November 23, 2022

PDS Boys’ Soccer Displayed Fight to the End, Making Dramatic Rally in Non-Public Tourney Loss

IN TOUCH: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer player Todd Devin dribbles the ball in a game this fall. Sophomore Devin was a standout this fall for PDS as it went 3-11-4 and advanced to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public B South Jersey quarterfinals. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team fell behind 3-0 at St. Rose in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public B South Jersey quarterfinals earlier this month, it would have been understandable if it threw in the towel.

Instead, PDS scored three straight goals to make it a 3-3 game late in the second half.

While the Panthers ended up losing 4-3, PDS head coach Brian Thomsen was proud of the way his squad battled to the final whistle.

“The boys have always had fight,” said Thomsen, who got goals from Raag Desikan, Yaseen Mousa, and Aaron Herscovici in the loss as his team ended the fall with a 3-11-4 record. “They have been very unlucky with the outcomes.”

Despite the paucity of wins as it played a challenging schedule, the PDS players didn’t get discouraged.

“If you look at who we played against, we had one of the tougher schedules in the area,” said Thomsen. “I am not very happy about the record itself. But from a culture standpoint and everything, when you see the boys with the record that they have, you would think that they would stop caring about coming to practice and the practices would get worse and worse. The boys actually didn’t want it to end; it was pretty close in that last game, we almost did it.”

The team’s senior group — which included Joaquin Rodriguez, John Mazzarisi, Jared Sandberg, Shay Bhens, Oliver Hall, Julian Liao, and Michael Zebrowski along with Desikan and Herscovici — had a positive impact on the team culture.

“Nine guys leaving is tough to swallow; they are a group that I feel very close to personally, four of those kids play for the soccer club that I run,” said Thomsen. “You are going to be losing classes no matter what happens. You want those kids back but the reality is that it creates opportunities for other kids.”

The squad’s three senior captains, midfielder Rodriguez, goalie Mazzarisi and defender Desikan, are leaving a special legacy.

“Joaquin is somebody we are really going to miss, his leadership was fantastic,” said Thomsen. “He is a guy that people really love to play with. He is very skilled, very technical, a lot of fun to watch. It is cool because you get to see how awesome of a leader he is off the field as well. You get to see him
interact with the boys as they approach the field and the locker room. It is nice to see that come to fruition. John has always had big games. I am hoping John finds a place to go to make an impact at the college level. If he doesn’t, he had a really, really good high school career. Raag played very well in the back.”

PDS has a good foundation in place with sophomores Todd Devin, Oren Yakoby, Max Schragger, Hart Liu Nowakoski, and Henry West along with juniors Gyan Gautam and Mousa.

“You lose John but then you get Oren, who is really good,” said Thomsen. “Oren is a very good keeper and it is going to be exciting to see how he does. We have Todd coming back. The juniors are a good glue group. Max surprised a lot of people, he really defined the left back role for us this year. We had a transfer, Henry, come in and he is primed to have a good season.”

Thomsen believes his returning group could have a very good season next fall.

“We had a banquet last Monday, there was table of nine seniors and you had 10 guys on the other side who were sophomores. and juniors,” said Thomsen. “I tell you what, I would go to bat with those 10 guys any day of the week. I am excited for the future.”