Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 52
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
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PERFECT STORM: Members of the Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity boat pull through a training session this spring on Lake Carnegie. The Tigers produced one of the best seasons in the history of college rowing in 2009, going undefeated and winning the Eastern Sprints, Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national title, and Temple Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta in England.

Surprise Was the Theme for Local Sports in 2009 as Teams Exceeded Expectations, Underwent Change

Bill Alden

The theme of the year 2009 on the local sports scene was surprise.

Over at Princeton University, the Tiger men’s lightweight crew team startled the rowing world as it produced one of the great seasons in the history of its sport. Princeton went undefeated and won the Eastern Sprints, Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national title, and Temple Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta in England.

Another pleasant surprise was the Princeton University men’s soccer team, which overcame a mid-season slump to advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001. The Tiger field hockey team also achieved a breakthrough, making the NCAA Final Four for the first time in eight years.

The Princeton men’s water polo team turned heads as it qualified for the NCAA Final Four, motivated by the fact that it was hosting the event at DeNunzio Poll. The Tigers gave their home fans plenty to cheer about as they finished third.

Surprise, though, also took the form of coaching changes. The biggest shocker came when Hall of Fame men’s lacrosse head coach Bill Tierney left Princeton after 22 years and six national titles to become the head coach at the University of Denver.

Tiger men’s heavyweight crew head coach Curtis Jordan also startled many when he retired after 19 years at the helm of the program. Longtime men’s and women’s volleyball head coach Glenn Nelson stepped down after nearly 30 years and more than 1,100 victories. Change was also in the air for Tiger football as head coach Roger Hughes was dismissed after a decade guiding the Tigers.

On the high school scene, surprise centered on teams that exceeded expectations.

In the winter, a freshman-laden Princeton High boys’ swimming team developed faster than anticipated as it won a sectional title. After struggling for most of the season, the Hun School boys’ basketball team righted the ship in time to win the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title. The Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team overcame a slow start to advance to the state Prep and Mercer County Tournament games.

In the spring season, a seasoned group of seniors led the way as the Hun boy’s lacrosse team produced one of the best seasons in program history. The Raiders went 14-1 and won the Bianchi-Curcio Division crown.

Area soccer teams generated some of the more compelling stories of the fall season. The Hun School girls’ soccer team rode a strong senior class and solid work ethic to an 11-4-1 record and the program’s first-ever MAPL title. Displaying some of the prettiest soccer in the area, the PHS girls’ team went 15-4 and advanced to the semis in both the MCT and Central Jersey Group III sectionals.

One squad stood above the rest, though, and that was the PHS boys’ soccer team. While its offense sputtered at times, the Little Tiger defense proved impenetrable as PHS went 21-0-4, winning its third straight MCT and taking the Group III state championship. It was was the program’s first state crown since 1995.

Winter Whizzes

Building on the good karma generated by winning the 2008 ECAC Hockey (ECACH) crown, the Princeton University men’s hockey team climbed its way into the elite of the college game.

After topping nationally ranked Nebraska-Omaha and Minnesota State in late December, head coach Guy Gadowsky’s club started 2009 ranked No. 8 in the country.

Led by All-American junior goalie Zane Kalemba, the Tigers weathered a February slump to end the regular season with a 20-9 record.

The Tigers took a big step toward defending their ECACH crown by outlasting Union 2-1 in their best-of-three quarterfinal series to the delight of the fans at Baker Rink.

This year, though, things didn’t go so well at the ECACH Final Four in Albany as Princeton squandered a late 3-1 lead over Cornell in the semifinals to fall 4-3 to the Big Red in double overtime. Princeton tied St. Lawrence in the consolation game to earn its second straight NCAA tournament bid.

Experiencing a disappointing case of déjà vu in the NCAA opening round against Minnesota-Duluth, the Tigers led 4-2 with a minute left in regulation only to lose 5-4 in overtime. Senior star Brett Wilson scored two goals in the loss to end his career with 107 points.

Despite the heartbreak suffered over the last two weekends of the season, it was still a landmark campaign for Princeton as it set a single-season record for wins with its final mark of 22-12-1.

The Princeton women’s hockey team also played its way into the Top Ten, putting together an 11-1-1 mark in its last 13 games to rise to No. 9 nationally.

Like the men’s team, head coach Jeff Kampersal’s team ended the winter on a down note as it fell 2-0 to Renssalaer in a best-of-three ECACH quarterfinal series. Despite some excellent play by senior goalie Kristen Young, the Tigers fell 2-1 in double overtime and 1-0 to see their superb season come to an end with an 18-11-2 record.

