Princeton High girls’ soccer team reflects on its 2019 season

Princeton High School girl's soccer coach Valerie Rodriquez (center) during practice in 2019.
Princeton High School girl's soccer coach Valerie Rodriquez (center) during practice in 2019.

The competitive nature and leadership that was practiced during this girls’ soccer season will lay the ground work for the  future of the Princeton High School program.

The Little Tigers finished this season 8-6-3 overall and compiled a 7-3-3 record in the Colonial Valley Conference.

“After speaking with so many coaches at the end of season and hearing from them about how great some of my players were and the respect that they had for us, goes to show that we did have a lot of talent on our field. Whether the results at the end of the day show that or not, we were an effective team,” Princeton coach Valerie Rodriquez said. “We accomplished a lot of our goals that are not necessarily the tangible goals. What I mean by that is, one of our main things is can we create a team that feels and looks like a family. We hands down accomplished that this year.”

She said of course teams want to have the goal of winning certain games and making it as far as possible in the tournaments.

“Those are the ones we fell short of, but each game felt competitive this season. It felt like we wanted to be there and deserved to be there. I was really proud of the effort,” Rodriquez said. “I think it just comes down to did we score enough goals and we did not. That is just the one area I could criticize with this team.”

During the 2019 season, the Little Tigers advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Mercer County Tournament where they lost to Princeton Day School, 2-1. Princeton Day would go on to lose in the tournament semifinal, 2-0, to the Pennington School, which went on to win the county tournament title.

In the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament, Princeton was eliminated in the first round with a 1-0 defeat to the hands of Old Bridge High School.

Old Bridge then lost to Freehold Township High School in penalty kicks in the semifinal round of the state sectional tournament.

Princeton will bid farewell to eight seniors after this season. Those key losses include senior goalkeeper Shaylah Marciano along with senior goalkeeper Caroline Ealy, senior forward Morgan Beamer, senior mid-fielder Kirin Kunukkasseril and senior defender Lauren Rougas.

“We are looking at losing a ton of talent and losing a ton of leadership and command out there on the field. We are certainly going to miss that. I can’t replace those captains and all eight of my seniors who stepped up big when we needed it,” Rodriquez said. “They did a phenomenal job of preparing the underclassmen to be ready for that task. My rising seniors and juniors are ready for it.”

She said currently looking at her returners she has a really strong group of sophomores and juniors.

“The offseason will be crucial. Who is putting in the time, effort and work to improve not only as individual but a team, so that we are ready by mid-August,” Rodriquez said. “I think that is going to take a little time. I think there is a lot of potential for this team.”

The team will look to improve and continue to work on the agility, strength, speed component of the game.

“I think our returners need to acknowledge the momentum that we have built in a lot of games and the roles that they played in those games to make things possible. Everyone on this team has an important role,” Rodriquez said. “I count on them and everyone of them is valuable to the team’s success.”