Former PHS Star Hayes On the Mark In Debut Season for Tiger Men's Lax
By Bill Alden
For Whitney Hayes, playing on the Princeton University men's lacrosse team this spring is a dream come true.
Hayes, a 2002 Princeton High grad who scored a school-record 397 points and earned All-American honors during his career at PHS, grew up following the Tiger men's lacrosse program.
After doing a post-grad year at Phillips Academy to further hone his skills, Hayes has emerged as a key contributor for Princeton, having scored 19 points on seven goals and 12 assists so far in his debut season.
Reflecting on the solid start to his college career, Hayes maintained that breaking into the Tigers' line-up has been everything he had hoped it would be. "Ever since I've been in elementary and middle school, I've been coming to these games and watching Princeton," said Hayes, whose older bother, Dixon, is a senior midfielder for the Tigers. "It's been good, all of the guys have been great. Ryan [Boyle] and Jason [Doneger] have been through everything, they know everything that can happen."
Hayes and his teammates went through something painful last Saturday as they dropped a 12-11 overtime heartbreaker to visiting Cornell which left Princeton at 7-3 overall and 3-1 in the Ivy League, a half-game behind the Big Red in the league standings.
The setback wasted a furious Princeton comeback, which saw the Tigers score three goals in the last 1:49 of the game to erase an 11-8 deficit and force overtime.
In the view of Hayes, who assisted on the Tigers' last two goals, the Tigers can learn a valuable lesson from the setback. "I think we can take away from this that when we want to, we can play with anyone and beat them," said Hayes, who had a total of three assists on the afternoon. "It's just a matter of putting that together for a full 60 minutes and not just a minute and a half."
One thing that Hayes learned from PHS coach Peter Stanton was to enjoy every moment on the lacrosse field.
"Peter really helped me to have fun out there," said Hayes, who was also an All-State soccer player at PHS and a NJISAA scholar-athlete award winner. "He really emphasized the fact that lacrosse is a fun game. If you made a mistake, he didn't yell at you. He was always saying 'have fun, have fun.' I've really taken that to heart."
Princeton head coach Bill Tierney, who has consistently praised the poise that Hayes has shown in adjusting to the college game, acknowledged that his club didn't have fun in the loss to Cornell.
"It was hard because you don't want to take away from the great comeback," said Tierney, who got three goals from Drew Casino, two apiece from Doneger and Eric Kudla, and a goal and four assists from Boyle. "But we should've never been in that position. We played terribly defensively. We got frazzled."
Tierney, though, believes that the resilience the Tigers showed in their late rally is something they can build on as they look to stay in the Ivy race.
"If you can take something good out of it, it's the heart and effort the kids showed at the end in getting those three goals," said Tierney, whose club plays at Dartmouth on May 1.
As Hayes looks ahead to the final stages of his first college season, he believes the bond forged among the 14 freshmen on the squad should give the Tigers a lift down the stretch.
"We're great friends off the field," asserted Hayes, who is one of a group of rookie stars that includes Peter Trombino, Scott Sowanick, Michael Biles and Zach Jungers. "I think that bodes well for us on the field. We care about each other, we don't want to let each other down."
Hayes certainly hasn't let anyone down this spring as he has achieved his long-held goal of playing for the Tigers.