This past Friday, the No. 8 Princeton field hockey team (3–3, 0–0 Ivy) hosted the Delaware Blue Hens (1–7, 0–1 Colonial Athletic) and won, 3–1. With the support of Princeton fans, including the women’s lacrosse and basketball teams who filled the bleachers of Bedford Field, the Tigers powered through a scoreless first half to ultimately take the win.
While the Blue Hens outshot the Tigers 13–6, Delaware couldn’t get past Princeton defense and junior goalie Robyn Thompson to convert the shots into goals. Thompson, who was recently named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week, stood her ground and saved five of six shots on goal. Even under the pressure of four Delaware corners within one minute during the third quarter, Thompson persevered.
On the offensive end, however, the Tigers struggled to find their rhythm early. With possession switching back and forth, Princeton just couldn’t seem to get the timing right for a successful shot.
This, however, did not last forever. With 2:33 left on the clock in the third, Delaware thought they had finally scored the first goal of the game. But milliseconds before a Blue Hen shot the ball into the net, a whistle was blown in favor of the Tigers. Even after thorough review by the officiators, the call stood: the ball was Princeton’s to take.
After this false alarm, it was as though everything clicked into place for Princeton. There were 53 seconds remaining in the third quarter when the Tigers took the lead.
“One of the freshmen, Ava, crossed the ball into the circle, and I just popped into the middle and one-timed it into the goal,” senior forward and captain Sammy Popper told the Daily Princetonian. “I was just thinking about how I could be in a great scoring position. I saw the play kind of developing, and I just knew I needed to be in that spot.”
Despite the goal, the Tigers weren’t safe just yet. Less than five minutes into the fourth quarter, Delaware tied the game with a beautiful goal of their own. Blue Hens forward Kiki Oudshoorn reverse chipped the ball past Thompson and into the top corner of the net to even the score.
However, Delaware’s goal was short lived when first-year Talia Schenck snuck one past the Blue Hens and took back the lead for Princeton with 7:24 left on the clock. Senior midfielder Zoe Shephard centered the ball into the circle from the right corner of the field. Senior forward and captain Ali McCarthy received the ball and fed it to Schenck who stuck it into the goal without hesitation. While this was Schneck’s first goal of her Princeton career, it definitely won’t be her last considering she is fourth all-time nationally for goals scored in a high school career.
“I was so excited to have scored and for the team to regain the lead over Delaware, and it was so fun getting to celebrate with my teammates and family,” Schenck wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “It is a really sweet milestone moving from the high school/club level to college.”
Although the Tigers were already leading, they scored another goal for good measure. Senior forward Claire Donovan dribbled into the circle from the left side of the field after receiving the ball from sophomore midfielder Beth Yeager. Donovan went one-on-one with the Delaware goalie Lizzie Gaebel, who came out a little too far from the goal. While Gaebel was down from a save attempt, Donovan slightly lifted the ball over her leg and into the net.
It took the Tigers almost 45 minutes to find their rhythm, but once they did, they were unstoppable.
“One thing we want to work on is just getting some early outcomes and goals, right at the start of the game. We had that last weekend, and we kind of just want to get back to working on that,” Popper said.
Julia Nguyen is a co-head editor for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at email@example.com or on Instagram at @jt.nguyen.