January 15, 2014
MASTER CLASS: Hun School girls’ basketball player Erica Brown, left, looks to get around a foe in a recent game. Last Thursday, senior guard Brown scored 12 points to help Hun top Mastery Charter (Pa.) 56-39. The Raiders, now 4-5, host Blair Academy on January 15 before playing at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on January 18 and at Life Center Academy on January 21.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MASTER CLASS: Hun School girls’ basketball player Erica Brown, left, looks to get around a foe in a recent game. Last Thursday, senior guard Brown scored 12 points to help Hun top Mastery Charter (Pa.) 56-39. The Raiders, now 4-5, host Blair Academy on January 15 before playing at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on January 18 and at Life Center Academy on January 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Erica Brown and her teammates on the Hun School girls’ basketball team, their lopsided loss to Lawrenceville last Wednesday prompted some soul-searching as they prepared to host Mastery Charter (Pa.) a day later.

“We had a tough loss last night,” said senior forward Brown reflecting on the 54-29 defeat to the Big Red.

“Even in school, off the court, we were in ourselves. We just wanted to go out there and play hard and play the best that we can. Our main goal was to go out there and play hard and be ourselves. We weren’t hitting many shots yesterday. We really wanted to put the ball in the basket today.”

With Brown setting the tone with her aggressive play, Hun put up a lot of baskets against Mastery, jumping out to a 31-17 halftime lead on the way to a 56-39 victory.

“We were moving the ball well today,” said Brown, who scored 12 points to lead Hun along with freshman center Clare Maloney.

“Yesterday we weren’t hitting shots so we couldn’t rely on one person. Today we all went out there and we all had to play hard and do it for the team. We couldn’t play for ourselves.”

Hun has been forced to come together even more as a team in the wake of a knee injury to star center Johnnah Johnson, who is sidelined indefinitely.

“Once Johnnah got hurt, we really had to buckle down and our inside game had to be strong,” said Brown.

“Clare really had to be strong and she is doing well, filling some big shoes. She has to play hard and be strong inside.”

Brown, for her part, is looking to buckle down at both ends of the floor. “I really have to help get the rebounds on defense and make sure that we can push the ball,” said Brown.

“We have to play hard on the defensive end. Offensively we have to see the court. I like pushing the ball; the fast break is one of my strong suits, I like getting the ball up the court but I can settle down and run a play if we need to. Usually I just tell the girls to run and I will get the ball out to you. I grab the rebound and I will push it; that is our transition game.”

In Brown’s view, closing the deal against Mastery bodes well for the Raiders.

“We had some really close losses and our main thing was we have been up a lot at halftime and we want to make sure that we didn’t lose that lead,” said Brown.

“Sometimes we get a little lackadaisical when we are up by a lot and today at halftime, it was we are up and we need to stay up. There is nothing guaranteeing our win.”

Hun head coach Bill Holup sees the win over Mastery as a step forward for his squad.

“It is definitely important and with Johnnah out we don’t have overall depth so the other girls have to step up,” said Holup.

“Like today, for example,  Maura Kelly did a terrific job, she grabbed some rebounds and was active defensively. Everybody is going to be called upon at some point and they have to always be ready and focused.”

Holup liked the focus that Brown displayed in the win over Mastery Charter.

“Erica has ability,” said Holup. “She is a physical player, she can rebound, and she can also handle the ball. Yesterday, in our halftime talk she may have taken that to heart. She really stepped up her game from halftime yesterday throughout this entire game.”

Junior guard Erica Dwyer also stepped up, chipping in five points and calmly running the Hun offense.

“I think Erica Dwyer did the same thing; yesterday she didn’t play all that well and she knew it,” said Holup.

“Today she played much better and was more patient and let the game come to her instead of forcing it. Ultimately as a team, that was what we did today.”

The Raiders also got good games from junior Janelle Mullen and senior Anajha Burnett.

“Mullen has been a little bit off with her shot in the last couple of games,” said Holup, whose team topped Hill 57-30 on Saturday before falling 61-38 to Marianapolis Prep (Conn.) in the New Year’s Resolution Showcase at Peterson to move to 4-5.

“I think that has been bothering her a little bit, it can be psychological at times, you are thinking too much. She came alive today late in the game but we will need her right from the start. Anajha had a nice game, she asserted herself instead of just settling for outside shots.

Even without Johnson, Holup believes his club can produce a nice season.

“There is enough talent on this team that we should be able to compete with most of the teams on our schedule,” said Holup, whose team hosts Blair Academy on January 15 before playing at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on January 18 and at Life Center Academy on January 21. “We just have to be ready to play every time.”

Brown, for her part, is ready to go out with a bang. “We need to make sure that we are a family on and off the court so that is our main thing,” said Brown, who is planning to play at the college level.

“In senior year, you want to leave it on the court. I am trying to enjoy the rest of the season and see where it takes me.”

TURNING THE CORNER: Stuart Country Day School basketball star Harley Guzman dribbles around a foe in recent action. Last Friday, sophomore guard Guzman scored eight points to help Stuart edge Princeton Day School 33-28. The Tartans, who improved to 5-2 with the win, host Bound Brook on January 17 before playing at Solebury School (Pa.) on January 21.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TURNING THE CORNER: Stuart Country Day School basketball star Harley Guzman dribbles around a foe in recent action. Last Friday, sophomore guard Guzman scored eight points to help Stuart edge Princeton Day School 33-28. The Tartans, who improved to 5-2 with the win, host Bound Brook on January 17 before playing at Solebury School (Pa.) on January 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In starting the season with a 4-2 record, the Stuart Country Day School basketball team cruised in each of its wins, posting an average margin of victory of 26.2 points in those four triumphs.

When Stuart played at Princeton Day School last Friday, the Tartans found themselves in a tight contest despite having beaten PDS 48-21 in December.

Stuart led 19-15 at halftime and took a 25-21 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Second-year Tartan head coach Dana Leary, for her part, wasn’t surprised that the rematch had a different feel than the initial meeting between the local foes.

“I expected a different game from the first time and the girls knew that as well,” said Leary.

“We were going to their place and they were going to be a much improved team.”

One factor that made the second encounter closer was Stuart’s failure to calmly handle PDS’s defensive pressure.

“We were panicking the entire game; the press was hurting us,” said Leary. “As much as we have been working on it, it was like they were seeing it for the first time. I kept stressing that you have to work hard defensively and on the offensive end you have to get it out. When you catch it, you have to be poised.”

The Tartans, though, showed poise down the stretch, outscoring the Panthers 4-0 in the last minute to pull out a 33-28 win.

“They pulled it together when it counted,” said Leary. “They calmed down by the end; it took the whole game. I am very proud of them for working hard and playing right to the end. That is all you can ask for.”

Some fine work inside by sophomore Kate Walsh and Nneka Onukwugha helped Stuart prevail as Walsh scored a game-high nine points while Onukwugha added eight.

“Kate has been having a great year so far; tonight she came through for us at the end with two big putbacks,” said Leary.

“Nneka has been showing up every single game, going and doing exactly what is expected of her. Tonight I saw she was hungry for it. She was going after the ball. She was out there to work; she didn’t want to get outworked tonight. You could definitely see that in her game.”

In Leary’s view, winning a game like last Friday’s contest should help the Tartans down the road.

“They haven’t been in a close one yet so now they have that experience and they can be confident in themselves at the end of the game,” said Leary, whose team hosts Bound Brook on January 17 before playing at Solebury School (Pa.) on January 21.

“They know they are capable of having the lead, holding onto it, and then coming out with the win.”

January 8, 2014
SPECIAL K: Princeton University women’s hockey player Kelsey Koelzer, right, celebrates with a teammate after a Tiger goal earlier in the season. Last Thursday, freshman forward Koelzer enjoyed a breakout game, tallying two goals and an assist as Princeton topped Connecticut 4-1. Koelzer entered the night with a total of one goal and an assist in her 15 previous appearances. The Tigers, who edged UConn 1-0 in overtime on Friday to sweep the two-game set and improve to 9-6-2 overall, play at Union on January 10 and at Rensselaer on January 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SPECIAL K: Princeton University women’s hockey player Kelsey Koelzer, right, celebrates with a teammate after a Tiger goal earlier in the season. Last Thursday, freshman forward Koelzer enjoyed a breakout game, tallying two goals and an assist as Princeton topped Connecticut 4-1. Koelzer entered the night with a total of one goal and an assist in her 15 previous appearances. The Tigers, who edged UConn 1-0 in overtime on Friday to sweep the two-game set and improve to 9-6-2 overall, play at Union on January 10 and at Rensselaer on January 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Kelsey Koelzer, figuring out the best way to utilize her talent has been a major challenge as she goes through her freshman season with the Princeton University women’s hockey team.

“I would have to say learning new systems and learning my role because it changes when you go from playing in your leagues back home to playing in Division I hockey,” said Koelzer, reflecting on adjusting to college hockey.

“Learning where I fit in, what I have to do every game, and what I have to bring to the team.”

Last Thursday, forward Koelzer brought a lot to the table for the Tigers, tallying two goals and an assist as Princeton topped Connecticut 4-1.

For Koelzer, who had had a goal and an assist in her 15 appearances during the 2013 portion of this season’s schedule, the breakthrough performance was heartening.

“It was definitely a confidence builder,” said Koelzer, a 5’9 native of Horsham, Pa. who played club hockey for the New Jersey Rockets.

“It was good getting my legs back under me and just proving to myself that this is what you have got to do every game. I want to pick it up even more and just continue with the momentum.”

Koelzer helped Princeton seize momentum against UConn as her blast from the point set up a Sally Butler goal that tied the game at 1-1 midway through the second period.

“They were definitely leaving the lanes open in terms of the point shots,” said Koelzer.

“It was important that we were moving it up top between me and Gabie [Figueroa]. I saw a small lane so my main goal was to get it low because I know Sally is going to be in front to tip it.”

Midway through the third period, Koelzer put the Tigers ahead as another one-timer found the back of the net.

“It felt good,” said Koelzer, recalling the tally. “They didn’t come out to challenge me so I took the opportunity.”

The Tigers cashed in on their opportunities as they scored a total of three goals in a 3:34 span of the third period with Koelzer adding Princeton’s fourth and final goal of the game.

“We work really hard in practice, we are a good bunch,” said Koelzer, who put in some more good work on Friday, helping Princeton pull out a 1-0 overtime win over UConn to sweep the two-game set and improve to 9-6-2 overall.

“That’s where it is coming down into the third periods and especially the second game of weekends.”

With Princeton having won four straight, Koelzer believes the team is coming on strong.

“Really, we are clicking on every aspect,” said Koelzer. “We are a great conditioned team, we have got a lot of speed. We definitely have some good momentum going.”

The addition of Koelzer and classmates Molly Strabley, Cassidy Tucker, Audrey Potts, Morgan Sly, Hilary Lloyd, and Fiona McKenna, has helped build that positive momentum.

“It is great team chemistry,” said Koelzer. “The upperclassmen are great to us. From day one, we really felt like this was home. It definitely helped us getting into games. It has made it a lot easier for us to learn our roles on the team.”

Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal has been looking to get Koelzer into a scoring role for the Tigers.

“Kelsey has a really good shot and we are trying to find the best ways to utilize it,” said Kampersal.

“So we finally got her in a position where she can have a couple of open looks.”

Kampersal liked how his team looked collectively on Thursday as it rebounded from a 1-0 deficit after the first period and skated to victory in its first action since a 4-1 win over Union on December 7.

“It wasn’t our best effort in the first period, that is to be expected,” said Kampersal.

“Falling behind and getting a little slap in the face, I think that’s what we needed. We have been a third period team all year; that was nice to see. We had three power play goals tonight and that was really nice to see.”

With the Tigers missing such key players Olivia Mucha, Rose Alleva, and Jaimie McDonnell on Friday due to injury, Princeton showed resilience in overcoming the Huskies.

“I thought people stepping up in different roles was big,” said Kampersal, whose team’s lone goal in the overtime win on Friday came from junior forward Brianna Leahy.

“At game time we had to make decisions where kids were seeing the doctor so other kids had to play wing or center, doing different things like that. We had different kids on the penalty kill who didn’t necessarily practice that all week.”

Kampersal is hoping his club can keep coming up big as the Tigers play at Union on January 10 and at Rensselaer on January 11 before going on a 17-day hiatus for exams.

“They have a lot of heart, they have a lot of soul,” said Kampersal. “They are committed to it. They know that when it’s going bad, what they need to do to fix it. It is a good group to coach.”

Local product Koelzer, for her part, is thrilled to be part of the group. “I have been coming to see Princeton games for about four years now,” said Koelzer.

“Last season, I was probably at every single home game just because I was out with an ACL injury. This has definitely been a dream come true.”

CLOSE COMBAT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Will Barrett, middle, applies defensive pressure in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior forward Barrett scored eight points to help Princeton defeat Liberty University 80-74. The Tigers, now 11-2, open Ivy League action with a game at Penn (2-10) on January 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CLOSE COMBAT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Will Barrett, middle, applies defensive pressure in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior forward Barrett scored eight points to help Princeton defeat Liberty University 80-74. The Tigers, now 11-2, open Ivy League action with a game at Penn (2-10) on January 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton University men’s basketball team squandered a 15-point lead against Kent State last week and found itself trailing 66-65 with less than a minute left, Will Barrett wasn’t rattled.

“At the end of the game when we were down by one, I just felt like a sense of calmness,” said Princeton senior forward Barrett.

“In a couple of close games that we have had, we have just been calm under pressure. I don’t know if that comes from all of the experience that we have had. We have got five guys that have played a lot together and we have senior leadership.”

Barrett exuded coolness as he scored 11 points in the second half, hitting two clutch three-pointers down the stretch to help Princeton pull out a 73-68 win in the December 31 contest before 2,440 at Jadwin Gym.

While Barrett was happy with his offensive contribution in the win over the Golden Flashes, hitting on 6-of-12 shots as he totaled a game-high 19 points, he acknowledged that he needs to produce a more well-rounded game.

“My shot is feeling good right now; it is definitely part of my game that I take pride in,” said Barrett, a 6’11 197-pound native of Hartsville, Pa.

“There are so many other areas that I have to and need to improve on if our team is going to continue to succeed. My defense is a huge part of that. If I can clean that up, then I am in the game a lot more, and that helps our team even more so I have got to just keep improving on that.”

In Barrett’s view, the Tigers were hungry to show their pride against Kent State in the wake of a disappointing 93-79 loss to Portland in the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic in Las Vegas before Christmas.

“In Vegas there were a bunch of our former teammates, Dan Mavraides, Kareem Maddox, they were all there and I was really angry after the game and they said this might be a blessing in disguise,” recalled Barrett.

“We don’t like to lose games here. It was good for us for that to sink in over break. I think it has a little bit and it just teaches us that in any game you can come out and lose to anybody in college basketball so we have to keep that in mind.”

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson was heartened to see his squad prevail on a day when it didn’t play its sharpest.

“It wasn’t pretty on our end; it is the second game in a row where we haven’t played on offense and on defense for a long stretch of time the way we would like to play,” said Henderson.

“I was in the Big 10 for a long time so it felt like a Big 10 game. It is one punch and the next punch and everybody is delivering these big blows. I was really proud of our guys for making free throws down the stretch. I think that is a really good Kent State team, a really good program. They have had 14 or 15 straight 20-win seasons, which is just unbelievable to me so I am just really proud of our guys.”

Last Saturday, the Tigers came up big down the stretch at Liberty University, overcoming a late 67-66 deficit to earn an 80-74 win in improving to 11-2.

“I attribute it to a few different things,” said Henderson in reflecting on his team’s penchant for coming through in tight contests this winter.

“We have T.J. Bray, who our guys have confidence in down the stretch. We made free throws. We have made some really big shots. I think it is just making shots. I have to attribute that to T.J., his ability to get to the basket and make these guys better. I think it just makes us tough.”

