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Vol. LXV, No. 41
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
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(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

YOUNG MCDONALD: Princeton High field hockey forward Campbell McDonald, right, goes after a ball in recent action. The trio of freshman starters McDonald, defender Julia DiTosto, and forward Lucy Herring, has helped PHS produce a 7-4 start. The Little Tigers play at Steinert on October 14 before hosting Hightstown on October 17.

With Trio of Freshman Stars Making Big Impact, PHS Field Hockey Excited for Tournament Time

Bill Alden

Julia DiTosto helped the John Witherspoon Middle school field hockey team go undefeated last fall as an eighth grader but thought it would be a while before she would make an impact for the Princeton High varsity squad.

“I was expecting to be on the freshman team,” said DiTosto, reflecting on her mindset coming into preseason this past August.

“After the first day of preseason, I was moved to JV. There were three days of tryouts and I was on varsity by the end.”

Freshman defender DiTosto ended up getting joined by two classmates, Campbell McDonald and Lucy Herring, in the starting lineup of the Little Tiger varsity team.

The trio has given PHS a spark as it has produced a promising 7-4 start. The athletic DiTosto has emerged as a force along the backline while McDonald and Herring have been key offensive contributors at forward. McDonald has contributed two goals and an assist while Herring tallied three goals and an assist.

While they have made a seamless transition to the varsity, the freshmen had butterflies before their first preseason action.

“We had a sleepover before the first scrimmage and were up all evening trying to envision what the game was going to be like,” recalled DiTosto.

DiTosto admits that she still had plenty of nerves when she made her regular season debut against Nottingham on September 9.

“I was shaking the whole game; I was so nervous,” said DiTosto, who has honed her skills by playing club hockey for The Edge program.

“Some of the other girls are really aggressive and the speed of the game is faster. Playing on turf is also a transition; it has been a huge difference from playing on grass.”

PHS head coach Heather Serverson will tell you that the trio of freshmen have made a huge difference for the Little Tigers.

“They are lighting a fire under the team,” said Serverson. “The fact that they have come in so prepared raises the bar for the varsity. They have been very consistent players for us.”

Each of the freshmen brings something different to the table for PHS. “Julia is one of the most poised center backs I have coached; she is an emotionally steady player,” said Serverson.

“She always brings her skills and gets in the right position; she has done very well on defensive corners. Campbell is a very coachable, very positive player. She thinks ahead; she understands where a pass is going to go. Lucy just keeps getting better and better; she is good at getting in behind the defensive line.”

The team’s older players have accepted the precocious newcomers, affectionately calling them “babies.’”

“If you are a good player, everyone wants to see you on the field,” said Serverson.

For DiTosto, junior sweeper Sydney Watts has been a key mentor on and off the field.

“Sydney is the eyes and ears of the team; she is really our backbone,” said DiTosto.

“She is always telling me where to go and she is always right. She has become one of my best friends.”

In DiTosto’s view, PHS is on the right track with county and state tournament action around the corner.

“We have had some good wins and some tough losses,” said DiTosto. “Our 3-2 win over Notre Dame last week in double overtime was our best win of the season so far. Everyone played at their best. We are growing as a team. We know each other and have figured out our strengths and weaknesses.”

Having gotten off to a strong start in her varsity career, DiTosto believes PHS can grow into something very special.

“I think I have gotten a lot more confident; I am more comfortable with the older girls,” said DiTosto. “I am so excited for the next four years; I think we are going to have some really good teams.”

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