With two years of varsity experience under her belt for the Princeton High field hockey team, Lucy Herring is calmer in the heat of battle.
“I think as a freshman and at the beginning of sophomore year, I was always very frantic with the ball and kind of jumpy whenever I got the ball,” said junior forward Herring.
“This year, I am definitely focusing on knowing my options before I get the ball and really slowing my tempo down in order to make better plays. It is just in the back of my mind now so I am always thinking about it.”
With PHS trailing Hopewell Valley 2-0 last Wednesday, Herring’s new coolness paid dividends for the Little Tigers as she scored with 4:55 left in regulation, firing in a feed from sophomore Trish Reilly.
“There was a lot of space on that and Trish was looking up,” recalled Herring.
“As she got the ball, she saw me at the top of the circle and it was a nice sweep. It was a good arrangement of passes and plays.”
While PHS continued to put the pressure on until the final whistle, it failed to add any goals and fell by that 2-1 margin.
Herring acknowledged that the Little Tigers waited too long to show a sense of urgency in the loss to the Bulldogs.
“We definitely didn’t expect the intensity that we should have from the start,” said Herring.
“At halftime, we realized that we really needed to pick it up. After that we really picked up our intensity and started pushing the ball forward. The communication improved tremendously in the second half. Through that, we were able to hear each other more and know where each other was.”
In addition to being battle-tested, Herring has put in extra work on her game to spur her improvement.
“Being a junior and it being my third year on the team has made me better,” said Herring.
“Also, playing with the Princeton field hockey club has helped me improve tremendously. We have sessions on Sundays during the fall and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the winter. The Princeton University coach Kristen Holmes Winn is remarkable; I can’t speak highly enough of her.”
PHS head coach Heather Serverson, for her part, wished that her players had shown a higher level of energy against HoVal.
“One of our goals was to make sure that we had at least 75 percent of all the loose balls and we didn’t do that,” said Serverson.
“Hopewell really stepped up to the ball well. We didn’t make that adjustment; we were waiting for it behind them. We were trying to hit it through them rather than around them, which wasn’t doesn’t work with a Hopewell team. They are very good at stopping the ball.”
While Serverson did see some good play from her team over the latter stages of the contest, it was too little, too late.
“We were focusing on quick passing instead of dribbling and telling the girls to know what’s open before you have the ball,” said Serverson.
“We cleaned it up a little bit with the passing but we couldn’t seem to intercept. We had the intensity that we needed in the beginning of the game too late. I think that’s what happened.”
In Severson’s view, Herring did give PHS what it needed. “I think Lucy played very well today,” asserted Serverson.
“She was one of the only forwards who cut back to the ball; she was one of the few that made the adjustment.”
In reflecting on the setback, Serverson believes that her squad needs to adjust its mentality.
“We need to learn a little bit more resilience,” said Serverson, whose team tied Peddie 3-3 last Saturday to move to 2-2-1.
“We need to adjust the intensity of our practices. The changes need to happen there and then I think it will come more easily on the field.”
Herring, for her part, believes the loss to HoVal could be a blessing in disguise if the Little Tigers build on how they played in the second half.
“Now we know how much better we can play once we put our minds together and get that communication set,” said Herring.
“We need to know our options before we get the ball, we can kind of work off of that and make sure before the next game that we think about that and remember how much better we played.”