September 13, 2017

By Bill Alden

Statistically, the 12th-ranked Princeton University field hockey team matched No. 3 Penn State when the foes met last Sunday at Bedford Field.

Princeton outshot the visiting Nittany Lions 15-12 and generated seven penalty corners versus eight given to Penn State.

But on the scoreboard, the Tigers came up short, falling 2-0 to the undefeated Nittany Lions (5-0). more

COACHES’ CORNER: Princeton University football head coach Bob Surace talks with his coaches during the program’s recently held Media Day. Princeton is coming off an 8-2 campaign last fall that saw it share the Ivy League title with Penn. The Tigers get their 2017 season underway when they host the University of San Diego on September 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although the Princeton University football team is coming off an 8-2 campaign in 2016 that saw it tie Penn for the Ivy League title and has been picked to finish first along with Harvard for the upcoming season by the media poll, Bob Surace doesn’t view his squad as a powerhouse just yet. more

CAPTAIN KURT: Princeton University football star Kurt Holuba smiles as he fields questions at the program’s recently held annual media day. Senior defensive lineman Holuba, who earned third-team All-America honors last fall, is serving as a captain of the 2017 Tigers along with classmates Chad Kanoff and John Lovett. Princeton kicks off its season when it hosts the University of San Diego on September 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Kurt Holuba didn’t get the chance to finish his sophomore season with the Princeton University football team in 2015 due to a knee injury.

“I went down in the third game with a torn MCL, it was really difficult,” recalled Holuba, speaking at the program’s recently held annual media day. more

RISING STAR: Princeton University women’s soccer player Courtney O’Brien, center, rises up to head a ball in recent action. Last Thursday against visiting Rider, sophomore forward O’Brien enjoyed a breakout game, scoring her first two college goals as the Tigers prevailed 2-0. On Sunday, O’Brien added two more goals to help Princeton defeat New Hampshire 3-1. O’Brien was later named the Ivy League Player of the Week for her heroics. The Tigers, now 6-0, host No. 3 West Virginia (5-2) on September 15 and Delaware (2-2-2) on September 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Courtney O’Brien picked a very good time to score the first goal in her career with the Princeton University women’s soccer team. more

September 6, 2017

By Bill Alden

On the face of it, posting a 6-11-2 record last fall would hardly seem to be a springboard for the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team.

But with the Tartans having ended 2016 by pulling off  upsets in the opening round and the semis of the state Prep B tournament to reach the final, there is new confidence around the program as it heads into this fall.

“The seniors that came back this year are so excited after what happened with us last year,” said Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik, who is in her second tenure guiding the Tartans. more

PUSH BACK: Hun School boys’ soccer player Gibson Campbell, left, fights for the ball in a game last year. Sophomore defender Campbell has merged as a leader on the Hun back line. The Raiders start their 2017 season when they play at WW/P-South on September 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It didn’t take long for the Hun School boys’ soccer team to get on the same page as it got into preseason training this August.

“We are five days in and it seems as if we have been playing together for quite some time,” said Hun head coach Pat Quirk, who guided the Raiders to a 5-13 record in 2016. more

CAGE FIGHT: Princeton High field hockey goalie Kate Rogers guards the cage in a 2015 game. Senior star and tri-captain Rogers has distinguished herself as a steadying force in the back line for PHS. The Little Tigers open their 2017 season when they host Robbinsville on September 7.  (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

The loss of nine seniors to graduation from its 2016 squad has left the Princeton High field hockey team with a gaping hole coming into this fall.

While PHS head coach Heather Serverson acknowledges that there will be new faces all over the field this fall, she believes that talent on hand can fill the void left by the Class of 2017. more

NO DOUBT: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Noam Davidov goes after the ball in a recent scrimmage. PHS will be looking to senior forward Davidov to help trigger the team’s offense this fall. The Little Tigers kick off their 2017 campaign when they host Steinert on September 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Wayne Sutcliffe is hoping that his Princeton High boys’ soccer team will be defined by humility and hunger this fall.

“I think the key is to not become intoxicated with how good we think we are and to have respect for every opponent,” said longtime PHS head coach Sutcliffe, whose 2016 team went 17-1-2, sharing the Mercer County Tournament title with Pennington but then falling in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional to see the stellar campaign come to an abrupt end. “We have to work hard everyday to get better because you never are as good as you think you are.” more

By Bill Alden

Jim Barlow knew that his Princeton University men’s soccer team faced an uphill battle when it opened its season over the weekend by playing at No. 8 Syracuse and Colgate in the Central New York Classic.

