May 10, 2023

Getting Pushed by Her Older Sisters to Excel, Freshman Gallagher Starring for PHS Girls’ Lax

MIGHTY QUINN: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Quinn Gallagher sprints upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, freshman Gallagher tallied two goals as PHS lost 14-2 at Peddie. The Tigers, who fell 17-3 to Allentown in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals last Monday to drop to 6-6, host Monroe on May 12 before playing at Northern Burlington on May 13 and at the Hun School on May 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Quinn Gallagher picked up lacrosse as a little girl by tagging along with her oldest sister Reece.

“I started playing with Reece when I was really young,” said Gallagher. “We got into it together.”

This spring, freshman Quinn has joined senior Reece and their other sister, junior Avery, on the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team.

“I am excited to play with all three of us together,” said Gallagher, whose father, Charlie, is the head coach of the PHS football team. “They push me to be my best.”

Last Saturday as PHS played at the Peddie School, the Tigers were not at their best as they fell behind 8-0 by halftime.

“We have been like in a little bit of slump,” said Gallagher. “At halftime, coach [Katie] Federico let us talk as a team so we could see as a team what we could work on. We came to the conclusion that we have to work more as a team.”

In the second half, Gallagher put in some good work, scoring two goals to get the Tigers on the board as they fell 14-2.

“Towards the end, we were working on that and we did well,” said Gallagher. “I felt like I got encouraged to work harder and I did.”

Gallagher has made some encouraging progress in her transition to high school lacrosse.

“Some of the biggest challenges are playing against girls who are a lot stronger than me, the seniors are just bigger, ” said Gallagher, who plays club lax for Ultimate Lacrosse New Jersey. “I have definitely gotten more into it and understanding how older people can play.”

Getting into it has led Gallagher to find her voice on the field.

“I think my role on the team is to pump up the team, I feel like I am good at that,” said Gallagher. “On the field, it is passing and looking for open people. I like passing a lot.”

Bonding with junior stars Riley Devlin and Sarah Henderson has helped Gallagher emerge as an offensive force for PHS.

“We have a great connection,” said Gallagher, who has tallied 23 goals and eight assists so far this season and is second on the team behind Devlin (34 goals, 14 assists) in goals and points. “We have an assist and goals scoring dynamic thing going on.”

PHS head coach Katie Federico acknowledged that the PHS attack sputtered against Peddie.

“We tried different kinds of combinations; the energy wasn’t quite there today,” said Federico. “We didn’t get the ground balls. Our shot placement and the movement in attack just didn’t quite seem to be there.”

The defense hustled to keep the Tigers in the contest. “They tried as hard as they could,” said Federico of her back line unit. “Julia [Engelhart] was all over. She has really been trying to get those causes turnovers and fight for the ground balls. Allegra [Brennan] made a lot of saves.”

While the PHS attack showed progress in the second half against the Falcons, Federico is hoping the defeat can bar a wakeup call.

“It was much better,” said Federico. “We had some better cuts, we had some better looks. It just wasn’t clicking. If this is going to be our blip going on, I am happy to move forward.”

Federico was happy with the play of Gallagher as she provided a spark against Peddie.

“Quinn did really nicely today; on the draw, she made herself visible and was getting the draw control and the ground balls,” said Federico of Gallagher. “She is showing the movement on attack and making herself open. She is both getting the goals or providing the assists. It is nice because some of the freshmen have been playing together for a while, they already have those connections.”

Having the three Gallagher girls playing together on the squad has been fun for Federico.

“They each have such a different personality,” said Federico, noting that Avery has been sidelined due to injury. “Avery will be back on the field next week, I am excited about that. It is fun. We have the Howes sisters (Holly and Kacey) and the Lee sisters (Joci and Nicki). It is special when you see them make those connections. Last week Quinn and Reece had a couple; Quinn was assisting Reece and it was nice. It is fun to see that and it is great for the parents too.”

With the Tigers, who fell 17-3 to Allentown in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals last Monday to drop to 6-6, hosting Monroe on May 12 before playing at Northern Burlington on May 13 and at the Hun School on May 16, Federico is looking for her players to keep growing down the stretch.

“It is making those adjustments and learning how to work together,” said Federico. “I have noticed an improvement from the beginning of the year. Each day, each practice, and each game, they learn something different. I told them, it is more about how we work together than the wins and losses. We will learn from this and move on. There is still a good amount of the season left.”

Gallagher, for her part, believes that the team needs to get on the same page to start rolling.

“I think one of the big focuses is working more as a team; we haven’t been doing that recently, it has been one-on-one,” said Gallagher. “Once we start working as a team, we will be scoring a ton of goals. We need to trust each other more. It was one-sided today,  everyone was in their head.”