Henderson likes the way Barrett is making big shots although he believes the forward has the ability to make more of an impact at both ends of the court.

“I thought he was just terrific; I was saying to Will in the locker room that I had to take him out of the game a couple of times because I thought defensively he could have made a couple of adjustments that would have helped us,” said Henderson, who got 8 points and two assists from Barrett in the win over Liberty with the backcourt duo of Bray and Ben Hazel leading the way, tallying 24 and 18 points, respectively.

“I think he could be a lock-down defender as well as what he did offensively but his line is fantastic, 4-for-8 from 3, 19 points and 7 rebounds in 25 minutes, that is good.”

With Princeton opening Ivy League action by playing at Penn (2-10) on January 11, Henderson believes his team is in good shape to make a title run.

“I like where we are because I am sort of a glass half full kind of guy,” said Henderson.

“Man we have so much we can work on. I just think the room for improvement is enormous but they really like each other.”

Barrett, for his part, likes the Tigers’ chances. “I feel good, I think we all feel good,” said Barrett, who is averaging 11.3 points a game and leads the Tigers in three-pointers with 30.

“We are pretty much by ourselves on campus right now so we have a ton of time to be down in the gym and then take care of work that we have to do.”

DRIVE FOR FIVE: Princeton University women’s basketball player Michelle Miller drives to the basket in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore guard Miller scored a career-high 23 points to help Princeton top Drexel 66-59. Miller was later named the Ivy League Player of the Week, along with Penn’s Katy Allen, for her effort. The Tigers, now 9-5, start their drive for a fifth straight league crown when they play at Penn on Saturday in the Ivy opener for both teams.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DRIVE FOR FIVE: Princeton University women’s basketball player Michelle Miller drives to the basket in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore guard Miller scored a career-high 23 points to help Princeton top Drexel 66-59. Miller was later named the Ivy League Player of the Week, along with Penn’s Katy Allen, for her effort. The Tigers, now 9-5, start their drive for a fifth straight league crown when they play at Penn on Saturday in the Ivy opener for both teams. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Courtney Banghart, the point of the non-conference schedule is more about exposing her Princeton University women’s basketball team to a wide range of competitive situations than piling up wins.

But as Princeton girds for its Ivy League opener on January 11 at Penn, the Tigers have gained both victories and experience as they bring a 9-5 record into their clash with the Quakers and start their drive for a fifth straight league crown.

“This team is making its own mark,” said Princeton head coach Banghart. “The difference between rebuilding and reloading depends on the approach of the players and I like the way this team is responding.”

Playing in the Cavalier Classic in late December, Princeton certainly made an impression as it topped Alabama 79-59 to earn its first-ever win over a Southeastern Conference foe and then battled valiantly before falling to 69-57 to host Virginia in the title game.

“Alabama played man-to-man so we had to be more physical,” said Banghart.

“That was a good experience for a young team. We knew that UVa would zone us. The zone required us to move the ball and make shots. It was good for us, it showed us what we need to work on.”

Last Saturday at Drexel in its final tune-up before Ivy play, the Tigers worked on dealing with a zone. Trailing 25-23 at half to the reigning WNIT champs, Princeton outscored the Dragons 43-34 over the final 20 minutes to earn a 66-59 victory.

“We worked on a new zone continuity last week,” said Banghart. “We knew it wasn’t going to work right away. We got it figured out and scored 43 points in the second half.”

A lot of that offense came from Michelle Miller, who poured in a career-high 23 points and was later named the Ivy Player of the Week for the second time this year, sharing the honor with Penn’s Katy Allen.

“She is a sophomore but it doesn’t matter how old you are, it comes down to can you contribute,” said Banghart of Miller, who went 5-of-7 from three-point range in the win.

“She didn’t shoot like she can at Virginia. Against Drexel, she was shot ready and played really well.”

Junior guard Blake Dietrick has been playing really well lately, scoring 18 points last Saturday and having recently been named the Ann Meyers Drysdale Women’s National Player of the Week by the USBWA (U.S. Basketball Writers Association), becoming the first Tiger to ever collect the national accolade.

“Blake is settled,” said Banghart of Dietrick, who is averaging a team-high 15.4 points a game.

“She is so competitive, that can get in the way sometimes. She doesn’t like being bad at anything. She has settled in; she is a good lead guard and she is trusting her teammates.”

Banghart knows her team faces a competitive challenge in Penn, who is currently 7-2, having won seven straight games, including a victory over Miami, the program’s first-ever win against an Atlantic Coast Conference foe.

“They have the most experienced returning team in the league,” said Banghart of the Quakers.

“They are playing at home and our kids have inherited the target on their backs. The other teams are going to throw everything at us, they know that beating us can make a season even if they don’t win the title.”

The Quakers boast the talent to make things difficult for Princeton in senior guard and two-time Ivy scoring champion Alyssa Baron, freshman center Sydney Stipanovich, senior guard Meghan McCullough, and sophomore guard Keira Ray.

“Baron is one of the best players in the league and she has been since day one,” said Banghart.

“She has more pieces around her now so she doesn’t have to do everything. Stipanovich has a lot of size, she is 6’3 and long. They have a very experienced point guard Meghan McCullough, who is back from an injury. Keiera Ray is a good player. They have played together forever.”

The Tigers will be working overtime to get ready for the Quakers. “We have the rest of the week to prepare for them,” said Banghart.

“The Ivy season requires consistency, either the consistency of a few top players or the group. We are more of a team. It is a league for seniors so we need Kristen [Helmstetter] and Nicole [Hung] to make contributions. We are going to see a variety of things, zone, man and junk. We have to get enough from our pieces and be able to adjust.”

In Banghart’s view, her young squad has the mindset to roll with the punches it will receive in Ivy play.

“This team has a great personality,” asserted Banghart. “They are humble and there are no expectations. They just expect to battle everyday. Their job is to play hard and listen and our job is to coach them.”

RECORD KEEPER: Lauren Ullmann takes a breather during her career with the Princeton High girls’ soccer team. This past fall, star goalkeeper Ullmann enjoyed a superb freshman season with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology women’s soccer team. She allowed just six goals in 21 appearances, tying an MIT record for fewest goals allowed in a season. Ullmann’s goals against average ended up at 0.38 and she posted a .933 save percentage. She currently stands first in the MIT record book in save percentage and second in goals against.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RECORD KEEPER: Lauren Ullmann takes a breather during her career with the Princeton High girls’ soccer team. This past fall, star goalkeeper Ullmann enjoyed a superb freshman season with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology women’s soccer team. She allowed just six goals in 21 appearances, tying an MIT record for fewest goals allowed in a season. Ullmann’s goals against average ended up at 0.38 and she posted a .933 save percentage. She currently stands first in the MIT record book in save percentage and second in goals against. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Lauren Ullmann gave up a score in the first 21 minutes of her career with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology women’s soccer team but the former Princeton High standout goalkeeper wasn’t fazed.

“We were playing Brandeis, they were ranked 8th in preseason,” said Ullmann.

“It was very exciting. That was a fantastic goal. I had made a couple of good saves right before and I made a couple right after so I didn’t have time to dwell on it. It was a very intense game, they put a lot of pressure on us.”

As MIT’s season unfolded, Ullmann thrived under the pressure that comes with starting as a freshman. She allowed just six goals in 21 starts, tying an MIT record for fewest goals allowed in a season. Ullmann’s goals against average ended up at 0.38 and she posted a .933 save percentage. She currently stands first in the MIT record book in save percentage and second in goals against.

Upon arriving at MIT for preseason training last August, Ullmann had to battle to earn the starting job, a process that helped pave the way for her outstanding campaign.

“That definitely pushed me to be at my best; I would not have had the season I ended up having if I hadn’t been pushed like that,” said Ullmann.

“I felt like I was at the right level. One of the things that drew me to MIT was that I had a good chance to get playing time right away.”

In taking advantage of the chance to play, Ullmann faced challenges both internally and externally.

“The two captains were two of the four defenders,” said Ullmann.

“I am very vocal on the field. It was hard to be commanding with such experienced players and not being established but I realized it was part of playing the game. I was going against players who could all hit the ball very well and make some very tough shots.”

Ullmann displayed her toughness when she didn’t let an injury to her right wrist keep her from starring in postseason play. She hurt her wrist in the final regular season game and originally thought it was sprained only to have x-rays later reveal a fracture.

“We taped it up and I rested it early in the week,” said Ullmann, who helped the Engineers blank Babson and Springfield in 0-0 games decided on penalty kicks to win the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament.

“I wanted to be out there for the tournament games. Being in the games, the adrenaline took over. It is instinct on saves. I am going to react the same way. I wasn’t able to throw the ball and I wasn’t able to roll the ball. I had to kick it at times, it was a little unusual.”

While MIT’s season ended with a 0-0 loss on penalty kicks to the Rochester Institute of Technology in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament, Ullmann is excited about what the squad achieved in its 13-2-6 campaign.

“We fought hard the whole way, I was proud of how we played good soccer, it speaks well for the future,” said Ullmann.

“I think we did better than expected because of the number  of seniors from 2013 that we lost. We made it back to the NCAA tournament for a third time and we hosted the conference tournament. We beat Tufts, it was the first win for an MIT women’s team against a NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) team.”

Ullmann’s play exceeded her expectations. “Every step of the way helped me realize that I could accomplish the kind of things that I did in high school,” said Ullmann.

“I was very happy by how the season went. It was exciting to give up so few goals as a freshman. It makes me want to push myself to do even better over the next three years.”

Not resting on her laurels, Ullmann plans to keep showing the kind of work ethic that has helped her excel at every step of her career.

“I want to keep working hard; I want to keep putting in the effort to get better individually and to help the team go further and further,” said Ullmann.

“I am working on building my body strength. I want to have better decision-making and improve the way I read the game.”

ACTION JACKSON: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Jackson Andres controls the puck in recent action. Last Sunday, junior forward Andres picked up an assist on the game-tying goal as PHS rallied from a 5-1 deficit to tie Wall High 5-5. The Little Tigers, now 6-1-2, play Paul VI at the Skate Zone at Voorhees on January 10 before facing powerful Notre Dame on January 13 at Mercer County Park.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ACTION JACKSON: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Jackson Andres controls the puck in recent action. Last Sunday, junior forward Andres picked up an assist on the game-tying goal as PHS rallied from a 5-1 deficit to tie Wall High 5-5. The Little Tigers, now 6-1-2, play Paul VI at the Skate Zone at Voorhees on January 10 before facing powerful Notre Dame on January 13 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Terence Miller was disappointed on several levels when the Princeton High boys’ hockey team had to postpone its game against Steinert last Friday due to the snowstorm that hit the area.

First, the Little Tigers missed the chance to play at historic Baker Rink on the Princeton University campus, a treat for PHS and its guests alike.

More importantly, PHS head coach Miller wanted to see his team make a fresh start in the new year after ending the 2013 portion of its schedule with a lackluster 4-2 win over Pennington on December 19 and a 4-1 defeat to Cranford a day later.

“I am really eager to get going again,” said Miller, noting that his team had only two practices over the holiday break.

“We didn’t have our foot on the throttle against Pennington but we still managed to get the win. It was the same thing the next night and we laid an egg; it left a bad taste in our mouths before the holiday.

Miller tipped his hat to Cranford for taking advantage of its opportunities. “It was our first loss, we outshot them but they played a good road game,” said Miller.

“They scored on an early power play and then we had a bad turnover in the back and they scored again. We dug ourselves a hole and then we did get it back to to 2-1. Going into the third period, we were down 3-1. I feel that the guys were tired in the third; their goalie made some big saves.”

In reflecting on his squad’s overall play so far this season, Miller believes the pluses outweigh the minuses.

“I am happy with the effort,” said Miller, whose team put in quite an effort at Wall High last Sunday evening, rallying from a 5-1 third period deficit to pull out a 5-5 tie and move to 6-1-2.

“I like how our goalies are playing. We have a senior (Robert Quinn) and freshman (Sawyer Peck) and they are rotating well. We can’t dwell on ourselves and get ahead of ourselves. Things are going to get tougher in January.

Miller is looking for his team to be tougher mentally and physically as it gets into a more challenging part of its schedule.

“We need more consistency of effort from top to bottom,” said Miller, whose team plays Paul VI at the Skate Zone at Voorhees on January 10 before facing powerful Notre Dame on January 13 at Mercer County Park.

“The biggest thing is to stay consistent. They can’t take their foot off the throttle. So far, so good. I am happy but not satisfied.”

MARKING PERIOD: Princeton High boys’ basketball coach Mark Shelley makes a point in a game last season. Last Saturday, Shelley was frustrated as PHS fell 67-41 at Robbinsville to drop to 1-2. The Little Tigers will look to get on the winning track as they host Steinert on January 9, play at Ewing on January 11, and then host WW/P-S on January 14.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MARKING PERIOD: Princeton High boys’ basketball coach Mark Shelley makes a point in a game last season. Last Saturday, Shelley was frustrated as PHS fell 67-41 at Robbinsville to drop to 1-2. The Little Tigers will look to get on the winning track as they host Steinert on January 9, play at Ewing on January 11, and then host WW/P-S on January 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Mark Shelley experienced an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu as his Princeton High boys’ basketball team played at Robbinsville last Saturday.

After ending 2013 with a 65-41 defeat at Morristown, PHS started the New Year by losing 67-41 to the Ravens.

“I thought the Morristown game would be a wakeup call defensively,” said second-year PHS head coach Shelley.

“Every game we play is winnable but it is also losable. This is an example of not playing our best and another team plays well and we get it handed to us.”

The Little Tigers started slowly, trailing 18-8 after the first quarter and finding themselves down 37-21 at halftime.

“It was frustrating,” said Shelley. “I thought they executed well, they shot the ball extremely well. We had a lot of shots we normally make that didn’t go in. We were just sluggish, that is the word we talked about.”

At halftime, Shelley focused on getting his players to pick up intensity. “The message was that we were going to come out and try to pressure,” said Shelley.

“We talked about when you are down that much, all you can think about is winning the third quarter and that was the goal. We played a lot of people, trying to find a defensive spark.”

In the second half, PHS showed some spark as it outscored the Ravens 7-6 in one stretch.

“I thought we found a group late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter and we had a nice little run,” said Shelley, who got 13 points from junior guard Kevin Kane in the loss with senior forward Peter Mahiotiere chipping 12 points and nine rebounds. “We were trapping and rotating.”

Going forward, the Little Tigers are going to work on running a better defense.

“I think the biggest thing we talked a lot about at halftime and after the game was trusting your teammates,” said Shelley, whose team dropped to 1-2 with the setback.

“If I am not willing to go out and guard the ball with a lot of pressure that means I am not trusting that my teammates behind me are going to help. A lot of Monday’s focus is going to be on basic defensive principles, like ball pressure and helping. It was an execution and intensity thing on the defensive end today.”

With a busy stretch of the season coming up, Shelley believes his team will sharpen its execution.

“We have got four three-game weeks in a row so there are a lot of opportunities to put together some good performances but at the same time, our practice time is going to be limited,” said Shelley, whose team hosts Steinert on January 9, plays at Ewing on January 11, and then hosts WW/P-S on January 14. “We just couldn’t generate any energy today; we’ll tighten up some stuff.”

WINNING BID: Hun School boys’ hockey player Alex Bidwell, right, races up the ice in recent action. Last week, senior forward Bidwell starred as Hun took second at the Purple Puck Tournament in Washington, D.C. The Raiders, now 7-4, start the 2014 portion of their schedule by hosting Academy of New Church (Pa.) on January 8, Haverford School (Pa.) on January 10, and Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on January 14.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

WINNING BID: Hun School boys’ hockey player Alex Bidwell, right, races up the ice in recent action. Last week, senior forward Bidwell starred as Hun took second at the Purple Puck Tournament in Washington, D.C. The Raiders, now 7-4, start the 2014 portion of their schedule by hosting Academy of New Church (Pa.) on January 8, Haverford School (Pa.) on January 10, and Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on January 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Hun School boys’ hockey team, its trip last week to the Purple Puck Tournament in Washington, D.C. could put it on the road to big things later this winter.

