Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 5
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
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SENIOR MOMENT: Princeton High girls’ hockey senior standout Olivia Ray winds up a backhand shot that resulted in a goal last Thursday on PHS’ 9-2 win over visiting Pingry. Ray’s tally was especially sweet since it came on the program’s annual Senior Night. PHS, now 6-7, heads to Maryland this weekend to play in a tournament at Holton Arms.

Senior Captain Ray Aims to End on a High Note as PHS Girls’ Hockey Heads Down Homestretch

Bill Alden

Olivia Ray was a bit wistful as the Princeton High girls’ ice hockey team took the ice last Thursday at Baker Rink to host Pingry.

It was the program’s annual Senior Night and the reality of the impending end to her high school hockey career hit Ray.

“It is really sad; it is one of our last Baker games,” said senior co-captain Ray.

“All of the seniors are really heartfelt. I have been playing hockey since I was really little, like when I was five years old. The four years on the team were really special. It was a good experience for me and all other seniors. It is just sad knowing that it is the last few games.”

After the pre-game ceremony, during which the seniors were introduced individually, given flowers, and escorted on to the ice by their parents, the Little Tigers channeled their emotions and hit the ice flying.

PHS jumped out to a 4-2 first period lead and then reeled off five unanswered goals to cruise to a 9-2 victory.

In reflecting on the game, Ray said she could sense that the pre-game festivities charged up the Little Tigers.

“It really brought the team together,” said Ray, whose fellow seniors include co-captains Gabby Vukasin and Haley Andres together with Allegra Bianchini, Rachel Bozich, Fiona Mahon, and Stephanie Miezin.

“I think because it was Senior Night and it was a home game, everyone tried a little harder and wanted to work together as a team. It was nice; it was good to win.”

It was nice for the Little Tigers to finish the evening in style as they outscored Pingry 4-0 in the third period.

“Our coach [Christian Herzog] says our second period is our worst period and then in the third, we really finish well,” said Ray. “We just wanted to keep it on our side and skate together and keep it out of our defensive zone.”

Ray notched a goal early in the third period, prompting her teammates to sing “O-Ray, O-Ray” in the same tune and cadence as the “Ole, Ole” soccer song.

“It was my first backhand goal of the season,” said Ray, who gets a kick out of her teammates’ post-goal serenade. “They set it up really nicely and I was in the front of the net.”

The unselfish Ray, though, is typically the player making the passes to set up Little Tiger goals.

“I usually get a lot of assists; I like to pass to other people when we are down here near the goal,” said Ray.

“I look to see who is open instead of just focusing on scoring. It’s more fun passing to other players. When I am playing with new players, I try to pass to them and get them the score.”

As a co-captain, Ray strives to set a positive tone and get everyone on the same page.

“Haley [Andres] and Gabby [Vukasin] are the other captains and we all get along really well,” said Ray.

“I hope we set a good example; I think we do. The girls are really good girls; we all work really well together.”

PHS head coach Herzog liked the way his players worked together in the win over Pingry as they rose to the occasion on Senior Night.

“I told them, ‘ladies, take a few minutes, look around, some of these individuals you are not going to see playing again on this team,” recalled Herzog.

“I said ‘at the very minimum, play hard for them because when you are seniors, you are going to want the same kind of dedication.’”

In Herzog’s view, the Little Tigers have been showing good dedication collectively in recent weeks.

“Even if they are not go-to hockey players, they are there, they want to play,” asserted Herzog, whose team fell 9-1 to Portledge last Friday to move to 6-7 on the season. “Everybody is kind of forging together with the same vision.”

Ray has certainly proven to be a go-to player for the Little Tigers.

“She has kind of been a little overshadowed this year but she steps up and works hard every time she comes out,” said Herzog of Ray.

“I can’t say enough good things about her; she is one that I very rarely have to say something to. She comes to play every night and every morning; I am real happy with her progress.”

PHS showed some major progress with its recent 4-3 win over Shady Side (Pa.) which saw Vukasin score the game-winner in the third period.

“I don’t think we’ve ever beat them before,” said Herzog, reflecting on the win over Shady Side.

“I told them the other day I want to see the same effort I saw against Shady Side. We made one or two mistakes and they capitalized. But in the end we dug in and I saw the effort. It was a sound game defensively, people stepped up.”

Herzog has the sense that the team will be stepping up over the season’s homestretch.

“Some of the early season losses still haunt me but I find solace in the fact that the team is coming together,” said Herzog, whose team heads to Maryland this weekend to play in a tournament at Holton Arms.

“The back end of the season is more important. Now we are full steam ahead. That’s the way I look at it and I think the girls are pretty much on board with that as well.”

Ray believes she and her classmates are going to end their careers on a high note.

“We started off a little slow but as it is going on, we are working as a team more,” maintained Ray.

“We are passing more and we are just cooperating. The intensity has picked up and as the season goes on, I think we are going to do a lot better.”

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