Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 17
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
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CAGE FIGHTER: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse goalie Jess Frieder guards the cage last week in PDS’s 14-6 win over Hun. Junior Frieder made nine saves in the victory to help stifle the Raiders. PDS, now 7-2, hosts WW/P-N on April 28 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament and the state Prep A tourney.

With Goalie Frieder Thriving Under Pressure, PDS Girls’ Lax Primed for Postseason Push

Bill Alden

Jess Frieder has no problem with pressure situations.

The Princeton Day School junior stepped into the starting goalie role for PDS girls’ soccer team from day one freshman year and has played every game since, helping the Panthers to the state Prep B title in 2008.

Frieder has also served as the last line of defense for the PDS girls’ lacrosse team, handling the goalie duties as the Panthers have advanced to the Mercer County Tournament (MCT) title game in her first two campaigns.

This spring, Frieder’s sharp play in the crease has the Panthers looking like title contenders once again.

Last week in a 14-6 win over Hun, Frieder showed her coolness under fire and stick skills as she made nine saves to help spark the Panthers.

In reflecting on the victory over Hun, Frieder said that PDS was flying high in the wake of a 9-5 win over Hopewell Valley, the team that topped the Panthers in the MCT title games.

“We came off a great win over Hopewell Valley and I think that momentum carried into this game,” said Frieder.

“We definitely came out of the gate. I think the defense was playing well in the beginning and then the momentum from the offense really helped us. Our communication is up so that is good.”

Frieder’s good play this spring has been the product of a lot of hard work.

“I think my game has definitely stepped up a lot; I have been working a lot outside of school,” added Frieder. “I play for a club team outside and I went to camp for the summer. I have improved, I think.”

While Frieder has honed her physical skills, her mental approach may be her greatest strength.

“I think the biggest thing is the pressure; as a goalie, you face the pressure of being the last one back there to stop the shot,” said Frieder, who had four saves last Friday as PDS topped Ranney 11-1 to improve to 7-2 on the season.

“I think that I handle it pretty well; I like the pressure to be honest with you. It doesn’t hurt me, it gives me adrenaline.”

Frieder has felt some additional pressure this year, though, after her twin sister and PDS star defender, Ali, went down with a season-ending knee injury on the team’s spring training trip.

“It’s been tough, she is my sister and I know how much she wants to be out on the field with me,” said Frieder.

“This whole season has been tough for her. She is hanging in there; she is a great cheerleader on the sidelines. She participates in everything we do on and off the field.”

PDS head coach Jill Thomas likes the way everyone on her squad has been sticking together.

“They enjoy playing with each other,” said Thomas. “They have the same high expectations for all the newbies. We have a lot of brand new juniors and sophomores who haven’t been on this team before playing at this level. All the physical skill in the world is great but they do have to like one another and trust them and all that.”

Thomas certainly has plenty of trust in star goalie Frieder. “Jess has just been great; she gets it,” asserted Thomas.

“She has really worked hard on agility and eye-hand coordination, doing a lot of drills. She has really taken it to the next level. She has done her job of keeping that ball out of the net. She stopped the first eight HoVal shots in a row.”

Thomas believes her team is reaching a higher level as the season goes on.

“It’s nice to watch them feed off of each other and get it going,” said Thomas. “It starts with Jess and then you have the defense going. Somebody else makes a good play and somebody else gets it. They have got to keep their feet on the ground and keep outworking people; they have bought into that.”

While Thomas is happy with her team’s solid start, she knows they can’t let up.

“We still have work to do, that’s why it is only April 20 and they buy into that,” said Thomas, whose team hosts WW/P-N on April 28 before starting play in the MCT and the state Prep A tourney. “We still have room for improvement; they have some pretty high goals and they are willing to put the work in to get there.”

Frieder, for her part, thinks the team is on the way to accomplishing its goals.

“It’s been all great momentum for us; I think we just need to carry that forward to the end of the season,” asserted Frieder. “I think it has been a great season so far and I look forward to finishing it on top.”

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