September 15, 2021

RETURN ENGAGEMENT: Princeton University football head coach Bob Surace answers a question at the program’s recently-held Media Day. After last season was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, Princeton is returning to action by playing at Lehigh on September 18. The Tigers last played on November 23, 2019 when they defeated Penn 28-7 to finish that season 8-2 overall and 5-2 Ivy League. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

There is a din of screeching, thumping, and hammering going on around the Princeton University football team as it has gone through its preseason practices with a soccer stadium and parking garage being constructed nearby.

But that racket hasn’t distracted Princeton head coach Bob Surace as he goes about the task of building his 2021 squad into a winner after last season was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

“You saw all of the construction; I feel like those things 10 years ago when I was a little less mature would have bothered me,” said Surace, standing in a corner of Powers Field at  Princeton Stadium fielding questions in the program’s recently-held Media Day.

“But when you have a year off, you are smiling on the way to practice. Stuff is going on all around us and nothing bothers me. It is just about the guys being back and us being here, which is really cool.”

With Princeton having last played on November 23, 2019 when they defeated Penn 28-7 to finish that season 8-2 overall and 5-2 Ivy League, the Tigers will have an additional contingent of veterans as they play at Lehigh on September 18 to kick off the 2021 campaign. more

HAPPY TO BE BACK: Princeton University football player Jeremiah Tyler enjoying the proceedings at the program’s recently-held Media Day. Senior star linebacker Tyler is looking forward to a big senior year after not enrolling at Princeton last year. In 2019, Tyler was unanimously first-team All-Ivy and was one of two finalists for the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. Tyler has been named as one of the six captains for the 2021 squad along with classmates Collin Eaddy, Trevor Forbes, Nikola Ivanisevic, James Johnson, and Cole Smith. Princeton, which had its 2020 season canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, returns to action this fall by playing at Lehigh on September 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jeremiah Tyler took a year off from Princeton University in 2020-21 but he didn’t take it easy.

The star senior linebacker for the Princeton football team gained strength and weight, got a taste of the real world, and deepened the bonds with his teammates during his time away from school.

“At the first half of the year I stayed at home in Detroit and I trained with the trainer to focus on myself and gain weight; that was a huge emphasis for me,” said Tyler.

“I was with my parents just working internships. I’m really grateful for the PFA [Princeton Football Association], they’re a huge help for all of Princeton. Just getting that internship and that work time, getting that experience of real life is good. You get that under your belt and the second half I moved in with some teammates. We went to Nashville, which was a good time. We got a gym down there — Gym 5 — shouts out to them — and they were really nice about everything. They were very welcoming, let us lift and power lift and all that jazz. In Nashville we had about 20 guys total. It was two different houses.”


NICK OF TIME: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Nico Carusone heads a ball in a 2020 game. Last Wednesday, senior forward Carusone scored the winning goal late in the second half as PHS edged Robbinsville 2-1 in its season opener. The Tigers, who tied Steinert 0-0 last Saturday, play at WW/P-North in September 18 before hosting Allentown on September 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Nico Carusone knew it was time to step up.

With the Princeton High boys’ soccer team deadlocked 1-1 against Robbinsville late in the second half last Wednesday in the season opener, senior striker Carusone produced a moment of brilliance.

Getting the ball in the box, Carusone wheeled and blasted the ball into the back of the net to score and give PHS the margin of victory in a 2-1 triumph.

“With 15 minutes left in the game, we had to bring it all,” said Carusone. “I knew the goal was there and I hit it.”

It took a while for PHS to get into a rhythm as the foes were deadlocked in a scoreless draw at the half.

“They had their back line so far back, they were letting us play in front of them which kind of led to our possession,” said Carusone.

“I  think they did a really good job of keeping a hold of us. Once we got a break before the second half, we told the team what they were doing and we figured out how to score two goals.”

The trio of Carusone, sophomore Patrick Kenah, and junior Richard Wegman started figuring out things after halftime with Kenah tallying the first goal of the day, slotting in a rebound 14 minutes into the half.

“We are all on the same page at this point, we had a really good preseason together,” said Carusone. more

TIED UP: Princeton High football Tyler Goldberg, right, gets wrapped up by a Haddon Heights tackler last Saturday. Sophomore tailback Goldberg rushed for a team-high 32 yards in a losing cause as PHS fell 47-0 to the Garnets. The Tigers, now 0-2, play at Cherry Hill East on September 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton High football team trailing Haddon Heights 39-0 at halftime last Saturday in its home opener, the message was simple.

