September 19, 2012

BRICK-FIRED: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer player Jack Brickner, left, goes up for a header against Peddie last Wednesday. Brickner scored a goal in the contest but it was not nearly enough as PDS fell 4-1 to the Falcons. The Panthers, who dropped to 0-4-1 with a 2-1 defeat to visiting Hopewell Valley last Friday, play at Lawrenceville on September 20 and at the Solebury School on September 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After being held scoreless in its first three games this season, the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team took a step forward in its contest against visiting Peddie last Wednesday.

PDS gave up an early goal to the Falcons but then responded with its first tally of 2012 as senior Jack Brickner headed home a pass from Marco Pinheiro with 6:26 left in the half.

But seconds away from going into halftime knotted at 1-1, misfortune struck PDS as one of its defenders blocked a Peddie shot with his hand, leading to his disqualification on a red card and a Falcon penalty shot.

Peddie cashed in on the chance to go up 2-1 at intermission and then pulled away in the second half against a shorthanded PDS side, tacking on two more tallies for a 4-1 victory.

PDS head coach Malcolm Murphy acknowledged that the sequence in the waning moments of the first half proved to be decisive.

“Unfortunately, that’s the way it goes, we call it game intelligence,” said Murphy.

“When we lost that possession around the area, that’s when the decision should have been to play the ball away and send it where they can’t do any damage. Instead we wanted to play with it in the middle and it changed the whole game.”

Murphy did like the way his team responded in the early stages of the second half.

“We kept putting the efforts in,” said Murphy of his young squad that includes five sophomores and four freshmen.

“I actually thought that in the first seven or eight minutes of the half that we had some good opportunities but then again you have to put them away. Once they started to spread the field, we started losing our legs.”

While Murphy saw some good signs, he acknowledged that his team needs to develop more resolve when faced with adversity.

“For young players, it is very difficult unless you see something instant,” said Murphy, whose team lost 2-1 to Hopewell Valley last Friday to fall to 0-4-1.

“The battle gets harder and deeper and that’s where we have to learn. Resilience is not in their vocabulary just yet.”

Despite the margin of defeat, Murphy saw some bright spots. “I thought the back four played well,” said Murphy, whose defensive unit includes Brickner, Zach Golden, Chris Chai, and Taran Auslander.

“They were playing a bit of a long ball; it is hard to defend against. We are struggling to find depth in the forwards to take the pressure off of us. We don’t seem to be able to find anybody individually or in a partnership who can stop the source.”

In Murphy’s view, the team will benefit from going back to the drawing board on the practice field.

“We have the opportunity to have more training sessions,” said Murphy, whose team plays at Lawrenceville on September 20 and at the Solebury School on September 22.

“We need to step back and go through those sessions with them and show them what we are looking for in units. We’ll get there. We have been there before and they will be there again as long as they show a willingness.”

FULL CIRCLE: Stuart Country Day field hockey goalie Margaret LaNasa, center, controls a crowded circle in recent action. Junior LaNasa has provided solid play as Stuart’s last line of defense to help the Tartans get off to a 1-3 start. In upcoming action, Stuart plays at the Academy of New Church on September 19 before hosting South Hunterdon on September 21 and the Pennington School on September 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As the Stuart Country Day field hockey team played at Princeton Day School last week, Missy Bruvik carried on a constant dialog with her players, instructing both those on the field and the others on the bench.

With a roster containing eight freshman and five sophomores, head coach Bruvik knows that her team has a steep learning curve this fall.

“There are teaching moments all game long,” said Bruvik, who is returning to the helm of the program after coaching Stuart 21 years through 2006 and then taking a break to follow her daughter Kelly’s field hockey career at Bucknell.

“I have always talked to the kids on the bench during the games. It keeps them engaged. They are learning and they appreciate what the kids on the field are doing. They have a better idea of what they need to do when they get playing time.”

In the first half against a tough, veteran PDS squad, Stuart applied those lessons, holding its own as it only trailed 2-1 at the half of the September 11 contest.

“They are taking everything that they are learning,” said Bruvik of her club. “PDS is a very good team; it was nice to see us hang in there against them. We were getting the ball in the circle more.”

It was also nice for Bruvik to get some good work from such freshmen as Julia Maser, Tori Hannah, and Sam Servis. “Julia had a nice goal; that was her second goal of the season,” said Bruvik.

“Tori Hannah worked hard at both ends of the field from the right midfield spot. Sam Servis did a good job, she won some 50/50 balls for us.”

In the second half, though, the team’s inexperience was evident as PDS pulled away to a 6-1 victory.

“We ran out of steam against a very tenacious team,” said Bruvik, whose club fell 4-0 to Lawrenceville last Saturday to move to 1-3. “We are still working on figuring out what is the best system for this team.”

The Tartans got some good work in the PDS game from senior Nicole Starke together with juniors Amy Hallowell and Margaret La Nasa.

“I think Nicole Starke and Amy Hallowell did as much as they could,” said Bruvik, whose team plays at the Academy of New Church on September 19 before hosting South Hunterdon on September 21 and the Pennington School on September 24.

“Margaret LaNasa did a good job in goal; she faced a lot of shots. She is really holding her own; she is learning a lot from Gia [Stuart assistant coach and former star goalie Gia Fruscione]. She is a good student; she is making a lot of progress.”

Bruvik believes that her young squad is studious collectively. “They are learning,” asserted Bruvik. “We go through drills and take our time and tell them this is why we are doing this. We just need to keep playing.”

September 12, 2012

GROUP DYNAMIC: Members of the Princeton University football team enjoy a light moment during the program’s annual media day last Friday. Coming off back-to-back 1-9 seasons, the Tigers are hoping to smile a little more this fall. Princeton kicks off its 2012 campaign with a game this Saturday at 14th-ranked and defending Patriot League champion Lehigh (2-0).
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When assessing the state of a Princeton University football program that is coming off back-to-back 1-9 seasons, Tiger head coach Bob Surace cites the words of a legendary figure around town.

“Last Saturday after our scrimmage my daughter said ‘daddy I have a quote for you,’” recalled third-year head coach Surace,

“She said ‘learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.’ That’s a quote from Albert Einstein. It is kind of where we are at. We are learning from the mistakes we made last year, things in the red zone, turnovers; things that we have to learn from if we are going to get this fixed. We live for the moment. We gave out T-shirts right away this year that say ‘believe.’ There is hope for tomorrow.”

The Tigers could take a major step in making believers out of their supporters this Saturday if they can win their season opener at 14th-ranked and defending Patriot League champion Lehigh (2-0).

Surace knows the Tigers face a major challenge in the Mountain Hawks, who have won two straight against Princeton and 10 of the last 13 meetings in the series.

“They are a well-coached team,” said Surace, whose squad fell 34-22 to Lehigh in last year’s season opener.

“They get us in their third game and by the time we get them, whatever errors they may have had in the first two weeks have been corrected. They are a physical team. Their receiver Ryan Spadola is as good a football player as I have seen in my two years here. He’s exciting and he makes plays.”

With Princeton losing last year’s Rookie of the Year Chuck Dibilio as he takes a leave of absence after suffering a stroke earlier this year, the Tigers will be depending on senior running back Akil Sharp to make a lot of big plays.

Tiger offensive coordinator believes that the the 5’9, 210-pound Sharp is ready to fill the void left by Dibilio, who rushed for 1,068 yards last fall.

“Akil has shown that he is a trustworthy back and that he can do a lot of things,” said Perry of Sharp, who rushed for 244 yards in 2011.

“His development as a senior has been very good to see. It is nice having a senior who is the guy stepping into a situation like that. He has done a nice job of seizing things and being at the forefront.”

Others in the mix at running back include sophomore Will Powers and Jonathan Esposito together with a pair of promising freshmen, DiAndre Atwater and Dre Nelson.

Perry acknowledged that nobody has seized the starting job at quarterback with sophomores Quinn Epperly (23-for-52 passing for 259 yards, 215 yards rushing in 2011) and Connor Michelson (3-for-5 passing for seven yards) locked in a battle with freshman Kedric Bostic in the mix.

“Right now there is no separation, they have all done a good job,” said Perry, a record-setting quarterback for Brown during his college days.

“I know that is a premier position and people want to know what is going on. We needed depth there in a big way and we have gotten depth. Coach Surace and myself feel very strongly that we are in a much better position having guys who can play and not being hamstrung into a position where you feel if something happens to one guy, you are in a tough spot. I think we will reap the rewards of both the competition at that position in particular but across the board at all positions.”

The competition has been particularly stiff at wide receiver where several players are battling for snaps including senior Shane Wilkinson (38 receptions for 384 yards in 2011), sophomore Matt Costello (29 receptions for 341 yards), senior Tom Moak (9 receptions for 86 yards), sophomore Seth DeValve (1 reception for 10 yards), junior Roman Wilson (2 receptions for nine yards), and sophomore Connor Kelley (3 receptions for 23 yards).

“In modern college football you have to be able to throw the ball period,” said Perry.

“We were able to throw the ball much better in the spring and at this camp because we have a group of wide receivers who are all playing much better. We have been able to generate far more explosive plays in the pass game, those guys collectively have all stepped up.”

Princeton is hoping that senior tight end Mark Hayes (11 receptions for 107 yards) can step up and be a bigger part of the offense.

“Mark is as good a blocking tight end as you will have in college,” maintained Perry.

“He can catch the ball very well. I know last year there were some moments where we wanted to get more productivity out of him in the pass game.”

The Tigers are looking to senior Kevin Mill to help the offensive line be a productive unit.

“Kevin Mill is a guy at the tackle position who is a senior,” said Perry. “He is a guy with terrific ability and last year he came off an ACL and played well. Now he is two years removed from that and playing very well. He is providing leadership across the board. Those guys have a lot of experience and experience together. We are expecting big things out of that unit.”

The line will feature junior Joe Goss at center with junior Taylor Pearson and Max Coale listed as the starters at guard and sophomore Spenser Huston pencilled in at the other tackle spot. Others in the mix include a trio of sophomores Tom Yetter, Jack Woodall, and Ryan Peloquin together with senior Hanur Kim and freshman Britt Colcolough.

Princeton should get some big things out of its defensive line which features senior co-captain Mike Catapano, a two-time All-Ivy selection with 108 career tackles and classmate Caraun Reid, a first-team All-Ivy pick last fall when he had 68 tackles and eight sacks. The line also includes two other key veterans in senior Matt Landry and junior Greg Sotereanos.

“It is hard to block Catapano, Reid, and Sotereanos, that is a really deep group,” said Surace.

“You have to game plan to play those guys and it is hard when you have two like Catapano and Reid, you can’t slide the line both ways.”

The Tiger linebacking crew should make things hard for Princeton’s foes, headed by senior co-captain Andrew Starks, a two-time All-Ivy honoree, sophomore Garrett Leicht, and battle-tested senior Tim Kingsbury.

“Andrew plays the game the right way, he plays it hard,” added Surace. “Garrett Leicht has had his hands on the football more times in camp than our linebackers combined in the last two years.”

Surace is hoping that senior strong safety Mandela Shaeffer will get his hands on the ball more as he leads a secondary that includes sophomore star Khamal Brown and junior Trocon Davis at cornerback along with junior Philip Bhaya at free safety.

“It is fulfilling to see Mandela Shaeffer just making plays,” said Surace. “He is not just saying its cover three and I am in my spot, but he is unleashing and making plays.”

The preseason has seen some good playmaking all around, according to Surace.

“The guys are excited; we are having a really good training camp,” said Surace.

“I like the way we are practicing. I like the way we approach things. This team looks like it is going to be a very mature team.”

In Surace’s view, his maturation as a head coach has the team on the same page as it heads into the Lehigh clash.

“You know your team, you know people better,” said Surace. “You build relationships. All those guys who are seniors, I didn’t know their parents, I didn’t know their high schools so you need to build relationships, you need to build trust. Before they were doing it because we told them to. Now I think we have built a family where they now understand what we are trying to do.”