“It is so difficult when you are playing teams that have been at it for close to a month already,” said Princeton head coach Barlow, whose team started preseason training on August 17 and had just one scrimmage coming into last weekend while both its foes had two games under their belts. more

CAT QUICK: Princeton University field hockey player Nicole Catalino controls the ball last Friday as the Tigers hosted North Carolina in their season opener. Junior defensive midfielder Catalino played well in a losing cause as Princeton fell 2-0 to the Tar Heels. The Tigers, who lost 5-3 to defending national champion Delaware on Sunday to fall to 0-2, host Rutgers on September 8 and Penn State on September 10.  (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden 

Nicole Catalino resembles the Energizer Bunny in her spot as a defensive midfielder for the Princeton University field hockey team, constantly on the move as she tracks the ball all over the field.

Junior standout Catalino relishes being in the middle of the action. “I have more influence on the rest of the players through experience and just the role I play on the field,” said Catalino. more

ONE-TWO PUNCH: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer defenders Madison Coyne, right, and Becca Kuzmicz control the ball in a recent training session. PDS will be depending on senior co-captains Coyne and Kuzmicz to anchor the back line the fall. The Panthers open their 2017 season by playing at the George School (Pa.) on September 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Months before the 2017 season began, the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team was hit with adversity.

Due to academy system rules promulgated by the U.S. Soccer Federation that prevent players from competing for both high school and club programs, PDS lost the services of three of its top returning players, senior goalie Grace Barbara, senior midfielder Damali Simon-Ponte, and junior midfielder Madison McCaw. This trio helped the Panthers share the state Prep B title and advance to the Mercer County Tournament final last year on the way to posting a 17-1-4 final record. more

RELIEF PITCHER: Princeton High quarterback Jake Renda passes the ball last Saturday as PHS opened its season by hosting Hamilton. Freshman Renda came off the bench after senior quarter Vince Doran was injured in the first quarter and played well, completing 11-of-24 passes for 133 yards in a losing cause as the Little Tigers fell 39-0 to the Hornets. PHS plays at Pemberton (1-0) on September 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Hosting Hamilton past Saturday in its season opener, the Princeton High football team came out roaring.

After kicking off to the Hornets, the PHS defense gave its guests a rude welcome, sacking the Hamilton quarterback on first down and then picking up a turnover two plays later when Isaac Webb leaped up for an interception. more

STICKING WITH IT: Princeton Day School field hockey player Sasha Sindhwani, right, goes after the ball in a recent scrimmage. Defending state Prep B champion PDS is counting on junior star Sindhwani to provide production again on the front line this fall. The Panthers open their 2017 season when the play at Stuart Country Day School on September 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last fall, the Princeton Day School field hockey came out of nowhere to emerge as a powerhouse.

After going 6-13-1 in 2015, PDS produced a brilliant 16-4 campaign a year ago, winning the state Prep B title and advancing to the Mercer County Tournament final. more

August 30, 2017

FULL SPEED AHEAD: Alex Ratzan races up the field last fall in his senior season for the Princeton High boys’ soccer team. Star midfielder Ratzan, who helped PHS share the Mercer County Tournament crown with Pennington in 2016, is currently going through preseason practice for his freshman season with the Tufts University men’s soccer team. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Helped by a pipeline of Princeton area players, the Tufts University men’s soccer team has ascended to the top of Division III soccer. more

NO LETTING UP: Princeton High girls’ soccer star Colette Marciano controls the ball in 2016 action. PHS will be depending on senior Marciano and classmate Devon Lis to provide a one-two punch in the midfield this fall. The Little Tigers open their 2017 season by playing at Manalapan on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Going with a bevy of new faces last fall due to some heavy graduation losses, the Princeton High girls’ soccer struggled in the early going as it got off to a 0-3 start. more

FLYING START: Princeton University women’s soccer player Abby Givens flies over a Monmouth defender last Friday evening. Sophomore forward Givens scored two goals in the contest to help spark Princeton to a 3-0 win over the Hawks in its season opener. On Sunday, Givens added another goal as the Tigers topped Villanova 2-0 to improve to 2-0. Princeton plays at North Carolina State (3-0) on September 1 and at Wake Forest (4-0) on September 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Abby Givens displayed flashes of brilliance last fall in her freshman season for the Princeton University women’s soccer team.

Getting better as the 2016 season went on, forward Givens ended up tallying three goals and three assists. more

BIG BEN: Princeton University men’s soccer player Ben Martin controls the ball in action last fall. After scoring three goals last year as a freshman, midfielder/forward Martin should play a greater role in the Princeton attack this fall. The Tigers start their 2017 season on the road this weekend with games at Syracuse on September 1 and at Colgate on September 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton University men’s soccer team, homing in on the little things has been the focus of its 2017 preseason training.

