September 10, 2014

A public talk by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, will take place October 28 at 9:30 a.m. at Jadwin Gymnasium on the Princeton University campus. Tickets will be available to students starting September 16, to staff September 18, and to the general public September 23. Members of the public can obtain two tickets per person.

The Dalai Lama’s talk, “Develop the Heart,” is sponsored by The Office of Religious Life at Princeton University and The Kalmyk Three Jewels Foundation. “As a scholar and a monk, the Dalai Lama will highlight the importance of developing compassion and kindness, alongside the intellect, in an academic environment,” according to information from the University’s Office of Communications.

At 1:30 p.m., the spiritual leader will engage “a select group of students and faculty in conversation around Princeton’s informal motto, ‘In the Nation’s Service and in the Service of All Nations,’” according to the University’s website. For further information, email hhdl@princeton.edu.

OPENING MOVE: Princeton University men’s soccer player ­Cameron Porter goes after the ball in a 2013 game. Last Friday, senior star Porter scored the Tigers’ first  goal of the season as Princeton fell 3-2 at Fairleigh Dickinson University in its season opener, squandering a 2-0 second half lead. The Tigers will look to get on the winning track when they host St. John’s (0-3-1) on September 10 at Roberts Stadium.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OPENING MOVE: Princeton University men’s soccer player ­Cameron Porter goes after the ball in a 2013 game. Last Friday, senior star Porter scored the Tigers’ first goal of the season as Princeton fell 3-2 at Fairleigh Dickinson University in its season opener, squandering a 2-0 second half lead. The Tigers will look to get on the winning track when they host St. John’s (0-3-1) on September 10 at Roberts Stadium. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last fall, the Princeton University men’s soccer team opened its season by giving up two first half goals at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) on the way to a 3-0 defeat.

Kicking off its 2014 campaign by playing at FDU last Friday evening, Princeton flipped the script, jumping out to a 2-0 lead on a tally by Cameron Porter early in the contest and a goal by Andrew Doar at the 55-minute mark.

Princeton head coach Jim Barlow liked the way his squad got out of the gate.

“We started well, we scored a nice goal about 4-5 minutes into the game; there was a good build-up and a lot of players touched the ball,” said Barlow.

“We felt that we were not only getting forward, we were solid defensively. We were not letting them get any chances. We were on top of things for a long stretch. In the last 20 minutes, they picked it up and had some half-chances. We felt we were in pretty good shape at halftime. We scored a goal about 10 minutes into the second half. It was a little flukey, Andrew Doar meant to cross it but it went in.”

But, stunningly, FDU produced an encore performance, repeating history by scoring three unanswered goals to pull out a 3-2 win in double overtime.

In assessing the harrowing finish, Barlow acknowledged that his squad let things slip away.

“It ended up being a really, really disappointing ending,” said Barlow. “We conceded goals on some silly mistakes.”

The Knights scored twice within a 15-minute stretch to force overtime, tallying at 64:00 and 78:58.

“On the first one, we let a guy make a run through the midfield and then we committed a foul,” said Barlow.

“The free kick deflected off of our wall and into the corner. The second was a penalty kick. Patrick Barba and their forward were running side by side; they were both looking at the ball and got tangled up. The ref called a foul on Patrick; we were disappointed but those things happen and you have to deal with them. They scored and that got them psyched up. It was a big goal.”

Despite that sequence, Barlow didn’t think the Tigers were hanging their  heads as the game went into overtime.

“I still feel like we bounced back from that,” said Barlow. “We went into the second overtime still tied and we made a silly foul in the midfield. On the free kick, our goalie, Ben Hummel, got his hands on it but it bounced off and they scored on rebound.”

While Barlow declined to blame the defeat on the fact that FDU had two games under its belt coming into the evening, he acknowledged that the Tigers lacked game sharpness.

“We were not looking at each other and saying we had to get fresh legs in; we were still getting chances and going forward,” said Barlow.

“We certainly have fitness but we need to manage the game and get all of the little details right and that only comes with playing games.”

The setback didn’t dim Barlow’s belief that Princeton can win a lot of games this fall.

“I think the biggest positive is that we feel that we have a really good team,” asserted Barlow.

“We are strong at every part of the field. We are explosive. We are athletic, we have some speed and strength. We put together a lot of good plays and kept tight in the back.”

The loss, though, did expose Princeton’s need to improve on set pieces.

“We have to be better on the restarts,” said Barlow.

“We did well in the air and on corner kicks but we have to focus on not making fouls and giving up free kicks and penalties. Every game is close so you have to lean on experience and leadership to get through stretches when the other team is throwing the kitchen sink at us.”

A quartet of veterans, seniors Andrew Mills, junior Brendan McSherry, junior Nico Hurtado, and senior Porter, displayed leadership on Friday night.

“Andrew Mills had a really good game at center back,” said Barlow, noting that senior defensive star Josh Miller is still being hampered by injury.

“Brendan McSherry was very good in the midfield; he was an engine for us. He was a leader and organized the team and had a lot of good passes. Hurtado and Porter did a solid job of getting dangerous up top.”

In Barlow’s view, the players have done a good job of rebounding from Friday’s loss.

“You could make the case that this morning’s session was the best one of the season so far,” said Barlow.

“They bounced back and showed intensity; they are feeling a lot of optimism. We would have liked to get a 1-0 start and be growing while we are winning. That didn’t happen, the game is over, and we have to move forward.”

The Tigers will look to make some good things happens as they host St. John’s (0-3-1) in their home opener on September 10 at Roberts Field.

“They are an attacking, exciting team,” said Barlow, whose team plays at Seton Hall on September 14.

“They have a great history and we always have exciting matchups. It is the first day of school and we are hoping for a big crowd; that makes Roberts an exciting place for us.”

SCARLET FEVER: Princeton University women’s soccer player Alessia Azermadhi, left, battles Samantha Valliant of Rutgers for the ball in action last Friday evening. Freshman midfielder Azermadhi played well in her college debut as Princeton fell 5-0 to the Scarlet Knights in its season opener. On Monday, the Tigers moved to 0-1-1 as they battled Seton Hall to a scoreless draw through two overtimes. Princeton will look to get into the win column as it plays at LaSalle on September 12 and hosts Villanova on September 14(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SCARLET FEVER: Princeton University women’s soccer player Alessia Azermadhi, left, battles Samantha Valliant of Rutgers for the ball in action last Friday evening. Freshman midfielder Azermadhi played well in her college debut as Princeton fell 5-0 to the Scarlet Knights in its season opener. On Monday, the Tigers moved to 0-1-1 as they battled Seton Hall to a scoreless draw through two overtimes. Princeton will look to get into the win column as it plays at LaSalle on September 12 and hosts Villanova on September 14 (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Julie Shackford knew that her Princeton University women’s soccer team faced a major challenge as it hosted Rutgers last Friday evening in its season opener.

Rutgers came into Roberts Stadium with three games under its belt and a sparkling 3-0 record while Princeton had been practicing for just two weeks.

“You are playing a team that has been in camp since July 30th,” said Princeton head coach Shackford.

“It is very hard. I always struggle with this, do you play a pansy in the first game instead. I still think at the end of the day that a game like that will help us down the road.”

It turned out to be a hard evening for the Tigers as they saw a 1-0 halftime deficit deteriorate into a 5-0 loss.

“I thought we did well in the first half,” said Shackford, whose squad matched Rutger in shots at 5-5 over the first 45 minutes of the contest, generating some good chances including a Tyler Lussi volley that hit the crossbar.

“I think there is still a lot of inexperience on the field for us. There is no question that we are not game fit and so then it is trying to suss out how much of it is real soccer breakdowns or how much of it is the fatigue.”

Princeton got some good soccer from its trio of freshman starters, midfielders Vanessa Gregoire and Alessia Azermahdi along with defender Natalie Larkin.

“They did well,” said Shackford. “I thought Alessia played well. I thought Alessia, from a defensive perspective, did a lot of dirty work for us.”

Taking a long-term perspective, Shackford believes taking lumps against Rutgers will help Princeton later in the fall.

“I still think at the end of the day that it is a good first test, it is a starting point,” said Shackford.

“We have a lot of things to work out. I think on the day we lost to a very good team and we just have to learn from it going forward. Ultimately our goal is to put ourselves in position to win the league and so how does this step prepare us for that.”

On Monday, Princeton showed progress as it battled Seton Hall to a scoreless draw through two overtimes, achieving the main goals Shackford set coming out of the Rutgers game.

“I just want us to be a little bit more organized defensively and a little bit more active up top,” said Shackford, whose team outshot the Pirates 16-6 and will hope for even more improvement as Princeton plays at LaSalle on September 12 before hosting Villanova on September 14.

SUMMER FLING: Princeton University rising junior Julia ­Ratcliffe displays her form in the hammer throw. In June, Ratcliffe, a native of Hamilton, New Zealand, won the NCAA championship in the event with a throw of  219’ 5. A month later, representing her homeland, Ratcliffe took silver in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland with a heave of 229’ 6.25.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

SUMMER FLING: Princeton University rising junior Julia ­Ratcliffe displays her form in the hammer throw. In June, Ratcliffe, a native of Hamilton, New Zealand, won the NCAA championship in the event with a throw of 219’ 5. A month later, representing her homeland, Ratcliffe took silver in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland with a heave of 229’ 6.25. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

As students flood back to Princeton University this week for the start of school, few will have accomplished as much over summer break as Julia Ratcliffe.

In June, the rising Princeton junior and native of Hamilton, New Zealand, won the women’s hammer throw at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore., marking the 43rd straight year that Princeton has produced at least one team or individual national champion.

A month later, representing her homeland, Ratcliffe took silver in the hammer throw in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, a prestigious international competition held every four years that features athletes from countries with ties to the British Empire.

Speaking from her summer training base in Wimbledon, England, Ratcliffe believes that her experience this summer will have a long-term benefit.

“I have competed at a high level so when I feel young and under-prepared, it is just to look back and say, I can do this,” said Ratcliffe.

“In high pressure situations like that where there are a lot of distractions, I know that I have the ability to stay focused while still enjoying myself.”

After having finished 11th at the NCAA meet in 2013, Ratcliffe showed an intense focus in taking the title this year.

“I was a bit nervous, I didn’t really want a repeat of last year,” said Ratcliffe. “I knew I basically had to hold it together and not try anything fancy or try too hard and I would probably come away with a different result.”

Ratcliffe was proud of how she kept things together when the finals turned into a two-woman contest between Colorado’s Emily Hunsucker and her.

“I am not in a position often where I have to chase people so when Hunsucker was ahead of me, she threw and then I threw one that beat her and then she threw one that beat me,” recalled Ratcliffe.

