September 10, 2014
FORWARD PROGRESS: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Tori Hannah controls the ball in a game last season. Junior star Hannah should be a catalyst of the Stuart attack this fall. On Monday, Hannah scored a goal in a losing cause as the Tartans fell 3-2 to Princeton Day School in their season opener. In upcoming action, Stuart plays at the George School (Pa.) on September 11 before hosting Pennington on September 13 and WW/P-S on September 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Kate Walsh is very versatile,” said Bruvik.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 3, 2014
POWERBALL: Princeton University field hockey star Teresa Benvenuti powers the ball down the field in a game last season. Junior midfielder Benvenuti, a two-time first-team All-Ivy League performer, provides good punch in the midfield for the Tigers. No. 7 Princeton opens its 2014 campaign by playing at fourth-ranked Duke on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 27, 2014
BACK IN THE FLOW: Heidi Robbins gives her all in a 2013 race for the Princeton University women’s open varsity 8 during her senior season. Robbins made the U.S. women’s 8 for the 2013 World Rowing Championships but was unable to compete after suffering a back injury. Recovering from that setback, Robbins regained her spot on the 8 and is competing this week for the U.S in this year’s World Championship regatta, which is taking place in Amsterdam, Netherlands from August 24-31.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Rowing)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DOUBLE TAKE: Erin Reelick pulls hard in a race this spring for the Princeton University women’s open rowing varsity 8. Last month, rising junior Reelick pulled off a rare feat, earning double gold at the World Rowing U-23 Championships. She helped both the U.S. 4- and 8+ prevail in the regatta at Varese, Italy.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Rowing)

DOUBLE TAKE: Erin Reelick pulls hard in a race this spring for the Princeton University women’s open rowing varsity 8. Last month, rising junior Reelick pulled off a rare feat, earning double gold at the World Rowing U-23 Championships. She helped both the U.S. 4- and 8+ prevail in the regatta at Varese, Italy. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Rowing)

Erin Reelick was originally on the outside looking in this spring when it came to the U.S. U-23 rowing program despite emerging as a star for the Princeton University women’s open squad.

“I was initially wait-listed,” said Reelick, who made the varsity 8 as a freshman and helped the boat place second at the 2013 NCAA championships.

“There was one big camp for the 8, 4, pair, and quad. I was not one of the 18 or 19 invited.”

But after helping the Princeton varsity 8 win the Ivy League championship this spring in her sophomore campaign, Reelick got her chance to try out for the  U.S. team.

“After the Ivy regatta, I got an e-mail from the coach asking me if I wanted to come out and I said of course,” said Reelick.

Once in the training camp, Reelick focused on giving her best everyday.

“Going into it was a little tough, I was the last person invited,” said Reelick. “I had the mentality of just trying to get through each day. A few of the other girls felt that way and that helped.”

Reelick got through the camp and ended up getting named to both the U.S. 4- and 8+. She went on to help the U.S. earn gold in both events last month at the  World Rowing U-23 Championships in Varese, Italy.

“I never expected to make it there and we were able to pull it off,” said Reelick.

“It was such an amazing experience as a whole, meeting different people and rowing for a different coach.”

Reelick’s rowing experience has been intertwined with her older sister Kelsey, who graduated from Princeton this June after starring for the Tiger women’s program.

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Reelick took up the sport as a sophomore in high school although it wasn’t love at first sight.

“It wasn’t really huge fun for me as a sophomore, I still liked other sports more,” said Reelick, a native of Brookfield, Conn. who also played basketball and soccer.

“I became captivated with rowing in my junior year. The fact that it combines technical emphasis with being in top physical shape kept me mentally into it.”

When it came to rowing in college, Reelick was influenced by her older sister’s example.

“I was considering Princeton, Harvard, and Yale,” said Reelick. “My sister played a big role, the idea of her being there was a plus. I had a campus overnight visit and I met Lori (Princeton head coach Lori Dauphiny) and the girls and I liked the dynamic in the boathouse.”

Dealing with the new dynamic of college as a freshman proved to be a challenge for Reelick.

“To be honest, balancing everything, school, rowing, and social life was a big change,” said Reelick.

“The pure volume of workload increased in every area. I struggled a little bit in the fall to get my priorities straight. I was helped by Kelsey on prioritizing.”

By the spring, Reelick was on the varsity 8, helping it to gold in the Ivy regatta and silver at the NCAAs.

“It was pretty amazing to row with those seniors, they were all amazing athletes,” said Reelick. “It was really fun being along for the ride

As a sophomore, Reelick had a smoother ride. “I was not the confused, scared freshman,” said Reelick.

“I had been there and done that and it was let’s do better. I knew what to expect and that made the year easier.”

Things didn’t come easy for the varsity 8, though, as the boat lost its first two races of the spring before going on a late-season run that saw it win its last four regular season races and then place first at the Ivy regatta.

“I think we definitely made progress,” said Reelick. “My reaction at the beginning was that the boat was not quite as fast as last year. We made huge improvements throughout. After the first dual races, we had put things in perspective. We realized that we had to work our butts off all spring.”

The spring ended on a bit of a down note as the Tigers failed to qualify for the NCAA grand final. Princeton did rebound from that setback to win the B final and place seventh overall in the country.

“The NCAA semis was very disappointing,” said Reelick, reflecting on the race which saw the Tigers take fourth, one place away from earning a spot in the grand final.

“Lori played a big part in how we did in the B final. She said that was disappointing but let’s come back tomorrow and crush it and we did. It was a good way to go out, especially for the seniors.”

This summer, Reelick wasn’t sure if the U.S. boats were going to crush it in Italy.

“The 8 was the priority boat; the 4 didn’t practice as much as the 8,” said Reelick.

“There was a lot of pressure on the 8 because of performance in past years. We didn’t feel we were quite ready. We dedicated a couple of days just to the 8 and then we had a change in the lineup and a new girl was going to stroke. That made it a little nerve-wracking.”

After a strong effort in its heat, the 4 rode a strong start in the final to earn gold.

“It was one of those moments where I was holding my breath and then settling into a rhythm,” said Reelick, who rowed from the stroke seat in the coxless boat.

“We got up and held the lead. I was waiting for the other boats to make a recovery. We wanted to keep chugging along, I was really expecting one of the other boats to come back. We did a really good job of staying ahead and the amount of time we had was enough. At 250 meters to go, I remember New Zealand coming up, they had an amazing sprint.”

While the win in the 4 was heartening, Reelick was concerned that the effort could sap the 8 since half the boat was involved in both events.

“It gave me confidence but hoped we didn’t spend everything on the 4,” said Reelick. “The training was brutal and that prepared us well for those four races. The girls in the other 8s hadn’t raced since Thursday.”

Following a similar script to the 4, the 8 charged into an early lead and held on for victory.

“At 1,000 meters, our cox made a call for fresh legs; the race announcer was saying we didn’t have fresh legs,” said Reelick. “The 8 race was pretty similar to the 4; we got up at the start and held them off.”

For Reelick, the magnitude of her racing achievement took a while to process. “I was in shock actually,” said Reelick. “It didn’t quite hit me that I had double gold until few hours later.”

Turning her focus to her junior season at Princeton, Reelick believes the Tigers have what it takes to go for gold.

“I think we have the potential to be a pretty fast boat,” said Reelick. “We have a good group of girls coming back. We have a cool group of freshmen coming in who could really help us. We learned from last year. The goal is the NCAAs; we will never forget that race.”

Princeton men's and women's crew

AMPED UP: Jamie Hamp displays his focus in action this spring for the Princeton University men’s heavyweight varsity 8. This summer, rising senior Hamp excelled on the international stage, earning a bronze medal for the U.S. men’s 8 at the World Rowing U-23 Championships. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

For Jamie Hamp, getting cut from the U.S. Under-23 team in 2012 after his freshman year with the Princeton University men’s heavyweight rowing program proved to be a blessing in disguise.

