Vol. LXIII, No. 40
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
SUDDEN IMPACT: Princeton University field hockey freshman standout Julia Reinprecht dribbles the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, Reinprecht scored a goal as Princeton topped No. 5 and previously unbeaten Connecticut 3-1. Reinprecht has six goals and two assists this season to rank third in scoring for the Tigers.
Julia Reinprecht missed a golden opportunity as the Princeton University field hockey team was clinging to a 2-1 lead over undefeated and No. 5 Connecticut in the second half last Sunday.
With about 17 minutes remaining in regulation, the Princeton freshman star was caught out of position as a loose ball squirted through the circle.
Moments later, though, Reinprecht was in the right place at the right time as she pounced on a rebound and banged it home to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
The goalie deflected it out to the top of the left circle and I was there to hit it in, said Reinprecht, recalling the goal.
On the play before, a ball went right through that spot and my coach yelled at me to be there. It happened again and I was right there.
Reinprecht and the Tigers were in the right spot the rest of the afternoon as they held on for a 3-1 win, to improve to 9-1 overall and drop UConn to 11-1.
In the early going, Princeton wasnt taking advantage of its chances as it fell behind 1-0 14 minutes into the contest.
I think we came out and got a couple of shots and nothing was going in, said Reinprecht.
To have them get on the board first, it was like OK, we need to start capitalizing on our opportunities.
Some 12 minutes later, Princeton cashed in big time, scoring twice in 1:05 as Rachel Neufeld and Kathleen Sharkey found the back of the cage.
In Reinprechts view, the Princeton scoring outburst changed the tone of the game.
I think before then, it was more even, added Reinprecht. For us to actually go ahead going into the half gave us a mindset that we can do this. We needed to keep finishing and get more goals on the board and try to finish this early.
For the Tigers, the clash with UConn was a statement game, particularly since Princeton recently lost to a Providence team that the Huskies routed 4-0.
After the Providence loss, we just realized that we had to start picking it up like we had from day one, said Reinprecht.
So going into this game, we knew this was going to be a pivotal point. It is kind of our halfway point so if we could come out with a victory it was a sign of good things to come in the future.
With six goals and two assists in the first nine games of her college career, Reinprecht clearly has a bright future with the Tigers.
But as she joined the team this August, Reinprecht wasnt sure how she would fit in.
I am coming from a completely different team and I am here with a bunch of new players, said Reinprecht, a native of North Wales, Pa. who played for the U.S. team in the Junior World Cup and is a member of the U-21 national squad. It is just a transition and working on creating a brand new team chemistry.
Reinprechts transition to the college game was eased considerably by having her older sister, Katie, on the team.
Katie is one of the easiest players to play with regardless of whether you are her sister or not, said Reinprecht of her sibling who was the Ivy League Player of the Year in 2008.
Its an honor to play with her; she just brings out the best in everyone on the team not just me. She always looks for me and I always look for her. It works out nicely and it is always good to have her on the field.
It also nice for Reinprecht to be reunited with freshman teammate Michelle Cesan.
I have played a lot with her in club hockey so I have known her for a while now, said Reinprecht.
We have pretty different playing styles. Her ball skills are amazing; with her on the right side and me on the left side, it is a good balance. She is a great player; she brings up the level of play.
Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn liked the way her team reached a higher level of play during its first half scoring surge in the win over UConn.
It definitely gave us momentum; when they fall for you it gives life to your team, said Holmes-Winn.
You could see our energy levels pick up; it gives you faith that what you are doing is good. That energized us for sure.
The addition of freshman star Reinprecht has given Princeton a burst of energy.
Julia is just a very capable player, asserted Holmes-Winn, who also coached Reinprechts oldest sister, Sarah, a four-time All-Ivy star herself for the Tigers.
She is a great defender. She just has so much heart; she is all guts. Thats what puts her in a position to put away games like that.
The play of Katie Reinprecht has helped put Princeton in its current position among the nations elite teams.
Katie just holds our structure so well; she does so much to help our cause, said Holmes-Winn, who guided the Tigers to the NCAA quarterfinals last fall.
She is in the right spot at the right time. She comes up with interceptions and tackles that just alleviate pressure. She organizes and keeps people in the right spot and you dont even know what is happening. Having Katie Reinprecht on your team makes you better.
In the view of Holmes-Winn, it is the teams collective desire to get better on a daily basis that sets it apart.
They really strive to prepare everyday to become better hockey players, said Holmes-Winn.
They trust if they do that, the outcomes will be there for them. They trust that we are going to give them the information they need to be successful. I think that frees them up to focus on the things that are really important. I really admire that about this group.
The win over UConn reflected the Tigers desire to play the best hockey they can.
For us, it was about playing the kind of hockey that we know is ultimately going to allow us to be successful come November, added Holmes-Winn. That is our charge everyday; thats what we endeavor to do.
This Wednesday, fifth-ranked Princeton will get a chance to test its skills against the best as it plays at top-ranked and defending national champion Maryland (12-0).
Thats what we wanted, the mid-season test to see where we are really at, said Holmes-Winn, whose team fell 5-0 to the Terps last season.
We are a very objective kind of group. We dont want to hide behind results; we look underneath every result. I think we just want to see where we stand. Maryland is going to be a huge challenge.
Reinprecht, for her part, believes that the win over UConn gives Princeton a lift as it looks forward to the challenge of playing Maryland.
This boosts our confidence a little bit but Maryland is really killing it this year, said Reinprecht.
Heading into that game, you have to be confident but you have to be ready to play. They are not going to give you anything. It is going to be about capitalizing on all of our opportunities, playing solid team defense, and giving all that we have.
If Reinprecht can keep capitalizing on her opportunities, Princeton should give Maryland all it can handle.
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