Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 52
 
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
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GOING GREEN: Members of the Stuart Country Day field hockey team celebrate after beating Allentown 2-1 in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. The Tartans ended up going 20-1-3, winning the Patriot Conference title and sharing the state Prep title with Lawrenceville.

Brilliant Performances, Heartbreaking Finales Characterized Princeton’s 2007 Year in Sports

Bill Alden

On the local sports scene, the year 2007 brought some brilliant individual performances and superb seasons mixed with some heartbreaking finales.

At Princeton University, athletes like swimmer Alicia Aemisgger, soccer phenom Diana Matheson, field hockey star Paige Schmidt and baseball player Sal Iacono earned special places in Tiger sporting lore.

But several teams had superb regular seasons only to see dreams of glory dashed in playoff contests. Teams in that category included men’s lacrosse, field hockey, and women’s volleyball. The undefeated national championship season enjoyed by Tiger women’s squash team stood out as a notable exception.

There were some better endings on the high school scene as the Princeton high boys’ golf team, the Hun boys’ basketball and baseball teams, the Princeton Day School boys’ tennis squad and Stuart’s lacrosse, track, and field hockey programs took state crowns.

But other programs like the Hun girls’ basketball team, the PHS boys’ soccer, girls’ tennis, and boys’ lax teams together with the Stuart tennis squad came up agonizingly short in state playoff contests.

Winter Wobbles

In his first two seasons at the helm of the Princeton University men’s hockey program, dynamic head coach Guy Gadowsky had breathed new life into the program. Featuring a freewheeling style, the Tigers had seen improvement in both the 2004-05 and the 2005-6 seasons.

But last winter, Baker Rink became the place to be as the Tigers’ rebuilding program take a major leap forward. Led by gritty seniors Darroll Powe, Grant Goeckner-Zoeller, Kevin Westgarth, Max Cousins and Daryl Marcoux, the Tigers earned home ice in the ECAC Hockey League (ECACHL) playoffs for the first time this century.

Princeton made the most of that opportunity, edging Brown 2-1 in the best-of-three opening round series, rallying in the third period to win the decisive third game 4-3. While the Tigers fell 2-0 to Dartmouth in the ECACHL quarters, they ended up with a 15-16-3 overall record, the program’s best mark since going 20-12-2 in 1998-99.

The Tiger women’s hockey team also gave the Baker Rink fans plenty to cheer about as they went 16-12-3. Coach Jeff Kampersal’s team was led by senior stalwarts Kim Pearce and Laura Watt, who both earned All-ECACHL recognition.

The women’s squash team provided a major highlight of the winter season as it produced a perfect 11-0 season and won the Howe Cup national collegiate team title. Coach Gail Ramsay’s team was led by Claire Rein-Weston and Neha Kumar with Princeton native Carly Grabowksi making a solid contribution.

That feat was nearly matched by the Princeton men’s squash team which went 10-2 and fell to powerhouse Trinity in the national team championship match. Coach Bob Callahan’s team was paced by gifted sophomore Mauricio Sanchez, who went on to finish second in the CSA individual championships.

Freshman swimming star Alicia Aemisegger made the biggest individual splash of the winter season as she earned All-American status and placed second in the 400 individual medley and the 500 freestyle races at the NCAA championship meet. With Aemisegger heading up the lineup, coach Susan Teeter’s squad cruised to the Ivy League team title, winning the program’s 17th league crown.

Led by the trio of Robert Griest, Meir Hasbani and Doug Lennox, the Princeton men’s swimming team won the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League (EISL) title for a second straight year. It was the 19th EISL crown for Princeton in the distinguished 28-year tenure of coach Rob Orr.

Things didn’t go swimmingly for the Princeton women’s basketball team as it struggled to a 13-15 campaign and fourth in the Ivy, one season after tying for the title.

Junior forward Meg Cowher, though, wrote another chapter to her superb career, leading the league with a scoring average of 17.7 points a game. The 6’0 Cowher also passed the 1,000-point mark in her career and headed into the 2007-08 season with a chance of becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer.

After the season, Princeton head coach Richard Barron headed south, taking a job as the associate head coach of the Baylor University women’s program. Replacing Barron was Courtney Banghart, a former star point guard and assistant coach at Dartmouth.

