November 1, 2017

PHS Field Hockey Falls to Lenape in States But Loss Doesn’t Dim Progress Made This Fall

STICK FIGHT: Princeton High field hockey player Chloe Koehler, left, battles for the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, senior Koehler had an assist in a losing cause as fifth-seeded PHS fell 4-1 to fourth-seeded Lenape in a Central Jersey Group 4 sectional quarterfinal contest. The defeat left the Little Tigers with a final record of 10-7-2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the Princeton High field hockey team suffered losses to Lawrenceville and Allentown in the middle of the season, it didn’t appear to be heading for a strong finish.

But PHS head coach Heather Serverson believes her players learned lessons from those setbacks that served them well coming down the stretch.

“Even though they were losses, we really saw what our abilities were and the improvement that we had made at that point,” said Serverson, whose squad lost 6-0 to Lawrenceville on September 27 before falling 2-1 in overtime to Allentown on October 4.

“They really challenged us in ways other teams didn’t, to help us see what we had the ability to achieve.”

The Little Tigers went on to achieve a lot, catching fire and making a stirring run in the Mercer County Tournament where they defeated Allentown 2-1 in overtime in the semis and then fell 5-0 in a rematch with powerhouse Lawrenceville in the final.

“As a team that had lost nine seniors, it took us a little time to find our way,” said Serverson in assessing the late surge.

“Some of the new players settled in nicely and were able to contribute throughout the season. We found our way to the finals of the MCT tournament; that was definitely a highlight of the season for us. We weren’t expecting it after the way we started (1-3-1). The girls really started to jell together and play to their abilities as a team and that was the result.”

Last Saturday, PHS couldn’t find a way to extend its season as the fifth-seeded Little Tigers fell 4-1 to fourth-seeded Lenape in Central Jersey Group 4 sectional quarterfinal contest.

“It is a new group for us. We are getting used to how that section of New Jersey plays,” said Serverson, who got a goal from Mariana Lopez-Ona in the defeat as her squad ended the fall with a 10-7-2 record. “We didn’t know what to expect and we couldn’t bring our best that day.”

The team’s seniors brought a lot this fall as they helped bring out the best in their younger teammates.

“They had a really big job ahead of them because of the seniors that we had lost,” said Serverson, whose group of seniors included Lisette Dubow, Margaret Jacobs, Chloe Koehler, Lily Leonard, and Kate Rogers.

“They had to not only mentor the younger players, but they had to help them believe in themselves and show them you can play with confidence and you do have the ability to do this. We are here to support you through it together.”

The pair of goalie Rogers and defender Leonard proved to be the backbone of the team.

“Kate and Lily stepped into their own, especially later in the season, and realized that they were more capable than they thought,” added Serverson. “Once they had the other girls in place and they had their confidence built up, they realized that had more to give.”

With a number of younger players gaining valuable experience this fall, Serverson believes the program is capable of more success going forward.

“Lopez-Ona controls the center of the field for us and does a good job,” said Serverson, who also got fine work this season from junior Isabel Kinney, sophomore Eleanor Wilkinson, sophomore Lila Doran, and junior Renee Hoevers.

“We will have some losses in the defensive unit but I think we have some people ready to step up and fill those positions. I think that next year’s season and hopefully the one after will be even better than this one.”