STARK REALITY: Princeton University linebacker Andrew Starks heads to an interview at the program’s recent media day. Senior star and co-captain Starks is looking to start his final college campaign with a bang as the Tigers play at 14th-ranked Lehigh (2-0) this Saturday in their season opener. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Andrew Starks made an immediate impact at safety during his freshman season with the Princeton University football team in 2009.

The Plainfield, Ill. native recorded 33 tackles and two pass breakups, earning the Harlan “Pink” Baker Award as Princeton’s top defensive freshman along with lineman Caraun Reid.

After watching Starks’ exploits, the Princeton coaches decided that he could make an impact elsewhere on the field and moved him to linebacker.

Starks was a little out of step initially as he made the transition to his new spot in the field.

“It was definitely an adjustment; I had been playing safety pretty much all my life and then moving to linebacker, things seemed to speed up quite a bit,” said Starks.

“You don’t have quite as much reaction time. Fortunately we have a great coaching staff here and they worked me a lot in the offseason and spring ball and summer camp.”

Applying those lessons well, Starks made the coaches look pretty smart, earning All-Ivy League Honorable Mention as a sophomore in 2010 with 89 tackles. Last fall, Starks recorded 80 tackles in nine games, including five for a loss, on the way to earning second-team All-Ivy recognition.

Growing into a leader as well as a star linebacker, Starks enters this fall as one of Princeton’s team captains and top players as the Tigers look to get back on the winning track after back-to-back 1-9 campaigns.

“I am looking forward going into my senior year having two years under my belt playing linebacker,” said Starks, whose final college season kicks off when the Tigers play at Lehigh (2-0) this Saturday. “It should be a good year.”

Starks acknowledged that it took him much of his sophomore year to develop a comfort level in his new spot.

“It was a bit of an adjustment; it took a little getting used to,” said Starks, who now packs 240 pounds on his 6’2 frame.

“But as the season progressed sophomore year, I felt more like a true linebacker than a safety playing linebacker. I felt pretty comfortable in the Brown game and made some big plays in that one. I started to get the hang of things and loosened up a little bit. It was a lot less thinking and a lot more just running around and playing. I kind of built on that last year as well.”

While last year was disappointing for Princeton in terms of its record, Starks believes the program made strides.

“The record wasn’t anywhere near where we wanted it to be but we did see a tremendous amount of improvement,” said Starks.

“We had a lot of young guys playing last year that are fortunately coming back this year. We have a lot of experience with everyone having another year under their belt and another year of offseason conditioning and lifting, another spring ball, and another summer camp. I think we are in pretty good shape. I think people are starting to feel comfortable and we should see the results.”

Starks feels fortunate to have been chosen as a team captain for the 2012 Tigers.

“It is a tremendous honor on a team where you have so many leaders and so many people doing the right thing,” said Starks, who will be serving as captain along with with senior defensive lineman Mike Catapano.

“To be chosen as one of the guys that everyone else looks to is just a huge honor. I couldn’t be more proud of what this team has done and to be given the opportunity to lead them off the field and on the field this year as a captain.”

Princeton head coach Bob Surace is proud to have Starks as one of the leaders of his squad.

“He is just such a good person,” asserted Surace. “He is really mature; he knows how to approach people. He handles all the things you have to handle at a great school like Princeton — academics, social, leadership, and football. He has a great way about him.”

For Starks, having the title of captain isn’t going to change the way he handles things.

“As far as my leadership style I try not to do anything different than I did before; I think I was named captain for a reason,” said Starks.

“I just try to lead by example; I think the guys respect my work ethic and what I am doing. I feel if I keep that up and do the things I have been doing in the last three or four years, everybody else will follow that. I think that is the only thing you can do. You can’t expect the guys to do something that you are not willing to do yourself. If I am doing things right, putting my best effort forward and putting in the time to do extra work, people will see that and they will do the same.”

As Starks looks ahead to the Lehigh clash, he believes Princeton’s hard work over the last few years is going to start paying dividends.

“I definitely feel this program is ready to turn a corner,” said Starks. “I think we showed moments last year; we just didn’t show it for 60 minutes. That is what we need to do this year. Once we can do that, we will have a great season. I am looking forward to getting started against Lehigh this coming week.”

HISTORIC STRIKE: Princeton University field hockey star Katie Reinprecht prepares to strike the ball last Sunday in Princeton’s 2-1 win over visiting Richmond. Midfielder Reinprecht scored the first goal as the Tigers opened play at their new Bedford Field. She later assisted on the game-winning goal by Allison Evans to help the fourth-ranked Tigers improve to 4-0. Princeton opens Ivy League play by hosting Dartmouth on September 15 and then hosts Delaware a day later.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After taking a leave of absence from the Princeton University field hockey team over the last year to play with the U.S. National Team and compete in the Olympics, Katie Reinprecht was not sure what to expect upon her return to the Tiger program.

“I was a little nervous, I thought it was going to be weird, seeing that I didn’t know two whole grades that are here,” said senior midfielder Reinprecht. “It was definitely a little different than it has felt in the past.”

It didn’t take long for Reinprecht to get back in the swing of things upon her return to Princeton last month.

“It is amazing how natural and familiar it feels once you get into it,” said Reinprecht. “It was pretty seamless.”

Last Sunday, the two-time Ivy League Player of the Year displayed her familiar excellence, scoring a goal and assisting on the game-winner as fourth-ranked Princeton edged visiting Richmond 2-1 in the first game played on Bedford Field.

Reinprecht and her teammates were excited to christen the program’s sparkling new facility.

“I feel fortunate to be here for its opening year; it was pretty cool,” said Reinprecht, whose clutch play helped the Tigers improve to 4-0.

“I think today we were a little frustrated with our performance for the opening game. They played us really well today, give them a lot of credit. They had energy the whole game. They definitely gave us a good matchup. It was a good competitive environment.”

Although Reinprecht made history by scoring the first goal at the field, she acknowledged it wasn’t a play for the highlight reel.

“I actually almost screwed it up,” said Reinprecht with a laugh. “I got a little lucky to be honest. I saw I had to take it on my reverse and get it off any way I could.”

Even though Princeton found itself locked in a 1-1 tie with 10:15 left in the second half, Reinprecht was confident that the Tigers wouldn’t screw things up.

“It’s hard not to get a little alarmed but I felt confident in our playing style, the players on our team, and the talent that we have that we would be able to come back and get the win,” said Reinprecht.

“Obviously it is not something you want to have to do with 10 minutes left in the game. It is a good test of our mental strength, I think.”

On the game-winning goal, Reinprecht displayed her strength as a playmaker as she set up Allison Evans’ tally in the waning moments of the contest.

“I saw Sharkey cutting across the top and they were all flocking to her and I knew I could sneak in behind,” recalled Reinprecht.

“She found me on a really nice pass and then there were three Princeton girls in front of the goal and I just had to pick one of them.”

In Reinprecht’s view, the Tigers are off to a really nice start this fall. “That was our goal for the first phase of the season; we wanted to come out and get four wins,” said Reinprecht.

“I am happy with the start we have had in terms of the competition we have matched up against. I think we are excited with the start, especially since we are starting a little later being an Ivy League team.”

While Reinprecht wasn’t excited by the U.S. team’s 12th-place finish at the London Olympics, she believes that competing at that level can only benefit her in the long run.

“It was an absolutely incredible experience; I will definitely never forget it,” said Reinprecht, who was joined on the U.S. team by younger sister and fellow Tiger star, Julia.

“It is something I want to do again. It didn’t turn out the way we wanted but the Olympic experience is more than the two-week tournament. It was really the year building up for me. I learned so much about the hard work it takes to really improve as a player and how you need to push yourself.”

Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn certainly appreciates the work she gets from Reinprecht.

“Katie has such an engine, physiologically she is just a machine,” asserted Holmes-Winn. “The work that she does on both sides of the ball is spectacular.”

Holmes-Winn acknowledged that Richmond (3-2) gave the Tigers a run for their money on Sunday.

“I give them a lot of credit,” said Holmes-Winn. “What is concerning to me is that we had 14 shots and we only made the keeper play the ball twice. That’s something we look at but there were some really good patches of hockey. We played possession really well. I think we manipulated their structure in a way that we talked about.”

Despite its 4-0 start, Princeton needs to get more out of its possessions. “If someone told me the issue with our team would be finishing that would be a real shock to me but it has been our issue in these past couple of games,” added Holmes-Winn.

“It is just figuring out how to be more effective with our numbers; that will be a big key to that. We have players who are playing well; it is just a matter of breaking through and getting our mojo on attack. We certainly have the personnel to do it. It is just a matter of having that moment where here it is. We haven’t had that and that will come. These guys need to get away from thinking so much, There is a lot of information transferred in the first couple of weeks and now we have to pull back and let them play.”

With Princeton bolstered by the return of the Reinprecht sisters together with Michelle Cesan and Kat Sharkey from national team duties, the Tigers are going to get the spirited play from their foes.

“A lot of it is team dynamic and chemistry,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team opens Ivy League play by hosting Dartmouth on September 15 and then hosts Delaware a day later.

“I feel that it is good that the opposition is going to perceive themselves as the underdog in just about every game. When you are an underdog, I think there is a very clear task orientation and I think for us to have to play against that certainty is amazing. It is good that there is that elevation that is going to occur from the opposition which will make us better in the long run.”

Reinprecht, for her part, believes that the four returners will help Princeton elevate its game on a daily basis.

“We probably demand more out of them than they may be used to because we are used to having that demanded of us,” said Reinprecht,

“I know there is a lot of talent in the four girls who came back, that is just one thing. I think just mentally and personality wise we brought some good flavor back to the program. We have overarching goals and then smaller goals. We have high hopes.”

OPENING STATEMENT: Princeton High senior quarterback Zack DiGregorio drops back in a preseason scrimmage this summer. Last Saturday, DiGregorio helped PHS rally from deficits of 7-0, 14-6, and 21-14 to top Northern Burlington 27-21 in the season opener for both teams. DiGregorio threw two touchdown passes in the win. PHS plays at Hightstown on September 14.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After the Princeton High football team pulled out a dramatic 27-21 win over Northern Burlington last Saturday in the season opener, PHS quarterback Zack DiGregorio made a beeline for his father on the sideline.

The senior star and his dad, Steve, a former Princeton University assistant coach and Nutley High head coach who is helping guide the Little Tigers this fall, embraced each other in an extended bear hug with grins plastered to their faces.

For the younger DiGregorio, it was a highlight moment he will remember for a long time.

“My dad is on the sideline now and that is huge for me,” said DiGregorio. “Hugging him like that was one of the coolest things I have experienced.”

DiGregorio showed his experience in the victory over the Greyhounds, coolly running the PHS offense, hitting four of nine passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns.

The Little Tigers kept their composure collectively, battling back from deficits of 7-0, 14-6, and 21-14 in rallying for the win.

In the third quarter, PHS marched 40 yards on a drive that culminated with a 15-yard touchdown pass from DiGregorio to Will Xu to tie the game at 21-21.

After Jack Persico recovered Northern Burlington fumble late in the third quarter, DiGregorio engineered a 41-yard march that ended with a 31-yard touchdown gallop by Javon Pannell which put PHS ahead to stay at 27-21.

A key to the PHS win was its superb running game, featuring Pannell (10 carries for 45 yards and a touchdown), Ben Smallzman (7 carries for 108 yards), and Will Harrison (23 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown).

DiGregorio, for his part, thought that offensive balance would be a strength this fall for the Little Tigers.

“As we were coming through camp this year, we saw that we could really spread the ball around a little bit,” said DiGregorio. “Last year we had Eric [Shorter] but this year we didn’t have an offensive force. I feel like we have a lot of pieces we can use equally. It makes us pretty hard to defend.”

In order to make himself tougher to defend, DiGregorio put in extra time in the weight room and got tutored by a legendary former New York Giants quarterback.

“I also had the opportunity to work with Phil Simms up in northern Jersey,” said DiGregorio.

“He knows his stuff, we worked on fundamentals and just being more efficient with my delivery and getting more out of my body than I was getting. It was a huge, huge improvement; that is something I worked really hard on this summer.”

