September 11, 2013
OPENING STATEMENT: Princeton University women’s soccer player Tyler Lussi controls the ball last weekend as she made her college debut. The freshman forward scored a goal in Princeton’s 2-0 win over Richmond last Friday in the season opener and then added two more tallies in a 3-0 victory over Army on Sunday. Lussi, who is believed to be the first Tiger freshman to score three goals in the first two games of the season since Linda DeBoer in 1982, was later named the Ivy League Player and Rookie of the Week honors for her big opening weekend. Princeton will look to keep rolling as it plays at Seton Hall on September 12 and at Rutgers on September 15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OPENING STATEMENT: Princeton University women’s soccer player Tyler Lussi controls the ball last weekend as she made her college debut. The freshman forward scored a goal in Princeton’s 2-0 win over Richmond last Friday in the season opener and then added two more tallies in a 3-0 victory over Army on Sunday. Lussi, who is believed to be the first Tiger freshman to score three goals in the first two games of the season since Linda DeBoer in 1982, was later named the Ivy League Player and Rookie of the Week honors for her big opening weekend. Princeton will look to keep rolling as it plays at Seton Hall on September 12 and at Rutgers on September 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It didn’t take long for freshman forward Tyler Lussi to make an impact for the Princeton University women’s soccer team.

Playing in the season opener last Friday night against visiting Richmond, Lussi came off the bench and scored the first goal in the contest early in the second half, sparking the Tigers as they went on to a 2-0 victory.

“To get the first goal in the beginning of the second half was really nice,” said Lussi, a native of Lutherville, Md.

“It set the pace for the rest of the game and then Lauren Lazo got the goal right after me. It just settled us down.”

The Lazo-Lussi combination paid dividends two days later as Princeton topped Army 3-0 with junior Lazo scoring the first Tiger goal and Lussi chipping in the other two.

“We are definitely playing off of each other and we know where each other are on the field and we are making good runs,” said Lussi. “We are getting it done.”

Reflecting on her debut, Lussi didn’t see herself emerging as the team’s top finishing threat.

“I think I came out wanting to win the game and came out playing strong and hard and wanting to take shots, getting into the goal area,” said Lussi, who is believed to be the first Tiger freshman to score three goals in the first two games of the season since Linda DeBoer in 1982.

“It was really good. I thought my teammates did a really good job, they got me the ball and we just put it away.”

Lussi was happy with the way she put away her goals in the win over Army as she scored on a blast to the low corner in the first half and then deftly volleyed the ball over the Army goalie early in the second period for her other tally.

“Lauren and I were both right there but I hit it nice and hard on the ground into the corner,” said Lussi, who won the Ivy League Player and Rookie of the Week honors for her big debut weekend.

“I wasn’t trying to go for power. I was going for pace and I put it away. On the second one, I was trying to lift it over nice and easy.”

For Lussi, sharp finishing is a staple of her game. “I have always had good accuracy on the ball,” said Lussi, who played for the Bethesda Soccer Club in Maryland in the Elite Clubs National League and entered Princeton ranked by Top Drawer Soccer as a four-star recruit and the No. 22 player in the Mid-Atlantic region. “When you are around the goal, just relaxing is always what I focus on.”

Princeton head coach Julie Shackford liked the way Lussi and Lazo worked together around the goal.

“They are both just dynamic,” said Shackford. “They are willing to take people on, they are also good at finishing. They  are very similar. They are both workers. They both know how to find space for themselves. They know how to take people on when they are dribbling. They are really confident and they are both gamers. To me, both of Taylor’s goals were upper class goals, they were great finishes.”

The Tigers displayed class all over the field in the win over Army. “We played really good soccer today,” asserted Shackford.

“We let the ball do the work and the speed of play was really good. I think you always worry about that second game, especially with Army having been in camp for so long. I think that we hung in there for two-thirds of the game with our fitness level and I think we got fresh legs in, you saw maybe a little drop in experience but I think they all hung in.”

Princeton’s experienced defense, spearheaded by senior co-captains Diane Metcalf-Leggette and Gabriella Guzman together with junior Gabrielle Ragazzo, played well all weekend.

“They did great; Diane is a good organizer back there,” said Shackford.

“I actually thought Gabby Ragazzo was the star of the game, she kept getting herself into the attack and we were able to switch the point of attack and get her out on the left side. The decision-making was great. You can’t put a price tag on what Guzman does for us. She is literally a rock.”

Junior goalie Darcy Hargadon was a rock for Princeton as she posted consecutive shutouts and stamped herself as first among equals in the four-way competition for the starting job.

“She did well,” said Shackford of Hargadon. “I give her a lot of credit; she organized well. She made saves when she had to. I know there weren’t a lot. I think for the most part she did really well.”

Heartened by her team’s play on opening weekend, Shackford believes that even better things are on the horizon.

“You never know what is going to happen; I am really pleased with our start,” said Shackford, whose team plays at Seton Hall on September 12 and at Rutgers on September 15.

“Going forward, we need more focus on the speed of play. I think our soccer can be really exciting this year, once we get fitter. We can move the ball quicker and create a little more around the box. Their soccer was good today, I was impressed.”

Lussi, for her part, is excited to build on her superb opening weekend.

“I am trying to figure out each player’s position and what their strengths are,” said Lussi.

“I think that is coming together a little more but it is definitely good. Two wins is big. Going into Thursday’s game, I think we are really confident and ready to get another win.”

ALL GOOD: Princeton University field hockey star Allison Evans looks for the ball last Friday against Duke. Junior striker Evans chipped in an assist as third-ranked and defending national champion Princeton topped No. 10 Duke 3-1 in its season opener. A day later, she contributed a goal as the Tigers edged Fairfield 4-3. In upcoming action. Princeton hosts Michigan State on September 13 and Penn State on September 15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ALL GOOD: Princeton University field hockey star Allison Evans looks for the ball last Friday against Duke. Junior striker Evans chipped in an assist as third-ranked and defending national champion Princeton topped No. 10 Duke 3-1 in its season opener. A day later, she contributed a goal as the Tigers edged Fairfield 4-3. In upcoming action. Princeton hosts Michigan State on September 13 and Penn State on September 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Allison Evans and her teammates on the Princeton University field hockey team were frustrated heading into halftime last Saturday in their game against visiting Fairfield.

Even though third-ranked and defending national champion Princeton had outshot the Stags 12-0 over the first 35 minutes, the teams were knotted in a scoreless tie at intermission.

“I think it is just about mentality at that point,” said junior forward Evans. “We had a few balls that were just kind of sitting on the goal line and we couldn’t find a way to get them in. That’s more of a mental toughness and will to score than anything else because we definitely have the skill to. It was first weekend and less than a 24-hour turnaround from our first game (a 3-1 win over No. 10 Duke on Friday evening) so we definitely had to get the intensity up again.”

Falling behind 1-0 with 30:11 remaining in regulation, the Tigers picked up the intensity as they responded with three straight goals.

“Obviously going down first is always tough, you have to battle back and not only tie it but to go ahead,” said Evans, reflecting on the Princeton rally. “We got a corner and Teresa [Benvenuti] just nailed it at the top of the circle. I think pressure and being more aggressive is what opened up the goals for us.”

Evans showed her aggressiveness, scoring the third goal of that run as Princeton held on for a 4-3 victory over the scrappy Stags.

“My teammate Hailey [Reeves] had the ball on the left side on the baseline and she crossed and I laid my stick out and tipped it into the goalie and it bounced off and I lifted it over,” said Evans, reflecting on her goal. “You have got to get that rebound in.”

With all-time leading scorer Kat Sharkey having graduated after scoring 107 goals in her Tiger career, Evans is looking to pick up the scoring slack.

“I think all the strikers feel this way; it is our job to be effective in the circle,” said Evans, a native of Macungie, Pa. who scored a total of 23 goals in her first two seasons at Princeton.

“It is our job to score; it is our job to get corners. It is spread out among everyone; it is not just me.”

Evans liked the way the Tigers got the job done over opening weekend. “At the end of it, we are 2-0 and I think we are going to learn a lot after the coaches debrief us and look over the film,” said Evans, who picked up an assist in the win over Duke.

“Final results are great but we have a lot to learn and we can only get better from here. We definitely can’t complain about the two wins.”

Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn was definitely proud of the way her team fought back after falling behind.

“I think we started attacking; when that happens, things start to open up,” said Holmes-Winn, reflecting on the second half rally.

“We have to be smart and be able to know when that penetrative moment is and make sure that we take it. I think that the team was really good at that. Teresa in the back was really good at playing those moments. I certainly give Fairfield a lot of credit for grinding the game out; it takes a lot of discipline to do that and I applaud them for being able to bring that for a majority of the game.”

Holmes-Winn acknowledged that her team struggled to close the game out as it surrendered two goals over the last 17 minutes of the contest.

“It is just about game management and that is something just being so early in the season we haven’t been able to focus on that as much,” said Holmes-Winn, who got two goals on the day from Benvenuti with Sydney Kirby and Evans adding the other tallies.

“I think the disorganization at the end is the product of just not being able to get everything in during preseason. We’ll be really slick as we move forward with closing out games and everyone understanding their role. We are not quite there yet. We are definitely shifting players around and we are trying to find ideal spots for lots of different players so it is a work in progress.”

A number of players stepped up in the win over Fairfield. “I thought our back three who kind of rotated in there were really steady; Kelsey Byrne, Cassidy Arner, Kate Ferrara, and Teresa were just really, really steady,” asserted Holmes-Winn.

“Allison has been really good. Sydney Kirby’s work rate and Julia Reinprecht’s work rate were just phenomenal. They did so much just clearing space and being available, making space important. They really did a good job with that. Sydney has really been great this season.”

Surviving two tough challenges in the opening weekend was also a great step for Tigers, who have a bull’s eye on their backs after the NCAA championship campaign last fall.

“We felt in control of the Duke game which is a great feeling so early in the season against a quality opponent,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team hosts Michigan State on September 13 and Penn State on September 15.

“I think in this game, for the most part, we felt in control. We just have to get returns. There are going to be games where you just have to persist. It is good to have these games. You have to perform every time you step on the field. I told the girls just now that is one of the great benefits of finishing the previous season as No. 1, you get everyone’s best. That is better than we could ever hope for because it will make us that much better so if we get that kind of effort from every opponent by the time we get to the end of the season we will be battle-tested.”

Evans, for her part, saw the victory over Duke as a harbinger of good things to come this season.

“I think the Duke game was great yesterday for our first game,” said Evans.

“We finally came together as a team, we improved our structure and spacing. We were working together. I think we are connecting pretty well, that will only get better.”

Jim Barlow knew that his Princeton University men’s soccer team faced a stern test when it opened its season at Fairleigh Dickinson last Friday night.

FDU brought a 2-0 record into the clash along with the confidence of having advanced to the Round of 16 in the 2012 NCAA tournament.

Showing some opening night jitters, Princeton fell behind 2-0 some 40 minutes into the contest.

Tiger head coach Barlow acknowledged that digging an early hole was not the formula for success against the Knights.

“You need to get the first goal against a team like that,” said Barlow, reflecting on the early deficit. “We couldn’t find an answer for their center halfbacks, they were both 6’4 or 6’5, good in the air and athletic.”

While Princeton fought gamely the rest of the way, it ended up falling 3-0.

“We didn’t play poorly,” said Barlow. “We were able to get the ball moving and keep them in their end. When we fell behind, we picked up the tempo and got the ball in their end more, creating some half-chances.”

Barlow noted that sophomores Nico Hurtado and Jack Hilger did create some positive energy for the Tigers.

“Nico and Jack came off the bench and helped us be more dynamic,” said Barlow, noting that Princeton lost stars Cameron Porter and Myles McGinley to leg injuries during the game. “Hilger was good at pressing up on the ball, he took a step forward.”

The Tigers did take a step back in one critical area of the game. “I think the big thing is we conceded two goals on the re-starts,” said Barlow.