Noting that Princeton came up winless in six overtime games last fall and that all of its Ivy League games were either ties or decided by one goal on the way to going to 7-7-3 overall and 1-3-3 Ivy, Princeton head coach Jim Barlow knows that the devil is in the details. more

MAC ATTACK: Princeton University field hockey player Ryan McCarthy follows through on a shot in a 2016 game. Senior striker McCarthy, who scored 14 goals last year on the way to earning first-team All-Ivy League honors, should be the go-to finisher for the Tigers this year. Princeton opens its 2017 season by hosting North Carolina on September 1 before playing at Delaware on September 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although it fell just short of winning its 12th straight Ivy League title, the Princeton University field hockey team didn’t let that disappointment keep it from turning 2016 into a season to remember, producing a stunning run in the NCAA tournament.

Getting into the tourney through an at-large bid, Princeton proceeded to advance to the Final 4 where it lost a 3-2 nail-biter in the semifinal to eventual national champion Delaware. more

CATCHING ON: Princeton High star receiver Isaac Webb looks to break loose from a foe in 2016 action. Junior Webb figures to be a key weapon for the PHS offense this fall after emerging as a standout last fall. The Little Tigers kick off their 2017 season by hosting Hamilton on September 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Entering the 2014 season, the Princeton High football team had a chip on its shoulder.

Coming off a 0-10 season the year before, the players were hungry to prove that they could get back in the win column. Beginning with a 28-7 opening day win over Hamilton, the Little Tigers made their point, getting off to a 5-0 start on the way to an 8-2 record and a trip to the state playoffs. more

LION-HEARTED: Haley Bodden dribbles the ball upfield in action last fall during her freshman season for The College of New Jersey women’s soccer team. Former Princeton High standout Bodden, who tallied four goals during her debut campaign in 17 appearances, is currently in preseason camp at TCNJ in preparation for her sophomore season with the Lions. (Photo Courtesy of TCNJ Athletic Communications)

As Haley Bodden developed into a star for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team, she set her sights on playing for a Division I program at the next level. more

August 23, 2017

BALL HAWK: Ashley Maziarz surveys the action from her center back position in action last season during her sophomore season for the Lehigh University women’s soccer team. Former Hun School standout Maziarz played a key role for a stingy Mountain Hawk defensive unit that started the 2016 season with eight straight shutouts as Lehigh went on to post an 11-5-2 record. Last Friday, Maziarz started her junior campaign by helping Lehigh play to a 0-0 draw through two overtimes with visiting Monmouth. (Photo Courtesy of Lehigh Athletics)

During her career with the Hun School girls’ soccer team, Ashley Maziarz played a big role as the program reached new heights.

Starring at midfield and defense, Maziarz’s skill and clutch play helped Hun win the state Prep A title in the fall of 2014. Maziarz’s brilliant goal on a free kick proved to be the game winner in the title contest as Hun stunned perennial power Pennington 2-0. more

LIGHTING THE FLAME: Josh Teves controls the puck in a game last winter for the Princeton University men’s hockey team. This summer, rising junior defenseman Teves got to live out a dream as he skated with his hometown Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League at the team’s Development Camp. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Josh Teves has long dreamed about playing for his hometown Calgary Flames.

“I am a big Flames fan,” said Teves, a 6’0, 180-pound native of the western Canada city. “I had a mock Stanley Cup with the Flames logo on it.” more

LEAP OF FAITH: Benji Issroff jumps for the ball on the back line last fall during his freshman campaign for the Princeton University men’s soccer team. This summer, Issroff starred for the U.S. squad at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, helping the team to a second straight gold medal at the competition. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Benji Issroff traveled to Israel six years ago to celebrate his bar mitzvah.

This summer, Issroff, now a rising sophomore defender for the Princeton University men’s soccer team, returned to Israel as a member of the U.S. squad competing in the 2017 World Maccabiah Games and ended up enjoying another celebration as the team won the gold medal. more

KICK-OFF TIME: Princeton University women’s soccer player Natalie Larkin prepares to kick the ball upfield last season. Senior star and All-Ivy League performer Larkin will be counted on to again shore up the defense this fall for the Tigers, who get their 2017 campaign underway when they host Monmouth on August 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Sean Driscoll is facing a problem this fall in guiding the Princeton University women’s soccer team, but don’t expect any of his foes to be sympathetic.

With an abundance of skilled performers at his disposal, it isn’t going to be easy for Princeton head coach Driscoll to figure out the best way to deploy his resources.

“We have a lot of good players; I think we are probably two-deep at every position on the field which I haven’t been able to say until now,” said Driscoll, who is entering his third season at the helm of the program and led the Tigers to an overall 10-4-3 record and 2-3-2 in Ivy League play in 2016.

“We have a lot of depth and that has to be our focus, utilizing as many of the players as we can to stay fresh and to also put other teams in situations where we are constantly staying a little more fresh perhaps than they are. Our mentality in terms of rotation of players may slightly change from what it was, certainly from two years ago when we basically played 14-16 players. We have a lot more ability to rotate this year.”

