After being held scoreless in its first three games this season, the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team took a step forward in its contest against visiting Peddie last Wednesday.
PDS gave up an early goal to the Falcons but then responded with its first tally of 2012 as senior Jack Brickner headed home a pass from Marco Pinheiro with 6:26 left in the half.
But seconds away from going into halftime knotted at 1-1, misfortune struck PDS as one of its defenders blocked a Peddie shot with his hand, leading to his disqualification on a red card and a Falcon penalty shot.
Peddie cashed in on the chance to go up 2-1 at intermission and then pulled away in the second half against a shorthanded PDS side, tacking on two more tallies for a 4-1 victory.
PDS head coach Malcolm Murphy acknowledged that the sequence in the waning moments of the first half proved to be decisive.
“Unfortunately, that’s the way it goes, we call it game intelligence,” said Murphy.
“When we lost that possession around the area, that’s when the decision should have been to play the ball away and send it where they can’t do any damage. Instead we wanted to play with it in the middle and it changed the whole game.”
Murphy did like the way his team responded in the early stages of the second half.
“We kept putting the efforts in,” said Murphy of his young squad that includes five sophomores and four freshmen.
“I actually thought that in the first seven or eight minutes of the half that we had some good opportunities but then again you have to put them away. Once they started to spread the field, we started losing our legs.”
While Murphy saw some good signs, he acknowledged that his team needs to develop more resolve when faced with adversity.
“For young players, it is very difficult unless you see something instant,” said Murphy, whose team lost 2-1 to Hopewell Valley last Friday to fall to 0-4-1.
“The battle gets harder and deeper and that’s where we have to learn. Resilience is not in their vocabulary just yet.”
Despite the margin of defeat, Murphy saw some bright spots. “I thought the back four played well,” said Murphy, whose defensive unit includes Brickner, Zach Golden, Chris Chai, and Taran Auslander.
“They were playing a bit of a long ball; it is hard to defend against. We are struggling to find depth in the forwards to take the pressure off of us. We don’t seem to be able to find anybody individually or in a partnership who can stop the source.”
In Murphy’s view, the team will benefit from going back to the drawing board on the practice field.
“We have the opportunity to have more training sessions,” said Murphy, whose team plays at Lawrenceville on September 20 and at the Solebury School on September 22.
“We need to step back and go through those sessions with them and show them what we are looking for in units. We’ll get there. We have been there before and they will be there again as long as they show a willingness.”