September 20, 2023

With Ryan Determined to Make the Most of Senior Season, PDS Field Hockey Looking Formidable as it Starts 3-0-1

LILY OF THE FIELD: Princeton Day School field hockey player Lily Ryan controls the ball in a game earlier season. Last Friday, senior star Ryan scored two goals to help PDS defeat Stuart County Day School 5-0. The Panthers, who topped Robbinsville 5-2 last Monday to improve to 3-0-1, play at Hamilton West on September 20 before hosting Allentown on September 22 and Steinert on September 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Lily Ryan is determined to go out with a bang this fall in her final season with the Princeton Day School field hockey team.

“It is a sense of urgency,” said senior forward/midfielder Ryan. “It is senior year and you want to make it the best that you can. Everyone on the team is friends, which makes the energy for every game much better.”

Displaying that urgency last Friday against visiting Stuart Country Day, Ryan tallied two goals to help the Panthers pull away to a 5-0 victory.

After jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the first minute of the contest on a goal by Tessa Caputo, PDS did hit a lull as it controlled possession but didn’t push across another goal for more than 28 minutes.

“We had to adjust our playing style, once we adjusted to that, we were much more successful,” said Ryan. “We just had to fix how we played a little bit, and then we all connected much better.”

Benefiting from those connections, Ryan scored a goal with 44 seconds left in the first half to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead at intermission.

“I felt that I had been getting a lot of nice passing from my teammates,” said Ryan. “On that one, I went for it and saw an opening on the side of the goal and it went in.”

In the second half, Ryan kept going for it, tallying a goal early in the third quarter.

“On that first one the ball was kind of bouncing around and I had enough of it so I just hit it,” said Ryan.

With four goals in two games, Ryan is raising her level of play. “I have been playing with more intensity which is good,” said Ryan, who scored two goals in an 8-0 win over WW/P-North on September 12. “I have been really excited. We have a great team chemistry this year.”

Over the years, Ryan has developed a great bond with classmate and fellow forward Caputo, who also scored two goals in the win over Stuart.

“We have been playing together as forwards for a while,” said Ryan. “We have gotten chemistry together — you feel like she is always there when you need to pass or whatever. I am always there to pass to her, it is perfect.”

The squad’s group of eight seniors is there for each other.

“Last year, we had one senior (Jadyn Huff) and obviously we miss her a lot,” said Ryan. “We had all stepped up as juniors, so I feel like there is a carryover from that year. We are all ready and all glad to play together one last time.”

PDS head coach Heather Farlow is glad to have Ryan playing on her front line.

“Lily is just a strong, solid player she has always been great,” said Farlow of Ryan, who also stars for the PDS girls’ ice hockey team. “I think we relied very heavily on Jadyn for a while, so it is nice to see the others step up.”

Caputo has been stepping up with her finishing touch. “Tessa is just a dynamic athlete,” said Farlow. “She is a really a dynamo with the change of speed and the acceleration with the ball. She loves to finish and I love a finisher.”

Farlow loves the way the Panther offense is coming together.

“We were worked on possession this week, so it was nice to see it executed,” added Farlow, whose squad topped Robbinsville 5-2 last Monday in moving to 3-0-1 “It is a really nice way to start and head into the CVC (Colonial Valley Conference).”

The PDS defense has also gotten off to a good start, yielding just two goals in four games.

“We are just trying to work on the positioning and where the ball is relative to where you should be and the movement together,” said Farlow. “It is coming together nicely. Molly Hall has played well at goalie, she is doing great.”

With PDS playing at Hamilton West on September 20 before hosting Allentown on September 22 and Steinert on September 26, Farlow is confident her team can keep up the good work.

“We have had three game weeks in the past,” said Farlow. “We were prepared for it last year. We are just excited to see different opponents and see how we stack up in the county. There are very different styles of play. If we can keep everyone healthy, we think that we are going to be competitive.”

Ryan, for her part, believes the Panthers can be competitive when the Mercer County Tournament rolls around in late October.

“We have been shifting people through different positions to figure out what is the best group of players that we could have on the field,” said Ryan. “We have been doing a great job connecting whoever is out there. The energy is always up. We know that twice in the MCT final, we have been stopped. This year, the MCT final is our aim. It is my last chance and I am very determined. Whoever it is we face, we will be ready.”