In the win over Northern Burlington, the Little Tigers benefited from a huge effort in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

“We have a bunch of really resilient guys,” said DiGregorio. “I am not the one you should be talking to, it’s the guys up front. They stuck their necks out for everybody; you can’t play harder than they played today. The defense was bearing down when it needed to; it made my job really easy.”

In trying to master the job of quarterback, DiGregorio has learned a lot form his predecessors.

“I have had great role models here as quarterbacks,” said DiGregorio. “From Mike Olentine, who was great in what he did. We still talk. Alex Mitko and I are still really, really good friends. I have learned so much from them.”

PHS head coach Joe Gargione credited DiGregorio with making some great improvements.

“Zack stepped up big time today,” said Gargione. “We didn’t throw the ball that much because the run game was working so well today and we stuck with what worked. When he did throw the ball, he just had confidence. His arm strength has improved so much as has his footwork.”

Gargione liked the strength of character that his players showed as they kept battling back.

“I told the team no matter how tired you are, you dig a little deeper because you are not as tired as you think you are,” said Gargione.

“I think the biggest thing about today is that we didn’t let down. Even when they beat us twice on the long ball, we bounced back. I am so proud of them today.”

The win sparked some déjà vu for Gargione as the Little Tigers started last season by edging Northern Burlington 20-14.

“We knew that the two main reasons we beat them last year were turnover margin and I believe we were more in shape than they were,” said Gargione, whose team won the turnover battle again, recovering two fumbles and making two interceptions without committing any miscues.

“Today it seemed similar in the regard that they were hanging their heads a lot. I said to our guys take a look at them, they are hunched over. It is a key that they are tired and we need to feed off of that.”

The Little Tigers also fed off their togetherness in overcoming the Greyhounds.

“That’s the thing I have been stressing to these guys, we don’t have strength in numbers, we have strength when we all play together as one,” said Gargione.

”You may never come off the field other than for a blow or two. You get a drink of water and then you have to get back on the field. You have to play ironman football here. The line on both sides of the ball played awesome today”

In Gargione’s view, the Little Tigers can build on its encouraging performance.

“It is obviously good momentum going into the game Friday night at Hightstown,” said Gargione. “Beating a team like Northern Burlington at home to start off was awesome. That was huge.”

DiGregorio, for his part, believes that PHS has what it takes to beat a lot of teams this fall.

“This is huge momentum, especially with way we played this game so emotionally,” asserted DiGregorio.

“We know what we are capable of and it is even more than this. Good things are in the future, I am feeling it.”

MS. ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Ally Rogers goes after the ball last Thursday in PHS’s 1-0 loss to Hopewell Valley in the season opener for both teams. The Little Tigers will look to get on the winning track as they play at Hightstown on September 14 before hosting Trenton Central on September 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into the season, Greg Hand acknowledged that his Princeton High girls’ soccer team was a work in progress.

Noting that the program is undergoing a youth movement with wholesale changes in the lineup, Hand predicted it would take some time to get in synch.

Last Thursday as PHS hosted Hopewell Valley in the season opener for both teams, the Little Tigers showed their youth, displaying some good stretches of soccer but coming up short 1-0.

“Although we have scrimmages, in the first 10 minutes, we weren’t organized,” said Hand.

“I thought we were playing pretty responsibly when they had the ball and we started to figure things out on attack. The whole middle of the first half and perhaps a little more after they scored, we tended to rush the play too much. When we played a ball forward to someone facing our own goal, we tended not to organize off of that and make it easy to relieve the pressure and change the point of attack.”

Hand liked the way his team handled the pressure on the defensive end as the Little Tigers stymied the Bulldogs with the exception of one lapse in the second half.

“We had a terrific effort through the back, I thought we played solid defense all day,” asserted Hand.

“There was just one time when they got around us. I don’t think we were marking on the far post and they were able to slip one in.”

PHS got some good efforts from such attacking players as sophomore forward Shannon Pawlak and senior midfielder Kate Kerr.

“I thought we got a great game from Shannon Pawlak,” added Hand.

“She worked really hard; she was winning 50/50 balls and was very tricky at times. Kate Kerr really controlled her piece of the field. We want to find more ways to use our middies better and help get them more touches.”

In Hand’s view, the Little Tigers can get better at controlling the ball. “We are going to continue to grow because we have a great commitment within this team,” said Hand.

“It has been such an impressive preseason leading up to this. We have to figure out to really possess the ball effectively.”

Hand is hoping that his young squad will use the loss to HoVal as a learning experience on its way to figuring things out.

“Tomorrow is another work day; they have established a great training rhythm,” said Hand, whose team plays at Hightstown on September 14 before hosting Trenton Central on September 18.

“They take themselves seriously; it is all business. The outcome today doesn’t make them any worse of a team. I think they are a better team by virtue of the experience and we can build on it by having a great session tomorrow. That is all you can ask.”

ALL TIED UP: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer star Hannah Levy, left, battles a Germantown Academy (Pa.) player for possession in action last Friday in PDS’s season opener. Senior Levy scored a goal and had an assist as the teams played to a 2-2 overtime tie. The Panthers play at Shipley School (Pa.) on September 14 and at Hamilton High on September 15.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

This past spring, Hannah Levy proved to be a superb finisher for the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team, piling up 94 points on 69 goals and 25 assists.

Last Friday, Levy showed that her scoring knack translates to the soccer field as well. The senior star tallied a goal and added an assist as PDS battled Germantown Academy to a thrilling 2-2 overtime tie in its season opener.

In reflecting on her performance on the soccer pitch, Levy said she drew on her lacrosse skills.

“The sports are similar in a lot of ways,” said Levy. “They are both field sports; they both have a possession aspect and you see the field in the same way.”

Levy’s goal came with 25:15 left in the first half as she converted a feed from sophomore Alex Soltesz.

“That was a great cross,” recalled Levy, noting that her finish wasn’t a thing of beauty.

“I think the crosses were definitely open today. I kind of ran through it. I don’t even know where it hit off of me; it might have been my abs. It was a little too low for my head. I just went with it; it is a goal.”

Germantown tied the game late in the first half and then Levy hit a cross of her own with 13:18 left in regulation on a corner kick which led to a Kelsey Scarlett score.

“That was definitely good; we always focus on having it in the target zone,” said Levy.

“We did a kick called ‘the USA’ that is into the six; there are a lot of touches that can happen on that.”

The Panthers lost their lead less than 30 seconds later as Germantown scored on a run right after the kickoff.

PDS, though, didn’t lose its focus as the team held together and put plenty of pressure on the Patriots as the contest ended in a draw.

“We are lifting each other up on the field, we are out there for each other and playing as one unit,” said Levy. “I definitely think our possession work is much better than it was earlier. We are building off what we did in preseason and coming out really strong.”

“I don’t really know what position I am playing,” said Levy. “I got some minutes on attack. I really like that; it is new to me. I feel with Jane [Smukler] gone, I can pose a threat up there and push some people over and get some shots off. I am also very comfortable at center mid.”

PDS assistant coach Howie Powers is comfortable with Levy’s versatility. “We are asking Hannah to play a couple of things for us, mostly in the middle,” said Powers.

“We want her to use her strength on the ball. She goes after the ball and she shields so she plays a lot of withdrawn striker for us. Alex is there to run fast and hard while Hannah can strike the ball with her left or right foot. We are probably not going to get too many goals down low. We are going to get goals on crosses and shots outside and that’s where we got our goals today.”

Powers liked the way PDS didn’t get down even after Germantown knotted the game at 2-2.

“I think for the first game, to go 100 minutes was huge for us,” asserted Powers. “GA is always a very competitive team. They came right back in a minute and the nice thing was that we could have collapsed on that. I think we had more energy in the overtime; both teams could have won this game.”

In Powers’ view, junior goalie Rory Finnegan deserves a lot of credit for keeping PDS in the game.

“I think our most improved spot on the team is Rory Finnegan out of the goal,” maintained Powers.

“She made some phenomenal saves and her distribution was great. She really worked on her game over the summer. It’s coming out hard on the field and that is giving everybody else confidence.”

Showing its confidence, PDS is playing a more competitive slate this year, taking on teams like Germantown, Pennington, and the Shipley School (Pa.) as it aims to make a big postseason run.

“We upped our schedule, we changed three games where we may have been the favorite and we put in three games where we are the underdogs,” said Powers, whose team plays at Shipley School (Pa.) on September 14 and at Hamilton High on September 15.

“When we are playing the right size schools, it should make us much more competitive and that’s obviously where we are steering for this season. We play a very competitive regular season schedule which might hurt us in seeding and home games but it preps us a little more. It gets us a little more ready.”

Levy, for her part, believes the Panthers are ready to play some good soccer. “We need to look for the easy pass, sometimes we are trying to kick it down the field and we are not really a kick and run team,” said Levy.

“We have a lot of soccer players; we need to play to feet. We need to spread the field with outside midfielders on the end line calling for the ball and doing all the simple stuff.”

FOR PETE’S SAKE: Hun School boys’ soccer player Pete ­Stoddard chases down a ball in action last season. Hun is depending on Stoddard to help anchor its defensive unit this fall. The Raiders kick off the 2012 season by playing at the Haverford School (Pa.) on September 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After struggling through a 4-12 season in 2011, the Hun School boys’ soccer team will be featuring a new look this fall.

“We have revamped our entire system,” said fifth-year Hun head coach Pat Quirk. “We will be playing a 4-2-3-1 formation. A lot of European teams are playing it. I bought some books and studied them over the summer. I thought it would play more to our strengths; the guys are liking it.”

Quirk also likes the new attitude he is seeing from his returning players. “The core of kids is very dedicated,” asserted Quirk, noting that his team showed character down the stretch last fall as it won four of its last six games after a 0-10 start.

“They want to return to what we were before. I think they all learned lessons from last year and they worked hard through the summer.”

Quirk is expecting some good work from junior Andres Gonzales who will play the lone striker position in the team’s new formation. “Andres is a bit of a target,” said Quirk, whose team kicks off the 2012 season by playing at the Haverford School (Pa.) on September 15.

The trio of attacking players in the new formation will include senior Robert Merfield, sophomore Foster Broad, and senior Alex Griese, with junior Felix Dalstein and senior Nick Revano filling the two holding midfield spots.

“Griese is very slick with the ball,” added Quirk. “Felix is a good offensive distributor while Nick is more defensive; he breaks up plays. They all know their roles.”

The Hun backline will feature a pair of seniors, Peter Stoddard and Zach Winterstein, together with junior Bailey Hammer.

“As much as Stoddard and Hammer want to go forward, they know they have to stay back and protect,” said Quirk.

Quirk is expecting junior goalie Chris Minert to do a good job of protecting the net for the Raiders.

“Chris has gotten a lot better; he worked hard in the offseason with a trainer,” said Quirk.

As Quirk looks forward to the season, he is confident his players will do a better job this fall of playing as a unit.

“The players have a good attitude, they are willing to try anything,” said Quirk.

“None of them are selfish. We need to continue to share the ball and not wait and watch. There needs to be less dribbling and more controlling the midfield and making two-touch passes.”

NOT SO ANGELIC: Hun School girls soccer player Angelica ­Tabares, center, fights for ball in a game last fall. Senior tri-captain and star forward Tabares figures to be a key player for Hun this fall. The Raiders start their 2012 campaign with a game at Montgomery on September 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 2011, a Big Three of senior stars drove the Hun School girls’ soccer team to a superb campaign.

The trio of striker Holly Hargreaves, midfielder Nicole Campellone, and goalie Lexi Golestani sparked the Raiders to a 10-5-2 record.

With those standouts now playing college soccer, Hun head coach Ken Stevenson knows he is going to need all hands on deck to maintain the program’s winning tradition.

“I have been having discussions with the captains and we have been talking that we need to be team-first,” said Stevenson, whose team starts the 2012 campaign with a game at Montgomery on September 13.

“We are more focused on making sure that everyone is involved because we are relying on everyone.”

The team’s togetherness has been tested as star midfielder and tri-captain Joey Crivelli had season-ending knee surgery before practices even started.

