With the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team falling behind Hun 8-7 early in the fourth quarter last week, Louie Blackburn decided to take matters into his hands.
Even though the sophomore midfielder had been held scoreless for the first three quarters, Blackburn thought he could make a difference.
“I just told myself that someone had to step up,” recalled Blackburn. “We needed to put a few in the back of the net; we hadn’t been shooting a lot earlier in the game. Our coach [Rob Tuckman] said just ‘get it on net boys and it will go in.’”
Blackburn took those words to heart, scoring with 6:47 left in regulation and then finding the back of the net nearly ninety seconds later in what turned out to be the game winner as PDS pulled out a 9-8 nailbiter.
In reflecting on the rally, Blackburn acknowledged that the Panthers needed to wake up down the stretch.
“I was laying back a little bit; I wasn’t happy with how non-aggressive we were playing as a whole team,” said Blackburn.
“I thought we were letting up a little bit but our coach always tells us to never stop, never let off the gas pedal. We just kept going there and finished strong in the fourth quarter.”
With a season of high school lacrosse under his belt, Blackburn feels he is a stronger player.
“I think I have grown a bit into my own body,” said Blackburn, who also stars for the PDS boys’ hockey team.
“I have been getting mentally stronger which is the most important thing on the field. I have gotten a lot of help from the older guys on the team in stepping up.”
Blackburn has gotten some help from his older brother, Peter, a 2011 PDS grad, who starred in lacrosse and hockey.
“My brother always says the confidence will come as you get older,” said Blackburn.
“Hopefully that is what I have been seeing here in the past couple of games and hopefully it will continue throughout.”
PDS head coach Rob Tuckman liked the confidence his players displayed as they staged their late rally.
“I thought possession was the difference,” said Tuckman. “When we had the ball on our stick and we were on the offensive end, we played well and we played confident. We put it in the back of the net.”
In Tuckman’s view, Blackburn will continue to put more in the net if he keeps getting mentally stronger.
“For Louie, it is all about confidence,” said Tuckman. “If we can get him feeling good, he plays well.”
Having junior star Cody Triolo patrolling the midfield gives Tuckman an additional dose of confidence.
“Cody is solid all the way around; even when they were sliding quick on him, he still managed to be a force on the field,” said Tuckman, whose team ran into a force last Friday as it fell 13-3 to undefeated Somerville to move to 4-3. “He is great to have.”
PDS freshman goalie Griffin Thompson is proving that he has the potential to become something special.
“Griffin had a good second half today; he is coming off injury and he has to get his sea legs,” said Tuckman, who credited senior captain Zac Higgins and junior Derek Bell with spearheading the Panther defense in front of Thompson.
“He is getting there; he is a freshman so the hooting and hollering can get to him at times.”
The Panthers have been getting better as they go through the season.
“I think as we are moving forward, we are playing well,” said Tuckman, whose team hosts Ranney School on April 27.
“We have some adjustments that we have to continue to make but I think, all in all, I feel pretty good about it.”
Blackburn, for his part, feels that PDS can do some good things if it makes those adjustments.
“I always think there is room for improvement; never stop and never accept a loss,” said Blackburn.
“I think if we continue to improve as much as we should, we’ll finish up with a really strong season and record.”