“The first goal was on a corner, the ball was kicked high in the air and we didn’t have good communication. On the second goal, one of their center halves headed it in right off the corner.”

With the Tigers playing four games in a nine-day stretch starting with a game at Rutgers on September 13, Barlow hopes to get his squad headed in the right direction.

“We need to keep figuring things out,” added Barlow, whose team will host Seton Hall on September 15 in its home opener.

“We have a bunch of games in a row against some very good teams. We will get better and we would like to get some wins while we are improving. We need to be less naive on restarts and be better around the goal. We will have Thomas Sanner back so that should solidify us up front.”

The Tigers will need to get better quickly in order to hold their own in the clash with the Scarlet Knights, who are 1-2-1 and are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to No. 5 Akron.

“Last year’s game with Rutgers is on our minds; I thought we played poorly,” said Barlow, reflecting on the 2-0 loss in the 2012 meeting between the local rivals.

“They came in here and really beat us up. This is a good opportunity to play against a good team and take a step forward.”

RAISED HOPES: Members of the Princeton High football team gather together during a recent practice session. Coming off a 2-8 season, PHS is primed to get back on the winning track under new head coach Charlie Gallagher. The Little Tigers kick off their 2013 season by playing at Northern Burlington on September 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RAISED HOPES: Members of the Princeton High football team gather together during a recent practice session. Coming off a 2-8 season, PHS is primed to get back on the winning track under new head coach Charlie Gallagher. The Little Tigers kick off their 2013 season by playing at Northern Burlington on September 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Things have been hectic for Charlie Gallagher as he has taken the helm of the Princeton High football program.

“I tried to prepare as much as I could over the summer to be ready for the practices and to have the playbook completed,” said Gallagher, an assistant with the program for five years before moving up to replace previous head coach Joe Gargione.

“We only had three coaches coming back from last year’s staff, including me. We have five new coaches, we are putting in a new offense and a new defensive scheme and we are trying to get on the same page.”

Based on the team’s play in the preseason, it appears that coaches and players have been getting on the same page.

“I think we have done a nice job of preparing the kids; I think we have gotten better in each scrimmage,” asserted Gallagher, who is taking over a squad that posted a 2-8 record in 2012.

“The South Hunterdon scrimmage was average but it was good to hit someone else. North (WW/P-N) was a great scrimmage; we didn’t put as many points on the board as we wanted but the defense played well. Against Robbinsville, we were on top after three quarters. The offense did a nice job, putting 19 points on the board. I think the kids have responded well.”

Junior Sam Smallzman has responded well as he has taken over as starting quarterback spot for graduated star Zack DiGregorio.

“We have a really fantastic quarterback in Sam Smallzman; he is a great leader,” said Gallagher, whose team opens the 2013 campaign with a game at Northern Burlington on September 12.

“He is a phenomenal football player. There are not many guys that play quarterback and middle linebacker. He worked real hard in the offseason. He wanted to lift with the team this spring and he also went out for the track team to learn how to sprint. He has worked on his passing game; that is much improved. First and foremost, he is a great leader for the kids.

PHS will feature a leading offensive threat at receiver in senior star Liam Helstrom.

“When everyone sees Liam, they are going to double team him,” said Gallagher.

“He is 6’2, 195 and he bench presses 285 pounds. He had a great year at tight end for us last year and he is going to be one of the strongest wide receivers around. We need to make sure to get others the ball; the rest of the offense has to be involved.”

Gallagher will be looking to get the ball to junior Colin Buckley, senior Will Harrison, and sophomore Rory Helstrom in the running game.

“Buckley has moved from guard to fullback,” said Gallagher. “He is a good lacrosse player; he has endurance and speed. Will is a scatback; he is a tough kid. Rory will also be at running back.”

PHS has some tough young kids at offensive line in sophomore Noah Ziegler, junior Omar Moustafa, sophomore Matt Poplin, junior Brian Lemus-Camey, junior Tom Moore, and senior Jo-Jo Kuranche.

“On the line, we are young, we have two sophomores, two or three juniors, and a senior,” said Gallagher.

“Ziegler is at left tackle, Moustafa is at left guard, Poplin is at center, Lemus-Carney is at right guard, and Moore is at right tackle. Jo-Jo can play anywhere.”

Gallagher is confident that his defense will play well. “We are running a 50 front,” said Gallagher.

“Our No. 1 goal is to stop the run. We need to make teams pass because when teams pass, three things can happen and two of them are bad. The odds are in our favor if we can stop the run.”

In preseason play, the Little Tigers have done a good job of stopping foes.

“I think the defense usually clicks sooner than the offense,” asserted Gallagher.

“Buckley and Jo-Jo are at tackle, Harrison is at strong safety, Mike Chonka is at free safety, and Rory will also be at defensive back. Sam is a player. Liam and Buckley can really get after the quarterback, we have seen that in scrimmages.”

In Gallagher’s view, the Little Tigers are ready to get after it collectively.

“I think we can be OK; we want to win football games this year,” said Gallagher.

“We want the games to be competitive and go down to the wire. We want it to matter at the end.”

In order to be more competitive, PHS will need some luck and execution. “The No. 1 thing is to stay healthy; we only have 48 or 49 kids and 15 of them are freshmen,” said Gallagher.

“Will Harrison is a really big component for us. He has the ability to be a great football player; we need to get him holes. We need 75-80 yards from him a game. We also need to win the turnover battle. We have done a good job of that in the scrimmages.”

PHS is facing a battle in its opener against Northern Burlington. “We are excited for that game,” said Gallagher.

“We have beaten them two years in a row and they have been in the state semis. We know they are a good ball team and they are going to pull out all their stops to beat us.”

SURE SHOT: Princeton High girls’ tennis star Christina Rosca hits a forehand in action last fall. Sophomore Rosca is back at first singles for PHS as the Little Tigers look to pick up where they left off in 2012 when they went 20-1 and advanced to the Group III state championship match. The Little Tigers are 2-0 so far this fall and hope to keep on the winning track as they host Robbinsville on September 12 before playing at Hamilton on September 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SURE SHOT: Princeton High girls’ tennis star Christina Rosca hits a forehand in action last fall. Sophomore Rosca is back at first singles for PHS as the Little Tigers look to pick up where they left off in 2012 when they went 20-1 and advanced to the Group III state championship match. The Little Tigers are 2-0 so far this fall and hope to keep on the winning track as they host Robbinsville on September 12 before playing at Hamilton on September 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Surpassing expectations last fall, the Princeton High girls’ tennis team produced a season to remember as it went 20-1 and advanced to the Group III state championship match.

Picking up where it left off, PHS opened its 2013 campaign by breezing past Allentown 5-0 last Friday, winning all five matches in straight sets and losing only four games in the process.

“Any time you get the first win of the season it is good,” said PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert, whose team improved to 2-0 with a 5-0 win over Hightstown last Monday. “The girls want to duplicate or exceed last year’s success.”

A major factor in PHS’s success is the play of sophomore Christina Rosca at first singles.

“Chris is looking strong,” said Hibbert. “She does everything well. I think she has a year of experience of high school under her belt and another year of tournaments. She has played a lot of tough matches. She enjoys being part of the team, tennis is such an individual sport. Our goal this year is to put together a strong lineup to supplement her.

In Hibbert’s view, junior Rory Lewis gives the team a strong performer at second singles.

“Rory has worked hard every year,” said Hibbert. “As a freshman, she was close to being in the lineup but we had six seniors that year so it was tough. Last year, she was a little nervous in her challenge matches. As soon as the year got started, she clicked with Maddie [Cahill-Sanidas] at first doubles. Playing with Maddie helped her game and gave her confidence. If you would go by the courts in the offseason, there was a good chance that she was out there playing. She has worked really hard on her game and she is ready to play.”

Junior Katelyn Hojelbane is ready for a another season at third singles. “Katelyn played there last year,” noted Hibbert. “She gives a lot of strength to our singles lineup. She has a year of experience in that spot and hopefully that will help.”

As the season gets underway, Hibbert is still searching to find her strongest options at doubles.

“Our doubles is a work in progress; we have four players I am going to start with and I have others nipping at their heels who have strengths and weaknesses,” said Hibbert, noting that senior Allison Hubert, sophomore Chenchen Wang, junior Zhenia Dementyev, sophomore Nikhita Salgame, freshman Elise Gerdes, freshman Brina Suppiah, and sophomore Gillian Samios are all in the mix.

“I have an idea of how we are going to start the season. There is always a possibility of changing the lineup. We are hoping to get the doubles pairings that will complement singles. Our strength has typically been our depth. We have a lot of good players.”

In Hibbert’s view, getting the doubles pairings right will go a long way in determining whether PHS can make another deep run in the state tourney.

“The doubles is the key to our success,” said Hibbert, whose team hosts Robbinsville on September 12 before playing at Hamilton on September 16.

“It is easy to come up against a team with one or two strong players. We have that point at the top of the lineup. The doubles coming together is a key; it is important to be consistent. I feel our second and third singles can do well but it is important to have depth at doubles.”

MORE TO COME: Princeton Day School field hockey player Morgan Foster heads upfield in PDS’s 5-1 loss to Germantown Academy (Pa.) last Friday in its season opener. Junior defender Foster notched her first career goal in the setback as she accounted for the Panthers’ only tally. In upcoming action, PDS is scheduled to host Northern Burlington on September 12 before playing at Peddie on September 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MORE TO COME: Princeton Day School field hockey player Morgan Foster heads upfield in PDS’s 5-1 loss to Germantown Academy (Pa.) last Friday in its season opener. Junior defender Foster notched her first career goal in the setback as she accounted for the Panthers’ only tally. In upcoming action, PDS is scheduled to host Northern Burlington on September 12 before playing at Peddie on September 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Tracey Arndt possesses extensive experience with Pennsylvania field hockey, having starred at Pennsbury High and then going on to Penn State where she earned All-American honors.

Last week, Arndt’s Princeton Day School field hockey team got a double dose of the Keystone State, topping Penn Charter 5-2 in a scrimmage on September 10 before falling to Germantown Academy 5-1 last Friday in the regular season opener.

“Any of the private schools or public schools in that Pennsylvania area are very good and I am actually glad that we got to play them,” said Arndt, who is in her second season as the PDS head coach.

“We played a great game against Penn Charter, which is another private school over there the other day. They are great competition for us. I think we are going to see teams just as strong. It really got us going. To me, you have to play some of the best teams to know where you are standing.”

Against Germantown, the Panthers were trailing 2-1 at half but couldn’t find a rhythm in the second half.

“I think we did really well the other day, so build on the strengths that we had in the other game and come out firing,” said Arndt.

“I think we had so many opportunities; our finishing wasn’t there. The first shot was going but the second and third shots weren’t going. They were pretty tenacious defensively and their goalie certainly stepped up to make some saves.”

With PDS trailing 4-1 with 15:28 remaining, Arndt took a timeout to urge her team to battle to the final whistle.

“I told them at the timeout that it was a gut check; it doesn’t matter if the score is 1-0 or 7-0, you have to pretend it’s a tie game or you are down one and keep fighting and don’t get down on yourself,” said Arndt, who got a goal from junior Morgan Foster in the game as she notched the first goal of her PDS field hockey career.

“I thought this was a great lead-up for the rest of the season. The result is not what we wanted but we have tough games the whole season and with such a low number of players, we have to rely on every single person. We have two sophomores and they need to step up just as much as the seniors are stepping up. It is a hard lesson to learn but hopefully they are competitors and will step up and be motivated by this.”

Arndt believes that her players will benefit from the lessons learned against Germantown.

“As we got tired, we got too individual,” said Arndt. “The more tired we are, the more we have to rely on each other instead of just relying on one person. We have to put the same effort into the game, no matter what the score is. They came out after halftime with a really great fire under them. They knew that was their time to shine but they needed to do that the whole time. In college, I always played tough teams in the beginning and I think it is a great lesson, helping us know what we need to build on, what we need to do tactically, and as a team.”

