November 18, 2020

PHS Field Hockey Fights Hard to the End, But Falls to Hillsborough in Sectional Quarters

HOLDING THE FORT: Princeton High field hockey goalie Franke deFaria, left, and Grace Rebak thwart a foe in recent action. Last Monday, junior deFaria made four saves in a losing cause as third-seeded PHS fell 1-0 to sixth-seeded Hillsborough in the Central West B sectional quarterfinals. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 8-2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With its season on the line, the Princeton High field hockey displayed its battling spirit.

Trailing sixth-seeded Hillsborough 1-0 in the waning moments of the Central West B sectional quarterfinals, third-seeded PHS generated three penalty corners right before and then after the buzzer.

While it looked like the Tigers scored on the third corner as the ball apparently trickled into the cage, a violation was called and PHS got a penalty stroke. Olivia Weir took the shot but it was turned away by Hillsborough goalie Niyati Ramanathan and the Tigers saw their 2020 campaign end with a disappointing 1-0 defeat.

PHS head coach Heather Serverson liked the way her squad scrapped at the end but wished that intensity had been more constant.

“Clearly when they realized that this might be our last game, they picked it up a bit,” said Serverson, whose team posted a final record of 8-2.

“They fought to the end, they did everything they could. We needed to do that for a larger duration of the game.”

Serverson acknowledged that Hillsborough played aggressively throughout the contest.

“I think Hillsborough did a better job than we did of moving to the ball,” said Serverson.

“They really played like they wanted possession and we were being more reactive.”

While the PHS defense was solid, Serverson acknowledged that it could have played sharper.

“I wish we could have played team defense a little bit better,” said Serverson, who got four saves from junior goalie Frankie deFaria with junior defender and co-captain Grace Rebak making several key clears in the circle.

“We didn’t really play as a unit and I think that is where they found the gaps. They played right through us.”

Although the loss stung, Serverson was grateful that her players got to compete this fall, given that there were doubts that PHS would have any games due to COVID-19 concerns.

“I said let’s just be thankful that we had a season, I think it is an amazing thing to have had it,” said Serverson.

“Considering the fact that we are only graduating three players, it was definitely a great building season.”

That trio of seniors, which included co-captain Shoshi Henderson, Hailey Hawes, and Supansa Levine, helped build an upbeat attitude around the team.

“They did a great job leading in a very awkward season, it was hard,” said Serverson.

“They are not seeing each other in school and they are only coming out for practices. They did a great job keeping a positive tone and really making sure everyone felt like a unit.”

With a strong group of returning players that features juniors Olivia Weir, Grace Rebak, Frankie deFaria, Stella Matsukawa, Erin Kiesewetter, and Aleena Inayat along with sophomores Hannah Christopher, Kayla Christopher, Erin Cooke, and Gianna DiGioacchino, Serverson sees a bright future for the program.

“Hopefully we learned from the lessons that we experienced this year,” said Serverson.

“Next year will be the third year together for this group. Hopefully we are able to make some magic at that point.”

This year, PHS enjoyed some magic moments on a daily basis by just getting a chance to be on the field.

“We had so much fun in the practices, just being together and seeing them,” said Serverson.

“We do a lot together out of season and we didn’t get to do any of that. I hadn’t really seen them since February and normally we see each other at least once a week and they are playing in Super 6s leagues. It was strange not seeing each other. I think that was probably the biggest highlight, getting to be together.”