Eighth-ranked Princeton showed why it is one of the best teams in the country Friday night, as the Tigers defeated the women’s soccer team (4-10-2, 1-5-0 Ivy), 7-0, at Berman Field. With the win, Princeton clinched its fourth Ivy League title in the past five seasons, along with a berth in the NCAA College Cup tournament, while the Red dropped its ninth-straight game. Princeton’s Esmerelda Negron had a record-breaking night, as she became the program’s all-time leading scorer and also set the record for goals scored in a season.
“They’re clearly the best team in the league, and we didn’t match up with them,” said head coach Berhane Andeberhan. “What I’m proud of is the kids hung in there and battled.”
From the outset, the Tigers used their speed to attack the Cornell defense and senior goalie Katie Thomas. During the first 20 minutes of play, Thomas stopped several Princeton breakaways and dangerous shots. However, in the 22nd minute, the Tigers finally broke through, when Maura Gallagher recovered the ball to the left of the Cornell box. She then found Negron open in the middle, and Negron placed a low shot past Thomas for her 12th goal of the season.
Diana Matheson continued the scoring for Princeton in the 31st minute when she beat Thomas on a hard-angle shot from the right side. Matheson then tacked on another tally in the 39th minute, as she received the ball from midfield on the left side of the goal, connecting on a similar hard-angle shot.
“The most important thing is that we couldn’t handle their physicality and their speed. They have foot speed everywhere, which was amazing,” Andeberhan said. “We played okay, but we weren’t able to generate a lot of offense because we were busy defending.”
Thomas was tested early in the second half, making a diving stop in the 45th minute. She then stopped a shot from five yards out in the 55th minute, only to have the ball deflect right to Princeton’s Emily Behncke, who buried the shot in the net. Less than a minute later, Matheson served the ball downfield, with Negron and freshman Leslie Campbell chasing after it. Negron beat Campbell to the ball, and tapped it over the head of Thomas, who had come out of the box to play the ball.
Princeton relied on the same tactic throughout the game to set up its scoring chances. The Tigers would send the ball downfield on the wings, and the forwards used their speed to recover the ball deep in the Cornell end. The Red shifted its players to cut off the wings, but that opened up passing lanes for Princeton in the middle.
While the game was out of reach, Andeberhan was pleased with the team’s effort throughout the last quarter of the game.
“We wanted to keep battling and learn as much as we can from this game,” he said. “We’ve never been in a situation where we’re playing the offside trap, and we constantly have them in trouble, but we’re also in danger of disaster. You can’t manufacture that in practice.”
The Red’s offside trap yielded nine offside calls on Princeton, but it also led to the Tigers’ sixth goal, as Negron scored her third goal of the game after she was close to being offsides. Amanda Ferranti finished the scoring for Princeton in the 85th minute, when she collected a rebound from the left side of the net.
The Tigers outshot the Red, 26-5, and Thomas finished the game with seven saves, several of which were on point-blank shots.
“She was unlucky in a couple of spots. I thought she and Leslie played great, and it’s hard to realize that with such a lopsided score,” Andeberhan said.
Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach
Sun Staff Writer