Sophomore Standout Kenah Explodes for 6 Goals, Helping PHS Boys’ Lax Edge North Hunterdon 10-7
GOING TO GOAL: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Patrick Kenah heads to goal last Saturday morning against visiting North Hunterdon. Sophomore star Kenah tallied six goals and one assist to help PHS pull out a 10-7 win over the Lions. The Tigers, who improved to 2-0 with the victory, host WW/P-North on April 7 before playing at Mount Olive on April 9 and at Notre Dame on April 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Patrick Kenah and his teammates on the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team were primed for an early-season test as they hosted North Hunterdon last Saturday morning.
“Coming into this game we knew it was going to be our first real challenge,” said sophomore star attacker Kenah. “We definitely wanted to come out of here with a good result and really see how good we are as a team.”
After North Hunterdon got off to a good start with two unanswered goals, PHS reeled off four straight tallies to turn the tide of the contest.
“We knew we had to shift the momentum,” said Kenah. “[Will] Doran and me talked, we knew we had to get into our spots and get going and bury the ball. We had some shots early but the goalie made some good saves. We just had to make sure that we were finishing.”
Kenah displayed a superb finishing touch in the back-and-forth contest, tallying six goals and an assist as PHS pulled out a 10-7 win after the teams were tied at 6-6 late in the third quarter.
“I was feeling it; as soon as I got the first one, I wanted to keep going,” said Kenah, who had three goals in each half in the victory which improved the Tigers to 2-0.
The connection Kenah has developed with senior star and Williams College-bound Doran has PHS going in the right direction.
“Will is a great talent, a great guy,” said Kenah of Doran, who had a goal and five assists against North Hunterdon. “I am truly blessed to play with him, it is fantastic. We talk every day in practice about what we want to do. We have chemistry.”
For the Tigers, topping North Hunterdon was a great step forward.
“Considering that this is a very good out-of-conference team, this means a lot,” said Kenah. “The coaches said we want to stay humble out here and go crazy in the locker room. It is a good win.”
After setting single-season freshman program records last year with 35 goals and 62 points, Kenah has worked hard to build on his debut campaign.
“I think from last year to this year, it is a big confidence thing,” said Kenah, who played for the N.J. Under Armour team this past summer. “This year I am going to goal a lot more, dodging a lot more, definitely getting more opportunities to create my own chances. I have obviously been working on and off the field.”
Playing for the PHS boys’ soccer program has also helped Kenah’s development, physically and mentally.
“I love soccer, I played it in the fall here,” said Kenah. “It keeps me going, it makes me a better athlete. It really builds character.”
PHS head coach Chip Casto saw the matchup against North Hunterdon as a character builder for his squad.
“We both know we are equally matched,” said Casto. “It is a great early April test, you expose your weaknesses.”
Senior defender Will Erickson has emerged as a strong force on back line for the Tigers.
“Will makes adjustments and tells us what to do a lot of the time,” said Casto. “As the game went on, he said, ‘coach, let’s go here or here.’ We made some matchup adjustments. They are always going to shoot and they started missing.”
Casto was happy to see Kenah bury his shots.
“That is how Patrick lives, he is quiet, humble,” said Casto. “He does what he has to do, he is a great dude. All of a sudden you finish the game and he has six goals and you wouldn’t even know. He is executing the way he did last year; he is just savvier and more patient. He is just a better player now that he is a sophomore.”
PHS boasts some very good offensive players in Doran, senior John O’Donnell, and freshman Brendan Beatty in addition to Kenah.
“Will was trying to push it a little too much, trying to control the game but then he knows how to calm down,” said Casto. “O’Donnell is the most underrated player. He is smart, he is crafty. The other piece of the pie that we didn’t know we were going to get is Brendan, he just gives us a little something in the midfield. He is a big enough threat that they have to honor him. It is great.”
In Casto’s view, PHS has the pieces in place to have a big spring.
“We have had a lot of injuries but we are coming back from those,” said Casto, whose team hosts WW/P-North on April 7 before playing at Mount Olive on April 9 and at Notre Dame on April 12.
“We are not getting as much in because everyone was not at practice every day. We started off a little slow getting our stuff in. It is starting to click a little. A start like this is positive that the seniors will build off for sure. We are moving into that pattern of two games a week so we are looking forward to getting better.”
Kenah believes that the Tigers will keep getting better and better.
“This is just one game and we have to dial it in for the next one because this is the past and we are looking forward,” said Kenah. “This is definitely a great start, we just have to keep the train rolling. I don’t think there is a weak link at all. We are all busting it out there and doing really well as a team.”