February 11, 2015

Reserve forward Taylor Williams looks to shake things up when she enters the game for the Princeton University women’s basketball team.

“I am a fighter, I am scrappy,” said Williams, a 6’3 junior from Warren, Ohio. “So when I come in, a lot of my role, even in practice, is to bring energy, to fight, to get everyone motivated, and keep everyone going.”

Last Saturday against visiting Cornell, Williams provided energy and a lot more in 21 minutes of action off the bench as the Tigers cruised to a 75-47 win over the Big Red before a Jadwin Gym crowd of 1,399. Producing a dominant effort in the paint, Williams contributed 10 points, four rebounds, four blocked shots, and two assists, helping Princeton improve to 21-0 overall and 5-0 Ivy League.

“I think as a team, we were revved up,” said Williams. “We knew this was a big game. It was kind of like the butterflies in the stomach, the energy thing. It was a lot of fun to come out and play.”

Williams had fun on defense against the Big Red, picking up a steal to go with her blocked shots and helping to hold Cornell stars Mia Marshall and Nicholle Aston to 14 and 12 points, respectively, as they both shot 6-of-16.

“I don’t try to block shots but something I personally strive for is defense,” said Williams.

“Defense to me is fun so when I can stop girls from having successful games, especially when it is Nia Marshall or Nicholle Aston, who have both been having very successful seasons. For me, it is a personal challenge as well as a team challenge.”

Although Princeton misfired early, scoring only two points in the first four minutes of the contest, Williams and her teammates kept pressing on.

“Sometimes you start off hot and sometimes you don’t,” said Williams. “You just have to come out and play. Some games you win ugly, some you win pretty. You just have to fight through as a team through each one of them.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart thought her team was ready to fight as it faced a Cornell team that came into the evening at 13-6 overall and 4-1 Ivy.

“This is what we live for, the opportunity to play against another really good team, who has shown in the course of the season that they play well together,” said Banghart.

“We knew it was going to be a battle, they are feisty, they have a good inside game, and playmaking guards. It was obviously a fun game and a great crowd tonight.”

Banghart had fun watching Williams displaying her inside game. “Taylor might have been a scratch this weekend, she has had some soreness,” said Banghart.

“She looked me in the eye on Friday and said please let me play coach and we did. She gave us a lot all weekend. We have this mentality on our team that it is next man up. To be as good as we need to be, we need a little bit from everybody. We are getting that.”

Princeton also showed its tough defensive mentality, stifling the Big Red from the opening tip.

“I said this is what we have been waiting for, a good team to come into Jadwin and really defend them well,” said Banghart, whose team held Cornell to 34.9 percent shooting (22-of-63) on the evening.

“This team has been solid defensively all year long and we saw that tonight when offense wasn’t as easy early on as it usually is. Over the course of a 40-minute game we always find our legs. I thought it was a defensive battle with a really talented offensive team. It was a great win.”

With the wins piling up for Princeton, now the only undefeated team in Division I women’s hoops, Banghart is confident her players won’t lose the focus that has gotten them to this point.

“If you had told me a while back that we would be undefeated, I would not have believed you first of all and second of all, I would have assumed that it would been distracting,” said Banghart, whose squad plays at Brown on February 13 and at Yale on February 14.

“This group is so purpose-driven. We focus Monday on ourselves and I just talked to them in the locker room after the game and said these are the areas we focused on and you got better in those areas. I really don’t think it is a team that is focused on the record. They are focused on the Ivy League right now and getting an NCAA tournament bid, which is really a coach’s dream. This could be a distraction and it is really not.”

Williams, for her part, believes that the hoopla surrounding the undefeated record won’t distract the team from its goals.

“It is not extra pressure, after every game, we write what our record is,” said Williams. “That is a motivational thing but now we no longer write 21-0, we write 5-0. We still have to face them a second time. It is one step towards our goal but we know how much more we have to accomplish.”

SENIOR MANAGEMENT: Princeton University women’s hockey player Brianne Mahoney controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last weekend, senior defenseman Mahoney came up big in the final two regular season home games of her Princeton career. On Friday, she contributed two assists as Princeton defeated Colgate 4-1. A day later, she helped key a strong defensive effort as the Tigers edged No. 9 Cornell 3-2. Princeton, now 13-10-2 overall and 11-6-1 ECAC Hockey, plays at Clarkson on February 13 and at St. Lawrence on February 14.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SENIOR MANAGEMENT: Princeton University women’s hockey player Brianne Mahoney controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last weekend, senior defenseman Mahoney came up big in the final two regular season home games of her Princeton career. On Friday, she contributed two assists as Princeton defeated Colgate 4-1. A day later, she helped key a strong defensive effort as the Tigers edged No. 9 Cornell 3-2. Princeton, now 13-10-2 overall and 11-6-1 ECAC Hockey, plays at Clarkson on February 13 and at St. Lawrence on February 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Brianne Mahoney, playing last weekend in the final regular season home games of her career with the Princeton University women’s hockey team sparked a desire for a return engagement.

“It is kind of exciting and also sad,” said senior defenseman Mahoney. “I think it is a motivation in order to get home ice for the playoffs so we can play here again.”

Mahoney has felt at home with classmates Ashley Holt, Brianna Leahy, and Ali Pankowski over the last four years.

“We are a small class so we are pretty close,” said Mahoney. “I am lucky to have all of them as teammates. It is really fun playing this weekend with them.”

Having been paired on defense with Pankowski since freshman year has been a fun experience for Mahoney.

“We have been d-partners since day one,” said Mahoney. “We always know what each other is thinking. It is pretty easy to play off of each other, we have a similar style.”

The Tiger seniors went out in style in their final Baker Rink regular season weekend as Princeton topped Colgate 4-1 on Friday and then edged No. 9 Cornell 3-2 a day later.

Against Colgate, Mahoney helped Princeton get started on the right foot, assisting on a Molly Contini goal midway through the first period as the Tigers took a 1-0 lead.

“I took a shot from the point,” recalled Mahoney. “I definitely don’t have an Ali Pankowski shot but whenever you see Molly Contini in front of the net, you just shoot towards her and hope that she can get some part of her body or stick on the puck and it usually goes in. I had my head up and once I saw Molly, I hit her.”

After taking a 2-0 lead early in the second period, Princeton hit a lull as Colgate fought back to make it a 2-1 game heading into the third period. Tiger head coach Jeff Kampersal had a stern message for his players at the second intermission.

“Jeff wasn’t too happy, he said don’t think that you are better than you are,” recalled Mahoney. “Play like you did against Harvard (a 1-0 win on on January 31) and play your game. That’s what we did, we play well when we do that.”

Mahoney got her offensive game going in the third period, getting another assist as she helped to set up a goal by sophomore Morgan Sly with 14:34 remaining in regulation.

“The goalie was giving up rebounds,” said Mahoney. “It popped out so I thought I might as well slap shot this one again and it worked.”

Princeton added an empty net goal by Jaimie McDonell to make the final margin 4-1.

While it wasn’t Princeton’s sharpest performance, the bottom line was getting the win.

“Any two points is a good two points, even if they are a little scrappy,” said Mahoney.

“Colgate is scrappy so you have to be scrappy to play against them. The games are winding down so each one is more important than the next.”

With the season winding down, Mahoney is savoring her Princeton hockey experience.

“Everyone says it but it has been really fast,” said Mahoney a 5’7 native of Clarendon Hills, Ill., who now has eight assists this season and 19 points in her career on three goals and 16 assists.

“I have been lucky to have the program I am with, the coaches and the teammates. I am very fortunate, it has been a blessing.”

Princeton head coach Kampersal feels fortunate to have has Mahoney and her classmates in the program.

“They have all stepped up this year in different roles,” said Kampersal.

“Ashley Holt doesn’t get to play as much but she is a good behind the scenes person, sort of like a team mom, taking care of issues and anything that pops up. The two defensemen (Mahoney and Pankowski) play a lot and they play under duress a lot. They do a good job breaking the puck out. Leahy has been a solid performer all year with her goals so we hope that she has a couple left in the tank as we head into the last couple of games here.”

Acknowledging that he was upset by his team’s lull in the second period, he liked the way the Tigers closed the deal.

“I ripped the kids after the second period because I thought we were playing for the scoresheet and not playing a good team game,” said Kampersal.

“In the third period, we just played a good team game so that was way better.”

A day later, Princeton played another good game, rallying from a 2-1 deficit early in the third period to pull out a 3-2 win over Cornell as sophomore Hilary Lloyd scored the game-winning goal with 1:19 left in regulation.

The win improved Princeton to 13-10-2 overall and 11-6-1 ECAC Hockey, leaving it sixth in the league standing, three points away from fourth place and home ice in the playoffs. It also put the Tigers in the thick of the race for the Ivy League title as they are 6-1-1 in Ivy games while Harvard is 7-2.

“If we can pull it off we are in a really good position to win the Ivy League,” said Kampersal, looking ahead to the Cornell game.

“There is a lot riding on it and that includes the home ice. I definitely would like to play here rather than travel.”

In Mahoney’s view, Princeton is poised for a good ride to the finish.

“The Ivy League is on our minds, the ECAC is on our minds as well,” said Mahoney.

“The Ivy League is tops right now. We have never been in this position since I have been here. We have always had to have another team lose. We have it in our hands so if we win, we are in a very good spot. We have been rolling since we got done with finals.”

Blake Brown was especially happy to see Evan Barratt return to action for the top-seeded Hun School boys’ hockey team as it hosted fourth-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy last week in the state Prep semis.

Last winter sophomore Brown combined with classmates Jon Bendorf and Barratt to form a high-powered line that helped Hun win the Independent Hockey League and Mercer County Tournament titles.

With Barratt sidelined with a knee injury all season until the semi contest on February 3, it was like old times when the trio reunited.

“It helped that Evan was back, that was huge for us,” said Brown. “It adds a huge offensive element for us, it is a big part of our game.”

Brown benefitted right away in the contest against Montclair Kimberley, scoring two first period goals as the Raiders jumped out to a 3-0 lead.

“We were able to score a couple of goals quick,” said Brown. “Right from the start, we were back to where we were. We felt like the beginning of the season again.”

Reflecting on his two early goals, Brown didn’t take too much credit for the tallies.

“Those were some shots I could not have missed, they put the pucks perfectly to me,” said Brown. “If I had missed those, I shouldn’t be playing hockey.”

Hun head coach McNally credited Brown with working hard to get into perfect scoring position.

“Blake can move the puck with Jon and Evan but he can also wait until they find their shot and bang in the rebound,” said McNally.

“He is the workhorse. He is the dog that goes into the corner to get it and then goes to the front of the net and it eventually comes back to him.”

When MKA made a comeback to narrow the Hun lead to 5-3 late in the third period, Brown tallied with 1:41 left in the period and then added another 38 seconds left to seal the deal for the Raiders.

“It was everything,” asserted Brown of his insurance goal. “It secured the win for us and we are going to the championship.”

The win also marked another achievement for a Hun program on the rise. “Each year we have been progressing,” said Brown. “Last year we won Mercer counties and this year we are in state final.”

Brown helped Hun continue that progression, scoring two goals to help Hun beat second-seeded Morristown-Beard 5-3 in the title game last Thursday.

McNally, for his part, was not surprised that Brown was the top goal scorer for Hun in its Prep title run.

“Blake had six goals in two games and they were all within two feet,” said McNally, noting that Brown’s final tally against Mo-Beard marked the 100th point of his Hun career. “He was in the right spot.”

In Brown’s view, Hun’s team camaraderie has put it in a very good spot. “Everyone loves each other; it is a big family for us,” said Brown. “Everyone hangs together at school, it is like a brotherhood.”

The Hun hockey band of brothers is looking to keep the titles coming.

“This brings the school together; we don’t get a lot of championships at Hun,” said Brown, who will be shooting to help Hun gain another championship as it goes after its second straight Mercer County Tournament crown next week.   “Hopefully we will bring a new chapter to Hun and start winning a lot of championships.”

SQUEEZE PLAY: Hun School boys’ hockey star Evan Barratt squeezes between two defenders to control the puck against Montclair Kimberley in the state Prep semis. Last Thursday, sophomore Barratt, playing in his second game this season after being sidelined by a leg injury, chipped in three assists as top-seeded Hun defeated No. 2 Morristown-Beard 5-3 in the state Prep title game. It marked the program’s first Prep title since 1996. The Raiders, now 14-2-4, are next in action when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded first and have a quarterfinal game slated for February 11 at Mercer County Park.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SQUEEZE PLAY: Hun School boys’ hockey star Evan Barratt squeezes between two defenders to control the puck against Montclair Kimberley in the state Prep semis. Last Thursday, sophomore Barratt, playing in his second game this season after being sidelined by a leg injury, chipped in three assists as top-seeded Hun defeated No. 2 Morristown-Beard 5-3 in the state Prep title game. It marked the program’s first Prep title since 1996. The Raiders, now 14-2-4, are next in action when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded first and have a quarterfinal game slated for February 11 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Facing second-seeded Morristown-Beard last Thursday in the state Prep championship game, the top-seeded Hun School boys’ hockey team was serenaded by derisive chants of “overrated, overrated” by the fans at the Twin Oaks Rink.

