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Sammy Popper '23 hits the ball during the team's match against Harvard last Saturday. Photo by Michael Reeves / GoPrincetonTigers

Over fall break, No. 7 Field Hockey (12–4, 6–0 Ivy League) posted victories against then⁠ No. 14 Harvard (11–4, 5–1 Ivy) and Cornell (9–7, 3–3 Ivy).

In recent years, Princeton versus Harvard has proved to be the decisive game on the Ivy League calendar. Last year, the visiting Crimson defeated the Tigers 3–1 and claimed the league’s regular season title.  In the second round of the NCAA tournament, however, Princeton exacted revenge, winning 2–1 to reach the national semi-finals. The two teams have combined to win each of the last seven Ivy titles.

This fall’s edition of Princeton versus Harvard, played at the beginning of break in Boston, lived up to the hype. In the first quarter, the Tigers’ defense did not allow a single shot. The Crimson fought back in the second period, converting the first tally of the game in its 24th minute. But with just 49 seconds to go before the half, sophomore midfielder Hannah Davey hammered home a shot to even the score, 1–1.

The Crimson went up 2–1 early in the third quarter but failed to convert on two consecutive corner attempts. Left lying within striking distance, Princeton still need to retie the score. First-year midfielder Sammy Popper got the job done late in the quarter. She dribbled to her right before knocking the ball home, erasing Harvard’s advantage heading into the final 15 minutes of play.

In the fourth, Princeton wasted no time sealing the deal. Two minutes had barely ticked away as Popper fired another shot from the right that was rebounded and converted by junior midfielder MaryKate Neff. The Tigers would only allow one shot on goal in the final 13 minutes, coming away with a 3–2 victory.

With the win, the Tigers moved to 5–0 against Ivy opponents and into control of their own destiny as they seek a second Ivy League title in three years. Neff also earned Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week honors following Princeton’s victory at Harvard.

The Tigers concluded fall break with a Sunday matchup against Cornell. As it was the last home game of the season, Princeton also celebrated Senior Day. The Class of 2020 includes goalie Grace Baylis, fullback Maddie Bacskai, midfielder and fullback Carlotta von Gierke, midfielder Krista Hoffman, and striker Taylor Nolan. They have registered 50 wins, three NCAA tournament appearances, two Final Fours, and an Ivy League title.

On the field, Princeton dominated Cornell, earning a 3–0 win. The Tigers scored just four minutes into the action as Popper converted a corner. At halftime, Princeton held a 7–1 shot advantage.

In the third quarter, junior striker Emma Street forced a turnover, then found sophomore striker Ali McCarthy, who took advantage of a 3v1 situation to put Princeton ahead 2–0. Junior midfielder Julianna Tornetta added a third tally for the Tigers on a penalty stroke in the fourth.

Princeton is now undefeated in the Ivy League with only one game remaining. The Tigers’ victory over the Big Red also guarantees them at least a share of the league’s regular season title and an automatic NCAA Tournament berth. Princeton will be back in action Saturday at Penn.

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