PRINCETON, N.J. - For the second time in three years, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton women's soccer teams met at the Tigers' Roberts Stadium with the Ivy League title in play.
Unlike two years ago, when a tie gave the Quakers the title, this time Princeton got an early lead and never looked back. And when Penn made a valiant comeback and created a nervous titter in the stands, a final Tiger tally was too much in a 4-2 victory.
Princeton finishes the season 7-0-0 in Ivy League play, becoming just the fifth team in conference history to go through a season unblemished and the first since 2004 (also the Tigers).
Meanwhile, in Ithaca, Dartmouth did its part with a 3-0 victory over Cornell. So the Big Green end the season 6-1-0 in the Ivy League and finish second in the Ancient Eight behind the Tigers. Penn ends up third at 5-2-0.
Princeton (13-3-1 overall) had the wind behind it in the first half, and it appeared to play a role in the Tigers' first goal. Lauren Lazo fired a shot from the edge of the goal area that appeared to catch Penn goalkeeper Sarah Banks off guard with how quickly it got to her. Banks' tried to push the shot wide, but instead it ended up in the side netting for a 1-0 Tiger lead.
Penn (9-6-1) had a pair of nice chances to tie before halftime. In the 27th minute, Megan York sent in a ball from the left side that Erin Mikolai appeared to be open to put on goal. The freshman chose to use her foot instead of her head, however, and missed the ball completely.
With about nine minutes left before halftime, Kathryn Barth led Kerry Scalora behind the Princeton defense, but Scalora's first touch got away from her and left her with a low angle on goal. She never got the shot off.
However, the dagger came with just 2:33 left before the break. A ball was crossed from the right side, and after three players went up to head it the ball landed at the feet of Lazo. She calmly collected it and fired it inside the near post, past Banks' right.
Princeton made it 3-0 about 11 minutes into the second half. This time Jen Hoy got behind the Penn defense thanks to a nice through-ball, and after she got Banks to commit on the 1-on-1 she pushed the ball across to Lazo who easily deposited it into the open goal.
Penn got one back in the 65th minute when a ball played by Caroline Dwyer from the left side was re-directed slightly by Clara Midgley and slotted into the far corner. It was the sophomore's first tally of 2012.
Things got interesting when Claire Walker crossed the ball from the left and Midgley again put it away, this time heading it back across inside the left post. Suddenly, it was game on at 3-2 with more than 16 minutes left in regulation.
Princeton was able to put it away with just 6:06 left, however. Hoy made the play possible, again using her speed to get behind the defense. Banks was able to stuff the breakaway attempt, and then a second effort was kicked away, but the ball went to the middle of the field and Caitlin Blosser blasted a one-timer between a pair of Quaker defenders and into the net.