May 7, 2014
CATCHING ON: Hun School baseball player Gideon Friedberg, left, confers with pitcher Patrick Donahue in a game earlier this spring. Junior Friedberg, a transfer from Princeton High, has become a key contributor for the Raiders, playing at third base in addition to catcher. The Raiders, now 7-8, start action in the Mercer County tournament this week where they are seeded 10th and will play at No.7 Ewing on May 7 in a first round contest.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CATCHING ON: Hun School baseball player Gideon Friedberg, left, confers with pitcher Patrick Donahue in a game earlier this spring. Junior Friedberg, a transfer from Princeton High, has become a key contributor for the Raiders, playing at third base in addition to catcher. The Raiders, now 7-8, start action in the Mercer County tournament this week where they are seeded 10th and will play at No.7 Ewing on May 7 in a first round contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Gideon Friedberg displayed his development as a hitter last Saturday as the Hun School baseball team hosted the Blair Academy.

After looking overmatched against the Blair pitcher with two swings and misses in the second inning, Hun junior Friedberg connected for a solid single to right field. He then stole second base and went on to score on an error as Hun jumped out to a 1-0 lead.

“I was behind the first two so I figured that he wasn’t going to give me anything off-speed because I didn’t come close to the other two,” said Friedberg. “My approach is to go to right field and I got it and hit it on the line.”

Friedberg’s run, though didn’t hold up as Hun gave up four runs in the top of the sixth and another in the seventh to fall 5-1.

With Hun having dropped four straight heading into the Blair game, Friedberg acknowledged that the team has had trouble closing out games.

“We started out pretty strong there but obviously we weren’t able to string the hits together like we needed,” said Friedberg.

“He pitched a heck of a good game and we just sort of let up, that is the problem we have been having. In the last game we had five strong innings and one bad one and that is what undoes us.”

Despite the recent slump, the Hun players are not hanging their heads. “We are approaching it the same way,” said Friedberg. “We have really good team chemistry and everybody is pulling for each other. It is tough.”

Friedberg, who went to Princeton High for two years before transferring to Hun, is having a good experience with the Raider squad.

“I always knew coach (Bill McQuade) through camps as a young kid and I really liked the culture here and the program and the school is a good fit,” said Friedberg. “I am very happy to be here.”

Getting the chance to play third base this spring in addition to his natural position of catcher, Friedberg believes he is making good progress.

“I grew a little bit and I was in the weight room over the winter getting stronger,” said Friedberg.

“It is a transition over to third but I have a lot more confidence swinging the bat. It is just having another year, getting more confident. I am one of the older guys now.”

Hun head coach Bill McQuade likes the growth he has seen in Friedberg.

“Gideon has a great arm, he has great, soft hands,” said McQuade.

“Like so many of these kids, they have just got to believe in themselves a little more. He can look like he is out of sync and then all of a sudden, he will lash one out to left center or right center. I see that he is playing the game with more intensity and staying more focused. He is a big kid; he is not the little guy that transferred here.”

In reflecting on the loss to Blair, McQuade acknowledged that his team lost focus as the Buccaneers took the lead with a two-run homer in the sixth and then tacked on two more runs in that frame to seize momentum.

“George Revock was on a roll; he had them confused up there and we scratched out the one run,” said McQuade, referring to his sophomore starting pitcher.

“With a couple of hits we could have gotten more. We haven’t been getting key hits in big situations so that hurt us again. The homer changed things but there was a missed cutoff in the outfield and there was a bad pickoff play here. I think that rattled George a little bit and then he threw one over the middle of the plate and the guy yanked it out of the ballpark and that was the difference in the game. One play can turn everything around.”

Dealing with a lot of roster turnover, McQuade sensed that his team was going to be in for a rocky road this spring.

“We knew that coming in; we had young kids or inexperienced older kids so either way you looked at it, we were inexperienced,” said McQuade, whose team came through with a 5-0 win over Peddie last Monday to improve to 7-8.

“We weren’t as physical as we were before. But it makes some of the young kids step up. Now, what is happening is that they are finding out what it is like playing at the varsity level against good competition. But when we revisit the games as coaches, we feel we could have won a number of these games.”

As Hun heads into the postseason, starting action in the Mercer County Tournament this week with the state Prep A tourney around the corner, McQuade believes his team can raise the level of its play.

“They are keeping their heads up, they are still fighting because they know they have to get better and that is what we keep preaching, get better,” said McQuade, whose team is seeded 10th in the MCT and will play at No.7 Ewing on May 7 in a first round contest.

“It is not going to happen overnight. You are never going to get better if you put your head down. So our mantra all along with these kids is to hang in there.”

Friedberg, for his part, is confident that the Raiders can turn some heads come tournament time.

“We just need to have timely hitting,” said Friedberg. “We work together, we have a solid team. We are still coming with the same good attitude.”

April 30, 2014
STINGING SENSATION: Princeton University women’s water polo player Molly McBee looks for an opening. Last Sunday senior star and co-captain McBee scored a team-high three goals but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers suffered a heartbreaking 11-10 loss to Indiana in the CWPA (Collegiate Water Polo Association) title game with a bid to the NCAA tournament on the line. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 31-2, setting the program’s single-season bests for most wins and fewest losses.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STINGING SENSATION: Princeton University women’s water polo player Molly McBee looks for an opening. Last Sunday senior star and co-captain McBee scored a team-high three goals but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers suffered a heartbreaking 11-10 loss to Indiana in the CWPA (Collegiate Water Polo Association) title game with a bid to the NCAA tournament on the line. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 31-2, setting the program’s single-season bests for most wins and fewest losses. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Molly McBee thrives under pressure, feeling that high-stakes contests have brought out the best in her as she has starred for the Princeton University women’s water polo team.

“In my way of playing, I step up in big games,” said senior co-captain McBee. “There is an excitement, I don’t feel as tired.”

As Princeton faced Indiana last Sunday in the CWPA (Collegiate Water Polo Association) title game with a bid to the NCAA tournament on the line, McBee showed her clutch gene, scoring a team-high three goals.

While McBee’s heroics weren’t enough as the top-seeded Hoosiers edged second-seeded Princeton 11-10, she gained some satisfaction from leaving it all in the pool.

“I was pleased with the way I played; I did all I could,” said McBee, who earned second-team All-Tournament honors in her final weekend with the Tigers. “I have a little more peace of mind because I felt like I brought it all to the table.”

McBee was not pleased to see Princeton come up short as it ended a superb spring at 31-2, setting program single-season records for most wins and fewest losses.

“We let it slip away,” said McBee, noting that Princeton jumped out to a 4-0 lead over Indiana.

“I was definitely feeling good, we were playing well. I knew we would come out strong even before the game. They had some goals here or there and we had some mistakes here or there. The last goal was a heartbreaker, it barely went in.”

It was heartbreaking for the Tigers to miss out on a third straight trip to the NCAAs.

“We had produced a high level of play in other games and against some big teams,” said McBee, a native of Palos Verdes, Calif.

“I was not ready to be done with this sport. It would have been great to have a few more games and to go to Southern California where I am from and where a lot of my teammates are from.”

While her final season ended earlier than McBee had hoped, she won’t soon forget the bonds forged this spring.

“It is just the friendships that develop on a team like that; we have such a huge travel schedule,” said McBee, a team co-captain along with classmate and fellow Californian Katie Rigler.

“We are together on the road most weekends. This year, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls. We are really all best friends; it is awesome.”

Princeton head coach Luis Nicolao desperately wanted his girls to keep playing. “I am depressed; it was a brutal loss, we made one too many mistakes,” said Nicolao.

“We let a 4-0 lead slip away. We made turnovers that led to fast breaks and made it hard on Ashleigh (sophomore goalie Ashleigh Johnson). It was a nailbiter, back and forth. Sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don’t. We had two or three 6-on-5s in the last three minutes and and we didn’t score. It was just the way things fell.”

Nicolao was thrilled with the way McBee played in her final action with the Tigers.

“Molly McBee probably had the best weekend of anyone on the team,” asserted Nicolao of McBee, who ended the season with 49 goals and 36 assists.

“She was good in all the games and really deserved to be first-team all tournament.”

Although the defeat to Indiana stung, it couldn’t undo all the good things Princeton accomplished in its record-breaking campaign.

“My main message was that one game doesn’t define a season,” said Nicolao.

“We were 31-2. That is a great year and I would take that record every year. We had great balance from top to bottom, everyone contributed. Ashleigh is a great player and we played good defense in front of her. We had great chemistry and we were able to win a lot of close games. We just didn’t win that last one.”

The longtime coach credited senior stars McBee and Rigler with setting a great example. “They have had great careers,” said Nicolao. “They won two Eastern (CWPA) titles and they are leaving a great legacy.”

Looking forward, Nicolao is confident that next year’s team will add to the legacy established by McBee and Rigler.

“We have a lot of talent coming back and some freshmen on the way who should help,” said Nicolao who welcomes back All-America goalie Johnson along with such offensive threats as Diana Murphy (46 goals in 2014), Ashley Hatcher (53 goals), Taylor Dunstan (19 goals), Morgan Hallock (18 goals), Pippa Temple (33 goals), Hannah Lapkin (17 goals), Kimi Klein (22 goals), Jesse Holechek (42 goals), and Kelly Gross (16 goals).

“Some of our best seasons have come after tough losses. I think they will work that much harder to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

For McBee, the hard work over the last years in and out of the pool had been more than worth it.

“The sport itself is great, getting away from the academics,” said McBee, who will be working in IT consulting for a firm in Dallas, Texas after graduation.

“It is a balancing act. I was writing my thesis during the season and captaining the team. You get a break from school, you go to the pool with your friends and you have a physical activity and it is the only thing you think about for those two hours. It is another passion. We have so much fun with this team and our coaches.”

LAST UP: Princeton University softball player Maddie Cousens waits for a pitch in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, senior outfielder Cousens ended her college career on a high note, helping Princeton sweep Cornell 3-2 and 5-2 in its final action of the season. Cousens went 4-for-4 with two runs in the nightcap as the Tigers ended 2014 at 17-26 overall and 9-11 Ivy League.(Photo Courtesy of PU’s Office  of Athletic Communications)

LAST UP: Princeton University softball player Maddie Cousens waits for a pitch in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, senior outfielder Cousens ended her college career on a high note, helping Princeton sweep Cornell 3-2 and 5-2 in its final action of the season. Cousens went 4-for-4 with two runs in the nightcap as the Tigers ended 2014 at 17-26 overall and 9-11 Ivy League. (Photo Courtesy of PU’s Office of Athletic Communications)

The numbers 21, 19, and 2 were stenciled in purple near first base at the Class of 1895 Field as the Princeton University softball team hosted Cornell last Sunday in its season-ending doubleheader.

The message in the dirt was a tribute to the program’s Class of 2014 as it celebrated Senior Day.

While No. 21, outfielder Maddie Cousens, and No. 19, third baseman Tory Roberts, were on hand to wrap up their Tiger career and accept the cheers for a superb four-year run, it was No. 2 that sparked the most heartfelt emotion as it represented Khristin Kyllo, a high-spirited infielder/outfielder who entered Princeton with the Class of 2014 but passed away in her freshman year on January 13, 2011 from natural causes.

As Cousens reflected on the day, she noted that she experienced a wide range of emotions. “I think it was mostly just remembering Khristin,” said Cousens.

“We had her jersey here today and looking at that and remembering the games we did get to play with her in the fall of her freshman year. Also I just tried to make it happy and just think about how amazing our time has been here for Tory and I. It is really nice having a small class because we are really close; so together we were able to celebrate today and celebrate Khristin.”

Cousens proceeded to celebrate a special day on the diamond as Princeton rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the opener to pull out a 3-2 victory and then won the nightcap 5-2 as the Albany, Calif. native went 4-for-4 with two runs in her final appearance in orange and black.

“My trainer calls it swiss cheese defense and thinks you have got to find the holes so that was my goal for the day,” said Cousens.

“I didn’t really hit the ball that solidly but I found some holes. It was a little senior luck; it felt really good to end that way.”

While Princeton didn’t achieve its goal of winning an Ivy League title this spring, ending at 17-26 overall and 9-11 Ivy, Cousens saw plenty of positives.

“I just think we played with a lot of heart,” asserted Cousens, who ended the 2014 campaign with a .300 average, going 33-for-110 with 3 homers and 12 RBIs.

“The team is really young and it is amazing to meet all of these freshmen. It makes me sad that I don’t get to spend more time with them.”

Cousens believes good times are ahead for Princeton under the guidance of head coach Lisa Sweeney and assistant coach Jen Lapicki.

“It is coach Sweeney’s and coach Lapicki’s first two years here,” said Cousens.

“They are building a dynasty and it is just going up from here. It is going to be great.”

Sweeney, for her part, believes things are headed in the right direction for the Tigers. “Every season has its challenges but I think for this team there was a lot of emotional and mental growth that had to happen for us,” said Sweeney.

“I think a lot of people will be introspective about that and say what can I do better. Our coaching staff will do the same, taking a step back and saying how can we improve, how can we figure this out, and make sure that next season is more of a reflection of the work that we put in.”

The program wanted to make sure that Cousens and Roberts had a special finale.

“It is always emotional on Senior Day, regardless of how the season has gone,” said Sweeney.

“It is so special for them. You remember it from your own career. Being able to play our last games at home is a big deal for them. It was cool, it was a good day for both of them.”

It was also good for the late Kyllo to be honored. “It is so fantastic because Tom and Julie (Kyllo’s parents) have stayed a part of the program, they are at every game and it was just so nice to be able to represent her today as well,” said Sweeney. “It was important closure for the seniors to feel like she was with us today.”

