With several Division I commits and returning players from last year’s Prep A state champion, the Hun boys lacrosse team wants to become a dynasty.
The Raiders’ quest to repeat began in earnest Thursday with a convincing 13-5 home win against crosstown rival Princeton Day School.
Senior attackman Devon Cowan led Hun with five goals and four ground balls. Trevor Deubner, Jake Wright and Grant Hansen tacked on two goals apiece, complementing a strong performance by goalie Gabe Craven (11 saves) and the defense.
“Having the championship last year in the back of our heads was a big thing, but that’s in the past and this is the future,” Cowan said. “We have a lot of seniors on this team, and honestly, everyone just has the utmost respect for each other and love for each other and plays like it’s their last time playing together.”
Hun asserted its will by controlling the tempo and sharing the ball for an early 3-0 lead. Five different players scored the team’s first five goals, and then Cowan netted his second goal unassisted with 2:35 left in the second quarter to extend Hun’s lead to 6-2.
Jackson Barletta had one goal. Deubner and Charlie White each had two assists. Nicholas Ramsey won 10 faceoffs.
“We’re playing more as a team this year than we ever have before,” Cowan said. “We have Charlie White who’s kicking butt. He’s one of our younger guys, but it’s good to see him on the field. We have a bunch of other young guys — defense, midfield — and we’re really playing as a team. So we’re confident and smooth and ready to keep going.”
Hun nearly doubled PDS in total shots (39-20), which is largely attributable to the Raiders’ depth and high-level talent.
Cowan (Marquette), Deubner (North Carolina), Hansen (Princeton), Craven (Navy) and defenseman Jack Ruddy (Johns Hopkins) are all set to play at major college programs.
Cowan said he chose Marquette because he respects the coaches and feels a family aspect to the team that is similar to Hun.
“I’m beyond excited, and I thank my coach and my team because every practice, every single day out here on the field they’re pushing me to be my best,” Cowan said. “It’s really special because every day we come out here, you have all these committed guys. You’re playing against some of the top players in the country, so every drill, every rep you’re competing at the highest level and it’s pushing each other and we’re always getting better.”
Meanwhile, PDS will look to regroup for another road game Saturday at Peddie.
The Panthers are the three-time defending Mercer County champions (Hun and Lawrenceville don’t participate) and remain one of the most talented teams in the area. Against Hun, versatile midfielder Coby Auslander (Christopher Newport) had two goals and an assist, while goalie Connor Green (Stevens) had 17 saves.
First-year coach Joe Moore is a West Windsor-Plainsboro North graduate and played lacrosse at Syracuse. He was an assistant last year under Rich D’Andrea, who stepped down after four seasons.
Moore has recruited intelligent assistants to help keep the program on a winning track. Nate Small, who was an assistant at national champion Michigan State last year, runs the offense. Josh Frechette left California after 11 years at the helm of a private school to run the defense.
“We have probably a five-to-one player-coach ratio,” Moore said. “It’s no mistake for us that we have a bunch of coaches on the sideline. I spent all summer kind of figuring out who I wanted alongside myself on the sidelines.
“We can either hang our heads and have a brutal year, or else we can turn this thing around starting tomorrow and we have a huge opportunity on Saturday with Peddie. We can go in there and get a big W and we’re right back to square one.”
The last four meetings between Hun and PDS are now split 2-2, with the Raiders winning each of the last two years.
“We know they’re a good team. Every year they’re super competitive,” Cowan said. “We love playing against them. They’re the team right down the road, they’re one of our rivals.”
PDS (0-1) 1 2 1 1 — 5
Hun (1-0) 4 2 5 2 — 13
Goals — Auslander 2, Caputo 2, O’Connor (PDS), Cowan 5, Deubner 2, Hansen 2, Wright 2, White, Barletta (H).
Assists — O’Connor 2, Auslander, McConaughy (PDS), Deubner 2, White 2 (H).
Shots — 20 (PDS), 39 (H).
Saves — Green 17 (PDS), Craven 11 (H).