Bacskai leads stingy Princeton defense
Most fans believe the game is decided in the attacking end of the field where the goals are scored.
Princeton’s Maddie Bacskai, an All-Ivy defender, sees the game entirely different.
“Defense is not a position that gives you much spotlight,” said Bacskai, as the Tigers prepare for Brown and Northeastern this week.
“It can sometimes be intimidating when you are the one of the final players between the ball and your own goal,’’ added Bacskai. “You rarely have the opportunity to ‘mess up’ without there being a significant consequence, but I love the challenge.’’
Also a member of the U-21 national team, Bacskai wins far more battles on defense than she loses. Bacskai, just a sophomore, has been an integral part of the Tigers defense that has allowed just 1.75 goals a game.
Princeton (6-6, 3-0 Ivy) has played one of the toughest schedules in the country with 10 nationally ranked teams and a tough Ivy campaign.
Bacskai wouldn’t have it any other way, though.
“I get excited to have these playing opportunities,’’ said Bacskai. “Playing strong teams makes our weaknesses more apparent and reveals what we need to improve.’’
If there has been an improvement in the Berwyn, Pennsylvania native from her freshman season to this year, it has been in the ability to relax.
“I’m much more comfortable and confident on the field,’’ said Bacskai. “I don’t think much has changed skill-wise, however, my role in the backfield has become more defined. I’ve been able to focus less attention on my personal position and more attention on helping my other defenders and midfielders in front of me with their organization.’’
It’s that organizational part of the game that really intrigues Bacskai.
“One part of defense that I really enjoy is being able to see everything in front of me,’’ said Bacskai. “You control the game and feed energy to the players in front of you. The tempo and speed of the game really starts in the backfield, and it’s great being able to dictate that.’’
The Tigers have Brown (1-10, 0-3 Ivy) on Saturday as they look to make it 18 straight over the Bears. Northeastern (76) comes Sunday, and after this week they finish the season off with three Ivy games.
“Winning the Ivy is crucial to securing a spot in the tournament,’’ said Bacskai. “By not having that secure position last year, I think myself and the rest of the team are more tuned in and focused on Ivy play. It’s evident the competition has increased in the Ivy League, and every game needs to be approached the same. We have some skill opponents left to play in the Ivy League, and the final outcomes will come down to preparation and who wants it most.’’
Count Bacskai among those being well-prepared, and it’ll be tough to top her desire to excel.
Maddie Bacskai has been an integral part of Princeton’s defense this season.