September 4, 2019

Featuring a Solid Core of Returning Players, PDS Girls’ Soccer Primed for Another Title Run

GOAL-ORIENTED: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Ariana Jones goes to goal in a preseason scrimmage last week. Jones emerged as a key finisher for Panthers last fall and is looking to have a big senior year. PDS is getting its 2019 season underway this week by playing at Kent Place on September 3 before hosting Moorestown Friends on September 6 and Princeton High on September 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Having won five straight Prep B state titles, the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team has a major bull’s eye on its back coming into the 2019 campaign.

“We have played a couple of scrimmages and teams are coming at us like it is tournament time because of our reputation,” said PDS head coach Pat Trombetta, who guided the Panthers to a 14-4-1 record last fall and an appearance in the Mercer County Tournament semis as well as sharing the Prep B title.

“We played Rutgers Prep in a scrimmage the other day and they had a group of fans there, yelling and supporting like it was a tournament game. I was amazed. I am looking at kids, we haven’t even finalized our varsity roster yet. It was good for the kids to get that kind of experience.”

In Trombetta’s view, his kids are determined to live up to the program’s winning reputation.

“We have a good core of players that return from last year,” said Trombetta, whose team gets its 2019 season underway this week by playing at Kent Place on September 3 before hosting Moorestown Friends on September 6 and Princeton High on September 7.

“The standard has been set. These girls don’t want to be the first team to break that streak.”

Senior Ariana Jones set a high standard last fall, emerging as a go-to finisher for the Panthers.

“Ariana had a fantastic season last year; she is one of the captains this year and is going to lead the group,” said Trombetta, whose other captains are seniors Brianna Astbury, Riley Felsher, and Tulsi Pari. “She is so strong on the ball and gives us a presence in the air as well.”

Junior Vanessa Devin along with a pair of freshmen, Grace Romano and Kirsten Ruf, should also provide a presence at forward.

“Vanessa is looking for this opportunity to make more of an impact in a starting role, she is coming on nicely,” said Trombetta.

“The two freshmen are very good players; I think they are going to make an immediate contribution for us. We are happy to have them as part of the team. Every year we seem  to get some contributions from our incoming freshmen and I don’t see this year being any different.”

PDS figures to get contributions from a number of players in the midfield as that unit features junior Kelly Beal, junior Jules Romano, senior Astbury, junior Brit Chia, sophomore Ava Mattson, and sophomore Ali Surace.

“It is stacked, we have six or seven natural central midfielders on this team which I have never had,” said Trombetta.

“Kelly can go forward and we have Brianna and Jules. Britney is coming back from an ACL. She was out all year. She had a fantastic freshman year and has looked good as well this year. Ava and Ali are playing well. Jules and Kelly are teammates at the club level, that helps with our team chemistry.”

The quartet of senior Pari, sophomore Cailyn Jones, junior Anna Ellwood, and sophomore Tyler Robinson are being counted on to produce a high level of play along the back line.

“Tulsi, Cailyn, and Anna will probably see most of the time back there,” said Trombetta.

“They have a lot of experience. Tyler will get some time this year. She was on the JV last year but we added her to the roster and she is probably our most improved player from last year to this year.”

Senior goalie Felsher showed a lot of improvement last year and is primed for a big final campaign.

“Riley looks good, she is willing to take on a leadership role this year,” said Trombetta, noting that Felsher has committed to attend NYU and play for its Division III women’s soccer program.

“Playing with Grace (former PDS standout and current Princeton University goalie Grace Barbara) for a couple of years helped her too. I think Riley is going to have a solid season for us.”

Trombetta, for his part, believes his squad can produce another championship campaign if it sharpens its focus.

“I want us to improve our play during the season; we have to finish more of our opportunities in front of goal and not squander good chances,” said Trombetta.

“Last season, we would just play a solid half at times,  I want to see them play a complete full 80 minutes this year. We look at our program, we want to maintain the standards we have established in the past and I am looking forward to the season. It should be another fun year.”