“It was oh man, this is going to be a rough one so that was quite cool. I was quite glad that I managed to hold it together through that, it was a novel situation for me. I was glad that I could keep improving on all of my throws because I kind of knew I was going to get one of the top three at least.”

Getting the NCAA title meant a lot to Ratcliffe. “I wasn’t prepared for how big it was,” said Ratcliffe.

“I knew it would be big but everyone went crazy about that, especially people from Princeton. They came up to me and all of my friends from school were so supportive and so proud of me. It means a lot, it made all the training and all the hard cold days worth it. It was more doing it for Princeton and the girls on my team.”

Days after the NCAAs, Ratcliffe headed to England to train for the Commonwealth Games, staying at her aunt’s house in Wimbledon in south London.

“It was a perfect set-up, my dad came over to coach me,” said Ratcliffe. “He was with me twice a day training so we just went down to the local track and threw down there and went to a gym and did some lifting. We had beautiful weather. It was basically ideal training conditions; everything was really accessible and convenient to get to. I could just get out there and train.”

After a training camp with the New Zealand team in Wales, Ratcliffe arrived in Scotland in late July.

“I have been to a few games where there is a village situation but the  Commonwealth Games was definitely the biggest one I have been to,” said Ratcliffe.

“It was just huge. The people of Glasgow and the volunteers, especially, were so helpful. They were falling over themselves to help you out, it made the experience awesome. It just really brought the city together. In the stadium, the noise was phenomenal. It was great because they were cheering for everyone but when a Scottish person came out, it was 10-fold, the noise was overwhelming.”

Despite her relative youth and inexperience on the international level, Ratcliffe was not overwhelmed by the atmosphere once she got into action. She achieved the qualifying standard for the final on her first throw in the preliminary round and then battled Canada’s Sultana Frizell tooth and nail in the medal round. Ratcliffe’s best throw was 69.96 (229’ 6.25), just 2.01 meters short of Frizell’s gold medal throw of 71.97.

“I got the automatic qualifier so that was a huge confidence builder,” said Ratcliffe.

“I was just ready to get out there and throw, I was training for this for all year basically, this and the NCAAs were my big competitions. I was ready, not to get it over with, but to get out there and enjoy myself. I was gutted that I couldn’t hit 70 again. To get on the world stage and throw that consistently, there are only good things to come from that.”

Succeeding on the world stage was a surreal experience for Ratcliffe. “We watched the Commonwealth Games as kids, it is kind of you like you watch the Olympics on TV,” said Ratcliffe.

“It was oh that is so cool, people are doing their country proud and winning medals. You feel so proud to be part of your country and to think that people are watching me on the TV is just something that is hard to believe. It seems not real, the competition that I went to in Glasgow where I got a medal, is it is the Commonwealth Games that you watch on TV?”

Ratcliffe’s medal-winning performance made her a TV star for a week in New Zealand.

“People didn’t know who I was before this so it was quite cool because there wasn’t a big media pressure on me to do well,” said Ratcliffe, who got in some travel during her time in England, going to Paris with her family for her 21st birthday and then traveling around Europe for two weeks with some friends after the Commonwealth Games.

“I did a lot of interviews straight after the competition and following. One of my friends e-mailed me the next day after the final and said you are on basically every news channel.”

As she looks ahead to her junior season at Princeton and beyond, Ratcliffe plans to keep making news.

“I would really like to get the meet record at NCAAs, that would be quite cool,” said Ratcliffe, who has her sights on the World Championships and World University Games in 2015 and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“I want to keep the consistency up and keep moving forward rather than looking back and saying that was a great year. I can’t sit back and keep doing what I was doing so I am keeping hungry for more improvements.”

STEPPING UP: Princeton High field hockey player Lucy Herring heads upfield last Saturday against Peddie. Senior star Herring scored a goal in the game to help PHS prevail 2-1. The Little Tigers, now 2-1, play at Robbinsville on September 10 before hosting Lawrence on September 15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STEPPING UP: Princeton High field hockey player Lucy Herring heads upfield last Saturday against Peddie. Senior star Herring scored a goal in the game to help PHS prevail 2-1. The Little Tigers, now 2-1, play at Robbinsville on September 10 before hosting Lawrence on September 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Lucy Herring and her teammates on the Princeton High field hockey team were determined to be proactive as they hit the field against Peddie last Saturday.

After falling 1-0 at Allentown a day earlier in a weather-shortened game to open the season, PHS brought an upbeat mentality into the contest.

“I think in general, there was a more positive attitude today; I think it started on the bus ride,” said senior star forward Herring.

“We realized that yesterday we didn’t get the result we wanted. We played to their game and responded to their game instead of playing what we know.”

PHS played its game from the start on Saturday, controlling possession and stifling Peddie in the midfield.

“In this game we were working hard, spacing and communication were definitely key,” said Herring.

That communication paid dividends as Herring banged home a feed from classmate Campbell McDonald to give the Little Tigers a 1-0 lead.

“It was kind of in slow motion, I saw the goalie move to one side and I just kind of hit at the back,” said Herring.

“Campbell and I have played with each other, whether it is field hockey or ice hockey, for something like seven years. We always have that on-field, on-ice connection.”

After the Falcons scored with 7:52 left in the second half to knot the game at 1-1, PHS hit back as senior Cara Straus scored off a penalty corner with 2:54 remaining in regulation to give the Little Tigers a 2-1 triumph.

“I think they were angry and we were angry; it was a really good match,” said Herring.

“We kind of knew that we could get a corner at the end; corners are definitely an advantage for us. Everyone knew that we had to get a goal no matter how we got it so I think everyone stepped it up. Cara was definitely in perfect position for that tip in so that was great.”

It was a great way for PHS to end a stiff opening weekend test. “Coach (Heather Serverson) put two of our hardest opponents first which was a challenge,” said Herring.

“I was glad that we got to face that first so we know what to work on and we know how to compete against the best, which is always a good lesson early on in the season.”

PHS head coach Serverson, for her part, was thrilled with the progress her team made in 24 hours.

“It was like night and day,” said a beaming Serverson. “Everything we didn’t do well yesterday, we fixed for today and that is all I ask of them. After our game yesterday, we talked about it. We wanted stick-to-stick passing, intensity, and the second wave.”

Serverson wasn’t surprised that the one-two punch of Herring and McDonald accounted for PHS’s first goal.

“They have mental telepathy on the field, they work well together,” said Serverson.

The Little Tigers displayed mental toughness when they broke the tie late in the contest.

“That is one of our goals as well, setting the tone and answering back,” said Serverson, whose team topped Hamilton 3-0 last Monday to improve to 2-1 and plays at Robbinsville on September 10 before hosting Lawrence on September 15.

“In the past, we would kind of sit back on our heels and be more reactive at that point. One of our goals this year is to be more proactive, to go after it right away, and not let anything get in our heads.”

Senior Cara Straus has been going after it in her final campaign, emerging as a valuable performer on the front line for the Little Tigers.

“Cara embodies hustle, she does what you tell her to do,” said Serverson. “You tell her to go pads, she is on pads; you tell her to go to the post, she is on the post. You tell her to hustle back and she hustles back. She has been a key on our offense.”

PHS got some good hustle on defense, spearheaded by senior star Julia DiTosto and junior Trish Reilly in the midfield, along with juniors Julia Snyder and Lucia Matteo on the back line.

“We have tightened that up positioning-wise,” said Serverson. “That is a key that we didn’t have yesterday. We were on our heels a lot yesterday and today they were more composed and in the right position in the defense and the midfield. That transitional marking was really good today.”

Reflecting on the opening weekend, Serverson believes her team has the right stuff when it comes to character.

“I think the big thing was that we were able to pick ourselves up from yesterday and we played in 90 plus weather back-to-back days” said Serverson.

“We had two tough games, that shows what they are made of. They have a lot of grit, that is going to take us really far this season.”

Herring and her classmates are committed to going as far as they can in their final campaign with the program.

“Since we have all been on the team since freshman year, we have that chemistry and I think we know what the team is about,” said Herring.

“We know how to play our game and we have tried our best to teach the team and the young ones. We have gotten better every year so this year, our senior year, we want to make it the best, so getting far in MCTs and states, those are definitely our goals.”

ROARING TIGER: Princeton High running back Rory Helstrom heads upfield in action last fall. PHS will be relying on Helstrom as its go-to rusher this fall as it looks to bounce back from a 0-10 season. The Little Tigers kick off their 2014 campaign by hosting Hamilton on September 13.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ROARING TIGER: Princeton High running back Rory Helstrom heads upfield in action last fall. PHS will be relying on Helstrom as its go-to rusher this fall as it looks to bounce back from a 0-10 season. The Little Tigers kick off their 2014 campaign by hosting Hamilton on September 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton High football team went through a rough 0-10 season last fall, Charlie Gallagher doesn’t want his players to totally erase 2013 from their memories.

“Last season was a big learning year and I hope it left a bad taste in their mouths,” said PHS second-year head coach Gallagher, whose squad was outscored by a 401-100 margin last fall.

“We have a good core of guys coming back, there is a sense of urgency. The schedule is different and they see opportunities for wins.”

Junior quarterback Dave Beamer’s passing skills give the Little Tigers an opportunity to score in a hurry.

“We are excited to have Dave back at quarterback,” said Gallagher, whose team opens its 2014 campaign by hosting Hamilton on September 13.

“He has a big arm, a live arm. He has a lot of velocity and a tight spiral. We will be looking for a lot of down the field plays from him.”

PHS boasts two playmakers at running back in junior tailback Rory Helstrom and senior fullback Colin Buckley.

“Rory is definitely going to be a go-to guy, he will get the bulk of the carries,” said Gallagher.

“He wants the ball in his hands. We have a solid fullback in Colin Buckley. He is 6’1, 200-pounds, and is not your typical guy at fullback, he hits hard. We are going to run some power formations and he is good at that kick out block. We will get him to run the ball. He has got some speed for a big guy.”

The Little Tigers have a jack-of-all trades in the backfield with senior Sam Smallzman, a starting linebacker and quarterback last year before getting sidelined by injury.

“Sam Smallzman is coming back, he doesn’t want to just be a defensive player,” said Gallagher.

“He is going to fill just about every offensive role, tight end, fullback, halfback, and he is our back-up QB. He can go anywhere we need him; he just wants to play some football.”

The group of junior Matt Ochoa, senior Ben Danis, senior Jack Cook, senior Joe Hawes, and senior Brian Tien gives PHS versatility at receiver.

“Matt Ochoa is back,” said Gallagher. “Ben Danis has come back. He was a starter as sophomore, had an ACL and took last year off. He will be a starter. Jack Cook is a senior but it his first year out. He is a big guy, 6’3, 185. Joe Hawes was backup soccer goalie and a good lacrosse player. The guys got him to come out; he’s a real nice player. Brian Tien is at tight end. He’s a strong guy, about 6’1, 185 pounds, and has done a lot of work in the weight room.”

