October 14, 2020

With Junior Star Weir Exploding for Six Goals, PHS Field Hockey Cruises Past Robbinsville 7-1

SIX SHOOTER: Princeton High field hockey player Olivia Weir, right, heads upfield in recent action. Last Thursday, junior star forward Weir tallied six goals to help PHS defeat Robbinsville 7-1. The Tigers, who improved to 3-0 with the win, play at Hopewell Valley on October 15 before hosting Allentown on October 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Olivia Weir sharpened her field hockey skills by competing against boys in her native South Africa.

“I started playing when I was 10 in South Africa and I moved here two and half years ago,” said Weir, a junior forward on the Princeton High field hockey team.

“In South Africa, boys can play which is really different. The game is a little bit slower here because in South Africa we play on astroturf, so that is definitely a change.”

Last Thursday, Weir came out at full speed against Robbinsville, tallying six goals to help PHS post a 7-1 win over the Ravens and improve to 3-0.

In reflecting on her outburst, Weir credited her teammates with setting her up.

“We are doing an amazing job finding each other in the circle,” said Weir, reflecting on her outburst which PHS head coach Heather Serverson believes is a single-game school record.

“We just know where everyone is. I was just in the right spot.”

Even Weir was taken aback by the fact that she might have achieved a school record.

“Wow, that’s really amazing,’’ said Weir. “I didn’t realize that, but it all goes to the team because I really couldn’t do it without them. We just work so good together.’’

After a shaky first few minutes, PHS set the tone for the rest of the game as senior star and co-captain Shoshi Henderson and Weir banged home goals within a 4:18 stretch of the first period to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

“We have been speaking about coming out very strong from the start,” said Weir.

“The beginning was a bit rough but we all came together and said we are going to do this and we are going to play as a unit.”

It didn’t take Weir long to fit in with the PHS unit upon her arrival from South Africa.

“It was definitely a change coming here but it has been very nice,” said Weir.  “I love playing with everyone, everyone is super supportive.”

Having dealt with an injury that caused her to be sidelined for most of the 2019 campaign, Weir was chomping at the bit to come up big this fall.

“Over this whole quarantine thing, I have been trying to be in the best shape possible,” said Weir, who has tallied nine goals and two assists through the first three games of the season.

“I think when you are
injured, you can take it for granted. I just was able to realize how much I actually love the sport.

PHS head coach Serverson loves having Weir back on the field.

“Olivia is very explosive, she gets a good read on the play; she sees the open space, she knows where to go,” said Serverson.

“She is thinking a play ahead which is what great players do and then she has that wonderful shot on goal. She has been playing very well for us. She was injured last year so I wasn’t quite sure if she would be able to come back as strong.”

Weir has formed a potent one-two punch with co-captain Henderson, who ended up with a goal and an assist against Robbinsville.

“They are very similar in the sense that their speed is similar, their reach is similar and the way the play is very similar,” said Serverson. “They just have that great connection on the field even though they don’t play any other sports together.”

With PHS having tallied 17 goals and yielding only two in winning its first three games, Serverson is surprised with how well things have been going.

“I am so impressed with the way that they have been playing, we didn’t have a preseason so we didn’t have any familiarity at all on the field,” said Severson.

“We are still not where I would like us to be but they are just playing so well. They are just so happy to be out here. Honestly, we don’t even care if we win and I am not just saying that. They are so happy to be able to play games and I think that is what’s happening.”

While the scoring output is turning heads, the Tigers have been just as impressive on the defensive end, led by junior goalie Frankie deFaria and junior co-captain and star defender Grace Rebak.

“Frankie is solid back there, she is a great athlete in the pads; she is very steady and she is very calm,” said Serverson of deFaria, who made six saves against the Ravens.

“She is an anchor with Grace. She is a beast, we love her. Grace is always solid. She is very patient, she is working on some new skills. She has been a great leader back there. She is one of our captains this year so she has really stepped up in that sense with communication and helping out the younger players.”

The squad’s positive communication and joy at just being on the field is giving Serverson the sense that it could be a special fall for the program. 

“It is the spirit of the team, the way they are connecting on the field, the energy at practice,” added Serverson, whose team plays at Hopewell Valley on October 15 before hosting Allentown on October 20. “Everything is different, they are just grateful.”

Weir, for her part, is grateful to be a part of that process.

“It is a new team; we don’t know each other as well but as time goes by we are getting more comfortable playing with each other,” said Weir.  “We know where everyone is, it is getting better from here.”