Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 15
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
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(Photo Courtesy of Trinity Sports Communications)

DOUBLE VISION: Payson Sword heads up the field in action last fall for the Trinity College field hockey team. Sword, a Princeton native and former Lawrenceville School standout, earned All-American honors this past fall as she helped the Bantams make the NCAA Division III quarterfinals. In the winter, Sword starred for the Trinity women’s ice hockey team, tallying eight points to help the Bantams go 21-5-2 and earn the program’s first-ever NCAA Division III tournament bid.

Princeton Native and Lawrenceville Alum Sword Enjoying Double Life for Trinity College Sports

Bill Alden

Payson Sword has earned some rest and relaxation this spring as she completes her second year at Trinity College.

The Princeton native and former standout athlete at the Lawrenceville School needs to kick back a bit after a whirlwind fall and winter which saw her star for both the Trinity field hockey and ice hockey teams.

In field hockey, Sword helped the Bantams go 16-3 and reach the NCAA Division III quarterfinals. Playing at defense, the 5’7 Sword started all 18 games, finishing with seven goals and four assists in earning second-team All-American honors.

On the ice, Sword played a key role as Trinity went 21-5-2, earning the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament bid. Playing on the wing, Sword scored four goals and had four assists, including a landmark goal as she got the game winner in an NCAA Division III-record fourth overtime in a 2-1 win over Middlebury in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) semifinals.

While acknowledging that she was a bit tired after the end of ice hockey, Sword was planning to keep connected to both of her teams this spring.

“I am going to rest after 28 straight weeks of being on a team,” said Sword with a laugh.

“I am going to do some field hockey stuff and ice hockey stuff this spring and keep close to both teams. I am lucky to have two incredible groups of teammates. It has been a great ride.”

There were some bumps in the road for Sword when she arrived at Trinity in the fall of 2008 to pursue her goal of playing two sports on the college level.

“You get an e-mail in the summer with a workout schedule that is four times harder than anything you did in high school,” said Sword, an All-MAPL and All-Prep performer during her field hockey career at Lawrenceville.

The camaraderie she found on the team eased her transition. “You show up on the first day and you automatically have 24 new best friends,” said Sword. “By the end of the year we were in the NCAA tournament.”

Sword had established herself as a key performer by the end of the season. “I am not a player who scores a lot of goals; I play defense and I am on the offensive corner unit,” said Sword, who scored six goals and had three assists in her debut campaign. “I was in the right place at the right time, the team is always more important.”

In joining the ice hockey team well after it started its season, Sword was in a hard place.

“I didn’t start practicing until the last week of the fall season,” said Sword, who also starred for the Princeton Tiger Lilies club during her high school days.

“The first week coming into it, it was difficult adjusting to a different sport and a different set of teammates. I didn’t play my first game until the first week of the second semester. I put in extra time over the Christmas holiday skating and doing hockey stuff.”

That extra work paid off with Sword establishing herself as a solid performer, scoring two goals in her abbreviated schedule of 15 games.

Playing two sports also forced Sword to fine-tune her academic work. “I am more efficient during the season,” said Sword. “I use time better when I am busy. If I know I have only one and a half hours here or two hours there, I will get my work done.”

Sword and her field hockey teammates certainly had a good time this past fall as they built on their 2008 success.

“Before we came in as freshmen, the team was 9-6 and in HESCAC quarters so it was good but not great,” said Sword. “As freshmen we clearly made an impact. We had a really good goalie and I had an impact. We had some amazing freshmen come in this year. When you do well, it is easier to recruit better players.”

Although Sword had emerged as one of the team’s better players, she was still taken aback by reaching All-American status.

“The coach [Anne Parmenter] told me the day the list was coming out,” recalled Sword. “I went on-line and saw that I made it. The first thing I did was call my dad [Richard Sword]; he is my biggest fan and biggest supporter. It is an amazing honor. It reflects on the team as much as me. I didn’t expect it.”

The Trinity ice hockey team exceeded expectations as it produced the best season in program history.

“It is the farthest we have been in NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) and the first time we have been in NCAA,” said Sword.

“The goalie [Isabel Iwachiw] was the heart and soul of the team; she was the Division III player of the year. She was so good that it allowed us to be more confident on offense. We could go on breakaways without worrying about a shaky goalie.”

Sword gained confidence individually during her sophomore season.

“We play a different system with three defensemen and two forwards,” explained Sword.

“I am an outside defenseman; it’s like a midfielder in soccer, playing in both zones. The system is confusing and I didn’t have time to learn it freshman year. I became comfortable with it sophomore year and I was much more productive.”

Although she gets pulled in different directions, Sword is more than comfortable with the double life she is leading at Trinity.

“I was looking at the NESCAC schools and I thought Trinity was a perfect fit for what I wanted,” said Sword.

“I could play both sports and have two fantastic coaches; it offered the best for me in both sports. To be on teams that have been ranked in the top four in both sports is unbelievable. I want to get that first NCAA title.”

And based on Sword’s progress in her first two years at Trinity, she won’t rest until she has achieved that goal.

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