Featuring Talented Players All Over the Field, PHS Field Hockey Aiming to Become a Unit
CLEAR VISION: Princeton High field hockey player Lila Doran clears the ball in a game last fall. Junior star defender Doran figures to be the leader of the PHS back line this fall. The Little Tigers open their 2018 campaign when they host Robbinsville on September 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Overcoming a sluggish 0-3-1 start last fall, the Princeton High field hockey team caught fire down the stretch, producing a spirited run to the Mercer County Tournament championship game.
As her squad has gone through its preseason training for the upcoming season, PHS head coach Heather Serverson senses the potential for more playoff heroics on the horizon.
“What I saw is how much talent we have all over the field,” said Serverson, reflecting on the team’s progress since getting practice underway in mid-August.
“We have some solid players who have received recognition, but I think the better we get at balancing out who we get the ball to, the better we are going to be. I have confidence that by the postseason, we will probably be one of the better teams in the area.”
Serverson is confident that senior forward Isabel Kinney can provide scoring punch.
“Isabel Kinney played up front last year; she is the one who scored the goal that put us over Allentown and into the county final,” said Serverson, whose team fell to Lawrenceville in the MCT title game and ended 2017 with a record of 10-7-2. “She is not flashy but she is consistent; that is what is good about her.”
PHS boasts a very good player who can produce from the middle of the field in senior Mariana LopezOna.
“We are looking to Mariana in the midfield; she has a great shot on goal,” said Serverson of Lopez-Ona, who will be serving as a team captain along with fellow seniors Kinney and the Mavoides sisters, Megan and Morgan.
Joining Lopez-Ona in the midfield are two emerging stars, juniors Eleanor Wilkinson and Ava Greene.
“Ellie Wilkinson may have played in every second of our games last year; I would call her a key returner,” said Serverson.
“Ava Greene has really stepped up. She played a little bit of everything for us last year. She also plays a little of everything in club too; she is very versatile.”
On defense, junior Lila Doran has stepped into a leading role. “Lila is a key returner defensively; she has such a poise and consistency,” asserted Serverson.
“It is not something she even developed, it is something she has always had. She is calm, deliberate, and can take in a lot of information and make the right decision. She does a really good job starting the counter attack. She is solid.”
Junior goalie Grace Cooke is giving the Little Tigers solid play in the cage.
“Grace is very calm and composed; it is very, very hard to rattle her, which is a great quality to have in a goalie,” said Serverson. “She is steady and is learning to communicate better. She is very athletic. I think she had the highest fitness scores of anybody on the team.”
In Serverson’s view, playing as a team is the main focus as PHS heads into the season.
“They need to learn that we have talent all over the field and that we need to play as a unit,” said Serverson, whose squad hosts Robbinsville on September 12 in its opening game.
“We are still trying to figure that path out right now, where they want to play on the field and what not. As soon as we learn to rely on each other, that will be key to our success.