PRINCETON: Little Tigers fall in MCT after impressive run to final


By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Once the Princeton High field hockey team reached the Mercer County Tournament championship game, the goal then became to win a county title.
But prior to its run to the final, Princeton had set different goals when it came to the MCT.
As the No. 6 seed in the tournament, the Little Tigers looked at the draw and hoped to achieve two things — to reach the final and avenge regular-season losses to Robbinsville and Allentown along the way.
Princeton did just that, upsetting third-seeded Robbinsville in the quarterfinals and second-seeded Allentown in the semifinals before falling to top-seeded Lawrenceville, 5-0, in the final last Saturday at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor.
“That was our goal, to change the result of some of our losses from earlier in the season,” Princeton coach Heather Serverson said. “I think we did that. We played well in the first few rounds. I told them before the game that no matter what happens with the outcome of this game, we made it to the finals. And looking at how we started our season, to be able to have transform the way that we did was great.”
Princeton had lost to both Robbinsville (5-0) and Allentown (2-1) in earlier meetings this season, but came back and posted victories over those teams in the MCT. In the county final, the defense limited Lawrenceville to one goal for the first 25 minutes before the Big Red scored twice just before halftime for a 3-0 lead.
Despite allowing five goals, the Princeton defense played well.
“They’re solid,” Serverson said of her defense. “But we just couldn’t seem to stop all of the shots that they took. They were great shots.”
Princeton, which fell to 10-6-2 with the loss to Lawrenceville, has played much better over the second half of the season. A large part of that was the result of solid leadership from upperclassmen.
“I think it showed, especially the younger players, what they are capable of,” Serverson said of the run through the MCT. “We might not have that consistency that we need yet. But I think it is a good experience because it shows them at a young age, look what we are able to do. Imagine what we can do moving forward.
“(The older players) really help to keep the other girls calm and resilient in stressful situations because they themselves have had these experiences before. The young ones weren’t exactly sure what to expect. But just hearing their voices on the field and the confidence that they bring really paid off.”
Princeton, which was 5-0-1 in the six games prior to the loss to Lawrenceville, is seeded fifth in the Central Jersey, Group IV state tournament and will play at fourth-seeded Lenape on Saturday. Serverson would simply like to see her team keep playing the improved field hockey it has played over the second half of the season.
“More of what we have been doing well,” Serverson said of what she wants to see from her team. “We have been playing as a unit and that is what I have been emphasizing from the beginning. In the beginning we played like individuals and we were losing. And now we have more game awareness and we’re aware of where are teammates are. It has made a huge difference.”