“At halftime, it was just go back in and have fun,” said PHS sophomore running back Tyler Goldberg. “That was it.”

Midway through the third quarter, Goldberg had some fun, ripping off a 29-yard run followed by an 11-yard jaunt.

“I saw daylight, I am hyped,” said Goldberg, who ended up with a team-high 32 yards net rushing.

The Tigers, though, did not find much more daylight on the day as they ended up falling 47-0.

“We have to be more of a team, we just have to communicate,” said Goldberg, reflecting on the defeat.

“This is our team, this is our family. We have go to work together to beat teams and I don’t think we did that today.”

PHS head coach Charlie Gallagher acknowledged that the Tigers ran into a very good team in Haddon Heights.

“My hat is off to their coaching staff; they have a good football program and they are 2-0 for a reason,” said Gallagher.

“They have got some big boys, they have some good wide receivers. Jackson Ferrante is a standout tailback and a standout middle linebacker. He stuffed us a couple of times early. It was just really challenging.” more

FIRST RATE: Princeton High girls’ tennis player Eva Lependorf hits a backhand in a match last fall. Sophomore Lependorf has moved into the first singles spot this season for PHS. The Tigers, who defeated Hamilton 5-0 last Friday to improve to 1-1, play at Robbinsville on September 17 before starting action in the Mercer County Tournament on September 20 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although the Princeton High girls’ tennis team started its 2021 season with a tough 3-2 loss to Hightstown last Wednesday, Sarah Hibbert believes the early setback could be a blessing in disguise.

“It was disappointing the way it ended, the girls all gave it their all,” said PHS head coach Hibbert, whose team rebounded from the opening day loss to defeat Hamilton 5-0 last Friday.

“We worked as hard as we could and unfortunately the last ball didn’t bounce our way. Hopefully it will give a little extra motivation for the rest of the season, it is alright, we didn’t start off the way we wanted to but we still got a lot of tennis to play.”

Hibbert is getting some good tennis from sophomore Eva Lependorf at first singles, who has moved into the top spot after her classmate Shaila Iyer, last year’s No. 1, decided to pursue her own training and won’t be with the squad this season. more

GOING FORWARD: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer player Milan Shah controls the ball in a game last season. Senior forward Shah figures to be a key offensive threat for PDS this fall. The Panthers, who fell 4-3 in overtime to Hightstown last Monday to move to 1-1, play at Pennington on September 15 before hosting Hamilton West on September 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Soccer is in Brian Thomsen’s blood.

“My grandfather actually came over from Glasgow to play semi-professional soccer back in the 1960s,” said Thomsen, 31, a native of Brick, N.J.

“He has been over here ever since. My dad and my uncle played together on the same club team growing up. My dad played at Southern Connecticut State. My uncle played at Loyola and he played professionally. My brother just retired from playing professionally down in Richmond with the Richmond Kickers. We have a soccer family.”

Thomsen, for his part, starred at Monsignor Donovan High in Toms River before playing at Northeastern University for two years and then transferring to Stockton University for his final two seasons of college soccer. Getting into coaching in 2015, he has served as the director of operations for Next Level Soccer Academy, director of programs for Washington Crossing FC Select, as an assistant men’s coach at The College of New Jersey, and the head coach of the Real Central NJ women’s program.

Now he is bringing that background and experience in the game to the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team, taking the helm of the program after previous head coach Ollie Hilliker stepped down last fall.

“I felt it was a really good opportunity for me to build a program in a college prep-like environment that was different from a public school,” said Thomsen.

“It gave me what I was used to on the soccer side which was that these kids have good facilities, they have good academics, and they have good opportunities from school. There was a lot of support behind the program and athletics at the school.” more

By Bill Alden

The pieces are in place for the Hun School girls’ soccer team to be competitive this fall.

“We have a lot of young talent joined by our strong upperclass,” said Hun head coach Jenn Barrett, whose team went 0-4-1 last fall in a season abbreviated by COVID-19 concerns.

“We really don’t have many weak spots, we should really hold our own this year. We have solid, solid players in every position.”

The Raiders boast three solid players at forward in senior Olivia D’Aulerio, sophomore Tessa Falcone, and sophomore Mackenzie Turner.

