With their Ivy League title hopes on the line, the Princeton women’s soccer team (9–5–3, 4–2–1 Ivy) traveled to Providence on Friday for a semifinal bout against the rival Harvard Crimson (12–3–2, 5–1–1 Ivy). This matchup pitted No. 2–seeded Harvard against the No. 3–seeded Tigers, who looked to add to a successful regular season. After a back-and-forth game in which the Tigers led twice, their hopes were dashed as they fell 4–2.
The game was filled with drama throughout, as both teams struggled to hold possession in the opening sequences, with frequent possession changes creating a frantic start to the game. Fifteen minutes into the contest, junior forward Heather MacNab won a penalty for the Tigers after a careless tackle from Crimson defender Taylor Fasnacht. She converted from the spot, firing into the bottom right corner to give Princeton an early 1-0 lead.
MacNab almost got an assist on a well-placed free kick a few minutes later, but a fast counterattack by the Crimson tied the game instead. Defender Jade Rose curled a through ball from Harvard’s own half that midfielder Hannah Bebar met with a well-placed shot to even the score at 1–1.
In the 28th minute, sophomore midfielder Pietra Tordin sidestepped a defender and took a long shot on goal. Seeing that the shot had little chance of scoring, senior striker Lexi Hiltunen controlled it, turned towards goal and blasted a shot into the top right corner for a 2-1 Princeton lead.
17' left, 1st half | Princeton 2, Harvard 1— Princeton WSoccer (@PrincetonWSoc) November 3, 2023
Hiltunen Hooks it Home!
Lexi Hiltunen with the scoop and score after Pietra Tordin threads it through, and the Tigers are back on top!
💻: https://t.co/170P3x4t2w pic.twitter.com/iauyKldnCv
Just two minutes later, an ill-timed handball on the edge of the box gave Harvard a free kick in a dangerous area. Harvard midfielder Josefine Hasbo curled a right-footed shot over junior goalkeeper Tyler McCamey to once again level the score, this time at two apiece. Though both teams threatened to score again, they entered halftime tied at 2-2.
Harvard quickly went on the offensive at the start of the second half, repeatedly forcing Princeton to defend deep within their own half. After winning two corner kicks in a row within the first three minutes, Harvard netted their third goal of the day when forward Olof Kristinsdottir connected with a header sent from well outside the box past McCamey. Just six minutes later, a defensive miscommunication by the Tigers allowed Crimson midfielder Gabby DelPico to score from point-blank range and send Harvard ahead 4–2. The score remained this way until the final whistle, ending Princeton’s hopes of winning the inaugural Ivy League Tournament.
Though the game ended on a sour note, the Tigers have plenty to hold their heads high about as they prepare for their game against the University of Michigan in the NCAA tournament. During Monday’s Selection Show, the NCAA revealed that Princeton will host the Wolverines (7–6–4, 3–5–2 Big Ten) this weekend. Despite their first-round exit from the Ivy League tournament, the Tigers now have the chance to compete for a much larger trophy. Fellow Ivy League teams Harvard, Brown, and Columbia were also selected for the tournament.
HOME FOR THE TOURNEY! 🐅⚽️— Princeton WSoccer (@PrincetonWSoc) November 6, 2023
We'll host Michigan this weekend to open the NCAA tournament!
Date & time to be announced shortly.
🎟️ on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m.! pic.twitter.com/4K1ishgmtP
Despite not reaching the final, two Princeton players were still named to the All-Tournament Team — Hiltunen, and fellow senior Aria Nagai. Nagai was also named first team All-Ivy for her achievements on the season, alongside Tordin and senior defender Madison Curry. Sophomore forward Drew Coomans was named second team All-Ivy, junior midfielder Lily Bryant received an honorable mention, and senior forward Jen Estes was recognized by the Ivy League for her academic and athletic excellence.
Joe Ugialoro is a contributor to the Sports section of the ‘Prince.’
Please send corrections to corrections[at]princeton.edu.