Listen to field hockey coach Kristen Holmes-Winn on the sideline at Class of 1952 Stadium, and you will hear one word repeated again and again: “good.” Occasionally she’ll take a break to talk tactics or voice her displeasure with a call, but the eighth-year head coach spends most of her time shouting a stream of positive reinforcement: “Good idea ... Good shot, Sharkey ... Good job, Amy, nice work!”
Holmes-Winn has been given plenty of opportunities to use her favorite adjective this season. With a 3–0 victory over No. 8 Louisville Oct. 10, the third-ranked Tigers improved to 9–2, despite a brutal early schedule that featured five other top-10 teams.
Princeton wasted no time in jumping ahead of the Cardinals. In the seventh minute, Julia Reinprecht ’13 sent a penalty corner to Kat Sharkey ’12, whose shot was saved but not cleared. Reinprecht reached the rebound first, sending it into the cage for her first goal of the season.
Sharkey added to the lead two minutes later, streaking down the left side of the field and flicking a shot into the upper corner. The star junior now has 20 goals on the season, which leads Division I and puts her on pace to break the program scoring record of 30, currently held by Ilvy Friebe ’03. Michelle Cesan ’13 capped the scoring with a penalty stroke late in the second half.
“After the last couple games, we wanted to concentrate on getting the first goal,” Sharkey said. “We were having some trouble attacking as a team earlier, but we focused on our passing and movement, and took advantage of our opportunities today.”
The Tigers thoroughly dominated their Big East foe, outshooting Louisville 22–7 and earning 11 corners to the visitors’ five. The victory snapped a rare two-game losing skid. Princeton had lost at home to No. 10 American Oct. 3 and dropped a 2–1 game at No. 4 Virginia Oct. 8.
In five games against ranked opponents, the Tigers are 3-2, including wins over No. 9 Syracuse and then-No.1 Maryland. The Terrapins handed Princeton two of its three losses last season — including a 7–5, season-ending defeat in the NCAA semifinals — but this year, the Tigers pulled away for a 4–2 victory behind Katie Reinprecht ’12’s pair of first-half goals. It was Maryland’s first regular-season defeat in nearly two years.
Princeton opened its Ivy League season with dominating wins over Dartmouth, Yale, and Columbia and faces a quartet of league games as it attempts to win its 16th title in 17 years. Regardless of how the stretch plays out, the Tigers will be a feared team in the postseason, featuring two of the nation’s best players in Katie Reinprecht — a first-team All-American last year — and Sharkey.
Holmes-Winn said she’ll probably never have two players like Reinprecht and Sharkey again. “Not only do they have talent, but they’re just winners,” she said. “They have everything you would expect an elite athlete to have.”