“We have already shown that we can bounce back from adversity,” said Stevenson, noting that Crivelli is still around the team on a daily presence, providing a presence and some coaching help. “Joey having surgery before the preseason was a tough blow.”

Stevenson is relying on his other senior captains and forwards Angelica Tabares and Danielle Beal to provide production and leadership.

“Angelica and Danielle are responsible for picking up the scoring mantle,” said Stevenson.

“Both had great junior seasons and need to continue that momentum for us to be competitive. Beal is good in the air so we have to use that. Tabares’ work ethic is incredible. A lot of Division I programs are looking at her but none of that is going to her head.”

Hun is looking for two other veterans, senior Gianna Crivelli and junior Olivia Breander-Carr, to produce some good work in the midfield.

“One of the positive developments is that Gianna is taking Joey’s injury personally,” said Stevenson, whose midfield will also include sophomores Shannon Graham, Erica Dwyer, and Page McGuire together with freshman Sophia Sauma.

“She came into the season in great shape and ready to take on more responsibility. Olivia is a big variable. When she has the ability to put together her speed and toughness, she is a very dynamic player.”

The Raider defense will be spearheaded by a dynamic sister act, senior Allison Maziarz and sophomore Ashley Maziarz.

“Ally is coming off an ACL but she has such an enjoyment of the game,” said Stevenson.

“She is excited to be out there. She has done the work to return and is hungry to make the most out of her senior season. Ashley was a lights-out defender as a freshman who started every game. She is very dedicated and very tough.”

Freshman defender Jess Johnson, who has already exhibited some notable toughness, will bolster the backline.

“Jess Johnson will be a starting central defender, which is a lot to ask of a freshman but she can handle it,” asserted Stevenson.

Another freshman, Courtney Arch, may be asked to handle a major responsibility with returning sophomore goalie Caitlin Hoagland having picked up an injury in the preseason.

“Caitlin got banged up in the Allentown scrimmage and should be back by mid-September,” said Stevenson.

“She is an outstanding goalkeeper who is ready to make her mark after being tutored by Lexi Golestani. Courtney is an unheralded freshman who stepped into the scrimmage and did really well. We may need her to begin the season as the starter.”

In Stevenson’s view, the Raiders need to show togetherness if they are to do really well this fall.

“The biggest thing is that they need to make sure that we are getting contributions from everybody,” said Stevenson.

“Part of that is my responsibility to make sure that everyone is engaged and playing hard.”

CARRYING ON: Hun School field hockey star Carey Million heads up the field in a 2011 game. The Raiders will be looking to senior forward Million to provide offensive production this fall. Hun gets its 2012 season underway by playing at WW/P-S on September 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While the Hun School field hockey team has displayed a penchant in recent years for getting stronger as the fall goes on, it looks like defense is going to be a strength right from the start of the 2012 season.

In assessing her squad, Hun head coach Kathy Quirk knows that she has plenty of talent on defense, starting with junior Alex Kane.

“Kane has been playing extremely well, you can tell that she has played a lot of hockey since last season,” said Quirk, who guided the Raiders to a 7-8-1 record in 2011 on the way to a spot in the state Prep A semifinals.

“She plays center back and you don’t have to worry about her back there. She communicates well; she has a good feel for the game.”

Quirk doesn’t have to worry about depth along the back line with a trio of seniors in Lauren Apuzzi, Maddie Schade, and Sam Heyrich.

“Lauren is solid; she is doing what we are asking her to do,” said Quirk, whose team gets its 2012 season underway by playing at WW/P-S on September 14.

“Maddie Schade is a tall player with a long reach and can get some balls that others can’t. Sam Heyrich is at sweeper and is doing well.”

The team’s last line of defense, sophomore goalie Reina Kern, figures to be another bright spot for the Raiders.

“She has played a lot; she was in the developmental program and Junior Olympics,” said Quirk, who will be using sophomore Taylor Nehlig as her backup goalie.

“She played all summer long. We need her to take verbal command of the game. She needs to see the ball and direct the other kids.”

At forward, the Raiders boast a tandem in senior Carey Million and junior Francesca Bello who can form a commanding presence.

“When the two of them are working together well, they are a great duo,” asserted Quirk.

“Million is such a great competitor; I have her in the center and she seems to take charge. When Bello is on, she is on.”

Hun needs its midfield to be on the same page. That unit features junior Olivia Albanese, sophomore Julia Blake, sophomore Vicky Leach, junior Kristen Manochio, junior Liz Mydlowski, and junior Courtney Leach.

“Albanese has skills,” said Quirk. “Mydlowski is going to see time; she’s a scrappy hard worker. She can play middie or the back line. Faulkner played in Europe this summer.”

Quirk, for her part, hopes to see her team build off of its defensive foundation.

“We have to play as a team, we need to be unselfish and we can’t be afraid to pass,” said Quirk.

“We have to work on transition from the back line all the way to the forward line. We also have to be hungry.”

September 5, 2012

GOAL RUSH: Princeton University women’s soccer star Jen Hoy controls that ball last Friday in Princeton’s 2-1 loss to Wake Forest in its season opener. Senior striker Hoy scored the Tigers’ lone goal in the defeat and then added three more tallies on Sunday as Princeton tied Colgate 4-4. Hoy was later named the Ivy League Player of the Week for her performance over the weekend. In upcoming action, Princeton hosts St. Joseph’s on September 7 and Temple on September 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Some people around the Princeton University women’s soccer program have dubbed Jen Hoy as “The Franchise” and the senior star certainly looked the part last Sunday.

As the Tigers battled Colgate in the final game of the Princeton Invitational, the speedy forward dominated the proceedings, scoring three goals in the first 50 minutes of the contest to give her team a 3-0 lead.

After falling 2-1 to Wake Forest on Friday in the opening night of action, Hoy and her teammates were determined to get on the board early against Colgate.

“We came out strong, our mantra is ‘fight’ and that is how we have been holding ourselves and how we have been trying to play the game,” said Hoy, who had Princeton’s lone goal in the loss to Wake. “I got us a goal early on and the game seemed to be flowing.”

But the flow of the game turned against Princeton as the Raiders outscored the Tigers 4-1 over the last 38 minutes of regulation to pull out a 4-4 tie in double overtime.

Princeton lost starting goalie Kristin Watson and star defender Diane Metcalf-Leggette to injury by halftime and had trouble holding its defensive shape down the stretch.

“That was a very weird game,” said Hoy. “I think we responded well [to the injuries] but things continued to fall apart and the momentum was working against us.”

Hoy gave Princeton early momentum, scoring at the 19:01 mark as she raced past and through the Colgate defense and blasted the ball into the top corner. Some 20 minutes later, Hoy tallied again, converting a Rachel Sheehy feed.

“This season I have been trying to turn my mind off and do what comes naturally,” said Hoy, a Sellersville, Pa. native who scored eight goals last fall on the way to earning first-team All-Ivy League honors.

“I was able to beat the defender on me and I saw another one coming and I knew I was going to cut across her and the goal. I shot it in the right corner of the net. On the second one, Sheehy is fantastic at playing through balls and it just popped right out in front of me and I was able to tap that one in.”

Early in the second half, Hoy displayed the hustle reminiscent of Princeton assistant coach and all-time leading Tiger goal scorer Esmeralda Negron, galloping into the face of the goalie and converting when she mishandled the ball.

“Es is always telling me to pressure every single ball because you never know what is going to come out of it,” said Hoy, reflecting on the tally which gave her the second hat trick of her career, the first coming when she scored three goals in a 6-3 win over James Madison in September, 2010.

“I definitely thought of her on that goal. You are in the right place at the right time because you worked hard to get there.”

In the wake of last weekend’s frustrations, Hoy is ready to get back to work. “I think life is about taking losses and mistakes and figuring out how you are going to respond,” said Hoy, who was named Ivy Player of the Week for her productive weekend.

“I think what we are going to do now is figure out the best way to move forward because we are going to move forward. I am excited for our next game.

Princeton head coach Julie Shackford was certainly excited by the way Hoy played in the opening weekend.

“Jen was phenomenal; she has done really well,” said Shackford of Hoy, who now has 22 goals in her Princeton career.

Shackford acknowledged that the Tigers didn’t play too well down the stretch in the draw with Colgate.

“We fell apart; I just think we panicked and they felt a sense of urgency,” said Shackford, whose team hosts St. Joseph’s on September 7 and Temple on September 9.

“It was a combination of both. They have a few more games under their belt; they had a little more energy at the end.”

Despite being disappointed that her team let a win get away, Shackford knew her squad faced some stiff tests in Wake and Colgate. “It is a tough opening weekend against two good teams,” said Shackford.

“I think we expended a lot in that Friday night game emotionally. I am sure that took a toll on us as well and having to absorb the loss of a couple of starters was pretty difficult for us on a day like today. Maybe on another day it would not have been so hard but today it was rough.”

Shackford hasn’t lost any confidence in her team, realizing that the season is a marathon.

“A lot of it is hard to assess, you don’t know how much is game fitness and mental fatigue,” said Shackford.

“We just lost our legs at the end; it is our second game. I told them that we can’t lose a 4-1 game but at same time I know in the back of my head that the second game is always the toughest.”

Hoy, for her part, believes that she and the seven other seniors on the squad have what it takes to end things on a high note.

“We really want to do something great for this program; we want to lead our team,” asserted Hoy.

“We have struggled in these first two games. We have played great but we have had some unfortunate outcomes. I am going to stop thinking about what happened and look forward because that is the only way we are going to continue with our season.”

SHARK WEEKEND: Princeton University field hockey star Kat Sharkey races up the field in 2010 action. Last weekend, senior Sharkey started her final college campaign in style, scoring three goals to help No. 4 Princeton beat No. 5 Duke 5-2 on Friday and then tallying all four scores as the Tigers topped 13th-ranked Wake Forest 4-2 two days later. Sharkey is one of four Tigers, along with Michelle Cesan and the Reinprecht sisters, Katie and Julia, who have returned to the program after taking a leave of absence last year to train with the U.S. National Team. Princeton will look to keep rolling when it plays at No. 9 Penn State on September 6 before opening its new Bedford Field by hosting Richmond on September 9.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As the Princeton University field hockey team opened its season with games at Duke and Wake Forest last weekend, Tiger head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn viewed the trip as a fact-finding mission.

“It’s hard, you are never completely prepared when you have 12 days of practice and the other team has games under its belt,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We wanted to learn as much about ourselves as we could; we wanted to see how much we could stretch the opposition.”

In that learning process, the fourth-ranked Tigers ended up teaching their foes a lesson, topping No. 5 Duke 5-2 last Friday and then beating 13th-ranked Wake Forest 4-2 on Sunday.

Holmes-Winn certainly gained some positive information from the weekend. “We wanted to see how our structure would function and hold up,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We did create spaces and we generated some really good attack play. I was happy with how fluid our structure enabled us to be. We looked good physiologically; we played well in the second half of both games and showed that we have good fitness. We showed that we have a good bench, we were able to play everyone.”

The Tigers also showed some character as they battled back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits against Wake before pulling away to the 4-2 victory.

“These girls are so professional; they don’t get rattled,” said Holmes-Winn.

“They know what they are capable of. Going into the second half of the Wake game, we talked about having better concentration. You can have the best structure around but it doesn’t mean anything if you are not concentrating in the moment. They went out and did really well.”

Senior star striker Kat Sharkey displayed good concentration, scoring three goals in the win over Duke and then tallying all four scores in the Wake victory.

“Kat created some of her opportunities but midfield gave her room to operate,” said Holmes-Winn of Sharkey, one of four Tigers, along with Michelle Cesan and the Reinprecht sisters, Katie and Julia, who were returning to the program after taking a leave of absence last year to train with the U.S. National Team in preparation for the London Olympics.

“Her scoring was partially the product of that. On her penalty corner goals, she got direct shots and showed pinpoint accuracy.”

Princeton got some outstanding play over the weekend from the Reinprechts together with Allison Evans, Charlotte Krause, and Amanda Bird.

