No. 13 Princeton field hockey (0–2 overall) fell 4–1 on Friday to No.1 University of North Carolina (2–2 overall) at the Tigers’ season opener. The last time the two teams competed against each other in 2019, the Tar Heels took home the NCAA trophy, defending their position as national champions.
UNC scored early in the first period, giving them a 1–0 advantage against Princeton. Determined to even the score, Princeton tried to keep the ball on their offensive side of the field, but their five shots on goal and two penalty corners were saved by UNC.
By the second period, the bleachers of Bedford Field were packed with Princeton students and families. Feeding off the energy of the crowd, sophomore forward Grace Schulze tied the game with about seven minutes left in the period.
“I was just trying to do anything and everything I could to get the ball on the net and create a scoring opportunity. Our team always says a goal doesn’t need to be pretty, it just needs to count. After the goal I was excited but also knew the game was far from over so we had to keep putting pressure on them,” Schulze reflects.
Shortly after, the Tar Heels added another tally to the score, entering half-time with a 2–1 lead.
Princeton came out strong in the second half, shooting at the goal in the first two minutes. Shots on goal by first-year midfielder Beth Yeager and junior striker Ali McCarthy were saved by UNC’s goalie. With four minutes left in the third period, the Tar Heels managed to slip past Princeton’s defense, scoring once again. Down by two, the Tigers shot at goal before the end of the period but were unable to add to the scoreboard.
At the start of fourth period, UNC dominated the field, keeping the ball in their offensive possession. Within the span of five minutes, the Tar Heels had four shots on goal and two penalty corners. UNC’s Hannah Griggs managed to slip one in at 51:40, securing a 4–1 lead. With eight minutes left, the Tigers shot on goal twice more, attempting to close the gap in the score. Both shots were saved by UNC’s defense.
Despite a tough game against the reigning national champions, sophomore goalkeeper Robyn Thompson had seven total saves.
Just two days after taking on UNC, the Tigers fell 3–2 in a close game against the No. 5 University of Louisville Cardinals (4–0 overall). Princeton came out onto the field strong, dominating the game with a skillful offense. In the first ten minutes, the Tigers were able to pressure the Cardinals’ goalie with five shots on goal and two penalty corners. On a penalty stroke play, Yeager scored the first goal of the game.
After Princeton’s goal, Louisville managed to earn a corner, and subsequently a goal, with less than thirty seconds left in the first period, bringing the game to a 1–1 tie.
The Cardinals scored quickly in the second quarter, giving them a one point lead. For the remainder of the game, Princeton maintained possession. There were multiple efforts by the Tigers to eliminate the gap, but their efforts were not met with success until the end of the period. With thirty seconds left on the clock, Princeton earned a penalty corner. Yeager once again scored for the Tigers, bringing the score to 2–2 at halftime.
The game remained tied throughout the second half. While both teams had multiple shots on goal and opportunities to score with penalty corners, neither found the net.
In seven-a-side overtime play, the Cardinals maintained strong possession of the ball. About five minutes in, the Cardinals received a penalty corner. Their shot was deflected off a Princeton stick, going high in the circle. The Cardinals consequently earned another penalty corner and scored. The play was reviewed due to the possibility of a high/dangerous ball but the referees ultimately stayed with the original call, giving the Cardinals a 3–2 win.
In another home game at Bedford Field, Princeton will play against No. 12 Duke University (1–3) on Saturday, Sept. 11 at noon.
Julia Nguyen is a staff writer for the News and Sports sections at the 'Prince.' She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on instagram at @jt.nguyen.