In  Sweeney’s view, Kyllo’s impact will be felt beyond the softball field. “The awareness for epilepsy is Kristin’s legacy now,” said Sweeney of Kyllo, who suffered a series of seizures, starting in high school.

“All of us try to do our job to make sure that people are educated about the causes. It is important.”

Cousens and Roberts have played an important role in leading the Tigers this spring.

“I think they were dedicated to pushing the program in a different  direction,” said Sweeney.

“Although this season, the wins and losses didn’t reflect that, they understand and the girls understand that we are on a different path and that we always have bigger and better goals. They were just great leaders, and more importantly, great people for the rest of the girls to look up to and model their careers after.”

As the Princeton players took the field on Sunday, they were primed to come up big for their seniors.

“We challenged the girls with it yesterday, saying when you come tomorrow, you are not playing for yourself, you are  playing for your seniors,” said Sweeney.

“There is a special element to that, you are competing both for your own pride but  also for somebody else on the team standing right next to you and you know how much this program means to them. The team came through today, it was great.”

For Cousens, spending four years in the Princeton program is leaving her with a lifetime of memories.

“Honestly, most of the things I am going to remember are off the field, the kind of things like the long bus rides, stressing out over homework and having teammates be there for you, and all the little traditions we have” said Cousens, who will be working for a startup firm in New York City after graduation.

“There are the big games that really stick with you but most of the moments are the bonds I have created with all of these people on the team and that is what I am going to look back on.”

END GAME: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Forest Sonnenfeldt gets stymied in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior midfielder Sonnenfeldt and the Tigers lost 12-10 to Cornell in their regular season finale. The defeat ended any hopes Princeton had of being awarded an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament as the Tigers ended the spring at 7-6 overall and 2-4 Ivy League.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

END GAME: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Forest Sonnenfeldt gets stymied in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior midfielder Sonnenfeldt and the Tigers lost 12-10 to Cornell in their regular season finale. The defeat ended any hopes Princeton had of being awarded an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament as the Tigers ended the spring at 7-6 overall and 2-4 Ivy League. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)B

The last time the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team met Cornell, the rivals produced a battle for the ages as Princeton prevailed 14-13 in overtime in the 2013 Ivy League semis.

When the teams faced off last Saturday in the Battle of Bethpage, it looked like they may be headed to another run-and-gun classic.

Princeton took a 6-5 lead at half and then the teams combined for 10 goals in the third quarter with Cornell emerging with an 11-10 lead.

In the fourth quarter, though, the defenses rose up and the Big Red tallied just once but it was enough to pull out a 12-10 win, ending any hopes Princeton had of being awarded an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament.

Princeton head coach Chris Bates was pleased with the effort he got from his team as it ended the season at 7-6 overall and 2-4 Ivy League.

“The team knew what was on the line; we talked about how this was a do or die situation,” said Bates. “We came ready to play, no doubt.”

Bates acknowledged that the Tigers didn’t play well when it counted down the stretch.

“We just didn’t do what we needed to do to win the game,” said Bates. “We had bad decision-making on offense and some of those turnovers turned into early offense for them.”

Noting that five of Princeton’s losses this spring came by a total of seven goals, Bates rued what might have been.

“Until there was 40 seconds left in game Saturday, I thought if we got into the tournament we could peak, and with some breaks, could go on a run,” said Bates, whose team had already failed to qualify for the four-team Ivy postseason tourney.

“I feel like on any given day, we could beat anyone so it is very disappointing to be sitting here without a game to prepare for this weekend.”

It was a disappointing ending for the squad’s Class of 2014, who only made one NCAA appearance in their careers, falling 6-5 to Virginia in a 2012 first round contest.

“There were 14 seniors in the room and they had given their blood, sweat, and tears,” said Bates, who got a career-high four goals from senior Tucker Shanley in his finale with freshman Zach Currier adding two goals and senior Tom Schreiber, junior Kip Orban, sophomore Ryan Ambler and sophomore Jake Froccaro adding one goal apiece.

“I feel like they deserve more. They gave so much and worked so hard. They set a good example. Tom [Schreiber] gets a lot of attention but there were a lot of guys who worked very hard. The expectation when you play for Princeton is that you are going to play into May. They can hold their heads high. They may be disappointed but there is no reason for regret.”

While All-American midfielder Schreiber was held to one goal in his final game for Princeton, that tally helped him accomplish more milestones as it gave him 30 goals for the season and 200 points in his brilliant career.

“He is an all-time great for the position he plays; everyone recognizes his  numbers and what he has done in his career,” said Bates.

“He is a humble kid and a team guy and I think he would trade it all for some wins in the NCAAs and a shot at a title.”

In Bates’ view, the team’s failure to make the NCAAs this season was the product of several factors.

“It was a combination, it was a little bit of everything,” said Bates. “We didn’t have the edge to make the big plays and grab the jugular. On any day it could be any of the above, it could be poor defense, bad decision making, or bad luck. We faced a lot of good goalies and hit a lot of pipes.”

While Princeton has a good foundation in place, Bates acknowledges that both coaches and players need to engage in some soul-searching over the off-season to regain the edge that made the program a perennial NCAA power.

“There is very good young talent here and some good players on the way,” said Bates.

“The challenge is to right the ship and notch things up in a different way, starting with the leadership approach. It is not a comfortable feeling. I have faith in the staff and our players. We will find out how hungry the players are. We need to play offense differently. We can’t be playing 15-14 games. We need to do a better job of managing games. We will have a more experienced defense, we have an incumbent goalie coming back.”

LEAPING INTO HISTORY: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse midfielder Emilia Lopez-Ona leaps up to take a shot. Last Thursday, senior star and Penn-bound Lopez-Ona notched the 300th goal of her PHS career as she tallied six goals in a 14-10 win over Allentown. She added to her total last Monday, tallying five goals and two assists as PHS edged Lawrenceville 14-12 to improve to 11-2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LEAPING INTO HISTORY: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse midfielder Emilia Lopez-Ona leaps up to take a shot. Last Thursday, senior star and Penn-bound Lopez-Ona notched the 300th goal of her PHS career as she tallied six goals in a 14-10 win over Allentown. She added to her total last Monday, tallying five goals and two assists as PHS edged Lawrenceville 14-12 to improve to 11-2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Emilia Lopez-Ona, getting the 300th career goal in her Princeton High girls’ lacrosse career didn’t come easy.

After scoring her fifth goal against visiting Allentown last Thursday with 22:20 left in the second half to reach the 299 mark, Lopez-Ona started misfiring.

“After I scored five goals, I think I missed four shots,” said senior star and Penn-bound Lopez-Ona.

“They were open shots. My shooting string loosened up so I had zero whip in my stick. I fired one over the goal. I took one to the pipe.”

With 5:45 left in the contest, Lopez-Ona found the back of the net to hit the 300 milestone. The game was stopped and the PHS players mobbed Lopez-Ona, waving posters and posing for photos.

The moment was special for Lopez-Ona on several levels. “I am glad I scored it here at home; my dad was able to see it, he missed my 100th because he was coming back from a business trip,” said Lopez-Ona, who ended the day with six goals as PHS pulled away to a 14-10 victory over the Redbirds.

“It means a lot that my teammates would do that; they were truly happy for me. Watching them do that for me it feels really nice.”

Noting that she never expected to hit the 300-goal mark when starting her PHS career in the spring of 2011, Lopez-Ona said that her progress reflects a love of the game.

“Part of the beauty of the sport is in terms of the growth and the ability of someone to improve,” said Lopez-Ona.

“The sport allows for people to make rapid transitions throughout their career. I know that I have watched a lot of the younger players on our team raise the level of their games.”

PHS raised the level of its game as it overcame a tough and talented Allentown squad.

“We were able to pull together, the theme of this game was controlling tempo,” said Lopez-Ona.

“They did a great job in the first half of running the motion offense. Our defense was able to hold them for a really long time. To be able to build that lead and change in the second half to control that tempo I think shows a lot of the growth in our team.”

With PHS having prevailed in a number of close games recently, Lopez-Ona believes the team is growing into something special.

“When we do need to make changes as a team, we can control the tempo and the possessions in the middle of the game to gather ourselves,” said Lopez-Ona, who tallied five goals and two assists as PHS edged Lawrenceville 14-12 last Monday to improve to 11-2. “That shows a lot of maturity.”

PHS head coach Kelsey O’Gorman liked the way PHS took control of the Allentown game.

“It is always nice to beat Allentown, especially on your home turf because they are just a great team,” said O’Gorman.

“It is great to have a competitive matchup and we have had a lot of those this year. They play tough the whole game. They picked up their intensity and we picked up ours. A lot of great lacrosse was played today. We had a lot of great contributions from many of our players.”

It was a great moment for the program to celebrate Lopez-Ona’s achievement.

“It was an exciting day for Emilia; I think the biggest thing about her is that she contributes all over the field,” said O’Gorman.

“She is the definition of a midfielder, look at her on the draw, look at her on the circle and on the line. With her knee hurting her and everything, she fights through. She had a lot of fouls on her today and you never see her go where’s the call, she is composed out there. She has had to be dealing with that pressure since she was a sophomore.”

While Lopez-Ona possesses athletic gifts in terms of speed and coordination, it is her diligence that has made her so prolific.

“It didn’t come easy; she works really hard,” added O’Gorman. “Those 300 goals came from coming out here when no one is on the turf with a bag of balls and shooting nonstop. She has worked hard for this milestone. I am really proud of her; it is phenomenal to coach a player like her.”

O’Gorman likes the way PHS is working collectively as it heads into postseason play.

“We are playing smart and taking care of the ball in crucial situations,” said O’Gorman, whose team starts action in the Mercer County Tournament where it is seeded third and is slated to host No. 14 Ewing in a first round contest on May 3.

“I think when we played Notre Dame we had errors nonstop and they kept piling up. Now we are making up for each other’s errors. We have adjusted to the draw a little better. We are ready, it is great to gather that momentum. It is a new season.”

Lopez-Ona, for her part, is confident that PHS can ride that momentum to some deep tournament runs.

“I think if this team stays on the right track in terms of what we are doing with the 50/50 ground balls,
our draw controls, keeping our turnovers low, and controlling the tempo of the game, we can make that change to coming out on top in these bigger games,” said Lopez-Ona.

DAY TRIP: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Kevin Halliday races upfield in recent action. Last Friday senior star Halliday tallied seven goals and two assist to help PHS top Christian Brothers Academy 14-5 and improve to 9-2.  The Little Tigers wrap up regular season play by hosting Hopewell Valley on May 1 and will then start postseason action by competing in the Mercer County Tournament.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DAY TRIP: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Kevin Halliday races upfield in recent action. Last Friday senior star Halliday tallied seven goals and two assist to help PHS top Christian Brothers Academy 14-5 and improve to 9-2. The Little Tigers wrap up regular season play by hosting Hopewell Valley on May 1 and will then start postseason action by competing in the Mercer County Tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kevin Halliday’s propensity for dazzling runs to goal made him one of the deadliest scorers in recent years for the Princeton High boys’ soccer team.

Halliday’s finishing ability caught the eye of college coaches and he will be playing for the Tufts University men’s soccer team this fall, once again joining forces with his older brother Zach, who is a member of the Jumbos’ squad.

The skills that Halliday displays in the fall have proven transferable to the spring as the talented senior is also a top gun for the PHS boys’ lax team.

Last week against visiting Robbinsville, Halliday was a force, tallying three goals and an assist as the Little Tigers pulled away to a 12-5 victory over the Ravens.

Halliday took off on several trademark end-to-end jaunts over the course of the game and provided one of the highlights of the day with a brilliant solo effort in the third quarter, racing past and through the Raven defense to make it 8-4.

“I try to implement athletic knowledge in general,” said Halliday, reflecting on the highlight reel tally.

“Whenever I see a break, hopefully I can open a guy up and give a pass. That time I saw the lane and I thought I would take it. Whenever you are running in front of a guy with his back turned to the goal it is kind of easy.”

Things hadn’t come easy for PHS over the previous week as it lost 17-4 to Lawrenceville on April 14 and 14-2 to Summit on April 19.

“It was definitely important to bounce back after two losses in a week, albeit to good teams,” said Halliday.

“We wanted to take what we learned in the past week and really put it to use today.”

While the Little Tigers sputtered in the first half against Robbinsville, the team got rolling in the second half.

“In the first half, we struggled but I think in the second half we gave it a pretty good effort,” said Halliday.

“It was much sharper, especially in the clearing and the ground balls. In the first half, we couldn’t clear it and we kept giving them second chances by turning the ball over.”

Halliday and freshman Johnny Lopez-Ona looked sharp as they connected on several goals.

“I love little Johnny; he is a great guy,” said Halliday of the precocious Lopez-Ona, who tallied four goals and an assist in the victory over Robbinsville.

“He has been doing really well this year. I think he is a good finisher and he is really impressive being a freshman. I think it is good that we are getting him touches and building up his confidence because that is important as a freshman. He is a great hustler; he knows the game. I am really excited for this program with him coming up the next four years.”

As Halliday plays his last season for the PHS program, he is savoring his final weeks in the game.

“This is it for me in lacrosse,” said Halliday, who exploded for seven goals and two assists last Friday as PHS topped Christian Brothers Academy 14-5 to improve to 9-2.

“I had fantasies of maybe trying out for the team at Tufts. I thought that would be fun but I think it is time that I focus on soccer. I have to choose one by the time I am in college. I will still love lacrosse. I will still play it when I am back here.”

PHS head coach Peter Stanton loves the  way Halliday plays lacrosse.

“Kevin is fantastic,” asserted Stanton. “He has the things that you can’t coach — the quickness, the change of direction, creativity, and vision. He is just a special athlete.”

