The third-ranked Princeton field hockey team opened the 2013 season on a winning note, topping No. 10 Duke 3-1 Friday evening at Bedford Field. As the Tigers move to 1-0 on the early season, the Blue Devils fall to 2-1 after suffering their first loss. The win also extends Princeton’s winning streak to 15 consecutive victories, a streak dating back to Sept. 28, 2012.
The Tigers have a quick turnaround, returning to the pitch on Saturday, Sept. 7 to host Fairfield (1-0) at 4 p.m.
In a game of momentum swings, Princeton managed to control the score throughout the 70-minute battle. The Tigers’ road to victory saw the squad work tirelessly to tactfully find openings on the Duke cage.
Princeton took the lead early, capitalizing on a penalty corner at 9:35. Senior Michelle Cesan fed the ball in and after a pair of passes to the right side of the circle Teresa Benvenuti dished the ball inside to Cesan, who chipped in the go-ahead goal at the far post.
After opening the scoring action, Princeton struggled to consistently get the ball into the circle over the remainder of the half and went into the break maintaining its 1-0 lead.
The pace of play heightened in the second half, as the ball transferred between both sides for the early portion of the period and neither could maintain control of the tempo.
During Princeton’s opportunities, it would send in long balls towards the circle, but off target passes did not allow the Tiger strikers to get possession and an open shot before Duke defenders were there to clear the ball out of its half.
In the 48th minute a pair of deflected Princeton shots eventually resulted in a penalty corner.
Cesan served the ball in but the Tigers could not find a clear shot in on the cage. After a scrum in front of the goal, junior Allison Evans received the ball at the baseline and lifted it into the air with a cross to an open freshman Hailey Reeves on the near post. Reeves was able to make a clean motion with the ball to send in first career goal at 50:26.
Despite the 2-0 Princeton advantage, Duke remained in the match and challenged the Tiger backline at every opportunity. A composed defense led by goalkeeper Christina Maida was able to consistently clear Blue Devil shots out of the circle until the 63rd minute.
Duke’s Emmie Le Marchand converted on a penalty corner to cut Princeton’s lead to 2-1, very much bringing the Blue Devils back into the contest.
After breaking up Princeton’s shutout, Duke removed its goalkeeper and played with 11 field players. The Tigers took a long drive down the far flank and sent the ball into the circle. It would deflect towards the cage off a Blue Devil defender and senior Julia Reinprecht was there to finish it with a tap into the cage at 65:25.
Maida finished with seven saves, as both sides had 10 shots apiece. Duke did hold a 5-4 penalty corner advantage and 8-7 shot on goal differential.