It didn’t take long for Kelsey O’Gorman to feel comfortable in her role as the new head coach of the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team.
“I was an assistant coach last year so I already had a relationship with them; I didn’t have to learn who they are,” said O’Gorman, the replacement for Christie Cooper who led PHS to a 14-4 mark last spring.
“I teach here. The school is my home. I have done the paperwork and the other things to get ready for the season and now it’s time for lacrosse. This is the first time I have been a head coach and I like how it feels. I like the competitive aspect and the girls are highly coachable.”
The team’s core of veterans has aided O’Gorman in the transition. “They have stepped up, they are taking the underclassmen under their wing and instilling the traditions of the program” said O’Gorman, citing the efforts of her trio of senior team co-captains, Ciara Celestin, Olivia Kelly, and Madison Luther. “They are responding, I am running the program more strictly.”
In order to maintain the program’s winning tradition, O’Gorman is emphasizing versatility.
“I am trying to make it a strong unit, where each player has an important role,” said O’Gorman, whose team is on the road in the first week of the season as it plays at Lawrence High on April 2, at Hillsborough on April 3 and at WW/P-N on April 8.
“It is not just strong offense or strong defense; I want them working all over the field. I want the girls to learn to be versatile. I want the low defenders to be able to attack and the attackers to defend. I want to improve their lax IQ.”
PHS features a smart one-two offensive punch in juniors Emilia Lopez-Ona and Liz Jacobs, who have already committed to play their college lax at Penn and Dartmouth, respectively.
“They are looking strong; they are known for their offense and have won a lot of awards and honors for that,” said O’Gorman, who also sees sophomore Gabbie Gibbons, junior Dana Smith, junior Krysta Holman, and freshman Allie Callaway as offensive threats. “We have them working on their defense and improving their feeding.”
In O’Gorman’s view, Smith should fuel the Little Tiger midfield. “Dana Smith can do it all and never gets in the limelight,” said O’Gorman, noting that Smith has committed to Lafayette. “She sees off-ball movement like a college player; she is a natural athlete.”
That unit should keep things moving in the right direction. “Liz Jacobs is on the draw, Lopez-Ona and Smith are there, they go for everything around the circle,” said O’Gorman.
“Taylor Lis is really strong, the girls really like having her on the circle. Taylor Chiang can also help us there.”
The pair of Luther and junior Krisit DeMilt will help lead the PHS defense. “Luther is a big key and DeMilt is a strong player,” said O’Gorman.
The Little Tigers are expecting big things from sophomore goalie Mira Shane, who starred last spring as a freshman.
“Shane in goal is a strong player,” asserted O’Gorman. “She is a well-rounded person but playing lacrosse and being a goalie is a big priority for her.”
Winning is a priority for the Little Tigers and O’Gorman believes the squad can have a big spring.
“I really think they have the potential to do well; I think we can have an even stronger record than last year,” asserted O’Gorman.
“We need to keep going hard in practice. We are putting in a variety of new plays and they need to build a high lacrosse IQ. We need to have a strong bench; we need to develop the other players. We need to have a strong second line. We need well-rounded players who can fill in where needed.”