Sparked by Keegan’s Superb All-Around Play, PHS Field Hockey Looking Formidable at 4-0
GOOD RUN: Princeton High field hockey player Delaney Keegan, right, marks a player in a game last season. Last Wednesday, junior midfielder Keegan had a goal and two assists to help PHS defeat Allentown 4-0. The Tigers, who improved to 4-0 with a 6-0 win over Ewing last Monday, play at WW/P-South on September 21, host Robbinsville on September 23, and play at Steinert on September27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Delaney Keegan was a bit frustrated as the Princeton High field hockey team dominated possession in the early going against Allentown last Wednesday but had nothing to show for it.
“At the beginning, everyone was playing a little bit off,” said junior standout Keegan. “At the start of the game we are just trying to get into the mood.”
Keegan helped break the ice, setting up Hannah Christopher as she scored with 1:18 left in the first quarter to give PHS a 1-0 lead.
“Once we got into it, I think it was using each other, effectively passing and communicating, not even with screaming,” said Keegan.
“It was just with signals and looking up, that really, really helped us out.”
With the Tigers scoring a goal in each quarter and the defense holding the first, PHS earned a 4-0 win over the Redbirds.
“We have been practicing a lot on connection with our forwards and more connecting in layers,” said Keegan, who ended up with a goal and two assists in the win.
“We are working on mixing the two layers with forwards and mid and defense. We are also working on that front goal passing and tipping. We have come to notice that as we move it across goal more, there are open shots and less room for hitting it into the goalie’s pads or any of that.”
Keegan acknowledged that Allentown pushed the Tigers, forcing them fight harder in the circle.
“I think they were playing really, really good defense; they gave us a run to show us what aggression is and how we need to come back at them more,” said Keegan.
“It was just being stronger on the ball and being more effective on the ball too.”
Displaying some aggression, Keegan blasted home her goal with 13:46 left in regulation to cap off the scoring on the day.
“That was really nice,” said Keegan. “Once we read the goalie (Kylie Elefante), we started to realize that we shouldn’t go right into her. She was really good.”
As her role has evolved on the team, Keegan is looking to do a little bit of everything for the Tigers.
“I am ready to step up and help the team out,” said Keegan. “I want to do anything that is best for the team, distribute. I want to be a team player and really help out.”
PHS head coach Heather Serverson credited Keegan with stepping up in a big way this fall.
“Not only is she great offensively, she really helps us in the midfield,” said Serverson of Keegan who chipped in an assist last Monday as PHS defeated Ewing 6-0 to improve to 4-0.
“She prevents the ball from getting back to our defense a lot of times and then she does a great job of distributing the ball. She is great at both ends, she is great everywhere on the field.”
While Serverson acknowledged that PHS took a while to get going against Allentown, she liked how things came together.
“It takes us like five to 10 minutes to actually start connecting with each other but once we do it is like spot on,” said Serverson. “It is beautiful to watch.”
Despite producing some beautiful moments, PHS has room for growth.
“That is our goal, to just pepper the goalie and try not to let the goalie have some saves,” said Serverson
“We are trying to work on tipping and getting our stick in front. I think we did OK on that today. We had a lot of post balls that I would like to see go in the goal. We will work on those things in practice.”
The team’s work on diversifying its attack paid off against the Redbirds as Erin Liggio and Kayla Christopher tallied the other goals, giving PHS four different scorers on the day.
“We had a diverse group of scorers,” said Serverson. “I think it is wonderful as many people who can contribute as possible. It makes it amazing out there, it is a true team effort as opposed to just relying on one or two people.”
The Tiger defense produced a superb effort in stifling Allentown.
“They did a great job communicating,” said Serverson. “We have got a lot of speed on defense this year too which has really been helping us a lot both on the defensive end and the offensive end. Sophie [Gono] in particular is really, really fast. She gets that transition to attack started a lot for us. She does a great job.”
With PHS playing at WW/P-South on September 21, hosting Robbinsville on September 23, and playing at Steinert on September 27, Serverson is confident that the Tigers can keep on the winning track.
“The way we are connecting, that is our big thing,” said Serverson.
“Once we can connect, we can do anything as long as we are doing it up and down the field as a unit. As soon as we start to really figure out that part of the game out, I think we are going to be really hard to stop.”
In Keegan’s view, PHS has been figuring things out.
“I am really, really happy with the way we are connecting so far,” said Keegan,
“I think we picked that up very quickly from the loss of a lot of our players last year from our starting lineup. We have some new players coming up which is really good. We have realized that it is more effective to pass and work together as a team.”