In a physical and aggressive top-five battle, it was the No. 2 Princeton field hockey team who came out on top, 4-1, versus No. 4 Connecticut Sunday afternoon at Bedford Field. The Tigers hand the Huskies (16-1) their first loss of the year, while improving to 13-1, 5-0 Ivy in the winning effort.
Princeton took control nearly immediately, finding its offensive rhythm and openings in the UConn circle. At 4:05, Michelle Cesan picked up a loose ball and drove it into the circle, maneuvering past several Husky defenders. As she neared the goal, the midfielder found an open Teresa Benvenuti, who sent in the opening goal from the left side.
With the score in their favor, 1-0, the Tigers maintained possession of the ball and continued to push it deep into the UConn half.
As the offense worked to add to the lead, the Princeton defense played nearly flawlessly. Sophomore goalie Julia Boyle took the start for the Tigers and earned her first complete game victory of the year behind five saves. Along with Boyle, the Princeton backline of Kelsey Byrne, Amy Donovan and Julia Reinprecht consistently deflected off the UConn forwards, including a key Reinprecht stop with 14 minutes to play in the first half to stymie a charging Husky drive.
Following halftime, Princeton doubled its lead as Sydney Kirby followed through on a Kathleen Sharkey deflected shot at the 38:55-minute mark. Her goal would be the eventual game-winner.
Not content with a 2-0 lead versus a talented Husky team, the Tigers continued to pressure the UConn backline. Sharkey found an opening in the 47th minute, driving the ball to the left side of the UConn goal. She would fire in a shot that Husky goalie Sarah Mansfield saved, but was not able to possess. Quickly reacting, the striker grabbed the deflection to score the first of her two goals on the day and improved Princeton's lead to 3-0.
After holding the fourth-ranked Huskies scoreless for 50 minutes, the Tigers committed a foul outside the cage and Connecticut was awarded a penalty stroke. Alicia Angelina was able to break up Boyle's clean sheet, making it a 3-1 game midway through the second half.
Despite conceding its first goal in 261 minutes, the Princeton defense remained composed and prevented a hustling Husky frontline from finding any other solid openings in the circle.
The Tigers' capped off the victory in the 69th minute, as Sharkey and Kirby connected on a give-and-go play. Sharkey fed the ball to an open Kirby on the right side and after making a touch Kirby crossed it Sharkey to tap in her 23rd goal of the year.
Princeton led in shots, 15-6, shots on goal, 10-6, and penalty corners, 5-3, while UConn held a 6-5 differential in saves.
The Tigers are now 6-1 versus ranked teams, including a pair of victories versus top-five opponents. Princeton hits the road next for a pair of games, traveling to Cornell on Saturday, Oct. 27 for a 12 noon match. Two days later, the Tigers faceoff with No. 5 Virginia at 4 p.m.