Noting that his players laughed off that greeting from the Mo-Beard partisans, Hun head coach Ian McNally sensed that his team was ready to silence its doubters.

“They were in a very good place,” recalled McNally. “There was a lot of excitement in the room, you sensed that when you saw how they were preparing.”

Hun showed why it had been rated so highly coming into the tourney, jumping out to a 4-1 lead through two periods and holding off a late Mo-Beard charge to prevail 5-3 and earn the program’s first Prep crown since 1996.

Led by its Killer B’s line of sophomores Blake Brown, Jon Bendorf, and Evan Barratt, the Raiders were buzzing from the opening face-off.

“You could tell right from the start, Evan, Jon, and Blake spent 40 seconds in the offensive zone on the first shift and had three good chances,” said McNally, whose team scored late in the period to go ahead 1-0.

“The first period was good, the guys were excited. We felt the goal was coming but if it never does, you do get frustrated and worried. The goal was beautiful. It was Evan to Jon to Blake like tic tac toe so we were able to get on the board.”

When Mo-Beard scored the first two goals of the third period to make it a 4-3 contest, Hun wasn’t fazed.

“We were still in control of the game; it didn’t feel like they were coming,” said McNally.

“The first of the two goals was a shot that bounced off Chris Rossi’s skate. On the next goal, the guy came in and had a nice shot. When it is 4-3, you are worried that one mistake could tie the game. They took two penalties in the last five minutes. Blake scored and things slowed down. We were able to get a breath.”

Having the trio of Barratt, Bendorf, and Brown to trigger the offense helps McNally breathe easier. Brown and Bendorf each scored two goals in the championship contest with Barratt chipping in three assists as Hun improved to 14-2-4.

“It is huge, you put those guys out and you know you are going to have the puck in your offensive zone,” said McNally, noting that Barratt just returned to action after being sidelined since the fall due to a knee injury.

“They work so hard and they are so competitive. Jon and Blake were getting it done without Evan but having him back does change things. He is a dynamic kid in every way. He has energy, skill, and he doesn’t stop talking on the ice. You can’t help but notice him. When he gets the puck the other teams are thinking I want to stop that guy and they pay attention to him and one of the other two gets open. They find each other.”

In McNally’s view, senior stalwarts Danny Seelagy and captain Chris Rossi are deserving of special notice.

“They were freshmen and it was my first year; it is neat to have gotten to this point,” said McNally.

“We have added something every year. We won the Independent Hockey League when they were sophomores, then the league and county last year and now preps. It was not like it was imminent for them when they came in. They had to work through it. They are in our top four defensemen. Danny set up the second goal against Mo-Beard and Chris had some big physical plays in the d-zone.”

In becoming a top team, Hun has shown that it possesses the intangibles to go with its talent.

“We have the skill but we also have chemistry and work ethic and you don’t always get that with the skill,” said McNally. “If you have those three things, you can do well in any league.”

Hun is now looking to do well in the upcoming Mercer County Tournament as it goes after a second straight county crown.

“The most fun we had in a long time was that Notre Dame game in the final last year,” said McNally, whose team is seeded first in the MCT and has a quarterfinal contest slated for February 11 at Mercer County Park.

“The guys are definitely excited for the counties, they have siblings and friends who have played in it. It is great that we have the preps and then the counties so it is not just a two-day tournament. It feels like a real postseason.”

BORDENTOWN Hun School boys’ basketball player Kyle Borden puts up a shot in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior Borden scored 10 points off the bench to help Hun defeat Metuchen High 40-24 and win its ninth straight game. The Raiders, now 14-7, will be competing in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament at the Blair Academy from February 13-15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BORDENTOWN Hun School boys’ basketball player Kyle Borden puts up a shot in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior Borden scored 10 points off the bench to help Hun defeat Metuchen High 40-24 and win its ninth straight game. The Raiders, now 14-7, will be competing in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament at the Blair Academy from February 13-15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kyle Borden wasn’t in the starting lineup for the Hun School boys’ basketball team when it hosted Metuchen High last Wednesday but he was confident he would impact the game.

“I don’t mind it, I enjoy it,” said senior forward Borden, reflecting on coming off the bench for Hun.

“I bring energy, that is something I love to do. My coach (Jon Stone) told me he is going to bring me off the bench to bring a spark to the game. I take pride in doing that.”

Borden entered the contest in the first quarter and made a key contribution, scoring seven points in the first half as Hun jumped out to a 25-5 halftime lead.

“Something I have learned this season and the whole team has learned, is to take the best shot,” said Borden. “Today I was in rhythm; I stepped up and made them.”

The whole Hun team showed a commitment to defense against Metuchen as it took a 34-7 lead into the third quarter on the way to a 40-24 win.

“We came with defensive intensity, that is something our team prides itself on,” said Borden.

“You definitely have to learn how to have fun but you have to play defense first, that is what wins games. That’s what we did, we made a statement.”

Borden has had fun developing over his Hun career. “It is growing a lot and learning how to be a leader on and off the court,” said Borden, who ended up with 10 points in the win over Metuchen. “I worked on developing my game over the summer because I knew I had to step up this season.”

Hun head coach Jon Stone liked the way his team stepped up in the early stages as it jumped out to an 18-2 lead by the end of the first quarter. “I think our defense was very, very good,” said Stone, whose team improved to 14-7 as it won its ninth straight game.

“We were able to get some good looks, both in our halfcourt and our transition. Unfortunately it only lasted for a quarter. Fortunately our defense lasted a little longer. Our defense was very good for at least two and a half quarters.”

In Stone’s view, Borden has given Hun some very good play off the bench. “He’s been doing that all year long,” asserted Stone. “He plays with a lot of energy and he has been giving us a spark off the bench.”

Senior center Dominic Robb gave Hun a big spark in the win over Metuchen, scoring a game-high 15 points and making a number of blocked shots.

“Dominic effects the game in so many ways, he has the ability to finish,” said Stone. “You saw his blocked shots out there today, two in one possession. He really adds a great dimension to the rest of the team.”

With his team riding a late surge, Stone is hoping its best basketball is to come.

“Your hope is always that you peak at the right time,” said Stone. “I think we have just been competing well. We have shown some mental toughness and the ability to play well together and to just get more and more comfortable with each other.”

Stone knows his team faces a tough challenge this weekend as it competes in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament at the Blair Academy from February 13-15.

“It looks like we are going to be the two seed, it is anybody’s tournament to win because anybody can beat anybody on a given night,” said Stone.

“You just hope you are playing good basketball and you know you are going to play some really good games and they are probably going to come down to the wire so it should be a lot of fun and a great weekend. I think we have been climbing and making moves in the right direction, the time is now. We are ready to test ourselves and see how good we are.”

Borden, for his part, believes the Raiders are headed in the right direction.

“When we first started playing, it was rocky,” said Borden “We had to learn all of our different personalities, where we wanted to be on the court, and the chemistry and now it is there. We have bought into the system and we have become a family. We were a team of individuals in the first couple of games and now we play for each other. Our goal is the MAPL championship and that is what we are going for.”

HOT HAND: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Kevin Kane heads to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior guard Kane scored a game-high 26 points to help PHS top Trenton 68-58 and improve to 7-10. PHS hosts WW/P-S on February 16 and Robbinsville on February 18 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 10th and will play at No. 7 Trenton in a first round contest.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HOT HAND: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Kevin Kane heads to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior guard Kane scored a game-high 26 points to help PHS top Trenton 68-58 and improve to 7-10. PHS hosts WW/P-S on February 16 and Robbinsville on February 18 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 10th and will play at No. 7 Trenton in a first round contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton High boys’ basketball team, pulling out a win over a strong Allentown team last Wednesday gave it a lift as it hosted Trenton two days later.

“The Allentown game was really good, it was the first game this season where we really held the lead in the fourth,” said PHS senior guard Kevin Kane. “We got confidence, we knew we could play with Trenton.”

But when PHS struggled in the early stages against Trenton, Kane’s confidence in his offensive skills helped keep the Little Tigers in the contest.

“I was just trying to attack the basket in the first half,” said Kane, who scored 15 points in the half as PHS trailed 33-28 going into intermission. “Matt Hart got into early foul trouble so I knew I had to put up more shots.”

PHS kept attacking in the second half, outscoring Trenton 40-25 over the last two quarters in rolling to a 68-58 victory and improving to 7-10.

In Kane’s view, the Little Tigers seized momentum in the third quarter when it erased the Trenton lead with a 19-13 run.

“We were passing the ball well,” said Kane. “Zahrion [Blue] played well keeping us in it, going to the basket. We handled the pressure well and we guarded Derek Dix well.”

The fourth quarter turned into the Kevin Kane show as he scored 11 points, draining a trio of three-pointers in the process.

“That was awesome,” said Kane, who ended the evening with a game-high 26 points.

“My role is to keep the team’s heads up and when I am open shoot the ball. My teammates, J.C. [Silva], Zahrion, and Chris [Diver] do a good job, dribbling through the lane and getting me the ball. There is more balance and we have good team chemistry.”

Having narrowly lost 60-55 to Trenton a week earlier, PHS was looking to play better team defense in the rematch.

“We just wanted to trap more,” said Kane. “Today with our traps in the second half, coach Karim (assistant coach Shahid Abdul-Karim) was saying that we have to stand there and don’t jump. We got four turnovers because of that. We had to box out, which we did, and hold them under 60, which we also did.”

In the view of PHS head coach Mark Shelley, the formula for success in the rematch was simple.

“We wanted to play more fundamental and harder,” said Shelley, noting that the tape of the first Trenton game showed PHS standing around on defense at times.

It took a while, however, for PHS to get into a groove against the Tornadoes.

“I thought they came out with a little more energy than us in the first half, we struggled with that a little bit,” said Shelley, who got 17 points from sophomore Blue in the win with junior Hart chipping in 12.

“We need Kevin’s scoring, obviously. He really played well overall tonight. He got some key rebounds. He played well defensively, he is so much better in that area. His scoring really kept us in it. We got down by seven, four or five times in the first half but we managed to get it to five at the half.”

Like Kane, Shelley believed that PHS applied the lessons it gained from the Allentown win.

“It was sort of like the Allentown game,” said Shelley. “We were the more fundamental, patient, harder working team in the second half. In the third quarter tonight, we were methodical. As good as we were in the fourth quarter, to me the key was winning the third. We went from down five to up one. That was the key for me because then we just built on that. We hit a flurry of 3s, which we can do. Kevin’s threes were key, it is hard to guard us when one of our guys are stroking it.”

Starting the week with a 60-58 win over WW/P-N in double overtime on February 3 that snapped a six-game losing streak and got things headed in the right direction for the Little Tigers.

“I told them for several weeks, I thought if we could just get one, we would be fine,” said Shelley, whose team hosts WW/P-S on February 16 and Robbinsville on February 18 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 10th and will play at No. 7 Trenton in a first round contest.

“We beat North and Steinert and then we lost to Nottingham with just a terrible fourth quarter. Then we had that slide where Hopewell was close, Notre Dame was close and Hightstown was overtime. We just couldn’t get over the hump and we were a little dispirited and coach Karim gave a pretty excited talk at halftime of the North game. It got us going. Matt Hart had a great shot to win it. He literally hit a 17-foot fadeaway step back swish with three seconds left. It was a tough shot.”

Kane, for his part, believes PHS will be tough to beat down the stretch. “This is a great win; it just shows how our character has built through the season,” asserted Kane. “We have lost a lot of games late. Tonight we got the lead and kept it, which was really good.”

DRIVE THROUGH: Stuart Country Day basketball player Harlyn Bell puts up a shot over a foe in recent action. Last Friday, senior Bell scored six points in a losing cause as Stuart fell 37-27 to the George School (Pa.). The Tartans, now 10-9, are starting action in the state Prep B tournament this week where they are seeded fifth and will play at No. 4 Pennington in a quarterfinal contest on February 11. Stuart is also slated to host Steinert on February 12 and to play at the Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 13. The Tartans will also be taking part in the Mercer County Tournament, where they have been seeded ninth and will play at No. 8 Steinert in the first round.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DRIVE THROUGH: Stuart Country Day basketball player Harlyn Bell puts up a shot over a foe in recent action. Last Friday, senior Bell scored six points in a losing cause as Stuart fell 37-27 to the George School (Pa.). The Tartans, now 10-9, are starting action in the state Prep B tournament this week where they are seeded fifth and will play at No. 4 Pennington in a quarterfinal contest on February 11. Stuart is also slated to host Steinert on February 12 and to play at the Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 13. The Tartans will also be taking part in the Mercer County Tournament, where they have been seeded ninth and will play at No. 8 Steinert in the first round. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Harlyn Bell liked how things were going as the Stuart Country Day School basketball team battled the George School (Pa.) to a 12-12 stalemate through two quarters last Friday.

