October 20, 2021

The sunshine and warm weather on Saturday morning made for a lovely visit to Marquand Park, which hosted OAKtober, a celebration of the oak tree, at the Children’s Arboretum. Participants share what the Princeton parks mean to them in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

Following several months of increasing resistance from the community — through multiple drawn-out Planning Board hearings, a rebuff from the Historic Preservation Commission, an online petition in opposition with more than 1,700 signatures, and widespread objections through public media — Princeton University has revised its controversial proposal for Prospect Avenue, as part of its planned Environmental Studies and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (ES+SEAS) complex.

The original plan called for demolition of three Queen Anne Victorian houses on the north side of Prospect Avenue and removal of the 91 Prospect former Court Clubhouse across the street into their place in order to make room for a theorist pavilion and entrance to the new 666,000-square-foot complex.

Criticism of the University plan has not questioned the importance and value of the ES+SEAS project, but it has objected strongly to the portion of the project that would have involved removal of the clubhouse building and demolition of the three Victorian houses, potentially jeopardizing Prospect Avenue’s streetscape, its history, and the culture of the community.

Following recent discussions with Princeton Prospect Foundation (PPF) and advice from the municipal staff, the University submitted an updated plan to the Princeton Planning Board (PPB) on Monday, October 18, for consideration at the Thursday, October 21 PPB meeting.

The updated plan, according to Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss, involves relocating 91 Prospect to a site across the street but closer to the North Garage than the original proposal, with two of the Victorian houses in question (114 and 116 Prospect) remaining in place and the third (110 Prospect) being relocated to a nearby site. more

By Anne Levin

Motorists anticipating the reopening of Quaker Road between Province Line and Mercer roads may have a long wait ahead of them. Thanks to the ravages of Hurricane Ida last month, the scenic stretch favored by many drivers entering and exiting Princeton remains closed until a date to be determined.

According to an update on the municipal website princetonnj.gov, the previously anticipated start date of October 18 has been postponed as the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) awaits authorization from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). But repairs are expected to begin next week between Mercer Road and the Historical Society of Princeton located at Updike Farm at 354 Quaker Road.

It is also anticipated that the NJDOT will begin work near the canal and Port Mercer to rebuild the towpath and road embankment. Princeton will replace the guiderail once the NJDOT work is completed.

“A lot of agencies are involved,” said Princeton’s Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton.  “A stretch of the road embankment was washed away, so the guiderail is hanging in the air, which just isn’t safe.” more

By Donald Gilpin

As the cold weather arrived last fall, activities moved indoors, holiday social gatherings proliferated, and the COVID-19 pandemic saw its greatest surge in cases. From December 12-18, 2020 Princeton registered its highest seven-day total of 39 new cases and, from December 8-20, 2020, its highest 14-day total of 66 new cases.

This year’s weather, movement indoors, and holiday social gatherings are likely to resemble last year’s activity, but the pandemic may see only a slight rise in case numbers rather than a surge in the closing months of 2021, according to health authorities.

“From the national and local perspective, it appears cases of Delta have peaked,” said Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser. “Holiday travel and more indoor socializing as the weather gets colder will likely contribute to scattered localized outbreaks throughout the winter. That’s the general sense of what public health experts predict at least.”

Expressing a mix of optimism and uncertainty, Grosser continued, “There is some concern that the rapid rise followed by a quick decline could rebound to a plateau at a considerable level, which could be problematic. This is what we are keeping an eye on of course as we continue to navigate not only the upcoming holidays, but continue to work through the 2021-22 school year.”

In an email Tuesday, he wrote, “Fortunately, Princeton has seen this considerable decline to levels we were observing back in early July (before the Delta surge). We are learning every day about how surges act from various variants and how we can continue to protect our residents through these changes.” more

SHOVELS IN THE GROUND: Residents, staff, and board members who spoke at the virtual groundbreaking for new housing at Princeton Community Village are pictured, along with Mayor Mark Freda, far left, at the October 15 event.

By Anne Levin

Unaffordable housing costs are nothing new in Princeton. As far back as 1967, it was prohibitive for many members of the population, particularly some who worked in local businesses, private homes, and at Princeton University, to live in and around the town.