“We are super excited that Olivia will have more help up top, we are really going to try to use her speed because she is so fast,” said Barrett of the trio who each scored a goal along with junior Lauren Soler as Hun defeated Moorestown Friends 4-1 last Monday to improve to 1-1.

“Tessa and MacKenzie are both high-level experienced club players so they will be able to feed her the ball and they have a nose for the goal also.” more

GETTING AFTER IT: Hun School field hockey player Ashley Jones goes after the ball in a game last season. Hun defeated Conwell-Egan (Pa.) 4-0 last Monday to improve to 1-1. The Raiders play at Hillsborough High on September 15, host Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on September 18, and then play at Stuart Country Day on September 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although the Hun School field hockey team went 1-6 last fall, Tracey Arndt believes that the program made some important strides despite the record.

“There is so much more than what they have been showing on the score line,” said Hun head coach Arndt, who is in her third season at the helm of the program.

“In my first year, we were losing games 6-0, 4-0, whatever and last year, although we only played three teams, there were one-goal games. There is the progress that we have been focusing on and not the product. They are recognizing that they have skill and they have potential and they have ability to be successful.”

Arndt views her senior group as a key factor in producing a successful fall.

“They have been great, they have been through so much, all of the seniors have,” said Arndt, whose Class of 2022 includes Olivia Gall, Lynssi Italia, Ashley Jones, Nicole Schaefer, Nora Shea, Lexi Thomas, and Aletheia Watts.

“They got a new coach as sophomores and had that transition. We have one year and then COVID hits so they had to go through all of that. I do think time at home while apart did bring us together. I think they are really mature. We got to know each other a little bit more there, we got to understand each other a little bit better. They are very different in terms of their hockey but what is really special about them is that they all work really hard and they all care about each other very deeply.” more

BELLWETHER: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Isabel Milley sends the ball up the field in a game last season. Milley and the Tartans are off to a fast start this fall as they topped Pemberton 6-0 last Monday to improve to 3-0. Stuart plays at Princeton Day School on September 15, hosts Bordentown High on September 17, plays at Hamilton High on September 20, and then hosts the Hun School on September 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In 2019, the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team enjoyed a stirring postseason run, advancing to the final of the Mercer County Tournament and the state Prep B semis.

Last fall, Stuart was deprived of a chance to build on that tournament success as both the MCT and Prep competitions were canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

As the Tartans prepared for the 2021 campaign, they were excited about the prospects of resuming postseason action this fall.

“The first thing I would say is that we are totally looking forward to the opportunity to play in the state and country tournament,” said longtime Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik, who guided the Tartans to a 5-3-1 record in the abbreviated 2020 campaign.

“That builds that excitement. Those tournaments are back and we are going to have a chance to participate.”

Bruvik is excited about her corps of seniors which includes Kaitlyn Magnani, Keya Patel, Sanya Khullar, Audrey Blandford, and Lauren Gracias.

“The senior leadership has been great, they have been leading the way at practice,” said Bruvik. more

September 8, 2021

BIRD IN FLIGHT: Lizzie Bird flies over a hurdle in a 3,000-meter steeplechase race during her career with the Princeton University women’s track team. Last month, Bird ’17, competing for Great Britain, took ninth in the women’s steeplechase in the Tokyo Olympics, setting a new British national record of 9:19.68 in the process. (Photo provided by Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Lizzie Bird felt that she could run better after graduating from Princeton University, but even she was surprised by the level of her recent success.

The 2017 Princeton graduate and native of St. Albans Herts, England, set a new British national record of 9:19.68 and placed ninth in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in August.

“I wouldn’t have expected this three or four years ago when I just graduated,” said Bird. “I feel like the progression since 2018 has been steady.”

Bird closed her racing season by taking 12th place in the women’s steeple at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., after the Olympics, and shifted attention to starting law school.

Given her recent success, Bird has no plans to stop racing, but the build-up will look different while she studies and trains quite fortunately in the running mecca at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

“I know not being full-time, I won’t be able to train at the same rate,” said Bird.

