Princeton uses second-half surge to advance past Drexel in NCAA opener
An early advantage combined with a second-half surge lifted Princeton to a 5-0 victory against No. 15 Drexel in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.
With the win, the Tigers (18-1) advance to the second round and will next play at 2 p.m. ET Sunday.
Princeton took possession of the ball nearly immediately, intercepting the Dragon's opening offensive drive and charging into the Drexel circle. Their urgency however was not rewarded initially, as it took three penalty corners before Kathleen Sharkey found an open Amanda Bird on the left side. Bird put the Tigers up 1-0 at 9:15 and her goal would be the eventual game-winner.
Drexel did test the Princeton backline at 21:11, firing a shot off a penalty corner into the Tiger net. The shot would be called back for being too high, preserving the Tigers' one-goal advantage.
Despite being the constant aggressors, Princeton was unable to capitalize on one of its eight penalty corners or 10 shots, including five on frame, before the first half expired.
Following halftime, a reenergized Princeton side returned to the field and took every opportunity to continuously pepper in shots on the Dragon cage. The Tigers did not waste any time adding to their lead, as Sharkey again served up an assist, this time finding an open Sydney Kirby just to the left of the cage to double Princeton's lead, 2-0, at 36:04.
In the 60th minute, freshman Teresa Benvenuti picked up the ball to the right of the age, drove into the circle and fired off a shot. Drexel's goalie Jantien Gunter managed to stop the shot with her pads, but the ball deflected right back to Benvenuti. The newly crowned Ivy Rookie of the Year followed through on the loose ball to improve Princeton's advantage to 3-0.
With Drexel's defense on its heels, the Tigers added further to their point cushion with a final pair of goals off penalty corners. Kirby notched her second goal of the game off a perfect feed from Julia Reinprecht from the corner at 61:42.
Reinprecht was done yet getting in on the scoring , as she fed in Princeton's 13th corner of the game and found older sister Katie Reinprecht for the stop at the top of the circle. Sharkey was there to slam in her 33rd goal of the year with 65 seconds left in regulation.
In goal, Christina Maida (15-1) had a pair of saves and helped Princeton earn its ninth shutout of the year.
Princeton would finish the match holding advantages in shots (28-5), shots on goal (17-2) and penalty corners (13-2), while Drexel tallied a 12-2 save differential.