That was the year that Princeton Community Housing (PCH) was founded by a group of faith-based and community organizations to balance out the town’s housing opportunities. The organization built the 35-acre Princeton Community Village (PCV) on Bunn Drive in 1975 to provide low- and moderate-income housing in a mix of apartments and townhouses. PCH also manages rental homes — 466 in all — at other locations in town including Elm Court, Harriet Bryan House, Griggs Farm, and elsewhere. 

On October 15, a new building was added to the mix. At Princeton Community Village, ground was broken for 25 new affordable homes in a three-story building, for low, very low, and moderate income households. The project is part of Princeton’s affordable housing obligation determined by the state of New Jersey.

“This is not simply a building project. It’s about building welcoming and affordable homes in a very good community,” said PCH Executive Director Ed Truscelli at the groundbreaking ceremony. Truscelli was among several speakers at the virtual event, including longtime residents, staff members, and PCH board members. more

By Wendy Greenberg

A collaboration between YWCA Princeton and Princeton University will connect eight students from the YWCA Princeton’s English as a Second Language (ESL) Program with University language students who will offer one-on-one tutoring. 

Among the ESL students are:

Marta, from Columbia, who graduated from a university there as an accountant but works in a different role in the United States. She joined the YWCA last year as a level 1 student and rarely misses a class.

Also Jose, from Guatemala, who has moved from beginner level to level 4. He works in the community at jobs in landscaping and in restaurants, and hopes to give back to his country,
returning to teach English.

Sophie, from China, worked in management, but in the U.S. stayed home to raise children. She wishes to return to work and wants to improve her intermediate level of English.

They, and five others, are part of “Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy,” through the Program for Community-Engaged Scholarship (ProCES), an academic program that connects the curriculum with Princeton University’s commitment to service.  more

By Anne Levin

When David H. McAlpin donated nearly 500 photographs to Princeton University Art Museum in 1971, and created an endowed professorship in photography at the University a year later, he launched the school on its way to having one of the most important university collections of photography.

McAlpin, a 1920 graduate of the University, donated the personal collection he had amassed with his wife. It included works by his friends Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, and other landmark photographers.

“Princeton is one of the few university environments where photography is taken seriously as a topic of academic study and historical study,” said Katherine Bussard, the University’s Peter C. Bunnell Curator of Photography. Bussard will lead a virtual discussion about the legacy of McAlpin’s gift and the future of photography at Princeton on Thursday, October 28 at 5:30 p.m.

The talk celebrates the depth and history of the collection, which has grown to over 20,000 photographs by more than 900 artists, forming a comprehensive history of the medium from the 1840s to the present. Part of the popularity of photography, Bussard said, is the fact that it has become such a big part of everyday life. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Described as “the gun that almost killed Arthur Rimbaud,” a 7mm six shooter purchased by his lover and fellow poet Paul Verlaine in July 1873 sold at Christie’s in November 2016 for 435,000 euros, more than seven times the estimate, according to the November 30 Guardian.

So why would an “unknown bidder” pay a small fortune for the gun that almost killed Rimbaud, who was born on October 20, 1854, and died 120 years ago on November 10, 1891? Because we’re talking about a legend, a star, an action hero of literature who gave up poetry for good at the age of 21. As it happened, Verlaine was in a drunken delirium at the time and no more capable of doing away with Rimbaud than he was of helping Bob Dylan write “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” (“I been shootin’ in the dark too long … Relationships have all been bad / Mine have been like Verlaine’s and Rimbaud’s”).

Rimbaud and Rambo

Verlaine’s gun was sold three weeks after Donald Trump was elected president. Remember those flags and yard signs showing Trump as a bazooka-wielding Rambo? It’s possible that some super rich supporter bought the gun as a souvenir for the Donald, not that he’d want anything soiled by the hands of a poet. In fact, Rimbaud not only rhymes with Rambo, he was symbolically present at the birth. When David Morrell first conceived the hero of his 1972 novel First Blood, he intended the name of the character to rhyme with the surname of the poet, aware that the title of Rimbaud’s Season in Hell fit with the horrific POW experiences he imagined his Rambo enduring and from which sprang the blockbuster film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. The OED extends the implicit Rimbaud connection, defining Rambo as a term “commonly used to describe a lone wolf who is reckless, disregards orders, uses violence to solve problems, enters dangerous situations alone, and is exceptionally tough, callous, raw and aggressive.”  more

The Princeton University Glee Club will take part in a benefit concert, virtually and in person, with the glee clubs from Harvard and Yale universities, on Friday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m.

