Junior Forward Howes Stepping Up Into Key Role As PHS Girls’ Soccer Aims For Another Big Season
STEPPING UP: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Holly Howes controls the ball last Thursday against Trenton High in the season opener. Junior forward Howes tallied a goal and two assists to help PHS prevail 7-0. Two days later, Howes added a goal as the Tigers topped WW/P-North 2-0. In upcoming action, PHS plays at Ewing on September 15, hosts Hamilton West on September 17, and plays at Hightstown on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
It is a tough act to follow but Holly Howes and her teammates on the Princeton High girls’ soccer team are embracing the challenge.
With PHS coming off an historic fall that saw it go 21-3 and advance to the Group 3 state championship game for the first time in program history, the 2022 squad could be feeling pressure to match such heroics
Instead, the Tigers are using last year’s success as a blueprint.
“The word of the season is ‘repeat,’” said PHS junior forward Howes. “We are doing everything to repeat the season we had last year with our communication, our playing style.”
Howes, for her part, is looking to follow in the footsteps of Sophia Lis, who tallied 38 goals for the Tigers last fall and is now starting for the Lehigh University women’s soccer team.
“My biggest influence was Sophia, she would always take chances,” said Howes, who tallied 14 goals and 10 assists last season. “She would always be working the hardest on the field, she was always finding open space. Because of her, I have become more confident in my play to take chances, to take shots.”
Last Thursday, Howes took advantage of her shots, scoring a goal and adding two assists as PHS topped Trenton High 7-0 in the season opener for both teams.
“It is definitely nice to start out the season with a goal,” said Howes. “I first shot it and then someone else got the rebound. She saved it again and then I shot it in.”
With a number of new faces in the PHS starting lineup, Howes knows she has to play a key role up top.
“We are playing a 4-4-2 offense which means I play forward with someone else,” said Howes, who added a goal as PHS defeated WW/P-North 2-0 on Saturday to improve to 2-0. “We have been practicing through balls a lot and moving to one space so everyone is always moving and someone is always open.”
In the win over Trenton, the ball was moving well as sophomore Marina Zaldarriaga scored two goals with senior Rowan Gilmore, junior Brielle Moran, senior Lucia Salvato, and junior Alysse Kiesewetter tallying one apiece.
“We always try to get everyone to be involved,” said Howes. “We are just practicing playing cohesively.”
Following in the footsteps of last year’s squad, PHS has developed a chemistry that it is bringing to the games.
“We are all friends, we do a lot of team bonding,” said Howes. “My freshman year was COVID, so we didn’t have a lot of team bonding. Last year we did a lot so we want to carry that on to our season. We did a team sleepover and a pasta dinner. Since we are all such good friends, playing on the field together comes naturally.”
PHS head coach Dave Kosa believes that the success of last year’s team has left a legacy.
“It is a different group, different season but our chemistry and togetherness is a strength,” said Kosa. “The experience from last year helped the girls who were in the program. The newcomers have also seen success. They know they have to work hard to attain it. We are going to have to work harder this year, especially with the new girls. Everybody knows the expectations and they are working to that.”
In the win over Trenton, the Tigers played up to expectations.
“We were excited, we just wanted to get off to a good start,” said Kosa. “It looks like we did. I saw a lot of good things out there. We just want to continue to get better each game.”
Kosa saw some good things from Howes. “Holly brings scoring potential,” said Kosa. “She has some great moves on the ball. She got her goal with that. We want her to continue to show to the ball and really flash to the ball so we can get her more touches.”
The team’s newcomers showed their skill as well. “The freshmen are stepping up; Kasey Howes is doing a good job, Romy Johnson does a good job on defense, and our freshman goalie Olivia DeLuca has played well,” said Kosa.
“Marina has really, really worked hard, we told her being an outside mid, you have to make sure that you get to the far post. We did a great job of crossing the ball today and we got some depth on that. She was in the right spot.”
Senior captains Salvato and Gilmore, along with junior captain Kiesewetter, have helped set a positive tone for the squad.
“We have got some really good solid leadership from the seniors,” said Kosa.
“The captains have done a great job. It is a really great vibe to be around. It has picked up again; we picked up right we left off last year.”
With PHS heading into a busy week as it plays at Ewing on September 15, hosts Hamilton West on September 17, and plays at Hightstown on September 20, Kosa is looking for his players to maintain that winning vibe.
“It’s just playing good soccer each day and game,” said Kosa. “We will continue to work harder.”
Howes, for her part, is confident that the Tigers will keep up the good work.
“We have some tough games going up so we are going to try our best and play cohesively as a team,” said Howes. “We are going to have to keep positive attitudes and communication.”