June 1, 2016

PHS Girls’ Lacrosse Enjoyed Season of Growth, Fueled by Senior Stars, Improving Young Players

l-r PHS #7 and Hun #1

GOAL ORIENTED: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Taylor Lis heads upfield in a game this spring. Senior star and Cornell-bound Lis led PHS with 74 goals, helping the Little Tigers post a final record of 10-8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Adding a number of new faces into its lineup with the loss of several probable starters, the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team faced a season of transition this spring.

But with its younger players stepping up, PHS got better and better as the 2016 campaign went on. Down the stretch of the season, the Little Tigers posted wins over Allentown, Montgomery and North Brunswick while losing tight games to Mercer County Tournament winner Notre Dame and Prep A champion Lawrenceville.

PHS saved some of its best lacrosse for last, as the sixth-seeded Little Tigers cruised past Toms River North 22-7 in the opening round of the South Group 4 sectional before falling to third-seeded Rancocas Valley 10-9 in the sectional quarterfinals after trailing 8-1 at halftime.

In reflecting on the season, which saw the Little Tigers post a final record of 10-8, PHS head coach David Schlesinger was pleased with the strides made by his youthful squad.

“We started a lot of very young, very inexperienced players, who got a ton of playing time and grew tremendously,” said Schlesinger, noting that a trio of freshmen, Mariana Lopez-Ona, Kathryn DeMilt, and Serena Bolitho, played prominent roles for the squad.

“We had lost five probable returning starters through various reasons; one girl transferred, we had an injury and we had three girls decide that they didn’t want to play lacrosse any more. We had to put girls into very prominent roles and they had to sink or swim. I think as the season progressed they did quite well.”

The Little Tigers gave a graphic display of their progress in the rout of Toms River North in the state opener.

“We played them very well, the girls were very excited about it,” said Schlesinger, who got eight goals and an assist from senior star Taylor Lis in the win with classmate Julia Ryan chipping in four goals and fives assist as they dominated in their final home appearance.

“We wanted to show well with our home fans. We knew that it was likely our last home game of the season so we wanted to put on a good performance and I think we did just that.”

In the loss to Rancocas, PHS showed some good character to go with its talent as they battled back from the 8-1 deficit and nearly pulled off the upset in the one-goal defeat.

“We can go down and get our butts kicked or we can try and mount a comeback and just play one possession at a time and not worry about the score,” said Schlesinger, reflecting on his halftime message.

“It is very much a momentum sport and we were doing very well with draw controls in the first half but we just couldn’t turn them into goals. We knew that we could score on them and one thing led to another. The kids are all young and when you start to pressure a team pretty heavily, things start falling your way. Unfortunately we ran out of time.”

Schlesinger enjoyed his time with his senior standouts Lis, Ryan, and Gabrielle Deitch.

“We had tremendous performance out of our seniors; our three seniors all played extremely well,” said Schlesinger.

“I can’t say enough about the performance this year of Julia Ryan and Taylor Lis. I think Julia ended up with 97 points and Taylor was at 87 points and led the team in scoring with 74 goals. I had those seniors for two years and they are going to be greatly missed. We hope that out younger players learn from them and evolve into players that are just as good and equal to them as leaders.”