Not every ending can be storybook. Saturday afternoon’s heartbreaking loss to Penn was certainly not the way women’s soccer head coach Julie Shackford wanted to end her 20-year, 203-win career at Princeton, but she could not have asked for a harder-fought or more exciting finale.
The Tigers conceded a goal early and let up another just before the break as Penn came out in surprisingly strong form. During the first half, news broke that Harvard had defeated Columbia 2-1, dashing the Tigers’ already dwindling hopes for an Ivy League title.
If there was nothing left to play for, nobody told forward Tyler Lussi ’17. Lussi was constantly in the attacking third, pressing even the slightest advantage and once colliding mid-air with Quaker goalie Kalijah Terilli. She hugged the sidelines all afternoon, frustrating one defender after another, and stayed in the game after a shot hit her in the head at point-blank range.
Lussi started the second period with a cross to Lauren Lazo ’15, who netted her 28th and final collegiate goal, good for fifth on Princeton’s all-time list. After that, it was all Tigers: Princeton took 16 shots to Penn’s two in the second half, earning seven corners. After 30 minutes that saw several inspired saves from Terilli, the Tigers broke through again as Beth Stella ’18 bounced the ball in off the crossbar from the top of the box.
The crowd, filled with children chanting “I believe that we will win!” and former players eager to see Shackford go out on a high note, was elated. Penn’s next possession was short-lived, and the Tigers looked as threatening as they had all half as time ran down.
Princeton nearly pulled off the comeback a corner kick with two minutes left, but Penn’s Clara Midgley broke free on the counter attack. One-on-one with Princeton keeper Darcy Hargadon ’15, Midgley managed to sneak the ball into the goal. As the Quaker bench stormed the field, Tiger fans seemed at a loss. Frustration had turned into hope, then celebration, only to end up in the utter dejection of a season-ending loss.
“I think when you’ve done something for 20 years it’s not about one game,” Shackford said afterward. “Obviously it’s disappointing. You’d like to go out with a win. But I told the girls that I still think they played great soccer.”
The football team has bounced back from a blowout by Harvard to win two straight Ivy games, including Saturday’s 22-17 victory over Penn. The offense was far from the well-oiled machine it has been at times, but quarterback Quinn Epperly ’15’s one-yard touchdown run and one-yard TD pass combined with two field goals from Nolan Bieck ’16 gave the Tigers a 19-10 halftime lead. After the game, when asked about his team’s recovery from the Harvard loss, Epperly said, “I won’t say ‘recover’ until the next two weeks are over.” Princeton (5-3, 4-1 Ivy) faces Yale (7-1, 4-1) and Dartmouth (6-2, 4-1) in its final two games.
Men’s soccer went up 3-2 in the first half and shut down Penn in the second to cement a win and keep pace with Dartmouth atop the Ivy League. Cameron Porter ’15 and Brendan McSherry ’16 opened the scoring and Thomas Sanner ’16 assisted Nick Hurtado ’16 for what turned out to be the game-winning goal. The Tigers will ride a four-game winning streak to Yale next weekend, needing help from Dartmouth to capture the Ivy League’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Men’s hockey pulled off a 2-1 upset over Cornell Friday night. The Tigers fended off an early Big Red onslaught and got goals from defender Aaron Ave ’15 and Garrett Skrbich ’17. First-season head coach Ron Fogarty gave credit for the win to sophomore goalie Colton Phinney ’17, whose 40 saves doubled the number of shots his offense took.
The field hockey team has now won the Ivy League for a decade straight, as Maddie Copeland ’16’s goal in the 62nd minute gave her team a 4-3 edge over Penn. The Tigers’ struggles against non-Ivy opponents would likely have kept them out of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007, but they are in it again thanks to the Ivy League’s automatic bid.