Boys lacrosse repeats as Mercer County Tournament champions

Members of the boys lacrosse team pose with their championship plaque after winning the Mercer County Tournament with an 11–10 overtime win over Allentown High School on May 15. photo: Catherine Curran-Groome

Members of the boys lacrosse team pose with their championship plaque after winning the Mercer County Tournament with an 11–10 overtime win over Allentown
High School on May 15.
photo: Catherine Curran-Groome

’Twas the season of lacrosse, with flowing hairstyles and mid-calf tans. Teams geared up for competitions and as their seasons came to an end, they either went home early or proceeded on in the state tournament.

On May 10, the PHS boys lacrosse team was crowned Mercer County Tournament champion in a 11–10 win over Allentown, continuing a two-year streak. Co-Captain Kevin Halliday ’14, who contributed three goals to his team’s MCT win—including the game-winning goal in overtime—said, “It feels phenomenal to have won this title both this year and last year.”

With tournament time comes something the players call the “dream rock.” The rock is a way for the team to motivate itself before a big game. The idea behind this tradition is that one person will have possession of the rock, and it is his job to give an inspirational speech alongside a quote he finds relevant to the game. In the MCT final, Halliday was given the rock and said he made “a short speech and quoted a famous Princeton High School chant: PHS ain’t nothin’ to [mess] with.”

Matt Purdy ’14 dumps water on coach Peter Stanton to celebrate their MCT victory. photo: Catherine Curran-Groome

Matt Purdy ’14 dumps water on coach Peter Stanton to celebrate their MCT victory.
photo: Catherine Curran-Groome

With expectations set high from last year, Halliday, with the help of the other three captains, played a role in trying to achieve the same level of leadership. “If you don’t do it right, the freshmen and sophomores will see you and they will think they don’t have to do it right,” Halliday said. “I have to be working hard in whatever we’re doing.”

Co-Captain Matt Corrado ’14 helped to ensure that incoming freshmen, such as Sawyer Peck ’17, Norman Callaway ’17, and Johnny Lopez-Ona ’17, were ready for the demands of varsity lacrosse. The lacrosse team had been doing off-season training since December, and Corrado was always there to encourage them to work as diligently as possible. Corrado said, “I wanted to make sure they not only worked out in the offseason, but [also] hit the wall [with the lacrosse ball], so [they didn’t] show up to practice the first day like [they] haven’t had a stick in [their] hand since the end of last season.”

Lopez-Ona said that seniors had helped him prepare for the season. “[The seniors] helped me keep my composure in the bigger, tougher games of the season,” he said.

“The key seniors we had last year set such a high example of leadership and character that our younger players wanted to follow,” said Head Coach Peter Stanton. “If anything, it was really good to have those guys as examples for this year’s team.”

Rather than taking time to adjust to incoming players, the team quickly molded into the dynamic that it ended with the previous year. Corrado said, “Every season, you

have to adjust with new players coming in and old players leaving, but it wasn’t anything very drastic.”

The boys hoped to use this dynamic to translate their MCT title into state tournament success. Stanton said, “Winning the county tournament was a very emotionally-taxing experience which they need[ed] to maintain throughout states and also [keep] up motivation and stamina.”

As they proceeded on to the state tournament, the boys worked out the kinks in their defense that were adjusted at the beginning of the season prior to their state semifinal. “We had to change our defensive style based on our personnel in the [beginning] of the season, but the players are adapting quickly and learning how to work together,” said Stanton.

The ‘taxing experience’ caught up to them in the state semifinals against Shawnee High School. In a 10–8 overtime loss, the Little Tigers’ season ended abruptly with no trophy to bring home. “States was tough, but I think we just need to rebuild and get back up there next year,” said Lopez-Ona.

Although they did not move on in the state tournament, the boys ended with a 16-4 record and the MCT title.