Julianna Tornetta ’21 scored Princeton’s first goal and assisted on the second in a 2-1 NCAA quarterfinal win over Harvard.
Beverly Schaefer

Third-seeded Princeton field hockey pushed past No. 6 Harvard, 2-1, in the NCAA quarterfinals Nov. 11. The Tigers will make their eighth trip to the Final Four in program history and the second in three years.  

For the first time in Ivy League history, two league schools met in the NCAA Tournament. In their last meeting with Harvard, the Tigers lost 3-1.

“It’s a surreal feeling,” head coach Carla Tagliente said after the NCAA game, played on Princeton’s Bedford Field. “It wasn’t an easy game. I thought we came out and played better than they did in the first half, but for [Harvard] to score first was kind of a mental game.”

Tigers had back-to-back corner tries with 5:15 left in the first half but were not successful.

“I sensed the disappointment,” said Tagliente, “but they were awesome to claw back and get back in this.”

Energized by a home crowd, the Tigers maintained a high level of offensive pressure.

“We went into the team room at halftime and we were all looking around and thinking, we’re dominating this game, we can do this,” said Julianna Tornetta ’21. “If we keep knocking on that door eventually we were going to score.”

With 11:05 left on the clock Tornetta slammed in the tying goal with a penalty stroke generated by Clara Roth ’21.

“I was really really nervous, because I’ve taken that shot a hundred times before in middle school and high school and I’ve missed it in really big games like this,” said Tornetta. “I guess it worked it out.”

In the next five minutes, the Tigers earned three more corners but weren’t able to capitalize on them. On the fourth try, Tornetta dropped the ball to Maddie Bacskai ’20, who scored the game-winner with 5:01 left. Harvard did not produce any scoring opportunities in remainder of the game.

The Tigers face off against No. 2 Maryland in the Final Four Nov. 16 in Louiville, Ky. In September, Maryland won 5-4 in double overtime against the Tigers. The other side of the bracket features No. 1 North Carolina, who beat Princeton 1-0 in August, and No. 12 Wake Forest, whom the Tigers defeated, 4-0, in early September.

“We are focused on just taking it one game at a time and not getting ahead of ourselves. That’s the whole key for the postseason,” said Tagliente. “This is really talented team, and we’ve played every team in [the Final Four]. It’s just about the next matchup and how we’re going to play.”