December 21, 2011

After warming the bench last winter for the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball teams, Deante Cole put his nose to the grindstone this summer.

“I had to work mainly on my shot,” said sophomore point guard Cole. “I stepped into the weight room, I had to work on my strength a lot.”

Cole also spent a lot of time with his teammates as they worked collectively on becoming a stronger unit.

“We lost seven seniors so coming into this year it was pretty much a whole new team,” said Cole.

“We started early. We played in summer leagues, we played together in the fall. We just all got really comfortable with each other and we started jelling. By the time we got into the season, we were ready to play even though we were starting as a whole new team.”

The fruits of that labor were on display last Wednesday as PDS hosted the American History School from Newark. The Panthers jumped out to a 20-8 lead after one quarter and took a 49-19 advantage into halftime.

PDS never looked back on the way to a 79-46 triumph as it moved to 5-0 on the season.

“Today we started out really well, we came out strong and we had about a 30-point halftime lead,” said Cole, who contributed 16 points and some slick assists.

“We wanted to come out after halftime and start the first four minutes fast and well. We wanted to hold the lead and not let American History come back. We wanted to stay on our game.”

Cole and PDS junior star Davon Reed have developed a partnership that really helps PDS’s game.

“Davon and me have been playing together since were eight years old,” said Cole.

“We know how to play with each other. Playing with Davon is a really big up. I know where he is and he knows where I am all the time.”

PDS head coach Paris McLean had the sense that his team would come together this season even though it was featuring a lot of new faces in the starting lineup.

“We only had Davon and Matt Cook coming back with a lot of varsity playing time so we had to blend early,” said McLean.

“The boys’ commitment to stepping up in the offseason, whether it is in the weight room or open gym is paying off with a 5-0 start. We look like we are in great shape; I think we could run for days.”

McLean likes the way Cole is running the PDS offense from his point guard spot.

“I always knew he was going to be a great player,” said McLean, who got five points from Cole last Monday as PDS topped George School 74-50 to improve to 6-0 with Reed scoring 32 points and passing the 1,000-point mark in his career.

“For a young kid being a freshman and coming into a varsity role it is the speed of the game. Now he has adjusted to that and he feels comfortable. He is crafty; he shoots the ball well. He does a lot of things well. He is a great point guard and he can score.”

Junior guard Langston Glaude is another young kid who is playing well for the Panthers.

“Langston is such a cerebral player; he understands the game well,” said McLean.

“He thinks like a basketball player so it is nice to see him get in on the scoring as well because he can score. We have multiple weapons.”

While Reed, who has been rated as one of the top 100 juniors in the country by several hoops rating services, is the team’s top weapon, the Panthers know they can’t rely on the 6’5 star to do everything.

“One of this team’s mottos is ‘hurt the help;’ if someone comes out to help on Davon, whoever is open has to hurt the help and make them pay,” said McLean.

“So the help will be a little less next time and Davon will be open.”

PDS is dedicated to working together. “The team made another motto –‘everybody eats,’” said McLean, whose team plays at Conwell-Egan on December 21 before competing in the Delran Tournament on December 27 and 29.

“Everybody eats in this family and that means everybody gets a touch on the ball and everybody gets shots when they are open. You don’t see guys pointing fingers saying why did you take that shot or why did you do this because we are comfortable with each other.”

Cole, for his part, believes PDS can make its foes uncomfortable throughout the season.

“I think we are going to surprise a lot of people; we came out strong this year,” said Cole.

“I think we just came in with a chip on our shoulder; we just wanted to prove to everybody that PDS can beat anybody any time. We have the attitude that we can beat anybody who steps on the floor with us.”

Serena Deardorff is not waiting until her senior year to take a major leadership role for the Princeton High girls’ swimming team.

“Every junior is more of a role model for the team, not just the seniors,” said junior star Deardorff.

“We have to be there and show them what they should be doing rather than just sitting there; we should be out there for the team.”

Last week, the Little Tigers were pressed to show their stuff as they edged a tough Robbinsville team 90-80.

“It was a pretty tough challenge, it was a good way to start our third meet of the season,” said Deardorff of the matchup with the Raven squad which is a combined team including some top-flight swimmers from Allentown.

“Everyone’s adrenaline was going; we got everyone cheering for our teammates and it was really exciting, we have all the spirit we need and it really does help in the water.”

Deardorff produced a spirited performance, placing a tight second in the 200 individual medley before coming back to win the 100 butterfly.