“I can’t do two-a-days. I think I still have a lot more in me. I think I can still improve. At the Olympics, just seeing I was third European, maybe I can be challenging for a medal at Europeans or Commonwealths and that can be a pretty cool thing for this year. I have to be realistic that by taking on law school at the same time it will be more challenging and I might not improve at the same rate; but this is a decision I made that I’m ready to do something else on the side that’s a little less of a selfish pursuit.” more

ON HIS TOES: Princeton University men’s soccer player Daniel Diaz-Bonilla, right, battles Nico Rosamilia of Rutgers for the ball last Friday night in Princeton’s season opener. Junior forward Diaz-Bonilla generated a number of chances for the Tigers in a losing cause as Princeton fell 1-0 to the Scarlet Knights. Princeton was slated to play at Vermont on September 7 before heading to Colgate on September 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Daniel Diaz-Bonilla and his teammates on the Princeton University men’s soccer team were bound to be a bit rusty as they hosted Rutgers last Friday night in their season opener.

Princeton hadn’t played a game in nearly two years with the 2020 season having been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns and had a brief preseason in preparing to play a battle-tested Scarlet Knight squad.

“This team has only been together for two weeks after two years off and that team had a season in the spring,” said junior forward Diaz-Bonilla. “They have already had two games and a month together.”

But with the shifty Diaz-Bonilla displaying some dazzling footwork, the Tigers were able to put Rutgers on its heels several times outshooting the Scarlet Knights 8-7 in the first half as rivals played to a scoreless draw over the first 45 minutes of the contest.

The attacking unit of senior Kevin O’Toole, sophomore Walker Gillespie, senior Frankie DeRosa, and junior Ryan Clare along with Diaz-Bonilla was in sync despite the long hiatus from game action.

“We trust each other,” said Diaz-Bonilla. “We are always fluid, we are moving, we are getting off each other. I could play on the right, Kevin can play on the left and Walker can drop down. It is super fluid. We have got Frankie coming off the bench and Ryan sometimes goes up for us. We have a lot of options.” more

FRESH APPROACH: Princeton University field hockey player Beth Yeager, center, races upfield past two North Carolina defenders last Friday in Princeton’s season opener. The 13th-ranked Tigers fell 4-1 to top-ranked UNC and then showed progress in losing 3-2 in overtime to No. 5 Louisville two days later. Freshman star Yeager notched her first college goals in the loss to the Cardinals, tallying both scores for Princeton in the defeat. In upcoming action, the Tigers host No. 12 Duke on September 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It didn’t take long for Beth Yeager to make an impact for the Princeton University field hockey team last weekend in her collegiate debut.

After the highly touted striker generated five shots on goal but was held scoreless in a 4-1 loss to top-ranked and three-time defending national champion North Carolina on Friday, Yeager tallied both goals for No. 13 Princeton in a 3-2 overtime loss to fifth-ranked Louisville two days later.

While Yeager was disappointed by the defeat to the Cardinals, she saw positives coming out of the setback.

“We were excited to come out today and work on a few things,” said Yeager.

“Even though it was a disappointing result, there was a lot of progress that we made. It is a long season, there is lots to build on.”

Yeager was excited to notch her first collegiate goal, which came on a penalty stroke midway through the first period to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

“I was just aiming for the spot, trying to keep calm, not focus on all of the noise around me and do my best,” recalled Yeager, a 5’7 native of Greenwich, Conn., who has competed for the U.S. U-17 and U-19 outdoor junior teams.  more

Princeton High football player Jaiden Johnson, center, leaps for the ball in a game last fall. Last Saturday, Johnson and the PHS kicked off the 2021 campaign by falling 26-7 at Overbrook High. Senior receiver Johnson scored the lone Tiger touchdown in the game on a 27-yard reception from quarterback Jaxon Petrone. Johnson made nine catches for 140 yards in the contest with Petrone completing 14-of-35 passes for 189 yards. The Tigers will look to get on the winning track when they host Haddon Heights (1-0) on September 11 in their home opener. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

KEY MAN: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Richard Wegman dribbles the ball in a contest last fall. Junior Wegman should be a key offensive threat this fall for PHS. The Tigers start their 2021 season by hosting Robbinsville on September 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over the years, the Princeton High boys’ soccer team has proven that it is one of those programs that doesn’t rebuild, it reloads.

After losing 14 seniors from a squad that went 9-3-1 last year and advanced to the Central West Group 4 sectional final, the cupboard is far from bare as PHS opens its 2021 season by hosting Robbinsville on September 8.

