April 13, 2016

Sparked by Freshman Auslander’s Energy on Attack, PDS Boys’ Lax Measuring Up Against the Top Teams


WILL TO WIN: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Will Brossman heads to goal in recent action. Last Monday, junior midfielder Brossman fired in six goals as PDS defeated Hun 10-6. The Panthers, now 3-1, play at Blair Academy on April 13 before hosting Shipley School (Pa.) on April 15 and Princeton High on April 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coby Auslander is just a freshman at Princeton Day School but he already has plenty of experience battling the Lawrenceville School in some high stakes games.

This fall, he helped the PDS boys’ soccer team edge Lawrenceville 1-0 as the Panthers beat the Big Red for the first time since 1983.

On the ice, Auslander starred as Panther boys’ hockey squad posted wins over the Big Red in December and January.

Last Thursday, he played a pivotal role in the midfield as the Panthers faced Lawrenceville in boys’ lacrosse for the first time since the mid-1980s.

“This was a great feeling, the crowd was great,” said Auslander. “Everything started moving faster, the boys worked hard. The hockey game here was fun but this was out of this world.”

PDS worked hard from the start against the Big Red, generating a lot of scoring chances even though it trailed 3-1 at halftime.

“We kept saying just keep putting shots on net,” said Auslander. “Griff (Thompson) is a great goalie as everybody can see but it was just keep putting balls on net and hope they go in.”

Trailing 4-1 late in the third quarter, the shots started going in for PDS as it scored three straight goals to make it a 4-4 game with 10:47 left in regulation. Auslander notched the game-tying goal as he sprinted into the crease area and converted a feed from Jack Amaral into the back of the net.

“I was just looking for the ball and Jack Amaral made a great pass,” recalled Auslander. “I just got it right in stride and just tried to put it in.”

Unfortunately for Auslander and the Panthers, Lawrenceville was able to put in the last goal of the contest, scoring with 7.3 seconds left to pull out a 5-4 victory.

“Just staying together, that is our team motto, we always have each other’s backs, even after losing this game, everybody still has each other’s backs,” said Auslander, who tallied a goal last Monday as PDS bounced back from the loss to the Big Red to beat nationally ranked Hun 10-6 and improve to 3-1.

While Auslander has enjoyed having the chance to contribute as a freshman, he acknowledges that the transition to high school lacrosse hasn’t always been smooth.

“It is nerve-wracking; you are just trying to feed your big dogs like Fletch (Connor Fletcher) and Jonah (Tuckman) and trying to let them do the work and they will find you if you are open,” said Auslander.

Senior stars and co-captains Fletcher and Tuckman have become role models for Auslander.

“They are terrific leaders, I hope when I am older, I am just like those guys,” said Auslander.

“They really keep us all together. We may have some guys that joke around and stuff but they always keep us in check.”

PDS head coach Rich D’Andrea liked the way his team stuck together as it rallied from the early deficit against the Big Red.

“These kids have guts; one of the things I love about this program is that these kids know who they are and they are going to fight tooth and nail for everything they get,” said D’Andrea. “It doesn’t matter what the score is, they are going to give you what they have got.”

PDS is getting some great play from the precocious Auslander. “Coby has got great feet, he has got great vision, he is a great inside finisher, and he is comfortable carrying the ball,” said D’Andrea.

“For a kid to bring that much poise and that much understanding of the game and spatial awareness, Coby has been a pleasant surprise this year, to say the least.

Freshman goalie Connor Green showed a lot of poise against Lawrenceville, making eight saves.

“They started to dodge and feed the exterior and then they looked to feed the crease from there,” said D’Andrea of Green, who also came up big against Hun, making eight saves.

“They had some really good interior looks and Connor stayed big and came up with some really big saves. I think, on the whole, if you look at this game and the goalie play at both ends, it is one of the best, most complete games from both goalies that I have seen.”

The defensive effort against Lawrenceville laid the groundwork for one of PDS’s best wins in years as it stifled Hun in the 10-6 triumph over the high-powered Raiders.

“You look at the talent on that Lawrenceville roster, they are sending kids to good D-1 schools, like Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins, and UVa,” said D’Andrea, whose team plays at Blair Academy on April 13 before hosting Shipley School (Pa.) on April 15 and Princeton High on April 18.

“Our guys hang tough, we had some great senior leadership from Amir Melvin and James Fragale. Jack Amaral played great today. Brooks Johnson is growing into his body. As a sophomore, he has one of the best sticks on the team. The defense hung tough. It is one of those things, we run some different middies down there. The guys support each other and have each other’s backs.”

In D’Andrea’s view, taking on tough teams like Lawrenceville and Hun in the early going will yield dividends later in the spring.

“We are focused on the end of the year and we are focused on building momentum here,” said D’Andrea.

“This week is a great indicator for where we are at and it is a great indicator for what we need to work on too.”

Auslander, for his part, believes the grit displayed by the Panthers against Lawrenceville is something the team can build on going forward.

“It was a great game,” said Auslander. “I think we can take away never saying die and always going after the win while having fun while doing it.”