After Getting Promoted to Varsity in October, Petruso Stars for PHS Boys’ Soccer in Sectionals
NICK OF TIME: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Nick Petruso flies after the ball in recent state tournament action. Last Wednesday, freshman striker Petruso, who was called up to the varsity team in October, scored two goals to help third-seeded PHS edge second-seeded Monroe 2-1 in the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional semis. Petruso and the Little Tigers went on to edge top-seeded and defending Group 4 champion Hunterdon Central 1-0 in overtime in the sectional final on Friday. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Nick Petruso started the fall playing on the freshman squad for the Princeton High boys’ soccer program.
It didn’t take long for the precocious striker to move up the ranks. Dominating at the freshman level and then starring for the junior varsity, Petruso ended up on the varsity team by October.
“I had a lot of games; one week I had four games,” said Petruso. “It was difficult, I was sore and then I got called up. I can’t even remember how many goals I had for JV and freshman.”
Once on the varsity, Petruso initially took his lumps as he adjusted to the higher level of competition.
“At first practices were hard; I didn’t know any of the players and they didn’t know me,” said Petruso. “When I started playing, I would sit on the bench and then each game, I would get more and more time.”
Last Wednesday, Petruso had a great time, scoring two second half goals as third-seeded PHS defeated second-seeded Monroe 2-1 in the Central Jersey Group 4 semifinals.
Petruso’s first tally came with 23:21 left in regulation that broke a scoreless deadlock.
“There was no one on me; it was me and the goalie,” recalled Petruso. “The ball was in the air. I popped it with my left shoulder and it dribbled right to the left corner; that is when I knew it was 1-0.”
A little more than three minutes later, Petruso found the back of the net again with a point blank blast.
“At first the ball was right in front of me. I tried to strike it, but there were too many people in front of me,” said Petruso. “Then it came back to me so I took one touch and smashed it with my right foot and it went through the keeper’s hands.”
PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe credits Petruso with having a major impact on the squad.
“He helps everybody else raise their level,” said Sutcliffe, whose team edged top-seeded and defending Group 4 champion Hunterdon Central 1-0 in overtime in the sectional final last Friday, earning a Group 4 state semifinal clash against Washington Township on November 14 with the victor advancing to the title game on November 19.
“If a young player is performing like that, even the most senior of the higher level players has to do better.”
Petruso, for his part, is enjoying performing with those veteran players. “They motivate me; they get me the ball,” said Petruso.