With PDS slated to host Northern Burlington on September 12 before playing at Peddie on September 16, Arndt wants her team to focus on sticking together at both ends of the field.

“I think we need to work on our communication, our finishing skills as a team, and our recovery defense as a team,” asserted Arndt.

“To me, it is all a team thing. We have some great individual players but that means nothing if you don’t play as a team.”

KICK START: Hun School girls’ soccer player Jess Sacco kicks the ball in a 2012 game. Junior tri-captain Sacco should provide plenty of punch in the midfield this fall for the Raiders, who are welcoming new head coach ­Joanna Hallec. Hun opens regular season play by hosting East Brunswick High on September 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

KICK START: Hun School girls’ soccer player Jess Sacco kicks the ball in a 2012 game. Junior tri-captain Sacco should provide plenty of punch in the midfield this fall for the Raiders, who are welcoming new head coach ­Joanna Hallac. Hun opens regular season play by hosting East Brunswick High on September 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

 

During her four-year tenure coaching the Weston High (Conn.) girls’ soccer team, Joanna Hallac had to be creative.

“We were a smaller school in a good league but we were able to do well,” said Hallac. “We had to do more with less.”

As Hallac replaces Ken Stevenson as the head coach of the Hun School girls’ soccer program, she is bringing that open-minded mentality.

“In terms of a system, I like to see the personnel and what works best,” said Hallac, who will also be teaching upper school history at Hun as she returns to education after a three-year hiatus that saw her earn a masters degrees in legislative affairs from George Washington.

“I am flexible in my approach. I thing we are going to start with 3-5-2 but we could change.”

Hallac’s approach also includes a heavy emphasis on character. “I am really big on sportsmanship,” said Hallac, who played college soccer at Lafayette.

“I also see this as a chance for the players to learn life lessons as well as soccer lessons. They learn the benefits of working hard and working together and that can help them through their life.”

The Hun players have been working hard for Hallac in preseason training. “I think they have been great; I am teaching them new things and challenging them in soccer and conditioning,” said Hallac, crediting team captains Olivia Breander-Carr, Jess Sacco, and Ashley Maziarz with easing her transition.

“They have really been positive: I couldn’t be happier. The commitment is there. They have all bought in; they have put the work in. We have a good core of talent.”

Hallac believes she has some fine talent she can deploy on the offensive end of the field.

“I have Abby Gray at forward; she has shown promise,” said Hallac.

“She scored the winning goal in our scrimmage with WW/P-S. Palomo Rodney is a sophomore. She has improved by all accounts. She is a defender by trade. She worked hard this summer and I have been trying to get her to play up front. I would also like to play Olivia up front at times. I have a lot of players who can be options.”

The Raiders also boast some good options in the midfield as they look to improve on the 4-5-4 record posted in 2012. “Jess Johnson is unbelievable on defense but has skills and I would like to get her into the midfield. Ashley Maziarz is good on the corner kicks; she is great in the air. Jess Sacco is a threat in the midfield; I have a lot of players who can be options.”

As for the defense, Hallac is going with a mix of experience and youth.

“I have Olivia, Ashley and a freshman, Julia Salerno, on defense,” said Hallac. “Jess Johnson is alternating between defense and midfield.”

Sophomore Courtney Arch will be taking over at goalie. “Courtney is working hard and has been playing well,” said Hallac.

“She has the ability to make big saves. We are working on communication and concentration. We need her to stay focused for the full 80 minutes. We want to get her to be confident so she is 100 percent there. She has been really good and the girls are comfortable with her back there.”

With Hun opening the 2013 season by hosting East Brunswick High on September 12, Hallac is looking for her players to show an intense focus.

“I am making sure that everybody is working together for the full 80 minutes, offensively and defensively,” said Hallac.

“If someone takes a minute off, offensively or defensively, that is when the other team could score. We need to take advantage of the mistakes made by the other teams. We need to capitalize on opportunities. We don’t have a natural goal scorer so we are going to have to work hard to score goals.”

SUPER SAVER: Hun School boys’ soccer goalie Chris Meinert makes a save in action last fall. Senior star Meinert will be a key performer for Hun as it looks to improve on the 5-13 record it posted last season. The Raiders play at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 13 in their 2013 season opener. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SUPER SAVER: Hun School boys’ soccer goalie Chris Meinert makes a save in action last fall. Senior star Meinert will be a key performer for Hun as it looks to improve on the 5-13 record it posted last season. The Raiders play at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 13 in their 2013 season opener.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Hun School boys’ soccer team coming off a disappointing 5-13 season last fall, the squad’s veterans are determined to lead a reversal of fortune.

“I think the seniors are extremely ready to go at it,” said Hun head coach Pat Quirk. “They have been working extremely hard.”

Hun is looking for some good work from junior Tucker Stevenson up front.

“Tucker is probably one of our strongest players,” said Quirk of Stevenson, who is back on the pitch after studying abroad last fall. “He can hold defenders off and he is good at shooting on the run.”

In the midfield, the Raiders will be depending on three of its senior stalwarts, Bailey Hammer, Felix Dalstein, and Andres Gonzalez, to lead the way.

“Bailey Hammer has been with us for four years; he has always been a hard worker,” asserted Quirk, whose team plays at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 13 in its season opener.

“He has played on defense in the past and is playing in the middle now. I am expecting Felix and Andres to be extremely dangerous. Patrick Nally is a freshman; he has been looking pretty good.”

The Hun defense will feature a trio of sophomores along with some veteran assistance.

“We are going with M.J. Cobb, Alex Semler, and David Ducharme in the back; they played last year as freshmen,” said Quirk. “We will put Andres back there at times.”

Senior star goalie Chris Meinert figures to pull a lot of weight for the Raiders.

“Chris has been phenomenal; I can’t believe some of the saves that he makes,” said Quirk. “He has been starting since he has been a sophomore. He has gotten better at directing the defense.”

In order for Hun to play better this fall, it will come down to the seniors going out with a bang.

“I am expecting the three guys in the middle to lead by example,” said Quirk. “They are working hard and I know what they are capable of doing. We need to play more together as a team.”

DEFENSIVE ACTION: Hun School field hockey star Alex Kane leads the defense in a game last season. Senior back Kane will be a key player for Hun as it looks to improve on the 6-8 record it posted in 2012. The Raiders open their 2013 campaign by playing at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on September 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DEFENSIVE ACTION: Hun School field hockey star Alex Kane leads the defense in a game last season. Senior back Kane will be a key player for Hun as it looks to improve on the 6-8 record it posted in 2012. The Raiders open their 2013 campaign by playing at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on September 12.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kathy Quirk acknowledges that her Hun School field hockey team hasn’t been looking like a powerhouse in preseason play.

But with the program having established a penchant for strong finishes over the years, longtime Hun head coach Quirk isn’t overly concerned.

“We typically start out slow,” said Quirk. “We have to play as a team and build on each other.”

In Quirk’s view, her squad has a good foundation to build at forward with the trio of senior Francesca Bello, junior Vicki Leach, and senior Courtney Faulkner.

“I think Francesca should be moving up and down the field; she should be our go-to scorer,” said Quirk, who guided the Raiders to a 6-8 record last fall. “Vicki plays on the line; she is scrappy in front of the cage. Courtney Faulkner is also up there.”

The pair of senior Bri Barrett and junior Julia Blake will be heading up the Raider midfield.

“Bri Barrett and Julia Blake are our two leaders there,” said Quirk, whose team opens the 2013 campaign by playing at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on September 12.

“They both have good speed and hunger to score goals; they play a lot at the top of the circle.

On defense, Davidson-bound senior star Alex Kane is one of Hun’s top performers.

“Kane brings a lot, she has a great knowledge of the game,” said Quirk, whose defense will also include senior Hanna Bettner, senior Liz Mydlowski, junior Taylor Nehlig, sophomore Alexis Goeke, and sophomore Charlotte Stout, with freshman Sophis Albanese seeing time either as a middie or a backfielder.

“She runs the show back there. We have changed up our defense. We are trying to pick the defense up the field and she helps the continuity between defense and offense.”

Junior standout goalie Reina Kern figures to be the backbone of the Hun defense.

“Reina plays all summer and comes back in good shape,” said Quirk. “We are looking for big things from her this season. She can control things in the back; she does a great job of directing the defense.”

Quirk believes the Raiders can do some big things this fall collectively if they give extra effort all over the field.

“We have good players in each unit but we need everyone to step up,” said Quirk.

September 4, 2013
EYEING A REPEAT: Michelle Cesan focuses on the ball in action for the Princeton University field hockey team last fall as she helped the program to its first-ever NCAA title. The Tigers are looking for a big year from senior star and second-team All-American Cesan as they defend their crown. Third-ranked Princeton begins regular season play this weekend by hosting No. 10 Duke on September 6 and Fairfield on September 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

EYEING A REPEAT: Michelle Cesan focuses on the ball in action for the Princeton University field hockey team last fall as she helped the program to its first-ever NCAA title. The Tigers are looking for a big year from senior star and second-team All-American Cesan as they defend their crown. Third-ranked Princeton begins regular season play this weekend by hosting No. 10 Duke on September 6 and Fairfield on September 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 2011, the Princeton University field hockey team dealt with the absence of four key players who spent the year away from school training with the U.S. national program.

Despite not having the services of Kat Sharkey, Michelle Cesan, Katie Reinprecht, and Julia Reinprecht, a gritty Princeton team got the most out of what it had and won the Ivy League title that season.

Last fall, the program won its first-ever national championship and as the 2013 season approaches, the Tigers need to fill in some big holes left by graduation.

In assessing this year’s squad, Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn sees a parallel to the situation two falls ago.

“The 2011 season was really an interesting thing to go through, the girls had to dig deep within themselves to find their roles and provide leadership,” said Holmes-Winn, who guided the Tigers to a 21-1 record last fall in its run to the NCAA crown. “We definitely are likening that experience to this year.”

The squad’s experienced players have shown Holmes-Winn that they are not about to rest on their laurels.

“I have been very pleased with the team’s temperament,” asserted Holmes-Winn, whose squad is ranked No. 3 in the Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I Preseason Poll and opens its title defense by hosting No. 10 Duke on September 6.

“What we saw in the spring is that the players worked very hard and that carried over into the summer. Complacency is not part of our culture. These girls go to Princeton; they are overachievers in every way.”

The squad’s corps of seniors, Julia Reinprecht, Amanda Bird, Kelsey Byrnes, Christina Maida, and Allegra Mango, are setting the tone in terms of work ethic.

“The juniors from last year are stepping into the shoes of last year’s seniors,” said Holmes-Winn.

“They are leading by example and making sure that the players keep up to the standards that have been set in the program.”

It is going to be tough for the Tigers to match the standard set by the one-two punch of the graduated Katie Reinprecht and Kat Sharkey. Reinpreccht, the 2012 Longstreth/NFHCA Player of the Year, had 19 assists last season while Sharkey ended her career as the most prolific scorer in Princeton history as she totaled 107 goals in her career.

“We are going to miss what Katie was able to do in the midfield,” said Holmes-Winn. “She could draw defenders, escape defenders and put attackers in position to score easy goals. Kat Sharkey could create offense by herself.”

Senior standout Julia Reinprecht, an All-American and a member of the U.S. national team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, should create opportunities for the Tigers this fall.

“Julia can go forward and split the defense,” said Holmes-Winn of the younger Reinprecht, who had 10 goals and six assists last fall.

“She has a high hockey IQ. She is a critical piece to both sides of the field. She played deep defense for us and we will move her higher up to midfield.”

The Tigers boast plenty of interchangeable pieces on the offensive end of the field.

“We are looking at Allison Evans (12 goals and five assists in 2012), Allegra Mango (1 assist) and Sydney Kirby (9 goals, 3 assists) to create chances on their own,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We have a system where the midfielders are expected to overlap. I am not sure where we are going to play Michelle Cesan (8 goals, 8 assists), probably at center mid or reset striker spot. We will have Kate Ferrara (1 assist) and Kelsey Byrne (3 assists) on wing. Julia Reinprecht along with freshmen Cat Caro and Annabeth Donovan will be in a holding role.

