Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 42
 
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
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SWEET MOVE: Princeton University field hockey star Candi Arner controls the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, Arner tallied two goals as Princeton blanked Brown 5-0. The Tigers edged Providence 2-1 a day later to move to 8-4 overall and 4-1 in Ivy League play. Princeton, who leads Harvard by a half-game in the Ivy standings, hosts Lehigh on October 17 before heading to Boston for a showdown with the Crimson on October 20.

Getting Wake-Up Call After Cornell Setback, PU Field Hockey Primed for Harvard Clash

Bill Alden

It was a loss that could have sent the Princeton University field hockey team into a tailspin.

Jumping out to a 2-0 lead over visiting Cornell on September 29, the Tigers squandered their advantage and eventually lost 4-3 on a goal with 21 seconds left in regulation.

The setback prompted an extended post-game session as the players met among themselves in addition to hearing some scathing words from head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn.

While that defeat was hard to swallow, in retrospect it may have been just what Princeton needed.

The Tigers responded the next day with a 5-1 rout of Richmond and then followed that with a stunning 2-1 upset of No. 3 Connecticut on October 7.

Last weekend, Princeton kept rolling as it won 5-0 at Brown on Saturday and then edged Providence 2-1 a day later.

Holmes-Winn sees the Cornell loss as the turning point for her now-sizzling club.

“Up to that point we had been playing well but something was missing,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team is now 8-4 overall and 4-1 in Ivy League play, leading Harvard by a half-game in the league standings.

Playing good hockey can only take you so far, you need to have heart and guts. Subconsciously, I think we underestimated Cornell; it was a huge wake-up call for us.”

The wins over Richmond and UConn showed that the Tigers had learned the lessons about intensity.

“It showed a ton of heart for us to beat Richmond 5-1, we could’ve folded after the loss to Cornell,” said Holmes-Winn.

“That was a testament to the character of the team. Against Connecticut, we recognized that we are a very good team and that we can beat a team like that.”

The team’s new-found tenacity has been showing up on a daily basis.

“We have practiced so well,” said Holmes-Winn. “This team works hard and is so, so competitive. I think the practice environment is more difficult than some of our games. They respect each other and they want to push each other hard so they will be as competitive as possible. We have seen the rewards of that in the wins we are getting.”

The Tigers took care of business last weekend as they kept their focus in picking up two wins within 24 hours on their trip to Rhode Island.

“If we get to the NCAA tournament, we are going to have two games in a weekend,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals last year with the program having won two straight league titles and 12 in 14 years.

“We need to have weekends like that with less than 24 hours to prepare for an opponent; where you have to come off a win quickly and get ready to play hard again the next day.”

Senior star Paige Schmidt has been giving Princeton some hard and effective play.

“Paige has been great on the penalty corners,” said Holmes-Winn of Schmidt who scored both goals in the Tigers’ win over Providence. “She is great in the circle. She is very dangerous; she is coming out of the backfield and finding people up the field.”

Princeton, though, is hardly a one-person team as several players have been contributing offensively.

“Obviously moving forward, we need to have different people capable of putting it in the net,” added Holmes-Winn, who got two goals from Candi Arner in the win over Brown and one apiece from Kaitlin Donovan, Tina Bortz, and Katie Kinzer. “We have developed a really good small game.”

The Tigers face two big games this week as they host Lehigh on October 17 before heading up to Boston on October 20 for a pivotal clash with Harvard, which is 7-5 overall and 3-1 in Ivy play.

“They are really solid,” said Holmes-Winn, referring to Harvard. “They play very good defense. They are disciplined and they move the ball well. It’s a great rivalry. We’re going to have to bring everything because we know they will bring everything.”

And with the way Princeton has been bringing it since the Cornell loss, the Tigers appear poised for a solid finish.

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