Sophomore Defender Jones Comes Up Big, Helping PDS Girls’ Soccer Defeat PHS 3-1
KEEPING UP WITH JONES: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Cailyn Jones boots the ball up the field in a 2018 game. Last Saturday, sophomore defender Jones tallied a goal and sparked the back line to help PDS defeat Princeton High 3-1. The Panthers, who improved to 3-0 with the win, hosts the Hun School on September 12 and then play at Steinert on September 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Cailyn Jones saw an opening in the first half for the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team as it hosted crosstown rival Princeton High last Saturday afternoon.
With PDS taking a corner kick with 11 minutes into the contest, sophomore defender Jones made a beeline for the box.
“We have those far crosses into the 18 and I knew that spaces were going to be open,” said Jones.
“It was running through my head that we have had plays like that before where no one was there so I knew I had to be there and just get something on it.”
Jones got a foot on the corner and slotted the ball into the back of the net to give PDS a 1-0 lead it never relinquished as it posted a hard-earned 3-1 win over PHS in a heated contest and improved to 3-0.
“We came into the game knowing that it would be physical because it is a derby; we wanted to show that we are the better Princeton team,” said Jones.
“We all really wanted this game. We played our hearts out and we played until we won. That is just what we had to do.”
The Panthers had to hold the fort as PHS narrowed the lead to 2-1 late in the first half and put the pressure on throughout the second half.
“We usually play with a three back formation but we switched to a four back today because we knew they were going to have three up top,” said Jones.
“We had to adjust and make sure that we were all talking and communicating so that we stayed together and stayed compact.”
Coming into her sophomore season, Jones believes she is putting things together individually.
“I feel like I have improved,” said Jones. “Last year, I came in as a freshman and I didn’t start in the beginning of the season. Through preseason this year, I worked my butt off to get that starting spot.”
Playing with older sister, PDS senior star forward and co-captain Ariana Jones, has helped the younger Jones get more comfortable on the field.
“It is a great experience; I have played with her in the past,” said Jones.
“We work well together on the field. We listen to each other. If I need to instruct her on some things, she will listen and if she needs to instruct me on something, I will listen. It is a great communication back and forth getting to play with her.”
PDS head coach Pat Trombetta liked the way his squad didn’t back down in the battle with its crosstown rival.
“When we play against this team, it is a crosstown rivalry and everyone is up for it,” said Trombetta.
“It is an emotional game, it started off very fast-paced. It was a little hectic in the beginning but then the game settled down. The athleticism on both teams came through. We were happy with our performance overall, a lot of girls stepped up today.”
Trombetta cited the younger Jones as one of the players who stepped up for the Panthers.
“Cailyn played a great game,” said Trombetta. “First of all, getting us on the board on a corner kick but then she played lock down defense on the back. She communicated well. We changed our formation up a little this game; it was very important for her and Anna Ellwood as center backs to control the back and keep them organized.”
Precocious freshman Kirsten Ruf tallied an important goal, blasting the ball into the top corner with 8:38 remaining in regulation to give PDS a 3-1 lead and take the wind out of the sails for PHS.
“That was huge, Kirsten has been scoring for us throughout preseason and the first couple of games,” said Trombetta.
“We need some contributions from the freshmen and to get that kind of impact from her is great.”
In Trombetta’s view, PDS needed to be pushed like it was against the Tigers.
“In the first two games we had the better of play very easily,” said Trombetta, whose team defeated Kent Place 5-0 in its owner and then topped Moorestown Friends 6-0 last Friday.
“This is what we needed. The rest of the season is going to be similar to this in terms of the competition we are playing.”
With battle-tested players all over the field, PDS looks like it can be competitive with anyone it plays.
“We have a lot of returning players, we have a lot of experience,” said Trombetta, whose team hosts the Hun School on September 12 and then plays at Steinert on September 14.
“I think it just helps us prepare for tournament time; these girls are up for the challenge. We are making progress every game; we are seeing them playing well together. The combination play between the center kids and the forwards is working well.”
Jones, for her part, feels that the Panthers can be a force come tournament time.
“This was our first really intense game of our season; winning this game is going to be great way to start the season, it will keep us pushing through,” said Jones.
“The focus going forward is to win as many games as possible to get those high seeds in the tournament. We want to come out on top this year.”