On the backline, the Tigers feature a trio of battle-tested performers. “The defense will be Cassidy Arner, Amanda Bird, and Teresa Benvenuti,” said Holmes-Winn.

“Teresa played center half for the U.S. this summer in the Junior World Cup and we will have her in the same place for us.”

While Princeton has a senior All-American goalie in place with senior Christina Maida, Holmes-Winn indicated that junior Julia Boyle and sophomore Anya Gersoff are in the mix to see action.

“We are really fortunate that we have three really good goalies; they push each other,” said Holmes-Winn.

“I don’t know who is going to start; it could depend on our opponent. Julia was right there last year and Anya competed to start some weeks. What separates them is not much, both Julia and Anya have a lot to offer. There will be a battle but the good thing is that I know they will support each other.”

The Tigers will be in for a battle when they face Duke (2-0) this Friday in the opener.

“Duke has a very talented collection of players,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team will also play Fairfield on September 7 in the opening weekend of the season.

“When they put it together, they can be dangerous. They will be a top team by the end of the season. I am looking forward to see how we do against them.”

Holmes-Winn, for her part, believes that Princeton can again emerge as one of the top teams by tournament time.

“It is always hard to say; we are going to work really hard,” said Holmes-Winn.

“I think we will be a really dynamic team on offense once everyone understands their role. That is going to take some time. I think we will be a good defensive team. A cornerstone of last year’s team was ability to stay in play and squeeze space. I think we can use numbers to our advantage.”

 

MYLES TO GO: Princeton University men’s soccer star Myles McGinley dribbles the ball in a game last season. Junior midfielder McGinley figures to be a key performer for the Tigers this fall. Princeton kicks off its 2013 campaign with a game at Fairleigh Dickinson on September 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MYLES TO GO: Princeton University men’s soccer star Myles McGinley dribbles the ball in a game last season. Junior midfielder McGinley figures to be a key performer for the Tigers this fall. Princeton kicks off its 2013 campaign with a game at Fairleigh Dickinson on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The Catalonia region of northeastern Spain is a soccer hotbed, boasting FC Barcelona, one of the top pro clubs in the world, and its legendary superstar Lionel Messi.

This past March, the Princeton University men’s soccer team spent nine days in the area and was fired up to go 3-1 in four friendly matches against Barcelona-area teams.

In the view of longtime Princeton head coach Jim Barlow, the journey should help the Tigers in several respects.

“It has been a long time since we went abroad, our last trip was 2003,” said Barlow.

“We decided to stay in the Barcelona area and that worked out well. We got settled and we got to see the sights. We toured during the day and had games at night. We got to see FC Barcelona play and Espanyol train. It was a great week of culture and sightseeing. It brought the team together. We were able to do more on the field. I think we are further along in the spring than usual.”

Barlow is hoping his team can go further this year than it did last fall when it went 8-6-2 overall and 4-1-2 in Ivy League action, taking third in the league and not getting invited to the NCAA tournament.

“Any time you go through the Ivy League with one loss, you expect to either win the league or be in the tournament,” said Barlow, a 1991 Princeton alum who is in his 18th season guiding the Tigers and has produced a 127-121-44 record with three Ivy crowns.

“We had an opportunity to do a little better in non-league games. In the league, we had nice wins over Dartmouth and Harvard but we let the Cornell game get away from us. The guys are hungry; the league is wide open.”

The Tigers feature a nice one-two punch at forward in junior Cameron Porter (2 goals and 4 assists in 2012) and sophomore Thomas Sanner (4 goals, 6 assists).

“Porter has so many athletic gifts that sometimes he tries to do too much,” said Barlow, noting that sophomore Nico Hurtado, senior Dylan Bowman and junior Julian Griggs should see time at forward.

“He goes fast and gets out of control. He needs to be on the same page with the midfield. He has had two good seasons and is a real scoring threat. Sanner has matured. He makes good runs and he is a good finisher. He is strong and physical.”

Barlow believes the midfield will be a strong unit for the Tigers. “We have a bunch of guys in the mix,” said Barlow, noting that junior Joe Saitta, freshman Brian Costa, freshman Bryan Windsor, freshman Vikram Pothuri,  sophomore Jack Hilger, sophomore Andrew Doar, junior Alex Wetterman, and junior Myles McGinley have been playing in middle of the field. “We have a lot of depth; separating the eight midfielders is going to be hard.”

McGinley has emerged as first among equals, according to Barlow. “Myles has established himself as the guy who we can depend on day in, day out in the central midfield,” asserted Barlow.

Princeton boasts a trio of three dependable seniors on defense in Chris Benedict, Patrick O’Neil, and Billy McGuinness.

“It will be O’Neil and Benedict out wide with McGuinness providing a good presence centrally,” added Barlow.

“I am not sure who is going to be playing with McGuinness in the center. Andrew Mills and Josh Miller are vying for that spot. Losing Mark Linnville [a 4-time first-team All-Ivy performer] is tough; he did so much organizing and communicating. We need the guys to step up leadership-wise with their communication.”

Senior goalie Seth MacMillan has been stepping up for the Tigers during the preseason.

“Seth has been great so far, he has been our most consistent and reliable player,” said Barlow,

“Ben Hummel has pushed himself athletically and he is getting to balls he didn’t get to in the past. Freshman Josh Haberman has looked good. I am happy with our depth there. Seth is No. 1 right now.”

The Tigers will get pushed hard in their season opener as they play at Fairleigh Dickinson on September 6.

“They went deep into the NCAAs last year, I think they lost to North Carolina in overtime in the Sweet 16,” said Barlow, reflecting on the 2-0 Knights.

“It is always an even, hard game when we play them. We beat them 1-0 in the second game of the Princeton Invitational last year. This is going to be a different atmosphere at their place on a Friday night. We are excited. They beat Drexel in their opener so they are off to a good start.

Barlow believes that his team can produce another exciting season. “I would like to think that we can do really well in the league,” said Barlow.

“We always go into the season feeling that way. We have to continue to improve everyday in training. We need to develop good chemistry and play well together.  How we handle plays in front of both goals will be critical. Last year, we had trouble scoring and the year before we had trouble stopping people. We are concerned right now about where the goals are going to come from for us. We are cautiously optimistic.”

 

GIFT OF GAB: Princeton University women’s soccer star ­Gabriella Guzman controls the ball in action last season. Princeton is depending on senior co-captain Guzman to be a force in the midfield as it looks to defend its Ivy League title. The Tigers open the season this weekend by hosting Richmond on September 6 and Army on September 8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GIFT OF GAB: Princeton University women’s soccer star ­Gabriella Guzman controls the ball in action last season. Princeton is depending on senior co-captain Guzman to be a force in the midfield as it looks to defend its Ivy League title. The Tigers open the season this weekend by hosting Richmond on September 6 and Army on September 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into the 2012 season, Julie Shackford was comforted by the fact that her Princeton University women’s soccer team included eight seniors.

Asserting that teams who excel typically have a strong core of seniors, the Tigers added credence to Shackford’s notion, going 14-4-1 overall, 7-0 in Ivy League play, and advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

In assessing the upcoming campaign, Shackford acknowledges that the departure of last year’s seniors has left a huge void.

“It is a hard class to replace on so many levels,” said Shackford of the group which had five players earn All-Ivy recognition last fall, led by Jen Hoy, the league’s Player of the Year.

The Tigers do possess some high-level skills at the forward position, starting with junior Lauren Lazo, a first-team All-Ivy pick last fall after tallying 11 goals and five assists.

“We need Lazo to pick up Jen’s slack; we are looking for a breakout season from her,” said Shackford, who is entering her 19th season guiding the program and  has a record of 189-103-22 with six Ivy titles and 8 NCAA appearances.

“She was a legitimate threat in the latter half of last season; she scored a lot of goals. We have two other players who are coming back from ACL injuries and are playing phenomenally. Melissa Downey is a junior who is looking really good. Erika Hoglund was just starting to come around last year as a junior and got injured in the Yale game. She has been a leader in preseason. The three of them are a nice combination. Liana Cornaccio is back; she is good on throw-ins and is a presence. We have a freshman, Tyler Lussi, who is slight but strong and fast. We have some good options up top.”

Princeton has some nice options in the midfield, featuring senior co-captain Gabriella Guzman, together with sophomore Jessica Lee, junior Jessica Haley and a pair of promising freshmen, Nicole Loncar and Jess McDonough.

“Gabby Guzman holds the ball really well and wins every 50/50 ball,” said Shackford.

“She is so strong and is a good leader. She is really hard-nosed in those tough Ivy League games. Jess Lee played well last year, she sprained her ankle so she isn’t training right now. We have a player who has been on the U-17 and U-20 teams for Canada, Nicole Loncar, and she will play in the center. Jess McDonough is a shore kid who played for the Wildcats and she will be in the mix. We have Jess Haley back, the Ivy League assist leader last year and she can play in the midfield or up top.”

On defense, the Tigers welcome back a trio of battle-tested veterans. “We have Diane Metcalf-Leggette, Kacie Kergides, and Gabby Ragazzo back,” said Shackford, noting that senior co-captain Metcalf-Leggette, an honorable mention All-Ivy choice in 2012, is a vocal leader along the backline.

“The frontrunner to play in the other spot is Fiona McKenna, who also plays hockey. She is a phenomenal athlete and is tough as nails.”

Shackford acknowledges that the graduation of second-team All-Ivy goalie Claire Pinciaro has left a big hole.

“The big question mark is in goal, we have four players and there is no clear-cut starter yet,” said Shackford, who is looking at senior Cecilia DiCaprio, junior Darcy Hargadon, junior MicKenzie Roberts-Lahti, and freshman Hannah Winner. “We may have to do a rotation with two of them.”

In Shackford’s view, the Tigers can work around the uncertainty at goalie. “If we can defend really well as a team, I think we have enough firepower to outscore teams,” said Shackford.

“This group has potential; I expect us to contend for a title. We have seen some good things in the scrimmages so far but we are not as well oiled as last year when he had all those veterans and everyone knew their spot.”

As the Tigers open the season this weekend by hosting Richmond on September 6 and Army on September 8, the team will be in a tough spot.

“Army has been training since July 1; Richmond has had some mixed results so far but historically they always have some good forwards,” said Shackford.

“Every first game is going to be a challenge for us. I am happy to be at home; it is easier to work out the kinks when you are not worrying about traveling.”

 

TRAINING EXERCISE: Members of the Princeton High boys’ soccer team go through a drill in a recent training session. PHS produced a season to remember in 2012 as the Little Tigers went 18-3-1 on the way to tying Ramapo 1-1 in the NJSIAA Group III state title game. Despite some heavy graduation losses, PHS is confident it can again be a championship contender. The Little Tigers open the  2013 season at Allentown on September 6 in a rematch of last year’s Group III Central Jersey sectional final won 4-3 by PHS.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TRAINING EXERCISE: Members of the Princeton High boys’ soccer team go through a drill in a recent training session. PHS produced a season to remember in 2012 as the Little Tigers went 18-3-1 on the way to tying Ramapo 1-1 in the NJSIAA Group III state title game. Despite some heavy graduation losses, PHS is confident it can again be a championship contender. The Little Tigers open the 2013 season at Allentown on September 6 in a rematch of last year’s Group III Central Jersey sectional final won 4-3 by PHS. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last fall, a group of 12 seniors helped the Princeton High boys’ soccer team enjoy a season to remember as the Little Tigers went 18-3-1 on the way to tying Ramapo 1-1 in the NJSIAA Group III state title game.

With all of that firepower having departed, it would appear that PHS is facing a rebuilding job this fall.

But longtime head coach Wayne Sutcliffe is confident that Little Tigers have the talent on hand to maintain the program’s winning tradition.

“Pretty much every guy on the team is a full time soccer player,” said Sutcliffe.

