Enjoying Success Throughout 2017-18, PHS Athletics Ties for 5th in ShopRite Cup
RITE STUFF: Members of the Princeton High boys’ hockey team celebrate after a goal last season. The team’s run to the state Public B semifinals helped PHS tie for fifth place in the Group IV standings for the ShopRite Cup, a contest among NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) programs based on points earned for finishing in the top four in state championship competition across 31 sports. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
With fall preseason practices starting in a few weeks, the Princeton High athletics program was recently recognized for its accomplishments during the 2017-18 school year.
PHS tied for fifth place in the Group IV standings for the ShopRite Cup, a contest among NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) programs based on points earned for finishing in the top four in state championship competition across 31 sports.
The Little Tigers piled up 47 points over the school year to tie with Montgomery High and Bridgewater-Raritan for fifth. The Group IV winner was North Hunterdon, which accumulated a total of 62.
Getting off to a solid start in the fall, PHS earned 16 points as the boys’ soccer team and boys’ cross country squad each placed second in the Group IV state tournaments. Coach Wayne Sutcliffe’s soccer squad knocked off New Jersey Top-20 teams Monroe, Hunterdon Central, and Washington Township on the way to the state title game where it fell 3-2 to Kearny to end the fall at 17-6-1. The cross country team, coached by Jim Smirk, continued its amazing run of form, taking second in the state Group IV meet. A year earlier, the Little Tigers swept the sectional and group meets before taking first in the Meet of Champions for the first time in program history.
In the winter, Tim Chase took the helm of the boys’ hockey team and guided it to a second straight trip to the state Public B semis where it fell 6-1 to Northern Highlands to finish with an 18-9-2 record.
The spring was highlighted by a historic campaign from the boys’ track team as it rolled to titles at the Mercer County Outdoor Championships and the Central Jersey Group IV sectional meet, winning the former for the first time since 1982 and the latter for the first time since 1989. At the state Group IV meet, the Little Tigers rallied late in the meet to edge perennial power East Orange in winning the program’s first outdoor Group state title since 1981.
The boys’ tennis team, a perennial powerhouse, returned to the state final for the second time in four years. Coach Sarah Hibbert’s team fell 4-1 to local rival WW/P-South in the Group IV title match and posted a final record of 20-3.
In 1985, Sara Doran played on a PHS girls’ lacrosse team that won a state title and this spring, as head coach of the program, she helped it nearly repeat history. After the Little Tigers started the 2018 season by losing five of its first six games, the team caught fire down the stretch, topping Rancocas Valley 9-8 in the sectional final to make the state semis. The team’s run ended when it fell 20-7 to Clearview in the final four to end the spring at 13-11.