Malcolm Murphy has a sense of deja vu as he assesses the state of his Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team.
“It is the same as last year,” said longtime PDS head coach Murphy, whose squad posted a 3-11-2 record in 2012.
“In a week of preseason it was already out there that we were going to be a team that was going to try to play attractive soccer and play from the back and everybody came to pressure us. We just weren’t established enough as an older group to have that experience under our belt.”
Murphy is looking for junior Marco Pinheiro and sophomore Chris Chai to provide an attractive brand of soccer.
“Marco and Chris are in the midfield,” said Murphy. “We have played the one scrimmage and a number of sessions here. Marco and Chris play excellently together. They play off of each other. We build out of the back through them. Both are midfield and defensive and can translate into going to the offensive.”
The Panthers are searching for answers on offense. “We do not have an out-and-out forward,” said Murphy, whose team opens regular season action by hosting New Hope Solebury High (Pa.) on September 6.
“We have tried David Cedeno up top; he is more of a playmaker than a finisher. He is a player that can play in so he will play a #10, a player who can play behind them. We have played Gabe Vasquez there as well.”
PDS is hoping that junior Oscar Vik and sophomore Amir Melvin can provide some punch from the midfield.
“Oscar Vik is an offensive middie,” said Murphy. “I would have preferred to play him higher but he is more of a link-up, combination player. Amir Melvin is also seeing time there.”
The defense will be led by senior Culver Duquette, who has moved from forward to bring his skills to the backline.
“Culver Duquette was going to be one of the guys up front but he is going to be in the back because we are looking to complement that spot and see if we can move him back up,” said Murphy.
“Dominic Gasparro is more of a defensive defender. Kevin Hagan is in there because he is good technically with the ball. He gives us the ability to play out of the back. He is a good technical player. A guy who came back to soccer is Jacob Shavel; he is playing on the right flank.”
At goalie, the Panthers will be going with a rotation. “Tom Hagan and Christian Vik will be at goalie,” said Murphy. “When Christian is going half a game at goalie, we will certainly use him to play the field.”
The Panthers are trying to make the best use of their training time as they get ready for the season.
“We have only been back for a week,” said Murphy. “We are trying to establish that fitness level in the game. It is going to be that quick progression between the tactics, technique, and the fitness level.”
The freshmen in the program have been making a quick transition. “I have actually been very impressed with the group of freshman we have brought in,” said Murphy.
“We have played four or five scrimmage games between all of the players and we have had a very good standard of games. Everybody is looking to play the same style of play and it’s across the board. In the past, the freshmen had their idea of playing and it has been harder for them to come into our philosophy and concept. We have not had a problem with these guys.”
While Murphy is happy with his team’s style of play, he acknowledges that it runs into problems when it is hit with rough stuff by its foes.
“People know us, they know how we are going to play,” said Murphy. “We want to play an attractive style of soccer but you have to bring a bit of physicality with it as well.”