May 17, 2017

Senior Shannon Saving His Best for Last As PDS Boys’ Lax Wins 2nd MCT Crown

EMBRACING THE MOMENT: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse players Peter Shannon, left, and Jack Amaral embrace after PDS defeated Princeton High 9-5 in the Mercer County Tournament title game last Thursday. Senior stars Shannon and Amaral both played key roles as PDS won its second straight crown. The Panthers, now 13-2, will go for another title as top-seeded PDS defeated fourth-seeded Newark Academy 10-2 in the state Prep B semis last Monday and will host third-seeded Rutgers Prep in the final on May 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Peter Shannon couldn’t stop beaming as he clutched the championship plaque after helping the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team win its second straight Mercer County Tournament title last Thursday night.

For senior attacker Shannon, helping the Panthers to the title repeat had special meaning.

“We had such an amazing senior class last year, we wanted to build our own legacy and just follow up,” said Shannon, standing among a mob of students, parents, and supporters in the middle of the field at WW/P-North, the site of the title game. “It was real important for us, it is a really proud moment for us.”

Having edged PHS 5-4 in a hard-fought regular season contest on April 13, the Panthers were looking to play sharper in the rematch.

“We wanted to come out as hard as we could today, it is a big stage; county championship,” said Shannon.

“You are never going to come out flat, you are going to come out with your best effort. It was a new game, a clean slate and we wanted to play the best that we could.”

PDS came out on fire, jumping out to a 6-1 lead midway through the second quarter.

“We were definitely focused on where we were shooting and making sure that we could bury that first one and get a head of steam,” said Shannon. “It was a great start and we carried it out. It was big.”

Shannon scored the third goal of that early run, converting an Elon Tuckman feed.

“I saw my guy looking to the ball and I made a backdoor cut,” recalled Shannon. “I saw an opportunity and Elon put it right on my stick and I put it low.”

After PHS cut the Panther lead to 6-4 early in the third quarter, PDS scored unanswered three goals to regain momentum on the way to a 9-5 triumph.

“We talk about peaks and valleys, that was their peak and we came back and buried a couple and got right back in there,” said Shannon, who tallied the ninth goal of the evening for PDS, giving him two in the contest.

“We wanted game momentum whenever we could. It was a big time moment where we took that adversity and went straight in and buried a couple.”

PDS head coach Rich D’Andrea is proud of the way Shannon is peaking in his senior season.

“Peter has been such a success story because he has been one of those guys who has been a tremendous role player,” said D’Andrea.

“He has been a student of the game, he finds those packets of space. He is able to free up for the ball, he is able to catch, and he has worked on his interior finishing. He has just done a tremendous job this year. It is another example of great senior leadership and guys stepping up.”

Junior Tuckman stepped up in a big way in the title game, ending up with three goals and three assists.

“Elon has been one of our most valuable pieces here in terms of in-game presence,” said D’Andrea.

“He knows where to be; he knows when to slow things down, he knows when to speed things up and he is just phenomenally talented. You look at how complete a player he is, he is a coach’s kid and he is one of the most intelligent kids. He gets it and he is vital to what we do.”

At the face-off X, senior Nick Day proved to be a vital piece for the Panthers, continually gaining possession of the ball in the win over PHS.

“Nick was off the charts; he seemed pretty comfortable in there and he was getting to the ball first and just making good decisions when he had it,” said D’Andrea.

“We were good off the wings but what Nick does, being able to get to the ball first, is a big part of our success.”

The PDS defense stood tall, repeatedly preventing the Little Tigers from getting good looks at goal.

“They really support each other; it was just a great collective effort there,” said D’Andrea, crediting assistant coach Rob Tuckman for his efforts in running that unit.

“You watch guys. You look at that message of ‘together’ and out defense really exemplifies that pretty well.”

Having lost a core of senior stars from last year’s team that won the state Prep B title in addition to the MCT, D’Andrea likes the way his Class of 2017 has come together this spring.

“I think this team felt a lot of that pressure coming into this season,” said D’Andrea.

“It is neat seeing guys change and the roles shift from year to year. This senior class has started to find their voice; they are comfortable with who they are. They have really taken ownership over this thing. I think the challenge for any team and any coach is to have their kids take ownership over the program and make it theirs.”

Handling more tournament pressure last Monday, top-seeded PDS defeated fourth-seeded Newark Academy 10-2 in the state Prep B semis and will host third-seeded Rutgers Prep in the final on May 17.

“I would still like to think our best lacrosse is ahead of us here,” said D’Andrea, whose team improved to 13-2 with the win over Newark Academy.

“This is a great step forward and a great run. These guys have built something special and I am thankful to be part of it.”

Shannon, for his part, is savoring his final run with the program. “We are going for Preps too and we are going to try to finish this season in the best way possible,” said Shannon, who is heading to the University of Wisconsin. “I am trying to go out with a bang for sure so this season has meant a lot.”