With Senior Pari Sparking Superb Defensive Effort, PDS Girls’ Soccer Wins 6th Straight Prep B Crown
THRUST AND PARI: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Tulsi Pari gets the ball up the field last Friday against Newark Academy in the state Prep B final. Senior defender Pari helped top-seeded PDS edge Newark Academy 2-1 to earn the program’s sixth straight Prep title. The Panthers finished the fall with a 16-3-1 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
It didn’t take long for Tulsi Pari to realize that playing for the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team meant that you had a bull’s-eye squarely on your back.
“It is a lot of pressure because coming in freshman year we already had that legacy and everything,” said senior defender Pari.
“Riley [Felsher], Bri [Astbury] and Ariana [Jones] are all in this together with me. The whole team has worked hard to keep this legacy up.”
Last Friday, Pari and classmates Felsher, Astbury, and Jones helped write another chapter in the program’s storied legacy as the top-seeded Panthers edged third-seeded Newark Academy 2-1 in the state Prep B final to earn their sixth straight state title and end the fall at 16-3-1.
Coming into the contest, Pari and her teammates knew they had to stay in the moment to defeat the Minutemen.
“We just needed to stay focused,” said Pari. “We couldn’t let the pressure get to us. The coach [Pat Trombetta] gives us scouting reports and we have to prepare for that. We can’t anticipate a win, we have to stay mentally focused.”
PDS jumped off to a 2-0 lead on first half goals by junior stars Kelly Beal and Jules Romano.
“Kelly did a great job, she has had a great season,” said Pari. “Jules’ goal and everyone who set that up helped us gain our confidence.”
In the second half, Newark pressed forward and cut the deficit in half on a goal by star Kate Fishbone with 2:53 remaining in the contest.
“The main thing was that we knew they stay back and play defense, park the bus as coach T calls it,” said Pari.
“We prepared for that during practices and everything. With that girl [Fishbone], I just had to stay focused, play my game, and make sure I don’t get too anxious.”
The PDS defense held the fort down the stretch, repelling the Minutemen to earn the title.
“We have been playing together for the whole season,” said Pari of the team’s backline which includes sophomore Cailyn Jones, junior Anna Ellwood, and junior Sophia Miranda in addition to Pari.
“Cailyn usually plays in the middle, but today we switched it up player-wise. During the last practice, the four of us were focusing on switching the ball and knowing what we have to do for the game. We make sure our chemistry is good on and off the field.”
On her game-winning goal, junior midfielder Romano bent the ball over the Newark defense into the top of the net.
“I saw it in the air and I saw the corner,” said Romano. “I figured if I hit it hard, someone would get on the end of it.”
Romano’s confidence in her teammates stemmed from the squad’s unity.
“I think we are one of the tightest knit teams we have ever had, everyone plays together,” said Romano.
That togetherness helped PDS get through a gauntlet of tough foes and come through in crunch time against Newark.
“It shows the resilience. We didn’t give up when we were playing the toughest teams in the conference,” said Romano.
“We battled through everything, we stuck together. Even when we were down, we battled through. It just shows how close we were and how much we worked for each other.”
PDS head coach Pat Trombetta credited Pari with battling hard in her role as the team’s shut-down defender.
“Tulsi is always given the assignment to shut down the other team’s leading scorer and today she had that same assignment,” said Trombetta.
“This girl came in with about 20 goals on her resume and Tulsi shut her down.”
Earning a sixth straight Prep B crown and seeing his seniors go out with title in each season of their careers meant a lot to Trombetta and the program.
“We are excited, we came into this game really looking forward to it,” said Trombetta.
“The senior class knew what was in front of them. I am pleased for the seniors. They played well this year and they are good leaders. All four of them are going to play in college, which is great [Jones-TCNJ, Pari- RPI, Astbury-Muhlenberg, and Felsher-NYU].
Junior midfielder Beal played particularly well for the Panthers, emerging as a go-to finisher for the squad.
“If you look at last year, Kelly played a little different role for us,” said Trombetta.
“She came on like gangbusters, I think she had a streak of scoring goals in nine games in a row. Putting us on the board in this game where you are playing a defensive-minded team is real important because you have to try to pull them out a little bit.”
Trombetta acknowledged that things got a little dicey when Newark got on the board late in the contest.
“The goal that we gave up was a little sloppy, three girls converged on the same ball,” said Trombetta.
In reflecting on this year’s group, Trombetta said the numbers show its quality.
“I look back at my 13 years here and the statistics; the highest number of goals we ever scored was 57,” said Trombetta.
“They had 71 goals this year and a goal differential of plus 50. Those two statistics are very impressive; that doesn’t happen without the whole team playing offense and defense.”
Pari, for her part, cited a total team effort from players and coaches as key factor underlying the program’s championship tradition.
“The team loves each other, we have our backs on and off the field,” said Pari.
“The coaches dedicate so much of their time, not just during practices and games, but with all of them scouting. They are watching game film and helping us prepare for what we need to do.”