Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 44
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
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DOWN TIME: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Zach Halliday reflects the team’s disappointment after it fell 1-0 in double overtime to Princeton Day School on the Mercer County Tournament championship game. The loss snapped PHS’s 41-game unbeaten streak which had seen the team go 36-0-5 since the end of the 2008 season.

PHS Boys’ Soccer Stunned in MCT Title Game but Bounces Back to Win State Tourney Opener

Bill Alden

Some players lay prone on the turf with their hands covering their heads while others just sat motionless staring into space.

After having gone 36-0-5 in their last 41 games and not tasting defeat since 2008, the players on the Princeton High boys’ high soccer team were stunned as they fell 1-0 in double overtime to crosstown rival Princeton Day School last Saturday evening in the Mercer County Tournament championship game.

While PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe had hoped for a different result as his club went for its fourth straight country crown, he had no qualms with how his players battled.

“I am very proud of them to get to the final again,” said Sutcliffe. “It is four consecutive years and the fifth time in the last eight years that we have been to the finals. We had such a tough draw; we had Pennington in the second round, Notre Dame in the third, and then PDS in the final. I am very proud of their quality; they are a little disappointed right now.”

It didn’t look like top-seeded PHS was going to end the evening disappointed as it held the upper hand for most of the game against No. 2 PDS in a rematch of a regular season thriller that saw the teams battle to a 1-1 draw.

The Little Tigers had a flurry of chances near the end of the first half and had an apparent goal waved off in the second half due to offside. In the the overtime, the Little Tigers pressed forward, forcing a PDS clearance off the line.

“I felt we deserved to be the winner on the night,” asserted Sutcliffe, whose team outshot the Panthers 9-6 in the contest.

“We were the better team; we had more possession. We had more chances and we had more quality but that’s soccer. It doesn’t always go your way. Give credit to PDS for fighting hard and doing what they needed to do to stay in the game.”

Two days later in the opening round of the Group III Central Jersey sectional, top-seeded PHS did what it had to do to advance, topping No. 16 Red Bank 4-2 as Lido Guzman scored two goals with John Marsh and Aidan Passannante adding one apiece.

Sutcliffe saw such an effort coming as he looked forward to the state tourney and his team’s bid to defend its Group III crown.

“I think it raises their level of urgency to go into the first round because we didn’t win the tournament,” said Sutcliffe, whose 16-1-1 team hosts No. 8 Hopewell Valley on November 4 in the sectional quarterfinals.

“Last year we won the tournament and our Monday state game was really difficult so it will raise our level of urgency.”

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