Vol. LXI, No. 39
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
EMERGING FORCE: Princeton University field hockey sophomore star Tina Bortz races up the field in action last season. After making a solid debut last season, Bortz has emerged as the Tigers’ top scoring threat this season. The Emmaus, Pa., native is currently leading the Tigers in scoring with nine points on four goals and an assist. Princeton which has won four straight games to improve to 4-2 overall and 3-0 in Ivy League play, plays at second-ranked Maryland on September 26 and then hosts Cornell on September 29 and Richmond on September 30.
Tina Bortz will never forget the final goal of her freshman season with the Princeton University field hockey team.
Banging home a sweet feed from Katie Kinzer on a rush up the field, Bortz tallied the game-winning goal in overtime as Princeton toppled third-ranked Old Dominion last November in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
But for Bortz, that memorable score meant more than the culmination of a stunning upset. “The two-versus-one symbolizes a lot,” said Bortz. “It symbolizes that you trust your teammate enough to give her the ball like that.”
Coming off a fine debut campaign which saw her score six goals and get two assists, Bortz is earning the trust of her teammates more and more with each passing day this fall.
After scoring once last Sunday in Princeton’s 5-0 romp over visiting Colgate, Bortz is leading the Tigers in scoring with nine points on four goals and an assist.
In reflecting on her progress, Bortz acknowledged that she has developed a rhythm on the field.
“I think it is totally different; you have a certain confidence,” said Bortz, whose productivity has helped Princeton win its last four games as it has improved to 4-2 overall and 3-0 in Ivy League play.
“You have games under your belt. I feel this spring was really a developmental time. I just feel really comfortable with this team.”
The Tigers collectively reached a comfort level in the win over Colgate that they hadn’t felt so far this season.
“We knew that after yesterday (a 3-0 win over Columbia) that we’re making mistakes in the first half,” said Bortz, a native of Emmaus, Pa.
“The press wasn’t as strong as we wanted it and our overall communication wasn’t what it should have been. Today we really wanted to come out hard and put it to them.”
Bortz tries to bring that mentality every time she hits the field. “I just try to be really determined and focused in the circle,” said Bortz in reflecting on her scoring ability. “I just capitalize on defensive errors. I’m playing with a lot of heart; I think that makes a big difference.”
Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn sees a big difference in Bortz’s game this fall. “Tina has evolved as a player in such a special way,” said Holmes-Winn.
“When she came in, she was a little raw. She always had the mentality; she gives everything everyday and she sets a tone for us in that way. Now she is really becoming skilled. She has added a lot of shots; she has a nice array of shots she can draw from and she’s a leader on the field.”
Princeton showed a nice array of shots last Sunday as it built a 3-0 lead by halftime and cruised to victory from there.
“We have been disappointed in how we have been starting matches,” said Holmes-Winn, who also got goals from Kaitlyn Perrelle, Kristin Schwab, Leah Hoagland, and Katherine Cape in the win over the Raiders.
“We’ve been getting opportunities; it hasn’t been that, it’s been the finishing part. We wanted to make a statement in the first half and then build on that in the second half.”
Tiger veterans Sarah Reinprecht and two-time Ivy Player of the Year Paige Schmidt have been making a statement in recent games as the Tigers have caught fire.
“Sarah has been playing like an All-American all season,” asserted Holmes-Winn.
“She has been incredibly consistent on both sides of the ball. Paige has been taking command the last couple of matches. She is in a different role (having moved to defense from midfield) and she has stepped up. She is really understanding when to go forward and when to hold back. Her position is crucial because it can dictate the tempo of a match.”
The Tigers will have to pick up the tempo when they play at second-ranked Maryland on September 26 and then host Cornell on September 29 and Richmond on September 30.
“Obviously in the first two games (losses to American and Penn State), it was just hard to get things together that quickly,” said Holmes-Winn, who has guided the Tigers to three Ivy titles in her four seasons guiding the program.
“We know where our deficiencies lie and we are pecking away at them one practice at a time. Maryland is what we’re going to see in the first round of the NCAA tournament should we be lucky enough to be in that position at the end of the season. We’re going to give them everything.”
Bortz, for her part, believes the tigers are primed to give everything they have when they face the powerful Terps.
“I think we are really coming together,” said Bortz. “It’s still comparatively early in the season compared to them. I think it will be a great indication of where we stand now and how much work we need to do to get to where we want to be at the end of November.”
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