“Katie was just outstanding; she is just such a smart player,” asserted Holmes-Winn.

“She and Julia control the midfield and keep the things organized. They were exceptional. Allison Evans did some good running on attack. Charlotte Krause and Amanda Bird did some great things in the back.”

The trio of Sharkey and the Reinprecht sisters provide more than on-field excellence.

“The chemistry is going to be a good thing for us; we have all the pieces in place,” said Holmes-Winn.

“Kat, Katie, and Julia are our captains. It is great to see that their transition back has been seamless. They do things off the field to help bring the team together. It is a combination of factors; they have shown that they are the ones to lead the group.”

The Tigers will need that chemistry and leadership this Thursday when they face another road test with a contest at No. 9 Penn State (3-1).

“They have tons of speed; they are great at transition on both sides of the ball,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team will open its new Bedford Field by hosting Richmond on September 9.

“We can’t lose focus; we need to pick up our mental energy across 70 minutes of game. We need to be staying in the play. We need numbers around the ball to get space and time. We have to let spacing and structure do the work. We need to spread them out.”

GOOD DAY: Princeton High boys’ soccer star Zach Halliday kicks the ball in a preseason training session. Senior midfielder ­Halliday brings skill and experience to a PHS team that aspires to once again be a power as it comes off a 2011 campaign that saw it win the Mercer County Tournament and the Central Jersey Group III title. The Little Tigers kick off their 2012 season by playing at Hopewell Valley on September 6.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After losing seven seniors to graduation from a squad that went 20-1-2 last fall on the way to winning the Mercer County Tournament and the Central Jersey Group III title, the Princeton High boys’ soccer team could see 2012 as a transition year.

But, as in past seasons, PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe expects his program to keep rolling.

“We have been very fortunate,” said longtime coach Sutcliffe, who has guided the Little Tigers to a record of 53-3-7 over the last three seasons, including an undefeated state championship campaign in 2009.

“We lost some very special players from last year’s team but we bring back 12 seniors.”

PHS boasts a special senior one-two punch in four-year varsity performers Zach Halliday and Aidan Passannante.

“Zach and Aidan have been playing together since grade school,” said Sutcliffe, whose team plays at Hopewell Valley on September 6 to open regular season play.

“They are combining really well; they could be up front or in the midfield. They have been around a lot of older guys. They have seen the hard times in training and they have been in big games. They get it; they understand what needs to be done. It is now their time to see if they can do something special.”

Sutcliffe sees some hard work paying off for senior striker Colin Lamb.

“Colin had a good summer; he did a lot of training and went to college camps,” said Sutcliffe.

“He had a big spring in the weight room. We couldn’t be happier with him. He has the knack of scoring big goals in big games. He scored an overtime goal in a win against Hightstown last year and scored the game winner in our two victories over Notre Dame.”

In addition to the trio of Halliday, Passannante, and Lamb, PHS features several other good attacking players in junior Kevin Halliday, senior Peter Schulman, junior John Blair, sophomore Chase Ealy, and senior Jeremy Goldsmith.

Sutcliffe acknowledges that the team’s attack is a work in progress. “What we need is six or eight guys on the same page around the ball,” said Sutcliffe.

“We are finding our way. It is a slow process. We are not where we are going to be or where we need to be.”

PHS is going to need seniors Scott Bechler and Pablo Arroyo to step up as they lead a defense that lost such stars as Ben Davis, Bruce Robertson, and Kellen Kenny to graduation.

“Scott and Pablo are in their third season as full-time players for us,” said Sutcliffe, whose defense will also include seniors Juan Polanco and Adam Klein.

“They have experience and that is important. They are filling some big gaps. They have a big challenge, probably bigger than the others. We have been built from the back over the years.”

Sutcliffe faces a big challenge at goalkeeper where the Little Tigers are looking at junior Robert Quinn and sophomore Laurenz Reimitz to follow in the footsteps of graduated star George Kusserow.

“Both are showing well; they are full-time soccer guys and it is showing,” said Sutcliffe.

“The other guys are rallying behind them; it is like when Stephen Hellstern [former PHS star goalie] was a sophomore. It is our job to get them to the match fit and confident. We hope to have one guy showing better and go with him.”

While the goal for PHS is postseason success on the county and state level, Sutcliffe focuses on keeping his players in the present.

“We never really talk about that; it is getting into training and working hard everyday,” said Sutcliffe.

“With the return of a lot of players and a large senior class, we are expecting a lot from them.”

And based on the program’s recent history of success, that group should give  PHS a lot.

AIR FORCE: Princeton High quarterback Zack DiGregorio goes to the air in a scrimmage last month. PHS is counting on senior DiGregorio to step up this fall as he takes over the starting QB spot. The Little Tigers will kick off their 2012 campaign by hosting Northern Burlington on September 8.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The Princeton High football team only won three games last fall but that amounted to marked progress since the program was coming off a winless season in 2010.

In the view of PHS head coach Joe Gargione, the improvement experienced last year should carry into this fall.

“I do feel that we are more confident; I believe we are a more solid team,” said Gargione, whose team kicks off its 2012 campaign by hosting Northern Burlington on September 8.

“We were 3-7 last year but we lost three games by a total of 11 points. My big phrase this summer has been don’t be satisfied with being good, always try to be better.”

Senior quarterback Zack DiGregorio has exemplified Gargione’s theme. “Zack has really stepped up; he did a lot of weight training and he got some quarterback coaching,” said Gargione.

“His arm strength is much better, he is moving really well in the pocket. He is being his own guy; he is not trying to be like Alex [last year’s starting QB Alex Mitko]. His attitude is that it is his position now.”

PHS will be featuring junior Will Harrison and senior Javon Pannell at the tailback position with senior Ben Smallzman at fullback.

“Will Harrison is No. 1 right now,” said Gargione. “He is an aggressive runner. He has worked hard. He is not a big kid but he hits the hole hard. Ben has taken a step up at fullback.”

Gargione is depending on junior Liam Helstrom to step up at tight end. “Liam Helstrom at tight end is a big player for us,” asserted Gargione. “He has good hands. He is only 6’2, 170 pounds but he is very strong.”

While PHS is losing a strong receiver in the graduated Eric Shorter (49 receptions for 1,052 yards in 2011), Gargione believes the Little Tigers will have more balance in the passing game with a group of pass catchers that includes senior Will Xu, senior David Klinges, sophomore Ben Danis, and senior Jamyl Williams.

“They are all unique,” said Gargione. “Will is a little guy but he runs well and has good hands. Klinges is lankier and he also has good hands. I expect Danis to play bigger than a sophomore and play smart. Jamyl Williams is an athletic guy who can go up and get the ball. We will spread it out; there won’t be a go-to receiver like Eric Shorter who the defenses can key on.”

A key to PHS’s success this fall could be its strength in the trenches. “We have a lot of depth on the offensive line,” said Gargione.

“Jack Persico is a three-year starter at left tackle. It is good to have an experienced guy protecting the blind side. Cal O’Meara has size; he is athletic and competitive. We also have Matt Vieten, Colin Buckley, and Papakojo Kuranchie.”

That collection of talent should also bolster the defensive front, which will feature the same quintet of Persico, O’Meara, Vieten, Buckley, and Kuranchie. “The depth gives us the option to sub guys in and out,” said Gargione.

PHS has some good guys at linebacker as well. “Grant Schaefer and Ben Smallzman are inside,” said Gargione, noting that the Little Tigers will again utilize a 4-4 defensive scheme this fall. “Klinges and Carl Helstrom are outside. It is a good group.”

The secondary will feature a combination of the team’s running backs and receivers.

“Will Harrison and Javon will split time at safety,” said Gargione. “Will Xu and Jamyl will be the cornerbacks. Danis will switch between outside linebacker and defensive back.”

In Gargione’s view, the Little Tigers can’t beat themselves if they are to increase their win total.

“We need to play consistently all four quarters,” said Gargione. “We have had some mental letdowns in our scrimmages and we need to minimize those. Offensively, we need to reduce the number of errors. We can’t have things like offsides or holding penalties. We need to keep moving forward.”

CENTER STAGE: Princeton High girls’ soccer standout Kate Kerr dribbles the ball in a preseason training session. Senior midfielder Kerr should be a commanding presence in the center of the field for PHS this fall. The Little Tigers get regular season play underway by hosting Hopewell Valley on September 6.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)


For the Princeton High girls’ soccer team, this fall is going to be about new faces in new places.

“The whole 11 looks different, said PHS head coach Greg Hand, noting that he lost the core of his team up the middle with the graduation of midfield stars Mason O’Brien and Logan O’Meara together with standout defenders Mia Haughton, Roni Nagle, and Katie Reilly.

“We are a substantially different team than we were. The challenge is to find the right players and the right mix.”

Hand thinks he has some good players at forward in junior Ally Rogers, sophomore Shannon Pawlak, freshman Gabrielle Deitch, and junior Jordan Provorny.

“Ally Rogers is coming back from an ACL injury suffered late last season,” said Hand, who guided the Little Tigers to a 10-4-4 record in 2011.

“She is in great shape, she has gotten more skillful. She is quite tricky and very tenacious. Shannon also has quick feet and is a very quick decision-maker. She has a wicked shot and is able to adjust and place it. Gabby Deitch has shown a lot; she has a solid skill set for a freshman. We know Jordan Provorny from JV, she has developed a lot ”

The development of senior star Meghan Brennan has prompted Hand to move her to midfield from forward.

“We are using Brennan more in midfield; her game has improved in every dimension,” noted Hand, whose club starts its 2012 season by hosting Hopewell Valley on September 6.

“She came in extremely fit. She has an attacking mindset but she is one of those kids who can make things jell. We are expecting a lot from her.”

PHS will also be expecting a lot from battle-tested Kate Kerr in the midfield. “Kate Kerr has been developing through high school,” said Hand.

“She will likely spend most of her time in the front of the midfield with Meghan behind her. She is always fighting and able to get off good shots. She is a presence in the center.”

The pair of freshman Taylor Lis and junior Eva Reyes should give the Little Tigers some good play on the outside of the midfield.

“Taylor is a very smooth player, very aware,” added Hand. “She is visually improving as she gets used to the U-19 environment we are in. On the left side, Eva will hold that spot down. She came in very fit and her feet have improved since the end of last year. She is right-footed but now can do more things with her left.”

In the middle of the defense, junior Dana Smith and freshman Haley Bodden will play key roles.

“Dana Smith is playing sweeper now and is likely to move to stopper,” said Hand, noting that last year’s sweeper, Emily Pawlak, is recovering from a broken foot and should be in action later this month.

“She has a lot of pace and has great judgment. She reads 1-v-1 situations very well. She comes up and tackles well. In front of her is Haley Bodden. She is tall, athletic and keeps her balance. She can keep her space, you can’t move her.”

The athleticism of Kaitlyn Carduner should be a big help as she moves to the defense from her previous spot in the midfield.

“Carduner played midfield last year but we are glad to have her in the back,” said Hand, who will also be using junior Emily Costa and senior Maddie Luther on defense.

“It is a spot she plays on her club team and she has gotten used to it and very confident. She can track people down if we are in trouble.”

The presence of four-year starter Emily Ullmann in goal gives Hand a lot of  confidence.

“Emily trains a lot and trains at a high level,” said Hand of Ullmann, who yielded only eight goals last season in 18 appearances.

“She is an even more complete goalie than she was a year ago; she sees the game so well. She is a real shot stopper and real tactician. Her greatest strength is not just that she talks but that everything she says is on point, helping us to get in a better shape or to execute better.”

In Hand’s view, the Little Tigers have what it takes to ultimately find the right shape.

“The team feels like a really good team; it is nice to see that they have the same approach to training hard,” said Hand.

“We need to get on the same page; we are figuring out what our game is going to be. I think this is a team that could continue improving during the season.”

CLEAR LEADER: Princeton High field hockey star Sydney Watts sends the ball upfield in a recent practice. Providing superb skills and leadership, senior defender Watts will once again anchor the PHS backline. The Little Tigers start their 2012 campaign by hosting Hamilton on September 6.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Princeton High field hockey team came a long way last fall as it posted a 10-6 record, Heather Serverson thought her squad should have gone even further.

