It took a while for Jackson Andres to develop a comfort level last spring in his freshman season on the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team.
“Last year I was a little shell-shocked going from club straight to high school; it is a lot faster pace,” said Andres.
“Everybody is bigger, everybody is stronger. Now I feel like it has slowed down and I am catching up with everyone.”
This spring, Andres has emerged as a strong defensive presence for the Little Tigers.
“Getting big Colin Buckley, a transfer from Peddie, has helped,” said Andres.
“The first game we had him was the Notre Dame loss. He had to wait the 30 days. He is great. I had to play the close defense for the beginning and now that he is here I am strictly a longstick midfielder, which I kind of like better.”
Andres liked the way second-seeded PHS started things in the Mercer County Tournament last Thursday by blanking 15th-seeded New Egypt 12-0 in a first round contest.
“All we were thinking about was don’t let in any goals,” said Andres, who helped PHS produce another strong defensive effort as the Little Tigers topped No. 7 Northern Burlington 14-5 in the MCT quarters last Saturday to earn a date with No. 3 PDS in the semis on May 14 with the winner advancing to the title game on May 16.
“Against North (WW/P-N), we were going into it the same way and they put one in shorthanded and we were not too happy. That was our biggest goal today, have a shutout. It is a confidence booster.”
In Andres’ view, the Little Tigers are bringing a lot of confidence into the postseason.
“I think we all feel that we can go very far,” said Andres. “These three games going into it I feel are the best things we can have. I feel like we couldn’t be in a better position, getting the two seed.”
PHS head coach Peter Stanton likes having Andres at the longstick position.
“Jackson has the ability to be really disruptive in between the restraining lines,” said Stanton. “He picks up lots of ground balls, he starts transition and that gives us a nice spark.”
In the win over New Egypt, the Little Tigers were sparked by some of the members of the team’s supporting cast.
“It is very satisfying to not just see some of the other kids get their playing time but to see them receiving support from the guys who do get the accolades,” said Stanton.
“We are thrilled for a kid like Dillon Johnston who has put in four years of hard work; to see him get out there and get five or six goals you have to be happy about that.”
Stanton was happy about the defensive effort he got as his team blanked the Warriors.
“Learning has occurred this season as far as our defenders understanding the riding and the clearing, and the transition game,” said Stanton. “You see evidence of that in a game like today.”
The Little Tigers have been giving evidence of how good they can be in recent action.
“You have put in the hard work during those cold March practices,” said Stanton, whose team’s win over Northern Burlington was its fifth straight and improved its record to 12-3. “Now is the time when you really want to have it.”
Andres, for his part, is having fun seeing PHS come together. “This is my favorite team I have ever been on at this school,” said Andres, who also stars for the PHS boys’ hockey team.
“The guys on this team and the atmosphere are amazing. Going to Disney over spring break was probably the most fun I have ever had in a 5-day span. The special thing about this team is that no one player is doing everything. We have four or five extremely strong poles who can cover anybody. We have at least eight short sticks who can put the ball into the net.”