The Princeton women’s soccer team’s remarkable run in the NCAA Tournament came to a close against UCLA as the host Bruins scored twice in the first 20 minutes and held off the attacking Tigers in the second half on their way to a 3-1 win Nov. 25.
Princeton, the Ivy League champion, had advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals largely on the strength of its defense, which had allowed nine goals this season and surrendered more than one goal just once in its previous 19 games. UCLA put pressure on the Tiger back line early in the contest. Goalkeeper Natalie Grossi ’20 made a diving save in the eighth minute, and defender Lucy Rickerson ’21 headed away a dangerous cross in the 12th. But the Bruins broke through in the 16th minute when Hailie Mace headed a cross into the right side of the net.
Less than three minutes later, UCLA scored its second goal when Anika Rodriguez lined up a shot but passed instead, finding a cutting Olivia Athens in front of the goal.
Grossi continued to make saves — 10 in the match, including seven in the first half — and Princeton’s offense created a few promising scoring opportunities early in the second half. The Tigers finally broke through in the 55th minute when Courtney O’Brien ’20 made a long run from midfield and fed a pass to Abby Givens ’20 on the left side. Givens drove a shot into the goal, closing the gap to 2-1. Five minutes later, an opportunistic Bruin counterattack gave Mace her second goal and put UCLA up by two goals again.
Princeton’s postseason run included a 2-1 overtime upset of No. 2 North Carolina, a dramatic shootout victory over North Carolina State, and a 4-0 shutout win over Monmouth. The Tigers finished the year with a 16-3-1 record, the second-highest win total in program history.