April 16, 2014
JUSTIN TIME: Hun School baseball player Justin Pontrella takes a swing last Wednesday as Hun hosted the Hill School (Pa.). With junior first baseman Pontrella contributing three hits in the contest, including a pair of bases-clearing doubles, Hun cruised to a 13-3 win. In upcoming action, Hun, now 4-2, plays at Princeton Day School on April 16 and at Pennington on April 17 before hosting Rutgers Prep on April 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

JUSTIN TIME: Hun School baseball player Justin Pontrella takes a swing last Wednesday as Hun hosted the Hill School (Pa.). With junior first baseman Pontrella contributing three hits in the contest, including a pair of bases-clearing doubles, Hun cruised to a 13-3 win. In upcoming action, Hun, now 4-2, plays at Princeton Day School on April 16 and at Pennington on April 17 before hosting Rutgers Prep on April 22.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After playing on the Hun School’s junior varsity baseball team in 2013, Justin Pontrella struggled in the early going this spring as he made the move up to the varsity.

With Hun hosting the Hill School (Pa.) last Wednesday, Pontrella decided he needed some extra work.

“Coming into this game, I wasn’t hitting well,” said junior first baseman Pontrella.

“I got down the field real early today and did a lot of easy swings. I got back into the groove and started feeling my hands again.”

In the bottom of the third inning, Pontrella’s work paid dividends as he drilled a liner through the infield.

“I got a base hit single and that was a confidence booster,” said Pontrella. “I started letting it fly.”

Pontrella flew high the rest of the day, belting bases-clearing doubles in the fourth and fifth innings.

While his first double was a hard grounder past the third baseman, the second was a towering shot to the left field fence. “I feel like I got a hold of it and I was on second base as soon as I got out of the batter’s box,” said Pontrella, reflecting on the fifth inning blast.

After getting the spring off to a disappointing start with a 7-6 loss at the Blair Academy in a Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) contest, the Raiders have caught fire, winning three of four games, including a 9-5 win over Lawrenceville on April 8 and a 10-0 victory over Peddie last Friday.

“Our first game was against Blair and we lost that; we kind of used that as motivation,” said Pontrella.

“In the next two MAPL games, we were pretty fired up and we got two wins.”

In Pontrella’s view, Hun’s team unity has helped the squad come together quickly.

“It has the best chemistry out of any team I have played on because it has young talent,” said Pontrella.

“We have got a lot of guys who really want to be here. No one feels like they are better than anyone. We are all here to do it together.”

Hun head coach Bill McQuade senses a one-for-all, all-for-one spirit on the team.

“The interesting thing that I have seen so far is that they pull for each other; it is not cliquey,” said McQuade.

“We don’t have those kids right now who are going big-time D-I or anything like that. We have good ballplayers. I like to say that we have good high school players that can play at the next level, some of them can play D-III. Those kids win if they put it all together. Teams win; individuals rarely ever win.”

McQuade likes the way Pontrella has put things together in his debut campaign for the varsity.

“He hit the ball well on the JVs; he has power which he shows,” said McQuade.

“He takes as much extra batting practice as anyone. He bats on the weekends, he comes down here on the weekends and steals my baseballs out of the cage and hits all weekend. He loves the game. He has got some of the softest hands at first base of any first baseman I have ever had. He has saved our infield of I don’t how many errors already and we have only played three or four games.”

In the win over Hill, senior pitcher Patrick Donahue gave the Raiders some good work.

“Donahue hung in there,” said McQuade of the senior hurler who gave up three runs in five innings of work to earn the win.

“He tends to throw a lot of pitches. I think he got frustrated with a couple of calls and then he overthrew. I told him we need you to go 6 and 7 innings, not 5 innings which means that you can’t turn around and throw the ball as hard as you want to, you have to locate it. He’s tough inside, he has a great attitude.”

Hun could end up with a tough pitching rotation, based on how junior ace Jason Applegate and a pair of sophomores, George Revock and James Werosta, have performed so far.

“If App rounds into form, it will be good,” said McQuade. “He walked two in the first inning against Lawrenceville and didn’t walk anyone the rest of the game, that is huge for us. George Revock throws strikes. Jimmy Werosta in only a sophomore but he just comes in and throws strikes. He did a great job against Episcopal his first time out, doing the same thing. He shows no emotion.”

The Raiders did a great job of running itself into rallies against Hill, utilizing stolen bases to get players into scoring position all day long.

“We don’t have last year’s speed but we have a couple of kids who are good base runners so they get decent jumps,” said McQuade.

“If we think we have a good matchup with their pitcher’s time release and the catcher’s time release, we will run all day and that’s what it was here. That entered into the game and the final score because that put them on the defense. Virtually every time we got to first, we were on second.”

McQuade is having a good time this spring , noting that his young squad has been making solid progress.

“We had that Blair game, it was 6-4 in our favor going into the last inning and we had made six errors already up to there and they made one or two,” said McQuade.

“To come back the way we did right after that, we played Episcopal

and won (5-2), we played Lawrenceville and won and now we have played another good team and we won that.”

Pontrella, for his part, isn’t surprised by the resilience Hun has displayed so far. “As far as talent, we are not the best team,” said Pontrella. “But the way we play together, come together and work hard, we battle better than anyone.”

STICKING TOGETHER: Members of the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team celebrate after scoring a goal last week against Princeton Day School. Hun edged crosstown rival PDS 8-7 in the April 8 contest. The Raiders, now 4-4,  host Blair Academy on April 16 and Voorhees on April 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STICKING TOGETHER: Members of the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team celebrate after scoring a goal last week against Princeton Day School. Hun edged crosstown rival PDS 8-7 in the April 8 contest. The Raiders, now 4-4, host Blair Academy on April 16 and Voorhees on April 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As a longstick midfielder, Tucker Stevenson knows that playing strong defense is his primary responsibility for the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team.

But the versatile junior star likes to employ his athleticism to get involved in the Hun attack.

“It is not always my position to be a two-way player but I just like to get up and down the field,” said Stevenson.

“Playing soccer and dabbling in basketball, I have decent stamina so I can get up and down a little bit. It just gives us another dimension. Sometimes when another team has to sub I just stay out on and get up there so it works out well.”

Last week, Stevenson provided that added dimension for the Raiders as they played at Princeton Day School. Stevenson scored a first quarter goal and then assisted on a fourth quarter tally by Corey Reynolds that proved to be the game-winner in an 8-7 victory for Hun.

Stevenson’s goal resulted from his athleticism. “It was a nice reward,” said Stevenson. “They were just locking off and I had a little speed on the kid.”

The assist on the game-winner was the product of a joint effort.

“It was a great face-off by Liam Fitzgerald and they were putting a lot of pressure on my back but I was able turn out of it,” recalled Stevenson.

“Corey was open and I gave it to him, he did all the work. People were moving, giving him space. It was good play all around.”

Showing his all around game, Stevenson assumed responsibility for locking down PDS star midfield Connor Fletcher, holding him without a goal in the fourth quarter.

“He was torturing us, they ran some good sets for him,” said Stevenson. “At the end of the game we decided to  shut him off and make it easier. He is good kid, he is going to be good for a long time.”

The win was a good step forward for Hun as it began the spring by dropping two-one goal contests on the way to a 0-3 start.

“We have been on the other end of a couple on one-goal losses already,” said Stevenson.

“We were able to stick together as a team. No one really stood out, it was a team win at the end.”

Hun head coach MV Whitlow was relieved to see his team pull out the victory.

“We expected a one-goal game and that is what we got,” said Whitlow. “We started off our season with a pretty tough schedule and we had some hiccups with some one-goal losses. With the weather and those one-goal losses,  I think we are not quite where we want to be offensively. Today our offense did step up for us and our defense wasn’t quite what is has been the last couple of weeks but that is what a team victory is all about so we were happy about that.”

Whitlow has been happy with the play he has been getting from Stevenson.

“Tucker has been a real bright spot all season,” asserted Whitlow. “We knew coming into the season that he was going to be a spark for us. He is a playmaker, he is an energy guy, he is a skill guy. He has a great feel for the game and that was a big game for him today to create the offense that he did in the midfield but then to clamp Connor down in the fourth quarter.”

Goalie Jon Levin showed his skill and resolve in closing the door on the Panthers down the stretch.

“Jon Levin is a Princeton commit; he is a high caliber young man and he is a great ball stopper,” said Whitlow.

“He has a day like today where he let a couple in but he is not going to let it faze him, he is going to work through it and make the next save.”

The Raiders got some good work on the offensive end from Julian Williams and Reynolds.

“Julian’s skills are coming along; I have said to Julian all year that I am really looking forward to seeing him play in May,” said Whitlow of Williams who tallied two goals in the contest.

“He just picked up the stick again, his teammates love him. He is a great  teammate and he is obviously a great athlete. I thought Corey Reynolds had a good game, he made some good decisions.”

For Hun, beating PDS was a critical triumph as the team is running a gauntlet of tough foes this spring.

“We wanted to increase the level of our schedule and I think we did that,” said Whitlow, whose squad defeated defending state Prep B champion Rutgers Prep 11-7 last Saturday to improve to 4-4 and will host Blair Academy on April 16 and Voorhees on April 22.

“Any time you lose two one-goal games in 24 hours, it rattles you a little bit. We have a young team, we got a little rattled but we worked through it. Winning  three in a row is big.”

Stevenson, for his part, believes that Hun has the ability to earn a lot of big wins this spring.

“We have a lot of good individual talent but we haven’t been able to put it together; we are starting to to do that,” said Stevenson. “We have to get tougher and play as a team.”

While the Hun School boys’ tennis dropped all three of its matches last week, Todd Loffredo wasn’t discouraged.

“We have had a busy week; we had illnesses and absences so we had to use different lineups,” said Hun head coach Loffredo, whose team fell 3-2 to Pennington on April 8, 4-1 to Princeton Day School last wednesday, and 3-2 to Rutgers Prep on Friday. “We definitely had some improvement; each player got to feel good.”

Loffredo is feeling good about the play he is getting from junior Foster Broad at first singles.

“I can’t tell you how much he has improved from last year,” said Loffredo, noting that Broad picked up a solid straight-set win in the Rutgers Prep match

“He plays tennis two or three times a week now. He is a total athlete; he can play any sport. He is doing well not just because he is an athlete but because he is a tennis player.”

At second singles, sophomore Adam Doynow has made a big jump this spring in terms of tennis savvy.

“Adam’s maturity is the biggest difference,” said Loffredo. “He has always been a strong tennis player. I see a difference on the court, he is much more cool, calm, and collected.”

Senior Rohit Malhotra is making a difference for the Raiders at third singles.

“Rohit had a good win against Pennington,” added Loffredo.

“If he can stay healthy, he is going to be good. He has a tennis elbow thing. He is a senior and he is doing a good job leading the team.”

The pair of juniors James Mogilever and Max Kislyansky is giving Hun good work at first doubles.

“Max is Russian and James’ parents are Russians so they speak Russian to each other,” said Loffredo.

“I think it gives them a connection. They complement each other on the court. They are always talking to each positively and they always have their heads in the game.”

Senior Maxime Vounatsos has been the constant at second doubles so far, playing with some different partners.

“Maxime was on the JV last year and as a senior he has brought us leadership and reliability,” asserted Loffredo. “He is always fighting to win, he always has a smile on his face.

Loffredo wants his players to show some fight when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament next week.

“We are looking to improve on last year; we had our worst finish at the county tournament since I have been here,” said Loffredo, whose squad tied for 12th in the 2013 MCT team standings

“If our guys are playing well, they can beat most people. I want them to believe in themselves. I know the odds are against us. It is fun to be there around all the other teams and I want them to enjoy that.”

