March 26, 2014

Primed to Build on Superb 2013 Campaign, PHS Girls’ Lax Hitting the Ground Running


FULL SPEED AHEAD: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse star Emilia Lopez-Ona races up the field in action last year. The Penn-bound senior Lopez-Ona will be a key weapon for PHS this spring as it looks to improve on last season’s 18-4 record. The Little Tigers get their 2014 campaign underway by hosting Lawrence on March 26 and then playing at Hun on March 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming off a superb 18-4 campaign that culminated with a run to the Central Jersey Group III sectional final, the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team has hit the ground running this spring.

“We are getting off to a great start, almost the whole team is returning from last year,” said second-year head coach Kelsey O’Gorman.

“The seniors have stepped up. This team has so many great athletes that play multiple sports. We didn’t have to start over, we didn’t have to go over the basics. We are ready to go.”

PHS is ready to put up some big numbers at the offensive end, led by the one-two punch of senior stars, Dartmouth-bound Liz Jacobs and Penn-bound Emilia Lopez-Ona.

“Liz and Emilia are looking strong,” said O’Gorman. “They are going to get double-teamed, they have both been starters since freshmen year so they are used to the pressure.”

The Little Tigers boast some other players who can put pressure on the opposition in seniors Krysta Holman and Taylor Chiang along with junior Gabby Gibbons and sophomore Allie Callaway.

“We have a solid unit, they have worked with each other for a long time,” said O’Gorman.

“There is a lot of energy. Krysta Holman and Taylor Chiang will also be on low attack. Gabby Gibbons is awesome for us. She is an all-around player. She is a mature player and is committed to the game. Allie Callaway has come and worked hard in offseason, I am proud of the progress she has made.”

In the midfield, senior standout and Lafayette-bound Dana Smith provides a lot of energy for PHS.

“The word ‘feisty’ describes Dana, she is a ground ball machine,” said O’Gorman.

“I am excited to see how she is going to do on the draw. She has so much fight. She has such an eye for the ball and reading the opponent. She is so aggressive. She is a team captain along with Emilia.”

There are some other exciting options for PHS in the midfield with a pair of sophomores, Julia Ryan and Taylor Lis, showing marked improvement.

“Julia Ryan is really strong; Taylor Lis started as freshmen,” said O’Gorman.

“It is great to see their progress, they learned a lot of lessons last year. Julia is a really good basketball player and Taylor plays soccer. They are two-sport athletes but they are becoming solid lax players. Taylor Chiang will also see time in the midfield. She is versatile, she can go anywhere on the field and do well.”

The Tiger defense will be spearheaded by seniors Kristi DeMilt and Stephanie Hauer along with junior Oona Ryle.

“Kristi DeMilt is our tall defender; you have to watch out for her stick,” said O’Gorman.

“She has long arms and gathers in anything she gets to. Steph Hauer has worked on her agility. She is a big communicator on defense and that is so key. Oona Ryle should also help us there.”

Junior goalie Mira Shane handles just about anything she gets to as well. “Mira is one of the top goalies in the area,” said O’Gorman.

“She is so serious about her lacrosse. She is a lax girl through and through. She is in lax mode and is ready to go. She has the drive and will to get better. She corrects any errors she makes. She coaches herself and is coachable.”

O’Gorman is looking forward to coaching the Little Tigers this spring. “I have really high expectations for this group; we learned a lot from last year,” said O’Gorman, whose team is slated to open the 2014 campaign by hosting Lawrence on March 26 and then playing at Hun on March 29.

“We proved that we are tough competitors; we were put in tough situations and fought through them. I was so proud of them last year and think I am going to be even more proud of them this year.”

In order to have another big year, the Little Tigers need to get on the same page.

“Everyone has to find their role,” said O’Gorman. “We have to put the puzzle pieces together and see who is our best feeder, who is best on the drive, who is best on the draw. This season holds so much potential.”

—Bill Alden