The Princeton Day School Girls Varsity Lacrosse team stormed out of the gates this season, racking up a six-game winning streak filled with double-digit-goal victories over local rivals Hun, Pennington and Peddie.
"The girls played really well at both ends of the field during the opening stretch of games. We really made it hard for other teams and consistently kept the pressure on, which led to the winning streak," Head Coach Jill Thomas stated.
One of the integral parts in the fast start was the leadership presence of the team's eight seniors: Vanessa Devin '21, Anna Ellwood '21, Alex Hollander '21, Ella McIntyre '21, Rachel Richter '21, Caroline Topping '21, Hailey Wexler '21 and Jordan Young '21.
"These eight seniors have been consummate leaders on and off the field. They have instilled a sense of 'team' that will last for a long time in the program," Coach Thomas noted.
After a stretch of three losses during a challenging schedule, the team regrouped and, once again, leaned on the Class of 2021 to right the ship. On May 14, the Panthers celebrated Senior Day prior to the game against cross-town rival Hun, honoring the senior class for their indelible contributions throughout the last four years (scroll down for full Senior Day coverage).
The team jumped out to a big lead in the game, answering an opening Hun goal with eight of their own. However, PDS found themselves trying to slow the momentum as Hun narrowed the gap quickly. Late in the second half, the Panthers got back to basics and focused on key fundamentals of ball control to not only stop Hun's attack, but to also swing momentum back their way en route to a 12-9 victory.
"It was a major highlight for our team to pull out a win like that on Senior Day. You never want to lose a big lead during a game, but the way that the team came together at the end was a testament to the leadership and character that we have," Coach Thomas said.
Girls Varsity Lacrosse currently holds a 7-3 record and they will look to finish the season how they started it. The remaining slate features difficult opponents in Hill, Mount Saint Mary, Lawrenceville and Hillsborough, but Coach Thomas believes that the girls are up to the challenge during the home stretch.
Senior Day Celebration
Coach Thomas opened the ceremony with a tribute to the players from the Class of 2020, who did not have the opportunity to have an on-field Senior Day last spring due to the national stay-at-home self-quarantine as the pandemic surged through the country. The following Girls Lacrosse Class of 2020 members are remembered with Panther Pride: Carly Kunkle '20, Maddie Izzard '20, Julia Lach '20, Maggie Madani '20, Skylar Mundenar '20 and Ellie Schofield '20.
In describing the Class of 2021 team members, Coach Thomas noted that this year's seniors "have collectively brought the girls back together after a year of Zoom calls. They took full advantage of every opportunity to play together again. They are off to a terrific start and we look forward to finishing the season on a strong, positive note."
Here are highlights of Coach Thomas's remarks for each of the eight teammates of the Class of 2021:
Vanessa Devin '21
"Vanessa developed into a terrific player over her four-year career as a varsity player. Her enthusiasm and energy are unparalleled and she knows what it takes to motivate and inspire younger players. She is a leader on and off the field and a valued spokesperson for the program."
Anna Ellwood '21
"Anna got the opportunity to play lacrosse for PDS after switching to the sport last year! It has been a pleasure to watch her hard work and development over the last year as she worked to improve her stick skills. Her speed and athleticism enabled her to make significant contributions to the team this year and her leadership was a big part of our success."
Alex Hollander '21
"Alex has had a terrific senior season. She is one of our top defenders and is routinely tasked with shutting down top area opponents. Her communication on the field is a key element of our defensive success and her transition game from defense to offense is a beauty to watch."
Ella McIntyre '21
"As a four-year letter winner, Ella has established herself as a tough defender with the ability to have an impact off the draw. Her aggressive play and toughness has helped make our defensive unit one to be reckoned with for opponents. She is a leader on and off the field who has the full respect of all teammates, opponents and coaches."
Rachel Richter '21
"After an early season injury, Rachel is back and a key part of our low attack sets on offense. Her commitment to hard offseason work showed an intense desire to improve as a player and her dedication to the program."
Caroline Topping '21
"Caroline has taken her game to another level this season and her love for the game and her teammates is always a constant. She will long be remembered for introducing us all to the 'family' cheer to end a practice or during a game. She is the consummate teammate and has become one of our leading stalwarts on the defensive end."
Hailey Wexler '21
"Hailey has stood tall for us this season between the pipes, and she is one of the leading goalies in the area in save percentage. She makes the most difficult saves look easy and always has a calm demeanor in goal, which is a big source of confidence for the team. Opponents have quickly learned that only the best-placed shots have a chance to make it past her."
Jordan Young '21
"Jordan is having her best season at low attack for us this year and is currently one of the team leaders in assists while also scoring multiple goals. As a four-year letter winner, one thing that has remained from start to finish is Jordan's love for the game and her teammates. It has been a joy to coach her during her four years as a Panther."
For more local PDS Girls Varsity Lacrosse coverage, read this Town Topics article covering the team from May 12.
Photos (from top): Panthers celebrating a goal together (by Nancy Erickson); Senior Day photos of each player with their family (by David Bremer)