“We have a really good nucleus of senior players, five of whom have been on the team a while; this is their third year,” said PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe, who is in his 25th season at the helm of the program and guided the Tigers to 2009 and 2012 Group 3 state titles in addition to several sectional and county crowns and passing the 300-win milestone in 2016.

“The preseason has been great. There is a sense of excitement at the prospect of some normalcy here.”

PHS tested itself in the preseason, scrimmaging such formidable foes as Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Christian Brothers Academy, and Gill St Bernard’s, among others.

“We just kept getting better at everything which is encouraging,” said Sutcliffe. more

SO READY: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Sophia Lis boots the ball in a game last fall. Senior star forward Lis, who has committed to attend Lehigh University and play for its women’s soccer team, is primed for a big final campaign for PHS. The Tigers start the 2021 season by playing at Robbinsville on September 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Dave Kosa has been exposed to a lot of outstanding high school girls’ soccer squads over the years.

Growing up, Kosa sent a lot of time in the stands as his late father, Louis Kosa, enjoyed a legendary career coaching the East Brunswick High girls’ soccer team, guiding the program to a 527-63-22 record, capturing eight state championships, and a No. 1 ranking in the nation in 1992. 

Over the last six years, Kosa has served as an assistant coach for the successful Princeton High girls’ soccer program, also leading the JV squad in five of those seasons.

This fall, Kosa will look to help PHS continue its winning ways, taking the helm of the program, succeeding Val Rodriguez, who stepped down last fall after coaching the Tigers to a 9-3-1 record in 2020.

“I am really excited and happy to continue the tradition of the girls’ soccer program that Greg [Hand] had and passed on to Val,” said Kosa, who also serves as the head coach of the PHS girls’ basketball team.

“It is a really good bunch. They are really good kids and good people; that is the most important thing. They have taken to working hard and just trying to get better. We want to play the best soccer at the end of the season. We have a lot of great talent. It is my job to mesh then and work them hard. We are really looking forward to that.” more

WEIR ON A TEAR: Princeton High field hockey player Olivia Weir, right, brings the ball up the field in a game last year. Senior star Weir, who has committed to attend Rutgers University and play for its field hockey program, has emerged as the go-to finisher for PHS. The Tigers begin their 2021 season by playing at Allentown on September 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

The players on the Princeton High field hockey team started laying the groundwork for a big 2021 season well before they hit the field for preseason practices in mid-August.

“We have been playing all summer, we really never stopped so this is just another part of our season,” said PHS head coach Heather Serverson, noting that her players have played pickup at school two days a week and have also played pickup at Centercourt Sports in Lawrence and competed for various club programs.

“They are such a close-knit group and we only graduated three people. It is kind of just like getting the band back together. One of the biggest plusses about this team is that they are all extremely familiar with playing with one another.”

There will be plenty of familiar faces on the field for the Tigers as the squad boasts a stellar senior group.

“We have seven seniors and they have been doing a great job, trying to set the standards in practices and at games,” said Serverson, whose team went 8-2 last year and begins its 2021 season by playing at Allentown on September 9.

“They are great leaders in general, they really make an effort to reach out to the younger girls. They make sure that everyone feels included and welcome. It is great environment.”

The forward line features a great player in senior Olivia Weir, who has committed to attend Rutgers University and play for its field hockey program.

“Olivia is looking good, she is healthy, she is happy,” said Serverson. “She is a creative player too. She is a good team player and that is why she helps make us look good as well as herself. She would rather someone else would have the goal almost than herself.” more

HALE STORM: Princeton Day School field hockey player Haley Sullivan heads to goal in a game last fall. Senior star Sullivan figures to be a key weapon on the forward line for PDS this fall. The Panthers open their 2021 campaign by hosting WW/P-North on September 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After having an abbreviated season in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, the Princeton Day School field hockey team is looking forward to being busy this fall.

“There is a sense of excitement,” said PDS head coach Heather Farlow, who guided the Panthers to 5-4-1 record last season.

“We have joined the other state association (the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) so that means that we are averaging three games a week, which is a lot.”

PDS boasts some exciting performers in the forward line in senior Ally Antonacci, senior Haley Sullivan, sophomore Tessa Caputo, senior Kacey Fisher, and senior Gabriella Thomas.

“We have only had one scrimmage against Florence and we won 6-3,” said Farlow, whose team opens its 2021 campaign by hosting WW/P-North on September 8. “Ally, Haley, and Tessa have stood out, they are finishers.”