“I definitely thought we were in good shape,” said Stuart senior standout Bell. “Our defense was really great, we have been working on it all season.”

After Stuart fell behind 22-16 early in the fourth quarter, Bell had some good moments, hitting two jump shots as Stuart narrowed the gap to 26-22 with about three minutes remaining in regulation. The Tartans, though, never got any closer as they fell 37-27.

“Coach Leith always says you can never lose the game in the last two minutes so that kind of mentality really pushed me to score a little,” said Bell, reflecting on her fourth quarter heroics.

In reflecting on the loss, Bell acknowledged that Stuart has to be sharper with the ball.

“Unfortunately we had a few breakdowns,” said Bell. “We can learn better offensive execution with crisper passes, faster transition, and less dribbling.”

Working hard over her career, Bell has transitioned into a solid defensive player for the Tartans.

“I have improved defensively, when I was a freshman, I would foul out,” said Bell.

“I really picked up moving my feet, especially this year with coach [Justin] Leith. He has been amazing ingraining that in us.”

Bell has also picked up her offensive game, gaining confidence in her shot.

“That is something we work on in practice a lot,” said Bell “Coach is trying to get all of us to be confident in putting up shots. This year I have seen improvement in myself.”

In Bell’s view, first-year head coach Leith has helped each of the Stuart players improve.

“He is definitely different than all of our other coaches,” said Bell. “He is very tough but he can see potential in all of us. He really forces us to step up so that is good.”

Coach Leith, for his part, was disappointed with how his team failed to step up in the fourth quarter against George.

“One of the goals is to speed the tempo and play our game in the second half but we didn’t execute,” said Leith.

While Leith was heartened to see Bell’s second fourth quarter jumper draw Stuart to within four, he felt like his squad never found an offensive rhythm.

“There were very small flashes of how we can play and that was one of them,” said Leith. “That didn’t give me any more encouragement because we never put those things together. The game felt like one big lull.”

In order to put things together, Stuart needs to transfer what it does in practice to the games.

“It really is about growing as individuals and growing as a team,” said Leith, whose team moved to 10-9 with a 55-27 loss to Country Day School of the Sacred Heart last Saturday.

“They are understanding how to work hard but they are not understanding how to apply it. That is obvious from this game.”

Leith is seeing growth from junior Harley Guzman and Bell. “Harley did a great job of staying out of foul trouble, she shot the ball pretty well,” said Leith.

“She didn’t make the best decisions but she is still a junior. She is getting there, she has definitely improved over the season. Harlyn wasn’t hitting shots that she hits in practice, she had some really good looks. Against Villa Victoria, she had the same open looks and she hit six or seven in a row. She just wasn’t hitting today but she played great defense.”

As fifth-seeded Stuart plays at No. 4 Pennington on February 11 in the state Prep B quarterfinals, Leith is looking for a great effort.

“It was really about getting a win in the first round of the preps,” said Leith, noting that Stuart fell 59-31 to Pennington in regular season play.

“If we play our game, there is a possibility to beat them but we have to play our best game. If we are firing on all cylinders on Wednesday, it should be a good game.”

Bell, for her part, is looking to end her Stuart career by firing away. “I haven’t had a 20-point game ever so I would like to get that, I have had 18,” said Bell, who also stars as a goalie in both field hockey and lacrosse and is headed to Wake Forest. “That is a goal I want to get by the end of the season. But you know what, I just want to enjoy the last few games.”

IN THE ZONE: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Paul Franzoni heads upcourt in recent action. Last Sunday, sophomore guard Franzoni scored 14 points in a losing cause as sixth-seeded PDS fell 77-52 to third-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy in the state Prep B quarterfinals. The Panthers, who dropped to 5-15 with the defeat, will host New Egypt on February 11 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 13th and will play at No. 4 Trenton Catholic in the first round.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN THE ZONE: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Paul Franzoni heads upcourt in recent action. Last Sunday, sophomore guard Franzoni scored 14 points in a losing cause as sixth-seeded PDS fell 77-52 to third-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy in the state Prep B quarterfinals. The Panthers, who dropped to 5-15 with the defeat, will host New Egypt on February 11 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 13th and will play at No. 4 Trenton Catholic in the first round. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Playing at third-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy in the state Prep B quarterfinals last Sunday, the sixth-seeded Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team enjoyed a solid offensive performance.

Featuring three players in doubles figures with Chase Lewis at 18 points, Paul Franzoni chipping in 14, and Mark Washington adding 11, PDS exceeded its usual output this winter as it tallied 52 points.

But that wasn’t nearly enough as MKA pulled away to a 77-52 win.

PDS head coach Paris McLean acknowledged that his team fell short on the defensive end.

“We mustered up more points than we normally do but we couldn’t stop them,” said McLean, whose team dropped to 5-15 with the  setback. “If you look at our wins, we kept those games in the 40s.”

Tipping his hat to an underrated MKA squad, McLean said the Cougars posed some match-up problems for his team. “We battled but we struggled at times to match their intensity, they were 8-8 coming in but that is not indicative of how good a team they were,” said McLean. “They had a good big man in Josh Chery and they had some good outside shooters.”

McLean liked the intense efforts he got against the Cougars from sophomores Franzoni, Lewis, and Washington.

“Paul really battled, he really scrapped,” said McLean. “We needed others to match his intensity. You know what you are going to get from Chase, 15-20 points and a good floor game. Mark has had two solid games in a row, he also had 11 against Hightstown in our last game. The good thing is that all three of them are coming back.”

While the early tourney exit stung, McLean is looking for his players to keep battling over the last few weeks of the season.

“We had an honest conversation with them in the locker room; when you lose this early in the Prep tournament, you can feel like the season is over,” said McLean.

“We told them that there is a lot to play for. We have New Egypt on February 11, that is our senior night, and then we have the Mercer County Tournament. We will be playing a really good team in the first round of the counties but we could possibly play a spoiler role. We will have a consolation game no matter what happens so we are guaranteed at least four more games. If we can win four more, that would give us nine wins and one more than last year.”

Despite taking plenty of lumps this winter, PDS hasn’t lost its upbeat approach.

“They have kept their heads up,” asserted McLean, whose team is seeded 13th in the MCT and will play at No. 4 Trenton Catholic in the first round.

“For many of them it is the first full season of varsity basketball and they are realizing what a grind it is and how hard it is to keep up a high level of play. The practices have been good, they are giving a good effort in the games and if you look at our bench during games, they are all cheering for each other.”

February 4, 2015
GOOD MOVE: Princeton University women’s hockey player Kelsey Koelzer controls the puck in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore star Koelzer chipped in an assist to help Princeton edge No. 4 Harvard 1-0. Having been moved to defense this year, Koelzer has emerged as a star for the Tigers and is currently tied with Molly Contini for the team lead in points at 24. The Tigers, now 11-10-1 overall and 9-6-1 ECAC Hockey, host Colgate (7-19-1 overall, 4-10-1 ECACH) on February 6 and Cornell (12-7-3 overall, 10-3-2 ECACH) on February 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOOD MOVE: Princeton University women’s hockey player Kelsey Koelzer controls the puck in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore star Koelzer chipped in an assist to help Princeton edge No. 4 Harvard 1-0. Having been moved to defense this year, Koelzer has emerged as a star for the Tigers and is currently tied with Molly Contini for the team lead in points at 24. The Tigers, now 11-10-1 overall and 9-6-1 ECAC Hockey, host Colgate (7-19-1 overall, 4-10-1 ECACH) on February 6 and Cornell (12-7-3 overall, 10-3-2 ECACH) on February 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kelsey Koelzer established herself as a solid offensive player last winter for the Princeton University women’s hockey team.

The 5’9 native of Horsham, Pa, scored 10 points in six goals and four assists in her debut campaign, highlighted by 3-point performances in wins over UConn and Brown.

But with Princeton a little thin along the blue line coming into this season, Koelzer was moved to defenseman.

“Wherever they feel I am going to help the team, that is where I am going to go,” said Koelzer, noting that she previously played defenseman through the age of 12 or 13. “If that is what it takes, I am going to go with it.”

It has taken a little extra effort for Koelzer to get used to her new spot on the ice.

“One of the main challenges for me is the one-on-one battles,” said Koelzer. “Cara (PU assistant coach Cara Morey) has really taken me under her wing and helped me work on that. The transitions and the things like that that are slightly  different. They have really helped me and worked on it with me. I think now I am confident to go in there and make plays all the time.”

Last Saturday against visiting Harvard, Koelzer made big plays at both ends of the ice, assisting on a Princeton first period goal and then helping to spearhead a stifling defensive effort as the Tigers edged the No. 4 Crimson 1-0.

Coming off a 2-2 tie with Dartmouth on Friday which saw Princeton rally from an early 2-0 deficit, Koelzer and her teammates were ready to battle nemesis Harvard.

“It was physical, it was fast, we came out hard,” said Koelzer. “Last night was a very fast game so we were expecting just as fast of a game today. We battled and we stuck with them. We capitalized on our opportunities. We limited their opportunities and that was huge.”

Koelzer had a huge role in the lone goal of the contest, setting up sophomore star Molly Contini for the tally.

“Molly Contini started the play, she chipped the puck to the middle to Hilary (Lloyd),” said Koelzer.

“Hilary battled her way to the middle and took three players with her and then, lucky enough, I recognized we could have the opportunity if I stepped up. She dropped the puck and I had people in front of me so I didn’t just want to take a shot. I just dished it off to the side and luckily Molly was there and ready to shoot and she ripped it.”

Koelzer’s offensive background has helped her recognize scoring opportunities when she comes up from the blue line.

“I think that using my previous knowledge at forward helps a little bit in making the right decision to jump into the play,” explained Koelzer. “Making the right decision once you are up there is key.”

Currently tied with Contini for the team lead in points at 24, Koelzer is clearly making a lot of good decisions in the offensive zone.

“I am surprised although this is something I expect from myself all the time,” said Koelzer, who now has seven goals and 17 assists this season.

“As long as you are making the right plays and keeping strong on your defense, that’s first and foremost for me. You have to play good defense and then if you are working hard and making smart decisions, the points are going to come.”

It was good defense that made the difference in the win over Harvard. “It was huge, ultimately we have to give it to Kimberly,” said Koelzer, referring to junior goalie Kimberly Newell, who made 32 saves in earning the shutout.

“There were saves that I could never imagine making that she made that were extremely timely and kept us in it emotionally, morally, and physically. We were battling in the corners. We were trying to make our pins. We were trying to move the puck up as soon as possible. It was just our hard work to get it over the red and get it deep when we needed to. It was great.”

Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal credited his players with giving great work across the board against Harvard.

“Everybody had a good solid effort and did the little things to help us win,” said Kampersal. “The Hilary Lloyd block late in the game was humongous, that just pumps up the bench and gets us going. Those are the little things that help you win.”

The Tigers did a lot of good things defensively in stifling a Crimson team that came into the day averaging 3.7 goals a game. “The defense was great, they kept Harvard to the outside for the most part,” said Kampersal.

“The team defense did a great job, the defensemen did a great job, Kimberly was awesome.”

Koelzer has proven to be an awesome addition to the Tiger defensive corps.

“She moved back to defense this year and she has been an absolute stud from day one,” asserted Kampersal. “She pretty much averages a point a game.”

As Princeton heads into the homestretch of regular season play, Kampersal wants his players to keep showing the fire they brought to Saturday’s game.

“Our last six regular season games will all be tough and I just hope our approach is the same,” said Kampersal, whose team hosts Colgate (7-19-1 overall, 4-10-1 ECACH) on February 6 and Cornell (12-7-3 overall, 10-3-2 ECACH) on February 7.

“I know they are going to get up for Harvard but they better get up for the other teams. It is weird, we had a 3-2 loss to Clarkson, 2-1 to Minnesota, close losses to Boston College, and Quinnipiac. They played solid of most of it and we let down for 10 minutes. There was no letdown today, they played great.”

Koelzer, for her part, believes the Tigers can build on their great effort against Harvard.

“This was absolutely huge, the last five games for us have been pretty big,” said Koelzer, noting that Princeton swept Yale and Brown before going on exam break in early January and then returned with a big effort in a 4-2 loss to top-ranked Boston College on January 26.

“For us to come in here and play two really good teams this weekend, especially Ivy League teams, and battle and get as many points as we could, that was huge.”

