Well, this one stings.
While the football team executed a thrilling overtime win over Princeton on Saturday, Penn field hockey played an equally close game but with a much different result. The Quakers, after scoring a thrilling goal late in regulation to tie the score, fell to the Tigers, 2-1, in the de facto Ivy League championship game.
With the win over the Red and Blue (13-3, 5-2 Ivy), Princeton (10-6, 7-0) clinched the Ancient Eight title for the 11th consecutive season and for the 21st time in the last 22 years.
“Today was anyone’s game. Things could have been different,” coach Colleen Fink said. “We have a lot to be proud of, but there is a lot of angst. I’d be lying if we said we weren’t disappointed.”
Princeton took the lead just six minutes into the game as Teresa Benvenuti’s shot was redirected by senior standout Maddie Copeland to give the Tigers a 1-0 advantage. The goal was Copeland’s 16th of the season, giving her possession of second place on the Ivy League scoring leaderboard behind Penn’s Alexa Hoover.
Hoover, who boasted a total of 27 goals coming into the game, had a quiet afternoon, failing to get off any shots. The sophomore appeared to be hampered by an injury sustained early in the second half, though she did not need to come out of the game.
Following the initial Princeton tally, both teams went scoreless for the next 61 minutes. The Quakers dominated possession throughout much of the first half but failed to put the ball in the goal.
The squads largely shared possession throughout the second half, and the Tigers clung to their slim 1-0 advantage. However, with just three minutes remaining, Red and Blue freshman Selena Garzio found the back of the net off of a penalty corner, knotting the score at one and keeping the Quakers’ championship hopes alive.
“She’s been doing really well on that short shot from the straight insert all week long,” Fink said. “We were confident at that juncture of the game that she’d be able to finish, and she did. She executed it perfectly.”
Princeton had a corner opportunity of its own with less than 30 seconds left in regulation, but a pair of Tiger shots — including a Benvenuti shot on goal — failed to find the back of the net.
Princeton, however, wasted no time securing the victory in overtime. Just three minutes into the period, Sofia Tornetta found sophomore Ryan McCarthy for the sudden death goal.
Saturday’s game was the final career contest for Red and Blue seniors Alex Agathis, Emily Guthier, Elizabeth Hitti, Stephanie Honig, Megan Johnston and Nicole Mackin. And though the crushing loss was a bitter way to end the sextet’s time in University City, Fink was thoroughly impressed with their leadership during the 2015 season, one of the most successful in recent memory.
“The seniors know that we love them,” she said. “They know that they can always come back [to support the team]. And I know that when they come back, they’ll know at their core just how important these games are.”
While the loss was a disappointing way to wrap up the 2015 campaign, the Quakers will return several key pieces in their attempt to dethrone the Tigers next season. Hoover and senior-to-be Elise Tilton will continue to lead the offense, while Garzio — a defender by trade — and goalkeeper Liz Mata will return to the back line.
So, for the Quakers, Saturday was not the day that they would defeat their rival and hoist that elusive Ivy League trophy.
But when that day comes, it will sure be sweet.
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