Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 39
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
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FREESTYLE: Princeton High girls’ soccer star Adi Debiche launches a free kick in PHS’s 3-1 win over Allentown last Thursday. Senior defender Debiche scored two goals on free kicks in the second half to provide the margin of victory for the Little Tigers.

With Senior Star Debiche Bending in 2 Free Kicks, PHS Girls’ Soccer Overcomes Allentown to Go 4-0

Bill Alden

Adi Debiche wasn’t looking to do anything fancy as she took a free kick for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team in the second half against Allentown last Thursday.

With PHS and Allentown knotted at 1-1, senior defender Debiche was looking to direct the kick near the goal to generate a scoring opportunity for a teammate.

Instead, Debiche got the score herself, sailing the ball over the Allentown keeper into the top of the net for a sensational goal.

“I was trying to chip it in the box so I just got a lucky strike,” said Debiche. “It went in.”

Minutes later, Debiche struck again as she got another free kick in, alertly volleying the ball into the net before the Allentown defense could set up.

Debiche’s second goal closed out the scoring as the Little Tigers held on for a 3-1 win and improved to 4-0 on the season in the process.

Earlier in the contest, it looked like PHS was in danger of suffering its first defeat of the season as Allentown jumped out to a 1-0 lead and had the Little Tigers on their heels.

“We came out a little slow, a little flat,” recalled Debiche, acknowledging PHS may have suffered a bit of a letdown in the wake of a stirring 3-1 win over Hopewell Valley two days earlier.

“We weren’t connecting; we weren’t finding feet. We basically all realized that we needed to pick it up, the energy was down.”

The Little Tigers found a rhythm in the second half as Lexi Stasi and Emma Karp made several runs through the Allentown defense. PHS broke through 20 minutes into the half on a goal from Karp set up by a sweet feed from Mason O’Brien.

“Lexi and Emma were moving a lot up top and we had Emily [Dreibelbis] and Chantal [Celestin] in the middle trying to find feet,” said Debiche.

“In the second half, everyone came out and connected better. Everyone played a great game.”

The PHS defense continued its great work as it has given up just two goals on the season.

The battle-tested Debiche has assumed the responsibility of being the vocal leader along the back line.

“Basically I try to direct them and make sure that they stay marked up but Ali [Salazar], Kelley [Orcutt] and Roni [Nagle] do all the grunt work,” said a smiling Debiche.

“They stay tight in their marks. They do all the running and I am kind of there to just pick up the trash.”

PHS head coach Greg Hand knew that his team needed to pick it up to get past the gritty Allentown squad.

“It was just clear that we weren’t doing anything at 100 percent,” said Hand.

“Certainly Allentown played hard for all 80 minutes. They are quick and athletic. We just weren’t working well and there were times when we weren’t in it 100 percent of the way when you just have to be. If your game is down 10 percent and you are theoretically a better team, you are no longer the better team on the field.”

Hand, though, credited his team with playing better when it needed to in crunch time.

“Our team deserves credit for finding a way, it is not like we weren’t working, we just weren’t working well,” said Hand.

“We did a nice job of hanging in and finding a way to get a goal. Mason and Emma connected; it was hard-earned. We did a lot of work for the few minutes before we were able to get that goal. It took a lot of tenacity on the part of the whole team to keep the ball in that end and create enough chances so that we could finally have one that converted.”

Debiche’s free kick conversions certainly impressed Hand. “The first one was a marvelous piece of real soccer and the second one was just playing heads up,” said Hand.

“Adi understood exactly the situation she was in; she saw an opportunity and she took it.”

Hand also likes Debiche’s vision and communication on the field.

“Adi sees it all; in a four-year career, she has kept improving on helping whoever is back there,” added Hand.

“Whether it is new people or established people with her, she gives concise, clear information. Then when she has to come and play herself, she is very reliable and sure-footed and aggressive. Our confidence in her is very high.”

The Little Tigers, though, need to guard against overconfidence and not let their sizzling start get to their heads.

“We have to stop thinking about our record and stop thinking about our opponent,” said Hand, whose team hosts Hightstown on September 29, plays at Trenton Central on October 1, and then hosts Robbinsville on October 6.

“We need to stop reading headlines that say that PHS is still perfect; that’s the news story, not our story. Our kids have to transcend that story and ask themselves what’s the next thing on the plate. If it is a practice, it has to be a darn good one. If it is a game, which today shows more than anything, if you are down 10 percent, you stand as good a chance of losing as winning.”

Debiche, for her part, believes the team learned a lesson from the Allentown game.

“I think it is a good wake-up call for our team that no matter what we have to keep playing,” maintained Debiche.

“I think we have really good team chemistry. Everybody plays for each other, everybody likes each other. We all came into the season wanting to be special and knowing that it could be special. We have a great group of seniors and a lot of strong underclassmen so I think we are really confident in our talents.” And Debiche certainly displayed her talent and special feel for the game with her two goals against Allentown.

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