“We were very disappointed in not getting past the first round of the states or going further in the Mercer County Tournament,” said PHS head coach Serverson.

Focusing on the last fall’s success, the PHS players are bringing an upbeat attitude into the 2012 season.

“I see a big change in the confidence level,” said Serverson. “We have 16 players who have two or three years experience. We also have some talented first-year and second-year players.”

Serverson has confidence that junior star Emilia Lopez-Ona can make a big impact at forward.

“I wanted to move Lopez-Ona up front last year but I needed her more in the midfield,” said Serverson, whose team starts the 2012 season by hosting Hamilton on September 6.

“I bumped her up this year and she is providing a spark. The others follow her lead. She is such an athlete.”

PHS boasts some other good offensive weapons in seniors Vivien Bazarko and Emma Crain together with sophomores Lucy Herring and Campbell McDonald.

“Vivien is on the right and we are rotating Lucy, Campbell, and Emma in the other spot,” said Serverson. “We have a lot of depth off the bench; I would say we easily have a talented sub for half the team.”

There is a talented crew in the midfield, featuring senior standout Jackie Chmiel along with junior Genevieve Quinn, senior Kelly Dredger, and freshman Trish Reilly.

“We have Jackie Chmiel back; she was out last year with a concussion,” said Serverson.

“We really needed her; she is a talented midfielder. Quinn stepped into Jackie’s spot last year and is playing well. Kelly is in the center. Trish Reilly will see a lot of time if she keeps playing like she has been in the preseason.”

The Little Tigers have put a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of senior leader Sydney Watts.

“Watts is the defensive anchor of the team; she reads plays so well,” said Serverson. “She communicates in a positive way and she can distribute well. She doesn’t act like she is better than everybody else, she sees the team as a unit. She really helped Julia [DiTosto] last year. They play so well together.”

Serverson is expecting sophomore DiTosto to emerge as a force on the defensive end.

“DiTosto was great last year but she has improved 10-fold,” asserted Serverson, whose defensive unit will also include seniors Rebecca Freda and Hannah Kostenbader.

“She worked with May-Ying Medalia [former PHS and Princeton University standout] all summer and she helped teach Julia new skills.”

The Little Tigers will have a new goalie in the wake of the graduation of Tobi Afran. Right now, Serverson is deciding between junior Breanna Hegarty and sophomore Caitlin Duncan.

“Right now both are playing well,” said Serverson. “I have been having them on an even rotation in scrimmages. We are looking for one of them to stand out. It has been really great in practice, they are pushing each other. They work really well together.”

The team’s chemistry should help push PHS to greater heights this fall. “I think with the combination of experience and the group dynamic, our ability to play well together and communicate, we should take it further in the county and state tournaments,” said Serverson.

In order to make a big postseason run, the Little Tigers have to take care of the basics.

“We need to perfect the fundamentals in practice so that they are second nature in games,” added Serverson. “I like to work on the small passing game, you have to possess the ball to score.”

HEADS-UP PLAY: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Kirsten Kuzmicz, right, bangs heads with a foe in action last year. Sophomore Kuzmicz figures to spark the Panthers this fall with her physical play in the midfield. PDS kicks off its 2012 season by hosting Germantown Academy (Pa.) on September 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Over the past four years, Janie Smukler provided the finishing touch for the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team.

But now that four-year starter Smukler is at Emory University after completing her PDS career with a total of 73 goals, the Panthers will have to spread the wealth offensively this fall.

“The bottom line is offensive production,” said PDS head coach Pat Trombetta, who guided the team to a 10-7-1 record last fall.

“We will be OK on defense but we will miss Janie. We could count on her when we needed a big goal. If we get in synch as a unit, we could be very good. It will have to be scoring by committee.”

To bolster the PDS attack, Trombetta has reshuffled the deck, relying on senior co-captains Kelsey Scarlett and Ellen Bartolino together with talented sophomore Alexa Soltesz to be dangerous around the net.

“We are going to lean on Kelsey for scoring production, we moved her from outside middie up top,” said Trombetta, whose team starts the 2012 campaign by hosting Germantown Academy (Pa.)  on September 7.

“We have also moved Alex up top from outside. They both have the skills to make the transition. It is a gradual process, we are still getting them connected. Bartolino will also see some time at forward.”

One of the team’s top performers figures to be sophomore midfielder Kirsten Kuzmicz.

“Kirsten will patrol the midfield, she is real solid,” said Trombetta, whose midfield unit will also include senior Hannah Levy, junior Lily Razzaghi, together with sophomores Erin Hogan and Erin Murray, a transfer from Peddie.

“She is a physical player; I look for her to win 50/50 balls and give us some production from that area of the field.”

Trombetta is depending on sophomore Stef Soltesz to control things at the defensive end of the field.

“We have Stef at sweeper, she has unbelievable speed and good decision-making,” asserted Trombetta. “She knows when to break up a play and when to sit back and wait for help.”

Soltesz will be getting help along the back line from Levy along with junior Britt Murray and sophomores Kylie Kieffer and Steinert transfer Kelly Tarcza.

The team’s last line of defense, sophomore goalie Rory Finnegan, is showing progress.

“I think with a year under her belt, she should be better,” said Trombetta. “She has looked good in preseason. She worked hard, she went to a couple of camps. She is committed to getting better.”

A key to PDS getting better will be the growth of the team’s seven sophomores.

“The sophomore class is very strong,” said Trombetta. “I think with the addition of two transfers, it should be even stronger. It could make or break the team.”

In Trombetta’s view, a strong collective work ethic could also make a big difference for the Panthers this fall.

“Out of all the teams I have had, this is one of the hardest working groups,” said Trombetta.

“They are committed to doing their best. We have a very competitive schedule, we have added teams like Germantown, Pennington, and Shipley. That should help come tournament time.”

WILL DO: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer star Willy Cara goes after the ball in a preseason training session. PDS is depending on senior Cara to provide skill and savvy in the midfield this fall. PDS opens its 2012 season with a game at New Hope-Solebury (Pa.) on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Saying goodbye to seven seniors from last year’s squad, the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team is undergoing a youth movement by necessity.

Longtime PDS head coach Malcolm Murphy initially had some trepidation over the callow nature of his squad which includes five sophomores and four freshmen.

“I think everybody was a little concerned because we do have a lot of younger players now,” said Murphy, who guided his veteran club to a 9-7-2 record last fall and a spot in the state Prep B championship game.

“They are not huge or athletic-looking, they are wiry. The teams we are playing against in our conference have a lot of good players and they are going to be coming at us with a lot of juniors and seniors.”

But after a few weeks of preseason training, Murphy has been pleasantly surprised by the soccer acumen displayed so far his young players.

They are very skillful, very technically inclined and tactically inclined,” asserted Murphy, noting that the team showed a good possession game against Nottingham in its first scrimmage. “They know when to hold the ball, they know when to push forward.”

Sophomore midfielder Marco Pinheiro has emerged as one of PDS’s most skillful and imposing players.

“Marco is an extremely good player; he is a little different from the rest because he is tall and carries more weight,” said Murphy of Pinheiro, whose older brother, Rui, was one of the star seniors on the 2011 squad and is now playing for Tufts University.

“No one is going to try to come in and knock him down; he is a big guy. His vision in the scrimmage was tremendous. He anchored the midfield in front of the defense and did extremely well. He’s very good with the ball. He’s got good distribution skills; he can place a ball from 50, 60, or 70 yards with accuracy.”

The rest of the PDS midfield will include a pair of freshmen, Amir Melvin and Matthew Olosunde, along with senior Wily Cara.

Murphy is expecting Cara to be a catalyst in his final campaign with the Panthers.

“We play Willy wide to get him up and down the field,” said Murphy, whose team opens regular season play with a game at New Hope-Solebury (Pa.) on September 5.

“I expect him to be a leader and a true player in there working with these other guys and combining.”

PDS is looking for sophomore Oscar Vik and senior Absnel Esteban to develop into a potent combination at forward. “Oscar Vik stood out tremendously well against Nottingham,” said Murphy.

“We didn’t really need a big physical forward, we were able to play good quality balls in, and he played very well. Absnel Esteban works hard off the ball. We have to work a lot on finishing. We were impressive against Nottingham in finding the front players and getting up there but we were pretty erratic with our finishing.”

Murphy believes he has an impressive defensive unit with freshman Chris Chai and junior Zach Golden in the middle and seniors Taran Auslander and Jack Brickner on the wings.

“The two that have worked together the best were Zach Golden and Chris Chai,” said Murphy.

“Chris is young but he has done so well with his possession. They have impressed me with the way they play off each other. They have got a good understanding of how each other works so we decided to go with them down the middle and try the seniors, Taran and Jack, on the outside.”

At goalie, Murphy will be trying sophomore Christian Vik and junior Tom Hagan.

“We started with Christian Vik against Nottingham; he did extremely well,” said Murphy.

“He is a very aggressive keeper; he gets off his line. They had a couple  of tall players and he was out of his box, clearing and fisting everything. He took a lot of pressure off us. They didn’t have a lot of corners but he dealt with them extremely well. Tom Hagan is the other goalie; he will get his chance. I told them that if I put you in to start and you are doing well, I am going to give you the opportunity to finish the 80 minutes.”

In Murphy’s view, his youthful squad is ready to seize opportunity collectively this fall. “Right at this moment, it can go from strength to strength, week after week,” asserted Murphy.

“I have seen such an improvement already. Psychologically, nothing seems to faze them so far when it comes to keeping the ball. The younger guys are very intelligent in the game. They understand group and team play.”

A-GAME: Princeton Day School field hockey star Andrea ­Jenkins controls the ball at a recent practice. The Panthers are relying on senior forward/midfielder Jenkins to provide good two-way play all over the field this fall. PDS, which has a new head coach in Tracey Arndt, opens the 2012 season with a game at Germantown Academy (Pa.) on September 7.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having played on the U.S. National Team from 1999-2004, Tracey Arndt is introducing some sophisticated concepts as she takes the helm of the Princeton Day School field hockey team.

Arndt, a former All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year at Penn State, has found a receptive group in her PDS players.

“From the first day, we knew they were hard workers,” said Arndt. “They are transferring skills from practice into the scrimmages, that is very exciting for me to see.”

It hasn’t taken Arndt long to realize that she has an exciting player in senior forward/midfielder Andrea Jenkins.

“Andrea is great; she is one of our captains,” said Arndt, whose team gets the 2012 season underway with a game at Germantown Academy (Pa.) on September 7.

“She has got the skills, she has got the attitude. She knows what to do and is a force to be reckoned with. She is starting to understand that it can be better to give it to somebody and then get it back. You can be in a better position that way. She is a double threat; she is so fast and has both attack and defensive skills.”

In addition to Jenkins, the Panthers boast some other good attacking players in junior Emma Quigley, junior Emily Goldman, and junior Maysa Amer.

“Emma, Emily, and Andrea have played together before and it shows,”added Arndt, the replacement for MC Heller, who guided PDS to a 7-8-1 record in 2011 before leaving the program.

“Maysa got in the right spot at the right time and got a goal for us in a scrimmage against WW/P-S. She knows that she still has to work on her skills.”

PDS is getting some good work in the midfield from juniors Mary Travers and Sarah Brennan.

“Brennan and Travers are holding down the center of the midfield,” said Arndt.

“Mary sees the field well and is a good distributor. Sarah has tenacity; she is around every ball.”

PDS also features a group of younger players who are providing some tenacious play in the midfield.

“We have sophomores on the outside with Dana Poltorak, Morgan Foster, and Bian Maloney,” said Arndt, who has other sophomores Niki van Manen and Sophie Jensen seeing time in the midfield. “They are holding their own; they are all playing well.”

The Panther defense features a quartet of battle-tested seniors in tri-captain Corinne Urisko, Zeeza Cole, tri-captain Cami McNeely, and Sarah Trigg.

