Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 37
 
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
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FIRST STRIKE: Princeton University women’s soccer senior forward Sarah Peteraf boots the ball in action last Friday as Princeton edged visiting Boston University 2-1 in its season opener. Peteraf tallied Princeton’s first goal, making history as she was the first Tiger player to score at Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium. Princeton, which fell 1-0 at Hofstra last Sunday, is slated to play at Texas A&M on September 12 and at Rice two days later.

Peteraf Notches 1st Goal for PU Women’s Soccer, as Tigers Open New Stadium With Comeback Win

Bill Alden

Sarah Peteraf and her teammates on the Princeton University women’s soccer team were thrilled last Friday as they played the first-ever game at the school’s new soccer complex, Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium.

“It was just wonderful; it’s been two years since we stepped on our own facility,” said Peteraf.

“So it just filled us with pride when we stepped onto the field, coming through the tunnel and seeing the fans. Especially as a senior, knowing this is my last year.”

The senior forward buzzed all over the field in the first half but squandered two good scoring chances as the Tigers battled Boston University.

“I got a couple of chances in the first half,” acknowledged Peteraf. “I was kind of mad at myself for not putting those away.”

The first half ended with the teams locked in a scoreless draw. BU, though, broke the ice after intermission, taking a 1-0 lead at the 69:20 mark.

Just over two minutes later, Peteraf earned another scoring chance and she didn’t blow it, racing around the Terrier goalie and sliding the ball into the net to knot the contest at 1-1.

With under two minutes remaining in regulation, Peteraf’s classmate, Lisa Chinn converted a feed from former Lawrenceville star Bernie Da Costa to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead. Princeton held off a late BU charge to pull out the win before an appreciative crowd of 575.

Peteraf appreciated the game-winning goal which saw Da Costa race down the sideline and through the BU defense before slotting the ball to a cutting Chinn.

“It was beautiful,” asserted Peteraf, a native of Hanover, N.H. who entered the evening with four goals and an assist in her Tiger career.

“That’s the best offensive play I have ever seen from Bernie. She covered three-fourths of the field with the ball and a player on her. For her to have the energy to be able to make that pass was fantastic.”

It was a fantastic feeling for Peteraf to be the first Princeton player to ever score at Roberts Stadium.

“There was a very good ball played into me,” said Peteraf, flashing her wide grin.

“I tried to take a touch and my touch was a little bit off but it made the defender turn around. The goalie was coming out and the defender was going back. I took a touch around her and put it in.”

Princeton head coach Julie Shackford admitted that she and the Tigers started the evening off a touch nervous.

“I think we all felt a lot of pressure being the first game in the new stadium; I know I was really nervous,” said Shackford, who is in her 14th season guiding the Tigers.

“I’m proud of the win because I think it’s against a good team who has had three games under their belt. We felt pretty good about it.”

Peteraf’s goal helped the Tigers to start feeling good about things. “As soon as we got the equalizer, we got a little momentum,” said Shackford, whose club couldn’t build on the momentum from its dramatic opening day win as it fell 1-0 to Hofstra last Sunday. “We started moving the ball and finding the weak side.”

The strong effort by Peteraf was a major spark for Princeton. “Sarah was a star today,” said Shackford.

“I think that was her best game ever. I think the seniors are going for it; they have really taken ownership. I think in some ways Sarah has felt she hasn’t gotten everything out of herself. It’s a real goal for her to push to be an impact player.”

With the 2007 Ivy League Player of the Year and Canadian national player Diana Matheson having graduated, Princeton is looking for players ready to make an impact.

“We don’t have a star for the first time in eight years,” said Shackford, whose team was outshot 11-10 by BU.

“We had Es [Esmeralda Negron], Emily [Behncke], and Diana. We have always had someone like that, someone who could make something special happen. I think everybody else has decided to pick up the slack. It means that we have to defend really well. We have to pass really well together and hope that in certain games different people will step up.”

The rally by the Tigers in the opener was certainly an encouraging sign.

“That doesn’t happen a lot at this level,” said Shackford, referring to her team’s comeback.

“I think it gives you confidence going forward. It’s the first time that senior class has won an opener; that’s definitely good.”

Peteraf, for her part, is hoping that the win over BU is a harbinger of good things to come in her final campaign.

“I think we can build on this,” said Peteraf, who will look to get back in the scoring column this weekend as the Tigers head to Texas with games scheduled at Texas A&M on September 12 and at Rice two days later.

“I don’t know when the last time was that we came back from being down 1-0; that’s always really hard mentally. It shows our strength as a team to do that in our home opener.”

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