STICKING WITH IT: Princeton Day School field hockey Gwen Allen controls the ball in recent action. Last Thursday, senior star and tri-captain Allen scored the winning goal as PDS edged Stuart Country Day School 2-1 in overtime. The Panthers, now 3-0, host Blair Academy on September 22 and Peddie School on September 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Gwen Allen and her teammates on the Princeton Day School field hockey team were a bit frustrated as their battle with local rival Stuart Country Day School headed into overtime last Thursday.
“I feel like we should have scored earlier on; we had a lot more opportunities than they did and we had great offensive sequences,” said Allen.
“We felt like we were playing well, we just weren’t able to finish it. It was ‘let’s just close it out.’”
After coming to the bench for a brief rest during the overtime, Allen returned to the contest and finished it off, tallying a goal with 3:36 left in the extra session to give PDS a 2-1 win as it improved to 3-0.
“When I went back in, Val [Radvany] had the ball at midfield and there was nobody in front and I got it and it was a one versus two,” said Allen.
“I tried to get close to the circle and my first shot was bad, but Lyla Allen (not Gwen’s sister) got the rebound and passed it to me. It was a weird shot; it kind of trickled in.”
While the shot may not have been a thing of beauty, the result was heartening for PDS.
“It was really exciting. It was definitely a relief,” said Allen. “Most of all, I was really proud of my team. It was the first time we have gone to overtime and we have a really young team with a lot of freshman. I was proud of everyone for sticking with it.”
Allen credited the Stuart defense with making PDS work overtime.
“They were good at getting out quickly and finding the girl in the middle and distributing it out, but for the most part we had possession, which was awesome,” said Allen.
In Allen’s view, the team’s 3-0 start has been awesome if a little unexpected.
“After the preseason, I was a little worried; we lost a lot of really good players and starters from last year,” said Allen.
“We have a super young team. The Allen twins (freshmen Lyla and Emily) have really been helping; they are super athletic and in shape. They are a huge help, and the other younger players are all stepping up and doing well. We had some players who were on JV last year and got bumped up to varsity and they have been great.”
The trio of senior stars Allen, Radvany, and Sasha Sindhwani looking to help the younger players feel comfortable on the varsity.
“We are really close; it has been us three since freshman year, so we are super excited to be able to lead the team together,” said Allen.
“It is a good dynamic; we have good communication. We all agree on leadership style and how we do things. It is fun to be captains with Val and Sasha.”
PDS head coach Heather Farlow had fun seeing Allen come through with the game-winning tally.
“We were talking to Gwen; we wanted her to shoot more at the top of the circle,” said Farlow. “During the game, we were telling her you have got to yell that you are wide open and stuff. We finally got her the ball; it was good.”
The Panthers played some good hockey against the Tartans.
“I knew that we wanted to play a passing game; I felt that we really did control possession most of the game,” said Farlow, who also got a goal from Sindhwani on a first half penalty stroke. “They had some good defensive plays; they were tough.”
Surviving the extra session was a good step forward early in the season for PDS.
“It points out some strengths and weaknesses; it is good competition,” said Farlow, whose team hosts Blair Academy on September 22 and Peddie School on September 25.
“We just want to keep moving forward, we have done some nice things. We have executed what we have practiced but we just need to keep putting it together.”
Allen, for her part, believes that the Panthers need to sharpen up on their execution around goal.
“I think next week we are definitely going to be working on fitness and finishing on attack,” said Allen. “It will be moving and shooting and how to get around the defense and the goalie. Circle attack will be the focus.”