Gallagher is relying on his battle-tested offensive line to give him some good work.

“Just about everybody is back,” said Gallagher. “We have Noah Ziegler at left tackle and Omar Moustafa at left guard. The right guard is up in the air. Brian Lemus-Camey is coming off an ACL. Joe Cunsolo has been playing there and is doing a good job. We have Tommy Moore at right tackle. He started last year at RG and then moved to tackle when Lemus-Camey got hurt. We have two or three guys at center. Matt Toplin is on the shelf and should be getting cleared soon. Ethan Guerra is a sophomore but is a real strong kid. Joe Cunsolo is also in the mix.”

Many of those linemen will be doing double duty as they will form the foundation of the front six in the PHS defense.

“We are playing a 4-2-5,” said Gallagher. “On the line will be Buckley, Moustafa, Ziegler, Tommy Moore, Guerra, Toplin, and Cunsolo. At linebacker, we have Tien, Smallzman, and Anthony Trainor.”

The backs and receivers will comprise most of the secondary. “At safety, we will have Rory and Danis,” added Gallagher. “Tad Moore is also helping us at safety. The corners are Ochoa, Cook, and Mike Chonka. At free safety, we have Joe Hawes.

While Gallagher knows it will be tough for the Little Tigers to break into the win column, he believes his players will compete to the final whistle.

“When you are coming off a 0-10 season, nothing comes easy,” said Gallagher, noting that PHS will be hosting Ewing under the lights on the evening of September 19 for homecoming.

“We just want to be competitive in the fourth quarter. The kids see the opportunities for wins but they know they have to work hard, there will be a lot of tight games. I am excited for the season.”

IN PLAY: Hun School soccer player Natalie Csapo takes a throw-in during action last season. Sophomore midfielder Csapo and the Raiders are looking to build on the last surge they made last fall when they rebounded from a 0-7 start and advanced to the state Prep A title game. Hun opens its 2014 campaign by hosting South Brunswick on September 13.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN PLAY: Hun School soccer player Natalie Csapo takes a throw-in during action last season. Sophomore midfielder Csapo and the Raiders are looking to build on the last surge they made last fall when they rebounded from a 0-7 start and advanced to the state Prep A title game. Hun opens its 2014 campaign by hosting South Brunswick on September 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It didn’t take long for the returning players on the Hun School girls’ soccer team to start looking forward to the 2014 season.

Advancing to the state Prep A finals last fall after starting the season at 0-7 left the team’s returners with a heavy dose of optimism.

“The mood is good, even from when the season ended last year knowing that we were losing only two players,” said Hun second-year head coach Joanna Hallac, who guided Hun to a 7-12-1 record in 2013. “They were feeling good about the direction of the program.”

Things have continued to move in the right direction as the Raiders have enjoyed a productive preseason.

“They are seeing good players coming in and the returning players making a lot of improvement,” said Hallac, noting that a strong group of freshmen have joined the program.

“It could be a special season. A big if is if we stay healthy; we have had difficulty doing that in the past. We have a little depth this year.”

That depth is evident at forward, where Hun will feature precocious freshman Kara Borden, junior Marleigh Nociti, senior Paige McGuire, and senior Becky Barus.

“We have a lot of forwards, it is a good problem to have,” said Hallac, whose team opens its 2014 campaign by hosting South Brunswick on September 13.

“Kara Borden has raised the level for the older girls. She has a real nose for the goal; she knows how to finish. Marleigh, Paige, Becky will all see action.”

The pair of Lehigh-bound senior Jess Sacco and promising freshman Nicole Apuzzi are showing a nose for the ball in the midfield.

“Jess will be center midfielder; she is such a calming influence,” said Hallac, who will also use junior Sophia Sauma, sophomore Natalie Csapo, sophomore Abby Gray, and freshman Kennedy Debow in the midfield.

“She is more defensive but she can go forward; she can help instigate things. Nicole Apuzzi is the attacking midfielder, she is a really strong player.”

One of Hun’s strongest players is Lehigh-bound senior defender Ashley Maziarz.

“Ashley is much like Olivia Braender-Carr,” said Hallac, referring to the team’s senior star last year who is currently playing at NYU. “She is very dependable. She is a great leader and a great defender. She can help offensively, she is good in the air on corner kicks. She can make those runs.”

Hun has some other good options on the back line. “Jess Johnson is the other center back; she is very graceful and very fluid,” added Hallac, noting that junior Amanda Douglas will also see time on defense.

“She is a very smart defender and she can be an offensive threat too. Kendall Dandridge is one of the outside backs and Julia Salerno is the other. Kendall can get up the field and makes some great crosses. She is also a great defender. Julia is just solid.”

At goalie, junior Courtney Arch has developed into a solid performer. “Courtney has been doing very well,” said Hallac, who has freshman Livia Kooker as the back-up goalie.

“I am really happy with her progress. She is communicating better; she is taking command in the box. Livia is pretty good, they will push each other.”

In order to build on last year’s progress, Hun will need to be more pushy around the goal and more intense on defense.

“We need to take advantage of our opportunities; we had a lot of chances last year but we didn’t finish well,” said Hallac.

“We lost some 1-0 games where we outplayed the other team, we really have to finish better. We need to be better on transition defense. If we lose the ball, we have to get it back. We have to maintain possession.”

In Hallac’s view, the optimism around the program is justified. “We have a lot of potential, we have a lot of talent,” maintained Hallac.

“The expectations are higher than last year. The MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) championship ought to be within our reach and we hope to get to another Prep A final. We want to advance farther in the MCT (Mercer County Tournament). We are setting the bar higher. The girls are putting in the work; they are competing hard in the preseason.”

ON THE BALL: Hun School boys’ soccer player Alex Semler, right, goes after the ball in a game last fall. Junior defender Semler has emerged as the rock of the Hun backline and helped the Raiders make an unlikely run to the 2013 Mercer County Tournament semifinals as an 11th seed. Hun kicks off regular season play by hosting Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON THE BALL: Hun School boys’ soccer player Alex Semler, right, goes after the ball in a game last fall. Junior defender Semler has emerged as the rock of the Hun backline and helped the Raiders make an unlikely run to the 2013 Mercer County Tournament semifinals as an 11th seed. Hun kicks off regular season play by hosting Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Youth will be served this fall for the Hun School boys’ soccer team.

Losing eight seniors from a 2013 squad that made an unlikely run to the Mercer County Tournament semifinals as an 11th seed, Hun will have sophomores and even some freshmen in key spots this season.

“It really is a youth movement,” said Hun head coach Pat Quirk, who led the Raiders to a 7-12 record last fall. “We have some big shoes to fill.”

In Quirk’s view, the inspirational MCT performance last fall could have a carry-over effect into 2014.

“We had a good run in the MCT last year and the returners have gained confidence from that; we have talked about it,” said Quirk, whose team opens regular season play by hosting Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 12.

“Once the guys play with each other a little more, we will get better. I get that feeling, like I had last year before the MCT. It is a fun group to be around and you see they like to kick it around and play the game.”

At forward, the Raiders will be depending on senior Tucker Stevenson and two young guns, sophomore Andrew Kaye and freshman Jake Keller, to show some game.

“Tucker is going to help us a lot,” said Quirk of Stevenson, who scored four goals in 2013. Andrew Kaye and Jake Keller are also going to be at forward.”

Two sophomores, Pat Nally and Connor Hufer, should get things moving forward from the midfield.

“Pat and Conor are shooting from the midfield,” said Quirk. “They are young, they have a good vision of the game and they have good feet. They can control the ball.”

Hun boasts good depth in the midfield with the return of  junior Devin Ducharme, sophomore Gunnar Schellscheidt, and senior Esham MacAuley

“Devin Ducharme is looking good, Gunnar Schellscheidt has stepped up,” said Quirk.

“Esham MacAuley has moved to the outside. He is a senior; he works hard and knows what to do. He is excited to get out there. He didn’t play much last year; he is seeing the field now and he wants to step up.”

Junior Alex Semler has stepped into a leading role for the Hun back line. “Alex is a rock back there on defense for us,” asserted Quirk. “He brings a lot of enthusiasm. He has that mentality that nobody is getting by us. He is always looking to push forward.”

The trio of sophomore James Nicholas, junior M.J. Cobb, and junior Chris Andrews will help Semler hold the fort.

“Nicholas is on the outside,” added Quirk. “M.J. Cobb has been playing for three years. Chris Andrews is also back there.”

Sophomore Logan Leppo will serve as Hun’s last line of defense as he fills the shoes of graduated star Chris Meinert at goalie.

“Logan Leppo came up through our middle school and was the starting JV goalie last year,” said Quirk.

“He has got skills, he has great reactions, quick hands, makes kick saves, the guys are getting confident in him. We want him to be more aggressive vocally but he is a sophomore and that takes a little time. It is good that we have Semler back there.”

While it may take some time for the Raiders to get into synch, Quirk believes the team can be formidable if it takes care of the basics.

“We have to work on keeping the ball moving.” said Quirk. “We have been talking to them about three keys — playing fast, having good communication, and keeping good possession of the ball.”

SHINING STAR: Hun School field hockey goalie Reina Kern surveys the action in a game last season. Hun is relying on senior star and Penn-bound Kern to have a big year as it looks to improve on the 6-14 record it posted in 2013. The Raiders open regular season play by hosting Academy of New Church on September 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SHINING STAR: Hun School field hockey goalie Reina Kern surveys the action in a game last season. Hun is relying on senior star and Penn-bound Kern to have a big year as it looks to improve on the 6-14 record it posted in 2013. The Raiders open regular season play by hosting Academy of New Church on September 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The Hun School field hockey team boasts strength in numbers as it looks to rebound from a 6-14 campaign last fall.

“We have 45 kids out, two of them are hurt right now,” said longtime Hun head coach Kathy Quirk.

“I have 40 field players and three goalies. The kids are working hard, we have been in preseason since August 22.”

A key to Hun’s success this fall will be getting some good work from its one-two punch of senior Vicky Leach and sophomore Julie Fassl at forward.

“I am looking for big things from Leach and Fassl,” said Quirk, who will also be using freshman Julia Revock on the front line. “

“Vicki is very determined, she is a great kid, very coachable. I am looking for senior leadership from her. Fassl gave up fall ball softball; she has committed herself to being a better field hockey player. She works hard every day in practice. She is great on carrying the ball upfield and making crosses into the circle.”

Quirk will be relying on senior Julia Blake and junior Maura Kelly to carry the team in the midfield.

