October 20, 2021

Deming Comes Through With Goals in Crunch Time, Helping PHS Boys’ Soccer Stun Notre Dame in OT

COMEBACK KID: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Owen Deming boots the ball in recent action. Last week, senior midfielder Deming scored the tying goal and winning tally as PHS edged Notre Dame 4-3 in overtime, coming back from a late 3-2 deficit. The Tigers, who defeated WW/P-South 1-0 last Saturday to move to 8-2-2, start action in the Mercer County Tournament this week. PHS is seeded third and will host a first round contest on October 21 between the winner of the play-in game between the Princeton Day School and Ewing. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Owen Deming brought some extra emotion to the field for the Princeton High boys’ soccer team as it hosted undefeated Notre Dame last week.

“It was a huge senior day, we are playing against Notre Dame and they are a really tough opponent,” said senior midfielder Deming, reflecting on the October 12 contest.

“I haven’t beaten them in my high school career so when I came out here, I really wanted to beat them.”

In early stages of the clash, Deming focused on his defensive responsibilities.

“Defensively we were just trying to lock down their center midfielders and their attacker Denny Bensch,” said Deming. “We did really well, we were up 2-0 in the first 15 minutes.”

PHS kept that 2-0 lead heading into the second half but the Irish rallied, scoring three unanswered goals in a 13-minute stretch of the second half to forge ahead 3-2 with 4:52 left in regulation.

“We kind of dropped in and let them keep pinging balls in,” said Deming. “When we got down 3-2, I was pretty mad.”

Deming turned that anger into a spectacular finish, scoring the tying goal with 2:29 left in the second half to force overtime and then notched the winning tally midway through the first extra period as PHS edged Notre Dame 4-3 in overtime.

“I am a center defensive mid so I usually just hold back,” said Deming.

“When we were down, I was like, we need a goal so I decided I need to get up.”

On his first tally, Deming opportunistically slotted in a rebound.

“I saw the ball coming in and I saw our player Patrick Kenah going up for the header,” recalled Deming.

“I was like no one else is behind him so I just stood there and it bounced to me and it just dropped to my foot. It was a pretty sweet connection.”

Heading into OT, the Tigers felt they had the edge over the Irish.

“We have been in two overtime games this season,” said Deming.

“We were definitely prepared, Notre Dame hasn’t been in one. We knew what to bring to the table.”

Minutes later, Deming was in the right place at the right time on his game-winner.

“Once again I just stood there because I thought it was going to bounce and it bounced to me,” said Deming, whose tally set off a raucous celebration as fans streamed into the field from the stands and the football team ran over from practice to join in.

With PHS having entered the game mired in a 0-2-1 skid, it badly needed a victory.

“It was a bad stretch, everyone was really hungry to get a win today,” said Deming.

“We really needed to bounce back and get back into winning. This is huge momentum for the MCTs and states. This is one of the best teams in the CVC, if not the best. Being able to beat them is amazing.”

PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe saw his team’s hot start against Notre Dame as a huge plus.

“We did a lot of preparation in relation to seeing Notre Dame play and the way they play so tactically we had a plan,” said Sutcliffe, who got early goals from Emanuel Noyola and Nicholas Matese.

“It helps so much when you can get two good early goals and make a statement that way.”

Notre Dame, though, made a statement of its own with the late rally.

“You have to expect that; a team with that much talent is going to press, they are going to string passes together once they get one,” said Sutcliffe. “It is a matter of trying to figure it out and solve the problem.”

Deming proved to be the key problem-solver for the Tigers. “It was the best game I have seen Owen play in his days here,” asserted Sutcliffe.

“He was winning duels, his passing percentage was really high and he scored two great goals.”

Sutcliffe and assistant coach Ryan Walsh kept their faith in PHS even as the Irish took the lead.

“When Notre Dame went up 3-2, Walsh and I didn’t lose any belief and I don’t think they lost any belief,” said Sutcliffe.

“The last goal gave us momentum and then we adjusted a couple of tactical things in the extra time period. Credit to the guys for pulling off plays.”

With PHS starting action in the Mercer County Tournament where it is seeded third and will host a first round contest on October 21 between the winner of the play-in game between the Princeton Day School and Ewing, Sutcliffe believes his team is on the right track for a big postseason run.

“We are in a good place,” said Sutcliffe, whose team edged WW/P-South 1-0 last Saturday in improving to 8-2-2.

“You just have to believe, I am just so proud of the team and their resilience. They believe, it is a special group. Since we started in the preseason, they have had a little mojo.”

Deming is looking to produce a special ending to his PHS career.

“There are a few weeks left in our season and our careers as high school soccer players,” said Deming. “We just want to live it up while we can, have the best time we can and the best season.”