After a difficult start, playing against three of the nation’s top 25 teams without its best player, the Princeton women’s soccer team rebounded in spectacular fashion in late September and early October, winning six straight games by a combined score of 18–3 and emerging as a contender in the Ivy League title chase.

Diana Matheson ’08, Princeton’s star midfielder, spent parts of August and September with Canada’s national team at the Women’s World Cup in Beijing. In Matheson’s absence, Princeton opened 2–4–1, losing three one-goal games despite playing strong defense. Matheson’s return added a welcome spark to the offense: She scored three goals and assisted on six others in her first four games, including a one-goal, one-assist performance in Princeton’s 2–0 win over Columbia Oct. 13. Midway through the Ivy League season, Princeton and Penn were tied for first place at 3–0.

Head coach Julie Shackford said that Matheson’s play has been “off the charts” since the World Cup, while Princeton’s defense, led by All-Ivy player Taylor Numann ’09, has shown consistency and maturity. The Tigers’ final two games, at Penn Nov. 3 and against Yale Nov. 11, could be pivotal in determining the league champion. Shackford’s teams have won four Ivy titles, most recently in 2004.