“We have seven sophomores coming off an undefeated freshmen season; they are working hard and improving. You never know until you are in the thick of it but based on our scrimmages so far, we are really encouraged.”

It is encouraging for PHS to have senior star Kevin Halliday back at striker.

“Kevin scored two goals against North Brunswick in a scrimmage the other day and they were both beautiful goals,” asserted Sutcliffe.

“We are a different team when he is on the field. He had 23 goals last year and 10 of them were game winners. He is a very savvy player. He is playing attacking center midfield.”

The Little Tigers feature two other attacking threats in junior Chase Ealy and senior Mike Papakonstantinos.

“Chase and Mike will also be up front,” added Sutcliffe, whose team opens the season at Allentown on September 6 in a rematch of last year’s Group III Central Jersey sectional final won 4-3 by the Little Tigers.

“Chase is looking fantastic, he is continuing to refine his game. Getting all of the experience last year in the sectional and state final as a sophomore was great for him. He is a junior but experience-wise he is like a senior. Mike has given us a nice spark, he can be an attacking player in the box.”

Senior John Blair should give PHS a spark in the midfield. “John has had a good preseason camp,” said Sutcliffe.

“With all of his experience on our run last year, he is ahead of the curve. He needs to keep working hard and he can do some big things. Zeno Mazzaocato, Cole Snyder, Nick Halliday, and Renaud Miahle will also be in the midfield. They are all talented.”

The defense will be a work in progress, as the Little Tigers is replacing four key seniors from last year in Pablo Arroyo, Scott Bechler, Juan Polanco, and Adam Klein. Sutcliffe has three seniors, Andrew Braverman, Dalton Sekelsky, and Alex Torske working on the backline along with three sophomores, Chris Harla, Dwight Donis, and Edgar Morales.

“We have a lot of size there; they are finding their way to the same page,” said Sutcliffe.

“They need to get their communication going and work well with Laurenz. [goalie Laurenz Reimitz]”

PHS needs junior Reimitz to provide some good work at keeper. “Laurenz is having a good preseason,” said Sutcliffe.

“He had a shutout in our scrimmage with North Brunswick; that was his first clean sheet of the preseason so that was encouraging. Having all that experience last year really helped him as well. We are hoping that by midseason, he will be in great form.”

Sutcliffe believes that his team can find winning form collectively as the fall unfolds.

“The season goes in phases; we are confident going in,” said Sutcliffe. “We have a lot of work to do. The team has the potential to achieve whatever it wants to achieve in the CVC and beyond. We have to make small strides in training everyday and work on the little things.”

 

STRONG ALLY: Princeton High girls’ soccer standout Ally ­Rogers controls the ball in a recent practice. PHS will be relying on senior forward Rogers to provide a finishing touch this fall as the squad looks to build on a historic 2012 season that saw the Little Tigers go 16-3-1 on the way to winning the program’s first-ever Central Jersey Group III sectional crown. PHS opens the 2013 season by hosting Hamilton on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STRONG ALLY: Princeton High girls’ soccer standout Ally ­Rogers controls the ball in a recent practice. PHS will be relying on senior forward Rogers to provide a finishing touch this fall as the squad looks to build on a historic 2012 season that saw the Little Tigers go 16-3-1 on the way to winning the program’s first-ever Central Jersey Group III sectional crown. PHS opens the 2013 season by hosting Hamilton on September 6.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Making history in 2012, the Princeton High School girls’ soccer team went 14-1-1 over its last 16 games on the way to winning the program’s first-ever Central Jersey Group III sectional crown.

As the squad started its preseason training in mid-August, longtime PHS head coach Greg Hand believes his returning players have picked up where they left off.

“They are bringing back a lot of confidence,” said Hand, who guided the Little Tigers to 16-3-1 record last fall and is in his 23rd season guiding the program.

“We have a large number of returners who have been playing a lot since the end of the last high school season. I am seeing a lot of fitness across the board along with both tactical and technical improvement. We have had a productive start. We are healthy and having good hard training.”

Hand is expecting a productive fall from his pair of star forwards, senior Ally Rogers and junior Shannon Pawlak.

“Ally is a good athlete,” said Hand, who will also use senior Jordan Provorny at forward. “

“She doesn’t play soccer after the end of the high school season but she always gives us 100 percent. Shannon Pawlak is a very committed, year-round soccer player and has her heart set on playing at the next level. She had some very good coaching on the outside. She is sharper than she has ever been and is technically very sound.”

Despite losing stars Kate Kerr and Meghan Brennan to graduation, the PHS midfield should be sound this fall, spearheaded by the pair of senior co-captains Dana Smith and Eva Reyes together with sophomore Haley Bodden.

“In the central part of the midfield will be Dana Smith who has done so much for us at different spots on the field,” said Hand, whose team kicks off the season by hosting Hamilton on September 6.

“She may be a recruited lacrosse player [Lafayette] but it never feels like soccer is her second sport. She has great leadership abilities. She can be an attacking midfielder or play in a holding role. Reyes played on the outside last year; she will now be playing in a central role. Haley Bodden played on defense last year and we are moving her into midfield. She has played a lot of soccer in addition to being a very tough player. She has improved her soccer skills.”

A trio of promising sophomores, Gabby Deitch, Sasha Ryder, and Taylor Lis, gives the Little Tigers some firepower on the wing.

“Gabby Deitch, Sasha Ryder, and Taylor Lis will be on the outside,” added Hand. “Between the end of high school season and now, they have been building their game.”

Due to the abundance of talent in the middle of the field, PHS will be changing its look tactically.

“We will be playing a 3-5-2 formation at times; we feel we can have an attacking midfield,” said Hand.

“They should give us loads of service and they have better mastery of the ball.”

With junior Emily Pawlak and senior Kaitlyn Carduner patrolling the backline, Hand feels good about his defense.

“Emily Pawlak will be in the central defender role,” said Hand. “She is a natural and strong defender. Kaitlyn is one of our most tenacious and responsible defenders. She is aggressive and so fast. She is hard to get around.”

The Little Tigers boast some depth among their corps of defenders with freshman Zoe Tesone, sophomore Maya Sarafin, senior Krysta Holman, and senior Emily Costa.

“Zoe Tesone is a strong defender, she is a great addition,” said Hand. “Maya Sarafin will be getting more time than before. Krysta Holman is looking very good. Emily Costa is a player in the back who is going to get important minutes.”

PHS will need sophomore goalie Rachel Eberhart to look good as she follows graduated star goalie Lauren Ullmann, who is now playing at MIT.

“Rachel is definitely a better keeper through her training year round,” said Hand.

“She is very quick. As a younger player, she needs to communicate better and direct the other players.”

In assessing his team’s potential this fall, Hand is more concerned with daily progress than wins and losses.

“I have no specific goals; we just need to keep improving on the most basic elements of soccer,” said Hand. “We understand the concepts of support but we need to support all of our possessions, not 80 percent but 100 percent. The second thing we need to work on, especially when we play harder teams, is the most simple things, like first touches because the quality of first touches can always get better.”

While it will be tough to PHS to match last year’s finish, Hand is confident that he will get a quality effort from his players this fall.

“I like the attitude of this team as much as any girls’ soccer team I have coached,” said Hand.

“They are so dedicated and there is a sense of working together. They are serious about what they are trying to do but they are having a blast doing it.”

 

MOVING UP: Princeton High field hockey star Julia DiTosto sends the ball upfield in action last fall. Junior DiTosto has moved to midfield from defense for the Little Tigers and figures to be a key catalyst for PHS this fall. The Little Tigers start their 2013 season by playing at Hamilton on September 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MOVING UP: Princeton High field hockey star Julia DiTosto sends the ball upfield in action last fall. Junior DiTosto has moved to midfield from defense for the Little Tigers and figures to be a key catalyst for PHS this fall. The Little Tigers start their 2013 season by playing at Hamilton on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

On one hand, the graduation of Sydney Watts has left a gaping void for the Princeton High field hockey team.

The skilled Watts, who is now playing at Amherst College, triggered the Little Tigers from the midfield last fall and provided superb leadership.

“At first, we were missing Sydney, we relied on her a lot last year,” said PHS head coach Heather Serverson.

But Serverson believes that Watts’ departure will ultimately help PHS be a better-rounded squad in the long run.

“I think that will be an advantage because we have strong players all over the field,” said Serverson, who guided PHS to a 14-5-1 record last year as the team advanced to the quarterfinals of both the Mercer County Tournament and the NJSIAA Group III North 2 sectional. “We won’t have to rely on one go-to player.”

PHS does boast a very strong player in senior star Emilia Lopez-Ona. “I have Emilia at sweeper,” said Serverson of Lopez-Ona, who also stars in lacrosse and has committed to join the Penn women’s lax program.

“She is the energy of the team. When she is up, the team is up. She communicates well. She is an all-around player.”

Another all-around talent for the Little Tigers is junior standout Julia DiTosto.

“We were able to move Julia up to center mid from defense,” said Serverson. “She is very good at getting the ball on defense and then transitioning quickly to offense.”

The PHS defensive set up will also include sophomore Julia Snyder, senior Merritt Peck, junior Emily Kinney, sophomore Allison Spann, and freshman Kennedy Corrado along with returning senior goalie Breanna Hegerty-Thorne.

On offense, Serverson believes she has several scoring options. “Two of our forwards, Lucy Herring and Elisa Kostenbader have really stepped up,” said Serverson, who will also be using junior Campbell McDonald at forward.

“Kostenbader has about half of our goals in our scrimmages so far. Avery Peterson is new to forward. She has played a lot of midfield and is adjusting to the position.”

The PHS midfield features a mix of youth and experience, led by sophomore Trish Reilly.

“Trish was solid for us last year and we are looking for more of the same this year,” said Serverson.

“Two freshmen, Jordyn Cane and Georgia McLean, will be in the midfield. Bea Greenberg is also in the mix.”

Based on its play in preseason scrimmages so far, PHS has reason for confidence. “I think we are passing very well,” asserted Serverson. “We are composed. We know what we want to do with the ball before it leaves our sticks.”

In Serverson’s view, the players will need to stick together to produce another big season.

“I think we can do as well as we did last year; we need to come together and operate as a group,” said Serverson.

“I think one of the things that works well for us is being a unit on and off the field. They need to come together in everything they do as a group. We need to stay healthy and push ourselves in practice.”

 

GOLD RUSH: Princeton Day School field hockey star Emily ­Goldman heads upfield in a preseason practice. Senior Goldman figures to be a key offensive threat for the Panthers this fall. PDS was slated to host Penn Charter (Pa.) on September 3 in its opener and then host Germantown Academy on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOLD RUSH: Princeton Day School field hockey star Emily ­Goldman heads upfield in a preseason practice. Senior Goldman figures to be a key offensive threat for the Panthers this fall. PDS was slated to host Penn Charter (Pa.) on September 3 in its opener and then host Germantown Academy on September 6.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Tracey Arndt heads into her second year at the helm of the Princeton Day School field hockey program, she believes the team is ahead of where it was at this point last year technically.

“Our core base of skills is better this year,” said Arndt, who guided the Panthers to an 11-4-3 mark and a spot in the state Prep B finals last fall in her debut season.

“I am able to work on second level skills and ideas that I didn’t think about last year. The girls know what I stand for and what I expect.”

Arndt expects her four seniors, Emma Quigley, Emily Goldman, Mary Travers, and Sarah Brennan, to provide a high level of leadership this fall.

“I talked to them last year and said this is going to be you guys next year,” said Arndt, noting that her 2012 seniors set a positive tone. “They have taken that to heart. They have worked hard on and off the field.”

PDS is expecting some good work from Quigley and Goldman at the offensive end of the field.

“Emma was one of our leading scorers last year,” said Arndt, who will also be using junior Bian Maloney and sophomore Rowan Schaumburg at forward.

“I am looking for her to use her attacking skills. She is a great finisher and a fierce competitor. She is just as fast with the ball on her stick as a lot of players are without the ball. Emily has really improved. We are looking for her leadership up front, especially since we may put Emma in the midfield depending on the situation.”

