The No. 4 Virginia field hockey team (10-1, 1-1 ACC) welcomes No. 3 Princeton to Turf Field tonight, pitting two of the nation's top teams against each other.
The matchup against the Tigers (8-1, 3-0 Ivy) brings a sense of competitiveness that may not be present with other matches. Princeton is the only team that has beaten then-No. 1 Maryland this season - a team to which the Cavaliers heartbreakingly lost during overtime, 2-1.
As a result, Virginia players wholeheartedly assert that Princeton provides them with the opportunity to avenge last Friday's loss to the Terrapins.
"It's great that we kept up with Maryland - that we didn't get crushed - considering they [were] the No. 1 team in the nation," freshman forward Elly Buckley said. "But we didn't get the result we want, and [the Princeton game] provides us with an opportunity to get back to form."
Against Longwood Wednesday, the Cavalier's most recent match, Virginia took the win but played poorly. The same cannot happen tonight if the team wants a chance, particularly as it gears up for the rest of its demanding ACC schedule.
"This is a huge game," senior midfielder Taylor Swezey said. "We were lucky [to win against Longwood] ... We scraped by. [Princeton] forces us to practice even harder - we need to show up."
The Cavaliers face their seventh ranked opponent this season in the Tigers and have amassed an impressive 5-1 record against ranked opposition so far. But the players know they still has a long way to go.
"We've played tough games, but we have to get up for them, too. I wish I could say we were hiding things from Princeton [in advanced scouting film], but that's really not the case," senior goalkeeper Kim Kastuk said. "We just have to play better in order to do what we can do. I know we'll do that [tonight]."
That may be easier said than done, as the Tigers pose a significant challenge for the Cavaliers. Princeton features the nation's top points-scorer in junior striker Kathleen Sharkey, who has averaged 4.78 points per game in nine games.
In comparison, Maryland's senior Honda Award-winner Katie O'Donnell averages 3.64 points per game and Virginia star junior midfielder Paige Selenski averages 3.30 points per game.
Princeton - who is coming off a surprising 3-2 home loss to American University - also features junior midfielder Katie Reinprecht and sophomore striker Michelle Cesan, who both have 19 points on the season. The Cavaliers have split the all-time series with the Tigers 2-2, winning their last game in 2004.
The game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.