March 27, 2019

In the Wake of Heavy Graduation Losses, PDS Girls’ Lacrosse Featuring New Look

BIG THREAT: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Gwen Allen heads upfield in a game last season. PDS will be looking for senior star and Amherst College-bound Allen to provide plenty of offense in her final campaign. The Panthers start the 2019 season by playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on March 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Saying goodbye to a core of seniors that helped the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team win three state Prep B titles in the last four years, the program is going to have a new look this spring.

While PDS head coach Jill Thomas acknowledges that team is undergoing a transition, she is seeing a lot of positives so far from a group that features a mix of veteran leaders and promising freshmen.

“You graduate nine and you have got to rebuild a little but things are going well, ” said Thomas, whose squad includes five freshmen and two transfers and worked on getting in synch with its annual preseason trip to Florida earlier this month.

“I think the freshmen will be fine because we have great senior leaders in Maddy Birch, Gwen Allen, Val Radvany, and Zoe Cook.”

The addition of Cook, a transfer from Hun who led the Raiders in scoring last season, is a great plus for the Raiders.

“Zoe has fit in beautifully; I keep on introducing her as our bonus,” said Thomas, who guided the Panthers to the Prep B title game and an 8-9 record on 2018.

“She is a good kid, she went to PDS through third grade. She feels very fortunate to be here and we love having her. It is all good.”

Thomas knows that she is also fortunate to have a pair of senior stalwarts in Allen, who has committed to attend Amherst College and play both field hockey and lacrosse there, along with Birch.

“Gwen can play within herself, she is a force to be reckoned with; she has size and speed,” said Thomas, whose offensive unit will also include sophomore Ellie Schofield, sophomore Jordan Young and a trio of freshmen in Elle Anhut and the Allen twins, Emily and Lyla.

The Panther defense will be spearheaded by senior Radvany along with freshman standout Ali Surace.

“I can count on Val on defense; we call on her to be a leader and she is doing great,” said Thomas.

“We have got Ali Surace is starting on defense and doing really well; she is stepping up big. You have Maddie Izzard coming back and you have got Vanessa Devin, Alex Hollander, and Ella McIntyre. The defense is going to be fine.”

PDS boasts two options at goalie in junior Maggie Madani and Hailey Wexler, a sophomore transfer from Hun.

“We are going to have to see; I thought I could make a decision in Florida but Hailey wasn’t there,” said Thomas. “Both of them will see action.”

In the view of Thomas, the Panthers are already there in terms of camaraderie.

“We have been working on team chemistry since day one and we are where we want to be,” said Thomas. “That is the key. We have got to revamp and team chemistry has been our goal since we met in October. I am really happy with it.”

With PDS opening its 2019 campaign by playing at the Hill School (Pa.), the Panthers will need to be on the same page.

“You have got to be ready, we hit the ground running with our schedule,” said Thomas, whose team hosts Blair on March 30 and Peddie on April 1 before playing at the Shipley School (Pa.) on April 3 and at Lawrenceville on April 5.

“I think we need to be keeping our heads up and focusing on what we want to do. We need to play our game and stay together as a unit. When you are young, the sky is the limit.”