Dontas’ leadership helping young Pirates

Girls’ soccer tops WW-P North

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
 Steph Dontas is being counted on to be a leader for a very young West Windsor-Plainsboro South girls’ soccer team.
   For Dontas, it is a role she relishes.
   ”I love being a captain,” Dontas said after the Pirates improved to 2-1 with a 3-0 win over rival WW-P North Monday night at Mercer County Community College. “I like to pride myself on being a good leader and setting a good example. I have a lot of experience. The communication is big. A lot of the younger girls don’t know what it is like to be on the field with the lights and the fans and everything. You talk to them and tell them what they have to do or what they’re doing right.”
   The Pirates showed no signs of their youth in the win over the Knights on Monday. Victoria Matthews scored a goal in the first half, with second half goals by Erika Deetjen and Ally Schwartz lifting the Pirates to the win.
   The Pirates have just four seniors this year, captains Liz Huttner, Dontas and Maura McLaughlin, as well as Katie Murphy. But the young players on the roster have adapted to the varsity level quickly and it has helped the team start strong.
   ”We’re really excited,” Dontas said. “We have a pretty young team but we’re getting the job done. I think we could have won against Ridgewood (a 2-1 loss on Saturday). North is always a big game. It’s like a rush of excitement.
   ”The good thing is they all have strengths and weaknesses. We try to gain on the strengths and improve on the weaknesses during practice. Then when we get back to the games they do what they need to do to get it done.”
   In the win over North, the goals were scored by a junior and two sophomores. And while the influx of young talent is nice, the Pirates don’t want to forget about the contributions of their three captains.
   ”They’re like having three additional coaches on my team,” said South coach Chris Miller, whose team plays at Robbinsville today. “They’re that good. I don’t ever have to diagnose what is going on out there. They do it themselves. I do it, but I don’t have to. They are so knowledgeable about the technical part of the game and the awareness they have.
   ”They have been well coached by their club teams. They have been playing since they were younger. I don’t make them the soccer player they are. They come to me with the skills. I think my strength is putting them into the right spots.”
   Everyone was in the right spots on Monday, helping get a win over a tough foe in the Knights, who fell to 1-1.
   ”It’s a different atmosphere, but it is really cool,” Dontas said of the North-South game. “I told them before the game that it is going to be the best feeling in the world if they score. They stepped up and I am really proud of them.
   ”I think the last couple years we have been underrated. We’ll work as hard as we can to get as far as we can into the state tournament. We feel like we can play against anybody. Ridgewood was a good team and I felt like we could have won that game.”