Suffering a historically bad season, the Princeton men’s hoops team also saw a coaching change. Fiery coach Joe Scott headed west to guide the University of Denver program after presiding over a nightmarish season which saw the Tigers go 11-17 overall and finish 2-12 in Ivy play. It was Princeton’s first last-place finish in the 50-year history of the league.

Princeton turned to another point guard to restore the program’s fortunes as former Tiger star guard and Georgetown assistant coach Sydney Johnson was named to replace Scott.

Spring Squeakers

It was a spring of close calls for the Princeton men’s lacrosse team. The Tigers dropped overtime thrillers to defending national champion Virginia and eventual national champion Johns Hopkins in regular season play.

The season ended for the Tigers with an overtime defeat to Georgetown in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. It was Hall of Fame coach Bill Tierney’s first ever extra session loss in NCAA play and was a bitter end for Princeton’s core of senior stars Peter Trombino, Scott Sowancik, Zach Jungers, John Bennett, and former Princeton High standout Whitney Hayes.

But with All-American goalie Alex Hewit and defenseman Dan Cocoziello back for another season, the Tigers figure to be back in the NCAA tournament hunt again in 2008.

The Princeton women’s lacrosse team was involved in some squeakers as well, losing to Maryland and Penn State in overtime and edging Georgetown in extra time. Chris Sailer’s team, though, couldn’t keep it close in the opening round of the NCAA tournament as powerful Virginia pulled away to a 19-10 win.

The Tigers ended the season at 10-7 and said goodbye to one of the its most prolific players as senior attacker Kathleen Miller finished her career with 207 points, fourth most in program history.

Led by slugger Sal Iacono, the Tiger baseball team made a late surge that saw it nearly take the Gehrig Division title. Coming into the final weekend needing to sweep two doubleheaders to win the division, Princeton won three games but lost the fourth 5-4 in extra innings and ended up finishing the season 15-24.

Iacono’s heroics highlighted the spring as the third baseman/catcher put together one of the greatest seasons in program history. Iacono won the Ivy League’s Blair Bat Award as the league’s batting champion. The Staten Island native compiled a .413 batting average, the third-highest single-season average in Princeton baseball history, and led the team in batting average, hits, doubles, and RBIs. He signed with the Houston Astros organization after graduating.

Like the baseball team, the Tiger softball team saw its division title hopes doomed by a doubleheader split with Cornell on the final weekend of the season. The Tigers ended the season 24-29 and suffered another loss later in the spring as coach Maureen Barron stepped down to relocate to Texas with husband Richard Barron.

Assistant coach Trina Salcido was promoted to replace Barron and will welcome back five All-Ivy performers in Brianna Moreno, Jamie Lettire, Kathryn Welch, Kristen Schaus and Erin Miller.

It was a transition year for Princeton’s proud crew programs. The men’s heavyweight crew finished fourth in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta while the men’s lightweights didn’t qualify for the IRA grand final but did win the petite final.

A year after going undefeated and winning the NCAA championship race, the Tiger women’s open crew placed sixth in the 2007 title race. The women’s lightweight crew provided the major highlight of the spring as they took second in the IRA championship regatta.

Sparked by some terrific individual performances, the Princeton track program enjoyed a fine spring. The Tiger men took second at the Outdoor Ivy League Heps, led by distance runner Dave Nightingale, high jumper Justin Frick, and thrower Alex Pessala.

Equalling the men’s placing, the Princeton women’s squad also took second at the Outdoor Heps. Distance runners Jolee Vanleuven, Catha Mullen, and Liz Costello each picked up wins at the meet.

At the NCAA meet, Nightingale and Mullen each placed in the Top 10 in the 5,000 meters with Nightingale taking eighth and Mullen finishing tenth.

Fall Fumbles

Coming off a magical 2006 season which saw it go 9-1 and tie Yale for the Ivy League title, the Princeton football team came back to earth this fall. Hurt by a penchant for turnovers and some key injuries, coach Roger Hughes’ team went 4-6 overall and 3-4 in Ivy play, good for a fourth-place tie in the league with Penn and Dartmouth.

Struggling mightily in the early going, the Tiger men’s soccer team looked like it was heading to a miserable fall. But after starting 0-6, coach Jim Barlow’s club found its stride as it ended up 5-10-2 and 3-4 in Ivy League. Senior midfielder Kyle McHugh sparked the team’s late run, scoring a team-high seven goals and getting named as an unanimous All-Ivy first-team selection.