“It was a really good race; I loved racing Taylor [Johnson],” said Deardorff, reflecting on the 200 IM race.

“I don’t think getting second had any effect on me; it was just fun. We are both really exhausted because we had a big club meet this weekend. We went all out and that is all that really matters. In the 100, I felt better. I didn’t have Taylor to race there but it doesn’t really matter who I am racing. I am just trying to swim hard.”

PHS head coach Greg Hand saw Deardorff as exemplifying the solid effort he got from his swimmers.

“I thought Serena was a good example of somebody who gave 100 percent today and she’s got so much experience racing. She knows full well that she can’t influence anything except what is going on in her lane.”

Hand, though, acknowledges that Deardorff is having an influence on the team beyond her excellence in the pool.

“As she is getting older, she is just becoming a more confident person and is someone who seems to have a really good sense of herself and is genuinely friendly towards everyone on the team,” said Hand.

“She is injecting a lot of energy on the deck and into the team so that’s sort of automatically happening which is great. She is also conscious that she can have a really big impact because she is somebody who is automatically going to be a role model for the kids on the team. It is nice to see her realizing that there is something that she can do and ought to do and she is doing exactly that.”

In the win over Robbinsville, the Little Tigers followed Deardorff’s lead with their focus on the job at hand.

“I had this sense that the kids seemed to be excited; they were concerned with their own races,” said Hand, who got a win from Christie Samios in the 100 backstroke with Marisa Giglio taking second in both 100 and 200 freestyle races.

“They didn’t seem too worried about the score. I wasn’t getting a lot of questions about the score, which in my opinion is always a good sign. If the kids know that the only thing they can do is perform their best in their own lane, then that will be a scrappy meet. If they are worried about externals then they are really underperforming. I was happy that the kids were really trying to do their best and supporting each other.”

Hand sees that support permeating the team, both on race days and in training.

“We have a big infusion of swimmers across a whole spectrum of experience and ability but the common factor is that they seem to enjoy each other,” said Hand.

“They seem to be buying into the idea that one of the ways to assess how we are doing is how it feels when we are out there training together and how it feels during meets. I really enjoy the team. Having fun is not near the top of my priority list but when we are having fun in the right way, we know we are training better.”

Deardorff, for her part, is confident that the team is headed in the right direction.

“I think we are going to have a great season despite our loss of seniors,” said Deardorff.

“I think we really can surprise some people. Going into this meet, we thought it was going to be a really big challenge and it was. I had this gut instinct that we could pull through. I know there are some meets where we know we are not going to win but I don’t think that should matter. We should go in just trying to improve individually and that will help the team in the end if everyone can do their best and drop their times.”

There were welts on her right arm, her hair was tousled, and her dark brown eyes were blazing as Niveen Rasheed emerged from the Jadwin Gym locker room.

While Rasheed wasn’t happy that the Princeton University women’s basketball team had just lost 78-67 to No. 20 DePaul, her postgame appearance spoke volumes about how the Tigers scrapped on the evening.

“We just knew we had to play hard; we had to bounce back from our Navy game [a 65-52 loss],” said junior forward Rasheed.

“We had to play with intensity. It’s a tough loss but I am proud of everyone. We just made some little mistakes that cost us but we stuck with it and fought to the final buzzer.”

Rasheed didn’t make many mistakes in the December 13 contest that saw her score 23 points and grab a career-high 18 rebounds.

“I just needed to take ownership,” said the 6’0 Rasheed, reflecting on her effort.

“We have to go after every loose ball. It is our gym and we don’t want 50/50 balls to go to them. I just wanted to win, whatever that meant and today it meant me diving on the floor to go for loose balls and rebounds. I fed off my teammates’ energy and they fed off my energy.”

Rasheed and the Tigers have been looking to break through with a win against a top 20 team but have fallen short in an 81-70 loss to Delaware on December 1 and the defeat to DePaul.

“The first half of the Delaware game was not us,” said Rasheed. “In the second half, you saw more of us. The Navy game was all around no effort, we only played in spurts. This game was a tough loss but we played for the full 40 minutes.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart acknowledged that the loss to Navy turned into a wake-up call for her squad.

“We had an important conversation, the upperclassmen and I, about who we are,” said Banghart.

“We asked for a tough schedule and that means we are going to find out where our holes are and we can’t be babies about it. We have got to regroup and hold ourselves accountable. Tonight was a group of Tigers holding themselves accountable.”

Last Saturday, the Tigers gave a good account of themselves, battling valiantly in an 85-66 loss at No. 4 Stanford.

