April 28, 2021

With Junior Star Doran Triggering the Attack, PHS Boys’ Lacrosse Showing Early Promise

WILLPOWER: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Will Doran controls the ball in recent action. Last Thursday, junior attackman Doran tallied two goals and two assists in a losing cause as PHS fell 11-8 to Notre Dame. On Monday, Doran contributed four goals and three assists but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers got edged 12-11 by Allentown. PHS, now 1-2, hosts WW/P-North on May 1 and Robbinsville on May 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming off an encouraging season-opening 11-8 win over Hopewell Valley, the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team was looking to make a statement as it hosted Notre Dame last Thursday.

“We were definitely looking to build off the opener, we thought we could have played better in the Hopewell game,” said PHS junior attackman Will Doran.

“We came out of the huddle and the mindset was we want to score first.”

Doran got things going with the game’s first goal 4:35 into the contest and minutes later PHS went up 2-1 on a goal by senior midfielder Sid Suppiah. Notre Dame responded by going on  a 4-1 run to build a 5-3 halftime lead.

“It came down to energy, I feel they outshone us with the energy there,” said Doran, reflecting on the halftime message.

“We felt like we were a little flat. We thought it was really important to get a quick start to the half.”

Once again, Doran came through with a goal, scoring with 8:11 left in the third quarter to narrow the gap to 5-4. That was the closest PHS got, however, as it lost 11-8.

While Doran was disappointed by the result, he liked the way the Tigers battled to the end as Suppiah added a goal with 20 seconds left in regulation.

“We have a lot of young guys, it is the second game of the season so we are optimistic,” said Doran, who ended up with two goals and two assists in the defeat.

“We really think we have what it takes. We try to play whistle to whistle, that is what coach expects out of us. It’s early on, to be able to hold these guys to a three-goal game, I think we are pleased with it. We would have liked to come out with a W.”

In order to come up with more wins going forward, PHS needs to play sharper.

“We were a little sloppy in the middle of the field,” said Doran.

“We are back to work tomorrow back to the grindstone. Clearing in the middle of the field is what we need to do. We are getting our looks, we just have to bury it.”

Doran, for his part, enjoys being in the middle of the attack, seeing himself as a playmaker.

“I like to think of myself as more of a pass-first guy,” said Doran, who tallied four goals and three assists as the Tigers got edged 12-11 by Allentown last Monday to fall to 1-2.

“Today they stayed in a zone and we had the ball behind, that threw us off a little bit. I think it is just as important to be the guy passing to the guys scoring as it is to be scoring. We have got guys like Patrick McDonald and Pat Kenah who can score.”

PHS head coach Chip Casto acknowledged that  the Tigers squandered some possessions in the loss to the Irish.

“We had a little something going early,” said Casto. “It ended up being us turning the ball over in our defensive end way too many times so they got second chances and third chances. It is hard to play defense for a long time against a talented offense that can sting some shots.”

Noting that Doran triggers the offense, Casto said that the Tigers couldn’t get its run-and-gun style going against the Irish.

“Will runs the whole thing, what we didn’t get today because we couldn’t clear the ball is transition offense,” said Casto.

“We are good at that and when we can’t get that, it puts a lot of pressure on the all-even offense. You panic a little and you force the crease a little.”

Like Doran, Casto is optimistic going forward. “These guys have got heart and they want to keep fighting,” said Casto, who got two goals apiece from senior Patrick McDonald freshman Pat Kenah and Suppiah against Notre Dame.

“The things that we practiced, we did pretty well. We got better at some things, we will keep hammering that home. Losses in big games like this end up exposing lots of things for the practice plan.”

Casto saw some good things from senior goalie Austin Micale, sophomore midfielder Archer Ayers, and senior defender Lucas Kirby.

“It was goalie Austin’s first game against a really big shooting team and he held his own,” added Casto.

“I love Archer just scrapping to get a couple of face-offs. Lucas did a great job on Jones, that guy is going to get a couple a game but he didn’t dominate us. One of our goals was to not let him beat us. I don’t think he did but they just had other guys that were hitting the shots.”

Noting that PHS plays at Notre Dame on May 15, Casto believes his squad will be primed for the rematch.

“We will see them again which is a great part of this year,” said Casto. “We are looking forward to it.”

In Doran’s view, the pain of seeing last season canceled due to the pandemic is helping to give PHS extra motivation this year. 

“Our motto going into the season is that we want to double up,” said Doran.

“We had a really strong senior class last year, it really killed us not to play. We had guys like Ben Quinones and James Wert who were really gearing up for a big season. We are trying to reshape a legacy. The seniors this year want to shape their own legacy but we also feel like we have got the responsibility of the 2020s on us.”