(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
FIRING AWAY: Princeton Day School senior striker Ashley Chappo blasts a shot in action earlier this season. Chappo and her teammates topped Hightstown 2-0 last Monday to improve to 4-0-1 this season. In upcoming action, PDS hosts Pennington on September 28, plays Hopewell Valley on September 30 at Mercer County Community College, and then hosts Timothy Christian on October 3.
It didn't look like the Princeton Day school girls' soccer team had the energy to survive a second overtime in its game last week against visiting Hun.
In the break between the 10-minute extra sessions in the 2-2 game, the PDS players didn't even make it back to their bench. Some players sat on the Smoyer Field turf while others sprawled out on the field.
Yet once the whistle blew, the Panthers sprang into action, putting pressure on Hun, generating several scoring chances, including one that was cleared away from the goal by a Hun defender.
While the game ended in that 2-2 score, PDS head coach Ted Harrington was understandably pleased by the effort he got from his players.
"We played unbelievably hard," said Harrington, whose team trailed 1-0 at half and then forged ahead after goals by Sam Morris and Ashley Chappo.
"Most people don't know what their limit is, they kind of stop when it gets uncomfortable. Today they found that they couldn't stop when it got really uncomfortable. They found that they had a lot more than they thought."
Harrington was comfortable with how his team reacted to adversity with Megan Reilly sidelined before the game started and defensive star Erin Cook forced to leave the contest after hurting her thigh.
"We had to change what we were doing," explained Harrington, whose team moved to 3-0-1 with the tie.
"We talk about depth and about players stepping in; sometimes it takes a situation like this to really see what you've got. Marissa Davila stepped into a tough spot against a tough striker (Hun's Lindsey Scott). She played really well; she limited her to just a few opportunities."
Harrington saw the draw as progress, particularly considering that his team went 0-3 against Hun in 2005.
"All things considered, it was a fair result," said Harrington, whose club improved to 4-0-1 after beating Hightstown 2-0 last Monday on goals from Niki Asimacopoulos and Cammy Linville.
"We were down 1-0 and we just needed to settle down. We were playing against someone that beat us three times last year and really handled us. We wanted it so much we played less effectively. The goal by Sam really gave us a lift; I think that's her first shot of the season. We had a stretch for about 15 minutes when we had a ton of chances."
The catalyst in the midfield for PDS during that stretch was tenacious junior Alexa Maher. "She is aggressive; she has a terrific first touch," asserted Harrington in assessing his star midfielder. "She does a good job of going and getting the ball."
PDS' senior stars, Ashley Chappo and Keely Langdon, have both been on the ball so far this season.
"Ashley is running every ball down," said Harrington. "Every time you turned around today she was in the right spot. Keely is just real steady. She gets to the ball well and is very good on defense."
While PDS didn't necessarily play its best soccer against Hun, Harrington liked the way his club hung in there.
"This wasn't our best possession game but this was the first game where we really pushed mentally and physically," said Harrington, whose team hosts Pennington on September 28, plays Hopewell Valley on September 30 at Mercer County Community College before hosting Timothy Christian on October 3. "It's something to build on."
Based on how PDS held up under pressure against Hun, it looks like the Panthers have already built a good foundation.
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