Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 39
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
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STRIKING A BALANCE: Princeton Day School junior striker Janie Smukler, in white, battles for the ball against a Hun defender in the game last week between the crosstown rivals. Smukler scored the game-winning goal as PDS edged the Raiders 2-1. Last Saturday, Smukler added two more goals to help the Panthers beat Hamilton 3-0 and improve to 4-0-1.

Smukler’s Relentless Play Up Front Helps PDS Girls’ Soccer Start 4-0-1

Bill Alden

Janie Smukler and her teammates on the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team knew they were in for a fight when they hosted Hun last week and that is exactly what they got.

“It was really difficult; everyone was being really physical,” said PDS junior striker Smukler, reflecting on last week’s contest between the crosstown rivals. “We knew coming out that we had to win because we hadn’t beaten them in a long time.”

Even though PDS built a 1-0 lead at halftime on a goal by Kelsey Scarlett, Smukler knew that the Panthers weren’t out of the woods.

“I was scared that they were going to score a goal and I knew we had to keep playing strong,” said Smukler.

Those fears were confirmed as Hun knotted the contest at 1-1, moments after Raider goalie Golestani made a superb save on a Smukler blast in the box.

“If that goal had went in, I think we would have had the game right there,” recalled Smukler. “That definitely gave them momentum and let us down a bit. They tied it, but fortunately we kept on fighting.”

The teams battled furiously as each tried to get the go-ahead goal. With 17:50 left in regulation, Smukler broke the deadlock, skipping a shot that bounced off Golestani and into the net. That tally held up as PDS prevailed 2-1.

In reflecting on the winning score, Smukler acknowledged that she got a fortunate bounce. “I got really lucky; it bounced off the post a little and she saved it and I think she lost sight of the ball,” recalled Smukler, who scored two goals last Saturday as PDS topped Hamilton 3-0 to improve to 4-0-1 on the season.

The team’s hot start has even surprised Smukler. “We lost four or five seniors and we came into this year kind of afraid that we weren’t going to be as strong as we were last year,” said Smukler. “We have been doing pretty well; we are looking pretty strong.”

The Panthers showed character as well as talent in the win over Hun as they came through without the services of four of this year’s seniors, Ali Frieder, Katie Gibson, Carly O’Brien, and Emily Jaeckel.

“This game definitely gave us confidence,” said Smukler. “If we can do this with four seniors injured, we can probably win a lot.”

PDS head coach Pat Trombetta acknowledged that his team has suffered some painful losses to Hun in recent years.

“We knew it was going to be tough; in the last three years two of the games went into overtime and last year we lost on a free kick in the waning seconds of regulation,” said Trombetta. “We knew it was going to be a one-goal game. I think it was big that we got the first goal; it was key.”

Despite jumping out to that 1-0 lead, PDS did get a big scare. “I think in the first half, we had good control of the game,” said Trombetta. “That goalie made a great save in the second half; the momentum swung on that. They came back and scored; my hat is off to them for that.”

Trombetta tipped his hat to the resilience displayed by his players. “We kept on clawing and scratching and fighting; I can’t say enough about these girls,” asserted Trombetta.

“We are looking at the back line; we have two freshmen starting on the outside wings in Lili Razzaghi and Brittany Murphy. Laila Razzaghi is the third sweeper because the other sweepers Katie Gibson and Carly O’Brien are hurt. She played a heck of a game back there.”

The Panthers got a heck of a game in the midfield from senior star and co-captain Jacqui Stevens.

“Jacqui has a lot of intensity; she is constantly working on the field,” added Trombetta. “As a captain, she is leading by example. She has a good work rate.”

Smukler’s good work around the goal is a big plus for the Panthers. “Janie kept on coming,” said Trombetta, whose team plays at Blair on September 29, hosts Somerville on September 30, and then plays at Peddie on October 5.

“She is great with the ball on her feet; she is just strong with the ball. She is relentless.”

Smukler, for her part, is ready to be a strong leader for the Panthers this fall.

“I feel 100 percent,” said Smukler, who was hampered by a knee injury last fall. “Since I am older now and the only junior on the team, I definitely have more of a leadership role on this team. That is new for me.”

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