The concert, titled “Hand in Hand,” is streamed online, but each choir will be performing for live audiences from their home venues. Princeton’s club will sing at Richardson Auditorium, and admission is free.

For more than a century, choruses from Harvard, Princeton, and Yale universities have celebrated their friendship with a season of collaborative concerts during the fall semester. Last year, the Princeton University Glee Club continued to honor this tradition at a time of extraordinary change and challenge with a series of two virtual benefit concerts titled “Hand in Hand.”  more

BACK ON STAGE: Capital Philharmonic of New Jersey brings works by American composers to the War Memorial in Trenton, marking its return to the theater since the pandemic.

Capital Philharmonic New Jersey (CPNJ) returns to Trenton’s Patriots Theater at the War Memorial on Saturday, October 23 at 7:30 p.m. with “The Dream of America,” first presented four years ago and brought back by popular demand.

The performance launches the orchestra’s 2021/22 season after suspending its performances at the War Memorial in March 2020.

“The musicians and I are absolutely delighted to be returning to the stage,” said Music Director/Conductor Daniel Spalding. “It has been a long 20 months. We were able to come together for several outdoor performances and a recording session, but walking out onto the Patriots Theater stage will really feel like we are coming home.” more

The Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey (YOCJ) begins the 2021- 2022 season with rehearsals and performances resuming safely in person, along with a range of activities throughout the year.

In addition, as part of its ongoing partnership with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO), YOCJ welcomes Kenneth Bean, assistant conductor for PSO, as its new Symphonic Orchestra conductor.

The partnership is the formalization of an ongoing relationship established through the PSO’s BRAVO! Education Program, which encourages young musicians and their families to be exposed to extensive performance repertoire and be inspired by professional artists. Integral to the partnership, the PSO has expanded its assistant conductor position to include leadership of YOCJ’s Symphonic Orchestra.

“From our first meeting with Kenneth Bean, our staff and students felt an instant connection. He brings a wealth of knowledge and youth orchestra experience; but most of all, he brings a warmth and love for students. We are so excited to have Kenny as our Symphonic Orchestra conductor and to continue our partnership with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra” said Phillip Pugh, YOCJ artistic director.  more

“LE ANTICHITA ROMANE”: This work is part of “Piranesi on the Page,” now on view in the Ellen and Leonard Milberg Gallery of the Princeton University Library. Visit library.princeton.edu/Piranesi for reservations. (Photo by Brandon Johnson)

Princeton University Library now presents its newest exhibition in the Ellen and Leonard Milberg Gallery, “Piranesi on the Page,” which tells the story of how Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778), the foremost printmaker in 18th-century Europe, made the book the center of his artistic production. The exhibition is open to the public through a reservation system.

Celebrating Princeton University’s collection of Piranesi works, the exhibition draws from the Library’s Special Collections including Graphic Arts, Numismatic, and Rare Books; the Marquand Library of Art and Archaeology; and the Princeton University Art Museum. The exhibition also features a number of loans from national and international collections, including several works that will be on display for the first time.  more

“TUESDAY AFTERNOON”: This painting by Ilene Rubin is featured in “Points of View,” an art show and sale featuring five local artists, running October 22 to 24 at the Saw Mill, part of Prallsville Mills in Stockton.

The seventh annual  “Points of View,”  an art show and sale featuring five local artists, will once again be presented at the Saw Mill, part of Prallsville Mills, located at 33 Risler Street in Stockton.

The show will begin with an opening reception on Friday, October 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. It continues Saturday, October 23, and Sunday, October 24, from 12 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking is free and abundant. Entrance is in the red barn building. Look for the banners and flags. All COVID-19 precautions will be adhered to, and masks will be provided.  more

“HOOT’S MILL”: Artsbridge’s Distinguished Artist Series event on October 21 at 7 p.m. will feature award-winning Bucks County artist Dean Thomas in an open forum discussion and demonstration of the woodblock printing process.

Award-winning Bucks County artist Dean Thomas will demonstrate multicolor woodblock printing at Artsbridge’s Distinguished Artist Series on Thursday, October 21 at 7 p.m. For the first time since the pandemic began, the meeting will be held in person at Prallsville Mills, 33 Risler Street in Stockton.

