Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 47
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
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CLASS ACTS: Princeton University senior field hockey star Kristin Schwab, left, controls the ball in action this season. Last Sunday, Schwab and the ninth-ranked Tigers narrowly missed advancing to the NCAA Final Four as they fell 3-2 in overtime at No. 3 Syracuse in a tournament quarterfinal clash. Princeton ended the season with a 17-3 record. Schwab and her classmates posted a 27-1 mark in Ivy League games over their careers.

PU Field Hockey Falls Just Short of Final Four but Seniors Leave Legacy of Competitive Fire

Bill Alden

Kristin Schwab and her senior classmates in the Princeton University field hockey team set the bar high for themselves this fall.

“We have always known that our goal is to make it to a Final Four and win a national championship,” said Schwab, whose class has gone 27-1 in Ivy League play during its time at Princeton.

“Being seniors now, we all feel extra pressure and motivation to do so. We have been playing together for four years; we have a lot of experience. I think it has really helped our team a lot this year.”

Last weekend, the ninth-ranked Tigers had the look of a Final Four team as they played in the NCAA regional at Syracuse.

On Saturday, Princeton blanked No. 11 Penn State 2-0 in a first round contest with freshman star and recently crowned Ivy League Player of the year Katie Reinprecht scoring both goals.

A day later, the Tigers fought regional host third-ranked Syracuse tooth-and-nail with a Final Four spot on the line.

Princeton jumped out to a 1-0 lead as freshman star Kathleen Sharkey, the Ivy Rookie of the Year, scored 56 seconds into the game.

The Orange answered back minutes later, scoring two goals in a three-minute span to take a 2-1 lead. The Tigers took a timeout after the second tally and regrouped. Some 10 minutes into the second half, senior star Sarah Reinprecht scored to knot the game at 2-2.

The teams battled back and forth over the rest of regulation with neither able to find the back of the cage and the game headed into overtime.

Early in overtime, Schwab had a blast turned away by Syracuse goalie Heather Hess while Princeton goalie Jennifer King denied Martina Loncarica. Minutes later, Syracuse broke through as Nicole Nelson got behind the Princeton defense and knocked home the game-winner.

The loss left Princeton with a final record of 17-3, tying the second-best single-season total in program history.

Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn was proud of the way her team played even though it fell short of its ultimate goal.

“The last thing I said before they went on the field was play to win and that’s how they played,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team matched Syracuse in shots (8-8) and in penalty corners (4-4). “They followed the game plan to a tee.”

The Tigers raised their game to a higher level as they battled in the waning moments of the game.

“The second half was some of the best college hockey I have seen this year,” asserted Holmes-Winn.

“We were passing the ball well; we had a lot of good attacking opportunities. Even in overtime, we were faster and fitter. We were a little unlucky; they scored on a breakaway. We certainly had momentum going into overtime; we controlled the second half of the game.”

The Tigers’ group of seniors, which included Holly McGarvie, Candice Arner, Nicole Ng, Katie Kinzer, Leah Hoagland, Emily Hankin, and Kraftin Schreyer in addition to Schwab and Sara Reinprecht, has given the Princeton program a lot of momentum going forward.

“They are leaving the program in good shape,” said Holmes-Winn, who has led the Tigers to the NCAA quarterfinals in two of the last three years and has guided the program to five Ivy titles in her six years at the helm.

“They established a spirit. It’s not just about wins but they created a special dynamic and people want to be a part of it. They showed that you can compete on the field and make each other better but still have camaraderie off the field.”

Princeton’s returning players have learned some valuable lessons from the seniors that they can apply as the Tigers look to remain among the elite in the college field hockey world.

“I think the biggest thing is leadership,” added Holmes-Winn. “You don’t win just because you put on the Princeton uniform; it happens because you invest and work hard. The seniors led by example; they worked very hard on a daily basis.”

Schwab, for her part, has enjoyed those daily sessions with her classmates.

“I love our class; we are really great friends off the field,” said Schwab, a native of Baltimore, Md. who also stars for the Princeton women’s lacrosse team. “This is the best team I have ever played on at Princeton; it has been really exciting.”

And while the seniors may not have reached their ultimate goal, they certainly provided plenty of exciting moments over their four years.

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