CLASS ACT: Bob Callahan, far right, celebrates with his Princeton University men’s squad in February 2012 after it beat Trinity to win the Collegiate Squash Association (CSA) national championship and snap the Bantams’ 13-year title streak. Last week, long-time Princeton head coach Callahan passed away at age 59, leaving a legacy of success, class, and dignity.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

CLASS ACT: Bob Callahan, far right, celebrates with his Princeton University men’s squad in February 2012 after it beat Trinity to win the Collegiate Squash Association (CSA) national championship and snap the Bantams’ 13-year title streak. Last week, long-time Princeton head coach Callahan passed away at age 59, leaving a legacy of success, class, and dignity. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

The squash complex on the ‘C’ level of Princeton University’s Jadwin Gym has a subterranean feel, located two floors below Carril Court.

But for 32 years, a special light emanated from the underground warren of courts, offices, and the fencing room with the genial Bob Callahan holding court as the Princeton men’s squash head coach.

Last week, a darkness and sadness descended on that area and well beyond as Callahan passed away at age 59 after a courageous three-year battle with glioblastoma, a highly malignant, rapidly growing tumor that arises from glial cells in the brain.

Callahan leaves an indelible legacy on Tiger squash in terms of success and length of service. A 1977 Princeton alum, he was a two-time squash All-American and played on three national championship squads, including his senior year when he captained the Tigers to an undefeated season.

After a four-year stint at IBM, he became the head coach of the Princeton squash team in 1982, being offered the position while serving on the search committee for the coaching vacancy. Over the next 32 years, he guided the Tigers to 314 victories, 11 Ivy League titles, and national championships in 1982, 1993, and 2012. He also coached the individual national champion 10 times. He was inducted into the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame in 2012.

Those achievements, as impressive and legendary as they are, only tell a part of the Callahan story.

For squash standout Todd Harrity, a 2013 Princeton alum and the last player to win an individual national title under Callahan, the lessons learned from his coach went well beyond the fine points of the game.

“I came to Princeton partly because of him; he had this aura,” said Harrity, a Philadelphia native who graduated from Episcopal Academy, Callahan’s high school alma mater.

“I liked his coaching style and how he treated his players. The team was so strong, I knew I would be pushed outside of my limits and would discover how good I could be. He really helped my game but the most important thing was how he kept things in proper perspective. He was always competitive, he wanted to win but at the same time he put as much emphasis on how you carried yourself and your demeanor on the court. If someone even dropped their racquet on the court during the match, you knew he would be having a talk with them.”

Callahan set the standard in terms of how to carry oneself in competition. “I never saw him lose his temper,” said Harrity, now a pro squash player ranked in the top 70 in the world. “I played on the team for four years, there were a lot of good wins but there were also some bad losses and he was always even-keeled. I was very impressed by that.”

Harrity is equally impressed by the universal affection felt for Callahan across the generations of the Princeton players that he coached.

“It is incredible how long he was here and seeing that everyone feels the same way about him, no matter when they were at Princeton,” said Harrity “There is so much respect for Bob.”

Princeton Director of Athletics Emeritus Gary Walters ’67 believes that Callahan leaves an incredible legacy on several levels.

“Bob’s life obviously ended too quickly but my goodness did he live such a fulfilling life,” asserted Walters, who guided PU’s athletics department from 1994 to 2014.

“Not only as it relates to the quality of the squash program that he created both in terms of performance and culture but in the very best fulfillments of our department’s overriding philosophy, which is education through athletics. Bob’s performance, both in terms of his experience as an undergraduate at Princeton and his ability to pass it forward to the Princeton student-athletes who played squash, was remarkable.”

In Walter’s view, Callahan’s was an even more remarkable parent than squash coach.

“For me, there are two exclamation points in his life, most obviously professionally is 2012 shortly before he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, when he and the team won the national title ending the Trinity era,” said Walters, referring to the famous 5-4 win over the Bantams that snapped their 13-year national title streak.

“The second exclamation point, even more robust than Bob’s role as a coach, was the role that he and his wife, Kristen, played as parents of the five Callahan sons. (Greg, Scott, Tim, Peter, and Matt, who all attended Princeton and played squash for their father.) They are all such fine young men, to all have the ability to attend Princeton and contribute in every conceivable way, athletically, in the classroom, and even musically. It was like the Cleaver family.”

For Walters, Callahan’s family spirit wasn’t just felt by his wife and sons.

“Bob was a family man in every sense, both to his nuclear family and his Princeton squash family,” added Walters.

“That is why there is such a genuine, universal expression of appreciation for all that he did. There is a real love and affection. His parenting, coaching, and teaching represents his immortality. We have to carry on but we are fortunate to have the foundation that he has already established.”

Harrity, for his part, was fortunate to keep in contact with Callahan after graduation and to the very end of his coach’s life.

“He would call me to get the scoop on how I was playing; he followed my results and when I had a good win, he would send me an e-mail,” said Harrity.

“I came up to visit him on January 12. He had called me because I got a wild card to the Tournament of Champions and I was playing the No 1 player in the world. I was really glad I got to see him. He shook my hand. Kristen lifted his hand into mine and he told me my hands were cold. I just talked about everything I had been doing and mentioned names in the squash world that I knew he would know. The most striking thing to me was even when he was sick and dying, how much he cared about squash, the team, the players, and Princeton. It was his passion.”

This reporter was lucky enough to see Callahan on many occasions when the Princeton men’s basketball team used the conference room across from his office as its media center. Having gotten to know Callahan through covering his teams and his sons during their playing days for the Princeton High boys’ soccer program, I made it a point to swing by before heading upstairs to the basketball games.

Sitting at the desk with a view of a squash court over his shoulder, he would greet me with a smile and a twinkle in his eye, always asking first how I was doing before we would chat about a gamut of subjects, whether it be the game that night, the fortunes of PHS soccer, or how his team and sons were doing. One of his players would invariably drift in the office with the perpetually open door and that would prompt an extended introduction and some good-natured ribbing.

The last time I sat down with him in the office was in the fall of 2012 to interview him for a feature on his induction into the squash Hall of Fame.

His parting words to me that day serve as a fitting epitaph. “My life is definitely not going to be as long as it was which is OK,” said Callahan.

“I am going to do my best to beat the thing but a very small percentage of people make it five years. Everyone is going to die at some point. It is not how old you are, it is what you do while you are here.”

There can be no question that Callahan did a multitude of very good things in his 59 years.

MAKING AN IMPACT: Princeton University men’s soccer player Cameron Porter controls the ball in a game this past fall. Senior forward Porter, who earned a slew of awards last season when he helped Princeton tie for the Ivy League title, was recently chosen by the Montreal in the third round of the Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft. The 6’1, 175-pound Porter, a native of Centerville, Ohio who tied for first in the NCAA in 2014 for total goals with 15, is currently trying to make the Impact’s roster.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING AN IMPACT: Princeton University men’s soccer player Cameron Porter controls the ball in a game this past fall. Senior forward Porter, who earned a slew of awards last season when he helped Princeton tie for the Ivy League title, was recently chosen by the Montreal in the third round of the Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft. The 6’1, 175-pound Porter, a native of Centerville, Ohio who tied for first in the NCAA in 2014 for total goals with 15, is currently trying to make the Impact’s roster. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Cameron Porter has proven he can excel at both soccer and his studies.

Joining the Princeton University men’s soccer team in 2011, Porter has enjoyed success on the pitch and in the classroom.

Last fall, he culminated his soccer career by leading the NCAA in points with 2.00 points per game and .88 goals per game, while tying for first in total goals with 15 and second in total points with 34 as Princeton shared the Ivy crown with Dartmouth.

The 6’1, 175-pound native of Centerville, Ohio ranks fourth all-time in points at Princeton with 75 in 67 games, is fourth in goals with 31, and is 12th in assists with 13. He was named the Ivy Offensive Player of the Year, the ECAC Player of the Year and earned All-Region honors.

Porter’s prowess in the classroom earned him Academic All-Ivy honors in 2013 and 2014. After this fall, the Computer Science major was named National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar All-America and earned second team Academic All-America honors.

In reflecting on all of his honors, Porter acknowledged that he was proudest of being recognized for his excellence in the classroom.

“All the awards meant a lot but I think the Scholar All-American award meant the most,” said Porter. “I have always taken pride in balancing academics with athletics.”

In Porter’s view, the lessons he learned on the soccer field over the last four years have a special meaning.

“The biggest thing is the coaches, mentors, and players I have been around, it could not have been better,” said Porter. “I have learned so much from them and I know I will apply that as I go on.”

Now Porter will get the chance to apply that knowledge at the pro level, getting selected by the Montreal Impact as the 45th overall pick in the Major League Soccer (MLS) Super Draft in late January.

“I want to see what my potential is if I solely focus on soccer,” said Porter, who is currently training with the Impact.

“All my life I have been balancing academics and soccer. Now it is all soccer. I think the biggest thing is to keep working hard and learn as much as I can from the older players and figure out where I can fit in and best help the team.”

Looking back on his final season at Princeton, Porter was determined to do everything possible to help the Tigers succeed.

“I think the biggest thing about the senior year is to make an impact and do the best you can for the team,” said Porter. “I internalized that and I think I did that.”

With Porter making a major impact, Princeton enjoyed a superb campaign, going 11-3-3 overall and 5-1-1 Ivy to share the league title with Dartmouth(11-4-2 overall, 5-1-1 Ivy).

“It meant a lot to the seniors,” said Porter, who helped the Tigers end the year with an 8-0-1 undefeated streak. “The year before we came in, the program went 7-0. Ten seniors graduated and we went 1-5-1 as freshmen. It was great to help the program turn things around, it was awesome to recapture that.”

In Porter’s view, his class has left the program in good shape to continue its winning ways.

“We helped establish a culture that will carry on,” said Porter. “It was being a cohesive team on and off the field, being a team in all aspects.”

As the fall unfolded, Porter discussed the possibility of taking a shot at pro soccer with Tiger assistant coach Jessie Marsch, a former MLS standout who was recently named as the head coach of the New York Red Bulls.

“After the end of the season, I kept running and going to the gym,” said Porter. “It was hard to find people to kick with.”

In early January, Porter’s work paid off as he took part in the MLS Player Combine held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“The combine went well, the MLS collects the seniors and younger international players that they want to see play again,” said Porter. “It is five days, three of the days are full games, the players are divided into four teams. Before the first game, we had vertical jump and agility tests and a 30-yard sprint. We also had interviews with the teams. I felt like I was playing well; the teams kept the info to themselves.”

While Porter wasn’t chosen in the first day of the MLS draft, he was snapped up early on round three.

“Of course I hoped to be picked in the first two rounds but I wasn’t disappointed,” said Porter.

“I was very excited to be chosen. I found out like everybody else — on the web. The team called me later. I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening.”

As Porter looks to make it with the Impact, he will draw on the foundation of his college experience.

“I really appreciate the support of the Princeton soccer community,” said Porter.

“The coaches, Jim (Barlow), Steve (Totten), and Jesse, have all helped me grow as a player. I learned to be a part of a team. I had an individualistic style of play when I came to Princeton, I hadn’t been on the strongest teams. They molded me to fit in with the team.”

RESERVE STRENGTH: Princeton University men’s basketball player Ben Hazel brings the ball up the floor in recent action. Last weekend, senior guard Hazel provided Princeton with a spark off the bench, scoring 15 points in 30 minutes on Friday in a 75-72 loss to Harvard and then chipping in 14 points in a reserve role as the Tigers topped Dartmouth 64-53 on Saturday. Princeton, now 9-10 overall and 2-1 Ivy League, plays at Columbia (10-8 overall, 2-2 Ivy) on February 6 and at Cornell (10-10 overall, 2-2 Ivy) a day later.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RESERVE STRENGTH: Princeton University men’s basketball player Ben Hazel brings the ball up the floor in recent action. Last weekend, senior guard Hazel provided Princeton with a spark off the bench, scoring 15 points in 30 minutes on Friday in a 75-72 loss to Harvard and then chipping in 14 points in a reserve role as the Tigers topped Dartmouth 64-53 on Saturday. Princeton, now 9-10 overall and 2-1 Ivy League, plays at Columbia (10-8 overall, 2-2 Ivy) on February 6 and at Cornell (10-10 overall, 2-2 Ivy) a day later. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ben Hazel knows he can’t waste any time when he comes off the bench for the Princeton University men’s basketball team.

“Coach (Mitch Henderson) just preaches being aggressive from the jump, right when you come on the court,” said the senior guard, a 6’5, 191-pound native of Bowie, Md.

Last Saturday against visiting Harvard, Hazel followed Henderson’s instructions, scoring 15 points in 30 minutes of action.

“I was just kind of getting into the flow and trying to take advantage of what the defense was giving us,” said Hazel, reflecting on his performance.

“Coming off the bench you are able to see what is open and what we need to do and pick up when you come into the game. It is just trying to execute within our offense and taking what the defense gives you.”