April 9, 2014
HISTORY MAKER: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Tom Schreiber looks for an opening in recent action. Last Saturday, the senior All-American midfielder scored the 100th goal of his illustrious Tiger career, helping Princeton to a 15-11 win over Rutgers. By the end of the evening, Schreiber stood at 101 career goals, making him the ninth Princeton player and second midfielder to reach 100.  Schreiber now has 92 assists, making him just the fifth player in Ivy League history — and first midfielder — to have at least 100 career goals and 90 career assists. Princeton, which improved to 5-4 overall with the win over the Scarlet Knights, was slated to host Lehigh on April 8 before starting their Ivy stretch drive with a  home game against Dartmouth on April 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HISTORY MAKER: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Tom Schreiber looks for an opening in recent action. Last Saturday, the senior All-American midfielder scored the 100th goal of his illustrious Tiger career, helping Princeton to a 15-11 win over Rutgers. By the end of the evening, Schreiber stood at 101 career goals, making him the ninth Princeton player and second midfielder to reach 100. Schreiber now has 92 assists, making him just the fifth player in Ivy League history — and first midfielder — to have at least 100 career goals and 90 career assists. Princeton, which improved to 5-4 overall with the win over the Scarlet Knights, was slated to host Lehigh on April 8 before starting their Ivy stretch drive with a home game against Dartmouth on April 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Tom Schreiber is known for his laser-like focus on the field so it was out of character to see him wave to the crowd last Saturday as the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team hosted Rutgers.

But with Princeton senior All-American midfielder having just scored the 100th goal of his illustrious Tiger career, the fans on hand at Class of 52 Stadium serenaded him with cheers and he took a moment to acknowledge the response.

“I have had a lot of support here, my family has made it to just about every game,” said Schreiber, a 6’0, 190-pound native of East Meadow, N.Y..

“The Princeton community has treated me really well. It was a pretty cool experience hearing them roaring and I just wanted to give them a token of my gratitude.”

Schreiber had the crowd roaring all night as he matched his single game career high with seven points on four goals and three assists as the Tigers pulled away to a 15-11 win over the Scarlet Knights and improved to 5-4.

By the end of the evening, Schreiber stood at 101 career goals, making him the ninth Princeton player and second midfielder to reach 100. With 101, he is two behind Josh Sims’ record for a Princeton midfielder. Schreiber now has 92 assists, making him just the fifth player in Ivy League history — and the first midfielder — to have at least 100 career goals and 90 career assists.

With Princeton having dropped consecutive one-goal decisions to Brown and Yale coming into Saturday, Schreiber and his teammates showed a heightened sense of urgency.

“We have started every game slow so far and that is something we have been trying to address in practice,” said Schreiber.

“It was just a little shift in our attitude, to be a little more confident and a little more aggressive and I think it paid off for us.”

Trailing 6-3 in the second quarter, the Tigers shifted the tide of the contest, ending the half with a 5-0 run.

“We played smart offensively, we didn’t push it,” said Schreiber, who chipped in three assists in the run.

“I think our defense did a great job throughout the game, especially in that span. I think it was just a full team effort in that part of the game. It helped us build some confidence going into the half. It’s the beauty of our team, we have all been playing together for the most part for two years now and we have been able to build that chemistry. I don’t think it is just one or two guys, it’s all six of us working together.”

Princeton took care of business in the second half, extending its lead to 13-8 late in the third quarter and cruising from there.

“We just continued the momentum from that 5-0 run in the second quarter,” said Schreiber, who now has a team-high 44 points this season on 25 goals and 19 assists.

“I thought our bench kept us up, I thought our D did a good job. Once again, it was the entire team. The attitude of the team from the top to the bottom was great.”

There was a family twist to the win for Schreiber. “My sister actually goes to  Rutgers so I root for them in every game except this one,” said a smiling Schreiber, whose younger sister, Chrissy, is a sophomore midfielder for the Scarlet Knights women’s lax team.

“I follow them and I have been rooting for them and obviously I root for my sister and her team. It was nice to get this one.”

In Schreiber’s view, it was critical for Princeton to get the win over Rutgers and break its two-game losing streak.

“It was huge; I have said it all year, there is no quit in this team,” said Schreiber.

“Nobody was feeling sorry for themselves after our loss to Brown. It was just more about regaining our momentum and regaining some confidence and I think that was a perfect game to do it and we got it done.”

Princeton head coach Chris Bates liked the way his team got things done in the victory over the Scarlet Knights as it retained the Harland Meistrell Cup, which goes to the winner of the annual meeting in the local rivalry.

“I thought we focused on playing the body; we focused on getting low and picking up ground balls with two hands,” said Bates.

“I thought we challenged them this week and they responded. I don’t think we are all the way there yet but this was good to get a gritty win and against a good team. We are pleased.”

Bates was pleased to see Schreiber receive the cheers from the crowd after the 100th goal.

“It is a testament to who he is, you see a genuine appreciation, respect and love for his accomplishments because he has earned it,” said Bates.

“He is just such a wonderful young man, people are happy for him. The air is rare; he is putting up some historic numbers. At the end of the day, he is proud of it, we are proud of it. He would probably be the first to tell you that a win is the most important thing and he wants to get this team to where it can get it, whatever that may be. It is something for our program that is nice to celebrate.”

In Bates’ view, Schreiber must assume an even greater role if Princeton is to make history this spring.

“This is the time for him to take the next step and help lead this team,” said Bates.

“He can carry a team on his back and, in essence, we are asking him to do that in some ways. He has got the full command of this team and the full respect. His voice goes a long way so we are challenging him to push his teammates around him to finish this thing the way we want to.”

Schreiber’s teammates did some good finishing during the pivotal 5-0 run in the second quarter.

“Ryan Ambler is playing with a lot of confidence and we are challenging him to evolve and be more assertive,” said Bates, who got a career-high five goals from Ambler with Jake Froccaro adding two, and Mike MacDonald, Will Himler, and Forest Sonnenfeldt contributing one apiece.

“Last year, he was at times comfortable playing second fiddle and now he is not. I thought Mikey did some good things. We shortened the bench a little bit with our first group but it seemed to work pretty well. Then we got Will Rotatori and Will Himler, and Forest Sonnenfeldt in with that second group and to spell those guys which helped us so it was a good 60 minutes.”

Bates will be looking for some more good efforts from the Tigers as they were slated to host Lehigh on April 8 before starting their Ivy stretch drive with a home game against Dartmouth on April 12.

“I think we have all learned that you can’t just put the jersey on; you have to be more accountable,” said Bates, whose team is tied for fifth in the Ivy standings with a 1-2 league mark.

“You have to be better teammates day in, day out and that is not always easy. I think it was a wakeup call and that’s been a good reminder. It is easier to move forward with a win. Everything is ahead of us; we know that. We have got one more non-conference game and then we have three league games. We’ll take it day by day.”

Schreiber, for his part, is confident that some great days are ahead for the Tigers.

“We have been trying to peak at the right time and the first part of our year didn’t go exactly the way we wanted it to,” said Schreiber. “Hopefully we can build on this and peak as time goes on.”

LEANING IN: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player ­Colleen Smith chases down a ball in recent action. Senior defender and co-captain Smith helped key a superb effort last Saturday as Princeton topped Yale 15-8 for its sixth victory in a row. The Tigers, now 7-3 overall and 3-1 Ivy League, host No. 2 Maryland (13-1) on April 9 before playing at Harvard (6-4 overall, 3-1 Ivy) on April 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LEANING IN: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player ­Colleen Smith chases down a ball in recent action. Senior defender and co-captain Smith helped key a superb effort last Saturday as Princeton topped Yale 15-8 for its sixth victory in a row. The Tigers, now 7-3 overall and 3-1 Ivy League, host No. 2 Maryland (13-1) on April 9 before playing at Harvard (6-4 overall, 3-1 Ivy) on April 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Colleen Smith is not afraid to make some noise on the field for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team.

“We emphasize the voice a lot,” said senior star defender and co-captain Smith.

“I want to bring a good voice to the defense always, just getting everyone pumped for the game.”

Last Saturday against visiting Yale, Smith and her teammates were pumped up to put the clamps on the Bulldogs.

“Our assistant coach Jen Cook always scouts the other teams and she does a great job,” said Smith. “She probably spends more than five hours on each team, scouting, watching films. We just had a really good game plan in place. She told us basically everything that was going to happen. It is just like studying for a test.”

The Tigers passed last Saturday’s test with flying colors, jumping out to a 9-1 lead at halftime on the way to a 15-8 victory.

“We knew that they were a feeding team so shutting off those feeds was a key,” said Smith, a 5’7 native of Wilmette, Ill. who scooped up three ground balls in the win over Yale and now has 10 on the season.

“We have been working on getting better angles all season. Something that we wanted to emphasize this week was that we know everything that we need to know and now we need to start implementing it. I think we did a great job today, especially on defense, with that. I think it was just one of those days where it came from the start.”

Smith has forged a great bond with co-captain Sarah Lloyd. “We never really get into arguments; we are always on the same page,” said Smith.

“She is definitely a leader by example and shows it every single day. I think we balance each other out a lot which is really nice. We never butt heads and we are great friends off the field which I think is really important as well.”

With Princeton riding a six-game winning streak as it has improved to 7-3 overall and 3-1 Ivy League, Smith believes the Tigers could do some really nice things this spring.

“I hope that we can keep ascending,” said Smith. “If we can keep rising, I think this has the potential to be a really special season.”

The Tigers will get a good opportunity to show how special they can be as they host No. 2 Maryland (13-1) on April 9.

“I am really, really excited for Maryland,” added Smith. “It is a good chance for us to show the team that we are. It is always great to play a big team. It is a really good opportunity so hopefully we can keep rising through that game.”

Princeton head coach Chris Sailer was thrilled with her team’s great first half against Yale.

“The first half was just phenomenal; it is one of the best halves of lacrosse that we played in a while,” asserted Sailer.

“Our defense did a phenomenal job. We really knew what they were looking for and we were able to shut it down. The attack had some beautiful scoring plays. I thought our ride was tremendous, we forced them into so many turnovers which was great.”

Sailer credits Smith with sparking the Tiger defense. “Colleen has just been fantastic, you see the level at which she performs,” asserted Sailer.

“She was playing their top kid and she was on every single move. Her angles are great, her understanding is great. She is such a voice kid, she is just such a passionate kid. She puts her heart and soul into everything; she is a physical player and a smart player.”

Princeton’s attack played smartly as well against Yale, displaying its trademark balance with Erin McMunn scoring four goals and the trio of Erin Slifer, Mary-Kate Sivilli, and Anna Doherty chipping in two apiece.

“That is something we have had all year; we have seven players with 20-22 points or something like that,” said Sailer.

“Everybody is capable of scoring and there is not one person who leads the charge. Every game, we have really balanced scoring and that makes us tough to stop.”

Like Smith, Sailer is looking forward to seeing Princeton test itself against powerful Maryland.

“I think absolutely it is a good challenge for us,” said Sailer, whose team plays at Harvard (6-4 overall, 3-1 Ivy) on April 12.

“We have got to be ready for the pace of play, they are very athletic, very explosive, and they have great sticks. I think we have been building up the entire season and I think it is a good point for us to take on a team like that and see what we can do and try to give them some great competition that they have to play against.”

Smith, for her part, is determined to give a great effort to the end. “We have two themes this year, the first one is treasure the present where you treasure the gift of playing at Princeton because not many people get to play at Princeton,” said Smith.

“We also treasure the moment which plays into the power of now. Through the homestretch it is just bringing everything to every practice and every game even if we are tired.”

In order to get on the water this spring, the Princeton University women’s open crew had to resort to some self-help.

“The winter was a long one for us, we had to manually break up the ice on the lake,” said Princeton head coach Dauphiny.

“We started later than usual, I am mindful that competition like Dartmouth, Brown, and Cornell are in the same position.

As the harsh winter gripped the East Coast, Dauphiny knew that her program was in for a bumpy ride.

“This team has challenges this year and I was well aware of that before the spring,” said Dauphiny, who guided the Tigers to a third place in the team standings at the 2013 NCAA championship regatta. “We lost a powerful senior class that provided good leadership.”

The program’s current group of seniors is stepping up to the challenges. “This senior class is doing its job but it doesn’t have as much strength as last year’s,” said Dauphiny.

“The two captains (Kathryn Irwin and Susannah Shipton) are doing an outstanding job dealing with this team in terms of it having more inconsistency in results than in the past. They know what to prioritize and they are not getting hung up on the unimportant things.”

