Coming into the season, Greg Hand acknowledged that his Princeton High girls’ soccer team was a work in progress.
Noting that the program is undergoing a youth movement with wholesale changes in the lineup, Hand predicted it would take some time to get in synch.
Last Thursday as PHS hosted Hopewell Valley in the season opener for both teams, the Little Tigers showed their youth, displaying some good stretches of soccer but coming up short 1-0.
“Although we have scrimmages, in the first 10 minutes, we weren’t organized,” said Hand.
“I thought we were playing pretty responsibly when they had the ball and we started to figure things out on attack. The whole middle of the first half and perhaps a little more after they scored, we tended to rush the play too much. When we played a ball forward to someone facing our own goal, we tended not to organize off of that and make it easy to relieve the pressure and change the point of attack.”
Hand liked the way his team handled the pressure on the defensive end as the Little Tigers stymied the Bulldogs with the exception of one lapse in the second half.
“We had a terrific effort through the back, I thought we played solid defense all day,” asserted Hand.
“There was just one time when they got around us. I don’t think we were marking on the far post and they were able to slip one in.”
PHS got some good efforts from such attacking players as sophomore forward Shannon Pawlak and senior midfielder Kate Kerr.
“I thought we got a great game from Shannon Pawlak,” added Hand.
“She worked really hard; she was winning 50/50 balls and was very tricky at times. Kate Kerr really controlled her piece of the field. We want to find more ways to use our middies better and help get them more touches.”
In Hand’s view, the Little Tigers can get better at controlling the ball. “We are going to continue to grow because we have a great commitment within this team,” said Hand.
“It has been such an impressive preseason leading up to this. We have to figure out to really possess the ball effectively.”
Hand is hoping that his young squad will use the loss to HoVal as a learning experience on its way to figuring things out.
“Tomorrow is another work day; they have established a great training rhythm,” said Hand, whose team plays at Hightstown on September 14 before hosting Trenton Central on September 18.
“They take themselves seriously; it is all business. The outcome today doesn’t make them any worse of a team. I think they are a better team by virtue of the experience and we can build on it by having a great session tomorrow. That is all you can ask.”