PRINCETON, N.J. — In an aggressive top-five battle, it was No. 2 Princeton who came out on top 4-1 versus No. 4 Connecticut on Sunday at Bedford Field. The Tigers handed the Huskies (16-1) their first loss of the year, while improving to 13-1 and 5-0 in Ivy League play.
Princeton found its offensive rhythm early. At 4:05, Michelle Cesan picked up a loose ball and maneuvered past several Husky defenders. Cesan passed to Teresa Benvenuti, who sent in the opening goal from the left side.
With the score in their favor, the Tigers maintained possession of the ball and continued to push into UConn’s defense.
Sophomore goalie Julia Boyle took the start for the Tigers and earned her first complete game victory of the year with five saves. Along with Boyle, the Princeton backline of Kelsey Byrne, Amy Donovan and Julia Reinprecht consistently deflected UConn’s shot attempts, including a key Reinprecht stop with 14 minutes to play in the first half to stymie a Husky drive.
After halftime, Princeton doubled its lead as Sydney Kirby gained possession of Kathleen Sharkey’s deflected shot at the 38:55-minute mark. Her goal would be the eventual game-winner.
With a 2-0 lead against the Huskies, the Tigers continued to pressure the UConn backline. Sharkey found an opening in the 47th minute, driving the ball to the left side of the goal where goalie Sarah Mansfield was able to deflect, but Sharkey regained possession to score the first of her two goals on the day and improve Princeton’s lead to 3-0.
After holding the fourth-ranked Huskies scoreless for 50 minutes, the Tigers committed a foul outside the cage and Connecticut was awarded a penalty stroke. Alicia Angelina was able to break up Boyle’s clean sheet, making it a 3-1 game midway through the second half.
Despite conceding its first goal in 261 minutes, the Princeton defense remained composed and prevented a hustling Husky frontline from finding any other solid openings in the circle.
The Tigers’ capped off the victory in the 69th minute, as Sharkey and Kirby connected on a give-and-go play. Sharkey fed the ball to Kirby on the right side and after making a touch Kirby crossed it Sharkey to tap in her 23rd goal of the year.
Princeton led in shots (15-6), shots on goal (10-6) and penalty corners (5-3), while UConn held a 6-5 differential in saves.
The Tigers are now 6-1 against ranked teams, including a pair of victories against top-five opponents.