NCAA updates: Field hockey, cross country, and soccer

i-afb992907ef41cf27734ed5266dccd95-wb_sports.jpgPrinceton FIELD HOCKEY lost 7-5 to top-ranked Maryland in a hard-fought semifinal at the NCAA Final Four in Winston-Salem, N.C., Nov. 20. Princeton’s Michelle Cesan ’13 scored the game’s first goal on a penalty corner, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute. The undefeated Terrapins responded, putting relentless pressure on the Princeton defense and scoring four consecutive goals — three before halftime and one shortly after the intermission.

Then it was Princeton’s turn to show its offensive firepower. A goal by Katlin Donovan ’10 and two by Katie Reinprecht ’12 evened the score at 4-4 before the midpoint of the second half. But Maryland (23-0) again replied. Freshman Megan Frazer scored the go-ahead goal with 13 minutes remaining, and the Terrapins added two more scores in the closing minutes to advance to the national final. Kathleen Sharkey ’12 scored the last goal for Princeton (16-3), which made its first Final Four appearance since 2001.

UPDATE: After the game, Princeton coach Kristen Holmes-Winn hailed her team’s effort. “We have an amazing core of young women who give everything they have,” she 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.”

Rachel Orland ’10 will provide more coverage of the Tigers’ Final Four season in PAW’s Jan. 13 print issue.

WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY will compete at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., Nov. 23 — the final collegiate cross country meet for Tigers star Liz Costello ’10 and fellow seniors Reilly Kiernan and Alexa Glencer. Costello, a captain and three-time Ivy Heps individual champion, placed 11th at the national meet last year. She has been Princeton’s top finisher in every race this season. “She’s been a terrific leader,” coach Peter Farrell told PAW. “She’s definitely at a higher level [this year].”

The Tigers, ranked No. 3 in the latest national poll, have faced the two race favorites head-to-head, finishing behind top-ranked University of Washington twice (at the Notre Dame Invitational and the Pre-Nationals Invitational) and placing second to second-ranked Villanova at last week’s NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional. Princeton earned fifth place at the NCAA meet last year and set an early-season goal to reach the awards podium this year as one of the top four teams.

Junior Rob Speare will represent MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY at the NCAA Championships. Speare qualified by placing 12th at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional.

In MEN’S SOCCER action, Princeton fell to Bucknell, 1-0, in the opening round of the NCAA tournament Nov. 19. The Tigers outshot the Bison and had a string of scoring chances early in the second half. But Princeton’s surge was interrupted when a lightning strike in the area forced a 40-minute weather delay. After the break, Bucknell freshman Brendan Burgdorf netted the decisive goal in the 70th minute.

Princeton reached the postseason for the first time since 2001, earning an at-large bid with a 9-5-3 regular-season record. Entering the Bucknell game, the Tigers had not lost in more than a month, posting a 5-0-2 mark in their last seven contests. “We felt like we, [in] the last few weeks, could beat anybody, and definitely, the attitude on the team was that we weren’t happy to just get in the tournament,” Princeton coach Jim Barlow ’91 said after the game. “It’s very frustrating. But Bucknell is a good team. … They’re very hard to deal with in a lot of ways, and they deserve [the win].”