For Morgan Foster and the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team, its state Prep B tournament opener last week against Montclair-Kimberley Academy wasn’t just the beginning of the postseason, it represented a vital step in a healing process.
The April 29 contest marked the team’s first action in 12 days as its games the previous week were cancelled after the passing of Nancy Dwyer, the mother of PDS junior goalie Sara Dwyer.
“This game was definitely important for us,” said PDS junior star Foster. “We had a lot riding on it, especially because it is a tournament game and, in light of recent events, you really want to go out there and show that we still have got it.”
Foster didn’t waste any time showing that her finishing skills were as sharp as ever, scoring two goals in the first 6:01 of the game as the Panthers jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
“It got the ball rolling, it got the momentum up,” recalled Foster, who ended up with three goals and an assist on the day as the Panthers prevailed 13-12. “It was going our way for a while. I was really happy that I was able to get the opportunity to score.”
As the team helped Dwyer deal with her loss, it has used that situation as an opportunity to become even closer.
“We really made sure that we were there holding each other’s hands the whole time,” said Foster. “We made sure that every single person was on the same page. We are only as strong as our weakest link.”
Foster acknowledged that PDS had to fight through some weak moments as Montclair Kimberley narrowed an 11-6 PDS lead to 11-10 to turn the game into a nailbiter.
“Towards the end, we were put in situations that we were not exactly happy to put ourselves in,” said Foster.
“But we think it is important that we were able to practice them on such a big stage and get a little bit more experience under our belts for that one.”
The battle-tested Foster, a starter since the beginning of her freshman season, is utilizing her experience.
“As a junior, I am stepping into the role of becoming a senior and having a bigger voice on the team and having the girls look up to me for advice,” said Foster.
PDS head coach Jill Thomas credited Foster with being a catalyst for her teammates in the win over MKA.
“Morgan just got us going, she set the tone,” said Thomas. “She always brings her best to the field. She did a great job of going to goal and finding out what worked against this goalie and then everybody followed suit so that was really good.”
Sophomore Hope Anhut was really good in the win, scoring five goals to lead the PDS attack.
“Hope has taken it to another level; she is more confident,” said Thomas. “We have used our plays to work to her a little bit. They are working well. You have your top dogs out there and they are all together.”
Showing a high level of commitment and courage, junior Kirsten Kuzmicz, normally a midfielder, stepped into goal for Dwyer and made 10 saves.
“What can you say, not bad for three days,” said Thomas, reflecting on Kuzmicz’s performance in the cage.
“She stepped in there and she was tough the whole time. It takes a special person to step in and do what she did today and do it well.”
Thomas was proud of how her players stepped up collectively under tough circumstances.
“It was good to get back; we are just all there for everybody,” said Thomas, whose team fell 17-11 to WW/P-S last Thursday in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament before losing 23-16 to Morristown-Beard last Monday in the Prep B semis. “They have been there for each other the whole week and that has been good.”
Foster, for her part, is determined to be there for her teammates. “I definitely feel like I am out here to score and I am out here to assist and make other people look good,” said Foster. “I would like to think of my play as a balancing act.”