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The Princeton High School Tigers trained with AILA in both of the Fall & Winter Integration programs, going up against teams such as Academy of New Church, CB East, La Salle, and The Haverford School. The Tigers are off to a 4-1 start, with wins over Allentown, Hightstown, West Windsor and Notre Dame-Larence, averaging just under 13 goals per game, a big bump from last years 8 gpg. Their lone loss comes at the hands of Lawrenceville but only by two goals. Ahead of the boys is their toughest part of the schedule, but Coach Chip and the team are looking forward to it.
It seems that Tigers' first-year coach Chip Castoand now assistant coach Peter Stanton wanted their squad to come out hot.
That’s exactly what the Tigers did and followed their leaders orders to perfection, racing out to an early lead and behind three goals and three assists from attackman Lopez-Ona, Princeton went on to post a dominating 11-2 victory over the Rams on at Dave McIntire Field.
After Lopez-Ona scored 1:06 into the game, he added another goal three minutes later and the Tigers didn’t stop there. They continued to pressure the Rams defense and it was Eamonn McDonald next who stepped up adding a pair of goals with Owen Smith capping off the opening quarter with a goal of his own staking Princeton to a 5-0 lead.
“Coach Casto wants us to come out hot and so does coach Stanton,” said Lopez-Ona, who finished with three goals and three assists. “He (Casto) came out before the game and told us to come out and beat up the ball. He just wanted us to come out here and do our best and that’s what we did.
“We’ve got a motion offense and we’re trying to dodge and swing it to the back side. Sometimes I’ll dodge and a midfielder will carry it like Rory (Helstrom) or Nick (Halliday) and that will give us a good rotation and that’s what gets the defense’s heads spinning. And that makes it easier for anyone on the field to dodge.”
Princeton (2-0) continued its dominance in the second quarter when Justin Marciano scored with 6:33 left, then Lopez-Ona added his third goal two minutes later and it was Smith adding his second goal with 1:10 left, giving the winners a very comfortable 8-0 bulge at the break.
“We had a rough season last year, but actually played well at the end of the season,” added the fleet-footed Lopez-Ona. “Last year started off slow and we nearly lost to Hightstown early (a 9-7 win) and stuff like that was a wake up call. This year we didn’t want to repeat the start we had last year. This year we’re coming out with more intensity and desire this season.
“Also, we did a lot of box (lacrosse) this winter and we worked with Johnny Mouradian, the Canadian National Box Lacrosse coach and it got everyone’s sticks working real well and you can see the difference in our offense and we’re trying to swing the ball a lot faster.”
It seems to be working.
Hightstown (0-2) didn’t exactly fold up its tent at the half, instead coach Mike Zapicchi’s squad came out with much more purpose and the Rams defense held the Tigers scoreless while the Rams got goals from Michael Quigg and Kieran Murphy, closing the gap to 8-2. Hightstown carried it over into the fourth quarter, but Princeton’s McDonald ended that when he scored 59 seconds into the quarter to put the game away.
“We’re proving that we’re a second half team, but we need to get something started sooner,” said Zapicchi. “Our boys played like they should play in the second half. We won the third quarter 2-0 and if we can come out and play like we did in the second half to start games I think we’ll have a good season.”
Casto was pleased with the win but hasn’t liked his team’s play thus far in third quarters.
“Our ball movement and dodges have been good and its starting to get better, then you would think the second half we’d the same way, but it didn’t,” said Casto. “We came off two scrimmages and two games, that’s four games in a row where we had a third quarter lull. It’s something that we’ve obviously got to work on.”