Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 17
 
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
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CLEARING UP: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse star defender Michael Irving clears the ball in a recent game. After missing five games due to a knee injury, Irving is back in action for the Little Tigers. Last Wednesday, he spearheaded the defense as PHS posted a 13-8 win over WW/P-N in a CVC showdown. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers, now 7-3, have a game at Princeton Day School on April 29 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament on May 1.

With Star Defender Irving Back in Action; PHS Boys’ Lacrosse Stifles WW/P-N 13-8

Bill Alden

Michael Irving’s right knee was taped due to a lingering tendon injury and he took several big hits as the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team battled WW/P-N last Wednesday in a showdown of Colonial Valley Conference powers.

But those bumps and bruises didn’t keep the star junior defenseman from inflicting pain on the Northern Knights.

Spearheading the PHS defense with his skill and aggressiveness, Irving helped spark the Little Tigers to an impressive 13-8 win over the Northern Knights.

Having missed five games due to his knee injury, Irving was thrilled to be back in the swing of things for PHS.

“This was the first full game I have played in a while with my knee,” said a smiling Irving.

“In the Northern Burlington, I got checked and I sprained a tendon in my knee. Usually I play longstick midfielder but they didn’t want me overworking my knee so I came back at close defender. I was on Todd Petrone and he only scored one goal when I was on him.”

The WW/P-N contest was close in the early going as the teams were knotted at 1-1 after the first quarter. The Little Tigers, though, broke things open in the second quarter, outscoring the Northern Knights 5-1 to build a 7-3 halftime lead. “We took a timeout and we talked about how their goals were bad turnovers,” recalled Irving. “It was just relax and just play defense on them. As long as we do that, they won’t score. We got it back and got it to our offense and they did their thing. All the leaders on the offense scored.”

As a three-year starter, Irving is assuming a leadership role this spring.

“This is the first year where I see myself as someone who can lead,” asserted Irving.

“I feel like I am experienced; I know what I am doing. It is nice having the younger kids all listening to me, knowing that I was once there.”

PHS head coach Peter Stanton liked the effort he got from all of his kids in the win over WW/P-N.

“Today it is just a matter of the fact that we were getting contributions from a lot of guys,” asserted Stanton, who got four goals from Allen Bryant in the victory with Mike Olentine chipping in three and Joe Sandford adding two.

“It was not necessarily just goals and assists. Coming into it, we knew they are led by their defense. They have big physical guys who can make huge plays; our idea is that they are going to make a big play so weather it. They made a play or two but we were able to not let them make four plays.”

After suffering tough setbacks to Notre Dame and Lawrenceville in recent action, PHS was determined to pass the test against WW/P-N which came into the day with just two losses.

“Today was a really big game; they are a tough team that has played really well this year,” said Stanton. “Their only losses this year coming in were two one-goal losses to two really strong teams. Our two losses definitely did push us in the right direction.”

In Stanton’s view, Irving’s presence helped get things going in the right direction.

“Michael is a special player; we missed him a lot during those five games he was out,” said Stanton. “While your best defensive player is out, other guys have to step up a little bit and they got better.”

Senior attacker Mike Olentine stepped up in the win over the Northern Knights.

“We are trying to help Michael develop into a leader; we want him to be a player that complements other players and makes them better,” explained Stanton, who got seven goals and two assists from Olentine last Friday as PHS topped New Egypt 15-3 to improve to 7-3.

“I think when he is doing his job well you see Joe Sandford making big plays. Joe had a beautiful goal today. Mike being a leader; gives him a little room to create.”

Despite his team’s superb effort against WW/P-N, Stanton knows there is little room for error as PHS looks forward to the Mercer County Tournament and state tourney.

“The thing I would say is that the team over there is just as capable of beating us 13-8 as we are beating them,” said Stanton, whose team has a game at Princeton Day School on April 29 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament on May 1.

“Today was our day but we know if we see them again we are going to have to work twice as hard to beat them two times. We would be excited to have another opportunity to go against Notre Dame. We feel like there are a lot of things breaking our way for the state tournament.”

Irving, for his part, sees PHS’s performance against WW/P-N as a potential harbinger of things to come.

“This was big, seeing our potential,” said Irving. “This is what we knew we could do. We knew we could go out there and beat a really good team. We finally executed and ended it. Our main goal is to win a state championship and go all the way and end our season right.”

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