April 28, 2021

Junior Becker Picks Up Where She Left Off in 2019, Tallying Six Goals in Opening Day Loss to Allentown

UNDER PRESSURE: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Kate Becker, left, looks to get around an Allentown defender last Thursday in the season opener. Junior star Becker tallied six goals and an assist in the contest but it wasn’t enough as PHS fell 13-9. In upcoming action, the Tigers play at Notre Dame on April 28, host Hopewell Valley on April 30, and then play at WW/P-North on May 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After emerging as a key offensive weapon for the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team in 2019 as a freshman, Kate Becker picked up where she left off in the squad’s season opener last Friday.

With PHS hosting Allentown for its first game in nearly two years after the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic, junior attacker Becker tallied six goals in the first half as the rivals battled to a 7-7 stalemate over the first 25 minutes of the contest.

“Going into it, we just wanted to show as much energy as we could,” said Becker.

“We are a pretty young team, we are just getting the freshmen on the field. We were supposed to play North on Monday and that didn’t work out. We were lucky enough to play a rival so early. It is such a great game.”

Becker has formed a great bond on the field with senior star Shoshi Henderson, who tallied two goals and three assists against Allentown.

“I was working really well with Shoshi and some other people playing around the crease,” said Becker.

“We have been working really hard on our connection throughout the whole season. Going forward, it is definitely getting more people involved.”

Showing her skills around the crease, Becker scored a number of point blank wraparound goals against the Redbirds.

“I have worked on a lot of low angle shooting,” said Becker, who competes for the Ultimate Lacrosse club program.

“I play club against some of those people. You have to look for when they are not looking at you and that is when you go the other way.”

In the second half, though, things started going Allentown’s way as it controlled the draw and produced a 6-0 run on the way to a 13-9 win.

“Our defense stepped up a lot, Gigi made some great saves so that was great to see,” said Becker. “I am not mad about any of the team effort.”

Displaying some extra effort herself, Becker left the
contest for a few minutes midway through the second half due to leg pain but returned to the field to pick up an assist on a goal by Henderson.

“I went out for a little bit in the game, I was dehydrated and both of my legs hurt so I couldn’t really run,” said Becker.

“Going 100 percent, that is always our thing, cohesive unit, it is on our hands. We always work together. We said Allentown is a great competitor. We just have to outhustle and outwork them, all of those things.”

Although the outcome of the opener was disappointing, Becker saw plenty of cause for optimism for the young squad which has six freshmen on its roster.

“I think it is a great start for our team, obviously we didn’t end up winning but half of our team is freshmen and it was getting them that confidence,” said Becker.

“I think we learned a lot, I think we learned going forward that we are going to be a strong contender this season.

With Shoshi Henderson as the only senior on the team, Becker and her classmates are looking to guide those younger players.

“We have a lot of juniors stepping up, going into more of a leadership role, mentoring the freshmen,” said Becker, whose fellow juniors on the squad include Grace Rebak, Cartee O’Brien, Sarah Glenn, Jane Biggs, Sarah White, and Gigi Peloso.

“It is making everybody feel like they have their own play. I said to the freshmen, when Shoshi and I are running the team, the freshmen are making that stack from behind. Everybody plays their own role. The stats may not necessarily reflect that always in any game but everybody plays their own part.”

PHS head coach Meg Dunleavy knows her team is going to go through some growing pains this spring.

“We have really talented girls with a lot of young players who are lacking in experience,” said Dunleavy.

“We are moving them around and figuring out where they are going to play; that is the puzzle of this spring.”

The one-two punch of Becker and Henderson is certainly a good fit for the Tigers.

“Kate and Shoshi have played together well since two years ago,” said Dunleavy.

“We have had that in the works for a while. Both of them are such smart players that they almost have a sixth sense now with each other that they already know what the other person is going to do. We can always rely on them. Now it is a matter of them taking the rest of the team up with them and teaching them the things that they know.”

In reflecting on Allentown’s six unanswered goals to begin the second half which saw it dominate possession, Dunleavy noted that the Redbirds benefitted from having two wins under their belt coming into the contest.

“I think the draw was a huge factor, it is not the only factor because it is our first game,” said Dunleavy.

“We are still working out the kinks and it is not their first game. They have had more time to figure out some things possession-wise.”

In Dunleavy’s view, PHS figured out some things on defense as the contest unfolded.

“I was really proud of our second half defense; in the first half that we had some communication issues and things that we were working out,” said Dunleavy.

“In the second half, they were a strong unit. They were a united front. They made a lot more caused turnovers in the second half. I think that Gigi did everything she possibly could the whole game too in goal. It could have been a lot worse, let’s put it that way.”

Junior star Rebak, who scored the final Tiger goal on a free possession shot, gave PHS strong play at both ends of the field.

“Expect to see Grace both on defense and low attack, she is not afraid at all,” said Dunleavy, whose team plays at Notre Dame on April 28, hosts Hopewell Valley on April 30, and then plays at WW/P-North on May 3.

“I love the fact that she is always poised, she is never someone to get frazzled no matter where you put her and no matter what you ask her to do. I am really excited that she can be playing midfield for us because we have two subs right now. We have a young team and a small team.”

All in all, Dunleavy saw a lot to be excited about coming out of the opener.

“I am proud that they came out with the confidence that they did,” said Dunleavy.

“I am proud that they stayed positive with each other so I think for our first game, it was a great team effort. The focus going forward is utilizing everyone on attack and then getting our defense to learn from Gigi. The more that they learn from her and listen to her, the better prepared they will be.”

Becker, for her part, is confident that the Tigers will produce some great efforts going forward.

“We just need to clean up a couple of things,” said Becker. “We have got to work on our draws for sure. Upping the confidence, upping the energy, cleaning up some passes, and we are going to be good to go.”