September 22, 2021

HIGH FIVE: Princeton High field hockey player Olivia Weir controls the ball against WW/P-South last Friday. Senior star and Rutgers-bound Weir tallied five goals in the contest to help PHS prevail 7-0 and improve to 3-0. The Tigers host Steinert on September 22 before playing at Hamilton West on September 24 and at Hightstown on September 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Olivia Weir and her teammates on the Princeton High field hockey team were determined to set the tone early as they hosted WW/P-South last Friday.

“We made it a pact from the beginning that we were going to come out with intensity and we wanted to be first to every ball,” said senior star and Rutgers-bound Weir, a native of South Africa.

“We wanted to put goals on the scoreboard soon on and we did that. We played well as a team. We were working together, we came together and we executed our goals.”

PHS achieved that goal as Weir and fellow senior Erin Cooke each found the back of the cage in the first 10 minutes of the contest and PHS never looked back, rolling to a 7-0 win and improving to 3-0.

“We are trying to do a lot of passing and working together because that is how we are able to beat defenders,” said Weir.

“It is also just talking. That is what we have really been focusing on, communicating and just building that team chemistry.”

In Weir’s view, PHS has developed that special chemistry. “We have been playing throughout the summer which has been great,” said Weir. “I think we are really a strong-knit group of girls.”

While Weir is the squad’s go-to finisher, having tallied 12 goals in the Tigers’ first three outings, she sees her scoring prowess as a group effort. more

MAKING HAY: Hun School girls’ soccer player Riley Hayes goes after the ball against Princeton Day School last Wednesday. Hayes scored a late goal in the contest as Hun rallied from a 2-0 halftime deficit to pull out a 2-2 tie. On Saturday, junior midfielder Hayes tallied three goals to help the Raiders defeat Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) and improve to 2-1-1. Hun plays at the George School (Pa.) on September 22 before hosting WW/P-South on September 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Hun School girls’ soccer team trailing Princeton Day School 2-0 at halftime last Wednesday, it had reason to be discouraged.

After all, Hun fell 6-1 and 6-0 to PDS in two meetings last fall in an abbreviated season which saw the Raiders go 0-4-1.

But Hun head coach Jenn Barrett urged her players to keep pressing forward as she spoke to them at halftime.

“We came out a little tentative and we told them how much they should believe in each other, play with confidence, play our game, pass around, and don’t panic,” said Barrett.

“The 2-0 lead is the most dangerous lead in soccer. I said the next goal is going to determine this game and we are going to get it.”

Taking Barrett’s message to heart, Hun tallied a pair of unanswered goals to pull out a 2-2 draw in the clash of local rivals.

Five minutes into the second half, the Raiders got their first goal when Mackenzie Turner converted a sweet feed from Tessa Falcone.

“It was all hard work and grit with the fight from Mackenzie and the fight from Olivia,” said Barrett. more

EYE ON THE BALL: Princeton Day School girls’ soccerplayer Adriana Salzano controls the ball against Hun last Wednesday. Sophomore standout forward Salzano scored a goal in the contest as the local rivals played to a 2-2 draw. PDS, which fell 2-1 to Peddie last Saturday in moving to 2-1-1, plays at Lawrenceville on September 22 before hosting Notre Dame on September 25 and WW/P-North on September 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Having cruised to routs in its first two games this fall, the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team appeared to be headed to another comfortable win as it hosted the Hun School last Wednesday.

Getting goals from sophomore standouts Grace Romano and Adriana Salzano, PDS built a 2-0 lead over Hun by halftime.

“I think the opening five or 10 minutes we were a little slow; we haven’t played a team with as much intensity as they have so we were very reactionary,” said PDS first-year head coach Chris Pettit, whose squad had defeated Hill School (Pa.) 5-1 on September 11 and the George School (Pa.) 9-0 on September 14 to start its 2021 campaign.

“After 10 minutes, we started to realize that once we pass and move and we play our game, we grew into the game. From there, I thought we had the upper hand in the first half. We scored a couple of great goals, exactly what we have been working on.”