“We had Blake at center but we are going to go with two midfielders so she will be on the right,” said Quirk, whose team opens regular season play by hosting Academy of New Church on September 11.

“We are hoping that she steps up and scores some goals. Maura Kelly has only played for two years. She has got a lot of speed, she is still learning the game but she is a good learner.”

The trio of senior Shannon Graham, sophomore Sophia Albanese, and senior Taylor Nehlig gives Hun some experience on defense.

“Shannon Graham will anchor the center,” said Quirk. “She left soccer after tearing her ACL. She is still learning the game but she is picking it up; I think playing defense in soccer really helped her. Sophia Albanese will be on one side. Taylor Nehlig on the other side; she is another senior who I hope will step up with her leadership.”

Penn-bound senior goalie Reina Kern figures to be a leading light this fall for the Raiders.

“We are hoping that Reina will have her best year ever,” said Quirk. “She knows the game and is good at directing her teammates. She communicates and keeps them in the right place. I am hoping that she is the strong anchor of the defense.”

Quirk is hoping her team will get better and better as the fall unfolds. “We are very inexperienced at the varsity level; it may take a couple of games for us to get going,” said Quirk.

“We will make progress every game. We may take our lumps before we make that big jump. We need to be goal hungry. Defensively, we need to remember who to mark and then mark them. We have to stay strong and communicate.”

FORWARD PROGRESS: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Tori Hannah controls the ball in a game last season. Junior star Hannah should be a catalyst of the Stuart attack this fall. On Monday, Hannah scored a goal in a losing cause as the Tartans fell 3-2 to Princeton Day School in their season opener. In upcoming action, Stuart plays at the George School (Pa.) on September 11 before hosting Pennington on September 13 and WW/P-S on September 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FORWARD PROGRESS: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Tori Hannah controls the ball in a game last season. Junior star Hannah should be a catalyst of the Stuart attack this fall. On Monday, Hannah scored a goal in a losing cause as the Tartans fell 3-2 to Princeton Day School in their season opener. In upcoming action, Stuart plays at the George School (Pa.) on September 11 before hosting Pennington on September 13 and WW/P-S on September 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The Stuart Country Day School field hockey team is clearly trending upward. After going 3-14-1 in 2012, Stuart improved to 7-14-1 last fall.

As the Tartans get their 2014 campaign underway, head coach Missy Bruvik senses that her players are primed to keep things headed in the right direction.

“In the back of their minds, they would like to be over .500 for the season,” said Bruvik, whose team dropped a 3-2 nailbiter to Princeton Day School last Monday in its season opener.

“We want to be ready for the state and county tournaments, no matter what the record is. We have a strong schedule and that helps us get ready for that.”

Stuart boasts a trio of strong juniors in Tori Hannah, Sam Servis, and Julia Maser.

“The three of them will be vital to midfield, attack, transition, and corners,” said Bruvik. “Julia is such a hustler, she helps on both offense and defense.”

Bruvik will be looking to junior Cate Donahue, junior Rose Tetnowski, and freshman Ali Hannah to help with the scoring.

“Cate Donahue looks good on offense, she has really improved her stick skills,” added Bruvik, who has senior Nneka Onukwugha on the front line.

“Rose has the chance to play all over the field. She is versatile, she is an up and coming athlete. Ali Hannah, Tori’s younger sister, has a strong presence on the field. We are throwing her in there.”

Sophomore Izzy Engel provides Stuart with a strong presence all over the field.

“Izzy Engel can play pretty much anywhere,” said Bruvik. “She is helping us in the backfield on transition, she has great field sense, she can give us four or five interceptions in a game and get the offense going that way.”

On defense, Stuart will be featuring a blend of veterans and new faces in junior Kate Walsh and senior Fayette Plambeck, along with a trio of sophomores, Emily Rounds, Mary O’Boyle, and Madeline McLaughlin.

“Kate Walsh is very versatile,” said Bruvik.

“Emily Rounds will be seeing time on defense. Mary O’Boyle will help us back there. Madeline McLaughlin is new to the team, she has the intangibles, speed, aggression, and nose for the ball.”

Senior Harlyn Bell is showing a lot of intangibles as she replaces graduated star goalie Margaret LaNasa.

“Bell has stepped into the goalie role,” said Bruvik. “She went to a couple of camps this summer and did a great job in goal in our scrimmage against Princeton High.”

On the whole, Bruvik has been impressed with the great work she has been getting from her players so far this season.

“Nneka and Fayette are returning seniors and they are providing great leadership along with the juniors,” said Bruvik, whose team plays at the George School (Pa.) on September 11 before hosting Pennington on September 13 and WW/P-S on September 16.

“There is a lot of heart and hustle, they are very coachable. Communication is key, we need to be on the same page. Everybody needs to know where they have to be on the field. They need to be better at knowing when to get back and when to get forward.”

For the Princeton Day School field hockey team, its season opener against Montgomery High last Friday was the first stage of a season-long growing process.

“I think the whole year is going to be a learning experience for this team, we have so many new faces,” said PDS head coach Tracey Arndt.

“The seniors are learning to step up; we had some vocal seniors last year and now these seniors have to take charge. The juniors know that they have to take on some of the leadership role. We have sophomores who have never played varsity before and we have a bunch of freshmen.”

In the clash against powerful Montgomery, the Panthers fell behind 1-0 but evened the game at 1-1 as one of those freshmen, Elizabeth Brennan tallied her first career goal with an assist by senior tri-captain Dana Poltorak. The Cougars then responded with a goal at the buzzer to take a 2-1 lead into halftime.

“I was proud of how we played in the first half,” said Arndt. “We got scored on and we didn’t let that get to us. We kept playing and going after it.”

After a weather delay of more than an hour due to thunderstorms in the area, the game resumed and Montgomery struck with a goal to make it 3-1, which ended up being the final score.

“When we came back, Montgomery pounced on the opportunities,” lamented Arndt.

“We kept fighting, there was no give up, there was no quit. They realized something like this delay could happen again and they will grow from this first game.”

Arndt was excited to see Brennan come through in the first game of her high school career.

“We were so psyched that she got a goal in her first game, that should be a good memory for her,” said Arndt. “She’s doing great, we expect a lot from her. She is really hungry for the ball, she is passionate about field hockey.”

On defense, junior Kate Laughlin came up big as she moved to the backline in the absence of senior tri-captain Niki van Manen. “We missed Niki but Kate really stepped up, we trust her all over the field,” said Arndt.

“She played in the center in a scrimmage and I know it isn’t her favorite spot. We may find a spot for her in the midfield. She is consistent and strong, she is cool as a cucumber.”

Two of PDS’s new faces, sophomore transfer Kiely French and freshman Kyra Hall, also produced strong defensive efforts. “Kiely French really stepped up, she hadn’t played left back before,” added Arndt. “Kyra Hall played right back, that is a tough position and she stepped up too.”

Senior goalie and tri-captain Katie Alden [this reporter’s daughter] showed some toughness as she stymied a number of Montgomery scoring opportunities.

“Katie Alden made some nice saves,” said Arndt of Alden, who was credited with seven stops. “They had more shots than we did and things could have gotten really shaky if she hadn’t made some of those saves.”

On Monday, the Panthers produced a very nice effort as they edged Stuart Country Day School 3-2 as Lauren Finley, Madison Mundenar, and Rowan Schomburg each scored goals and Alden made eight saves.

In moving to 1-1, the Panthers followed the blueprint Arndt formulated after the Montgomery game.

“We need to build on what we did in the first half; the forwards need to be coming back and tackling hard,” said Arndt, whose squad hosts Peddie on September 10.

“We have a lot of speed and we need to be pressuring the ball and making interceptions. We need Lauren Finley to come up big at forward and Rowan Schomburg to do big things in the midfield.”

September 8, 2014
With demolition of the former Princeton Hospital buildings scheduled to start around September 15, residents of the neighborhood surrounding the property gathered  at Witherspoon Hall Wednesday night to ask questions about noise, dust, and possible health hazards. AvalonBay, the developer of the site, held a public meeting at which John Mucha of Yannuzzi Wrecking and Recycling Corporation answered most of the questions.
Mr. Mucha told residents that precautions were being taken against possible health and environmental hazards. The process could take up to six months, he told the crowd of approximately 50 people. Once the buildings are demolished, AvalonBay plans to build a rental complex of 280 housing units, 56 of which have been designated as affordable.
Residents were told that water will be sprayed and misted during demolition, and dust monitors will be in place. “There may be windy days when we need to stop operations because we can’t control the dust,” Mr. Mucha said. “We’ll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Noise monitors will also be installed. The developer has hired a noise monitoring company to keep noise levels down, but Mr. Mucha said residents should expect to hear  some sounds of breaking concrete slabs and twisting steel during the process. Several residents aired concerns about contamination from particulates. “With the levels they’re talking about, particulates are not going to make it to your property,” the town’s health officer Jeffrey Grosser told a resident who lives across the street from the site. “But for added protection you can keep your windows closed if you live close by.”
AvalonBay has hired a company to photograph residents’ foundations for documentation in case of damage from construction activity. The developer has also created a website, www.avalonprinceton.com, which is now live. The site will include updates and frequently asked questions, according to Jon Vogel, AvalonBay’s vice president of development.
September 3, 2014
Princeton’s Send Hunger Packing program has challenged celebrity chef Brian Duffy, from the television show “Bar Rescue,”  to use ingredients generally available to low-income families to come up an affordable, easy to prepare, nutritious and tasty meal. Mr. Duffy will take on the challenge Sunday, September 14 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at Community Park School. Admission is free to this event, where Mr. Duffy will also help local children cook a meal of their own as a way of demonstrating the personal connection between cooking and nutrition.
Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPP) is hosting this family-friendly event to focust on the issue of child hunger in Princeton, and the efforts underway to ensure that school-aged kids have the nutritional resources they need to succeed in school and life. All of the costs have been donated. The event is sponsored by Princeton Human Services, the Princeton Public Schools, and Mercer Street Friends.  Visit shupprinceton.org for more information.
 
POWERBALL: Princeton University field hockey star Teresa Benvenuti powers the ball down the field in a game last season. Junior midfielder Benvenuti, a two-time first-team All-Ivy League performer, provides good punch in the midfield for the Tigers. No. 7 Princeton opens its 2014 campaign by playing at fourth-ranked Duke on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

POWERBALL: Princeton University field hockey star Teresa Benvenuti powers the ball down the field in a game last season. Junior midfielder Benvenuti, a two-time first-team All-Ivy League performer, provides good punch in the midfield for the Tigers. No. 7 Princeton opens its 2014 campaign by playing at fourth-ranked Duke on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton University field hockey team, its daily theme comes down to one word — work.

