Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 36
 
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
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(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN GOOD HANDS: Princeton High boys’ soccer goalie Ruben Morales corrals the ball in a recent training session. Senior Morales faces the formidable of task of replacing the graduated Steve Hellstern, an All-State performer and CVC Player of the Year last fall as he posted 18 shutouts to help PHS go undefeated on the way to a state title.

Coming Off Undefeated State Title Season, PHS Boys’ Soccer Looks to Keep Rolling

Bill Alden

After producing a season for the ages last fall as it went 21-0-4 and won the Group III state championship, the Princeton High boys’ soccer will have a bull’s eye on its back when it hits the pitch for the 2010 campaign.

While longtime PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe knows that foes will be intent on knocking off his team, he isn’t overly concerned with that scenario considering the program’s tradition of success.

“That’s nothing new,” said Sutcliffe, noting that PHS won the sectional title in 2006 and has won three straight county titles. “They have faced this before; I believe the guys can handle the pressure.”

One PHS player who will be under a lot of pressure is senior goalie Ruben Morales, who is stepping into the starting line-up for the graduated Steve Hellstern, an All-State performer and CVC Player of the Year last fall as he posted 18 shutouts.

“Morales has been playing very well; he worked hard,” said Sutcliffe, whose team opens regular season play with a game at Nottingham on September 10.

“He has gotten better after the first 160 minutes of scrimmages this summer. He plays with Princeton FC. He is always in a game. He plays pick-up games in the PHS gym and at Hilltop Field. He’s around the game formally and informally all year.”

Sutcliffe will need his defensive players to show some game as the program fills the void left by graduated standouts Allen Bryant, Max Reid, Wilson Urias, and Scott Schwarz.

“Kyle Ehrenworth has experience,” said Sutcliffe, who is in his 14th season at the helm of the PHS program. “Ben Davis has done a great job; he has been with us for two years. We also have Pablo Arroyo and Ajami Gikandi back there.”

The midfield should be a strength for the Little Tigers. “We have some good players there,” asserted Sutcliffe.

“We have John Marsh there. He has played stopper and he can play sweeper if we need him there. Zach Halliday and Lido Guzman have been playing well.”

At forward, PHS boasts two returning stars in senior Andrei Spirin and sophomore Aidan Passannante together with a newcomer, sophomore Jordan Phelps.

“Up top, we are looking at Andrei and Aidan; they have been playing together at times,” added Sutcliffe. “We got Jordan Phelps from Michigan; he played on a state championship team as a freshman. He came to us from the Michigan Wolves club.”

Although it will be a tall order to match the feats of last year’s championship team, the Little Tigers aren’t shying away from the task.

“It is not easy; they are trying the best they can,” said Sutcliffe. “It is a talented team. The mood has been great; there is a great spirit and a great confidence around the guys. Everybody knows we lost some talented players and leaders and they want to try their best to keep it going.”

In order to keep things going, the Tigers will need to get their new pieces to fit together.

“We need the back four and goalie to be in synch with each other and reach an understanding,” said Sutcliffe.

“We need the midfield and forwards to piece it together. Last year, it took some time. We didn’t start playing really good soccer until midseason.”

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