In opening the season on March 29 with a split result, as the varsity 8 fell to Brown but topped Michigan State, the Tigers showed some of that inconsistency.

“I was nervous and rightly so,” said Dauphiny. “Brown did a fantastic job, they looked strong and they raced well, they looked more seasoned than we are. I thought as a program we did well, the varsity program had things they needed to work on, they were not as race ready as Brown.”

Last weekend, Princeton’s top boat narrowly lost to Virginia while topping Columbia.

“I thought it was a step forward,” said Dauphiny, whose top boat came in at 6:44.9, three seconds behind Virginia but nearly 25 ahead of Columbia. “We have a ways to go, some aspects of the race were better for the varsity. The 2V’s win was the highlight.”

In Dauphiny’s view, the Tigers are getting better. “I think we are heading in the right direction; we are farther behind at this point than we usually are,” said Dauphiny.

“I don’t know if it is from the weather or the amount of youth. For many, this is the first racing they have done in college. We have a bit further to go than in the past.”

Princeton is facing some top flight racing in the weeks ahead. “We have a very competitive schedule,” added Dauphiny, whose rowers head to Boston this weekend where they will row for the Class of 1975 Cup against Harvard and Cornell. “We race a top crew every week, there is no weekend where we can take a breath. It does provide valuable experience.”

Over the long haul, the Tigers should grow from that experience. “I believe this group does like to work, they are up for the challenge,” said Dauphiny.

“I do anticipate line-up shifting. I don’t know the freshman class well, they haven’t been on the water. People improve at different rates. I like the attitude of the rowers, they are not rolling over. They are striving. They are standing up and seeing what they can do.”

CHRISTIAN MUSIC: Princeton University softball pitcher ­Shanna Christian delivers a pitch in a game earlier this season. Sophomore hurler Christian earned two wins last weekend as Princeton went 3-1 in doubleheaders at Yale and Brown. The Tigers, now 10-18 overall and 3-3 Ivy, are slated to host Rutgers on April 10 before heading to New York City this weekend for doubleheaders at Columbia on April 12 and 13 as they begin Ivy South action.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CHRISTIAN MUSIC: Princeton University softball pitcher ­Shanna Christian delivers a pitch in a game earlier this season. Sophomore hurler Christian earned two wins last weekend as Princeton went 3-1 in doubleheaders at Yale and Brown. The Tigers, now 10-18 overall and 3-3 Ivy, are slated to host Rutgers on April 10 before heading to New York City this weekend for doubleheaders at Columbia on April 12 and 13 as they begin Ivy South action. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton University softball team, its doubleheaders at Yale and Brown last weekend represented the chance to reinforce its self-image.

“The team believes that it is going to be contenders,” said Princeton second-year head coach Lisa Sweeney, whose club started its Ivy League campaign by getting swept by Dartmouth in a doubleheader on March 31.

“They had to prove it to themselves to see that we are who we say we are. It was an important confidence builder. We wanted to see more offensive production and we did.”

In the twinbill against Yale, the Tigers displayed some offense in the opener, exploding for a five-run rally in the seventh inning to pull out a 5-2 win. The Princeton bats, though, went silent in the nightcap as Yale rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh to earn a 2-1 victory and a split.

“We left a lot of runners on base,” said Sweeney. “We left it to the seventh inning in both games, one turned out in our favor and the other one didn’t. It taught us that we need to have a sense of urgency, we need to make things happen before the seventh inning.”

A day later, Princeton swept Brown 7-6 and 8-3, sparked by the heroics of freshman second baseman Haley Hineman, who delivered a game-winning two-run single in the opener and went 6-for-8 on the day with a homer, two runs scored, and five RBIs as the Tigers improved to 10-18 overall and 3-3 Ivy.

“It was wild, we left a lot of runners on base,” said Sweeney, reflecting on the opener.

“We had to use three pitchers in the first game and they each did their job. Brown had momentum at various points and each came in and stopped it. Then a freshman, Hineman, stepped up. She had 12 pitches at-bat before she got that hit. You could see her confidence growing and she carried it over to the second game. It was a cool thing to see.”

Sweeney has a lot of confidence in Hineman’s all-around play. “Hineman is so solid defensively; she is getting a lot of balls because our pitching staff forces a lot of grounders,” said Sweeney.

“When the ball is hit to her you can look the other way because you know she is going to make the play. She is so solid and gritty. It was good to see her come through offensively.”

Princeton has been getting good contributions from two key veterans, junior shortstop Alyssa Schmidt and sophomore pitcher Shanna Christian.

“Alyssa is taking on a bigger leadership role this year; she has struggled with some self doubt offensively,” said Sweeney of Schmidt who went 4-for-9 with a run and four RBIs in the sweep of Brown.

“She wasn’t overthinking last weekend and was the athlete we know she can be. The team follows her when she gets clutch hits. Shanna is a good presence on the mound, the team plays well behind her. She always keeps us in games.”

With Princeton slated to host Rutgers on April 10 before heading to New York City this weekend for doubleheaders at Columbia on April 12 and 13 as it begins Ivy South action, Sweeney is looking for some more clutch play from her team.

“We are a force to be reckoned with,” said Sweeney. “Things haven’t come together but we are showing inklings in places of some really good things. You always want to be playing for something. There can be huge shifts in the Ivy in a weekend. It is so finicky. You never know what is going to happen; you want to control your destiny. We need to draw on the confidence we gained this week.”

FINISHING STRONG: Gabby Vukasin looks for the puck during a game this winter in her senior season for the Williams College women’s hockey team. Former Princeton High standout Vukasin served as the team’s co-captain and helped Williams win its first NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) title. Vukasin, who joined the program as a walk-on, tallied nine goals and nine assists this winter and 61 points in her career of 34 goals and 27 assists.(Photo Courtesy of Williams College Sports Information Department)

FINISHING STRONG: Gabby Vukasin looks for the puck during a game this winter in her senior season for the Williams College women’s hockey team. Former Princeton High standout Vukasin served as the team’s co-captain and helped Williams win its first NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) title. Vukasin, who joined the program as a walk-on, tallied nine goals and nine assists this winter and 61 points in her career of 34 goals and 27 assists. (Photo Courtesy of Williams College Sports Information Department)

Gabby Vukasin could see the end of her college hockey career approaching like a freight train and she wasn’t about to go out quietly.

With her Williams College women’s hockey team trailing Trinity 1-0 heading into the third period of the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) quarterfinals in early March, the senior forward and former Princeton High star spoke up.

“We just weren’t playing our game,” said Vukasin, one of the squad’s co-captains. “Between the second and third period, I pulled the girls aside and said we had a chance to keep playing or end the season and it was up to us.”

Vukasin took matters into her hands assisting on the game-tying goal early in the third period, igniting a Williams’ rally which saw the Ephs pull out a 3-2 win. Williams went on to beat Connecticut College 2-0 in the semis and then top Bowdoin 4-1 in the championship game.

After the title game, Vukasin savored the moment as her career was extended into the NCAA Division III tourney by virtue of the win.

“We didn’t leave the ice for 45 minutes; we were taking pictures,” recalled Vukasin.

“We were more focused on being champions, because we had never done that before, than going to the NCAAs. Random people were coming up to me and saying great game.”

Days later, Vukasin did play her final college game as Williams fell 4-1 to Plattsburgh State in the opening round of the NCAAs. Vukasin scored a goal in the first minute of the contest but the Ephs couldn’t build on that.

“To be honest, I don’t remember that goal,” said Vukasin. “There was so much going on, it was a scramble in the crease and I don’t even remember hitting the puck.”

The finality of the loss left Vukasin with a sad memory. “That was pretty horrible,” said Vukasin. “I felt like we had such a great season and the chemistry was so great and I was never going to have that chance again.”

Earning a spot on the Ephs as a walk-on as a freshman, Vukasin made the most out of her chance to play college hockey. After getting four points in her debut campaign, the 5’6 Vukasin tallied 57 points on 32 goals and 25 assists over her last three years.

She rose through the ranks as a leader, being named one of the team’s co-captains this winter along with classmate Cristina Bravi.

“I wasn’t sure if I would be named captain; it felt good knowing that my teammates had confidence in my leadership abilities,” said Vukasin.

“I had a leadership role on the team as a junior being one of the older players. I had to learn to be a bad guy, holding them accountable.”

Coming off a disappointing 9-15-1 season in 2012-13, the Ephs were confident that they could be a force this winter.

“We definitely wanted to do much better than we had in the past,” said Vukasin. “We were definitely a little closer as a team than we had been in the past years, everyone was willing to work hard.”

Bringing a pedestrian 3-5 record into January, Williams got rolling with a sweep of Trinity to begin the 2014 portion of their schedule.

“We knew they were going to come out hard because they thought they were going to beat us,” said Vukasin.

“We knew we had the skills to beat them. I think some of the freshmen and sophomores really came into their own; having one year really helped them. Overall we had a lot of skill, we had three really strong lines and a lot of depth.”

Vukasin, for her part, showed her skill set, tallying 9 goals and 9 assists this winter and starring on the power play.

“I guess it was a function of my line; I was going in the corners more rather than playing in front of the net,” said Vukasin.

“I have been in the same power play position for three years and I was just using that experience.”

Playing the NESCAC final four at home and getting the title was an experience that Vukasin won’t soon forget.

“It was a lot of fun with friends and family there over the weekend,” said Vukasin.

“We had a rivalry with Bowdoin. In the past few years we had lost two or three close games to them that we thought we should have won. This year we swept them and some thought we were going to be a little cocky. It was pretty emotional for me; it was pretty awesome.”

With Williams having gone from 4-17 in 2010-11 to 15-10-3 this winter, Vukasin gives a lot of credit to head coach Megan Gillis, who took the helm three years ago.

“With Gillis, each year she is getting better and adding to her coaching repertoire,” added Vukasin. “The coaches are there all the time for us, players would go in for extra training.”

Gillis, for her part, appreciated Vukasin’s improvement over her career.

“We are updating school records this summer and I would be shocked if she is not in the top five in power play goals,” said Gillis.

“She was very good on special teams. She worked very hard on that. She was so tough in front of the net, she set a standard.”

In Gillis’ view, Vukasin also set a standard off the ice. “She is an extremely bright person, so intellectual,” said Gillis of Vukasin, an astrophysics and math major who has been accepted to graduate engineering programs.

“To excel in the classroom at a place like Williams speaks volumes and it gained the respect of her teammates.”

Having earned that respect gave Vukasin the latitude to call out her teammates when necessary.

“She showed up every day and worked hard,” said Gillis. “When you have a captain who leads by her actions like that, she can also hold others accountable by saying I am working this hard and you should too.”

Gillis believes that Vukasin is leaving a special legacy. “I am definitely going to miss Gabby and her leadership,” added Gillis.

“She and her co-captain showed up every day and worked and helped change the culture of the program. As a coach, you need players like that, they were the heart and soul of the team. To go from walk-on to a captain on a championship team, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

In the final analysis, Vukasin came to believe that she was competing for something bigger than herself as her college career unfolded.

“I played with more heart,” said Vukasin, who was named to the 2014 NESCAC Winter All-Sportsmanship team, which recognizes student-athletes from each varsity sport who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to sportsmanship.

“I was not playing for myself, I was playing for my teammates. I feel this season showed how much hard work and heart could make a difference.”

ATTACK FORCE: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Matt Corrado heads upfield in recent action. Senior star Corrado moved to attack from midfield this year and has caught fire recently with three goals and an assist in a 9-6 win over Allentown last week and three assists in a 10-6 victory over Rancocas Valley last Monday. PHS, now 5-0, plays at Northern Burlington on April 9 and at perennial prep power Lawrenceville on April 14.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ATTACK FORCE: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Matt Corrado heads upfield in recent action. Senior star Corrado moved to attack from midfield this year and has caught fire recently with three goals and an assist in a 9-6 win over Allentown last week and three assists in a 10-6 victory over Rancocas Valley last Monday. PHS, now 5-0, plays at Northern Burlington on April 9 and at perennial prep power Lawrenceville on April 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After emerging as a star midfielder for the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team over the last three years, Matt Corrado has moved up to attack for his senior campaign.

