May 4, 2022

Devlin Displays Her Offensive Prowess As PHS Girls’ Lacrosse Edges PDS 14-13

FIRING AWAY: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Riley Devlin, left, fires a shot in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore midfielder Devlin tallied four goals as PHS edged Princeton Day School 14-13. The Tigers, now 11-3, will be starting play in the Mercer County Tournament this week where they are seeded third and will host a quarterfinal contest on May 9. In addition, PHS will be hosting Hillsborough on May 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Riley Devlin has been soaking up some valuable lessons this spring from the veterans on the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team.

“It is the best learning opportunity, I watch them a lot and they give me a lot of advice,” said PHS sophomore midfielder Devlin referring to the squad’s senior offensive stars, Kate Becker and Grace Rebak. “They really teach me so thanks to them.”

Last Friday, Devlin applied that knowledge, tallying four goals to help PHS pull out a 14-13 win over Princeton Day School and improve to 11-3.

“We were trying really hard,” said Devlin. “Yesterday’s practice was really intense, we were really trying to get ready for this game.”

The Tigers jumped out to a 4-1 lead but the game turned into a nail-biter as the Panthers battled back to go up 12-10 midway through the second half. Devlin scored the next two goals of the contest as PHS went on a 4-1 run to earn the victory.

“I think we did have momentum at the beginning but we kind of got sloppy which is something we are going to work on,” said Devlin. “I think our hustle was really good and our defense was good.”

Devlin attributed her late game heroics to the influence of Becker and Rebak.

“It was just encouragement from the seniors, like Kate [Becker] and Grace [Rebak] that gave me the confidence to take it to the goal,” said Devlin.

Having tallied 46 goals and 10 assists this spring, Devlin is emerging as an offensive force for the Tigers. She is second to Becker in goals and points as the Amherst College-bound Becker now has 66 goals and 16 assists.

“I think my confidence has improved, I didn’t use my left hand which I really worked on with the seniors,” said Devlin. “It is also having the trust of my teammates to pass it to me.”

Trusting each other has helped the Tigers pull through some close games, including a 10-9 overtime win against Allentown last Wednesday which saw PHS overcome a 9-5 deficit.

“I think that just shows we really mesh together,” said Devlin. “We can be down by 10 but we still have the confidence and we still trust each other to win the game.

PHS head coach Katie Federico is proud of the character her team has exhibited in coming through in close contests.

“They all rely on each other for that pick me up,” said Federico. “We have had so many games that have been tight and where we have had to come back from being behind. It just taught them, we are never out of it we are always in it. We can keep trying and if we give the effort, we can succeed.”

The Tigers had to put in an extra effort to overcome the Panthers.

“They don’t make anything easy, PDS is always a battle whenever we play them, it is a such a huge rival,” said Federico. “It was the back and forth and who wants it more. For a while it looked like PDS wanted it more than us. They did have some momentum but with our tried and true girls, we came back.”

One of those tried and true performers, the Williams College-bound Rebak helped trigger the win with her playmaking as she tallied three goals and three assists.

“Grace puts her entire heart and soul and even body into the game and does it for the team,” said Federico of Rebak, who left the game briefly in the second half after getting banged up and came back for crunch time.

“She is just such a true competitor but it is more than that. She is a true leader and just an amazing athlete who is very well- rounded and puts 110 percent in every single game and every single play.”

Federico credits Devlin with giving a spark to the team.

“Riley had a great game today, I was so proud of her,” said Federico. “We have been looking to her a lot, especially as Kate has been face-guarded in the last few games. Riley has tried to make it happen and she does. She is making the cuts and is learning the patience of not going and forcing the shot but taking her time and hitting it when the shot is right.”

As the Tigers head into the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded third and will host a quarterfinal contest on May 9, Federico believes her squad is battle-tested.

“They have had so many games where they have had to be resilient and come from behind,” said Federico. “They know what it is like to play a tough game and they know that is what they are going to get in the tournament.”

In Devlin’s view, PHS just has to play a little sharper to have a big postseason run.

“We just have to keep what we are doing,” said Devlin. “We have got to work on catching passes and sliding. This is a really talented team and I think with our leaders, we will get that down.”