“I was on a pair that didn’t make it, we were second to the boat that went on to get fourth in the worlds,” said Hamp.

“I got coached by Justin Farrington, he knew a lot about the pairs. It improved my skills and helped me move the boat faster. The experience in small boats really helped me as I went into my sophomore season.”

During his sophomore campaign at Princeton, Hamp made the varsity 8 and helped the Tigers make the grand final (top 6) in both Eastern Sprints and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) championship regatta.

That summer, Hamp tried out again for the U-23 squad and stuck around this time, getting picked for the men’s 8 and earning a silver medal at the World Rowing U-23 Championships.

As a junior, Hamp helped the Tigers earn a bronze medal at the Eastern Sprints and last month he medaled again at the U-23 worlds, competing for the U.S. men’s 8 that earned bronze at the competition held in Varese, Italy.

While the U.S. boat didn’t match the silver earned in 2013, Hamp was proud of the boat’s effort.

“Any medal at world championships is tough to get,” said Hamp. “There were six fast boats in that race. New Zealand and Australia both had great races and good boats. We led the race at 500 meters. I am proud that we went for it. We threw it all out there.”

Hamp, a native of North Tonawanda, N.Y., threw himself into rowing from the time he started the sport in his freshman year at Canisius High.

“I wanted to go and do something in the spring to stay in shape,” said Hamp.

“I talked to the coach and he said he thought I could be good. I enjoyed rowing a lot. We won nationals as a freshman; that was pretty fun. I rowed high school in the fall, winter, and spring and did West Side Rowing Club in the summer.”

It didn’t take long for Hamp to start thinking about rowing at the college level.

“I didn’t know much about rowing when I started, especially college rowing,” said Hamp, who also played kicker for the Canisius football team.

“As a sophomore, we had a lot of senior guys who were good and getting recruited. I talked to them and learned what was going on.”

As Hamp got into the recruiting process himself, he eventually realized that Princeton was the best fit. “I wasn’t so high on Princeton in the beginning,” said Hamp, who also considered Harvard and Cornell.

“When I did my official visit at Princeton, I really had a good time and liked the guys. Princeton was third at that point but after I did my official visits, I did a lot of thinking. I also really liked the academics at Princeton.”

Upon arriving at Princeton, Hamp relied on the more experienced guys on the team to help him adjust to college rowing.

“You have to learn to keep a level head through the season,” said Hamp, crediting teammate Will Gillis, a U-23 star himself and team captain this past season, with being a stabilizing influence.

“There are a lot of ups and downs. You can be really fast one day and then have a bad day. It was a lot of learning from the other rowers.”

Hamp had plenty of good days in his sophomore year, moving up to the varsity 8.

“I was familiar with the system and the workload,” said Hamp “I understood the course load and was better at time management. I knew what to expect.”

The Princeton top boat was better in 2012, advancing to the grand final in both the Eastern Sprints and IRA regattas.

“I felt we had some good speed and we were confident going into sprints,” said Hamp.

“We made the final and got fourth. At IRA, we were seeded seventh and got sixth. It was good to make the grand final but there was a little bit of frustration. We thought we were faster than the years before and we didn’t do that much better.”

This spring, Princeton redoubled its efforts to become even faster. “I think we made a lot of progress, I give a lot of credit to the coaches for being willing to make changes and really push us,” said Hamp.

“We had a great group of seniors. We have changed the culture, we are not holding back in the training. We are going for it more in the training.”

That training paid dividends as the Tigers placed third at the Eastern Sprints and fourth at the IRAs.

“We were happy to get a medal,” said Hamp, reflecting on getting the bronze at the Sprints.

“It is a great event; it is an emotional day. We were seeded fifth at the IRAs and we got fourth. It was the best finish for the varsity since ’06. I think it was a huge stepping stone for us going into next year.”

The strong finish, combined with Hamp’s experience this summer at the U-23 worlds, has him brimming with confidence as he looks ahead to his senior year with the Tigers.

“As far as racing, we want to continue what we started last year,” said Hamp.

“We have turned the corner, we have a group of guys who want to work hard and win. I think we want to improve from the sprints and IRAs. I want us to improve as a team. We are headed in the right direction.”

HOLDING HER OWN: Kate Kerr holds her ground last fall during her freshman season with the Franklin & Marshall College women’s soccer team. Former Princeton High standout Kerr made 16 appearances with four starts in 2013,  picking up an assist. The midfielder is looking to provide more scoring punch this fall for the Diplomats, who get their 2014 campaign underway when they face Lebanon Valley on August 29.(Photo by David Sinclair, Courtesy of F&M Athletic Communications)

HOLDING HER OWN: Kate Kerr holds her ground last fall during her freshman season with the Franklin & Marshall College women’s soccer team. Former Princeton High standout Kerr made 16 appearances with four starts in 2013, picking up an assist. The midfielder is looking to provide more scoring punch this fall for the Diplomats, who get their 2014 campaign underway when they face Lebanon Valley on August 29. (Photo by David Sinclair, Courtesy of F&M Athletic Communications)

Kate Kerr can’t imagine life without soccer.

Starring for the Princeton High girls’ team and the Match Fit Chelsea club program, Kerr had long range plans in the game.

“I think playing college soccer has always been in the back of my mind from the beginning of high school,” said Kerr, who helped PHS win the 2012 Central Jersey Group III sectional title in her senior season.

“Soccer has been such a huge part of my life, I have never thought about stopping playing.”

After looking at several Division III programs, midfielder Kerr found a home at Franklin & Marshall College and its women’s soccer team.

Upon starting preseason practice in 2013 for her freshman season at F&M, Kerr did have some jitters in making the jump to the next level.

“I was a bit nervous; the biggest thing was being mentally prepared and not psyching yourself out,” said Kerr.

“It is important to relax and tell yourself that you have been playing this game for a long time.”

It was hard for Kerr to relax when she got her first college start in the Diplomats’ game against Elizabethtown College on September 10.

“It was really exciting to see my name on the whiteboard,” recalled Kerr, who made 16 appearances and four starts in her debut campaign. “It meant my hard work had paid off.”

Less than two weeks later, Kerr got her first college point, picking up an assist in a 3-3 tie at Ursinus.

“It was a downpour, the ball was moving fast,” said Kerr. “I was out wide and I got the ball at half field. I took on a girl and beat her. I saw a teammate making a run and I crossed it to her in the box and she scored. It tied the game at 3-3 so it was a big goal.”

Over the course of the fall, Kerr made a lot of progress. “I think I just got more confident,” said Kerr. “At the beginning, I was nervous being a freshman. I got to know my place on the team. I tried new things in practice because I wasn’t worried about being judged.”

Off the field, F&M has proven to be a good place for Kerr. “It is tough, it is a lot of work,” said Kerr. “I did well, I had some tough courses. I am thinking about being a math major with a Spanish minor. I joined a sorority for fun. I have met some great girls.”

With the Diplomats getting ready for their season opener against Lebanon Valley on August 29, Kerr has a great feeling about this year’s squad.

“We just had our first fitness test,” said Kerr. “I think everyone is excited, we have a good group of freshmen coming in. We kicked the ball around after the test and everyone was working hard, there was high energy.”

As Franklin and Marshall looks to improve on the 5-9-3 record it posted in 2013, Kerr believes the team will have to work smarter around the goal.

“We had the best start in years; we only lost one of our first seven games (4-1-2) but towards the end we lost focus,” said Kerr. “We need to be better in the final third this year with our attacking and finishing. The defense is fine.”