Despite his on-field experience and offensive skills, Corrado initially struggled to find a comfort level in his new spot.

“So far it has been a little difficult but I think I have my head on my shoulders now,” said Corrado.

“I am used to dodging against guys with shortsticks so the long poles kind of scare me.”

Last week, Corrado showed that he will be someone to fear on attack, tallying three goals and an assist as PHS topped Allentown 9-6.

In reflecting on his performance, Corrado said it was a product of the team’s offensive balance.

“We have been playing together for a long time and we haven been working on the offense against some really good teams in spring break,” said Corrado.

“I think we are really prepared for this season. We have guys that can go either way, left or right and just the chemistry that has been there for the past couple of years has kept growing.”

Having topped Allentown last May in the Mercer County Tournament championship game, the Little Tigers knew they were in for a battle last week.

“We were a little nervous coming into this game since beating them in the county title game last year,” said Corrado.

“I think the nerves were there and we knew they were gunning for us. We worked a lot in practice trying to make sure that we got all those jitters out and just played our game.”

PHS has also benefited from working on team unity this spring. “Going to Florida this year was definitely beneficial; it is clearly seen on the field,” asserted Corrado.

“Honestly everyone has just been very supportive of each other so far. We had a lot of team bonding with going to and from Florida and hanging out in the airport with each other can build a lot.”

As one of the team’s four captains, along with classmates Matt Purdy, Kevin Halliday, and Patrick McCormick, Corrado has assumed more responsibility on the field.

“I think just vocal communication,” said Corrado. “The four of us have been on the field a long time so we know each other. Everybody knows how to play off of us. It has definitely been difficult how to learn how to be vocal, these first games have been very telling for me just in how difficult it can be.”

Little Tiger head coach Peter Stanton thought Corrado’s performance in the win over Allentown was telling. “We are so thrilled for Matt today,” asserted Stanton.

“Matt is a guy who is extremely dedicated in the offseason. He attended so many workouts; he worked so hard to get his stick skills. He hasn’t played as well as he is capable of playing. Today when we were struggling and we had some good opportunities, he was the guy that stepped up and buried them. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Stanton was happy with the way his team controlled the tempo offensively.

“We know that they are a team that is very good in transition and we wanted to shorten the game a little bit,” said Stanton, who got two goals apiece from Kevin Halliday and Johnny Lopez-Ona in the win over Allentown with Matt Purdy and Chris Diver chipping in one each.

“If we could hold the ball and attack the goal wisely that gives them less opportunities to get running. We got a lot of guys involved. Guys being involved isn’t necessarily guys scoring goals or getting assists but having all six guys active and part of the offense and spreading the field.”

Freshman Lopez-Ona hasn’t wasted any time getting involved in the PHS attack.

“He is a crafty little guy,” said Stanton of the wiry Lopez-Ona. “We put him in situations where we are not going to ask him to do too much. We keep it simple and basic with him and he is effective. Physically he is playing above his pay grade right now because he is playing against bigger, stronger, faster kids. His experience and skill make him effective for us and we are patching him around guys that can play.”

Stanton saw the contest with Allentown as a big early test for his guys. “We had two battles with this squad last year and we felt like we won the more important one,” said Stanton.

“We know that they are a program that has championship aspirations and expectations and we know they are going to try to play at that level so we were excited for the challenge.”

With the Little Tigers having produced a hot start, Stanton is excited about his team’s ability to be in the mix for championships.

“We feel like we have got a lot left in the tank and that is early and there is room for growth,” said Stanton, whose team topped Rancocas Valley 10-6 on Monday to improve to 5-0 and will look to keep on the winning track as it plays at Northern Burlington on April 9 and at perennial prep power Lawrenceville on April 14.

“Our boys want to work hard; they are not settling for the easy accomplishment.”

Corrado, for his part, believes the Little Tigers can accomplish a lot this spring.

“We have a couple of tough games coming up; we are really looking forward to Lawrenceville and this year we have the pleasure of playing Summit so that is a big one,” said Corrado.

“That will definitely prepare us for the county championship but a lot of these guys have been there before. I think it is just working out the jitters and trying to find the guys who didn’t get as much playing time last year and getting them acclimated to our system and then just hammering it home when the county tournament comes.”

CREASE CONTROL: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse goalie Mira Shane guards the crease in a recent game. Last Monday, junior standout Shane made 11 saves to help PHS top Princeton Day School 15-6. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers, now 3-2, host South Hunterdon on April 10 and Eastern High on April 14.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CREASE CONTROL: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse goalie Mira Shane guards the crease in a recent game. Last Monday, junior standout Shane made 11 saves to help PHS top Princeton Day School 15-6. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers, now 3-2, host South Hunterdon on April 10 and Eastern High on April 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

An overcast afternoon turned into a chilly downpour as the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team played at Princeton Day School last Monday.

But while players on the sidelines shivered and huddled under umbrellas, PHS goalie Mira Shane felt a warmth on the field as the Little Tigers looked to get on the right track after recent defeats to WW/P-N and Notre Dame.

“Those two losses for us, North and Notre Dame, were rough; I wanted a different energy to differentiate from those previous games,” said Shane.

“Our defense was looking to change things. I told my defense at halftime, hey guys I am feeling the electricity today.”

A charged up PHS squad built a 7-2 lead by half and never looked back on the way to a 15-6 triumph as it improved its record to 3-2.

Shane stood tall in the cage, making several good saves as PHS put the clamps on a Panther squad that was averaging 12.5 goals a game coming into Monday.

“In the first half, it felt better,” said Shane, who totaled 11 saves on the afternoon. “I owed it to the defense; when there aren’t point blank shots in front of you, it is much easier to make a save.”

Having started for PHS since day one as a freshman, Shane looks to verbally direct the defense.

“I would say I am more mentally tough now as an upperclassmen,” said Shane.

“I am a little bit more confident to talk to my defense. Before I had to lay back, now I have to take a bigger role to tell them what I need out of them. I think that is one of the big differences and you can see it in our defense. Now we are really getting those connections.”

Shane’s diligence has made a difference in her skill level. “I have a private coach, I started with him when I was a freshman and then with recruiting and stuff I want to propel and take it to the next level,” said Shane, who plays for the Ultimate New Jersey club team and is looking at D-I and D-III college programs.

“I am actually working with a tennis ball machine now with constant repetition, 100 stops high corner, 100 stops low corner.”

PHS head coach Kelsey O’Gorman believes that Shane has taken her game to the next level.

“Mira is just phenomenal,” asserted O’Gorman. “You saw the power she has on her clears. She is really leading the whole defense. She is loud and in charge. You can hear her from one end of the field to the other and even in the rain, she does not stop and everyone feeds off of her.”

Shane, for her part, is hoping that PHS can feed off the win over PDS to get on a roll.

“I am hoping this will definitely pick up some momentum for us to take into the later season,” said Shane, who will look to keep PHS on the winning track as it hosts South Hunterdon on April 10 and Eastern High on April 14. “We have a harder schedule this year so I am hoping we will really carry that positive energy over.”

SERVING NOTICE: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis player Neeraj Devullapalli blasts a serve in action last spring. Senior standout Devullapalli is playing at second singles this spring for PDS as it looks to build on a 2013 campaign that saw it earn a three-way tie for the state Prep B title. The Panthers started the season with a 4-1 win over Pennington last Thursday and are slated to host Hun on April 9 before playing at the Blair Academy on April 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SERVING NOTICE: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis player Neeraj Devullapalli blasts a serve in action last spring. Senior standout Devullapalli is playing at second singles this spring for PDS as it looks to build on a 2013 campaign that saw it earn a three-way tie for the state Prep B title. The Panthers started the season with a 4-1 win over Pennington last Thursday and are slated to host Hun on April 9 before playing at the Blair Academy on April 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While the Princeton Day School boys’ tennis team hasn’t been on the court much so far this spring, Will Asch is cautiously optimistic.

“I think we are going to be pretty good,” said PDS head coach Asch, whose team started the season with a 4-1 win over Pennington last Thursday.

“We were supposed to have four matches last week and we had only one. We got some indoors time over the vacation. We got nothing out of the first two weeks because the courts were unplayable.”

Asch knows he has a special player at first singles in freshman Anupreeth Coramutla.

“Anupreeth is a very good athlete and he is very fast,” said Asch. “He is a highly-ranked Middle States player. He has got a lot of potential. He likes to compete and he seems mentally tough.”

The presence of senior star Neeraj Devullapalli at second singles helps make the Panthers tough to beat.

“It is a pretty nice luxury having Neeraj at second singles,” said Asch. “He is playing well. It is nice to have a senior in the lineup. He is a very nice person, the boys all like him.”

At third singles, the Panthers have a nice option in sophomore Scott Altmeyer.

“He was very good last year and I think he will be very good this year,” said Asch of Altmeyer. “He has grown a lot and is a lot stronger. I think he will have more success this year.”

A key to the team’s success will be the play of the first doubles pair of junior Josiah Meekins and senior D.J. Modzelewski.

“Josiah is one of the better doubles players we have had in the last few years,” said Asch. “I think of D.J. as more of a singles player; his game has improved and he has gotten better at the net. They like each other.”

Asch likes what he is seeing from his second doubles team of seniors Hari Rajagopalan and Andy Erickson.

“They are experienced, they played together with the JV for a few years,” noted Asch.

“They are both athletic and they play well as a team. We will see how well they compete against kids who have played in tournaments. I think they will win a lot of matches.”

With its depth, PDS hopes to be in the running to win some titles. “We certainly have a good shot at Prep B; we had a three-way tie last year and Pennington was in the 3-way tie,” said Asch, whose team hosts Hun on April 9 before playing at the Blair Academy on April 11.

“To win the Mercer County Tournament, we will need a lot of luck. It is very tough for a school like us. I think we will be one of the teams in the mix. We could be one of the better teams in the area but I don’t know a lot about the other teams yet.”

April 2, 2014
DO-GOODER: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Anna Doherty, left, eludes a foe in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, freshman attacker Doherty scored the go-ahead goal in overtime as Princeton defeated Cornell 10-7 and posted its fifth straight victory. The Tigers, now 6-3 overall and 2-1 Ivy League, host Yale (7-3 overall, 1-2 Ivy) on April 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DO-GOODER: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Anna Doherty, left, eludes a foe in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, freshman attacker Doherty scored the go-ahead goal in overtime as Princeton defeated Cornell 10-7 and posted its fifth straight victory. The Tigers, now 6-3 overall and 2-1 Ivy League, host Yale (7-3 overall, 1-2 Ivy) on April 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As the rain pelted the area last Saturday afternoon, Anna Doherty found herself in a slippery situation for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team.

The high-scoring freshman attacker repeatedly misfired as Princeton hosted Cornell at the Class of 52 Stadium, missing all five of her shots in regulation as the teams headed into overtime knotted at 7-7.

“I don’t know what it was,” said Doherty, a 5’5 native of nearby Bernardsville who starred for Kent Place in high school. “I had some good looks but I wasn’t putting it in the back of the net like usual.”

Early in overtime, Doherty got a good look near the goal. “I saw [Alex] Bruno get shooting space and then we both realized I was wide open with my left hand up in the crease,” recalled Doherty.

“She was looking at the cage but saying my name so I knew she was going to pass it. I just knew I had to finish that one so I closed my eyes and prayed that it went in.”

Doherty’s prayer was answered as the ball hit the back of the net to give Princeton an 8-7 lead, The Tigers tacked on two more goals in the extra session to earn a 10-7 victory, improving to 6-3 overall and 2-1 Ivy League.

In Doherty’s view, the victory, which extended Princeton’s winning streak to five, was an important step forward for the squad.

“It was awesome; we lost a couple of overtime games in the beginning of the season so we just knew we really wanted this one,” said Doherty.

“We executed and got the draw and we did what we needed to do. I think the upperclassmen and the sophomores lost a lot of tough OT games last season so facing that adversity really helped them lead us.”

Having emerged as a leading scorer for the Tigers with a team-high 18 goals, Doherty is developing a comfort level with the college game.

