Dealing with Huge Graduation Losses, PHS Field Hockey is a Work in Progress
CAGE FIGHT: Princeton High field hockey goalie Kate Rogers guards the cage in a 2015 game. Senior star and tri-captain Rogers has distinguished herself as a steadying force in the back line for PHS. The Little Tigers open their 2017 season when they host Robbinsville on September 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
The loss of nine seniors to graduation from its 2016 squad has left the Princeton High field hockey team with a gaping hole coming into this fall.
While PHS head coach Heather Serverson acknowledges that there will be new faces all over the field this fall, she believes that talent on hand can fill the void left by the Class of 2017.
“It is crazy, I have never lost that many players,” said Serverson, who guided the senior-laden squad to a 14-6-2 record last fall as it advanced to the semifinals of both the Mercer County Tournament and North 2, Group 4 sectional along the way.
“We are trying to figure out how to fit in all the newcomers that we have. We have some good players, I am just not sure where their skills are going to be best used.”
It will take a group effort for PHS to maintain its winning ways. “I think they finally understand that we just can’t rely on one player,” said Serverson, whose team opens its 2017 campaign by hosting Robbinsville on September 7.
“Everyone has to be solid all around the field so players are really stepping it up, trying to earn their spot on the starting lineup.”
On the front line, Serverson is looking for senior Lisette Dubow, junior Chloe Koehler, and junior Isabel Kinney to step up.
“The only returning starter that we have up front is Lisette Dubow, she is one of the captains,” said Serverson, whose two other captains are seniors Kate Rogers and Lily Leonard.
“Chloe Koehler is returning too but she wasn’t a starter. The newcomers have been the ones who have been scoring the goals, like Isabel Kinney. She came up at the end last year and got a little bit of time. I think she is going to settle in nicely there.”
Serverson is looking for junior Mariana Lopez-Ona to trigger some scoring for the Little Tigers from the midfield.
“Mariana is feisty; she is a good offensive and defensive player and provides that spark that we need,” said Serverson, who has junior Renee Hoevers and senior Margaret Jacobs returning in the midfield.
“She will be fantastic in the middle for us; she will really do a lot of the distribution of the ball up top.”
Senior goalie and tri-captain Rogers will guide the back line. “Kate is always solid in the cage for us, she is steady and communicates consistently,” said Serverson.
“It come across in her voice which helps calm the entire defense down. They really have the ability to tune into her voice, which is just working out well.”
Senior star and tri-captain Leonard and promising sophomore Lila Doran figure to spearhead the defense.
“Lily and Lila are the two best defenders right now,” said Serverson. “Lila didn’t get a lot of playing time last year but she has come into preseason looking strong.”
In Serverson’s view, PHS can develop into a strong team come tournament time if the players succeed in getting on the same page.
“I think the more we play together, the better we are going to get,” asserted Serverson.
“They just aren’t familiar with playing with each other yet. They need to learn to trust one another and know where the player is going to be next and make the pass. They need the experience of having played with one another. Once we get that, I think it will all fall into place.”