April 14, 2021

Rolling Past Pennington 14-6 in Season Opener, PDS Girls’ Lax Displays Firepower, Positive Vibe

YOUNG AT HEART: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Jordan Young looks to pass the ball in a 2019 game. Last Monday, senior Young contributed three assists as PDS defeated the Pennington School 14-6 in its season opener. In upcoming action, the Panthers play at Pingry School on April 14 and at Stuart Country Day on April 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After dealing with the disappointment of having the 2020 season canceled due to the pandemic, it didn’t take long this spring for Jill Thomas to get fired up about her Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team.

“It has been great, I couldn’t even tell you how much, walking up that hill the first time to the field was wonderful,” said PDS head coach Thomas.

“There is an amazing vibe out there, it is all about opportunity. I guess when something is taken away from you and you get it back, it is amazing. That is how the girls feel and how Tracy [assistant coach Tracy Young] and I feel. We haven’t had that vibe in a long, long time.”

The squad’s veterans have played a big role in creating that positive vibe.

“We are loaded at the top, we have eight seniors,” said Thomas, whose Class of 2021 includes Vanessa Devin, Anna Ellwood, Alex Hollander, Ella McIntyre, Caroline Topping, Hailey Wexler, Rachel Richter, and Jordan Young.

“We have a ton of juniors too and we have some newcomers that are going to wow people for the next four years. We have got good leadership all the way around and just a wonderful bond.”

The Panthers boast some very good offensive firepower with such skilled performers as junior Elle Anhut, senior Young, freshman Tessa Caputo, sophomore Sophie Jaffe, sophomore Paige Gardner, and junior Maggie Zarish-Yasunas.

“You have got Elle, you have got Young on offense,” said Thomas, who got two goals and an assist from Anhut and three assists from Young as PDS defeated the Pennington School 14-6 last Monday in its season opener.

“You are going to be hearing a lot from Tessa (3 goals against Pennington) and Sophie (3 goals and 1 assist). Paige (3 goals and 2 assists) will also be in the offense. There is a lot of overlap; Maggie (1 goal, 1 assist) will be on attack or the midfield.”

A trio of seniors — Hollander, McIntyre, and Topping — along with junior standout Ali Surace, will be spearheading the Panther defensive unit.

“Everything starts on
defense for me,” said Thomas. “We have Alex, Ella, and Caroline. Ali will be on midfield defense. The ball comes out and then you just run it. We have got speed, we have got depth. It is very exciting.”

The last line of defense for PDS is in the capable hands of senior star Wexler, who had 13 saves in the win over Pennington.

“Hailey is committed to The College of New Jersey, she plays hockey but this is her forte,” said Thomas, whose backup goalie is sophomore Arden Bogle.

Thomas is excited to have the state Prep B tourney to shoot for later in the spring.

“If you are just playing games, it is getting that extra level of competition,” said Thomas. “Once you are playing for something, it changes things.”

In order to play their best, the Panthers will need to maintain that upbeat approach.

“I think this vibe has to continue,” said Thomas, whose team plays at Pingry School on April 14 and at Stuart Country Day on April 20.

“You can’t get to game day and forget all of these things — the appreciation for being back out there and the chemistry.”