“I think I have just built up my confidence a lot more,” said Doherty, who has Tiger bloodlines as her father, Kelly Doherty (Princeton ’81), was the captain of the 1981 Princeton men’s lacrosse team and mother, Susan (Princeton ’83) Doherty [nee O’Connor], was a member of the soccer, cross country, and track and field teams.

“I didn’t really know what to expect coming into the season but the coaches really believed in me and gave me a shot. That really boosted my confidence and it has just been building with every game.”

Exploding for a career-high five goals in a 14-7 win over USC on March 19 was a major confidence builder for Doherty.

“That was a bit of a turning point,” said Doherty, who was later named the Ivy Offensive Player of the Week for her production. “I think I realized that I have a big impact on the team.”

Princeton head coach Chris Sailer wasn’t surprised to see Doherty have a big impact in overtime.

“It just wasn’t a great day for her shooting-wise,” said Sailer. “When it counted, she had the opportunity and she buried it. That was huge. She is a tough kid. She is fast and quick. She normally shoots really well. She is definitely giving us a boost offensively.

Sailer acknowledged that the Tigers didn’t shoot well collectively as they fought through the downpour.

“It wasn’t pretty, it was definitely hard conditions today for both teams,” said Sailer, who got four goals from junior star Erin McMunn in the victory with freshman Olivia Hompe contributing a goal and five assists.

“It wasn’t close to our best game. Offensively, we struggled today. We didn’t shoot well. We didn’t make great decisions all day long but when it mattered we were able to tie the game up.”

Princeton did produce a good defensive effort, containing a high-powered Big Red attack that came into the afternoon averaging 11.9 goals a contest.

“I thought defensively, for the amount of the time they had the ball, we did a good job of holding them to seven goals,” said Sailer. “Jenn (assistant coach Jenn Cook) was calling in different slides for the defense and they were executing really well.”

Junior goalie Annie Woehling executed in the clutch for the Tigers. “Annie had an awesome warm-up but in the first half I don’t think she was seeing the ball really well,” said Sailer of Woehling, who made six saves on the day and was later named the Ivy co-Defensive Player of the Week. “In the second half, she came through with some really key saves for us.”

In the wake of the OT losses to Georgetown and Brown earlier in the season, Sailer saw the marathon win over Cornell as a key breakthrough for her squad.

“I think what we learned is that we couldn’t just wait before we attacked,” said Sailer, reflecting on the lessons the team learned from its previous extra session contests.

“Your normal strategy in overtime is to hold the ball for the last shot in the first period and that just hasn’t really worked well for our kids. We allowed them to attack earlier and see what they could create.”

With a logjam having developed in the Ivy title race as Penn is at 2-0 in league play and the quartet of Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard and Princeton are all 2-1, Sailer knows her team has to keep attacking when it hosts Yale (7-3 overall, 1-2 Ivy) on April 5.

“Today was a great example that every Ivy game is a battle this year,” said Sailer.

“Yale beat Dartmouth by seven and then Dartmouth beat Brown. Every team in the league can beat any other team in the league on any given day. That is what I have taken away from it so you have just got to come ready to play.”

Doherty, for her part, believes the Tigers are ready to keep rolling. “I think we had a bit of a rough start to our season, losing those two overtime games against Georgetown and Brown,” said Doherty.

“Now we are on 5-game streak. We know that we can be the team that we want to be and execute under pressure.”

TOUGH TO BEAR: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Tucker Shanley heads up the field in recent action. Last Saturday, senior midfield Shanley scored a goal in a losing cause as Princeton fell 11-10 at Brown. The defeat to the Bears dropped the Tigers to 4-4 overall and 1-2 Ivy League. Princeton, now ranked 19th nationally, will look to get back on the winning track when it hosts Rutgers (6-4) on April 5 in the annual showdown for the Meistrell Cup.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TOUGH TO BEAR: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Tucker Shanley heads up the field in recent action. Last Saturday, senior midfield Shanley scored a goal in a losing cause as Princeton fell 11-10 at Brown. The defeat to the Bears dropped the Tigers to 4-4 overall and 1-2 Ivy League. Princeton, now ranked 19th nationally, will look to get back on the winning track when it hosts Rutgers (6-4) on April 5 in the annual showdown for the Meistrell Cup. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Playing at Brown last Saturday, the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team got lulled to sleep a little bit.

“It was kind of a perfect storm,” said Princeton head coach Chris Bates. “We didn’t win face-offs and Brown did a good job with long possessions. It was one of those games that was slow and sleepy.”

Bates tried to shake things up in the second half. “It was 6-3 at half and because of how they were playing and the face-offs, we decided to change the tempo,” recalled Bates.

“We did a 10-man ride with the goalie coming out: it is an aggressive play. They got a goal from three-quarters of the field to make it 7-3. It backfired on us and gave them life.”

Despite falling behind 10-5 early in the fourth quarter, Princeton still showed life.

“We stayed poised even when we were down two late,” said Bates. “We needed to make a big stop when it was 10-8. They got their 11th goal from the 18 and that’s one we would like to have back.”

Narrowing the gap to 11-10, Princeton had a chance to tie the game in the waning seconds of regulation but misfired and Brown held on for the one-goal win.

“We drew up a play with 40 seconds left and Mikey [MacDonald] got a point blank shot but it was from a tough angle,” said Bates.

The loss was a wake-up call for the Tigers, coming one week after they fell behind Yale early on the way to a 16-15 loss.

“At the end of the day we were disappointed but we hope the game can be a catalyst,” said Bates, whose team dropped to 4-4 overall and 1-2 Ivy League with the setback.

“This is forcing us to change the way we practice. Just about all we have been doing is scrimmaging and focusing on fundamentals. This team always plays hard, we don’t have to worry about that.”

The defeat also led to some soul-searching upon the team’s return to Princeton on Saturday evening.

“It was not a quiet meeting when we got home; we made challenges to the the captains and the leadership,” said Bates, who got three goals from senior captain Tom Schreiber in the defeat with sophomore Jake Froccaro and junior MacDonald chipping in two apiece. “I have to look at myself first to be constructively critical.”

Fueled by the disappointment, the Tigers made a constructive response a day later.

“We came out on a miserable rainy night on Sunday and scrimmaged hard, it was a good practice,” said Bates.

As the Tigers prepare to host Rutgers (6-4) on April 5 in the annual battle for the Meistrell Cup, Bates will keep them working hard in training.

“We are having open tryouts at practice,” said Bates. “We are not paying attention to Rutgers yet, we are paying attention to Princeton. We are mixing and matching teams and we are grading them with pluses and minuses. The guys like that.”

In Bates’ view, his players still like their chances to do some big things this spring.

“Nobody is panicking,” said Bates. “We know we can play. We are down but we know we control our destiny. Everybody is becoming closer; we are focusing on the little things.”

CATCHING ON: Princeton High baseball player Colin Frawley pauses during an at-bat last spring. Senior catcher Frawley is primed to put together a big final campaign as PHS aims to improve on the 9-13 record it posted in 2013. The Little Tigers start regular season action by hosting Hopewell Valley on April 1 and then playing at Princeton Day School on April 2, at Hights­town on April 4, and at Allentown on April 5 before hosting Trenton Central on April 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CATCHING ON: Princeton High baseball player Colin Frawley pauses during an at-bat last spring. Senior catcher Frawley is primed to put together a big final campaign as PHS aims to improve on the 9-13 record it posted in 2013. The Little Tigers start regular season action by hosting Hopewell Valley on April 1 and then playing at Princeton Day School on April 2, at Hights­town on April 4, and at Allentown on April 5 before hosting Trenton Central on April 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton High baseball team, winning eight of its last 11 games last year has given its returning players a lift coming into this spring.

“I think all the varsity guys who got playing experience last year are very confident,” said PHS head coach Dave Roberts, who guided the Little Tigers to a 9-13 record in 2013.

Roberts is confident that senior Ben Gross will have a big year on the mound.

“Ben is no doubt our No. 1 pitcher,” said Roberts. “He threw 50 innings last year and we are looking to get the same or more this spring. We need to get him to finish games.”

Noting that the Little Tigers lost a lot of pitching from the 2013 squad to graduation, Roberts is looking for senior Jeff Gleason, sophomore Joaquin Hernandez-Burt, senior Austin Taylor, and junior Ben Danis to fill that void.

“We have 80 innings to replace,” said Roberts. “Jeff Gleason was out last year but had a nice first scrimmage. Joaquin also had a nice first scrimmage. He is a sophomore but he is big and he has some velocity. Austin Taylor will be in the back end, he can go one or two innings. He knows his role. Ben Danis should get some innings. The focus is on location and not walking people.”

The Little Tigers will be focusing on fundamentals. “We are a pitching and defense team,” said Roberts, whose defensive alignment will include senior Colin Frawley at catcher, senior Austin Taylor at first base, senior Gleason at second, sophomore Hayden Reyes at shortstop, and sophomore Colin Taylor at third with junior John Reid in left field and Danis, sophomore Micah Daly-Harris, senior John Lebeau and senior Jack Buyski in the mix for the other outfield spots. “We need to bunt, hit and run, and steal bases.”

PHS is looking to Reyes to be an offensive catalyst, coming off a freshman campaign when he emerged as a .300 hitter. “Reyes is staying at the No. 2 spot again; he’ll get plenty of at-bats,” said Roberts, whose squad was slated to start the 2014 season by hosting Hopewell Valley on April 1 and then playing at Princeton Day School on April 2, at Hightstown on April 4, and at Allentown on April 5 before hosting Trenton Central on April 7.

“That can be a big RBI spot when the lineup turns over. He will have to come up big. He will be seeing situations with runners on and two outs. Colin Taylor did well at leadoff in our scrimmage, he is an aggressive batter and can steal some bases. Gross will be in the 4-spot like he was last year. Reid, Frawley, Austin Taylor, and Danis are in the mix for the other spots.”

In Roberts’ view, PHS can build on last year’s success. “I think as a group we are looking for no drop-off in terms of the win total,” said Roberts.

“We would be disappointed if we had less than nine wins. We will emphasize pitching and defense, looking for no errors and no walks. We can control those aspects.”

BRINGING THE HEAT: Princeton High softball pitcher Sarah Eisenach fires a pitch in action last season. Junior ace ­Eisenach will be carrying the pitching load this spring for PHS as it looks to build on its 11-12 campaign in 2013, the program’s first-ever double-digit win season. The Little Tigers get regular season play underway this week as they were scheduled to host Hopewell Valley on April 1 and then play at Allentown on April 3 and host Trenton Central on April 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BRINGING THE HEAT: Princeton High softball pitcher Sarah Eisenach fires a pitch in action last season. Junior ace ­Eisenach will be carrying the pitching load this spring for PHS as it looks to build on its 11-12 campaign in 2013, the program’s first-ever double-digit win season. The Little Tigers get regular season play underway this week as they were scheduled to host Hopewell Valley on April 1 and then play at Allentown on April 3 and host Trenton Central on April 7.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having lost six seniors from a 2013 team that posted the program’s first-ever double-digit win season, the Princeton High softball team is going to have a different look this spring.

But PHS head coach Dave Boehm believes this year’s squad can pick up where things left off from the breakthrough 11-12 campaign last spring.

“We have six newcomers to the lineup so they have to gain confidence,” said Boehm.

“I told the girls at the beginning of the season that I think they can be in double-digits in wins.”

Boehm is expecting junior pitcher Sarah Eisenach to pile up a lot of wins this spring.

“Sarah will see most of the action in the circle,” said Boehm, whose team was slated to open the 2014 season by hosting Hopewell Valley on April 1 and then playing at Allentown on April 3 and hosting Trenton Central on April 7.

“She has gotten a little faster and a little stronger. I think she has gotten a little tougher.”

PHS may also get some innings from a pair of freshmen, Kayla Volante and Nancy Gray.

“If needed, Kayla and Nancy are both capable of handling the job,” added Boehm.

“Volante has good movement on her pitches. She is a younger kid so she will have to get used to the varsity level.”