For her part, Kerr is determined to be a more productive finisher this fall. “I want to be on the starting line and I want to start scoring goals,” said Kerr, who is hoping that her younger sister, Kirsty, will be scoring goals for PHS as she follows in the family tradition by playing on the Little Tiger varsity squad this year.

“I came close a few times last year. I want to get on the end of balls more, I think that would help the team.”

NAVAL ENGAGEMENT: Brendan Dudeck heads upfield for Navy last fall in the Midshipmen’s 34-7 win over Army. Dudeck, a former Hun School standout, is entering his senior season with Navy as one of the team’s starting receivers. The 6’0, 202-pound Dudeck made five catches for 48 yards last fall and threw for a two-point conversion in the victory over Army. (Photo by Phil Hoffmann, Courtesy of Navy Sports Information)

NAVAL ENGAGEMENT: Brendan Dudeck heads upfield for Navy last fall in the Midshipmen’s 34-7 win over Army. Dudeck, a former Hun School standout, is entering his senior season with Navy as one of the team’s starting receivers. The 6’0, 202-pound Dudeck made five catches for 48 yards last fall and threw for a two-point conversion in the victory over Army.
(Photo by Phil Hoffmann, Courtesy of Navy Sports Information)

Brendan Dudeck’s goal growing up was to be a big-time college athlete, not a soldier.

“In middle school and high school, my dream was to someday play college sports at the D-1 level,” said former Hun School standout Dudeck.

“Football became the sport I could do that over basketball and baseball. I wanted to play against schools like Notre Dame and Penn State.”

But when Army recruited him for football, Dudeck decided to give the armed forces a look.

“We didn’t have anyone in the family who had been in the military,” noted Dudeck.

“I said to my dad (former Hun football coach Dave Dudeck), I didn’t know if the military was for me so I better take a visit there. I knew about the great character of the kids they bring in and I took a liking to the lifestyle.”

Once he realized that the military could be for him, Dudeck decided to check out the Naval Academy as well.

“I thought if I have seen Army, I want to see Navy,” said Dudeck with a laugh. “I went on a visit to Annapolis and fell in love with the place and the guys they bring in. There is a real brotherhood.”

Deciding that the Naval Academy and its football program was the best fit, Dudeck made military service and football his dual focus. The 2010 Hun alum, who did a post-graduate year at the Peddie School, has worked his way up the squad’s depth chart and is serving in the big brother role as he enters his senior season with the Midshipmen.

“I understand how things work and what is important,” said the 6’0, 202-pound Dudeck, who will be one of the team’s starting receivers this fall. “I lead by example. If I can say at the end of the day that I worked as hard as I can, that is the goal. You can’t just talk about it, you have to walk the walk.”

It took Dudeck plenty of hard work to learn the ropes, starting before school even began in his first year.

“We had plebe summer before we get in there which is the indoctrination into the military,” said Dudeck.

“They break you down and build you up; they want to see if you can be a team player. I think it was a tough adjustment.”

Joining the football team after getting through that indoctrination led to other adjustments for Dudeck.

“It was the best and craziest,” said Dudeck, reflecting on his first taste of college football.

“You go through plebe summer and you think you have it figured out. Then you get to the practice and you are not the center of attention, everyone has been captain or an all star. The practices are all on the clock. You have 24 five-minute periods and the horns are blowing. I started off as a quarterback.  The QBs wear green jerseys so I
followed the green jerseys.”

Dudeck, who was switched to receiver in the spring of his first year, took some important lessons from his debut campaign even though he didn’t see any game action.

“You see the level of dedication it takes to play,” said Dudeck. “It is one thing to get recruited but to get on the field, there is the film study, weight lifting, and catching extra balls. People see the game on Saturday but they don’t see you in the winter doing suicide sprints.”

For Dudeck, the transition to receiver proved to be relatively seamless. “I had never played receiver before but I had been a defensive back all of my life so that helped me figure it out,” said Dudeck.

“I had a head start from playing QB; I had a grasp of all the plays and a different view of the offense.”

In his sophomore season, Dudeck got in his first game through special teams play.

“We went to Ireland to play Notre Dame in the first game and then we came back and we played at Penn State,” recalled Dudeck.

“One of the receivers got hurt and I was pulled up to special teams. It hit me, this my dream, this is exactly what I wanted.”

As Dudeck saw more action on special teams that fall, he started to develop a comfort level with the college game.

“The speed and size is a big difference but when it comes down to it, it is still football,” said Dudeck, whose younger brother, David, is a junior receiver for Boston College and youngest brother, Cameron, is headed for Navy and plans to play on the football team.

“You want to score touchdowns and keep the other team from scoring touchdowns.  You need to focus in and play with confidence. When you are on the field, you need to focus on doing your job. It was awesome to get on the field and pick up my confidence. Special teams is one-third of the game. You can make huge plays on special teams that can change a game.”

Moving up in the receiver rotation in 2013, Dudeck started playing a greater role in the Navy offense, making five receptions for 48 yards and getting three rushes for 21 yards.

“I played with three older guys, it was awesome to learn from them,” said Dudeck.

“My first catch was against Western Kentucky. I ran my route, I caught the ball. I was so pumped after that.”

Other highlights last fall for Dudeck came in games against traditional powers Pitt and Notre Dame.

“I made two catches against Pitt, my family was there so that was great,” said Dudeck.

“That Notre Dame game was really cool. I went there with my dad when I was in second grade when he took a Hun recruit and when I made that catch in that
stadium, I couldn’t believe how much I have been blessed.”

The coolest moment of the season for Dudeck took place in a 34-7 win over archrival Army when he utilized his passing skills to throw for a two-point conversion late in the contest.

“We had just scored a TD and I was sprinting to the other side because I was on the kickoff team,” recalled Dudeck.

“All of a sudden everyone is screaming, saying they are going to run your play. We had been practicing it for weeks so that was my college quarterback moment.”

With Navy currently in preseason camp in preparation for its season opener against No. 5 Ohio State on August 30, Dudeck likes the way the team is practicing as it looks to improve on the 9-4 record it posted in 2013.

“Camp has been going well so far, everyone on the team is working hard,” said Dudeck. “We are trying to work out the kinks. We have come a long way but we have a long way to go.”

Dudeck, for his part, has come a long way from his debut season, mastering the nuances of his role in Navy’s run-oriented option attack.

“I truly understand the offense,” said Dudeck. “Unlike other teams, it is not solely about catching the ball. When we are asked to make a play, we have to step up. In the option offense it is more about blocking, you never know what block is
going to spring somebody for a long run.”

Navy is ready to take a run at Ohio State this Saturday, thrilled about the opportunity to play the powerhouse Buckeyes.

“We are focused on August 30; we couldn’t ask for anything more,” asserted Dudeck. “Everybody has been thinking about that since the very first day after the Middle Tennessee game (a 24-7 win in the Armed Forces Bowl last December). We are ready to give it everything we have got.”

Drawing on his experience at Annapolis, Dudeck, who trained with the SEALs this summer and hopes to join that legendary unit after graduation, is ready to give everything as he looks ahead to serving as a soldier.

“It is just overall maturity; I have seen stuff over the last four years,” said Dudeck.

“I realize the amount of sacrifice that people are making on a daily basis. It is a change of perspective for me and my family and realizing how lucky we are to live in this country. It is a blessing.”

August 20, 2014
TWO GOOD: Anthony Gaffney surveys the action in a game last fall for the Princeton University football team. Junior defensive back and return specialist Gaffney, a Pennington School alum and two-time All-Ivy League selection, is looking to build on the superb start to his career this fall as Princeton defends its Ivy League title. The Tigers start preseason practice next week as they prepare for their season opener at San Diego on September 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TWO GOOD: Anthony Gaffney surveys the action in a game last fall for the Princeton University football team. Junior defensive back and return specialist Gaffney, a Pennington School alum and two-time All-Ivy League selection, is looking to build on the superb start to his career this fall as Princeton defends its Ivy League title. The Tigers start preseason practice next week as they prepare for their season opener at San Diego on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Anthony Gaffney hit the Community Park basketball courts this summer to help prepare for his junior campaign with the Princeton University football team.

