Vol. LXII, No. 20
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
EMERGING FORCE: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse star Mie Graham sprints up the field in recent action. Last Saturday, Graham fired in five goals as 10th-seeded PHS routed No. 7 Robbinsville 17-5 in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers were slated to play No. 2 Stuart in the MCT quarters on May 13 with the winner advancing to the semis on May 15.
Mie Graham got a special feeling as the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team warmed up last Saturday before its Mercer County Tournament opener at Robbinsville.
Arriving at the field before the seventh-seeded Ravens, the 10th-seeded PHS squad was soon flying all over the field.
“I think we had the best warm-up of the season actually,” said junior star Graham.
“We were here early. I think a lot of it was that we were just moving fast. It was a sharp warmup.”
PHS was on the move from the opening draw, building a 9-1 lead in the first 15 minutes of the contest. The Little Tigers led 11-3 at halftime and never looked back as they posted a 17-5 rout of the Ravens and improved to 6-5 on the season.
The win earned PHS a shot at No. 2 Stuart in the MCT quarters in a game slated for May 13 with the winner advancing to the semis on May 15. The Little Tigers also clinched a spot on the state tournament with their triumph.
Graham, who fired in five goals in the win, thought PHS rose to the occasion as it entered tournament play.
“I think we just came out with so much intensity; this is the best full game that we have played this year,” asserted Graham.
“We were really excited today, it is the first round of Mercer counties. I think that we really came out well today.”
The result was even more impressive considering that PHS had struggled in beating Robbinsville 10-7 on April 29.
“We knew that after beating Robbinsville last week by only a small margin that they would be coming out ready to play us,” said Graham, who scored two goals last Monday as PHS kept rolling with an 11-5 win over Allentown to move to 7-5. “There was a lot of revenge.”
Graham acknowledged that the Little Tigers weren’t ready to play well in the early stages of the season as they dealt with heavy graduation losses and got off to a 3-5 start.
“This is a recovering team after losing eight seniors from last year,” said Graham.
“We just weren’t fitting well together in the beginning of the season with so many freshmen. Everybody has to come out of their shells to get them going.”
As one of the team’s most experienced performers, Graham has gone out of her way to get the younger players going.
“I think that being an upperclassman and having a lot of experience, we have a lot to teach the younger players,” said Graham, noting that she plays lacrosse in the winter and summer.
“They are all such great kids; they are so excited and ready to learn. We play a teaching role; we are taking up a leadership role.”
In Graham’s view, everybody has finally gotten on the same page. “I think it has been gradual,” said Graham.
“We have so much talent; it’s just our meshing. I think one of the turning points is that the upperclassmen really started to get the fire going for the younger girls in the past few games. I think that is what’s making the whole team come together.”
PHS head coach Joyce Jones likes the way her team is coming together. “We had enthusiasm; we were ready to play today,” said Jones, who got eight goals and an assist from junior star Liz Price. “We are peaking at the right time.”
While Graham and Prince are the Little Tigers’ key offensive weapons, Jones points to senior Mary McNutt as a catalyst in the team’s recent surge.
“We made some adjustments in our midfield,” explained Jones. “We moved Mary from low defender to the midfield; it has made a difference. She sees the field well; we had quite a few draw controls today. That’s one of the things that made a difference, our ability to possess the ball on the draw control.”
Another key factor in PHS’ recent surge has been the play of junior goalie Maddie O’Meara.
“Maddie was a back up last year and she is stepping up,” added Jones.
“She is playing a more aggressive goalie; she is playing with more confidence. She is not hesitant, for a lot of goalies, the crease is their home. The field is her home; she is OK to step out and go out of the cage and do whatever she needs to do to get the job done.”
Jones think her team can do a good job in its tournament appearances.
“Yes we are capable of doing that,” said Jones, when asked if her team is ready to do some damage.
“We have to take it five minutes at a time. We are getting ready and we are excited. I think at this time in our season, it’s just keeping everybody healthy with the enthusiasm and getting through everything.”
Graham, for her part, has plenty of enthusiasm regarding the Little Tigers’ prospects.
“I think that we are going to be underestimated when we go into those games,” asserted Graham.
“I think Princeton is going to be a huge force in these next few games. I really expect something special from this team and I think this is going to be the year to do it.”
If Graham continues being an offensive force for the Little Tigers, the team could do some special things.
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