Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 38
 
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
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ALLI-WAY: Princeton High girls’ soccer star Alli Salazar passes the ball in action last season. This fall, senior and four-year starter Salazar has moved to the sweeper role where she is providing leadership and a major defensive presence. PHS, which dropped to 1-2 with a 3-0 loss to Hopewell Valley last Thursday, plays at Hightstown on September 23 before hosting Trenton Central on September 28.

Battle-Tested Salazar Providing Leadership As PHS Girls’ Soccer Breaks in New Players

Bill Alden

Although Alli Salazar is going through an adjustment process in moving to sweeper this fall for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team, she received a good tutorial on the position last season.

“Just watching Adi [Debiche] and our graduating seniors really helped me a lot,” said senior star Salazar, referring to PHS star sweeper Adi Debiche, who made several all-star teams as the Little Tigers went 15-4.

“She was very solid so I learned a lot from her. I think communication is just a really big part of my job more than anything else.”

Last Thursday against visiting Hopewell Valley, Salazar made some noise as she directed the back line.

Organizing her teammates and making some sparkling clears, Salazar helped PHS limit defending Group III state co-champion HoVal to one goal in the first half as the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead into intermission.

After a lengthy weather delay due to thunder showers in the area, PHS couldn’t hold off the Bulldogs as HoVal stormed away to a 3-0 victory.

“We had a little bit of trouble staying on our marks today; overall we just tried to keep a strong defensive wall against a really strong HoVal attack,” said Salazar, who has previously played defensive midfielder during her PHS career.

“The other team capitalized on a few of our mistakes but we played our hearts out. We stayed pretty disciplined.”

While four-year starter Salazar is putting her heart into her senior year, she recognizes that matching last year’s success will be tough and that her contributions may be felt down the road.

“Everybody wants to win their senior year when they are captain,” said Salazar.

“This is a relatively new team; we don’t have so many veterans left and we have a lot of new girls. It is definitely a building year and I want to work hard to make sure that we build as quickly as possible. I am trying to pass that on and leave a legacy.”

PHS head coach Greg Hand likes the leadership he is getting from Salazar. “She sees things; she is very concise and helpful with the information she gives,” said Hand, whose team dropped to 1-2 with the loss to the Bulldogs.

“She helps people to stay in the game by giving them just the right kind of support. She makes good decisions and plays hard herself.”

In Hand’s view, his team played much harder against HoVal than it had in a 3-0 loss to Notre Dame earlier in the week.

“I think it was a real step forward from two days ago,” asserted Hand. “This team has a huge amount of heart. Although we played with heart two days ago, we weren’t mentally tough. It is not because we don’t care or don’t have passion for the game but we took a real step forward in terms of mental toughness today.”

Although the PHS players were disappointed to fall to 1-2, Hand believes the squad will benefit over the long haul from the challenges they faced last week.

“If we had been playing easy teams, we would not have been learning as much,” said Hand, whose team plays at Hightstown on September 23 before hosting Trenton Central on September 28.

“We would probably have the same ideas working in practice but we would not have the material to work on them mentally that a real challenging team gives us.”

Salazar, for her part, concurred with Hand’s analysis. “It was kind of a wake-up call, especially for all the newcomers, to play two such great teams,” said Salazar.

“It definitely pressured us more than anything; they really brought it to us. It woke us up a little bit and I think it will help us in the later games to stay really strong.”

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