The team’s achievements were recognized as sophomore defenseman Sasha Sherry became the first player in program history to earn All-American honors, getting named to the second-team. Sherry and fellow defenseman Katherine Dineen were first-team All-ECACH selections while Kampersal was named as the league’s Coach of the Year.

Over at Jadwin Gym, Princeton women’s basketball head coach Courtney Banghart did a fine job as she led the Tigers to a dramatic turnaround.

Coming off a 7-23 season in her debut year, Banghart deployed a core of young stars to help Princeton improve to 14-14 overall and 9-5 in Ivy League play.

Sophomore guard Addie Micir was chosen as second-team All-Ivy selection and freshmen Lauren Edwards and Devona Allgood were named to the league’s All-Rookie team.

Rebounding from a 2-8 start, the Princeton men’s hoops team produced its own reversal of fortune. Catching fire in Ivy play, head coach Sydney Johnson’s team ended the season at 13-14 and 8-6 in league play, good for a tie for second with Yale in the league standings.

Freshman guard Douglas Davis, a former Hun School standout, and junior Pawel Buczak garnered All-Ivy honorable mention.

The Tiger men’s track team took second in the Ivy League Heptagonal indoor championship meet. Coach Fred Samara’s squad was led freshman David Slovenski and senior Duane Hynes who were both named the Men’s Most Outstanding Performers. Slovenski won the pole vault in a meet record 17’3.5” which matched a 27-year old conference all-time best, set in 1972. Hynes won the heptathlon for the second straight season.

Led by its distance stars Liz Costello, Ashley Higginson, Sarah Cummings, and Jolee VanLeuven, the Tiger women’s track team also paced second in the Indoor Heps. Coach Peter Farrell’s squad saw Cummings take first in the 5,000 and second in the 3,000 while Costello placed second in the mile.

With senior star Doug Lennox leading the way, the men’s swimming team cruised to victory in the Ivy League Championships. Lennox, a 2008 Puerto Rico Olympian, won four individual titles in the meet as head coach Doug Orr’s squad took its third league crown in the last four years.

As for Tiger women, Alicia Aemisegger and Katie Giarra dominated the Ivy championship meet but it wasn’t enough as Princeton finished second to Harvard. Junior All-American Aemisegger won three events in getting named as the Swimmer of the Meet for the third time while senior Giarra was chosen as the Diver of the Meet. Coach Susan Teeter’s team went on to finish 18th in the NCAA Championship Meet as Aemisegger took fourth in the 400 individual medley and third in the 1,650 freestyle.

Led by third-year head coach Chris Ayres, the Princeton wrestling team made a breakthrough, topping Franklin and Marshall 25-14 early in the season for its first EIWA victory since 2005.

An era came to an end for men’s volleyball as head coach Glenn Nelson retired after leading the men’s and women’s programs since 1982. Nelson guided the men’s team to an 11-12 record in his final season to give him 531 wins in his tenure with the men’s team. Nelson piled up 580 victories as the women’s coach, giving him a total of 1,110 wins, by far the most of any coach in Princeton history.

The Tiger men’s squash nearly made history as it battled perennial power Trinity tooth-and-nail in the national championship match. Coach Bob Callahan’s valiant squad fell 5-4 to the 11-time national champions.

While the loss stung, Princeton had plenty to be proud of as its trio of senior stars, Mauricio Sanchez, Kimlee Wong, and Hesham El Halaby, led the team to a fourth straight Ivy crown.

Led by a trio of junior stars, the Tiger women’s squash team made history as it posted an undefeated season and won its third straight Howe Cup national title. Juniors Amanda Siebert, Neha Kumar, and Emery Maine earned critical wins as coach Gail Ramsay’s team edged Harvard 5-4 in the national championship match.

Spring Surprises

Boasting a group of battle-tested seniors who had fallen just short in the Eastern Sprints and IRA national championship regatta, the Princeton men’s lightweight crew was determined to make it a spring to remember.

Head coach Greg Hughes’ top varsity boat threw down the gauntlet in regular season regattas, cruising past the competition on the way to an undefeated record and the No. 1 ranking in the national polls.

Making amends for past disappointment, the Tigers achieved their title double in rousing fashion. Princeton won the Eastern Sprints by topping Harvard by more than 2.5 seconds and then went on to take the IRA as it beat runner-up Yale by nearly five seconds.

Princeton, though, didn’t restrict its dominance to the U.S. as it went across the Atlantic to England and won the Temple Challenge Cup at the famed Henley Royal Regatta. As a result, the senior group of Justin Teti, Tom Paulett, James Donovan, Dave Krueger, and cox Dave Cleveland not only put past disappointment in the rear view mirror, it helped produce one of the greatest seasons in the annals of lightweight rowing.

