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Field hockey beats Columbia 5–1 in season’s final game

<h5>Junior Hannah Davey during a game against Cornell this season.</h5>
<h6>Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Junior Hannah Davey during a game against Cornell this season.
Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian

Princeton field hockey dominated on Bedford Field against the Columbia Lions this past Saturday, winning 5–1 to close out their season. 

The Tigers, ranked 16th nationally, finished second in the Ivy League behind No. 11 Harvard. Princeton ended the season 10–7 overall and 6–1 in league play. Their sole loss this season came against the Crimson, who went undefeated in the conference and finished 15–1 overall.

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Princeton’s field hockey program still leads the league with 26 Ivy titles, one more than those of the rest of the league combined. Their most recent title came in 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on athletics.

Despite not winning the Ivy League title this year, the Tigers managed to end this season on a high note. 

The first quarter of Saturday’s game against Columbia saw neither team score, but the Tigers changed the pace in the first minute of the second quarter when junior striker Ali McCarthy intercepted a defensive clearance from Columbia, managing to draw a corner for the Tigers. Junior midfielder Sammy Popper received the ball at the top of the circle from junior forward Ophelie Bemelmans and skillfully brought it inside. With her back to the goal and defensive pressure on her, Popper quickly reverse chipped the ball. It slipped right past the right foot of Columbia’s goalie, Alexa Conomikes, and into the bottom right corner of the goal, giving the Tigers a 1–0 advantage.

Minutes after Princeton’s first goal, Columbia’s midfielder Kelsey Farkas drew a corner of her own. However, a shot by midfielder Brook Gasser went wide, and Princeton regained possession.

With less than five minutes left in the quarter, McCarthy dribbled the ball from the left corner of the field into the circle, sending it towards the goal. Junior defender Claire Donovan managed to get her stick on the ball for a tip-in, despite the defensive crowd in front of the goal.

Just over a minute after the second goal, Princeton’s offense maintained a strong hold of ball possession in their offensive circle. In the span of 20 seconds, the Tigers had three shots on goal. Columbia’s defense scrambled to clear the ball following a penalty corner drawn by McCarthy. However, in the process of doing so, a penalty stroke was called in Princeton’s favor. Sophomore midfielder Sam Davidson successfully converted the stroke into another goal, putting Princeton ahead by three at the halfway mark.

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The Tigers came out strong in the second half, scoring just 33 seconds into the third quarter. Donovan sent the ball up the field to junior midfielder Hannah Davey, who finished the play with a drive from the top of the circle into the goal.

The next eight minutes of the third quarter were dominated by Princeton’s offense with two more shots on goal and two penalty corners. The Lions’ defense managed to hold off the Tigers and eventually gained possession. Farkas drew a corner for the Lions, but the play was unsuccessful. Despite Columbia’s momentum, Princeton’s defense would not give in, consistently pressuring the ball until they regained control.

Going into the final quarter, Princeton was on track to claim a shutout victory against the Lions. For the first 13 minutes, the ball stayed mostly in the midfield with possession switching between the teams.

However, with seven minutes left in the game, the Lions gained control and brought it to their offensive end. Columbia’s forward Anabelle Brodeur sent in a centering pass behind Princeton’s defense, allowing for the perfect tip-in by forward Ellie Decker. The goal gave the Lions additional momentum, and they were able to hold onto possession of the ball for a few more minutes.

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The Tigers had a breakaway play when sophomore forward Grace Schulze drew a corner for Princeton. Schulze fed the ball towards the top of the circle to Popper, who took a direct shot. Schulze quickly moved to the corner of the goal and deflected Popper’s shot into the net, bringing the score to 5–1.

Each of Princeton’s five goals was scored by a different player.

“It felt great to get a win under our belt today,” Popper commented in an interview with The Daily Princetonian after the game. “Although it was most likely our last game of the season, we don’t have any seniors graduating so moving forward and looking forward to next year with this same team is extremely exciting, and we never know, postseason could still be in the cards for us.”

A day after the game, the NCAA Division I Field Hockey Committee announced the official bracket for the opening rounds of the 2021 NCAA Championship, which is set to begin on Nov. 10. Ten collegiate teams received an automatic qualification and eight teams were selected at-large. Princeton did not receive a bid for the tournament.

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

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