Kickoff: Princeton Day School boys soccer player Joaquín Rodriguez drives the ball into the frontcourt for the 2021 game. Senior midfielder and co-captain Rodriguez is poised to trigger a PDS attack this season. The Panthers will begin their 2022 campaign on September 8 at Burlington Township High School. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
When the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team debuted in the private B tournament last fall, it didn’t appear to be a title contender as it went 8-11.
But seventh-seeded PDS had an exciting showing, winning the South Jersey Division title before losing 3-1 to Gill St. Bernard in the non-public B state finals.
Heading into the 2022 season, Panthers head coach Brian Thomson believes the tournament run has proven to be a confidence builder for his returning players.
“Now that we’ve played the South Jersey African Public B team for a year, the guys have a little faith in them,” said Thomson, who led PDS to a 12-12 record in his first season at the helm. program. “They feel more confident that they can have some success in the playoffs.”
Thomson believes his team is ready for a successful fall.
“We have a good group of players fighting on the field,” said Thomson, whose team will play its season opener Sept. 8 at Burlington Township High. “
Senior midfielder and third-team captain Joaquin Rodriguez is considered a key figure for the Panthers.
“Joaquin is an amazing kid; he’s defining what it means to be a PDS student, and everyone looks forward to dealing with him,” Thomson said. “He’s a great ambassador for this project. He’s definitely excited for the year. He’s excited to be a leader and not be in the shadow of someone who’s been here over the past few years. He really embraces the whole mantra, which is We may not be the best football team, but we are definitely someone who will work hard. We are a team that can defend well and play together, which is very important.”
PDS should get some good work in midfield from senior Michael Zebrowski and sophomore Todd Devin.
“Michael didn’t play last year, so he took a year off,” Thomson said. “He’s very good. Todd was a freshman last year and was on the floor for almost every minute of every game.”
The trio of senior Julian Liao, junior Yaseen Mousa and junior Gyan Gautam will look to play at the forward position.
“Julian was very strong at the end of last year and we look forward to having him,” Thomson said. “Yasin plays for us on the perimeter because we have Milan Shan and William Vasquez. Those are the top guys doing the heavy lifting, so he’s happy to continue in an offensive role. Gian came off the bench last year and he was very good at Should be a very good player for us. He’s in a
Good place. “
Along the back line, senior Shay Bence and senior
Three captain Raag Desikan will lead the way.
“Shea was good enough last year to play centre-back, but his problem is that he has a lot of injuries that have plagued him,” Thomson said. “I think we finally got him back this year. If we can get Shay and Laura back. Grid at centre-back, then Todd and Michael can be in the defensive midfield and Joaquin as the attacking centre.”
Senior Jared Sandberg, sophomore Hart Liunovakowski, senior Oliver Hall and sophomore Penn von Zerowitz provide the Panthers some versatility
“Jared is another guy who might see time in midfield and outside linebackers,” said Thomson, whose reserve team will include senior Aaron Herscovici, sophomore Max Schragger, senior Joshua Chu, Three students Jameson Reilly, sophomore Henry West and junior Sebastian Rzeczycki.
“We’re going to have another kid, Hart, who’s going to be an outside-back and an attacking midfielder to give Joaquin a break. Oliver is a hockey and hockey player and he’s decided he’s going to play football this year. He gives The team brings athleticism that we don’t really have. Payne is going to be at the perimeter wing for a while.”
Senior goalkeeper and third-captain John Mazzarissi prepares for PDS’ final big battle.
“John is a great shot-stopper and his communication skills have improved a lot,” Thomson said, noting that sophomore backup Oren Jacobi showed a lot of potential. “He’s been able to hit the ball with his goal kicks and punts. His distribution has gotten better. I’m excited to see how he develops and I think the most important thing he and I talked about last winter was that he was able to Staying closed and taking pride in keeping people out. That’s what we do. He’s always making big moves.”
With PDS going through a challenging schedule this fall, Thomson believes the team will peak during this time.
“We’re working on it using the building-block approach like we did last year,” Thomson said. “I think eventually we’ll know at the end of the year that we’re going to be in a position where we can make some noise in the state championship. We’re going to play a really interesting schedule. We’re a little bit like Notre Dame from a football standpoint. We’re going to play An independent schedule. We can play whoever we want, and then we have prep school competition. It’s been a really cool experience for these kids, especially in the second half of the year with county, prep B and Non-public schools together. We’re excited.”