Despite holding a 22-6 shot differential, it took a second half rally and three goals over a two-minute span to propel the third-ranked Princeton field hockey team past Fairfield, 4-3, Saturday afternoon at Bedford Field.
The Tigers outshot the Stags 12-0 in the first half, but were unable to capitalize on their chances including six penalty corners.
Fairfield put Princeton on its heels early into the second half, scoring on its first shot of the match. Julie DePaeuw found an opening in front of the cage and shot it straight on in the 40th minute to go up 1-0.
While the Stags picked up momentum, Princeton found a way to take the ball into the circle and earn a penalty corner. Michelle Cesan fed a perfect pass to Syndey Kirby, who stopped it for Teresa Benvenuti to slice in the tying goal at 42:39.
Behind a swift momentum swing, the Tigers propelled it into their crucial three-goal run. Less than a minute after Benvenuti’s goal, a Cesan shot was saved and deflected back to her. She then tapped it over Fairfield’s goalkeeper Caitlin Bennett and Kirby was there to finish it.
Princeton’s surge concluded at 44:39, when the Hailey Reeves corralled the ball near the baseline and crossed it in to an open Allison Evans to put the Tigers up 3-1.
Evans’ insurance goal would eventually be depended on, as Fairfield managed to find another pair of openings on the cage to contain Princeton’s momentum pull.
In a very close play, Felicitas Heinen served the ball to Ann Burgoyne at the top left of the circle. She managed to put a quick tap on it right inside the circle line to make it a one-goal contest, 3-2 at 53:47.
Princeton struggled to find a way into the circle and open lanes on goal until the 67th minute. On their ninth penalty corner of the afternoon, the Tigers scored their fourth goal set up from Cesan to Kirby with Benvenuti again finishing.
Fairfield remained in the game and worked to charge into the Tiger circle. A minute after the Tigers made it 4-2, goalkeeper Anya Gersoff charged out of the goal and the Stags garnered a penalty stroke. Heinen converted it at 67:18 to make it a 4-3 contest.
After seeing its multi-goal advantage dissipate, Princeton’s defense worked to keep the ball out of its half. Despite its best effort, Fairfield managed to get the ball in the corner with less than 10 seconds to play. The Stags set up a final offensive drive, feeding the ball to the far post with two seconds to play to an open striker. The Fairfield forward was not able to tap it in before the clock expired to conclude the match and prevent Princeton from playing overtime minutes.
The Tigers employed all three goalkeepers, with Christina Maida seeing no shots in 35 first half minutes. The second half saw both Julia Boyle and Gersoff split the period with Gersoff recording Princeton’s lone save and the win.
Princeton (2-0) will return to action next week at home with Michigan State on Friday, Sept. 13 and Penn State on Sunday, Sept. 15.