PRINCETON: Hilliker takes over as PDS soccer coach

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By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Ollie Hilliker brings plenty of experience and knowledge of soccer in the Princeton area to his new position as varsity boys soccer coach at Princeton Day School.
Hilliker, who had spent the last five seasons as the head coach at New Hope-Solebury, has been the Director of Coaching with the Princeton Soccer Association since 2009. A native of Wales, he is looking forward to coaching the Panthers.
“I’ve coached at New Hope-Solebury the last five years and I have been with PSA, so I have been in Princeton coaching for seven years,” Hilliker said. “I’ve known of the school from being in the area. I was finishing in New Hope because of the distance to get to practice every day. The position came up at PDS and I was interested right away.”
Hilliker was named to the position in the spring and got to know his players a little over the summer. They’ve been practicing at PDS for just over a week and are itching to get the season started.
“A couple of PSA kids are on the team and there are a few that I know from club soccer and playing against them,” said Hilliker, whose team will open the season on Sept. 10 against Hightstown. “There are six or seven I already knew and several others I have gotten to know quickly. We had some meetings in the spring.”
Hilliker played semi professional soccer in Wales, where he also played on the U16 Youth National team. He has enjoyed coaching success in the United States and hopes that continues at PDS.
“PSA has done well,” he said. “We also did well in New Hope. We had two state semifinals and we won the district championship four of the five years. We used to play PDS every year so I am familiar with the program from having played against them.
“I have been in the US for nine years. I came over when I was 21 and just turned 30. I have been coaching all my life and I love it. I am excited about coaching at PDS. We have a lot of guys with experience. We’re still relatively young. We only have six or seven seniors. We’re looking pretty good.”
Montgomery High returns a strong nucleus from the team that earned a share of the Somerset County Tournament title last year.
“We are scheduled to scrimmage four talented teams which include Scotch Plains, Somerville, Robbinsville and West Morris-Mendham,” Montgomery coach Rickey Steeb said. “We are returning six starters along with six others that have varsity experience. The boys have been working extremely hard. One of our goals is to have a successful season and to get better every day.
“Our captains are Rory Kemmerer, Christian Espana and Dan Choi. I expect our captains and upperclassmen to lead on and off the field.”
The Cougars also return seniors Andrew Dollard, Lucas Freda, and Brandon Marna, as well as juniors Marko Elez, Trent Kettelkamp, Charlie Rodgers, and Steve Tattoli. Sophomores Jack Callan and Nick Millett are also back in the fold.
The Hun School has several returning players back in the fold as they Raiders look to improve. The top returning players include seniors Patrick Nally, Logan Leppo, Jake O’Dowd and Connor Hufer, as well as junior Michael Campbell and sophomores Elijah Smarr and James Muldowney.
“We have a very strong core of returning seniors who know what it takes to win,” Hun coach Patrick Quirk said. “The returners mix well with some very skilled new players which makes me very excited about the potential of this team. The team work and toughness is present but staying healthy will be an important factor for how much success this team will have.”
In the Colonial Valley Conference, Princeton was heavy on seniors last year but should return a strong nucleus this season. The Little Tigers have a way of always seeming to surprise people in years when they appear to be rebuilding.
WW-P South reached the Mercer County Tournament championship games last year and should be a top squad again this year. Anthony Amore is back to help lead the offense.
WW-P North had a solid season last year as it reached the Central Jersey Group III final. The Knights return forward Vincenzo Pugliese, who scored 12 goals a year ago, as well as their starting goalkeeper, Oliver Sapon. 