“Defensively, I thought we did a really good job,” said Banghart, in assessing the Tigers’ effort in the setback to the Cardinal as quoted on the Princeton sports website. “Offensively we never stopped attacking. We never quit.”

In the loss to DePaul, Rasheed certainly never quit. “Niveen is a great example of holding herself accountable; I think the way she competes needs to be contagious,” asserted Banghart.

“But it also has to be disciplined; sometimes her desire to win takes over for her ability to stay within a disciplined system defensively and offensively. Tonight, I thought she was very composed and when she does that, she is very effective. To have 23 points and 18 rebounds against a Big East team; that is a pretty super performance by a superstar.”

In Banghart’s view, her team’s performance against DePaul bodes well for the future.

“It is a step forward,” said Banghart. “If this is not only the type of effort but also the discipline and accountability that we have, the sky is this group’s limit. We showed that against a very, very good team.”

Like Banghart, Rasheed believes that playing against very good opposition should help Princeton down the road.

“The last few years we have been yearning to play teams like this,” said Rasheed, a native of Danville, Calif. who had a special homecoming last Monday, tallying 20 points, six rebounds, and five assists as the Tigers won 77-61 at Santa Clara to improve to 8-4.

“A Big East team coming to our gym is great. We are challenging ourselves and that is making us a better team. Hopefully it plays off in the long run.”

Kyle Wente

Kyle Wente

About 10 years ago, Kyle Wente emerged as an indispensable player for the Princeton University basketball team.

The 6’4 Wente, though, didn’t dazzle you with a silky smooth jump shot or flashy moves to the hoop.

Instead, the understated guard gave the Tigers steadiness and filled up the stat sheet by doing a little bit of everything. As a senior in 2002-03, he averaged 5.9 points, 3.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.9 steals a game.

This year’s Tiger squad appears to have found its version of Wente in 6’5 sophomore guard T.J. Bray.

As the season has gone on, the Tigers have been relying more and more on Bray to provide stability and be a jack-of-all-trades.

Last Wednesday evening at Rider University, Bray showed his worth to the Tigers, scoring 11 points with eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals as Princeton rallied for a thrilling 72-71 overtime victory over the Broncs before 1650 at Alumni Gymnasium.

Significantly, Bray didn’t leave the court for a second of the 45-minute contest.

Afterward, Bray acknowledged that he is developing a comfort level in his first season as a starter.

“My teammates have a lot of confidence in me to do good things,” said Bray, a native of New Berlin, Wisc. who was named the state and conference player of the year as a senior at Catholic Memorial High.

“When my teammates have confidence, it makes my job so much easier. We have shooters everywhere; it just makes life easier when you have good players around you.”

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson said that Bray is making his life easier, asserting that he plans to keep the sophomore on the court as much as possible.

“He’s not coming out,” said Henderson. “We need balance and T.J. is a good part of the balance because he is making all the passes too. He’s making guys better; that is a big key for Princeton players.”

In Henderson’s view, Bray’s style is reminiscent of Wente. “He’s got a mind for the game; any limits that he has physically; he makes up for with brains for the game,” said Henderson, who got another strong game from Bray last Sunday as he scored 12 points with three assists and two steals as Princeton topped Northeastern 71-62 to improve to 6-6 and post its fifth win in its last six games.

“The Kyle Wente comparison is right on. Kyle got his hand on more passes as a Princeton player. He was always in the right spot; he stole more 2-on-1s when he was the one guy back. That is a T.J. Bray thing. The numbers really favor T.J. when we are doing well; he seems to be filling up the stat sheet.”

The numbers didn’t favor Princeton early in the Rider game as the Tigers found themselves trailing 36-20 with just under five minutes left in the half. Stepping up its defensive effort, Princeton went on a 13-2 run to narrow the gap to 38-33 at the half.

“I thought that was a huge key to the game for us,” said Henderson, reflecting on that stretch to end the half. “They didn’t score. and we started playing the way we want to play. We can’t come out the way we did tonight and win many games.

Bray acknowledged that Princeton came out flat. “We got down big early because we didn’t come to play and then coach said ‘hey guys you are not playing defense’ and to be honest we weren’t,” recalled Bray.

“We were not helping each other out. Once we started helping each other out, that’s when things started clicking on offense and that’s when we started to make a run.”

In the second half, both teams made furious runs in the topsy-turvy contest. The Tigers went on a late 19-8 run to go ahead 65-61 with 34 seconds left in regulation but the Broncs responded by scoring four unanswered points to force overtime.

