By Anthony Williams
Lessons were learned from an impressive 2011 season, but the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team will have to put last year behind them this season.
The Little Tigers look toward a 2012 that will feature a mixture of new and old.
The 2011 Little Tigers had overcome a 3-goal deficit in the 4th quarter of the Mercer County Tournament finals against Notre Dame, but fell short of capturing the title as Coleman Preziosi’s potential game winner ricocheted off the crossbar in overtime and Notre Dame’s Sean Brett buried his shot at the other end of the field for the game winner.
The Little Tigers regrouped to capture the CVC title against Hopewell Valley before defeating rival West Windsor-Plainsboro South in the first round of the Central Jersey Group III State Championships. They fell Ridge, 10-5, in the quarter-finals to bring an end to a 15-5-1 season.
The defense is completely overhauled from that team, due to graduation, but some of the midfield and attackers return to form another potent Princeton offense.
“We have had to rebuild the defense from the ground up, and know we are going to have to play as a complete unit to perform well, but we also return some exciting players on offense that are going to do a lot of scoring for us, so we should be very competitive this year,” head coach Peter Stanton said.
Among the most noticeable losses for the Little Tigers is second team All-State Goalie Griffen Peck—brother of senior midfielder Kirby Peck—to graduation. The elder Peck will be replaced by senior Elliott Wilson, who despite his lack of varsity experience should fill in nicely for the stand-out graduate.
“Elliot battled with Griffen for the position his entire time here and plays a lot of travel lacrosse, so he knows what it takes to compete at an elite level,” Stanton said. “He’s dedicated, and he’s going to be ready when the season comes around.”
Princeton is also going to have to find a way to replace the loss of their entire starting defense, a long stick midfielder and two offensive weapons. The Little Tigers plan on addressing those issues with the return of seniors Kirby Peck, Coleman Preziosi, Nick Sandford and Alex Rifkin and junior Zach Halliday. Peck, Rifkin and Halliday have been well-rounded contributors to the
Little Tigers over the past few seasons, each getting substantial varsity playing time since they were sophomores.
Despite all of the returning offensive firepower and goalie experience his team has, Stanton knows the lesser-known players are going to need to step up and help this team win.
“We’re really counting on guys like Jack Persico to become a strong presence on defense,” Stanton said. “He’s new to the sport, but he’s a big, strong kid that plays football for the high school and is a fast learner, so we will be expecting a lot out of him. Another guy I’m looking forward to watching grow as a player is Matt Purdy. Matt scored some big goals for us as a freshman and I hope he continues that this year and can be a productive part of our offense.”
No matter what level of lacrosse in Princeton—from youth to Princeton University—greatness is expected of all its players. This year will be no exception for the Little Tigers.
“We expect our guys to be competitive every game,” Stanton said. “As a coaching staff, we understand it’s going to be a challenge to rebuild the defense, but we feel the boys are doing their best to meet that challenge. We have high expectations for them and there is no doubt in my mind that we will grow as players and as a team trying to reach those expectations.”