PHILADELPHIA Penn entered Friday night’s game needing a win to capture a share of the Ivy League title and keep its hopes alive for a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Instead it was Princeton who clinched sole possession of the league crown with a 3-1 win on Franklin Field.
The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first half off two goals from Paige Schmidt. Both goals came as a result of penalty corners that the Tigers earned. The first was unassisted at the 14:15 mark. Schmidt’s second goal of the game came 15 minutes later when she took a Christina Bortz pass and buried a goal quickly off the corner.
The Quakers had a chance to stop Princeton’s momentum between goals as they drew three corners of their own in a two minute span. Unfortunately for the Red and Blue, they could not get a shot on goal during those chances and soon found themselves down two goals.
Princeton came out in the second half looking to extend its lead and forced the play inside the circle. The Tigers earned three penalty corners in the first six minutes of play, but were not able to convert.
It was Penn who took advantage of its opportunities next. Margaretha Ehret unleashed a 35-yard pass that landed right on the stick of a charging Nicole Black, who was able to tip the pass just enough to slide past Cynthia Wray and into the net, cutting Princeton’s lead in half with 18 minutes left in the game.
The momentum did not stay in Penn’s favor for long. The Tigers earned another penalty corner two minutes after the Penn goal. Alanna Butera made a kick save on the first shot, but Penn was not able to clear the rebound and Holly McGarvie slid it in to give Princeton back a two goal lead.
The Tigers turned on the defense from that point, allowing only one shot the rest of the way to clinch the Ivy title and a spot in the national tournament.
After the game, head coach Val Cloud felt that her team could have played better.
“It’s disappointing,” she said, “We know we could have brought more of an effort tonight. Maybe Princeton took it away from us. All I know is we gave away too many chances.”
She was particularly troubled by the final goal.
“They got to that loose ball first. In that situation, down by a goal with the season on the line, our players need to want that ball more.”
She also looked back to the stretch in the first half where the Quakers didn’t capitalize on early corners.
“We just didn’t execute. Those are set plays that we work on every day. The girls all know their jobs. Whether it’s a bad insertion or a mishandle on the reception, we can’t have that at this point of the season.”
For Penn, it is time to move on and look towards the future. With eight seniors graduating from the squad, there are opportunities for new faces to step in and lead the team. Cloud knows that the pain of this loss might serve as great motivation for the off-season and preparation for 2008.
“This could have been a great season. Still, the future is promising and we will be just fine next year.”