In the extra session, Rider took a 71-69 lead with 20 seconds left and then missed two free throws that could have put the game out of reach. Princeton got the ball with eight seconds left and pulled out the game in dramatic fashion as Douglas Davis kicked the ball out to Mack Darrow who drained a three-pointer at the buzzer.

Henderson recognized that the Tigers were lucky to escape up Route 206 with a victory.

“We were very fortunate tonight,” said Henderson, whose team is next in action when it plays at Siena on December 22. “I thought Rider played very well and we just happened to have the ball in our hands when time ran out and Mack made a huge shot.”

Darrow knew he was fortunate to end up as the star of the evening. “I was kind of expecting Doug to be the hero like always,” said Darrow, who missed his three previous shots in the game.

“I just kind of stood still and let him rub off my screen and I figured I would let him do his thing. I walked in to get a better look at his buzzer beater and it turns out I found one. It was a little bit crazy; that is a good feeling.”

For Bray, it is a good feeling to see his hard work paying off. “Coach has had me coming do for shots; I am getting  more shots up just about every day, “ said Bray. “Confidence comes with that, just working hard and putting the extra time in.”

December 15, 2011

(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski) ROAD TEST: Princeton University men’s basketball payer Ian Hummer makes an inside move in recent action. Last Wednesday, Hummer banged in a last-second lay-up to provide the margin of victory as Princeton nipped Rutgers 59-57. Three days later, the Tigers fell 64-60 at Drexel as Hummer scored a team-high 18 points. Princeton, now 4-6, will continue an extended road swing when it plays at Rider on December 14 and at Northeastern on December 18. Over a two-month span between December 7 and February 4, the Tigers will play 12 of 13 games away from home.

It was the first stop on an extended road swing for the Princeton University men’s basketball team and it exemplified the pitfalls of playing in an unfriendly environment.

Playing at Rutgers last Wednesday in the Louis Brown Athletic Center, commonly known as the RAC, Princeton quieted the normally raucous crowd as it jumped out to a 49-32 lead with 7:38 left in regulation.

But with Rutgers turning up the defensive heat, things started to unravel for the Tigers and the gym was transformed into a caldron of noise as the Scarlet Knight supporters tried to yell their team into the lead.

Amazingly, Princeton found itself trailing 56-55 with 47 seconds left and tied 57-57 seconds later. Junior star forward Ian Hummer saved the day for Princeton, rattling in a lay-up at the buzzer to give the Tigers a thrilling 59-57 win.

Afterward, Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson made no effort to hide his relief at escaping with the narrow victory.

“It was a crazy game but we are really happy to be on this side of it,” said Henderson. “That is a good Rutgers team so we are happy to come here and get a win.”

Henderson acknowledged that his team nearly succumbed to the pressure exerted by the Scarlet Knights. “They were playing as hard as you possibly can and it really affected us,” said Henderson, whose team was outscored 20-3 over a 5:25 stretch as Rutgers clawed back into the contest.

“We were stuck at 52 for what seemed like the whole night but Ian made two free throws down the stretch and we said we wanted to get the ball to him in the post on that last play. Everybody committed to that; we got the ball to him and he made a heck of a play to win us the game.”

In Henderson’s view, it was critical to get off to a good start on a journey that will see Princeton play 12 of 13 games away from Jadwin Gym.

“This is huge because we are starting a pretty brutal road trip and we needed this in a bad way,” said Henderson, whose team had a bad time on the road last Saturday as it lost 64-60 at Drexel to move to 4-6.

“I am very happy for the guys that we had success on what was really 30 minutes played well and 10 minutes not played so well.”

There were some big guys on hand to support Henderson and his players as former Princeton head coaches Pete Carril and Bill Carmody were sitting behind the Tiger bench.

“I have won two games here with both of those guys as head coaches and one of them as an assistant,” said Henderson, who spent a decade as an assistant coach for Carmody at Northwestern.

“It was great to see both of them in the stands. I think Bill was wearing some orange so that was a good sign.”

It was a good sign for the Tigers to have senior guard Douglas Davis find the shooting range in the second half as he hit three 3-pointers on the way to 16 points.

“I really felt like he was a huge factor in us pulling away,” asserted Henderson.

“I think Doug was 2-for-8 in the first half and then 3-for-5 in the second. I was very happy with Doug. We need Doug to do a lot for us, not just score. I think tonight when we were making our leads, it was obvious that Doug was the guy that was pulling away for us.”

