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Tigers Roll Over F. Hockey

No. 4 Princeton romps, knocks Harvard from race

By Jamal K. Greene, SPECIAL TO THE CRIMSON

PRINCETON, N.J.--It is often easy to forget that sometimes Goliath actually wins.

If the Harvard field hockey team had overlooked that reality entering Saturday's game at Princeton's Class of 1952 Stadium, the No. 4 Tigers gave it a couple of quick reminders. HARVARD  1 PRINCETON  5

Princeton (12-2, 6-0 Ivy) scored two goals in the first 17 minutes of Saturday's game en route to a 5-1 blowout of Harvard (7-7, 3-2). Princeton sophomore Hilary Matson--last season's Ivy League Rookie of the Year--scored two goals, including the game's first, as her Tigers clinched at least a share of their fifth consecutive Ivy League title.

A late goal by Harvard co-captain Judy Collins prevented Princeton senior goalkeeper Meg DeJong from recording her sixth Ivy League shutout in six chances. The loss eliminates the Crimson from the Ivy title race.

"They were first to the ball a lot, and they just capitalized on our errors," said Harvard junior goalie Anya Cowan. "We gave up some bad corners, they were able to clear the rebounds off the corners, we just couldn't clear the circle very well, and they were there waiting for the ball."

A penalty corner spelled doom on Princeton's first goal, 6:47 into the first half. In a display that portended several of the Tigers' future opportunities, Cowan made two saves off a Princeton corner--one of the Tigers' 10 on the afternoon--but Matson was positioned perfectly for the rebound off the second.

Not to be outdone, Princeton senior Christine Hunsicker gave the Tigers what proved to be an insurmountable 2-0 lead just under 10 minutes later. Her shot was also unassisted, a rocket from the top of the circle that found a seam past Cowan and into the back of the net.

Cowan, who made 10 saves to DeJong's two, had a busy day. Although the five goals she allowed represents the most scored by a Harvard opponent since Princeton's 5-1 win in 1996, the Second-Team All-Ivy keeper made several spectacular blocks of Princeton shots.

During one sequence early in the second half, Cowan blocked three straight shots after a Tiger penalty corner, but found herself tangled with the Princeton attacker after the third. On the subsequent penalty shot, however, Cowan guessed right, which in this case meant a dive to the left to block the shot and keep Princeton from scoring its fourth goal.

The Tigers took 22 shots in total to Harvard's four, a result of their quickness to loose balls and the little time it took for them to start their offense after whistles on the Harvard end of the field.

And the turf surface of Class of 1952 Stadium, which quickened the overall pace of the game, could not hurt. Although the Crimson have played on turf this season, it is more accustomed to the grass surface of Cumnock Field.

"We were running in circles a little bit, defensively," said Harvard Coach Sue Caples, who dismissed the playing surface as a factor in the loss. "Instead of being ready and having a sense of urgency inside our defensive one-third, the whistle blew and it was like a second to relax. We were getting caught in transition that way, and it hurt us."

Harvard was not entirely without offensive opportunities of its own. Collins broke away from the pack late in the first half, but the Princeton defense reacted before she could even get a shot off. With 32 minutes left in the second frame, junior Katie Schoolwerth took two straight shots from the top of the circle off a penalty corner, but both were deflected before reaching the net.

One of the Crimson's best chances came in the 52nd minute, when Collins again broke through and scooted a lead pass to freshman forward Kate Burrage. Sensing imminent danger, DeJong left the net and raced out to intercept the pass in front of the right post. Burrage beat the keeper to the ball but buried the shot into her prone stomach.

"[Princeton] is a team that hasn't given up much," Caples said. "You're not going to get that many opportunities, so you have to make them count."

With her team down 5-0 in the 67th minute, Collins finally broke through the Tigers' stingy defense. The play began with the second of two consecutive Harvard penalty corners. Sophomore Liz Sarles controlled the ball at the top of the circle and passed it immediately to her left, where Collins was waiting unguarded. She took a couple of steps and slipped a shot into the gap between DeJong and the left post.

"It was kind of a new play we've been working on," Collins said. "They pass it to me on the left off a corner, and I'm usually alone. I was alone and just shot it in."

The goal was somewhat historic in that it marked the first DeJong has allowed to an Ivy League team. She has recorded eight shutouts this season overall, including five in Ivy League play.

Harvard had little time to celebrate its goal, since freshman midfielder Eliza Dick appeared to badly twist her left ankle just 18 seconds after Collins' score. Dick hopped off the field on her right foot unassisted and the ankle was heavily iced after the game, but it appears she will be available for the team's next game Wednesday against Northeastern.

Harvard's loss means that only Princeton and Pennsylvania remain alive in the Ivy League title race. The Crimson's chances of postseason play are still alive, however, since a berth in the ECAC Tournament remains a possibility.

Only teams with .500 records are considered for the tournament, which means that the Crimson must win two of its next three games, all of which are at Cumnock Field. After Northeastern, Harvard closes its Ivy schedule with weekend matchups against Dartmouth and Brown. Both the Bears and the Big Green are also contending for ECAC berths.

Although the Crimson has now lost two straight since snapping a five-game win streak, the two defeats are to top-10 opponents and are a poor indicator of Harvard's overall postseason prospects.

"I didn't think we played badly against Princeton," Collins said. "A lot of people were nervous, so we just played safe and didn't take any risks. These last two games were tough, but I don't think it will affect us the rest of the season." PRINCETON, 5-1 at Class of 1952 Stadium, Princeton, N.J. Harvard  0  1  --  1 Princeton  3  2  --  5

Scoring Prin--Matson (unassisted) 6:47. Prin--Hunsicker (unassisted) 16:23. Prin--O'Malley (Dwyer) 32:33. Prin--Matson (unassisted) 39:11. Prin--Carroll (unassisted) 58:00. Har--Collins (Sarles) 66:12. Shots: Har 4, Prin 22. Saves: Har--Cowan 10; Prin--DeJong 2.

Scoring Prin--Matson (unassisted) 6:47. Prin--Hunsicker (unassisted) 16:23. Prin--O'Malley (Dwyer) 32:33. Prin--Matson (unassisted) 39:11. Prin--Carroll (unassisted) 58:00. Har--Collins (Sarles) 66:12. Shots: Har 4, Prin 22. Saves: Har--Cowan 10; Prin--DeJong 2.

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