With the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team trailing Mount Olive 4-3 at halftime last Friday in the second round of the state tournament, Mia Haughton realized that she might have just 25 minutes remaining in her high school career.
“Katie [Reilly] and I were talking, we definitely didn’t want this to be our last game,” said senior star Haughton, who is a co-captain of the Little Tigers along with classmate Reilly. “We weren’t playing our game in the first half.”
As a result, the Little
Tigers engaged in some soul searching at halftime of the North Jersey Group 3 sectional contest.
“Coach [Christie] Cooper talked it over with us and said we weren’t playing as a team,” recalled Haughton.
“We can only win as a team. We got together and said ‘family’ which is what our team says to remind us that we are a team. We needed to play more as a unit rather than playing as individuals.”
In the second half, Haughton helped the second-seeded Little Tigers find a rhythm, assisting on four straight goals as PHS forged ahead 8-5 on the way to a 10-7 win.
“The opportunities started coming and one thing is that we just slowed it down,” said Haughton, who tallied a goal and four assists on the game with sophomore standout Emilia Lopez-Ona scoring five goals and Elizabeth Jacobs chipping in two as the Little Tigers improved to 14-3.
“In the first half we just kept rushing and rushing and we never got into a settled offense so we settled it down and got into it. The cuts were coming and my assists were easy.”
For Haughton, it has been easy working with longtime friend Reilly in leading the Little Tigers.
“Being a captain, I feel like I have to step up and fill that leadership role,” said Haughton.
“It really helps to have Katie by my side. We are a unit. We are going to Amherst College together so the bond is going to continue. We have been playing together our whole life. We understand each other on the field so it is really good to have her with me.”
But in line with the team’s emphasis on family, Haughton notes that many have pitched in when it comes to leadership.
“The majority of our players are younger and underclassmen; anyone can step up and play the leadership role,” said Haughton.
“Between Emilia [Lopez-Ona] and Liz [Jacobs] and our defense which is all underclassmen and a freshman goalie [Mira Shane], they can step in and fill those leadership roles. That’s all you can ask for.”
With PHS slated to host No. 3 WW/P-N on May 22 in the sectional semis, Haughton and her teammates will be asking for even more from themselves.
“We definitely have to pick it up in practice and get serious because we are in the semifinals,” said Haughton, noting that PHS and WW/P-N split their two regular season meetings.
“As long as I have been here, we have never made it this far. We broke the second round curse, we are just really excited.”