This past Friday, No. 7 Princeton field hockey (13–5 overall, 7–0 Ivy League) fell 5–2 to the No. 9 Syracuse Orange (16–6, 3–3 Atlantic Coast Conference) in the hard fought battle of the first round of the National College Athletics Association (NCAA) tournament.
The Tigers came out strong and ready to face Syracuse in College Park, Md. However, Syracuse was quick to strike into Princeton’s defense, forcing the Tigers to work hard to keep them from scoring.
Four minutes in, sophomore midfielder Beth Yeager caused a tactical turnover for the Tigers, sending it up the field to senior forward Claire Donovan, who was able to get around the Syracuse goalie and score the first goal of the game with an assist from junior forward Grace Schulze.
Princeton was in control for most of the first quarter, stopping virtually every attempt by Syracuse to get into a scoring position. However, when the Orange were finally able to break through the Tigers’ wall, they took it straight to the circle for their first goal, tying the game 1–1.
The second quarter showed strengths from both teams, with senior forward and defender Sammy Popper taking a strong goal attempt off a corner. Soon after, Syracuse lined up for an offensive corner, but a strong Tiger defense, led by seniors Gabby Andretta and Autumn Brown, and an impressive save by junior goalie Robyn Thompson kept the score tied.
At the end of the first half, the Tigers lined up for three consecutive corner shots. After the first two being deflected by the strong Syracuse defense, the Tigers lined up determined to make the opportunity count. A strong hit from Yeager found Schulze by the post, who tapped the ball into the net and took back the lead.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, their lead was short-lived.
Just as the whistle blew to end the first half, Syracuse had two corners of their own, successfully converting one into the goal to even the score once again.
The Orange quickly took control of the game in the third quarter. Just two minutes into the second half, Syracuse secured a lead that would hold for the remainder of the game. Although Princeton continued to push through the Syracuse defense, the Tigers weren’t able to get another goal.
The Tigers found themselves with even less luck when the Orange secured a penalty stroke after a breakaway play led to collision between Syracuse forward Quirine Comans and Thompson. Syracuse converted another with only eight minutes left, expanding their lead to 4–2.
With five minutes left to play, Princeton pulled Thompson for Schulze to give themselves a one-player advantage, hoping to close the score gap. In the final three minutes, Syracuse carried it down the field for the open shot, and finished the game with a final score of 5–2, ending Princeton’s season.
“The final game was obviously frustrating because we didn’t play our best, but we were all sad that it was over more than sad about the outcome of the game,” Schulze wrote to the ‘Prince.’
Despite not advancing to the next round of the tournament, the Tigers have much to celebrate, including eight incredibly talented seniors.
Seniors Ali McCarthy and Hannah Davey were critical for the Tigers in the midfield, sending continuous passes up the field to give their teammates scoring opportunities in the circle.
“They lead by example but also are always positive even when games aren’t going our way,” Schulze told The Daily Princetonian.
Evelyn Walsh is a contributor to the Sports section at the 'Prince.' Please direct any correction requests to corrections at dailyprincetonian.com.