PRINCETON: Improved Panthers in MCT semis


By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
The Princeton Day School field hockey team only won six games a year ago, but that season planted the seed for future success.
“We weren’t as bad as our record showed last year,” PDS coach Heather Farlow said. “We got better from week to week, so we finished the season on a high note. The girls also worked hard in the offseason on their skills. They get along very well so we have a very good team dynamic.”
The experience gained last year and the work the Panthers have put in since have paid dividends this season. PDS picked up its 13th win of the season on Tuesday when it topped West Windsor-Plainsboro North, 5-0, in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals.
With the win, the second-seeded Panthers advanced to the MCT semifinals, where they were scheduled to face third-seeded Allentown on Thursday. In the other semifinal, fourth-seeded Princeton was scheduled to take on eighth-seeded Lawrenceville, which eliminated top-seeded Robbinsville.
Sasha Sindhwani scored a pair of goals, while Gretchen Lindenfeldar, Val Radvany and Julia Lach added single tallies to back the shutout goalkeeping of Lexie Hausheer in the Panthers’ win over the Knights. The lead was 1-0 until midway through the second half when the PDS offense broke the game open.
“This whole season has been amazing,” said junior Liz Brennan, who had an assist in the PDS win. “We have an awesome team dynamic and a bunch of good coaches. People have stepped it up this season and we have been playing well as a team.
“When you mesh well off the field you end up playing well on the field.”
Even though there may not have been as many wins as they would have hoped for, Brennan could see the progress the Panthers were making last year. That has carried over into this season.
“Two seasons ago we had two wins,” Brennan said. “Last season we had six and this season we have 13 up to this point. It has been amazing to play with this team. We have had a lot of fun this season.
“Th tournaments are great. It is exciting having the whole one-and-done because that puts emphasis on playing each game a full 60 minutes. That’s something that I don’t know we did as well last season. But that has been one of the main focuses, playing a full game all out all game.”
This year’s team is playing at a high level and hopes to have that continue through the MCT and into the state Prep B tournament next week.
“All of us have been close since middle school,” Brennan said. “And the people that have been new to the team, I think we have made them all feel welcome. Kiely (French) has been amazing as a captain and Suma (Kanuri) helped out a lot. The whole team has gotten along and we have done a lot outside of school.”
The Panthers are still a young team that should continue to get better. They’ve made great strides this season as players have done whatever is needed to help the team win. Brennan is one of those players who has changed positions to help the team succeed.
“I used to be at the top of the diamond in Val’s position, so I have moved back a spot,” she said. “It has been a lot of fun because I am defensive-minded to begin with so I feel like I am most suited for the position. I play a lot of defense in club. Initially they had me playing left back this season but then they moved me up to midfield.”
Against the Knights she helped control the midfield until the offense found its groove.
“We knew Lauren (Hausheer, the North goalie) was going to be a tough goalie but we emphasized moving the ball,” Farlow said. “We knew if we did that we knew we would have opportunities.”
Princeton reached the semifinals with a 6-0 win over Ewing. Avery Peterson, Mariana Lopez-Ona and Chloe Koehler scored two goals apiece in the win for the Little Tigers. Hun, the No. 11 seed, opened the tournament with a 1-0 upset win over sixth-seeded Hightstown on a goal by Julie Fassl. The Raiders then dropped a 2-0 decision to Allentown on Tuesday. 