Hun ended up taking second in the tourney that was hosted by Gonzaga College High (D.C) and included several skilled private school teams.

“It was a great event, they do it up,” said Hun head coach Ian McNally, reflecting on his team’s first visit to the event.

“You weren’t playing games between public skates like in other tournaments. This was done very well; they had a great announcer, music playing, and good crowds. Getting on the road together is great. We went to Pittsburgh last year and that was a notable bonding trip for the team.”

Coming into the Purple Puck tourney, McNally was apprehensive about his team’s prospects.

“Nobody knew what to expect,” said McNally. “We had a few players who couldn’t come because of their club tournaments so we were playing with two lines and some spare parts. We played really well, kids stepped up.”

Showing resilience, Hun exceeded expectations, topping Bullis (Md.) 10-2 and DeMatha (Md.) 4-1 while losing 5-3 to Gonzaga in round-robin play. The Raiders then edged St. Joseph’s (Pa.) 3-2 in the semifinal before falling to host Gonzaga 6-0 in the championship game.

In advancing to the finals, Hun was sparked by the one-two scoring punch of freshman Jon Bendorf and senior Alex Bidwell.

“It was Bendorf’s show all of a sudden,” said McNally, noting that freshman standout Evan Barratt and junior Bobby Wurster weren’t available to the team due to club team commitments.

“He scored nine goals in five games; he was very much the catalyst for us. He went to another level I hadn’t seen from him so that was great. Bidwell was on the all-tournament team last year even though we didn’t make it out of the round robin. He is a tournament player. He put up a ton of points. The power play was clicking very well.”

Senior goalie Devin Cheifetz made a ton of big stops for the Raiders, highlighted by a 44-save performance in the semifinal win that was decided by a shootout after the teams played to a 2-2 tie through regulation.

“The semis was the best Devin has played all year,” asserted McNally. “The game was two 25-minute halves. We were up 2-0; we were playing pretty strong. They were desperate and in the last 10 minutes tied it at 2-2. They were 0-for-4 in the shootout and we scored two with Bendorf and Blake Brown each getting one.”

Hun also got good play from freshman Tanner Preston and classmate Brown over the weekend.

“Preston jumped out, he hadn’t scored all year, he had some hard luck,” said McNally.

“He scored in back-to-back games. On the first one, he was pumped; he had that relieved feeling. In the next game, he scored on a power play. He was very strong. Blake was in on a lot of the Bendorf and Bidwell goals. We needed a spark in the first game. We got off the bus and we started slowly. He got the team started with his energy and everybody carried on from there.”

In the title game, the Raiders ran out of energy. “It was our fifth game and we were playing with a short bench,” noted McNally.

“It was 2-0 early and it was a pretty good game. When they scored to go ahead 3-0, that took the wind out of our sails. We ran out of gas at that point.”

In McNally’s view, the main point of the weekend, however, was to sharpen Hun for the challenges to come.

“We got what we came for, we had wins over DeMatha and St Joe’s; they are good teams, as good as we are,” said McNally, whose team is now 7-4 and hosts Academy of New Church (Pa.) on January 8, Haverford School (Pa.) on January 10, and Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on January 14.

“We were able to win regardless of who was playing. Even though we lost 6-0 in final, the guys were feeling pretty good about themselves. Getting on the road and doing that will carry us into February when we are in IHL (Independence Hockey League), prep, and county tournaments.”

January 2, 2014
HALE AND HEARTY: David Hale fires a pitch during his career with the Princeton University baseball team. Hale, who starred for the Tigers from 2007-09, made his major league debut with the Atlanta Braves this past September. Hale struck out nine in his first outing, setting a franchise record for most strikeouts in a debut. Hale went 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings during the regular season and also made an appearance in the National League Division Series. He is looking to spend all of 2014 in the majors.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

HALE AND HEARTY: David Hale fires a pitch during his career with the Princeton University baseball team. Hale, who starred for the Tigers from 2007-09, made his major league debut with the Atlanta Braves this past September. Hale struck out nine in his first outing, setting a franchise record for most strikeouts in a debut. Hale went 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings during the regular season and also made an appearance in the National League Division Series. He is looking to spend all of 2014 in the majors. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Heading into 2013, David Hale was just hoping to get a chance to pitch for the Atlanta Braves.

“I wanted to put myself in a position for a September call-up since I was on the 40-man roster,” said Hale, a former Princeton University baseball standout who started the season at Gwinnett, the Braves Triple-A affiliate. “I improved on my command and developed a sinker.”

After going 6-9 with a 3.22 ERA at Gwinnett, Hale got the call and made his first major league outing for the Braves on September 13, pitching five innings and recording nine strikeouts, breaking the franchise record for strikeouts in a debut.

Hale made another regular season appearance and also pitched for the Braves in the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Now as Hale enters 2014, he is determined to spend the whole season with the Braves.

“I am looking to keep up everything I do,” said Hale, a 2011 Princeton alum who recently returned to his alma mater along with fellow Tiger major leaguers Ross Ohlendorf ’05, Will Venable ’05, and Chris Young ’02 for the Jake McCandless ’51 Princeton Varsity Club Speaker Series.

“I want to stay in shape and keep my pitches sharp. I need to keep the sinker sharp, it is a new pitch to me. I am happy to see that my stuff can work at the major league level.”

As he wrapped up his season at Gwinnett, Hale wasn’t sure that he was going to get the chance for a shot at the next level.

“The season ended and they told me I wasn’t going to get called up,” said Hale, 26,  a 6’2, 205-pound native of Marietta, Ga. who was taken in the third round of the 2009 MLB draft by the Braves.

“Then 24 hours later, they told me I was getting called up. I ran the whole gamut of emotions. I couldn’t wait to call my dad and mom.”

As he made his debut against the visiting San Diego Padres on September 13, hometown hero Hale had some extra support on hand.

“Being from Atlanta and being lucky enough to put on the Braves uniform, there were so many people there to watch me,” said Hale.

“There were teachers from high school, people I hadn’t talked to for years. I think there were 200-300 people there. It added to my nerves. I told myself to not look in the stands but of course I did immediately. As I got on the mound, those feelings went away.”

Overcoming those nerves, Hale proceeded to strike out nine in five innings of work to set the team record for most Ks in a first outing. He also added a footnote to Princeton baseball history as he faced fellow Tiger and Padres star Venable.

“He is the only Princeton hitter in the major leagues at the moment, it was unbelievable to be going against him,” said Hale. “I didn’t even realize that I had set a record, I was just relieved to get that one under my belt.”

After earning his first big league win as he struck out five in six innings in a 7-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on September 26, Hale thought his work for the season was done as the Braves girded for the playoffs. But like earlier in the month, he got a pleasant surprise.

“I was pretty positive that I was not going to be on the playoff roster,” said Hale, who went 1-0 overall with 14 strikeouts and a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings of work in the regular season.

“I thought they were kidding when they told me. They needed a long reliever and I was able to fill that role. I was really happy but I had to be reserved because there were some good players and older guys who didn’t make the roster.”

As the Braves lost the NLDS 3-1 to the Dodgers, Hale did see action in Game 3, facing a batter in the eighth inning and getting a groundout in a 13-6 loss.

“That was pretty cool; it was great to pitch in such a historic place,” said Hale. “I ended the year well; I am bringing confidence into the offseason.”

For Hale, it was cool to come back to Princeton in December. “It is nice to be here on campus and not have any school work,” said Hale. “I can see guys who don’t have problem sets to do. The place is fantastic.”

Playing baseball at Princeton was a key step in Hale’s path to the majors. “From a baseball standpoint, coach [Scott] Bradley was a professional coach,” said Hale, who played three seasons at Princeton from 2007-09, going 7-9 on the mound with a 4.74 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 127.1 innings pitched and batted .291 with 7 homers and 46 RBIs.

“He stayed out of your business and knew you would do your work. I was pretty much a baby pitcher at the time; I was learning the role of pitcher. I was also a hitter/infielder.”

During his time at Princeton, Hale developed on and off the field. “There is no better way to test your limits than to be playing a sport and doing the academics at a school like Princeton,” said Hale.

In 2014, Hale will be applying those lessons as he looks to succeed at the highest level of his sport.

 

MANPOWER: Princeton University men’s hockey player Aaron Kesselman heads up the ice in recent action. Last Sunday, junior forward Kesselman scored a goal in a losing cause as Princeton fell 3-2 to New Hampshire in a consolation contest at the Florida College Classic in Estero, Fla. The Tigers, who dropped to 3-14 with the defeat, are heading west to Vancouver to take part in the Great Northwest Showcase where they will play non-NCAA games against Canadian schools, Simon Fraser and the University of British Columbia, on January 2 and 3.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MANPOWER: Princeton University men’s hockey player Aaron Kesselman heads up the ice in recent action. Last Sunday, junior forward Kesselman scored a goal in a losing cause as Princeton fell 3-2 to New Hampshire in a consolation contest at the Florida College Classic in Estero, Fla. The Tigers, who dropped to 3-14 with the defeat, are heading west to Vancouver to take part in the Great Northwest Showcase where they will play non-NCAA games against Canadian schools, Simon Fraser and the University of British Columbia, on January 2 and 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Heading to the Sunshine State as it returned to action after the holiday break, the Princeton University men’s hockey team competed last weekend in the Florida College Classic in Estero, Fla.

But while the clouds remained over Princeton as the Tigers lost twice at the competition in falling to 3-14 overall, there were rays of hope coming out of the weekend.

“I thought we played pretty well,” said Princeton head coach Bob Prier, reflecting on his team’s effort.

“We played with more pace. We generated a lot of chances. We ran into a hot goalie on Saturday and had penalty problems on Sunday. As the weekend progressed, we competed better. We did a better job of staying above checks. We had a lot of offensive plays on the rush; the defense did a good job on the breakout.”

In its opening round contest against Maine on Saturday, Princeton lost 4-0 to the Black Bears, even though it was only outshot 36-33.

A day later against New Hampshire in a consolation contest, Princeton jumped out to leads of 1-0 and 2-1 on goals by Mike Ambrosia and Aaron Kesselman, respectively, only to lose 3-2. In battling the Wildcats, the Tigers were sparked by a superb performance from senior goalie Sean Bonar, who made a career-high 43 saves.

The return of senior star Andrew Calof from injury helped the Tigers as he assisted on Ambrosia’s goal and was a threat all weekend long.

“I think the line of Calof, Ambrosia, and [Ryan] Siiro generated half of our chances, they definitely made an impact,” said Prier.

The play of goalie Bonar gave Princeton the chance to stay in the New Hampshire game. “Sean played very well, 15 or 16 shots were on the power play and he did a good job of fighting through traffic to make some of those saves,” said Prier. “He did a good job on rebound control.”

In upcoming action, Princeton heads west to Vancouver to take part in the Great Northwest Showcase where it will play non-NCAA games against Canadian schools, Simon Fraser and the University of British Columbia, on January 2 and 3.

In Prier’s view, the trip should help the Tigers come together as they look to do some damage in their ECAC Hockey stretch drive.

“We have four guys with roots out there,” said Prier. “We are playing two good teams. I think the guys feel better about the way we are playing as we go into the second half.”

CALL OF DUTY: Princeton High boys’ basketball player ­Callahan O’Meara dribbles around a foe in action last season. Senior forward O’Meara has helped PHS get off to a 1-1 start this winter. The Little Tigers return from the holiday break by hosting Trenton Central on January 2 and then playing at Robbinsville on January 4.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CALL OF DUTY: Princeton High boys’ basketball player ­Callahan O’Meara dribbles around a foe in action last season. Senior forward O’Meara has helped PHS get off to a 1-1 start this winter. The Little Tigers return from the holiday break by hosting Trenton Central on January 2 and then playing at Robbinsville on January 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last winter, the Princeton High boys’ basketball team opened the season by dropping an overtime nailbiter at Hopewell Valley.

As PHS tipped off its 2013-14 campaign at Allentown, it found itself facing a similar scenario, trailing the Redbirds 21-16 at halftime.

“We weren’t playing with energy and confidence,” said second-year PHS head coach Mark Shelley, reflecting on his team’s first half performance in the opener on December 20.

“Their length was bothering us, they are very tall. We were standing around a little bit and not challenging them on defense at times.”

This year, the Little Tigers were up to the opening night challenge as they rallied for a 44-38 victory.

“We scored the first six or seven points of the second half to take the lead and then they came back to take the lead,” said Shelley, who got 20 points from junior guard Kevin Kane in the win with senior Peter Mahotiere adding nine points and senior Callahan O’Meara chipping in seven.

“We came right back and got six points in a row; I like how we responded. It was a good showing for us on the road in an opener. Last year, we opened at HoVal and we got a late lead but we missed our free throws and made some turnovers. This year we got a three-point lead and extended it.”

Unfortunately, PHS couldn’t build on that performance as they fell 65-41 at Morristown High three days later. The team dug a 48-16 hole at halftime, prompting the normally affable Shelley to read his players the riot act.

“That was about as frustrated as I have been in 10 years of coaching,” recalled Shelley.

“It is a total credit to Morristown, they are a very good basketball team. To score 16 points in a half is bad and to give up 48 points in a half is bad but to do both in the same half is really bad.” In the second half, the Little Tigers settled down as they outscored Morristown 25-17.

“We were just trying to win the third and fourth quarters, that is all you can do at that point,” said Shelley, who got 13 points from Kane in the defeat with Mahotiere adding 11.

“We played our zones and traps and did a better job. We drove to the basket instead of just settling for jumpers. We stopped them better in transition. We learned that we have to play all four quarters. We can compete with anyone but we are not good enough to just show up and win.”

Junior guard Kane has shown major improvement this winter. “We put Kevin on the varsity as a sophomore, knowing that he was not going to play very much; it is paying off now,” asserted Shelley.

“He got to practice against Ellis [Bloom] and Scotty [Bechler] all year and I think that is really helping him this year. He has always had the ability to shoot; he may be the purest shooter I have ever coached. He is playing defense much better; he knows what he is doing out there. He is also not forcing shots. He is putting the ball on the floor and he is going to the line and getting points that way. Teams will have to respect that.”

Shelley believes his front line players are going to be earning the respect of PHS’s foes this season.

“I am happy with our starting five, they are starting to separate themselves,” said Shelley, who has been going with Kane, Mahotiere, and O’Meara, along with sophomore Matt Hart and senior Paul Murray.

“Cal has shown that he is versatile. He hasn’t been scoring but he has played point guard and he can rebound. Matt does so many things that don’t show up in the box score. I have real confidence in the starting five.”

With PHS starting 2014 action by hosting Trenton Central on January 2 and then playing at Robbinsville on January 4, Shelley knows that his team needs to tighten things up to be successful.

“We need to work on improving collectively and individually,” said Shelley. “Most of our systems are in and we have to work on our fundamentals to get ready for Trenton and Robbinsville. We have plenty of room for improvement. It is a resilient group.”

SHARP LOOK: Princeton High wrestling head coach Rashone Johnson surveys the action in a match last season. Johnson has seen a good fighting spirit in his wrestlers as they took ninth in their season-opening Garden State Classic on December 21 and then placed fifth of ten teams in the Patriot Tournament at Secaucus High last Friday. PHS starts 2014 action on January 4 when it heads to Voorhees High to face Hopewell Valley,  Lawrence, and the host Vikings.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SHARP LOOK: Princeton High wrestling head coach Rashone Johnson surveys the action in a match last season. Johnson has seen a good fighting spirit in his wrestlers as they took ninth in their season-opening Garden State Classic on December 21 and then placed fifth of ten teams in the Patriot Tournament at Secaucus High last Friday. PHS starts 2014 action on January 4 when it heads to Voorhees High to face Hopewell Valley, Lawrence, and the host Vikings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As the sole captain of the Princeton High wrestling team, James Gates is looking to set a good example for his younger teammates.

