After cruising to a 10-1 start this fall, the Princeton High field hockey team hit a speed bump when it played at the Princeton Day School last Thursday.
Generating 12 shots but unable to find the back of the cage, PHS fell 1-0 to their crosstown rivals.
While the Little Tiger players were hanging their heads after coming up on the short end of the nailbiter, PHS head coach Heather Serverson believes the setback could be a blessing in disguise for her squad.
“I thought we played well; we just weren’t finishing,” said Serverson. “They caught us off-guard; we are not used to that speed of play. It is a good thing that we lost to them because now we are ready for that. The girls honed in on that; they brought it up and I think we are going to focus on that tomorrow.”
While Serverson noted that some of her attacking players weren’t up to speed, she credited PDS with setting the tone in the midfield.
“Seventy-five percent of our forwards are ill right now; they are not their normal speedy selves but that’s no excuse,” said Serverson, whose team rebounded from the loss to the Panthers by beating Steinert 4-0 last Saturday as Sydney Watts, Emma Crain, Vivien Bazarko, and Jackie Chmiel all scored goals.
“I think the impact today was more in the midfield; I don’t think our midfield today was playing cohesively. We weren’t adjusting. They were very fast with the passing and we weren’t playing the good roll defense that we worked on all day yesterday.”
The Little Tigers had trouble breaking down the PDS defense even though they played with a heightened sense of urgency down the stretch of the game.
“We didn’t have the number of opportunities that we normally have,” said Serverson, whose team did generate four penalty corners in the last five minutes of the contest against the Panthers.
“I think percentage-wise it really stuck out because normally we get more opportunities so we put more on goal.”
In Serverson’s view, PHS has a great opportunity to do damage in postseason play.
“I think we just need to pick up the speed of the game; we need to play with intensity right from the start,” said Serverson, whose club, now 11-2, is seeded No. 2 in the Mercer County Tournament and is slated to play 15th-seeded Steinert on October 20 in an opening round contest.
“I think we are still gaining that confidence. They are not used to being a winning team so they are defensive at first. Once we put in a goal, then everyone starts to go and say oh yeah we are Princeton. We need to get the ball down there more often. We need to get more opportunities because once we start, we don’t stop.”