Katie Pratt-Thompson ’18 and the Tiger defense allowed three goals in the first 12 games.
Beverly Schaefer
Pratt-Thompson ’18 helps to set the tone for nationally ranked Tigers  

Lisa Pratt ’80 was a star athlete at Princeton — an All-Ivy field hockey forward who played five sports as an undergrad — so she appreciates the countless hours her daughter, women’s soccer co-captain Katie Pratt-Thompson ’18, has spent playing her sport. But more than that, Pratt is fascinated by the role her daughter fills on the field, anchoring one of the nation’s top defenses.

“Defenders are so smart and so tactical,” said Pratt, who preferred the shark-like, instinctive role of goal-scorer. “She just amazes me — I watch Katie play and I don’t know how she knows to do what she does.”

Pratt-Thompson said defense fits her style of thinking. She’d rather break up a scoring chance than score a goal herself. “I like having everything in front of me, I love leading people,” she said, adding with a chuckle, “I love delegating, that’s what it is.”

Delegating takes a toll on Pratt-Thompson’s voice, which often goes hoarse by the end of a 90-minute game, but that’s a small price for the type of success the Tigers have had this fall. Princeton has an 11-1 record, including a 3–0 start in the Ivy League, and with just three goals allowed, its defense ranks second in goals-against average among more than 300 Division I women’s teams. The team’s only loss came in a 1–0 game against No. 6 West Virginia Sept. 15.

Lisa Pratt ’80, left, and daughter Katie Pratt-Thompson ’18
Courtesy Lisa Pratt ’80
The Tigers’ offense, which lost all-time leading scorer Tyler Lussi ’17 to graduation, has outshot opponents 2-to-1 and ranks second among Ivy teams in scoring, behind Columbia, which visits Princeton Oct. 14 for a showdown of the league’s first-place teams. Abby Givens ’20 leads the Tigers with nine goals, followed by Courtney O’Brien ’20, who has seven, and Mimi Asom ’19, who has five.

For the first time since 2004, the Tigers reached the national top 20, climbing to No. 11 in early October. 

“We have a fantastic mix of people that really enjoy being around each other,” Pratt-Thompson said. “And it shows on the field. If someone loses the ball, the person next to you is going to sprint for it to help you.”

Robert Pratt ’44, Pratt-Thompson’s grandfather, in action at Baker Rink in 1947
PAW Archives
Pratt-Thompson is a third-generation Princeton athlete: Grandfather Robert Pratt ’44 played basketball for the Tigers and rowed on the heavyweight varsity eight; Lisa played field hockey, basketball, squash, and lacrosse, and ran for the fledgling track team.

“I got a lot of Tiger energy growing up,” Pratt-Thompson said, “but there wasn’t an expectation that I needed to go here.” In fact, even after she made it clear she had her heart set on Princeton, her mother insisted that she keep her options open and visit several schools. “It allowed me to appreciate what Princeton offered,” Pratt-Thompson said. 

Pratt is enjoying her daughter’s final season at Princeton, and she also has an eye on scoring goals of her own. In February, she’s slated to play for the U.S. masters field hockey team in Portugal, fulfilling a dream deferred from her senior year, when she was the last player cut from the 1980 U.S. Olympic roster. 

A version of this story appears in the Oct. 25, 2017, print edition.