September 13, 2017

PU Field Hockey Falls to Undefeated Penn State, Determined to Sharpen Execution at Both Ends

By Bill Alden

Statistically, the 12th-ranked Princeton University field hockey team matched No. 3 Penn State when the foes met last Sunday at Bedford Field.

Princeton outshot the visiting Nittany Lions 15-12 and generated seven penalty corners versus eight given to Penn State.

But on the scoreboard, the Tigers came up short, falling 2-0 to the undefeated Nittany Lions (5-0).

Princeton head coach Carla Tagliente acknowledged that her squad squandered its chances in dropping to 1-3.

“We had plenty of opportunities; it was just really poor finishing on our part with a lot of baseline entries and shots that were really uncharacteristic of some of our players,” said Tagliente.

“The positive is the game could have been 2-0 us in the first 10. Overall, we could have put in five or six goals. We need to find a way to clean that up.”

The Tigers also need to clean things up at the defensive end, as a lapse on a penalty corner led to Penn State scoring an insurance goal at the 51:42 mark to go up 2-0.

“We get 10 chances on attack and great ones; they go down the other end, get a cheap corner and it is a goal,” lamented Tagliente.

“We have got to lock down a little bit and just engage. You are going to have games like that, where you attack and attack. That was a big letdown. If we keep it 1-0 and we get a couple of corners at the end, then the pressure is on them and it could have gone either way.”

With Princeton starting the weekend by beating Rutgers 4-1 last Friday as senior star Ryan McCarthy tallied two goals, Tagliente believes the Tigers are heading in the right direction.

“It was much better than last week; I think offensively was the biggest improvement,” said Tagliente.

“We didn’t generate much attack against UNC (a 2-0 loss in the season opener), today we outshot them and we had plenty of corners. The defensive structure is just so much better in the middle 25 and it is creating a lot of our attacking opportunities. The press is a little better.”

The Tigers will need to bring an attacking mentality as they head south to play at No. 1 Duke (4-1) on September 17 and at No. 11 Maryland (3-2) on September 19.

“The focus is to grow and get better,” said Tagliente. “Looking at film and at both teams, we are stronger in a lot of areas. We just need to step up and start executing stuff.”