PRINCETON: Panthers capture one championship

PDS girls soccer wins first MCT title, falls in Prep B final

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
   While their final game ended with a loss, the seniors on the Princeton Day School girls soccer team left the program with a year they’ll never forget.
   One day after claiming the program’s first Mercer County Tournament title with a 2-0 win over Hopewell Valley, the Panthers fell short in the state Prep B title game on Sunday, dropping a 2-0 decision to Morristown-Beard.
   ”We couldn’t be more thrilled by the performance of these girls,” said PDS coach Pat Trombetta, whose team finished the season 17-2-1. “I told the girls, as much as this stings, what you did this year no other PDS team did. I am very happy for these seniors to go out this way.”
   On Saturday night, the top-seeded Panthers received goals from Eloise Stanton and Kirsten Kuzmicz in the final 12 minutes to defeat the second-seeded Bulldogs. Less than 24 hours later they were back on the field playing their sixth game in nine days and came up just short against Morristown-Beard.
   Morristown-Beard scored twice in the first 15 minutes and then after a red card, the Panthers played one player down for the final 60 minutes of the game.
   ”The girls competed right to the end,” Trombetta said. “They didn’t give up. In the second half they just went into a shell and put everybody behind the ball. When you are a man down and a team is playing that defensive it is tough to penetrate.
   ”Fatigue was a factor. We were running on fumes. These girls play with emotion and that has been carrying them these last nine days. To ask them to win six games in nine days is almost impossible. But we are very happy.”
   The loss will linger for a few days. But then the Panthers will look back and reflect on a remarkable season that included trips to a pair of tournament finals.
   ”In my four years here I have never seen a team of girls work so well together towards such a common goal,” senior defender Lily Razzaghi said. “We have (the MCT title) which is the first time we can say we have won that and I am pretty proud of the girls for having done that.
   ”I think we all learned out strengths and we helped each other play up to those strengths very well. I think that helped a lot. Our defense was solid. I am really proud of the job we have done this season.”
   The Panthers lose five seniors to graduation – Razzaghi, Stanton, Brit Murray, Rory Finnegan and Ilana Multak. But they also return a solid core of players that will look to build on what this team accomplished. After winning just four games last year, the Panthers won 17 this year.
   ”Our future is bright,” Trombetta said. “We lose five seniors, but we have a very good eighth grade team that didn’t lose a game. We have a junior class that has been the warriors of the group. So hopefully next year we’ll be up there again.”
   Those players who are returning certainly learned a lot about perseverance. The Panthers played hard to the very end of a nine-day stretch that included six tournament games.
   ”A game like last night, that type of emotional game and hard-fought battle, coming back the next day and playing another championship game — it is a tall task,” Trombetta said. “But we got one of them.”
   Added Razzaghi: “I don’t think we ever gave up. They scored on us but we kept playing and we played hard. I am really proud of the girls. We have some strong players coming back. All of our juniors are really solid and they have worked well together.”