The open forum discussion and demonstration of the woodblock printing process will include initial drawing, block preparation, palette selection, carving tools and techniques, and final printing.

Thomas graduated from Glassboro State College in 1983, and launched right into his decades-long career as a professional artist. Initially working as a printmaker in New Jersey, he produced over 100 hand-engraved plates for monotype and colored prints–using watercolor to hand color each print. His small editions of Southern New Jersey landscapes and village scenes were widely exhibited in New Jersey and Philadelphia — where he was an exhibiting member of the Philadelphia Watercolor Club. more

“SKY FALL”: Works by artist Erin Delsigne, shown here, and award-winning photographer Edwin Torres will be featured at a “Third Thursdays” presentation and artist talk at MCCC’s James Kerney Campus Gallery in Trenton on October 21 from 7 to 8 p.m. The public is invited in person or via Zoom.

“Third Thursdays,” the monthly photography presentation and artist talk at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) James Kerney Campus (JKC) Gallery at 137 North Broad Street in Trenton, will take place on October 21 from 7 to 8 p.m.

This month’s focus is on the award-winning photography of Edwin Torres and film collage artist Erin Delsigne. The show is curated by Heather Palecek and Habiyb Shu’Aib and the public is invited.

Hosted by Michael Chovan-Dalton, director of JKC Gallery, the event will take place in person and on the Zoom conferencing platform. To register, visit JKCGallery.online or email JKCGallery@mccc.edu.  

“Last semester’s ‘Third Thursday’ monthly events at JKC attracted a growing contingent of fine art photographers and members of the public,” said Chovan-Dalton. “There is a palpable sense of excitement during these sessions as the artists display their work and explain their motives and inspirations.  The question and answer sessions are an amazing educational experience for everyone.”

Delsigne, aka Film Collage Artist, is most known for her instant film collages using Polaroid and Fuji Instax film to create psychedelic landscapes and surreal portraiture. Delsigne earned her education from Humboldt State University and Cal State Long Beach; studying photojournalism, black and white film, and digital and commercial photography. more

CURTAIN GOING UP!: “Music Mountain Theatre is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to enrich, educate, and entertain our community through the study, performance, and appreciation of the arts in a welcoming and inclusive environment. We provide affordable theater, and the audiences love our live performances.” Ginny Brennan (center), one of the founding directors of Music Mountain Theatre, is shown with co-artistic directors Louis Palena (left) and Jordan Brennan. The theater is now open and ready for audiences.

By Jean Stratton

Ginny Brennan has loved the performing arts all her life. A dancer in high school and college, she later ran a children’s theater program in Bucks County, founded the downtown Performing Arts Center in Lambertville, then operated the Washington Crossing Open Air Theater. She is now one of the founding directors of Music Mountain Theatre in Lambertville.

A New Jersey native, Brennan moved to Bucks County as an adult, and at one point, in between various theatre enterprises, owned a restaurant in Doylestown, Pa.

But theater was always her passion, and when her 10-year-old son Jordan expressed a desire to perform, he began to participate in several Bucks County children’s theater programs.

“I began running the children’s theater program,” she says. “The kids loved to perform, but there wasn’t always the right training.”

Theatrical Pursuits

Jordan’s early interest in performing has continued over the years, and after graduating from college with a BFA in dance, he returned to Lambertville, and joined his mother in various theatrical pursuits.

“In 2000, we founded the Downtown Performing Arts Center, and had classes in theater, dance, acting, and musical theater,” reports Brennan. “We also started to do performances with older teens and adults. more

AIR SHOW: Princeton University football quarterback Cole Smith fires a pass in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior Smith passed a career-high 476 yards and four touchdowns as Princeton defeated Brown 56-42. Smith was later named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week. The No. 17 Tigers, now 5-0 overall and 2-0 Ivy, host No. 16 Harvard (5-0 overall, 2-0 Ivy) on October 23.

By Bill Alden

After the Princeton University football team overcame Brown 56-42 last Saturday, Bob Surace tipped his hat to Bear quarterback E.J. Perry.

“We have gone against some really good offensive players in my 12 years and even the four years that I played; E.J. is the best opponent I have gone against in this league at quarterback,” said Princeton head coach Surace of Perry, who passed for 331 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 82 yards in a losing cause.