Like Henderson, Davis was happy to get out of the RAC with a win. “It is huge like coach said because we have a tough road trip coming up,” said Davis, a former Hun School standout who now has 1,238 points in his Princeton career.

“It was a good confidence builder but the most important thing is just getting a win period. We played hard and Rutgers did too. It is always good to get a win.”

In Hummer’s view, the win spoke volumes about the team’s resilience.

“It is hard, the pressure they were putting on the last five minutes of the game was the longest five minutes of my life,” said Hummer, who had a game-high 21 points and is leading the Tigers in scoring (17.5) and rebounding (7.8).

“We had a lot of turnovers but I think we stayed in there and that really shows the character of our team. No matter what happens we are going to keep doing our thing and running our offense. We got a good win out of it.”

Henderson saw some good things to build on from the win. “We made free throws down the stretch,” said Henderson, whose team plays at Rider on December 14 and at Northeastern on December 18.

“For the game, we were 12-of-17 on the line which still isn’t great but Ian made his two at the end when it really mattered and I think T.J. [Bray] went 3-for-4 down the stretch. I think you saw what we can be like defensively for 30 minutes. I knew that but we can really defend and this team likes that about themselves and I like it about them.”

PU Women’s Hockey

PANNING OUT: Princeton University women’s hockey defenseman Ali Pankowski, right, goes after the puck in a recent game. Freshman Pankowski has helped to shore up the defense for the Tigers, who are allowing 2.3 goals a game. Princeton, now 6-9-1 overall and 5-6-1 in ECAC Hockey play, is next in action when it plays a two-game set at Ohio State on December 30 and 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In last year’s ECAC Hockey quarterfinals, the Princeton University women’s hockey team battled Quinnipiac tooth and nail but couldn’t overcome the Bobcats.

The Tigers fell 2-1 and 2-0 to get swept in the best-of-three series. Princeton was tied at 1-1 heading into the last five seconds of game one and the second game was a 1-0 contest until the Bobcats scored with 16 seconds left in regulation.

Last weekend, Princeton got to spend another weekend with Quinnipiac as the teams played a home-and-home set in the last action before the upcoming holidays.

In an unfortunate case of deja vu, the Tigers dropped two tight contests, falling 1-0 at Baker Rink on Friday and 3-0 a day later in Hamden, Conn.

Reflecting on Friday’s loss, Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal acknowledged he could provide little solace to his disappointed players.

“Our kids played well for a majority of the game,” said Kampersal, whose team is now 6-9-1 overall and 5-6-1 in ECAC Hockey play.

“There is nothing I can really say to make them feel better. They played really hard. They played with a lot of heart. That is all we can really ask of them. We still need to execute better in front of the net.”

Kampersal will be depending on his senior line of Paula Romanchuk, Danielle DiCesare, and Heather Landry to help the Tigers find the back of the net.

“They had a lot of oomph tonight,” said Kampersal. “They have played together on and off here for the last four years. Down the stretch, we are going to rely on them.”

The Tiger defense has proven to be reliable. “The defense was solid, their goal was actually a deflection,” said Kampersal, whose team is giving up 2.3 goals a game.

Freshmen Brianne Mahoney and Ali Pankowski have certainly solidified things along the blue line for Princeton.

“Brianne has good vision and was really good last weekend,” added Kampersal.

“She has good vision; there was a play at the end where she fed it back door and our kid couldn’t corral it but it was a perfect play. Pankowski has a presence out there; she is a big, strong kid and she can deliver the puck to the open net pretty well.”

A big issue for the Tigers so far this season has been a propensity for landing in the penalty box.

“We have got a small bench and it does wear you down,” said Kampersal, whose team took five penalties on Friday and then got hit with four penalties the next day.

“You would really like your power play kids to be your power play kids and your killers to be your killers but sometimes we have our power play kids as our penalty killer kids and that doesn’t bode well.”

When the team returns to action after the holiday break, it will need to show a killer instinct in order to get back on the right track.

“It is a mental thing for us,” said Kampersal, whose team isn’t in action again until it plays a two-game set at Ohio State on December 30 and 31.

“We have to be mentally tough. Physically, we are fine. But we have to be mentally tough no matter what; whether we are up or we are down. We are fighting for all the points we can get, for sure.”

PDS Girls’ Hockey

FORWARD LOOKING: Princeton Day School girls hockey star Megan Ofner tracks down the puck last weekend at the PDS Invitational. Senior captain and forward Ofner scored three goals to help PDS top Summit 5-0 last Saturday in the opening round of the event and then chipped in a goal the next day the Panthers fell 3-2 to Rye Country Day in the championship game. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into its annual invitational tournament, the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team had a clear point of emphasis.

