Lucy Herring and her teammates on the Princeton High field hockey team were determined to be proactive as they hit the field against Peddie last Saturday.
After falling 1-0 at Allentown a day earlier in a weather-shortened game to open the season, PHS brought an upbeat mentality into the contest.
“I think in general, there was a more positive attitude today; I think it started on the bus ride,” said senior star forward Herring.
“We realized that yesterday we didn’t get the result we wanted. We played to their game and responded to their game instead of playing what we know.”
PHS played its game from the start on Saturday, controlling possession and stifling Peddie in the midfield.
“In this game we were working hard, spacing and communication were definitely key,” said Herring.
That communication paid dividends as Herring banged home a feed from classmate Campbell McDonald to give the Little Tigers a 1-0 lead.
“It was kind of in slow motion, I saw the goalie move to one side and I just kind of hit at the back,” said Herring.
“Campbell and I have played with each other, whether it is field hockey or ice hockey, for something like seven years. We always have that on-field, on-ice connection.”
After the Falcons scored with 7:52 left in the second half to knot the game at 1-1, PHS hit back as senior Cara Straus scored off a penalty corner with 2:54 remaining in regulation to give the Little Tigers a 2-1 triumph.
“I think they were angry and we were angry; it was a really good match,” said Herring.
“We kind of knew that we could get a corner at the end; corners are definitely an advantage for us. Everyone knew that we had to get a goal no matter how we got it so I think everyone stepped it up. Cara was definitely in perfect position for that tip in so that was great.”
It was a great way for PHS to end a stiff opening weekend test. “Coach (Heather Serverson) put two of our hardest opponents first which was a challenge,” said Herring.
“I was glad that we got to face that first so we know what to work on and we know how to compete against the best, which is always a good lesson early on in the season.”
PHS head coach Serverson, for her part, was thrilled with the progress her team made in 24 hours.
“It was like night and day,” said a beaming Serverson. “Everything we didn’t do well yesterday, we fixed for today and that is all I ask of them. After our game yesterday, we talked about it. We wanted stick-to-stick passing, intensity, and the second wave.”
Serverson wasn’t surprised that the one-two punch of Herring and McDonald accounted for PHS’s first goal.
“They have mental telepathy on the field, they work well together,” said Serverson.
The Little Tigers displayed mental toughness when they broke the tie late in the contest.
“That is one of our goals as well, setting the tone and answering back,” said Serverson, whose team topped Hamilton 3-0 last Monday to improve to 2-1 and plays at Robbinsville on September 10 before hosting Lawrence on September 15.
“In the past, we would kind of sit back on our heels and be more reactive at that point. One of our goals this year is to be more proactive, to go after it right away, and not let anything get in our heads.”
Senior Cara Straus has been going after it in her final campaign, emerging as a valuable performer on the front line for the Little Tigers.
“Cara embodies hustle, she does what you tell her to do,” said Serverson. “You tell her to go pads, she is on pads; you tell her to go to the post, she is on the post. You tell her to hustle back and she hustles back. She has been a key on our offense.”
PHS got some good hustle on defense, spearheaded by senior star Julia DiTosto and junior Trish Reilly in the midfield, along with juniors Julia Snyder and Lucia Matteo on the back line.
“We have tightened that up positioning-wise,” said Serverson. “That is a key that we didn’t have yesterday. We were on our heels a lot yesterday and today they were more composed and in the right position in the defense and the midfield. That transitional marking was really good today.”
Reflecting on the opening weekend, Serverson believes her team has the right stuff when it comes to character.
“I think the big thing was that we were able to pick ourselves up from yesterday and we played in 90 plus weather back-to-back days” said Serverson.
“We had two tough games, that shows what they are made of. They have a lot of grit, that is going to take us really far this season.”
Herring and her classmates are committed to going as far as they can in their final campaign with the program.
“Since we have all been on the team since freshman year, we have that chemistry and I think we know what the team is about,” said Herring.
“We know how to play our game and we have tried our best to teach the team and the young ones. We have gotten better every year so this year, our senior year, we want to make it the best, so getting far in MCTs and states, those are definitely our goals.”