May 8, 2019

With Westerman Taking Greater Role in Offense, PHS Boys’ Lacrosse Advances to MCT Quarters

TRUE WEST: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Dylan Westerman fires the ball up the field in a game this season. Last Thursday, senior midfielder Westerman tallied four goals and an assist as eighth-seeded PHS topped ninth-seeded Lawrence 17-7 in the second round of the Mercer County Tournament. On Saturday, Westerman chipped in a goal and an assist in a losing cause as the Tigers fell 18-3 at top-seeded and three-time defending champion Princeton Day School in the MCT quarterfinal and moved to 5-8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Dylan Westerman was ready to shoulder more responsibility on offense for the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team as it hosted Lawrence High last Thursday in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament.

With senior star Alex Park sidelined due to injury, Westerman was determined to pick up the slack for his friend and classmate as the eighth-seeded Tigers faced off against the ninth-seeded Cardinals.

“Someone has to step up; being a captain, I have been doing my best all season but I have been trying to pick up a little more on the offensive end, getting things organized,” said Westerman.

“Alex is a big playmaker; he is the only college commit on our team, but we have a ton of guys who can ball.”

The Tigers were committed to playing hard against Lawrence. “We are a team that was really looking for another chance to redeem ourselves,” said Westerman.

“We were all coming into this game knowing that we have got to be 1-0 today. The postseason is a whole other animal.”

After PHS fell behind 1-0 early in the game, Westerman got the Tigers on the board with a goal midway through the first quarter.

I just saw a little bit of a loose zone and I saw them a little bit lacking off ball,” recalled Westerman.

“I thought we could zip that ball, and if we moved it around well we could get some good shots.”

PHS kept moving from there, building up a 7-1 lead and never looking back on the way to a 17-7 victory.

It was a special win for Westerman and his classmates as it marked their last home appearance.

“There was also a sense of urgency for seniors; this is our last home game,” said Westerman, who ended up with four goals and an assist in the win.

“This is our last time we get to show it off on turf and all of our guys from the bottom of the roster to the top stepped up and had a nice game.”

Westerman has formed a nice connection with sophomore Patrick McDonald, who had five goals and an assist against Lawrence.

“Playing with his older brother Eamonn McDonald for a few seasons was huge, Patrick is not that different a player,” said Westerman.

“He is a sophomore and he is pulling his weight. He played Tri State this summer, which was my club program. He has shown a lot of improvement because of it and I am really happy to see it.”

Seeing PHS break out offensively was satisfying for Westerman.

“This is our highest-scoring game I can remember in my career at Princeton High,” said Westerman, who chipped in a goal and an assist as PHS fell 18-3 at top-seeded and three-time defending champion Princeton Day School in the MCT quarterfinal last Saturday and moved to 5-8.

“Coach [Chip Casto] tries not to run up the score; we try to be respectful but today with the season we are having, why let off the gas.”

PHS head coach Casto credited Westerman with coming through in his home finale.

“People rally behind him, he is a senior and he has been here for four years,” said Casto.

“He has been a good player. He has had a rough senior year, it is good to see him break out a little.”

While PHS has taken its lumps this spring, it was heartening for the seniors to go out with a win in the MCT.

“It is a tradition we have for the postseason,” said Casto.

“We wanted to kick that off, it is a positive thing. The seniors are talking now about the last time they are going to play on this field.”

Westerman senses a more positive vibe around the team.

“Since last year there has been a big culture change in the Princeton High locker room,” said Westerman.

“Carson [Giles], Alex, and me can take some credit for helping this culture, but it is also the coaches and the team we have, this group of guys. I don’t think we would have been so bought in if it was the same team as last year.”