“Wrestling is just all about putting in more work and being tougher than the other guys,” said senior star Gates. “I just have got to work hard and then hopefully they (his teammates) work hard.”

Gates displayed his toughness by taking third at 170 pounds as PHS started its season by hosting its annual Garden State Classic in late December.

“We had some good wrestling,” said Gates, reflecting on the 10-team tournament.

“Our varsity guys went and wrestled well. It was a really tough competition this year. There are a lot of good teams, all the teams here were pretty good. This is probably some of the hardest wrestling we’re going to see for a while.”

As he heads down the homestretch of his high school career, Gates is determined to produce a very big season.

“I want to win all my matches,” asserted Gates. “My big goal would be to place in districts, make it to regions, and hopefully make it to states. I want to just have a strong season and represent the school well.”

In representing PHS, Gates draws inspiration from Little Tiger head coach Rashone Johnson.

“Our coaching staff is great,” said Gates. “Coach Johnson is crazy. His pre-match speeches get you really pumped and ready to wrestle. You go out there like an animal after you hear Johnson.”

Johnson, for his part, is expecting Gates to provide stability this winter for the Little Tigers.

“I want him to just be consistent,” said Johnson, when asked about Gates. “He took third today so that’s definitely an improvement from last year.”

In addition to Gates taking third, Johnson got several other good efforts from his wrestlers at the Garden State Classic. Junior Patrick Sockler took third at 126, while classmate Tommy Miers garnered two wins at 132, helping the Little Tigers hold their own at the top of the lineup.

While Johnson had hoped to see his team do better overall at the season-opening event than the ninth place finish it earned, he saw some intangibles from his wrestlers that bode well for the rest of the season.

“One thing that you can’t coach is toughness and I saw all the guys fight today, which I thought was really good,” said Johnson, who is in his 14th season at the helm of the PHS program and has added former PHS wrestler Marc Santiago ’09 and John Darling, a former Division III All-American wrestler at The College of New Jersey, to his staff.

“If you don’t have fight, I can’t really give that to you, but if your technique is messed up I can fix that. I saw a lot of stuff that I can fix today.”

In fixing things, Johnson is focused on instilling confidence into his team and getting his wrestlers to take an aggressive approach during their bouts.

“Getting the guys more confidence during their matches and to score,” said Johnson, reflecting on his coaching goals this season.

“Be more sure of yourself when you go out there. Guys were doing that today but got some tough draws out there and we didn’t quite push through. The guys actually didn’t wrestle badly today, we just didn’t wrestle good enough to win in some of those matches.”

Looking forward, Johnson sees his team steadily improving with more match experience as the season unfolds.

“We still have young guys; we only had two seniors in that lineup today,” said Johnson. “The future is looking promising and these guys are going to get a lot better as the season goes on.”

Aside from Gates, Johnson is hoping for big things from a trio of juniors.

“You got Victor Bell in there, you got Thomas Miers, and Patrick Sockler,” noted Johnson, whose squad took fifth of 10 teams in the Patriot Tournament at Secaucus High last Friday with James Verbyst taking first at 113 pounds, Sockler at 126, and Miers at 132.

“Those guys all have experience from last year coming back on varsity and they did some work over the summer. I’m looking for those guys to show me something.”

Johnson is excited to see which of his younger wrestlers will seize the opportunity to make a name for themselves as the season progresses.

“I’m looking for everybody to step up, that’s the beauty about wrestling and a team sport that’s also an individual sport,” added Johnson, whose younger wrestlers include freshmen Verbyst and Dylan Demerest together with sophomores Alex Freda, Dave Beamer, and Noah Ziegler.

“Every time a senior graduates, it’s always fun to see the next year what opportunity is going to come through. Don’t look at it as an obstacle, look at it as an opportunity to wrestle varsity and get my name on the wall, put my team on the wall, and get on a banner. How are you going to be remembered?”

Gates, for his part, knows the team has to keep its nose to the grindstone to make some special memories.

“We got a lot to work on, a lot of running to do,” said Gates, who looks to get off to a good start in 2014 action on January 4 when PHS heads to Voorhees High to face Hopewell Valley, Lawrence, and the host Vikings. “It’s going to take a lot of work.”

IN CONTACT: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Connor Fletcher chases after a puck in recent action. Sophomore forward Fletcher helped PDS go 2-1 at the Barber Tournament in Massachusetts in late December. The Panthers, now 6-1-1, return to action when they play Notre Dame on January 3 at Lawrenceville and then play at Don Bosco on January 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN CONTACT: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Connor Fletcher chases after a puck in recent action. Sophomore forward Fletcher helped PDS go 2-1 at the Barber Tournament in Massachusetts in late December. The Panthers, now 6-1-1, return to action when they play Notre Dame on January 3 at Lawrenceville and then play at Don Bosco on January 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Stepping up in class, the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team got off to a rough start last month as it competed in the Barber Tournament in Massachusetts, trailing Middlesex School (Mass.) 3-0 after two periods in an opening round contest.

“The biggest thing, like last year, is that they are physically bigger and stronger and older; it takes time for our kids to adjust to that,” said PDS head coach Scott Bertoli, reflecting on his team’s return trip to the annual event.

“We challenged the kids after the second period. We told them they could roll over and get ready for Saturday or they could come out and put their best foot forward.”

Choosing the latter option, the Panthers battled Middlesex to the final whistle, narrowing the gap to 3-2 and 4-3 before surrendering an empty net goal in the waning seconds of the contest to lose 5-3. In action the next day, PDS defeated the Portledge School (N.Y.) 4-2 before topping the Worcester Academy (Mass.) 5-4 in overtime.

The Panthers showed resilience to go with their skill, overcoming deficits to earn those victories on the final day of the competition.

“We dominated the game against Portledge and we also played well against Worcester,” said Bertoli.

“We kept pressing and pressing. We trailed most of both games; they got goals on counters. Against Portledge, it was 2-2 going into the third period. We scored early in the period and then got one midway through the period. To me, the game was never in doubt; it was just a matter of time. We outshot Worcester 35-14. It was very one-sided but we were still down going into the third period.”

In coming through over the weekend and improving its overall record to 6-1-1, the team’s front line players led the way.

“The six top guys, Sean Timmons, Connor Fletcher, Lewie Blackburn, Connor Bitterman, Andrew Clayton, and Will Garrymore were all great,” asserted Bertoli. “They did 90 percent of our scoring and they played in all types of situations.”

But even more heartening, some of the squad’s supporting cast came through some critical situations.

“The role players also did well, guys like Hap Ammidon, Gabe Castagna, and Will Wright,” added Bertoli.

“Hap got the OT goal against Worcester and played well on defense. Gabe got a couple of goals. The weekend in Massachusetts gave us the chance to give other guys opportunities to play and produce. They built confidence in themselves and got a better understanding of what we want them to do. It gave the coaches confidence to see the kids play in lots of situations and perform well. They not only created some offense but they played good defense.”

The goalie trio of freshman Logan Kramsky, sophomore Mark Anarumo, and sophomore Colin Burgess, is giving PDS the chance to win in just about every game.

“Losing Connor [Walker] in net would concern any coach,” said Bertoli, referring to the graduated Walker, who was a three-year starter and one of the top players in the state at his position.

“Having gone through two weeks of tryouts and scrimmages it is good knowing that the kids are confident in any one of them. Logan has stood out, the group is most confident in him. He started the first two games over the weekend and the other two split the last game.”

With PDS starting the 2014 portion of its schedule by playing Notre Dame on January 3 at Lawrenceville and then playing at Don Bosco on January 6, Bertoli is hoping his team can build on the superb effort in New England.

“If we play near the level that we did last weekend with that urgency and competing hard for pucks, finishing every hit, and being ready to be hit on every play, we could do very well,” said Bertoli.

“The January schedule is brutal; we play four or five tough teams right in a row.”

STILL BATTLING: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Emma Stillwaggon controls the puck in recent action. Sophomore forward Stillwaggon tallied two goals and an assist as PDS defeated Princeton High 8-0 on December 18 in its last game before the holiday break. The Panthers, now 6-1, return to action by hosting the Lady Patriots club team on January 6 in a scrimmage and then hosting Morristown-Beard on January 8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STILL BATTLING: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Emma Stillwaggon controls the puck in recent action. Sophomore forward Stillwaggon tallied two goals and an assist as PDS defeated Princeton High 8-0 on December 18 in its last game before the holiday break. The Panthers, now 6-1, return to action by hosting the Lady Patriots club team on January 6 in a scrimmage and then hosting Morristown-Beard on January 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Lorna Gifis Cook was confident that her Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team would eventually develop a potent offensive attack this season.

But with the Panthers having produced a 6-1 start heading into the holiday break, outscoring foes 35-8, Cook is pleasantly surprised by her team’s output.

“I thought we had the potential to score goals but I didn’t think we would be scoring like this so early in the season,” said Cook.

“Just the fact that we have been scoring so many goals is giving us confidence. There was a question of who was going to score but a lot of girls have been getting involved.”

While senior stars Robin Linzmayer and Mary Travers have expectedly shouldered much of the scoring load, the Panthers have been getting valuable contributions from senior Mimi Matthews, sophomore Emma Stillwaggon, and a trio of freshmen, Kristi Serafin, Ashley Cavuto, and Daphne Stanton.

“Moving Mimi up to forward has helped,” said Cook. “Emma has been really good, she was more of a grinder last year but she is showing a better drive to score. Kristi has made a difference. Ashley is going to surprise you and is very consistent. Daphne has great positional instincts; that really helps her as a center.”

In PDS’s 8-0 win over Princeton High on December 18 in its last action before the holiday break, the Panthers displayed their offensive balance as Stillwaggon and Travers each tallied two goals and an assist with Matthews, Linzmayer, Sophie Ward, and Abby Sharer chipping in a goal apiece.

“We tried to get everybody involved so that was good and that gave us momentum,” said Cook, reflecting on the win over PHS.

Even in the team’s sole loss, a 2-0 defeat at the Portledge School (N.Y.), the Panthers gave a good effort.

“I was as happy with that game as I could be with a loss,” maintained Cook.

“We played hard all game, there were just a couple of defensive lapses. We had our chances, we just didn’t capitalize. If we had scored on one of those early, it might have been a different game. We had eight power plays.”

PDS has been playing solid play fundamentally at both ends of the ice. “Our puck protection has been good,” said Cook, who has been getting good work from her goalie tandem of junior Katie Alden [this reporter’s daughter] and freshman Annika Asplundh.

“We have been working on being more responsible and having fewer turnovers. The key in the Portledge game was getting pucks deep.”

Looking ahead to 2014, Cook wants her team to fine-tune things. “The battling has been really good,” said Cook, whose team returns to action by hosting the Lady Patriots club team on January 6 in a scrimmage and then hosting Morristown-Beard on January 8.

“I would say everyone has been playing up to their potential. We need to work on our breakouts. Our power play needs work; we need to get everybody on the ice at the same time to work on that.”

STANDING TALL: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Kate Walsh heads to the basket in action last season. Sophomore forward Walsh’s inside play has helped the Tartans get off to a 3-2 start in 2013-14, already exceeding last year’s win total when the Tartans went 2-13. Walsh scored 12 points as Stuart closed out the 2013 portion of its schedule with a 62-19 win over Noor-ul-Iman School on December 19. Stuart is next in action when it plays at the King’s Christian School on January 8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STANDING TALL: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Kate Walsh heads to the basket in action last season. Sophomore forward Walsh’s inside play has helped the Tartans get off to a 3-2 start in 2013-14, already exceeding last year’s win total when the Tartans went 2-13. Walsh scored 12 points as Stuart closed out the 2013 portion of its schedule with a 62-19 win over Noor-ul-Iman School on December 19. Stuart is next in action when it plays at the King’s Christian School on January 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last winter, the Stuart Country Day School basketball team won two games the whole season.

By this Christmas, Stuart had already exceeded that win total, taking a 3-2 record into the holiday break.

The Tartans didn’t waste any time showing that things were going to be different in 2013-14, opening the season with a 27-17 win over Villa Victoria on December 11.

“The girls came out and played a great first half,” said second-year Stuart head coach Dana Leary.

“We did a great job of rebounding the ball at both the offensive and defensive end.”

After losing 40-30 in its second game to Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, Stuart came back with a great performance in a 48-21 victory over Princeton Day School.

“We played good defense,” said Leary, reflecting on the PDS win.

“We have been trying to play a couple of different defenses and we matched up well with them. We did a good job in the man-to-man.”

Junior forward Nneka Onukwugha did a great job for Stuart in the win over the Panthers, producing a career game with 20 points and 19 rebounds.

“It was Nneka’s first double-double of the season,” said Leary. “She stepped up really big for us. She just comes to play. She is very calm, she just goes out and does her job and takes care of business.”

In their last outing before the break, the Tartans took care of business as they routed Noor-ul-Iman School 62-19 on December 19, rebounding from a 48-14 defeat to Pennington a day earlier.

“We had a tough loss to Pennington and I told the girls we have to learn from that,” said Leary who got 15 points from Onukwugha in the win with sophomore Kate Walsh chipping in 12.

“You are going to lose games and there are going to be bumps in the road, you have to take each game and learn from it and move on. The girls came out and just bounced back. We played well offensively. It was a nice win, all the girls played and everyone scored.”

Stuart’s nice start has the players feeling good about themselves heading into 2014.

“I think the girls are just more confident; they are starting to believe in themselves,” said Leary, whose team returns from the holiday break by playing at the King’s Christian School on January 8.

“We are communicating well on the court, I think they have better court sense. They are crashing the boards and securing the rebounds. They were talking that they were already past last year’s record.”

In order to add more wins to that record when it resumes play in the new year, Stuart will focus on being a little sharper at both ends of the court.

“We will be working on taking better care of the ball,” said Leary. “Defense-wise, we need to work more on on man-to-man and talking through screens.”

December 27, 2013
MIGHTY QUINN: Princeton University quarterback Quinn Epperly looks to throw the ball in a game this fall. Epperly passed for 25 touchdowns and rushed for 18 to help the Tigers go 8-2 overall and 6-1 Ivy League, tying Harvard for the Ivy championship.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MIGHTY QUINN: Princeton University quarterback Quinn Epperly looks to throw the ball in a game this fall. Epperly passed for 25 touchdowns and rushed for 18 to help the Tigers go 8-2 overall and 6-1 Ivy League, tying Harvard for the Ivy championship. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Princeton University athletics, the beat went on in 2013 as the Tigers won a slew of Ivy League championships and added to their impressive haul of NCAA titles. On the local high school scene, the year saw a number of championship firsts.

As for Princeton, the winter brought two NCAA titles as the fencing team won the joint men’s/women’s national crown while the men’s distance medley relay placed first in the indoor national meet. Women’s basketball won its fourth straight Ivy championship while men’s and women’s swimming along with men’s and women’s squash earned league crowns.

In the spring, Princeton excelled on the track as the men’s team won the Ivy Heptagonal Outdoor Championships. On the water, the women’s open crew took its second straight Ivy title at the league regatta and the varsity 8 ended up placing second in the NCAA grand final. Junior Greg Jarmas won his first Ivy men’s golf individual title and helped Princeton earn its first team crown since 2006. Junior star Kelly Shon won the Ivy women’s golf crown and advanced to the NCAA championships. The women’s water polo team won the Eastern Championships and placed fifth at the NCAAs.