“He had a great game. I told him after the game, it is not just his performance, it is the leadership, and the competitiveness.”

Fortunately for Surace, his quarterback, senior Cole Smith, produced a career performance in guiding the Tigers to victory, hitting on 25 of 27 passes for a career-high 476 yards and four TDs to help Princeton improve to 5-0 overall and 2-0 Ivy League. He was later named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week.

“It was just like with them; it was a really, really good job by our coaches scheme-wise and then a great job by the players executing,” said Surace of Smith, whose passing yards total in the game was the second most in Princeton history behind the 501 piled up by Bob Holly against Yale in 1981.

“Cole did the same thing, there were some real small windows on some of those throws and the receivers did a great job getting them. I was doing the proud dad thing because my son A.J. was 14 for 16 [for Notre Dame High] and he only played a half. I said to him I was hoping you would be near A.J.’s stats but you put him to shame.”

In the early stages of the contest, it looked like the proud Princeton defense, that had given up only seven points in the first three games, was going to contain Perry as the Tigers led 14-0 going into the second quarter. more

TO THE HILT: Princeton University women’s soccer player Lexi Hiltunen, left, battles a foe in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday evening, sophomore Hiltunen scored the game winning goal in double overtime as Princeton edged Columbia 1-0. The Tigers, who improved to 10-2-1 overall and 3-1 Ivy League with the win, play at Harvard (9-1-1 overall, 3-1 Ivy) on October 23. (Photo by Greg Carroccio, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Lexi Hiltunen’s chip shot in double overtime last Saturday against Columbia kept the Princeton University women’s soccer team in the Ivy League championship hunt.

It also earned the Princeton sophomore forward a spot at the bottom of a dogpile of her teammates following the dramatic 1-0 win over the Lions on Saturday night at a wet and cold Class of 1952 Stadium.

“The pain of the dogpile was taken away by the fact that I was warmed up,” said Hiltunen. “It was a little comforting.”

Hiltunen makes it no secret she does not like the cold. While other teammates got in their first semester on campus last spring, she remained in West Palm Beach, Fla., and took classes online in part because of the warmer weather at home. She has already broken out a winter coat to get around campus.

A steady rain made the cold more miserable Saturday and made controlling the ball on the slick field difficult for all. Hiltunen was glad to end the game when she took a long pass over the top from freshman Lily Bryant and sent it over the charging goalie for the lone goal of the game. more

RISING TO THE OCCASION: Princeton University men’s soccer player Kevin O’Toole goes after the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior star O’Toole scored two goals to help Princeton defeat Columbia 3-0. O’Toole, the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year in 2018, has three goals and three assists in three Ivy contests this fall. The Tigers, who improved to 6-5 overall and 3-0 Ivy with the win, return to league action when they play at Harvard (4-4-3 overall, 0-2-1 Ivy) on October 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Kevin O’Toole has demonstrated a knack for rising to the occasion for the Princeton University men’s soccer team in the heat of Ivy League competition.

The senior forward had tallied a goal and two assists in Princeton’s first two Ivy contests this season as the Tigers defeated Dartmouth 3-2 and Brown 3-1.

Last Saturday against visiting Columbia, O’Toole took things to a higher level, scoring two goals to help Princeton pull away to a 3-0 win over the Lions as it improved to 6-5 overall and 3-0 Ivy.

O’Toole and his teammates brought a sense of urgency into the clash with the Lions.

“We know every game is incredibly hard in the Ivy League, you can’t take any game for granted,” said O’Toole, a 5’10, 165-pound native of Montclair, and the Ivy Offensive Player of the Year in 2018. more

DIGGING IN: Members of the DiGregorio family, from left, Aaron, Nadia, Derek, Steve, and Zack, share a laugh with legendary coaches, from left, John Thompson III, Jason Garrett, and Pete Carril at a 2015 event at Conte’s Pizza to raise money to fight ataxia-telangiectasia, known as A-T. Beloved football coach Steve DiGregorio, known as “Digger” to his players and many friends, passed away last week at age 60 after a valiant battle with cancer, sparking sadness and fond memories from the countless people he touched on and off the gridiron. (Photo by John Dowers)

By Bill Alden

Be kind. Fight for justice, especially for those who can’t fight for themselves. Whatever you are doing, do it to the best of your ability. Do the right thing every day.

