With Donis Making Dazzling Home Debut, PHS Boys’ Soccer Defeats WW/P-North 5-0
By Bill Alden
It was the first varsity home game for Brian Donis on the Princeton High boys’ soccer team and he made quite an initial impression.
With PHS hosting WW/P-North last Saturday morning, sophomore forward Donis tallied two goals in the first half to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead at halftime. Early in the second half, Donis found the back of the net again to put PHS up 3-0 and it never looked back on the way to a 5-0 victory.
Afterward, a smiling Donis was taken aback by his memorable home debut.
“It is amazing, I can’t even believe it myself,” said Donis, reflecting on his hat trick. “It was because of the team’s work that we got the win, that is very important. I am just very happy for the team.”
Donis credited his teammates with setting up his two first half goals. “It was a beautiful pass from Felipe [Matar Grande], luckily I got to the end of it. The keeper kept it out at first but as long as it goes in,” said Donis, reflecting on his first goal. “The finish on the second one, I just tried and and it went in. It was a beautiful play by Felipe and Jamie [Reynolds].”
As for the third goal, Donis got loose on the end line and cleverly dribbled past a defender before firing the ball into the back of the net.
“It was a good finish but it was a beautiful pass by Archie [Smith],” said Donis.
PHS tacked on goals by Nick Matese and Matar Grande to make it a 5-0 final score.
“We all worked hard, we deserved it,” said Donis. “Overall we keep getting better. They are a good team, they have really good players. I think we did really well.”
In assessing his transition to varsity, Donis acknowledged that it has been challenging.
“It has been a bit difficult,” said Donis. “The first game against Trenton (a 1-0 win last Thursday) was very eye-opening; it just showed me to wake up and just play faster.”
Over the summer, Donis had an eye-opening experience competing for the Princeton FC Barcelona team that won the 16U final in the US Youth Soccer (USYS) 2022 National Presidents Cup tournament in July.
“After having a great summer, I have lots of confidence with the boys,” said Donis. “PFC Barca was amazing and to play with some of the guys on the Princeton High team, I think we are all connected. It really helps us on the field.”
PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe credited Donis with showing confidence around the goal in the win over WW/P-North.
“Brian had two good directional runs into the box, near post runs,” said Sutcliffe. “He found a way to be clinical enough in the spot. That is what it is about. That third goal was a factor in giving us that confidence.”
With several players on the squad having played for the PFC Barca national champion, Sutcliffe believes that experience is a big plus for the Tigers.
“Those guys have parlayed their club success into the high school team, it is working out,” added Sutcliffe. “We are really growing as a team. We are young team but we are good.”
PHS showed growth in a gritty 1-0 opening day win at Trenton High on September 8.
“The game on Thursday was really a demanding game in multiple ways,” said Sutcliffe. “Trenton played really well, they were very tough and physical. It was a phenomenal opening match. It was a great first test and we passed the test. In the opening game, I think we had seven guys make their debut. We were coming into this game in a good place.”
Junior stars Matar Grande and Matese, who also played for the PFC Barca squad, gave PHS some very good work on Saturday.
“Matar Grande is getting better,” said Sutcliffe. “He is a captain and he needs to get even better. Every day, he needs to keep improving. Nick is a good set piece guy, he does really well on that.”
The Tiger defense has been doing really well, having not yielded a goal yet this season.
“We have two clean sheets,” said Sutcliffe. “We are so proud of their progress.”
Overall, Sutcliffe likes the way things are progressing so far this season.
“I am just happy about everyone’s approach to the game,” said Sutcliffe.
“It is where it needs to be and we are getting better. We have to get better every day. We couldn’t ask more from them; I am very pleased with the group.”
Donis, for his part, believes the group can keep getting better.
“We just all need to stay positive,” said Donis. “We are all very happy and working hard.”