Allison Evans ’15 scored and Sydney Kirby ’15 notched an assist in the 2012 NCAA Championship, which Princeton won 3–2. It was the first national title in the field hockey program’s history and an unforgettable moment for both players, then in their second season.
Two years later, Evans and Kirby are the only starters from that game still on the Tigers’ roster. Though much has changed around them, the two remain the dynamic duo they were in 2012 — Kirby netted the first two goals of the season Sept. 7 against then-No. 6 Virginia, and Evans scored a third just two minutes later.
“She really is a general out there,” head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn said of Kirby. “She’s very aggressive, which is great; I think it feeds into our mentality, and I think she’s learning when she needs to rein it in and when she can go for it.”
In the Virginia game, Kirby, Evans, and Rachel Park ’18 sparked a 4–1 run that nearly saw Princeton take down the Cavaliers in Charlottesville. Though the Tigers lost, 6–4, that rally offered a glimpse of the team’s explosive potential.
“We didn’t come out of the UVA game feeling dejected,” Evans said. “We felt like we could physically see the improvement [over the course of the game].”
Improving quickly may be the name of the game this season. Several young players played key minutes against Virginia and No. 4 Duke, Princeton’s opening opponent. Midfielder Ryan McCarthy ’18 helped Kirby put pressure on defenders with an assist and six shots, while Park made her first collegiate shot count with a goal against Virginia. Lexi Quirk ’18 also has seen time in the starting lineup, at striker.
Kirby and Evans say the early tests are a good thing. Kirby noted that few teams in the country will show the kind of intensity that Duke presented in a 1–0 win over the Tigers Sept. 5, and Evans added that the freshmen are “learning how to work out their nerves.”
The Tigers will call on those lessons in October and early November, when they will be shooting for a 10th consecutive Ivy League title. The schedule also includes more nonconference tests — No. 5 Syracuse Oct. 5 and No. 2 Connecticut Oct. 26, both at home — that could show just how far the talented freshman class has come.