September 20, 2023

Senior Forward Howes Triggering the Offense As PHS Girls’ Soccer Gets Off to a 3-2 Start

HOWE ABOUT THAT: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Holly Howes is all smiles after scoring the lone goal for PHS in a 1-0 win over Hightstown last Thursday. The Tigers, who lost 2-1 to Haddonfield last Saturday to move to 3-2, host Lawrence High on September 21 before playing at Princeton Day School on September 23 and at Notre Dame on September 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Holly Howes made a number of runs to goal early on for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team as it hosted Hightstown last Thursday, but to no avail as the foes were knotted in a scoreless stalemate.

Despite misfiring wide and having one point blank shot saved by the Rams goalie, Howes was undeterred.

“You could definitely see that the momentum was in our direction,” said senior forward and co-captain Howes. “When you have a miss that you probably think you should have scored. The best thing you can do is forget about it and move on to the next play.”

With 23:39 left in the first half, Howes didn’t miss as she slotted the ball into the back of the net to give PHS a 1-0 lead.

“Sometimes, I feel like we get a little jumbled out there and sometimes you just have to take your shot, take your chance,” said Howes. “Something I do very well is the maneuvering so I am playing to my strengths and we got the goal.”

That goal proved to be margin of victory as PHS edged Hightstown 1-0.

The Tigers had chances early in the second half but hit a lull when senior star midfielder Casey Serxner left the game with a leg injury.

“We started off wanting to get another goal, things changed and it changed to being more conservative,” said Howes.

“We just wanted to contain them and we wanted to get the win. There was a lot of emotional turmoil. The goal at that point was just to win. We don’t need to win by a bunch of goals.”

Playing with a sense of urgency this fall, Howes has scored four goals in the early going for the Tigers.

“It is my last year here and I want to have a good season,” said Howes, who got an assist as the Tigers fell 2-1 to Haddonfield last Saturday in moving to 3-2. “I want to make an impact with this team. We are going to do the best we can to go as far as we can as a team.”

Howes worked hard over the offseason to be at her best in her final campaign.

“We had captains’ practices over the summer with very high attendance,” said Howes, whose younger sister Kacey is a sophomore midfielder for the Tigers. “We were very committed to keeping up team chemistry and the practices in the summer definitely contributed to the flow of the game.”

Being a team captain along with Alysse Kiesewetter, Brielle Moran, and Serxner, Howes is looking to create a positive vibe.

“I have been through it all, I understand how each person on the team feels,” said Howes. “As captains we try to produce team chemistry on and off the field. We are having a lot of team bonding activities to bring that down to the field. We are very tight on this team.”

PHS head coach Dave Kosa sensed that his squad would be facing a tight contest against the feisty Rams.

“We are getting into the meat of the schedule now, the girls knew that coming in,” said Kosa. “We knew that Hightstown is always a strong team. Their record was 0-3 but they played three really good teams.”

The Tigers got going early against Hightstown. “We need to be ready, we attacked in the first half,” said Kosa. “Holly got one. I thought we had a couple of other good chances — their goalie made some great saves.”

Kosa was not surprised to see Howes come through with the game winner.

“Holly always works hard in practice as far as finishing,” said Kosa of Howes, the team’s leading scorer this fall with three assists to go along with her four goals. “Last year, it was her and Alysse as far as goal scoring for us. This year, we have a lot more options. When she gets the ball, you can sense that she has the confidence to take it to goal. She is showing that.”

The Tiger back line has been playing with confidence this season, led by freshman goalie Julia Zaldarriaga along with veteran defenders Kiesewetter, Ava Tabeart, and Romy Johnson.

“It was a great defensive effort, having Julia in goal even though she is a freshman. She plays beyond her years; she is really smart back there,” said Kosa. “I am really confident with our defensive group. Alysse and has been there for three years at left outside back. Ava has always been talented, she is at sweeper. Romy was last year’s sweeper and now she is our stopper. We have the speed back there, we have the communication back there so hopefully we can continue to build on that.”

With PHS hosting Lawrence High on September 21 before playing at Princeton Day School on September 23 and at Notre Dame on September 26, Kosa is looking for his squad to keep building.

“It is early so it is just a matter of continuing to work hard and continuing to understand how to play together to win these games,” said Kosa. “We started out with Allentown (a 1-0 loss on September 7) and that was a really close one, that could have gone either way. This was another test. We have some good opponents coming up, next week is going to be really tough too. We are ready, we just have to keep on playing.”

Howes believes that the Tigers will keep playing well. “You can’t think about the past,” said Howes. “You have to take each game as it is. We have to play to our strengths and just keep moving forward.”