Over the past four years, Janie Smukler provided the finishing touch for the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team.
But now that four-year starter Smukler is at Emory University after completing her PDS career with a total of 73 goals, the Panthers will have to spread the wealth offensively this fall.
“The bottom line is offensive production,” said PDS head coach Pat Trombetta, who guided the team to a 10-7-1 record last fall.
“We will be OK on defense but we will miss Janie. We could count on her when we needed a big goal. If we get in synch as a unit, we could be very good. It will have to be scoring by committee.”
To bolster the PDS attack, Trombetta has reshuffled the deck, relying on senior co-captains Kelsey Scarlett and Ellen Bartolino together with talented sophomore Alexa Soltesz to be dangerous around the net.
“We are going to lean on Kelsey for scoring production, we moved her from outside middie up top,” said Trombetta, whose team starts the 2012 campaign by hosting Germantown Academy (Pa.) on September 7.
“We have also moved Alex up top from outside. They both have the skills to make the transition. It is a gradual process, we are still getting them connected. Bartolino will also see some time at forward.”
One of the team’s top performers figures to be sophomore midfielder Kirsten Kuzmicz.
“Kirsten will patrol the midfield, she is real solid,” said Trombetta, whose midfield unit will also include senior Hannah Levy, junior Lily Razzaghi, together with sophomores Erin Hogan and Erin Murray, a transfer from Peddie.
“She is a physical player; I look for her to win 50/50 balls and give us some production from that area of the field.”
Trombetta is depending on sophomore Stef Soltesz to control things at the defensive end of the field.
“We have Stef at sweeper, she has unbelievable speed and good decision-making,” asserted Trombetta. “She knows when to break up a play and when to sit back and wait for help.”
Soltesz will be getting help along the back line from Levy along with junior Britt Murray and sophomores Kylie Kieffer and Steinert transfer Kelly Tarcza.
The team’s last line of defense, sophomore goalie Rory Finnegan, is showing progress.
“I think with a year under her belt, she should be better,” said Trombetta. “She has looked good in preseason. She worked hard, she went to a couple of camps. She is committed to getting better.”
A key to PDS getting better will be the growth of the team’s seven sophomores.
“The sophomore class is very strong,” said Trombetta. “I think with the addition of two transfers, it should be even stronger. It could make or break the team.”
In Trombetta’s view, a strong collective work ethic could also make a big difference for the Panthers this fall.
“Out of all the teams I have had, this is one of the hardest working groups,” said Trombetta.
“They are committed to doing their best. We have a very competitive schedule, we have added teams like Germantown, Pennington, and Shipley. That should help come tournament time.”