With wins over Brown (4-0 Oct. 10) and Army West Point (4-1 Oct 7), the Princeton women’s soccer team improved its winning streak to seven in a row.

“You’re as good as your last game. And when your last game is consistent, that’s a good thing,” head coach Sean Driscoll said, speaking to the positive momentum of the players have been feeding off of.

The Tigers started off the season with two wins followed by three losses. Villanova, the sixth game of the season, proved to be a watershed moment, Driscoll said. Since then, the Tigers have been unstoppable, with the three of their seven wins coming in Ivy League play.

Driscoll attributes the team’s success to its cohesiveness and competitiveness. “This is by far the most competitive team I’ve ever coached. They have a desire to win that I’ve never seen before,” he said.

This drive to win is especially noticeable during Ivy play. Driscoll, who joined the Princeton program in January, said that there is a difference in focus level when it comes to the Ivies. “Every time you change the game from a want to a must, the whole complexion of the game changes,” Driscoll said.

Even the style of play changes during Ivy games. The team, which usually plays a very pretty, possession oriented game, plays a “less aesthetically pleasing game” because both teams are playing with such intensity, according to Driscoll.

 

Tyler Lussi ’17 has scored nine goals in 12 games for Princeton, which improved to 9-3 this weekend. (Office of Athletic Communications)
Tyler Lussi '17 has scored nine goals in 12 games for Princeton, which improved to 9-3 this weekend. (Office of Athletic Communications)
“We treat every Ivy League game as a championship game, because it is,” Driscoll said. “The Ivy League has never produced a champion that has had more than two losses [against other Ivies]. This puts incredible pressure on the players and on the coaching staff.”

The Tigers have already checked Yale, Dartmouth, and Brown off the list. Though the team thinks one game at a time, the Tigers are looking ahead to playing Columbia at home and to a match-up against Harvard, the two-time defending Ivy League champions.

Tyler Lussi ‘17, the reigning Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, has her eye on the league title. After watching Harvard beat the Tigers two years in a row, she approaches the Harvard game, which the team will play in Cambridge, with an aggressive drive. “It’s not going to happen again,” Lussi said with determination.

Though Lussi, among others, has had incredible individual success on the field, Driscoll is hesitant to single out individual players. This year, he thinks, is about the team stepping up as a whole.

Lussi is the poster-girl for the team in some ways: Her tireless work ethic trickles down and positively affects the team, Driscoll said.

In order to remind the players of team unity and personal responsibility, Driscoll gives each player a puzzle piece that they are responsible for. Before each game, the players put the puzzle together. This puzzle shows the Princeton crest with the team motto, “Rise,” emblazoned underneath. The puzzle is unique to this team — next year’s puzzle will be different.

“[The puzzle] is a reminder that, whether they play every minute or no minutes, score or don’t score, they all matter,” Driscoll said.

Lussi agreed. In the games against Brown and Army West Point, four different Princeton players scored in each game, she said. “We’re not relying on one person. It’s truly a team effort,” Lussi said.

Quick Takes

Field hockey beat Columbia 4-3 Friday night, improving its Ivy League record to 3-0 and its overall record to 6-4. Freshman Nicole Catalino scored the game-winning goal 1:38 into overtime. The Tigers are ranked No. 19 this season, and resume Ivy play against Brown on Oct. 17.

Women’s golf finished first among the Ivies and fifth overall at the Yale Women’s Invitational on Sunday. The team shot its best single-round score since 2012 when the team’s five players combined for a 291-stroke total Sunday afternoon.

Football improved its record to 4-0 with a 44-20 win against Colgate at home on Saturday afternoon. This marks the first time Princeton has been 4-0 at the start of the season since 2006, and the same year marked the last time that Princeton beat Colgate. The last time the Tigers scored at least 44 points against Colgate, it was 1988 and now-head-coach Bob Surace ’90 was the center.