IN FORM: Princeton High field hockey player Erin Liggio controls the ball in a game earlier this fall. Last Friday, junior standout Liggio tallied two goals and an assist as PHS defeated Hightstown 8-1. The Tigers, who defeated Hopewell Valley 2-0 last Monday to improve to 10-0, plays at Nottingham on October 7 and at Notre Dame on October 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Erin Liggio prides herself on bringing versatility to the Princeton High field hockey team.
“Last year I was mainly at mid but this year, I stepped up and am playing at forward,” said junior standout Liggio. “I like forward but I also love mid; I am interchangeable.”
Liggio stepped up last Thursday, tallying two goals and an assist as PHS defeated Hamilton West 8-0.
Coming into the contest, Liggio and her teammates were focused on getting into an offensive flow.
“Going into game it was a later start, so we were really preparing on the upper field before the game,” said Liggio. “We were focused on trying to get connected passes and really moving the ball well from the defense to the mid and to the forward and working on transfers through the backfield and up in the other side to the midfield.”
Liggio helped get things moving in the contest, scoring a goal with 5:31 left in the first quarter to put PHS up 2-0.
“I was standing in the right spot at the right time,” said Liggio, recalling the tally. “I was just standing at stroke, stick down facing towards the ball and tipped it in.”
In the waning moments of the second quarter, Liggio picked up an assist as she set up a goal by Hannah Christopher which gave the Tigers a 4-0 lead at halftime.
“I ran the baseline and then I looked up and saw Hannah for the goal and sent the ball off to her to tip into the goal,” said Liggio.
PHS didn’t look back from there, scoring four unanswered goals in the second half on the way to the 8-0 triumph.
Liggio got on the scoresheet one more time in the contest, converting a hit from classmate Delaney Keegan into a goal early in the third quarter.
“Delaney ripped a shot and then I tipped it in goal,” said Liggio. “I saw Del coming in. I know she has a strong hit, so I got there in front of the goalie’s pads, stick down and ready.”
The one-two punch of Keegan and Liggio has helped spark the PHS attack.
“I have played with her throughout middle school and club,” said Liggio, who has a team-high 22 goals and three assists while Keegan has tallied 10 goals and a team-high eight assists. “We are really familiar with each other on the field and off the field so that really helps with the strong connection. I can trust in her that she will get the ball down and I can work with her in the circle together passing the ball in and out.”
In reflecting on her strong start to the 2022 season, Liggio believes it is the product of some hard work over the last year.
“I have made major progress; working in the offseason really helped with getting better this year,” said Liggio. “It was mainly stickwork and defensive one v. ones; being able to receive the ball from a midfielder and dribbling into the circle, finishing it off and scoring the goal.”
PHS has shown progress collectively in the early stages of the season as it is now 10-0 after a 2-0 win over Hopewell Valley last Monday.
“I think with losing a lot of seniors last year, we were able to bond as a team off the field which is really helping us play there on the field,” said Liggio. “We are really just all friends. That is really helpful, and we are connecting. Going into each game, we are just pretending like it is a clean slate, like we have 0-0 record. We are playing together as a team basically.”
PHS head coach Heather Serverson liked the way her team connected in the win over Hamilton West.
“We wanted to work on our offensive corners that we haven’t had a chance to work on,” said Serverson. “Everybody got some playing time, everyone was able to contribute one way or another. That is always a positive.”
Liggio is certainly making a positive contribution this fall for the Tigers.
“Erin is definitely more offensive; she is just a good student of the game,” said Serverson. “She understands that offensive transition in a way that other players don’t, and it really pays off. They are starting to pick up on the way that she plays — it is rubbing off. The other players are now starting to play the way that she does in the circle, which is really feisty and awesome. I think she could play anywhere on the field, including goalie, if I needed her to.”
Juniors Leigh Rose-Seiden and Reva Doshi gave PHS some good work in the circle against the Hornets as Rose-Seiden scored a goal and Doshi chipped in a goal and an assist.
“I moved Leah around a little bit today and she did a good job,” said Serverson. “She is another versatile player who I can put in a lot of different positions. She figures things out and finds a way to make it work, which is what I need. Reva did a great job moving to the ball today. We did a lot of work on that since our last game. She is really starting to control the game in the middle a little bit more for us. She is small player and gets pushed around a lot, but she holds her ground.”
In assessing her squad’s undefeated start, Serverson is pleased with how PHS has been moving the ball.
“The thing I am happiest about is the way they have come together as a team and the way that they know where the other players are on the field,” said Serverson. “It is just smooth and effortless in a way. The passing is on point, and they know where the other player is going to be. It is nice to watch.”
With the Mercer County Tournament around the corner, Serverson is looking for her team to get even sharper.
“I think we need to be challenged a little bit more than we have been so far,” said Serverson, whose team plays at Nottingham on October 7 and at Notre Dame on October 10. “We need to get a little bit cleaner in our offensive circle; we have been working a lot on it in practice.”
Liggio, for her part, believes PHS will be up to the challenge at the MCT.
“We are all looking forward to that and getting into that,” said Liggio. “I think this year could potentially be our year. We need to continue being strong as a team and continue pushing through, even as it gets later in the season.”