The Tigers are working on playing faster, being better off the ball all over the field, playing more directly on offense, touching every ball on defense, and being more physical, among other things.

To monitor the players’ work rate, Princeton is employing state-of-the art Firstbeat technology, a software tool providing an advanced analysis of beat-by-beat heart rate data and oxygen capacity for each player as she goes through practice.

Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn likes the way her players have embraced the heavy workload.

“I am most pleased with how unified the team is,” said Holmes-Winn, who guided the Tigers to a 14-5 record in 2013 with an appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals and the program’s 19th Ivy league title in the last 20 years.

“I give so much credit to the seniors, they worked this spring to see what kind of leaders they were going to be. They are walking the walk, not just talking the talk. You see the energy in a strong way. They are setting the tone and it has transferred to the rest of the team and the freshmen are blending in. We are seeing a level of work.”

Even though Princeton is ranked No. 7 in the Monto/NFHCA preseason poll, the focus is squarely on daily improvement rather than where the Tigers stand nationally.

“I think for us it is not to prove something but to play our best hockey and maximize the group’s potential,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We focus on daily goals in a powerful way, looking to achieve our phase one goals right now. It is all about action.”

The Tigers should get plenty of goals from its group of strikers which includes senior and All-Ivy performer Allison Evans (11 goals and 6 assists in 2013), sophomore Cat Caro (9 goals, 4 assists) and junior Maddie Copeland (5 goals, 1 assist).

“Evans is so feisty, she plays with a chip on her shoulder even though she doesn’t really have one,” said Holmes-Winn.

“She has such energy. She’s utterly effective inside the attacking third. She has quick hands and makes great decisions in there. Cat Caro is so strong and physical but she plays with a beautiful touch on the ball. We are looking for Maddie to provide leadership on the front line.”

Two freshmen, Lexi Quirk and Rachel Park, could provide a spark up front.

“Lexi Quirk is so fit, she can literally run all day,” said Holmes-Winn. “She can chase and run and is a great finisher. Rachel Park has a good physiology and great touch on the ball.”

Junior star Teresa Benvenuti (8 goals, 8 assists), a two-time first-team All-Ivy performer, provides good punch in the midfield.

“Teresa is so, so powerful and her decision-making has improved every year,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We want her to overlap in the front third. She is also a phenomenal defender. She can intercept and tackle. She sets a tone; she has that aggressive mentality.”

Holmes-Winn is looking for senior Sydney Kirby (2 goals, 4 assists) to display a special work ethic in the middle of the field.

“Kirby has such an engine, she ran 2.4 miles in a 15-minute block in practice the other day and the next closest player was at 1.3 miles,” said Holmes-Winn of Kirby, an honorable mention All-Ivy choice last year.

“Her work rate is in the ball park of Katie Reinprecht ’13, she is off the charts. It has been a challenge to keep Sydney healthy. If she is, she will do some serious damage. I am excited to see her evolve this fall.”

The Tigers have several other players who will get work in the midfield. “We also have Ryan McCarthy, Cassidy Arner (2 goals), Ellen Dobrijevic, and Debi-Michelle Jantzen in the midfield,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We have a nice complement of players in the midfield, they can come in and provide support. We are going to need a lot of legs this year.”

Buoyed by the support of star defender and Olympian Julia Reinprecht ’14, Annabeth Donovan (1 goal, 4 assists) enjoyed a superb debut campaign last year, earning first-team All-Ivy honors and being named the league’s Co-Rookie of the Year.

“Donovan is even better than last year, she has refined her ball skills and has much more control,” asserted Holmes-Winn, who will also be using junior Kate Ferrara, senior Colleen Boyce, junior Saskia deQuant, and freshman Sarah Brennan, a former Princeton Day School standout, on defense.

“She has a great level of understanding of that we want to do. Having AB being able to learn from Jules was so crucial. She can come in and play center half, she has big shoes to fill. When Jules got hurt against Penn State in the NCAA tournament, she had to step in and play center half and did a great job; that is part of Julia’s legacy. AB has confidence and brings leadership, she is really a commander out there.”

Holmes-Winn is seeing some commanding efforts from her two goalies, junior Anya Gersoff (a 1.81 goals against average in 13 starts last year) and senior Julia Boyle (4.33 goals against average in two appearances).

“We are lucky to have two of the best goalies in the country, both of them have looked pretty exceptional in preseason,” said Holmes-Winn.

“Our goalie coach, David Williamson, has been working with them. They have really benefitted from him. Anya has been exceptional, she played a lot this summer and it shows. We will look at each week and see who we are playing.”

As usual, Princeton faces a challenging first week of the season, playing at No. 4 Duke on September 5, at No. 6 Virginia on September 7, and at No. 8 Penn State on September 12.

“The beginning of the season is a crap shoot, you play a deep rotation and get players some time to see what you have,” said Holmes-Winn, who guided the Tigers to the 2012 NCAA crown.

“There are a lot of internal questions and we are trying to glean answers. It is a great way to find out who you are. We want to play teams with a level of talent and pace who will be standing at the end. You get used to playing against your own players in practice, it is good to go against other players. All three opponents have different styles and philosophies, different strengths and weaknesses.”

Princeton’s philosophy centers on being strong with the ball and working hard all over the field.

“For us, it is focusing on being more comfortable on the ball,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We want confidence, poise, and more directness in the attacking third. On defense, we want to show poise and physicality and try to get a touch on every single ball.”

KICK-START: Princeton University men’s soccer player Brian Costa prepares to boot the ball upfield in a game last season. Sophomore Costa, an honorable mention, All-Ivy League choice in 2013, should provide energy and production in the midfield for the Tigers this fall. Princeton kicks off its 2014 campaign by playing at Fairleigh Dickinson University (0-2) on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

KICK-START: Princeton University men’s soccer player Brian Costa prepares to boot the ball upfield in a game last season. Sophomore Costa, an honorable mention, All-Ivy League choice in 2013, should provide energy and production in the midfield for the Tigers this fall. Princeton kicks off its 2014 campaign by playing at Fairleigh Dickinson University (0-2) on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In each of the last two seasons, the Princeton University men’s soccer team came agonizingly close to winning the Ivy League.

In 2012, Princeton posted a 4-1-2 league record but Cornell had a 6-1 mark to earn the crown. Last fall, the Tigers went 4-2-1 in the Ivies only to see Penn go 5-1-1 and wrest the title away from them.

Led by a group of nine seniors, Princeton is determined to get over the hump this fall.

“There is a hunger, they are into it,” said longtime Princeton head coach Jim Barlow, assessing the mood around the team in preseason.

“We are seeing energy, spirit, and chemistry. I think we have a nice balance in the senior class positionally. We have vocal leaders and guys who lead by example spread over the field.”

The senior leadership has translated into better communication on the field. “We saw in our scrimmage with Columbia how much more chatter there is,” said Barlow.

“They have a good way of pushing themselves and problem solving without waiting to hear from the coaches. The guys have been through a lot of hard, tough games.”

At forward, the Tigers should make things tough on their foes with a pair of All-Ivy performers in senior Cameron Porter (9 goals and 3 assists in 2013) and junior Thomas Sanner (7 goals, 1 assist) along with senior Julian Griggs (1 assist) and junior Nico Hurtado (2 goals, 2 assists).

“We feel we should be a little more explosive in our attack,” said Barlow.

“We are returning two first-team All-Ivy forwards and if Griggs had been healthy last year, he would have been in contention. Hurtado is creative and clever with the ball. We have some depth and some explosiveness, we are hungry to get them the ball. We are trying to figure the best positions and who should be paired with whom. We may mix and match and have different looks for different games.”

There figures to be a lot of mixing and matching in the midfield as Princeton boasts a number of options there, including junior Brendan McSherry (2 goals, 4 assists), sophomore Brian Costa (1 assist), senior Joe Saitta (1 assist), junior Jack Hilger, and sophomore Bryan Windsor (1 goal).

“We have a lot of depth in the midfield and there is not a lot separating them,” said Barlow.

“McSherry and Costa started the scrimmage, they will see a lot of playing time. There are a lot of guys who are really close. We have to figure out our top group. Some guys are trying to get fit and win a spot so some days they have heavy legs and it is tough to judge.”

Another returning All-Ivy standout, senior Myles McGinley, looks to fill the spot as a link between the defense and the midfield.

“In the spring, we played Myles wide on the right,” noted Barlow. “With Chris Benedict leaving a hole in that spot, we need someone who can defend and attack. We may have Myles at midfield/defender as a guy who gets forward a lot.”

Princeton has a lot of talent on defense, featuring first-team All-Ivy performer senior Josh Miller along with senior Andrew Mills (3 assists), sophomore Patrick Barba, sophomore Mark Romanowski, and sophomore Greg Seifert.

“Miller gives us athleticism and leadership; he keeps the back line committed,” said Barlow of Miller, the only Tiger to start all 17 games last fall.

“He is so tuned in, he reads plays and he helps others get in position. Mills came on at the end last year and he has done well. Barba has been excellent. Romanowski and Seifert are strong athletic defenders. I think we are going to be OK in the back.”

The Tigers look OK in goal with the emergence of 6’6 junior Ben Hummel. “Hummel had an excellent spring, he’s huge and athletic,” said Barlow of Hummel who made two starts last fall and had a goals against average of 1.00.

“He’s athletic for a guy that size, he played a lot of basketball in high school. He has quick movement and is good at changing direction. We are comfortable with the way he plays balls in the box. With his height, he is able to pick off balls that other keepers can’t get to.”

Barlow is hoping his squad gets things going in the right direction when they open regular season play with a game at Fairleigh Dickinson University (0-2) on September 5.

“We remember last year when things were going well in preseason and we went up there for opener and got pummeled 3-0,” said Barlow. “We never could get into a rhythm. The guys are excited for the game. FDU has done well year in, year out. I saw they lost their first game so they will be hungry.”

After going 3-7 in non-conference games last fall, Princeton is hungry to do better in that part of its schedule.

“We have a lot of guys who have been on the field a lot in the last two years,” said Barlow, noting that the team’s freshman class boasts several players who could see playing time as the season unfolds, noting that newcomers Matt Mangini, Daniel Bowkett, Michael Chang, James Reimer, Nicholas Badalamenti, and Chase Bishov all have a good pedigree.

“We want to play stronger in our non-conference games. We all struggled in the league last year except Dartmouth and then they couldn’t win in the conference. For us to get more than one team from the league in the NCAA tournament, we need to have a better RPI (Rating Percentage Index).”

Barlow, for his part, believes his team just has to be a little bit better around the goal at both ends of the field to produce a strong campaign.

“I think we can create chances with our athleticism, experience, and talent up the field,” said Barlow.

