Bringing an 8-12 record and a two-game losing streak into the state tournament, the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team seemed destined for an early exit.
But PHS senior goalie Mira Shane and her classmates were determined to help the ninth-seeded Little Tigers make a run in the North Group 3 sectional.
“We went into the states looking to stay alive,” said Shane. “We had four seniors with three of of us playing and one hurt and we said this is it. This team is super important to all of us.”
Playing at eighth-seeded Roxbury in the first round, PHS stayed alive with a 13-9 win, bouncing back from a 5-4 defeat to Notre Dame in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals and a 10-8 loss to Hopewell Valley in the regular season finale.
“The Roxbury game gave us some momentum,” said Shane. “Coming out of MCTS, we were angry. In the Hopewell game, we were beaten down in the first half and came back in the second half.”
The win over Roxbury earned PHS a shot at top-seeded Northern Highlands in the sectional quarters and the Little Tigers thrived in the underdog role, jumping out to a 4-1 halftime lead on the way to a 7-4 upset win.
“Honestly for that game, we just wanted to show that we can play at their level,” said Shane, who will be playing lacrosse at the next level for the University of Michigan.
“We only knew about one team that they played. We scouted them and we did some research on some of their players but it was about us. We were trying to match and surpass their intensity. It is all about energy. We had energy in that game, especially on defense. It was good to close it out in the second half. Coach (David Schlesinger) was talking about shocking the world.”
In Shane’s view, the stunner spoke volumes about the team’s character.
“I think it just showed the amount of heart we had,” added Shane. “We had faced a lot of adversity this year. It was an up and down season. We had a tougher schedule and we were feeling out a new coach, who is an awesome guy and an intense coach.”
Playing at fifth-seeded HoVal in the sectional semifinals last Thursday, the Little Tigers produced another intense effort but fell just short in losing 9-8 on overtime to end the season.
“We definitely wanted to start from the second half of the previous game,” said Shane, who recorded 14 saves against the Bulldogs in a losing cause.
“We watched the film of the first game the day before to see what we did wrong in the first half. The second half was much better but it wasn’t our best. We wanted to bring our best. It was awesome to see the transition of the team from one week before; certain players really stepped up. I would have liked us to have a few more offensive possessions and not the turnovers that we had. We played a lot of defense, I think that got us in the end. They also did some good things on offense.”
While PHS finished with a 10-13 record, Shane believes that the squad did a lot of good things over the course of the spring.
“We lost a lot of seniors from the year before, we needed to shape a new team, not building off what we had done,” said Shane.
“This season was about establishing a new foundation. I kept saying we need to grow up. It was about growing up and having the best head and heart to pay lacrosse and be better people to see what a loving team can do. I was really proud of what we accomplished. We may not have the killer record to reflect that but we grew as a team.”
The seniors experienced a lot of growth as they went through a roller-coaster ride over the last four years.
“The senior class feels indebted to the awesome lacrosse program, athletic department, and the school in general,” said Shane, whose fellow seniors included Oona Ryle, Campbell McDonald, and Robin Reigle.
“We had a great learning experience and we showed that we can fight through adversity. It was beautiful to see the different teams come through.”
Shane gave PHS some beautiful play in goal over the years as she made around 700 saves in her career, starting from day one as a freshman.
“I would say as a freshmen, it was more about athleticism and less about technique,” said Shane.
“As a junior, I started to understand it was about fundamentals and staying calm. This year I worked on patience, it was like a meditation, getting that extra second to not take a step. I think as a goalie you have power too. The shooter knows where they want to shoot but I have gotten better at baiting shooters and getting in position before the shot comes.”
Looking forward to starting her career at Michigan, Shane is pumped up to take her shot at college lacrosse.
“I am getting a workout packet on June 1; I am totally excited,” said Shane. “It will be conditioning and lifting. I have been mentally and physically preparing for this a long time. Even when I was in basketball last winter, I was doing additional lifting and conditioning. School starts around September 10 but I am going out in late August to be with the team. I think it is going to be a good second team for me after my great PHS team.”