In the midfield, the Panthers will rely on a quartet of standouts in junior Jadyn Huff, senior Maggie Zarish-Yasunas, senior Franny Gallagher, and freshman Charlotte Mullen. more

By Bill Alden

With the Hun School boys’ soccer team boasting skill all over the field, its daily practice sessions have turned into a pitched battles.

“From top to bottom, it is one of the most talented teams that I have had,” said Hun head coach Pat Quirk, whose team went 1-5 last fall in a season abbreviated by COVID-19 concerns and will start its 2021 campaign by playing at the Germantown Academy (Pa.) on September 10.

“It is going to be tough, that is the culture that the kids want it to be. It needs to be competitive every day in practice, maybe even more competitive than when we get into games. If a kid is off one practice, we have kids who can fill the role.”

A quartet of forwards, junior Mass Verduci, sophomore Joey Bucchere, junior Will Zeng, and senior Hector Suriel, should provide the firepower to keep Hun competitive.

“Those are our main guys up top, we will mix and match them,” said Quirk.

“We scored 11 goals in a scrimmage against Nottingham and we scored three goals against Hopewell in a scrimmage. I think we are going to see some goals. Those guys are going to be finishing but they are going to be set up by the midfield.” more

September 1, 2021

HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE: Princeton University women’s soccer goalie Grace Barbara handles the ball last Friday night as Princeton defeated Loyola (Md.) 2-1 in its season opener and first game since 2019 after last season was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Senior Barbara, a former Princeton Day School standout, made one save in the win. Two days later, Barbara combined with freshman Tyler McCamey to post a shutout as the Tigers defeated Saint Joseph’s 3-0 with each goalie playing a half. In upcoming action, Princeton plays at George Mason (0-4) on September 2 and at 11th-ranked Georgetown (1-0-1) on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As Grace Barbara started at goalie for the Princeton University women’s soccer team last Friday night in its first game since 2019, she just had to look to her right wrist to see the theme of the evening.

The word “grit” was scrawled in black ink on the tape around her wrist and it characterized the effort that senior Barbara, a former Princeton Day School standout, made to help Princeton pull out a 2-1 win over Loyola (Md.) in its first action after the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

“I definitely didn’t play my best game tonight but I think that is to be expected coming off of so long of not competing at Princeton,” said Barbara.

“But I am ready to build every day and get better every single day. That is really my mentality here. I actually came in at a deficit. I wasn’t able to train with the team for the first couple of days. I had COVID  earlier in the month and had to go through a return-to-play protocol. I had a really short preseason and was working really, really hard to get the starting spot here.”

Princeton had to show some grit collectively as it built a 2-0 lead only to see the Greyhounds score on a penalty kick with 9:18 left in the second half, making the final minutes of the contest a bit edgy for the Tigers.

“It definitely was a dicey win but a win is a win and that is what we have to say,” said Barbara, who had one save on the evening.

“This team, Loyola, has already had two games under their belt. They came in off of a pretty harsh loss (4-0) to Clemson and they were just ready to play. We saw that, they were scrappy to the end. It really taught us about how we can respond in a situation where we conceded a goal. Our mantra is grit this year and we showed exactly that. We really stepped up.” more

MACK IS BACK: Former Princeton University track star John Mack ’00, shown competing in a 1999 track meet at left, returned to his alma mater last week, getting introduced as Princeton’s Ford Family Director of Athletics. Mack, a winner of the Roper Award as the top male senior student-athlete to cap a stellar track career, is succeeding Mollie Marcoux Samaan ’91 who announced in May she would be stepping down to take over as commissioner of the LPGA. (Track photo by Beverly Schaefer, both photos provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

It was going to take a lot for John Mack to leave his beloved roots behind.

Princeton University had it. Again.

Mack, a 2000 Princeton graduate who won the Roper Award as the top male senior student-athlete to cap a stellar career in track and field, is returning to his alma mater as the Ford Family Director of Athletics. His duties begin officially on September 1.

“From the minute I set foot on campus as a prospective student-athlete on my recruiting visit, there hasn’t been any place in the world that I’ve loved as much as being at Princeton,” said Mack.

“So the chance to come back and serve in this capacity, it’s kind of mind-blowing. I’m pinching myself. Who gets their dream job?”

