Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 16
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
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(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

OH YES: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse junior star Mike Olentine heads up the field last week in PHS’s 9-6 win over Notre Dame. Olentine scored four goals to help lead the Little tigers to victory. Olentine has scored a team-high 34 points this season on 20 goals and 14 assist for 4-2 PHS. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers play at WW/P-N on April 22, host New Egypt on April 24, and then play at Hopewell Valley on April 28.

Olentine Bringing Smarts, Skills to Attack as PHS Boys’ Lax Shows Improvement

Bill Alden

Mike Olentine soaked up a lot of knowledge in his first two seasons with the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team.

“I got to play a good amount as a freshman and as a sophomore,” said junior attackman Olentine.

“I got to play with some really good players like Tyler Moni (now playing for Princeton University) and Brandon Polakoff (now playing for Trinity College). I learned from them and the experience of playing on attack. I think I see the field better this year.”

So far this spring, Olentine has been all over the field for the Little Tigers, triggering the offense as PHS has gotten off to a 4-2 start.

Last week, Olentine showed his guile as he didn’t let a driving rainstorm stop him from scoring four goals in a 9-6 win over Notre Dame.

“It was rainy out so nothing was going to go as expected because the sticks were slippery and the pockets expand,” said Olentine.

“In a game like that, we were just lucky to get away with a win and we are happy about that.”

Olentine was particularly happy with the way the Little Tigers performed down the stretch as they scored two late goals to hold off a gritty Fighting Irish team.

“I think it really came down to how we played at the end,” asserted Olentine, who has a team-high 34 points on the season with 20 goals and 14 assists.

“We struggled a little bit in the third quarter and they started to come back. They got it down to one goal but we really put them away at the end.”

The team’s late surge served as an example of how the PHS attack is coming together.

“We have a new attack this year,” said Olentine, noting that Doug and Allen Bryant have been moved to attack and that Joe Sandford is now on the first unit.

“We have developed a lot of chemistry and we know where everyone is on the field.”

Olentine likes the way PHS is developing as it gains experience. “We didn’t lose too many seniors,” explained Olentine.

“We have pretty much everybody coming back so a lot of guys got varsity experience last year. It’s also nice to have Jeff Goeke in goal; we can always count on him.”

PHS head coach Peter Stanton knows he can count on Olentine to provide heady play for the Little Tigers.

“Mike was there two years ago when we made it to the semifinal of the states so he played with guys like Moni and Polakoff,” said Stanton, whose team fell 14-3 to powerful Lawrenceville last Thursday in moving to 4-2 on the season.

“He’s a little ahead of the game. He is just a really smart kid and a great student.”

In Stanton’s view, it was his team’s heart more than its brain that led to the win over Notre Dame.

“We are happy with the fact that Notre Dame is a scrappy and athletic team and we were scrappier and tougher than they were,” asserted Stanton, who also got a goal apiece in the win from Doug Bryant, Allen Bryant, Will Kister, Alex Meadow, and Sandford.

“We feel that we have some talented players but we are still learning the game. When we get it figured it out, we could be a dangerous team.”

Stanton is confident that his players can figure things out on their own.

“Truthfully as coaches, we think we have influence over the progress and development of the team but it is really a players’ game,” added Stanton.

“The best kids I have ever coached have learned the game in front of my eyes. They would do things and I was like wow I wonder where he got that idea from. These guys are starting to get that.”

Noting that PHS went 4-10 last year, Stanton believes his team is starting to get it collectively.

“I have had teams where like these guys really think they are that good and then they went out and did it,” said Stanton, whose team plays at WW/P-N on April 22, hosts New Egypt on April 24, and then plays at Hopewell Valley on April 28.

“So I am never one to say what a team is capable of. We are heading in the right direction.”

Olentine, for his part, believes PHS is capable of some big things this spring.

“All throughout the preseason and season, we have shown sparks of talent,” asserted Olentine.

“We haven’t played our best game yet. We know that when we get to our full potential, we can be a great team.”

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