Junior goalie Kenan Glasgold displayed some athleticism and vision as he made nine saves in the Robbinsville contest.

“Kenan had a couple of clutch saves at clutch moments,” said Stanton. “He had a couple on the doorstep. He saw the ball a lot better today, he was relaxed. What tends to happen when we are playing those tough games is that the goalie is a little bit tight, a little bit tense. They start guessing and saves that they might have been able to make, they take themselves out of it. Today being relaxed, he was able to make saves.”

The one-two punch of juniors Colin Buckley and Jackson Andres adds toughness to the PHS defense.

“Our defense is built around Colin and Jackson controlling the middle of the field,” said Stanton. “If we are able to limit shots to the perimeter, we feel like that is going to give us a chance.”

In Stanton’s view, getting the chance to play perennial powers like Lawrenceville and Summit helps PHS build resilience.

“That’s why we play them, you get exposed, your weaknesses get found out,” added Stanton, whose team wraps up regular season play by hosting Hopewell Valley on May 1. “You also get to see who can play well under pressure. The films that we get from those games are very valuable.”

The pressure is on for PHS as it heads into the postseason this week, starting with the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament on May 3.

“We are on short time,” said Stanton, who guided PHS to the 2013 MCT crown.

“We have Christian Brothers on Friday and that is another one of these big games. We hope to see the progress in that game. After that, it is two games and if we win, then we are CVC champs and then its the county tournament and the state tournament so it is the time to do it.”

Halliday, for his part, believes that the recent losses to high-powered foes can pay dividends for the Little Tigers over the next few weeks.

“Just about any team we see in the county or state tournaments, we can say hey we played guys better than this team and we don’t have to shudder,” said Halliday.

“We can go straight at them and give it our all. I think playing good teams like Summit and Lawrenceville will give us the ability to have the poise and confidence in the postseason.”

SECOND WIND: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis player Neeraj Devulapalli smacks a forehand last week in action at the Mercer County Tournament. Senior Devulapalli placed second at second singles to help PDS take third of 17 schools in the team standings.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SECOND WIND: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis player Neeraj Devulapalli smacks a forehand last week in action at the Mercer County Tournament. Senior Devulapalli placed second at second singles to help PDS take third of 17 schools in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Neeraj Devulapalli was ready to go the distance as he competed in his final Mercer County Tournament for the Princeton Day School boys’ tennis team.

After winning his two preliminary round matches at second singles on Tuesday, senior Devulapalli arrived at Mercer County Park on Thursday hungry for a title.

In his semifinal match against Notre Dame’s Joe Sison, Devulapalli dropped the first set 7-6 but was undeterred, rallying to win the next two sets 6-1, 6-2 in advancing to the finals.

“It was tough, I was up 5-2 in the first set and I lost,” recalled Devulapalli. “It was nice to come back after that.”

Taking on Vashishta Kalinadhabhotla of WW/P-N in the championship match, Devulapalli dug another hole, losing the first set 6-2.

But showing his resolve, Devulapalli roared back to take the second set 6-2.

“I wasn’t being aggressive enough in the first set, I took it to him a little more in the second,” said Devulapalli, reflecting on his rally.

The PDS senior, though, ran out of gas in the decisive set. “He came through in the end; I wasn’t able to keep the momentum going,” said Devulapalli.

“I have been playing him since I was 10 years old so we go a ways back, both of us played well. I wish I could have won because I wanted to do well for the team.”

The Panthers proved to be one of the top teams at the tourney taking third behind champion WW/P-S and runner-up WW/P-N in the competition which included 17 schools.

“I love the team,” said Devulapalli. “I love Anupreeth [Coramutla] at first singles. He is playing really well, he is a very talented player. Scott [Altmeyer] had a great tournament. It is a luxury to have someone like that at third singles. At most other schools, he would be playing No. 1.”

PDS head coach Will Asch liked how his team performed at the MCT. “I couldn’t be prouder of how our boys played in the tournament,” said Asch. “I was real pleased.”

Asch was especially pleased with Devulapalli’s effort. “Neeraj had a great day; I was very pleased with both of his matches, he never gave up,” said Asch.

“He was one set down and he came back against a very strong player in the second match. I thought he battled him right to the end. I was real pleased with the way he played down to the last shot, the other kid was just playing too well today, that’s all.”

In Asch’s view, Devulapalli displayed his maturity as he fought through early deficits.

“I think he seemed very positive throughout the whole day,” said Asch. “Experience is helpful; kids grow up.”

Sophomore standout Altmeyer got some great experience at third singles, making it to the championship match where he fell to Kabir Sarita of WW/P-S, who posted a 6-1, 6-0 win.

“Scott was great; I think he was a little overmatched against Kabir but there is next year,” said Asch.

“He has been playing great, he played a tournament this weekend and he won it. He loves to play.”

At first singles, freshman Coramutla produced several great moments as he advanced to semifinals and ultimately finished fourth.

“Anupreeth had a very tough first set in the third place match; he lost it in a tiebreaker,” said Asch. “John Hu (of WW/P-S) is more experienced and I think his experience really showed.”

The first doubles pair of Josiah Meekins and D.J. Modzelewski showed some resilience by shaking off a Round of 16 loss to prevail in the consolation bracket.

“They won the backdraw very easily,” said Asch. “I thought that they would have a good chance to get to the semis and possibly get in the finals. It was a disappointing loss to PHS but they rebounded well. They did a good job; they are a good team. They like each other very much and they work together as a team very well.”

Asch likes his team’s chances as it pursues another state Prep B championship in early May. “I expect that we will have a good showing there so I am very, very pleased,” said Asch, who guided the Panthers to a share of the 2013 Prep B title along with Pennington and Montclair Kimberley.

“I thought the boys learned a lot here, they are very easy to talk to. I think they know what they have to work on.”

Devulapalli, for his part, is ready to keep working for a title. “It is bittersweet, I came in second at preps and MCTs last year so I was hoping for a win somewhere this year,” said Devulapalli.

“I think the competition in the counties is a little bit better than in the preps. I just hope to do better in the next tournament.”

REPLACEMENT VALUE: Princeton High boys’ tennis player Lucas Mitchell goes after a ball last week at the Mercer County Tournament. After playing doubles all spring, Mitchell moved into the singles lineup for PHS at the MCT due to injury and ended up taking third at third singles. The Little Tigers placed fourth of 17 schools in the team competition, which was won by WW/P-S.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

REPLACEMENT VALUE: Princeton High boys’ tennis player Lucas Mitchell goes after a ball last week at the Mercer County Tournament. After playing doubles all spring, Mitchell moved into the singles lineup for PHS at the MCT due to injury and ended up taking third at third singles. The Little Tigers placed fourth of 17 schools in the team competition, which was won by WW/P-S. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Lucas Mitchell got a big surprise last Tuesday when he arrived to compete for the Princeton High boys’ tennis team in the opening day of the Mercer County Tournament.

Having played first doubles all spring for PHS, sophomore Mitchell learned that he was going to be playing third singles at the MCT.

“I was supposed to play doubles but Adib (Zaidi) had a neck sprain so he couldn’t come so we had to make a last minute change in the morning,” said Mitchell.

Unfazed by the last minute change in plans, Mitchell was ready for the opportunity to move up in the Little Tiger lineup.

“I was actually excited,” said Mitchell. “I like to be challenged.”

Mitchell proved up to the challenge as he won three matches to advance to the semifinals.

“I did like the way I played on Tuesday, I thought I was pretty consistent,” said Mitchell.

In the final day of the tourney, Mitchell fell to eventual champion Kabir Sarita of WW/P-S in the semis before winning the third-place match with a hard-earned 7-5, 7-6 victory over Patrick Blake of Hopewell Valley.

In reflecting on the third place finish, Mitchell acknowledged that he had to gut things out.

“That was a really close match, there were a few times when I almost had given up mentally and I just hung in there,” said Mitchell.

“In the end it just came down to a few points. I made an overhead shot and that was it.”

Noting that he has played a lot of singles over the years, Mitchell’s improved net game helped him come through last week.

“I feel more aggressive and I feel more confident, so I know that I could go into the net more,” said Mitchell.

PHS head coach Christian Herzog liked the aggressiveness he saw from all of his players at the MCT as the Little Tigers placed fourth in the team competition won by WW/P-S.

“I was impressed with the boys’ performance, especially considering that it wasn’t our original lineup,” said Herzog. “We talked about going for every ball and every point of the match.”

The first doubles pair of Zach Hojelbane and Zack Kleiman took third but had Herzog going a little batty.

“It looked like they were taking it easy a little too much; it was making me stress out,” said a smiling Herzog. “We joke that sometimes they like to get down to bring out the best in them. They like to make the match harder than it has to be.”

At second doubles, Andrew Lin got called up from the JV and acquitted himself well, playing with Andrew Wei.

“Andrew Lin stepped up and they ended up fourth,” said Herzog. “They took the first set and then had a little bit of a meltdown but that goes to experience. We had a guy that was on the JV and Andrew Wei was the last guy to be cut from the team last year.”

Mitchell was the guy that drew some of the highest praise from Herzog. “I can’t say enough positive things about Lucas; he has really worked hard,” said Herzog, whose team fell 4-1 to WW/P-S last Monday in a dual match to move to 6-1 and will play at WW/P-N on April 30 before hosting Hightstown on May 2 and Nottingham on May 5.

“Even when were doing the ladder in the beginning of the season, it was a really close match between him and Adib. It was a tiebreaker in the third and that’s how Adib beat him out. Lucas’ game is a stronger singles game. He can play doubles. I think he would prefer to play singles but he will do whatever the team needs.”

Mitchell, for his part, believes last week’s experience will help him be a better doubles player over the rest of the spring.

“I will go back to doubles; this has definitely helped my confidence in myself,” said Mitchell.

“Playing first doubles isn’t shabby at all. I feel pretty confident with my partner. Zach (Hojelbane) is a great doubles partner and he is great at the net. He is a real wall, as they say.”

A CUT ABOVE: Princeton Day School baseball player Jake Alu takes a cut in recent action. Junior star and Boston College-bound Alu has been a triple threat for the Panthers this spring, starring at pitcher and shortstop while also swinging a hot bat. PDS, which fell to 2-8 with a 7-3 loss to Peddie last Monday, is scheduled to host Hamilton on May 1 before playing at South Hunterdon on May 3.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

A CUT ABOVE: Princeton Day School baseball player Jake Alu takes a cut in recent action. Junior star and Boston College-bound Alu has been a triple threat for the Panthers this spring, starring at pitcher and shortstop while also swinging a hot bat. PDS, which fell to 2-8 with a 7-3 loss to Peddie last Monday, is scheduled to host Hamilton on May 1 before playing at South Hunterdon on May 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Taking a 4-2 lead into the top of the seventh inning over Gill-St. Bernard’s last Wednesday, the Princeton Day school baseball team was on the verge of a much-needed win.

But the Knights scored two runs in the frame to force extra innings. In the top of the eighth, Gill scored three runs to take a 7-4 lead.

While PDS could have folded, it put the pressure on as it loaded the bases and brought the potential winning run to the plate. A fly out ended the rally and sealed the 7-4 defeat but PDS head coach Ray O’Brien tipped his hat to his club.

“We had that tough inning, they took the lead and we still managed to get the bases loaded and we still had a shot,” said O’Brien.

“I like the way they are battling. They are all sticking together, which I like. Hopefully we can take something away from this.”

In O’Brien’s view, the loss provided some valuable lessons for his young squad.

“We are just making the mistakes that are costing us games right now; it is part of the growing experience,” said O’Brien, noting that he only has 13 players currently available on his roster.

“We scored three in the first. We relaxed a little and we didn’t keep the pressure on them and that’s another part of the learning experience. We just have to grind it out. We have four freshmen that are a solid part of this team and three sophomores who are as well.”

Junior star and quad-captain Jake Alu gave the Panthers a solid performance in the loss to Gill St. Bernard’s, pitching five strong innings and chipping in three hits.

“Jake pitched well; I don’t like him to throw that much because he is mainly a shortstop,” said O’Brien, noting that the team has been without the services of junior pitching ace and quad-captain Cole McManimon, who hurt his hand in the first game of the season and has been sidelined ever since. “He did a tremendous job on the mound. He is hitting well.”

O’Brien is getting some good work from his two other captains, senior centerfielder Ford Schneider and junior pitcher/first baseman and Villanova-bound James Radvany.

“Ford is having a real nice year, he is hitting the ball well and he is playing a nice center field,” said O’Brien.

“He is a great leader. I am really happy with Ford. JP has picked up the slack for Cole and he is not a natural pitcher. His hitting has been up and down. I just hope we all get hot at the right time when the tournaments start.”

While it has been a tough year for the Panthers so far, O’Brien believes the team can pick it up down the stretch.

“We are making progress; right now we can’t afford to have any lapse,” said O’Brien, whose team fell to 2-8 with a 7-3 loss to Peddie last Monday and is scheduled to host Hamilton on May 1 before playing at South Hunterdon on May 3.

“It is a good group of guys, they work hard. They are a little down and they will come back. It is going to take a little while for us to learn to win. We are right there and I am happy with that.”

STICKING WITH IT: Hun School girls’ lacrosse star Bri Barratt eludes the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) defense last Saturday. Senior star and Syracuse-bound Barratt scored four goals in the game but it wasn’t enough as Hun lost 20-13. The Raiders, now 1-10, are slated to wrap up their season by playing at the Pennington School on April 30.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STICKING WITH IT: Hun School girls’ lacrosse star Bri Barratt eludes the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) defense last Saturday. Senior star and Syracuse-bound Barratt scored four goals in the game but it wasn’t enough as Hun lost 20-13. The Raiders, now 1-10, are slated to wrap up their season by playing at the Pennington School on April 30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Bri Barratt and the Hun School girls’ lacrosse team came out firing as they hosted the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) last Saturday.