At forward, junior star and top returning scorer Mimi Asom (9 goals and 1 assist in 2016) boasts a lot of finishing ability.

“Mimi is the most focused I have seen her, she has a very good mentality about her right now,” said Driscoll, noting that sophomore Courtney O’Brien, sophomore Abby Givens (3 goals, 3 assists), junior Sam McDonough (4 assists), and senior Beth Stella should all see time up top.

“Mimi’s fitness level is the highest it has been. Her overall focus, which is the most important for her, is very high. She is a very good player.”

Princeton features a very good player to trigger the midfield in senior Vanessa Gregoire (3 goals, 4 assists).

“Vanessa has big time potential; I expect a huge year from her in terms of overall quality, her movement, and her endurance,” asserted Driscoll. “She looks fantastic.”

Driscoll has a lot of quality options in the midfield with such players as sophomore Tomi Kennedy (3 goals, 1 assist), sophomore Sophia Gulati (1 assist), senior Alessia Azermadhi (1 assist), and sophomore Emily Hilliard (1 assist) along with a pair of freshmen, Olivia Kane and Carolyne Davidson.

“It is deep, there are going to be a lot of battles,” said Driscoll in assessing his midfield.

“A lot of kids who have had the luxury of being the best at their position are now going to have to really fight, which is good competition. If nothing else, it is pushing to make them better and giving us a better rotation.”

Senior standouts Natalie Larkin (1 goal, 2 assists) and Mikaela Symanovich (2 assists) will battle hard on the back line. “They are the epitome of work rate, fitness, and competitive nature,” said Driscoll.

“They are both tireless workers. There is no way to duplicate them when they leave next year, there will be no replacing that kind of mentality. They both blow away the fitness test. Every year, they are the top two.”

While Larkin and Symanovich form a special one-two combination on defense, Princeton is expecting a number of other players to shore up the unit.

“Katie Pratt-Thompson, a senior, will be in there and you have sophomore Olivia Sheppard, a standout Canadian national team player at center back,” added Driscoll.

“We also have two freshman, Lucy Rickerson and Tatum Gee, who have done really, really well.”

The Tigers boast four goalkeepers in sophomore Natalie Grossi, junior Noelani Kong-Johnson, senior Gudrun Valdis Jonsdottir, and sophomore Kelli Calhoun. Grossi got most of the work last year in her freshman season, starting all 17 games with a 0.93 goals against average and four shutouts.

“Natalie looks good, she has done well; Noelani has also done well,” said Driscoll.

“We are expecting Gudrun and Kelli to make a little bit of a push here. Right now, I would say Natalie and Noelani have been the top two but I do expect the other ones to make it a competitive battle. We have a good group of goalkeepers, they are working hard.”

With Princeton going 1-3-2 in its last six games last fall after a 9-1-1 start, Driscoll is looking for his 2017 team to push harder at both ends of the field.

“I think we need to make sure that we don’t make any game-changing mistakes,” said Driscoll.

“We had some innocuous mistakes where we put ourselves in trouble last year on occasion. We need a greater focus and attention to detail on our defense as a unit. The bottom line is we need to identify where we can manufacture goals as a team. Everyone is going to be involved in helping us score.”

Based on what he has seen in the preseason, Driscoll is confident that the squad can manufacture a lot of wins this fall.

“I would say that we are very excited about the group of kids that we have, the chemistry, and the enthusiasm,” said Driscoll.

“We look forward to seeing how things go. We have a lot of young kids and we also have some good leadership. It is a really enjoyable group to work with.”

With Princeton hosting Monmouth (0-1-1) in its season opener on August 25, Driscoll knows his squad will have to work hard to beat the Hawks.

“Monmouth is a very hardworking, blue collar mentality team with tremendous athleticism and a lot of success,” said Driscoll, whose squad will be playing at Villanova on August 27 before heading south for contests against Atlantic Coast Conference foes North Carolina State on September 1 and at Wake Forest on September 3.

“They are coming off a tie and a loss this past weekend. They will be very hungry and fired up. It will be a good game; it is a cross state rivalry. They are going to be excited to play against us and our team needs to be equal to the task. It is opening night so I expect us to work extremely hard and have a good start.”

PROFESSIONAL APPROACH: Tyler Lussi dribbles the ball up the field this summer in her debut campaign for the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Recently graduated Princeton University women’s soccer star Lussi ’17, the program’s all-time leading scorer, didn’t waste any time making an impact for the Thorns, scoring a game-winning goal in her third appearance for the club. (Photo Courtesy of Portland Thorns)

Tyler Lussi was thrilled to be selected 21st overall by the Portland Thorns in National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Draft this past January but she knew it didn’t guarantee anything on the pro level. more