While Diana Matheson was away in China playing for Canada in the 2007 Women’s World Cup, the Princeton women’s soccer team was winless. But after Matheson returned, the Tigers emerged as an Ivy title contender.

At one point, coach Julie Shackford’s squad was 8-5-1 overall and 4-1 in Ivy play. But the Tigers never won after that, finishing at 8-8-1 overall and 4-3 in Ivy play. Senior star Matheson was named as the Ivy League Player of the Year, leading the team with six goals and seven assists. Matheson finished her career with 26 goals and a program-record 26 assists.

Field hockey star Paige Schmidt also left quite a legacy, getting named as the Ivy League Player of the year for the third straight year. Led by Schmidt and other first-team All-Ivy performers Tina Bortz and Sarah Reinprecht, coach Kristen Holmes-Winn’s Tigers went 13-4 in regular season play and won the program’s 13th league title in the last 15 years.

The 18th-ranked Tigers, though, ended the fall on a down note as they fell 2-1 to Massachusetts in an NCAA tournament play-in game.

After a stunning fall that saw it rise to No. 4 in the national rankings, the Princeton women’s cross country team struggled in the NCAA championship meet as it placed 14th.

Still, coach Peter Farrell’s team had plenty of great memories from a fall that saw the team win the Ivy League Heps and the NCAA Mid-Atlantic regional meet. With sophomore stars Liz Costello and Christy Johnson leading the way, the team should be headed for more success in the future.

The Princeton men’s cross country team enjoyed success, matching the women’s team’s feat of winning the Ivy League Heps meet. Junior Michael Maag was the individual winner at the Heps meet as the Tigers became the second school in meet history to sweep the titles in consecutive seasons, joining the Dartmouth teams of 1994 and 1995.

Making the most history during the fall, though, was the Princeton University women’s volleyball team. Led by Ivy League Player of the Year Parker Henritze, the Tigers became the first volleyball team in league history to post a perfect 14-0 season.

With the Tigers’ win over Brown on November 9, coach Glenn Nelson set the all-time wins record at Princeton for any sport as he passed former softball coach Cindy Cohen, who won 559 games in her PU tenure.

The Tigers’ dream season ended in disappointment as Princeton fell 3-1 to Delaware in the opening round of the NCAA tournament to finish with a 21-4 record.

Hun School

Coming into the winter, the Hun School boys’ basketball team was looking to shed its bridesmaid role. In recent years, the Raiders had showcased Division I talent and put together some superb campaigns only to fall short in the Mid-Atlantic Prep league (MAPL) and state Prep A tournaments.

Led by senior forward Idris Hilliard, head coach Jon Stone’s club broke through in a big way, putting together a stretch drive for the ages. Hosting the MAPL tournament, Hun edged nemesis Blair 43-40 in the title game, triggering a raucous on-court post-game celebration. Days later, Hun travelled to Blair for the Prep A title game and came through again, pulling off a 63-47 double overtime win.

With St. Joseph’s-bound Hilliard providing offense and leadership, the Raiders ended the winter with a 21-8 mark. Starring along with Hilliard was flashy newcomer point guard Doug Davis, athletic forward Lance Goulbourne, and steady guard Matt Florio.

The Hun girls’ squad, though, failed to join their male counterparts in the winner’s circle as they were again foiled by powerful Peddie. Bill Holup’s team was routed by the Falcons 65-42 in the MAPL title game. Facing Peddie later in the Prep A title game, Hun produced its guttiest effort of the season, battling the Falcons to the final buzzer only to fall short 58-56.

The guttiest Raider was junior Emily Gratch who fought off a stomach illness to score 12 points in the title game and spark Hun’s late rally as it ended the season 23-5. Gratch, who will play at Lehigh in college, passed the 1,000-point mark in her Hun career last winter and figures to end up as the program’s all-time leading scorer by the end of her senior season in 2008.

The Hun boys’ hockey team, led by post-graduate star Austin Sylvester, advanced to the state Prep title game for the first time since 1996. With Sylvester unable to play in the title game due to his post-grad status, Hun struggled as it fell 5-1 to Morristown-Beard. Coach Francois Bourbeau’s team ended the winter at 12-7-3.

When Hun’s longtime baseball head coach Bill McQuade analyzed his team in the preseason, he knew it was going to have plenty of offense. If the pitching held up, McQuade thought the program was looking at a special spring.