The Panther midfield will be driven by the combination of Travers and Brennan.

“I talk about Mary and Sarah as pistons working together; their roles as individuals are important but how they work together is even more important,” said Arndt, whose midfield unit will also include juniors Nikki van Manen and Dana Poltorak.

“We are looking for them to lead the younger girls in the midfield. They have abilities and skills but we also need them to communicate and show poise.”

Poise will be a key goal for the Panther backline, which lost three seniors to graduation (Cami McNeely, Zeeza Cole, and Corinne Urisko), and will be featuring junior Morgan Foster, sophomore Tess Gecha, and junior Sophie Jensen.

“Morgan is a terrific athlete; I think you could give her any piece of athletic equipment and with a little guidance she could be good,” said Arndt.

“I told her she might have to take on a new role and she accepted it. She said whatever you need coach, as I knew she would. She has great vision and sees the field well. Tess is playing the right back position. When you are playing forwards who are fast, you need to be just as fast. She has the speed and she has stepped up. Sophie is at left back; we are talking to her about supporting and positioning.”

At goalie, junior Katie Alden (this reporter’s daughter) is stepping into some big shoes as she takes over for graduated three-year starter Sarah Trigg.

“Katie had a good example to look up to last year in Sarah,” said Arndt. “She was put into a lot of situations in our first scrimmage. We needed her to communicate to the other players and she did that. She has been making some nice saves.”

Noting that her squad is facing a tough situation as it lacks depth with hardly any reserves, Arndt believes her players will come together in response to adversity.

“We can’t rely on a few players; we have to work as a team all over the field,” said Arndt, whose team was slated to host Penn Charter (Pa.) on September 3 in its opener and then host Germantown Academy on September 6.

“The wins are important but the growth is more important. Staying healthy is the first thing. We also need to be efficient in how we move the ball and play on attack. We have to be fighters. We need to fight together, whether we are winning by five goals or losing by five goals.”

 

MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer head coach Malcolm Murphy makes a point in a preseason practice. PDS opens regular season play when it hosts New Hope Solebury High (Pa.) on September 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer head coach Malcolm Murphy makes a point in a preseason practice. PDS opens regular season play when it hosts New Hope Solebury High (Pa.) on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Malcolm Murphy has a sense of deja vu as he assesses the state of his Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team.

“It is the same as last year,” said longtime PDS head coach Murphy, whose squad posted a 3-11-2 record in 2012.

“In a week of preseason it was already out there that we were going to be a team that was going to try to play attractive soccer and play from the back and everybody came to pressure us. We just weren’t established enough as an older group to have that experience under our belt.”

Murphy is looking for junior Marco Pinheiro and sophomore Chris Chai to provide an attractive brand of soccer.

“Marco and Chris are in the midfield,” said Murphy. “We have played the one scrimmage and a number of sessions here. Marco and Chris play excellently together. They play off of each other. We build out of the back through them. Both are midfield and defensive and can translate into going to the offensive.”

The Panthers are searching for answers on offense. “We do not have an out-and-out forward,” said Murphy, whose team opens regular season action by hosting New Hope Solebury High (Pa.) on September 6.

“We have tried David Cedeno up top; he is more of a playmaker than a finisher. He is a player that can play in so he will play a #10, a player who can play behind them. We have played Gabe Vasquez there as well.”

PDS is hoping that junior Oscar Vik and sophomore Amir Melvin can provide some punch from the midfield.

“Oscar Vik is an offensive middie,” said Murphy. “I would have preferred to play him higher but he is more of a link-up, combination player. Amir Melvin is also seeing time there.”

The defense will be led by senior Culver Duquette, who has moved from forward to bring his skills to the backline.

“Culver Duquette was going to be one of the guys up front but he is going to be in the back because we are looking to complement that spot and see if we can move him back up,” said Murphy.

“Dominic Gasparro is more of a defensive defender. Kevin Hagan is in there because he is good technically with the ball. He gives us the ability to play out of the back. He is a good technical player. A guy who came back to soccer is Jacob Shavel; he is playing on the right flank.”

At goalie, the Panthers will be going with a rotation. “Tom Hagan and Christian Vik will be at goalie,” said Murphy. “When Christian is going half a game at goalie, we will certainly use him to play the field.”

The Panthers are trying to make the best use of their training time as they get ready for the season.

“We have only been back for a week,” said Murphy. “We are trying to establish that fitness level in the game. It is going to be that quick progression between the tactics, technique, and the fitness level.”

The freshmen in the program have been making a quick transition. “I have actually been very impressed with the group of freshman we have brought in,” said Murphy.

“We have played four or five scrimmage games between all of the players and we have had a very good standard of games. Everybody is looking to play the same style of play and it’s across the board. In the past, the freshmen had their idea of playing and it has been harder for them to come into our philosophy and concept. We have not had a problem with these guys.”

While Murphy is happy with his team’s style of play, he acknowledges that it runs into problems when it is hit with rough stuff by its foes.

“People know us, they know how we are going to play,” said Murphy. “We want to play an attractive style of soccer but you have to bring a bit of physicality with it as well.”

 

CENTER STAGE: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer star Kirsten Kuzmicz patrols the field in action last fall. The Panthers are depending on junior center midfielder Kuzmicz to have a big season as they look to rebound from a 4-9-4 campaign in 2012. PDS opens its 2013 campaign by playing at Wardlaw Hartridge on September 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CENTER STAGE: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer star Kirsten Kuzmicz patrols the field in action last fall. The Panthers are depending on junior center midfielder Kuzmicz to have a big season as they look to rebound from a 4-9-4 campaign in 2012. PDS opens its 2013 campaign by playing at Wardlaw Hartridge on September 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After a superb four-year stretch that saw the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team go 49-23-3 with two state Prep B titles, the program hit some hard times last fall.

Dealing with key injuries and struggling to find a rhythm, the Panthers slipped to a 4-9-4 record in 2012.

As the squad looks ahead to the 2013 campaign, there is a hunger to resume its winning ways.

“The girls are definitely anxious to come back,” said PDS head coach Pat Trombetta, who is entering his sixth season at the helm of the program.

“The record was not a good indication of how we played. We were in every game; there were a lot of one-goal games. We want to turn those games around. I expect us to improve.”

The partnership of junior stars Kirsten Kuzmicz and Erin Hogan in the midfield could be a key to triggering a PDS revival.

“Kirsten and Erin have been playing really well in the central midfield,” asserted Trombetta, whose team opens regular season play with a game at Wardlaw Hartridge on September 7.

“Kuzmicz has matured; she has gone to a lot of college camps. She is our most passionate player about playing at the next level. Erin has definitely improved, she is ready to roll.”

The PDS midfield will also feature a pair of veterans in Eloise Stanton and Lilly Razzaghi along with promising freshman Allison Klei.

“The two seniors, Stanton and Razzaghi, will be the outside mids,” added Trombetta. “They had some good moments last year. Klei should give us a lot of good minutes.”

Trombetta is hoping that the combination of juniors Alexa Soltesz and Erin Murray will be productive at forward.

“We will be turning to Alexa for scoring,” said Trombetta. “We have to find a second forward to complement Alexa. Erin Murray will get the first shot to be the second forward, she has improved a lot.”

On defense, the Panthers will be relying on senior star Britt Murray and junior standout Stef Soltesz to stifle the opposition.

“Britt will have a different role,” said Trombetta. “We are going to move her to outside back; we want to get her involved more in the attack. Stef is unbelievable, the amount of ground she covers is amazing. She could play anywhere on the field.”

At goalie, the Panthers feature battle-tested senior Rory Finnegan. “Rory is still developing; it is her third year as a starter,” said Trombetta. “She is a mature player. She knows that game; she has started to become more vocal on the field.”

In the team’s opening preseason scrimmage against Nottingham, Trombetta was pleased with the game displayed by his players.

“I liked the way we moved the ball around,” said Trombetta. “We switched fields and got everyone involved. The girls off the bench played well; we are deeper than last year.”

In Trombetta’s view, how well his squad does this fall could come down to having everyone on the same page.

“It is very positive; the chemistry early on is a lot better than it was last year,” said Trombetta.

“We have a very strong junior class, they tried to carry the team last year and they are more mature this year as upperclassmen.”

 

KICKING OFF: Stuart Country Day School senior goalie ­Margaret LaNasa makes a kick save in a training session last week. ­LaNasa’s progress in the cage should help Stuart improve on the 3-14-1 record it posted last fall. The Tartans open regular season play with a game at the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on September 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

KICKING OFF: Stuart Country Day School senior goalie ­Margaret LaNasa makes a kick save in a training session last week. ­LaNasa’s progress in the cage should help Stuart improve on the 3-14-1 record it posted last fall. The Tartans open regular season play with a game at the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team won only three games last fall, the players didn’t get discouraged.

“Granted we went 3-14-1 but the girls didn’t come off the field feeling defeated very often,” said Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik. “There were a lot of close games. We had a lot of improvement.”

As Bruvik gets ready for the second year of her return engagement guiding the Tartans, she is depending on a group of stellar sophomores to continue the improvement made last fall.

“I think there are seven of them; they make up half of the varsity roster,” said Bruvik, who led the program to several county and prep titles in her first tenure which lasted 21 years and ended in 2006.

“Some of them played club and went to camps; they look like they have that one more year of experience. They are bigger, faster, and smarter on the ball. They are getting to know each other better. They know coming into preseason what I am expecting in terms of conditioning and ball control.

Bruvik will be relying on four of those sophomores to trigger the Tartan offense.

“We have Sarah Barkley, Elena Bernewitz, Catherine Donahue, and Sam Servis on attack,” said Bruvik of the quartet of 10th graders. “Sam’s stick skills have really improved.”

Two veterans, juniors Nneka Onukwugha and Madison Kirton, are looking more skilled at forward.

“Nneka has really improved,” added Bruvik. “Madison Kirton is in her second year and she is better.”

Senior star Amy Hallowell figures to be one of the better players in the county this fall.

“We are going to have Amy at center back,” said Bruvik. “We want her to control the ball all over the field, on transition, and on corners. We also need her to be good on defensive corners. We are really looking at her to distribute the ball.”

Stuart is looking for sophomore standouts Tori Hannah and Julia Maser to be scoring threats.

“Tori and Julia will be in midfield,” said Bruvik. “Julia has incredible endurance and is a smart player. I expect her to do a good job this year. Tori is looking good, we could also use her on attack. She has a knack for finishing.”

The quartet of senior Meghan Shannon, junior Asha Mohandes, junior Faye Plambeck, and sophomore Kate Walsh, will be leading the backline.

“Meghan, Asha and Faye are on defense,” said Bruvik. “Kate Walsh is very versatile; she can play in the backfield or at mid.”

Senior goalie Margaret LaNasa has been playing well in the preseason. “Margaret is looking good, she looks so much more comfortable this year,” said Bruvik, noting that LaNasa just started playing goalie as a junior.

“She has her routine with Gia [assistant coach and former Princeton University goalie Gia Fruscione], who has really helped her.”

Bruvik believes that the Tartans can do some good things this fall. “We have got to finish,” said Bruvik, whose team starts the season by playing at the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on September 6.

“Last year it was not for lack of effort, we worked hard to get the ball into the circle. We need to be stronger at keeping the ball on our sticks in the circle. We have a good combination of speed and aggressiveness. We need to try to build on that.”

 

August 28, 2013
STICKING CLOSE: Andrea Jenkins, left, goes after the ball in a game last fall during her senior season with the Princeton Day School field hockey team. Last Friday, Jenkins hit the field for the Princeton University field hockey squad for the first time as the defending NCAA champion Tigers started preseason practice.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STICKING CLOSE: Andrea Jenkins, left, goes after the ball in a game last fall during her senior season with the Princeton Day School field hockey team. Last Friday, Jenkins hit the field for the Princeton University field hockey squad for the first time as the defending NCAA champion Tigers started preseason practice. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 2009, Mariel Jenkins headed to Harvard to join the school’s women’s lacrosse team after a stellar career at Princeton Day School.