“We have Corinne in the middle, Zeeza on the left, Cami on the right, and Sarah in goal,” said Arndt.

“They are committed girls with a high work ethic. I wouldn’t want to try to get through them.”

Arndt has been particularly impressed with how tough Trigg plays in the cage.

“Trigg has been doing a great job; she has the focus that is unique to goalies,” said Arndt, noting that sophomore Katie Alden will be serving as the team’s back-up goalie.

“She can be as sweet as pie but when she puts on that goalie mask, watch out. She has the skills and she is communicating where she needs the defense to be.”

In reflecting on the keys to success this fall, Arndt points to team defense and opportunistic finishing.

“I think one of the keys on defense is to start from the forwards and play all over the field; you need to be patient but aggressive,” said Arndt.

“When we get the ball on attack, it has to be all systems go. We need to sharpen our finishing, whether it be finishing a shot, pass, or tackle.”

Drawing on her field hockey background, Arndt is looking for a high level of commitment from her players.

“I have talked to them about my expectations for them as people first and then as hockey players,” said Arndt.

“I told them I want to see professionalism and a sense of urgency. I want them to take it game by game and half by half. If you focus on the small things, the big stuff will take care of itself.”

After a superb tenure that included multiple Prep and Mercer County Tournament (MCT) titles, Missy Bruvik stepped down in 2006 from her post as the head coach of the Stuart Country Day field hockey team.

Bruvik, who guided the Tartans to a second straight MCT title and an 18-1-1 record in her final campaign, decided to devote her time to watching her daughter, Kelly, as the former Stuart star graduated and joined the Bucknell University field hockey team.

With Kelly having graduated in 2011 after a stellar career that saw her serve as a team captain for the Bison and the Stuart head coaching job coming open after the departure of Julie Martelli, Bruvik has returned to the helm of the Stuart program.

As Bruvik begins her second act as head coach, she is relishing the challenge of rebuilding a program that went 5-7-1 last fall.

“I feel like I am starting over,” said Bruvik, whose team opens the 2012 season with a game at the George School on September 7.

“I am trying to develop the program and get the numbers back up. I am enjoying this group of kids. I am excited to be back as head coach.”

Bruvik senses excitement around Stuart and the program with an influx of new faces. “There are a lot of new kids in the school, I feel that they can be a foundation,” said Bruvik, noting that she has eight freshmen on her roster.

“It will be fun keeping the kids in the program over the next four years. The attitude around the team has been great.”

The Tartans have been getting some great play and leadership from a trio of veteran stars, seniors Olivia Neubert and Nikki Starke together with junior Amy Hallowell.

“Olivia plays in the back, she is going to be the QB back there for us,” said Bruvik, who kept her hand in coaching over the last five years by guiding the Stuart middle school team and helping out with the varsity.

“Amy is smack in the middle of the field; she is the center back and will be one of our key players on defensive and offensive corners. Nikki is controlling the midfield; she is really helping in transition. The returning varsity players are doing a good job of helping to coach and communicating on the field.”

Another key returner is junior Meghan Shannon, who will be helping to anchor the Stuart backline.

“Meghan is playing in the backfield with sophomore Asha Mohandes,” said Bruvik.

The pair of junior Margaret LaNasa and freshman Queen Johnson will be handling the difficult task of replaced graduated star goalie Margo Schmiederer.

“Margaret is our most experienced keeper, she is looking good,” asserted Bruvik.

“Queen Johnson is a freshman who is learning to play goalie. Both girls are lucky to have Gia Fruscione [former Stuart and Princeton University standout goalie] as their coach.”

Bruvik knows she faces a coaching challenge with her young group. “I think it is going to be a combination of working on the basics because we have a lot of young players and then seeing what works in terms of systems,” said Bruvik.

“I think it is going to be a lot of learning, just working together and figuring out where the teammates are and where the ball needs to be. We need to work on outlets and transitions.”

Just weeks into preseason, the Tartans seem to be figuring things out pretty quickly.

“Based on their work ethic, I think the girls will get it,” said Bruvik. “I saw tremendous improvement from our first scrimmage to our second. We will take it day-to-day and keep it simple and try not do too many things too fast.”

August 29, 2012

COMING HOME: Princeton University field hockey star Katie Reinprecht controls the ball in 2010 action. Reinprecht took a leave of absence from the Princeton program last year along with sister Julia, Michelle Cesan, and Kat Sharkey to train with the U.S. National Team in preparation for the London Olympics. The quartet of Tiger stars is back and fourth-ranked Princeton is primed for a big season. The Tigers open the 2012 campaign by playing at No. 5 Duke on August 31 and at 13th-ranked Wake Forest on September 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

This fall, the Princeton University field hockey team will be opening its sparkling new Bedford Field, a state-of-the-art Astroturf facility adjacent to the Class of 1952 Stadium.

In the view of Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn, the team’s new home should prove sweet for players and fans alike.

“The field is amazing,” said Holmes-Winn. “It plays so beautifully; you get true bounces. All the technology is there, no detail was spared.”

The Tigers boast a bevy of glittering stars who should light up the Bedford scoreboard this season, highlighted by the return of All-American performers, Katie Reinprecht, Julia Reinprecht, Michelle Cesan, and Kat Sharkey.

The quartet took a leave of absence from the program last year to train with the U.S. National Team in preparation for the London Olympics. The Reinprecht sisters ended up starring for the U.S. at the London games while Cesan was an alternate and Sharkey was one of the last players cut from the squad.

Understandably, Holmes-Winn has welcomed back her big four with open arms.

“The chemistry off the field has been great since they got back; the transition has been seamless,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team is ranked No. 4 in the 2012 Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I Preseason Poll.

“On the field, they bring leadership and poise at the highest level and they are extremely hard workers. Those are qualities that are really important.”

The pair of junior Cesan (26 goals and 16 assists in her first two seasons) and senior Sharkey (69 goals and 22 assists in her career) will bring plenty of quality to the Princeton attack.

“They are more mature physically and better athletically and they were already pretty athletic,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team opens its 2012 campaign by playing at No. 5 Duke on August 31 and at 13th-ranked Wake Forest on September 2.

“They have added more dimensions to their games. Sharkey is very sharp; she got to work on her conditioning and game because she didn’t go to the Olympics. Cesan is still working back into it after being at the Olympics. They are both such physically strong players.”

The Tigers will deploy Cesan and Sharkey along with a pair of blue chip sophomores, Allison Evans and Sydney Kirby. Evans tallied 11 goals and five assists last fall in earning second-team All-Ivy League honors and the league’s Rookie of the Year award while Kirby had nine goals and eight assists in making second team All-Ivy.

“Allison was on 70 percent of our corners last year and we will team her up with Sharkey at striker,” said Holmes-Winn, who guided a gritty Tigers squad to a 10-8 mark in 2011 and the program’s seventh straight Ivy crown and 17th in the last 18 years.

“Sydney Kirby and Cesan will be outside mids; they overlap and come up front. We are playing a different style; the girls are still figuring out where the spaces are. We have the potential to be dynamic.”

Holmes-Winn will also be using senior Molly Goodman, senior Charlotte Krause, junior Allegra Mango, and freshman Maddie Copeland, a former Stuart Country Day and Peddie star, on attack.

In the central midfield, Princeton will be relying on senior star Katie Reinprecht to trigger the action. In her first three seasons with the Tigers, Reinprecht piled up 44 goals and 31 assists on the way to earning Ivy Player of the Year awards in 2008 and 2009.

“Katie Reinprecht is a playmaker, she finds spaces like no one I have seen,” asserted Holmes-Winn, noting that freshman Teresa Benvenuti should also make an impact as an offensive midfielder.

“She finds teammates; she knows when to ask for the ball. She brings a lot of pace.”

Reinprecht’s younger sister, junior standout Julia, will play a dual role from the back of the Tiger midfield.

“Julia Reinprecht will be at the bottom of the midfield,” added Holmes-Winn of the younger Reinprecht, who has tallied 14 goals and 20 assists in her first two college campaigns.

“She will have a lot of opportunities to overlap. She is an exceptional playmaker and we don’t want to limit her to defense. She has always been a calm player. She is one of the better mobile defenders in the country.”

The Tigers boast some outstanding defenders in junior Amanda Bird, junior Kelsey Byrne, and senior Amy Donovan.

“Amanda Bird is really versatile; she is a dangerous finisher,” said Holmes-Winn of Bird who tallied nine goals and three assists last fall.

“Kelsey Byrne is another versatile player. We can play them on the back line and in the midfield. Amy Donovan played mainly on the left last year but could see time on the right side this year.”

At goalie, the Tigers have three players who should see time in returning junior starter Christina Maida together with sophomore Julia Boyle and freshman Anya Gersoff.

“Maida looks great,” said Holmes-Winn of Maida who posted a goals against average of 1.88 in 2011.

“All three goalies look good. We hope to establish a top two by October. We want to be able to give all of them opportunities for game action. All have different strengths and weaknesses. We are lucky to have three really good goalies.”

In order to produce a really good season, the Tigers will to have maximize their strengths.

“The defenses will be stingy and packing things in,” said Holmes-Winn, who has posted a 110-56 record in her first nine years guiding the Tigers.

“We need to execute on attack and on penalty corners. We need to have numbers in front of the field. We need to understand the system, knowing who is overlapping and when. We also have to pay attention to details like nutrition, rest, and managing stress.”

As Holmes-Winn looks ahead to the team’s season-opening weekend, she knows the Tigers will be placed under plenty of stress.

“Duke is going to be amazing; they are deep with lots of speed,” said Holmes-Winn.

“It will be a great test. It will expose us; it will give us a lot of information. Wake is really dynamic physically. They are good finishers; they will be organized, without a doubt. We will have to be smart. We need to manipulate the attack but still have cover on defense.”

BOUNCING BACK: Princeton University men’s soccer player Cameron Porter goes after the ball in action last fall. Sophomore forward Porter tallied five goals in 2011 and should be a key offensive weapon for the Tigers this fall as they look to bounce back from a disappointing 5-10-2 campaign. Princeton opens its 2012 season with a game at Seton Hall on August 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Jim Barlow will tell you that there is not much difference between first place and the cellar in Ivy League men’s soccer.

“We know how even the league is,” said Princeton head coach Barlow, who is bringing a 119-115-42 record into his 17th season at the helm of the Tigers. “All eight teams believe they can win.”

In 2010, the Tigers’ self-belief proved justified as they went 7-0 in league play on the way to the third Ivy crown in Barlow’s tenure.

Last fall, Princeton’s propensity for ill-timed defensive lapses caused the Tigers to plummet almost all the way to the Ivy basement with a 1-5-1 league record and seventh-place league finish.

“We were just a few bounces away,” said Barlow, in reflecting on the 2011 campaign which saw the Tigers post an overall record of 5-10-2 after going 13-4-1 a year earlier in its championship campaign. “We had high hopes but it didn’t go as we had hoped.”

As the Tigers get ready for the 2012 season, Barlow sees the hunger in his players to bounce back from last year.

“I think a lot of guys were frustrated last year after going to the NCAA tournament the previous two years,” said Barlow, whose team opens the season with a game at Seton Hall on August 31. “The guys made a point to get back into it over the offseason and be focused.”

So far, that focus has paid dividends. “We have a long way to go but we are cautiously optimistic,” said Barlow.

“We are ahead of where we were last year at this point. We are getting good leadership from the seniors. They are pulling the team along; they are ready to push.”

The Tigers will be looking to get a good push up front at forward from sophomores Julian Griggs (3 goals in 2011) and Cameron Porter (5 goals, 2 assists).

“Both Julian and Cameron have talent, athleticism, and a nose for the ball,” said Barlow, noting that freshmen Nico Hurtado and Thomas Sanner will also see time at forward. “They both are a handful for the other teams.”

Senior star and co-captain Matt Sanner could lend a hand at either midfield or forward.

“We still have options with him,” said Barlow of Sanner, who scored a team-high seven goals last fall on the way to earning first-team All-Ivy honors.

“We have him playing midfield. He has done well there in the past but we can move him up top. He had foot surgery after the season last year so he is just getting back into things.”