Hazel’s spark off the bench helped keep the Tigers in the game with Harvard but it wasn’t enough as a late Princeton rally fell short and the Crimson prevailed 75-72.

“One thing I will say about the guys in that locker room is that there is no quit in that team,” said Hazel.

“We just weren’t able to string enough plays together. You have got to string a few positive plays together to get you back and get the ball rolling towards your side. We weren’t able to put it all together for a long enough period of time to get over that hump.”

While Princeton head coach Henderson credited Harvard for the win, he lamented his team’s failure to come up with some big plays down the stretch.

“First off, hats off to Harvard, they were the better team tonight,” said Henderson.

“Sometimes shots don’t fall and that has been a big thing for us. I thought the turnovers hurt us and (Corbin) Miller really hurt us. It was a big focus of ours throughout the week; it is a little disappointing for our group because we put a lot of time into that.”

The Princeton group strengthened by the return of sophomore Steven Cook, who had been sidelined due to illness.

“I thought Steve was not afraid, he played very aggressively and made some huge plays,” said Henderson of Cook, who scored a game-high 21 points and had four assists and three steals against Harvard. “We have missed him, just not having him around in practice even. He is capable of doing so many things for us.”

In Henderson’s view, his team is capable of doing some good things this winter.

“I like the group a lot; I feel like we can win games,” said Henderson. “We have yet to play a game this season where all of the pieces look good, we just haven’t. These guys have to keep figuring out a way.”

In the wake of the loss to the Crimson, Henderson was happy to have a game the next day against Dartmouth.

“I just told the guys it is over, we got one more, a real big one tomorrow,” said Henderson.

“You take them one at a time. I do think it is a really strong league, all of them are good. There is not an easy game on the schedule and I think Harvard with their loss to Dartmouth had an edge. We need to have an edge.”

A night later, Princeton played with an edge, topping Dartmouth 64-53 as Spencer Weisz led the way with 16 points and Hazel had another strong game off the bench, tallying 14 points in 30 minutes.

For Hazel, the game against Dartmouth was a chance for Princeton to display some intensity and urgency.

“That is the beauty of the league, you can’t really worry abut these things,” said Hazel, who hit 4-of-8 three-pointers in the victory over the Big Green and will look to help Princeton put together some more wins as it plays at Columbia (10-8 overall, 2-2 Ivy) on February 6 and at Cornell (10-10 overall, 2-2 Ivy) a day later.

“You worry about the small things that can help big things positioning-wise. For the most part the scouting report will be a little different but the motto is the same — be aggressive from the jump. Now with the loss on our record, these games become that much more important.”

After limping into the exam break with 5-2 losses to Union and Rensselaer in early January, the Princeton University men’s hockey team wanted to end the month on a high note.

Returning to action against visiting Army last Wednesday for its first game in 18 days, Princeton produced one of its better performances of the season, pulling away to a 4-1 win over the Black Knights.

“The game was a little sloppy in the first period, we had solid defensive zone structure in the second half of the game,” said Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty, who got goals from senior Tucker Brockett, senior Mike Ambrosia, sophomore Ben Foster, and sophomore Tommy Davis in the victory with junior Jonathan Liau picking up three assists.

“It was nice to score a bunch of goals. I hope that sets us up for games to come. One good thing was the power play, we were 2-for-4. We have been working on that a lot and that was good for our confidence.”

Last weekend, the Tigers gained some more confidence as they rebounded from a 4-0 loss at Yale on Friday to pull out a 2-2 tie at Brown a day later.

The Tigers played a solid first period against Yale as the teams were knotted at 0-0 heading into the first intermission. But a five-minute major penalty incurred by Princeton late in the period came back to haunt the Tigers.

“The 5-minute major was the turning point of the game, they scored twice on it,” said Fogarty, whose team ended up yielding four goals in the second period.

“Losing (Mike) Ambrosia and Tucker (Brockett) early on was tough, we were down to three lines.”

A day later, Princeton showed some toughness at Brown, fighting back from a 2-1 second period deficit to pull out the 2-2 tie.

“We got back to more puck possession on Saturday, we were forcing Brown to chase us,” said Fogarty, who got goals from freshman Eric Robinson and Liau in the win.

“It was good to get points on the road. It is good to get any points at this time of the season.”

The play of Liau and Robinson since the break has impressed Fogarty.

“That three-game stretch was the best hockey Liau has played,” said Fogarty of Liau, who was later named the ECAC Hockey Player of the Week.

“He understands the system. He is not thinking out there, he is just playing. We took Eric off the power play and put him back on 5-on-5. He is getting back to the basics. He had that goal and had a great chance late.”

In Fogarty’s view, Princeton is getting better collectively at the basics. “Overall, we were looking at things before and after Christmas,” said Fogarty, whose team moved to 3-15-2 overall and 1-12-1 ECACH with the tie at Brown.

“Before there was a shot differential of -15 with opponents outshooting us by 15 shots a game. The differential has been below two since Christmas. We are playing better defense, we are controlling the puck, we are passing better. We are getting some opportunities.”

Princeton will be looking to generate more opportunities as it hits the road again this weekend, playing at Colgate (14-9-3 overall, 6-5-3 ECACH) on February 6 and at Cornell (9-9-3 overall, 7-6-1 ECACH) a day later.

“Every road trip is tough, there is so much parity in the league,” said Fogarty, noting that the Colgate game has special significance for assistant coach Brad Dexter, who spent the last nine seasons coaching for the Raiders.

“I am excited for Brad to get back to Colgate, that is the team he helped assemble. We would like to get a win for him and then go for a sweep of Cornell, they are our one league win. I get excited for every road trip. It is fun to coach a team like this Princeton group. They have all bought in and they are trying to get better everyday.”

Competing in the boys 100-meter breaststroke final at the Mercer County Championships last Saturday at the WW/P-N pool, Princeton High freshman Oliver Hunsbedt was happy to have junior teammate Christian Chiang in the next lane.

“It was a great way to push each other and for us to have a great competition together,” said Hunsbedt. “We were talking about it before; we really wanted to beat each other.”

Hunsbedt went on to have a great swim, taking first in a time of 1:09.70 with teammate Chiang coming in third at 1:12.85.

“As a freshman, I am just really excited,” said Hunsbedt, who also swims for the Whitewaters club.

“There are too many emotions right now, it is crazy. My club coach is going to be so proud and so will my high school coaches. I am just so happy to win it.”

Hunsbedt was happy to end the day by helping PHS take second in the 400 free relay behind Notre Dame.

“That was really fun,” said Hunsbedt. “Notre Dame is a really great team and we tried our best to beat them. We got second so we beat everyone else.”

PHS had a fun day collectively, taking third in the team standings behind champion Notre Dame and runner-up WW/P-S.

Chiang took sixth in the 100 butterfly while Alex Petruso placed fourth in the 100 free and fifth in the 100 backstroke. The Little Tigers took third in the 200 medley relay and second in the 200 free relay in addition to the second-place finish in the 400 free relay.

While the Little Tigers saw their four-year county title streak come to an end, PHS first-year head coach Carly Misewicz believed that her boy swimmers competed to their potential.

“We swam our hearts out today,” said Misiewicz. “The guys were awesome, they far surpassed all of our expectations. Everybody was stepping up and filling in those spots on the relays.”

Misiewicz liked the heart Hunsbedt displayed in his first county meet. “He was psyched; he was so excited and pumped,” said Misiewicz.

“Going into that breaststroke final, he said “Oh my god, I’m going for it.’ He had that last relay coming off the breaststroke. Oliver is the kind of kid who likes to chase somebody. He likes it when we are behind and are chasing people down.”

Seeded fourth in the Group, North 2 sectional, PHS is looking forward to being in the chase for a state title.

“Everyone is dropping crazy amounts of time so they now are knowing their potential and we just want to keep it rolling through states,” said Misiewicz.

Hunsbedt, for his part, feels that PHS has the potential to do well in the states.

“We all just pushed each other to the limits today, we competed well as a team,” said Hunsbedt.

“We can’t wait for states. We have a lot of stuff planned; we are going to have an exciting time.”

ABBEY ROAD: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Abbey Berloco displays her butterfly form in a recent meet. Last Saturday, freshman star Berloco won both the 50 and 100 freestyle races at the Mercer County Swimming Championships to help PHS win its third straight county crown. Berloco set a meet record in both races and was named the meet’s Most Valuable Swimmer on the girls’ side. PHS will now go after more titles as it was seeded first in the Public B Central Jersey sectional.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ABBEY ROAD: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Abbey Berloco displays her butterfly form in a recent meet. Last Saturday, freshman star Berloco won both the 50 and 100 freestyle races at the Mercer County Swimming Championships to help PHS win its third straight county crown. Berloco set a meet record in both races and was named the meet’s Most Valuable Swimmer on the girls’ side. PHS will now go after more titles as it was seeded first in the Public B Central Jersey sectional. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After rolling through a 12-0 regular season with one lopsided win after another, the Princeton High girls’ swimming team was determined to make a statement at the Mercer County Swimming Championships last week.

“Since we made such an impression in our dual meets, we were looking to try to win the meet and really do something great,” said PHS junior star Brianna Romaine, reflecting on a season which started with a 145-25 rout of Hopewell Valley and has seen no meet closer than a 107-63 win over WW/P-N in mid-December.

Romaine and her teammates achieved that goal with aplomb at the county competition held at WW/P-N, piling up 266.5 points to win the title and nearly double runner-up Pennington’s score, who finished with 140.

In earning its third straight county crown, PHS won six of eight individual events and two of the three relays. Capping the day in style, the Little Tigers produced a meet record in winning the 400-meter freestyle relay, breaking the 4:00 barrier with a time of 3:58.61.

Romaine won the 200 free and 100 backstroke while classmate Madeleine Deardorff prevailed in the 200 individual medley, sophomore Melinda Tang was victorious in the 100 butterfly, and freshman Abbey Berloco won both the 50 and 100 free. The precocious Berloco set a meet record in both races and was named the meet’s Most Valuable Swimmer on the girls’ side.

In reflecting on her win in the 200 free, Romaine said the cheers of her teammates spurred her to victory as she had trailed early in the race.

“I did realize I was behind, I was just trying to swim my own race,” said Romaine. “I saw her but the atmosphere of our team was so motivating, I wanted to do it for them.”

The Little Tigers were motivated to set a new county standard in the 400 free relay.

“After we hit 4:00 in the prelims, trying to go sub 4 was definitely on our minds,” said Romaine, who combined with Deardorff, Tang, and Berloco in the record-breaking effort. “It was great to finally do it.”

The addition of freshman star Berloco has been a great plus for PHS. “It is amazing, Abbey takes it to a whole other level,” said Romaine. “She really completes the team.”

Berloco, for her part, came into the county meet simply looking to enjoy the experience.

“I have heard that counties is a really fun meet,” said Berloco. “I was trying to have a great time with everyone else on the team.”

In the 50 free, Berloco was inspired by the example of former Lawrence swim star Katie O’Rourke.

“I knew that Katie O’Rourke had the record; I wasn’t really sure what it was,” said Berloco, who clocked a time of 26.37 to break O’Rourke’s record of 26.46. “She is just such a phenomenal swimmer. I just wanted to maybe come close to what she did last year.”

As for the 100 free, dueling with a buddy helped Berloco produce another record.

“I was really happy with that; I felt pretty good,” added Berloco, who posted a time of 57.20 to break the mark of 57.62 that she set on Friday in the county preliminaries.

“It was really great because I was right next to my best friend Maddie Horner (of Steinert). I am on the same club team (Hamilton Aquatic Club) with her so we practice together.”

For Berloco, the relay record was icing on the cake. “That was really fun,” added Berloco. “I knew we could do it. We have such a strong team. It was really great to break it with them.”

Berloco got a surprise when she was singled out as the meet’s top girl swimmer.

“I didn’t even know that there was a MVS, everyone said we have to go up for awards,” recalled Berloco. “I was like OK. I was really shocked when I heard my name called.”

While Berloco was thrilled to earn the individual award, she was more excited about the team’s superb performance.

“Everyone did such an amazing job,” said Berloco. “It is great to be part of that; it was really fun to win counties.”

PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz liked how her girl swimmers took care of business on Saturday.

“They stepped it up and put their all into it,” said Misiewicz. “We had better times than we did yesterday pretty much across the board. They were super psyched, the energy level was up.”

In Misiewicz’s view, Berloco’s propensity to go all out sets her apart. “She is a stellar athlete without a doubt,” said Misiewicz.

“She gets in there and swims her heart out no matter what. If she is a body length ahead or a lap ahead of everybody, she puts her heart and soul into it. That is all you can ask for and that is what makes her the kind of swimmer that she is. She puts 200 percent effort all of the time.”

The trio of Romaine, Deardorff, and Tang has been giving PHS great efforts all winter long.

