Star Forward Leggett Providing an Offensive Spark As PDS Boys’ Soccer Produces Promising 2-1 Start
By Bill Alden
Wesley Leggett had his foot encased in an ice pack after the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team played its season opener last Wednesday but he was all smiles.
PDS junior star Leggett tallied the initial goal of what turned out to a be a 5-0 win for the Panthers over visiting Wardlaw-Hartridge.
While Leggett was happy to get on the board, he was more concerned about the final outcome.
“It was good, it is always good to score a goal,” said Leggett, who got kicked in the ankle late in the contest and had to call it a day to get treatment. “In the long run we are always looking for the win first.”
In Leggett’s view, the big win in the opener was a continuation of a positive preseason for the Panthers.
“We have really worked hard, we have a very good squad this year,” said Leggett.
“The preseason went well, we won our scrimmages 5-0 and 5-3. Those wins boosted our confidence and made us feel we could beat anyone. Winning Prep B last year was also another confidence booster, we are gunning for MCTs this year.”
Leggett, for his part, is looking to be the team’s top gun at the attack end this year.
“I am looking to lead us in goals,” said Leggett, who had four goals and an assist as PDS defeated Red Bank Regional 6-1 last Monday to improve to 2-1.
“I like to shoot with both feet, I have a strong left foot. It is not letting the defense know what I am going to do in order to keep them on their toes.”
PDS head coach Ollie Hilliker believes that Leggett could emerge as an offensive force this fall.
“Wesley scored the first goal in both of our preseason scrimmages within two and a half minutes,” said Hilliker.
“He is on fire, he just has to stay in the game. He has to adapt his game against good players; he is going to play better players in different games and he has to adapt to that. He is talented, he has a lot of ability. He should be up there with our top scorers.”
The return of senior Luke Franzoni to the squad has made a difference.
“Luke has been brilliant, he didn’t play last year to concentrate on baseball and it is great to have him back,” said Hilliker of Franzoni, who scored two goals in the opener.
“H is a great player, not just his ability but his attitude and personality are spot on. He has a great work rate, he is a great kid. He is up and down that line, putting in those two goals today and three goals in the last preseason game. He is another one who is on fire.”
Coming off a 2016 campaign which saw PDS win the state Prep B title has fired up the team’s veterans.
“We return a lot of players and a lot of quality players,” said Hilliker. “The confidence is high. It is just keeping them at the right level of confidence but realistic of the level we are actually at right now and making sure as it continues to get better. We have to get better each game and that is what is important.”
Hilliker is confident that PDS can produce a lot of quality play this fall.
“We have got good local talent, which is what we are about here, giving local kids the opportunity to succeed and bring them together and playing soccer,” said Hilliker, whose team hosts George School (Pa.) on September 13 and Rutgers Prep on September 16 before playing at Springside-Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on September 19.
“They are doing it. The togetherness of the team is very good, the ability within the team is good. What they had to do today is to adapt. This a tight field and they were playing high lines. We have got to be able to adapt and not always play pretty soccer.”
Leggett, for his part, believes that PDS can grind out plenty of wins this fall.
“It is our character, we work hard,” said Leggett, when asked to assess the strengths of the team.
“If we don’t think we are better than a team, we are obviously going to work harder and get the result.”