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Goals from Popper and Yeager lead field hockey to two weekend wins

<h5>Beth Yeager in a game against UConn.</h5>
<h6>Ryan Samson / <a href="https://goprincetontigers.com/news/2021/10/3/field-hockey-yeager-okkinga-lead-no-17-princeton-past-no-16-uconn-in-ot.aspx" target="_self">GoPrincetonTigers</a></h6>
Beth Yeager in a game against UConn.
Ryan Samson / GoPrincetonTigers

No. 17 Princeton field hockey (5–5, 2–0) came away with two wins this weekend, defeating the visiting Yale Bulldogs on Bedford Field Saturday evening and beating the 16th-ranked UConn Huskies on Sunday.

In an interview after the Tigers’ 3–1 victory against Yale, sophomore foreward Grace Schulze told The Daily Princetonian it “was definitely a hard fought win.”

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“We know Yale plays with a lot of energy and speed, and so we had to make sure we played our game and started strong. I think we did a good job of using each other throughout the game,” she said.

The Tigers dominated the first period, keeping the ball in Yale’s end for the majority of the period. Less than a minute into the game, junior midfielder Sammy Popper scored, assisted by freshman midfielder Aimee Jungfer — Popper’s first goal of the game, and third of the season. The Bulldogs worked hard to catch up, and almost did with a quick breakaway at eight minutes left in the period. However, sophomore goalie Robyn Thompson cleared the ball out of the circle before Yale got a shot on goal.

The second period upped the competition’s intensity. Yale returned to the turf with strong offensive plays. Running off the adrenaline of a shot on the goal 13 seconds in, they were able to get a penalty corner. A direct shot off of the corner by the Bulldogs tied the game. Yale midfielder Theodora Dillman was awarded the goal, her fifth of the year. Yale held possession of the ball for most of the second period, not allowing Princeton to find any scoring opportunities.

Fighting to gain an advantage, Yale intercepted a defensive ball from Princeton and brought it into their circle, managing to receive a penalty corner. Unwilling to let another ball slip by her, Thompson was quick to save and clear the ball out to Princeton’s offense. The Tigers regained possession with a few minutes left in the half and took this opportunity to take multiple shots on goal.

Princeton earned a penalty corner with less than 30 seconds left in the half, but Yale goalie Luanna Summer was able to make the save. Not giving up, Princeton midfielder junior Hannah Davey chased down her own shot and passed it to Popper, who slipped the ball into the net without hesitation, her second of the game and fourth of the year. By the end of the half, Princeton regained their 1-goal advantage against the Bulldogs.

The third period was a battle for both teams. Although Princeton was able to get a few shots on goal, none found the back of the net. The score remained at 2–1 when the fourth period started.

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At the beginning of the last period, Schulze skillfully brought the ball down the sideline and into the circle. Schulze quickly passed to junior Ophélie Bemelmans, who was posted to the right of the goal. Schulze cut in closer toward the center to receive a return pass from Bemelmans and swept the ball into the goal, giving Princeton a 3–1 lead with her third of the year.

The Tigers would hold on to the lead for good after that, shutting down the Yale offense. This was a theme throughout the game, as the Bulldogs were held to five shots on goal compared to Princeton’s 16.

“Getting an Ivy League win is always a great feeling. Our game against Yale was another chance to keep building as a team and grow more and more connected,” Popper, the game’s leading scorer, reflected.

“I’m very proud of the team’s performance and we are looking ahead to our next game against UConn to secure another win,” she added.

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And win they did.

On Sunday, Princeton came away with an overtime victory against the No. 16 Huskies. First-year Elizabeth midfielder Yeager scored both Tiger goals en route to the 2–1 overtime victory.

The Tigers are now 2–0 in the Ivy League and 5–5 overall. Their next game will be against Dartmouth in Hanover on Oct. 9.

Julia Nguyen is a staff writer for the News and Sports sections at the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at trucn@princeton.edu or on Instagram at @jt.nguyen.

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