May 10, 2023

Sparked by Sensational Performance from Kenah, PHS Boys’ Lax Rallies to Top Robbinsville in OT

ATTACK MENTALITY: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Patrick Kenah cradles the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, junior attacker Kenah tallied eight goals and one assist, including the game-tying and game-winning goals, to help PHS rally for a thrilling 13-12 overtime triumph against the Ravens. The Tigers, who improved to 7-5 with the win, were slated to host Lawrence High on May 9 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming into the spring, Patrick Kenah got a tutorial on the keys to taking the reins of the attack for the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team.

Junior star Kenah consulted Will Doran, the leading scorer in the state last spring in his senior season for PHS, to get some tips.

“Will was a great leader of mine; I talked to him before the season about what I should be doing,” said Kenah of Doran, who is currently playing for the Williams College men’s lax program. “He gave me all of the good stuff to know.”

Displaying the right stuff, Kenah has followed in Doran’s footsteps this spring, emerging as one of the top attackmen in the area.

Last Thursday evening at Robbinsville, Kenah produced one of  his greatest performances in a stellar campaign, tallying eight goals and one assist, including the game-tying and game-winning goals, to help PHS rally for a thrilling 13-12 overtime triumph against the Ravens

Kenah and his teammates knew they were in for a battle against high-flying Robbinsville.

“Robbinsville is definitely a very talented team, we saw that they were 10-1,” said Kenah. “They have beaten some very good teams and they have beaten us in the past. We came in it with a chip on our shoulder. We had nothing to lose, they are the ones with the higher record and we are the ones battling.”

With PHS down 7-4 midway through the second quarter, Kenah scored two straight goals, including one in the last 30 seconds of the half as the Tigers drew within one goal by intermission.

“We called a timeout just before the end of the half,” said Kenah. “We wanted to get that one at the end of the half — that was our ultimate goal. We knew if we kept it tight with these guys, it would be a battle down the stretch.”

As the sky opened up with a downpour in the third quarter, the foes battled through the rain in a tense contest as PHS took an 11-10 lead with 4:30 left in regulation but the Ravens responded with two straight goals.

“It was just keep doing what we were doing,” said Kenah. “If it is going back and forth, it is a good thing, it is a great lacrosse game. If we are going back and forth, tying up the game consistently, we are in a great position.”

As a rainbow arched in a dome above the field with the rain subsiding, Kenah found some gold, scoring the game-tying goal with 22.9 seconds left to force overtime.

“I was behind, I knew I had to go, I knew I had to take the last shot,” recalled Kenah. “I beat my guy top side, I had a look and I took it.”

Heading into OT, the Tigers were primed to close the deal. “That tying goal gave us a ton of momentum, it was a big momentum boost,” said Kenah. “All we needed was the first face-off and we were good.”

PHS won the face-off to start the extra session and Kenah got a shot off which went wide. Seconds later, he got another chance and chased it in for the victory.

“We had the back-up so I was able to go again,” said Kenah, reflecting on the winning tally. “I was going, there wasn’t really a slide coming. It was make it, take it. I was in a good spot, so I took it.”

In Kenah’s view, the win puts PHS in a good spot as it looks forward to postseason play.

“I think this was a good reflection of our season so far,” said Kenah. “We have had a lot of ups and downs. We have played some tough teams and some talented teams.”

Having tallied  46 goals and 34 assists for 80 points so far this spring, leading the Tigers in goals and points, Kenah has been displaying his talent.

“I have been dodging and trying to take the game a little bit more into my hands opposed to how it was last year,” said Kenah, a star defender for the PHS boys’ soccer team who has committed to attend Lafayette College and play for its men’s lax program.

Developing a deep connection with sophomore midfielder Brendan Beatty (31 goals, 36 assists) has helped Kenah trigger the PHS attack.

“He is a super talented lacrosse player and a great kid,” said Kenah. “I think this season our relationship has really evolved a lot. In  practice, it is me and him talking about small things and coming out here and implementing them to our game. It is awesome.”

PHS head coach Peter Stanton credited Kenah with making a great impact on the Tigers this spring.

“We have been in so many close games this year and Patrick is just so cool, calm, and collected,” said Stanton, whose team improved to 7-5 with the win over the Ravens.

“Obviously he is going to draw their best player every single time and everybody is going to have a plan for him. He never tries to do too much, he always plays within himself. He is always working to get his teammates better. He is the complete attackman.”

While the PHS defense has been shaky at times this spring, it did some good things in the win over Robbinsville.

“We have been working really hard to improve defensively,” said Stanton. “We made some stops — that is a big area we worked on improving. Coach [Jason] Carter put in a few things and our guys bought in. We are not going to be a team that defensively goes out there and locks people down and beats people up. Today we were good enough when we needed it. Leo [George] has been tremendous. He has come along so fast and learned so much quickly.”

Beating Robbinsville was a very good victory for the Tigers and being drenched didn’t prevent them from enjoying a jubilant post-game celebration.

“If nothing else, it is fun,” said Stanton. “In high school sports, you have to enjoy every opportunity that you get to celebrate. I am just happy for these guys that they got to celebrate one like this.”

PHS earned the right to savor the triumph. “We are really proud of how hard this group of boys has worked all year long,” said Stanton. “We believe that we can do it, we have had an internal self-belief. We have been battling and battling. It is a short season, we have one more game and it is tournament time.”

With the Mercer County Tournament and the state tourney around the corner, Stanton believes that the Tigers can be dangerous if they fine-tune some nuances of their game.

“We have to improve a little bit in the transition game; we had some mistakes and turned the ball over at inopportune times today,” said Stanton. “We have to tighten those things up. We have been relying a lot on Patrick and Brendan and those two guys are horses. We have some guys who we know can contribute, like Pierson Swanke, Archer Ayers, and Alex Famiglietti. It is just getting a little bit more from a few more guys.”

Kenah, for his part, believes that PHS is headed in the right direction.

“It is just having momentum and having the juice flowing,” said Kenah. “When we have the juices flowing and have our bench is erupting, we are a very good team.”