“The big thing for the weekend was putting the puck in the net and getting rebounds,” said PDS head coach Lorna Gifis Cook.

Senior forward and co-captain Megan Ofner took that message to heart.

On Saturday, Ofner scored three goals to help PDS top Summit 5-0 in the opening round of the event. A day later against Rye Country Day, Ofner tallied on a second period power play goal but it wasn’t enough as the Panthers fell 3-2 to the Wildcats.

While Ofner was disappointed by the final result in the title game, she was proud of how PDS competed.

“Rye is always a big competitor; we always look forward to the game,” said Ofner, who now has 94 points in her PDS career.

“Sometimes, we come out on top and other times, like today, it is heartbreaking loss. We left it on a high note in the Summit game so continuing on that high note really helped us get pumped up to play our best today.”

As a two-time captain and leading scorer, Ofner knows that PDS needs her to give her best in every way.

“I am just happy to help the team; my job is to do anything and everything I can for the team,” said Ofner. “We have a short bench so I try to do anything I can do to help them and encourage everyone.”

It has helped PDS to put Ofner together on a top line with classmate and fellow captain Ashley Egner and junior Zeeza Cole.

“Ashley and I have waited three years to be finally able to play together,” said Ofner.

“It is definitely great chemistry out there with Ashley and Zeeza. We have known each other for a while so we know how each other plays and we know how to get it done.”

Ofner and her teammates will be looking to get it done this Thursday when they host Princeton High in the latest installment of the heated local rivalry.

“We are so excited for PHS; they have been our rival for the last four years,” said Ofner. “We are pumped up and ready for that game.”

Head coach Cook likes the way Ofner pumps up the Panthers. “She is definitely the leader on the ice,” asserted Cook. “She always has a lot of energy; she is just very driven.”

The Panthers showed plenty of drive in the clash against Rye as they jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Lexie Fairman and then rebounded from a 2-1 deficit to knot the game at 2-2 heading into the third period.

“It was a very competitive game,” said Cook, whose team outshot the Wildcats 34-32 in falling to 2-1.

“We had a lot of energy; we just have to get a little more confident with the puck.”

Cook is looking for her veteran line of Ofner, Egner, and Cole to provide the team with a lot of energy this winter.

“I think they still need to fit into their roles a little more and get comfortable playing with each other but they are definitely coming along,” said Cook, who saw Egner notch a goal in the win over Summit.

“They have got chemistry with each other off the ice; they just need to translate that on the ice.”

Sophomores Mary Travers and Mimi Matthews are developing a chemistry as they look to be a one-two scoring punch on the second line.

“I think when Mary and Mimi can get things going and get a little bit stronger on the puck, they are going to make things happen for us,” said Cook who got a goal from Travers in the win over Summit with both of the sophomores picking up assists in the defeat to Rye.

PDS got a strong effort over the weekend from junior goalie Daisy Mase who made 10 saves in earning the shutout Saturday and then had 29 stops in a losing cause against Rye.

“Yesterday’s game for her was really tough; to not face that many shots is really difficult for a goalie,” said Cook.

“Today’s game you could tell she knew she was going to get a lot of shots. She did and she was in it the whole time. She kept us in the game.”

In Cook’s view, PDS should benefit from facing the tough competition provided by Rye.

“I do think the team took a step forward; they needed a game that really challenged them,” added Cook.

“They played well but it gives them something to go into practices with the kind of mindset that we are going to play them again and we are going to get better.”

Ofner, for her part, sees the Panthers getting better and better as the season unfolds.

“We definitely know our strengths and weaknesses better than we did in the beginning of the season,” asserted Ofner. “We are ready to act on them and continue on with a great season.”



December 7, 2011
Princeton University Men's Hockey

GOING OFF: Princeton University men’s hockey star Andrew Calof, right, battles for the puck in a game last season. Over last weekend, Calof tallied two goals and an assist, helping Princeton beat Rensselaer 5-3 on Friday and tie No. 9 Union 3-3 a day later. The Tigers, now 4-7-2 overall and 3-5-1 in ECAC Hockey play, host Harvard on December 10 before playing at Quinnipiac on December 11.

After earning Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Year honors last winter, Princeton University men’s hockey star Andrew Calof experienced a bit of a sophomore slump in the early stages of this season.

