May 31, 2017

Lopez-Ona Displays Shooting Skill in Defeat As PHS Girls’ Lax Falls in Sectional Semis

CARRYING THE LOAD: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Mariana Lopez-Ona carries the ball up the field in recent action. Last week, sophomore star Lopez-Ona tallied a team-high four goals and an assist in a losing cause as second-seeded PHS fell 13-10 to third-seeded Rancocas Valley in the semifinals of the Central Jersey Group 4 Tournament. The defeat in the May 23 contest left the Little Tigers with a final record of 14-8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Before Mariana Lopez-Ona joined the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team in the spring of 2016, she received some home schooling on the fine points of the game. 

With older sister, Emilia, having starred for the PHS girls’ lacrosse team and gone on to play at Penn and older brother, Johnny, a current senior standout for the Little Tiger boys’ squad, the Lopez-Ona backyard turned into a lax proving ground.

“It was definitely like a competition,” said Lopez-Ona. “When we were younger, we would go outside and play keep away with each other. It was always like a big fight between all of us.”

Those battles helped the youngest Lopez-Ona sharpen her skills. “My sister helped me a lot with the draw, my shooting, and everything,” added Lopez-Ona.

“With Johnny, having the influence of the boys’ game really helps even though they are slightly different. You get more perspective and different shooting styles.”

Last week, sophomore star midfielder Lopez-Ona displayed her shooting prowess, scoring a team-high four goals in a losing cause as second-seeded PHS fell 13-10 to third-seeded Rancocas Valley in the semifinals of the Central Jersey Group 4 Tournament.

Having lost 11-9 to Rancocas Valley in a regular season contest in April 1, PHS was determined to get out of the gate quickly in the playoff rematch. With Lopez-Ona scoring two goals in the first three minutes of the May 23 contest, the Little Tigers jumped out to a 3-2 lead. The foes, though, were knotted at 7-7 by halftime and Rancocas Valley went on a 4-1 run over the last 15 minutes of regulation to pull out the victory.

“We started out strong, we really wanted it,” said Lopez-Ona, reflecting on the setback which left PHS with a final record of 14-8.

“We still worked hard to the end, they played a good game and we could have cleaned up a little more.”

Lopez-Ona worked well together with freshman standout Shaylah Marciano, who chipped in a goal and two assists in the defeat.

“I have known her forever, we played together in PG Lax,” said Lopez-Ona, who assisted on Marciano’s goal.

“I am really good friends with her and I love having her on the field. I am really to happy to have the next few years with her.”

Coming into this year, Lopez-Ona was looking to be sharper at the offensive end of the field.

“Between my freshman and this year, I really tried to be more consistent with my shooting and take smarter shots,” said Lopez-Ona, who scored a team-high 86 goals this spring for the Little Tigers.

“I think I accomplished that; I hope my shooting was more advantageous for the team.”

While PHS was hoping to accomplish more in the state tournament, Lopez-Ona believes the team made a lot of progress this spring.

“We definitely gave our seniors a good final year,” said Lopez-Ona.

“We improved a lot. We got a lot better towards the end of the season. I think this game showed this; we played hard to the end and didn’t give up.”

In the view of Lopez-Ona, the Little Tigers should keep getting better and better going forward.

“We have a good future; we have a lot of really good freshmen and this was our coach’s [Sara Doran] first year and we still did really well,” said Lopez-Ona.

“I think in upcoming years, as we develop more of a relationship with her and as the team builds, we will continue growing.”