Senior Star Olaleye Has Busy Day in Losing Cause As Hun Girls’ Soccer Falls to Pingry, Now 3-2
By Bill Alden
Toni Olaleye had a busy day at the office last Monday as the Hun School girls’ soccer team hosted the Pingry School.
Imposing center back and senior captain Olaleye battled all over the field for Hun. She had a clearance off the line and made some end-to-end runs to goal while patrolling the Raider backfield.
Olaleye’s efforts weren’t enough as Pingry topped Hun 4-1 to drop the Raiders to 3-2.
“They had No. 5 (Casey Phair) up top who was really good,” said Olaleye of the Pingry freshman star who tallied three goals in the day.
“Gabi [Rollins] did a good job sticking on her, shutting her down. We did the best we could in the back.”
Trailing 2-0 at half, Hun looked to tighten things up down the stretch.
“It was just marking up better and playing better defense as a whole,” said Olaleye.
So far this fall, Hun has faced a gauntlet of high-powered opponents including Episcopal Academy (Pa.) and the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.)
“We thrive off of playing tougher teams,” said Olaleye. “It is what we want to do. It is how we get better, we love it.”
Olaleye thrives in being a take-charge player for the Raiders. “I played a leadership role last year as well,” said Olaleye. “It is not that big of a change, it is just a title really.”
Hun head coach Jenn Barrett credits Olaleye with assuming a huge role this fall.
“Tooni is absolutely amazing; what I love about Tooni is that she leaves everything on the field and she gives 100 percent every single second,” said Barrett.
“She has all the intangibles, I can put her anywhere. She plays defense for us but she plays forward for her other team.”
In reflecting on the loss to Pingry, Barrett acknowledged that Pingry star Phair was a handful.
“It was a tough challenge; No. 5 (Phair) was threat coming in,” said Barrett.
“We decided we were going to man mark her which I think we did really well.”
With Hun a work in progress, Barrett hopes her team will learn some lessons from the loss on Monday.
“We are still trying to figure out our identity this year and what is working positionally,” said Barrett, who got a goal against Pingry on a penalty kick by senior star Riley Hayes.
“We have some key players injured who aren’t playing. We had trouble clicking today, we had trouble connecting. I think focusing on the man marking and trying to figure out our formation this year has been tough. We take this as a learning tool.”
After having won the state Prep A title last fall with a 4-3 overtime triumph against perennial powerhouse Pennington School, Barrett looked to test this year’s squad with a tough schedule.
I wanted to make sure that they understood things; we are having some reality checks coming off last season,” says Barrett, whose team plays at the Germantown Academy (Pa.) on September 21 and at the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on September 24 before hosting the Pennington on September 27.
“I think these games are just going to make us better and better for the tournament games in the Prep A and the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL), things like that.”
Although Hun has taken some lumps in the early going, Barrett wants her players to keep the faith.
“What I want them to take is that they are amazing players as individuals and as a team, and they just need to connect that and believe in themselves,” said Barrett.
“We want to play the best teams, that is what we want to do and learn from everything we have. We have film now, we can look at that and figure out what we need to do better. We are looking for much more possession, many fewer touches, and many more balls wide instead of central.”
Olaleye, for her part, believes that Hun can do some special things this fall.
“I think we have a really strong team everywhere on the field,” said Olaleye.
“In the losses, sometimes another team is better. We are really good; I believe in us for the rest of the season.”