But in the second half, Hun maintained its intensity, tallying two unanswered goals as the local rivals ended up playing to a 2-2 draw. more

ON THE MARK: Hun School football quarterback Marco Lainez III heads upfield against Brunswick School (Conn.) last Saturday. Junior Lainezstarred as Hun opened its 2021 campaign by defeating Brunswick 31-14. He completed 11-of-12 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown and led the Raiders in rushing with 106 yards on 10 carries. Hun will look to keep on the winning track as it hosts the Salisbury School (Conn.) on September 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Todd Smith saw a lot of potential and great depth in his Hun School football team through the summer and preseason, but couldn’t exactly be sure what the Raiders would show in their season opener against a new opponent.

“Preseason has been great,” said Hun head coach Smith, who is in his eighth season guiding the program.

“The energy at practice has been great. Unfortunately we lost our scrimmage because of the flood and then we lost a couple days because of the flood, but the kids been resilient and they bounce back and they’ve been showing up every day working really hard. There’s a good energy amongst the group. We feel good about it.”

Smith and the Raiders feel even better about their season outlook after defeating the visiting Brunswick School (Conn.) 31-14 last Saturday. After falling behind early, Hun took a 10-7 lead into halftime and then pulled away in the second half thanks to controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

“We had a lot of positive things and we came out with the win, but yet there’s a lot of teaching that can be done off the film,” said Smith. “There’s still a lot of room to grow. There’s a high ceiling.”

Hun continues its new look schedule when it hosts Salisbury School (Conn.) on September 25. Brunswick and Salisbury are part of the New England Prep School League that Hun joined this year to fill weekends outside of Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) play that now includes just Blair, Hill, and Peddie. The Raiders also will play Suffield Academy (Conn.), Cheshire Academy (Conn.), St. Frances Academy (Md.), and Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) in their new league. more

By Bill Alden

Matt Bellace views football as a roller-coaster that can teach some important life lessons.

“I think football is great for managing emotions, football teaches you how to deal with disappointment,” said Bellace, who recently became the president of the Princeton Junior Football League (PJFL), succeeding Greg Ambra.

With the league kicking off its 2021 fall season on September 26 at the Princeton High turf field, Bellace is looking to emphasize some positive emotions.

“The pandemic is the thing that really made me start thinking deeply is there anything that we can add to what we do to improve things for those kids,” said Bellace of the PJFL, which has three divisions, Rookie (ages 6-8), Junior (ages 8-10) and Senior (ages 11-14), and a total of around 175 players.

“The kids have missed a lot of big moments. I look at my kids and just the social interactions at school, the interactions with teachers and trips. PJFL is just a fun league that people love being a part of it. One play can change a game so our theme is big plays, big moments. We want to bring back some big moments to these kids this year.”

Some of those big moments will be recognized by the awarding of game balls. more

SURE SHOT: Hun School boys’ soccer player Hector Suriel blasts a shot last Saturday against Mercersburg Academy (Pa.). Senior forward Suriel tallied a goal and an assist as Hun defeated Mercersburg 6-2. The Raiders, who lost 3-0 to Episcopal Academy (Pa.) last Sunday to move to 2-2, host Pennington on September 22 and Trenton Catholic on September 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After Hector Suriel scored a goal for the Hun School boys’ soccer team late in the second half against Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) last Saturday, he launched into an acrobatic celebration.

Senior forward Suriel turned a series of cartwheels towards the Hun bench to express his joy at the tally.

“That is a known celebration for me, I revived it,” said Suriel.

“Back in 2017 I scored a goal and celebrated the same way. It is from a Colombian player called Faustino Asprilla.”

There was a lot to celebrate for Suriel and his teammates as Hun pulled away to a 6-2 win over Mercersburg in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) opener in a game played at Stuart Country Day School.

“With the win last game [2-1 over Springside Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on September 14] we were mentally prepared, we came to the field with hunger to score goals and that is what we did,” said Suriel.

While Hun generated a lot of chances and outshot Mercersburg 12-2 in the first half,  it only led 1-0 at intermission.

“Coach [Pat Quirk] gave us a talk, saying we have to score more goals,” said Suriel.

“What has been happening lately is that we score one goal and we get comfortable but today it was another mindset. We were hungry.” more

September 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

MAKING A TRI FOR GOLD: Blind athlete Brad Snyder, right, with guide Greg Billington, breaks the tape after winning the 2021 Americas Triathlon Para Championships in late June to book his spot on the U.S. paratriathlon team for the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics. Snyder, who is currently studying for a Ph.D. at Princeton University’s School of Public Policy and International Affairs, will be competing in Tokyo on July 27 (ET). Snyder, who was blinded when he was wounded in Afghanistan in September 2011 while serving as a Navy lieutenant, previously won gold medals in swimming at the 2102 London Paralympics and 2016 Rio Paralympics. (Photo provided by Sara Snyder)

By Bill Alden

As Navy lieutenant Brad Snyder writhed on the ground after being wounded in Afghanistan in September 2011, he realized he might never get up.