With Hun steamrollering though its opponents as it smashed just about every single-season team offensive record, the Raiders didn’t need a lot of pitching. But with starters Mike Russo and Matt Welsh having stellar seasons and reliever Andy Baxter coming through when needed, the Raiders set the record that counts the most, winning a program-best 20 games on the way to the MAPL and Prep A titles.

Putting together a solid season, the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team reached the state Prep A final. Coach Greg Provenzano’s Raiders, though, ran into a juggernaut as they fell 15-6 to nationally-ranked Lawrenceville in the title game. Senior Colin Rosenblum and post-grad Chris Trombino led the attack for Hun which finished the season with a 14-6 record.

The Hun girls’ lacrosse team had plenty of firepower with Sarah Appelt, Bridget Stinson, Addie Godfrey, and Claire Halliday piling up goals. Coach Lauren Provenzano’s club, though, didn’t have enough defense to get past the quarterfinals in the state Prep A tourney or Mercer County Tournament (MCT) as it finished 8-5 on the season.

After stumbling in mid season, the Hun softball team won four out of five games as it reached the state Prep A semifinals. Kathy Quirk’s Raiders fell to Lawrenceville in the semis and then lost to Peddie in the season finale to fall short of the MAPL title. With seniors Alyssa Fares and Nikki Caplinger together with junior star Morgan Cawley leading the way, Hun ended the spring with a 9-5 record.

Hun football head coach Dave Dudeck had plenty of doubts coming into the fall, fearing that his team was too young and inexperienced to be a MAPL title contender. But utilizing an all-for-one and one-for-all attitude, the Raiders quickly gelled into a team to be reckoned with.

They started the season with a 33-12 win over Wyoming and never looked back, running the table with a 9-0 record and winning a second straight MAPL title. Running backs Kenny Howard and Nick Williams, quarterback Matt Miller, linebacker Brian Leffler and lineman Tyler Stockton led the way as Hun posted its first undefeated season since 1991. The Raiders outscored their foes by 309-78 over the course of the fall, surrendering only 16 points in the first half all season.

The Hun boys’ soccer team produced some of the sharpest soccer seen in the area this fall. Unfortunately for coach Chris Kingston’s team, Hun game up just short in the MCT semis against Princeton High and in the state Prep A title game against perennial champion St. Benedict’s. Paced by senior stars Dave Putman, Matt Florio, and Steven Giannacio, Hun did tie for the MAPL crown as it finished the season with a 14-6 record.

Featuring a young lineup, the Hun girls’ soccer team went through some ups and downs. Coach Ken Stevenson credited seniors Mary DiPastina and Melissa Marino with holding things together as the Raiders went 6-9-1.

The Hun field hockey team also had a lineup stocked with inexperienced players and struggled to a 3-7-1 start. But Kathy Quirk’s team righted the ship, going 6-4 in its last 10 games as it reached the state Prep quarterfinals.

Coach Joan Nuse’s girls’ tennis team was hurt by injuries throughout the fall and posted an uncharacteristically pedestrian 5-7-1 record. But Hun did have its full lineup together for two days in September and made the most of it as the program won its seventh straight MCT team title.

Princeton Day School

With new coaches Scott Bertoli and Jackson Hegland taking over for the highly successful Chris Barcless, the PDS boys’ hockey team went through a transition year. The Panthers fell in the state Prep semifinals after winning eight of the last nine titles.

PDS did end the season on a high note as Clint O’Brien and Derek Mayer led the team to a win over New Hampton in the championship game of the 37th annual PDS Invitational. The Panthers finished the season with a 12-8-3 record.

Over the summer, Bertoli, a former Princeton University and Trenton Titan standout, retired from playing to be the PDS assistant athletic director and hockey head coach so more wins appear on the horizon.

Struggling with a lack of depth, the PDS girls’ hockey squad went 8-14, getting eliminated in the state Prep semis and falling in the title game of the PDS Invitational. Coach John Cook stepped down after the season to be replaced by co-coaches Kat Smithson and Gretchen Jaeckel.

Matt Levinson took the helm of the PDS boys’ basketball program and couldn’t reverse the fortunes of a program that had seen three coaches in three seasons. PDS went 3-16 to post its third straight losing campaign.

After the season, Levinson stepped down and was replaced by former PDS standout and assistant coach Paris McLean.

