PHS Boys' Lax Shows Inexperience In Opening Day Defeat to WW/P-S
By Bill Alden
The Princeton High boys' lacrosse team hit the field for its season opener last Thursday against visiting WW/P-S with a bevy of new faces. Featuring four freshmen and four sophomores, the Little Tigers got off to a slow start as they fell behind the Pirates 3-1 midway through the second period.
Settling down after some pointed words from head coach Peter Stanton at halftime, PHS outscored the Pirates 3-1 in the third period and went into the final 12 minutes with a 5-4 edge.
Showing their inexperience, however, the wheels came off for the Little Tigers as WW/P-S went on a 3-1 fourth quarter run which included the game-winner with 44 seconds remaining to earn a hard-fought 7-6 triumph.
Afterward, Stanton acknowledged that the game had been a painful learning experience for his youthful crew which has the additional challenge this spring of moving to the 'A' Pitt Division from the 'C' Bianchi Division.
"Truthfully, we played like a team that had four freshmen and four sophomores out there," said Stanton, who is in his ninth year guiding the PHS program. "We made a lot of rookie mistakes. That's to be expected."
The Little Tigers' callowness was particularly evident down the stretch. "There were some circumstances where we needed to pull the ball out and hold it a while," explained Stanton, who got one goal apiece from sophomore David Giancola, junior Mike Vieten and seniors Mike Freedman, Adam Maynard, Luke Hammond, and Travis Roe-Raymond. "That's when we had a one or two goal lead. We gave them some opportunities to get back into the game."
Stanton was happy with the team's performance in the third quarter. "We talked to them at half about things like clearing, we were just throwing the ball away," recalled Stanton, who got a solid nine-save performance from sophomore goalie Sam Finnell. "We said let's settle down, let's stick to what we work on, it works. We got some good results in the third quarter."
As the Little Tigers look forward to hosting formidable Bergen Catholic on April 8, Stanton believes his club has nowhere to go but up.
"The positive from today is that maybe we got those [rookie] mistakes out of our system," said Stanton, managing a smile. "Last season our best game of the year was our first. This year is different. This was our worst game, it's going to get better."