“We had chances last year but we didn’t put them away at a high percentage. The last part was not sharp enough. We can’t be panicking when we get behind defense; we need to be composed at the finish. We need to be better on re-starts, attacking, and defending on corner kicks and on throw-ins. Being rock solid defensively is the starting point.”

ON THE LOOSE: Tyler Lussi goes after the ball last fall in her freshman season season with the Princeton University women’s soccer team. Lussi made an immediate impact for the Tigers, scoring a team-high 10 goals. She will be looking to keep up her scoring as Princeton opens up its 2014 campaign by hosting Rutgers (3-0) on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON THE LOOSE: Tyler Lussi goes after the ball last fall in her freshman season season with the Princeton University women’s soccer team. Lussi made an immediate impact for the Tigers, scoring a team-high 10 goals. She will be looking to keep up her scoring as Princeton opens up its 2014 campaign by hosting Rutgers (3-0) on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Julie Shackford feels like a college senior again as she looks ahead to coaching the Princeton University women’s soccer team this fall.

In August, Shackford announced that her 20th campaign at the helm of the program would be her swan song, something that has linked her with the team’s Class of 2015.

“I wanted to tell them before the season so they could experience it with me,” said Shackford, who is getting remarried and relocating to Virginia.

“I told the team and the seniors are calling me one of them. They have all been supportive and really phenomenal about it.”

In making her decision to retire, Shackford is entering the last lap of a phenomenal run.

“It has been 20 years at Princeton and 25 years in coaching,” said Shackford, who has a 196-109-26 record at Princeton with an appearance in the 2004 College Cup Final 4 and six Ivy League titles and posted a 42-21-4 in five years at Carnegie Mellon before taking over the Tigers.

“I have given almost half my life to a great institution. I wanted to go out now, it feels right.”

Shackford believes the team’s group of nine seniors can help get the Tigers back on the right track as the program looks to rebound from going 7-6-4 overall last year and 1-5-1 in Ivy play.

“We have a big senior class and historically those have been the teams that have done well in the Ivy League,” said Shackford. “The senior class is pretty intent; they have guided the group.”

The Tigers appear to have a pretty good attack group, paced by sophomore Tyler Lussi, who had a team-high 10 goals along with four assists in her debut campaign. She will be joined by senior Melissa Downey (3 goals and 1 assist in 2013), senior Gabrielle Ragazzo (1 goal, 2 assists), senior Liana
Cornacchio, and freshman Beth Stella.

“Lussi is looking good,” said Shackford, noting that she plans to go with a 4-2-3-1 formation this season.

“I think Melissa is ready to do her thing, she was coming off a knee injury last year. I moved Ragazzo up top from the back. We are going to play a target, I have Liana and freshman Beth Stella in that spot.”

In the midfield, the Tigers will have a distinctive Canadian flavor as sophomore Nicole Loncar (1 assist), freshman Vanessa Gregoire, and freshman Alessia Azermadhi all hail from north of the border.

“We will have some holding midfielders,” said Shackford. “Nicole had a compartment injury last year and she is really doing well. Vanessa played for the Canada U-20 team. She is a good player, she is already leading that group. Alessia will be in that spot. We will have players rotating through that middle spot, including Jessica Haley (3 goals, 2 assists).”

Shackford has rotated two key players, sophomore Jess McDonough (1 goal, 1 assist) and senior Lauren Lazo (5 goals, 7 assists), to the back of the field in order to shore up the defense.

“McDonough is going to be playing in the middle of the back line so she needs to make a big jump,” said Shackford, who will also use junior Emily Sura (1 assist) and freshman Natalie Larkin on the back line.

“I have moved Lazo to the back. She is so quick and can still get points from that position. She played there all spring and looked really good.”

At goalie, senior Darcy Hargadon (1.42 goals against average in 12 starts last year) has been looking good as she heads into her final campaign.

“Darcy has done well in the preseason, I think she is ready to really step up,” said Shackford, whose reserve keepers are sophomore Hannah Winner and senior MicKenzie Roberts-Lahti.

The Tigers will need to step up from the start as they open the 2014 campaign by hosting Rutgers on September 5.

“That is a tough opening game, they have already won two games and they are good up top,” said Shackford of the Scarlet Knights, who topped Seton Hall 1-0 last Friday to improve to 3-0. “We have never backed away from a challenge.”

While Shackford knows it will be a challenge for Princeton to return to the top of the Ivies, she thinks the squad has the ability to make her farewell tour memorable.

“We will be a talented team,” said Shackford, who guided the Tigers to the 2012 Ivy title as they went 7-0 in league play for the second time in Shackford’s tenure.

“I think we will be good on attack but we will need the younger kids in the back to mature and stay in position. If the defense and goaltending is good, I think we will be a contender.”

BEARING DOWN: Princeton High field hockey player Julia ­DiTosto controls the ball in action last fall. Senior star and Stanford-bound DiTosto figures to spark PHS at both ends of the field as it looks to improve on the 13-4-2 record it posted in 2103. The Little Tigers start regular season play with a game at Allentown on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BEARING DOWN: Princeton High field hockey player Julia ­DiTosto controls the ball in action last fall. Senior star and Stanford-bound DiTosto figures to spark PHS at both ends of the field as it looks to improve on the 13-4-2 record it posted in 2103. The Little Tigers start regular season play with a game at Allentown on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Heather Serverson doesn’t have to wait for the season to begin to know that her Princeton High field hockey team is on the same page.

PHS features a battle-tested core of veterans who played key roles last year as the Little Tigers advanced to the Mercer County Tournament semis and the sectional quarterfinals.

“The seniors have been providing a spark, they are the glue that holds the team together,” said PHS head coach Serverson, who guided the Little Tigers to a 13-4-2 record in 2013.

“This group has experienced some key games with the MCT against HoVal and the states against Warren Hills. They are a close group, that is one thing I always focus on and I don’t have to put a lot of work into that with this team. They blend well together on and off the field and that is something that can’t be forced.”

The one-two punch of seniors Lucy Herring and Campbell McDonald should be a force on the front line this fall.

“They are looking really good, their experience is paying off,” said Serverson of Herring and McDonald, who will be joined by senior Elisa Kostenbader, sophomore Avery Peterson, and senior Cara Straus on the front line.

“They play year round together with their club. I am noticing composure and calm in them around the cage.”

Senior Julia DiTosto provides composure all over the field as a top defender who can trigger the offense through the midfield.

“If I had to sum it up, she has great game knowledge and she is a great ball distributor,” said Serverson of the Stanford-bound DiTosto.

“She can score and she can shut down the other team from scoring, you can’t ask for much more than that from a player.”

The Little Tigers boast a blend of veteran players and new faces in the midfield with the return of junior Trish Reilly, sophomore Jordyn Cane and junior Lucia Matteo and the addition of junior Natalie Campisi and sophomore Anna Cincotta.

“Trish complements Julia well,” said Serverson. “I have her on the right side but I am also putting her at center mid once in a while for the future. Cane and Matteo are back. We have two newcomers, Natalie Campisi and Anna Cincotta, and they are looking good.”

Along the back line, junior Julia Snyder and sophomore Georgia McLean are looking good.

“Julia Snyder is solid; she has really improved from last year,” asserted Serverson, who also has junior Allison Spann on defense.

“Her confidence level has increased from last year, it is catching up with her skills. I see McLean getting a lot of time back there. She will help us out. She moved from midfield to defense on her club team and she is really feisty back there.”

At goalie, junior Maggie Welch and freshman Kate Rogers will be vying for playing time.

“Right now we are looking at a rotation,” said Serverson. “They have different strengths and weaknesses, it will be a game-by-game situation.”

In Serverson’s view, PHS’s ability to win a lot of games this fall will be enhanced by its special team chemistry.

“I think they have the potential like last year’s team; the real strength is that a lot of them have been playing together for two or three years,” said Serverson, whose team opens the season by playing at Allentown on September 5.

“The experience they have gotten from those games is so valuable. The MCT game may have been more valuable, it showed what we are capable of. The skill, experience, and tightness as a group are the things that will pull us through.”

GETTING THEIR KICKS: Members of the Princeton High boys’ soccer team go through a drill during a practice last week at the Valley Road fields. PHS, which posted a 10-6-2 record last fall, starts its 2014 campaign by playing at Trenton High on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GETTING THEIR KICKS: Members of the Princeton High boys’ soccer team go through a drill during a practice last week at the Valley Road fields. PHS, which posted a 10-6-2 record last fall, starts its 2014 campaign by playing at Trenton High on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 2013, the Princeton High boys’ soccer team displayed flashes of superb play but the proud squad fell short of its usual standard of postseason success.

Used to contending for county and state titles, PHS was knocked out of the Mercer County Tournament in the first round and exited in the sectional semis at the state level as it finished the fall with a 10-6-2 record.

As longtime Little Tiger head coach Wayne Sutcliffe looks ahead to the upcoming season, he believes his squad has the mentality to again be a postseason force.

“The goal of this group is to achieve something,” said Sutcliffe, whose team opens its 2014 campaign by playing at Trenton High on September 5.

“They are aware that if you take it one training session at a time and one game at a time, big things can happen.”

PHS is expecting big things from versatile senior star Chase Ealy, who has excelled at midfield and defense but will be handling the striker role this season.

“Chase is our guy who has the most experience,” said Sutcliffe, who guided the Little Tigers to a state title in 2009 and state co-championship in 2012.

“He is a senior level player. He helps us on the training ground, in games, and especially big games. He has been doing a great job so far at striker. It looks like we will be playing one striker.”

Sutcliffe believes his midfield could emerge as a potent strike force, featuring junior Cole Snyder, sophomore Andrew Goldsmith, sophomore Sam Serxner, junior Nick Halliday, and sophomore Alex Ratzen.

“Cole Snyder has had a good start this summer,” said Sutcliffe. “Goldsmith is doing well. Sam Serxner is a great addition. Nick has been great. Alex Ratzen came up as a freshman last year and changed games for us.”

A trio of juniors, Edgar Morales, Chris Harla, and Dwight Donis, could be game-changers on defense.

“Edgar, Chris, and Dwight have a lot of experience,” said Sutcliffe.

“Dwight and Chris are the two center backs. Edgar is just getting cleared. We are not sure where we will slot him in, he could be a defender, could be a forward.”

Senior goalie and three-year starter Laurenz Reimitz is battle-tested and skilled. “Laurenz has been great,” said Sutcliffe, noting that Reimitz sparkled in a recent preseason scrimmage against Scotch Plains.

“It is his third year, he has a lot of experience in games and big games. His presence is felt by more people; his command of the box is better. I am happy with his current form.”

Sutcliffe likes the form his team has displayed collectively as it girds for the season.

“There is great spirit in this group, I am very happy with their response so far,” said Sutcliffe.

