Sophomore Keegan Emerging as Key Playmaker As Undefeated PHS Field Hockey Makes MCT Semis
BIG HIT: Princeton High field hockey player Delaney Keegan hits the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore forward Keegan tallied a goal and an assist as second-seeded PHS defeated 10th-seeded Hun 3-0 in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. The Tigers, now 13-0, were slated to face third-seeded Princeton Day School (12-3) in the MCT semis in October 19 with the victory advancing to the final on October 21 at Lawrence High. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Delaney Keegan and her teammates on the undefeated and second-seeded Princeton High field hockey team knew they were in for a battle when they hosted 10th-seeded Hun in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals last Friday.
“I do think they wanted to come for us,” said PHS sophomore forward Keegan of the clash against the upset-minded crosstown rival. “They definitely were hungry for a really competitive game.”
Things were very competitive in the first half as the foes played to a scoreless stalemate.
“They were tough to break down,” said Keegan. “They put up a great fight.”
At halftime, the Tigers focused on playing more as a unit. “Our forward line and midline were not connecting so we talked about it,” said Keegan.
“In the end it was just a matter of playing as a team and playing as one together.”
PHS got things together as senior star and Rutgers-bound Weir scored to put the Tigers up 1-0 with 9:52 left in the third quarter.
Minutes later, Keegan took a feed from Weir and banged it home. Returning the favor, Keegan set up Weir for the third and final goal of the contest with 1:14 left in the third as the Tigers never looked back, prevailing 3-0 and improving to 13-0.
PHS was slated to face third-seeded Princeton Day School in the MCT semis on October 19 with the victor advancing to the title game in October 21 at Lawrence High.
In reflecting on her goal, Keegan credited Weir with setting her up.
“I definitely think that
Olivia gave me the great opportunity and my team connected on the passes,” said Keegan.
“It was really nice to just take an open shot and not hesitating. It felt good when I hit it.”
Keegan felt good about feeding Weir for the final goal on the contest.
“Working as a team and not taking the ball yourself helps your team more than being selfish in the circle,” said Keegan.
“I think that connecting and working together goes a long way.”
After being sidelined for most of 2020 due to a leg injury, Keegan is relishing the chance to help PHS this fall.
“Working harder in the offseason and working harder with my teammates definitely helps,” said Keegan.
“We have been working together a lot. I also play club with Princeton Field Hockey.”
PHS head coach Heather Serverson realized that upset-minded Hun would be a hard team to beat.
“We knew they were a strong team because we scrimmaged them early on,” said Serverson.
“Hun did a great job of moving to the ball and we weren’t ready for that.”
The Tigers did a better job in the second half. “We just needed to move to the ball, we were assuming that it was going to go through,” said Serverson.
“We weren’t reading the fact that their defense was playing so well and stepping up and we just needed to start doing the same thing. Once we did, we were winning the ball.”
As usual, leading scorer Weir gave PHS a spark. “That always seems to get things going for us when someone scores a goal,” said Serverson of Weir, who now has 33 goals and 10 assists this season.
“Isn’t that the way with every team, she definitely got things started.”
Keegan has shown a knack for getting things started, having tallied six goals and a team-high 14 assists this fall.
“Delaney does a great job, she sees the field, she has got great stickwork, and she has got great passing,” said Serverson.
“She is a good, complete player. She was injured last year so we didn’t really know what she was capable of. She is a great player and she makes everyone around her look good.”
The Tigers will now play another good team in PDS, who brings a 12-3 record into the semifinal clash.
“I look forward to any challenge we can get, especially moving into the state tournament,” said Serverson.
“We really need to be pushed to our limits so we can see what our flaws are and can tighten up our ship a little bit.”
In Keegan’s view, surviving the challenge posed by Hun should pay dividends for PHS.
“It pushed us to work harder,” said Keegan. “Hun putting up a fight really gave us a wake-up call.”