April 19, 2023

PHS Boys’ Lacrosse Edges Notre Dame As Beatty Comes Through in the Clutch

COMING THROUGH: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Brendan Beatty heads to goal in a game earlier this season. Sophomore midfielder Beatty tallied five goals, including the game-winner, as PHS edged Notre Dame 13-12 last week. The Tigers, who fell 12-9 to Red Bank Regional last Saturday to move to 3-2, host Hightstown on April 20 and play at WW/P-South on April 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Brendan Beatty took matters into his hands for the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team as it hosted Notre Dame last week in a Colonial Valley Conference showdown.

With the rivals knotted in an 11-11 deadlock midway through the fourth quarter of the April 11 contest, PHS sophomore midfielder Beatty tallied two goals down the stretch to help the Tigers pull out a dramatic 13-12 win.

“I didn’t get nervous, I knew we were going to come out gritty to get the goals to win in the fourth quarter,” said Beatty. “I knew our defense was going to step up, I knew we were going to get the ground balls and the face-offs. That is what happened and that is how we won.”

Beatty notched the go-ahead goal with 3:39 left in the fourth quarter.

“I just saw an open lane and I took it and shot it,” said Beatty. “I saw I had a shorty on me and I thought it’s go time. They were expecting me to go righty because they were yelling ‘no left,’ so I took it lefty and put it in.”

Just over a minute later, Beatty scored the 13th goal for PHS, scooping up a rebound and firing it home in what turned out to be the game-winner as Notre Dame scored with 1:24 left to pull within one goal.

“I took the original shot and saw it didn’t go in,” said Beatty, who ended up five goals in the victory. “I stayed with the play and picked up the ground ball and put it in. I was ready to get hit.”

In the early stages of the contest, it didn’t look like the Tigers would need Beatty’s late game heroics as they jumped out to 4-0 lead and increased their advantage to 7-2 late in the second quarter.

“We trust every guy on our offense to make shots and make passes,” said Beatty, reflecting on the team’s hot start. “The trust on this team is going to get us these wins. It is just play gritty.”

Beatty has developed a deep level of trust with junior star Patrick Kenah, who tallied five goals and two assists against Notre Dame.

“Will Doran, a senior last year, left a big void; he brought me and Kenah to work well together,” said Beatty of Doran who is currently playing for Willams College. “He has been texting us, we have been staying in contact so that has helped me and Kenah out. Kenah and I are pretty close off the field, so we just bring that on the field. We always have our eyes up, looking for each other.”

PHS head coach Peter Stanton credits Beatty and Kenah with being catalysts for a balanced Tiger attack.

“We have two guys that can really create in Brendan and Patrick and then all of our other guys are good players,” said Stanton. “We are hard to guard, we always feel like we have six guys  that demand defense take account of them but those two in particular are very creative and very hard to guard.”

Stanton was not surprised to see Beatty to come through against the Irish.

“We have really grown to expect Brendan to do that, we see him do that every single day in practice,” said Stanton. “We see him do that against everybody he plays against — he just makes the extraordinary look ordinary. It is not like wow, where did that come from? It is he does that every day. That is Brendan, that is what he does.”

Kenah does a lot for PHS offense as well. “Patrick is very much a coach on the field, he is very much the savvy of our offensive end,” said Stanton, noting that Kenah has committed to attend Lafayette College and play for its men’s lax program.

“I will ask him like, ‘what do you want to run here?’ because he has got a better sense of what works for us. I can’t believe he is a junior. He is a really fine player, and it is crazy because he is going to get better and better.”

Sophomore Matt Thomson, who tallied two goals and an assist against Notre Dame, has been getting better and better.

“He had a big goal in the Scotch Plains game (an 11-10 loss on April 8), the thing I love about him is that he plays with such enthusiasm,” said Stanton. “He is a kid that every time he gets on the field, he makes the most of it. When he makes plays, you can just see that there is happiness. That is what it is about.”

While the Tiger defense had some lapses in the win, the unit made stops when it counted.

“We are working on our communication, we had good moments,” said Stanton. “We held them to two goals for the longest time in the first half — we got a stop at the end when we needed it. We believe that we can play, we are working for some consistency.”

With PHS hosting Hightstown on April 20 and playing at WW/P-South on April 25, Stanton believes his squad can do some special things this spring when it gets into postseason play.

“That is what we are trying to get these guys to believe. They get excited when we start telling them about doing those sorts of things,” said Stanton, whose team fell 12-9 to Red Bank Regional last Saturday to move to 3-2. “There is a thing where you kind of believe and then you have to do it. These guys have to get a few more reps before they really internalize it that they belong, they are getting there.”

Beatty believes that the Tigers are headed in the right direction.

“We just need to keep moving forward and keep our fundamentals,” said Beatty. “We have to keep doing the same things that we are doing right and fix the mistakes.”