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Women's Soccer Survives Harvard Test, Stays Perfect in Ivy

Courtesy: Princeton Athletic Communications                                                                      Release: 10/20/2012
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Courtesy: Princeton Athletic Communications
Rachel Sheehy had her first two-assist game in the win.
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Putting themselves on the doorstep of an Ivy League title, the Princeton women's soccer team ended one streak and continued another Saturday night on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium.

With a 3-1 win, the Tigers have won their eighth in a row, the program's longest streak since 2004. It also ended Harvard's two-game winning streak against Princeton, as well as the Crimson's six-game unbeaten streak overall this season.

The defeat dealt a fatal blow to Harvard's (7-4-3, 2-2-1) Ivy title hopes, limiting the race to three teams. Princeton (10-3-1, 5-0) has 15 points with two games to play, while Dartmouth and Penn each won Saturday to remain three points - or one win - back of the Tigers.

Princeton has already defeated Dartmouth this season, so finishing tied with the Big Green would give Princeton the Ivy's NCAA tournament automatic bid. Princeton will face Penn on Nov. 3 at Roberts Stadium in what could be an Ivy title showdown.

Next week, the Tigers will head to Cornell, which will take its search for its first win in league play into a match with Brown Sunday. If the Tigers beat the Big Red, they will clinch at least a share of the Ivy title by reaching 18 standings points, the maximum any other team could then reach.

But Saturday was for celebrating what the Tigers have already done, a win that completed a sweep of four athletic events against Harvard on Princeton's campus on the day. The field hockey team started it off with a 7-0 win over the Crimson, followed by football's improbable 39-34 comeback win, men's soccer's 2-1 win on the same pitch, and then the women's game that had its share of late twists.

Finally breaking through on a sequence that had Princeton threaten Harvard but saw the Tigers unable to solve Harvard keeper Bethany Kanten to that point, Caitlin Blosser headed a Rachel Sheehy corner kick just under the crossbar to put Princeton on the board in the 61st minute.

Given that the Tigers had fought Harvard to a draw for 60 minutes, the excitement of that first goal was relatively short-lived. The Crimson's Lauren Varela picked up a loose ball in the box and powered it home in the 70th minute, tying the contest at 1-1.

But the Tigers have not trailed for more than 612 straight minutes of soccer, since the 25th minute of the Yale game on Sept. 22, and they did not against the Crimson.

In the 80th minute, Sheehy tallied her second assist of the day when she put a free kick into the box and Gabriella Guzman put it in the net, giving Princeton the lead once again. Less than two minutes later, Jen Hoy scored her 16th goal of the season, converting a throw-in from Liana Cornacchio for a 3-1 lead.

Princeton held Harvard to three shots on goal while getting nine for itself and outshooting the Crimson 14-6 overall.

Postgame notes:

• Jen Hoy's season goals-per-game average is now 1.142. She entered the week No. 1 in the nation in that category at 1.154, which was ahead of the next-closest players at 1.0. The next NCAA leader list will be released Monday afternoon.

• Hoy's 16th goal of the season moves her one closer to current assistant coach Esmeralda Negron '05 and her record of 20 in 2004. After 14 games that season, Negron had 11 goals. Negron had two hat tricks over the final three games of the regular season, plus three goals in five NCAA tournament games.

• Princeton has trailed for only 13:23 of Ivy League play, all in the Yale game on Sept. 22 when the Bulldogs had a brief 1-0 lead. That is only 2.9 percent of the minutes Princeton has played in Ivy League action this season.

• Princeton ensured its best-since-2004 start in Ivy play with its win at Columbia last week, and the Tigers won't be able to do better as the 2004 team was one of four in Ivy history to go 7-0. The others were Dartmouth in 1993 and Harvard in 1996 and 1999.

• Rachel Sheehy had her first two-assist game of her Princeton career, bringing the senior's season total to five helpers and her career total to eight.

• Gabriella Guzman's goal was her second overall and first since getting the equalizer at Yale last month in the Ivy opener. Caitlin Blosser's goal was her third of the season after scoring twice in the pre-conference schedule, against Colgate and Lafayette.

• The win was Princeton's first over Harvard in the five seasons played at Roberts Stadium after Harvard won there in 2008 and 2010. Princeton last defeated Harvard in 2009 in Cambridge.

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