September 5, 2018

After Getting Edged 1-0 by No. 2 UNC in Opener, No. 10 PU Field Hockey Routs Wake Forest 4-0

OFF AND RUNNING: Princeton University field hockey player Sophia Tornetta heads upfield in a 2017 game. Last Sunday, senior star striker Tornetta scored a goal as 10th-ranked Princeton defeated Wake Forest 4-0 in its opening weekend of action. The Tigers, who lost 1-0 to No. 2 North Carolina on Friday to start the season, were slated to play at No. 6 Penn State (2-0) on September 4 before hosting No. 3 Duke (3-1) on September 7 and playing at Rutgers (3-0) on September 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It took the Princeton University field hockey team nearly 10 minutes to get its first shot as it faced North Carolina last Friday in its season opener.

Princeton head coach Carla Tagliente acknowledged that her 10th-ranked Tigers struggled at the outset against the second-ranked Tar Heels.

“It is a challenge to play a strong team straight off the bat, we didn’t have a lot of margin for error,” said Tagliente.

After shaking off some rust, Princeton produced some strong play and the game turned into a tense battle befitting a matchup of top-10 foes.

“Once we got through that first 10 minutes and settled in, I was pretty happy with how we played,” said Tagliente.

“We ended up controlling patches of the game; it was ebbs and flows for them and for us. It was a great game between two top teams. We had better opportunities. We had a goal called off the board and we had one that was probably a stroke that wasn’t called.”

While the Tigers ended up falling 1-0 as the Tar Heels scored with 5:11 left in regulation and held off Princeton from there, Tagliente saw plenty of positives.

“Overall it was a good game, we did enough to win,” said Tagliente. “It is a team we will look forward to playing again in the postseason if we advance that far.”

Two days later, Princeton played a very good game, pulling away to a 4-0 win over No. 14 Wake Forest.

“We were all over them from the get-go; for the first 20 minutes it was transition to attack constantly,” said Tagliente, who team outshot the Demon Deacons 10-3 in the first half and 17-5 on the game.

“We just weren’t getting anything to fall, which can be dangerous because we got opened up to some big defensive counters.”

In the last minute of the half, the Tigers got on the board twice with goals by Sophia Tornetta and MaryKate Neff.

“Right before we scored our goals, we had a big defensive corner stand, they hit the post and then Clara [Roth] broke open and created a great opportunity for Sophia,” said Tagliente.

“Then we got a second corner right after it for a second goal; that was a big difference right there going into the half.”

Buoyed by those goals, Princeton kept rolling in the second half.

“They did a few nice things, but then we broke out for a third goal and it was smooth sailing from there,” said Tagliente, who got goals from Roth and Jane Donio-Enscoe in the second half.

“I am pretty happy with the performance, it was a really dominant performance on both ends and some nice play across the board. It was not just one or two players, it was a collective effort from everyone.”

Tagliente was happy with the progress she saw from Friday to Sunday.

“We made some changes in overall possession and our outletting and what we were doing in the front third of the field with our attacking opportunities,” said Tagliente.

“I think we were surprised at times with how successful they were with Wake. We definitely grew on both sides of the ball and it was good to see that performance.”

Senior star Tornetta produced a superb performance in the win. “It was good to see her get in there on that goal; she had great positioning,” said Tagliente.

“She received it, shot it, hit the goalie, it came out and she dove on the ball, shot it, and it went in. It was a great goal. I think a big confidence booster for her. She was outstanding in the game.”

Tornetta’s running mate, sophomore Clara Roth, also had a great day, tallying a goal and one assist.

“Clara’s goal was outstanding; she had a great day running,” said Tagliente.

“Sophia and her play up front, but they post back into the midfield a bit so they both did a lot of damage receiving balls coming back.”

The Tigers face a busy week as they were slated to play No. 6 Penn State (2-0) on September 4 before hosting No. 3 Duke (3-1) on September 7 and playing at Rutgers (3-0) on September 9.

“We are packing in a lot of games here in a short amount of time. The positive thing is that we have a lot of depth on the lines, both up front and in the midfield,” said Tagliente.

“Penn State is going to be a challenge, Duke is going to be very challenging, and Rutgers is having a great season so far. I think the critical part right now is just our recovery, getting back and being fresh for Tuesday and then recovering again for the weekend.”