2017 was a remarkable NCAA season for a school known more for its intellectual prowess than its muscle on the soccer pitch. The Lady Tigers of Princeton made an impressive run into the NCAA tournament; falling 3-1 to UCLA in the elite eight. This was their 12th NCAA tourney appearance and 3rd in the last six seasons. Princeton ended their 2017 campaign with an impressive 16-3-1 overall record and claimed their 9th Ivy League Conference title in dramatic fashion – In an emotionally charged final game of the regular season against Penn, who they have not defeated in 7 years (0-2-2 dating back to 2012), the Lady Tigers grinded out a 1-0 win on the road to clinch back-to-back conference titles.
The win fueled the Lady Tigers going in to the NCAA tournament where they defeated North Carolina State, a nationally ranked ACC representative for the second time this season. With momentum in their favor, Princeton upset the North Carolina Tars Heals, ranked #2 in the nation at the time, 2-1 in overtime, for a right to advance to the elite eight.
“I told the kids this morning, I woke up at four, I was staring at the ceiling. It was like Christmas Day, the opportunity. I wasn't nervous; I was just so excited to get a chance to play against what has been the best program in women's soccer”, head coach Sean Driscoll said (goprincetontigers.com). The young women felt their coach’s words of passion deeply and were proud to halt the Tar Heels from earning a 22nd national title.
Unfortunately though, the season ended in the elite eight, as the hard fought Tigers couldn’t withstand a barrage of goals in a 3-1 defeat to #4 ranked UCLA. The Bruins outshoot the Tigers 24-10 and earned a trip the College Cup in Orlando, Florida. It was without a doubt an outstanding season, regardless of the final score at UCLA. The Lady Tigers finished with a Mac Herman trophy semifinalist in senior Vanessa Gregoire, who also joined teammate Abby Givens on the all-region first team. Will the Lady Tigers one-up their 2017 season with a run past the NCAA Elite Eight?
Author: Justin Perna