The Ivy League field hockey season reaches the midway point this weekend. As it does so, there are four teams with either no losses or one loss, and there is only one game this weekend that matches two of them as 3-0 Princeton hosts 2-1 Cornell.
No. 16 Princeton vs. Cornell
The Ivy race
Princeton and Harvard are the two 3-0 teams in the league at this point, and they will play next Saturday in Cambridge. Cornell and Brown are both 2-1.
Those four teams all enter this weekend knowing one simple fact: If they win out, they go to the NCAA tournament. Cornell and Brown wouldn’t be assured of an outright Ivy championship at 6-1, but they would definitely get the automatic NCAA bid if they got there.
Princeton has won 26 Ivy League field hockey championships. The rest of the league combined has won 24.
Princeton has outscored its three Ivy opponents to date (Penn, Yale, Dartmouth) by a combined 14-2.
Beth Yeager has had quite a freshman season already. The rookie from Greenwich, Conn., who is already a member of the U.S. women’s national team, leads the Ivy League in goals (14) and points (34) and is third in Division I in goals per game and points per game.
She also is a two-time Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week, earning the honor this past week after her four-goal game at Dartmouth. Yeager’s four goals in that game tied the freshman record, set by Olympian Katie Reinprecht back in 2008.
Yeager’s 14 goals also equal the freshman record, held jointly by Michelle Cesan (in 2009) and Amy MacFarlane (in 1993). Yeager is on a pace to finish the regular season with 22 goals, which would rank seventh all-time for a single-season at Princeton.
Strength of schedule
Princeton is 6-5, having won three straight games to get over the .500 mark. The Tigers own non-league wins over two ranked teams, having defeated No. 17 UConn and No. 20 Delaware.
Princeton also has overtime losses to two teams ranked this week in the top eight: No. 4 Louisville and No. 8 Maryland. Princeton’s other three losses have come against No. 3 Rutgers, No. 10 North Carolina and No. 23 Duke.
After playing Cornell, Princeton will play home against No. 5 Penn State Sunday.
This will be the 42nd meeting between Princeton and Cornell, and the Tigers hold a 33-6-3 edge to date. Princeton is 18-2 against Cornell this century and has won 11 of the last 12, with the lone Cornell win a 3-2 overtime win in Ithaca in 2016.
Princeton and Cornell first met in the 1978 season, in a game that Princeton won 4-0 in Ithaca in the first game in goal for the great Sue Kohler, then a freshman, who would go on to win the von Kienbusch Award in 1982. Of the three ties, two of them came on back-to-back 0-0 games in 1985 and 1986.
Princeton leads the Ivy League in goals (34) and goals per game (3.09) and is ninth in Division I in goals per game. Cornell has scored the third-most goals in the league, with 25.
The two top goal scorers in the Ivy League are both playing in this game. Princeton’s Beth Yeager is first with 14 goals overall and 1.27 per game. Cornell’s Caroline Ramsey ranks second in the league, with 13 goals overall and 1.18 per game. Those two are the only players in the league in double figures in goals and the only players averaging more than a goal per game.
This game also features seven of the top 10 players in the league in assists. For Cornell, there is Bridget Mahoney (first, 12), Kat Macgillis (tied for second, 7) and Natalie Stone (tied for fourth, 6). For Princeton, there is Ophelie Bemelmans (tied for second, 7), Beth Yeager (tied for fourth, 6), Ali McCarthy (tied for seventh, 5) and Hannah Davey (tied for ninth, 4).
* Sammy Popper is second on Princeton and sixth in the Ivy League with five goals. Popper has three goals in the last three games after having two in the first eight.
* Ophelie Bemelmans had no assists in the first five games of the year. She has at least one in each of the last six games.
* Carla Tagliente is in her fifth season as the Tiger head coach. She has a record of 73-37, including 28-3 in the Ivy League. She has led Princeton to three NCAA Final Fours, including the 2019 championship game. Tagliente is still the second all-time leading scorer at Maryland. Dina Rizzo, her teammate at Maryland, was recently promoted to Associate Head Coach.