Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 13
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
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ON THE ATTACK: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse star attackman Mike Olentine heads to goal in action last season. The Dartmouth-bound Olentine figures to be a key weapon for PHS this spring. The Little Tigers start their 2010 campaign by hosting Rumson-Fair Haven on April 3.

Featuring Powerful Attack, Athletic Midfield, PHS Boys’ Lacrosse Primed for Big Season

Bill Alden

Peter Stanton has been coaching high school lacrosse long enough to know that a program’s fortunes goes in cycles, with down years leading to big seasons.

As Stanton enters his 15th year at the helm of the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse program, he believes his 2010 squad is headed toward the peak of the curve.

“We look at where we were when our season ended last year and we were playing our best lacrosse at the end,” said Stanton, whose team posted a 13-7 record in 2009.

“We feel like we were just scratching the surface with this group. We were in the state quarters and we were competitive. We feel we can be competitive this year in the states and compete for the CVC title and Mercer County Tournament championship.”

One aspect of the PHS team that gives Stanton confidence is his attack group which features battle-tested seniors Mike Olentine, Doug Bryant, and Joe Sandford.

“The strength of team is the fact that our attack returns intact,” asserted Stanton, whose team starts regular season play by hosting Rumson-Fair Haven on April 3. “They are experienced guys and we will be riding them.”

The Dartmouth-bound Olentine, a star quarterback for the PHS football team this past fall, has emerged as a leader for the Little Tigers.

“Mike has dedicated a ton of time to lacrosse; he played a boatload over the summer,” said Stanton.

“He gives us on-field leadership. He has always been a highly skilled player. He has gotten bigger, stronger, and faster. He’s got a lot of intangibles.”

Bryant and Sandford also bring a lot to the table. “Doug is a really excellent shooter,” added Stanton.

“He is learning the game within the game. If he gets time and space, he can really place his shot. Joe is quietly dangerous; he is sneaky fast. Since Mike and Doug get a lot of attention, we rely on him to keep the other teams honest.”

In Stanton’s view, the PHS midfield should be plenty dangerous. “We have Allen Bryant, Mike Hellstern, Brian Vieten and Jordan Metro running in the midfield; they are really big, strong physical kids,” said Stanton.

“Typically the strength of our team has been the goaltending, defense and attack. We have patched together role players in the midfield. We are much more athletic in the midfield this year and I am hoping these guys will really drive us.”

Junior star Michael Irving should be driving the PHS defense. “Michael is a guy who has played since freshman year,” said Stanton, who will also be using Robby Dowers, Tom Sacchetti, Jack Miller, Dean DiTosto, and Owen Diver in his defensive unit.

“He always has had a lot of vision. He has developed more mental skill; he has grown and matured as a player.”

PHS is looking for someone to grow into a standout goalie as Stanton currently has three players, junior Griffin Peck, sophomore Elliot Wilson, and freshman Adam Ainsley, vying for the spot.

“Each of the three has unique talents,” said Stanton in assessing his goalie candidates.

“We can go with the hot hand. The goalie is someone who can get hot or somebody who can get cold. We are working on developing a competitive and supportive atmosphere.”

This week, the Little Tigers will be working hard on developing their form as they head to Florida for a spring training trip. “We are really, really fortunate to be able to do that,” said Stanton, in reflecting on the Florida trip.

“We can maximize workouts and get good scrimmages; you can’t beat going down there. We can train two or three hours a day and meet kids from all over the country. We also have fun off the field. It is a something you can’t do every year; it is only possible through the support from parents, community, and others.”

In Stanton’s view, it should be a fun spring for his squad. “We are playing some younger kids; there is a learning curve as to how quickly they will learn and feel confident,” said Stanton, who will be relying on assistant coaches Jason Carter and Chip Casto to help bring those younger players along.

“I am looking for leadership from our seniors. They have worked hard and they are really determined to make the best of their opportunities.”

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