May 3, 2017

Energized by McLean’s Hustle, Production, PHS Girls’ Lax Ready for Playoff Intensity

SENIOR MOMENT: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Georgia McLean looks to pass the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Friday the senior midfielder tallied three goals and two assists to help PHS defeat Pennington School 15-4 as the program held its annual Senior Day celebration. The Little Tigers, who improved to 9-5 with the win, start play in the Mercer County Tournament this week. PHS is seeded seventh in the MCT and will host a second round contest on May 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Georgia McLean was looking to recapture her childhood as the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team held its annual Senior Day celebration when it hosted Pennington last Friday.

“I was fired up today because I was thinking that I wanted to find the joy that I had when I was little and fell in love with the sport,” said senior midfielder and co-captain McLean, who took up lacrosse when she was in third grade. “That really motivated me to play well.”

Playing really well, McLean contributed three goals and two assists to help PHS cruise to a 15-4 win as it improved to 9-5.

In reflecting on her big game, McLean noted that her experience playing field hockey in the fall has helped her to be more of a threat on the lacrosse field.

“You play both sides of the field when you are a field hockey player and that is what I really like to do in lacrosse,” said McLean.

“I love to work work my middies, Abaigeal Ryan and Mariana Lopez-Ona, and Serena Bolitho. I just like working down the field.”

McLean also works well with her fellow seniors. “I have made my best friends from lacrosse,” said McLean, who is headed to Wake Forest, where she plans to play club sports.

“Gwen Koehler, my co captain, is my best friend. Olivia Skopas, another good defender, is another one of my closest friends.”

In McLean’s view, there is a special closeness this year on the PHS squad.

“I am just so grateful that I get to be part of a program like Princeton lacrosse and Princeton girls’ rec lacrosse,” said McLean.

“We have worked a lot on team bonding. I think this team has a really great bond and a lot of juniors and even sophomores are stepping up into the role of leaders on the team.”

That unity was displayed on the defensive end in the win over Pennington as the Little Tigers stifled the Red Raiders with McLean scooping up a number of ground balls.

“Gwen does a really great job of holding down the defense,” said McLean. “A lot of people had really nice turnovers, we were just really trying to put pressure on the ball.”

PHS head coach Sara Doran liked the way her team did a good job at both ends of the field against Pennington.

“They were playing as a team, we had a lot of different girls involved in the scoring,” said Doran.

“Our transition game, which we have been working on not trying to run the ball down the field but pass, pass, looked better today. Defensively, I am very pleased. Zoe Tesone in goal had a number of great saves and our defensive unit is really gelling, coming together, and communicating well.”

Doran credited McLean with being a catalyst for the Little Tigers. “She is your classic unsung hero, she is working 100 percent of the time on the field, getting ground balls and the 50/50s,” said Doran.

“She is a threat on both the offensive and defensive end. She played great today.”

Cruising to the victory over Pennington is a great sendoff for the PHS seniors. “It is fun to see them grow and develop and to have a successful game on their Senior Day,” said Doran, whose group of seniors includes Olivia Geller in addition to Koehler, Skopas, Tesone, and McLean.

With postseason play stating this week, Doran believes PHS can have a lot of success down the stretch.

“The focus is maintaining our intensity for 50 minutes; we have been able to hang with these teams for 25 minutes,” said Doran, whose team is seeded seventh in the Mercer County Tournament and will host a second round contest on May 4.

“It is really taking it to the next level and being able to put it all together for an entire game, keep that intensity and play at a team. Sometimes when we start to get down, we start to do the opposite of what we need to do. We need to look for each other more and we tend to look for each other less.”

In Doran’s view, the Little Tigers can build on its performance against Pennington.

“We executed a lot of our plays successfully so I think a game like this is always good for building confidence and gaining that momentum going into an important week for us,” said Doran.

McLean, for her part, is primed for her final tournament run in a PHS uniform.

“I am looking forward to going into the MCTs the last time,” said McLean. “I think this win has really helped us propel us into the postseason.”