Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 36
 
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
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TINA TURNER: Princeton University field hockey star Tina Bortz, left, turns toward the ball in action last season. Junior attacker Bortz, PU’s leading scorer last season with 12 goals and eight assists, figures to be a key performer this fall as the Tigers go for their fourth straight Ivy League title. The Tigers, who went 13-5 last fall, open their 2008 campaign by heading down to Virginia for a games at Richmond on September 6 and at William and Mary the next day.

Bolstered by Sterling Group of Seniors, PU Field Hockey Aims to Stay on Task

Bill Alden

Entering its NCAA Tournament Play-In game last November against the University of Massachusetts, the Princeton University field hockey team appeared to be poised for a deep playoff run.

The 17th-ranked Tigers entered the contest with a nine-game winning streak, having upended No. 3 Connecticut and winning the Ivy League title along the way.

Princeton outshot the Minutemen 24-7 and held an 8-5 edge in penalty corners but didn’t take advantage of its opportunities in falling 2-1 and ending its season with a 13-5 mark.

While the Tigers could take many positives from the 2007 season as they won their third straight Ivy crown and 13th in the last 14 years, PU head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn hopes the negative of the UMass loss will drive her team this fall.

“The biggest thing is that we don’t want to put ourselves in a position when a play-in game determines our fate,” said Holmes-Winn, who is entering her sixth season at the helm of the Tigers. “We want to be a legitimate at-large team.”

Boasting a large group of nine seniors, the Tigers are ranked No. 16 nationally coming into the season.

The Tigers’ bevy of seniors includes Sarah Reinprecht, Candi Arner, Holly McGarvie, Kristen Schwab, Nicole Ng, Kate Kinzer, Kraftin Schreyer, Leah Hoagland, and Emily Hankin.

After having only one senior last fall in three-time Ivy Player of the Year Paige Schmidt, Holmes-Winn feels it will be a plus to have a senior-laden roster.

“Having one senior last year was tough,” said Holmes-Winn. “You get a sense of urgency and leadership when you have a big group of seniors with the final this and the final that. It brings an energy. I think it will be a huge advantage in games. They are all really incredible leaders, each one brings something special.”

Holmes-Winn, who has a 53-37 record in her PU tenure, believes her team’s attack could develop into something special. “We have new athletes vying at every position,” said Holmes-Winn. “I think the end result will be positive.”

The Tigers can depend on getting a positive contribution up front from junior Tina Bortz, the team’s leading scorer last season with 12 goals and eight assists.

“Bortz is such a competitor; she does a good job at getting shots,” said Holmes-Winn, whose attack unit should include Kinzer and Hoagland together with promising freshmen Kathleen Sharkey and Rachel Neufeld. “We will have people feeding her.”

The Tigers certainly have some good people in the midfield in senior stars Reinprecht and Arner.

“Sarah and Candi will be in the inner spots; they know the game so well,” asserted Holmes-Winn. “They understand and communicate so well. They are great anticipators; they think a couple of passes ahead of people.”

A key addition to the midfield should be precocious freshman, Katie Reinprecht, who has developed a deep connection with older sister, Sarah.

“The Reinprecht sisters work well together; they have a deep respect for each other,” added Holmes-Winn, who will also have Schwab and Ng in the midfield. “They have a sister connection; it’s something you can’t teach.”

The Tiger defense will be spearheaded by junior Kaitlyn Perelle. “Kait played lacrosse in the spring but jumped in and had a great summer, making the Under-21 Pan Am along with Sharkey and Sarah Reinprecht,” said Holmes-Winn, whose defense should also include Schreyer, McGarvie, and freshman May-Ying Medalia, a former Princeton High standout.

The team’s last line of defense is unsettled as the incumbent starter, junior Cynthia Wray, is being pushed by sophomore Jen King.

“It’s still open; Jen played in Penn scrimmage and looked good,” said Holmes-Winn.

“She also had the spring to herself because Cynthia was out with an injury. Right now, it’s up in the air. I really want to see one person establish herself.”

Holmes-Winn is looking for her team to establish itself as an opportunistic squad.

“We were No. 1 in the NCAA in generating corners but not among leaders in conversion rate,” explained Holmes-Winn. “We drew penalty corners but we need a 30 percent conversion rate. If we do that, we will be good.”

The Tigers will be getting a good challenge this weekend as they open the season by playing at Richmond on September 6 and at William and Mary the next day.

“It’s always a big test because the other teams have a couple of games under their belt,” said Holmes-Winn.

“Richmond is very fit; they play with a lot of energy. Structurally we have an advantage and that’s why we have beaten them recently. William and Mary plays hard; they are really strong and fast. They play a different style from Richmond; it’s good for us to deal with different styles.”

But for Princeton, the key to success this fall comes down to paying attention to its style.

“What happens with Princeton students is that they get distracted,” said Holmes-Winn. “They need to stay focused on the mission; they have to stay in the moment and not get caught up in the result.”

With its sterling group of seniors leading the way, Princeton should have plenty of good results this fall.

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