Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 40
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
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MOVING UP: Princeton High field hockey junior defender Ali Ryan chases down a ball in PHS’s 1-0 win over WW/P-S last Thursday. Ryan picked up an assist on the game’s lone goal which was scored by Alyssa Torske. After playing on junior varsity last year, Ryan has emerged as a key defender for PHS this fall.

Exemplifying PHS Field Hockey’s Progress, Junior Ryan Develops Into Standout Defender

Bill Alden

After toiling for the Princeton High junior varsity field hockey team last fall, Ali Ryan was determined to take her game to the next level.

Ryan played year-round for The Edge club team and went to several camps this summer.

By the time this September rolled around, the much-improved junior was ensconced as the starting center half for the PHS varsity squad.

“It has been really awesome,” said Ryan, referring to making the Little Tiger starting lineup. “It shows how my hard work has really paid off; it is a great feeling.”

Last Thursday, Ryan gave PHS a great feeling, making a sweet pass that Alyssa Torske banged home for the only goal in the Little Tigers’ 1-0 win over WW/P-S.

“I saw the opening; I saw the channel and I just gave it to her,” recalled Ryan.

“Alyssa had her stick down just like we have been practicing and it went in. It was beautiful.”

Things weren’t going so beautifully for PHS in the early stages of the contest against WW/P-S as the teams went into halftime deadlocked in a scoreless tie.

“I was really expecting them to take it to us and we delivered it too,” said Ryan.

“It was a little frustrating. We were outplaying them and we should be scoring more than zero. I guess we just sort of pulled through in the end. We have been practicing the type of shots like the one that we scored over and over.”

Ryan takes pride in setting her teammates up for big shots. “I sort of just feed the ball to the team, I am there to give backup,” said Ryan.

“I am there to take it down the field if we need to. Mostly I like to pass to girls who are open and get the ball upfield.”

PHS head coach Heather Serverson likes the way Ryan is working the whole field.

“Ali is probably the most versatile defender that we have,” asserted Serverson.

“She really understands how to transition into offense and that has been key for us. That is why I have her there at center back.”

In the victory over WW/P-S, the play of junior goalie Carly Rossman was also key.

“Carly definitely came through with some great saves for us; I was very pleased with the way she played,” said Serverson.

“Defensively, we have been working a lot on marking and the transition down into the circle. It is coming together; it is not as great as I would like it to be but it got the job done.”

The PHS goal was a product of one of its main practice drills. “Alyssa’s stick was down,” said Serverson, whose team fell 4-1 to Stuart Country Day last Monday to move to 5-4 on the season.

“All we have been doing in practice is stick down, stick down, the ball will come to you. She had it down and did her job.”

Serverson is looking for her team to be more consistent in getting the job done.

“We have this issue where we play at the level of the other team,” said Serverson, whose team hosts Notre Dame on October 8 before playing at WW/P-N on October 13.

“I want them to learn that you can’t wait until the end to turn it on. It only gets turned on when we realize ‘oh we only have two minutes left and we need to score a goal.’”

There is no question in Serverson’s mind that the team is headed in the right direction.

“We have already surpassed the win total from last year,” noted Serverson, whose team went 3-13 in 2008.

“They are a quality team on and off the field. They get along; they understand what we need to get done. There is a core of players that really emphasizes hard work at practice and on the field. They are very tight knit and I think that’s huge part of our winning.”

Ryan, for her part, is confident that PHS can keep winning. “I think we feel like we can do it this year; we know that we have the skill,” said Ryan.

“We are inspired; we are motivated. We really flow well together as a team. We have each other’s backs; we have trust as a team. We know that we are good.”

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