In the semifinal round of the NCAA tournament Nov. 20, the Princeton field hockey team put forth a valiant effort against top-seeded Maryland, but the Tigers came up just short, losing 7–5 to the Terrapins.
Princeton fought back from a 4–1 deficit and tied the game in the second half on a goal by sophomore midfielder Katie Reinprecht, who ricocheted a pass from freshman forward Michelle Cesan into the Terrapin net.
Maryland’s talented, high-octane offense responded to the 4–4 deadlock by scoring three unanswered goals. Forward Katie O’Donnell scored the Terrapins’ seventh and final goal, icing the game. O’Donnell’s three goals and three assists set a new NCAA Final Four record for points in one game.
Reinprecht, the Ivy League Player of the Year, had two goals in a head-to-head matchup with O’Donnell. “We both played hard and played fair,” Reinprecht said afterward. “[O’Donnell] played amazing today. I have to give a lot of credit to her.”
The Tiger defense was tested early and often, and junior goalkeeper Jennifer King kept Princeton in the contest with a few brilliant saves. In the opening minute of the game, King made a crucial stop, preventing Terrapin midfielder Brianna Davies from finding the back of the net.
Princeton (16–3) scored first, with 27:33 remaining in the first half. Set up by a penalty-corner opportunity, Cesan deflected a shot past Maryland goalkeeper Alicia Grater for the goal. Maryland then went on a four-goal run, capped off by O’Donnell’s second tally of the game early in the second half, which gave the Terrapins a seemingly comfortable 4–1 lead. But Princeton would not go down without a fight, tying the game at four midway through the second half.
Princeton coach Kristen Holmes-Winn said that after falling behind, her team tried to adjust its pressure in order to protect the middle of the field. “We were able to do that, and that was the difference in the second half,” she said. “We just kind of ran out of gas there in the end.”
Overall, the game was fast-paced: The combined total of 12 goals scored was the most ever in an NCAA semifinal. The Tigers played aggressively in the second half, outshooting the Terrapins 13–8. Maryland would lose 3–2 to UNC in the NCAA title match Nov. 22 — its only defeat of the season.
Princeton will have a solid group of scorers returning next year, including Kathleen Sharkey ’12, who led the team this season with 21 goals and nine assists. King, the Tigers’ defensive backstop all season, also will return.“We have an amazing core of young women who give everything they have,” Holmes-Winn said. “They are an incredible foundation. We will be able to build on this as a program. Once you get a taste of this, it’s hard to go back. We will be fighting and clawing to keep getting better.”