“Our first two minutes were great; we were up 2-0,” said senior star Barratt.

The next 35 minutes or so didn’t go as well for Hun as Mercersburg built a 9-5 lead by halftime and extended its advantage to 17-7 with 11:04 left in the contest.

Over the last 10 minutes of the game, the Raiders found a rhythm, outscoring the Blue Storm to narrow the final gap to 20-13.

“I think we really played as a team,” said Barratt, reflecting on that final stretch in the game on an afternoon which saw her score a team-high four goals.

“We were connecting in our transitions and our passes were working. We just needed to finish a little more.”

While Hun has taken its lumps this spring as it has gone 1-10, tri-captain Barratt has maintained an upbeat approach.

“I just want to bring all this positive energy to the team,” said Barratt, whose fellow captains are classmates Francesca Bello and Hanna Bettner. “I think as a captain and as a leader, positive energy is the best thing you can bring.”

Barratt also brings lacrosse savvy and skill to the field for the Raiders. “I am older and more mature,” said Barratt. “In the past I wasn’t as confident. As a senior, I feel like I can help lead the team.”

Barratt is excited to be joining another team this fall as she has committed to attend Syracuse University and play for its women’s lax program.

“I am looking forward to playing next year at Syracuse,” said Barratt, noting that the Orange are currently ranked second in the nation. “Gary Gait, Regy Thorpe, and Katie Rowan [the Syracuse coaches] are three of the best players ever in lacrosse, that had a huge influence on my decision.”

In the view of Hun head coach Haley Sanborn, Barratt has what it takes to succeed at the next level.

“Bri has demonstrated much discipline this season in all areas of her play, specifically in her stick skills,” said Sanborn.

“She exhibited more composure under pressure on attack and created some fantastic scoring opportunities for herself and her teammates. Bri emerged as a fierce competitor this season right from the start and made her presence known in every competition. Bri also took many draws for us this season and did fantastic, a tribute to her versatility as an athlete.”

Barratt’s competitive fire has helped hold the Raiders together this spring as they have gone through some growing pains.

“Bri has kept us on the scoreboard in many games this season and has lead the team in goals,” said Sanborn, who had two goals each from Erica Dwyer, Shannon Dudeck, and Bello in the loss to Mercersburg with Katie Consoli, Lindsay Ruddy, and Maura Kelly adding one apiece.

“Her leadership on offense has been seen in her intensity in getting the ball into our attacking end. Bri has been a solid, dependable, and talented member of our team since she came to Hun, and she will graduate having left her mark on the Hun lacrosse program — she will be missed significantly.”

In Sanborn’s view, Hun’s late surge in the Mercersburg game showed the mark it can make as it gains experience.

“We are a young team but do have much talent that has been maturing throughout the season,” said Sanborn, whose team lost 17-4 to Kent Place last Monday in the opening round of the state Prep A tournament and is slated to end the season by playing at the Pennington School on April 30.

“The 6-3 run at the end of the game worked well because we were playing as a team, letting the ball do the work, communicating and riding the wave of intensity and hustle that we had created. It was a great last home game for our seniors. I do think we had an opportunity to run away with the game at one point, but nonetheless there were some beautiful moments of pristine lacrosse displayed by the team. Mercersburg is a well-coached team and it was great competition for us.”

Barratt, for her part, believes there are some good moments ahead for Hun. “We are a real young team, I wish them the best of luck next year,” said Barratt.

“They are going to do great. There is a lot of young leadership and I think we are ending on a good note.”

April 23, 2014
NEW DIRECTION: Mollie Marcoux smiles during her press conference last week at Jadwin Gym after being named as Princeton’s new Ford Family Director of Athletics. Marcoux, a 1991 Princeton alum who starred in ice hockey and soccer for the Tigers, is succeeding Gary Walters, who is retiring after 20 years at the helm. Marcoux is the fifth Director of Athletics in school history and the first female to hold the post. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

NEW DIRECTION: Mollie Marcoux smiles during her press conference last week at Jadwin Gym after being named as Princeton’s new Ford Family Director of Athletics. Marcoux, a 1991 Princeton alum who starred in ice hockey and soccer for the Tigers, is succeeding Gary Walters, who is retiring after 20 years at the helm. Marcoux is the fifth Director of Athletics in school history and the first female to hold the post.
(Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

When she was a senior at Princeton University in 1990-91, Mollie Marcoux wrote her thesis on the history of women in sports.

The choice of subject was appropriate in view of the fact that Marcoux made plenty of history during her athletic career at Princeton on the ice and soccer field.

As a hockey player, Marcoux was a four-time All-Ivy League performer, a three-time team MVP, an All-ECAC selection, and a member of the ECAC Team of the Decade. In soccer, she earned second-team All-Ivy honors. Marcoux won the C. Otto von Kienbusch Award in 1991, the top senior female student-athlete award at Princeton which recognizes “high scholastic rank, sportsmanship, and general excellence in athletics.”

Last week, Marcoux was front and center in another historic moment for Princeton, getting named as the first female Director of Athletics in school history.

Speaking at an introductory press conference at Jadwin Gym on April 15, Marcoux made it clear that she was thrilled to come home.

“To return to a university that played such a formative role in my life and to do everything I can to be sure that future generations of Princeton students continue to have the educational and character building experience that I had while being a student here is just very, very exciting to me,” said a smiling Marcoux, the replacement for the Princeton’s current Ford Family Director of Athletics Gary Walters, who is retiring after 20 years at the helm.

Being a trailblazer doesn’t faze Marcoux, who will be the fifth AD in school history. “It is fantastic; the funny thing is that when I told my current bosses about this opportunity that was the first thing they thought of,” said Marcoux, who has worked the last 19 years with Chelsea Piers Management, which owns and operates two major amateur sports complexes, Chelsea Piers New York and Chelsea Piers Connecticut.

“It hadn’t really dawned on me yet that it was going to be something different. I think it is phenomenally exciting and I couldn’t thank everyone enough to give me that opportunity to have that role.”

Rising to the post of senior vice president in the Chelsea Piers organization has given Marcoux a good foundation for the Princeton post.

“I have had the opportunity to market and develop sports programs for athletes of all ages and abilities, to design and maintain world class facilities, to help an organization full of very talented people grow and help mentor them,” said Marcoux.

Marcoux is looking forward to working with the talented group of coaches at Princeton.

“I am also really truly awed by the quality of coaches that Gary has hired; I am not alone in believing that Princeton has the best coaches in the Ivy League, and I would argue, in college sports,” said Marcoux.

“Princeton’s coaches across the board are exceptional, not only for their personal accomplishments but for their integrity and commitment to the overall development of our student athletes as competitors, leaders, and scholars.”

Praising Walters’ steadfast commitment to the department’s guiding principle of “Education Through Athletics,” Marcoux is looking to further that mission.

“First and foremost, I just firmly believe in what we do with respect to academics and athletics,” said Marcoux.

“Princeton truly values the roles sports can play in the education of our students and deeply appreciates the role coaches can play in shaping all dimensions of their lives.”

As Marcoux gets acclimated to her new role, she plans to tap the knowledge of her predecessor.

“I have huge, huge shoes to fill and Gary has graciously offered to help me with this and I will need him at every step of the way,” said Marcoux, who is married to Andrew Samaan, and the couple are the parents of three children, aged 10, 8 and 5.

“I hope to work closely with our talented athletic department staff and the university leadership to build upon the enormous success of Gary and my other predecessors in this role. I will do everything I can to make sure that I uphold the traditions and excellence you have created.”

With Princeton having won 214 Ivy titles and 48 national championships over the last 20 years, Marcoux is determined to add to that ledger.

“Our unrelenting pursuit of Ivy, and in some cases, national championships is very important,” said Marcoux.

“We have had great competitive success throughout our history, and particularly in the last 20 years, and we have amazingly talented athletes on campus. But everyday we need to work to get better and challenge ourselves. We need to be well prepared, creative and disciplined, and dedicated to excellence is all areas. We just have to continue to love what we do.”

For Marcoux, taking the helm of the Princeton athletics program is a labor of love.

“I truly and passionately loved playing soccer and hockey for Princeton and being a student here,” said Marcoux.

“Having the opportunity every day to engage with Princeton’s talented student athletes and help them reach their goals is something I never imagined could be true.”

Marcoux brings a wealth of experience to help the athletes reach goals at Princeton and beyond. “I know the beginning of the academic life here is very challenging,” said Marcoux.

“Having lived that and knowing that it gets a lot better as the years go and knowing that you can make it if you just stick to it is an important thing to be able to pass on to the students. In terms of the things I learned that help me everyday, they are the things we all learn as being athletes — determination, hard work, and working as a team. Some of the things I didn’t pick up as much while I was here and more reflecting back on the experience, I just think most of what I know is from my days playing sports and being here.”

CUTTING EDGE: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Liz Cutting heads upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, senior defender Cutting and the Tigers edged Dartmouth 12-10 to win the Ivy League regular season title. Princeton, now 10-4 overall and 6-1 Ivy, plays at No 12 Penn State (9-6) on April 26 to end regular season play. A week later, the 19th-ranked Tigers will host the four-team Ivy tourney from May 2-4, which will decide the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CUTTING EDGE: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Liz Cutting heads upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, senior defender Cutting and the Tigers edged Dartmouth 12-10 to win the Ivy League regular season title. Princeton, now 10-4 overall and 6-1 Ivy, plays at No 12 Penn State (9-6) on April 26 to end regular season play. A week later, the 19th-ranked Tigers will host the four-team Ivy tourney from May 2-4, which will decide the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The chant could be heard throughout one end of Class of 1952 Stadium last Saturday after Princeton University women’s lacrosse team topped Dartmouth.

The Princeton players repeatedly hollered “Ivy Champs, Ivy Champs, Ivy Champs” in their team room after posting a 12-10 win over the Big Green which clinched the Ivy regular season crown.

For senior defender Liz Cutting, the emotional outburst was the culmination of a Senior Day to remember.

“I think we realized how much we have to play for, especially this morning when we watched a video made by all of our teammates with special little things said about each senior; it was so nice,” said Cutting, a  5’7 native of Towson, Md.

“We really decided even from September what we wanted and we weren’t
going to stop until we got that Ivy championship. It is
really awesome.”

The victory improved Princeton to 10-4 overall and 6-1 Ivy with the Tigers earning the title and the right to host the upcoming Ivy tourney by virtue of its 9-5 win over Penn, (8-4 overall, 4-1 Ivy) last Wednesday.

“To have this come back to Princeton is super important for us because we have worked so hard to change the culture on our team to one of hard work and determination,” said Cutting. “I think having this really shows our efforts and shows the fruits of our labor.”

After getting off to a 1-3 start this season, Princeton changed the course of its season by heading west and beating USC 14-7 and San Diego State 16-9.

“I think our trip to California over spring break really got it going for us,” said Cutting. “We realized how good we could actually be. We decided we couldn’t stop and we couldn’t regress from that point on. It showed in practice and the way that we worked with each other and the way the coaches held us to a higher standard.”

Having won nine of its last 10 games, the one loss in that stretch, an 8-7 defeat to No. 2 Maryland on April 9, may have been Princeton’s most impressive effort of the spring.

“The Maryland game was a huge game for us; just growing up wise because we do have a few young players,” said Cutting.

“I think not only of them growing up but the team chemistry really increased after that game because we realized we can play with top dogs. It is not a game of talent it is also a game of hard work and we put in that hard work.”

The Tiger defense realized that it had to work together better with the team’s attack.

“We came together at one point in the season and decided that we need to be the starting point of our attack,” said Cutting.

“It is not one side of the field versus the other, it is more as a whole team. It begins from keeping people out of the 8-meter arc and doing the little things right. The little things are the big emphasis for us through the last couple weeks of the season so ground balls, balls down on the 8 are super important for us.”

While Princeton was sharp on defense against Dartmouth early, taking a 4-1 halftime lead, things got a little dicey in the second half.

“I think we may have been a little jittery and a little too excited,” said Cutting, who was credited with two draw controls, two caused turnovers, and a ground ball on the afternoon.

“We were sliding a little too hard, not to the right space. We just needed to be a little stronger. We came together multiple times and said we can do this, we can play better to your potential. We really emphasize the draws and while we didn’t have the best draw stats, we had hustle and hard work to get the ball back even when we didn’t win them. It was really impressive and important.”

An important factor in Princeton’s success this spring has been the bond among the team’s eight seniors.

“The eight of us have stuck together and it is not usual that you see a big class of eight seniors in this league,” said Cutting, whose classmates include Sarah Lloyd, Colleen Smith, Caroline Franke, Grace Bowen, Kellie Ragg, Mary-Kate Sivilli, and Erin Williams.

“I think it is definitely commendable, not only to Chris (Princeton head coach Chris Sailer) and the coaches, but the team in general to stay together and really help each other through our ups and downs and through the hard practices, the cold practices. It is really important to us, we are all best friends and there is nothing better.”

Princeton head coach Chris Sailer credits the team’s Class of 2014 with setting the right tone.

“Our senior class has created a great culture,” said Sailer. “Since they were freshmen, they have had an impact on the team with how close they are, how giving they are, how hard they work. They put a lot into it this year and I am just so happy for them that we could finish it with a title. Every single one of those kids, whether they are starters for us or not, makes a difference for us. It is a special class; each one finds a way to contribute and add her unique qualities to the team and have made it what it is.”

Sailer points to Cutting as making a difference in the defensive unit. “Liz is just such an intense competitor; she is a driving force,” said Sailer.

“She is always ready to compete. She has had huge ground balls for us all season long. She has just been part of a really great defensive unit.”