Those were the core principles that guided Steve DiGregorio and are just some of his qualities that family and friends are reflecting on in the wake of DiGregorio’s death on October 12 at age 60 after a valiant fight against cancer.

DiGregorio, known to all as “Digger,” was a big-hearted, good-natured, and tough-minded football coach whose influence was felt by a number of programs.

He served 13 years as an assistant coach for the Princeton University football team, several years as an assistant at Princeton High, and was a star player and later award-winning head coach for his alma mater, Nutley High.

DiGregorio also had coaching stints at Hobart College, Allegheny College, and Paramus Catholic. Before starting his coaching career, DiGregorio starred for Muhlenberg College and has been inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

His influence extended far beyond the gridiron as he helped create the “Derek’s Dreams” charity after his middle son, Derek, was diagnosed with a rare neuro-muscular disease, ataxia-telangiectasia, or A-T. The cause of fighting for a cure to that disease hit at the heart of his existence as it involved his beloved family, wife Nadia, and their sons, Zack, 26, Derek, 24, and Aaron, 22.  more

BIG HIT: Princeton High field hockey player Delaney Keegan hits the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore forward Keegan tallied a goal and an assist as second-seeded PHS defeated 10th-seeded Hun 3-0 in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. The Tigers, now 13-0, were slated to face third-seeded Princeton Day School (12-3) in the MCT semis in October 19 with the victory advancing to the final on October 21 at Lawrence High. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Delaney Keegan and her teammates on the undefeated and second-seeded Princeton High field hockey team knew they were in for a battle when they hosted 10th-seeded Hun in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals last Friday.

“I do think they wanted to come for us,” said PHS sophomore forward Keegan of the clash against the upset-minded crosstown rival. “They definitely were hungry for a really competitive game.”

Things were very competitive in the first half as the foes played to a scoreless stalemate.

“They were tough to break down,” said Keegan. “They put up a great fight.”

At halftime, the Tigers focused on playing more as a unit. “Our forward line and midline were not connecting so we talked about it,” said Keegan.

“In the end it was just a matter of playing as a team and playing as one together.”

PHS got things together as senior star and Rutgers-bound Weir scored to put the Tigers up 1-0 with 9:52 left in the third quarter.

Minutes later, Keegan took a feed from Weir and banged it home. Returning the favor, Keegan set up Weir for the third and final goal of the contest with 1:14 left in the third as the Tigers never looked back, prevailing 3-0 and improving to 13-0. more

COMEBACK KID: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Owen Deming boots the ball in recent action. Last week, senior midfielder Deming scored the tying goal and winning tally as PHS edged Notre Dame 4-3 in overtime, coming back from a late 3-2 deficit. The Tigers, who defeated WW/P-South 1-0 last Saturday to move to 8-2-2, start action in the Mercer County Tournament this week. PHS is seeded third and will host a first round contest on October 21 between the winner of the play-in game between the Princeton Day School and Ewing. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Owen Deming brought some extra emotion to the field for the Princeton High boys’ soccer team as it hosted undefeated Notre Dame last week.

“It was a huge senior day, we are playing against Notre Dame and they are a really tough opponent,” said senior midfielder Deming, reflecting on the October 12 contest.

“I haven’t beaten them in my high school career so when I came out here, I really wanted to beat them.”

In early stages of the clash, Deming focused on his defensive responsibilities.

“Defensively we were just trying to lock down their center midfielders and their attacker Denny Bensch,” said Deming. “We did really well, we were up 2-0 in the first 15 minutes.”

PHS kept that 2-0 lead heading into the second half but the Irish rallied, scoring three unanswered goals in a 13-minute stretch of the second half to forge ahead 3-2 with 4:52 left in regulation.

“We kind of dropped in and let them keep pinging balls in,” said Deming. “When we got down 3-2, I was pretty mad.” more

J-TRAIN: Princeton High football player Jaiden Johnson races upfield in a game earlier this fall. Last Friday night, senior star Johnson made three catches for 48 yards and kicked a 46-yard field goal in a losing cause as PHS fell 38-10 to Camden Catholic. The Tigers, now 1-6, host Cinnaminson (1-6) on October 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was Friday night lights time for the Princeton High football team as it hosted Camden Catholic for Homecoming.