Following stints at Northwestern, the Big Ten and Princeton, Mack had returned to his hometown of New Haven, Mich., a village with less than 5,000 residents. He practiced law the last 10 years, and for the last three and a half years, Mack also served as pastor of Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church of New Haven.

“It was tough,” said Mack. “I said to my church congregation, this is literally the only job in the world that would have gotten me to leave. I do it happily and completely at peace and they could not have been more supportive, even when I told them I was leaving.”

Mack knows a bit about filling big shoes and big expectations. Mack’s late father had been pastor of the same church before him for 33 years. Last Sunday was Mack’s final in the pulpit before he leaves the church and his hometown again.

“My mom still lives in the house that I grew up in,” said Mack.

“All my sisters still come to the church. I see my nieces and nephews. It’ll be an adjustment, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. They’re supportive. Everybody has wrapped their minds around the change. It’s all good.”

The last time Mack left his hometown it was for four life-changing years at Princeton as a student-athlete. The record-setting sprinter at New Haven High became a captain and standout at Princeton. He still holds Top 10 times in the Princeton record books in the indoor and outdoor 200 and 400, and shares Top 10 times on the 4×400 relay. He won five Ivy League Heptagonals indoor titles and five outdoor Heptagonals. Princeton won six Heps team crowns in his career. more

KICK STARTER: Princeton University men’s soccer player Kevin O’Toole, right, controls the ball in a 2019 game. Senior star O’Toole, a two-time All-Ivy League selection and the Ivy Offensive Player of the Year in 2018, will be looking to get his senior season off to a big start when Princeton hosts Rutgers (1-0-1) on September 3 at Class of 1952 Stadium in its season opener.It will mark the first game for the Tigers since November 16, 2019 when they fell 2-1 to Yale to end the season at 10-4-3 overall and 2-2-3 Ivy League before the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Princeton University men’s soccer head coach Jim Barlow, seeing the 2020 season canceled due to COVID-19 concerns robbed him and his players of what they cherish most.

“It is the reason we do what we do; it is the thing that is most joyful about our job and we weren’t able to do it,” said Barlow, whose team last played on November 16, 2019 when it fell 2-1 to Yale to end that season at 10-4-3 overall and 2-2-3 Ivy League.

“That was the hardest part, not being able to get after it with the guys. I think what we do is important to their well-being, and to have it not happen was tough.”

There was lots of joy as the squad hit the field for preseason training starting on August 21 to start preparing for hosting Rutgers (1-0-1) in the season opener on September 3 at Class of 1952 Stadium.

“There is definitely an extra level of excitement to be back,” said Barlow.

“The guys have been waiting for it for a long time. The energy has been really positive, the guys came back fit.” more

BACK IN THE SWING: Princeton University field hockey player Hannah Davey gets ready for a big hit in a 2019 contest. Senior Davey and the 13th-ranked Tigers open their 2021 campaign by hosting three-time defending national champion North Carolina on September 3. It will mark Princeton’s first game since losing to the Tar Heels in the NCAA title game on November 24, 2019. Two days later, Princeton will host fifth-ranked Louisville (2-0) to wrap up a busy opening weekend. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

When the Princeton University field hockey team last played North Carolina, it was for the 2019 national championship.

It’s also the last time that the Tigers played a game because the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Princeton will return to action for the first time since that November 24, 2019 matchup with some familiar faces when it hosts the three-time defending national champion Tar Heels on September 3 on Bedford Field, but also a ton of inexperience on the field.

“Our potential is high,” said Princeton head coach Carla Tagliente, whose team went 16-5 overall and 7-0 Ivy League in 2019 on the way to the program’s fourth appearance in the national championship game.

“The goal is to continue to move the needle and improve throughout the year. We are very, very young. We have a large junior class and a lot of them reclassified, but they also have only played two seasons. They didn’t play last year. We have a lot of room to grow. We just don’t have much time in preseason to figure it out and iron out the kinks. We have to do that as we go.”

Gabby Andretta, Hannah Davey, Ali McCarthy, and Sammy Popper all started in that 2019 title contest that North Carolina won, 6-1. Ophelie Bemelmans, Claire Donovan, and Zoe Shephard also played in it. Now they’re at the top of the ladder as juniors on a team without a single senior and they bring a veteran presence to the two classes below them that have yet to play a college game.

