Even though the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team didn’t get the chance to get outside much before its spring trip to South Carolina, the players looked sharp once they arrived in Hilton Head.
PDS head coach Rob Tuckman, for one, was not surprised by the high level of play he saw down south.
“We are really happy,” said Tuckman, who coached the Panthers to an 11-6 record in 2013 and appearances in the state Prep B championship game and the Mercer County Tournament semifinals.
“It is a credit to the senior classes, most recently last year’s; what we are seeing is a seriousness and a commitment to the sport. The kids are not waiting until March to pick up a stick. The kids are getting prepared and they are getting physically stronger.”
The Panthers have a strong attack group, led by junior Jacob Shavel, junior Chris Azzarello, and sophomore Joey Levine.
“They are working well as a unit; one of the key components is that we are getting production from everyone,” said Tuckman, whose team was scheduled to open regular season action with a game at Voorhees on April 1 before playing at Delaware Valley High on April 4 and hosting the Hun School on April 7.
“Jacob is looking great. One of his areas of progress is recognizing that he has five players behind him. He is captaining the ship with that perspective. Chris is establishing himself as a leader on attack. Joey is filling in that third spot.”
In the midfield, sophomores Jonah Tuckman (the coach’s son) and Connor Fletcher are bringing a mature perspective.
“Jonah is our face-off middie, we are looking for him to do well,” said Tuckman, whose midfield unit will also include seniors Connor Bitterman and tri-captain Lewie Blackburn together with freshman Will Brossman and sophomore Chris Chai.
“Connor is a big, strong body out there. Their real strength is that they play beyond their years. Jonah is a coach’s son and Connor is going to be playing D-I lacrosse.”
In Tuckman’s view, the Panther defense may be its biggest asset, featuring senior tri-captain Ben Levine together with juniors Kevin Towle and Christian Vik. “Our defense is probably the strongest part of our team,” asserted Tuckman.
“Towle was a longstick midfielder last year and he has gained 15 pounds of muscle. Both Levine and Vik are leaders out there, between the two of them, they have established something special.”
The Panthers have two good options at goalie in senior tri-captain Culver Duquette and junior Chris Markey.
“Both are committed to the position, they have worked with Rich in the midseason,” said Tuckman, referring to assistant coach Rich D’Andrea, a former star goalie at Georgetown.
“They are both looking excellent. I am not sure what we are going to do there, they could split time. It is a good problem to have, we are just trying to figure it out.”
If PDS can figure things out, it has the potential to enjoy a banner spring. “If we stay healthy, we can make runs,” asserted Tuckman.
“We want to hang banners. We are going for the state Prep B title and the county championship. I am looking forward to seeing us in games in New Jersey. We have a tough schedule by design. We are playing a brand of lacrosse we haven’t played in a while. We have strength in all areas of the field and we have confidence in all areas of the field.”