On Saturday afternoon, the women’s soccer team will visit Brown in desperate need of a win, having lost its first two Ivy League games to Yale and Dartmouth. The Bears (6-2-1 overall, 1-0-1 Ivy League) will come in having defeated Dartmouth (4-4-2. 1-1) and tied Columbia in their first two league games.
“We go into the Brown game with high expectations. We have done well this season and have had some bad moments that have cost us,” head coach Julie Shackford said in an email. “Going forward, we have the confidence that we can put a good game plan together and be a little more consistent in key moments.”
Last year, the Tigers (4-3-3, 0-2) defeated the Bears 2-0 at Roberts Stadium, with both goals coming in the final 14 minutes of regulation. Princeton outshot Brown 22-11 in that game, as well as holding a 9-3 advantage in shots on goal. This year, however, the scripts are flipped. The Tigers are 0-2-1 in their last three contests and are goalless in the last two. The Bears are 4-0-1 in their last five contests and have not allowed a goal since Sept. 19.
“We didn’t have a midweek game this week, so we’ve had a chance to recuperate mentally and physically,” junior forward Lauren Lazo said. “Every league game is a battle. It’s been a while since we’ve started 0-2, but the Ivy League is particularly unpredictable. There’s still hope, but a win is vital. This is a huge game.”
Much of Princeton’s offense this year has revolved around freshman forward Tyler Lussi and Lazo who have recorded six and three goals respectively and two assists apiece this season. These two have accounted for 69 percent of Princeton’s 13 goals and 59 percent of its 37 points; however, they both come in on cold streaks. Lussi is goalless in three games, her longest streak of the season, and was without a shot against Dartmouth last weekend for the first time all season. Lazo has not scored since the fourth match of the year against Rutgers.
“Goal scoring is 90 percent mental,” Lazo said. “We’ve been creating opportunities, but we’re not converting them. This is the most talented team I’ve been on, and we’ve been working hard. We just need a turning point, and we’ll be back to our early season form.”
Both teams have struggled offensively this year. The Tigers average 1.3 goals per game and the Bears just 1.0 goals per game, the worst two averages among the Ancient Eight. The two teams also share the cellar in corner kicks, with 44 each.
The Bears counter with a solid defense, having allowed just eight goals in nine matches, four of which came in one lopsided loss to St. John’s early in the season. Brown has used an unconventional two-goalie strategy in all its games this year. Amber Bledsoe starts the game and then MC Barrett closes it out. Barrett has been dynamite for the Bears, with a stunning 91.7 save percentage, third best in the entire NCAA.
Princeton’s defense has been inconsistent, averaging 1.11 goals against per game, second worst in the league, but also recording five shutouts. Junior goalkeeper Darcy Hargadon has started nine of 10 games for the Tigers with a 70.3 save percentage but was pulled out of last weekend’s match against Dartmouth after allowing two goals on just three shots on goal in favor of senior goalkeeper Cecilia Di Caprio. Coaches have not yet decided who will start.