Two years later, her younger sister, Sydney, followed in her footsteps, becoming a member of the Crimson field hockey team in the wake of her brilliant play for PDS.

So when the youngest of the three Jenkins sisters, Andrea, emerged as a standout for the Panther field hockey squad, her college path seemed clear.

But while the two older Jenkins girls thrived at Harvard with Mariel making second-team All-Ivy this spring in her senior season and Sydney appearing in all 16 games last fall, tallying a goal and an assist, they weren’t pushy when their baby sister started looking at colleges.

“My sisters didn’t pressure me about Harvard,” said the youngest Jenkins, known as A.J. during her PDS career.

“They wanted me to go where I was happy and they said they would be supportive of wherever that was.”

Jenkins didn’t have to go far to find a school that would make her happy as she committed to join the Princeton University field hockey team last fall.

“I was open to any school, I was grateful to have schools interested in me,” said Jenkins, a four-time All-Prep performer at PDS who served as a team captain and earned MVP honors as a senior when the Panther advanced to the state Prep B championship game.

“In Princeton, I had a school where I loved the campus, the coach, and the team. I was exposed to the program through summer camps. I did an official visit; I wanted to see what it was like to spend a night in the dorm and go to some classes. It balances an engaging academic experience and highly competitive athletics. The girls on the team are great, they are so nice.”

Last Friday, Jenkins hit the field with the Princeton girls for the first time as the defending NCAA champion Tigers started preseason practice.

While her older sisters were supportive of Jenkins’ choice to buck the Harvard trend, she acknowledges that her decision to join Princeton has sparked a family rivalry.

“My sisters were so excited, they were happy for me,” said Jenkins. “We do have some trash talking. I do have my mom [Princeton alum Lisa Gillespie Jenkins] on my side but she cheers for everybody.”

Since the end of her senior season at PDS season, Jenkins has been working hard to get ready for her Princeton debut.

“I have been playing for the Jersey Intensity; I was involved in club championships in July in Virginia Beach,” said Jenkins, who has played with the Jersey Intensity club program the last five years, helping the squad win gold at the National Festival in 2009 and 2012, while medaling at the Disney tournaments from 2009-12.

“I am also doing the Princeton conditioning program each week to build up stamina and strength.”

With the powerful Tigers boasting such All-American performers as Julia Reinprecht, Michelle Cesan, and Christina Maida along with last Year’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year Teresa Benvenuti, Jenkins knows that she will have to raise the level of her game.

“I am ready to be coached by the best and play with some of the greatest players in college field hockey,” said Jenkins, whose speed and stick skills should see her play in the midfield and at striker. “When you play with players of that high level, you get better.”

Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn has had plenty of exposure to Jenkins’ high-level play over the years as she noted in comments on the Princeton sports website welcoming the team’s freshman class.

“Andrea lives down the road so I’ve had the pleasure of admiring her abilities up close for many years,” said Holmes-Winn, who is entering her 11th season at the helm of the Tigers, boasting a 131-57 record and an NCAA Final 4 appearance and nine Ivy titles to go along with last year’s national title, the first in program history.

“She is a fluid attacker with pace, field sense, and the ability to eliminate. Andrea comes from a family of athletes; her dad played football at Duke and her sisters, Sydney and Mariel play field hockey and lacrosse, respectively at Harvard. Her mom is also a Princetonian.”

As Jenkins looks forward to Princeton’s season opener against visiting Duke on September 6, she is ready to keep her nose to the grindstone and contribute in any way needed.

“Honestly, I am excited to be part of the team,” said Jenkins. “I will work as hard as I can in the preseason and see what happens from there. Coach Arndt [PDS field hockey coach Tracey Arndt] said you always want to be the hardest worker as a freshman.”

RETURN TRIP: Jesse Marsch surveys the action while serving as the first head coach of Major League Soccer expansion team the Montreal Impact before parting ways with the club last fall. After recently completing a trip around with the world with his family, the former Princeton University soccer star has returned to his alma mater as a volunteer assistant coach for the Tiger men’s squad.(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

RETURN TRIP: Jesse Marsch surveys the action while serving as the first head coach of Major League Soccer expansion team the Montreal Impact before parting ways with the club last fall. After recently completing a trip around with the world with his family, the former Princeton University soccer star has returned to his alma mater as a volunteer assistant coach for the Tiger men’s squad. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

Jesse Marsch and his young family recently returned from the trip of a lifetime, traveling around the world for five months and visiting 29 countries.

As the former Princeton University soccer star, assistant coach with the U.S. men’s national soccer team, and head coach of the Montreal Impact of Major League Soccer considered his next stop, he decided to go no further than his alma mater.

Earlier this month, Marsch joined the staff of the Tiger men’s soccer team as a volunteer assistant coach and took the pitch at Roberts Stadium last weekend as the squad started preseason training.

For Marsch, a 1996 Princeton alum who earned All-American honors during his college career, totaling 29 goals and 15 assists in four seasons, the chance to help guide the Tigers is one he relishes.

“Working with a college team, I can fully enjoy the game and work with guys who are playing for the right reasons,” said Marsch, who went into pro soccer after graduating from Princeton, enter Major League Soccer where he won three MLS Cup titles and four U.S. Open Cup medals during a 14-year career.

“I remember in college, the feeling of going all out for a team and coming together as a group.”

Marsch’s relationship with Princeton head coach, Jim Barlow, a former Tiger star himself, helped pave the way for the homecoming.

“I reached out to Jimmy,” said Marsch, noting that he already owns a home in town.

“When I was with the US, he coached the U-15 team and I was in some of his camps. I already knew him but I had a chance to work with him. We enjoyed the process of working together and talking about the game. I have great respect for Jimmy.”

As Marsch joins the staff, he is happy to assume a supporting role. “Jim and Steve [assistant coach Steve Totten] work well in running the program, they carry most of the weight,” said Marsch.

“I will fill in the holes, I will try to do some of the dirty work around the office to free some time up for them. I will fill in on the field, helping with things I see.”

After concluding his playing career in 2009, Marsch has seen a lot since getting into coaching.

“I felt really lucky to finish my playing career and to go into a situation where I was working with Bob [former Princeton and U.S. men’s head coach Bob Bradley] and his staff,” said Marsch, who was an assistant coach for the U.S. Men’s National Team from 2009-11, helping the squad win its group at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the first time the team won its pool since 1930, before finishing in 12th place.

“It was incredibly rewarding. The number-one thing I learned is what it is like being on the coaching staff from the inside and how a staff comes together and can set a tone for what the team is doing.”

Marsch headed north in August 2011 when he was named the first head coach of MLS expansion team the Montreal Impact.

“It was a great opportunity to take my theories and apply them in a practical way,” said Marsch, who parted ways with the Impact in November 2012 after leading the Impact to a 12-16-6 record in its inaugural campaign.

“What I believed and what I still believe is the recipe for success and a systematic way of building a team.”

Marsch then decided to build some deeper bonds with wife Kim, daughter Emma, 11, sons Maddux, 9, and Lennon, 6, as they embarked on their journey.

“I was lucky enough to do a lot of traveling with World Cup, youth soccer, and in the pros,” said Marsch,

“I told my wife someday I am going to take you to some of those places and she said oh sure. I didn’t do a good job of balancing my personal and professional life when I was coaching in Montreal. I travelled a lot and when I was home I was thinking a lot about the team. We had this window of opportunity and we learned that more families are doing this.”

The Marsch family began the trip in Hong Kong and hit Singapore, many countries in Southeast Asia, India, Nepal, Dubai, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Europe.

Along the way, they gained some new perspectives.

“Number-one was just spending time with us with no distractions other than surviving at times,” said Marsch.

“Some days were good, some days were bad. The kids learned how to deal with adversity and that everything is not just planned out and that you have to stick together. Number-two was that we had 10 friends scattered around the globe. Some of my friends were in new worlds. I had a college friend who is a vet in Hong Kong and knew another family living in Myanamar. One highlight was getting to see Bob [Bradley] in Cairo and seeing what his world is like and how he is perceived. The third was the overall culture.”

Now Marsch is primed to get back into the Princeton soccer culture. “I try to learn and get better everyday,” said Marsch.

“I will look at the way Jim and Steve do things on a daily basis and pick up on what I think works best. I will help in whatever way I can and pick up on what they are good at and what can help me at the next level.”

Marsch acknowledges that he would like to return to the MLS sideline someday.

“I will take things as they happen; I am committed to a season here,” said Marsch.

“I have been around the league a long time and have relationships and experience.”

Experience has taught Marsch, though, not to worry about the next stop.

“I concentrate now more on the work that gets put out everyday and how it makes me feel inside rather than what people on the outside think,” said Marsch.

SAFETY NET: Alex Mitko poses last fall during his freshman season with the Hamilton College football team. Former Princeton High star Mitko made a sudden impact in 2012 for the Continentals, starting at safety and making 38 tackles with two forced fumbles, two tackles for a loss, and a blocked kick. (Photo Courtesy of Hamilton College Sports Information)

SAFETY NET: Alex Mitko poses last fall during his freshman season with the Hamilton College football team. Former Princeton High star Mitko made a sudden impact in 2012 for the Continentals, starting at safety and making 38 tackles with two forced fumbles, two tackles for a loss, and a blocked kick.
(Photo Courtesy of Hamilton College Sports Information)

During his senior season with Princeton High football team in 2011, Alex Mitko gave a vivid display of his leadership and grit.

Mitko started the year at quarterback and led PHS to a 20-14 win over Northern Burlington in the opener to snap an 11-game losing streak for the Little Tigers. He broke his right thumb in that contest but returned two weeks later and played at running back and defensive back with a cast on his hand.

By the end of the fall, he was back at quarterback, triggering the PHS offense while continuing to guide the Little Tiger secondary.

Joining the Hamilton College football team last fall, Mitko’s leadership and toughness came in handy shortly after he arrived on campus for preseason training.

“My coaches told me that I was going to play safety so I could look at the playbook and get a feel for the position,” said the 5’10, 165-pound Mitko, a native of Cranbury, who is starting preseason camp this week for the Continentals as he prepares for his sophomore season.

“I got thrown in there when one of the older kids got injured. I had to make the calls in the secondary, relaying all the coverages to the defensive backs. I had done that in high school so that was good. A lot of the seniors and the older guys made me feel comfortable, they gave me guidance. One of our captains, Mike MacDonald, a senior linebacker, helped me a lot.”

Mitko emerged as a dependable guy for Hamilton, starting all eight games, making 38 tackles with two forced fumbles, two tackles for a loss, and a blocked kick.

In reflecting on his debut against Amherst College, Mitko acknowledged that he had some uncomfortable moments.

“They ran a no-huddle offense and on first drive they didn’t huddle once,” recalled Mitko.

“They scored and then we ran the kickoff back for a touchdown so we had to go right back on the field. It was the fastest I have played. I was screaming out calls while racing back to my position.”

Mitko found himself in position to make some plays in that first drive. “It was one of the first plays; a kid ran up the middle and I got my first tackle out of the way,” said Mitko, who got credited with four stops in the 38-14 loss to the Lord Jeffs.

“I learned that 250-pound running backs go down like everyone else. After I got a few tackles, I started getting more comfortable.”

For Mitko, Hamilton’s lone win of the fall, a 14-13 triumph over Bowdoin, was a highlight.

“That game was important; our head coach had just come from being the defensive coordinator at Bowdoin and he really wanted that one,” said Mitko.

“It was a nailbiter; I would have liked the game to be more one-sided but any way you can win a game is OK.”

While Hamilton ended up going 1-7, Mitko feels the program is on the verge of turning a corner.

“In the first halfs, we played really well,” said Mitko. “We were back and forth in games. We had a lot of young players and we let things slip away in the third and fourth quarters. With experience, you learn to give 100 percent and finish plays. You try to be more flawless and you will come out with more victories.”

