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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

GETTING PHYSICAL: Princeton University junior defender Janine Willis, left, battles a Penn player for possession as Elizabeth Pillion comes up for support in the Tigers' 3-2 loss to the Quakers last Saturday. Princeton, which ended the regular season at 11-2-3 overall and in second place in the Ivy race with a 4-2-1 league mark, plays Villanova on November 14 in Charlottesville, Va. in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
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Tiger Women's Soccer Ends 2nd in Ivy But Pumped Up for NCAA Tourney Run

By Bill Alden

The Princeton University women's soccer team spent most of the fall with a bull's eye on its back.

As the three-time league champion, the Tigers have customarily drawn A-game efforts from league rivals bent on knocking them off.

Last Saturday, Princeton ran into another inspired rival in Philadelphia as Penn used three Katy Cross goals to top the Tigers 3-2.

Although Princeton ended the season with a gaudy 11-2-3 mark, those losses were both in the league as Ivy foes succeeded in knocking the Tigers to a 4-2-1 Ivy record and second place behind Dartmouth.

But while league foes kept Princeton from the title, they couldn't keep them from being chosen for the NCAA tournament. On Monday, the Tigers received an at-large bid in the tourney and will face 15th ranked Villanova (14-5-3) on November 14 in Charlottesville, Va. The winner of that game will advance to the second round to face the survivor of the Virginia/William & Mary matchup.

Princeton head coach Julie Shackford is hoping that her squad will benefit from being gunned at all fall. "We were so targeted, I thought that every league team brought their best stuff against us," said Shackford, who has now guided the Tigers to five straight NCAA appearances.

"I'm a little disappointed that we didn't win the league but I'm not scoffing at placing second in this league. We lost two games on the road by one goal with a team that has only two seniors."

For Shackford, the team's accomplishments during the regular season outweigh the disappointment of not coming up with a fourth straight league title. "I thought it was a great season," said Shackford, who now has a 98-48-10 mark in her nine years guiding the Tigers.

"Es [Negron] had a great year (tying a school record with 13 goals on the season). Liz Bell was fantastic in terms of consistency. The Willis twins (Janine and Rochelle) were phenomenal, they were much better with the ball this year. Emily Behncke was the leading scorer in the league at the midfield position, she can create scoring opportunities on her own."

Shackford is hoping her team can create more success in the NCAA as it hasn't advanced past the first round in the tournament. "They are going to be pretty pumped up looking to avenge our losses," said Shackford, whose club fell to Penn State in last year's national tournament.

"We are a more physical team. Defensively, we have to be better as a team. We have to work on fundamental things and doing the dirty work." If the Tigers embrace that approach, they might find it's a lot more fun being the hunter rather than the hunted.

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