“Brianna, Maddie, and Melinda are so consistent and so constant,” said Misiewicz. “They are all into the next one. Their goal as a team was to go under 4, that was awesome. It was a great way to end the meet, crushing 4 minutes is huge because we were well under.”

With PHS seeded first in Public B Central Jersey sectional, Misiewicz believes her squad is primed for a happy ending this winter.

“We told them the other day that we are seeded first for states and I think that fired them up,” said Misiewicz.

“They were super excited. They knew there were a lot of expectations coming into counties. They all rose to the occasion, every single person.”

Romaine, for her part, is fired up about PHS’s chances to make a deep run in state competition.

“I am pretty confident going into states; I think this is the most we have had talent-wise,” said Romaine. “We are seeded first in the sectionals, we’ll see what happens.”

FINAL APPROACH: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Lucy Herring heads up the ice in recent action. Senior captain Herring chipped in two assists as PHS topped Pingry 4-2 in the program’s annual Senior Night. The Little Tigers, now 4-8, are next in action when they play at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 4.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FINAL APPROACH: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Lucy Herring heads up the ice in recent action. Senior captain Herring chipped in two assists as PHS topped Pingry 4-2 in the program’s annual Senior Night. The Little Tigers, now 4-8, are next in action when they play at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Lucy Herring entered Baker Rink for her Senior Night with the Princeton High girls’ hockey team, she gained extra inspiration from looking into the rafters.

“I saw the signs, it was awesome to see my name,” said senior forward and captain Herring, referring to the banners hanging in front of the bleacher honoring each of the seven seniors on the squad.

“After the three senior days when I have made the signs and then seeing a sign made for me, it was pretty special.”

Herring went on to enjoy a special evening, passing for two assists to help PHS top Pingry 4-2 in the January 23 contest.

Both of Herring’s helpers came on passes to younger sister, sophomore star Maggie, as the Little Tigers scored three goals in a 33-second span in the first period and then added an insurance goal in the third.

“In the beginning, we wanted to make sure that we were focused on passing,” said Herring. “I know Maggie has a really strong shot so I can always trust passing to her and having her get it in with her slap shot.”

The victory gave PHS its fourth triumph of the season, already doubling its win total from last winter when the Little Tigers posted a 2-11 record.

“It is really surreal actually,” said Herring. “My freshman year, we didn’t win a single game and my sophomore year we didn’t win anything and last year it was two. It is so amazing, especially my senior year. It is a great note to end on.”

In Herring’s view, the bond among the seniors has helped spark the team’s improvement.

“The senior class this year is really close,” said Herring, whose classmates on the squad include Britney Coniglione, Anne Daly, Julia DiTosto, Marian Hancock-Cerutti, Campbell McDonald, and Stephanie Ren.

“We have played since freshman year together, it has definitely been an experience. Senior year is fun. Everyone wants to be at practice, everyone wants to be at the games. It is not as much of a hassle and that just creates a more fun environment and motivates people to do well.”

Getting an infusion of talent has helped give PHS extra motivation. “I think we have definitely gotten new players like Alexa Zammit,” said Herring. “Campbell who left and came back and then Allie Callaway. Also Maggie has gotten a lot better through sheer practice.”

Herring relishes the on-ice connection she has developed with her younger sister. “It is really fun because we know each other really well,” said Herring. “I know what she is going to do with the puck; she knows what I am going to do with it. We sense where each other is going to go so we know where to pass.”

As Herring reflected on her career, she noted that she also got to be on the ice with older sister, Keely, a 2012 PHS alum and former hockey star herself.

“On the high school team, I played one year with Keely,” said Herring. “I was thinking about that. It was very different with Keely. Our playing styles were different. We didn’t have that same tight connection as Maggie. That is the benefit to being the middle child.”

PHS head coach Christian Herzog knows that his program has benefitted from Herring’s constant presence over the last four years.

“I can’t say enough good things about Lucy,” asserted Herzog. “When she came to the program, we were already struggling. It speaks volumes about her level of character that she didn’t just throw in the towel and say I want to play with a better team. She has really given some significant effort; her leadership has gotten better throughout the year. Over four years, she has done a lot for this program and the school in general. She has been a pretty good ambassador with her sportsmanship.”

In addition to providing plenty of intangibles, Herring shoulders the burden on the ice in crunch time.

“The sign of a good player is one who is asking for the puck when there are 30 seconds left and you are down by one, added Herzog. “Like her older sister Keely, she is one of those who is asking for the puck. She wants the opportunity to rise above and make that play and get that goal.”

As PHS got ready to hit the ice for the Pingry game, emotions were on the rise for the Little Tigers.

“The girls were buying into the fact that we were going to play period by period,” said Herzog.

“We are just going to go out there and play our game and regardless we are going to leave all of that emotion on the ice. I told them that if  nothing else, you guys should play even harder for the seven people graduating in here because eventually you younger players are also going to be in the same situation. You don’t know what it feels like until you are in that position. You start to think alright this is the last hurrah.”

Herzog liked the position PHS put itself in with the three-goal outburst in the first period that started with an Isabelle Sohn tally.

“Izzy admitted it was a garbage goal but if a garbage goal goes in, the goalie focuses on that garbage goal,” said Herzog.

“They put a little more pressure on her and they got lucky with some opportunities. That is a first this season, I haven’t seen that since the Gabby Vukasin days when we had four in 1:05. That changed the tone of the game and it gave me the opportunity to get the novice skaters in as well.”

The team’s progress this season has been heartening for Herzog. “It is night and day different compared to some of our previous years,” said Herzog. “It means a lot. You are coming from the very bottom and you aren’t focusing on not getting people to quit.”

Herzog credits the program’s Class of 2015 with getting people to play their best.

“The senior class, in general, is a good group of girls,” said Herzog. “They are always out to have a good time, they are a very inclusive kind of group. They all vibe together and they have a collective vision for the program.”

As Herzog looks ahead to the last few weeks of the season, he envisions some good things ahead.

“I don’t want to have a let up, regardless of what the record is at the end of the season,” said Herzog, whose team is now 4-8 and is next in action when it plays at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 4.

“I want to reflect back on this when we have our banquet and be able to say that to the end, there was no let up or throwing in the towel. The season is not over until that second game on February 15; I want to focus all the way through.”

Herring, for her part, isn’t about to lose her focus. “We have never had so many close games that are winnable,” said Herring. “I am really excited to try our best in them and see where we go.”

READING THE GAME: Princeton High boys’ hockey player John Reid controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior forward Reid enjoyed a big game on the program’s annual Senior Night, tallying four assists as PHS topped WW/P-N 10-3 to improve to 7-8-1. The Little Tigers play Hopewell Valley on February 6 and Robbinsville on February 8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

READING THE GAME: Princeton High boys’ hockey player John Reid controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior forward Reid enjoyed a big game on the program’s annual Senior Night, tallying four assists as PHS topped WW/P-N 10-3 to improve to 7-8-1. The Little Tigers play Hopewell Valley on February 6 and Robbinsville on February 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

John Reid and his senior classmates on the Princeton High boys’ hockey team have become closer through adversity.

“We have had a couple of tough state tournament losses; we had a couple of tough losses early on,” said Reid.

“I think as a class we have grown into really strong hockey players. We all like each other. As a whole, I think we are a pretty cohesive unit.”

Last Saturday, Reid and his classmates were showered with affection as the program held its annual Senior Night celebration at Baker Rink in conjunction with its game against WW/P-N.

“Sending off three classes of seniors before me in this building and now doing it with my classmates is really special; getting the opportunity to play our last game here at Baker,” said Reid. “It is tough to swallow that we can’t be back here. It was a fun night.”

Reid ended up having a lot of fun in the game, getting four assists to help trigger PHS to a 10-3 win over the Northern Knights which improved the Little Tigers to 7-8-1.

In reflecting on his performance, Reid said he enjoys being the playmaker.

“That is usually my game, it mostly comes from the fact that I don’t have the best shot,” said Reid with a smile. “I like setting guys up. I guess tonight it showed itself.”

Many of Reid’s passes over the years have found the stick of classmate and fellow captain Connor McCormick.

“Connor played a big role freshman year and then both of us have gotten a lot of minutes since our sophomore year,” said Reid of McCormick, who scored two goals in the win over WW/P-N.

“I think he and I bonding has really helped the team. I think we both came in knowing that this was our last game in Baker. I think knowing that gave us a little extra spark.”

Reid is hoping the win will spark PHS as it looks to qualify for the upcoming state tournament, needing to have a .500 record as of the February 9 cut-off date.

“We need four more points to qualify for the state tournament,” said Reid. “I think this is huge for us to come in tonight and get a big win. We have struggled finding our identity. We are just kind of finding that now later in the season.”

PHS head coach Terence Miller saw the win over WW/P-N as a huge plus. “We have a big week coming up, this was much needed,” said Miller.

“We just told our guys that our season is on the line from now on. I think we realize that we have no room for error at this point. We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole and we are trying to climb out with about 10 days left in the regular season.”

The emotions surrounding Senior Night gave PHS a lift on Saturday. “It is fun to see these guys get honored on Senior Night in Hobey Baker Rink,” said Miller, whose Class of 2015 includes Joe Hawes, Chris Munoz, Nick Palmer, Becket Tovar, and Aidan Bitterman in addition to Reid and McCormick.

“It is great stuff, it is well deserved. We have a great group of guys, great seniors. They are genuinely good kids and they deserve the recognition. Hockey aside, they are just really good kids. I was happy for them.”

The pair of Reid and McCormick had provided good leadership for the program this winter.

“Connor and John have the ‘C’ on their sweater for a reason, they are our leaders,” said Miller.

“They have been good at adapting to different needs, whether that be on the back side, playing defense or going to wing or center. They are both willing and eager to play wherever they are asked. They are good solid good-hearted kids that set a good tone for our guys. They are not necessarily the loudest rah rah type guys but they lead by example. They quietly go about their business and the other guys follow that lead.”

Some of the other PHS seniors took care of business on Saturday. “Aidan Bitterman got his first career goal,” said Miller. “Nick Palmer is a great kid, he plays on the back end and he got a lot of good minutes tonight. I am happy he was honored and had a good night on Senior Night. It is important.”

In Miller’s view, PHS has what it takes to produce a good finish this winter. “I think we are a game off the pace for states,” said Miller, whose team plays Hopewell Valley on February 6 and Robbinsville on February 8.

“We are just trying to take this one game at a time; we want to finish on a good note. Hopefully this gets us going, gets our mojo going, gets our legs going a little bit.”

Reid, for his part, is confident that the Little Tigers will do their best to go as far as possible in postseason play.

“We don’t have the deepest team but we have some great skill,” said Reid. “We have guys that are going to fight until we are done so a run in the counties is definitely not out of the question.”

OUT OF STEP: Hun School girls basketball player Erica ­Dwyer drives to the basket in a recent game. Last Saturday, senior guard Dwyer tallied 20 points in a losing cause as Hun fell 62-38 to Montgomery to suffer its eighth straight defeat. The Raiders, now 3-13, are slated to host Germantown Friends (Pa.) on February 5 and then play at the Shipley School (Pa.) on February 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OUT OF STEP: Hun School girls basketball player Erica ­Dwyer drives to the basket in a recent game. Last Saturday, senior guard Dwyer tallied 20 points in a losing cause as Hun fell 62-38 to Montgomery to suffer its eighth straight defeat. The Raiders, now 3-13, are slated to host Germantown Friends (Pa.) on February 5 and then play at the Shipley School (Pa.) on February 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Just a few years ago, the Hun School-Peddie matchup was the most heated rivalry in local prep girls’ basketball.

The two programs met in the state Prep A finals five straight seasons from 2005-2009 and even though Peddie always prevailed, Hun customarily fought the Falcons to the final horn.

Last Wednesday, when the teams met in the latest installment of the series, those halcyon days were a distant memory.

A shorthanded Hun team, missing some key players to injury, fell behind visiting Peddie 16-0 on the way to a 74-40 defeat.

Afterward, a glum Hun head coach Bill Holup declined to use the injuries as an excuse.

“The injuries obviously impact the team but psychologically we have to be ready to play and physically we have to be ready to play,” said Holup, who was without the services of top scorer Janelle Mullen along with Alexis Goeke and Clare Moloney.

“We have got to get used to playing without Janelle. We are hoping she will be back the first week of February.”

Holup acknowledged that his team didn’t play well at either end of the court in the loss to Peddie.

“I don’t think we gave ourselves a chance at all in this game,” lamented Holup. “Defensively we were disorganized and offensively we didn’t move.”

In Holup’s view, his team needs to undergo some soul searching. “The bottom line is that we have to come ready to play,” said Holup, whose team fell 62-38 to Montgomery last Saturday to drop to 3-13 and is slated to host Germantown Friends (Pa.) on February 5 and then play at the Shipley School (Pa.) on February 7.

