May 11, 2022

Star Goalie Peloso Keys Strong Defensive Effort As PHS Girls’ Lax Tops PDS to Make MCT Semis

G-FORCE: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse goalie Gigi Peloso makes a save in a game earlier this season. Last Monday, senior star and Colby College-bound Peloso made 11 saves to help third-seeded PHS defeat sixth-seeded Princeton Day School 13-7 in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. The Tigers, now 12-4, will play at second-seeded Allentown in the MCT semis on May 11 with the victor advancing to the final on May 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team edged Princeton Day School 14-13 in late April, Gigi Peloso was not at her sharpest.

“I had a frustrating game myself,” said PHS senior goalie Peloso, who had three saves in the win. “I wasn’t too happy with how I played.”

When the local rivals met in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals last Monday, Peloso and the third-seeded Tigers tightened things up in the rematch with sixth-seeded PDS, jumping out to a 6-2 halftime lead on the way to a 13-7 victory.

PHS, now 12-4, will play at second-seeded Allentown in the MCT semis on May 11 with the victor advancing to the final on May 13.

“We just came out with so much more hype, we came together as a team more,” said Peloso.

“That is so important and goes miles with our team. We just really learned to talk it through and we talked more on the field and off the field.”

Peloso made some noise, coming up with 11 saves in the win with several coming on point blank shots.

“Today, I was meshing with the defense more,” said Peloso. “They are always huge helps for me. I felt the hype in my body 100 percent. It was a lot more than before.”

The Tigers weathered an early run by PDS in the second half as it scored two straight goals to narrow the PHS lead to 8-4. Responding with a 5-1 run, the Tigers pulled away to the win.

“They came back stronger but we wanted to beat them and come back stronger,” said Peloso. “I think that we did that. It always comes down to the team that wants it more. I think we wanted it more; that was an awakening for every single one of us. We were like, hell no, this is ours.”

With a strong and tight-knit group of seniors that includes Kate Becker, Grace Rebak, Sarah Glenn, Jane Biggs, Cartee O’Brien, and Sarah White in addition to Peloso, the Tigers desperately want to keep going this season.

“We were just talking about this, now is the time; if we want to keep playing together, we have got to keep winning,” said Peloso, who is headed to play for Colby College while Rebak is a Williams College commit, Becker will be competing for Amherst College, and Glenn will be joining the University of Chicago program.

“It is a huge motivation. We have been together for so long, we have grown family like. We work so well together because we have known each other for so long and we have been playing for years. I can’t picture playing without them, honestly.”

PHS head coach Katie Federico was thrilled with how her players came together against PDS.

“It was a beautiful team win and team effort,” said Federico. “It was an all-around team effort, everybody contributed. We will enjoy it tonight and tomorrow it is back to practice.”

A superb defensive effort by the squad’s back line set the tone in the win over the Panthers.

“We had to go back to playing our game, we were not quite ourselves in that first game when we played against them in the regular season,” said Federico. “The communication piece really needed to be there for defense and they got that today. We worked on that a lot in practice. We were also able to talk about defense with some of their plays because we had just played them. We were able to use that as well.”

Federico credited Peloso with coming up big from the opening draw on Monday.

“Gigi was absolutely amazing, I was so proud of her,” said Federico. “She really just stepped up and it was wonderful. When Gigi needs to step up, she steps up. Her leadership on the field is just amazing. The girls feed off of her. She was on today, you could tell in warmups. She was just zoned in and saw the ball really well and followed it. The defense worked as such a unit with Gigi. That really made a difference. When she is on, you just have full confidence in her.”

The Tiger attack played with confidence as Becker led the way with seven goals and an assist with Rebak chipping in a goal and three assists and sophomore standout Riley Devlin contributing three goals and one assist.

“They were great, they took their time, they communicated, they didn’t force anything,” said Federico. “They played their game and they played smart. It is that balance between smart and hard and not forcing it.”

PHS knows it faces a hard matchup against Allentown in the MCT semis. In an April 27 regular season meeting, PHS edged the Redbirds 10-9 in overtime as it overcame a 9-5 second half deficit.

“It is very similar with this game, we won by one and against Allentown we won by one,” said Federico. “It is a fun rivalry; I think it brings our A-game, it brings us to a higher level. It is great when you have those games so we are excited.”

Peloso believes the Tigers can produce a great finish this spring if they stick together.

“It is not only keeping up the intensity but having a level head and helping each other, having each other’s backs,” said Peloso. “It is so important, especially for our team which is so family-based.”