Senior goalie Lauren Ullmann knows what it is like to hold the fort for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team.
“We went 100 minutes against Pennington and nothing went in,” said Ullmann, referring to PHS’s loss to Pennington on penalty kicks in the Mercer County Tournament semis after the teams played to a scoreless tie through regulation and 20 minutes of overtime.
“We have done it against other teams in the CVC with strong attacks.” Last week, Ullmann and the second-seeded Little Tigers were under attack as they hosted seventh-seeded Somerville in the Group III Central Jersey quarterfinals. The upstart Pioneers peppered PHS in the early going, building a 7-1 edge in shots and a 1-0 lead.
The cool-headed and battle-tested Ullmann wasn’t fazed. “I just think it was a matter of when we would find our rhythm and figure the game enough to play the way we play the best,” said Ullmann, who made some big saves during that early stretch of the contest.
“The only concern I would have had is that I don’t want my season to end today. I had complete faith in us that we would be able to come back. It wasn’t a problem, just come back and take it to them. I had confidence that as long we could keep getting the job done in the back, we could get the job done as a whole.”
PHS broke through on a goal by freshman Taylor Lis with 10:58 remaining in the first half.
“I think we realized that the game was in our control; we had the power to make it happen,” said Ullmann.
“We don’t want the season to end today. It is us, we can make it happen and keep the season going.”
The Little Tigers went on to win 3-1 with Ullmann making 14 saves in the win.
“We knew what we had to do,” said Ullmann. “There was no reason that we should not have been able to get those goals pretty quickly. I thought we stayed sharp and we were focused the whole game.”
PHS assistant coach Val Rodriguez liked the focus that Ullmann displayed in goal as she helped the Little Tigers survive Somerville’s early barrage.
“She made some great saves,” said Rodriguez. “Lauren is a dependable keeper and a great leader on the field. We can always count on her.”
Three days later, Ullmann had another great performance as she helped PHS blank third-seeded Hopewell Valley 2-0 in the sectional semifinals and improve to 15-3.
For Ullmann, PHS’s postseason run is all the more special since the Little Tigers came out of nowhere.
“I think we love each other and we love being together,” said Ullmann, who was looking to keep up her hot play as PHS hosted No. 8 Colts Neck on November 20 in the sectional finals.
“I think this season has been totally unexpected with 10 or 11 newcomers and six of them are freshmen. I just think no one really expected that much from us. I think we have worked hard to prove ourselves, day in and day out. We don’t stop when we push ourselves at practice.
Ullmann is hoping the Little Tigers can keep pushing a little longer. “We want to be there again and again,” added Ullmann.
“This season is extending to who knows when with Hurricane Sandy and everything. We want to be here, we want to play together. That’s what allows us to get it done.”
And with Ullmann consistently getting it done in the net, PHS has produced one of the best seasons in program history.