Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 36
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
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BALL CONTROL: Princeton High boys’ soccer star Zach Halliday displays his ball skills in a recent practice session. The Little Tigers will be looking to junior forward Halliday to put the ball in the net frequently this fall. PHS kicks off its 2011 season on September 8 when it plays at Notre Dame.

Getting Off to Right Foot in Preseason, PHS Boys’ Soccer Primed for Big Fall

Bill Alden

If summer training is any indication, it looks like the Princeton High boys’ soccer team is headed for another big fall.

“The preseason has just been great; I couldn’t ask for more,” said PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe.

“We have seen great spirit, great energy, and great fitness. We are in good shape; we have a deep team.”

Over the last few years, PHS has been one of the best teams in the area. In 2009, the Little Tigers went 21-0-4 on the way to the state Group III title and the program’s third straight Mercer County Tournament crown. Last fall, PHS went 16-2-1, advancing to its fourth straight MCT title game and going to the sectional quarterfinals.

Longtime PHS head coach Sutcliffe knows that past success doesn’t guarantee anything as his team starts its 2011 campaign by playing at Notre Dame on September 8.

“We know that we need to work hard, day in, day out,” said Sutcliffe, who is in his 15th year at the helm of the program and welcomes back 17 players from last year’s squad.

“We take nothing for granted; we are looking to get a little better everyday. We are fine-tuning things.”

The Little Tigers should be getting some fine play at forward this fall from juniors Zach Halliday and Colin Lamb.

“Zach and Colin are playing striker,” said Sutcliffe, who will also be using junior Jordan Phelps at forward.

“We are looking for a big year from them. We are working on helping them develop a clear understanding with each other and the players around them.”

The Little Tigers will feature some good players in the midfield in junior Aidan Passannante, seniors Kyle Ehrenworth and Ajami Gikandi, and sophomore Kevin Halliday.

“We will have Aidan at attacking center midfield,” said Sutcliffe. “We have Kyle at holding midfield with Ajami on the left and Kevin Halliday on the right.”

Senior central defender Ben Davis showed the right stuff last fall, emerging as a star for the Little Tigers.

“Ben Davis does everything for us,” asserted Sutcliffe, who plans to use senior Bruce Robertson and juniors Pablo Arroyo and Scott Bechler on the outside with seniors Kellen Kenny and Will Schwarz in the middle with Davis.

“He has a lot of class and a great work rate. He is a great defender who has a feel for the game. He gets in on set pieces and helps us that way too.”

In Sutcliffe’s view, senior goalie George Kusserow brings plenty of game as he steps into the starting role.

“First and foremost, George is a presence; he is well over 6’4,” said Sutcliffe.

“He has the desire to get better on a day-to-day basis. He was mentored by a great keeper in Ruben Morales, who was mentored by a great keeper [Steve Hellstern] himself.”

Building on its strong preseason, PHS looks to have the talent at both ends of the field to retain its spot as a championship contender.

“We will win our fair share of games and beyond that,” said Sutcliffe. “It starts with defense. The back four and midfielders need to be on same page and helping us get clean sheets. We need to spread it out on offense. Zach and Aidan were our leading scorers with seven goals each. The players have to pick their spots and find a way to score when the pressure is on.”

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