PHS Alumna Reilly Feeling at Home As New Head Coach of Tiger Girls’ Lax
UP TO SPEED: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Mariana Lopez-Ona races to goal in a 2018 game. Senior star and Michigan-bound Lopez-Ona’s intensity all over the field is a key asset for PHS. The Tigers open up their 2019 season by hosting WW/P-South on March 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Meg Reilly caught the coaching bug as a teenager.
The 2010 Princeton High alumna started working with grade schoolers in the PGLax program in high school and then coached with Tri-State club in the summers while attending Muhlenberg College.
“I definitely fell in love with coaching early on,” said Reilly. “I played at Tri-State for Sue Montegary; she was my big coaching idol. She got me into it and continuing to want to pursue it.”
After graduating from Muhlenberg in 2014 and serving as assistant coach for the PHS girls’ lax program the last four years, Reilly is taking over the head job at her alma mater this spring, succeeding Sara Doran.
While Reilly enjoyed being an assistant for the Tigers, she is relishing the chance to be at the helm.
“I wasn’t itching to do it yet but the opportunity presented itself,” said Reilly, who played field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse during her PHS days. “Once I got the opportunity, then I realized how much I wanted it.”
For Reilly, getting the opportunity to guide a program at her alma mater is something special.
“I have always loved Princeton; I was absolutely in love with my high school experience,” said Reilly, who is a third-grade teacher at Riverside Elementary.
“I got to play so many sports, sing a cappella, and just do so much at once. I loved the atmosphere of PHS.”
As the preseason has unfolded, Reilly is feeling the love from her players.
“It has been awesome, I think they were excited about the transition,” said Reilly, who helped PHS enjoy a big campaign last spring when it went 13-11 and won a sectional title.
“It is nice that I already really know them. I tried to get coffee with some of them before the season. I took all of the seniors out to dinner to Conte’s to get them excited for the season.”
Reilly is excited about the one-two punch of junior standout Shaylah Marciano and senior star Mariana Lopez-Ona, who are both committed to attend University of Michigan and play for its women’s lacrosse program.
“Shaylah is looking awesome, she is absolutely fearless and a such a total package athlete,” said Reilly of Marciano, who also stars at soccer and basketball.
“We have Mariana with her goal scoring skills and her defensive skills as well, a lot of times she can get an interception or cause a turnover from low defense and bring it all the way up. She is also fantastic at the draw.”
Sophomore Shoshi Henderson and junior Eva Petrone are primed to build on solid campaigns last year at the offensive end while senior Kathryn DeMilt is aiming to go out with a bang and freshman Kate Becker appears ready to make a sudden impact.
“Shoshi and Eva are going to give even better years than last year because their confidence is at an awesome place right now,” said Reilly.
“They are such great teammates and they work really well with the rest of the team. We have also got Kathryn; she is very experienced and as a lefty she has a lot of unique opportunities to score. We also have a talented freshman, Kate Becker, who is everywhere on the field and can play both midfield and attack.”
The PHS defense is stocked with battle-tested veterans in junior Lila Doran, senior Serena Bolitho, and the Mavoides twins, Megan and Morgan, who are also seniors.
“Lila is a big player and then we have got Serena Bolitho, who plays defense and midfield,” said Reilly.
“I have the Mavoides twins, which is phenomenal because they are coming from a leadership position in field hockey and they have naturally started to be leaders on the lacrosse field as well.”
The Tigers will be going with a freshman, Gigi Peloso, as the starting goalie.
“Gigi is really legit,” said Reilly. “She is technically trained, she is very tough, and she is very coachable. She is one of those kids who will get in front of the shot and she won’t step out of the cage. She is tough as nails. Gigi has some height too but the best things about her are coachability, attitude, and how fearless she is.”
With PHS opening the season by hosting WW/P-South on March 27, Reilly is looking for her players to display an upbeat attitude no matter what happens.
“The keys to success for us are going to be our mental toughness and our ability to stay positive as a team unit together and utilizing all different players,” said Reilly.