November 3, 2021

Getting Battle-Tested by Challenging Stretch Drive, Hun Girls’ Soccer Facing Pennington in Prep A Title Clash

RISING SPEKTOR: Hun School girls’ soccer player Olivia Spektor boots the ball in recent action. Last Monday, Spektor helped Hun defeat Lawrenceville 2-1 to improve to 11-4-2. Top-seeded Hun hosts second-seeded Pennington (15-2-2) in the state Prep A title game on November 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In late September, the Hun School girls’ soccer team turned a lot of heads when it edged perennial power Pennington 1-0.

Gaining confidence from its first victory over its nemesis since 2014 when it topped Pennington 2-0 in the state Prep A title game, Hun emerged as one of the top sides in the area.

The Raiders advanced to the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals where they suffered a tough 1-0 loss in overtime to Princeton High on October 23. Four days later, Hun bounced back from that setback, defeating Kent Place 1-0 in the state Prep A semifinals.

As a result, top-seeded Hun earned a rematch with second-seeded Pennington and will host its rival in the Prep A final on November 3.

“We love the competitive challenge of playing the best teams,” said Hun head coach Jenn Barrett.

“Obviously they have improved over the season and they have done very, very well. We want to play them, we look forward to playing them, we want to prove that our win was solid, and we can do it again.”

Over the last 10 days, Hun has faced plenty of challenges, In addition to the games against PHS and Kent Place, the Raiders lost 1-0 to Delaware Valley on October 28, tied the Peddie School 2-2 last Saturday, and then edged the Lawrenceville School 2-1 last Monday.

By topping Lawrenceville, Hun improved to 11-4-2 and clinched at least a share of the Mid-Atlantic (MAPL) Prep League title.

“We have been pushed and they have risen to the challenge,” said Barrett, reflecting on her team’s busy stretch drive.

“We have a great group of kids, they all really get along. They all have the philosophy of the we before me; it makes a huge difference. They are very talented players who are learning to play various positions.”

The Raiders pushed hard in the loss to PHS. “I thought that was the best we have played, we played hard from the moment the whistle blew,” said Barrett, whose team was seeded sixth in the MCT while the Tigers were seeded third.

“It was an even match. We try very hard to stick to our game plan. I try not to do a ton of changing our game plan based on who we play. I feel like if we are solid, we will do well. We played so well and the loss was such a sting. I said to the girls, they had nothing to have their heads down about. They worked super hard, they did everything they are capable of doing. It is just what happens in sports. That is what makes sports exciting.”

While Hun didn’t play its best in the win over Kent Place, it showed some character in surviving and advancing.

“We couldn’t connect as much with each other,” said Barrett, who got a goal from Olivia D’Aulerio in the victory.

“We played down a little bit. We still got through it and came out with a win.”

Looking ahead to round two with Pennington (15-2-2), who won the MCT title last week, Barrett believes her players need to keep their heads and focus on what they do best to earn their first Prep A crown since that 2014 win over the Red Raiders.

“I think composure is a key, we are anticipating a relatively large crowd as we had with Germantown Academy,” said Barrett, referring to a 1-0 win over the Patriots on October 1 before a Friday night lights Homecoming throng.

“We still had to play our game and not get sucked into the atmosphere. Another key point is just going to be using our combination play and touch play and making sure that every player on the field does the best at which they are capable of doing and rising to the challenge.”