Through the first 10 games of the 2011-12 campaign, Calof had no goals and five assists, a far cry from 9 goals and 24 assists he produced as a freshman in leading the Tigers in scoring.

In game 11 on November 26, Calof broke through with a goal to help Princeton top Providence 3-1 at the Denver Cup Classic.

Last Friday against visiting Rensselaer, Calof built on that performance, notching two goals, including the game-winner, as Princeton prevailed 5-3 over the Engineers before 1,616 at Baker Rink.

A relieved Calof basked in the glow of his two-goal outing. “It is really nice, it is being at the right place at the right time,” said the 5’10, 165-pound Calof, a native of Nepean, Ontario.

“I have been getting great passes and having great chances and it is definitely nice that they are starting to go in instead of missing them like I was doing in the previous bunch of games.”

It was definitely nice for Princeton to rally from an early 1-0 deficit in the win over the Engineers.

“It was pretty big because we have gotten down quite a bit in games this year,” said Calof.

“We are getting confidence that we can battle back. It is really good that we are starting to produce offensively because that has been our biggest shortfall this year. We have been getting a lot of chances but have not been getting them in.”

Calof knows that playing on the same line with junior Rob Kleebaum and sophomore Jack Berger has helped him become an assist leader for the Tigers.

“It is really not too hard when you are playing with the caliber of players that are on the team,” said Calof who now has 42 points in his Princeton career on 12 goals and 30 assists.

“I know that if I get the puck to Kleebaum or Berger in the slot, nine times out of 10, it is going to be in the back of the net. If they miss it, they are going to be mad and it will create a rebound and somebody else will put it in. We have been playing together for quite a bit now. We know where each other are and we are pretty comfortable with each other.”

In Calof’s view, the team gained a comfort level from its recent trip to Denver where it fell to 3-0 to the University of Denver before posting the win over Providence.

“When we played Denver, they were the 10th ranked team in the country and after playing them, we didn’t feel like they were that much of a better team than us,” asserted Calof.

“We felt we could compete with them on every aspect of the game so it gave us the confidence going into the next game.”

Princeton head coach Bob Prier is happy to see Calof playing with confidence.

“Andrew Calof had a couple of goals tonight; he has the monkey off his back,” said Prier, who got two goals and an assist in the win from sophomore forward Jack Berger.

“You see it a lot with a lot of second year guys; it is just a common thing. So now that he has gotten going, with a guy as talented as him, it is not going to stop.”

In the win over Rensselaer, the Tigers showed some grit to go with their talent.

“It was tough on the bench tonight because we were mixing and matching all over the place,” said Prier, whose team showed more toughness on Saturday afternoon when it overcame a 3-0 deficit to tie No. 9 Union 3-3 and improve to 4-7-2 overall and 3-5-1 in ECAC Hockey play.

“When you lose a guy that early in Jimmy Kerr, to a concussion, and you lose a couple of d-men that early to sickness, it was a big grind. The guys responded well. I think Derrick Pallis showed some leadership qualities tonight. He logged a lot of ice, particularly in the third period and he was gassed. He made some really good poised plays while he was in a state of exhaustion and those are plays that your seniors have to do because it settles everyone else down.”

Like Calof, Prier sees the Denver trip as a possible turning point for the Tigers.

“It was huge for us to do that and get some momentum coming back to Baker for three of the next four,” said Prier, whose team hosts Harvard on December 10 before playing at Quinnipiac on December 11.

“You play a team the caliber like Denver and you want to win those games, don’t get me wrong. But you can also take a lot from it and then to beat Providence on the road like that was great for us. Winning breeds winning and winning breeds confidence. You have to get the Ws. I think these guys are starting to learn what it takes little by little and that’s the most important thing.”

It took some time for the Tiger players to adjust to the new systems that first-year head coach Prier has installed.

“Obviously there is a bit of a learning curve but this is an extremely responsive group of young men, more so than any I ever worked with,” said Prier.

“I am pretty sure that they do understand it all, and, at the end of the day, it just comes down to their execution. You can install whatever systems you want with a team but you need all five guys on the ice to do them at the same time. There are no secrets to it; it is just making sure that they are playing together and communicating a lot and knowing what their job is at that time.”

In Calof’s view, everybody around the program is now on the same page.

“It was kind of off and on in games in the past; we weren’t completely buying into the system,” said Calof.

“The problem is that we were doing the systems right some of the time but not right all the time. We just have to focus on making sure that we commit to it all the time. Now that we have been buying into it, things have been going a lot better. We have been getting a lot more chances and we have been seeing the benefits.”

