Even though he is just a sophomore, Connor Fletcher knew that he had to step up this spring for the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team.
With PDS losing eight seniors to graduation from a 2013 squad that went 11-6 and advanced to the state Prep B championship game and the Mercer County Tournament semifinals, midfielder Fletcher has emerged as a top scoring threat for the Panthers.
“I feel this year we had our work cut out for us with a big senior class leaving,” said Fletcher.
“I feel like the unity with our six guys out there this spring is really developing well. As a freshman, you are a little timid out there but getting more playing time, I am definitely more comfortable. I am getting the chance to hopefully form into a leader out there. I am just trying to help the younger guys learn like I did.”
Last Monday at Pennington, Fletcher took a lead role, tallying two goals and two assists as PDS rolled to a 14-1 win over the Red Raiders.
“Obviously whenever we get a chance to get out here to run the offense and give everyone some touches, it is always a good time,” said Fletcher.
“We don’t get a lot of practice so getting out here is always great for us. I feel like we are putting ourselves in a really great spot right now, getting towards the end of the season, getting towards championship season.”
In Fletcher’s view, PDS took a good step forward with its 10-7 win on April 10 over defending Prep B champions Rutgers Prep.
“That is definitely one we had circled on our calendar; we were ready from the start,” said Fletcher.
“It was great for us to take it to them, it was a real confidence booster. We are excited to hopefully see them at the end of the season in the championship of Prep B again.”
Fletcher gained confidence from starring this winter for the PDS boys’ hockey team, helping the Panthers to a state Prep championship.
“A big thing for me is staying in shape, bulking up, and physically developing,” said Fletcher. “Playing hockey gives me a better look at offense and defense; it is bringing me different looks playing on the lacrosse field.”
Having recently committed to play lacrosse at Cornell University, Fletcher is in great shape for the future.”
“My dad went there and I have wanted to go there ever since I was a little kid,” said Fletcher, reflecting on his college decision.
“It has been been my No. 1 spot. They gave me the offer so I took it right away, it is my dream school.”
With the Panther offense starting to click on all cylinders, PDS head coach Rob Tuckman is hoping for a dream finish this spring.
“They play well together; this is a team that is going to be made up of six guys and not one guy,” said Tuckman, referring to his offensive unit that includes Chris Azzarello, Jacob Shavel, Joey Levine, Jonah Tuckman, and Will Brossman in addition to Fletcher.
“We are getting some productivity. If you look at my stat sheet right now, I have got goals being scored pretty consistently by six or seven guys. We are getting multiple points. We are real pleased and now it is about sustaining it. We are not deep. We are talented but we are thin. As long as we can stay healthy and play the game that we know how to play, I think we are going to have fun in the second half of the season.”
The Panther defensive unit is also having a lot of fun so far this spring. “The defense has been playing with confidence ever since Hilton Head,” said Tuckman.
“We are excited about some of the things that we are doing with our defense and continue to do with our defense. We have four sets that we run defensively and we run them through and it is both a response to and trying to get a hand up on offenses that we face.”
The Panthers face a tough second half of the season as they host Peddie on April 23 and play at Blair Academy on April 26 before starting play in the state Prep B tourney and the Mercer County Tournament.
“It was a good opportunity for us to get ourselves ready for the second half of the season,” said Tuckman, reflecting on the win over Pennington.
“We are gearing up for a pretty strong second half of the season. The prep seeds will come out tomorrow. If everything goes as it should, we will have the second seed and a bye. Morristown-Beard will get the first seed and then it will fall in from there.”
Fletcher, for his part, believes that PDS is primed for a strong finish. “We have Peddie coming up on Wednesday so that will be a big one,” said Fletcher.
“I feel like we are moving in the right direction. We definitely have a great group of guys and we are totally capable of putting up two banners at the end of the season. Everything is coming into full circle right now.”