The Tigers boast two key veterans in the midfield in junior Lester Nare and senior Patrick O’Neil.

“Nare and O’Neil were both starters for us in 2010 when we won the title,” said Barlow, who believes that a trio of freshmen, Jack Hilger, John Kendall, and former Peddie standout Brendan McSherry could make an immediate impact in the midfield. “Lester wasn’t with us last year; he’s back and doing very well.”

In Barlow’s view, the midfield unit could emerge as a strength of this year’s team.

“We feel much better about the midfield than we did a few months ago,” asserted Barlow. “We didn’t know how Nare would look after his layoff and we weren’t sure about the freshmen.”

Barlow feels good having senior co-captain and three-time first-team All-Ivy performer Mark Linnville anchoring his defensive corps.

“Linnville will be leading us in the center of the backline,” said Barlow. “We are also using Andrew Mills, Billy McGuiness, and Alex Wetterman who all have experience. Josh Miller, a freshman from Oregon, has been looking good.”

At goalie, Princeton has three good options in senior Max Gallin, junior Seth MacMillan, and freshman Ben Hummel.

“All three are looking solid; Max stands a little ahead right now,” said Barlow. “Max played a lot in the beginning last year and then MacMillan played at the end. We could have a rotation but if one gets a hot hand, we won’t be taking him out.”

Barlow is hoping his team can get off to a hot start as it looks to put last year in the rear view mirror.

“If we can get some wins in the first part of the season, that will give us confidence,” said Barlow, noting that his team is opening with five straight games against Big East foes, taking on Seton Hall, St. John’s, Rutgers, Georgetown, and Villanova in succession.

“It will help us prepare for the Ivy League even if we lose; playing some of the best teams around has got to help us.”

Princeton will have to be at its best to get off on the right foot in its season-opening contests at Seton Hall and St. John’s.

“St. John’s and Seton Hall are two teams that we have played a lot,” said Barlow.

“St. John’s beat us last year with a goal in the last second of OT; they beat Boston University 3-0 in their opener last week and BU is always a good team. Seton Hall is in its first year without Mannfred [Longtime head coach Manny Schellscheidt] so we don’t know what they are going to look like. It is always a tough game.”

If the Tigers are going to regain their spot in the upper echelon of the Ivy League, they will have to exhibit toughness all over the field.

“We gave up a lot of soft goals last year against the run of play and on counters,” said Barlow.

“We scored enough goals to win the league so we need better team defense and goalkeeping. We need to be playing better when the ball is in front of our net. We have a little more depth than we have had in the past. I think we can play a high energy game and play a few more players.”

ON THE BALL: Princeton University women’s soccer player ­Lauren Lazo controls the ball in action last fall. Princeton will be looking to sophomore Lazo to build on a solid debut campaign that saw her tally four goals and four assists on the way to earning Honorable Mention All-Ivy League recognition. The Tigers start their 2012 season by hosting the Princeton Invitational this weekend at Roberts Stadium, facing Wake Forest on August 31 and Colgate on September 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Looking at the statistics, it would appear that the Princeton University women’s soccer team produced another solid campaign in 2011.

The Tigers outscored their foes 27-26 on the season, generating 121 shots on goal to 71 for their opponents and ending up with a 102-43 edge in corner kicks.

But those solid numbers didn’t result in a good fall as the Tigers slipped to 6-10-1 overall and 2-5 in Ivy League action after going 9-6-1 in 2010.

As Princeton head coach Julie Shackford looks ahead to the upcoming season, she believes her returning players learned some valuable lessons from last fall’s frustration.

“It was a weird season, we weren’t a bad team,” said Shackford, who brings a 175-99-21 record into her 18th season at the helm of the Tigers and has guided the program to seven NCAA appearances during her tenure.

“We played some good soccer, we just weren’t consistent at finishing. Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The players took it to heart. We had a great spring and they did their homework over the summer.”

Shackford is expecting some good work from her seniors as the program looks to regain its winning ways.

“We have eight seniors and they are strong leaders,” said Shackford, whose team starts the 2012 campaign by hosting the Princeton Invitational this weekend at Roberts Stadium, facing Wake Forest on August 31 and Colgate on September 2.

“You find that teams that have done the best over the years had strong senior leadership. The seniors have maturity and talent; they have been through the ups and downs. Everybody is on board.”

Princeton will be depending on two of those seniors, Jen Hoy and Caitlin Blosser, together with a pair of sophomores, Melissa Downey and Lauren Lazo, to trigger the offense.

“We have a lot of attacking players,” said Shackford. “We have Blosser as a target and then Hoy, Lazo, and Downey right behind them. We are playing all four together; using a 4-2-3-1 formation.”

In Shackford’s view, that alignment will allow the speedy Hoy to find open space.

“Hoy is not going to feel like it is all on her shoulders,” said Shackford of Hoy, who tallied  eight goals and five assists last fall on the way to earning First-team All-Ivy League honors.

“With our depth, she will have more freedom to do what she does best. She will be marked and people will be playing hard against her. She has such a good motor; she goes hard all the time.”

The three other starters up front have the potential to make things hard on Princeton’s foes. Lazo had four goals and four assists in 2011 with Downey tallying two goals and five assists and Blosser having scored nine goals in her Tiger career.

“Lazo is a special player; she can score and she can pass,” added Shackford, who will be using sophomores Jess Haley and Liana Cornacchio on attack.

“She covers so much ground; she can clean up mistakes. Downey is really creative. Blosser is back in form; she is big and is a good header.”

Shackford will be counting on some heads-up play in the midfield from the group of junior Gabrielle Guzman and freshman Jessica Lee together with seniors Rachel Sheehy and Rebecca Schmoys.

“Guzman will be one of the holding midfielders for sure,” said Shackford. “Jessica Lee will see time; she has been playing with the U.S. U-18 team. Rachel Sheehy and Rebecca Schmoys will also get minutes.”

Senior Alison Nabatoff will play a key role in holding the fort along the back line. She will be joined in the defensive corps by junior Diane Metcalf-Leggette, freshman Emily Sura, junior Kacie Kergides, sophomore Gabrielle Ragazzo, and freshman Catherine Hartigan.

“Nabatoff is one of the smarter players we have had; she reads the game very well,” said Shackford.

“Metcalf-Leggette is all good; she is back and doing well. Emily Sura and Kacie Kergides are in the mix. Gabrielle Ragazzo has nailed down the right back position. Catherine Hartigan should also see time in the back.”

Three players could see time at goalie for the Tigers with seniors Kristin Watson and Claire Pinciaro together with sophomore Darcy Hargadon in the mix.

“It will be Watson as the starter with Pinciaro and Hargadon battling for time,” said Shackford. “Watson has experience, size, and physicality. She has a lot of confidence.”

Shackford is confident that her squad has the resources to battle anyone on its schedule.

“We have a lot of depth, we have 23 field players,” said Shackford. “That will come in handy, we have our hands full in the beginning. I think we need to keep everyone healthy and embrace the idea of depth. We will have constant competition for positions which is good; that holds people accountable.”

Enduring disappointment last fall should serve to make the Tigers more competitive in 2012.

“Coming off a season like that is an automatic motivator for the players,” said Shackford. “They have worked hard; they don’t want to have that feeling again.”

The Tigers will be looking to produce a feel-good weekend as they face some formidable foes in their first taste of regular season action.

“I am excited,” said Shackford. “It is a good opportunity to be able to compete with a team like Wake that has a big head start on us. Colgate is a solid Patriot League team. It should be two great games with a great atmosphere.”

SPANISH INQUISITION: Princeton University men’s basketball player T.J. Bray passes the ball in action this past winter. Over the next 10 days, Bray and the Tigers will be passing through Spain as they make stops in Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid. Princeton has four games scheduled against Spanish pro teams on the trip and will sample the local culture through such activities as attending a FC Barcelona soccer game, enjoying a night of flamenco dancing, and hitting museums and cathedrals. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In addition to spending countless hours on the basketball court honing his skills, Princeton University men’s hoops star T.J. Bray has been studying Spanish for years.

“I took Spanish in high school and three semesters here,” said Bray, a rising junior guard from New Berlin, Wis. “We have to take a foreign language here so I took Spanish.”

Over the next 10 days, Bray will get the chance to apply his linguistic knowledge firsthand as the Tigers take a trip to Spain.

The squad will depart on August 29 and make stops in Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid during its jaunt. Princeton has four games scheduled against Spanish pro teams and will sample the local culture through such activities as attending an FC Barcelona soccer game, enjoying a night of flamenco dancing, and hitting museums and cathedrals.

Bray has been looking forward to the journey for months, noting that the Tiger players got confirmation in January that the trip was taking place.

“I can’t wait for it,” said a smiling Bray, after finishing a pre-trip practice last Monday at Jadwin Gym.

“This group of guys is so much fun; we have a blast together. It is going to be as much fun off the court as it will be on the court.”

Bray, who is coming off a breakthrough season last winter when he averaged 7.2 points a game and had a team-high 119 assists as the Tigers went 20-12, believes the Princeton players can get a lot out of the trip on the court.

“A lot of the teams are probably going to be more talented than us because they are all pro players,” said the 6’5, 205-pound Bray.

“Just working hard and playing together will be huge things for us. There were a couple of games last year where we started slowly and that is where we got ourselves in trouble. We have to work on being consistent in our intensity from start to finish.”

Getting the chance to see FC Barcelona’s ultra-talented soccer star Lionel Messi in person figures to be a huge highlight of the trip for Bray.

“I am most excited to tell my kids that I saw Lionel Messi play live,” said Bray.

“When that day comes, being able to say that to my kids will be pretty cool. Messi is unbelievable; everything about him is great. He is quick with the ball and makes everything happen.”

For second-year Princeton head coach and former Tiger star Mitch Henderson, the excursion to Spain reminds him of a trip he took during his college career.

“I went on a trip like this the summer before my senior year; it was a very important trip for that team,” said Henderson, reflecting on a trip to Italy which was a prelude to the memorable 27-2 season produced by the 1997-98 Tiger squad.

“It is like traveling with 12 of your best friends. I remember the bus rides; I remember the hotels. I remember the things that we did off the floor. I remember our record over there. We were very good and I think we went 4-5. We played some really good teams, some Italian first division teams. That group of guys still talks about that trip. It is a once in a lifetime type of trip to go with your friends on something like that.”

In Henderson’s view, his current team should likewise benefit from the international journey which the NCAA allows programs to take once every four years. The Friends of Princeton Basketball group is helping to foot the bill for the excursion.

“I think this is a good older group; it is an opportunity for us to work on some things,” said Henderson, noting that the players got into the swing of things with the five pre-trip practices they went through over the last week.

“We felt like that was the right kind of place for this team to go. It makes sense with this group, we have a good group of juniors and seniors. There are good pro teams there, it will be good competition. We are very lucky to be going.”

While Henderson is not planning to do a lot of on-court experimentation in terms of offensive or defensive tactics, he will be mixing and matching players.

“I want to see who is going to step up,” said Henderson. “We have some guys in place but we are losing a lot of scoring and a lot of shooting. Do we replace that with guy ‘A’ and guy ‘B’ or are we going to be a little different. I want to watch and see what we become and who makes it hard for me to take you off the floor. What I love about playing over there is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. You are going to see a guard or a forward and you don’t know anything about that guy, that he drills 3’s or that he is a really good guard. That will be great for our guys.”

Maybe the greatest thing about the trip for the Tigers will be the chance to enhance the camaraderie that already exists between the players.

“I think our ability to be good is going to depend on how close we are, similar to the team two years ago,” maintained Henderson.

“We need a lot of team chemistry because we have some pieces that are significant and then we have some pieces that need a lot of room to grow. We all get to experience something new together as a team and as a staff.”

Bray, for his part, is confident that the experience in Spain will help the Tigers grow even closer.

“The Princeton offense is five guys moving as one, chemistry is so big in the offense,” said Bray.

“It comes pretty easy for us with everyone liking each other and enjoying being around each other. This trip will make it that much better.”