There was no trip to England for the Tigers men’s heavyweight crew as it struggled through a disappointing spring that saw it fail to make the grand final in both the Eastern Sprints and the IRA.

The program suffered an even greater loss after the season as head coach Curtis Jordan retired after 19 years at the helm. During his distinguished tenure, Jordan won 131 of 174 races (.753) and led the Tigers to five Easter Sprints crowns and two national titles. Hughes was named to replace Jordan while heavyweight assistant coach Marty Crotty took over the lightweight program.

Led by senior co-captain and stroke Madeline Davis, the Princeton women’s lightweight crew enjoyed a fine spring. Coach Paul Rassam’s top boat placed second at the Eastern Sprints and sixth in the IRAs.

Dealing with injuries and working some younger rowers into the lineup, the Tiger women’s open rowers made good strides as the spring went on. Head coach Lori Dauphiny’s top boat took third at the Eastern Sprints and placed sixth in the NCAA championship grand final.

Featuring a core of pro prospects in Jack Murphy, David Hale, Brad Gemberling, and Dan DeGeorge, the Princeton baseball team seemed poised for a big season. Coach Scott Bradley’s club, though, couldn’t get in a groove as it went 18-19, falling to Cornell in a playoff game for the Gehrig Division title.

Coming off a brilliant 2008 Ivy League title-winning campaign, the Princeton softball team brought high expectations into the spring. Struggling all spring, head coach Trina Salcido’s didn’t produce an encore as it went 14-22 overall and 8-12 in Ivy action.

Two senior stars, distance runner Michael Maag and thrower Alex Pessala, ended their careers in style for the Tiger men’s team. Maag ended up 10th in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Championship meet while Pessla placed 20th in the hammer throw at the meet. The senior pair also played a big role in helping coach Fred Samara’s squad finish second in the Ivy League Heptagonal outdoor track championship meet.

Distance runners Liz Costello, Sarah Cummings, and Ashley Higginson together with sprinter Agatha Offorjebe stood out as the Tiger women’s track team won the Outdoor Heps crown. It was the first Heps title for coach Peter Farrell’s program since 1998.

After knocking on the door for the last few years, the Princeton University women’s tennis team broke through with an Ivy crown, the program’s first league title since 2000. Freshmen Lauren McHale and Hilary Bartlett earned first-team All-Ivy recognition as the team posted a final mark of 18-8.

The tennis team did suffer a setback as head coach Kathy Sell decided to step down after the season in order to move to North Carolina. Former Duke standout Sell was replaced by ex-Miami star Megan Bradley.

Senior golfer Susannah Aboff stepped up in her final campaign, winning her second straight Ivy individual crown. In so doing, Aboff became the third Tiger to win multiple league titles after Julia Allison (1999, 2001) and Avery Kiser (2002, 2003, 2004). Aboff’s heroics helped coach Amy Bond’s club finish third at the league championships.

Holly McGarvie produced a memorable senior campaign for the Princeton women’s lacrosse team, getting named as the Ivy Co-Player of the Year as she scored a team-high 57 points to end with 162 in her career. McGarvie and her eight classmates on the team helped the Tigers advance to the NCAA quarterfinals.

Head coach Chris Sailer’s team ended the season at 14-4 as it placed second in the Ivy standings and made its 12th straight appearance in the NCAA tourney. In July, McGarvie and Tiger assistant coach Michele DeJuliis brought glory to the program as they helped the US Women’s Lacrosse team defeat Australia 8-7 to win the 2009 FIL Women’s Lacrosse World Cup.

The Tiger men’s lacrosse team looked like it was going to be in the hunt for a national championship, rising to No. 1 in the national rankings by mid-April after wins over Johns Hopkins and Syracuse. Head coach Bill Tierney’s team, though, found Cornell to be its nemesis, losing to the Big Red in the regular season to end up tied for the Ivy title and then falling to its rivals from Ithaca in the NCAA quarters.

Senior Mark Kovler, sophomore Jack McBride, and freshman Chad Wiedmaier were all named first-team All-Ivy performers as Princeton finished the season with a 13-3 record.

Weeks after the end of the campaign, Tierney stunned the lacrosse world as he stepped down from Princeton to become the head coach at the University of Denver. In his 22 seasons guiding the Tigers, Hall of Famer Tierney went 238-86, coaching Princeton to six NCAA titles, eight NCAA finals, 10 NCAA Final Fours, and 16 quarterfinal appearances.

