PRINCETON: Panther boys set for soccer tourneys

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By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
This is the favorite time of the season for the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team.
The Panthers are into the tournament portion of the schedule, where they play in both the state Prep B tournament and Mercer County Tournament.
Princeton Day opened the Prep B tournament on Monday with a 9-0 victory over Morristown-Beard. Wesley Leggett scored four goals to lead the way for PDS.
“We have had a good season,” said PDS coach Ollie Hilliker, whose team improved to 9-5 with the victory over Morristown-Beard. “If you look at our record, you might think it is not a great season. But our losses have been against Pennington, Peddie, Blair, Hopewell, and Springside-Chestnut Hill. They are all good teams. We play a very tough schedule. We beat Pingry. We have beaten competitive teams. Our losses have been to tough teams. We want to play a competitive schedule so we’re ready for MCTs. We want to be ready.”
The Panthers drew the No. 9 seed for the MCT and were scheduled to open play on Thursday at eighth-seeded West Windsor-Plainsboro North. The winner would advance to likely face top-seeded Hopewell Valley.
Pricneton Day, which prepped for tournament week with an 8-1 triumph over Portledge  of New York last Saturday, entered the game against West Windsor-Plainsboro North having won four straight games. In the victory over Portledge, James Henderson scored three goals, while Leggett  contributed two goals and three assists.
“We’ve had some tough games here and there, but we definitely play well together,” PDS senior Justin Herrup said after the  decision over Portledge. “Once we all focus and we get our intensity up, we definitely are one of the best teams in the area. We’re so excited. We have West Windsor North coming up and we’re ready to go.
“We were a little disappointed when we got out early in MCTs last year. Preps we won  last year and it was a great feeling.”
Herrup is one of many players who have contributed to the Panthers’ success this season. While his main sport is lacrosse, he’s been a contributor in the soccer field as well, helping the team to another successful season.
“I am coming more into my own,” Herrup said. “I have great teammates around me so it is real easy to play. I have always been more of a lacrosse player. So having all of these really good soccer players around me has been awesome for my development and the team’s development.
“You have guys from all sorts of different sports who just come together. It’s awesome. We have some young guys that are fighting to get spots. They are playing really hard. We’re really a deep team and that is one thing that is different about us this year.”
The Panthers are the No. 2 seed in the Prep B tournament and will be the host to the winner of the game between No. 3 seed Gill-St. Bernard’s and sixth-seeded Wardlaw-Hartridge. That game will be played Oct. 26 with the final set for Nov. 1.
“We just want to win the next game,” Herrup said. “It starts there and I think this team could make a really good run towards both championships. We have made huge strides since the beginning of the season and I think it can only go up from here.”
Added Hilliker: “We’re ready and we’re excited and I think the boys are ready to perform. They like to win.”
The PDS girls, who shared the Prep B title last year, are seeded second and had a first-round bye. The Panthers will play the winner of the game between third-seeded Gill-St. Bernard’s and No. 6 Newark Academy.