June 1, 2022

With Jaffe Emerging as a Star Down the Stretch, PDS Girls’ Lax Advances to Non-Public B Semis

SO GOOD: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Sophie Jaffe, left, races upfield in recent action. Last Thursday, junior Jaffe tallied three goals to help top-seeded PDS defeat eighth-seeded St. Elizabeth 15-4 in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public B quarterfinals. The Panthers, who improved to 12-8 with the win, were slated to host fourth-seeded Bishop Eustace in the semis on May 31 with the victor advancing to the title game on June 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In the early stages of this season, Sophie Jaffe was part of the supporting cast for the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team.

With such high-powered stars as Paige Gardner, Tessa Caputo, Ali Surace, and Elle Anhut dominating the scoresheet, Jaffe was overshadowed a bit.

But down the home stretch, junior Jaffe has been emerging as a star for the Panthers. In the Prep B state title game against Montclair Kimberley Academy on May 20, Jaffe tallied a team-high five goals with an assist and helped dominate the draw circle along with senior Ali Surace down the stretch as PDS rallied from a 12-9 deficit to pull out a 13-12 win.

Last Wednesday, Jaffe tallied three goals to help top-seeded PDS defeat eighth-seeded St. Elizabeth 15-4 in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public B quarterfinals.

In reflecting on her late surge, Jaffe said she has gained a comfort level on the field.

“I definitely feel like I am growing as a lacrosse player,” said Jaffe, who has tallied 40 points this season on 28 goals and 12 assists. “I am making sure that I am seeing the open girl on time.”

In the win over St. Elizabeth, Jaffe got things rolling for the Panthers, scoring two goals in the first 4:17 of the contest to help PDS jump out to a  4-1 lead.

“I think it set a good tone for us to know that we had the momentum to keep going,” said Jaffe. “We wanted to make sure that we were seeing everyone being open.”

Leading 7-2 at intermission, PDS was determined to utilize its run-and-gun style to pull away from St. Elizabeth over the last 25 minutes of the game.

“During halftime our coaches told us to play our game and make sure we were spreading out on attack and not rushing anything,” said Jaffe. “It was making sure that our transition game was good, seeing the girl before we pass.”

Featuring its balanced offense which saw four players get a hat trick on the day, the Panthers reeled off a 7-0 run midway through the second half to cruise to the win.

“I think we have really good ball movement as an attack,” said Jaffe of the high-powered Panther squad that saw Surace tally three goals and two assists in the win with Gardner and Caputo each chipping in three goals. “We are really unselfish. We are always looking for the next play, making sure that everyone is utilized.”

While PDS head coach Jill Thomas acknowledged that her team wasn’t at its sharpest in the first half, she liked the way things clicked in the second half.

“We didn’t come out to play at first, we were really flat,” said Thomas. “We played down a little bit. They could move the ball in transition, they could hold it in offense a little longer. They were patient with the ball. We get into our transition game and it is pretty good. It is pretty special.”

Thomas credits Jaffe with emerging as a catalyst for the PDS attack.

“She has been great,” said Thomas of Jaffe. “She has started taking the draw. She puts it and Ali comes up with it.”

Noting the PDS has taken its game to a higher level down the stretch of the season, Thomas believes that senior team captains Surace, Anhut, and Maggie Zarish-Yasunas have set a positive tone.

“It has been about the seniors getting them on the same page and keeping them there and balance,” said Thomas. “We could go a lot of me’s out there and we haven’t. It has been collectively a team effort and that is what they have to do to win it. You can’t beat as many people as we have. They have set a good role model with it and the others follow that. They see that we are doing sprints and the seniors are the ones out in front.”

With Thomas in her final campaign at the helm of the Panther program, having announced last fall that she is retiring at the end of this school year, she is savoring the team’s bid for a title double.

“It has been a special run,” said Thomas. “I hope these girls get everything that they want.”

Jaffe and her teammates badly want to send Thomas out with a second title this spring.

“We are very excited to be playing in the next round,” said Jaffe. “It would be a special thing to win it for Jill’s last year.”