June 12, 2019

Youthful PDS Girls’ Lacrosse Made Strides, Going 8-7, Advancing in Both MCT, Prep B

ELLE ON WHEELS: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Elle Anhut races up the field in a game this spring. Freshman midfielder Anhut enjoyed a big debut season for PDS, tallying 24 goals and 32 assists. The Panthers finished with an 8-7 record, advancing to the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals and state Prep B semifinals. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With a roster including five freshmen and eight sophomores, the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team was bound to take some lumps this spring as its young players got up to speed.

But with its senior captains providing leadership and the new faces coming of age quickly, PDS produced a winning campaign as it went 8-7, advancing to the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals and making the final four in the state Prep B tourney.

“It really exceeded any expectations,” said PDS head coach Jill Thomas, reflecting on the spring.

“We are young, and who thought we would be ranked fifth in Mercer County and play in the semis of the Prep B this year? We beat Hopewell for the first time in a long, long time and we had some good games on the road.”

The Panthers ended the season with a tough 21-12 loss on the road at Trinity Hall in the Prep B semis.

“Maddy [Birch], Zoe [Cook], and Val [Radvany] had good games,” said Thomas, referring to her trio of senior stars.

“We were up 5-1 early. We got it going, we knew what we wanted to do. They made some adjustments and we just couldn’t seem to get it where we wanted it. We would like to have it back, I would change the ending, that is what I told the seniors. We just couldn’t seem to keep it going, their goalie made some key saves. It just got away from us.”

Thomas credited senior captains Birch (34 goals and 21 assists in 2019), Cook (58 goals, 13 assists), Radvany, and Gwen Allen with setting a positive tone.

“They were just great leaders, they never quit on them,” said Thomas, noting that Allen was sidelined for most of the season.

“Maddy Birch was the glue. Zoe came in [from Hun] and she goes out scoring her 150th goal and really was more than a bonus. Who knew what kind of effect she would have. Val held down the defense, she taught them. She was the only returning defender back there and she got a very young corps to really get it together.”

The team’s core of juniors, Ellie Schofield (33 goals, 11 assists), Maddie Izzard, and Maggie Madani (112 saves in goal), will look to keep things together next year in their final season.

“Ellie is back, Maddie Izzard is back and we have Maggie Madani in goal; that is going to be great,” said Thomas.

“Maddie had a year of years. She came up big for us and she was where we needed her to be.”

After getting valuable experience this spring, the squad’s group of sophomores is emerging as a force. “We have a sophomore class that is really going to let it rip,” said Thomas.

“You have got Ella McIntyre, Vanessa Devin, and Jordan Young (11 goals, 6 assists). Alex Hollander will hopefully be back from injury; that was a huge loss as well as Gwen because she is a top notch defender. Hailey Wexler (40 saves) is the back up goalie. When Maggie had a bump in the road, Hailey came in and did well too.”

Excelling in their debut campaign, the team’s freshman standouts have a bright future.

“You have the Allen twins, Emily and Lyla (15 goals, 1 assist), you have Elle Anhut (24 goals, 32 assists) and you have Maggie Zarrish (14 goals, 4 assists) who just seems to be able to get open in the eight,” said Thomas.

“Ali Surace (3 goals) is one heck of a defender, she reads the game better than most. She will be one tough defender back there, making it happen.”

With PDS having won three straight Prep B crowns from 2015-17 and making the final in 2018, Thomas believes the foundation is in place to once again contend for titles.

“We are young and all of that,” said Thomas.“You have got to think, wow, this is alright. We are going to get back.”