The Princeton football team turned heads in the fall, going 8-2 overall and 6-1 Ivy, to tie with Harvard for the title and give the Tigers their first championship since 2006. Defending its 2012 NCAA title in style, the Tiger field hockey team won its ninth straight Ivy title on the way to the national quarterfinals.

As for local high schoolers, the Princeton High swimming program enjoyed an historic season as the girls’ team won its first ever Mercer County Championship meet while the boys’ squad took its third straight county crown and fifth consecutive Public B Central Jersey sectional title. Hun School teams produced a championship winter as the boys’ hockey team won its first-ever Independence Hockey League (IHL) championship and the boys’ basketball team won the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament. Led by a stellar group of seniors, the PDS boys’ hockey team shared the state Prep title on the way to a 21-3-1 campaign.

In the spring, longtime head coach Peter Stanton guided the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team to a pair of milestones as he won his 200th game at the helm of the program and the Little Tigers earned the first Mercer County Tournament crown in program history. The PDS boys’ tennis team also had a championship season as it shared the state Prep B title with two other schools.

History was made on the tennis court in the fall as PHS sophomore Christina Rosca won the program’s first NJSIAA state singles title. Rosca also helped the Little Tigers make their second straight trip to the state Group III team finals. The PDS girls’ tennis team won its second straight state Prep B title while the Panther girls’ soccer team produced one of the more heartening reversals of fortune as they went from 4-9-4 in 2012 to 17-2-1 this fall on the way to winning the program’s first MCT title.

Winter Wins

Led by a quartet of stellar seniors, Niveen Rasheed, Lauren Polansky, Kate Miller, and Meg Bowen, the Princeton University women’s basketball team won its fourth straight Ivy League title. Head coach Courtney Banghart’s Tigers went 22-7 overall and 13-1 Ivy. During the regular season, Princeton established an Ivy record as it extended its league winning streak to 33 before falling to Harvard in March. The Tigers were seeded ninth in the Oklahoma City regional at the NCAA tournament where they fell 60-44 to eighth-seeded Florida State.

While the season ended on a down note, that was a mere blip in one of the greatest four-year runs in league annals as the seniors went 54-2 in Ivy play, tying them as winningest class in Ivy men’s or women’s history with Penn’s men’s basketball Class of 1996 (1992-93 to 1995-96).

Rasheed was named Ivy Player of the Year for a second time and earned AP All-America Honorable Mention, the first player to do so in program history. The league’s scoring leader at 16.9 points a game, Rasheed was also named a unanimous First-Team All-Ivy selection, her third first-team honor. She finished with 1,617 career points for fourth-best in program history. She also is all-time No. 5 in scoring average (16.7), No. 5 in field goals made (604), No. 3 in rebounds (860) and No. 6 in rebounds average (8.7). Polansky was named Ivy Defensive Player of the Year for a third time while Miller and Bowen were key starters in their final campaign. The latter was a second-team All-Ivy pick along with junior teammate Kristen Helmstetter.

The men’s hoops team nearly matched their female counterparts as they stood first in the Ivy standings heading into the final weekend of the season. Coach Mitch Henderson’s club, though, stumbled on the road, losing at Yale and Brown as Harvard passed the Tigers to win the title.

Senior star Ian Hummer put together one of the greatest seasons in program history for Princeton, which went 17-11 overall and 10-4 Ivy. The 6’6 forward Hummer was named Ivy Player of the Year and led Princeton in scoring, rebounding, blocks, and assists, the first Tiger since Kit Mueller ’91 in 1990-91 to top the team in all of those categories. Hummer made first-team All-Ivy with junior guard T.J Bray getting second-team honors and sophomore Denton Koon being named as an honorable mention selection.

The Princeton fencing program made history as the Tigers won their first-ever joint men’s/women’s NCAA fencing championship under the format that began in 1990.

Coach Zoltan Dudas’ team edged Notre Dame by seven bout victories, 182-175, for the team title.

Four of the six Tiger men earned All-America honors, and senior epeeists Jonathan Yergler and Edward Kelley made it to the medal round and faced each other in the semifinals. Yergler won, coming in second in the nation.

All six Tiger women earned All-America honors and three qualified for the medal round, including the Stone sisters and saberists Gracie, a freshman, and Eliza, a senior, and junior epeeist Susannah Scanlan.

Junior forward Andrew Calof lit up Baker Rink and picked up a slew of honors for the men’s hockey team. Calof finished third in the ECAC Hockey in scoring with 13 goals and 23 assists for 26 points and earned All-ECACH and All-Ivy honors. Despite Calof’s heroics, coach Bob Prier’s team went 10-16-5 overall and was swept by Cornell in a best-of-three ECACH opening round playoff series.

Struggling down the stretch, the women’s hockey team failed to make the ECACH tournament, ending an 11-year streak of having qualified for postseason play. Coach Jeff Kampersal’s club posted an overall record of 11-16-2. Seniors Corey Stearns and Kelly Cooke ended their careers on a high note as Stearns led the team in scoring with 31 points on 5 goals and 26 assists while Cooke tallied 27 points on a team-high 15 goals and 12 assists.

Over at DeNunzio Pool, the men’s swimming and diving team continued its domination of the Ivy League, winning its fifth straight league title. Coach Rob Orr’s squad was led by senior diver Stevie Vines along with such star swimmers as junior Daniel Hasler, junior Michael Strand, sophomore Harrison Wagner, freshman Byron Sanborn, and freshman Teo D’Allessandro.

Junior star Lisa Boyce produced a dominant performance to help the women’s swimming and diving team win the Ivy championship meet. It was the 11th title in the last 14 seasons for the Tigers and the 16th overall for coach Susan Teeter.

Boyce won three individual Ivy titles and was part of one relay winner along with two relay runners-up. She went on to earn All-America honorable mention in the 100 free at the NCAA Championships as she placed 15th.

It was the end of an era for the men’s squash team as legendary Hall of Fame coach Bob Callahan stepped down after 32 years at the helm. Callahan guided the Tigers to a tie for the Ivy title with Harvard and third in the College Squash Association (CSA) national team championships. Senior Todd Harrity finished second in the CSA individual championship.

Callahan, a 1977 Princeton alum and former Tiger squash star, led the program to 314 victories, 11 Ivy League titles and three national championships (1982, 1993, 2012) in his 32-year tenure. Sean Wilkinson, a former Bates College squash star and assistant coach at Drexel, was named to succeed Callahan.

Under its legendary coach, Gail Ramsay, the women’s squash team won the Ivy title and placed fourth in the Howe Cup team championships. Senior Julie Cerullo and junior Libby Eyre earned All-Ivy honors for Ramsay’s squad.

The men’s track and field team came within a whisker of winning the Ivy Heptagonal indoor title, finishing second to Cornell by a single point. The runner-up finish ended a streak of three straight indoor titles for coach Fred Samara’s squad. Senior Peter Callahan was named co-Most Outstanding Track Performer and junior Damon McLean was named co-Most Outstanding Field Performer at the 2013 Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championships.

A few weeks later, Callahan ended the indoor season in a blaze of glory as he ran the anchor leg for the men’s distance medley relay team that won the NCAA title. He was joined in the victorious quartet by Michael Williams, Austin Hollimon, and Russell Dinkins.

Senior Tory Worthen won her seventh consecutive Ivy League Heptagonal pole vault title to provide a highlight for women’s track. Coach Peter Farrell’s team took fourth in the Indoor Heps meet with its other victory being produced by the 4×800 relay team of senior Greta Feldman, senior Alexis Mikaelian, junior Molly Higgins, and junior Kristin Smoot.

The wrestling team made progress under coach Chris Ayres. Princeton placed three wrestlers in the top 8 at the EIWA Championships with junior Ryan Callahan taking sixth at 174 pounds, freshman Scott Gibbons taking seventh at 184 and senior Zach Bintliff placing eight at 149.

Spring Steps

Fueled by the combination of freshman goalie Ashleigh Johnson and junior star Katie Rigler, the Princeton women’s water polo team won the Eastern title.

Coach Luis Nicole’s squad ended up taking fifth at the NCAA tournament, the highest finish program. Johnson and Rigler were both named All-Americans to climax a season that saw Princeton finish with a final record of 28-6.

Over at Weaver Stadium, the men’s track team enjoyed a championship season of their own. Coach Fred Samara’s team won the Ivy League Outdoor Heptagonal Championship. It marked the third consecutive Outdoor Heps title for the Tigers and 15th overall.

The Tigers were paced at the Heps by Peter Callahan, the winner of the 1,500, and Michael Franklin, who won the 5,000 and the 10,000. Austin Hollimon won the 400 and helped the 4×400 relay to victory while Tom Hopkins joined him in the relay and also win the long jump. Russell Dinkins won the 800 and also competed on the 4×400 relay. Franklin went on to take fifth in the 10,000 at the NCAA championship meet.

Senior standout Feldman starred as the women’s track team took fourth in the Outdoor Heps. Feldman won the 800, placed second in the 1,500 and was part of the winning 4×800 relay for Peter Farrell’s team.

Other winners at the Heps meet included Imani Oliver in the triple jump, Julia Ratcliffe in the hammer throw, and Tory Worthen in the pole vault. Worthen made Ivy League history as the victory marked her eighth career Heps pole vault title.

Led by sophomore Erin McMunn and senior Caroline Rehfuss, the women’s lacrosse team returned to the NCAA tournament for the 21st time in program history. Coach Chris Sailer’s team fell to Duke 10-9 in double overtime in the NCAA opener to finish the spring at 10-7.

Junior midfielder Tom Schreiber added another chapter to his storied career for the men’s lax team, posting his second straight 60-point season and making first-team All-America for a second time. Despite Schreiber’s heroics, the Tigers fell just short of making the NCAA tournament as coach Chris Bates’ team fell 12-8 to Yale in the Ivy title game and finished the spring at 9-6.

Coach Lori Dauphiny guided her women’s open crew program to another successful season. The Tigers won their second straight Ivy team title and then took third at the NCAA regatta as the first varsity eight placed second in the grand final. The top boat was led by a quartet of seniors, Gabby Cole, Molly Hamrick, Liz Hartwig, and Heidi Robbins.

Sparked by senior star Alex Morss, the Tiger women’s lightweight crew enjoyed a solid campaign. Coach Paul Rassam’s top eight took second at the Eastern Sprints and fifth at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship grand final.

Seniors Michael Evans, Brian Wettach, and coxswain Keanan Clark helped the Princeton men’s heavyweight crew finish on an encouraging note. The trio helped the varsity eight take fourth in the Eastern Sprints and sixth in the IRA national championships. With a number of solid rowers returning, coach Greg Hughes is optimistic that the program can build on that performance in 2014.

Led by a group of freshmen and sophomores, the men’s lightweight crew gained some valuable experience. Coach Marty Crotty’s top eight placed fifth in the Eastern Sprints and sixth at the IRA national championship regatta.

Mike Ford produced a season to remember for the Princeton baseball team as he became the first player in Ivy history to be named both the league’s Player of the Year and its Pitcher of the Year. The Belle Mead, N.J. native and former Hun School standout hit .320 for second-best on the team. He ranked in the top-10 in the Ivy League in 10 categories, including No. 1 in walks (31), No. 2 in home runs (6), No. 3 in RBIs (38) and No. 4 in on-base percentage (.443). On the mound, he went 6-0 with a league-leading 0.98 ERA, third-best in a season in program history. In nine starts, he tallied five complete games, all in Ivy play, and a shutout victory. Ford ranked first in earned runs allowed (7), opposing batting average (.191) and home runs allowed (0) to place in the top-10 in 10 statistical categories in the league. He signed with the New York Yankees over the summer and player for their Staten Island Single A affiliate.

Despite Ford’s heroics, it was a disappointing year for coach Scott Bradley’s team as the Tigers went 14-28 overall and 11-9 Ivy as they tied for second in the Gehrig Division. Junior Alec Keller joined Ford as a first-team All-Ivy selection.

New head coach Lisa Sweeney injected a burst of energy into the softball program, guiding the Tigers to a 27-19 record, its most wins since 2006. Princeton finished second in the Ivy South division with a 12-8 league mark. Alex Peyton, Maddie Cousens, Alyssa Schmidt, and Nikki Chu were second-team All Ivy picks.

Led by junior Greg Jarmas, the men’s golf team won its first Ivy league title since 2006. Jarmas fired a 3-under 216 to win the individual title and help coach Will Green’s squad win the team title by five shots over Yale.

Kelly Shon matched Jarmas’ feat by winning her first Ivy women’s golf crown. Shon edged Christine Lin of Harvard in a playoff to take the title. Shon’s performance wasn’t enough for coach Nicki Cutler’s squad to win the team title as Harvard edged the Tigers by one stroke. Shon went on to place second at the NCAA East Regional to qualify for the NCAA championships, where she finished tied for 37th.

Senior Matija Pecotic made an impact on the national scene for the men’s tennis team. The three-time Ivy Player of the Year advanced to the Round of 32 at the NCAA singles championship. He helped first-year head coach Billy Pate’s tie Columbia for second in the Ivy standings.

Former pro star Laura Granville took the helm of the women’s tennis program and led the Tigers to a fourth place finish in the Ivy league race. Sophomore Lindsay Graff earned first-team All-Ivy honors in singles, while junior Katherine Flanigan was a second-team All-Ivy honoree in singles.

Sparked by first-team Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) performers, sophomore Cody Kessel and junior Pat Schwagler, the men’s volleyball team made the EIVA semis. Coach Sam Shweisky’s team went 13-10 as they ended the year by falling to perennial power Penn State in the EIVA tourney

Fall Feats:

Coming off an encouraging 2012 season that saw it win five games after going 1-9 in the previous two seasons, the Princeton football team was still seen as being a year away from contending for an Ivy title. But with junior quarterback Quinn Epperly putting together a season for the ages, the Tigers moved up the timetable.

Coach Bob Surace’s squad went 8-2 overall and 6-1 in league play, tying Harvard for the Ivy crown, giving Princeton its first title since 2006.

Epperly, for his part, rewrote portions of the Princeton record book en route to one of the greatest seasons in program history. He matched the single-season passing touchdown record of Doug Butler ’86 (25, 1983), and he came within one of matching the single-season rushing touchdown record of Keith Elias ’94 (19, 1994). He missed the single-season completion percentage record by the slimmest of margins; his 68.0 percent finished second to Jason Garrett ’89 (68.2 percent, 1988).

He set an NCAA record with 29 straight completions in Princeton’s 53-20 victory over Cornell; that followed Princeton’s 51-48 triple-overtime win at Harvard, when Epperly set Princeton single-game records for both completions (37) and passing touchdowns (six). He set an Ivy League record by earning the Offensive Player of the Week honor six times, including five in a row; all six of his honors followed Princeton’s six Ivy League victories.

He made first-team Ivy League along with receiver Roman Wilson, defensive back Anthony Gaffney, center Joe Goss, offensive tackle Spenser Huston, and defensive lineman Caraun Reid.

To add icing to the cake, Princeton got to celebrate a second straight bonfire, emblematic of beating Harvard and Yale in the same season.

Despite dealing with some heavy graduation losses and a rash of injuries, the Tiger field hockey team made a spirited defense of its 2012 NCAA title. Coach Kristen Holmes-Winn’s squad won its ninth straight Ivy title and advanced to the NCAA quarters where it dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker to Maryland.

Princeton ended the fall at 14-5 and senior Michelle Cesan was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year while classmate Julia Reinprecht was chosen as the Defensive Player of the Year. Freshman Annabeth Donovan was picked as the co-Rookie of the Year. The Tiger trio earned first-team All-Ivy honors along with sophomore Teresa Benvenuti.