Fall Flights

Displaying pluck and a knack for winning close games, the Princeton men’s soccer team turned heads early this fall when it got out to a 4-0 start. Head coach Jim Barlow’s squad then seemingly lost the magic as they went 0-5-1 in its next six games to fall below .500.

But led by senior captain Devin Muntz and sophomore forward Antoine Hoppenot, a former Princeton Day School star, the Tigers righted the ship by going 5-0-2 down the stretch.

In the wake of its late surge, Princeton finished third in the Ivy standings and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, its first trip to the national tourney since 2001. It also gave Barlow the 100th win of his Princeton tenure when it beat Penn 3-1 in early

Although the Tigers fell 1-0 to Bucknell in the opening round of the NCAAs to finish 9-6-3, the program clearly took a big step forward this fall.

Featuring a line-up stacked with freshmen and sophomores, the Princeton University women’s soccer team experienced some growing pains as it started 1-4-1. Head coach Julie Shackford’s team, though, made progress as the season went on, ending the fall at 7-7-3.

It was the 13th straight non-losing season for Shackford, who earned the 200th win of her college career when Princeton edged Brown 1-0 in early October.

Jolie Ward replaced the legendary Glenn Nelson as the head coach of the Princeton women’s volleyball team and hit some bumps in the road in the early going. The Tigers lost nine of their first 10 matches but showed some progress down the stretch as they finished 11-15 overall and 9-5 in Ivy play.

Led by Brian Leung, a former WW/P-S star, the Princeton men’s cross country team produced another strong campaign. Head coach Steve Dolan’s team nearly won its fourth straight Ivy League Heps title but finished second to Columbia by a point.

The Tiger women’s runners, meanwhile, had no problem winning their fourth straight Heps crown. Making history, Princeton became the first team to go 1-2-3-4-5 at the meet. Senior star Liz Costello led the parade for the Tigers, winning her third straight individual Heps crown. Sophomore Alex Banfich followed, along with junior Sarah Cummings, junior Ashley Higginson and senior Reilly Kiernan.

Head coach Peter Farrell’s team went on to place second at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic regionals and culminated their superb campaign with a second straight fifth place finish at the NCAA championship meet.

Like the Princeton women’s cross country team, the Tiger field hockey team stood head and shoulders above its Ivy competition. Led by sophomores Katie Reinprecht and Kathleen Sharkey and precocious freshmen Julia Reinprecht and Michelle Cesan, Princeton went 7-0 in league play, outscoring Ivy foes by 46-5. It was the program’s 14th league title in the last 15 seasons.

Head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn’s club kept rolling in the post-season, topping Syracuse 7-3 in the NCAA quarterfinals to earn Princeton’s first trip to the Final Four since 2001. The Tigers dropped a 7-5 thriller to Maryland in the national semis to end the season with a glittering 16-3 record.

For the Princeton men’s water polo team, the goal of reaching the NCAA Final Four had a special meaning as the program was hosting the event for the first time. Midway through the fall, it appeared that head coach Luis Nicolao’s squad was destined to be on the outside looking in at its own party, starting the season at 8-9.

But led by such battle-tested veterans as Mark Zalewski, Eric Vreeland, Matt Hale, Doug Wigley, and Mike Merlone, Princeton peaked at the right time, edging Navy 5-4 in the Eastern Championships to earn a berth in the Final Four.

The Tigers had DeNunzio Pool rocking as they faced top-ranked USC in the national semis. But falling behind 8-0, Princeton fell 13-3 to the eventual national champion. The next day, though, Princeton regrouped and gave its fans plenty to cheer about as it topped Loyola Marymount 6-5 in the national third-place game. It was the program’s first-ever NCAA win and gave the Tigers a final record of 16-12.

Things didn’t go swimmingly for the Princeton football team this fall. Hampered by a life-threatening illness to star running back Jordan Culbreath and season-ending injuries to key players like Scotty Britton, Jeff Jackson, and Peter Yorck, the Tigers struggled to a 1-5 start.

Princeton rebounded to win three of its last four games but it was enough to save head coach Roger Hughes. The 10-year head coach was dismissed after the season. Hughes posted a 47-52 record in his tenure with the high water mark coming in 2006 when Princeton went 9-1 and tied Yale for the Ivy title.

Two days before Christmas, Hughes was replaced by Bob Surace, a former All-Ivy center for Princeton who has spent the last eight years as an assistant coach for the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL.

Hun School

Early in the winter, it didn’t look like the Hun School boys’ basketball team was headed for any late-season heroics. Head coach Jon Stone’s team was plagued by inconsistency and brought a 9-13 record into post-season play.