“The leadership and experience of having been there and done it before, having been through preseason and been through a full season and been in the grind a bit,” said Tagliente.  more

AIRING IT OUT: Princeton High quarterback Jaxon Petrone fires a pass in a game last season. Senior star Petrone is primed for a big final campaign, turning heads with his passing prowess in preseason practices. PHS, which went 1-5 last fall, kicks off its 2021 season by playing at Overbrook High on September 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

The seniors on the Princeton High football team are going to get plenty of chances to shine this fall.

“I have eight seniors and every single one of those seniors will be on the field, they are not taking any plays off,” said PHS head coach Charlie Gallagher, who guided his team to a 1-5 record last fall in a season shortened by COVID-19 concerns.

“We have seniors at all of the right positions and the right spots. If you can balance it out with a couple of good juniors and two or three sophomores in the mix, then guess what, you have got a chance.”

Senior quarterback Jaxon Petrone is primed to produce a big season for PHS.

“It starts with Jaxon, he looks phenomenal and is doing a really stellar job,” said Gallagher, whose team kicks off its 2021 season by playing at Overbrook High on September 4.

“He is football savvy, he wants to win, and he is a competitor. It is a quarterback-driven sport. If you have a good quarterback, that is a good starting point so you can build around him.”

The Tigers boast two very good pieces to catch passes from Petrone in Everaldo Servil and Jaiden Johnson.

“We have two senior wide receivers which I am very happy about, you couldn’t ask for better wide receivers,” said Gallagher of Servil and Johnson.

“We only had one scrimmage this year, but we threw four into the end zone from outside of 30 yards. We made some big plays.” more

August 25, 2021

WORLD CLASS: Princeton University women’s hockey standouts Sarah Fillier, left, and Claire Thompson proudly wear the uniform of Team Canada as the team got ready to compete in the IIHF Women’s World Championship. Star forward Fillier, who completed her sophomore season for Princeton in 2019-20, and standout defenseman Thompson ’20 are currently skating for Canada at the Worlds in Calgary, Alberta which are slated to end on August 31. Fillier has tallied two goals so far in the tournament with Thompson chipping in three assists as Canada started Pool A action by defeating Finland 5-3 last Friday and then topping the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) 5-1 on Sunday. (Photo by Hockey Canada, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Sarah Fillier and Claire Thompson are back to skating for a championship.

For the first time since the Princeton University women’s ice hockey team saw its 2020 season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic after winning the program’s first ECAC Hockey title, the two will be on the same team. This time it’s Team Canada which hosts the IIHF Women’s World Championship from August 20-31 in Calgary, Alberta.

“Honestly it’s so cool,” said star forward Fillier. “To live out your dreams together with someone you’re so close with is so special. And having our 2020 season cut off short, it’s great to have another chance to play with her. It’s awesome.”

Fillier is the youngest player on Canada’s senior team at 21, but she doesn’t feel out of place. She took last year off from Princeton to train in an effort to make the senior team and emerged with one of the world roster spots for Canada out of the country’s centralized roster of 29.

“It’s huge,” said Fillier, a 5’5 native of Georgetown, Ontario, who totaled 114 points on 44 goals and 70 assists in first two seasons for the Tigers, earning AHCA second-team All-America, first-team All-ECAC, and first-team All-Ivy accolades along the way. more

RETURN ENGAGEMENT: Princeton University women’s soccer player Lucy Rickerson controls the ball in a 2019 game. Senior defender Rickerson and the Tigers return to action after their 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns by hosting Loyola (Md.) on August 27 at Class of 1952 Stadium. The Tigers last played a game on November 9, 2019 when they posted a 1-0 win at Penn. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Sean Driscoll, seeing his Princeton University women’s soccer team take the pitch at Class of 1952 Stadium this Friday evening for its 2021 season opener will be a dream come true.

With the 2020 season having been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, Princeton head coach Driscoll has been looking forward to the opening day matchup against Loyola (Md.) for months.

“It has been 20 some odd months and I am just imagining what that is going to feel like when you haven’t had it in so long,” said Driscoll, whose team last played on November 9, 2019 when it posted a 1-0 win at Penn to finish that season with an 8-6-3 record.

“You take things for granted. You have a game, you have a national anthem and it is oh my gosh I missed it. I can’t wait to see what it feels like again — the nerves that go into it and the passion that is exuded as a result. I am ready for that, I am chomping at the bit to be on the sidelines with a team of kids I am really proud to coach and represent a university I am privileged to be a part of.” more