Although Princeton didn’t play great in the second half against Dartmouth as it was outscored 9-8 by the Big Green, Sailer liked the grit her team showed in pulling out the win.

“It is always hard to close it out, especially against Dartmouth,” said Sailer. “We have a lot of history of knocking them out of what they have wanted to do and them knocking us out of what we have wanted to do. I knew this was going to be a battle no matter what their record is, they are a tough, tough team and they really pushed us to the limit. I think we showed some nerves out there today. There is a lot on the line but you have to give the kids credit for coming through.”

Capturing its first Ivy regular season crown since 2006 made Saturday’s struggle more than worthwhile.

“It is just a great win for the program,” said Sailer, who has guided the Tigers to 10 Ivy crowns and three NCAA titles in her 28 seasons at the helm of the program.

“It is our first regular season title in eight years. That’s huge, just to break through. To follow up the win against Penn with a big win today; those two have been the traditional teams we have been battling for the title with so it is just awesome. The team has really been driven, they have worked really hard. I think they have just really embraced the work. They are confident. They rise to challenges but they do the work every day.”

After playing at No 12 Penn State (9-6) on April 26 to end regular season play, 19th-ranked Princeton will host the four-team Ivy tourney from May 2-4, which will decide the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“It is really exciting; it is great for the seniors,” said Sailer, noting that the tourney has been hosted by Penn the previous four years.

“We had a fantastic crowd today; to be able to play in front of them will be great. We definitely draw energy from them playing here at Class of ’52. It will be nice to not have to travel to Penn and keep our normal routine for the Ivy League tournament. We know that we have a lot of battles ahead. It is a great achievement for the team, it is our No. 1 goal. Now we have got to move forward.”

Cutting, for her part, is confident the Tigers will give the home fans something to cheer about.

“It means we have more games at home,” said Cutting. “We really draw from our support from our fans and family. It couldn’t be better that we are having it here. We are super excited. We are going to see these teams again and the Ivies are always a battle. We are making baby steps to the big tournament.”

TITLE SHOT: Princeton University women’s water polo player ­Katie Rigler unloads the ball in a game earlier this season. With senior star Rigler piling up a team-high 62 goals and 27 assists, Princeton has gone 29-1 this spring. The 11th-ranked Tigers head to Bucknell this weekend to compete for the CWPA title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TITLE SHOT: Princeton University women’s water polo player ­Katie Rigler unloads the ball in a game earlier this season. With senior star Rigler piling up a team-high 62 goals and 27 assists, Princeton has gone 29-1 this spring. The 11th-ranked Tigers head to Bucknell this weekend to compete for the CWPA title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Katie Rigler got an eye-opening experience this fall in preparing for her senior season with the Princeton University women’s water polo team.

The Fullerton, Calif. native took part in the USA Water Polo Futures 50 Classic and had to push herself to keep up with the nation’s elite.

“It was tough, it was a very good reminder of what I needed to work toward,” said Rigler.

“I saw what players from other college teams were doing and how hard they were working.”

Developing some extra toughness from the experience, the high-scoring Rigler has helped Princeton solidify its standing as one of the top college teams in the country as the Tigers have gone 29-1 this spring and are ranked 11th nationally.

This weekend, Princeton heads to Bucknell to compete for the CWPA title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

With the Tigers having won the 2013 CWPA crown on the way to going 28-6 and taking a program-best fifth at the NCAA tourney, Rigler had the sense that this year’s team would be a force to be reckoned with.

“I think we are even better than we were last year,” said Rigler. “It is encouraging and a little scary because we know we have a target on our backs. There is a lot of pressure on us as well.”

In Rigler’s view, the squad possesses a potent blend of chemistry and skill. “I think this is the most positive team I have been on,” asserted Rigler, Princeton’s leading scorer this season with 62 goals and 27 assists. “We have a strong, hardworking team, the recruiting classes get better every year so we are getting more talented.”

As a team co-captain along with classmate Molly McBee, Rigler strives to set a positive tone for the Tigers.

“I try to set a good example,” said Rigler, a two-time Southern Division Player of the Year who now has 260 goals and 69 assists in her career. “I try to be very encouraging. I try to keep things relaxed at practice. My teammates know that come game time, I am extremely serious.”

As Rigler has matured, she has gotten more serious about her training.

“I don’t have statistical goals; I have practice goals,” said Rigler. “I want to work hard on sets and different skills. I also want to get into the pool more and more. There is never a year where I haven’t felt in good swimming shape so I work more on water polo drills.”

Princeton’s lone loss this season, a 10-6 defeat to No. 10 San Jose State on March 15, helped the Tigers ratchet up their work ethic down the stretch of the regular season.

“We weren’t working as hard as we should be; we didn’t play well against UC-San Diego and Michigan but we still won,” said Rigler.

“I think the loss to San Jose State was good. It made us re-evaluate what we needed to do and where we wanted to go. We don’t want to just be good on the east coast. It is important to have the confidence that we can compete with the teams out west.”

Gaining more confidence in her teammates has helped Rigler set a career single-season high in assists this spring.

“As the years have gone by, I am getting more attention from the other teams,” said Rigler, whose previous season-high in assists was 15. “As the team has gotten more talented, I can rely on my other teammates to score.”

As the Tigers prepare for the CWPA tourney, they are paying attention to the basics.

“We are working on our play in 6-on-5 situations; that is important and we are focusing in on that,” said Rigler, who came up big as Princeton defeated Brown 11-4 in the Southern Division championship game, tallying five goals and two assists in the April 13 contest.

“It is also working on mental focus, trying to get everybody on the same track and the same page and making sure the girls all know their roles. We try to tell the freshmen what its about, how exciting the games are. It can seem like an out of body experience and you have to stay calm. We have been behind in the semis for the last two years and we have learned that you can’t give up.”

Having been seeded second behind Indiana at the CWPA, Princeton is fired up about its chances to earn a title repeat.

“We are definitely confident,” said Rigler, noting that the Tigers boast seven player with 20 or more goals. “We are using the disrespect angle as motivation with the way the seeds came out. We are hoping we get to play Indiana in the final.”

No matter how Princeton does in the final days of her career, things have turned out better than Rigler could have hoped when she came east four years ago.

“It’s been an unreal experience, meeting all the different girls and getting to know the different personalities,” said Rigler, who is looking to play professional water polo overseas after graduation, potentially in Italy or Greece.

“The experiences I have had with Molly [McBee] are great, we have become really close friends. Playing sports in college builds up your discipline and patience.”

When the Princeton University baseball team won its first four Ivy League games this spring, Alec Keller wasn’t surprised.

“We knew we were going to be good,” said Princeton senior outfielder Keller. “We are talented.”

But then the Tigers dropped a doubleheader at Yale before suffering through a 0-4 weekend at Columbia to sink in the Ivy League’s Gehrig Division.

In Keller’s view, some untimely lapses knocked Princeton off track. “The season is so quick that any bad weekend can kill you and that’s what we had,” said Keller.

“I wouldn’t say it is a complete failure; a lot of guys have had really good years. It is just kind of tough that it is so quick and so unforgiving. Give credit to Penn and Columbia, they have taken care of business.”

Princeton showed a business-like attitude last weekend as it split two doubleheaders with Penn, who is tied for the Gehrig Division lead along with Columbia with 13-3 league marks. The Tigers fell 2-0 to Penn in the opener on Saturday before pulling out a 6-4 win in the nightcap. On Easter Sunday, Princeton won the opener 4-2 and then lost the nightcap 6-1.

“It was important, they came in with one loss but we knew we could stack up with them,” said Keller, reflecting on the 2-2 weekend which left the Tigers at 12-22 overall and 7-9 Ivy.

“I think they are not quite as good as their record and we are better than ours. We knew we could get wins. It was disappointing in the first one but we came back and won two hard-fought games.”

The 6’2, 200-pound Keller, a native of Richmond, Va., starred in the wins, going 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI in the second game on Saturday before going 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs and a homer in the opener on Sunday.

“It felt good to calm myself down,” said Keller. “I just stay loose up there, not think too much, and just react.”

Keller’s cool approach at the plate has helped him enjoy a big spring, hitting a league-best .369 in all games and .440 in Ivy action, the second highest average for league contests.

“I am trying to not put too much pressure on myself,” said Keller who has a team-high 45 hits with two homers and 18 RBIs.

“The worst thing you can do is trying to press and do too many things. I have tried to stay within myself, just know what I can do and play to my strengths.”

With Princeton wrapping up the spring by playing at Rider on April 23, playing a doubleheader at Cornell on April 25, hosting a doubleheader against Cornell on April 27, and then playing at St. John’s on April 29, Keller and his teammates are looking for a strong finish.

“We have to get a lot of young guys that need to finish the season and get some confidence going into next year and that is really important,” said Keller. “And heck it is fun to win, it beats losing. We are playing these games no matter what so we want to win. Hopefully we can get a few more in these next couple of weeks.”

Keller is savoring his final days in a Princeton uniform. “It is bittersweet, I am just trying to have fun everyday,” said Keller.

“I feel you can’t think too much about it, saying it is my last this or that, you just have to live it. I am looking forward to the next few weeks.”

The last few years have been unforgettable for Keller. “It has been great, these guys are a like a family to me,” said Keller, a two-time First-Team All-Ivy selection who has a career average of .347 (173-for-499).

“It is a great release from school. While school is good in its own right, this is something that is great as a relief. At the same time, it is really fun to focus on something and put your heart into it.”

Keller is hoping to continue his love affair with the game by playing at the professional level after graduation.

“That’s the plan, we’ll see what happens,” said Keller. “Hopefully baseball is not done. I will definitely miss Princeton and playing with these guys for sure.”

BROUGHT TO THEIR KNEES: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Jake Froccaro, left, gets defended by a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore midfielder Froccaro had a goal and three assists but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 9-8 at Harvard. The defeat coupled with wins by Cornell and Penn knocked the Tigers out of contention to make the four-team Ivy League tournament. No. 20 Princeton, now 7-6 overall and 2-3 Ivy, will wrap up regular season action by facing 12th-ranked Cornell (10-3 overall, 4-1 Ivy) in Bethpage, N.Y. on April 26.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BROUGHT TO THEIR KNEES: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Jake Froccaro, left, gets defended by a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore midfielder Froccaro had a goal and three assists but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 9-8 at Harvard. The defeat coupled with wins by Cornell and Penn knocked the Tigers out of contention to make the four-team Ivy League tournament. No. 20 Princeton, now 7-6 overall and 2-3 Ivy, will wrap up regular season action by facing 12th-ranked Cornell (10-3 overall, 4-1 Ivy) in Bethpage, N.Y. on April 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team, losing 9-8 at Harvard last Saturday was a punch to the gut.

Falling behind 7-1, Princeton made a valiant rally but came up short in dropping to 7-5 overall and 2-3 Ivy League. The defeat coupled with wins by Cornell and Penn knocked Princeton out of the four-team Ivy tournament contention, putting a big dent in any hopes the Tigers have of making the NCAA tourney.

In reflecting on the setback, Princeton head coach Chris Bates didn’t mince words. “It was a devastating loss, we just didn’t do everything we needed to win the game,” said Bates. “We were solid everywhere; we just didn’t solve their goalie.”

A nightmarish first 21 minutes ultimately doomed Princeton as it trailed 7-1 with 9:06 left in the first half. “We got a goal early and then they capitalized on every mistake that we made,” said Bates.

“We had chances but I give their goalie (Jake Gambitsky) a lot of credit, he was lights out and stole a lot of goals. We dug too big a ditch to get out of. We hit a lot of pipes, it was just one of those games. Unfortunately it came at a bad time.”

For the rest of the game, Princeton had the upper hand, outscoring the Crimson 7-2.

“We settled down,” said Bates, who had three goals from Ryan Ambler and two tallies from Kip Orban in the defeat with goalie Eric Sanschagrin making 13 saves. “We played 39 minutes of good defense where we gave up just two goals. On offense we were pretty good. We got plenty of looks, but we hit plenty of pipes.”

Over the course of its Ivy campaign, Princeton has hit a roadblock in tight games, losing three one-goal contests, falling 16-15 to Yale and 11-10 to Brown in addition to last Saturday’s nailbiter.

“In the close losses, we haven’t had the ball a lot,” said Bates. “We haven’t faced off well in those games. The theme is if we have to play a lot of defense with our young guys back there, we make mistakes.”

With No. 20 Princeton ending regular season play by facing 12th-ranked Cornell (10-3 overall, 4-1 Ivy) in Bethpage, N.Y. this Saturday, Bates believes his squad has plenty to play for, including a potential at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA tourney in view of wins over a trio of nationally ranked teams, No. 11 Hofstra, No. 8 Penn, and 18th-ranked Lehigh.

“It is Cornell and we are not going to lay down for them,” asserted Bates. “We feel like something is still on the line in terms of the NCAAs. It is not a 50/50 chance but nothing stands out about the others and our numbers are not bad. We need Hofstra, Penn, and Lehigh to do well. We still have a puncher’s chance and we are going to keep punching. We know it is a long shot but if we beat Cornell, I will be interested to see our numbers and RPI (Rating Percentage Index).”

FIELD WORK: Princeton High baseball player Jeff Gleason throws to first last Monday as PHS took on WW/P-S. Senior infielder Gleason and the Little Tigers fell 5-3 to the Pirates to drop to 3-6. In upcoming action, PHS plays at WW/P-N on April 23 before hosting Hightstown on April 25, Lakewood on April 26, and Nottingham on April 28.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FIELD WORK: Princeton High baseball player Jeff Gleason throws to first last Monday as PHS took on WW/P-S. Senior infielder Gleason and the Little Tigers fell 5-3 to the Pirates to drop to 3-6. In upcoming action, PHS plays at WW/P-N on April 23 before hosting Hightstown on April 25, Lakewood on April 26, and Nottingham on April 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Things seemed out of whack last Wednesday at Steinert High’s Rich Giallella Field as the Princeton High baseball team was clad in their home white uniforms and batted last.

