September 12, 2018

Fighting Down the Stretch in 2-1 Loss to Hightstown, PDS Boys’ Soccer Needs More Intensity from the Start

By Bill Alden

Hosting Hightstown last Saturday afternoon, the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team found itself in an uphill battle.

Getting off to a sluggish start, PDS yielded a goal 15 minutes into the contest to fall behind 1-0.

“We didn’t come out with the intensity to start; it wasn’t good enough,” said PDS head coach Ollie Hilliker. “Credit Hightstown, they worked very hard, they are a good physical team. They gave the effort that they had and they wanted it more than our boys.”

Lifting its intensity level, the Panthers knotted the game at 1-1 as senior star Wesley Leggett buried a penalty kick than two minutes later. But Hightstown forged ahead 2-1 right before the half on a breakaway goal.

At halftime, Hilliker’s message to his players was straightforward. “We had to pick up the intensity,” said Hilliker. “I told them they have to play every minute like they want to win the game and not wait.”

Responding to Hilliker’s encouragement, PDS displayed a sense of urgency over the last 40 minutes of the contest, generating a number of scoring chances down the stretch but couldn’t find the back of the net as the Rams held on for a 2-1 victory.

“There two different parts of the game; early on, I was disappointed with most players and later on I was pleased with most players,” said Hilliker, whose team dropped to 1-1 with the setback. “If there are five or six more minutes to that game it is 2-2. It was too little, too late.”

Hilliker has been pleased with University of Connecticut commit Leggett, noting that he was snakebitten in the loss to the Rams.

“He is a very dangerous player,” said Hilliker. “On another day, he scores four goals today with the opportunities he had. I think he is probably frustrated with himself and the opportunities that he had. You win some, you lose some, you move on.”

Junior Nas Amer helped generate opportunities against Hightstown with some brilliant free kicks.

“Nas is a good player with good ability; he is good on the ball,” said Hilliker. “He has a great delivery of set pieces; he is very consistent. That is huge for the team.”

PDS also got consistent play from sophomore Chima Chukumba, senior Coby Auslander, senior Connor McIntyre, and senior Ricardo Martinez.

“Chima can be dangerous, he has some physical attributes in his game,” added Hilliker.

“Coby [Auslander] and Connor [McIntyre] did really well in the back. I thought Ricardo [Martinez] did well in attacking midfield. It is not his typical position but he adapted and did the job he needs to get the ball up there.”

Looking forward, Hilliker is looking for his players to show an attacking mentality from the opening whistle.

“We have got to have intensity from the start and they have to come motivated to win every game,” said Hilliker, whose team hosts Springside Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on September 13. “Every game is going to be tough; they have got push themselves every game.”