Led by a core of seniors and post-graduates, Hun saved its best for last. The Raiders powered through the draw at the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament, culminating its run by topping host Lawrenceville 62-44 in the title game. Hun came within an eyelash of a title double, falling 53-51 to Blair in double overtime in the state Prep A title game.

Sparked by its own group of veteran performers, the Hun girls’ basketball team reached the finals of both the MAPL and Prep A tourneys. Unfortunately for head coach Bill Holup’s squad, it faced national power Peddie in both title games.

The Raiders fought valiantly but ultimately came up short in each contest. Still, the team’s core of seniors Meg Rigous, Cara Fiori, Cyndra Couch, and Jah-Leah Ellis together with post-grad transfer Arielle Collins had much to be proud about as Hun finished 19-7.

Another senior, goalie Travis Potts, led the way for the Raider boys’ hockey team. With Potts displaying skills and cool-headed leadership, head coach Francois Bourbeau’s team went 10-7-2 and advanced to the semis in the Mercer County Tournament and the Prep A tourney.

Entering the spring, longtime Hun softball head coach Kathy Quirk saw her young squad as a legitimate championship threat despite its inexperience. The Raiders looked like they were headed for the Prep A title when they toppled perennial power Peddie in the semis.

Hun, though, lost 4-1 to Blair in the championship game and then fell to Lawrenceville in the regular season finale to end the spring without a crown. But losing just Alex Thier to graduation, the future prospects look good for Hun, which posted a final record of 10-7.

On the baseball diamond, Hun went through some growing pains with a team long on youth and short on pitching. Head coach Bill McQuade’s top performer was third baseman-pitcher Mike Ford but the junior’s heroics weren’t enough as the Raiders went 6-14.

By contrast, the Hun boys’ lacrosse team boasted a base of 13 senior players. With athletic director Bill Quirk taking over the program and providing some fiery leadership, the battle-tested Raiders produced a special spring.

Senior attackmen Zach Martin and Harry Blackburn triggered the run-and-gun offense and bruising classmate Brendan Gallagher serving as a battering ram in the midfield, sparking Hun to a 14-1 record. The Raiders lost to nationally-ranked Lawrenceville in the Prep A championship game but went on to win the Bianchi-Curcio Division championship.

Gifted senior star Addie Godfrey was a one-woman show for the Hun girls’ lax team. The Lafayette-bound Godfrey scored more than 80 points to lead the way as head coach Jon Stone’s squad posted an 11-5 record.

On the tennis court, freshman star Chris Seitz gave Hun hope for the future as he placed second in first singles at the Mercer County Tournament and took fourth in the Prep A first singles competition.

As his Hun girls’ soccer team went through its preseason paces, head coach Ken Stevenson saw a special work ethic. The team’s hard work paid off once the season started as Hun went on to take the program’s first-ever MAPL title and place second in the Prep A tournament.

Led by seniors Gina Fiori, Julia Anthony, Blake Stockton, Danielle Dileo, and Lauren Shockley, the Raiders went 11-4-1 and picked up wins over such formidable foes as Peddie, Montgomery High, and Lawrenceville.

Displaying a penchant for pulling out dramatic, last-minute wins, the Hun boys’ soccer team also enjoyed a big fall. Head coach Pat Quirk guided his team to a 12-5-2 record and a MAPL championship.

The Hun football team came within an eyelash of a MAPL title, going 4-1 league play with a 19-14 loss to Hill keeping it from the championship. Head coach Dave Dudeck’s squad finished the fall with a 4-4 mark as post-graduates Brendan Morgan and Colin Weingrad led the rushing attack.

In recent years, the Hun field hockey team had been known for slow starts and big finishes. Unfortunately for head coach Kathy Quirk, the Raiders reversed that trend, playing well early but then fading as they finished with a 6-9 record.

Senior star Kara Shoemaker produced a fine final campaign, finished second at first single in both the MCT and prep A competitions. Hampered by injuries and inexperience, head coach Joan Nuse’s squad struggled through much of the fall.

Princeton Day School

It looked like it was going to be a long winter for the proud PDS boys’ hockey program as the Panthers started 2-9, suffering some lopsided losses along the way. But led by a pair of senior stars, goalie Nick Jabs and forward John Inman, the Panthers overcame those early stumbles.

PDS ended up advancing to the championship game in both the MCT and state Prep competitions. Although head coach Scott Bertoli’s squad fell in both title games, he was proud of the character his team displayed in ending up at 11-13-1.