Playing for King’s Pizzarama in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League, Gaffney made quite an impression in his debut season, helping King’s to the championship series and earning Newcomer of the Year honors.

Flying all over the court, Gaffney displayed the athleticism and the will to win that has made him an All-League performer in the first two years of his Tiger career.

For Gaffney, playing hoops served as a natural complement to the conditioning and football drills that he underwent as part of the Princeton offseason regimen.

“It is a good way to stay competitive; I play basketball all the time anyway,” said the 6’3, 200-pound Gaffney, a native of Columbus, N.J. in Burlington County and an All-Prep performer and 1,000-point scorer in his high school basketball career at the Pennington School.

“I play pickup, I go to open gym. It is that extra conditioning, making sure I am active.”

Gaffney proved to be competitive from day one for the Tigers, starting against Lehigh in the 2012 season opener and going on to make All-Ivy League honors that fall at defensive back and return specialist. In 2013, Gaffney earned All-League honors at defensive back as Princeton tied Harvard for the league crown.

With the Tigers kicking off preseason practice next week as they prepare for their season opener at San Diego on September 20, Gaffney and his teammates are looking to stand alone atop the Ivies.

“We want to run the table this year so there are no questions,” said Gaffney. “We want to dominate everybody.”

For Gaffney, his run to stardom started at Pennington, where he made an immediate impact.

“There were a group of guys I knew from basketball who went there and that helped,” said Gaffney, who was an all-state football player at Pennington and broke triple jump and 4×400 records in track.

“I was given the opportunity to play early, I started as a freshman in both basketball and football. It is a small school.”

At the suggestion of the Princeton football coaches, Gaffney did a post-graduate (PG) year at the Taft School (Conn.) to solidify his spot in the Tiger program.

“Physically I got more mature, I developed as an athlete,” said Gaffney, reflecting on his year at Taft which saw him win state Class A Player of the Year honors and set a school record with 18 receiving touchdowns.

“There was better competition, every team had post-grads. I had to hone my skills. Academically it was a little more challenging, I took a couple of harder courses. I wanted to build my resume for Princeton. Being away from home is different, you are on your own. You don’t have your mother cooking your meals.”

Hitting the field for Princeton in 2012, Gaffney saw the dividends of his year at Taft.

“Truth be told, physically and athletically, I was good,” said Gaffney. “After the PG year, my body was ready. I wasn’t a 17-year-old, I was 18 turning 19. I could hang with the older guys.”

While Gaffney could keep up physically when he started in his debut against Lehigh that fall, he wasn’t up to speed with the nuances of the college game.

“Mentally, I had to learn a lot,” said Gaffney. “We play a lot of different schemes. Plus I was playing a pretty foreign position. I was recruited as a receiver so my main focus was offense. I played some corner and safety at Pennington and some corner at Taft the last three games when another guy got hurt. The first game was wild. I played both ways, it was a challenge.”

Two weeks later, Gaffney produced a breakthrough performance in a 33-6 win at Columbia, starring in the return game and in the secondary. “That was the first game where I felt I belonged and started to get the hang of things,” said Gaffney.

“I returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and made two interceptions. There was a snowball effect from there.”

With the Tigers improving to 5-5 from back-to-back 1-9 campaigns, Gaffney received the rare accolade of being named first-team All-Ivy at both defensive back and return specialist.

“Making All-Ivy was really good for first season,” said Gaffney, who made three interceptions and 35 tackles that fall and led the league with a 25.9-yard return average on 20 kickoffs.

“I wasn’t expecting that; it showed that the league and coaches recognized that I had a good year. It means a lot.”

In 2013, Princeton had a great year, rebounding from a season-opening 29-28 loss to win eight straight games on the way to going 8-2 overall and 6-1 Ivy.

“We lost that tight game to Lehigh, the Georgetown game (a 50-22 win) was a good game all around,” said Gaffney.

“We did a few things wrong but we won by a big margin. We did the same thing to Columbia. It was not just that we were winning, it was the way we were winning. The offense was really playing well and the defense was coming on; we were playing off of each other.”

In reflecting on the championship season, Gaffney points to a pair of road triumphs, a come-from-behind 39-17 win at Brown and a bruising 38-26 victory at Penn, as critical moments.

“The Brown game was key; we were in a big hole and we were on the road in a night game and it was a little chilly,” said Gaffney, noting that the Tigers were behind 17-0 early in the second quarter against the Bears.

“We said we have got to make plays and make it happen now. We got it together and from there we really played well. It is tough to win at Penn. It is always a physical game, that was another step forward.”

Earning the league title along with Harvard was a huge step for the program. “It may have meant more to the older guys because of what they had been through, starting 2-18 and then going 5-5,” said Gaffney.

“That progression meant a lot to them. It was good to be able to help them do that; it is just the beginning for the younger guys.”

This summer, Gaffney has been working hard to build on the superb beginning to his college career.

“For me, it is technique and doing what I can to be a better cornerback,” said Gaffney, who had 22 tackles and two interceptions last fall and a 21.0 return average.

“I am doing the conditioning workouts with some guys at home. I am going over to Princeton for 7-on-7s. A lot of guys are doing that, we are doing a lot of fine-tuning now.”

Gaffney is hoping to earn recognition this fall as one of the top cornerbacks in the country.

“I want to replicate what I have done and then some,” asserted Gaffney, when asked about his personal goals for the upcoming season.

“I have been All-Ivy, I want to take it to the next level and be an All American and one of the best players in the country.”

STRIKING PRESENCE: Maddie Copeland prepares to strike the ball in action for the Princeton University field hockey team. The former standout at Stuart Country Day and the Peddie School is heading into her junior season with the Tigers and figures to play a bigger role this fall after totaling 10 goals in her first two college campaigns. Princeton starts preseason practice this week as it prepares for its opener at Duke on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STRIKING PRESENCE: Maddie Copeland prepares to strike the ball in action for the Princeton University field hockey team. The former standout at Stuart Country Day and the Peddie School is heading into her junior season with the Tigers and figures to play a bigger role this fall after totaling 10 goals in her first two college campaigns. Princeton starts preseason practice this week as it prepares for its opener at Duke on September 5.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Maddie Copeland relished the challenges she faced as she joined the Princeton University field hockey program in 2012.

“It was definitely nerve-wracking; in the first two days, we ran fitness tests,” said Copeland, a former standout at Stuart Country Day and the Peddie School.

“The level of play was much higher; it was nice to be in an intense atmosphere like that. I jumped right into things, the team was welcoming.”

Thriving in the highly-charged atmosphere, Copeland scored five goals in 17 appearances that fall before breaking her arm when she got hit by a shot from Tiger star Kat Sharkey. Princeton went on to win the NCAA championship that fall with Copeland waving her cast in support.

Fully recovered from her injury, Copeland took a greater role last fall, making 19 appearances and five starts, contributing five goals and an assist to help the Tigers go 14-5 and advance to the NCAA quarterfinals.

As the 5’6 striker looks ahead to her junior campaign, she is feeling a comfort level with the college game.

“I definitely understood the systems that Kristen [Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn] wants us to run,” said Copeland. “It is more of a team sport in
college. You have to use each other more, there is a lot of passing. It is definitely a faster game.”

It didn’t take long for Copeland to show her offensive game in her debut campaign as she scored her first career goal in a 10-2 win over Delaware in the team’s sixth contest in 2012.

