Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 44
 
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
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STREAK BUSTER: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer player Hugo Meggitt, right, battles Ajami Gikandi of Princeton High last Saturday in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. Meggitt scored the winning goal as second-seeded PDS edged No. 1 PHS 1-0 in double overtime. The win snapped the Little Tigers’ 41-game unbeaten streak and prevented them from winning a fourth straight county crown.

Unlikely Hero Meggitt Delivers Knockout Blow as PDS Boys’ Soccer Shocks PHS to Win MCT

Bill Alden

Hugo Meggitt was drained but excited as the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team headed into overtime last Saturday in its tense battle with Princeton High in the Mercer County Tournament championship game.

“We kind of figured there was a good chance for it to happen,” said the PDS senior midfielder, noting that the teams had played to a 1-1 draw on October 9. “This was definitely one of the most tiring games I can remember.”

PDS head coach Malcolm Murphy was concerned about fatigue heading into the extra session on the large field at Mercer County Community College, noting that his team is playing concurrently in the state Prep B tournament.

“This was our fifth game in seven days so we were looking to see if we would be able to hold them in,” said Murphy, whose second-seeded team was the underdog as it aimed to topple No. 1 PHS, the three-time county champion which had a 41-game unbeaten streak on the line.

“We had played back-to-back tournament games. So it was PHS that brought a little more fight and determination.”

When the game entered a second overtime period, it was the diminutive Meggitt who delivered the knockout blow as he knocked a Rui Pinheiro volley into the back of the net.

“I saw Rui had made a great run down the line and I saw the opportunity for him to cross it and I just figured this was going to be our best chance to score,” recalled Meggitt. “We didn’t want to go into penalty kicks. I got up and hoped for a good cross and that’s what I got.”

By coming through, the unsung Meggitt got to enjoy a star turn, as his teammates mobbed him on the field before he got saluted by the PDS student section packing the stands behind the Panther bench.

“It is the greatest moment of my life so far,” said a beaming Meggitt, reflecting on his goal.

Meggitt and his classmates have had a lot of great moments this fall as they have put together a 15-2-2 campaign and hope to add a Prep B title to their MCT crown. The Panthers are seeded No. 1 in the Prep B tourney and were slated to host No. 5 Newark Academy on November 2 with the winner advancing to the title game on November 7.

“We have known each other for a long time,” said Meggitt, in assessing the bond between the nine seniors on the PDS squad.

“We have grown up playing travel soccer together. We knew as long as we worked hard, we would be good. Things have really worked out.”

Murphy praised his team’s grit and savvy as he reflected on the program’s first county title since 1983 when it tied with Lawrenceville in the MCT final.

“We don’t have the speed on the flanks but we are determined,” asserted Murphy. “We have good tactics with a good attitude. We keep them in. It is up to the opposition to get that goal and we’ll look for the counter.”

In Murphy’s view, his players followed that game plan faithfully as they withstood the PHS attack.

“They got some efforts off but there was nothing in the box,” said Murphy. “We cleared a couple off the line. You make your own luck in the game of soccer. If you are in the right spot at the right time on the line, then you stop them. We worked hard behind the ball.”

A smiling Murphy was a bit surprised that it was the unheralded Meggitt who was at the right place on the winning goal.

“I am always giving him stick,” said Murphy, speaking in the accent and vernacular of his native Manchester, England. “I think he has done that on purpose; he put that goal in just to make me angry. Now I am going to have to shake his hand.”

Turning serious, Murphy said that Meggitt and his classmates have shown a special sense of purpose this fall.

“They are all heroes; it’s a group of seniors that set their mind early in the season,” said Murphy, whose team will be seeking another title as the top-seeded Panthers were slated to host No. 5 Newark Academy on November 2 in the state Prep B semis with the winner advancing to the title game on November 7.

“We have talked about the fact that we are a small school. These guys want to put their name on the map. Now we can send something out to show that we can play with the big boys.”

Meggitt, for his part, thinks the Panthers can accomplish some more big things in the Prep B tourney.

“We have the No. 1 seed and we think we have a good chance to win that,” said Meggitt. “We’ll get some rest and focus on our next game there.”

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