December 2, 2011
PDS Boys Ice Hockey

(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski) caption: LO RIDER: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Cody Triolo controls the puck in a game last winter. Junior forward Triolo will provide offensive depth for the Panthers. PDS, the defending state Prep champs, started its 2011-12 season this week. After playing St. Joseph’s Prep on November 29, PDS will host Pennington on December 1 and St. Augustine on December 6.

For Scott Bertoli and the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team, winning the state Prep title last winter was a breakthrough on several levels.

It was the program’s first Prep crown since Bertoli started coaching at PDS in the 2006-07 season and the Panthers beat two thorns in their side, Morristown-Beard and Pingry, on the way to the the championship.

With PDS starting its 2011-12 season this week, Bertoli believes the program can experience more breakthrough moments this winter.

“We have a lot confidence in this team; we think it is a good group,” said Bertoli, whose team was slated to host St. Joseph’s Prep on November 29, Pennington on December 1, and St. Augustine on December 6.

“It is reflected in the schedule; we are adding teams like Lawrenceville, Hill and Malvern Prep. We’re also still playing teams like LaSalle, Portledge, and St. Augustine.”

Bertoli believes this year’s team can more than hold its own with anyone on the schedule.

“We have three balanced lines with seven or eight guys who can score,” said Bertoli, who guided the Panthers to a 16-9-1 record last winter.

“We have five or six good defensemen and we have proven goaltending. We have been overmatched in the past man for man, now we have the talent and depth to play with those teams. We feel better going into those games this year.”

The addition of the Colton brothers, junior Robert and freshman Ross, should help make up for the offensive firepower lost by the graduation of Peter Blackburn and the transfer of Alex Nespor.

“Robert Colton as a junior is a pretty even trade-off for Alex Nespor,” said Bertoli.

“Alex has more dynamic offensive skills but Robert is a better 2-way player. Ross is a heck of a talent. He is a Tier 1 player and will step right in and help us as a freshman.”

The Panthers boast a good group of returning forwards in seniors Garrett Jensen and Dallas Derr, together with juniors Conrad Denise and Cody Triolo, and sophomores John Egner and Louis Blackburn.

“We are depending on Conrad big-time; he is playing for the Team Comcast 16U team,” said Bertoli.

“Sean had a really good freshman year. John Egner has improved more than anybody. I am still juggling lines, I’d like to create a chemistry.”

PDS also has plenty of good pieces to juggle on defense in seniors Tyler Olsson and Taran Auslander, juniors Bump Lisk, Grahame Davis, and Eddie Meyercord, together with sophomore newcomer C.J. Young.

“C.J. is a big, strong kid,” said Bertoli, whose major loss along the blue line was the graduation of Skye Samse.

“He may not be as tall as Skye but he is more stable on the ice. He is a very strong defender. Bump’s game has gone to another level. We expect big things from him, particularly in big games when he is going against Tier 1 players.”

Senior Walker Ward and junior Connor Walker give the Panthers a strong goaltending tandem.

“Those two guys are going to compete; that will help them both get better,” said Bertoli.

“Connor did separate himself down the stretch, he started six of the eight games in the winning streak. Both are capable and the guys have confidence in both. Ward is a calming influence; he has a bigger body than Connor but he is not as athletic. Connor won some big games for us, he stole games for us that we should not have won.”

In order for the Panthers to win a lot of big games this winter, the team will need to display a constant effort.

“I think the key is consistency,” said Bertoli. “We had that when we won eight straight games near the end and played well in the Barber Tournament but we didn’t have that in other games. We lost some games we should have won. We need to win against teams we should beat and then be competitive and win some of the games against the big teams on our schedule. It is one thing to schedule them and say you have played them; it is another thing to win.”

In Bertoli’s view, taking care of the small things on a daily basis is the key to accomplishing the team’s big goals.

“The kids are excited about the year but I don’t want them to get ahead of themselves,” said Bertoli.

“We are going to focus on process and getting better everyday. I want them to stay in the moment and go out and win the hockey game they are playing today. The focus is today; we are living by that motto.”

December 1, 2011

Bill AldenBill has been the sports editor of the Town Topics since 2002. During that time, he has received nine sports writing awards from the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association. His work has also appeared in the Washington PostNew York Newsday, and the New York Law Journal. A native of McLean, Va., Bill earned degrees from Amherst College, the Washington and Lee School of Law, and the New York University Graduate School of Arts and Science. He lives in Princeton with his wife and two daughters.