Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 40
 
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
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SHARK HUNT: Princeton University field hockey junior standout Kathleen Sharkey chases after the ball in recent action. Sharkey currently leads the nation with 19 goals. Last Sunday, she scored a goal but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 3-2 to 14th-ranked American. The No. 3 Tigers, now 8-1, will look to get back on the winning track this week when they play at No. 4 Virginia (9-1) on October 8 and host No. 8 Louisville (8-3) on October 10.

No 3 PU Field Hockey Has Roller Coaster Week; Topping No. 1 Maryland Before Losing to American

Bill Alden

Over the past few years, the Princeton University field hockey team has steadily climbed into the upper echelon of the college game.

In 2008, the Tigers advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals and last fall they took a step further by making it to the Final Four.

Last week, fourth-ranked Princeton made a trip to the summit of the college field hockey world, beating No. 1 and previously undefeated Maryland 4-2 in a scintillating encounter.

The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Terps and held off a late charge in posting their second-ever win over a top-ranked team, the first coming over No. 1 Old Dominion in the 2001 NCAA tournament.

But last Sunday, Princeton was knocked down a peg, losing 3-2 to No. 14 American as a late rally fell short.

The Tigers dug themselves an early hole against the Eagles, falling behind 2-0 with 24:11 remaining in the first half. American tacked on another goal with 3:56 remaining in the half, leaving the Tigers down 3-0 at intermission. Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn acknowledged that her team was sleepwalking in the early going.

“It seemed like we started slowly; American is a really good team,” said Holmes-Winn, whose club dropped to 8-1 with the setback.

“They defend really well; they clogged up the middle really well. I thought we kind of played into their hands despite the fact that we tell the team to play around the pressure. I give them all the credit; they played great hockey.”

At halftime, the Tigers decided to get back to the brand of hockey that they have exhibited all season long.

“We just needed to get one at a time and we just needed to get back to playing the kind of hockey we know we can,” recalled Holmes-Winn. “So we just settled back in and reiterated our game plan.”

The Tigers came out firing in the second half, putting nearly constant pressure on the American defense. Princeton generated 16 shots and nine penalty corners in the second half as it controlled possession for much of the half.

The nation’s leading scorer, junior Kathleen Sharkey, was the first to find the back of the net for the Tigers as she scored with 21:40 left in the half. Some 12 minutes later, Katie Reinprecht cut the margin to one as she converted a feed from Sharkey.

Princeton kept buzzing in the the attack zone as Sharkey and Michelle Cesan narrowly missed chances in the circle.

The Tigers pulled goalie Christina Maida in the last two minutes and had the crowd at Class of 1952 Stadium on its feet as they generated two late penalty corners. The Eagles, though, held the fort to pull off the upset, improving to 9-2.

Holmes-Winn was heartened by how her team responded after halftime. “We got ourselves out of it; I give us a lot of credit for coming back,” asserted Holmes-Winn. “I don’t think we gave up a lot in the second half. We had a lot of opportunities.”

Not surprisingly, it was veteran stars Sharkey, Katie Reinprecht, Julia Reinprecht, and Alyssa Pyros who led the charge for Princeton.

Sharkey leads the nation with 19 goals while Katie Reinprecht has chipped in eight goals and three assists and younger sister Julia leads the Tigers with eight assists.

“You expect them to raise the level of their game but you hate for us to be three down for that to happen,” added Holmes-Winn of her star players. “Alyssa was phenomenal in the second half for us at right mid.”

In the view of Holmes-Winn, the loss on Sunday should help the Tigers keep their game at a high level the rest of the fall.

“I just think they have to know that you can’t just step on the field and expect it to happen,” said Holmes-Winn.

“You have got to do the work out there. They didn’t do the work in the first half and they saw what happens against a quality team. Honestly I think we have been playing pretty consistently all year in terms of our mentality. It was just one of those days.”

The Tigers, now ranked third nationally, will need consistency this week as they face two high-quality teams, playing at No. 4 Virginia (9-1) on October 8 before hosting No. 8 Louisville (8-3) on October 10.

“UVa is going to be awesome,” said Holmes-Winn. “Louisville is probably similar to American in the sense that they defend really well. They are just a tough, physical team. It is going to be two really good challenges for us.”

While defeat is always tough for Holmes-Winn to swallow, she hopes the loss Sunday will prove to be a blessing in disguise.

“We are just about halfway through our season, so this is a great time for this to happen.” added Holmes-Winn

“We get a chance to regroup and we get a chance to get back to doing the little things that got us to this point. I am not one who thinks you have to lose in order to do things right. It’s certainly not the end of the world; it is a matter of getting ourselves back together.”

And if the Tigers regroup, they can resume their climb to the top of the college field hockey world.

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