PDS Field Hockey Falls Short of Prep B Title Encore, Losing OT Thriller to Montclair Kimberley in Final
By Bill Alden
As it went for a second straight state Prep B title, the Princeton Day School field hockey team dug an early hole against visiting Montclair Kimberley Academy in the championship game last Monday.
Scoring off of a penalty corner, fourth-seeded MKA jumped out to a 1-0 lead over second-seeded PDS with 7:44 remaining in the first half.
But showing the heart of a champion, the Panthers responded minutes later as junior star Sasha Sindhwani weaved through the MKA defense and found the back of the cage to knot the game at 1-1 with 1:15 left in the half.
With PDS having battled to pull even heading into the second half, Panther head coach Heather Farlow liked her team’s prospects.
“We were fine at halftime,” said Farlow. “It is a championship game, everyone shows up for a championship game.”
Showing its skill, PDS controlled possession for much of the next 30 minutes, getting a penalty stroke with 19:13 left in regulation that went just wide. But with gritty MKA holding the fort, the Panthers had nothing to show for its enterprise and the game headed into overtime with the teams still deadlocked at 1-1.
“It was play a passing game, keep it small, and keep the ball moving,” said Farlow, reflecting on the team’s approach to overtime.
That ball movement produced another penalty stroke some three minutes into first overtime but the MKA goalie turned it away. The Cougars later got a penalty corner with no time remaining in the first extra session and the ball bounced the wrong way for PDS as MKA trickled a shot into the cage to earn a 2-1 victory.
The tally set off a raucous celebration for the Cougar players in front of the goal while while several of the PDS players were sobbing at the outcome.
For Farlow, the failure to convert their two penalty strokes was particularly frustrating.
“We practice those every day and it is unfortunate that those didn’t go in because those should be sure goals,” said Farlow.
In reflecting on a campaign which saw the Panthers post a final record of 12-6, Farlow acknowledged that there was more pressure on her squad this fall.
“Overall I think we had a good season,” said Farlow. “Last year I think we took everybody by surprise with how we did. Once you have success, people play you harder and nothing is going to be easy. You are going to have to continue to work for it.”
The Panthers worked hard in earning a return trip to the title game. “We did make it back here,” said Farlow. “We just weren’t the stronger team today but based on results I think we were the stronger team coming in.”
Despite the sting of the loss in the finals, the Panthers have established themselves as a strong program, having posted two straight winning campaigns after going 6-13-1 in 2015.
“I am competitive, like the girls are competitive,” said Farlow. “We always like to come away with a win but we are pleased that we are in the championship.”