October 5, 2022

PDS Boys’ Soccer Falls 1-0 to Lawrenceville But Takes a Step Forward with Intense Effort

BEST FOOT FORWARD: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer player Todd Devin kicks the ball upfield in a game earlier this season. Sophomore Devin has been a standout in the midfield for the Panthers this fall. PDS, which fell 3-1 to Lawrence High last Monday to fall to 2-6-1, plays at Rutgers Prep on October 6 to open action in the state Prep B tournament and will then play at George School (Pa.) on October 8 and host Hun on October 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Falling behind local rival Lawrenceville 1-0 late in the first half last Saturday evening, the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team turned up the intensity.

PDS came out flying after halftime, drawing a red card and then proceeding to generate a number of scoring opportunities as it dominated possession. Unfortunately, the Panther shots went just a bit wide, high, and on one sequence, the Lawrenceville goalie stuck out his leg in desperation to deflect a potential goal.

In the end, PDS fell 1-0 but Panther head coach Brian Thomsen liked what he saw notwithstanding the final result.

“Things happen and we tried to get back into the game,” said Thomsen. “Obviously it wasn’t for lack of trying, it was just not putting the ball in the back of the net. That is OK, it happens.”

In Thomsen’s view, the Panthers showed progress.

“I think tonight was a good step in the right direction from a work ethic perspective and just trying to see if we can get something going,” said Thomsen. “We use today as a learning experience. The game could have gone either way, it is one of those things.”

A number of PDS players provided some good things in the defeat, including senior midfielder and co-captain Joaquin Rodriguez, sophomore star Todd Devin, senior defender and co-captain Raag Desikan, senior Michael Zebrowski, and senior Oliver Hall.

“Joaquin definitely got out of his slump today from an effort perspective,” said Thomsen. “Todd clearly continues to put the effort in. Raag played really well, as did Michael. I thought Raag played unbelievable in the back for us. With Oliver, as soon as we got him in for the last 10 minutes, he caused a lot of problems.”

Thomsen is hoping that history repeats itself as PDS went through a rough stretch early in the season last year before producing a stretch run that saw it make the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public B state final.

“It is one of those things too, where you sit here and say, ‘how do you look at it?” said Thomsen. “We were in a similar position last year. We came off a bad loss to Pennington, and then we had a bad string of results. We are just trying to figure out how to get out momentum back a little bit.”

Based on the effort that Thomsen is seeing from his players in training, he believes that the Panthers can figure things out.

“Every day we are on the training pitch, and we are doing something. It has been a blast, it has been a lot of fun,” said Thomsen. “That is really what high school athletics is about. It is a chance to grow as a human being mentally and with some people that you go to school with. The good part is that our season is not over — we have another six weeks at least.”

With PDS playing at Rutgers Prep on October 6 to open action in the state Prep B tournament and then playing at George School (Pa.) on October 8 and hosting Hun on October 11, Thomsen hopes his team can grow into something special.

“Having four games in seven days is a lot, but it gives us four opportunities to see that this group is made of,” said Thomsen. “We are calling it momentum week because we turn around and play Hun and then we play MCTs and keep going in the tournament season. This year, the big mantra of the group is to bring the level of effort that is needed to be successful. If we are not successful with that kind of effort, we are going to have to be OK with that and keep moving on.”