October 6, 2021

With Rougas Producing Stellar Senior Campaign, PHS Girls’ Soccer Looking Dominant at 7-0

SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Megan Rougas, center, celebrates after a goal. Senior striker Rougas is having a big final campaign as PHS has gotten off to a 7-0 start. The Tigers, who have scored 35 goals and given up just one in their first seven games, will look to keep rolling when they host Lawrence on October 7 and Ewing on October 8 before playing at Notre Dame on October 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Megan Rougas sensed early on this fall that the Princeton High girls’ soccer team could enjoy a special season.

“We have a really great team; this is my senior year and I want to go out as strong as I came in,” said Rougas.

“I am really, really happy to have this team. We just work so well together. We have been doing a lot of team bonding and chemistry. I think that has definitely helped us on the field.”

Last Thursday, PHS looked like a dominant team as it defeated Hightstown 6-0, jumping out to a 4-0 lead midway through the first half and never looking back as it improved to 6-0.

“We came into it with such a positive mindset,” said Rougas.

“Having so many shutouts and working so well as a team had really pushed us and motivated us. You would think that we’d plateau but we didn’t. We just keep going.”

Rougas got the rout going, tallying the first goal of the day five minutes into the contest on an assist from classmate and close friend Sophia Lis.

“It was all Sophia, I have to say,” said Rougas. “She really took it up the field, I just tapped it in. It was a team effort.”

The bond between Rougas and the Lehigh-bound Lis has helped fuel the hot start by the Tigers as they outscored foes 33-0 through their first six games.

“It is definitely influenced off the field, I have to say. We are best friends,” said Rougas of Lis, who had two goals and an assist against the Rams.

“Actually, the first day of soccer preseason freshman year, we instantly clicked and we have hung out every day since. It has shown on the field how great we are together.”

In the win over Hightstown, PHS showed its scoring balance as sophomore Casey Serxner, sophomore Holly Howes, and sophomore Alysse Kiesewetter also scored goals.

“It is amazing, actually. At the beginning of the season, one of our biggest things that we worked on was how do we get these amazing players with so much potential to work and connect together,” said Rougas

“So it was me, Holly Casey, Sophia, and Naomi [Bazar] coming up; we definitely learned how to connect more as a team. I think that has completely influenced the game.”

Over the years, Rougas has raised the level of her game. “I think it just comes down to confidence; going into it, my older sister [Lauren, now playing at Colgate] was really good and I always looked up to her,” said Rougas, who has tallied eight goals and four assists so far this season.

“I just think confidence is the biggest thing, starting out really small as a freshman, getting my playing time in in JV and everything. Sophomore year, I had a few goals. Junior year is really where I actually owned the field a little bit. Senior year, I am just having fun, coming up the goal line because why not?”

PHS head coach Dave Kosa is having fun watching Rougas and Lis do their thing around goal.

“We want to get off to a quick start and we have been doing that,” said Kosa.

“Having Sophia and Megan up top; it is a pleasure and joy to watch them work off of each other. They are always working hard in practice when we are doing finishing drills. You saw it today when they get a little bit of a crack of space, they are putting it in the back of the net.”

The Tigers have plenty of players who are putting it in the back of the net.

“When we build attacks up or when teams start to shade to one side, we do have the versatility,” added Kosa.

“We do play really well together, we find one another and we are always cheering one another on.”

The Tiger defense has been playing well as defenders,  junior Annie Kosa and Kiesewetter, along with senior goalie Moji Ayodele have been holding the fort.

“In the beginning of the season, that was one of the things that was a question because everybody is new back there,” said Kosa.

“My daughter Annie has played sweeper for me as a sophomore on the JV and is doing well. We were looking to have good outside backs and Alysse started the preseason at outside mid and I was like we can use her better on the back line. She has been phenomenal. Moji is great, her attitude is so great.”

The team has shown a great attitude collectively. “It is just watching these guys feed off one another and enjoy one another,” said Kosa.

“That is probably the most enjoyable part, aside from the victories, just watching them bond together.”

That bond has translated into cohesiveness on the field. “We are playing so well together, we are trusting one other,” said Kosa, whose team defeated Piscataway 2-1 last Saturday to improve to 7-0 and will look to keep rolling when it hosts Lawrence on October 7 and Ewing on October 8 before playing at Notre Dame on October 12.

“Our chemistry is so good and we want to keep getting better. I keep on telling them we are doing really well but let’s keep on getting better each day.”

Rougas, for her part, believes the Tigers have bought into that approach.

“One of the biggest things that we do is we learn from the games,” said Rougas.

“We take from our games; like Steinert [a 1-0 win on September 11], we took it as a learning experience and North Brunswick too [a 7-0 win on September 25]. We always look onward, that is why I think we are doing so well this season.”