“I laid on the battlefield immediately after the blast, knowing that I had been blown up; I was rationalizing that to say there was no way I would have lived through that,” said Snyder.

“I had witnessed a number of other folks in similar situations, none of whom were in good shape afterwards. I thought well I didn’t make it, there is no way I did. So I laid there kind of reflecting on my life. In a way, I had kind of accepted that I was OK with my death, I was OK with dying. I was ready to pass on and do whatever you do after you die.”

Snyder survived and while he was left blind by the blast, he was grateful to be alive.

“My experience is a lot different than what people think,” said Snyder.

“When people, including my family, got the news they dialed right into the loss of vision. But my experience was not a loss of vision, it was the gaining of my life. I didn’t think that I was coming back period.” more

August 18, 2021

EXECUTIVE DECISION: Ben Stentz, center, enjoys the moment with Princeton Recreation Department colleagues Nicole Paulucci, left, and Vikki Caines after Paulucci received an award from the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association. Stentz recently stepped down as the Rec Department executive director after a 10-year tenure guiding the organization. (Photo provided by Ben Stentz)

By Bill Alden

Ben Stentz prides himself on his ability to build a team.

“I always refer back to my old basketball coaching days,” said Stentz, who coached for the Mercer County Community College and Clarion University men’s hoops programs.

“They used to joke that they could send me into a gym in the middle of nowhere and if there were 50 kids in there playing, I could find the one that we really wanted to recruit easily and quickly.”

When Stentz became executive director of the Princeton Recreation Department in 2011 after having worked for the department since 2000, he applied those team-building skills.

“When I got promoted, we were really short-staffed and I had to hire a number of people pretty quickly,” recalled Stentz, a baseball and basketball standout at Princeton High who returned to town after coaching at Clarion and worked at the YMCA before coming to the Rec Department as a program supervisor in 2000.

“I had to find the right people for the right positions at the right moment in time. I am proud of the team that I built and rebuilt a number of times.”

After a 10-year run as the helm, Stentz decided that it was time to leave the team and stepped down effective July 1. more

IN GOOD FORM: Daniel Baytin displays his freestyle form in a race this season for the Princeton High boys’ swimming team. This summer, Baytin starred for the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings, taking first in the 50 breaststroke and second in the 100 individual medley at the Cicada Classic meet which culminated action this summer in the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA). (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Becca Adlai-Gail has risen through the ranks during her time with the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings.

Some 19 years ago, Adlai-Gail started competing for the swim team as a 4-year-old and joined the club’s diving team as well three years later.

She was a stalwart for both programs through elementary, middle school, and high school, also starring for the WW/P-North swim team and going to compete at the college level for Bryn Mawr.

Diversifying her involvement with the club in college, Adlai-Gail started serving as an assistant coach for the Lemmings. In 2020, she took the helm of the program but the team had no meets due to the pandemic, although it was able to have five weeks of practice.

This summer, Adlai-Gail was excited to guide the team through a Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA)  dual meet campaign and the season-ending Cicada Classic held at the Community Park pool.

“I definitely look forward to it every summer, I have always thought of Nassau as my second home,” said Adlai-Gail. more

MIDDLE OF THE ACTION: Infielder Kenny Schiavone waits for the ball in action this summer for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team. Middle infielder/pitcher Schiavone was a stalwart this summer for Post 218 as it went 4-14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In one sense, it was a disappointing season for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team as it went 4-14 this summer.

“That is the nature of the American Legion season once you run into a stretch of eight or nine games in a row, it takes a lot of mental discipline to keep doing well,” said Post 218 manager Benito Gonzalez, who was in his first summer at the helm of the program after the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic. 

“I think this is where I get a little competitive with myself thinking about it. The record really wasn’t what we wanted in the end at all which was frustrating.”

On the other hand, Gonzalez saw a lot of positives despite the record.

“But then if I look at it in another way, too, there was only one game where were truly outclassed,” said Gonzalez, whose squad won three out of four games after a 1-6 start but faded down the stretch with seven straight defeats. more