November 21, 2018

PHS Boys’ Soccer Displayed Resilience, Courage, Battling Injuries to Go 8-6-3, Make MCT Quarters

KEEPING AT IT: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Atticus Lynch, right, goes after the ball in a game earlier this season. Senior midfielder Lynch was a stalwart for PHS this fall as it battled through injuries to go 8-6-3 and advance to the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Wayne Sutcliffe knew that his Princeton High boys’ soccer team didn’t have much margin for this error this fall as it looked to maintain its status as a local powerhouse.

“Coming into the season, we knew we had a very young team,” said PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe. “In order for things to go well, we were going to have to stay relatively injury-free.”

Unfortunately, Murphy’s Law ended up applying to the Little Tigers as the squad suffered a slew of injuries.

“We had a multitude of injuries; we had three concussions, two of which were season ending,” said Sutcliffe. “We had a multitude of other injuries that played a role on making it even more challenging.”

Despite those challenges, PHS produced another winning campaign as it went 8-6-3 and advanced to the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals.

“We were in every game; we won enough games,” said Sutcliffe. “We didn’t lose one game by more than one goal, except for the last one (a 3-0 loss to WW/P-North in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 4 sectionals) and the Pennington game (2-0) in the MCT.”

Sutcliffe credited the senior group with keeping PHS competitive. “They were courageous and they had a lot to live up to, Atticus [Lynch], Seb [Ratzan], Tommy [Reid] and the others [Josh Nieman, Alec Korsah, Grant Luther, Zad Mahana, Van Lal Ven, and Jesus Lazo],” said Sutcliffe.

“It is challenging when you have a lot to live up to and you don’t have a loaded senior class full of experience. They were a small class and they didn’t have a particularly large junior class to support them. We were all proud of their efforts and their resilience.”

The Little Tigers got some good efforts from the new faces on the roster. “At times this season, we had five or six sophomores on the field at the same time,” noted Sutcliffe.

“We had two freshmen who were rostered full time on the varsity team. Our freshman team was very strong. I can’t wait to get started in March with the strength training.”

Sutcliffe believes that the lessons the younger players learned this fall will help them deal with the grind that comes with pursuing the program’s championship tradition

“They have a lot to look forward to; I couldn’t be more proud, especially with the younger guys, of their resilience and their courage in these games,” said Sutcliffe.

“It is important to remember how challenging it is and learn about the reality of that; playing in the CVC and then getting into the two tournaments, MCT and state tournament. More than that, it is just about the resilience that you have to have every day in training and being at your best. It is not easy.”