The talented Volante will be counted on to get the PHS offense moving. “Kayla will be leading off,” said Boehm.

“We will need senior captain Jess Campisi to have a better year than she did last year. We will be looking for Sarah to step up. Sarah, Kelli Swedish, and Nancy Gray will be in the middle of the lineup. Rounding out the lineup will be speedy Stephanie Wu, Katie Kanter, and Lucia Matteo. Hopefully we won’t have to play station-to-station offense. We may need to play some small ball to go from first to third.”

The Little Tigers will need to play good ball on defense. “The fielding has been very good in two of our three scrimmages,” said Boehm, who has sophomore Matteo at catcher, sophomore Emily DiLella at first, Campisi at second or shortstop with Gray also seeing time at short, sophomore Wu at third, sophomore Swedish in left field, Volante in center field and senior Kanter in right.

“I think we have gotten a little quicker in the infield. I am happy with how this young team has responded.”

Boehm, for his part, is confident that the Little Tigers will keep responding as the spring unfolds.

“I’m optimistic that we will be competitive throughout the season,” said Boehm. “We may struggle against some of the powerhouses but we’ll show up and battle tough.”

TRIGGER MAN: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse attackman Jacob Shavel heads upfield in a game last season. Junior standout Shavel will be triggering the PDS offense this spring. The Panthers are scheduled to open regular season action with a game at Voorhees on April 1 before playing at Delaware Valley High on April 4 and hosting the Hun School on April 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TRIGGER MAN: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse attackman Jacob Shavel heads upfield in a game last season. Junior standout Shavel will be triggering the PDS offense this spring. The Panthers are scheduled to open regular season action with a game at Voorhees on April 1 before playing at Delaware Valley High on April 4 and hosting the Hun School on April 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team didn’t get the  chance to get outside much before its spring trip to South Carolina, the players looked sharp once they arrived in Hilton Head.

PDS head coach Rob Tuckman, for one, was not surprised by the high level of play he saw down south.

“We are really happy,” said Tuckman, who coached the Panthers to an 11-6 record in 2013 and appearances in the state Prep B championship game and the Mercer County Tournament semifinals.

“It is a credit to the senior classes, most recently last year’s; what we are seeing is a seriousness and a commitment to the sport. The kids are not waiting until March to pick up a stick. The kids are getting prepared and they are getting physically stronger.”

The Panthers have a strong attack group, led by junior Jacob Shavel, junior Chris Azzarello, and sophomore Joey Levine.

“They are working well as a unit; one of the key components is that we are getting production from everyone,” said Tuckman, whose team was scheduled to open regular season action with a game at Voorhees on April 1 before playing at Delaware Valley High on April 4 and hosting the Hun School on April 7.

“Jacob is looking great. One of his areas of progress is recognizing that he has five players behind him. He is captaining the ship with that perspective. Chris is establishing himself as a leader on attack. Joey is filling in that third spot.”

In the midfield, sophomores Jonah Tuckman (the coach’s son) and Connor Fletcher are bringing a mature perspective.

“Jonah is our face-off middie, we are looking for him to do well,” said Tuckman, whose midfield unit will also include seniors Connor Bitterman and tri-captain Lewie Blackburn together with freshman Will Brossman and sophomore Chris Chai.

“Connor is a big, strong body out there. Their real strength is that they play beyond their years. Jonah is a coach’s son and Connor is going to be playing D-I lacrosse.”

In Tuckman’s view, the Panther defense may be its biggest asset, featuring senior tri-captain Ben Levine together with juniors Kevin Towle and Christian Vik. “Our defense is probably the strongest part of our team,” asserted Tuckman.

“Towle was a longstick midfielder last year and he has gained 15 pounds of muscle. Both Levine and Vik are leaders out there, between the two of them, they have established something special.”

The Panthers have two good options at goalie in senior tri-captain Culver Duquette and junior Chris Markey.

“Both are committed to the position, they have worked with Rich in the midseason,” said Tuckman, referring to assistant coach Rich D’Andrea, a former star goalie at Georgetown.

“They are both looking excellent. I am not sure what we are going to do there, they could split time. It is a good problem to have, we are just trying to figure it out.”

If PDS can figure things out, it has the potential to enjoy a banner spring. “If we stay healthy, we can make runs,” asserted Tuckman.

“We want to hang banners. We are going for the state Prep B title and the county championship. I am looking forward to seeing us in games in New Jersey. We have a tough schedule by design. We are playing a brand of lacrosse we haven’t played in a while. We have strength in all areas of the field and we have confidence in all areas of the field.”

ON THE BALL: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Lucy Linville tracks a ball in 2013 action. Senior attacker and Lafayette-bound Linville figures to be a key offensive weapon this spring for the Panthers. PDS gets the 2014 regular season underway this week as it was slated to host Stuart Country Day on April 1 before playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on April 4 and hosting Princeton High on April 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON THE BALL: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Lucy Linville tracks a ball in 2013 action. Senior attacker and Lafayette-bound Linville figures to be a key offensive weapon this spring for the Panthers. PDS gets the 2014 regular season underway this week as it was slated to host Stuart Country Day on April 1 before playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on April 4 and hosting Princeton High on April 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The ingredients are in place for the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team to produce some fireworks this spring.

“We have speed, we have athletes, and we have good players in the skill positions,” said longtime PDS head coach Jill Thomas, who guided the Panthers to an 8-9 record last spring.

“We will do what we can to get out and run. We will run with a purpose, we will gun with a purpose.”

The Panthers’ top guns on attack figure to be junior Morgan Foster, Lafayette-bound senior Lucy Linville, and sophomore Hope Anhut.

“Foster is a real leader; she has great athleticism and stick skills,” said Thomas, who will also be using the Soltesz twins, juniors Alexa and Stef, on attack.

“She is the quarterback of our offense. Lucy has been working all year on her game. She is fit and we are expecting good things from her. Hope made a lot of progress last year and she is doing well this spring.”

In the midfield, PDS is expecting good things from such veterans as junior Kirsten Kuzmicz and seniors Allison Mascioli and Mary Travers.

“Kirsten can go up and down the field,” said Thomas, noting the seniors Sarah Brennan and Mimi Matthews are in the mix at midfield.

“Allison is back; she played as a freshman and then had double ACLs. Mary is working to get her stick skills after playing two other sports. She’s an athlete and will be a presence.”

The Panther defensive unit features plenty of athleticism in junior Erin Hogan and sophomores Tess Gecha and Rowan Schomburg along with Mascioli, Travers, and Matthews.

“Erin Hogan is an athlete and should help us on defense,” said Thomas, whose squad gets the 2014 regular season underway this week as it was slated to host Stuart Country Day on April 1 before playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on April 4 and hosting Princeton High on April 7.

“Allison, Mary, and Mimi can play there. The experience that Tess and Rowan got last year is serving as a good foundation for them.”

Thomas is confident that junior Sara Dwyer will provide a good last line of defense as she steps into the starting goalie spot.

“Sara is in goal for us, she is an athlete and she is doing well,” said Thomas.

“She has played JV for two years and she knows what she is doing.”

PDS has three freshmen, Abby Atkeson, Hannah Bunce, and Morgan Mills, on the squad and they know what they are doing.

“The three freshmen are good,” said Thomas. “I wouldn’t bring them up to varsity if I didn’t think they could help us.”

While the Panthers have talent, they need to develop the right mindset.

“I think we have a lot of potential and potential is a terrible thing to waste,” said Thomas. “A lot of it is up to them in terms of developing a team chemistry, having a goal, and believing.”

In Thomas’ view, the players took some major strides in that direction during their preseason trip to Florida.

“It has been a really great trip,” asserted Thomas. “We have been getting really good senior leadership, we have 11 new players on the varsity with people moving up and freshmen coming in. It is great to be outside and doing full field practices. I think they are coming together. Seeing your teammates 24/7 is different than seeing them in the hall at school. You are living together.”

If PDS can come together on the field, it could produce a great spring.

“We will look to move in transition and play tough defense all over the field,” said Thomas.

“We have high expectations. We are expecting these athletes to step up. We want to get back to where we have been. I am looking forward to the season.”

THE RIGHT STUFF: Princeton Day School baseball player Jake Alu delivers a pitch in a game last spring. Junior pitcher/shortstop and Boston College-bound Alu should help PDS on the mound and at the plate. The Panthers, who opened the 2014 season with a 5-4 win over Centennial High (Ill.) last Friday in a game played in Florida, will look to keep on the winning track as they host Princeton High on April 2 and the Hill School (Pa.) on April 4 before playing at Northern Burlington on April 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

THE RIGHT STUFF: Princeton Day School baseball player Jake Alu delivers a pitch in a game last spring. Junior pitcher/shortstop and Boston College-bound Alu should help PDS on the mound and at the plate. The Panthers, who opened the 2014 season with a 5-4 win over Centennial High (Ill.) last Friday in a game played in Florida, will look to keep on the winning track as they host Princeton High on April 2 and the Hill School (Pa.) on April 4 before playing at Northern Burlington on April 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

A central theme this spring for the Princeton Day School baseball team will be all hands on deck.

With a roster of just 14 players, the Panthers will get ample chances to do some multi-tasking.

“Everybody has to be versatile and play different positions,” said PDS head coach Ray O’Brien, who guided PDS to a 10-12 record last spring. “Everybody has to pitch. In numbers, we are a small team. We have a lot of young guys who are going to play.”

The team got to play a lot last week on its annual Florida trip. “The temperatures were great; we did have rain on and off,” said O’Brien. “We got in everything we scheduled. We played three scrimmages. We played an official game last Friday night against Centennial High from Champaign, Ill., we won 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh.”

O’Brien is counting on four veterans, junior tri-captains, Jake Alu, James Radvany, and Cole McManimon along with senior captain Ford Schneider, to set the tone.

“At the top of the team are the three juniors, Jake, J.P., and Cole,” said O’Brien, noting that Alu has already committed to play baseball at Boston College while Radvany is heading to the Villanova University baseball program.

“Ford is the senior captain; he brings that leadership and the intangibles. He has played baseball four years and he’s done a little bit of everything for us. He is helping with the younger guys; he plays the game the right way. We have him in center field this year and he will be doing some pitching.”

McManimon is the Panthers’ top pitcher. “Cole got six wins last year and he has grown some more; he is 6’6, 220-pounds,” said O’Brien of McManimon, who is currently sidelined with an injury. “He pitched very well in Florida. We are looking at him as our No. 1.”

O’Brien has several other arms at his disposal. “J.P. stepped up last year on the mound, he will be our No. 2 starter,” added O’Brien, whose team will look to keep on the winning track as it hosts Princeton High on April 2 and the Hill School (Pa.) on April 4 before playing at Northern Burlington on April 7.

“Jake will be the closer. Ford will pitch. Freshmen Chase Fleming and Ryan Sparks are both left-handers and they will pitch. Sparks came in and pitched four solid innings in our opener; he was looking good in Florida. He will have a spot in the rotation. Junior Sean Flahive may see some innings.”

O’Brien believes that PDS should be good defensively with a lineup featuring freshman Paul Franzoni at catcher, Radvany at first base, sophomore Sam Guarino at second, Alu at shortstop, sophomore Dom Gasparro at third, Schneider in center field, and Sparks in right, with freshmen Zach Dudeck, sophomore Ryan Augustus, sophomore Kevin Hagan, and junior Davin Bialow in the outfield mix.

Alu figures to get the offense going at the top of the batting order along with Gasparro.

“Jake will be leading off, he led us in a lot of offensive categories last year,” said O’Brien. “Dom hit in the 9 hole last year and did well and we left him there. We have moved him up to No. 2.”

O’Brien is counting on Radvany to provide some punch. “J.P. is in the middle of the order, he hit OK last year after a great freshman year,” said O’Brien. “He is coming off a solid Florida trip. Ryan and Ford will be in the middle half.”

While the Panthers may lack quantity in terms of its roster, O’Brien believes that his squad possesses the quality to compete well this spring.

“If we are healthy and fresh, we are capable of beating anybody,” said O’Brien.

“When we are playing three or four games a week, our depth is going to be an issue. The season is going to be determined by how the younger guys mesh with the older guys.”