“It is always great to score a goal but it is even better to win,” said Copeland, who tallied a career-high two goals in a win over Yale in late September that season.

Although the broken arm sidelined her for the rest of 2012, Copeland relished the memories from Princeton’s national championship campaign.

“It was a bummer to not play in the tournament; it was nerve-wracking on the sidelines,” recalled Copeland, who ended up having two operations on her arm.

“It was an an unreal experience, it was incredible and hard to put into words.”

Last fall, Copeland got the chance to play in the NCAA tournament and she responded with aplomb, tallying a goal and an assist as Princeton overcame an injury to star defender Julia Reinprecht to edge Penn State 5-4 in the opening round and avenge a regular season defeat to the Nittany Lions.

“When Julia got hurt, I played the rest of the game,” recalled Copeland. “We were all like we have to win this game for Julia. It was so exciting; we were so happy with the end result. We wanted to play them again, we knew we had developed a lot since the first game.”

Developing deep bonds with her teammates and coaches has impacted Copeland’s total Princeton experience.

“The team does everything together on and off the field,” said Copeland. “It is like a family and the coaches are like our second mothers. They are intense at the right time. Off the field, they couldn’t be nicer, you can talk to them about anything. They want to know everything that is going on with you.”

Taking courses at the University of Miami this summer has led Copeland to be creative about her training.

“The focus is showing up in shape,” said Copeland. “I brought my stick so I am doing things on my own.”

With Princeton starting preseason practice later this week as it prepares for its opener at Duke on September 5, Copeland knows the Tigers will be bringing their customary fervor.

“The season is going to be difficult because we lost a lot of good players,” said Copeland.

“Everyone has to step up, we are really intense and really motivated. We will have trouble scoring as much as in the past.”

MAJOR PROGRESS: Star goalie Tyler Fiorito guards the net during his stellar career with the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team. This summer, Fiorito, a  2012 Princeton alum, took over as the starting goalie for the Chesapeake Bayhawks of Major League Lacrosse (MLL) after an injury to Kip Turner. Fiorito ended up making eight appearances and six starts with a goals against average of 12.35 in more than 398 minutes of action. He was named the MLL Defensive Player of the Week after recording 15 saves in a 12-11 win over the New York Lizards on July 27. In his first two seasons with the Bayhawks, Fiorito had made just one appearance for 15 minutes.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAJOR PROGRESS: Star goalie Tyler Fiorito guards the net during his stellar career with the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team. This summer, Fiorito, a 2012 Princeton alum, took over as the starting goalie for the Chesapeake Bayhawks of Major League Lacrosse (MLL) after an injury to Kip Turner. Fiorito ended up making eight appearances and six starts with a goals against average of 12.35 in more than 398 minutes of action. He was named the MLL Defensive Player of the Week after recording 15 saves in a 12-11 win over the New York Lizards on July 27. In his first two seasons with the Bayhawks, Fiorito had made just one appearance for 15 minutes. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Tyler Fiorito started the season opener in his freshman year with the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team in 2009 and seemingly never left the field over the next four years.

The star goalie made 59 starts and played 3,396 minutes for the Tigers, recording 624 saves, the second-highest total in program history, and compiling a sparkling goals against average of 7.47.

Fiorito earned All-American and All-Ivy League honors all four years of his career and was the Ivy Player of the Year in 2012 as a senior.

After graduation, Fiorito joined the Chesapeake Bayhawks of Major League Lacrosse and found himself in an unusual position — mired in the bench. In the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Fiorito made no starts and had one appearance for a grand total of 15 minutes of playing time.

Reflecting on his first two seasons in the MLL, Fiorito knew that he had to pay his dues.

“It is a very different game; you come in and you are playing with guys that are 10-12 years older and are veterans in the league,” said the 6’2, 200-pound Fiorito, a native of Phoenix, Md.

“I just wanted to get to know my teammates and the league. I got to practice five weeks in 2012, they suited me up for championship weekend so I would get a taste of things. Last year, I suited up for half the games so there was progress for me. You can only suit up 19 players — 2 goalies and 17 field players so having the ability to suit up is a privilege.”

This summer, due to an injury to starting goalie Kip Turner, Fiorito got the privilege to start and emerged as a standout. He was named the MLL Defensive Player of the Week in late July after making 15 saves in a 12-11 win over the New York Lizards.

For Fiorito, the award was validation of his toil over the last two summers.

“I was doing this full out the last two years and it was great to earn the respect,” said Fiorito, who ended up making eight appearances and six starts this summer with a goals against average of 12.35.

“Guys doubt your abilities and whether you can be more than a backup. I proved to myself that I can play in this league. It was great to have others recognize that I have the ability to play in this league.”

For Fiorito, who works on the investment equity sales desk for UBS in New York City, keeping his lacrosse skills sharp has been a challenge.

“It is difficult to take shots during the week, there are not too many fields in the city and it is hard to find guys that can come out after 6 p.m. and shoot on you,” said Fiorito, noting that he typically misses one Bayhawks practice a week as the team trains on Wednesdays and Fridays.

“You love the game so you make it work. You stay late on Friday and take shots. You hop in when the team is doing shooting drill, it is good for them to have a live goalie.”

Goalies, in general, don’t have it easy in the MLL. “This is a difficult league for goalies, the shooters are all good,” said Fiorito.

“It is the progression from high school to college to the pros. In high school, there were a bunch of good players but usually one or two shooters that you had to worry about. In college, there would be four or five that you had to worry about. In this league, every guy can shoot and is dangerous. In college, you had a week to prepare for a game. You had film study and two days of walking through. You had a game plan; you knew the other team’s plays and recognized them. In this league, you have film but you don’t have as rigid a game plan. It is a lot of 1-versus-1 matchups and relying on general defensive principles.”

Fiorito got his first taste of action this year when starting goalie Kip Turner was injured during an April 27 contest at Boston. Fiorito came in and made seven saves in a 15-9 loss.

“Kip got hurt in the game and I came in the first half, which was tough,” recalled Fiorito.

“I didn’t have the mentality of starting and going through the process of warming up. I didn’t do a good job.”

Fiorito did a better job two months later when Turner suffered a season-ending thumb injury in a June 21 game at Denver.

“In Denver, the second time he got hurt, he told me at halftime that he couldn’t go,” said Fiorito.

“Confidence is a big part of this. I was ready to go and I got a good warmup at halftime. We were down 6-1 at halftime, I didn’t have a lot to lose. The best I could do was to give my team a spark with some big saves. I did well. We ended up losing 9-7 but it was an exciting confidence builder for me. I made some good saves.”

As Fiorito saw more action this summer, he developed a comfort level guiding the Bayhawk defense.

“I can be more of a leader on the field,” said Fiorito. “Before, I was the new guy not playing and it is hard to assert yourself. Now I have shown I can be a starter.”

In the business world, Fiorito had gotten off to a good start at UBS. “The job comes first, you don’t make money playing in the MLL,” said Fiorito, who has spent much of his spare time this year preparing for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam, necessitating studying in hotels when the Bayhawks were on the road and catching 10:40 p.m. trains out of Baltimore after home games to get back to New York to study on Sundays.

“I am two years into my job with UBS and I am 24. This has been a big year in terms of having more responsibility. I am starting to pick up my own accounts, which is a big deal. Perception is reality at this job. I need to continue to put in the time at work. It is a balancing act if I want to continue to do what I love.”

In the wake of his breakthrough campaign, Fiorito plans to continue his MLL career.

“I am confident in my abilities and my place in the league,” said Fiorito.

“I love the game; it was hard not playing for two or three years. I had to decide whether taking all of this time, being away 18 weekends out of New York. It makes it all worth it, seeing the team win the championship the last two years and then getting to play this year. It is reaping the benefits of the hard work and sacrifice.”

