Facing the second-ranked team in the nation, the Harvard field hockey team held Princeton to just one goal in the first 27 minutes.
But then the floodgates opened, as the Tigers took hold of the game with three quick goals before half. Adding three more in the second, the Tigers ultimately defeated the Crimson, 7-0, Saturday afternoon at Bedford Field.
This marks the third straight shutout for Princeton (12-1, 5-0 Ivy) and the fifth straight loss for Harvard (3-10, 1-4). The Crimson also suffered its fourth shutout of the season and its second in a row.
In the loss, co-captain Cynthia Tassopoulos made a season-high 15 saves, 10 of which came before the Tigers second goal. Her 10th save of the contest marked her 500th for her collegiate career.
“She played a great game,” sophomore Noel Painter said. “I don’t think the score really reflects how many balls and blocks that she had.... She was just saving them left and right, and the score would have been much higher if we didn’t have her in cage.”
Heading into the game, Harvard was focused on defense, with its eyes set on stopping any potential threats or momentum the Tigers presented.
“We wanted to disrupt their play as much as possible,” Painter said. “Basically when one Princeton player got a ball, we tried to get as many Harvard players on them to try to get them to make a bad pass or not to be able to dribble through all of us and get a shot off.”
But in a four-minute span in the first half, junior Michelle Cesan single-handedly helped the Tigers open up a comfortable lead. At 27:21 and then at 31:08, Cesan scored unassisted goals, driving into the Harvard circle and finding the net to put Princeton up by three.
Right before halftime, with 27 seconds remaining in the period, freshman Maddie Copeland scored a goal with help from sophomore Stephanie Goldberg, capping a three-goal outburst in a seven-minute span at the end of the half.
Before those trio of goals, the Crimson held the Tigers in check for over 20 minutes after Princeton opened the scoring six minutes into the game. On that play, Tiger senior Katie Reinprecht netted an unassisted goal, her sixth of the season.
The nation’s leading scorer, Kathleen Sharkey, was shut out during that stretch and throughout the game despite her game-high 10 shots.
After over a 20-minute lull in the scoring to start the second half, the Tigers again had an offensive outburst, netting three goals over 11 minutes near the end of the game.
“They are a great team and were able to take advantage of our mistakes,” Painter said. “They were able to take it down and take advantage of us being on our heels and take a shot. Their forwards are really good and can take shots from anywhere.”
Tiger freshman Teresa Benvenuti netted two goals in succession to open up the scoring in the second half, scoring at 57:48 and 65:50 to put Princeton up 6-0.
The Tigers capped the scoring for the day with just over six minutes remaining in the contest when junior back Amanda Bird found the back of the net for her fourth goal of the season.