An overflow, raucous crowd had packed the stands around the PHS turf field by the 7 p.m. kickoff last Friday on an unseasonably warm October evening with fans spilling into the hill overlooking the end zone.

As Tiger senior receiver/cornerback Jaiden Johnson took the field, he was pumped to give the fans something to cheer about.

“The atmosphere was amazing, I am glad to see everybody here,” said Johnson.

“Last year we didn’t have it because of COVID. I just love it; the support from the school.”

After Camden Catholic jumped out to an 8-0 lead, Johnson got the throng on hand buzzing, making a 40-yard reception down the sideline on a bomb from Jaxon Petrone and later kicking a 46-yard field goal as the Tigers cut the deficit to 8-3.

“We have been working on it every single day in practice,” said Johnson, recalling his spectacular catch.

“We have been getting better and it transitioned into the game. We want to keep doing that as much as possible.”

Johnson and fellow senior star receiver Everaldo Servil have developed a good connection this fall with senior quarterback Petrone.

“On the offseason, me, Everaldo [Servil] and him have just been working together,” said Johnson, who came into Friday averaging 15 yards per catch. more

WINNING PARTNERSHIP: Lucia Marckioni, left, and Sophia Kim celebrate the Princeton High girls’ tennis team’s run to the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional title. The pair of seniors Marckioni and Kim starred at first doubles as PHS earned its first sectional crown since 2018. PHS fell 3.5-1.5 to Tenafly in the state Group 3 semis last Thursday at Mercer County Park. Marckioni and Kim provided a highlight in the defeat with a straight-set win. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Lucia Marckioni and Sophia Kim have accomplished a lot over the years playing at first doubles for the Princeton High girls’ tennis team.

The pair of seniors won the first doubles title at the Mercer County Tournament in 2019 and 2021 and went undefeated in 2020 but didn’t have the chance to defend their MCT crown as the event was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

Despite all of their success, Marckioni and Kim hadn’t been part of a sectional team title winner.

Last week, they added that line to their resume, posting a 7-5, 7-5 win over Sabrina Chang and Kirthi Chigurupati to help PHS edge WW/P-N 3-2 in the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional final and earn a spot in the state Group 3 semis for the first time since 2018.

Last Thursday, PHS headed to Mercer County Park for the semis and battled hard before falling 3.5-1.5 to Tenafly.

Marckioni and Kim provided a highlight in the defeat as they came through with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Tenafly’s Zoe Han and Liliana La Pera.

For Marckioni, advancing to the state semis was particularly meaningful as a senior.

“We weren’t on varsity freshman year and sophomore and junior year the team lost in the semifinals,” said Marckioni.

“This year we were able to win the final and to come here. It is such a way to end.” more

MAKING HISTORY: Princeton Day School girls’ tennis player Neha Khandkar hits a forehand in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public A team final last Thursday at Mercer County Park. Junior star Khandkar fell at first singles as PDS lost 5-0 to Pingry. It marked the end of a superb debut as the Panthers had won the South Jersey Non-Public A sectional team final in their first-ever appearance in the competition. On Sunday, the Panthers started play in the state Prep B tourney and saw Amy Zhou advance to the final at third singles with Sophie Zhang and Jackie Baranski making it at first doubles. The Panthers, who sit second in the team standings behind Montclair Kimberley Academy, will wrap up play in the event on October 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Princeton Day School girls’ tennis first singles star Neha Khandkar knew she was facing a challenge when she played Pingry’s Anika Paul in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public A team final last Thursday at Mercer County Park.

A week earlier, Khandkar had lost 6-3, 6-3 to Paul when the teams met in a regular season match won by undefeated Pingry 5-0.

Coming into the rematch, Khandkar tweaked her strategy.

“My approach was to hit high to her backhand because it as the weaker stroke off her two groundstrokes; her forehand is really solid and aggressive,” said Khandkar.

“It was just to keep mixing up the pace and not let her get into a rhythm.”

While Khandkar battled hard, she never found her rhythm, falling 6-1, 6-1 to Paul as PDS lost 5-0 again to Pingry.

“It was sort of the same honestly,” said Khandkar reflecting on the setback.

“It could have gone a lot better but at least I had a strategy going in.”

It marked the end of a superb debut for the Panthers as they had won the South Jersey Non-Public A sectional team final in their first-ever appearance in the competition. more