to win a national championship.”

On Sunday night, the NCAA selected the tournament field. North Carolina grabbed the top spot, followed by Maryland, Princeton, and Duke. As the third overall seed, the Tigers will host Virginia on Friday to open the postseason.

The Cavaliers are 9–9 this season and ranked No. 16 nationally. They won an at-large bid and were awarded a spot in the tournament over more highly ranked squads like Boston College, Delaware, Liberty, and Louisville. Princeton drew a challenging bracket though, with a potential second round match-up against Harvard or Penn State. The Tigers survived in double overtime against the Nittany Lions two months ago, and their only Ivy League loss was at the hands of the Crimson.

“We’re excited to be back in the NCAA Tournament and having the chance to host is a unique opportunity — one that Princeton hasn’t had since 2009,” said head coach Carla Tagliente. “We are focused on taking it one game at a time. The most important thing in front of us right now is Friday — not the regular season or win/loss records. Everyone is 0–0 right now. This team has demonstrated great character and leadership and I’m excited about the opportunity in front of us.”

The NCAA Field Hockey Championship (semi-final and championship matches) will be hosted by the University of Louisville at Trager Stadium from Nov. 16 to 18. A trip to the Final Four would be the Tigers’ second in three years.

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