Field hockey falls 7-3 to No. 20 Princeton Tigers in Ivy opener

by Gayne Kalustian | 9/27/15 6:01pm

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Three early goals from Princeton put the Big Green in trouble right off the bat.

In its Ivy League opener this past Sunday at its home Chase AstroTurf Field, the field hockey team fell to No. 20 Princeton University 7-3, bringing the overall season record to 3-4. The Tigers (3-4, 1-0 Ivy) have been a continual powerhouse among the Ivies, taking the league title alone or sharing it every year since 2005 and maintaining a 20-game Ivy winning streak dating back to Sept. 2011.

The team, Julia Donald ’18 said, scouted Princeton heavily and knew what they were up against.

“They have really good execution on corners, fast play,” Donald said. “We knew that they were going to break back in the middle. We felt prepared, but there is only so much you can do against a strong program that has been traditionally pretty strong.”

Despite ultimately dropping the game, the team played some of its best hockey in the closing minutes. With victory out of reach and less than two minutes left in the match, the Big Green kept up the pressure, eventually ending up in a penalty corner that Dartmouth was able to execute to near perfection, with Brooke Van Valkenburg ’16 scoring the final goal of the game. As time expired, Princeton was awarded a corner, which the two teams played through. Dartmouth snuffed the attempt before heading to the benches. Playing through the final minutes, head coach Amy Fowler said, bodes well for the Big Green moving forward. In particular, she pointed to Hailey Valerio ’19, who came into the game at the 44th minute to substitute for Paige Duffy ’17 at the goal.

“I’m really proud of them that they just found a way to stay in it and fight to the end,” she said. “For them to play it out and have our backup goalkeeper come in and make the save, it does a ton for her confidence. It does a ton for the defense, that they saved that last opportunity and said we’re not going to let this in.”

The Tigers netted the first three goals of the game within the first 10 minutes of play, notching the first only 18 seconds in. The second goal came when Princeton’s Maddie Copeland cherry-picked a pass from her own team’s defensive half. The third goal of the game, also scored by Copeland, came at the end of the 10th minute after she redirected a corner. After the scoring drive by Princeton, Dartmouth made two big stops in their own backfield to hold the Tigers to a three-goal lead.

The Big Green, who struggled to take control in the early minutes, settled in after a time out part way through the first half. Dartmouth’s first goal came after the Tigers’ goalie made a stop on a hard shot from Rebecca Hu ’15. Anna Ewasechko ’18 gathered the rebound and slotted the ball into the net.

The Big Green made a critical stop on a penalty corner after a Dartmouth defender left early on the initial corner, leaving the team with Duffy and three others back to defend. Dartmouth was able to stop the Tigers not only once, but again after Princeton came back on a rebound attack. Duffy left the net to put pressure on the attacker, who crossed it over to her own support that hit the shot wide.

Playing a man down, the Tigers sent out an assault on the Big Green defense, dismantled first by Duffy who laid on the ground, stick and arm outstretched, to force a miss by the Tigers.

Dartmouth netted the first goal of the second half, inching closer to the Tigers after taking a penalty corner, which ended with the ball on a Princeton foot. On the second corner, the Princeton goalie got a piece of the ball with her stick but was unable to make the save. Behind by only one goal, the Big Green allowed the game to get out of hand with a lull in its play, giving space for the Tigers to notch three quick unanswered goals less than a minute apart. The teams traded possession for the next 14 minutes before the Tigers were awarded a penalty stroke on a hacking call against the Big Green, poising Princeton to score its final goal of the game.

Midfielder Jo Nazareth ’17 called the day one of “learning,” expressing hope that the team would build on this performance as it takes on the other six Ivy contenders.

Overall, Princeton was able to capitalize on some gaps in the Big Green’s play, Fowler said.

“They have a very good game sense in terms of being able to hit the open player, and we struggled with some of our transitional play,” she said. “We didn’t always find the open player and we were forcing it a bit too much. I think they hit nice passing combinations, which allowed them to get up and out and create numbers up situations. If you play numbers up, you’re more likely to put the ball in the net.”

The Big Green next takes the field this Saturday in Providence, Rhode Island, against the Brown University Bears, followed by a match against Providence College the next day.