Doran Powers PHS Boys’ Lacrosse to Win in MCT Opener But Tigers Fall to Allentown in Quarters, Now Looking to States
WILLPOWER: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse attacker Will Doran heads to goal in recent action. Last Thursday, senior star Doran tallied nine goals and four assists to help fifth-seeded PHS defeat 12th-seeded Hightstown 16-9 in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament. On Monday, Doran had another big game with two goals and seven assists but PHS fell 18-13 at fourth-seeded Allentown in the MCT quarterfinals to move to 8-6. The Tigers play at Pennington on May 12 and host Princeton Day School on May 14 before starting play in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) state tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Will Doran got an uneasy feeling when the fifth-seeded Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team found itself knotted in an 8-8 tie with 12th-seeded Hightstown in the third quarter last Thursday in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament.
“They had momentum, we had a few scary ones at the beginning of the season,” said PHS senior star attacker Doran. “Ones that we ended up on the wrong side because of slow starts.”
Doran, though, singlehandedly changed momentum in favor of the Tigers, tallying five goals in the next eight minutes of action as PHS pulled away to a 16-9 victory.
“In the first half we were definitely struggling, their goalie made a lot of great saves so I have to give credit to him,” said Doran, who tallied 13 points in the contest on nine goals and four assists.
“I got into my rhythm. A lot of credit has to be given to Brendan Beatty and Patrick Kenah for giving me passes right on my ear. That makes the job of catching and finishing a lot easier.”
With Doran and his classmates playing in their last MCT, the win over Hightstown was sweet.
“This is something Will [Erickson], Andrew [Koehler], John [O’Donnell] and I have talked about for a really long time,” said Doran. “I remember when we were freshmen, coach had us put all of our goals up on our locker. Our captain freshman year, Carson Giles, said his goal was to win a Mercer County championship. We have kept that paper, he passed it on to us. It is something that has been on our mind since early preseason. Coach (Chip Casto) always says he wants us to peak in May, not play our best games in April.”
Doran is determined to save his best lacrosse for last. “Whatever I can do to help us win, I want to contribute,” said Doran, who had another big game last Monday with two goals and seven assists but PHS fell 18-13 at fourth-seeded Allentown in the MCT quarterfinals to move to 8-6.
“I want to empty the tank and leave nothing left, that is how I am feeling.”
PHS head coach Chip Casto didn’t feel good about the way the Tigers started against the Rams, who they had defeated 17-6 on April 21.
“We didn’t come to play, I think we took them a little lightly,” said Casto. “We were a little casual, we didn’t execute. The game plan which was to not let them get to their right hand and that is all they did. They were scoring early, they played very well.”
Casto credited Doran with righting the ship for the Tigers. “We made that subtle little adjustment to put him up top and he started to finish,” said Casto of Doran who now has 111 points this spring on 48 goals and 63 assists.
“All we do is just hammer the seniors, it is their team. They have got to do this and they run the show. Will generally sets a good tone. He and I talk a lot about how to approach the game. He is our senior leader, it is great.”
Looking ahead to the matchup with Allentown, Casto knew that his team was going to face a battle after having defeated the Redbirds 9-7 on April 23.
“It is good to finish this game with a little uptick,” said Casto, whose team plays at Pennington on May 12 and hosts Princeton Day School on May 14 before starting play in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) state tournament.
“Allentown is a serious opponent. They are going to be so fired up. They will be going hard so we just have to withstand that early onslaught.”
While Doran didn’t achieve his goal of helping PHS win the MCT crown, he is determined to savor his final weeks with the program.
“The truest thing that you can hear as a freshman is that this time flies by,” said Doran, who is headed to Williams College where he will be competing for its men’s lacrosse team.
“Sometimes it is hard to realize that, it is just feeling more and more real. This program and this team has meant to much to me. I am just trying to soak it all in, enjoy every practice. I have a lot of love for this team and love for these guys, it is a really tight-knit group. I am going to do everything I can every single day and give everything I have.”