In 2013, the Princeton High boys’ soccer team displayed flashes of superb play but the proud squad fell short of its usual standard of postseason success.
Used to contending for county and state titles, PHS was knocked out of the Mercer County Tournament in the first round and exited in the sectional semis at the state level as it finished the fall with a 10-6-2 record.
As longtime Little Tiger head coach Wayne Sutcliffe looks ahead to the upcoming season, he believes his squad has the mentality to again be a postseason force.
“The goal of this group is to achieve something,” said Sutcliffe, whose team opens its 2014 campaign by playing at Trenton High on September 5.
“They are aware that if you take it one training session at a time and one game at a time, big things can happen.”
PHS is expecting big things from versatile senior star Chase Ealy, who has excelled at midfield and defense but will be handling the striker role this season.
“Chase is our guy who has the most experience,” said Sutcliffe, who guided the Little Tigers to a state title in 2009 and state co-championship in 2012.
“He is a senior level player. He helps us on the training ground, in games, and especially big games. He has been doing a great job so far at striker. It looks like we will be playing one striker.”
Sutcliffe believes his midfield could emerge as a potent strike force, featuring junior Cole Snyder, sophomore Andrew Goldsmith, sophomore Sam Serxner, junior Nick Halliday, and sophomore Alex Ratzen.
“Cole Snyder has had a good start this summer,” said Sutcliffe. “Goldsmith is doing well. Sam Serxner is a great addition. Nick has been great. Alex Ratzen came up as a freshman last year and changed games for us.”
A trio of juniors, Edgar Morales, Chris Harla, and Dwight Donis, could be game-changers on defense.
“Edgar, Chris, and Dwight have a lot of experience,” said Sutcliffe.
“Dwight and Chris are the two center backs. Edgar is just getting cleared. We are not sure where we will slot him in, he could be a defender, could be a forward.”
Senior goalie and three-year starter Laurenz Reimitz is battle-tested and skilled. “Laurenz has been great,” said Sutcliffe, noting that Reimitz sparkled in a recent preseason scrimmage against Scotch Plains.
“It is his third year, he has a lot of experience in games and big games. His presence is felt by more people; his command of the box is better. I am happy with his current form.”
Sutcliffe likes the form his team has displayed collectively as it girds for the season.
“There is great spirit in this group, I am very happy with their response so far,” said Sutcliffe.
“We definitely feel good about things, the goals are hard work and the expectation to play good soccer. We are happy with our depth and balance. We are looking to get things going on a good note.”