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Women’s soccer set for a title push after defeating Yale 3–1

A group of women in orange and white soccer kits smiling and celebrating on a field.
Women’s soccer celebrates a crucial conference win against rivals Yale.
Photo courtesy of @PrincetonWSoc/X.

With the Ivy League standings beginning to take shape, the Princeton women’s soccer team (8–2–2 overall, 3–1–0 Ivy League) added to their conference record with a 3–1 win over the Yale Bulldogs (5–4–3, 0–3–1) on Saturday night. Following a week of away games, in which the Tigers lost 2–1 against conference leader Brown in Providence and defeated Penn 1–0 in Philadelphia, the team successfully followed up their last victory with a dominant showing at home.

Every conference game carries added importance these days for the Tigers as they chase an Ivy League title. “The Ivy League is an incredibly difficult league, and you know that you’re going to get each opponent’s best game because each is a different rivalry with a lot of history,” junior forward Heather MacNab wrote to The Daily Princetonian. With all but one of their remaining four games against Ivy League opponents, the Tigers hope to put their best foot forward as they face added pressure.


After last year’s 1-0 loss to Yale, this game carried special importance for the Tigers. “There was a bit more emotion brought to the game following last year’s match,” senior forward Lexi Hiltunen told the ‘Prince.’ “This year we’ve been playing with a chip on our shoulder, and Yale was a game we were very excited to have another chance at.”

To celebrate Pride Night, the Tigers and Bulldogs gathered at midfield before kickoff for a joint photoshoot. The first 150 fans in attendance received rainbow Princeton Pride scarfs, which dotted the stands as the game began at a brisk 57° Fahrenheit.

In the minutes after kickoff, Princeton applied constant pressure on the Yale defense. Dominating possession in Yale’s half of the field, the Tigers’ frequent crosses were a source of constant worry for the Bulldogs. Early shots on goal by Hiltunen and sophomore forwards Drew Coomans and Pietra Tordin were stopped by Yale goalkeeper Kyla Holmes, who was forced into frequent saves by the potent Princeton offense all night. Coomans’ constant runs down the right sideline threatened the left side of Yale’s defense, who was consistently on the back foot from the outset.

“Coming into the game, we were aware of their high back line, so I tried to stay as high and wide as possible,” Coomans told the ‘Prince.’ “I was able to isolate 1v1 against my defender a lot and it ended up working really well for the team.”

After a rare Yale shot rolled just right of the post in the 26th minute, a rapid Princeton attack allowed Tordin to control the ball at the top of the Yale box. Looking right, Tordin found an open Coomans, who took a touch and lobbed a shot that floated directly over Holmes, off the left post and into the net for the opening goal. This goal was the second of Coomans’ season and Princeton career, both of which have come in the last two games.


Coomans once again threatened to score with another run just one minute later, but her shot rolled across the Yale net without a finish. The rest of the half would see a dangerous shot by MacNab sent just right of the net, but not much else in the way of offense for either team as the Bulldogs began to find their footing. Both teams would head back to the locker rooms at the half with Princeton holding a 1–0 lead.

The second half began in much the same way as the first half had ended, with both sides playing solid defense and stifling the opposing offense. However, the Tigers would soon capitalize on a mistake from Yale.

Nine minutes into the second half, a careless pass from the Yale back line was intercepted by MacNab and deflected towards Tordin, who received the ball just outside the box. Sidestepping a defender, Tordin rolled left and fired a shot past Holmes and into the bottom right corner of the net for a 2–0 lead. The goal was Tordin’s tenth of the season, continuing her eye-catching run that has earned her a call-up from the Brazilian U-20 national team to a training camp at the end of October.

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“We pride ourselves on hunting the ball defensively and winning it back,” said MacNab when asked about the pressure leading to her assist. MacNab told the ‘Prince’ she “saw the ball go from the keeper to the center back and she had her back turned…so it was a good cue to press and hope to catch her off guard.” 

After Tordin’s goal, the Tigers began to sit back on defense in an attempt to maintain defensive stability. This strategy, however, allowed the Bulldogs to create more chances  for their offensive end. In the 57th minute, Princeton junior goalkeeper Tyler McCamey made an impressive save, diving left to smother a shot from Yale midfielder Karoline Hernes. Two minutes later, McCamey produced another stunning save as she leapt to tip a long-range shot from Yale midfielder Chloe Laureano just over the crossbar. McCamey’s performance in this and the Penn game won her the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week award, announced on Monday.

In the 65th minute, however, Yale would finally break through. Forward Ellery Winkler, unmarked on the left side of the box, controlled a cross and fired home a goal for Yale that cut Princeton’s lead to 2–1. 

Following the Bulldog goal, the Tigers continued to drop back and force Yale to break down their defense. This plan was further complicated when junior starting right back Kiley Hamou exited with an apparent right leg cramp, forcing Coomans to shift from right wing to right back. She told the ‘Prince’ that playing right back was “definitely unexpected,” but that prior experience at the position made for a smooth transition. Coomans and the Princeton defense proved more than capable of holding strong, shutting down each and every Yale attack. 

In the 87th minute, Hiltunen broke through on goal but was brought down by a Yale defender, who received a yellow card for the illegal tackle. Hiltunen would get her revenge just one minute later, firing a deflected shot from first-year midfielder Kayla Wong into the back of the net to ice the game for the Tigers.

“In the first half I was about a second off from catching one of the goalie’s rebounds, and quickly realized that she had a tendency to not hold the ball,” Hiltunen told the ‘Prince’. “I saw Kayla [Wong] going towards the goal and drifted off the back shoulder of [Yale’s] center back in order to be out of her vision. I initially placed myself in a spot for the cross, but then held the line to grab the rebound.”

Leaving Roberts Stadium with a 3-1 win, the Tigers improved to 3-1 in Ivy League competition, placing them second in the conference behind Brown. Princeton will continue conference play next week with an away game against Harvard (8–3–1, 3–1–0) on Saturday. They’ll need a win to keep their conference title hopes alive.

Joseph Uglialoro is a contributor to the Sports section of the ‘Prince.’

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