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Vol. LXV, No. 44
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
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(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
caption:
SURVIVAL INSTINCT: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer player Rui Pinheiro heads up the field in a game earlier this fall. Last Thursday, senior midfielder Pinheiro scored a goal to help second-seeded PDS top No. 7 Rutgers Prep 3-0 in the opening round of of the state Prep B tournament. The Panthers will host No. 5 Morristown-Beard on November 2 in the Prep B semis with the winner advancing to the title game on November 6.

With Seniors Hungry to Keep Playing, PDS Boys’ Soccer Makes Prep B Semis

Bill Alden

For the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team, the defense of its Mercer County Tournament crown didn’t go well.

The eighth-seeded Panthers fell 1-0 to No. 9 Notre Dame in the opening round of the tournament on October 22 and then produced a desultory effort in edging 10th-seeded Ewing 1-0 three days later in an MCT consolation contest.

With the team getting ready to start the defense of its Prep B title, the players spent the practice after the Ewing game talking rather than kicking.

“Yesterday we actually had a meeting rather than a practice and we just talked the whole entire time for an hour and a half,” said senior forward Mike Davila.

“We were talking about team work and how bad our seniors want it and we can’t play for ourselves. We have to play for our team.”

Hosting seventh-seeded Rutgers Prep last Thursday in the opening round of the Prep B tourney, the No. 2 Panthers played as a unit, controlling possession for most of the game.

For more than 65 minutes of action, PDS’s offensive control didn’t yield any benefit on the scoreboard, though, as the teams were knotted in a scoreless tie playing through a chilly rain.

Putting the words from the meeting into action, Davila broke the ice, slotting in a goal with 13:45 left in the second half.

For Davila, normally a supporting player in the PDS cast, it was fun to take a star turn even if the goal wasn’t highlight film material.

“I actually began this season as a bench player so it was pretty different, I started the last two games,” said Davila.

“I can’t really say that was a rip because I kind of tapped that in. It was kind of dreadful, watching that ball slowly roll to the net. It was nice finally breaking through after all that time. We really seemed to relax after that.”

The Panthers proceeded to find the back of the net two more times as Willy Cara and Rui Pinheiro scored to help PDS pull away to a 3-0 win. The victory earned the Panthers a spot in the Prep B semis on November 2 when they will host fifth-seeded Morristown-Beard.

Senior star and tri-captain Pinheiro was proud of how the Panthers dealt with the tournament pressure.

“We are the defending champions; we have a target on our back and the teams are looking to throw us off the top,” said Pinheiro.

“We responded well today, coming in with a win right off the bat; I think we’ll be ready for for the rest of the tournament.”

In Pinheiro’s view, the Panthers displayed a championship mentality as they stuck with their game plan despite squandering several scoring chances.

“We had our opportunities, we finally did break through their defense because we didn’t get frustrated,” asserted Pinheiro.

“We stayed calm throughout the game and I think that was a positive for us. If we had gotten frustrated, we would not have been playing the ball on the ground and we would have lost our focus. We kept our focus and stayed in the game.”

The talented midfielder showed his focus when he scored the sweetest goal of the game with 4:23 remaining in regulation.

“It felt great; it hit the sweet spot,” recalled Pinheiro. “I saw it open in front of me and I took the shot. The ball was skipping; it was hard for the keeper so I just took advantage of that.”

Davila, for his part, believes the Panthers are poised to take advantage of their title shot.

“Being out of Mercer Counties after winning last year was kind of rough but in this tournament, we are keeping our heads up,” said Davila.

“We want one championship so all of our seniors are going for it. We just want to keep going.”

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