The men’s soccer team fell just short of an Ivy crown, finishing third with a 4-2-1 league mark, one win behind champion Penn, which posted a 5-1-1 record. Coach Jim Barlow’s squad went 7-9-1 overall and had four players, junior forward Cameron Porter, sophomore forward Thomas Sanner, junior midfielder Myles McGinley, and sophomore defender Josh Miller, earn first-team All-Ivy honors.

Unable to recapture the magic of a 2012 campaign that saw it go undefeated in Ivy play and reach the second round of the NCAA tournament, the women’s soccer team had a down year. Coach Julie Shackford’s squad went 7-6-4 overall and 1-5-1 Ivy.

Senior midfielder Gabriella Guzman made first-team All Ivy while Tyler Lussi, an honorable mention All Ivy performer, became the first Tiger freshman to reach 10 goals since Linda DeBoer ‘86 in 1982.

Spending most of the season in the top 20, the men’s water polo team narrowly missed making the NCAA tournament as it lost 11-9 to St. Francis in the CWPA Championship finals. Coach Luis Nicolao’s squad went 22-6 overall with junior Drew Hoffenberg getting named as a first-team All-CWPA Southern Division performer and freshman Jovan Jeremic being picked as the Southern Rookie of the Year.

A one-two punch of senior stars Tyler Udland and Chris Bendtsen helped the men’s cross country team take second at the Ivy League Heptagonal cross country championships. Udland and Bendtsen finished sixth and seventh, respectively in the race as coach Jason Vigilante’s squad was edged by Columbia. Princeton went on to finish 22nd in the NCAA championship meet.

Freshman Megan Curham enjoyed an impressive debut season for the women’s cross country team, emerging as a frontrunner for the Tigers. She placed fourth at the Ivy League Heps to help Peter Farrell’s squad take fourth in the team standings. The Tigers ended the season by coming in 30th at the NCAA championship meet with Curham earning All-American honors with her 34th place finish.

Rebounding from some early season struggles, the women’s volleyball team played well down the stretch as it won four of its last six matches to finish the season at 10-14 overall and 6-8 Ivy. Freshman Cara Mattaliano, who led the league in both kills and points in league matches, earned first-team All-Ivy League honors for coach Sabrina King’s squad.

Hun

It was a winter of championship breakthroughs at the Hun School. Sparked by senior star defenseman Eric Szeker and rock-solid junior goalie Devin Cheifetz, the Hun boys’ hockey team won its first-ever Independence Hockey League (IHL) championship. Coach Ian McNally’s squad topped Haverford School (Pa.) 5-3 in the IHL championship game and ended the winter with final record of 16-5-4. Stellar seniors Fergus Duke, Hashim Moore, Jake Newman, and Grant Mackay helped the Hun boys’ hoops team followed suit as it won the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament. Coach Jon Stone’s team had to rally from a late deficit of 10 points in the MAPL opener to top Hill (Pa.)and then gathered steam, rolling past Lawrenceville 46-31 in the title game. The Raiders later advanced to the state prep A title game and ended the winter with a gaudy 20-6 record.

Coach Bill Holup guided the girls’ team to another solid campaign as the Raiders went 14-11, advancing to both the MAPL and Prep A semis. Hun was sparked by the play of junior center Johnnah Johnson who provided a dominating inside presence.

In the spring, the Hun boys’ lax team caught fire under new coach M.V. Whitlow and advanced to the state Prep A title game where it fell to perennial champion Lawrenceville. The Raiders were led by seniors Zach Bicho,  Greg Flood and Zach Winterstein as they posted an 11-6 record.

Prolific senior standout and Boston College-bound Kate Weeks passed the 300-goal mark in her career with Hun girls’ lax team, helping the Raiders go 6-9 under new head coach Haley Sanborn.

Senior star catcher Carey Million saved her best for last, hitting over .500 as she helped Hun softball advance to the Prep A title game where it fell 5-3 to archrival Peddie. Coach Kathy Quirk’s team went 11-7 and has plenty of hope for the future as freshman ace Alexis Goeke established herself as one of the top pitchers in the area.

Guided by legendary head coach Bill McQuade, the Hun baseball team fell short of a Prep A title by an eyelash, falling 2-1 to Blair in the championship series. The Raiders were led by seniors Stevie Wells, Shane Adams, Devan Birch, and Austin Goeke as they posted a record of 16-7 in McQuade’s 43rd spring guiding the program.

Under coach Todd Loffredo, the boy’s tennis team went through a rebuilding season as several young players gained valuable experience in a 3-12 campaign.

It looked like it was going to be a long season when the Hun girls’ soccer team got off to a 0-7 start under new head coach Joanna Hallac. But with a corps of freshmen coming of age and some key veterans returning from injury, the Raiders got on a roll down the stretch.

Led by senior Olivia Braender-Carr, junior Ashley Maziarz, and sophomore Jess Johnson, Hun pulled two upsets on the way to the state Prep A championship game against perennial power Pennington. Hun fell 2-0 to the Pennington and ended the season at 7-12-1. While the title game defeat stung, the future looks bright as most of the squad will be back in 2014.

The boys’ soccer team also stumbled out of the gate as it started 1-4. But under the steady hand of coach Pat Quirk, the Raiders righted the ship and made a stirring run in the Mercer County Tournament. Hun was seeded 11th in the MCT and topped No. 6 Princeton High, last year’s state Group III co-champion and third-seeded Allentown, the eventual 2013 Group III co-champion on the way to the semis. Battling valiantly, the Raiders fell 2-0 to second-seeded Hightstown. The run, which helped Hun finish with a record of 7-12, was triggered by a core of senior stars, Felix Dalstein, Bailey Hammer, Chris Meinert, and Andres Gonzalez.

With John Law taking the helm of the football program just weeks before the season started, Hun took a while to get in synch. Bouncing back from a 0-4 start, Hun won two of its last four games and has plenty of hope for the future with the return of quarterback Donavon Harris and running back Chris Sharp.

Led by a pair of seniors, Francesca Bello and Alex Kane, the field hockey team had a competitive fall. Under coach Kathy Quirk, the Raiders posted a 6-14 mark.

Featuring a young squad without one senior on the roster, the girls’ tennis team made good progress. Under longtime coach Joan Nuse, the Raiders went 6-7 and placed fourth in the MAPL tournament.

PDS

Davon Reed capped his brilliant career with the Princeton Day School boys’ hoops team by eclipsing the 2,000-point mark, ending up with a program record total of 2,102. The senior guard led the way as coach Paris McLean’s team went 19-8 and reached the Mercer County Tournament semis and the state Prep B title game where they lost a 47-45 heartbreaker to Pennington. Reed went on to University of Miami where he averaged 9.0 points a game through the first 10 games of his college career.

Led by a stellar group of seniors, the PDS boys’ hockey team produced one of the best seasons in program history. Coach Scott Bertoli’s team went 21-3-1 and tied Morristown-Beard 2-2 in the state Prep championship game to share the title.

The team’s Class of 2013 included Cody Triolo, Rob Colton, Conrad Denise, Connor Walker, Eddie Meyercord, C.J. Young, Taran Auslander, Tucker Triolo (Cody’s cousin), and Grahame Davis.

Sparked by senior goalie Daisy Maze and junior defenseman Robin Linzmayer, the girls’ hockey team continued to make progress. Coach Lorna Gifis Cook led her squad to a 10-8 mark.

Hurt by a thin roster, the girls’ basketball team fought an uphill battle. Coach Mika Ryan led her squad to an 8-14 season. After the season, Ryan headed to WW/P-S to guide its girls’ program and was replaced by Kamau Bailey.

It was another big spring for the PDS boy’s lacrosse team as it advanced to the Prep B title game and the MCT semis. Coach Rob Tuckman’s team posted a final record of 11-6 and was paced by Lehigh-bound senior standout Cody Triolo with classmates Taran Auslander, Eddie Meyercord, Derek Bell, Brendan Shannon, Andrew Phipps, Bump Lisk, and Tucker Triolo also making valuable contributions.

Senior star and MIT-bound Hannah Levy triggered the offense for the girls’ lacrosse team as she passed the 150-goal mark in her career. Levy’s prowess helped coach Jill Thomas’ squad go 6-7.

A core of talented young players helped the baseball team produce a promising spring. Sophomores Cole McManimon, Jake Alu, and J.P. Radvany starred as coach Ray O’Brien’s team went 9-12. Senior star and VMI-bound B.J Dudeck ended his career on a high note, hitting a team-high .406 with 18 RBIs.

Junior Neeraj Devulapalli and a pair of freshmen, David Zhang and Scott Altmeyer, came up big at singles as the boys’ tennis team shared the state Prep B team title along with Pennington and Montclair Kimberley. Coach Will Asch’s team went 10-3 on the season and placed second in the Mercer County Tournament.

The softball team hung together despite a lack of depth, going 0-6 under coach Paul Lano.

Coming off a disappointing 4-9-4 season in 2012, the PDS girls’ soccer team was hungry to regain its winning ways this fall. Cultivating a positive team chemistry to get the best out of its talent, the Panthers enjoyed one of the best seasons in program history, Coach Pat Trombetta’s squad lost just once in regular season play and then topped Hamilton, Robbinsville, Princeton High on the way to the MCT title game against Hopewell Valley. With the teams knotted in a scoreless tie late in the second half of the championship contest, PDS broke through with goals by Eloise Stanton and Kirsten Kuzmicz to earn a 2-0 victory and the team’s first-ever MCT title. The Panthers also advanced to the state Prep B title game where they fell to Morristown-Beard 2-0.

PDS posted a final record of 17-2-1 and Trombetta credited senior co-captains Brit Murray and Lily Razzaghi with providing positive leadership that got the team on the same page. With such returning stalwarts as Kuzmicz, Erin Hogan, and the Soltesz twins, Stef and Alexa, the Panthers seemed poised to be title contenders again in 2014.

Sparked by singles stars Renee Karchere-Sun, Maria Martinovic, and Emily Dyckman, the girls’ tennis team won its second straight state Prep B team title. Junior Martinovic won the Prep B second singles crown with classmate Dyckman following suit at third singles. Sophomore Karchere-Sun took second at first singles. Coach Ed Tseng’s squad also took third in the team standings at the MCT.

A quartet of senior stars, Mary Travers, Sarah Brennan, Emma Quigley, and Emily Goldman, helped the field hockey team stay on track as it went through some ups and downs. Playing its best hockey in the final weeks of the campaign, coach Tracey Arndt’s squad went 9-10 and advanced to the state Prep B semifinals.

Skilled junior Marco Pinheiro stood out at midfield as the boys’ soccer team struggled through a rough fall, Coach Malcolm Murphy’s team posted a final record of 3-11-3.

Led by a pair of talented freshmen, Ian Moini and Sam Noden, the boys’ cross country team made strides. Coach Merrill Noden’s team finished fourth in the Prep B championship meet with Moini placing sixth individually and Noden taking 11th.

Another freshman standout, Morgan Mills, made an immediate impact for girls’ cross country. Mills was the team’s top runner from day one and set the pace as coach Noden’s Panthers took ninth in the team standings at the county meet and ended the season by placing third in the Prep B championship meet.

PHS

It was another big winter in the pool for the Princeton High swimming program. The PHS boys’ team won its third straight county crown and fifth straight Public B Central Jersey sectional championship. Coach Greg Hand’s team was led by a stellar group of juniors, Will Stange, Peter Kalibat, Colburn Yu, Matt Purdy, and Scott MacKenzie, as it went 15-1.

Coach Hand guided his girls’ squad to a breakthrough season as the Little Tigers won their first-ever county title. Led by the senior duo of Serena Deardorff and Marisa Giglio along with a pair of precocious freshmen in Madeleine Deardorff and Brianna Romaine, PHS advanced to the sectional final and posted a final record of 13-1.

Under new head coach Mark Shelley, the boys’ basketball team enjoyed a promising campaign. Sparked by seniors Lior Levy and Scott Bechler, the Little Tigers went 12-11 and advanced to the second round of the Central Jersey Group III sectional.

Led by the trio of junior Liz Jacobs, sophomore Mary Sutton, and freshman Julia Ryan, the girls’ basketball team fought an uphill battle. The Little Tigers posted a 4-14 record and coach Steffanie Shoop stepped down after the season. Dan Van Hise, the PHS JV boys’ hoops coach, was named to replace Shoop.

Sparked by senior Matt DiTosto along with juniors Patrick McCormick, Spencer Reynolds, with sophomores Jackson Andres, John Reid and Connor McCormick, the boys’ hockey team maintained its winning tradition. The Little Tigers posted a 10-9-1 record under coach Tim Campbell. After the season, Campbell stepped down and was replaced by longtime assistant and former PHS standout, Terence Miller.

Sophomore Lucy Herring was a standout for the girls’ hockey team, providing the main highlights as the team went winless under coach Christian Herzog.

The winter track team produced some fine individual efforts for coach Ben Samara. Senior Tim Brennan took third in the shot put at the state Group III meet while classmate Ian McIsaac placed third in the 1,600. On the girls’ side, junior Michelle Bazile finished third in the shot put at the state Group III meet at Toms River.

Senior star David Klinges proved to be a standout for the PHS wrestling team. Klinges took third at 160 pounds District 17 tournament to lead the way as coach Rashone Johnson’s squad placed eighth of nine schools in the team standings.

It was a breakthrough spring for the PHS lacrosse programs. Coach Peter Stanton passed the 200-win mark at the helm of the boys’ program and led the Little Tigers to their first-ever county crown. Led by such veteran stars as Adam Ainslie, Matt Corrado, Matt Purdy, Matt DiTosto, Jack Persico and the Halliday brothers, Zach and Kevin, the Little Tigers routed Allentown 10-4 in the MCT championship game. PHS also produced a good run in the state tournament, advancing to the South Jersey Group III sectional semifinals where it fell to powerful Shawnee 5-4. The Little Tigers ended the spring with a final record of 16-4.

With the one-two punch of juniors Emilia Lopez-Ona and Liz Jacobs triggering the offense, the girls’ lax team made some history of its own. Coach Kelsey O’Gorman’s squad went 18-4 and made it to the sectional final for the first time this century.

Riding the pitching of sophomore ace Sara Eisenach and the hitting production of senior star and Wisconsin-bound Marisa Gonzalez, the PHS softball team reached new heights. Coach Dave Boehm’s club hit double figures in wins for the first time in program history, going 11-12 on the spring.

Senior infielder Ellis Bloom and senior pitcher Rohit Chawla had big years as the baseball team rebounded from a tough start to finish in a high note. After losing 10 of their first 11 games, the Little Tigers ended the season at 9-15 for head coach Dave Roberts.

The boys’ tennis team enjoyed another superb spring, finishing fourth in the MCT and advancing to the Central Jersey Group III finals. Coach Sarah Hibbert’s squad posted a final record of 16-2 and was sparked by the doubles duo of Tyler Hack and Zach Kleiman together with singles stars Rishab Tanga and Brock DeHaven.

Senior star thrower and Dartmouth-bound Tim Brennan starred for boys’ track, winning the discus at the Central Jersey Group III sectional meet. Brennan, along with running standouts Anders Berg, Matt Wong, Conor Donahue, and Jacob Rist, helped coach Rashone Johnson’s team place fifth at the sectional meet.

Another throwing star, junior Michelle Bazile, stood out for the girls’ track team. Bazile won both the shot put and discus at the Central Jersey Group III sectional meet to help coach Jim Smirk’s squad place ninth at the meet. The quartet of Paige Metzheiser, Lou Mialhe, Julie Bond, and Amelia Whaley also performed well at the sectional, placing fifth in the 4×800 relay.

Girls’ tennis star Christina Rosca produced one of the highlights of the fall season as she rallied to pull out a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Fair Lawn’s Valerie Shklover in the NJSIAA state girls’ singles final. It was the first-ever state singles crown for a PHS player. Rosca helped the Little Tigers reach the Group III team championship match where they fell 4-1 to Montville. Coach Sarah Hibbert’s club, which placed second in the MCT with Rosca winning the first singles crown, posted a final record of 16-1.

