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Sterling defense

STERLING — The absence of two key offense starters did not prevent the Princeton Tigresses from continuing their hot play as they earned their seventh victory in their last nine attempts by beating the Sterling Golden Warriors 2-0 in Sterling on Monday night.

Sophomore Eliza Young (knee injury) and freshman Sarah Murray (concussion) watched from the bench as senior Michelle Kelly headed in a ball in the first half and junior Keyanna Altizer tapped one in off a rebound in the second half.

Altizer, who followed her up her hat trick last Thursday with another goal Monday, has picked up her game in Young’s absence.

“The goals have come from my midfielder teammates,” Altizer said. “I’ve been playing more of a center mid position this year, but since our forwards are out he’s been putting me up top, and I can execute more.”

“Scoring goals is about confidence,” said PHS coach Ed Young. “Key (Altizer) is full of confidence and is playing well right now. She’s always been good with the ball, but she is finally converting some of them.”

The Tigress offense not only has found ways to score, but they have controlled the ball. With the exception of the final 15 minutes of the first half, the Tigresses controlled the ball in the middle of the field or on Golden Warriors’ side of the field.

One of the key reasons for this will not show up on the stat sheet – the play of junior center-mid Taylor Clark.

“Taylor has been great,” Young said. “Much like Kim Schlesinger (junior outside mid) she has a great understanding of the game and good foot control and sees the field. But she is very strong both physically and in her kicking ability. She can go right through people.”

Surprisingly the stats show that Sterling outshot Princeton, 12-9, but that is misleading. The Tigress defense, now at full strength after the return of junior Callie Albrecht and sophomore Michaela Strom, pushed the Golden Warriors’ offense to the edges preventing clear paths to the goal and making it relatively easy for senior goalie Kelly Schmidt to earn her seventh shutout of the season.

“I think we’re starting to see when the middle needs to come across,” senior outside defender Liz Stites said. “That helps a lot, understanding when we’re supposed to come across and when we’re supposed to hold.”

With their hot streak over the last week and a half, the Tigresses have evened up their record at 7-7 after an 0-5 start.

“I’m very pleased,” coach Young said. “After such a hellacious early season schedule with a very young team, we have come a long ways and are playing some good team soccer.”

The Tigresses have the rest of the week to practice and get healthy before heading to the Coal City Tournament Saturday.

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