FAMILY TIES: Sarah Brennan looks for the ball in action last fall in her senior season with the Princeton Day School field hockey team. This week, Brennan will be beginning her career with the Princeton University field hockey program as the Tigers start preseason practice. Brennan is following in a family tradition by going to Princeton as her parents are both PU alums. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FAMILY TIES: Sarah Brennan looks for the ball in action last fall in her senior season with the Princeton Day School field hockey team. This week, Brennan will be beginning her career with the Princeton University field hockey program as the Tigers start preseason practice. Brennan is following in a family tradition by going to Princeton as her parents are both PU alums.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Some of Sarah Brennan’s earliest memories revolve around time spent on the Princeton University campus.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I have been going there,” said Brennan, whose father, Sean, and mother, Susan, are both Princeton alums.

“I went to my first reunion when I was under one. I have been to 18 reunions. I have all kinds of crazy orange and black outfits.”

This week, Brennan will be donning a new orange and black outfit as she starts preseason training for her freshman season on the Princeton University field hockey team.

For Brennan, an All-Prep midfielder for Princeton Day School, the road to college field hockey started with some advice from Tiger head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn.

“It was really in sophomore year when I went to a Princeton camp and decided that I wanted to keep playing,” said Brennan.

“Kristen recommended that I join the Mystx club program. I tried out and I made it. We train year round. They have an indoor facility with a really fast surface that is like an astroturf hockey field.”

That training paid off last fall for Brennan, who was the second leading scorer for PDS and helped the Panthers advance to the state Prep B semifinals where they fell 2-1 to Morristown-Beard.

“I was personally happy with the season but didn’t like ending it with a loss,” said Brennan. “I am faster with the stick, I know I still have a lot more to do.”

Brennan’s improved stick skills helped her earn a spot in Princeton’s recruiting class.

“Princeton was always my first choice, the question was whether I had the ability to play there and whether they wanted me,” said Brennan.

“I committed in the beginning of August. For the first time, I cried because I was so excited.”

That excitement was shared by Brennan’s family. “My parents couldn’t have been happier,” said Brennan. “It is pretty special to be going to the same school as your parents.”

Princeton head coach Holmes-Winn is happy to welcome Brennan to the program.

“Sarah is grit,” said Holmes-Winn in recent comments on the Princeton sports website regarding the team’s incoming freshmen.

“Her character is evident with how she backs up will with work. As a high school student, Sarah juggled multiple jobs, demanding academic obligations, and a rigorous club and school athletic schedule. Sarah is a determined player whose strength is in her physiology and competitive drive. She will not be out-worked — her relentless nature will fit in well here. We know Sarah will give Princeton her very best on and off the field and we are honored to welcome her to the Tiger family.”

In preparing to join her new family, Brennan has put in plenty of work. “I kept my club affiliation with Mystx and did some club tournaments in the spring,” said Brennan.

“I also trained with Kristen’s club team, it was great to get out there with them. I have been working by myself and with Mary Travers (former PDS teammate who will be playing for Tufts University field hockey this fall). I have been going to camps. I went to Princeton camp and all the other freshmen recruits were there. All four of them stayed at my house. I am really looking forward to playing with them in a few weeks.”

Brennan is looking forward to hitting the field with the Tigers later this week and contributing to the powerhouse program, which took the 2012 NCAA championship and has won 19 Ivy League titles in the last 20 years.

“We report on August 22 and I am literally counting the minutes to camp,” said Brennan. “I can’t wait to start. I am ready to play wherever Kristen wants me to. I want to be a part of the team and help it win a national title.”

TURNAROUND PROJECT: Todd Smith is excited to take the helm of the Hun School football program. Smith brings a proven track record of success to his new post, having guided WW/P-S to a 63-22 record from 2005 to 2012 as the program’s head coach and then helping Hopewell Valley to the Central Jersey Group III title last fall as its offensive coordinator. The Raiders, who start preseason practice this week, are looking to rebound from a 1-6 campaign last fall under interim head coach John Law.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TURNAROUND PROJECT: Todd Smith is excited to take the helm of the Hun School football program. Smith brings a proven track record of success to his new post, having guided WW/P-S to a 63-22 record from 2005 to 2012 as the program’s head coach and then helping Hopewell Valley to the Central Jersey Group III title last fall as its offensive coordinator. The Raiders, who start preseason practice this week, are looking to rebound from a 1-6 campaign last fall under interim head coach John Law. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After a superb eight-season run as the head coach for the WW/P-S football team, Todd Smith narrowed his focus last fall, serving as the offensive coordinator for Hopewell Valley.

Building on his success at WW/P-S, which saw him guide the Pirates to a 63-22 record from 2005 to 2012, Smith’s high-powered offense helped HoVal to the Central Jersey Group III title.

But while Smith enjoyed his stint with the Bulldogs, he missed being in charge.

“I was happy at HoVal and we had a lot of success but deep down inside I knew I wanted to be a head coach again,” said Smith.

So when Smith learned that the Hun School was looking for a new football coach, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I heard through the grapevine that the position was open and I applied,” said Smith.

“The interview process was rigorous. The headmaster, Jon Brougham, was fantastic, he was very warm and kind. We established a rapport.”

The feeling was apparently mutual and Smith, 36, got the job, taking over for interim head coach John Law, who guided the Raiders to a 1-6 record in 2013.

This week, Smith hits the field looking to get the Raiders back on the winning track as the team starts preseason practice.

“I am excited, I can’t wait,” said Smith. “The public schools get the shot to start a week before and they had time all summer to work on 7-on-7s. I miss that stuff; I am ready to get going.”

Smith was excited by what he saw around Hun as he got to know the school. “I had never been to Hun, it was great to experience it,” said Smith.

“It had a different vibe from public school. The kids are really upbeat. It is a smaller setting; you could see a rapport between the teachers and the kids. Everyone said hello, even if they didn’t know you. Everybody seems really supportive of each other.”

Despite his busy schedule which also includes teaching fifth-grade in West Windsor and coaching track at WW/P-S, Smith was able to spend a lot of time at Hun this spring to get acquainted with his new players.

“I was over there after track,” said Smith, a 2001 graduate of The College of New Jersey. “I got to work out with them and meet the guys living on campus. We had a couple of meetings. My message to them was that we were going to build the team on hard work and dedication and that we were going to make the most out of the summer time and the offseason to showcase their abilities in the fall.”

To that end, Smith held a week-long mini camp earlier this summer. “I wanted the kids to come in and learn the terminology and the base stuff,” said Smith.

“It went well. The kids had fun and developed a rapport with each other. We had some 7-on-7s against other teams and I thought we held our own.”

As he looks ahead to preseason, Smith is looking to fine-tune things physically and mentally.

“We will be doing 2-a-days,” said Smith, noting former HoVal assistant Nick Steffner will be his offensive coordinator and that Law will return to coach both lines.

“We don’t have a lot of numbers so we have to be careful. We will work on fitness and tempo. We will do our fair share of hitting but health is the No. 1 priority. We will be doing a lot of film work, chalk talk, and walkthroughs.”

Smith, who is known for his voluminous playbook and developing high-powered offensive attacks, believes he can implement his full system over the next few weeks.

“We should be able to run the whole offense,” maintained Smith, noting the senior running back Christopher Sharp has already established himself as a star.

“You need a lot of pieces for everything in the playbook to come out and we have a good running quarterback, wide receivers, and offensive line. Sharp is a good starting point, he just committed to Virginia.”

While Smith faces a challenge in getting things back on the right track after last fall’s frustrating campaign, he doesn’t believe that things are desperate by any means.

“The first thing I did was watch the film from every game last year,” said Smith, who guided WW/P-S to three 10-win seasons and seven state playoff appearances in his eight seasons there.

