Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 35
 
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
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REIGN MAKER: Princeton University field hockey star Katie Reinprecht controls the ball in action last fall. Junior midfielder Reinprecht, the Ivy League Player of the Year in her first two seasons, helped Princeton advance to the NCAA Final Four last fall for the first time since 2002. The fourth-ranked Tigers, who went 16-3 last season and won their 14th Ivy title in the last 15 years, will get their 2010 campaign underway by hosting Bucknell on September 5.

No. 4 PU Field Hockey Aiming to Take More Steps After Advancing to Its 1st NCAA Final 4 Since 2002

Bill Alden

In 2008, the Princeton University field hockey team came within a whisker of making the NCAA Final Four, dropping a 3-2 overtime heartbreaker to Syracuse in the national quarterfinals.

Last fall, the Tigers broke through to the Final Four for the first time since 2002, cruising past Syracuse 7-3 in the NCAA quarters before falling in a 7-5 donnybrook to Maryland in the semis.

As Princeton gears up for the upcoming season, Tiger head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn believes her veterans learned valuable lessons from both experiences.

“We came so close the year before, making the quarters and losing in overtime,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team posted an overall record of 16-3 last fall, going 7-0 in Ivy League play as the program won its 14th league title in the last 15 seasons.

“Once you get a taste of success, you understand what is required to get there. You take small steps.”

With Princeton in its second week of preseason camp, thoughts of the national tournament are far from the players’ minds.

“I think for us, it is about performing at your best and paying attention to details everyday,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team opens its 2010 campaign by hosting Bucknell on September 5.

“It would be great if performing at our best ended up with a national championship but that is down the road.”

The Tigers are drawing attention nationally, coming into the season ranked fourth in the Kookaburra/NFHCA Division I Preseason Poll with defending national champion North Carolina taking the top spot ahead of Maryland and Virginia.

“It is what it is; we haven’t done anything,” said Holmes-Winn, referring to the poll. “It is very peripheral, we have to compete well on the field to earn that position.”

So far in camp, Holmes-Winn has been happy with the competitive fire displayed by her players.

“They are extraordinarily fit; they are very hard workers and really diligent about their preparation,” said Holmes-Winn, who is in her eighth year guiding the Princeton program and has led the Tigers to six Ivy League titles, five NCAA tournaments, and an 86-43 record. “They are into the details; they are really enjoyable to be around.”

Holmes-Winn certainly enjoys having junior Katie Reinprecht triggering the Tiger attack. The junior from North Wales, Pa. has been chosen as the Ivy League Player of the Year in her first two seasons and was recently named to the U.S. Women’s National Team.

“She is so focused; she has that steely-eyed look,” said Holmes-Winn of midfielder Reinprecht, who had 17 goals and 13 assists last season. “She gets after it every single minute she is on the field; she is always trying to make herself better. She had a lot of touches over the summer and is looking better than ever.”

Reinprecht’s classmate, Kathleen Sharkey, is likewise getting better and better.

“At the junior national camp, she was the best player out there,” said Holmes-Winn of Sharkey, a member of the U.S. Under-21 national team who scored a team-high 21 goals last fall. “She has distanced herself from the other strikers. We call it the shark attack.”

The Tigers have two sophomores, Julia Reinprecht and Michelle Cesan, who have already distanced themselves from the competition and have joined Sharkey as members of the U.S. U-21 squad. Last fall, Reinprecht, the younger sister of Katie, had 10 goals and six assists while Oak Knoll product Cesan struck for 14 goals and 11 assists.

“Julia is at a whole other level,” said Holmes-Winn, in assessing her progress. “For Michelle, the game comes to her. You forget about her and all of a sudden, she makes a big play. She is a good complement to our other players. She is making better decisions on the field this summer.”

A secret weapon for Princeton has been junior Rachel Neufeld, who has shown a knack for scoring clutch goals.

“Rachel played for our New Jersey team that won the U.S. Field Hockey National Championships in Virginia Beach,” said Holmes-Winn. “She is so fit. Rachel Neufeld is a winner both in the way she performs and in the way she prepares.”

Princeton has a winning combination in the midfield with juniors Alyssa Pyros and Erin Jennings.

“We have Pyros and Erin Jennings in the midfield,” added Holmes-Winn, noting that Pyros is also on the U.S. U-21 team. “Charlotte Krause has been looking good.”

The Tigers should have a good defensive unit with senior Alex Douwes and Julia Reinprecht leading the way. “Alex will be the anchor and we will have Julia back there, coming up the center of the field,” said Holmes-Winn. “We are looking at a lot of people at defensive half and outside wings. It could depend on the styles of the other teams we play.”

Last year’s starting goalie, senior Jen King, won’t be playing in the early stages of the season due to a knee injury but Holmes-Winn believes freshman Christina Maida can hold the fort.

“Maida has looked awesome,” asserted Holmes-Winn. “She is not fazed by things; she stays within her means. It is hard to get the ball behind her.”

Holmes-Winn knows that the Tigers can’t stay still or they will fall behind the elite of the college game.

“We know that we need to evolve; the other teams will be improving,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We want to be 20 percent better than the opponents so we overcome the vagaries like ref calls and bad bounces. We need to control the things we can control, like managing stress, getting rest, and taking care of nutrition. We need to work on being proactive.”

Princeton will be looking to take control early when it hosts Bucknell this Sunday.

“We have not really looked at them yet,” said Holmes-Winn. “For us, it is about executing the basics, things like the presses we have in place. We want to dictate tone and tempo and show an understanding of the things we need to do.”

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