September 22, 2021

Battling to a 2-2 Draw Against Hun, PDS Girls’ Soccer Learns Key Lessons

EYE ON THE BALL: Princeton Day School girls’ soccerplayer Adriana Salzano controls the ball against Hun last Wednesday. Sophomore standout forward Salzano scored a goal in the contest as the local rivals played to a 2-2 draw. PDS, which fell 2-1 to Peddie last Saturday in moving to 2-1-1, plays at Lawrenceville on September 22 before hosting Notre Dame on September 25 and WW/P-North on September 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Having cruised to routs in its first two games this fall, the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team appeared to be headed to another comfortable win as it hosted the Hun School last Wednesday.

Getting goals from sophomore standouts Grace Romano and Adriana Salzano, PDS built a 2-0 lead over Hun by halftime.

“I think the opening five or 10 minutes we were a little slow; we haven’t played a team with as much intensity as they have so we were very reactionary,” said PDS first-year head coach Chris Pettit, whose squad had defeated Hill School (Pa.) 5-1 on September 11 and the George School (Pa.) 9-0 on September 14 to start its 2021 campaign.

“After 10 minutes, we started to realize that once we pass and move and we play our game, we grew into the game. From there, I thought we had the upper hand in the first half. We scored a couple of great goals, exactly what we have been working on.”

But in the second half, Hun maintained its intensity, tallying two unanswered goals as the local rivals ended up playing to a 2-2 draw.

While the Panthers were disappointed to see the win slip from their grasp, Pettit viewed the game as a good early season measuring stick.

“We needed a game like this to test us and find out where we are at and I think there was definitely some learning of what we need to do in terms of playing against a big, fast, physical team who keeps that intensity up,” said Pettit.

“I learned a lot in this game about what our strengths are and areas that we need to work on. We are going to play other fast-paced, intense games as they go through the fall. The lesson that I hope we get from today is that when we get the ball down and we pass and move, it negates how fast or intense the other team plays. We are in control.”

It has been a learning experience as Pettit has taken the helm of the program, succeeding the highly successful Pat Trombetta, who guided PDS to eight state Prep B titles (2008, 2010, 2014-2019) and one Mercer County Tournament crown (2013).

“It has been fun, it has been very different,” said Pettit, who previously coached at the NJ Rush for eight years where he worked with some PDS players.

“We are playing a different style, we are playing a different formation so it has been a lot of fun to try and get that message across.”

The Panther players have been responding well to
Pettit’s message.

“The girls have really bought into it,” asserted Pettit, whose team fell 2-1 to Peddie last Saturday in moving to 2-1-1 and will play at Lawrenceville on September 22 before hosting Notre Dame on September 25 and WW/P-North on September 27.

“It has been a transition for them, but they have really been phenomenal in terms of understanding the formation and the possession. There were some times today where we went a bit more long ball. It is a mindset that we need to keep working on.”

Going forward, Pettit will be looking for PDS to work on getting better at both ends of the pitch.

“I was a defender by trade so defensive shape and structure is important for me,” said Pettit.

“We got beat on that first goal because they were attacking down the right and all four of my defenders were inside. So when they crossed deep, they had two players open. We can’t turn around and be surprised that people are there, we can’t have that type of thing. We also need to work on the movement of the front four to combine and create more chances because we didn’t do enough possession today. You saw it in a couple of the goals and some of the chances we created. If we do that more, we are going to create more of those.”