Led by senior Emilia Lopez Ona and a pair of juniors, Julia DiTosto and Lucy Herring, the field hockey team continued it recent run of success. Coach Heather Serverson’s squad went 13-4-2, reaching the county semis and advancing to the North 2, Group III sectional quarterfinals.

Junior striker Shannon Pawlak provided the offense while Dana Smith and Haley Bodden controlled the midfield as girls’ soccer produced another outstanding campaign. Coach Greg Hand’s squad advanced to the county semis and the Central Jersey Group III sectional quarterfinals and finished the fall at 14-4.

Seniors Kevin Halliday and John Blair along with junior Chase Ealy stood out as the boys’ soccer team experienced a bumpy ride this fall. After starting 7-1-1, the Little Tigers slumped over the last few weeks of the regular season and lost to Hun in the opening round of the MCT. Coach Wayne Sutcliffe’s team showed its quality in the state tourney as it advanced to the Group III Central Jersey sectional semis where it fell 1-0 to eventual state Group III co-champion Allentown. PHS ended the fall with a 10-6-3 record.

Paced by Jacob Rist and Conor Donahue, the boys’ cross country team continued to make strides. Under new coach Mark Shelley, PHS placed fourth in the county meet and second in the Central Jersey Group III sectional.

Sophomore Lou Mialhe raced to the head of the pack for girls’ cross country and helped the Little Tigers enjoy another superb campaign. Coach Jim Smirk’s took second at the county meet and third at the Central Jersey Group III sectional.

Senior Liam Helstrom did it all for the PHS football team, grabbing 50 receptions for 853 yards and seven touchdowns at receiver and making 110 tackles with four forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery at linebacker. Despite Helstrom’s heroics, it was a long year for the Little Tigers as they went 0-10 under new coach Charlie Gallagher.

Stuart

The arrival of new head coach Dana Leary gave the Stuart Country Day School basketball team a fresh start. Although the Tartans went 2-13, such young players as freshman Harley Guzman, freshman Kate Walsh, sophomore Nneka Onukwugha, and sophomore Harlyn Bell showed progress.

Lacey-Ann Wisdom led the way as Stuart track finished third of eight teams at the state Prep B championship meet at Gill St. Bernard. Wisdom won the long jump and the triple jump for coach Len Klepack’s squad. Olivia Vande Woude placed fourth in the 400-meter hurdles while Paul-Anne Robb was fifth in the 100 hurdles and fifth in the triple jump. Queen Johnson took sixth in both the 100 hurdles and the 100 dash. Kate Walsh took fourth in the discus and fifth in the high jump. The quartet of Annaliza Carey, Robb, Vande Woude and Wisdom placed second in the 4×100 relay.

A trio of freshmen, Julia Maser, Sam Servis, and Tori Hannah, provided a slew of highlights in the spring for the Stuart lacrosse team. Maser had a team-high 45 points on 36 goals and 9 assists with Hannah chipping in 20 goals and 14 assists, and Servis tallying 24 goals and 7 assists as coach Caitlin Grant’s squad went 4-10.

Julia Rourke starred at second singles as the tennis team went 3-6 in dual match play. Coach Katherine Stoltenberg’s squad placed 12th in the MCT.

The trio of Maser, Servis, and Hannah along with seniors Amy Hallowell and Margaret LaNasa starred as field hockey was much improved. Coach Missy Bruvik guided the Tartans to the state Prep B semis and a 7-14 record, more than doubling the program’s win total from 2012 when it went 3-14-1.

TAYLOR MADE: Princeton University women’s basketball player Taylor Williams heads to the basket in recent action. Last Wednesday, sophomore center Williams contributed eight points, three rebounds, and two assists to help Princeton top Illinois State 65-39. Princeton, now 7-4, is next in action when it plays in the Cavalier Classic at the University of Virginia from December 28-29.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TAYLOR MADE: Princeton University women’s basketball player Taylor Williams heads to the basket in recent action. Last Wednesday, sophomore center Williams contributed eight points, three rebounds, and two assists to help Princeton top Illinois State 65-39. Princeton, now 7-4, is next in action when it plays in the Cavalier Classic at the University of Virginia from December 28-29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Princeton University women’s basketball team trailing Illinois State 9-3 in the early going last Wednesday, Taylor Williams made her presence felt in helping to turn the tide for the Tigers.

The 6’3 sophomore center scored six points to trigger a 15-0 run which broke the game open for Princeton as it cruised to a 65-39 rout of the Redbirds.

For Williams, who played just 84 minutes for the Tigers last winter, the lowest total on the team, just being present on the court is a joy.

“It is a lot of fun being out there,” said Williams, a native of Warren, Ohio.

“We have a fun group of girls this year. The chemistry on and off the court is unreal. Getting to play with these girls and fulfilling whatever role I am placed in on this team, especially with the Ivies coming up, is really important.”

Williams is carving out a role as a key reserve down low, averaging 7.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in 18.9 minutes per game this winter for Princeton, which improved to 7-4 with the victory over Illinois State.

The center’s progress is the product of some rigorous offseason training. “Last year, I knew what to do but I wasn’t as confident with it,” said Williams.

“I put in a lot of work over the summer with individual coaches and playing pickup. I worked on post moves and a lot of one-vs-one against other players. My main focus was being dominant on the low block and now it feels good to be somewhat of a presence down low against the other team’s defender.”

Williams’ diligent approach is emblematic of Princeton’s collective mindset.

“This is a group that definitely wants to get better and consistently comes to practice with a mindset that we want to get better,” said Williams of the Tigers who are taking a four-game winning streak into the holiday break.

“Losing last year’s seniors, we knew this year wasn’t going to be easy and everybody has stepped up to their role. Everyone is prepared to work hard for the success we want in the Ivies coming up.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart is pleasantly surprised by how quickly Williams has stepped up.

“Taylor Williams is critical to our team and I would never imagine saying that so quickly in her career,” said Banghart.

“She is playing with confidence and has a post presence. She really wants to be helpful and she doesn’t care how.”

The Tigers got help from rapidly improving freshman guard Taylor Brown in the win over Illinois State as she contributed nine points and eight rebounds.

“Taylor Brown is gaining her collegiate sea legs and you guys are now seeing the type of lead guard that I recruited,” said Banghart. “She has adjusted to our pace, we have been pretty hard on her.”

While Banghart wasn’t thrilled with the type of performance Princeton produced against Illinois State as it committed 28 turnovers, she is happy with the bottom line.

“I think they were a little bit bored tonight, which worries me because in the league I think there are times where you have to fight that,” said Banghart.

“We knew we wanted to play a lot of kids so I think that got us out of rhythm too. We could make a lot of excuses or just say we are 7-4 with a very, very tough schedule and just four home games.”

Upon returning from the holiday break, the Tigers will be thrown right back in the fire as they compete in the Cavalier Classic at the University of Virginia from December 28-29 where they face Alabama in the opening round and either Coppin State or Virginia in their next game.

“This doesn’t get any easier,” said Banghart, whose team will stay on the road with games at Drexel on January 4 and its Ivy League opener at Penn on January 11.

“I think we do need this mental break from each other because I have really been pushing them hard and I think you are seeing why, they are getting a lot better. I have been pushing them harder than I have pushed any other team. I think they need a few days away from my voice and I think I need a few days away from critiquing them.”

Williams, for her part, is ready to keep pushing when the Tigers head to Virginia.

“We are really excited for that, Alabama is a really good team and the other opponents in the tournament are awesome,” said Williams.

“Away trips are really good experiences for all of the players. It is a good feeling for preparation going into the Ivies; we know we worked harder than anyone else.”

Brianna Romaine is an adrenaline junkie when it comes to her swimming.

“I have always done sprint training,” said Romaine, a sophomore standout for the Princeton High girls’ swimming team. “I just love the rush, going up and getting after it right away.”

Last Thursday, Romaine certainly got after it as PHS competed at WW/PS. The sprint specialist won both the 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke races as the Little Tigers cruised to a 100-70 win over the Pirates.

Romaine loved seeing PHS post a second straight win over WW/P-S as the Little Tigers had not beaten the Pirates this century until topping them 94-76 last year.

“It is such a big step for us,” said Romaine, reflecting on the victory which improved the Little Tigers to 5-0.

“South is always such a big meet and it’s a big focus meet and we were power pointing. It is a great start for the early season. It feels good to get a leg up and just race.”

Showing her focus, Romaine posted a time of 55:06 in winning the 100 free, more than two seconds better than runner-up Annie Menninger from WW/P-S. Romaine won the 100 back race by an even greater margin as she posted a time of 1:03.51 with Sarah Lattime of WW/P-S finishing second in 1:08.82.

“I was very happy with my times, they were close to my top meet times,” said Romaine, who also competes on the club level for Peddie Aquatics.

“I couldn’t ask for much else, my teammates are so supportive. My 100 back was good. There is still so much more room for improvement like my turns and my underwater kicks. Getting these races in now and having the opportunity to race so many times in the high school season definitely helps me work on the things I need to. It helps my swimming overall.”

Having a full season of high school swimming under her belt has also helped Romaine.

“I feel like I know the drill better,” said Romaine. “I know how I need to prepare myself before my races. Before I would warm up randomly but now I know that I need to get in at the break and I need to swim before. I know that I always need to drink water. I am more aware of things.”

With the Little Tigers off to such a good start, the team appears well-prepared to make a spirited run at defending its title at the Mercer County Championships in a few weeks time.

“I could not be more proud of the girls team,” asserted Romaine, who will look to help PHS stay on the winning track when it returns from the holiday break to host Steinert on January 2.

“We are a young team. We have some very strong freshmen. We all swam great today. Our captains are really organized and they are great leaders. The counties are definitely something to look forward to. The team has talked about it and beating South is the perfect way to look forward to the future.”

YU KNOW IT:  Princeton High boys’ swim star Colburn Yu heads to a win last year in the breaststroke. Senior Yu and his classmates have sparked PHS to a hot start this winter. The Little Tigers topped WW/P-S 110-60 last Thursday to improve to 5-0. PHS returns from the holiday break to host Steinert on January 2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

YU KNOW IT: Princeton High boys’ swim star Colburn Yu heads to a win last year in the breaststroke. Senior Yu and his classmates have sparked PHS to a hot start this winter. The Little Tigers topped WW/P-S 110-60 last Thursday to improve to 5-0. PHS returns from the holiday break to host Steinert on January 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

During his sophomore season with the Princeton High boys’ swimming team two years ago, Peter Kalibat followed the lead of the squad’s seniors as PHS went undefeated on the way to the program’s first state title.

Now as a senior co-captain, Kalibat is trying to emulate the example set by the team’s Class of 2012.

“We can take some guidance from the seniors that we had then and take on that role for our younger underclassmen now,” said Kalibat.

“We had some great leaders in that class and we are trying to be the same thing to our younger guys.”

Last Thursday, Kalibat assumed a lead role as PHS posted a 110-60 win over WW/P-S with the senior distance specialist winning both the 200 and 500 freestyle races.

“This is definitely one of our main focus meets,” said Kalibat, who also helped the 200 free and 400 free relay teams to victory against WW/P-S.

“We were power pointing so it was very important. We had some great energy going into the meet. We were trying to go very fast and swim as hard as we could and get an early season fast meet, which we did. I am very proud of our team and our performances.”

Kalibat was pleased with how he performed in his individual races against the Pirates.

“I was very happy with my time; 1:47 is a very good time for this early in the season,” said Kalibat, reflecting on his win in the 200 free.

“It gives me a nice idea of where I am right now and what I need to work on — some turns, coming off my walls for some good breakouts. I was very happy with the time in the 500. I definitely still had to go because we were power pointing so I tried nice and hard to help the team out.”

While many swimmers consider the distance races to be hard labor, Kalibat thrives when it comes to endurance.

“I took a turn when I was about 14, then I was more of a stroke guy; I would swim the 500 and down,” said Kalibat.

“Once I got to high school, I focused more on distance. I went to open water nationals in the spring. That’s a 10-kilometer race and it gets you working at threshold for hours at a time so it gets you pumping for a whole race. Once you get to a 500 in a pool it feels so much shorter.

Kalibat and his senior classmates, who include Will Stange, Matt Purdy, Colburn Yu, Scott MacKenzie, Matthew Tam, Eric Zhang, and Avery Soong, are pumped up for their stretch drive which starts with a home meet against Steinert on January 2.

“It is a great senior class, we support each other all the way through,” said Kalibat of the class which has helped PHS earn three straight county and sectional titles.

“They are great guys and great to have on a team because there is some great sportsmanship. We are always cheering each other on; always wishing everyone good luck and supporting everyone after their swims. We have some goals that we want to achieve.”

And based on how the seniors have started their final campaign, they could match the achievements of their 2012 role models.

CHASING SUCCESS: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Chase Lewis dribbles the ball in recent action. Freshman guard Lewis scored six points in a losing cause as PDS fell 58-52 to Conwell-Egan last Wednesday. The Panthers, now 0-4, are next in action when they compete in the Prime Time Shoot-Out on December 27 and 29.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CHASING SUCCESS: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Chase Lewis dribbles the ball in recent action. Freshman guard Lewis scored six points in a losing cause as PDS fell 58-52 to Conwell-Egan last Wednesday. The Panthers, now 0-4, are next in action when they compete in the Prime Time Shoot-Out on December 27 and 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Dan Van Hise enjoyed the first quarter of his first game as the head coach of the Princeton High girls’ basketball team.

Showing spunk, PHS battled visiting Allentown tooth and nail in the early stages of last Friday’s contest, trailing 9-8.

“I loved the way things started,” said Van Hise. “The girls really seemed to be fired up for their first game. They mentioned in the locker room, it was great to feel the newness, the new regime. It was really nice to see it come out in the first quarter.”

The Little Tigers edged ahead 10-9 early in the second quarter but then the roof fell in, as the Redbirds got hot from the outside. Reeling off 27 unanswered points, Allentown rolled to a 36-10 lead by halftime.

While PHS scrapped in the second half, it couldn’t narrow the gap, losing 58-24.

Van Hise acknowledged that his team didn’t respond well to the Allentown run. “We have got to start to know how to bounce back off a run; even six or eight points is a run and they need to know that it doesn’t have to turn into 27,” said Van Hise.

“We just didn’t close out on their shooters in the first half. We talked about how somebody needs to make a play. It doesn’t have to be a basket. It can be taking a charge. It can be forcing yourself to get an offensive rebound and get fouled. Something needs to happen to stem the tide a little bit so that we can calm things down.”

The Little Tigers didn’t put their heads down as they kept fighting to the final whistle.

“I loved their attitude, the girls on the bench really tried to keep things positive, that was good to see,” said Van Hise. “That’s part of what we are trying to do here.”

PHS has to do better in terms of offensive execution. “I think they were still a little wishy-washy on the plays,” said Van Hise.

“It is game one and I don’t know that many of them have run plays in previous years. That is going to come with time. I would like to see that be a little crisper, even at this point.”

The combination of junior Mary Sutton and sophomore Julia Ryan made some nice plays in the opener.

“Mary had a nice game,” said Van Hise of Sutton, who scored a team-high nine points for the Little Tigers.

“She and Julia should be a nice backcourt all season. I think Mary’s strength is shooting but she needs to be more of a point guard first. She is going to have to score for us and she was aggressive.”

Sophomore Haley Bodden, a standout for the girls’ soccer team gave PHS some aggressiveness off the bench.

“Haley is aggressive, she is an athlete first and a basketball player second and that’s OK,” said Van Hise.

“She has a nice little first step but she kind of hesitates with the ball. She has to go right to the hoop but she should be a nice player off the bench.”

In Van Hise’s view, the team’s nice start Friday will pay dividends down the road.

