May 10, 2023

With Senior Jaffe Producing Big Final Campaign, PDS Girls’ Lacrosse Enjoying Postseason Success

GOAL-ORIENTED: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Sophie Jaffe heads to goal in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior attacker Jaffe tallied four goals, including the game-winner, as PDS edged Notre Dame 12-11. Two days later, she scored three goals, including the 100th of her career, as the Panthers fell 16-6 to the Lawrenceville School. PDS defeated Peddie 20-10 in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals last Monday to improve to 8-4 as Jaffe tallied five more goals. The third-seeded Panthers will now face second-seeded Allentown in the MCT semis on May 11. In addition, PDS was slated to host Pennington in the Prep B state semis on May 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Sophie Jaffe had the game on her stick for the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team as it played at Notre Dame High last Wednesday afternoon.

With the foes locked in an 11-11 tie and 30 seconds remaining in regulation, Jaffe had a free position opportunity in front of the Notre Dame goal.

Senior attacker Jaffe felt the pressure of the moment as she waited for the whistle.

“It was just to get that first step off the 8-meter, I wanted make sure that I was bouncing off that line, beating the defenders, and tucking my stick, making sure I was protecting the ball,” said Jaffe. “I was a little nervous, I didn’t know if it was going to go in or not.”

Sprawling towards the goal, Jaffe’s shot found the back of the net, giving PDS a dramatic 12-11 victory and the 99th goal of her Panther career.

“Going into this, we knew if we won there would be a lot of good momentum for us,” said Jaffe, who ended up with four goals and two assists in the victory. “We wanted to make sure we were confident. I am definitely excited.”

The Panthers had to make an exciting rally to overcome the Irish as they trailed 3-0 early and were down 8-5 at halftime.

“We were rushing things, we were forcing things, we wanted to  spread out and make sure that we were seeing the open girls,” said Jaffe. “Since they play a defensive zone, we wanted to make sure that we were moving the ball so they were moving with us. During halftime we talked about making sure we were keeping the ball hot, no one holding it too long, keeping it up top.”

Starting the second half with a 6-0 run, PDS seized momentum.

“We have really great team chemistry,” said Jaffe, who scored two goals in that stretch of the game. “It was really easy to connect with other people on the field.”

As a senior captain, Jaffe has sought to enhance that chemistry.

“Being a senior, it is stepping up and making sure I am able to be a good role model for the underclassman,” said Jaffe. “It is also making sure that I am helping them out, knowing where to be on the field.”

Jaffe, who scored her 100th career goal in a 16-6 loss to Lawrenceville last Friday, credits her teammates with helping her to reach that milestone.

“It is a lot of hard work,” said Jaffe, who tallied five goals to help third-seeded PDS defeat sixth-seeded Peddie 20-10 last Monday in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals and now has 43 goals this season. “I will think of everyone who has helped me get there, especially my teammates who are passing me the ball and allowing me to have a lot of opportunities.”

PDS head coach Tracy Young was not surprised that Jaffe made the difference in the win over Notre Dame.

“We planted Sophie in there for a little while,” said Young. “She is solid inside, she moves so well inside that 8-meter. She has that really quick turn and shoot and she was coming up with it in there. They were feeding it in to her.”

Young acknowledged that her squad struggled to break down the Notre Dame defense in the early going.

“We knew that were going to have to face a little bit of a zone, it took us a little while to get going with it and try and figure out where we could find the space,” said Young. “We were crowding in a little too much — we were sending too many people through and we were trying to pull them out of it a little bit. We thought we might be able to go from behind but we realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t working from behind. We started to go more from the top and the elbow — that is kind of when it opened everything up.”

In addition to Jaffe, the trio of Tessa Caputo, Paige Gardner, and Jess Hollander got things going on attack.

“Tessa and Paige are just phenomenal in the way that they  were feeding it in,” said Young, who got two goals and three assists from Caputo with Gardner chipping in two goals and two assists and Hollander tallying four goals and an assist. “We moved Jess into the midfield this year — she has come up big for us on these draw possessions. She has been able to get the attack going sometimes. She has great spatial awareness on the field. When you have a Paige and a Tessa, we know they are trying to double-team them every single time. We have got to rely on those other people like Sophie and Jess coming up big.”

The Panther defense held the fort, led by defenders Leigh Hillmanno and Shelby Ruf along with goalie Arden Bogle.

“Arden had some great saves exactly when we needed them there; when we needed things to start to jell, it just turned around,” said Young. “Leigh and Shelby are playing low so, so well we had a mismatch height-wise and we made an adjustment with Shelby. They are just playing so well at crease defense.”

With the third-seeded Panthers facing second-seeded Allentown in the MCT semis on May 11 and also slated to host Pennington in the Prep B state semis on May 9, Young believes that her squad’s performance against Notre Dame is a good sign as it looks to make a deep postseason run.

“I looked at the schedule and I said this is right smack in the middle of the season where we are knowing what we have got to face,” said Young, whose team improved to 8-4 with the win over Peddie in the MCT. “I am happy with what we did today — we really played together today and we knew that we were going to need to.”

In the wake of PDS having won both the Prep B and New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public Group B titles last year, Jaffe believes the Panthers can go out with a bang again this spring.

“I am very confident, we only lost a few of the seniors,” said Jaffe. “We have a lot of the last year’s team still here; we know what it takes to get there. I think we are all willing to do that. It is my last year and I have been at PDS since I was in kindergarten. It would be a really big moment for me.”