August 29, 2018

Featuring New Faces in New Places on the Field, PHS Girls’ Soccer Emphasizing Team Chemistry

GETTING IN FORM: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Camille Franklin controls the ball in a training session last week. Senior Franklin figures to be a key offensive weapon for PHS this fall. The Little Tigers kick off their 2018 season by hosting WW/P-South on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton High girls’ soccer team having lost a slew of seniors after going 10-6-2 in 2017, there will be new faces in new places for the squad this fall.

“It seems like everybody is ready to step up and really contribute and fill their role,” said PHS head coach Val Rodriguez, whose team opens regular season play by hosting WW/P-South on September 6.

“You graduate 11 and you don’t think anyone is going to shine. People are just really plugging into positions and they are ready to try new things. We are excited.”

Rodriguez is excited about the team’s offensive potential as senior Camille Franklin, junior Morgan Beamer, and junior Kirin Kunukkasseril along with newcomers sophomore Vanessa Ponce and freshman Sophia Lis are in the mix up front.

“Camille prefers the outside; that is where I think she will find a nice home for us,” said Rodriguez.
“We have others like Morgan and Kirin who might see some minutes at forward and midfield. Sophia is going to be a standout up top for us, for sure. Vanessa scored a ton of goals for the JV team last year. She has got the vision for the field to distribute and threads that needle, which not many girls do.”

In the midfield, senior cocaptain Shannon Romaine is a standout.

“Shannon is a center mid for us,” said Rodriguez. “She really anchors it for us and distributes the ball really well. We have quite a few girls that are in the running for the center mid spots. Molly Frain is in the running for the midfield. Vanessa will probably be a middie and Kirin is in the mix.”

The PHS defense will be anchored by a group of battle-tested players. “Lauren Rougas is going to be back there, she is a junior,” said Rodriguez, noting that juniors Shaylah Marciano and Caroline Ealy will be handling the goalkeeping duties. “Grace Heilbronn and Greta Bush are both going to be good defenders; they came up midseason last year as freshmen. Kathryn DeMilt is a senior back for us.”

In the view of Rodriguez, getting her players to come together as a unit is the key focus heading into the season.

“Team chemistry needs to be No. 1; I feel for me and my approach, it can’t be forced, it can’t be faked,” said Rodriguez, noting that Rougas and Marciano will be serving as team captains along with Romaine.

“It is that team dynamic that I had as a player, that all successful teams just have to have. You can’t win games in high school unless you take care of each other, on and off the field. We are trying to completely eliminate ‘me’ from this team.”