Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 14
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
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ELBOW ROOM: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse star Brandon Polakoff wards off a foe in action last season. PHS is looking for the high-scoring Polakoff to have another productive season in 2008. The Little Tigers get their season underway by playing at Notre Dame on April 4.

PHS Boys’ Lax Needs Defense to Step Up as it Looks to Continue Winning Tradition

Bill Alden

In recent years, the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team has featured high-powered offensive stars like Bennett Murphy and Tyler Moni.

But PHS head coach Peter Stanton points to a talented and battle-tested group of defensemen as a key to Princeton’s success the last two seasons.

With four-year starting defenders Casey Rahn and Jesse Mostoller together with three-year starter Chad Pinto having departed due to graduation, rebuilding the defense is a top priority for PHS this spring.

“You look at our defense, we lost not only good players but players who had played together for years, said Stanton, whose team starts its 2008 campaign with a game at Notre Dame on April 4. “Defense takes a lot of reps.”

The tradition established by PHS’ outstanding defense has inspired this year’s unit which features senior co-captain Pat Long and classmate Daniel Naaman together with junior Dario Presepe and sophomore Jay Dwyer.

“Between those four, there is athleticism,” said Stanton, whose team went 10-6 last spring as it advanced to the state Group II semifinals.

“They are aware of the guys that played before them and what they accomplished. They definitely want to keep that going.”

One constant on the defense will be junior goalie Jeff Goeke, who improved by leaps and bounds last spring in his first season as a starter.

“You can see the difference in him between this year and last,” noted Stanton. “Last year everything was new to him, this year he has a much better idea of how to prepare himself. He will lead the defense.”

Up front, Stanton is looking for a pair of seniors Brandon Polakoff and Garrett Riley together with sophomore Mike Olentine to lead the attack. “The three of them know how to move the ball and how to find each other,” asserted Stanton.

In the midfield, PHS has found some numbers. “We’ll be running two offensive units and a defensive unit,” added Stanton. “We have some depth and flexibility in the midfield.”

The offensive midfielders include seniors Luke Brunskill and Will Moseley together with sophomores Doug and Allen Bryant and Jordan Metro.

The defensive group will feature juniors Nick Hughes and Alex Meadow, sophomore Brian Vieten, and freshman Mike Hellstern. At longstick midfielder, PHS will use freshmen Mike Irving and Jack Miller.

While PHS lost nearly 15 players to graduation, Stanton believes the players possess the diligence and togetherness needed to maintain the program’s winning tradition.

“We feel like we have an athletic team that is willing to work hard,” said Stanton.

“We couldn’t be happier with the team’s willingness to work and play together. We have a few seniors who have played in the shadows of last year’s seniors and they are looking for breakout years. Guys like Moseley and Naaman didn’t get to play a lot as juniors but they put in the hard work. The young guys are enthusiastic; I hope they are ahead of schedule.”

The Little Tigers spent last week down in South Carolina on their annual preseason trip, looking to both sharpen their skills and strengthen team bonds. “We’ll be working out with teams from Ohio, Florida, and Connecticut,” said Stanton.

“What we have found is that the team building experience is the best part about the spring trips. The time off the field, the guys enjoy hanging out and doing things together. We find that a closer-knit team tends to overachieve.”

In order to achieve success this spring, PHS will be focusing on the basics.

“The focus is on teaching the fundamentals of the game, teaching lacrosse fundamentals with the idea that you can’t do a lot if you are not throwing and catching well,” said Stanton, who credits assistant coaches Jason Carter and Terence Miller with playing key roles in that process.

“How we pick up the team concepts and how well the defense learns to play will be keys.”

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