Last fall, Rowan Schomburg deferred to the senior stars on the Princeton Day School field hockey team as they carried the offensive load for the Panthers.
But after being a member of the supporting cast of a team led by the graduated Sarah Brennan, Emma Quigley, Mary Travers, and Emily Goldman, Schomburg has been thrust into a leading role as a junior in 2014.
“The seniors put a lot of pressure on us juniors this year and I put a lot of pressure on myself, said Schomburg.
“I want to be a good role model for the underclassmen. I try to give them the best opportunities that I can. Whether that is working with Elizabeth [Brennan] in the midfield or anyone on offense, I try to make them look good.”
Last week against visiting Hun, Schomburg made the PDS attack look very good, contributing a goal and two assists as the Panthers pulled away to a 4-0 triumph.
With PDS having lost three straight games by a combined score of 11-2 coming into the September 23 contest, the Panthers were determined to right the ship.
“We wanted to play a full 60 minutes really strong so our mindset was transitions and finishing, which we have had trouble with a little bit,” said Schomburg.
“Possession was really key in this game, we really tried to focus on passing to a player rather than to a space. I think we improved on that and we are hoping to improve on that even more in upcoming games.”
Despite controlling possession from the outset, it took PDS nearly 20 minutes to score as Schomburg set up Brennan for the first goal with 10:23 left in the first half.
“I was definitely looking forward to it, I knew it was coming,” said Schomburg. “I knew we would finish it strong but that was definitely a good starting point.”
In the waning seconds of the half, Schomburg got her goal, fighting through a scramble in the circle.
“I just saw the backboard; I didn’t see the goalie at all so I just pushed it into the net,” recalled Schomburg.
Despite leading 2-0 at half, PDS kept pushing to the final whistle. “We wanted to win the second half so even if they got a goal we wanted to come back and get another goal,” said Schomburg, who assisted on PDS’s third goal as Lauren Finley found the back of the cage with Madison Mundenar completing the scoring for the Panthers.
“We always wanted to stay on top and I think we did that. We came out of the gate really strong and I think we kept that intensity and energy all the way through the second half.”
PDS head coach Tracey Arndt liked the way her team played hard all the way to the final whistle against Hun.
“It is just a matter of consistency,” said Arndt. “I think we were just done with hanging our heads at the end of every game, knowing that we would’ve, could’ve, should’ve.”
In Arndt’s view, focusing on fundamentals helped pave the way to the win over the Raiders.
“We did have a few days of practice which was really nice,” said Arndt. “We really just broke it down and worked on some skills. We took some time to make sure that they look up before they pass so they just don’t get rid of it. We started to spread out a little more, both width and depth-wise. I think that helped us and just getting hungry. If you want to score, are you are going to get in and do what’s right.”
Schomburg is showing the right stuff for the Panthers this fall. “Rowan had the other girls around her last year so she played that supportive role,” said Arndt.
“Now that we have looked up to her from the beginning. She still wanted to play the supportive role but we said you are them. She gets it. She gets what it means to work hard, she gets what it means to be tenacious. She gets what it means to be a teammate, I think because of that she will do whatever she can to get her team to score. She is an absolute coach’s dream; she is really stepping up.”
Senior tri-captain Dana Poltorak provided some tenacity to the PDS attack. “We switched her forward in the second half, she really had some flow to her skill and some fluidity,” said Arndt.
“She just continued to fight. If she lost the ball, she got it right back. I think it’s a big thing for our forwards, we say you are the actual first line of defense. We can’t wait until it gets back to our defense. Our girls are really putting pressure on them and getting a lot of jabs in while the defense is heading down. Once you do that, your next line can step up.”
The PDS defense held the line in thwarting Hun. “We moved Katie Shih back there and she did a good job of stepping up,” said Arndt.
“Niki van Manen has been talking more and organizing the defense. Kyra Hall on the other side as a young player wasn’t necessarily as aggressive as she needs to be, although she was in practice. It is just a matter of pulling that out of here, she’s stepped up to a lot of cross balls which was really good. Kiely French plays very simple, we moved her over to one of the rushers on corners and I think it has really helped. Katie [Alden] is back there in goal really supporting the team.”
Arndt is hoping that the Panthers can keep up their aggressive play. “I sure hope so; they are working hard at practice,” said Arndt, whose team fell 3-2 to South Hunterdon last Monday to move to 2-6.
“All I am asking them to do is to stay consistent and work hard and walk off the field proud, whether it is a win or a loss. We’ll be fine with good attitudes and hard work.”
In Schomburg’s view, the win over Hun could be a turning point for the squad. “I think we really needed this,” said Schomburg. “This is a great starting point, it is really going to propel us forward.”