As Mitko heads into his sophomore campaign which will kick off when Hamilton hosts Amherst on September 21, he is looking to apply the experience he gained last year.

“I went from scrambling to settling in to knowing my role and what I am supposed to do now,” said Mitko.

“I want to do more than my job. I have talked to the coaches, I need to get out on breaks more and jump pass routes.”

Not surprisingly, Mitko is also looking to exert his flair for leadership. “We have a very young secondary,” said Mitko. “I would like us to be an improved unit and be someone to reckon with in the NESCAC.”

Utilizing his trademark grit from the start, Mitko has already proven that he is a player to be reckoned with at the next level.

FAMILY BUSINESS: Lior Levy battles in the paint as he competed for Team USA at the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel last month. The former Princeton High standout, who is joining Franklin and Marshall men’s hoops teams this fall, helped the U.S. to gold in the Junior Boys (ages 17-18) division. In so doing, he became the third generation of his family after grandfather, Sydney, and father, Howard, a former Princeton University star and assistant coach, to earn gold at the Maccabiah Games. In addition, his younger sister, Mia, a rising junior at PHS, played for Team USA Junior Girls division at the competition and also struck gold.

FAMILY BUSINESS: Lior Levy battles in the paint as he competed for Team USA at the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel last month. The former Princeton High standout, who is joining Franklin and Marshall men’s hoops teams this fall, helped the U.S. to gold in the Junior Boys (ages 17-18) division. In so doing, he became the third generation of his family after grandfather, Sydney, and father, Howard, a former Princeton University star and assistant coach, to earn gold at the Maccabiah Games. In addition, his younger sister, Mia, a rising junior at PHS, played for Team USA Junior Girls division at the competition and also struck gold.

As Lior Levy prepared this summer to start his basketball career at Franklin and Marshall, he embarked on an overseas hoops adventure that both sharpened his skills and added a chapter to a rich family history.

The recently graduated Princeton High star played for Team USA in the Junior Boys (ages 17-18) division at the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel last month, coming home with a gold medal.

Levy is the third generation of his family after grandfather, Sydney, and father, Howard, a former Princeton University star and assistant coach, to earn gold at the Maccabiah Games. In addition, his younger sister, Mia, a rising junior at PHS, played for Team USA in the Junior Girls division at the competition and also struck gold.

For Levy, the experience was the culmination of a long-held goal. “My dad told me a bunch of stories about it and my granddad did too,” said Levy.

“When my father coached in 2005, the whole family went to support him. I saw the gold medal match in 2009 and it was a great game. It is something I have wanted to do my whole life. It was great.”

The process of playing for the U.S. team started last summer. “I went to a tryout last August in Philadelphia,” recalled Levy, a 6’8 forward.

“It was one day, two sessions. I was there pretty much the whole day. I felt good about the way I played in the tryout but you never know. I found out in the fall, late October, early November. I was really happy.”

It didn’t take Levy long to feel good about the team assembled. “In May we all got together in Philly at the Chestnut Hill Academy,” said Levy, noting that the U.S. head coach Jamie Chadwin guides the boys’ hoops program at the school.

“You could definitely tell that everyone was playing well together and that we could be a good team. We had a lot of smart players.”

Arriving in Israel in early July, the squad came together even more, both on and off the court.

“We got there about 10 days before the games started,” said Levy. “In the first week, we had two practices a day. In the second week, we would get up early and practice at 7 a.m., eat lunch and then go touring. The Holocaust Museum was amazing; it was really moving. The Dead Sea was great.”

On the eve of the pool play portion of the competition, the U.S. team was confident that it could do some great things.

“We thought we could do some damage,” said Levy. “We were playing well together. We had a scrimmage against an older Israeli team and we only lost by two.”

The U.S. team played well from the start, topping South Africa 105-15 in its opener as it went 4-0 in Group B play, winning by an average margin of 81.5 points a game.

“Some of the teams weren’t that good but we kept practicing everyday and got better,” said Levy, who came off the bench and played all three frontcourt spots and had his tournament high with 17 points in a 100-11 rout of Turkey.

“There was a 24-second clock so we played up tempo. We pushed it when we got a chance but we moved the ball around really well in the half court. Defensively we played man to man with a lot of pressure.”

While the U.S. had a lackluster performance in a 63-37 semifinal win over Brazil, the team responded with aplomb to the pressure of facing host Israel in the gold medal game.

“We played our best game against Israel,” said Levy, reflecting on the 78-62 triumph.

“The night before we had a really good team meeting. The coaches prepared us well, they had really scouted them. It was a gold medal game and there was a lot of adrenaline. We were really pumped, the gym was packed and the crowd was against us.”

In the postgame celebration, Levy and his teammates were pumped up. “It was awesome; we were all jumping on each other,” said Levy.

“Our goal was to win and we were relieved. If we had lost it still would have been a good experience. I made some great friends.”

As a bonus, Levy got to share some great moments with his younger sister as she helped the U.S. Junior Girls team win the gold medal.

“That was awesome; I got to go to most of the girls’ games,” said Levy. “They usually played before us so we would get to see half of their games. It was great to support her. It was pretty cool that both of us got gold medals.”

Having arrived at F&M last weekend, Levy believes his experience this summer will help him as he gets into the college game.

“I got a lot better; there were a bunch of good big men on our team and it was great going against them in practice,” said Levy.

“Everyone on the team is going to play in college and the coach ran practices like it was college. We will have captains’ practices and conditioning at F&M this fall. I want to get as good as I can be and fight for some playing time.”

WATTS UP: Sydney Watts sends the ball up the field during her career for the Princeton High field hockey team. Watts, who helped the Little Tigers advance to the quarterfinals of both the Mercer County Tournament and the NJSIAA Group III North 2 sectional last fall in her senior season, hits the field for the Amherst College field hockey team this week as the Lord Jeffs start preseason training.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

WATTS UP: Sydney Watts sends the ball up the field during her career for the Princeton High field hockey team. Watts, who helped the Little Tigers advance to the quarterfinals of both the Mercer County Tournament and the NJSIAA Group III North 2 sectional last fall in her senior season, hits the field for the Amherst College field hockey team this week as the Lord Jeffs start preseason training. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

During her grade school years, Sydney Watts’ favorite recreational activity was riding horses.

But things changed for Watts when she entered the John Witherspoon Middle School in the fall of 2006.

“I started playing field hockey in the 6th grade, playing at JW,” said Watts. “Then in December of 6th grade, I started playing with Champions Edge at Princeton. They had Sunday practices and I really got into it.”

That extra work paid dividends as Watts developed into a skilled, versatile player for Princeton High. With Watts playing at both defense and in the midfield over her career and serving as a team captain, the Little Tigers emerged as one of the top teams in the area.

This week, Watts is taking her skills to the next level as she starts her career with the Amherst College field hockey team.

For Watts, playing for the IMPACT club team in northern Jersey during high school helped put her on the radar for college programs.

“The club experience brought it up; I was not considering it until high school and then I realized it might be an option,” said Watts, reflecting on her college search.

“We would go to showcases and the coaches were there. I got to know the older girls and they had been through the process so that helped.”

After initially looking at D-I programs, Watts changed her focus to D-III schools.

“I was looking at the Ivy League schools,” said Watts. “Princeton has a great field hockey program and my dad went to Brown. By my sophomore year, I had narrowed it to the D-III. I felt the academics and athletics were the best fit. I really liked the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) schools.”

In the end, Watts’ choice came down to a pair of NESCAC schools, Tufts and Amherst.

“I was pretty intent on going to Tufts; I liked the size and the opportunities with engineering there,” said Watts.

“I visited Amherst and the athletes seemed to have a more important role there.”

Since the end of the PHS season, Watts has been working hard to get ready for college athletics.

“I played club until the end of senior year,” said Watts. “There was a summer league at Princeton Day School on Wednesday nights and I played in that. I have also been doing the Amherst workout packet. We lift weights three days a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, we do stick training. The coach wants us to play as much field hockey as possible; she feels that experience from the game is the best training.”

Prior to starting the Amherst preseason, Watts got in some extra training with her future teammates as the squad spent a weekend in the 4Goals college program.

“We were at Harvard; it was full intensity with game situations,” said Watts.

“We played a 7-on-7 tournament and an 11-on-11 tournament. It was awesome. Our whole team was there. All the starters came back and all seven freshmen were there. We got to see how we fit in. Everyone got to play. We actually played really well with each other; we went undefeated in the 7-on-7 tournament.”

As Watts looks ahead to her freshman campaign, she is confident she will fit in, no matter what role she assumes for the Lord Jeffs, who begin regular season play by hosting Middlebury on September 7.

“I was talking to the other girls and they asked me what position I play,” said Watts.

“I played center mid and sweeper in high school. I told them I would play anywhere they need me. I just really want to make an impact on the team, even if it is cheering on the
sidelines.”

LAND OF OZ: Carly Ozarowski, right, marks a foe in action last fall during her freshman season with the Connecticut College field hockey team. Former Princeton Day School standout Ozarowski, who helped the Camels go 7-8 in 2012, starts preseason training this week for her sophomore campaign.                                                      (Photo by John Narewski, Courtesy of Connecticut College Sports Information)

LAND OF OZ: Carly Ozarowski, right, marks a foe in action last fall during her freshman season with the Connecticut College field hockey team. Former Princeton Day School standout Ozarowski, who helped the Camels go 7-8 in 2012, starts preseason training this week for her sophomore campaign. (Photo by John Narewski, Courtesy of Connecticut College Sports Information)

Carly Ozarowski kept her options open when she began considering college field hockey programs a few years back.

“I started thinking about it sophomore year and it became more concrete in my junior year,” said former Princeton Day School star defender Ozarowski, reflecting on her college search.

“I started going to the camps of the schools I was interested in. I looked at all of the NESCAC [New England Small College Athletic Conference] schools.”

But her search narrowed considerably when she met with Debbie Lavigne, the head coach at Connecticut College.

“I talked to Debbie and she asked me to come to their camp two days later,” recalled Ozarowski.

“I drove back up there again. I had a gut feeling; when I was there I had the sense that this was it. My brother told me that was the school I was talking about the most.”

Acting on that gut feeling, Ozarowski ended up going to Connecticut College and helped the Camels go 7-8 last fall in her freshman season.

As Ozarowski starts preseason this week for her sophomore campaign, she brings a comfort level to the process.

“It was a tough transition last year because I was coming in playing a fall sport,” said Ozarowski.

“That makes it more difficult; I couldn’t go to all of orientation. I was going to practice three times a day; I didn’t know where I was going on the first day of classes.”

All of that practice, though, paid off for Ozarowski when she made her debut for the Camels in a 4-0 win over East Connecticut State last October in a non-conference contest.

“That was exciting,” said Ozarowski, reflecting on her first college action. “I got to play most of the game and it really helped me figure out what I was doing out there. It helped with the NESCAC games that I played later.”

A key factor in doing well on the college level is getting up to speed with the opponents, according to Ozarowski.

“The first thing is that the game is extremely fast,” explained Ozarowski, who ended up making four appearances last fall. “I have to figure out how fast that forward is who is coming at me.”

In Ozarowski’s view, the Camels are ready to take a step forward this fall. “We just had a team camp and we were talking about this being a new year,” said Ozarowski, noting that the squad took part in the 4Goals camp in Wellesley, Mass. where it scrimmaged other New England college teams.

“We are ready to do some big things and go farther in NESCAC. Our team dynamic feels different this year. We are closer on the field. We prided ourselves on playing well in the second half of last year; this season we need to try hard from the first minute.”

Ozarowski, for her part, will be trying hard to be a more dynamic player for the Camels, who start their season on September 7 against Babson.

“I am so excited; I want to have more confidence on the field,” asserted Ozarowski, who will be facing former PDS teammate and current Babson freshman back Corinne Urisko in the opener.

“I want to be comfortable with playing defense and my position. I am working on my speed and defensive positioning and being better at containing the other players.”