GOING TO THE WELL: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Amy Hallowell heads to goal in action last spring. Senior star Hallowell will be a catalyst this spring for the Tartans as they look to improve on the 4-10 record they posted last spring. Stuart is slated to start the 2014 season by playing at Princeton Day School on April 1 and at Pennington on April 3 before hosting the George School (Pa.) on April 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOING TO THE WELL: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Amy Hallowell heads to goal in action last spring. Senior star Hallowell will be a catalyst this spring for the Tartans as they look to improve on the 4-10 record they posted last spring. Stuart is slated to start the 2014 season by playing at Princeton Day School on April 1 and at Pennington on April 3 before hosting the George School (Pa.) on April 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Stuart Country Day School lacrosse team is stocked with freshmen and sophomores, Caitlin Grant is seeing an advanced skill level this spring.

“Two years ago we had a lot of beginners,” said Stuart head coach Caitlin Grant, who guided Stuart to a 4-10 record in 2013.

“We have a lot of young players but they all know the game, we have only two true beginners. I don’t have to teach the game.”

It is a senior star, Amy Hallowell, who brings the most game to the table for the Tartans.

“Amy is such a team player,” said Grant of Hallowell who is headed to Johns Hopkins where she will be playing field hockey.

“The best thing about her is that she is a really hard worker; she will go all over the field to get the ball from defense to offense and end to end. She will never give up. She never has an attitude, she is always positive.”

The trio of sophomores Julia Maser, Tori Hannah, and Sam Servis should help the Tartans all over the field.

“The sophomores do a lot of outside field hockey stuff so they are always playing together,” said Grant, noting that Maser and Hannah will be offensive midfielders while Servis will be a defensive wing.

“They are used to each other and they trust each other. They have a good sense of each other and where they are going to be on the field.”

Grant believes that sophomore Harley Guzman, junior Nneka Onukwugha, and freshman Isabelle Engel are also going to be threats.

“Harley should be a good one for us on attack,” said Grant, whose team was slated to start the 2014 season by playing at Princeton Day School on April 1 and at Pennington on April 3 before hosting the George School (Pa.) on April 5.

“Nneka has a tremendous shot; she has one of the hardest shots I have seen in high school. She can score when she gets the ball. Izzy Engel will play some midfield.”

On defense, Stuart will be depending on senior Meghan Shannon along with sophomores Rose Tetnowski and Servis to hold the fort.

“Meghan is a solid defender,” said Grant. “She will also be the voice of the defense. I will count on her to communicate and tell people where to go. Sam Servis is a great defender; she really understands the game. Rose is also on low defense.”

Sophomore goalie Harlyn Bell is being counted on to be a standout. “Harlyn has played a lot of outside lacrosse, she has really stepped up her game,” said Grant.

“She looks great in goal, I am excited to see her in games. The goalie is the one player who can see the field; I am hoping she will be loud out there.”

Grant believes the Tartans can make some noise  both this spring and beyond. “I think this group has a ton of potential,” asserted Grant.

“We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores so I think we are a team that will get better as the year goes on. I am excited about this spring and future seasons.”

March 26, 2014
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BELLOWING SMOKE: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player ­Francesca Bello fires the ball in a 2013 game. Senior star Bello figures to be a key player this spring for the Raiders as they look to build on last year’s progress. Hun opens the 2014 season by hosting Princeton High on March 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Hun School girls’ lacrosse team, heading south to Florida earlier this month proved beneficial on several levels.

“The weather was great,” said Hun second-year head coach Haley Sanborn, who guided the Raiders to a 6-9 record last spring in her debut season.

“We had 24 kids come on the trip; the majority were varsity but there were some JV players so it was a mixed group. We had long days on the field. As for the varsity, the girls jelled quickly. They are on the same page for what they expect this season and what they want to do.”

Sanborn credits her trio of seniors, Francesca Bello, Brianna Barratt, and Hanna Bettner with getting everyone on the same page.

“Fresca, Bri, and Hanna were setting the tone for the rest of the season,” said Sanborn, whose team gets regular season play underway by hosting Princeton High on March 29.

“They took the younger players under their wing, letting them know the expectations and that they are going to get pushed.”

Bello and Barratt will be pushing things on the offensive end this spring. “Fresca is a powerhouse, she is a versatile player,” said Sanborn of Bello, who is heading to Villanova to play field hockey.

“I can put her anywhere and she will do well. She is to going to get her 100th goal this season. Bri Barratt is also looking good, she did well last season.”

The Raiders boast other weapons in sophomore Lindsay Ruddy and the Consoli twins, sophomores Emma and Katie.

“Lindsay will probably play at center; she did a lot of work in the off-season and it is showing,” said Sanborn.

“Both of the Consolis have a great work ethic, I don’t know how a coach gets so lucky to have two of them. They are thriving in this environment. Katie will be on high attack. Emma will help us in transition.”

Across the midfield, Hun will feature athletic talent, if not vast lax experience in freshmen Sophia Albanese, Delia Lavwer, Julie Salerno, Marleigh Nociti, together with junior Erica Dwyer.

“Sophia, Delia, and Julie are raw athletes; they will be helpful,” said Sanborn.

“Marleigh Nociti is also a soccer player. She has incredible speed. She hasn’t played lacrosse since middle school but that is good because she doesn’t have bad habits to break. She is picking things up quickly. Erica Dwyer will also be in the midfield, she is an all-around athlete.”

The defense does have some battle-tested performers in Hanna Bettner, Shannon Graham, Taylor Nehlig, and Amanda Barbour.

“I am psyched to have Hanna back; she is a workhorse,” said Sanborn of Bettner, who was on the squad as a freshman and sophomore and then spent a year at public school before returning to Hun.

“Shannon Graham is injury free; she may step up to attack but she has such good defensive instincts and I feel comfortable with her back there. Taylor Nehlig and Amanda Barbour played there last year. They know each other.”

At goalie, the Raiders are looking at sophomore Tatiana Swain and freshman Madison McNulty.

“Tatiana and Maddie are new to the position; both are learning quickly,” said Sanborn.

“You have got to give them credit for stepping up and giving it a whirl. I applaud both of them. Right now they are pretty even. If they progress at the same rate, we may alternate them.”

Sanborn, for her part, is confident that Hun can make a lot of progress collectively this spring.

“It is going to be about chemistry and trust; they need to trust each other and know where each other is going to go before they do it,” said Sanborn.

“We have a great group of kids, they have strong character. They want to be out there, they want to work hard. I am excited; I am confident we can pick up where we ended last year and continue the upward momentum.”

—Bill Alden

 
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CORE STRENGTH: Hun School boys’ lacrosse player Corey Reynolds heads up the field in a game last season. Senior midfielder and UMBC-bound Reynolds should be a key weapon for the Raiders this spring. Hun starts the season by playing at Don Bosco on March 26 followed by a game at Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on March 27 and a home contest against the IMG Academy (Fla.) on March 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Camelback Mountain towers some 2,700 feet over the Phoenix area but it was no obstacle for the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team as the players climbed it twice on their recent preseason trip to Arizona.

Later this spring, the Raiders hope to reach another summit as they look to make a return trip to the state Prep A championship game.

“The expectations are higher,” said Hun second-year head coach MV Whitlow, who guided the Raiders to an 11-6 record and a trip to the Prep A title game where they fell to perennial champion Lawrenceville.

“With higher expectations comes higher scrutiny. We should be slightly improved. It is not what you do today, it is what you do in May.”

Whitlow likes how his team has been doing things, having developed a familiarity with his coaching approach.

“The second year is less of a transition, the boys are used to the systems we have in place,” noted Whitlow, whose team is scheduled to start the season by playing at Don Bosco on March 26 followed by a game at Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on March 27 and a home contest against the IMG Academy (Fla.) on March 31. “There is less implementing. They are used to the expectations.”

Hun is expecting some big things on offense from the one-two punch of juniors Brendan Black and Matthew Favalaro.

“On attack we have junior captain Brendan Black, he’s a leader on the field and he is a Villanova commit,” said Whitlow. “Matthew Favalaro has good vision and good off-ball play.”

The Raider midfield features a good trio in sophomore Owen Black, senior Corey Reynolds, and sophomore Alex Semler.

“We will be led by sophomore Owen Black, he is also a Villanova commit,” said Whitlow.

“He is working hard to be a more dynamic midfielder. He does bring a high lacrosse IQ. Corey Reynolds is a UMBC recruit, he is a strong shooter. Alex Semler is another guy who will help us in the midfield.”

A pair of senior stars, Cam Dudeck and Jimmy Jannicelli, figure to spearhead the Hun defense.

“We have Cam Dudeck; he is one of our captains and he is a Naval Academy commit,” said Whitlow.

“He has the work ethic and the desire to create victory. Jimmy Jannicelli is a senior and a Cornell commit. He is a real leader, he was voted as a captain and is a good teammate.”

The Raiders boast two other battle-tested defenders in junior Tucker Stevenson and senior Chase Goulburn.

“Tucker is a returning junior and it is good to have him back,” added Whitlow. “We also have Chase Goulburn, he has committed to Endicott. He brings experience and has gotten himself in great physical condition.”

At goalie, the Raiders will be utilizing sophomore John Levine as the starter.

“It is going to be Levine,” said Whitlow. “He is a very solid goalie, he is a great ballstopper.”

As Whitlow looks ahead to the season, he believes his squad possesses a great mentality.

“The key is that as they play together, the team seems to be coming together,” said Whitlow.

“We are going to be humble and hungry. I really like this group of guys; it is group of high character young men.”

—Bill Alden

 
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GOING FOR IT: Hun School softball pitcher Alexis Goeke fires the ball in action last season. Hun will need sophomore ace Goeke to come up big again this spring in order to make a second straight trip to the state Prep A title game. The Raiders are slated to get the 2014 regular season underway this week by playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on March 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kathy Quirk is welcoming back a lot of familiar faces to her Hun School softball team this spring but she is reshuffling the deck.

In the wake of losing catcher Carey Million, third baseman Danielle Beal, and second baseman Joey Crivelli to graduation with first baseman Caitlin Hoagland moving out of the area, some of the key returners will be changing places.

“We are struggling to fill some holes,” said longtime Hun head coach Quirk, who guided the Raiders to an 11-7 record last spring and an appearance in the state Prep A championship game where it fell to Peddie.

“We have moved Kristen Manochio from outfield to third and Vicki Leach to second. Kameron McNair is now at first.”

The Raiders were able make some strides earlier this month when they spent a week in Florida for their annual preseason trip.

“Florida was great, we got a lot of practice,” said Quirk, whose team is slated to get the regular season underway this week by playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on March 28. “We played six games and won five. It was nice to get some wins.”

Quirk is hoping for a nice season from sophomore pitcher Alexis Goeke, who emerged as one of the top hurlers in the area in 2013.

“If Goeke can pick up where she left off last year, she will be fine,” said Quirk. “She is a strong girl, she has great fundamentals and basics.”

Hun has the makings of a strong offense with the combination of junior Julia Blake, senior Alexa Fares, senior Leach, freshman Julie Fassl, senior Manochio, and Goeke.

“At top of the order, Blake is at leadoff and she is doing a great job,” said Quirk.

“She hit the ball well in Florida. Fares and Leach will be batting at two or six. Fassl is batting third, she has a great bat and eye, she is a coachable kid. Manochio and Goeke will be in the middle of the lineup.”

The defensive alignment will feature senior McNair at first base, Leach at second, Blake at shortstop, Manochio at third, Fassl at catcher, senior Lauren Moonan in left field, Fares in center field, and a possible platoon in right field.

In Quirk’s view, the team’s success this spring could hinge on how quickly the reconfigured defense gets in synch.

“Our key to the season is being fundamentally sound and knowing what to do with the ball when it comes to you,” said Quirk.

“We are not going to be a team that is going to go errorless and we, as coaches, have to keep that in mind. We will be doing a lot of drills.”

So far, the team is showing that it will respond well to drills. “We have a great bunch of kids, the trip to Florida was one of the best we have had,” said Quirk. “The kids worked hard and they have good chemistry.”