“The record was not reflective of how well they played, they lost a couple of a games by a few points and they were hurt by turnovers. We will focus on the little things so they won’t turn into big things.”

With Hun kicking off its 2014 campaign by playing at Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) on September 20, Smith is looking forward to a big fall.

“It comes down to how fast they learn everything,” said Smith. “Our goal is to play mistake free football, have fun, and win the MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League).”

August 19, 2014
The Princeton University fall sports teams are starting preseason practice later this week. The Town Topics will be running profiles of Tiger football star Anthony Gaffney along with PU field hockey players Maddie Copeland and Sarah Brennan in the August 20 edition to kick off its fall coverage with team preview stories to follow in upcoming issues. The regular season starts September 5 with women’s soccer hosting Rutgers, field hockey playing at Duke, men’s soccer playing at Fairleigh Dickinson, and women’s volleyball taking part in the Temple Invitational in Philadelphia.

August 14, 2014
The Princeton High fall sports teams are starting preseason training this week. Squads from the Hun School, Princeton Day School, and Stuart Country Day School will be getting underway during the week of August 18.
The Town Topics will be running a profile of new Hun football head coach Todd Smith in the August 20 edition to kick off its fall coverage with team preview stories to follow in upcoming editions. The first regular season games are slated for September 4.
August 13, 2014
UNION LEADER: Liz Keady looks for the puck during her stellar career with the Princeton University women’s hockey team.  Keady, a 2008 Princeton alum who scored 79 points in her Tiger career, was recently hired as an assistant coach for the Union College women’s program.(Photo courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

UNION LEADER: Liz Keady looks for the puck during her stellar career with the Princeton University women’s hockey team. Keady, a 2008 Princeton alum who scored 79 points in her Tiger career, was recently hired as an assistant coach for the Union College women’s program. (Photo courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

During her playing days with the Princeton University women’s hockey team, Liz Keady gave her heart and soul to the program.

Statistically, the Braintree, Mass. native showed her passion for the game by tallying 79 points on 38 goals and 41 assists in 118 games in her career that ran from 2003-8 with one year away (2005-06) to compete with the U.S. national team.

Keady’s production helped her earn second-team All-Ivy League and honorable mention all-ECAC honors. She was a co-recipient of the team’s Elizabeth English Trophy as Most Valuable Player and the team’s Most Improved Player Award for the 2004-05 season. Keady won the 2008 Sarah Devens Award, a joint award between the ECACH and Hockey East for a player who demonstrates leadership and commitment both on and off the ice.

But beyond the points and accolades, the most graphic demonstration of Keady’s devotion to hockey and the Tigers came when she kept playing in an ECACH playoff game against Yale in 2005 after skating hard into an open door in the bench area and suffering what turned out to be a cracked rib, ruptured spleen, and collapsed lung.

After college, Keady stayed in the game, taking part in the Pre-Olympic residency Program from 2008-10 in Minnesota. When her playing career ended, Keady became the general manager and director of hockey training at the Institute of Performance and Fitness (IPF) in Andover, Mass.

Soon, Keady was back on the ice, coaching at the North Shore Vipers club and then taking the helm of the Andover High girls’ hockey program.

Now, Keady has returned to the world of college hockey, having been recently hired as an assistant coach for the Union College women’s program.

For Keady, taking the job at Union gave her the vehicle to best express her devotion to the game.

“Jeff and Amy (Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal and Brown head coach and former Tiger assistant Amy Bourbeau) brought it to my attention, they knew I wanted to make the jump,” said Keady.

“I wanted to work with more elite, more dedicated players. I loved the kids I worked with but I wanted to work with players who are 100 percent dedicated to the sport.”

Keady is looking to make an impact beyond helping Union do well. “It is something I have always wanted to do,” said Keady. “I have had a lot of great coaches but not a lot of great female coaches and I think that is something the sport needs.”

In working her way up the coaching ladder, Keady sees her time at IPF as a valuable starting point.

“I worked and ran a structured fitness program, working with athletes everyday,” said Keady.

“I loved that, there were a lot of group sessions so that helped with the transition to coaching.”

Taking the post with the Vipers gave Keady the chance to deal with a variety of situations on the ice. “It is one of the up and coming club programs,” said Keady.

“I did skills for all of the groups. I coached the U-19 and U-12 teams. The U-19 group was half season that started once the high school season was over. The U-12 team was a bunch of crazy 11-year-olds. It was completely different, even within team, it is different. I had to communicate six different ways.”

Moving on to Andover forced Keady to develop a wider coaching perspective. “I had a range of players; I had to work on different things with different kids,” said Keady, who also coached lacrosse at the school.

“It depends on how committed they are, some dream of playing D-1 hockey and others see hockey as a hobby. The high school girls are a unique breed. In terms of coaching, it was the first time I had to look at the whole season and think about short term and long term. You might sacrifice a win early in the beginning of the season to be better at the end.”

While the competitive Keady wanted to get wins, she was also looking to instill some deeper principles in her players.

“I would like to think, regardless of talent, we will outwork anyone and be tougher than anyone,” said Keady.

“It is a good goal for the team and it is a good goal for life, to never stop trying and try to get a little better every day.”

That mindset reflects qualities that Keady displayed during her Princeton career, according to head coach Kampersal.

“Lizzie has a tremendous work ethic, she is good at developing players and she will inspire them,” said Kampersal.

“I told the coaches at Union that she is someone who will work hard and is loyal. She gives her heart and soul to everything she does, as a player she was the same way.”

In Kampersal’s view, Keady is a natural at coaching. “She has so much passion for the sport,” asserted Kampersal. “She was always a kid who would give back. She ran a couple of summer programs for us as part of the Princeton camps. She worked as a counselor and related well to the kids.”

Keady, for her part, is ready to give her all for the Union program. “I will help with pretty much anything they need,” said Keady.

“I will do extra skills work and conditioning. I worked six years with IPF so I would like to think I know something about conditioning; I will work with the strength coach. I think the biggest challenge has been recruiting. I found so far that I really like it. I like being able to offer a player this kind of opportunity. It also helps that I believe in the school and the program.”

DRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE: Greg Jarmas displays his driving form during his superb career with the Princeton University men’s golf program. Jarmas, who took first at the 2103 Ivy League Championship during his junior year, turned pro after graduating from Princeton in June and made the cut in his first four events.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

DRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE: Greg Jarmas displays his driving form during his superb career with the Princeton University men’s golf program. Jarmas, who took first at the 2103 Ivy League Championship during his junior year, turned pro after graduating from Princeton in June and made the cut in his first four events. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Greg Jarmas produced one of the more decorated careers in the history of the Princeton University men’s golf program by the time he graduated this past June.

In 2013, the native of Wynnewood, Pa. took first at the Ivy League Championship, becoming the first player in the program to do so since 2005. This past year, he led or co-led Princeton in six of seven events on the way to making GCAA PiING All-Northeast Region for a second straight year. He was a second-team All-Ivy pick and made Academic All-Ivy and was named a Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar for the second time.

But while Jarmas is proud of those honors, that isn’t what drives him. “It’s really awesome to get those awards but that is not why I play,” said Jarmas. “I play to get better and see how good I can be.”

Although Jarmas tied for ninth at the 2014 Ivy tourney to fall short of defending his crown, he was proud of his senior campaign.

“I look at it from the standpoint that I saw myself getting better every year,” said Jarmas, noting that he fired a 69 in the final round of the Ivy championships at storied Baltusrol Golf Club to make a late charge up the leader board.

“I would have liked to have done better at the Ivy championships this year but I made strides in my game and I got closer to my teammates and coach Will Green. My ball striking has gotten better the last two years, I have been working with Brian Quinn, the coach at Temple, and he has really helped me. Mentally I have gotten a lot stronger.”

