PRINCETON — The Princeton Tigresses, fresh off their first win of the season, poured in a barrage of goals Saturday morning during pool play in their own Princeton Invitational Tournament to propel themselves into the finals. If they had saved only one of those goals for the final game they would have found themselves champions of the inaugural event.
In the end, PHS fell 4-3 to Dixon on penalty kicks by sudden death.
Pool play found the Tigresses in a round robin against DePue, Hall and LaSalle-Peru. They swept through those matches with ease winning 9-0, 8-0 and 5-0 respectively.
The scoring was lead by sophomore forward Eliza Young who tallied five goals and three assists in those games, including a hat trick against the LaSalle-Peru Cavaliers.
“My dad (head coach Ed Young) moved me last week to forward from central mid,” Young said. “After he moved me up and I trained in that position one practice, we played against IVC, and I started to get comfortable with it. And the scoring just came.”
Also contributing heavily to the scoring were a pair of freshmen – Jenna Grimmer (2 goals, 4 assists) and Sarah Murray (4 goals, 1 assist) – as well as senior Michelle Kelly (3 goals, 1 assist).
Nine juniors chipped in with single goals: Malena Wheeler, Maria Vitale, Taylor Clark, Keyanna Altizer, Devon Scott, Ellie Bonucci, Callie Albrecht, Kim Schlesinger and Taylor Tiemann.
The sweep of the pool play games gave Princeton a No. 1 seed and put them in a semifinal match against No. 2 Sterling Golden Warriors for a completely different type of game. Instead of an offensive onslaught, the Tigresses relied on the tight defense anchored by Bonucci and senior keeper Kelly Schmidt.
“It was rough, and they were all pretty aggressive,” said Bonucci. “It’s just about putting your body into it – taking hits. It’s the best position.”
The Tigresses were able to ride the sixth goal by Young (assist by Murray) to a 1-0 victory and put themselves in the championship game against the Dixon Duchesses.
The championship game was also a defensive battle, with Schmidt locked into a battle with Dixon goalie Carly Hartle. Neither of the two keepers was willing to break, ending regulation in a 0-0 tie.
“I felt really confident in our defenders and how they were moving and playing off each other,” Schmidt said. “That really gave me confidence. I could go for a ball and knew they would have my back.”
Tournament rules called for a shootout in case of a tie, putting each goalie in the precarious situation of one-on-one matchups. The shootout calls for five players from each team to take a shot from the seven-yard mark.
After the first set of five shots, the score was still tied, each goalie diving and jumping to block two of the shots.
The second shootout calls for five new players to shoot, but instead of each being allowed to shoot, the two teams take turns until one scores and the other does not.
On the first round, Hartle was successful on her block while Schmidt had the ball go off her fingertips and into the left corner of the net, giving the Duchesses the championship of the inaugural Princeton Invitational Girls Soccer Tournament.
“It stinks that the entire 50 minutes came down to five or six shots at the end,” Schmidt said, “but both teams were battling. I know the other goalie was stressing just as much as I was.”
Although the Tigresses were disappointed at the time, after such a slow start to the season, the tournament was very successful.
“This tourney shows that we have the ability to play with Dixon when last week we hadn’t played well against them at all,” said Ed Young. The Tigresses lost to Dixon 4-0 last Tuesday afternoon.
Princeton, who went into Thursday’s match against IVC with a record of 0-5, now stand at 5-6. This week they go on the road to play Orion on Tuesday and are at home on Thursday against Streator.