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Junior Rachel Jennings and the fourth-ranked Virginia field hockey team has a busy week with two home games at the University Hall Turf Field. The Cavaliers welcome Longwood for a 6 p.m. contest Wednesday before playing host to No. 3 Princeton at 6 p.m. Friday. Jennings, whose triplet sister, Erin, plays at Princeton, recently sat down with to talk about the season, her sisters, and being named to the United States U-21 National Team.

Question: How would you describe the season so far?
I definitely don’t think we have reached our peak yet. This is my third season now, and we’ve played worse, and we’ve played better. I think we have been pretty consistent – just good enough to get by. But we have a long way to go and a lot to improve. We didn’t get to the level we wanted to in order to beat Maryland but knowing that we’re only halfway through the season and we can be so much better – that is the good thing. We all know we can be better.

Question: Coming off another tough loss to Maryland, how do you come back and focus on Longwood and Princeton?
It’s frustrating. I’ve been into four overtimes with Maryland and lost to them every time. What we have talked about in the locker room is taking as much positive away from the game as we can. We have to bring that same game against Longwood and Princeton and just fine-tune the things that led to our defeat.

Question: You have played four times against your sister Tara at Duke, what is it going to be like to play against Erin for the first time?
I am really excited. I have been playing with Tara more so than Erin, and it’s really been since high school since I have seen her play. I’ve only heard my parents talk about how she has been playing. And she plays right mid, and now that I play center back, I am definitely going to play against her. When I have played against Tara in the past almost every time we have been on opposite ends of the field. But I will be going head-to-head against Erin.

Question: Have both Erin and Tara have spent some time in Charlottesville?
They both came here over the summer, and Erin actually took a class with me during the third session of summer school. Tara just came to live with us, but we were all in the same apartment for part of the summer. I haven’t lived with them since high school and I forgot how hard it was! We got in the dumbest fights. But it was so much fun; we had a great time.

Question: How did it feel to be named to the United States U-21 National Team?
It was interesting! It is not necessarily one of my lifelong dreams to be on the national team but I was really happy that I made the U-21 team and hopefully I’ll get to tour China. It does a lot for me in terms of field hockey; I’ll get to train with some of the best players in the nation, and I’ll get to play with (sister) Tara. It was unexpected, so I was excited when I got picked for the team.

Question: What is the timeline?
We’ll go train in Chula Vista in early January for three days and then they will pick the team that will go on the China tour. Puff (Tara Puffenberger) and Paige (Selenski) are on the team too, and my sister, so I hope we all make it!

Question: Are you still thinking about becoming a doctor?
Yes. I decided after last year to kind of change my major – I didn’t like how math was intertwined with economics as much – so I switched to an English major. I decided since I am going to do that I would focus on keeping my GPA up and am pretty sure I will do a post-bac (postbaccalaureate premedical program) year before I apply to medical school. That is really when you do all your sciences in one year, after you have graduated, before you apply to med school. You have to apply to a program and you get it all done in one year. My older brother, who is in med school right now, said that half of his class did that. It’s kind of hard enough with field hockey, I just think that is going to be a better option for me.

Question: What has been your favorite class at UVa?
Econ 201 with Professor (Kenneth) Elzinga. He is probably the best professor I have had; he made all the lectures really interesting, and he is well-known for his work. I also really liked my bio lab where we dissected animals.

Question: What do you like to do for fun?
In my spare time, I just like to hang out with my friends as much as I can. As student-athletes, we don’t get that much spare time. We live in a great little neighborhood with lots of field hockey and lacrosse players. It’s fun because there are always people over. In the summer, I played intramural soccer with Puff and some of the soccer boys. I played soccer in high school but if I could play that more during the year, I would. It was a blast.

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