Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 20
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

PASSION PLAY: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse senior star Mariel Jenkins races up the field in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, the Harvard-bound Jenkins tallied a goal and kept fighting to the final whistle but it wasn’t nearly enough as top-seeded PDS fell 14-5 to No. 3 Hopewell Valley in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. The defeat left the Panthers with a sparkling final record of 13-2.

Senior Star Jenkins Displays Unbridled Passion as PDS Girls’ Lacrosse Falls to HoVal in MCT

Bill Alden

It was the last game of the season for the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team and a major theme was passion.

In a handwritten statement on a heart-shaped card entitled “Passion” attached to the chain the team carries to games, a player exhorted her teammates to “give it all we have and never give up. Believe!”

As top-seeded PDS ended the spring by playing No. 3 Hopewell Valley in the Mercer County Tournament championship game last Saturday, it would’ve been easy for the Panthers to give up.

After having lost to HoVal in the last two MCT title games, PDS found itself trailing the Bulldogs 14-4 late in the contest held at Robbinsville High.

But there was Panther senior star Mariel Jenkins sprinting up the field at full throttle, going end-to-end with a loose ball.

Exemplifying PDS’s frustrating afternoon, Jenkins was dispossessed of the ball just as she got to the crease area and wound up for a shot.

Despite the obstacle it faced in the talented and tough Bulldog squad, Jenkins and her teammates never stopped trying, scoring a goal with five seconds remaining to make the final score 14-5.

In reflecting on the setback, Jenkins said that the Panthers were determined to fight back from the 7-3 halftime deficit they faced.

“At halftime, we tried to regroup and we said ‘listen we need and go out and get it,’” recalled the Harvard-bound Jenkins.

“I think we got some energy; it just wasn’t really enough at that point. We had some key goals; it was just hard to answer back after being down by so many.”

It wasn’t hard for the Panthers to keep clawing. “I was really proud of the team, we didn’t give up,” said Jenkins, who had one goal on the afternoon as PDS ended the season with a sparkling 13-2 record. “We were down by eight and we didn’t let up. We fought to the last second.”

Although Jenkins had hoped for a happier ending, she will always have fond memories of her final campaign.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better senior season,” asserted Jenkins. “It was such an honor to be a captain this year. It was great, all the sophomores and juniors stepped up this year. I had a great season.”

In Jenkins’ view, she has had a great career with PDS. “Every year I have been on varsity has been a completely different experience,” added Jenkins.

“The team has changed so much from last year to this year, it was two completely different teams. We have had some great wins. We have beaten Lawrenceville since my freshman year. I think something to boast about our team is that we always put up a good fight no matter what.”

PDS head coach Jill Thomas believes her players have plenty to brag about notwithstanding the loss to HoVal.

“I am very proud of them; I am very proud of the season we had,” said Thomas. “They have nothing to be ashamed of. It’s good stuff.”

The Panthers didn’t have their best stuff in the loss to the Bulldogs.

“We keep shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Thomas, whose team was in position to narrow the gap to 5-4 late in the first half but lost the ball and then saw HoVal score two goals in the last minute to build its 7-3 halftime lead.

“We had turnovers, bad breaks, and then we couldn’t possess the draw. That’s the bottom line.”

The PDS seniors have certainly been good for the program’s bottom line. “Since they have been with us, they have some outrageous, incredible record of 56-14 or something like that,” said Thomas, whose senior class featured senior co-captains Jenkins and Cammie Linville together with Georgia Travers, Charlotte Lescroart, Amalia McDonald, and Alison Sorrentino.

“They have been to a lot of dances. They have left a mark and a standard of excellence we all try to work for. They learned from the best and left it for the rest.”

Jenkins, for her part, believes her class is leaving a solid legacy. “Every year, it is the seniors that get the other ones fired up,” said Jenkins.

“Next year, I think Courtland [Lackey] and Caitlin [Shannon] will follow in the same shoes we followed in with Hannah Epstein and Erin Burns.”

Those returning players will have some big shoes to fill in Jenkins and her classmates.

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