Led by a Kathleen Sharkey hat trick, the No. 4 Princeton field hockey team defeated No. 5 Duke 5-2 in its 2012 season-opener in Durham, N.C. Friday evening. In a battle between top-five squads, the Tigers (1-0) took control early and managed to deflect momentum surges by the Blue Devils (1-2) throughout the 70-minute contest to open the year on a winning note.
Senior Sharkey's three-goal evening came all on penalty corners set up by junior Julia Reinprecht and senior Katie Reinprecht. The trio, who had missed 2011 due to training with the U.S. National Team, returned to the lineup in dominating fashion.
Four minutes into action Julia found sister Katie to set up Sharkey's first goal to lift the Tigers to a 1-0 lead.
Princeton would earn four more penalty corners, but it was Duke's offense that managed to square things up at the 25-minute mark off a penalty corner. Brenna Rescigno found the back of the net off of Mary Nielsen and Paula Heimbach assists.
After relinquishing their lead, the Tigers retook control just before halftime. Sharkey not only would score three times on five shots, but also had an assist in the game. She sent in a cross from the left side to a driving Allison Evans, who then redirected the ball to send it past Duke goalie Lauren Blazing at 30:31.
Up 2-1, Princeton remained in control and added to its budding lead in the second half. For the second time, the Reinprecht sisters set up a penalty corner opportunity and Sharkey converted to provide the Tigers with a two-goal lead at 43:30.
They would connect one more time before the end of regulation.
The Blue Devils were not to be counted out, as they sailed in three consecutive shots before making it a 3-2 game off an Emmie Le Marchand goal in the 50th minute. Following a save from Princeton goalie Christina Maida, Le Marchand was able to score on a rebounded shot.
As they had done all evening, the Tigers responded with a goal of their own. This time on a Charlotte Krause penalty stroke goal at 56:29 to hold a 4-2 advantage, but Princeton was not done yet.
For the third time in the game the Tigers converted on a penalty corner, with both Reinprecht sisters again setting up Sharkey's goal in the 68th minute.
Princeton held a 20-8 shot differential on Duke and goalie Maida had three saves in her complete game performance.
The Tigers head next to No. 13 Wake Forest (1-1) for a Sunday, Sept. 2 showdown at 1 p.m. at Kentner Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.