The PDS girls’ hoops team also saw a coaching change after putting together a disappointing 6-15 mark. Sue Repko resigned to spend more time with her family and was replaced by assistant Jessica Katz.

The spring season saw the PDS girls’ lacrosse team capture the lion’s share of the headlines. Led by senior standouts Keely Langdon and the Crouse twins, Allie and Nina, Coach Jill Thomas’ high-flying unit took a 15-0 record into the state Prep A title game against Oak Knoll. The Panthers, though, suffered defeat for the first time as they lost 16-9 to the three-time Prep A titlelists.

Days later, PDS suffered its second defeat of the season as it dropped a 5-4 nailbiter to Hopewell Valley on the MCT title game. While the last week of the season left a bitter taste, PDS’ players should have plenty of good memories when the look back on a spring that saw them go 17-2 and win the Bedesem Division and Patriot Conference titles.

Rob Tuckman moved up the head coaching post for the PDS boys’ lax program and the team made progress under his guidance. The Panthers went 5-10 and advanced to the state Prep B semifinals.

Led by a productive batting order, the PDS baseball team turned heads as it got off to a 9-3 start. The Panthers fizzled a bit down the stretch, falling to Hun in the MCT quarterfinals and to Montclair Kimberley in state Prep B quarters. Still, coach Bruce Devlin’s squad ended with a 10-5 record and with several juniors returning, the team is looking forward to a strong 2008.

Junior tennis star David Holland solidified his position as one of the greatest players in program history. The hard-hitting lefty posted a 21-0 mark, his second straight undefeated campaign. Along the way, the Duke-bound Holland won both the MCT and Prep B first singles crowns. With Holland at the top of his lineup, coach Rome Campbell’s squad won its third straight Prep B team title.

With a core of senior playmakers in Clint O’Brien, Mike Shimkin, and Andrew Ojeda, PDS football coach Bruce Devlin was confident that his program could rebound from the disappointing 1-6 record it posted in 2006.

Devlin’s confidence was justified as PDS went 6-3 with Shimkin ending his career as the school’s all-time leading rusher and O’Brien putting together a superb season at quarterback which saw him run and throw for over 100 yards in several games.

Girls’ tennis coach Patty Headley was also confident coming into the fall as she welcomed freshman phenom Samantha Lieb. The gifted newcomer, ranked in the top 40 in the U.S. in her age group, lived up to her advance notice. She breezed to MCT first singles title without losing a set and helped PDS go 11-4 as it won the Patriot Conference crown.

Senior Antoine Hoppenot led the way for the PDS boys’ soccer team as his offensive brilliance was a constant for the Panthers and earned him recognition as as first-team All-Prep performer. Coach Malcolm Murphy’s team finished the fall with a 7-9 record.

The PDS girls’ soccer team welcomed six freshmen and a new coach in Pat Trombetta and didn’t miss a beat. With freshman goalie Jess Frieder coming up big game after game and veterans Alexa Maher, Cammie Linville and Erin Cook providing skill and leadership, the Panthers went 10-8-1 and advanced to the state Prep A semifinals.

Field hockey coach Jill Thomas also presided over a youth movement as her squad dealt with the loss to graduation of Katie Briody and the Crouse twins, Allie and Nina. The Panthers struggled in the early going as they got off to a 0-5 start.

But with freshman Sydney Jenkins providing offensive production and a trio of seniors Erin Burns, Lindsey Mischner, and Katherine Levinton showing leadership, PDS went 9-4-1 over its last 14 games to finish 9-9-1.

Princeton High

With swimming superstar Nina Rossi having graduated and gone on to compete for the University of Maryland, the PHS girls’ swimming team looked to be headed for a transition year. But led by the quartet of Kathleen Morrison, Jordan Shapiro, Victoria Cassidy, and Kristiana Kalibat, coach Greg Hand’s squad didn’t miss a beat.

The Tigers advanced to the Public B state championship meet for the third time in four years. While PHS fell to Haddonfield in the final, the team’s 15-2 season and the way it utilized its depth won’t be soon forgotten.

Lacking depth, the PHS boys’ team saw its string of seven straight Central Jersey sectional titles come to an end as it fell to Moorestown in the sectional semis. Sophomore Sean MacKenzie provided a major highlight of the season as he was named the boys’ Most Valuable Swimmer at the county meet after winning the 200-meter individual medley, the 500 freestyle, and producing a blazing anchor leg to help PHS to a win and the meet record in the 400 free relay.