“I am disappointed in the overall effort that we put in. It is upsetting. I am hoping it is an aberration.”

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Gianluca Travia holds his position in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore defenseman Travia and the Panthers skated to a 4-4 tie with Chatham. The Panthers, who moved to 2-11-4 with the tie, were slated to play Morristown-Beard on February 3 in the state Prep semifinals with the winner advancing to the title game on February 5 against the victor of the Hun/Montclair-Kimberley semi. In addition, PDS is hosting Bergen Catholic on February 6 and Saint Augustine Prep on February 9.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Gianluca Travia holds his position in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore defenseman Travia and the Panthers skated to a 4-4 tie with Chatham. The Panthers, who moved to 2-11-4 with the tie, were slated to play Morristown-Beard on February 3 in the state Prep semifinals with the winner advancing to the title game on February 5 against the victor of the Hun/Montclair-Kimberley semi. In addition, PDS is hosting Bergen Catholic on February 6 and Saint Augustine Prep on February 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Hosting a powerful and skilled Portledge School (N.Y.) last Wednesday, the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team held its own in the early stages of the contest.

“I look at the first period and I thought the first six or seven minutes, the game played out the way we wanted it to,” said PDS head coach Scott Bertoli.

“We had more chances early in that first period then at any point in any game in the last month. I told our kids if you are willing to be disciplined and compete in the offensive zone, you are going to get opportunities.”

But it was Portledge that broke through with two goals in the first period to take a 2-0 lead and then the roof fell in on the Panthers as they gave up four unanswered goals in the second to fall behind 6-0 heading into the final period. PDS did show some fight in the third but it went on to lose 8-1.

“We hung with them early but we are so limited offensively that we can’t give up easy goals,” said Bertoli.

“The first two goals are backbreakers. It falls apart because we take chances, we take dumb penalties and some of our older guys are taking penalties.

Bertoli acknowledges that his team lacks firepower. “There were four or five opportunities today where the puck hit their sticks in scoring areas but we are just not ready to score,” said Bertoli.

“We don’t play stick, we don’t body up on men; that is the frustrating part. That is why we average a goal a game. We don’t have the type of kids who can make plays and beat people one-on-one and we don’t have kids who are ready to score the puck.”

As a result, Bertoli wants his players to focus on being ready to make things tougher on their foes.

“I talk about it all the time, our kids play hard but they are not hard to play against,” said Bertoli, whose team put in some good work last Friday, pulling out a 4-4 tie with Chatham to move to 2-11-4.

“They work hard but they have to work outside their comfort zone and that has to happen in practice. We have to demand more in practice.”

As defending state prep champion, PDS faces a demanding road to a title repeat as it is slated to play at Morristown-Beard on February 3 in the state Prep semifinal with the winner advancing to the title game on February 5 against the victor of the Hun/Montclair-Kimberley semi.

“We have a lot to work on and a lot to improve on,” added Bertoli, looking ahead to a big week that also includes home games against Bergen Catholic on February 6 and Saint Augustine Prep on February 9.

“It is a young group and we need to take advantage of every opportunity we throw the uniform on. The focus has to shift to going to Mo Beard and beating a very good team. They came in here and beat us pretty handily; that is not to say that we can’t have some success because I think we did some things in the third period of that game.”

No matter how his squad does in the Prep tourney, Bertoli believes it can take steps to laying a foundation for future success.

“The reality is it doesn’t matter how many games we win this year,” said Bertoli. “It is building and getting that mindset that we have to play outside our comfort zone. We have to be harder to play against. My focus is on them playing the right way and competing at the level I want to see them compete at.”

January 28, 2015
INSIDE STUFF: Princeton University men’s basketball player Hans Brase goes up for a dunk last Sunday against visiting Rowan University. Junior forward Brase scored 13 points to help Princeton defeat Division III Rowan 96-48. The Tigers, now 8-9 overall, head into the thick of Ivy League play this weekend as they host Harvard on January 30 and Dartmouth on January 31.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

INSIDE STUFF: Princeton University men’s basketball player Hans Brase goes up for a dunk last Sunday against visiting Rowan University. Junior forward Brase scored 13 points to help Princeton defeat Division III Rowan 96-48. The Tigers, now 8-9 overall, head into the thick of Ivy League play this weekend as they host Harvard on January 30 and Dartmouth on January 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Returning to action last Sunday after a 15-day exam break, the Princeton University men’s basketball team saw its game against visiting Rowan University as good prep for the Ivy League tests ahead.

“I feel like we had a really nice set of practices before we headed back into  the game,” said Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson, whose team last played on January 10 when it rallied to beat Penn 78-74 in its Ivy opener.

“It is just can we carry over what happened in the last few minutes against  Penn. That has been a big thing for us, our defense. We are glad to be back on the floor with an important week coming up.”

In cruising past the Profs on Sunday, Princeton displayed some stifling defense, going on a 26-4 run after Division III Rowan had taken an early 10-8 lead. The Tigers never looked back, cruising to a 96-48 win before a crowd of 1,774 at Jadwin Gym as they improved to 8-9 overall.

“I thought the group that came in and defended between the 14-minute mark and the five-minute mark did well, they were stuck at 10 for a little while and that is our defense,” said Henderson. “It is nice to get a win.”

Henderson got a nice offensive effort from freshman Aaron Young, who scored a career-high 15 points, going 5-of-6 from three-point range.

“Aaron is a very good shooter; I think we have a terrific shooting team and Aaron is right up there with the rest of them,” said Henderson, whose team hit on 16-of-35 three-pointers against Rowan.

“Between Clay (Wilson), Aaron, Khyan (Rayner) and Ben (Hazel), those guys are always competing for the top slot. I want Aaron to fill up the rest of the stat sheet because I think he can really shoot and now it is about doing the other things well too.”

Young, for his part, said his outburst was the product of being in the right place at the right time.

“My teammates did a great job of finding me when I was open,” said Young, a 6’0, 180-pound native of Falls Church, Va., who was the Ivy Rookie of the Week for the last week of December.

“Coach always encourages us to step in and shoot the ball with confidence and that is what I tried to do.”

Like Henderson, Young saw the game against Rowan as a good opportunity to build confidence going into Ivy play.

“Any chance we get to come out and compete against somebody else is awesome for us and we love to take advantage of it,” said Young, whose previous career high was nine points.

Junior forward Hans Brase liked the way Tigers took care of business against the Profs.

“We try to treat every game the same,” said Brase, who tallied 13 points in the victory.

“For us, it is not a league game but it is another non-conference game that we get up for. We want to win every game.”

As Princeton, 1-0 Ivy, looks ahead to hosting defending league champ Harvard (11-5 overall, 1-1 Ivy) on Friday and improving Dartmouth (8-8 overall, 1-1 Ivy) a day later, Brase knows it is crucial to get the league campaign off on a winning note.

“One of the big things is that you can’t dig a hole early,” said Brase.  “Last year we started out 0-4 and it really just killed us for the whole Ivy season. Starting off with a win against Penn this year was great but now we have to keep going into Harvard and Dartmouth and just take it one game at time and we will be alright.”

Young, for his part, believes Princeton will be on its game. “I am very excited to get the league season going,” said Young. “I know it is a grind like all of the older guys have said. I think we are ready and I am looking forward to it.”

Noting that Dartmouth upset Harvard last Saturday, Henderson realizes that Princeton is looking at two big challenges in the Big Green and Crimson.

“It is a really tough weekend,” said Henderson. “Dartmouth had a huge win there yesterday. I told our guys, they are good and don’t think for a second that Harvard isn’t really good because they are. It is an important week but I think we have been making some big strides everyday in practice. This is a sum of the parts team. These guys have been getting tired of me saying it but they have to be so focused on each other’s success. As long as we keep doing that, we have a chance.”

Hannah Ash has experienced a breakthrough in her final campaign with the Princeton High girls’ swimming team.

After being a member of the supporting cast for PHS over the last three seasons, senior Ash has emerged as a star this winter.

Coming into last Thursday’s showdown with Lawrence, Ash had posted six individual wins and had taken part in six relay victories in the last five meets for PHS.

In reflecting on her recent success in the water, Ash attributed her progress to some work on the water as a rower for Mercer Rowing Club.

“It has been really exciting getting to drop times this year since the past couple of years I have been in a lull,” said Ash.

“I think it is because of the cross training with crew, that’s definitely showing.”

There was plenty of excitement in the air at the John Witherspoon School pool on Thursday as both PHS and Lawrence brought 10-0 records into the contest. Ash had a big day as the Little Tigers rolled to a 120-50 victory, placing second in the 100 freestyle and helping the 200 free relay to victory.

“It was really impressive seeing everyone definitely swimming their hardest,” said Ash, reflecting on the win. “The atmosphere in here was so amazing.”

There was a special atmosphere on the deck as PHS held its annual Senior Day ceremony.

“It is kind of bittersweet,” said Ash. “It is really exciting that it is finally us up there but it is definitely sad knowing that we are going to leave these people.”

The PHS squad has definitely come together this winter. “I think we bond as a team really well; everyone is so supportive of
each other,” said Ash.

“That definitely helps when you are in the pool and you hear everyone cheering for you. That is a really good feeling.”

Ash and her fellow seniors support each other on a daily basis. “Since there are so many of us is it is really good being able to feed off of each other,” said Ash.

“We get the vibes from each other and get each other’s opinions on what we think is going to make the team better. Since none of us are club swimmers we are at practice everyday so it is definitely good being around each other.”

PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz believes Ash is making PHS better in a number of ways.“Hannah Ash is definitely stepping up this year as far as times,” said Misiewicz. “She is also making sure that the freshmen are really involved in what is going on as a whole team.”

In Misiewicz’s view, the whole senior class has been making a positive impact.

“They are great,” asserted Misiewicz, whose other senior swimmers include Jessica Bai, Rhea Bhatt, Lopa Krishnan, Lindsey Lim, Charlotte Singer, and Stephanie Tam.

“They are here everyday because none of our seniors are club swimmers. It is nice that the high school kids see them on a daily basis. They see them here, training so hard, practicing day in, day out.”

The team’s hard work certainly paid off against Lawrence. “I can’t be any happier for the swimmers, they are swimming out of their minds,” said Misiewicz, whose team improved to 12-0 with a 124-45 win over Ewing last Thursday.

“We knew going into the season that our girls are definitely good; this is their year in our opinion.”

In the win over Lawrence, the Little Tigers’ quartet of stars, sophomore Melinda Tang, freshman Abbey Berloco, and juniors Brianna Romaine and Maddie Deardorff, showed they are very good as they each won two races. Tang placed first in the 200 and 500 freestyle races, Berloco won the 50 free and 100 butterfly, Romaine was victorious in the 100 free and 100 backstroke while Deardorff prevailed in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.

“When Abbey, Maddie, Bri, and Melinda get into the pool, they get in to race,” said Misiewicz. “It doesn’t matter if they are a body length ahead or a fingertip ahead.”

The rest of the squad has adopted that competitive approach. “All of other girls are getting the hang of it, reaching for that second or third, out-touching the person next to them,” said Misiewicz.

“That is what I have been stressing, outrace the person next to you. Be aware of the whole entire pool, you may in lane seven but something is happening in lane two.”

With PHS going after its third straight Mercer County Swimming Championships team title this week as the competition is slated for January 29-31, Misiewicz is confident that her team will keep racing as hard as it can.

“They are having fun with every single meet,” said Misiewicz. “They are getting excited for counties and seeing how far we can make it in states after counties.”

Ash, for her part, is excited for her final county meet. “I think we have a pretty good chance; I am pretty enthusiastic about it,” said Ash.

“I think we have really good depth in our team. That is definitely important at counties since it is more individual than team-wise. I think it is looking good.”

TAKING OFF: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Take Numata churns through the water last week as PHS hosted Lawrence. Senior Numata took third in the 50 freestyle and helped the 400 free relay to a win as the Little Tigers prevailed 95-75 in the January 20 contest. PHS, who improved to 10-2 with 123-44 win over Ewing last Thursday, are next in action when it competes at the Mercer County Swimming Championships from January 29-31.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TAKING OFF: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Take Numata churns through the water last week as PHS hosted Lawrence. Senior Numata took third in the 50 freestyle and helped the 400 free relay to a win as the Little Tigers prevailed 95-75 in the January 20 contest. PHS, who improved to 10-2 with 123-44 win over Ewing last Thursday, are next in action when it competes at the Mercer County Swimming Championships from January 29-31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Take Numata was fired up to see the Princeton High boys’ swimming team come through with a win against Lawrence last week.

“Today was a power pointing day so it was important that we swam fast to see how we would stack up later on,” said senior Numata, who took third in the 50 freestyle and helped the 400 free relay to a win as the Little Tigers prevailed 95-75 in the January 20 contest.

