O’Gorman leads girls lacrosse through challenging season

Advancing from last year’s season with a record of 14–3, the varsity girls lacrosse team is working towards surpassing the milestones set last year under the leadership of one of the youngest coaches in Princeton High School history, Kelsey O’Gorman. This year, O’Gorman believes that the keys to success are maintaining a strong work ethic and creating a unified team, even if it consists of players across grade levels.

“I think the season is going to have a positive result; it is just a matter of jelling
together,” said O’Gorman. “We are still working through adjusting to new plays and playing
with one another.”

The team lost four seniors last year, but it is replenishing its strength with
underclassmen and veteran players, including captains Emilia Lopez-Ona ’14 and Dana Smith ’14. Lopez-Ona leads the attack and midfield with 41 goals and nine assists so far, while Smith leads the defense with 41 ground balls.

The season started with losses to West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North and Notre Dame High School in two of the first three games of the season, but the team has rebounded with six consecutive wins against Montgomery High School, Princeton Day School, Robbinsville High School, Hunterdon Central High School, Eastern High School, and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South.

“We had a tough start in the season with a couple of losses to our [Colonial Valley Conference] rivals. But we didn’t dwell on [the losses] so we’ve had back-to-back wins,” said Lopez-Ona.

The team has many strong opponents to play against, like 9–0 West-Windsor Plainsboro High School North, which ended the 2013 season with a 12–1 record. This year, games against The Lawrenceville School and Westfield High School have been added to the schedule. These games are highly anticipated, since these teams are not in the CVC and because Westfield is ranked 12th in the state, while PHS is ranked 17th.

Looking forward, O’Gorman knows that the team can never anticipate a sure win, even if the opponent does not look strong on paper.

“It’s still early on in the season, so we have got a lot of big games coming up. Our
season [somewhat] fluctuates [in terms of strength of opponents], and we cannot overlook
any team. We have got a lot of competition this year the way that our schedule has been
readjusted, so we are looking forward to playing some new teams,” said O’Gorman.

“Definitely [one of our rivals is] West Windsor North. We saw them our first game and we are hoping to see them at the end of the season for the CVC [title]. We have [also] got Hopewell [Valley Central High School] coming up, so there are a lot of big competitors.”

One particular facet of the team that has recently made strides is its defense. As a result of more playing time together, the defense has started working better as a unit, which has been instrumental in the team’s recent success, according to goalkeeper Mira Shane ’15.

“Defense as a whole has become a lot more united as the season has gone on,” said Shane. “Defense has the electricity that we need, which is why we have been so successful recently.” Shane is coming up on her 400th save.

O’Gorman knows that the team’s goals are within reach if the girls continue working together as a unit, but wants to focus on basic regular-season wins for now. “Right now we are starting to jell together and getting [wins],” said O’Gorman. As the season progresses, the team hopes to channel these wins into CVC, Mercer County, and State titles.