The Orange voted top team in the country

After a weekend during which the field hockey team defeated Rutgers and Princeton, the undefeated Orange are now the team to beat.

After convincing shutout wins against Rutgers and No. 3-ranked Princeton last weekend, the Orange field hockey team has been voted as the No. 1 team in the nation.

When Tuesday's poll came out, the Orange (9-0) had secured 25 first place votes, supplanting the University of North Carolina (22 first place votes) as the top team in the nation. The Tar Heels had held the top spot for the majority of the season.

Friday, the Orange downed Rutgers (4-5) 6-0 behind two goals from All-American Kelsey Millman and two assists by sophomore Stephanie Hussey.

In Sunday's keynote match, the No. 2-ranked Orange squared off against the Princeton Tigers (7-1), and came out victorious following second half goals from Leonie Geyer and Emma Russell.

“Playing against them was like playing a mirror of ourselves, because the way they play is so similar to us,” said Liz McInerney, who was named the Big East Player of the Week. “It was very intense; everybody was exhausted by the end of it.”

The win over the Tigers was the Orange's second victory of the season over a top three team, as they beat North Carolina 1-0 in overtime earlier this season. The shutout over Princeton gave coaches across the country reason enough to give the Orange the top spot for the first time since 2008.

In 2008, the Orange made it to the semifinals in the national championship, the furthest the program has ever made it.

The Orange's offense-happy season has been complimented by stellar goaltending by starter Leann Stiver and backup Jess Jecko, who have allowed just six goals all season, and three in their last five games.

“They are the anchor, the backbone of the team,” Coach Ange Bradley said. “Leann Stiver has grown so much this year, especially in her voice and communication with the defense. It's been outstanding.”

A No. 1 rank does put pressure on the Orange, but they are not concerned.

“Being No. 1 is sometimes seen as a target on your back, but we don't see it that way,” Bradley added. “We see it as a badge on our chest, and we are extremely proud of it.”

The undefeated Orange face Louisville on Saturday at 12 pm and Yale on Sunday at 2 pm. Both games are at home at J.S. Coyne Stadium.

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