“I knew that Allentown is a strong program; what the girls are thinking right now is that we know we can play a little bit,” said Van Hise, whose team was slated to play at Monroe on December 23 before starting 2014 action with a game at Trenton Central on January 2.

“I think that first quarter is going to go a long way at some point. There was good energy and that was great for me to see. There was a decent crowd and good energy coming off of it. Hopefully that will be the positive they will take from the game.”

OPENING DRIVE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Liz Jacobs drives up the court during the the 2012-13 season. Last Friday, senior forward Jacobs scored three points as PHS lost 58-24 to Allentown in the season opener for both teams and the debut of new Little Tiger head coach Dan Van Hise. PHS was slated to play at Monroe on December 23 before starting 2014 action with a game at Trenton Central on January 2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OPENING DRIVE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Liz Jacobs drives up the court during the the 2012-13 season. Last Friday, senior forward Jacobs scored three points as PHS lost 58-24 to Allentown in the season opener for both teams and the debut of new Little Tiger head coach Dan Van Hise. PHS was slated to play at Monroe on December 23 before starting 2014 action with a game at Trenton Central on January 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team has started the season by losing its first four games, Paris McLean is far from discouraged.

“We are playing well for most of the games but we are giving up one big quarter and that is hurting us,” said head coach McLean. “Teams are having 20-point quarters and we are digging ourselves a hole.”

At the Peddie School Invitational Tournament (PSIT), the Panthers showed character as they rebounded from a lopsided defeat to the Phelps School in the first round to battle cross-town rival Hun School in a consolation contest.

“The number one thing I have learned about this team is that we are resilient,” asserted McLean, whose team fell 65-46 to Hun.

“When you a lose a tough game like we did to Phelps, you don’t know what kind of team is going to come out the next day. We came out and played Hun tough. We were more disciplined on offense and we were steadier on defense. We played well.”

While the Panthers came up empty at the PSIT, McLean views the tourney as a key learning experience.

“It is fantastic competition, it is the best competition we are going to see all year,” said McLean.

“It is an honor to be invited. It is a good measuring stick of where we are and what we need to improve on.”

In its final action before Christmas, the Panthers showed more improvement as they dropped a 58-52 nailbiter at Conwell-Egan (Pa.) last Wednesday.

“We came out and built a six or seven point lead,” recalled McLean. “But then they went ahead by 15. We battled it back and cut it to five. When you fight back like that, you get spent and the kids run out of gas. Everyone played and some guys really stepped up.”

Senior guard Ford Schneider has been stepping up big time this winter for PDS.

“Ford was all-tournament at Peddie and that is a testament to the hard work he has put in,” said McLean.

“Ford has been fantastic for us. He is a do-it-all player; he goes to the basket. He gets rebounds, he is more confident offensively.”

The backcourt tandem of seniors Deante Cole and Zach Banks has earned McLean’s confidence.

“Deante has been great,” said McLean of Cole who had 17 points in the defeat to Conwell-Egan.

“He has been very aggressive, he has been going to the basket and facilitating things. Zach has been good in relief, doing some ballhandling so Deante can play off guard at times.”

In McLean’s view, the holiday break comes at a good time for PDS since such key players like Langston Glaude, J.P. Radvany, and Josiah Meekins have missed time due to injury.

“It will be good to rest guys and get some guys practice-ready,” said McLean. “It is a great time to rest mentally and physically and reflect on things.”

As PDS returns to action by competing in the Prime Time Shoot-Out on December 27 and 29, McLean wants the team to focus on a few key things.

“We need to get leads and keep them,” said McLean. “The defensive intensity has to step up; that starts in practice. We can’t let other teams have those big quarters; we need to stem that.”

McLean is hoping that his team can enjoy another big run at the Prime Time event.

“We are excited to go back to the Prime Time as defending champions,” said McLean. “We will play Rancocas Valley in the first round and we know they are a tough Group IV team.”

December 18, 2013
FEELING THE BURN: Princeton University women’s basketball player Amanda Berntsen races up the court last Sunday as the Tigers hosted Delaware. Sophomore guard Berntsen played a key role as Princeton pulled out an 84-80 win in overtime, contributing eight points, six rebounds, and two assists. The Tigers, now 6-4, host Illinois State on December 18.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FEELING THE BURN: Princeton University women’s basketball player Amanda Berntsen races up the court last Sunday as the Tigers hosted Delaware. Sophomore guard Berntsen played a key role as Princeton pulled out an 84-80 win in overtime, contributing eight points, six rebounds, and two assists. The Tigers, now 6-4, host Illinois State on December 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Amanda Berntsen was an afterthought for the Princeton University women’s basketball team last winter in her freshman campaign, playing a total of 152 minutes in 23 appearances.

Determined to be a bigger contributor for the Tigers as a sophomore, Berntsen put her nose to the grindstone during the offseason.

“Last year I got some minutes but not too much,” said Bentsen, a 5’8 native of Chatham, N.J.

“I worked hard over the summer. I just took tons of shots. I have just been able to develop poise and confidence being the point guard and I think that has carried me a long way. Now I am able to do things that I just didn’t have the confidence to do on the court last year. Defensively, I just learned how to play college defense.”

Last Sunday, Berntsen did some big things down the stretch to help Princeton rally for an 84-80 win in overtime against visiting Delaware. With 2:29 left in regulation, Berntsen hit a three-pointer to knot the contest at 70-70.

In overtime, Berntsen made a bucket on a beautiful left-handed layup through traffic and then delivered a deft touch pass that led to a three-pointer by Blake Dietrick. The sophomore canned a free throw with seconds left to help seal the victory.

Noting that Princeton had lost 59-58 at Delaware last season, Berntsen saw the dramatic win over the Blue Hens as a big step forward for the 6-4 Tigers.

“It was a great test and that is what our coaches want us to do with this schedule they have given us,” asserted Berntsen, who ended the game with eight points, six rebounds, and two assists.

“We definitely showed today that our team is coming together and playing together. We showed enormous toughness and enormous heart to come together.”

Berntsen showed some courage in nailing the crucial three-pointer, her first basket beyond the arc all season.

“I saw I was wide open and I needed to catch and shoot and that’s what I did,” recalled Berntsen, who is now averaging 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds a game.

“It was a good time for it to come. It felt really good. Blake [Dietrick] did a great job of drawing two people to get the open shot so credit to her. I was getting a little frustrated, I wasn’t hitting that much from the outside. I lost a little bit of my confidence but coach [Courtney Banghart] and I talked last week and she said they are going to fall, you just need to get confidence now.”

On her layup in overtime, Berntsen did what comes naturally to her. “Driving to the basket is my favorite thing to do, I have been doing that my whole life,” said Bentsen.

“If I can get into the paint and people don’t converge, I am going to take it myself. If not, I am going to look to kick it out for my teammates. Coach has challenged me to do that to open up for my teammates and that’s what I have been working on.”

Growing up about an hour away from Princeton, Berntsen is drawing a cheering section at Jadwin Gym.

“My high school coach was here and I also have teammates that are a couple of years younger than me,” said Berntsen.

“I didn’t get a chance to play with them but they all came out. My parents come. It really helps having that home support group come out. We have a lot of people on the team from the west coast and it is just nice to get fans here for them. It is also really encouraging.”

Princeton head coach Banghart was encouraged by her team’s performance against Delaware.

“That is a game we would not have won two weeks ago,” asserted Banghart.

“We talked about process with a young team the whole time. You have seen how much this team has grown. There is a little bit of a makeover for both teams but they are two championship cultures so we knew it was going to come down to a combination of tactical play and toughness.”

Princeton needed a combination of good inside-out play to pull out the victory which saw the Tigers trailing 74-70 with 1:30 left in regulation.

“I thought the key was that we had pieces of everybody,” said Banghart, who got a game-high 22 points from Dietrick with Kristen Helmstetter chipping in 18 points and 11 rebounds and Alex Wheatley contributing 13 points, three rebounds, and three assists.

“Wheatley had a big steal late and made two big free throws. Amanda made a big 3, I think it was her first of the year and a nice finish. Kristen and Blake were so consistent throughout the game. I thought they were what we needed when we needed it.”

In Banghart’s view, the consistent work ethic displayed by Berntsen has led to her improvement.

“She is a kid who didn’t waste one second of her freshman year and the same thing with Taylor Williams,” said Banghart. “Those are kids you didn’t see a lot last year but they gave us everything they had for every practice, all 112 practices last year. The way we practice is why our kids get better.”

Having won five of its last six games, the Tigers are getting better and better,

“In order to challenge ourselves to get better, you have to play really good teams,” said Banghart, whose team hosts Illinois State on December 18.

“I went in there and said I don’t have a lot to say because I want to hear what you have to say. One of the kids who didn’t even play said it was 1 through 14, it was a team win. That’s how we practice and that’s how we play.”

Berntsen, for her part, liked the way the team played as one in the win over Delaware.

“In the past few games, we played really well together too and we have had moments but I think this was just a game where we won it off of playing together,” said Berntsen. “It just feels awesome. It is a great home win.”

And with Berntsen feeling more and more at home on the court, she should be experiencing plenty more great moments this winter.

HONEST ABE: Princeton University sophomore wrestler Abe Ayala, right, battles Rutgers for Hayden Hrymack at 197 pounds last Saturday. Sophomore star Ayala earned a 6-4 win in the bout to provide a highlight for Princeton as it fell 27-9 to the Scarlet Knights.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HONEST ABE: Princeton University sophomore wrestler Abe Ayala, right, battles Rutgers for Hayden Hrymack at 197 pounds last Saturday. Sophomore star Ayala earned a 6-4 win in the bout to provide a highlight for Princeton as it fell 27-9 to the Scarlet Knights. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The snowstorm that hit the area last Saturday may have kept the crowd down at the “Celebration of New Jersey Wrestling” held at Jadwin Gym in conjunction with the Princeton University-Rutgers match but it didn’t dampen the spirit of those who did brave the inclement weather.

“It was an awesome environment to compete in,” said Princeton wrestling head coach Chris Ayres, who estimated that a crowd of around 700 turned out for festivities which included a youth wrestling match, a clinic conducted by a Princeton and Rutgers assistant coaches, and a parade of former New Jersey state high school champions during halftime of the college match.

“The upper deck was closed so all the fans were in the big bleachers down by the floor. The best thing was recognizing the state champions; that piece was due to coach [Joe] Dubuque and he has gotten so many e-mails thanking him for that.”

Unfortunately, the Tigers, who came into the day with a 3-0 record in dual matches, didn’t compete as well as they had hoped, falling 27-9 to their local rivals.

“We didn’t perform very well,” said Ayres. “I have to credit Rutgers, they wrestled harder. In five matches we scored first but we weren’t finishing strong. It is a young team and we are still figuring some things out.”

Princeton’s two wins against the Scarlet Knights came from junior Adam Krop at 141 pounds and from sophomore Abe Ayala at 197. Krop pinned Tyson Dippery while Ayala outpointed Hayden Hrymack 6-4.

“Krop has been on and off; he has been injured a bit,” said Ayres. “In the Rutgers match, he was on. He is fun to watch. He saw an opening and he got that pin which is what good wrestlers do. Ayala keeps getting better; he lost to the kid from Rutgers in the Binghamton tournament and came back and really controlled the match. It is exciting to see.”

The Tigers have produced some exciting results in the first month of the season.

“We have competed really well,” asserted Ayres, who is in his seventh year at the helm of the program.

“We were third in the Navy Invitational ahead of such schools as Bucknell, Kent State, and Ohio. At Madison Square Garden, we went 2-0 and beat Army for the first time in 40 years, we think. We are still checking on that. We then beat Binghamton for the first time.”

With a lineup featuring a number of freshmen and sophomores, Princeton has room for plenty of growth.

“Everyone has been doing their duty,” said Ayres, who had three freshmen (Jordan Laster, Matt Gancayco, and Brett Harner) and four sophomores (Kevin Moylan, Scott Gibbons, Cole Lampman, and Ayala) wrestling in the Rutgers match

“Matthew Gancayco beat a guy in Army who had been 3rd in EIWA. Brett Harner is having a great season. Chris Perez (a sophomore) won the Drexel match for us with a big pin. Guys have stepped up at different times.”

Although Princeton didn’t step up against Rutgers, Ayres believes the loss will prove to be a good learning experience for his young team.

“That was the hard thing about Rutgers,” lamented Ayres, whose team will compete in the Wilkes Open in Wilkes, Pa. on December 28 before heading to the Midlands Championships in Evanston, Ill. from December 29-30.

“We felt like we could win the match or be in a position to win the match. I think we will make another big jump. We have Midlands coming up and two years ago we got a third there.”

No matter what happens as the team wraps up the 2013 portion of its schedule, Ayers believes the program has already made a big jump.

“I think the commitment level and the competition in the room are the biggest areas of progress,” said Ayres.

“In the past if we had a starter out, there was no one to really step in. We have talent and depth. If we have to sit someone, we feel the next guy can come in and do a good job. Last year, we knew our starting lineup by now. This year we still have three or four weights up in the air.”

BREAK POINT: Princeton University men’s hockey player Jonathan Liau chases down the puck in recent action. Sophomore forward Liau is tied for second in scoring for Princeton with eight points on one goal and seven assists. The Tigers, who are 3-12 overall, are currently on holiday break and will resume action when they play in the Florida College Classic at Estero, Fla. from December 28-29.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BREAK POINT: Princeton University men’s hockey player Jonathan Liau chases down the puck in recent action. Sophomore forward Liau is tied for second in scoring for Princeton with eight points on one goal and seven assists. The Tigers, who are 3-12 overall, are currently on holiday break and will resume action when they play in the Florida College Classic at Estero, Fla. from December 28-29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Princeton University men’s hockey team bringing a 3-12 record into its holiday break, the numbers don’t lie.

Among the 12 teams in ECAC Hockey, Princeton is last in goals scored (2.07) in all contests and has given up the second most goals per game (3.87).

In the wake of its final action before the hiatus, which saw Princeton lose 3-0 at No. 11 Union and 5-2 at Rensselaer, Tiger head coach Bob Prier didn’t hesitate in pinpointing his team’s biggest issue.

“We need to work better in the defensive-zone,” asserted Prier, whose team is 2-8 in ECACH play and tied with Dartmouth for last in the league standings. “We are on the wrong side of checks; we are trying to pickpocket the puck and do it the easy way.”

In Prier’s view, getting stingier on defense will go a long way towards helping the team be more productive offensively.

“If we play stronger defensively, the offense will come,” said Prier. “I am not worried about us scoring goals. It’s not that we can’t score goals.”

Prier is also looking for his players to be tougher all over the ice. “We need to play with more pride and work ethic,” said Prier, whose team went 1-5 in its last six games before the break, getting outscored 31-12 in that span.

“We need to work extra hard around the puck. We are working hard in the open ice, flying up the rink but that is easy. We need to battle harder in 1-on-1 situations. Our breakout needs to be better. We need to play more fundamentally sound and stay between our opponents and the net.”

Having dealt with injuries to such key players as Andrew Calof, Alec Rush, Tommy Davis, Tyler Maugeri, and Ben Foster, it has been hard for the Tigers to go full throttle in practice.

“We haven’t had the bodies and we have barely had contact in practice because we want to keep the guys healthy,” said Prier.

“It’s harder work to stay low and knock guys off the puck. We are not able to battle in practice and that is carrying over into the games.”

But with plenty of games left, Prier believes his team can use the break to regroup.

“We need to get the guys fresher so we can battle more,” said Prier, whose team wraps up the 2013 portion of its schedule by playing in the Florida College Classic at Estero, Fla. from December 28-29.

“We have lots of the season left. After the RPI game, I said to the guys that we have faced just about everybody in the league and there is no one we played where we thought we have to figure out a way to beat them. The league is so tight. We need to clean up some things and we have as good a chance as anyone to win these games.”