Vol. LXI, No. 35
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
FULL BOIL: Princeton University junior midfielder Kristin Schwab moves the ball in a game last season. The team mantra for the Tigers is 212 degrees, the boiling point of water, as the program looks to win its third straight Ivy League crown and improve on its NCAA quarterfinal finish of a year ago. Princeton, which went 12-7 last season and is ranked 18th nationally in the 2007 STX/NFHCA Preseason Poll, plays at No. 16 American this Sunday.
The mantra last year for the Princeton University field hockey team was "finish."
Playing third-ranked Old Dominion last November in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, the Tigers showed that "finish" was more than a buzzword as Tina Bortz converted a Katie Kinzer feed in overtime to give the Tigers a stunning 3-2 upset.
In the view of PU head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn, that goal didn't just represent the fruition of a season-long philosophy.
"That win was huge," said Holmes-Winn, whose team fell 3-0 to Connecticut in the NCAA quarterfinals to finish the fall with a 12-7 overall record. "That gives us confidence to trust ourselves and follow a game plan."
With the team's confidence bolstered by a recent off-season trip to Argentina, Holmes-Winn sensed that her team is further along than usual as it started preseason camp last week in preparation for its season-opener at American on September 2.
"I don't know whether it's the trip to Argentina or because we are a bit older but we are ahead," said Holmes-Winn, whose team returns eight starters from a year ago and is ranked 18th nationally in the 2007 STX/NFHCA Preseason Poll.
"The juniors are a big part of the team and they already know our system; they are sharp and skilled."
Princeton boasts some of its sharpest players in the midfield in a quartet of juniors: Kristin Schwab, Katie Kinzer, Sarah Reinprecht, and Candi Arner.
"Schwab and Kinzer are on the wings," said Holmes-Winn, who guided the Tigers to a 7-0 record in Ivy League play last fall as the program won its second straight league title and 12th in 14 years.
"They are really looking good; they seem to have found a home there. Sarah and Candi are in the middle of the field. They are very smart players, they are very intuitive. They are very natural players."
One of Princeton's most fiery players, Holly McGarvie, will head up the Tiger attack along with Bortz and Leah Hoagland.
"Holly is not self-conscious out there; she has a great mentality for a finisher," said Holmes-Winn of McGarvie, who led Princeton in scoring last fall with 20 points on nine goals and two assists.
"She has always been an incredible defender; we moved her up to midfield last year. We think she can really help us on defense in that area of the field, putting pressure on the halfbacks."
The Tiger defense will be spearheaded by blue-chip sophomore Kaitlin Perrelle, the 2006 Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
"Perrelle has a great presence," asserted Holmes-Winn, who will also utilize two-time Ivy Player of the Year Paige Schmidt, and Kraftin Schreyer along the back line.
"She can play a couple of different positions, right, left, or center. She is a leader back there."
Holmes-Winn is looking for senior star Schmidt to show leadership all over the field.
"I see Paige rotating with Sarah and Candi in the center of the field," explained Holmes-Winn, who is in her fifth at the helm of the program and brings a 40-32 career record into the season.
"She can be as active offensively as she wants to be. Paige is so good on the restart; she has the best hit on the team and is good on the outlet passes. She is valuable on our penalty corners because she hits so powerfully."
Princeton will have to make up for the loss to graduation of one of its most valuable players, first-team All-Ivy goalie Ali Nemeth. The Tigers will be looking to sophomore Cindy Wray and freshman Jennifer King to step up in the cage.
"Both Cindy and Jennifer look good," said Holmes-Winn. "We have a scrimmage coming up against Penn and they'll both play a half. Hopefully both will get to play during the season. If one really plays better, she will be the starter."
Freshman Hannah Cohen could jump start the Tigers in any area of the field, according to Holmes-Winn.
"Hannah is very creative," added Holmes-Winn. "She can play all three lines; she makes good decisions."
While Holmes-Winn wants her players to make clear-headed decisions, this season's mantra focuses on producing some boiling emotions on the field.
"The theme this year is 212 degrees," said Holmes-Winn. "We want that extra amount of heart, that extra bit of belief."
The Tigers will get thrown into some hot water right from the start of the season as they open at 16th-ranked American.
"We were lucky to play them later in the season," said Holmes-Winn, referring to the Tigers' 1-0 over American last October.
"They have a crop of foreign athletes who will be contributing well. They will have three games under their belt. I will get a chance to scout them on August 31. I think we can match up against them. I know we will be fresh and enthusiastic."
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