The PDS girls’ hockey team made progress as well, ending the winter at 10-10. Senior forward Georgia Travers and senior goalie Bryanna Mayes were the linchpins for head coaches Kat Smithson and Gretchen Jaeckel.

On the hardwood, the PDS boys’ hoops team took its lumps as senior guard Joe Rogers was the main offensive threat. Rogers passed the 1,000-point mark for his high school career but there were few other highlights as coach Paris McLean’s team went 4-20.

Boasting an inside-outside combination of sophomore center Tiffany Patterson and freshman guard Janie Smukler, the PDS girls’ hoops team had plenty of highlights. Coach Jessica Katz’s team showed flashes of brilliance as it posted a 9-8 record.

The one-two punch of senior standouts Mariel Jenkins and Cammie Linville helped spark the PDS girls’ lacrosse team to another banner campaign. With the Harvard-bound Jenkins and Lafayette recruit Linville terrorizing opposing defenses, the Panthers were undefeated into May.

Coach Jill Thomas’ squad, however, ran into other hot teams as they fell to Peddie in the Prep A semis and Hopewell Valley in the MCT championship game. While those setbacks were disappointing, there was nothing to be ashamed of as the Panthers ended the spring at 13-2.

Under new head coach Ray O’Brien, the PDS baseball team experienced an up-and-down campaign as it went 9-10. With a core of juniors including Jon Scott, Dylan Kelly, Tim Barrett, Dennis Cannon, and James Fuhrman, the Panthers figure to be a force in the future.

The PDS softball team also welcomed a new coach as Kristen Wilson, a former Rider standout took the helm of the program. Led by pitching ace Jen Auerbach, the Panthers showed progress under their new leader as they went 9-6.

With superstar David Holland having moved on to Duke, it looked like it could be a transition season for the Panther boys’ tennis team. But with junior standout Neil Karandikar making a seamless move into the first singles spot, the Panthers were again formidable.

With Karandikar winning the title at first singles, coach Rome Campbell’s club placed fifth in the MCT team standings. Weeks later, the Panthers earned their fifth straight Prep B title by the skin of their teeth as they ended up in a three-way tie for the championship with Montclair Kimberley and Gill St. Bernard’s.

Entering the fall, the PDS girls’ soccer team had a tough act to follow coming off a Prep B championship in 2008. Hit with a number of key injuries, coach Pat Trombetta’s team struggled in the early going.

But with junior goalie Jess Frieder holding the fort and sophomore striker Janie Smukler returning to action late in the fall, the Panthers started coming on. They advanced to the MCT quarterfinals and made a spirited run at defending their Prep B title, advancing to the semis where they fell in overtime to Montclair Kimberley to end the season at 11-6-1.

Unlike their female counterparts, the PDS boys’ soccer team didn’t have to live up to high expectations coming off a 7-12-1 campaign in 2008. But with strikers Justin Ward and Robby Smukler emerging as dynamic scoring threats and Owen Haney spearheading the defense, the Panthers turned out to be one of the pleasant surprises of the fall. Coach Malcolm Murphy’s club went 11-8-1 as it advanced to the MCT quarters and the Prep B semis.

It was an uphill battle for the PDS football team as it dealt with a lack of depth and some key injuries. With running back Dylan Kelly and linebacker Aidan Epply-Schmidt playing well week in, week out, coach Rick Mabes’ team showed character in going 3-6.

The PDS field hockey team underwent a season of transition as Heather Schnepf took over for longtime coach Jill Thomas, who opted to coach at the middle school level instead of varsity. Schnepf, a former Iowa star, displayed an upbeat attitude that helped the team stay on an even keel as it went through some growing pains. Led by the Jenkins sisters, Sydney and Andrea, PDS laid a foundation for the future as it went 3-13-1.

Sparked by its own “Sam’s Club,” battle-tested junior Samantha Lieb and precocious freshman Samantha Asch, the PDS girls’ tennis team was again a force. At the MCT, coach Patty Headley’s team placed second in the team standings as Lieb won her third straight first singles crown and Asch breezed to the title at second singles.

After winning the Prep B title in 2008, the Panthers decided to take a shot at the Prep A championship this fall. With Lieb and Asch leading the way, the team’s gamble paid off as it won the Prep A title to edge runner-up Lawrenceville and third place Oak Knoll. It was the program’s first Prep A championship since 1988.

After some near misses in recent years, the PDS boys’ cross country team developed into a championship squad. Led by junior star Adam Fisch, the Panthers won the Patriot Conference meet and Prep B championship meet. It was the first Prep B title for head coach Eamon Downey’s program since 1992.

