October 10, 2001: Sports
Can youth trump experience? Field hockey looks to freshmen
Sports Web Exclusives! Matt Golden's From the Cheap Seats column
By Paul Hagar 91
the time you read this article, the nine freshmen on Princetons
young field hockey team will know what it takes to play at the top level
of the college ranks. In the past two weeks, the Tigers played their Ivy
archrival, Dartmouth, as well as powerhouses Maryland and Old Dominion.
In the past several years,
Princeton has had tremendous success, garnering seven straight Ivy titles,
nine victories in the NCAA tournament, and three trips to the Final Four.
This year, duplicating such results may prove a challenge, with almost
half the 21-member team making their debuts at the college level and with
a grand total of zero seniors. A rebuilding year? Not according to tricaptain
Emily Townsend 03: I wont be satisfied just to get to
the tournament, or just to win a game or two. Ill be disappointed
if we dont make the finals.
Tricaptain Kelly Baril 03
agrees, While we do lack experience, our freshmen have all been
playing at a high level for a long time, and theyve all been working
incredibly hard in the nine months since they found out they got into
Among the freshman standouts
are Natalie Martirosian, an all-America selection who was also Virginias
high school player of the year. Other all-Americas include Martirosians
twin sister, Alexis; attack Ashley Sennett; midfielder Lizzie Black; and
defender Kelly Darling.
With the new faces, Coach Beth
Bozman has also introduced a new defensive scheme, the center zone, a
strategy in which the team holds a triangle zone in the middle of the
field instead of marking man to man. A few weeks along the teams
learning curve, Townsend, explained: Its a challenge because
its new, and as sweeper, I have to direct the center midfielder
(Cory Picketts 04) and the center fullback (freshman Jennifer Elliott)
to create the zone. They have to listen and then get there by cutting
the angles and using their speed.
The combination of Bozmans
strategic changes and a tough schedule leave little room for learning
on the job. Thats one possible reason the coach has put a strong
focus on the teams defensive squad. All three tricaptains play defense:
goalie Baril, sweeper Townsend, and right back Beckie Wood 03. Bozman
also moved Kristen Skorupski 03 from offense to defense.
While Bozman has made changes,
her offense is still built for speed. Ilvy Friebe 03 and Claire
Miller 04 rank among the countrys fastest players, enabling
the offense to pose a constant threat of counterattacks when the Tigers
gain possession at the defensive end.
Despite its youth, Princeton
has a good chance to win another league title and get into the tournament,
as reflected by the teams top-five preseason ranking. Moving through
to the Final Four could prove a different story, but Townsend sounds confident.
I think we can go really far this year. I just hope no one lets
down, she says. I think the team sees a lot of promise in
themselves, and I know [Coach Bozman] sees a lot of promise in us.
Paul Hagar 91 is former senior PAW editor.