Pompliano’s Move to Forward Pays Dividends As PHS Boys’ Soccer Tops Steinert 5-1 in Opener
HEADS UP: Princeton High boys’ soccer star Quentin Pompliano, left, heads a ball in a 2016 game. Last Thursday, senior Pompliano, who has moved to forward this year after playing on the back line last fall, scored the initial tally as PHS defeated Steinert 5-1 in its season opener. The Little Tigers, who tied Notre Dame 0-0 last Monday to move to 1-0-1, host Robbinsville on September 15 and Lawrence High on September 19. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
After starring on the back line for the Princeton High boys’ soccer team last fall, Quentin Pompliano has been moved up the field to play forward for the 2017 campaign.
For senior Pompliano, going to striker has been like a homecoming for him.
“Left back was definitely a switch for me last year,” said Pompliano. “It is good to be back to my normal position and helping out the team that way.”
Last Thursday, as PHS opened its season by hosting Steinert, Pompliano didn’t waste any time showing his comfort level up top, finding the back of the net 2:02 into the game.
“I think it was a great ball from Sebastian [Ratzan],” said Pompliano, reflecting on his tally which got the Little Tigers rolling as they cruised to a 5-1 win over the Spartans.
“We have been working with the midfielders and the forwards all preseason, checking in and checking out, just creating space for the forwards to run into. It is one of our strong suits this year, we have a lot of speed up top.”
In Pompliano’s view, the team’s strong group of seniors is setting a positive tone this fall.
“There are 14 seniors on the team so most of us have been playing together since freshman year,” said Pompliano,
“We are all very good friends in school, we all get along well. There is no chemistry issue with the team.”
Having been upset in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional last year when it was seeded second, Pompliano and his classmates are hungry to get as much as they can out of their final campaign.
“We are going to learn from that, we are obviously going to take the next steps to get farther in the state tournament,” said Pompliano. “We are going to take it one game at a time right now.”
PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe liked the way his team took care of business in the opening game.
“We were knocking it pretty good, it is a slow progression, that is all,” said Sutcliffe. “We are very pleased. It is never easy in the first game of the campaign, we were clicking.”
Sutcliffe was pleased to see Pompliano make an impact so quickly in his new spot on the field.
“It was great for Quentin to get on the board, and Sebastian did a good job of finding him,” said Sutcliffe.
“We simply wanted to get him closer to the goal this season; he is a good finisher.”
Senior midfielder Drew Beamer had a great game for the Little Tigers, scoring two goals, including a highlight reel volley from 30 yards out.
“Beamer had a good game; he asserted himself,” said Sutcliffe.
“He was on the ball a lot and credit to him for that good finish. That volley with the left foot was excellent.”
Sutcliffe is looking for the PHS defense to assert itself more. “We are not perfect but as far as effort, it was very good,” said Sutcliffe, noting that seniors Jun Hasegawa, Ian Jacobs, and Jasper Scott were featured on the back line while senior Patrick Jacobs handled the goalkeeping duties.
“Jacobs made a really nice save in the second half, credit to him for that. It takes time for the back three to really jell.
In Pompliano’s view, the positives on the day outweighed the negative of allowing the Steinert tally.
“It is a great first step, obviously we didn’t want to concede the goal,” said Pompliano of PHS which played tough defense in tying Notre Dame 0-0 last Monday to move to 1-0-1 and will look to stay undefeated as it hosts Robbinsville on September 15 and Lawrence High on September 19.
“Our goal for the day was a clean sheet and it is unfortunate that we didn’t get it but we scored five goals. It is not a crazy deal to concede one. We are just looking to get better every day in practice.”