New Head Coach Sarah Doran stresses unity and teamwork for girls lacrosse

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photo by Aaron Wu

With the cool spring breeze of April settling in, so too is America’s fastest growing sport. This spring, the girls lacrosse team believes that it has the tools to be an exceptional squad. However, it faces a challenge that most teams do not: a new head coach. Head Coach Sarah Doran and her co-captains, defenseman Gwen Koehler ’17 and midfielder Georgia McLean ’17, know what they need to do to win.

“This year we will focus on having a great team dynamic. It’s something that our coach and me and Georgia really want to focus on, and it will lead to us winning big games,” Koehler said.

The camaraderie between players will be vital for a team with a new coach in charge. This teamwork has been on display so far, with the team defeating cross-town rival Princeton Day School ranked number 16 by NJ.com and Rancocas Valley (6–1) ranked number 11 in the state by NJ.com.

The transition process of being a new coach has been eased by her experience coaching many of the girls at the club Princeton Girls Lacrosse, the local youth girls lacrosse program.

“I feel change from last year, but the change is familiar from having Doran before as a coach,” said midfielder Mariana Lopez-Ona ’19. “This is great because I know her, and we can hit the ground running.”

“Having coached many of these girls already in PG Lax was a huge advantage in being hired late in the game (right before the season started) — I was able to jump right in and already [have] relationships with 85 percent of the players, so it made the transition easy for us all,” Doran said.

In addition to having prior experience coaching many of the girls, Doran is also confident in the quality of the team she is inheriting. She walks into a team with all sorts of fire power at every position and at every age. Doran feels as if the team has great depth this year from on the defensive end through the midfield to the attack. The team has Lopez-Ona as well as Abigael Ryan ’18 carrying on their family’s goal-scoring traditions at PHS. The return of ground-ball-machine McLean and defense cornerstones Sofia Navarrete ’18 and Koehler will help protect goalie Zoe Tesone ’17.

Doran said, “I think this team has great potential. We are 6–3 and have lost two very close games to strong programs. We have demonstrated that we can compete at a very high level.”

Doran looks to bring her new ideals to the team and build a successful program that can win right away. This will be a process but she believes they have the tools to do so. Just like every team, the girls have to overcome obstacles on both sides of the ball.

“[One thing] we need to work on is defensive communication, [which] will cause us to work together more and cause turnovers. Off-ball movement will spark big runs on the offense. We have worked with coach Doran on winning the draw and getting possession of the ball,” Lopez-Ona said.

Doran has made the girls adopt her own lingo and actively stays on top of business with  the girls to keep the off-ball movement high and communication levels even higher.

Lopez-Ona feels, “The offense should be about seven players and not about three people dominating the ball and the stat sheet. Although me, Ryan, and [McLean] lead the team in goals and assists, we have been shut down, and others have stepped up.”

The team has many contributing players and looks to feature certain girls to lead by example. However, the focus will be on the dynamic, communication, selflessness, and strong leadership.

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