Princeton High

Boasting a trio of talented and tested seniors in DeQuan Holman, Brian Dunlap, and A.J. Dowers, the Princeton High boys’ basketball team had high hopes for a big winter. While the team posted a superb 14-5 record in regular season play, it had trouble pulling out tight games against the best competition.

Head coach Jason Carter’s team learned how to win the big games at the right time. It advanced to the semis of the MCT and then produced a memorable run in the Group III state tournament. The Little Tigers won at Point Pleasant and top-seeded Monmouth Regional to advance to the program’s first sectional final since 1994.

Although the Little Tigers fell to Neptune in the sectional final to end the winter at 18-7, the team’s stretch drive left those seniors and their younger teammates with memories that will last a lifetime.

After getting off to a 1-11 start, it looked like it was going to be a miserable winter for the PHS girls’ hoops team. But with senior Keisha Brown and sophomore guard Molly Barber leading the way, coach Steffanie Shoop’s team won six of its last 10 games to end up with a 7-15 record and a sense of confidence going into the 2009-10 season.

Rebounding from a tough 4-17 season in 2007-08, the Princeton High boys’ hockey team made big strides. Led by senior stars Jeff Goeke and Billy Ward, the Little Tigers came within two wins of qualifying for the state tourney as they went 7-10-2. With a solid core of veterans returning, head coach Tim Campbell’s program seems poised to continue its progress.

Getting leadership from seniors Maddy Sturm and Elizabeth O’Grady and offensive punch from junior Gabby Vukasin, the PHS girls’ hockey team had a solid season. The Little Tigers went 12-10 and ended the winter on a high note with a 2-0 win over archrival PDS. After the season, head coach Jeff Schneider left the program and was replaced by assistant coach Christian Herzog.

The PHS girls’ swimming team maintained its recent tradition of success with junior star Victoria Cassidy setting the pace. Head coach Greg Hand’s team went 9-5, placing seventh at the MCT meet and qualifying for the Public B state tournament.

Buoyed by an influx of freshman talent and the return of senior star Sean MacKenzie, the PHS boys’ swim team emerged as a power. With Columbia-bound MacKenzie returning to the team after a hiatus to focus on club swimming, coach Greg Hand’s squad produce a banner season.

The Little Tigers won the Public B Central Jersey sectional as MacKenzie and classmate Alex Zantal were dominant while such freshmen as Matt Kuhlik, Addison Hebert, Derek Colaizzo, Victor Honore, and Harun Filipovic came of age. Although PHS fell in the state semis to Mountain Lakes, it looks like the Little Tigers will be a title contender for years to come.

With senior goalie Jeff Goeke raising the level of his play and the trio of Mike Olentine and the Bryant twins, Allen and Doug, triggering the offense, the PHS boys’ lacrosse team rebounded from a subpar 2008 campaign. Head coach Peter Stanton’s team went 13-7, advancing to the MCT semis and the NJSIAA Public Group II quarterfinals.

Sparked by the one-two punch of senior stars Mie Graham and Lizzy Price, the Little Tiger girls’ lacrosse team emerged as one of the top squads in the county. The Duke-bound Graham and Penn recruit Price piled up big numbers offensively as the Little Tigers got off to a 9-1 start. Head coach Christy Cooper’s squad ended the spring with an 11-4 record, advancing to the MCT quarters and making the state tournament.

Hannah Davis, Bryell Wheeler, and Rebekka Vuojolainen led the way as PHS girls’ track team tied for seventh in the Mercer County Track Championships. Freshman standout Wheeler and junior Vuojolainen went on to make the Meet of Champions for head coach Jim Smirk’s squad, which placed fifth in the Central Jersey Group III sectional meet.

The PHS boys’ track team placed ninth in the county meet and 14th in the sectional meet. Standouts for coach John Woodside’s team included throwing stars Connor Ryan and Omar Yousef and middle distance runner Max Reid.

Led by first singles star Kevin Cen, the PHS boys’ tennis team enjoyed another winning season. Coach Sarah Hibbert’s squad finished third at the county tournament and again qualified for the state tourney.

Former college pitcher Dave Roberts took the helm of the PHS baseball program and helped the team play a sharper brand of ball. Although the Little Tigers went 4-18, the future looks promising with such returning players as Nick Miranda, Benito Gonzalez, Trevor Barsamian, Danny Powell, and Steve Etherton.

Junior pitching ace Deanna Boehm produced some superb mound efforts but it wasn’t enough to keep the PHS softball team from suffering another losing season. Coach Craig Haywood’s squad went 3-17 but can take solace with Boehm slated to return along with some talented young players.