—Bill Alden

 
Coach talks w #3

SAGE ADVICE: Hun School baseball head coach Bill McQuade, right, advises a player in a game last year. McQuade is entering his 44th season at the helm of the Hun program and will be working in a number of new faces into his lineup as the Raiders lost 11 players to graduation from a 2013 squad that went 16-7. Hun opens its 2014 season by hosting Lawrenceville on March 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Bill McQuade brings a wealth of experience to the Hun School baseball team as he enters his 44th season at the helm of the program and that wisdom will come in handy this spring.

Hun has said goodbye to 11 players from a 2013 squad that went 16-7 and McQuade will be working in a bevy of new faces into his lineup.

“We lost so much individual talent from last year, we lost speed and power,” said McQuade, whose team spent a week in Florida earlier this month and is slated to open regular season play by hosting Lawrenceville on March 28.

“We are a completely younger team and a much different team. We brought up so many kids up from JV and they are going to learn under fire.”

The Raiders do return a fireballer on the mound in junior star pitcher Jason Applegate.

“Applegate is a workaholic, sometimes he is too hard on himself,” said McQuade.

“He has to step up and be a leader of the staff. He has talent. He knows this year he has to be a star. He is going to be our ace, for sure.”

McQuade believes that two sophomore hurlers, George Revock and Rob Huselid, could emerge as stars this spring.

“Revock did a really good job last year as a freshman,” said McQuade.

“He is a big, strong lefthander. He will also play first base and DH; he has some pop on his bat. Huselid also did a wonderful job last year. He is a submarine, sidearm style and he likes coming out of the bullpen. He should be our main reliever. He loves it and he has a rubber arm. We can pitch him almost every game.”

The Raiders have some other good arms in junior Justin Pontrella, junior Mike Andreas, junior Matt Kooker, and sophomore James Werosta.

“We got good innings in Florida from Justin Pontrella, Mike Andreas, Matt Kooker and James Werosta,” said McQuade.

“They may have been our most effective pitchers down there. They were pounding the strike zone, they were getting ahead of batters and changing speeds.”

The catching pair of senior Ryan Hayes and junior Gideon Friedberg should help the rotation.

“We have Ryan Hayes at catcher, he is looking good; he improved a lot from last year,” added McQuade.

“Gideon played catcher in Florida; he did a nice job behind the plate.

We could give Ryan some innings at pitcher, he has a good arm.”

Losing such hitting stars as Devan Birch, Shane Adams, Steve Wells, and Eddie Paparella to graduation, the Raiders are going to have to scratch out runs this spring.

“We are going to have to play small ball and have a good on-base percentage,” said McQuade.

At the top of the order, Hun will be looking at junior Nick Perez, senior Andy Douglas, and junior Donavon Harris to be tablesetters.

“Nicky Perez has to have a good year; he knows the game,” said McQuade.

“Andy Douglas is a scrappy player, he loves the game. Harris has potential, he is a such a good all around athlete. He is our one real speed guy.”

Senior co-captains Bailey Hammer and Alex Deutsch should provide punch to the lineup along with Pontrella.

“We are going to move Bailey back to infield; he was an all star outfielder,” said McQuade.

“He is a solid second baseman and he gives us some nice power. Alex Deutsch has some pop in his bat. Pontrella is like the old Yankee Steve Balboni; he has a lot of pop, always has a smile on his face.”

The defensive alignment will feature Hayes at catcher with Pontrella at first base, Hammer at second, Perez at shortstop, junior Peter Schintzler at third, Deutsch in center field, Douglas in right field, and Applegate in left when he isn’t pitching.

In McQuade’s view, pitching and defense hold the key to Hun having a big spring.

“We have to get the pitchers to throw strikes, it sounds easy but it isn’t,” said McQuade. “We have to pitch and play defense, it will be old school baseball.”

McQuade has found it easy to work with this year’s squad. “This is a fun team to coach,” said McQuade.

“This year coming out of the gate, we could struggle but I think we will get better as the year goes on. This team will work, they showed in Florida that they aren’t afraid to work.”

—Bill Alden

 
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FULL SPEED AHEAD: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse star Emilia Lopez-Ona races up the field in action last year. The Penn-bound senior Lopez-Ona will be a key weapon for PHS this spring as it looks to improve on last season’s 18-4 record. The Little Tigers get their 2014 campaign underway by hosting Lawrence on March 26 and then playing at Hun on March 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming off a superb 18-4 campaign that culminated with a run to the Central Jersey Group III sectional final, the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team has hit the ground running this spring.

“We are getting off to a great start, almost the whole team is returning from last year,” said second-year head coach Kelsey O’Gorman.

“The seniors have stepped up. This team has so many great athletes that play multiple sports. We didn’t have to start over, we didn’t have to go over the basics. We are ready to go.”

PHS is ready to put up some big numbers at the offensive end, led by the one-two punch of senior stars, Dartmouth-bound Liz Jacobs and Penn-bound Emilia Lopez-Ona.

“Liz and Emilia are looking strong,” said O’Gorman. “They are going to get double-teamed, they have both been starters since freshmen year so they are used to the pressure.”

The Little Tigers boast some other players who can put pressure on the opposition in seniors Krysta Holman and Taylor Chiang along with junior Gabby Gibbons and sophomore Allie Callaway.

“We have a solid unit, they have worked with each other for a long time,” said O’Gorman.

“There is a lot of energy. Krysta Holman and Taylor Chiang will also be on low attack. Gabby Gibbons is awesome for us. She is an all-around player. She is a mature player and is committed to the game. Allie Callaway has come and worked hard in offseason, I am proud of the progress she has made.”

In the midfield, senior standout and Lafayette-bound Dana Smith provides a lot of energy for PHS.

“The word ‘feisty’ describes Dana, she is a ground ball machine,” said O’Gorman.

“I am excited to see how she is going to do on the draw. She has so much fight. She has such an eye for the ball and reading the opponent. She is so aggressive. She is a team captain along with Emilia.”

There are some other exciting options for PHS in the midfield with a pair of sophomores, Julia Ryan and Taylor Lis, showing marked improvement.

“Julia Ryan is really strong; Taylor Lis started as freshmen,” said O’Gorman.

“It is great to see their progress, they learned a lot of lessons last year. Julia is a really good basketball player and Taylor plays soccer. They are two-sport athletes but they are becoming solid lax players. Taylor Chiang will also see time in the midfield. She is versatile, she can go anywhere on the field and do well.”

The Tiger defense will be spearheaded by seniors Kristi DeMilt and Stephanie Hauer along with junior Oona Ryle.

“Kristi DeMilt is our tall defender; you have to watch out for her stick,” said O’Gorman.

“She has long arms and gathers in anything she gets to. Steph Hauer has worked on her agility. She is a big communicator on defense and that is so key. Oona Ryle should also help us there.”

Junior goalie Mira Shane handles just about anything she gets to as well. “Mira is one of the top goalies in the area,” said O’Gorman.

“She is so serious about her lacrosse. She is a lax girl through and through. She is in lax mode and is ready to go. She has the drive and will to get better. She corrects any errors she makes. She coaches herself and is coachable.”

O’Gorman is looking forward to coaching the Little Tigers this spring. “I have really high expectations for this group; we learned a lot from last year,” said O’Gorman, whose team is slated to open the 2014 campaign by hosting Lawrence on March 26 and then playing at Hun on March 29.

“We proved that we are tough competitors; we were put in tough situations and fought through them. I was so proud of them last year and think I am going to be even more proud of them this year.”

In order to have another big year, the Little Tigers need to get on the same page.

“Everyone has to find their role,” said O’Gorman. “We have to put the puzzle pieces together and see who is our best feeder, who is best on the drive, who is best on the draw. This season holds so much potential.”

—Bill Alden

 
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BUCKING THE TREND: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse star Colin Buckley stymies a foe in action last spring. Junior Buckley brings strength and skill to the PHS defensive unit. The Little Tigers are slated to start the 2014 season by playing at Hights-town on March 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Catching fire at the right time, the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team enjoyed an inspiring run last spring, winning the program’s first-ever Mercer County Tournament title and advancing to the South Jersey Group III sectional semifinals.

As longtime PHS head coach Peter Stanton looks ahead to the 2014 season, he believes the team’s veterans learned some valuable lessons from last year’s run.

“Our older players, particularly our captains (Matt Purdy, Matt Corrado, Kevin Halliday, and Patrick McCormick), know what it takes to be a champion,” said Stanton. “You need to be unselfish, sacrifice and buy into the team concept.”

The Little Tigers strengthened their team chemistry earlier this month when they went on a preseason trip to Florida.

“The trip was good fun,” said Stanton, who led PHS to a 16-4 record last spring as he passed the 200-win milestone in his tenure.

“We spent a lot of time together off the field and that is as valuable as the time on the field. We experimented a lot; we tried different lineups. We learned a lot of things very quickly. They are bright kids, they are willing to learn and work together.”

PHS should get good work from two of those senior captains, Purdy and Corrado, on attack.

“Matt was our leading goal scorer last year; he is definitely someone we will look to be an outstanding finisher,” said Stanton, whose squad opens the 2014 season by playing at Hightstown on March 27.

“We want him to be more of a creator this year; last year he was finishing up the work of his teammates. We also expect a lot from Matt Corrado. They are our two senior captains on attack and we know they are solid.”

Stanton has some other solid performers on attack in senior Adam Durner, freshman Johnny Lopez-Ona, and junior Connor McCormick.

“We will mix and match with Durner and Lopez Ona,” added Stanton. “We are also looking at Connor McCormick at attack. He played midfielder last year and he showed in Florida that he has a capable stick.”

The pair of Kevin Halliday and Patrick McCormick give the Little Tigers a very capable one-two punch in the midfield.

“We have Kevin and Pat there, they are great kids,” said Stanton. “Of all of our players, Kevin can run by a defender the best. He is so fast and he has great vision and awareness. Pat is outstanding at both ends of the field. He is a tough defender and he is very capable offensively. He is good in transition.”

Filling out the midfield will be senior Dalton Sekelsky, sophomore Rory Helstrom, sophomore Nick Halliday, and sophomore Luis Lazo.

“Sekelsky is a guy who has learned the game in a hurry, he first started playing last year and he looks like a veteran out there this year,” said Stanton.

“Rory Helstrom is also very athletic. He brings the unsung hero mentality. He plays good defense, picks up ground balls, starts transition. He is thrilled to be on the field. Luis Lazo and Nick Halliday are two sophomores who are looking to get on the field.”

On defense, the pair of junior stars Colin Buckley and Jackson Andres, are looking good along with senior Spencer Reynolds, junior Joe Hawes, and sophomore Harry Dyevich.

“Those two guys are very skilled and alert players; they are very big and very strong,” asserted Stanton, referring to Buckley and Andres.

“Spencer Reynolds has worked really hard for the four years he has been in the program. Last year he was a role player, a back up longstick midfielder and on the man-down. He has earned a spot on the defense. Joe Hawes was a middie last year. Out of need and interest, he started playing with the longstick, he is a big, strong kid. Harry Dyevich will get some playing time, he is a physical player but he doesn’t have the experience.”

While the Little Tigers don’t boast experience at goalie with junior Kenan Glasgold and freshman Sawyer Peck, Stanton has confidence in both performers.

“Kenan Glasgold started playing goalie last year; he has worked hard in the offseason to play the position and he has really improved,” said Stanton.

“Sawyer has learned a lot from his brothers (former PHS stars Kirby Peck and Griffin Peck) and ice hockey. He has been playing goalie for a while. It is great when you see somebody making strides and both of these guys are making strides. It is too early to say who will be the starter. I am not fond of a rotation. We will go with the guy who is playing the best at the time.”

Stanton is confident that PHS can progress into something special this spring. “This is a good team that has the potential to be a very good team,” said Stanton.

“It is a nice mixture of older kids and young talent. I am most interested in how we finish the season. I think we could do well in the playoffs. I think the offensive key is making defenses guard all six of our offensive players. All six need to be involved in creating defense; we can’t rely on one guy. On defense, we need to work really hard at playing as a team.”

—Bill Alden