A core of senior stars including John Ryan, Peter Teifer, Shane Leuck, and Christian McCracken led the PHS boys’ hockey team to a superb season. The Little tigers went 14-9-3 and advanced to the MCT title game and the Sweet 16 in the Public state tournament.

Ryan ended his career as the program’s all-time leading scorer. Unfortunately, in addition to saying goodbye to its stellar seniors, the program also bid adieu to longtime head coach Paul Merrow. Assistant Tim Campbell was tabbed to follow Merrow, whose distinguished 12-year tenure was highlighted by guiding the Little Tigers to the 2005 county title.

With an infusion of freshman talent in Chelsea Corell, Olivia Ray, Haley Thompson, Gabby Vukasin, and Fiona Mahon, the PHS girls’ hockey team enjoyed one of its finest seasons ever. The Little Tigers went 16-6, winning the PDS Invitational and taking second in the Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic (WIHLMA) tournament.

Like the boys’ team, though, the team lost it coach as longtime mentor Matt Becan stepped down. Jeff Schneider was chosen to replace Becan and will be relying on those freshmen to continue their development.

Struggling to find consistency, the PHS boys’ basketball team ended the winter at 6-15. Head coach Dave Kosa left the program and was replaced by 1996 PHS grad Jason Carter, who figures to give the team a jolt with his intense approach.

Led by senior star Kelly Curtis, the PHS girls’ basketball team made progress down the stretch of the season as it rebounded from a 0-13 start to go 5-18. Head coach Nikki Inzano left along with Curtis and was replaced by Steffanie Shoop, the former head coach at South River.

Coming into the spring, the PHS boys’ golf team looked like it could be in for a rough time as it dealt with heavy graduation losses. But while coach Sheryl Severance’s team had less depth, it may have had more quality.

Led by senior star Peter Teifer, the Little Tigers spent part of the spring ranked as the top team in the state. PHS ended up winning the Group III title at the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions state golf tournament, earning the school’s first state title since the boys’ soccer team won a crown in 2002.

Paced by a senior class featuring PU-bound Tyler Moni, Casey Rahn, Jesse Mostoller, Adam Jeevaratnam, Mike Lynch, Chad Pinto, and Jake Irving, the PHS boys’ lacrosse team had another strong season. Coach Peter Stanton guided his squad to a 10-6 record and a spot in the state Group II semifinals.

A corps of stellar seniors also paced the PHS girls’ lax squad as it had a superb campaign. Battle-tested veterans Elizabeth Haughton, Erin Hoerner, Jesse Mena, Margaret Rew, two-time team captain Rebecca Schild, Rachel Sverdlove, co-captain Sarah Wright, Allegra Formento, and Isabella Formento helped PHS go 10-6 and advance to a second straight state tournament appearance.

Overcoming a shaky 3-3 start, the PHS boys’ tennis team proved to be a factor in state tournament play. Coach Sarah Heyman’s team advanced to the state Group III finals where it lost to top-seeded Moorestown. With stars like Matt Ullmann, David Zheng, and Ari Silver returning, PHS looks to be strong again in 2008.

Despite a solid core of seniors, the PHS baseball team staggered to a 4-19-1 record under new coach Scott Goldsmith.

The Little Tiger softball team had a tough time as well, going 2-20 as coach Craig Haywood’s group of young players took its lumps in gaining experience for the future.

The PHS girls’ track team had a superb spring, placing second in the Central Jersey Group III sectional meet and 13th in the state Group III meet. Coach James Smirks’ team was paced by Libby Bliss, Kelly Curtis, and Megan Wiseman, who each qualified for the NJSIAA Meet of Champions.

High jumper Michael Grier was a key performer for the PHS boys’ track team and coach John Woodside. The Little Tigers placed 14th at the Central Jersey Group III championship meet.

Featuring a battle-tested group of skilled veterans, the PHS boys’ soccer team emerged as one of the classiest sides in the area. Coach Wayne Sutcliffe’s team went 13-0 in regular season play and then won the MCT title, knocking off Hun in the semifinals and Steinert in the title game.

