Managing adversity and fighting hard throughout the spring, PHS Girls’ Lax produced another winning campaign

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE: Princeton High women’s lacrosse player Grace Rebak, left, walks past two enemies in action this spring. Senior star Rebak’s all-around game was a spark for PHS as they went 12-6. Rebak led the Tigers in assists (38), ground balls (63) and draft checks (69). (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although the Princeton High women’s lacrosse team ended the spring on a negative note with an 11-4 loss to Scotch Plains-Fanwood in the first round of the North Jersey Group 3 section, there was plenty of highlights along the way as the program was still producing a superb campaign.

Katie Federico, who guided the team into 2022 with head coach Meg Dunleavy on maternity leave, credited her players for fighting to the end.

“I told the girls, success is what you make of it,” said Federico, a veteran assistant coach with the program who led the Tigers to a 12-6 record and the County Tournament semifinals. Mercer.

“For me success is not wins or losses, it’s did you play your best, did you give 110% on the pitch and they did. For me it was a season successful.

In Federico’s view, one of the team’s most intense efforts was a 10-9 loss to Lawrenceville Central on April 6.

“The fire they had in them for Lawrenceville was unlike anything I had ever seen before,” Federico said.

“The pride the girls felt when they walked off the field that day only to lose by one was unbelievable.”

Fueled by this competitive fire, PHS recorded a number of impressive victories.

“We had a lot of really good positives during the season,” Federico said. “There was the regular season win over Allentown (recovering from a 9-5 deficit to win 10-9 in overtime on April 27). We did a great job against Notre Dame (9-6 win on April 13) which is always a tough team. We beat the PDS twice (14-13 on April 29, 13-7 on May 9 in the MCT quarter-finals). We went 8-0 in the CVC, we won our division in the CVC. We have had great success. »

That success was even more impressive, given the string of injuries that plagued the Tigers.

“They stuck with us given the adversity of the injuries we’ve had throughout the season,” said Federico, who lost second Sarah Henderson before the season even started to a back injury. leg.

“Sylvie LeBouef fell with a knee injury. Avery Gallagher was out with a dislocated knee. Grace Rebak played with a badly sprained ankle for much of the season. Kate Becker had a tight muscle. Every girl took a step
and found a way to
make it work.”

The team’s senior group held firm despite this adversity.

“They are such a special girl group; you rarely see a band that’s been playing together for that long – since elementary school, which is just so wonderful,” said Federico of the team’s class of 2022, which included Jane Biggs, Sarah Glenn, Cartee O’Brien , Gigi Peloso and Sarah White in addition to Becker and Rebak.

“Yet they still grew so much over the four years, especially since they lost an entire season to COVID. They came in as young freshmen and suddenly the year last they all grew up as juniors and are ready to take it to the field.They were great leaders and role models for the rest of the girls on the team, constantly helping them, encouraging them, picking them up what they needed. “they needed to be picked up. They’re just a very mature and great group of girls who I will definitely miss next year.

Star forward Becker, who is heading to Amherst College and will play for its women’s lax program, led the team in points (94) and goals (74) and brought a strong sense of laxity to the field .

“I have never met anyone who has such a vision on the pitch; his lax IQ is amazing,” Federico said. “I joked at our banquet because I said I waited for that 8:30 text every night. She would analyze how practice or the game was going, think about it and say that’s when I think we should go next. Her teammates appreciate that about her and she does it for her teammates. She’s awesome.”

Rebak, who will play both field hockey and lacrosse at Williams College, sparked PHS with his relentless play.

“She plays with such poise and never gets shaken, I remember that from field hockey,” said Federico de Rebak, who led PHS in assists (38), ground balls (63) and draft controls (69). “She’s so tough. The bruises on her arms were crazy. She’s a very selfless player with all the assists she got. She went from defense to midfield. She was huge for us. She never wanted to stop even when she could barely walk.

Star goaltender Peloso, hired from Colby College, spearheaded his Tiger defense.

“Gigi is fiery in front of goal and yet the quietest and calmest person off the pitch,” said Federico de Peloso, who has made 116 saves this season. “Her teammates listen to her and she just offered those saves when you needed them. I will miss her hitting the stick handle on the cage and jumping up and down.

Federico will also miss the versatility and leadership of Glenn (7 goals, 15 balls on the ground this season), who will play at the University of Chicago next year.

“Sarah plays with a tenacity and energy that is there all the time wherever she is on the pitch,” Federico said. “She plays a great defense and stops the attack when they come. Having that leadership on defense has been huge this year. She had this great voice and also showed some of the underclass who didn’t have that much experience how to do certain things. This will have an impact next year.

The trio of O’Brien (9 goals, 8 assists), White and Biggs also made key contributions.

“You couldn’t have written it more beautifully when Cartee came in to take that 8-yarder against Allentown; she couldn’t even walk because of an injury and she scored the goal to put
in overtime,” Federico recalled.

“Sarah White and Jane stepped up when Sarah Glenn was away. They led the defense when it couldn’t play games. They are those quiet girls but absolutely essential parts of the defense.

PHS has returning players who will play critical roles next season in second Riley Devlin (54 goals, 13 assists this season), second Henderson, second Phoebe Steiger (14 goals, 4 assists), second LeBouef (3 goals, 4 assists), second Joci Lee, junior Reece Gallagher (5 goals) and junior Annie Terry (4 goals, 2 assists).

“Riley isn’t usually a midfielder, but with Sarah Henderson out this year, she was able to come into her own,” Federico said. “Having Sarah will help, she’s a southpaw with speed. It will be good to have her back. Phoebe has really stepped up this year. She had injuries and still had some great games and saw the ball well. Sylvie is excellent for assists when she is well. Sylvie and Phoebe have been playing together since elementary school. Joci has really stepped up her defense.

While Federico will be happy to return to his role as assistant coach when Dunleavy returns to the sidelines next year, she has enjoyed her season at the helm of the program.

“It was fun because they’re such a great girl group,” Federico said. “It helped me to have a relationship with them as an assistant. Meg and I are really a team when we train together. The transition was not that difficult for the girls. I learned from that more about the game as a head coach, so that will definitely help me to approach next season.