November 23, 2022

After Producing a Good Start with Some Tight Wins, PHS Girls’ Soccer Got Hurt By Injury in Homestretch

KEY PERFORMER: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Alysse Kiesewetter, right, marks a foe in a game this fall. Junior defender/midfielder Kiesewetter starred at both ends of the field for PHS as it went 8-8-2 this fall. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although the Princeton High girls’ soccer team ended its season by losing 2-0 to Manalapan in the first round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Central Jersey Group 4 sectional tournament, Dave Kosa believed the score didn’t reflect how his squad battled.

“We played really well, a couple of things didn’t go our way,” said PHS head coach Kosa, reflecting on the effort he got from 11th-seeded PHS as it battled a sixth-seeded Manalapan squad that ended up advancing to the sectional final. “We had a goal called back on an offsides on a direct kick which you don’t normally see. On the second goal, the ball went out on the touchline, we thought it was ours. They scored on a corner. You take those two things and maybe it is 1-1 instead of 2-0. What we take out of it is that when we are playing our best, we can hang with the best teams.”

PHS didn’t play its best down the stretch as it lost six straight games to finish the fall with an 8-8-2 record, struggling to find the back of the net.

“We had a lot of injuries, we have five, six girls on the sidelines, that hurts,” said Kosa. “Throughout the season, even when were 8-2-2, we weren’t scoring a lot. We would win 2-1, 1-0.”

Kosa was proud of how his players stuck with things as they dealt with adversity.

“To our credit, we hung in there,” said Kosa. “In the beginning we beat some pretty good teams. I think our youth was a factor, the fact that we are asking four or five or six freshmen to play lots of minutes. The way the schedule was set up, we are playing three games in a week so we wore down. We hung in there in the beginning and then we were wearing down towards the end of the season.”

The Tigers suffered a key loss early in the fall when junior midfielder Casey Serxner was sidelined for the season due to a leg injury

“Casey will be back healthy next year, that was a main reason why we didn’t score,” said Kosa. “She was the focal point of a lot of what we do — she is great distributor and goal scorer.”

The squad’s seniors, Sofia Mauger, Hilary Chessler,  Lucia Salvato, Rowan Gilmore, Evie Kirby, Julia Tharney, and Sofia Jaffe, did a lot of good things over the years.

“They put forth great commitment and dedication to the program,” said Kosa. “When they were freshmen, I had them on the JV team and it was nice to see the progress. Last year, they enjoyed going to the state final and getting that experience and this year they helped us to be really competitive. We are definitely going to miss them.”

A pair of juniors, Holly Howes and Alysse Kiesewetter, made big progress this fall, getting named as Mercer 33 recipients and selected for the Central Jersey Top 20 by the New Jersey Girls Soccer Coaches Association.

“Holly really took it to the next level, knowing that she was going to be the main scorer,” said Kosa, who got some good play this fall from freshmen Romy Johnson, Kacey Howes, Clara Burton, Quinn Gallagher, and Leila Hodgett along with sophomores Marina Zaldarriaga and Ava Tabeart and junior Brielle Moran. “A lot of teams were keying on her and she was still able to score nine goals. Alysse was playing from a back position but when we needed offense, she would move up to outside mid and scored eight goals. Some of them were big-time goals. She was so versatile. I call her our lock down defender because when she was on the back line, nobody was scoring on her side. They are two great competitors and had great seasons for us.”

Kosa believes that the Tigers are poised for a great season in 2023.

“I think we are going to be back in the thick of things,” said Kosa.

“I am real excited for it, we are going to have an awesome senior class next year. We had seven or eight really good freshmen that got a lot of time this year and contributed. I think these next couple of years are going to be exciting for us.”