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Family feud fuels Blue Devils' finale

The jersey will be different and her hair will be straighter, but when freshman midfielder Tara Jennings looks across the Katz Stadium field Saturday, it will be as if she is looking into a mirror.

After all, Jennings' triplet sister, Rachel, will be on the other sideline.

And the infusion of a sibling rivalry could make Saturday's late-season ACC matchup between No. 4 Duke (14-3, 2-2 in the ACC) and No. 13 Virginia (11-7, 1-3) at 1 p.m. even more intense.

"It's going to be a little bit of a battle," head coach Beth Bozman said. [Tara and Rachel] tend to battle each other even when they are on the same team, so [Saturday] will be even more so."

Tara Jennings certainly feels ready to compete against her sister, who will be playing the same midfield position for the Cavaliers. During the match, then, they will be on opposite sides of the field-but that won't diminish the rivalry.

"I am really excited to play against Rachel. It definitely gives me some more motivation for the game," Jennings said. "It's going to be weird playing against Rachel for the first time for something serious."

Erin Jennings, Tara and Rachel's other sister, is a midfielder for No. 12 Princeton. The triplets are not only members of top-notch field hockey programs, but also have had a significant amount of experience playing alongside one another.

Before their collegiate careers, the triplets were members of the U-19 Olympic Development Select Tour to Buenos Aires in 2007. Hailing from Macungie, Pa., the Jennings sisters all attended Emmaus High School, which is consistently a national field hockey powerhouse.

The trio experienced tremendous success at Emmaus, winning three state and two national championships in four years together. In their senior seasons, they each earned All-American and Academic All-American honors.

"It was always so much fun playing with them because I know them so well," Tara Jennings said. "It's so easy to play with people you know so well."

With field hockey being such a central part of the Jennings family but with each sister at a different school, the trio's parents, John and Beth, have split up for their daughters' weekend matches. But because Tara and Rachel are playing in the same game this weekend, they will be together in attendance Saturday.

Junior captain Brooke Patterson, who attended Emmaus and played with Tara and her sisters, is no stranger to the competitive nature of the sisters' relationship. Also a captain at the time and two years older than the pair, Patterson had to play the role of mediator throughout matches.

"In high school, I was the center midfielder and Tara played right behind me and Rachel played on the left side," Patterson said. "They would bicker back and forth during games and were very competitive with each other.... I would have to remind them, 'Guys, we are on the same team.'"

As if being identical triplets wasn't enough-one way to separate the two is Tara's curlier hair-the two also have strikingly similar attitudes and skill sets on the field.

"They are both very intense and fast with and without the ball," Patterson said. "A lot of people say that they play the same way."

But for the Jennings sisters, Saturday's match presents an opportunity to differentiate themselves on the field.


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