With Doran Leading Spirited Defensive Effort, PHS Girls’ Lax Stifled Allentown in MCT Semis
LYING IN WAIT: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Lila Doran controls the ball in recent action. Junior defender Doran helped second-seeded PHS defeat third-seeded Allentown 14-8 in the MCT semis last week. The Tigers fell 13-7 to top-seeded Lawrenceville in the title game on Thursday. In upcoming action, PHS, now 15-2, will be starting play in the state tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Despite having posted two wins over Allentown in regular season action, the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team knew it had to tighten things up when they foes met for round three in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals last week.
“I think the energy going into the game was incredible; we knew playing a team three times is really tough,” said Doran, noting that both of the PHS wins had been by one goal, 12-11 on April 30 and 16-15 on April 11.
“Communication was definitely a key part of that. We were telling each other where we are on the field at all time. We really focused on the crease game because we were getting beat a lot there in the previous games.”
Displaying that focus, the Tigers stifled the Redbirds, building a 4-2 lead at halftime on the way to a convincing 14-8 triumph in the May 7 contest.
In Doran’s view, the defensive effort in the victory exemplified the unit’s progress. “We have improved a lot,” asserted Doran. “Our chemistry is really fantastic because we have playing with each other for three or four years.”
PHS head coach Meg Reilly credited Doran with setting an aggressive tone.
“Lila is fearless; she goes out hard on her attacker every single time,” said Reilly.
“She is not afraid to do that because she trusts her teammates behind her and knows they are going to have her back. Most of the time, she gets the caused turnovers.”
Reilly was looking for the Tigers to come out hard and take control against high-powered Allentown.
“We knew we had to get a big lead on them; otherwise they would take it right back because Allentown is so capable of grabbing the momentum and taking it away from you,” said Reilly. “All we had to do was to get a big enough gap; that is what our game plan was.”
Doran and her teammates were thrilled to grab a spot in the MCT final, as the program advanced that far for the first time since 2014.
“We were pretty confident going in just because we wanted it so badly,” said Doran. “It feels super awesome to be in the finals. I don’t know how many years it has been since we have been in the final but not since I have been here.”
While PHS ended up falling 13-7 to top-seeded and three-time champion Lawrenceville in the MCT final on Thursday, dealing with that challenge should help the Tigers as they head into the state tournament.
“I have a lot of friends on the Lawrenceville team so there is a lot of competitiveness going into that game,” said Doran.
“They are talented. We just have to body them up on defense and just really be playing clean defense. This is what we have been looking for all season.”