Midfielder Romano Provided Early Spark As PDS Girls’ Soccer Took Prep B Final
KICKSTARTER: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Jules Romano controls the ball in recent action. Last Wednesday, sophomore midfielder Romano scored a goal and had an assist in the first half to give top-seeded PDS a 2-0 halftime lead over second-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy in the state Prep B final. The Panthers went on to prevail 4-2, winning their fifth straight Prep B crown. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Goals have been hard to come by when the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team battled Montclair Kimberley Academy in the last three state Prep B finals.
In 2015, the two rivals played to a 0-0 tie through regulation before Hannah Bunce blasted in a goal to give PDS a 1-0 overtime victory.
A year later, the teams played to a 0-0 tie in game shortened due to thunderstorms rolling through the Princeton area in the second half of the contest.
Last fall, the title contest ended in a scoreless stalemate through regulation and two overtimes.
When first-seeded PDS hosted second-seeded Cougars in the fourth act of their championship drama in the state Prep B title game last Wednesday, Panther sophomore midfielder Jules Romano flipped the script.
Some 25 minutes into the contest, Romano blasted a volley that struck off the crossbar and went behind the MKA goalie.
“I hit it, knowing it was close to going in,” recalled Romano of her strike. “I didn’t know if it went in when it hit the bar. All of my teammates said it went in and then I saw the ref signal and we scored.”
In the waning moments of the first half, Romano slotted a ball through to senior Brooke Smukler, who buried it in the back of the net to give PDS a 2-0 advantage.
“I saw her making a run and she called for it and there was a good seam and I played it,” said Romano. “She took a great touch inside and finished it.”
PDS head coach Pat Trombetta was not surprised that Romano proved to be a catalyst as the Panthers went on to a 4-2 win and their fifth straight Prep B crown.
“Jules is fantastic; she is one of our most improved players from last season,” said Trombetta, whose team ended the fall with a 14-4-1 record.
“She has been stepping up in the middle of the field and controls things for us in terms of possession. Her shot hit off the cross bar and bounced down. I am glad the assistant referee was there and had good vision on that goal. That is big, to get the first one on the board in a game like this. She had a nice through ball there to Brooke to set up the next goal.”
In Romano’s view, it was nice for PDS to have the title to itself. “It was rough getting co-champs last year so it is good to finally win it for the school; not having to take a picture with the other team and having it for ourselves,” said Romano.
Romano credited the team’s seniors, Kelsey Lane, Charlotte Meyercord and Smukler, with having a good influence on the younger players.
“Their leadership is amazing; Kelsey has been dominant in the back,” said Romano.
“She controls everything; she helps me in the midfield get up. Brooke is just a powerhouse up front, she goes through brick walls. The last senior, Charlotte, is like the team mom. She is so nice.”
With a solid core of returners, Romano believes that PDS can remain a powerhouse.
“We can definitely keep this going,” asserted Romano. “We have really good young talent and from the leadership of the seniors this year, they set us up for success for the rest of the years.”