There was a reasonable explanation for the apparent curve ball as the game was originally scheduled for PHS’s Valley Road field but with the diamond still under construction, it was moved to Steinert and the Little Tigers were designated as the home team.

For PHS, it marked its sixth road game in its first seven contests with just one home appearance at Smoyer Park.

While PHS head coach Dave Roberts is frustrated by the situation, he credits his players for rolling with the punches. “They handle it well, they are kids, they do a good job with that,” said Roberts.

“Steinert was nice enough to let us be the home team, most teams have been accommodating.”

Once the game started, however, the Spartans weren’t very accommodating, building a 5-0 lead after two innings on the way to a 10-0 victory.

In reflecting on the setback, Roberts acknowledged that his squad struggled at the plate and on the mound.

“That kid (John Mastrangelo) is a very good pitcher; he is definitely the best pitcher we have seen up to this point this year,” said Roberts, referring to the Spartan hurler.

“As a staff we are walking too many guys. It is starting to catch up with us. Our strikeout to walk ratio is about even and that’s not good. I think we walked the leadoff man five times today.”

With PHS off to a 3-6 start, Roberts is seeing some encouraging signs. “I like the things we are doing,” said Roberts, whose team brought a two-game winning streak into the Steinert contest. “I like the way we are playing.”

Roberts likes the work he is getting on the mound from sophomore Joaquin Hernandez-Burt.

“Joaquin has picked it up,” said Roberts, noting that Hernandez recently had a 3-0 shutout win over South Hunterdon. “He is out there and he is beating teams that he should beat. He is a young kid but he has nice stuff. We take him out of the equation and our strikeout to walk ratio is terrible.”

Sophomore infielders Hayden Reyes and Colin Taylor have been giving the Little Tigers some nice play.

“Hayden is going to be a good defensive player,” said Roberts. “From my perspective, he is one of the top three defensive shortstops in the county. Colin has been a welcome addition, he is hitting over .300 and he is playing a pretty solid third base.”

Two of the team’s veterans, senior second baseman Jeff Gleason and junior outfielder John Reid, have made a solid contribution this spring.

“Jeff is holding his own as a senior, he really wants to have a good year,” said Roberts.

“He is doing a great job for us. He picked up some of the relief pitching today. His hitting is doing well. Reid is smoking the ball, he has been on fire.”

Roberts is looking for his players to take a more fiery approach to the game as the spring unfolds.

“I think our overall energy needs to be more focused on baseball,” said Roberts, whose team fell 5-3 to WW/P-S on Monday to move to 3-6 and is slated to play at WW/P-N on April 23 before hosting Hightstown on April 25, Lakewood on April 26, and Nottingham on April 28.

“On Monday we were shutting a team out and you would have thought we were down by 10. You couldn’t tell what the heck was going on. It is just trying to be positive for our team.”

TAKING OFF: Hun School softball star Julia Blake runs the bases in a game earlier this spring. Junior shortstop Blake’s sizzling hitting and sharp fielding has helped Hun produce a 3-2 start. Last Thursday, Blake smacked a triple and proceeded to score the lone run in Hun’s 1-0 win over Delaware Valley. The Raiders are slated to host Lawrenceville on April 24, Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on April 26, WW/P-N on April 28, and Princeton Day School on April 29.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TAKING OFF: Hun School softball star Julia Blake runs the bases in a game earlier this spring. Junior shortstop Blake’s sizzling hitting and sharp fielding has helped Hun produce a 3-2 start. Last Thursday, Blake smacked a triple and proceeded to score the lone run in Hun’s 1-0 win over Delaware Valley. The Raiders are slated to host Lawrenceville on April 24, Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on April 26, WW/P-N on April 28, and Princeton Day School on April 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Julia Blake, staying in the present has helped her produce some big moments this spring for the Hun School softball team.

Last Thursday, with Hun locked in a 0-0 tie against visiting Delaware Valley in the bottom of the sixth inning, junior shortstop Blake wasn’t worried about the fact that she had struck out and popped up in her two previous at-bats.

“I take it pitch by pitch, it doesn’t matter what happened the pitch before or the at bat before,” said Blake.

“I just see the pitch and hit the ball. I just got up there and visualized myself hitting the ball, especially after two strikes, you can’t get down on yourself in that clutch position. I did my best.”

Blake proceeded to come up big, blasting a triple to the left field fence. “I think I was thinking run,” said Blake. “I think I knew I came through.”

Displaying her base-running skill, Blake came home on a sacrifice bunt by Vicki Leach to score the lone run in a 1-0 victory for Hun as the Raiders improved to 3-2.

“We work on that one with my club team; being smart on the bases and watching what the field players do,” said Blake, who plays for the Finch’s Aces club team. “I just had to watch what she did and I ran my hardest.”

Hun was looking to play smarter last Thursday in the wake of a disappointing 11-10 loss to Hill on April 14.

“Hill was a tough loss for us and we realized that we had to bounce back and I think that is definitely what we did today,” said Blake.

“We had to tighten up the defense, we had a better mindset at the plate, and I think it really paid off, especially on defense.”

Leading the infield at shortstop, Blake made several sparkling plays in the victory.

“I am focused on breaking it down step by step, seeing the ball in my glove,” said Blake, reflecting on her defensive approach.

The Hun players have also focused on adopting an upbeat mentality this spring.

“The one thing we have worked on this season is just staying up and being positive and having each other’s backs because that is what wins games,” added Blake.

Blake has also put a lot of work into her hitting and has produced all spring, coming up with several multi-hit performances.

“I came out really banging my freshman year; last year I struggled in some places offensively,” said Blake.

“I came back this year saying I am a leader and I am going to try my best. I am going to take it pitch by pitch and visualize myself hitting the ball and just believe and that has really helped me. The biggest thing is that I am having fun again.”

Hun head coach Kathy Quirk is having fun watching Blake blossom this spring.

“Julia is doing a nice job for us with her enthusiasm; her leadership as a junior is outstanding,” said Quirk.

“I told her that even though she is not a captain, she can still be a leader. She is doing a great job with the bat. I think she is a little more confident at the bat. She is a little bit more selective at what she is hitting and she just drives the ball.”

Quirk likes the outstanding work she is getting from junior Vicky Leach at second base.

“I am really pleased with her; she has stepped up,” said Quirk. “She should have been our catcher but we needed her at second base and she did what I asked her to do. She is doing a great job.”

Two other Hun veterans, Kristen Manochio and Kameran McNair, are giving the Raiders what they need.

“Kristen at third base has stepped it up; she has always been an outfielder for us so it has been a new experience for her,” added Quirk. “Kam McNair at first base has come in and done a nice job for us.”

Sophomore pitching ace Alexis Goeke sparkled in the win over Delaware Valley, yielding one hit and striking out four.

“The pitcher (Alexis Goeke) has been struggling and we have been working hard with her,” said Quirk. “She is doing what we are asking her to do and today she did that and it showed.”

With Hun headed into a busy week with home games against Lawrenceville on April 24, Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on April 26, WW/P-N on April 28, and Princeton Day School on April 29, Quirk is hoping her team can build on its performance last Thursday.

“I am very pleased; I am hoping we move on from here,” said Quirk. “We have Peddie next Tuesday (April 22) and I think this is something that has given them the confidence to move on. We had a good practice yesterday and I told them you can play with the best if you want and you have to have the confidence to do it.”

Blake, for her part, is confident that Hun can play with anyone. “Our big thing was defense today and it really stayed tough,” said Blake.

“If we can be that tough against Peddie and our other games next week I think we will be successful.”

MASER BEAM: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Julia Maser goes after the ball in recent action. Last week, sophomore star Maser tallied six goals and two assists in a 13-12 loss to Hun as the Tartans dropped to 3-3. Stuart plays at Nottingham on April 24.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MASER BEAM: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Julia Maser goes after the ball in recent action. Last week, sophomore star Maser tallied six goals and two assists in a 13-12 loss to Hun as the Tartans dropped to 3-3. Stuart plays at Nottingham on April 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When the Stuart Country Day School lacrosse team played the Hun School in 2012, it wasn’t much of a contest as the Tartans fell 17-6 to their crosstown rivals.

Things were a lot different when the local foes met last week at Stuart as the game, played in a downpour, turned into a nailbiter.

Stuart trailed 7-5 at halftime and was down 12-8 midway through the second half and then reeled off four unanswered goals to make it a 12-12 contest. Hun scored to make it 13-12 and then the Tartans had a last-gasp effort, missing a free position with 20 seconds left to fall just short.

“It was a good game,” said Stuart head coach Caitlin Grant, whose team dropped to 3-3 with the one-goal defeat.

“In the first part of the second half, they got up four goals and we really started working hard in the last part of the game. Tori [Hannah] had two goals, Julia [Maser] had two goals. Everyone came together. The defense had a sense of urgency; they realized that we needed the ball and they got it for us. Sometimes, they play off the offense but they were all over them. We stayed right in it, they had to work for that win.”

With the program coming off a 4-9 campaign last spring, Grant believes her team is headed in the right direction. “I am pretty happy with the way we are playing,” said Grant. “The games where we have won, we have looked great.”

The squad’s core of sophomores, Hannah and Maser along with Sam Servis, Harley Guzman, Armani King, Kim Rodas, and Rose Tetnowski have made great progress.

“They have a year under their belts,” said Grant. ”They have really improved and they are really leaders for us.”

Maser, for her part, has emerged as one of the leading scoring threats in the area. “Julia runs all over the field, she is a machine,” said Grant of Maser, who tallied six goals and two assists in the loss to Hun.

“She plays in an outside league. She is a threat this year and she knows it. Last year she would pass it to the older players sometimes.”

The Tartans are also getting some good play from this year’s crop of freshmen.

“They have stepped up,” said Grant. “Mary O’Boyle is one who just picked up the stick this year but you would never know. We needed a low attacker and she stepped into that role. She has taken it upon herself to get extra practice, she is playing a lot of wall ball. Isabelle Engel has been playing at low attack, she is pretty seasoned. She sees the field and understands the game, she knows where to cut.”

Senior star Amy Hallowell brings a lot of game to Stuart. “Amy is always all over the field, from one end to the other,” said Grant.

“I can rely on her to never slack. If there is a ground ball or missed shot, she is there going after it. She is one of the captains and she keeps the momentum of the team going. She will take it upon herself to call out the girls.”

Sophomore goalie Harlyn Bell’s superb play in the crease has given the team momentum.

“Harlyn played awesome against Hun,” said Grant of Bell, who had 16 saves in the loss. “She went to two camps last summer and she has really improved. I am really impressed with the way she is playing.”

In Grant’s view, the Tartans are ready to get over the hump in the close games.

“We are going to be the team that gets better and better,” said Grant, whose team plays at Nottingham on April 24.

“We are on the cusp. We have shown we can compete against the seasoned teams. We just need to do the little things and we’ll be winning some of these close games.”

YOUNG GUN: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player ­Connor Fletcher heads to goal in recent action. Last Monday, sophomore midfielder and Cornell-bound Fletcher tallied two goals and two assists as PDS defeated Pennington 14-1. In upcoming action, the Panthers, now 6-1, host Peddie on April 23 and play at Blair Academy on April 26.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

YOUNG GUN: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player ­Connor Fletcher heads to goal in recent action. Last Monday, sophomore midfielder and Cornell-bound Fletcher tallied two goals and two assists as PDS defeated Pennington 14-1. In upcoming action, the Panthers, now 6-1, host Peddie on April 23 and play at Blair Academy on April 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though he is just a sophomore, Connor Fletcher knew that he had to step up this spring for the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team.

With PDS losing eight seniors to graduation from a 2013 squad that went 11-6 and advanced to the state Prep B championship game and the Mercer County Tournament semifinals, midfielder Fletcher has emerged as a top scoring threat for the Panthers.

“I feel this year we had our work cut out for us with a big senior class leaving,” said Fletcher.

“I feel like the unity with our six guys out there this spring is really developing well. As a freshman, you are a little timid out there but getting more playing time, I am definitely more comfortable. I am getting the chance to hopefully form into a leader out there. I am just trying to help the younger guys learn like I did.”

Last Monday at Pennington, Fletcher took a lead role, tallying two goals and two assists as PDS rolled to a 14-1 win over the Red Raiders.

“Obviously whenever we get a chance to get out here to run the offense and give everyone some touches, it is always a good time,” said Fletcher.

“We don’t get a lot of practice so getting out here is always great for us. I feel like we are putting ourselves in a really great spot right now, getting towards the end of the season, getting towards championship season.”

In Fletcher’s view, PDS took a good step forward with its 10-7 win on April 10 over defending Prep B champions Rutgers Prep.

“That is definitely one we had circled on our calendar; we were ready from the start,” said Fletcher.

“It was great for us to take it to them, it was a real confidence booster. We are  excited to hopefully see them at the end of the season in the championship of Prep B again.”

Fletcher gained confidence from starring this winter for the PDS boys’ hockey team, helping the Panthers to a state Prep championship.

“A big thing for me is staying in shape, bulking up, and physically developing,” said Fletcher. “Playing hockey gives me a better look at offense and defense; it is bringing  me different looks playing on the lacrosse field.”

Having recently committed to play lacrosse at Cornell University, Fletcher is in great shape for the future.”

“My dad went there and I have wanted to go there ever since I was a little kid,” said Fletcher, reflecting on his college decision.

