Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 23
 
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
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MIGHTY CASEY: Casey Rahn races up the field for the University of Massachusetts men’s lacrosse game in its loss last month to Princeton University in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Sophomore Rahn, a former Princeton High boys’ lacrosse and soccer star, emerged as a key performer for the Minutemen from his longstick midfielder spot.

Former PHS Standout Rahn Achieves Dream, Emerges as Key Player for UMass Men’s Lax

Bill Alden

It was a notion that first entered Casey Rahn’s head when he was warming up one day for a practice during his sophomore season on the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team.

As the players limbered up that afternoon in 2005, the PHS coaches mentioned that the Rutgers men’s lacrosse staff was looking at Little Tiger junior standout Taylor Vickers-Annis.

In passing, the coaches said that Rutgers also had an eye on sophomore star Tyler Moni and Rahn.

From that day forward, Rahn was determined to become a Division I lacrosse player.

After earning All-County, All-Pitt Division, and second-team All-State honors in his junior and senior years with PHS, such colleges as Rutgers, Brown, Bucknell, Army, Navy, and University of Massachusetts were courting Rahn.

Connecting with UMass head coach Greg Cannella, Rahn decided to join the Minutemen program to achieve his goal of playing D-I lax.

“If I was going to spend four years of my life with a coach, I wanted to like and trust him,” recalled Rahn.

“Coach Cannella was the only one who was dead honest. A lot of the coaches make promises that aren’t based on performance. He said you will get on the field if you play well.”

In the spring of 2008, Rahn had to overcome a high ankle sprain to get on the field and establish himself as a valuable reserve in his freshman season with the Minutemen.

This spring, Rahn moved into the starting lineup in his longstick midfield position and helped UMass win the ECAC title and earn a berth in the NCAA tournament.

The trip to the NCAA tourney became a homecoming for Rahn as the Minutemen played at Princeton University where they lost to the Tigers 10-7 to end the spring with a 9-6 record.

For Rahn, becoming a key player on an NCAA tournament team has come down to making mental adjustments.

“You get used to the speed of the game instantaneously,” said the 5’10, 187-pound Rahn, who also starred for the PHS boys’ soccer team.

“The thing that takes longer is learning what your teammates are about and adapting to the team’s style. You need trust in your teammates and that takes time to build. It’s important to build chemistry on and off the field. It’s all about communication; our job is to react to others. You see teams with talented players but they don’t establish trust and they don’t do well.”

Rahn acknowledged that UMass struggled at times this spring to stay on the same page as it started 3-1 and then lost two straight.

“We had some ups and downs; coach said a good team can come back from a loss but it takes a great team to come back from a win,” said Rahn, who scored his first career goal in UMass’s opening day win over Sacred Heart.

“We were a little arrogant in the beginning. We are a blue collar team and we need to play the same way we practice. We fell in a slump with losses to Albany and Brown.”

In getting to play more, Rahn had to focus on not letting mistakes get him into a slump.

“For me it was more of an attitude thing; I have always been hard on myself,” said Rahn.

“I needed to learn to play the next play and not dwell on a mistake. I have improved a lot on that. My coaches told me I had the talent but that I needed to get my head on straight.”

Rahn and the Minutemen played a heady game when they traveled to New Jersey to play at Rutgers last month in the regular season finale. UMass edged the Scarlet Knights 11-10 in overtime to clinch the ECAC title and punch its ticket to the NCAA tournament.

“It was an interesting time; I had been recruited by Rutgers,” added Rahn, who was credited with 34 ground balls and 21 caused turnovers on the season.

“I liked the coach but I wanted to get away from New Jersey. Now I was coming back and there was something in the air. Coach Carter [PHS assistant lacrosse coach Jason Carter] was there and so were my parents and a lot of friends. It was a great eye opener; it was a great experience.”

Rahn’s experience at PHS helped prepare him to succeed at the college level.

“The one thing coach Carter and coach Stanton always said is to be humble,” said Rahn.

“They said work hard because good things happen to good people. The best players, guys like Matt Abbott and Kenny Nims of Syracuse, succeed because they appreciate everything. I appreciate everything the Princeton High staff did for me. Coach Carter and I have a close relationship; we work together in the summer. Coach Stanton called me once a month during school.

Rahn is appreciating getting the chance to play D-I lacrosse even if it can be a grind at times.

“It is like a job, you are putting in 40 hours a week,” said Rahn. “It gives me structure; it keeps me from goofing off. I have classes before and after practice.”

And Rahn thinks that both he and the Minutemen can step up in class in the next season.

“I am very happy with my position on the team,” said Rahn. “I need to make more plays. We want to win a national championship.”

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