“We definitely feel good about things, the goals are hard work and the expectation to play good soccer. We are happy with our depth and balance. We are looking to get things going on a good note.”

NEW VISION: Val Rodriguez (wearing sunglasses) surveys the action during a recent training session for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team. Rodriguez, a former PHS standout and assistant coach for the last six years, has taken the helm of the program in the wake of the retirement of longtime head coach Greg Hand. PHS, which went 14-4 last year, opens the 2014 campaign by hosting Trenton High on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

NEW VISION: Val Rodriguez (wearing sunglasses) surveys the action during a recent training session for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team. Rodriguez, a former PHS standout and assistant coach for the last six years, has taken the helm of the program in the wake of the retirement of longtime head coach Greg Hand. PHS, which went 14-4 last year, opens the 2014 campaign by hosting Trenton High on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Val Rodriguez (nee Davison) played an integral part in the success of the Princeton High girls’ soccer team from 2000-03.

Starring as a tough and skilled sweeper, Rodriguez helped the program earn Colonial Valley Conference titles and reach the finals of the both the Central Jersey Group III sectional and the Mercer County Tournament.

After producing an all-conference career at Richard Stockton College, Rodriguez returned to her high school alma mater, assisting longtime head coach Greg Hand.

Now, Rodriguez is primed to assume a critical role in maintaining the winning tradition of the program, taking over as head coach in the wake of Hand’s retirement.

“I have been looking forward to this day for a while,” said Rodriguez, reflecting on ascending to the top job after six seasons as an assistant.

“I enjoyed working with coach Hand and I learned a lot from him. My goal was to be the next head coach and start a new era in PHS girls’ soccer.”

With Rodriguez’s PHS background and experience with the current players, the Little Tigers have picked up where they left off last year when they posted a 14-4 record.

“I think compared to coach Hand, I won’t do things much differently,” said Rodriguez, whose team opens regular season play by hosting Trenton High on September 5.

“It will be business as usual. We have some great young female assistant coaches and we are all very competitive-minded. It has been a smooth transition. The respect is there; the team work is there.”

The scoring punch is there for PHS with the return of senior striker Shannon Pawlak, who tallied 28 goals last season.

“Shannon is our go-to target player,” said Rodriguez, noting that junior Serena DiBianco and junior Gabrielle Deitch may also see time at forward.

“We are looking for her to dish balls and to do scoring. She is fit, focused, and did a lot over the offseason.”

In the midfield, the Little Tigers boast a lot of talent in junior Hayley Bodden, junior Taylor Lis, sophomore Zoe Tesone, Deitch, and junior Sasha Ryder.

“Hayley, Taylor, and Zoe are big girls and good distributors,” said Rodriguez. “Gabby and Sasha will be on the outside.”

Rodriguez is looking for Bodden, in particular, to have a very good season. “I have never seen Hayley more focused,” said Rodriguez.

“She is fit; she is looking heavily at the college level and that is showing through in her play. I am expecting her to win the 50/50 balls like she did last year, to dish, and score some goals.”

Another Pawlak sister, senior Emily, should spearhead the PHS defense. “Emily is looking good; she and Shannon worked hard in the offseason,” said Rodriguez, who will also use junior Maya Sarafin on the back line. “She is good at organizing things in the back. She has a good voice and is a good decision-maker.”

Junior goalie Rachel Eberhart has emerged as a solid last line of defense for the Little Tigers.

“Rachel is very good technically,” said Rodriguez. “We are working on her decision-making, communication, and knowing when to come out.”

In Rodriguez’s view, PHS knows what it takes to do well this fall. “This team can maintain and build on recent success,” asserted Rodriguez.

“There is no wasted time, we are here for business. It is a focused group. Looking at this team, it feels like we have played together for years. There is already a tight bond.”

SOLE CONTROL: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Stef Soltesz controls the ball in a recent training session. Senior star defender Soltesz figures to be a key performer as PDS looks to defend its Mercer County Tournament title. The Panthers start regular season play with a game at New Hope-Solebury (Pa.) on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SOLE CONTROL: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Stef Soltesz controls the ball in a recent training session. Senior star defender Soltesz figures to be a key performer as PDS looks to defend its Mercer County Tournament title. The Panthers start regular season play with a game at New Hope-Solebury (Pa.) on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming off a frustrating 4-9-4 season in 2012, the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team didn’t appear to be a championship contender last fall.

But producing a dramatic reversal of fortune, PDS went 17-2-1, winning the Mercer County Tournament for the first time and taking second in the state Prep B tourney.

Entering the 2014 campaign, PDS knows it is the hunted team after last year’s heroics.

“There is a big target on their backs; this is the first time the team has been in this position,” said head coach Pat Trombetta, whose team opens regular season play with a game at New Hope-Solebury (Pa.) on September 5.

“We have a good core of players here, they are excited to defend their county title.”

The Panthers boast a solid core of battle-tested seniors in Erin Hogan, Kirsten Kuzmicz, Erin Murray, Alexa Soltesz, Stef Soltesz, Jamie Thomas, and Kelly Tarcza along with a group of improving sophomores that features Abby Atkeson, Hannah Bunce, Alexis Davis, Allison Klei, Emily Simons, and Katie Simons.

“Kirsten and Erin are our captains, there is good leadership there,” said Trombetta.

“They are both passionate players and respected by their teammates. The twins give us a big boost with Alexa on offense and Stef on defense. The sophomores are one of the most improved groups I have seen in a while. I think a big part of it was being on a championship team and they saw what it takes.”

Alexa Soltesz appears to be in championship form already at forward. “Alexa is looking great, she has improved every year,” asserted Trombetta. “She has one of the best turns I have seen with her back to goal, she has a really quick move.”

Freshman striker Ann Xu has proved to be a quick study. “Ann Xu is a skilled player who plays outside of school,” added Trombetta, who will also use Murray at forward. “She is a passionate player. She is going to be a starter.”

The midfield features a number of skilled players, including Kuzmicz, Klei, freshman Madison Coyne, Atkeson, and Bunce.

“Kirsten is playing well,” said Trombetta. “We are expecting her to win a lot of 50/50 battles; she gives us a real presence. Allison Klei is playing well, she came back in great shape. Madison Coyne is a talented player, she is another freshman who is going to start. Abby Atkeson and Hannah Bunch will be on the outside.”

On defense, the trio of Stef Soltesz, Hogan, and Davis should win a lot of battles along the back line.

“It is great having Stef back there, any time we make a mistake on defense, she is there to sweep it up,” said Trombetta, who will also be using junior Isabel Meyercord and Tarcza on defense.

“She is a goalie’s best friend. Erin had a great second half last year. We are looking for her to build on that. Alexis Davis was on offense last year but we are moving her to defense, we think she gives us depth there.”

In goal, freshman Grace Barbara gives PDS an exciting new face. “Grace Barbara is starting in goal, she is a dynamite keeper,” said Trombetta.

“She is very talented. She can play balls with her feet and gives us a lot of options. She is playing beyond her years, she is yelling out there and is in control.”

Trombetta, for his part, believes his team can build on last year’s success. “The major goals are to defend the county title and win the state Prep title,” said Trombetta.

“People ask what can you do for an encore; we didn’t win both last year. We have to take it one game at a time. The No. 1 key to success is to stay healthy and the No. 2 is to find someone to step up on free kicks.”

SAVING GRACE: Princeton Day School field hockey senior goalie Katie Alden makes a save in a recent training session. Tri-captain Alden and the Panthers will get their 2014 season underway by hosting Montgomery on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SAVING GRACE: Princeton Day School field hockey senior goalie Katie Alden makes a save in a recent training session. Tri-captain Alden and the Panthers will get their 2014 season underway by hosting Montgomery on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

A quartet of skilled seniors, Sarah Brennan, Emma Quigley, Mary Travers, and Emily Goldman, carried the bulk of the scoring load last fall as the Princeton Day School field hockey team advanced to the state Prep B semifinals.

With the graduation of those standouts, three of whom are playing college field hockey (Brennan at Princeton, Quigley at Brown, and Travers at Tufts), PDS will have a different look on attack this season.

“For us, it is totally about team play and team finishing,” said Panther head coach Tracey Arndt, who guided the squad to a 9-10 record in 2013.

“So to look for one person, I don’t think that is going to be our bread and butter this year. It is going to be the team that is successful and not relying on a couple of players, which was great about last year, but this year everybody gets to step up and be a part of it and that is a great thing too.”

Arndt will be relying on some young players to grow up fast as junior Lauren Finley and a pair of freshmen, Elizabeth Brennan and Gretchen Lindenfeldar, will be at forward.

“Lauren has done a great job, she is a forward who has really improved,” said Arndt, who also has sophomores Suma Kanuri and Emma Garcia along with freshmen Emma Latham and Madison Mundenar on the front line.

“I think her finishing skills have really stepped up so we are going to look to her as a leader because we did lose a lot of leadership on the forward line. We have Gretchen and Elizabeth coming in, they have showed us some really good stuff in the last week so we look to them to be finishers as well.”

PDS will be looking for senior tri-captain Dana Poltorak and juniors Rowan Schomburg and Kate Laughlin to spearhead the midfield.

“Dana is going to play midfield for us as well,” said Arndt, whose corps of midfielders will also include freshman Catherine Laylin and sophomore Catherine Stevens.

“She has really picked up her game. She has a great hit that we are going to look to use. She is just really fluid with her stickwork so we do like that. Rowan is going to be a good step up for us in the midfield, we are going to look for her and her tenacity around the goal cage. Kate Laughlin is back, she played left mid for us last year, she may be moving into a more defensive role. She is just really patient, consistent, and steady; we really need that. We’ll look for her on the left side of the field for sure.”

Another senior tri-captain, Niki van Manen, brings skill and savvy to the back line.

“Niki brings a lot of good experience, she brings a lot of composure,” said Arndt, whose defensive unit will also include junior Katie Shih.

“We moved her from a left mid position to a defensive role last year and she really took that on with strength. She knows how we want the game to be played. I just look for her strength, her defensive consistency. She has the best of both worlds, she can play attack and she can play defense so we look to use her for both.”

Youth will also be served on defense as freshmen Kyra Hall and Elena Schomburg along with sophomore transfer Kiely French should see action.

“Elena Schomburg has done a good job as has Kyra Hall,” said Arndt. “Kiely French is a great athlete and she is really coachable. I think we can use her in a lot of different positions, which is going to be really important for us to fill any voids that we have.”

Last fall, Katie Alden (this reporter’s daughter) filled a void at goalie and Arndt is expecting the senior tri-captain to benefit from that experience.

“We really needed Katie to step up last year; we had some new faces on the outside and now this year we certainly will again,” said Arndt, whose back-up goalie is sophomore Kyra Mason.