“It has been been my No. 1 spot. They gave me the offer so I took it right away, it is my dream school.”

With the Panther offense starting to click on all cylinders, PDS head coach Rob Tuckman is hoping for a dream finish this spring.

“They play well together; this is a team that is going to be made up of six guys and not one guy,” said Tuckman, referring to his offensive unit that includes Chris Azzarello, Jacob Shavel, Joey Levine, Jonah Tuckman, and Will Brossman in addition to Fletcher.

“We are  getting some productivity. If you look at my stat sheet right now, I have got goals being scored pretty consistently by six or seven guys. We are getting multiple points. We are real pleased and now it is about sustaining it. We are not deep. We are talented but we are thin. As long as we can stay healthy and play the game that we know how to play, I think we are going to have fun in the second half of the season.”

The Panther defensive unit is also having a lot of fun so far this spring. “The defense has been playing with confidence ever since Hilton Head,” said Tuckman.

“We are excited about some of the things that we are doing with our defense and continue to do with our defense. We have four sets that we run defensively and we run them through and it is both a response to and trying to get a hand up on offenses that we face.”

The Panthers face a tough second half of the season as they host Peddie on April 23 and play at Blair Academy on April 26 before starting play in the state Prep B tourney and the Mercer County Tournament.

“It was a good opportunity for us to get ourselves ready for the second half of the season,” said Tuckman, reflecting on the win over Pennington.

“We are gearing up for a pretty strong second half of the season. The prep seeds will come out tomorrow. If everything goes as it should, we will have the second seed and a bye. Morristown-Beard will get the first seed and then it will fall in from there.”

Fletcher, for his part, believes that PDS is primed for a strong finish. “We have Peddie coming up on Wednesday so that will be a big one,” said Fletcher.

“I feel like we are moving in the right direction. We definitely have a great group of guys and we are totally capable of putting up two banners at the end of the season. Everything is coming into full circle right now.”

April 16, 2014
UPLIFTING EXPERIENCE: Princeton University men’s lacrosse star Kip Orban celebrates a Tiger goal earlier this season. Junior midfielder Orban came up big in the clutch last week, scoring a goal with 2.7 seconds left in regulation on April 8 to help Princeton top Lehigh 10-9 in overtime and then tallying two goals last Saturday as Princeton defeated Dartmouth 13-10. Orban has now scored at least one goal in 24 straight games, the longest scoring streak among Division I midfielders. The 14th-ranked Tigers, now 7-4 overall and 2-2 in Ivy League action, head to Harvard (7-5 overall, 3-1 Ivy) on April 19 for a critical league contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

UPLIFTING EXPERIENCE: Princeton University men’s lacrosse star Kip Orban celebrates a Tiger goal earlier this season. Junior midfielder Orban came up big in the clutch last week, scoring a goal with 2.7 seconds left in regulation on April 8 to help Princeton top Lehigh 10-9 in overtime and then tallying two goals last Saturday as Princeton defeated Dartmouth 13-10. Orban has now scored at least one goal in 24 straight games, the longest scoring streak among Division I midfielders. The 14th-ranked Tigers, now 7-4 overall and 2-2 in Ivy League action, head to Harvard (7-5 overall, 3-1 Ivy) on April 19 for a critical league contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having lost a pair of one-goal games in the last two weeks of March, the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team was moments away from another excruciating defeat as it hosted Lehigh last week.

Trailing 9-8 with less than 10 seconds left in the April 8 contest, Princeton had a shot turned back and the ball bounced on the turf at the Class of 1952 Stadium.

Then lightning struck as Tiger junior midfielder Kip Orban took a Mike MacDonald feed and rifled it onto the back of the net to tie the game at 9-9 and force overtime.

Princeton came through with the win on a goal in the second overtime by All-American senior midfielder Tom Schreiber to reverse its fortune and finally come out on top in a nailbiter.

For Orban, the tally was unlike any in his career. “I never had a goal like that; I was fortunate to be the recipient of a really hard play by Mikey,” recalled Orban, a 6’2, 190-pound native of Westport, Conn.

“He got that ground ball. He always has the greatest vision. He skips it through all the time. He found me at the top of the box and I was just fortunate to put it past the keeper.”

The Tigers, though, worked hard to make their luck.  “We executed at the end of the game which is what we have to do moving forward,” said Orban, who was later named the Ivy League Co-Player of the Week along with Penn goalie Brian Feeney.

“I think we are finally starting to grit it out. Coach is instilling a great work ethic and teaching us to work really hard when we are tired and execute.”

Against Dartmouth, Orban was up to his late heroics again, scoring goals in the waning moments of both the first and second quarters to help the Tigers take an 8-4 halftime lead on the way to a 13-10 triumph.

“I think in the first half, we came out pretty well,” said Orban, reflecting on the victory which improved No. 14 Princeton to 7-4 overall and 2-2 in Ivy League action.

“Dartmouth played well, they showed some zone. We slowed down the pace of our offense a little bit and I think we were able to adapt pretty well and we were able to win it. We put enough on the board and we were fortunate to win it.”

In tallying those two goals, Orban has now scored at least one goal in 24 straight games, the longest scoring streak among Division I midfielders.

“I don’t really think about it, I just go out on the field and it is just being part of the system,” said Orban, reflecting on the streak.

“When I score those I am generally the recipient of great off ball movement. Our two-man system really forces us to play well together and I think our offensive first six guys work well with each other. Tommy [Schreiber] does a great job finding me. Mikey [MacDonald] does a great job finding everyone. Ryan Ambler is stepping up. I think we all work well together. It is just whoever is in the right spot at the right time.”

With two college seasons under his belt, Orban is better able to take advantage of the scoring opportunities that come his way.

“I am a little older; I definitely feel a little more comfortable than freshman year stepping out there and starting,” said Orban, who has 25 points this season on 18 goals and seven assists and is up to 70 points in his career with 53 goals and 17 assists. “It was a lot more nerve-wracking then.”

Orban acknowledged that the Tigers showed some nerves in the second half on Saturday as the Big Green narrowed the Princeton lead to three goals on three occasions over the last 30 minutes of the contest with former Princeton High star Mike Olentine scoring a third quarter goal for Dartmouth.

“I would say we have to come in the second half as we do in the first with the same amount of energy; we can’t come out flat,” said Orban.

“I feel like sometimes we get a little comfortable and I don’t think that should be the case. I feel after a couple of tough ground balls and some face-offs, we broke the seal in the second half. It started to flow and eventually we closed out on top. The team did well today but we definitely can do better moving forward.”

Princeton head coach Chris Bates concurred with that analysis. “I thought we showed some grit on Tuesday night to get that W,” said Bates.

“Today was a little bit lackadaisical. We let them know we didn’t practice well that last two days. We thought we would get a crisper effort today. We’ll take the win but we didn’t feel like it was a real disciplined team effort.”

In Bates’ view, his team needs to develop a better killer instinct. “We talked about that during the week, making the next play and being able to put a team out versus getting a little undisciplined,” said Bates.

“Dartmouth believed they could win until the very end of the game. Frankly, we could  have pulled away and ended this thing a little earlier. It is a credit to Dartmouth. They did a nice job and hung with us.”

The Tigers did do a better job on face-offs, winning 17-of-27 on the day, sparked by the return of Justin Murphy from injury.

“Getting Murph back helped, he grits there; he is our go-to guy,” said Bates. “We struggled a little bit without him, We have faced some pretty high caliber competition over the course of the last few weeks. We created some scoring off the transition and the face-off which was nice but we still gave up a few which is a little bit mind numbing. We don’t communicate real well on the wings. Overall, I think it was a pretty decent day.”

Freshman midfielder Zach Currier had a big day, tallying three goals and an assist and scooping up five ground balls.

“Zach was clearly the star of the game; he gave us a ton of energy, he made some highlight reel plays,” said Bates of Currier who was later named the Ivy Rookie of the Week.

“He had a big assist so it was nice. We have been waiting for him to break out and if there is a bright spot today, it was Zach. He works hard; he is really competitive. He was fired up before the game, you could tell. He has got that edge and it is nice to see that rewarded.”

Princeton will need to play fired up as it heads to Harvard (7-5 overall, 3-1 Ivy) on April 19 for a critical Ivy contest.

“We’ll see how we react, it is a team that still fights it a little bit,” said Bates, whose club is riding a three-game winning streak.

“You can’t put the jersey on and expect to win. We control our own destiny. I think there is a clear positive with Harvard losing (8-7 at Penn) but we don’t look at that stuff. We just know that if we win, we are in good shape. The focus here immediately was to start thinking about what we need to do to prepare to beat Harvard with the emphasis on the word prepare.”

In Orban’s view, the Tigers are on board with Bates’ approach. “We just have to take care of what we have to take care of and to put ourselves in the position we want to be in at the end of the season,” said Orban.

“We have got to win out and then all the rest is up to chance. I don’t really focus on that; I don’t think our team does either. We just focus week to week and take care of what is in our hands and that is just Harvard this upcoming Saturday so we have to work hard this week and come out on top then.”

Having guided his Princeton University men’s heavyweight varsity 8 to the grand finals in both the Eastern Sprints and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta last spring, Greg Hughes has his rowers going full throttle as they look to get on the medal stand.

“We have changed the way we have practiced, we are doing more work in training,” said Tiger heavyweight head coach Hughes, who is in his fifth year guiding the program and led the Tigers to fourth place in the Sprints and sixth at the IRA regatta in 2013.

“We are doing things I wasn’t able to try before. I am able to take risks. I am getting good feedback and we are working together. We are doing more hard strokes than we would normally do.”

While the frigid winter kept the Tigers off the water until mid-March, Hughes believes that the extra work on the ergometer machines has paid dividends.

“Historically, before global warming, we used to get on the water in mid-March,” said Hughes.

“You get on later and develop speed as you go through the season. Being inside longer allows the rowers to develop a really good base of fitness.”

Based on early returns, that work has paid dividends as Princeton opened its season by defeating Navy on April 5 and then won the Childs Cup last weekend, topping Penn and Columbia.

Hughes credits senior captain Will Gillis with being an ideal role model for his teammates.

“Gillis has done a really good job of leading the team,” asserted Hughes, whose varsity 8 is currently ranked fourth nationally.

“The impressive thing is that while he is obviously a talented athlete, he has rowed for the U-23 team the last two years and got a bronze last summer, he is the full package. He is a top student in his department (politics).When you have a guy who is a top athlete and a top student, it gives such a good message to the younger guys. They see that you don’t have to sacrifice academics for athletics and vice versa.”

Those callow rowers have sent a message of their own. “The younger classes have come in and have pushed up the level of competitive spirit,” said Hughes.

“It has created a positive environment on the squad. They beat each other up everyday in practice and that’s great.”

The Tigers got off to a great start with their win at Navy which saw the varsity 8 speed across the 2,000-meter course on the Severn River in a time of 6:06.2 with the Midshipmen coming in at 6:07.6.

“We were going to Navy and it is a tough place to race,” said Hughes. “They are a good program. We are starting the regular season with three races in a row on the road, it requires attention to detail and focus to be ready to race in different environments. That was a good effort.”

Last Saturday, Princeton produced an even better effort in retaining the venerable Childs Cup, posting a time of 5:33.9 over the 2,000-meter course on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia with Penn next in 5:41.2 and Columbia taking third in 5:42.0.

“That was a step forward,” said Hughes. “Within the varsity boat, we have a couple of returners but we also have a core of new kids. Five are new, a couple are sophomores and one is a freshman. We have to keep learning things and continue to get better each week. We aren’t going to hit top speed in March.”

Next weekend, the Tigers will need to pick up their speed as they head up to Boston, Mass. to face top-ranked Harvard and MIT with Compton Cup on the line.

“It is a good program,” said Hughes of rival Harvard, the runners-up in the last year’s IRA national championships.

“We are going up there looking to get better. We have had our best piece each week, starting with the scrimmage before Navy.”

Hughes is confident that his rowers can get better and better as the spring unfolds.

“There is a lot of time left,” said Hughes. “There are lot of things that we have to do. I think we are on track. We are in position to have a good May.”

AMERICAN HISTORY: Scott Greenman, right, congratulates an American University player after a win this winter.  Former Princeton University men’s hoops star and assistant coach Greenman joined the AU staff this winter as an assistant coach and helped guide the Eagles to a 20-13 record and the Patriot League championship.  (Photo provided courtesy of American University’s Office of Athletic Communications )

AMERICAN HISTORY: Scott Greenman, right, congratulates an American University player after a win this winter. Former Princeton University men’s hoops star and assistant coach Greenman joined the AU staff this winter as an assistant coach and helped guide the Eagles to a 20-13 record and the Patriot League championship.
(Photo provided courtesy of American University’s Office of Athletic Communications )

After serving as an assistant coach for the Princeton University men’s basketball team from 2007-10, Scott Greenman left his alma mater and took on another role in the college hoops world, handling basketball operations at Georgetown.

While Greenman had an eye on getting back into coaching, he gained a lot from the operations post.

“I got to see how other people do things, being at the highest level was a good thing,” said Greenman, a former Tiger hoops star who was a first-team All-Ivy selection as a senior in 2005-06.

“I learned a lot from listening into recruiting calls. I was learning from coach Thompson (former Princeton head coach John Thompson III) and good assistants. It was a very productive four years. Even though I was not in coaching, I was seeing things from a different perspective.”

When one of those Georgetown assistants, Mike Brennan, a former Princeton star guard and assistant coach himself, took the head coaching job at American University, Greenman saw an avenue back into coaching.

“When he was interviewing and going through the job process he said if he got the job would I be interested in coming on as assistant and I said I was,” said Greenman.

