While Katie Reilly was bitterly disappointed when the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team fell to WW/P-S last week in the Mercer County Tournament quarters to end its title defense, she thought something positive could come from the defeat.
“The South game was a huge bummer; we totally wanted to win that game,” said PHS senior star defender and co-captain Reilly, reflecting on the 11-10 loss to the Pirates.
“It fuels us now because we don’t have a county title under our belt. It fuels us for states, we are saying we want to go as far as we can.”
Last Friday, PHS hit the gas as it topped Notre Dame 18-15 in a regular season contest, improving to 12-3 and tuning up for its state tourney run that was slated to start when the second-seeded Little Tigers host No. 15 Roxbury on May 15.
In Reilly’s view, facing Notre Dame was an ideal way to prepare for state play.
“They are always a really athletic and tough competition so we wanted to get in a good quality game before the states,” said Reilly.
“We were trying to get on a roll. When they did score, we would answer back.”
PHS is hoping it can keep rolling for a while in the states. “We call our team a family and we are saying we want to keep the family together and keep the season going,” said Reilly. “It is fun being in the postseason but I don’t want it to end.”
Reilly has a sisterly bond with classmate and fellow star Mia Haughton that will continue as the longtime friends will both be heading to Amherst College where they will be playing for the school’s women’s lax team.
“We have been playing soccer and lacrosse together since fourth grade so it is pretty ridiculous,” said Reilly. “So our parents have been saying the era continues.”
For Reilly, holding the PHS defense together is her main focus on the field. “I have always been more defensive-minded,” said Reilly, who also starred as a defender for the PHS girls’ soccer team.
“I try to lead vocally and by example and I try to be the master of the ground ball. I feel like that is my role, getting draw controls and ground balls.”
In recent games, Reilly has been making more noise on the offensive end. “If I can score, great, but I don’t think of that as my role on the team,” said Reilly, who had two goals and an assist in the win over Notre Dame with Haughton adding four goals and Emilia Lopez-Ona leading the way with eight tallies.
“When it comes, I love it. I think it is because I am lot more confident with my stick skills than I was last year because in working the off season and all summer, I tried to focus on my stickwork.”
In order for PHS to make a deep run in the states, it needs to keep focused when it has the ball.
“We have got to keep our attack in shape,” said Reilly. “We just learned a few new plays; we might see North (WW/P-N) again and they know our plays by now. The key for us is going to be winning the draws and keeping the momentum.”
A big key for PHS is the family feeling around the squad, which stems, in part, from how the players came together last spring in the wake of the death of senior player Emma Brunskill.
“We win as a team; we lose as a team,” asserted Reilly. “That has been helping us all season; we sacrifice for the team. We love each other. It is a special bond from last year which has carried over.”