“She stepped up her game. She is stronger physically and she definitely has a stronger presence. I think she gained a lot of confidence last year. I just remember in a couple of our last games, she really took control of the circle. We look for her to continue to do that and continue that wave of confidence.”

With PDS opening its 2014 campaign by hosting Montgomery on September 5, Arndt believes the sum will be greater than the parts for the Panthers this fall.

“The key to our success this year is to play as a team,” said Arndt. “We have the skill, we have the ability but it is bringing it together. There is not going to be one person that I can say you go take the ball and do it. It really is going to be everybody but I think that really makes the success even sweeter when every single person from our freshmen to the senior captains are really going to be a part of our success. I am looking forward to that because everybody has to step up this year.”

Based on the first few weeks of preseason, Arndt sees things coming together for her squad. “There is a lot of support, both on and off the field,” said Arndt.

“They are very coachable students. They are very adaptable. We ask them to make a change and they make a change. We have seen a lot of growth and for us, it truly is taking it one game at a time. We are going to take this half and see if we can improve to the next half and then go game by game. We have lofty goals but at the same time, we have to focus on each game at a time and that is when the success will come.”

August 29, 2014

University Place, which has been closed from College Road to Alexander Street, will reopen to vehicular traffic this morning, Thursday, August 28. The temporary traffic signal at the intersection of College Road and Alexander Street will be in “flash” mode today, August 28 and tomorrow, August 29; it will then be removed. The TigerPaWW bus stop will remain at College Road, across from the entrance to McCarter Theatre Center. Bus schedules will not change. Please follow posted signs when walking, biking and/or driving through the area. Updated maps showing vehicular, pedestrian, and bike detours are available on the Arts and Transit Project website. For more information, call 609-258-8023.

August 27, 2014

The Princeton Pedestrian and Bike Advisory Committee is looking for original art to be on the cover of a new “Biking in Princeton” map that is being developed. Artists or photographers interested in submitting an image that might be appropriate for the map can do so by Wednesday, September 10. The committee would like submissions in a digital file rather than hard copy, sent to pjpbac@gmail.com. Entries will be accepted until midnight. Artists will be donating their images to be shared with the public, but will be credited.

(Asked at Saturday’s “Justice for Michael Brown” rally)

 
TT Monifa Harrison (L) & Ashante Thompson (R)

Monifa: “I have two African American sons, and each time I see another black man shot down by police officers it scares me. We raise them to be nice people, to be respectful, and to be educated, and then all of a sudden just because people suspect others to be doing something that they’re not supposed to be doing, they take away our children.”

Ashante: “I have two boys and it’s important for me to make a statement that we need to make a change and this is a real situation. This is not the first time and it’s not going to be the last time. And we need to make a resolution to stop the violence.”

—Monifa Harrison, Trenton (L) and Ashante Thompson, Princeton

TT Joshua Snyder (L) Tyler Ownes (2) zion Madden (3) & Tristan Harrison (R)

Joshua: “Because it’s very bad, what we are doing to people, and we should stop it.”

Tyler: “So we can change things. No guns.”

Zion: “To make a change. A change to make it peaceful.”

Tristan: “Because I want to have peace in the world. And I don’t want to be afraid of police officers.”—(Left to right) Joshua Snyder, Tyler Owens, Zion Madden, Princeton; 

Tristan Harrison, Trenton


TT Glenda Mendelsohn (L) & Monice Flint (R)

Glenda: “I work in Princeton for an organization called the Center for Family Community and Social Justice and we go into inner-city schools throughout the state of New Jersey and we work with high-risk families and youth. Our main goal is to break the pipeline between school and prison. And we feel that all across America the fact that young black youth are being shot or going to prison concerns us.”

Monice: “I heard about the rally from my friend Glenda and I was so very saddened and shocked by the death of Trayvon Martin and strongly felt that the incident could have been avoided. And I didn’t demonstrate at the time and then when I found out about Michael Brown, I really wanted to stand up for justice and for young people. There must be another way for the police to control the way they perceive rowdy behavior as justification for shooting someone.”

—Glenda Mendelsohn, Yardley, Pa. (L) and Monice Flint, Newtown, Pa.

 
TT Sarah Roberts

“I’m here because I believe that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And I feel just heartbroken about all of the young people who are being killed and racism is just such a horrible thing and I couldn’t not come. It is a very small thing to do to register my protest.”

—Sarah Roberts, Belle Mead


TT Max Shane

“I believe that in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting, we have to be more aware and more conscious of racial profiling.”—Max Shane, Princeton


TT Carl DeFazio (L) & Lawrence Lieberman (R)

Carl: “I just want to be informed about the other side. I feel policemen, in this case, and in many cases, don’t always get to defend themselves publicly, as we’ve just seen where people came out and tried to put up a defense for the officers involved and were quickly whisked away. I’m speaking as a retiree from the NYPD, and I really am not wanting to be taking a side but would just like to be as informed as I can about these tragic events.”

Lawrence: “This case seems to be a rush to judgment. There need to be cooler heads. Hopefully this remains calm. There is an indictment on both sides. Let the grand jury do their jobs. More violence would only fan the flames.”

—Carl DeFazio, Princeton (L) and Lawrence Lieberman, Princeton

 
BACK IN THE FLOW: Heidi Robbins gives her all in a 2013 race for the Princeton University women’s open varsity 8 during her senior season. Robbins made the U.S. women’s 8 for the 2013 World Rowing Championships but was unable to compete after suffering a back injury. Recovering from that setback, Robbins regained her spot on the 8 and is competing this week for the U.S in this year’s World Championship regatta, which is taking place in Amsterdam, Netherlands from August 24-31.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Rowing)

BACK IN THE FLOW: Heidi Robbins gives her all in a 2013 race for the Princeton University women’s open varsity 8 during her senior season. Robbins made the U.S. women’s 8 for the 2013 World Rowing Championships but was unable to compete after suffering a back injury. Recovering from that setback, Robbins regained her spot on the 8 and is competing this week for the U.S in this year’s World Championship regatta, which is taking place in Amsterdam, Netherlands from August 24-31. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Rowing)

Starting rowing as a walk-on to the Princeton University women’s open crew program in 2009, Heidi Robbins has enjoyed an astonishing rise up the sport’s ladder.

Robbins, a native of Hanover, N.H., made the Tiger varsity 8 as a sophomore and helped the boat win the NCAA championship in 2011. She then earned a spot in the U.S. U-23 program and was on the U.S. women’s 8 that earned gold in the 2012 U-23 world championships.

After ending her Princeton career in 2013 by helping the varsity 8 to a win in the Ivy League regatta and a second place finish at the NCAAs,  Robbins joined the U.S. senior national team.

In her first race with the U.S. women’s 8, she competed from the stroke seat as the boat set a world record of 5:54.16 for 2,000-meters in a world cup race in Lucerne.

Robbins was later chosen for the U.S. women’s 8 to compete in the 2013 World Rowing Championships at Linz, Austria.

But then Robbins hit the first roadblock of her rowing career. “We were over there and training and I hurt my back,” said Robbins.

“I had a herniated disc, it was sudden and it was pretty definite that I was going to be sidelined. It was a devastating loss, I had been so excited to be part of something.”

After months of rest and rehab, Robbins got back in the flow this year and made the U.S. women’s 8 that will be competing this week in the 2014 worlds, which is taking place in Amsterdam, Netherlands from August 24-31.

For Robbins, the injury setback helped give her a new perspective on the sport.

“It shifted the way I thought about things; it is a long haul and things aren’t always going to go well,” said Robbins.

“I know there are going to be blows and that I can come back. I know it is going to be a long haul and I still have a long way to go. I talked to some of the older rowers and it hasn’t been a straight line for them. The trajectory for everyone has been up and down; everyone has been there.”

Robbins ended her PU career on an up note in 2013, helping the Tiger varsity 8 to first in the Ivy regatta and second at the NCAAs.

“As a senior, to have that kind of race at the NCAAs was a good way to finish,” said Robbins.

“It was quite a race. It was a long season and there were races that we won but didn’t have the speed we wanted. We came together in that last race. We were up on the other boats at 500 meters. We threw it all down and Cal came through at the end.”

Things came together in college for Robbins through her decision to take up rowing. “I think the Princeton program has given me a lot of support,” said Robbins.

“It gave me confidence and helped me find myself in college. It gave me the feeling that I mattered, that I had a role and that people were invested in me. When you leave college, you realize you are on your own.”

It didn’t take long for Robbins to grasp that she was going solo after college.

“I had graduation and then the next day I was at national team practice,” recalled Robbins.

“The train kept rolling, the more I thought about it, the more scared I got. It was a very different system. There was a sense of loss, there was a little grieving. I couldn’t believe college was over and I was going to miss it terribly but there is a time and place for that.”

Despite ultimately getting chosen for the U.S. women’s 8, Robbins still harbored some fears.

“When I made it, it was oh my god, this is the two-time Olympic gold medalist,” said Robbins. “I was really intimidated. I put my head down and continued to do what I knew.”

Helping the U.S. boat set a world record in her debut at the senior level was a heady experience for Robbins.

“Lucerne was my first race, you talk about having some nerves,” said Robbins.

“I was at stroke. You just have to do what you know, I put my blinders on. It was a tremendous race, it was a lot of fun. You are so in a zone. At 1,000 meters, the cox, Katelin Snyder, told us the split and it was like an out of body experience the rest of the race. It was just driving and driving as hard as you could.”

Displaying her drive, Robbins has worked hard to get back up to full speed in rehabbing from her injury.

“It took time for me to get my strength back,” said Robbins. “It took three months before I felt I had my old self back again. I have gotten stronger physically, so hopefully I won’t get hurt rowing. I am better at taking care of my body and recovering.”

For Robbins, regaining her place on the 8 for the worlds left her with a feeling of redemption.

“I am so grateful to have another chance,” said Robbins. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity. The majority of last year’s boat is back with some new additions. There is a fun dynamic.”

That dynamic mixed with some arduous training has Robbins excited about the boat’s prospects in Amsterdam.

“The training has been good; they told us to expect to feel tired getting on the plane for the flight over there,” said Robbins.

“There are always expectations. You have to take it like it is your first time and take your best shot. It is my first time; I can’t wait to be out there.”

Now, Robbins is hoping to ascend to the summit of rowing by competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“That is the goal,” said Robbins, who has been keeping busy off the water by working in a lab with the Princeton biology department and hopes to go to medical school someday.

“When I first got rowing with the national team I was asked how long I was going to be rowing and I said my dream would be the Olympics. I was quiet about it at first. It is my goal, it is my dream so I don’t need to be quiet about it.”