April 3, 2024

After Taking Its Lumps in Tough 2023 Campaign, PHS Girls’ Lax Primed to Get Back on Winning Track

OPENING STATEMENT: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Riley Devlin goes after the ball in a game last season. Last Monday, senior star Devlin got the 2024 season off to a big start, tallying six goals and three assists to help PHS rout WW/P-North 23-8 in the season opener for both teams. In upcoming action, the Tigers play at Hopewell Valley on April 3 and at Stuart County Day on April 5 before hosting Lawrenceville on April 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Taking its lumps last spring as it lost nine of its last 10 games, the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team learned some valuable lessons.

“It was a hard year, it was a good growing year,” said PHS head coach Katie Federico, who guided the Tigers to a 7-12 record. “It helped the seniors become the leaders that they needed to be. They are doing a nice job, there is a great vibe within the team, a cohesiveness within the team. They are stepping up to go from a pretty good winning season, the year before to something like last year. It taught them to appreciate what we were capable of doing the year before and that drive. They really want it again this year.”

As the preseason unfolded, Federico was happy with the way her players were stepping up.

“We had a scrimmage on Friday and they were connecting on passes,” said Federico. “The transition looked great, it is like they are all clicking right now which is really nice to see. They are excited, you can see that.”

Senior star midfielder Riley Devlin, who scored 85 points on 68 goals and 17 assists last year, has been looking great heading into her final campaign with PHS.

“Riley is stepping up in the midfield as a leader,” said Federico of Devlin, who tallied six goals and three assists as PHS defeated WW/P-North 23-8 in its season opener last Monday. “She just has that energy and the grit whether she is on the midfield or on attack or on defense. You can see how the underclassmen, especially the freshmen, are so impressed by it. She has really taken on trying to teach the underclassmen in that role. It is really nice to because she remembers that feeling when Shoshi Henderson was helping her and Kate Becker was helping her. Now she is in that role, you can tell it is something that she is really enjoying too.”

Sophomores Quinn Gallagher and Leah Bornstein will be playing key roles in the midfield as well. Gallagher tallied two goals and two assists against WW/P-North while Bornstein had five goals and three assists.

“Quinn is looking really good and there has been some nice chemistry and connections with her and Riley passing on goal,” said Federico. “She is not only talking the shot herself, she is looking for her teammates. Leah has been doing a lot of mid right now. She is a little fireball nonstop, she is unbelievable. She is such a positive kid. She will do anything to help the team.”

A trio of seniors — Phoebe Steiger, Sylvie LeBouef, and Sarah Henderson — will be triggering the Tiger attack.

“Phoebe is looking really good again this year, I think even last year, it was a growing year for her,” said Federico of Steiger, who chipped in one goal and one assist against WW/P-N with LeBouef tallying three goals and an assist and Henderson contributing two goals and three assists.

“Sylvie and Sarah are just back to full confidence after their ACL injuries. They are back to themselves this year which is really nice to see.”

On defense, seniors Joci Lee, Avery Gallagher, Julia Engelhart, and Theona Hsu, have developed into a formidable unit.

“We have four solid seniors in Joci, Avery, Julia, and Theona,” said Federico. “We also have Zoie [Reynolds], who is a sophomore. They are just like a well-oiled machine. It is amazing how last year just really built their confidence and their communication. They play as a unit.”

Senior Allegra Brennan, sophomore Olivia DeLuca, and freshman Paige Menapace figure to see time at goalie.

“Allegra is back, which is good and Olivia is our other returning goalie,” said Federico, who went with Menapace in the opener.

“It is going to go game by game. They are all very supportive of each other. If I said to Allegra, ‘Liv is playing today,’ she would say, ‘Great,’ and help her out as much as she can. Liv would be the same way with Allegra, which is nice.”

In Federico’s view, PHS can have a very good season if the players display self-assurance and have fun in the process.

“I think it is patience and believing in themselves and not feeling like they always have to take the fast break,” said Federico, whose team plays at Hopewell Valley on April 3 and at Stuart County Day on April 5 before hosting Lawrenceville on April 8.

“They need to use the space and trust in each other. The biggest thing is the trust piece; it was hard last year when you lose a senior group like we did. Now we have got that senior group, that will be really nice. One of the biggest keys of it is to have fun when you are playing. If you are not having fun, then why put all of this time into it.”