By Charles Baker
The #7 Virginia Cavaliers faced the #2 Princeton Tigers on ‘Senior Day’ this past Sunday at Turf Field. The match was originally scheduled for Monday, October 29, but moved up on account of the potential danger of traveling for Princeton due to Hurricane Sandy’s inclement weather.
Both teams were coming off wins from matches played the previous day;Princeton topped Cornell (8-8, 3-3 Ivy) 5-0 and Virginia beat Duke(7-10, 0-5 ACC) 3-1. With both teams playing the prior day, neither team should have had the advantage of being fresher.
Undefeated at Turf Field up to this point, Virginia faced its toughest competitor at home in the Tigers. As play began on the blue pitch,Sandy’s approach was highly apparent. The sky was grey, the cold air was inescapable, and the frosty wind made the weather all the more unpleasant. The gloomy atmosphere certainly foreshadowed Virginia’s performance.
The Tigers captured momentum early, scoring at the 5:43 mark to take a 1-0 lead. Princeton continued to dominate offensive possession in the earlier moments of play and applied immense pressure on the Virginia defense. The precise Princeton passing led to the Wahoos struggling to gain possession.
Conversely, Virginia hurt itself with below par passing, leading to numerous turnovers that helped Princeton retain offensive possession.Although the Cavs were able to finish the half without allowing another goal, they had difficulty competing with Princeton. The Tigers mustered 9 shots in the period compared to only 1 Virginia shot. Even though both teams had played the day before, Princeton looked fresh and Virginia looked exhausted.
Virginia fans were irate with the officials in the first half. They felt that the refs were allowing Princeton to get away with offenses that should have been penalized. The key issue was that the fan sbelieved that the Princeton players were taking dangerous swings at the ball, one of which smacked mid Michelle Vittese, yet there were no repercussions. However, the Cavs poor play likely contributed to the fans’ frustration.
Coach Michele Madison put her team on track during the intermission as Virginia had a stronger performance in the second half. Forward Paige Selenski, who captured the Virginia career points record against Duke the day prior, rocketed a shot past the Princeton keeper to tie the game at 1 all. Following the goal, momentum shifted Virginia’s way and the match was more competitive; Virginia would take 7 shots in the period to almost match Princeton’s 8.
Despite playing better, Virginia wasn’t playing at its highest level.Princeton would regain the lead following a penalty corner. The Hoos attempted to answer, but time expired and they dropped their first home game of the season by a score of 2-1.
Princeton came out looking sharper and was the more aggressive team early. Virginia kept the game close, but couldn’t respond quickly enough to Princeton’s surges in momentum. Virginia falls to 15 – 4(4-1 ACC) and Princeton improves to 15-1 (6-1 Ivy).
With the conclusion of the regular season, Virginia shifts its attention to the ACC tournament in Chapel Hill. Virginia earned a bye with its outstanding performance in ACC play and faces the winner of the Duke vs. Maryland quarterfinal-match in the semi-finals on November 2. Virginia has topped both these teams this season, but Maryland poses a large threat regardless. Maryland and UNC have owned this tournament the past several years. Those two are the clear favorites but Virginia has a great chance of coming out on top.