June 1, 2022

PDS Boys’ Lax Makes Inspired Run in Non-Public B, Pulling Off Two Upsets Before Falling to MKA in Semis

NICK OF TIME: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Nick Somogyi, middle, fends off two foes in a game this spring. Junior Somogyi’s hustle all over the field helped ninth-seeded PDS make an inspired run in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public B semis. The underdog Panthers defeated eighth-seeded Morristown-Beard 11-6 in a first round contest and then stunned top-seeded Gill St. Bernard’s 7-6 in the quarterfinals. The squad’s bid for the title ended when it fell 12-10 at fourth-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy last Saturday in the semifinals. The defeat left PDS with a final record of 6-11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Heading into the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public B tournament with a 4-10 record and having lost seven of its last nine games, the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team didn’t look like a threat to make a deep run in the competition.

But ninth-seeded PDS proceeded to defeat eighth-seeded Morristown-Beard 11-6 in a first round contest then stunned top-seeded Gill St. Bernard’s 7-6 in the quarterfinals.

Panther head coach Joe Moore, though, wasn’t stunned by his squad’s late-season heroics.

“I think there is a lot that goes into the success that we are finding,” said Moore. “For starters, we are finally healthy for the first time this season. That is a big contributor but I don’t want to use the injuries as a crutch. I would say that the injuries and the adversity that we had made us stronger because our younger players and less experienced guys had to step up. Now that we are back to full strength those guys are actually contributors.”

After losing 6-5 to Mo-Beard in the Prep B state tournament, the Panthers were fired up for the rematch in the Non-Public tourney.

“The obvious difference is having Charlie Hogshire in that game the second time around,” said Moore, of sophomore Hogshire, who scored three goals in the win over Mo-Beard with Sebastian Rzeczycki tallying two goals and three assists, Ollie Hall adding two goals and two assists, and Harry Bernardi contributing two goals. “He is a big contributor, he helps set the tempo on offense.”

The win was a confidence builder for the Panthers. “We are young so any time that we are able to go and steal a quick win or even if it’s a loss but it is a moral victory, you hang on to that moment,” said Moore.

“Being that we are so young and we don’t have a ton of experience at the varsity level, confidence is a big factor. It has been challenging for us to find confidence. Right now things are clicking and we couldn’t be more confident.”

In the win over Gill, who had topped PDS 13-6 in a regular season contest, the PDS defensive unit stood tall, holding the Knights to one goal in the second half.

“For that matchup and the tournament in general everybody has doubted us; I think the timing has been great for us,” said Moore of the win which saw Rzeczycki contribute two goals and two assists with Nick Somogyi scoring a goal and an assist and scooping up eight ground balls and Will Brown getting an assist and coming up with 10 ground balls.

“Going into that game, nothing really changed outside of some basic strategic items. It is us sticking to our strengths and relying on our contributors and making sure that everybody knows their role and is confident in fulfilling their role.”

The Panther defense has emerged as a strength down the stretch.

“Jackson Cook, our goalie, has been an anchor for us,” said Moore of Cook who had 16 saves in the win over Gill.

“Will Brown has been amazing. Milan Patel is one of our starting close defensemen and he has been awesome. The guy who stands out to me and is all over the field for us, especially on defense, is Nick Somogyi. He is scoring goals, he is causing turnovers. He is pushing transition, he is literally doing it all for us. We put him on the face-off X for three quarters against Gill.”

Sophomore standout Rzeczycki has been awesome on offense for PDS.

“Sebastian holds the keys to our offense; he is young and we are trying to be careful about the way we are developing him, molding him, and keeping him grounded,” said Moore. “He has been definitely our rock on the offensive side of the ball all year. I am really proud of the growth that he has made this year.”

While PDS ended up falling 12-10 at fourth-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy last Saturday in the semifinals to end the spring with a 6-11 record, the tournament run revealed the character of the players as they saved their best for last.

“We have struggled to find leadership in our program this season,” said Moore. “Leading by example, Sebastian has been great. Will has been great. Those are two of the captains. Jackson is also a captain and he really works closely with our defense and makes sure everyone is on the same page. He has been great. Nick Somogyi says about five words but he leads by example and people feed off of his leadership in the way that he plays and practices.”