This summer, Jarmas is putting his game to a stern test, having entered the professional ranks.

He made his pro debut at the Southern Open from July 9-11 on the eGolf Professional Tour, making the cut in a field of 116 players as he fired a 70 and 66 over the first two rounds. Jarmas placed 48th in the event at The Club at Irish Creek outside Charlotte, N.C., carding an even-par 284 over four rounds to earn $1,020.

“I was so excited when I got to the tee in that first pro tournament,” recalled Jarmas.

“I had been thinking about that first shot since last round of Ivies and much longer than that. I turned pro to play against the best, that is the only way to find out how good I can get. I was nervous all day. I hit a really good first shot. It was a confidence builder. I didn’t know what to expect. In my mind, I could play with these guys but until you tee it up, you don’t really know. It was amazing to get paid.”

The successful debut left Jarmas encouraged about his prospects. “My goal was to make the cut,” said Jarmas. “What I found is that I could really compete with these guys. I have a lot of room to get better. I got a very good piece of advice from the Dartmouth coach, Rich Parker. He said first you have to learn how to make the cut, then you have to learn how to contend, and then you have to learn how to win.”

In his second pro appearance, Jarmas made the cut at the Cabarrus Classic at the Cabarrus Country Club in Concord, N.C., finishing the three-round event in T-37 with a one-under score of 215 and a purse of $1,075.

“I was more comfortable the second week; I knew I didn’t have to play my best golf to make the cut,” said Jarmas, who recently placed T23 at the Greater Bangor Open and was T32 at the Maine Open before missing the cut at the New Hampshire Open.

“I didn’t play as well as the first week but I still made the cut and actually got more money. My comfort level and confidence have gone up.”

Jarmas is planning to move to Florida and live there from November through April to hone his game and maximize his chances to catch on with a pro tour.

“I am right out of college and I am playing with guys that have been out two, three, or four years,” noted Jarmas.

“I have a lot of time to learn and get better. I want to see how good I can get. I am going to go to as many Q (qualifying) schools as I can, Web.com (the second-level of professional men’s golf in the U.S.), European PGA tour, Canada PGA, and Asia PGA tours. Hopefully, I will play well enough in one of them to qualify and have a spot.”

Acknowledging the ups and downs of pro golf, Jarmas knows that overnight success is unlikely.

“You learn to take things one day at a time, one week at a time; it is tough to plan long term,” said Jarmas, whose ultimate goal is to win a PGA tournament.

“If I am on the Web.com within three years, I will feel like it has been a good three years.”

With his good start this summer, Jarmas is showing he could be in the pro game for the long haul.

TOUGH TO STOP: Zach Halliday races past a foe in a 2012 state tournament game during his senior season with the Princeton High boys’ soccer team. Last fall, central midfielder Halliday walked on to the Tufts University men’s soccer team and broke into the starting lineup by the end of the fall. This season, he will be joined by younger brother, Kevin, a high-scoring forward for PHS, as the pair look to help Tufts be a force in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play.(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

TOUGH TO STOP: Zach Halliday races past a foe in a 2012 state tournament game during his senior season with the Princeton High boys’ soccer team. Last fall, central midfielder Halliday walked on to the Tufts University men’s soccer team and broke into the starting lineup by the end of the fall. This season, he will be joined by younger brother, Kevin, a high-scoring forward for PHS, as the pair look to help Tufts be a force in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

For Zach Halliday, competing in soccer beyond high school has been on his radar for a while.

“I was thinking about college soccer, starting in the sixth or seventh grade,” said former Princeton High star Halliday.

“I played for PSA (Princeton Soccer Association) and I moved up to PDA (Players Development Academy). It was more intense and competitive, things really started heating up for me at PDA.”

The heat was on Halliday last August as he looked to earn a spot on the Tufts University men’s soccer team.

“I did have to walk on, that was a little stressful,” said Halliday. “When I got into Tufts, I sent the coach (Josh Shapiro) a note telling him I got in and he invited me to preseason. There were 28-29 guys and only 25-26 spots.”

Once on the field with the Jumbos, Halliday showed his trademark hustle and intensity.

“We came in and had the fitness test, only three of the eight freshman passed and I was one who passed,” said Halliday.

“It helped my confidence; it was also the first time we saw coach. I play center mid and we have a lot of players who are technically skilled at that position. I brought a different level of work rate and a willingness to do the dirty work and make the tackles that others may not want to.”

Halliday’s work paid off as he made the squad and achieved his long-held goal.

“It took a big weight off my shoulders, it is something I have wanted to do for a long time,” said the 6’0, 160-pound Halliday. “I was able to play looser, I wasn’t stressed as much, and I tried things I wouldn’t do before.”

Halliday didn’t have to wait long to make his college debut as he saw action off the bench in a 3-0 season-opening win at Bates.

“That was really fun, we were up 2-0 and there was five or 10 minutes left and coach gave me a chance,” recalled Halliday, who ended up playing in seven games and making four starts as Tufts went 8-5-2 and advanced to the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) quarterfinals. “I got a good run and I got my foot on the ball. It was a good feeling to know that I could play at this level and I knew then that it is going to be a fun four years.”

Halliday got his first college point with an assist in a 7-0 win over Suffolk in the second game of the season and then made his first college start in a 1-0 loss to MIT on October 16.

“We had lost to Connecticut College the game before and the coach chewed us out,” said Halliday, reflecting on his first start.

“We had a players-only meeting and aired some things. We needed players willing to break plays and play with an edge. Coach told me I was starting. It was great. I was super nervous but after the first few minutes, I started feeling good. I knew I wasn’t in over my head.”

In assessing his debut campaign, Halliday said the most important lesson he took from the fall was that success comes when the players are all on the same page.

“You need to buy in together, there has to be a sense of camaraderie and not just individuals playing for accolades,” said Halliday, noting that the Tufts squad includes former Princeton Day School stars Max Hoppenot and Rui Pinheiro along with Princeton resident Peter Lee-Kramer. “You have to buy into the system your team is abiding by.”

This fall, the Tufts squad will get a boost to its camaraderie when Halliday’s younger brother, Kevin, a high-scoring forward for PHS, joins the squad.

“It is exciting to play with Kevin; we are training together and it’s fun to know we are working for the same goal and same fitness test,” said Halliday.

“I can’t wait to play with him. We started on U-8 when he played and my dad was the coach. He has been a big part of my soccer life.”

PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe credits Halliday with being a big part of his program’s success over the last four years.

“We had been tracking him since the sixth grade over at Cranbury and we knew what a quality player he was,” said Sutcliffe, noting that Halliday helped PHS win two state titles during his career.

“He showed up in the summer before his freshman year when we have games with alumni against current players and he stood out immediately. He had this vitality and ability to inspire even as a freshman and that got better and better over the four years.”

Sutcliffe is not surprised that Halliday made an impact in his debut campaign.

“He’ll take nothing for granted,” said Sutcliffe. “His ability to work hard on both sides of the ball separates him from other players. I am so proud of him, he’s a special player. We were fortunate to have him for four years.”

In Sutcliffe’s view, Tufts is very fortunate to be getting the 1-2 punch from the reuniting of the Halliday brothers.

“I think it is going to be great,” said Sutcliffe. “Kevin was on the short list of their top guys. The staff is lucky to have both of them.”

Halliday, for his part, believes Tufts has what it takes to be one of the top teams in the NESCAC this fall.

“I am looking to build on the end of last season when I was starting,” asserted Halliday, who will be heading to preseason camp in mid-August with the team slated to open its 2014 season by hosting UMass-Boston on September 3.

“I want to help us win any way I can, whether as a starter or as a role player. We have a lot of talented players; I think we can make waves in the NESCAC and NCAA tournament. It is a good group; coach Shapiro is a great coach.”