“These meets are always the best kind of meet because they are the ones that get the most cheers and excitement.”

The meet did get exciting as Lawrence pulled to within 57-53 after taking first and third in the 500 free. PHS, though, took control from that point, prevailing in the 200 free relay and getting wins from sophomore Will Kinney in the 100 backstroke and freshman Oliver Hunsbedt in the 100 breaststroke.

In Numata’s view, it was important for PHS to pull out the close meet.

“It is always good to have that because the more you have, the better off you will be in the future,” said Numata.

Numata has been getting better and better as his senior season has unfolded. “I swam year round this year so that made for an improvement,” said Numata, who joined the X-Cel club program.

While Numata has put in extra time working on his strokes, his success as a sprinter comes down to keeping a clear head in the water.

“I got pretty close to my personal bests today,” said Numata. “When it  comes to sprinting events and tough meets, there is really not much thought.”

It was an eventful day for Numata and his classmates as the program held its annual Senior Day celebration after the meet.

“I am going to miss this pool, it is a nice place,” said Numata, whose fellow seniors include Odin Adams-Tuck, David Lawrence, Warren Saengtawesin, and Matt Shanahan. “Hopefully it won’t be my last home meet.”

PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz saw the win over Lawrence as a nice step forward for the boys’ squad.

“We have had our ups and downs, we have had some tough meets,” said Misiewicz.

“This is our last meet where everybody will be together before the counties. It was a great atmosphere, being Senior Day. The seniors were getting in and swimming their events and everyone was behind them.”

In Misiewicz’s view, it was great for PHS to pass the test posed by a tough Lawrence squad.

“It was a really close meet at one point, I was getting a little worried there,” said Misiewicz.

“The 500 really hurt us there and then a lot of the sophomores and juniors were coming up ‘hey where are we at, what do we need to do.’ I had no problem telling them because I know they will go up to everybody and say we are down by four, we really have to get up and go. That 200 relay was clutch, from that point on it was good. We had one-two in backstroke and one-two on breaststroke.”

With PHS going after a fifth straight team title this week as it competes in the Mercer County Swimming Championships from January 29-31, Misiewicz is getting her swimmers to fine-tune things.

“We have been working a lot on the technique and the little details, especially for our sprinters,” said Misiewicz.

“They are getting pumped up, they are getting excited. It is just consistent improvement across the board, there is nothing more you really can ask.”

Whether or not PHS wins another county crown this week, Numata is going to enjoy competing with his teammates.

“When you leave a team, it is not about the races or your own personal times,” said Numata.

“The thing I am going to end missing most of all is the people. Inside and  outside of the pool, you have activities with them. I would say that they are more important than the races.”

VALUABLE COYNE: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Maddie Coyne dribbles the ball in recent action. Last Friday, freshman Coyne scored four points in a losing cause as PDS fell 56-24 to Bound Brook. The Panthers, now 4-10, play at the Ranney School on January 29 before hosting Rutgers Prep on January 30 and Pennington on February 3.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

VALUABLE COYNE: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Maddie Coyne dribbles the ball in recent action. Last Friday, freshman Coyne scored four points in a losing cause as PDS fell 56-24 to Bound Brook. The Panthers, now 4-10, play at the Ranney School on January 29 before hosting Rutgers Prep on January 30 and Pennington on February 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ending its game against visiting Bound Brook last Friday on a high note, the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team outscored the Crusaders 9-6 in the fourth quarter.

But that surge was too little, too late for the Panthers as they lost 56-24 in dropping to 4-10.

In reflecting on the setback, PDS head coach Kamau Bailey was pleased with how his players battled to the final whistle.

“I am proud of the way we played, we played hard until the end,” said Bailey. “We just have to figure out all the stuff in between.”

The Panthers need to figure out how to start games better as they fell behind Bound Brook 15-0.

“It was tough to come back from that; we just got off to a rough start,” said Bailey.

“We are one of those teams that needs to get out to a good start. We are not a comeback team just yet; we are still working on that. Before the game, the girls admitted that they were nervous so it’s just really getting our nerves under control and relaxing. By the time everybody relaxed a little bit and realized that we could score on that team, it was 15-8.”

In Bailey’s view, everybody needs to get on the same page for the Panthers to be more consistent offensively.

“We have just got to bring it all together,” said Bailey, who got eight points from freshman Bridget Kane in the defeat to Bound Brook with sophomore Shayla Stevenson adding seven. “We are, in my opinion, doing a little bit too much one-on-one. We need to move the ball a little bit more. The girls need to have a little bit more confidence in their teammates and their ability to score.”

With PDS having topped Stuart 40-30 on January 14 and Villa Victoria 53-33 on January 16 in its two games prior to Friday, Bailey is confident that his team can get things together.

“Things are going in the right direction; these girls are getting better,” asserted Bailey, whose team plays at the Ranney School on January 29 before hosting Rutgers Prep on January 30 and Pennington on February 3.

“Beating Stuart was a nice measurement; they had beaten us three times prior (once earlier this season and twice last winter). To be able to beat a team like that, let’s these girls know and me as a coach know that we have made some progress. We have to continue to do that. These girls look so good in practice. We just have to translate the way we practice onto the game floor.”

GOING FOR IT: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player ­Malia Leveson goes after the puck in a game earlier this season. Freshman standout Leveson tallied a goal and an assist to help PDS top Holton Arms (Md.) 4-1 last Sunday. The Panthers, who improved to 8-6-1 with the victory,  are slated to host the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 28 and Mater Dei on February 2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOING FOR IT: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player ­Malia Leveson goes after the puck in a game earlier this season. Freshman standout Leveson tallied a goal and an assist to help PDS top Holton Arms (Md.) 4-1 last Sunday. The Panthers, who improved to 8-6-1 with the victory, are slated to host the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 28 and Mater Dei on February 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though Malia Leveson is only a freshman, she emerged as a go-to finisher for the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team.

Leveson enjoys having that responsibility, letting her production speak for itself.

“I definitely like that a lot,” said Leveson of her role as a top scorer. “I am more of a leader on the ice rather than in the locker room.”

Last Sunday against visiting Holton Arms (Md.), Leveson displayed that leadership, scoring a key second period goal to help the Panthers pull away to a 4-1 triumph.

Kiely French, Ashley Cavuto, and Emma Stillwaggon added goals for PDS in the victory with senior goalie and captain Katie Alden making 13 saves as the Panthers improved to 8-6-1.

“I think it really put us in a safe spot,” said Leveson, reflecting on her tally which came on a breakaway. “It felt good to finish it off.”

Playing defenseman earlier in the season has helped Leveson become a more dangerous scoring threat.

“I think it has been good for me,” said Leveson, who also had an assist against Holton Arms. “I play forward for my club team. It was good playing defense at the beginning of the year, it helps me see the ice better and understand all the positions.”

PDS head coach Lorna Cook likes the way Leveson and sophomore Cavuto have been getting in position to score.

“They have playing a lot better and we have been doing a good job of timing that traffic in front and getting on rebounds,” said Cook. “We still need to battle harder but they are getting in there now.”

Cook was looking for a better result on Sunday against Holton Arms after her team had just missed victory in two games on Saturday against Shady Side Academy (Pa.), losing 1-0 and tying 3-3.

“Yesterday was obviously disappointing in that we just lost a tie and then we just lost a win and they were both in the last three minutes of the game,” said Cook.

“Those are hard but at the same time the tie was huge for us. We played well against a good team so we had to take a step back and look at the positives from that.”

Another positive on Sunday was the way the Panthers closed the deal in the third period despite not having the services of Cavuto, who was sidelined after taking a hard hit late in the second.

“We were mixing things up a ton and I think they all played really well,” said Cook.

“It was good. You need to play with everybody because you never know what is going to come up. I thought that was a good experience for us to have to do that.”

With the WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) tournament coming up in a few weeks, Cook believes PDS can come up big down the stretch.

“Now it is really using the tough games that we have left and just continuing to improve,” said Cook, whose team is slated to host the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 28 and Mater Dei on February 2. “I think our power play has never looked better, it is continuing to get better and better.”

Leveson, for her part, believes that the victory over Holton Arms portends good things to come.

“We tried to keep the same intensity as yesterday,” said Leveson. “I think we did a good job, it was a good win.”

January 21, 2015
SCORING SURGE: Cheeky Herr (No. 20) heads to goal in a recent game for the Trinity College women’s hockey team. Princeton resident Herr has emerged as one of the top scorers in Division III women’s hockey. The junior forward has piled up 13 goals and 13 assists through Trinity’s first 13 games. She is the leading scorer in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and is fifth in the nation in total points among Division III players. Coming off a week which saw her score five goals and get six assists in three Trinity wins, Herr was named the NESCAC Player of the Week.(Photo Courtesy of Trinity Sports Communications)

SCORING SURGE: Cheeky Herr (No. 20) heads to goal in a recent game for the Trinity College women’s hockey team. Princeton resident Herr has emerged as one of the top scorers in Division III women’s hockey. The junior forward has piled up 13 goals and 13 assists through Trinity’s first 13 games. She is the leading scorer in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and is fifth in the nation in total points among Division III players. Coming off a week which saw her score five goals and get six assists in three Trinity wins, Herr was named the NESCAC Player of the Week. (Photo Courtesy of Trinity Sports Communications)

After tallying five goals as a freshman for the Trinity College (Conn.) women’s hockey team in the 2012-13 campaign, Cheeky Herr didn’t view herself as a go-to scorer.

But late last January, the Princeton native scored two goals in a 4-1 win over Colby and started to see things in a different light.

“Going in as a freshman, you are the new kid on the block and you don’t want to step on toes,” said Herr.

“A lot of it was having confidence in having your skills and ability to be a goal scorer. About halfway through the season in the Colby game, something started to click. I felt so confident. I told myself I am a good player, I can score goals. It was all mental.”

Things are clicking on all cylinders this winter for Herr as the junior forward has piled up 13 goals and 13 assists through Trinity’s first 13 games. She is the leading scorer in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and is fifth in the nation in total points among Division III players.

Coming off a week which saw her score five goals and get six assists in three Trinity wins, Herr was named the NESCAC Player of the Week.

In reflecting on her scoring surge, Herr credits a change in the lineup with helping to trigger things.

“We flipped lines,” said Herr, who is combining with senior Lucy Robinson and fellow junior Emma Tani.

“The three of us work well together, we mesh, there is a flow. We find each other on the ice. We were put together in the two games before Christmas. Lucy is assisting me and I am assisting her. Emma is like a nice cherry on top of a sundae. She has the speed and stick skills that we don’t have.”

The 5’3 Herr worked hard in the offseason to get into top shape for her junior campaign.

“I am a small player so I get knocked around a lot,” said Herr, who ended up with 10 goals and nines assists as a sophomore.

“I get bruised and battered and end the weekend sore. I didn’t want to lose steam halfway through. I wanted to have extra energy. I wanted to be stronger, fitter, and faster. I had an internship in Stamford. I had a trainer there who had worked with NHL players; that was great. I was sport focused and one-on-one.”

Seeing the end of her college hockey career on the horizon, Herr brought a sense of urgency into this winter.

“You are a junior and you have to step up.” said Herr. “I have a month or two plus a season left. I want to enjoy every ounce of it. I love the sport. I want to play the best I can.”

Enjoying a special team spirit, Trinity is having a superb season as it improved to 9-3-1 overall after posting two wins over Sacred Heart last weekend.

“We have got a great dynamic this year, we are all friends, whether freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior,” said Herr.

“We look out for each other. It is a smaller team than in the past and there is less drama. We are all friends. We love each other and we love the game.”

Herr and the Bantams raised their game against Sacred Heart, posting a 9-0 win on Friday and then prevailing 5-1 a day later. Herr had a goal and a career-high five assists in Friday’s game and then added two goals on Saturday.

“We are playing at a high level, everyone was talking and working together in a cohesive manner,” said Herr. “This weekend was a real confidence booster; it showed us that we can really put the puck in the net.”

Herr is looking to keep putting the puck in the net as Trinity enters into the thick of NESCAC play, sitting in the middle of the pack with a 2-3-1 league mark.

“I have moved to wing after playing center all of my life,” said Herr. “I need to be sharper on the breakout and work on getting open. We need to get more shots. You can’t put the puck in the net if you don’t shoot.

The work that Herr has put in on conditioning has her confident that she can produce a big finish.

“Usually at this point, I hit a wall, I am gassed and tired,” said Herr. “I have managed to find extra stuff in the tank at the end of shifts. I do the cardio year round.”

While Herr is excited by her development into a top scorer this year, she is quick to point out that it is a group effort.

“I have great teammates, great coaches, and the most supportive family ever,” said Herr, whose older sister, Sarah, starred for the Williams College women’s hockey program. “They have always been there. My dad has been telling me for years this is what I could do.”