June 5, 2019

Junior Star Petrone Shows her Productivity as PHS Girls’ Lax Edged in State Semifinal

GROUP EFFORT: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Eva Petrone, right, chases down a foe in a game this spring. Last Thursday, junior star Petrone scored a team-high three goals but it wasn’t enough as Central Jersey sectional champion PHS fell 9-8 to South winner Eastern in the state Group 4 semis at Moorestown. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 18-3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Eva Petrone was determined to be more productive this spring in her junior season for the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team.

“Coming off last year I was doing alright [with] 25 goals but this year being a starter, I knew I had to step up on offense,” said attacker Petrone. “I did my best to contribute more and more each game.”

Last Thursday as Central Jersey sectional champion PHS faced South winner Eastern in the state Group 4 semis at Moorestown, Petrone stepped up. She tallied three goals in the first half of the high stakes contest as the Tigers took a 6-5 lead into intermission.

“We knew this game was going to be challenging; we saw the seeding and it gave us hope to come out with a big win,” said Petrone.

“We felt very good at halftime but you never know what is going to happen.”

Unfortunately for PHS, some bad things happened down the stretch in the second half against Eastern. The Tigers took an 8-7 lead on a goal by Kathryn DeMilt with 11:52 left in the second half only to see the Vikings score two unanswered goals to go ahead 9-8 and then go into a stall for the last 7:26 of regulation to hold on for the win and earn a trip to the Group 4 state championship game

“We just couldn’t pull the offense together in the second half,” lamented the Fairfield University-bound Petrone, who ended the spring with 53 goals and 16 assists.

“We weren’t getting the draws as much in the second half. When we did get it on offense we weren’t able to possess it for very long and we were forcing shots. You can only do so much when you don’t have possession.”

As the skies opened up with a downpour after the final horn, the rain couldn’t dampen Petrone’s pride in what PHS accomplished this spring. 

“This is a team I wanted to play with a lot longer than this but you can only play for so long,” said Petrone.

“It has been a hell of a ride with these girls. The defense, the offense, and the midfield worked so hard. We have a great coach.”

PHS first-year head coach Meg Reilly saw some great things in the early stages of the contest as the Tigers seized momentum. 

“I liked the hustle, I liked the intensity, I liked the draw and I loved the defensive aggression,” said Reilly. 

“They were really forcing girls out on defense. Our settled defense is so strong and they played so well in the first half.”

Reilly credited Petrone with giving the squad a lift. “Eva can give you a spark and when Eva is on she can carry the whole team with her fire,” said Reilly.

Reflecting on the second half, Reilly acknowledged that the Tigers ran out of gas in the waning moments of the game. 

“If we had everyone sparking, we would have won,” said Reilly, who got a goal and three assists from junior star Shaylah Marciano in the loss with senior standout Mariana Lopez-Ona chipping in a goal and an assist and senior Kathryn DeMilt tallying two goals. “I thought in the second half we weren’t winning the draws as much and we were a little more tired.”

While Reilly would have liked to see her team play for a state title, she couldn’t ask for much more in her debut campaign at the helm of a program she played for.

“I am proud of the way they play together as a team, 18-3 is an incredible record,” said Reilly, a 2010 PHS alumna who also played field hockey and basketball for the Tigers. “They never stop hustling.”

In Reilly’s view, the PHS seniors set the tone for that intensity. “I am so proud of them, it was such a strong senior class,” said Reilly, whose senior group included Megan Mavoides, Morgan Mavoides, Olivia Intartaglia and Serena Bolitho in addition to Lopez-Ona and DeMilt.

“They truly love their teammates and they set up each other up. Our seniors are leaving us with a lot that they are going to pass down to us. I know that they are going to stay in touch and it is going to be a family.”

Petrone, for her part, believes that returners are prepared carry on that legacy.

“This is the most amazing team I have ever played for; this is by far the most successful team we have ever had,” asserted Petrone.

“Everyone on this team is able to contribute. It was a pleasure to play with Mariana Lopez-Ona for three years, I am really going to miss the seniors next year. We have still got Shaylah and Lila [Doran]; this junior class is really good.”