Capping off a run of five straight away games, the field hockey team will hit the road for its third consecutive weekend to take on Harvard and Albany. Saturday afternoon in Cambridge, the No. 9 Tigers (8-4 overall, 4-0 Ivy League) will look to maintain their perfect conference record as they face off against Ivy League rival Harvard (5-7, 1-3). To date, Princeton has won 17 consecutive conference games, is the only unbeaten Ivy team in the league this year and is the only Ivy League team ranked in the top 25. The following afternoon, Princeton will compete against an Albany squad ranked No. 19 in the NFHCA Coaches poll. The game against the Great Danes (13-3, 2-1 America East) will be the second to last non-conference game of the regular season for the Tigers. Hoping to build off of their momentum from last weekend’s win over Brown, the Tigers are excited for their next two games.
“Last weekend’s game at Brown showed us that we are definitely capable of keeping full pressure on an opponent for an entire game,” junior striker Allison Evans said. “We are looking to keep up this kind of intensity for our next few games and the rest of the season.”
Harvard has not won a game against Princeton since the 1993 season. Last year when the Tigers hosted the Crimson, Princeton earned a decisive 7-0 shutout. Princeton and Harvard have competed against three of the same teams already this season. Against Fairfield, both teams recorded a close 4-3 win. In conference matchups against Yale and Brown, Princeton won 2-0 and 6-2 respectively, while Harvard beat Yale 3-2 and fell to Brown 2-1. The Crimson have also lost conference games against Penn 1-0 and Cornell 3-2. Princeton will face both teams over the next two weeks.
Leading the Harvard squad offensively are Marissa Balleza, Noel Painter and Elizabeth Jacobson. With a mix of power and finesse, these women have proven that they know how to work together up front to put the ball in the back of the net. Jenn Hatfield protects the goal for the Crimson and has a strong line of defense in front of her.
“Ivy league wins are just so critical for us in reaching the tournament,” Evans said. “Every Ivy team gives us their best game when they play us, so we have to be prepared for an intense match.”
Princeton has not faced Albany since the 2008 season when the Tigers earned a 6-3 victory. However, both teams have gone through a lot of changes during those five years. Sunday will be only the third time these two teams have ever competed, with the Tigers having won both games. The two squads have had similar results against common opponents this season, both defeating Yale by two goals and shutting out Columbia. Albany opened the season with a nine-game win streak, and has had mixed results since then, including splitting their two games last weekend. Princeton will be the third ranked team that Albany has faced off against this season, having already fallen to then-No. 6 Stanford and then-No. 4 Virginia. Albany will host Fairfield on Saturday afternoon before facing the Tigers on Sunday.
“Albany does seem to be a little bit of a mystery opponent for us being that we haven’t played them in so long,” Evans said. “However, they are a very highly ranked team, and I can imagine the game is going to be a battle. A win against a ranked team would be very important in boosting our confidence going into the post-season.”
Offensively, Albany is led by Daphne Voormolen, Paula Heuser and Corrine McConville. The Tiger defense will have to make sure they mark up tight on these girls and do not allow any of them an open look at the net. Protecting the goal for Albany is Maxi Primus. The Great Danes defense has the second fewest lowest goals compared to the average in NCAA Division I field hockey, meaning Princeton is going to have to work hard to get through their defense and focus on their accuracy when shooting.
Continuing to dominate the scoring for the Tigers are sophomore midfielder/back Teresa Benvenuti (7 goals, 6 assists), Evans (7G, 3A), senior midfielder/striker Michelle Cesan (5G, 7A) and senior midfielder Julia Reinprecht (5G). With so many powerful offensive threats, Princeton is a difficult team to shut down in front of the net. The Tigers have outshot their opponents 234-98 and outscored their challengers 35-21. Christina Maida and Anya Gersoff have split time in goal for Princeton.
“We’re definitely looking to finish the weekend with two wins,” Evans said. “Winning the Ivy League is critical in making the NCAA tournament, and wins against ranked teams give us a good look to the selection committee, and will help our team gain confidence as the post-season comes near.”