Q&A with Tara Puffenberger
Sophomore Tara Puffenberger, fresh off National and ACC Player of the Week honors, and the third-ranked Virginia field hockey team return to action Saturday at Lafayette. Game time is slated for 1 p.m. in Easton, Pa. Puffenberger, a native of Dallas, Pa., recently caught up with VirginiaSports.com to talk about the season thus far, her international experience and how she ended up at UVa.
Question: Coming off a tough weekend, are you happy with how the team played in getting two good wins against Ohio State and Syracuse?
Puffenberger: We hadn’t played Ohio State and Syracuse in a few years, so we didn’t really know a lot about them. They were both high-ranked teams with a handful of international players, who always bring a different style of play. I think we started the Ohio State game pretty slow but we picked it up in the second half. But overall this weekend was one of the first times we have really played well together.
Question: You scored four goals on the weekend; how were you able to get quality shots?
Puffenberger: I was literally in the right place at the right time. I couldn’t have done it with out my teammates; I am one player out of 10 others on the field. Elly (Buckley) and Paige (Selenski) both gave me awesome passes, literally spoon-fed me right to the goal. Once our team decides we want to play together and play well, we are a good team.
Question: What do you think has been the key to the solid passing the team has shown so far?
Puffenberger: Having Paige and Michelle (Vittese) make the national team, they have really stepped up. They were the young ones on that team, and having them come back with that experience, they came in right away and were all about passing. They are motivating and focused. Elly and Chloe (Pendlebury) are excellent passers and really, I think our team chemistry has a lot to do with it. We have a better team dynamic.
Question: How did you end up at UVa?
Puffenberger: When I was a junior in high school, I was looking at UVa and Michigan. Paige and I were best friends in high school and when she made her decision to come to UVa, I decided I wanted to go my own way, where I didn’t know anyone. So I committed to Michigan. But lots of things changed, including a new coach at Michigan, so I ended up coming to Virginia. Paige was here and so it was easy to talk to Coach Madison. Our parents are good friends. Michigan and Virginia are very similar schools.
Question: Are you happy with the way things worked out?
Puffenberger: You are a little bit hesitant, you don’t really know in high school when you make these decisions how things are going to work out. I wanted to be at a good school and play on a good field hockey team. I love it here. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.
Question: How has all of your international experience helped develop you as a player and a person?
Puffenberger: I was 15 when I made the U-21 national team and I played with people who were in college and at a completely different stage in their lives. You gain a sense of maturity and being away from home; it was easy for me to come to college. Hockey-wise, I basically got to play college hockey before I got to college. You learn different tactics and different systems. When you have players who have international experience, they bring in a good sense of knowledge. We have a lot of that on our team.
Question: What do you like to do for fun?
Puffenberger: When I’m really bored, which is next to never, I go play field hockey. I’ll hit around. Or in the summer, I would go play pick-up soccer. I don’t really watch TV – maybe I’ll sit on my computer for awhile.
Question: Have you declared a major yet?
Puffenberger: I am actually going to do that after this semester. I am going to major in English with a minor in media studies. I want to do something with communications and sports.