Patel’s passing key in Princeton win vs. Trenton
TRENTON » Dean Patel looks at assists on a soccer field rather philosophically.
“An assist is partly the pass, but it only happens when someone scores,” the Princeton High senior midfielder said. “So I have more assists because our finishing has been better.”
Patel’s passes were as crucial as his team’s scoring Thursday when he helped the Little Tigers post a 2-0 road win over Trenton High to lock up the Colonial Valley Conference Colonial Division title.
Patel assisted on both goals to tie him for the team lead in that category. He has been extremely efficient at leading his teammates over the last six games when he has passed for six of his seven assists.
“A lot of it is instinct,” Patel said. “And you can get a lot more assists when you one touch.”
It also helps that Patel takes corner kicks for Princeton. With a number of sixfoot or taller teammates, he just has to place the ball high enough in a space where one of his teammates will be crashing through.
That was the case when Patel took a corner four minutes into the game at Trenton. Senior back Jasper Scott moved into the mix and headed in the initial tally.
“Jasper played a big role for us today with that goal and locking down their No. 8 (Aba David) all game,” Patel said.
Trenton (9-4-1, 1-2-1) evened out play after that, but had trouble getting through and around the Little Tigers’ bigger back line.
Then Patel’s favorite assist of the game proved to be a backbreaker.
With time running out in the first half, Princeton (10-21, 3-0-1) played the ball to one corner in what looked like an effort to kill time.
Instead, head coach Wayne Sutcliffe’s team worked the ball all the way back across the goal mouth until Patel slid it a little farther to classmate Remy Hebert, who rushed the far post and kicked in the second tally with 3.4 seconds left on the clock.
“That one was just a mistake,” Tornadoes junior back Mario Palacios said. “We didn’t see it coming. I feel we made a good game out of it after that. We just couldn’t score.”
The timing of the second goal could have broken the spirits of head coach Joe Fink’s team as much as injuries to its scoring line of Uziel Villanueva, Jose Escobar and David through the course of the game. But Trenton pressured the Little Tigers’ net for most of the second half.
David had a shot turn inches wide of the goal six minutes into the second half, then Erick Mayen took a free kick with 14 minutes left that Princeton goalkeeper Patrick Jacobs had to knock away from goal with a sliding foot save.
The Tornadoes could not find someone with Patel’s understanding of the assist as the Little Tigers’ defense handed the home team its only shutout defeat this year.
Princeton (10-2-1) Trenton (9-4-1) 2 0— 0 0—
Scott, Hebert (P).
Patel 2 (P).
5 (P), 5 (T).
PJacobs 4 (P), Mendez 3 (T).