Tiger Field Hockey Tops Harvard in Ivy Showdown, Fueled by a Superb Performance from Senior Star Davey
CRIMSON TIDE: Princeton University field hockey player Hannah Davey races up the field last Sunday as No. 10 Princeton defeated 15th-ranked Harvard 4-2 in a duel of Ivy League front-runners. Senior midfielder and co-captain Davey contributed two assists in the victory over the Crimson as Princeton moved to 11-4 overall and 5-0 Ivy. The Tigers host Brown on October 30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
It was a duel of Ivy League front-runners when the 10th-ranked Princeton University field hockey team hosted No. 15 Harvard last Sunday at high noon.
Both squads entered the contest at 4-0 Ivy and with Princeton having lost in a penalty shootout last year to the Crimson to finish second, the Tigers were primed to turn the tables on their rival.
“We went into it with great positivity and energy,” said Princeton senior star midfielder and co-captain Hannah Davey. “We knew exactly what we needed to do.”
The Tigers displayed that energy right away, tallying three unanswered goals in the first quarter as Grace Schulze, Beth Yeager, and Sam Davidson each found the back of the cage in the first quarter as the Tigers built a 3-0 lead.
“To score the first goal was great,” said Davey, a 5’7 native of Derbyshire, England. “To get the next two it was brilliant.”
Davey picked up the assist to Schulze on first goal, slotting the ball to her on the end line.
“We definitely connect well, it was a big distance,” said Davey. “I saw her in the distance, hit her, and she managed to get it through.”
Things got dicey as Harvard tallied a goal late in the second quarter and scored again off a penalty corner early in the third quarter to tame it a 3-2 game. Davey took a knock on her left shin in a melee in the circle on the corner and had to leave the contest for treatment.
Returning to the game midway through the third quarter, Davey ended up coming up with her second assist of the game, setting up Sammy Popper for a goal with 11:54 left in the fourth quarter.
“Sammy’s backhand is so good,” said Davey. “I just dribbled through, saw her, passed it, goal.”
That turned out to be the final tally of the contest Princeton prevailed 4-2, improving to 11-4 overall and 5-0 Ivy.
“Coming off a loss last year, we knew we had something to prove and we did exactly that with three goals so early on,” said Davey. “To win 4-2 was brilliant, we can take that momentum into the postseason.”
With the victory extending Princeton’s winning streak to six, the Tigers have been gaining momentum as they bounce back from a 3-2 overtime loss to Lafayette on September 25.
“I think it is just team energy; everyone is so supportive of each other, everyone is always rooting for one another,” said Davey, reflecting on the squad’s hot streak.
“We needed that Lafayette game to spark us into this. If we hadn’t lost that, maybe we would not have won today.”
Princeton head coach Carla Tagliente wanted her team to play with energy in the showdown with Harvard.
“The mindset was just to have fun, we know we are a good side,” said Tagliente. “We have had a lot of discussions in the past week, the only thing getting in our way is the stress we put on ourselves. It doesn’t make it fun anymore at that point when you put all of that pressure on. These are the moments you play for. These are the moments you get etched in your head and why not enjoy it and lean into it. Pressure is a privilege.”
Princeton certainly put the pressure on the Crimson with its early three-goal outburst. “It was amazing, it could have been 6-0,” said Tagliente.
“We hit a post on a corner after that. We had one across the goal mouth that almost got tipped in and then we had a corner to Hannah that tipped across the other way on the goal mouth. It was really great execution.”
When the Crimson narrowed the gap to 3-2, Tagliente wanted her team to get back in synch.
“I was frustrated that we just changed the mentality a little bit and started to play panicked instead of playing how we were playing,” said Tagliente.
Changing up the formation by moving senior star Popper helped the Tigers get the insurance goal.
“We moved Popper up in the fourth quarter, I wanted to get to that sooner in the game but we didn’t,” said Tagliente.
“I was like we might as well try it. She is not going to get as many goals when she is stuck in the midfield. When she gets up front in the games like Syracuse (a 5-1 win on September 9) and Rutgers (a 4-1 win on September 11) she scores. She gets up there and she has the ability to shoot in the tiniest of spaces. We saw that today, she pulled the trigger and drained it.”
Davey also made a difference on the offensive end. “Hannah had to earn it this game, they overmarked her and man-marked her and I don’t think we made great adjustments collectively,” said Tagliente.
“If they are going to mark her like that, we need to play through and make them pinch it and we didn’t do that. She was persevering and stayed at it. She made her own fortune. That is her, she is going to be persistent. She is a competitor, she did a great job overall.”
Junior Schulze has emerged as a spark for the Tigers at both ends of the field.
“We have had to play her extended minutes because she inserts well on the corners and you just can’t really quantify what she does on defense,” said Tagliente of Schulze, who now has four goals and eight assists on the season.
“She is kind of sneaky coming up with some stuff. On her leads when she gets on attack, she is in the right spot. Whereas if that ball comes into that pocket, another player may not be there and it is a turnover. Her first goal was great.”
Topping the Crimson was a great triumph for Princeton. “It is a big win for us, especially since we got up three goals so fast,” said Tagliente. “We were hoping it could be 6-0 at the end, that is a statement but still it was 4-2. Their chances were sporadic. It was like hit and hope. It feels good.”
Things are looking good for the Tigers as they have produced their late surge.
“I really think it is the resilience; at Cornell we were down 0-1 and you have to come back (a 2-1 win on October 15) and you are feeling pressure,” said Tagliente. “In this one, we are rolling them and then it is 3-2 but to come back and regroup was great. We have had different people step up at different times. It has really been a collective effort. If you look at our box scores this season, there have been no hat tricks.”
With Princeton hosting Brown on October 30, Tagliente is looking for her players to keep up that collective effort.
“We haven’t closed this out in the regular season, we have to focus on Brown,” said Tagliente. “Brown has been better than in the past. Columbia at Columbia can be tricky, they have a new field. We just need to close this out game by game and focus on the present. Then we will see where we are in the postseason.”
Davey, for her part, believes the Tigers can do some big things in the postseason.
“Hopefully this will secure our ticket,” said Davey. “If we can beat Brown and Columbia, we can take that momentum into the postseason. We can definitely win a national championship.”