Bringing the top seed into the Central Jersey Group III tournament, PHS looked to get back to the state Final Four for the second straight season. But things ended in bitter disappointment as PHS had its one bad afternoon of the season when eighth-seeded Neptune came to Harris Field and knocked off the Little Tigers 3-0 in the sectional quarterfinals.

In the wake of that loss, Sutcliffe lauded the contributions he got from his senior group of Pablo Espichan, Diego Reinero, Pete McInerney, Ari Silver, and Kyle DeBlois in helping the team go 17-1.

Led by singles stars Priya Joshi and Alex Willig and getting a big lift from the dominant first doubles pair of Kasey Reisman and Allegra Bianchini, the PHS girls’ tennis team posted a superb fall. Like the boys’ soccer team, coach Sarah Heyman’s team only tasted defeat once, losing a 3-2 nailbiter to Wall Township in the Central Jersey Group III sectional finals.

With bruising senior star Doug Borchert leading the way from running back and linebacker, the PHS football team qualified for the state playoffs for the first time since 1993. Borchert gained more than 1,200 yards rushing to lead the CVC and help PHS go 5-5.

While coach Steve Everette’s team fell 38-3 to Long Branch in the Central Jersey Group III quarterfinals, the experience should aid the program as it looks to continue its progress.

Led by a pair of Hannahs- Hannah Deming and Hannah Davis- the PHS girls’ soccer team made progress as well. Coach Greg Hand’s Little Tigers finished 10-5-1, falling 1-0 to second-seeded Freehold Boro in the Group III Central Jersey sectional quarterfinals.

Senior field hockey star May-Ying Medalia returned from injury and established herself as one of the top players in the area. Coach Joyce Jones’ squad struggled, however, winning just twice over the course of the season.

Working some younger runners into its lineup, the PHS girls’ cross country team had a late surge which saw them finish third in the Group III Central Jersey sectional meet and 16th in the state Group III meet. With such stars as Mina Juhn and Molly Lynch returning, the future looks bright for coach James Smirk’s program.

The PHS boys’ cross country team’s season was highlighted by a fifth place finish at the county meet. Coach John Woodside’s team has a good foundation in place with such young standouts as Henry Feder and Julius Gertz.

Stuart Country Day School

The Stuart basketball team was energized by the addition of dynamic freshman guard Diamond Lewis. With Lewis averaging 16.1 points a game, coach Tony Bowman’s squad went 11-12 and advanced to the state Prep B semifinals.

The spring season saw Stuart’s lacrosse and track teams continue state Prep B title streaks.

Coach Sara Wagner’s lacrosse team overcame the loss of star Kelly Bruvik to an early-season injury and caught fire down the stretch. With junior star Caroline Passano and Elizabeth Bucklee providing offensive production, Stuart breezed past Ranney 11-1 in the Prep B semis and routed Rutgers Prep 13-2 in the title game.

It was the third straight Prep B crown for the Tartans who finished the spring with a 7-8 record.

With junior sprinter Carys Johnson leading the way, the Stuart track team won its sixth straight Prep B championship meet. Johnson won the 100 meters (12.3), the 400 (1:01.00), and helped the 4 x 400 relay to victory in the meet. Britanny Kidd won the 400 hurdles while Sarah Goodwin won the discus and Taj Pannell won the shot put to help coach Robert Abdullah’s team to the title.

There were some questions surrounding Stuart’s proud field hockey program as former Duke star Katie Grant took over as head coach for longtime coach Missy Bruvik, who stayed on to work with the team as an assistant.

With Grant tweaking the Tartan offensive scheme, the team struggled a bit in the early going. But after a win over archrival Lawrenceveille, Stuart caught fire and became dominant once again.

Led by the skilled and clutch Jackie Gaudioso-Radvany, Stuart edged Allentown 2-1 in the MCT championship game to win its third straight title. A week later, junior star Gaudioso-Radvany scored both goals as Stuart tied Lawrenceville 2-2 in double overtime to share the state Prep title.

The Tartans set a school record for wins, finishing the season at 20-1-3 and earning the Patriot Conference crown in addition to the county and prep titles.

Coach DeDe Webster’s tennis team failed in its bid to win to win a third state Prep B title in four years as it was edged by Gill St. Bernard’s. The Tartans had finalists in four of the five flights but could only manage a win in one of those four finals as the first doubles team of Kai Boulware and Nithya Mathews posted a straight-set win. Stuart won the title in 2004 and 2005 and finished third last year.

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