Girls lacrosse makes run in counties via team chemistry that is years in the making

Head Coach Sara Doran, who is 14–8 in her first season as the girls lacrosse coach, is new to PHS athletics, but not to the girls on the team. Having already been a coach for Princeton Girls Lacrosse for several years, Doran has worked with about 75 percent of her current team prior to the girls’ high school careers.

“For me as a coach, [things are better because] many of these girls I actually coached in PGLAX,” said Doran. “It made it easier for me stepping in as first-year coach.”

Doran, as well as several members of the varsity team, believes that achievements such as their 0.636 wins-to-games ratio, close wins against tough teams, and reaching sectional semifinals, have come from the fact that many girls have played with each other since a young age on teams such as PGLAX, Ultimate Lacrosse, and Lightning Lacrosse.

Captain Georgia McLean ’17 has been playing lacrosse for almost ten years with her Co-Captain Gwen Koehler ’17 and other teammates Olivia Skopas ’17 and Olivia Geller ’17.

“I’ve been playing lacrosse since I was in third grade … I started [playing] on the PHS field … with PGLAX,” said McLean.

Abaigeal Ryan ’18 has also been playing for almost ten years and recognizes the strength of the team in past programs.

“I played for PGLAX growing up, and then I did Ultimate [Lacrosse] … basically all through my life,” said Ryan. “All the PGLAX girls [have] meshed and played on teams together at some point.”

The team has also had its fair share of fun on the field because of the relationships formed from past teams.

“A joke from one of our PGLAX teams was that we used to call ‘Omaha’ just to mess with the other team. It wasn’t a play, but they’d think that it was a play. We did that at one point [this season],” said Mariana Lopez-Ona ’19.

This season, the amounting chemistry from outside programs and the addition of Doran helped the varsity team win two close games against Princeton Day School and Hopewell Valley, two teams that have defeated the girls for the past two years.

Kathryn Demilt ’19 and Lopez-Ona have both played on varsity since freshman year and capture the effect of these previous PGLAX teams on varsity-playing underclassmen.

“When [freshmen] come up to the varsity team … they see familiar faces, and they know us … [So] it’s less intimidating, and we all know how to work with each other,” said Demilt.

“[Previous teams] help [freshmen] understand the game better,” Lopez Ona said. “It has a lot to do with training them, but it gives people opportunities to play and [to] know how to really run an offense [and a] defense.”

One major advantage of playing for club teams such as PGLAX has been the elimination of age boundaries among the girls on the team. According to Doran, this helps the team function better as a whole unit—rather than one that is divided by grades.

“I don’t know if I can break [our team] down necessarily by grade,” Doran said. “So many of the girls have been playing together for so many years.”

“On the field there’s no, ‘that’s a freshman, that’s a junior’,” said Lopez-Ona. “It’s not different. It’s not like [there’s any] change in the teams.”

Doran has high hopes to continue the progress of this season with the foundation she’s built through PGLAX with the current team, as well as the future generations of PHS girls lacrosse.

“There’s a level of trust [on the team],” Doran said. “It really does benefit the team that there are so many of these girls at all grade levels that … [have had] years of growing together, playing together, working together, [and] experiencing successes and failures together.”

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