Looking to maintain its undefeated conference record this weekend, the field hockey team will travel to Providence, R.I., to take on Ivy League rival Brown (5-6 overall, 1-2 Ivy League). Saturday afternoon, the No. 9 Tigers (7-4, 3-0) look to earn their fourth league victory of the season and remain at the top of the conference. Currently, only Princeton and Penn remain unbeaten in Ivy play, with every other conference team posting a 1-2 record.
“Although we lost to Maryland on Friday, it was arguably one of our best performances,” sophomore midfielder/back Teresa Benvenuti said. “Our passing patterns through the midfield and overall structure put Maryland under a lot of pressure. One area that we struggled with, and that Maryland capitalized on, was our weak-side defense. We will be looking to improve that for the rest of the season.”
In comparison to the other Ivy League teams, Princeton ranks second in scoring margin, shots, goals scored and goals allowed. Penn is ranked first in all of these categories. Princeton will not face Penn until the final game of the Ivy season on Nov. 9. Brown, on the other hand, is currently ranked 6th in scoring margin, shots and goals allowed and 7th in goals scored.
“I think the Maryland game gave us confidence that we can continue to successfully compete with the top teams in the country,” junior striker Allison Evans said. “However, it also made us realize that simply keeping up with a team is not good enough. We’re working extremely hard to improve on our finishing in the attacking end and taking advantage of key moments in games.”
Last year, the Tigers hosted the Bears and held them scoreless in a 6-0 win. Brown and Princeton have faced off against two common Ivy League opponents already this season. Against Columbia, the Bears lost 4-1 while the Tigers boasted a 5-0 shutout. When the teams faced off against Dartmouth, Brown fell 4-3 while Princeton posted a decisive 7-1 win. The Bears’ one Ivy win came against Harvard 2-1 in overtime. The Tigers will compete against the Crimson next weekend.
“Brown’s style of play is similar to that of Columbia’s,” Benvenuti said. “They utilize their speed with fast free hits, but lack a plan. We must set up early and use our structure to close down the spaces and slow their attack.”
Brown will be coming into this weekend’s game fired-up, having earned a 2-1 overtime victory against No. 17 Louisville in its last competition. The Tigers, having split their two games last weekend, will look to gain positive momentum moving into the final three weeks of their regular season.
“They’re coming off a big win at Louisville and are definitely going to be ready to play us,” Evans said. “We just have to focus on keeping our intensity up throughout the whole game and doing whatever we can to pull off the necessary win.”
The Tigers continue to be dangerous in the offensive zone, outscoring their opponents 29-19 and outshooting their opponents 188-94. With several players contributing goals and assists, Princeton keeps its opponents’ defense and goalkeepers on their toes the entire game. Continuing to lead the charge up front for the Tigers are Evans (7 goals, 3 assists), Benvenuti (6 G, 4 A) and senior midfielder/striker Michelle Cesan (3 G, 6 A).
Meghan O’Donnell has been dominating the offensive output for Brown, scoring eight of the team’s 23 goals in addition to three assists for the Bears. Other threats up front for Brown include Alexis Miller (3 G, 2 A), Clayton Christus (2 G, 3 A) and Hannah Rogers (3 G, 1 A). In net, Shannon McSweeney has tallied 106 saves and averages 2.98 goals against.
“Our first goal is to pull off a decisive Ivy League win this weekend,” Evans said.
“This game will help to build confidence and momentum for the remainder of the season,” Benvenuti added.