September 27, 2017

PHS Boys’ Soccer Falls 3-0 to Westfield, Determined to Draw Lessons from Setback

GIFT OF GRAB: Princeton High boys’ soccer goalie Patrick Jacobs scoops up the ball in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior star Jacobs made 10 saves in a losing cause as PHS fell 3-0 to visiting Westfield. The Little Tigers, who moved to 4-1-1 with the setback, host Hightstown on September 28 before playing at Hamilton on October 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming off a 5-0 win over Lawrence High a day earlier, the Princeton High boys’ soccer team found itself in an uphill battle when it hosted powerful Westfield last Wednesday. 

Although generating some scoring chances, PHS couldn’t stymie Westfield and surrendered a pair of goals to trail 2-0 at halftime.

PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe saw the contest as still being up for grabs despite the two-goal deficit at intermission.

“I didn’t think we were that bad in the first half, they were just a little more clinical in the box on the first goal and the second goal,” said Sutcliffe.

“We almost scored at the end of the half on a free kick. We switched to a 3-4-3 to try to spread the game out. We were just trying to get some possession going and nick a goal; 2-0 is the most dangerous score in soccer.”

But it was Westfield that nicked a goal in the second half, scoring on a free kick and never looking back on the way to a 3-0 win as the Little Tigers suffered their first loss of the season in dropping to 4-1-1.

The margin could have been even larger for Westfield if not for PHS goalie Patrick Jacobs, who recorded 10 saves on the day.

“Patrick was great in the second half; it was great to see,” said Sutcliffe.

“He is just getting better every day; he’s earning that respect and that confidence.”

In Sutcliffe’s view, the loss to Westfield could ultimately serve as a blessing in disguise.

“It is a little different if you have dropped a game and are not undefeated heading in the center of the season or the late stages of the CVC (Colonial Valley Conference) campaign,” said Sutcliffe. 

“That pressure just mounts if you are undefeated. It is a non-league game so it doesn’t count for the league but we missed some power points today.”

The Little Tigers are facing a key CVC showdown when they host Hightstown (5-1-1) on September 28.

“Hightstown is very talented, we have seen them play,” said Sutcliffe. “Their freshman team was very strong last year and soccer is a big deal in Hightstown so I am expecting them to be really sharp and play with a lot of hunger against us. It is going to be a great game.”

Sutcliffe expects his squad to take some valuable lessons from the Westfield game.

“We are nursing some guys back; our best soccer is ahead of us, no doubt about it,” asserted Sutcliffe.

“We will draw a lot for the game, aside from the result. Credit to Westfield, they were sharp, they had a good day. We are going to take a lot from it. We will watch the tape and see how we can get better.”