While not reaching the championship heights of recent seasons, the PHS boys’ golf team had a solid season. With sophomore standout Fraser Graham leading the way, coach Sheryl Severance’s team went 11-6 in dual matches and took sixth in the Mercer County Tournament.

One of the best turnaround stories of the fall was authored by the PHS field hockey team. In her second season at the helm, coach Heather Serverson guided the Little Tigers to a 9-8 record, improving greatly on the 3-12 mark posted in 2008. PHS advanced to the MCT quarterfinals and made the state tournament for the first time in a decade.

The so-called “hammer and nail” backfield of seniors Trevor Barsamian and Josh Gordon paved the way as PHS football team has a big fall. The 250-pound Barsamian and the shifty 180-pound Gordon bedeviled opposing defenses as the Little Tigers started 4-0 and ended the regular season at 7-2.

Coach Steve Everette’s team won the CVC’s Valley Division and made just its second trip to the state playoffs since the mid-1990s. Although the Little Tigers were routed by Monroe in the opening round of the state playoffs, Barsamian, Gordon and their 18 classmates on the squad ended their careers with deep pride in what they have accomplished over the last four years.

Featuring a combination of battle-tested seniors in Jess Delaney and Allegra Bianchini and talented young players like Sarah Cen and Keely Herring, the PHS girls’ tennis team kept its perch among the elite programs in the county. Coach Sarah Hibbert’s team placed third in the county tournament and advanced to the sectional quarterfinals on the way to a 17-3 record.

With senior Sean Pradhan emerging as a consistent frontrunner, the PHS boys’ cross country team made huge strides. Coach John Woodside’s team placed second in the county meet and then took second at the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III sectional meet.

Sophomore star Jenna Cody set the pace as the PHS girls’ cross country team also enjoyed a fine season. Coach Jim Smirk’s team placed third in the county meet and took second in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III sectional meet.

With senior Chantal Celestin triggering the offense from the midfield, the PHS girls’ soccer team produced its best season in recent years. Celestin’s deft ball skills set the table as forwards Emma Karp and Paula Levine emerged as top scorers.

Coach Greg Hand’s team played some of its best soccer in a losing cause as it fell 2-1 in overtime to nationally ranked Pennington in the MCT semis. The Little Tigers’ season ended on a down note as they dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to Hopewell Valley in the sectional semifinals. The disappointment of the tournament losses, though, couldn’t dim what was accomplished in the team’s 15-4 season.

In the early going this fall, the PHS boys’ soccer team struggled to score goals as it filled the void left by the graduation of record-breaking forward Sam Kotowski. Coach Wayne Sutcliffe’s Little Tigers tied three games in the first few weeks of the season as they looked to develop a rhythm.

But with Penn-bound senior goalie Steve Hellstern raising his game to an unprecedented level, the PHS defense became impenetrable and the wins piled up. The combination of Hellstern and the back four of Scott Schwarz, Allen Bryant, Max Reid, and Wilson Urias produced shutout after shutout as the Little Tigers went 11-0-4 in regular season play.

With the offense picking up clutch goals, PHS roared through the MCT, topping WW/P-S 2-1 in the championship game to earn its third straight county crown.

The Little Tigers kept rolling in the Group III state tournament, posting five straight shutouts as they earned a title game showdown against defending champion Millburn at The College of New Jersey. Defenders Bryant and Reid scored early goals and then PHS held off the Millers to win 2-1 and earn the program’s first state title since 1995. The win set off a raucous celebration as the players and fans celebrated the final chapter in the team’s magical 21-0-4 journey, which included 18 shutouts.

Stuart Country Day

The trio of Diamond Lewis, Amber Bowman, and Jasmine Smarr gave foes fits as the Stuart basketball team emerged as one of the most entertaining teams in the area. The Tartans’ high octane offense set the tone as coach Tony Bowman’s team went 14-10 and advanced to the MCT quarters and Prep B semis. Lewis passed the 1,000 point mark in her Stuart career in late January to provide one of the major highlights of the winter.

The potent one-two combination of Elizabeth Bucklee and Caroline Passano rolled up some big numbers for the Stuart lacrosse team. The pair helped coach Sara Wagner’s team advance to the state Prep B championship game and the MCT semis.

Maddie Copeland’s scoring prowess and Sarah Schulte’s two-way play in the midfield sparked the Stuart field hockey team to another fine campaign. Coach Katie Grant’s squad went 12-7 as it advanced to the state Prep B title game and the MCT quarters.

Elisa Mercando emerged as a star for the Stuart cross country team. Mercando won the individual title at the Patriot Conference championship meet and placed fifth at the state Prep B meet.

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