Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 37
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
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MARSHLAND: Princeton High boys’ soccer midfield star Corey Marsh controls the ball in action last fall. Senior midfielder Marsh should have plenty of ball possession this fall as PHS looks to produce another big season. The Little Tigers, who went 17-1 last fall on the way to winning the Mercer County Tournament, start their 2008 campaign by hosting Lawrence on September 12.

PHS Boys’ Soccer Stocked With Veterans, Aims To Be Title Contender Once Again

Bill Alden

In rolling through last fall, the Princeton High boys’ soccer team hit just one roadblock.

Unfortunately, the team’s one bad day of the season came in the quarterfinals of the Central Jersey Group III sections as the top-seeded Little Tigers fell to No. 9 Neptune 3-0 to finish the fall 17-1.

While PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe doesn’t want his returning players to focus on the setback, he does see the loss as motivation coming into this fall.

“These things happen; I think five teams came into the tournament undefeated and we lost in the early round,” said Sutcliffe, who is entering his 11th season at the helm of the Little Tiger program.

“You try to put it behind you and not dwell on it but at the same time it acts an incentive. Without a doubt there is a feeling that the team is on a mission.”

The team’s top marksman in its title chase this fall figures to be senior forward Sam Kotowski.

“He’s healthy; he’s coming off a good club season, and he had a summer,” said Sutcliffe, who will also be using senior Anastacio Perez and sophomore Andrei Spiring at forward.

“I’m happy with his progress. He has experience; he is a three-year starter. He’s looking sharp.”

Sutcliffe acknowledges that the team’s strike force is a work in progress.

“Without a doubt, it takes time to develop chemistry,” said Sutcliffe, whose team opens its 2008 season by hosting Lawrence on September 12.

“It did for Kyle [DeBlois] and Sam last year and Ross [MacDonald] and Sam in 2006.”

PHS already has chemistry on its backline with the return of senior stars Chris Bechler, Will Slade, and Nick Hughes.

“Chris and Will have been on the varsity three years and they have been on the same club team since they were nine years old,” said Sutcliffe, who also plans to use junior Scott Schwarz in his defensive set-up.

“They played pretty much every game last year; they get it. They should be able to help us even more as seniors. Nick played a lot last year and he is a good all-around athlete.”

The Little Tigers boast a good athlete in goal with junior star Steven Hellstern.

“He’s making really good progress,” asserted Sutcliffe of Hellstern. “The guys look to him to pick things up; he’s so cool-headed on the field.”

Sutcliffe is looking to senior Corey Marsh to lead the way in the midfield.

“You can’t say enough about Corey,” said Sutcliffe. “He has a tremendous work rate, he great technically and he’s tactically aware.”

PHS has some battle-tested veterans to support Marsh in the middle of the field in juniors Evan Gershkovich and Gustvo Vega together with senior Jon Beissinger.

“Evan is playing in the center with Corey,” added Sutcliffe. “Jon Beissinger who has been with the team for two years is on the outside and more seasoned. Gustavo is also on the outside; he is also in his second year. They should both give us more this year.”

The Little Tigers will need more scoring balance if they are going to be a power this fall. “Other teams are going to be marking Sam and he may have to modify his game,” explained Sutlcliffe.

“He can isolate a defense so other guys can get free. We need to have three or four or five guys who can score goals.”

If PHS spreads the wealth, it could reach some lofty goals. “I think, like every year, we can compete against anyone,” said Sutcliffe, who guided PHS to a Central Jersey sectional title in 2006.

“Things aren’t going to come easy but the sky is the limit. We need to get better everyday. We have 14 guys coming back and seven of those guys have been with the team since ’06. They know what it takes to win tough games and win titles.”

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