“All of the offices at Georgetown were close. It was open and there was a lot of interaction. Having played for coach Brennan, this was a different dynamic; I had a level of comfort with him.”

Greenman joined Brennan’s staff as an assistant coach last May and the two former Tigers worked well together over the winter, helping American go 20-13 and win the Patriot League championship.

As Greenman returned to coaching, his main focus was getting his new players used to the Princeton style that Brennan was installing.

“It was getting the players used to a new system and a new everything; working with them to increase their skill sets and doing stuff to educate them on what to expect,” said Greenman.

While American got off to a slow start, going 3-7 in its first 10 games, Greenman could see the players becoming more familiar with the new approach.

“Even when we lost, coach Brennan was seeing signs of improvement, telling the guys you got better at this and that but need to work on that,” recalled Greenman.

“It is about improving so you are good enough to win the games at the end of the year. From day one, there was no push back whatsoever. It was fun for the team, with forwards getting to dribble, shoot and pass and to get as good as they can be.”

The Eagles started looking good in January, going 9-0 in the month. After enduring a bad stretch in February where it went 1-4, American entered the Patriot League tournament with plenty of confidence.

“We won 10 league games and three or four of those could have gone the other way,” said Greenman.

“In the rough patch, things went the other way. We were stagnant for a week but then we started to get better. We had a sharper focus at practice, we focused on a few things and made more adjustments. On the second time around the league, the other teams know you better. Heading into tournament, we thought we had a good shot if we played to the best of our ability.”

After topping Colgate in the Patriot quarterfinals and Holy Cross in the semis, the Eagles produced their best performance of the season in the championship game as they topped host Boston University 55-36 to earn a bid to the NCAA tourney.

“We zoned in on defense, we did a good job of making their shots difficult,” said Greenman, reflecting on the win over the Terriers.

“The guys were unselfish. We had an issue with turnovers and throwing the ball to the other team earlier in the season but they really handled the ball well. I give credit to the guys; they were so open to things and they improved so much. It was great to see them make that transformation.”

It was a special moment for Greenman as the team enjoyed a raucous celebration after the buzzer sounded.

“It is great, you aren’t able as a coach to get too high or too low,” said Greenman.

“Even when you are winning, you are concentrating on the next game and how you can get better. It is an indescribable feeling. Every team in a one-bid league is shooting for that moment.”

For American, its next game proved to be its last as it fell 75-35 to Wisconsin in the NCAA tourney.

“You know going in that there are no good options when going against a No. 2 seed, you are expecting to play a great team,” said Greenman, noting that Wisconsin ended up advancing to the Final 4.

“We knew it was going to be very difficult; they are a well coached team. Everyone can score. They have a 7-foot center (Frank Kaminsky) who can step out to the perimeter and make shots.We started well and made some shots. Once they got on that run, it snowballed.”

Although the defeat stung, Greenman enjoyed making a fifth trip to March Madness.

“It doesn’t lose its luster, I went three times at Georgetown and going as a player was the best feeling,” said Greenman. “Doing it as a coach is awesome.”

Looking back on the winter, Greenman feels he has become a better coach.

“I think in terms of time management, I grew a lot,” said Greenman.

“At Princeton, I had different responsibilities and then I had different responsibilities at Georgetown. Now I have the most responsibility. I want to try to be as organized and as efficient as I can be administratively and with recruiting. I love being in the gym, coaching and teaching and seeing the guys improve.”

RAISING CANE: Davon Reed dribbles upcourt in action this winter during his freshman campaign with the University of Miami men’ s basketball team. The former Princeton Day School standout averaged 6.5 points and 1.7 rebounds a game this winter in his debut season for the Hurricanes.

RAISING CANE: Davon Reed dribbles upcourt in action this winter during his freshman campaign with the University of Miami men’ s basketball team. The former Princeton Day School standout averaged 6.5 points and 1.7 rebounds a game this winter in his debut season for the Hurricanes.

At times, Davon Reed seemed to be a man among boys during his stellar career with the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team.

Starring from day one as a freshman in 2009, Reed led the team in scoring every year and totaled a program-record 2,102 points in leading the Panthers to three state Prep B title games.

Heading south to the University of Miami this winter to continue his basketball career Reed has been forced to man up in order to keep pace in the high-powered ACC.

“I have always played hard but here you have to play that much harder,” said Reed. “The players are more athletic and physical and they are much tougher.”

While going through the bumps in the road that inevitably come with a freshman season, Reed proved tough enough to thrive at the D-I level, starting 10 games for the Hurricanes and averaging 6.5 points and 1.7 rebounds a game.

For Reed, getting on the floor in the opener against St. Francis Brooklyn on November 8 was a special moment.

“It was exciting to play my first college game even though we didn’t get a win and I didn’t have the best game,” said Reed, who scored 3 points in 18 minutes of action as the Hurricanes fell 66-62. “It was something I was very grateful about.”

A week later, Reed had a breakthrough moment, scoring 11 points in an 84-69 win over Texas Southern.

“That was one of my first games with a higher scoring day,” said Reed, who shot 4-of-8 from the floor in the game. “As the season went on, I got more confidence even with the ups and downs.”

Playing at point guard rather than his natural shooting guard position ended up being a confidence builder for Reed.

“I just wanted to do what I could to get on the floor,” said Reed, who ended up with 37 assists on the season. “I am not a natural No. 1 but I have handled the ball my whole career. I enjoyed it and it really helped my ball-handling improve.”

Reed acknowledges that he hit a down stretch when Miami got into conference action.

“When ACC play started, I kind of struggled a little bit,” said Reed. “I wouldn’t say it was the intensity level. It was just a new set of teams and bigger games. Once I started playing freely, I had some good games.”

In reflecting on his debut campaign, Reed is proud to have produced some highlight games.

“I remember big scoring nights like against Arizona State (19 points) and Syracuse (16 points),” said Reed.

“I would like to say that one of my special ones was the Florida State game when I came in late and changed the way the game was going for us. That was a big win.”

While Miami didn’t get as many wins as it would have hoped, posting an overall record of 17-15, Reed is optimistic about the program’s future prospects.

“This year was definitely a rebuilding year,” said Reed. “Even though the W-L record didn’t show it, there were a lot of games that could have we could have won but we didn’t get the bounces. We still made a lot of progress.”

Over the course of the winter, Reed made plenty of progress individually. “I think as the season went on I continually became more confident,” said Reed.

“Even if there were some things I couldn’t do, I can work on those in the offseason. Some of my decision-making got better and the 3-ball was good for me.”

Reed is looking forward to putting his nose to the grindstone in the offseason.

“I want to get bigger, stronger, faster and handle the physical aspect,” said the 6’6, 208-pound Reed, who raised his bench press to 250 pounds from 175.

“I want to be more consistent with my jump shot and be a better ball-handler. Defense was one of my strong points and I want to continue that.”

Reed’s experience at PDS gave him a strong foundation for excelling off the court.

“I had a pretty good first semester and I am doing better this semester,” said Reed.

“I have had a good year academically, there has been lots of balancing between the basketball and the books. Going to a school like PDS has helped me with time management.”

All in all, Reed had the time of his life this winter as he achieved his goal playing big-time college basketball.

“I didn’t know what school I was going to go to but I wanted to play in the ACC where you go out every game and compete against the best of the best,” said Reed. “I thank God that I have the chance to play the game that I love at this level.”

NET BENEFIT: Princeton High boys’ tennis player Tyler Hack hits a volley in action last spring. Junior Hack has moved up to second singles from doubles this spring and is making a positive impact in his new spot in the lineup. The Little Tigers topped Hightstown 5-0 last Monday to improve to 5-0. PHS hosts Steinert on April 17 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, which is slated for April 22 and 24 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

NET BENEFIT: Princeton High boys’ tennis player Tyler Hack hits a volley in action last spring. Junior Hack has moved up to second singles from doubles this spring and is making a positive impact in his new spot in the lineup. The Little Tigers topped Hightstown 5-0 last Monday to improve to 5-0. PHS hosts Steinert on April 17 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, which is slated for April 22 and 24 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton High boys’ tennis team, its match last Wednesday against Robbinsville proved to be a good early season wakeup call.

Getting pushed hard by the Ravens, PHS prevailed 3-2 and learned a valuable lesson in the process.

“It is the only big test we have had so far,” said PHS coach Christian Herzog, who is guiding the team this spring with veteran head coach Sarah Hibbert taking a backset role as she comes back from maternity leave.

“They went into Robbinsville thinking it was going to be easy and it turned out to be a 3-2 win. Their No. 1 and 2 singles guys are good. It was good to see Rishab (first singles player Rishab Tanga) take his guy down. It was the windiest day we have had since tryouts.”

In Herzog’s view, junior standout Tanga will be taking a lot of matches this spring.

“Rishab is looking good; he is calculating on the court,” said Herzog, whose team improved to 5-0 with a 5-0 win over Hightstown last Monday.

“He is calm, collected and knows how to pick apart his opponent. You don’t have to talk to him during matches.”

Junior Tyler Hack has moved up to second singles from doubles and is making his presence felt in his new spot.

“Tyler is a rock, he is a great kid,” asserted Herzog. “It is tough losing him at doubles, it was almost an automatic point. He is a lefty, he has that wicked shot down the line. He has a lot of topspin coming over. He has got an all around game.”

At third singles, junior Adib Zaidi brings some punch to the lineup. “He has a great first serve, he has a lot of power,” said Herzog. “He likes hot weather and he should get better and better as the weather warms up.”

Herzog has been tweaking the doubles lineup, now pairing senior Zach Hojelbane with sophomore Lucas Mitchell at first doubles.

“I am going to put Zach H. with Lucas Mitchell,” said Herzog. “Zach H. has experience and he is aggressive going for points. Lucas has improved his volley so much. He has worked a lot with Glenn Michibata (former head coach of the Princeton University men’s tennis team). He is a lot more consistent and has a lot more confidence.”

At second doubles, Herzog believes that senior Zack Kleiman and sophomore Andrew Wei will prove to be a winning combination.

“Zack K. is very easy going, he can play with anyone,” said Herzog.

“Andrew is coming up for the JV so I think that will be a good match.”

Herzog believes his squad can play with anyone as it heads into the Mercer County Tournament, which is slated for April 22 and 24 at Mercer County Park.

“For the guys, I just want them to be aggressive,” said Herzog, who is looking to see his team better its fourth place in the 2013 MCT.

“Every match counts and I want the guys going for every single point and chasing down every ball. There is a time and place for saving your energy but this is not it.”

CAMP FIRE: Princeton High softball infielder Jessica Campisi fires the ball to first last Friday as PHS hosted Hamilton. Senior tri-captain Campisi contributed 3 RBIs in the game but it wasn’t enough as PHS fell 16-11. The Little Tigers, now 2-4, are slated to host WW/P-S on April 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CAMP FIRE: Princeton High softball infielder Jessica Campisi fires the ball to first last Friday as PHS hosted Hamilton. Senior tri-captain Campisi contributed 3 RBIs in the game but it wasn’t enough as PHS fell 16-11. The Little Tigers, now 2-4, are slated to host WW/P-S on April 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton High softball team fell behind Hamilton 6-0 last Friday, Jessica Campisi was confident that PHS could get back into the game.

“Over the course of the next few innings we really got used to the pitcher,” said senior tri-captain and shortstop Campisi.

“We started putting together a rally of hitting, which we always do against this school.”

Sure enough, the Little Tigers scored unanswered six runs to knot the game at 6-6 with Campisi contributing an RBI.

But the Hornets responded with five straight runs to take an 11-6 lead. Once again the Little Tigers clawed back, rallying to tie the game at 11-11 heading into the last inning. Campisi delivered a big blow in the comeback, smacking a two-run double in the fifth inning as PHS cut into the deficit to 11-10 at that point.

“I was getting ready to bat and I was ready to let it go,” recalled Campisi.

“One of my teammates Genna [Garlock] was saying you can’t rely on superstition, you are a good hitter and I went out and hit the double.”

While PHS went on to lose 16-11, Campisi believes the Little Tigers are headed in the right direction.

“I think as we have more games, we are getting better,” said Campisi. “I think we are learning to adjust more to pitchers. Yesterday we had a moderate pitcher, today she was a little faster but we are pulling together.”

Campisi is assuming extra responsibility to bring PHS together as she is the lone senior captain, leading the team along with junior tri-captain Sarah Eisenach and sophomore tri-captain Kelli Swedish.

“I have been on the team the longest but we all sort of have different roles as captain,” said Campisi.

“I definitely feel I have a  strong role as a senior captain. I would hope to be a role model for them.”

Having played some stints in the outfield this season, Campisi was happy to be in the infield for the Hamilton game.

“Moving back to shortstop, I felt a little more comfortable,” said Campisi.

“I feel like I can help more with a leadership position, there is an issue with lack of talking in the infield.”

While PHS head coach Dave Boehm liked the way his team never stopped battling against Hamilton, he was disappointed with its defensive sloppiness in crunch time.

“We fought back but we gave them six outs in the last inning,” said Boehm. “We threw it back over the pitcher’s head, we did that twice. We have moved people around but we just had bad throws.”

Coming into the afternoon, Boehm was anticipating a topsy-turvy contest. “This is one of those games, it is a division game like Hightstown, you never know who is going to come out on top,” said Boehm, whose team fell 9-2 to Steinert on Saturday to drop to 2-4 and is slated to host WW/P-S on April 21. “It is not going to be a pretty game and it lived up to the billing today.”

Campisi, for her part, acknowledges that PHS needs to be sharper in the field.

“We had a team meeting after the Robbinsville game and one of the things I think is huge for us is to have more effective practices,” said Campisi.

“We need to be doing more drills during practice where we need to be cleaner and faster. We need to do more situations rather than hitting balls straight to us.”