After losing to Lawrenceville last Thursday to suffer their first defeat of the season, Emma Quigley and her teammates on the Princeton Day School field hockey squad knew they had to play more as a unit.
“That was not one of our best games; we didn’t start off on a good note,” said junior forward Quigley, reflecting on the 4-2 loss to the Big Red. “Coach [Tracey] Arndt wanted us to pass more and let the ball do the work.”
As the Panthers hosted Blair Academy last Saturday, it didn’t take long for them to regain their offensive rhythm. With Quigley and senior star Andrea Jenkins finding the back of the cage, PDS jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead over the Buccaneers.
Just over 10 minutes into the second half, Quigley scored again and minutes later Jenkins tallied and the rout was on as PDS cruised to a 5-0 victory and improved to 5-1-2.
In Quigley’s view, bouncing back with the victory over Blair should get the Panthers back in the right track.
“I think this game has really pumped up our spirits for the next couple of weeks,” asserted Quigley.
“We have Montgomery and Princeton High, which are going to be really tough games. It can only get better from here. We are climbing up the mountain of success.”
For Quigley, who has been scoring a goal a game this fall, her success has come, in part, from the work she has put in with the Total Dutch Field Hockey club.
“I have played club non-stop since last season and that has improved my game so much,” said Quigley.
“I practiced for the festival [USA Field Hockey’s National Hockey Festival] I practiced for the Disney [Showcase] and then I did indoor and my spring team all summer. I am practicing for festival now. I have improved so much from that.”
The arrival of new head coach Arndt, a former All-American at Penn State and national team member, has helped PDS improve collectively.
“She has really created and made our team a unit; we are so close on and off the field,” asserted Quigley.
“In practice everyday we do stuff that really helps us improve in the games; we do specific stuff that we didn’t do in the game before so we do that in the next game. I think our team as a whole has gotten so much better; it helps the forwards in general to get the ball and get it in the goal.”
PDS head coach Arndt saw improvement from her team in the win over Blair.
“During the game, when we had our moments of really good play it was when we were looking to pass it more than dribble,” said Arndt.
“We have some players on the team who the other teams know they have the skill and they are sending two or three girls at them so we need to pass quickly. That’s what we were focusing on as well as our Finishing. To get five goals in any game is hard and I am glad that we were able to do that.”
The Panthers did learn some lessons from the Lawrenceville defeat. “Lawrenceville was a great game because it showed us our weaknesses,” said Arndt.
“I think Lawrenceville was a very good team; they were solid, they were fluid and quite frankly they beat us to every ball and that was hard to recover from. So that was something we really worked on yesterday. We have got big games coming up. We have to be thankful that we were able to pull out a win today but know that we still have to come in on Monday and work hard.”
Quigley has certainly been giving PDS some good work. “Emma has got a lot of speed up front which is good,” said Arndt.
“The one thing you need to be a scorer is the want to score and she does. She scraps those balls and she is able to get in good spots and she puts it away. She can see the goal and see where the holes are so that’s been good.”
The Panther backline has very few holes with the trio of senior defenders Corinne Urisko, Cami McNeely, and Zeeza Cole together with senior goalie Sarah Trigg.
“The three that we have back there and Sarah Trigg in goal have been really solid for us,” said Arndt.
“They have really listened to what we have asked them to do and have executed. Our marking still needs to improve and that’s something we are continuing to work on. That is a team thing.”
The play of juniors Sarah Brennan and Mary Travers in the midfield has helped hold the team together.
“Sarah and Mary in the center are nice; they are double threats in that they have their attacking skills and they have their defending skills as well,” added Arndt.
While the Panthers have displayed plenty of skill in their first eight games, Arndt wants to see the team to be more cohesive on the field.
“To have only lost one game is good,” said Arndt, whose team hosts Solebury School (Pa.) on October 3 and Morrisville High (Pa.) on October 5 before playing at Montgomery on October 9.
“We had done some really good things in the beginning that we have been losing a little bit recently in terms of our basic skills so I think our focus for the next week is the fundamentals and to really start to play as a team. The more we play fluidly and as a team the more we can rely on everybody and not just one person.
Quigley, for her part, believes that PDS can do some really good things as the fall unfolds.
“We have really high hopes; we have some great team goals,” said Quigley. “We really hope that we can get up there and give it our all and make this a great year.”