October 2, 2013
EYE ON THE BALL: Hun School field hockey player Julia Blake goes after the ball in action last fall. Last Thursday junior standout Blake scored the lone goal for Hun in a 3-1 loss to Princeton Day School. The Raiders, now 1-4, play at Stuart Country Day on October 2 before hosting Springside Academy (Pa.) on October 4, Princeton High on October 5, and Solebury School (Pa.) on October 8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

EYE ON THE BALL: Hun School field hockey player Julia Blake goes after the ball in action last fall. Last Thursday junior standout Blake scored the lone goal for Hun in a 3-1 loss to Princeton Day School. The Raiders, now 1-4, play at Stuart Country Day on October 2 before hosting Springside Academy (Pa.) on October 4, Princeton High on October 5, and Solebury School (Pa.) on October 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After starting the season with three close losses, the Hun School field hockey team appeared to be turning the corner as it hosted Princeton Day School last Thursday.

Building on a 1-0 win over WW/P-S three days earlier, Hun led the Panthers 1-0 at halftime in the annual meeting of cross-town rivals.

But in the second half, PDS scored three unanswered goals to pull out a 3-1 win over the Raiders.

As a result of the setback, Hun head coach Kathy Quirk went back to the drawing board.

“I thought that we were playing extremely well,” said Quirk, referring to her team’s first half effort.

“I don’t know what happened in the second half. We seem to get complacent when we get a goal.”

Quirk held an extended post-game session with her team in the wake of the loss.

“We just talked about being more goal hungry,” said Quirk. “We have to be more aggressive in the circle. We knock at the door but we are not scoring enough. One goal is not enough to win games.”

Quirk was happy to get goals from newcomer Julie Fassl in the victory over WW/P-S and from junior Julia Blake in the PDS game.

“Julie is a freshman; she is still young and learning,” said Quirk. “She scored a goal against WW/P-S and I think that gave her confidence. Julia Blake is doing a nice job for us.”

With Hun at 1-4, Quirk is looking for senior captains Francesca Bello, Alex Kane, and Hannah Bettner to get the team on the winning track.

“The kids are working hard,” said Quirk. “I talked to the captains about leadership and leading on and off the field. I need them to light a fire under the team.”

The Raiders have been getting some fiery play from junior goalie Reina Kern, who made 16 saves in the loss to PDS.

“Reina has been doing a nice job,” said Quirk. “She has been getting pounded at times. She is working hard and has to keep positive. I know she is the last person on defense but sometimes the ball is coming through 10 players in front of her.”

With Hun having shown a penchant in recent years for coming through down the stretch, Quirk hopes her team can make another late run.

“I think we do have the potential for that,” said Quirk, whose team plays at Stuart Country Day on October 2 before hosting Springside Academy (Pa.) on October 4, Princeton High on October 5, and Solebury School (Pa.) on October 8.

“I am thinking about making some changes in the lineup. I am looking to get some more speed on the forward line and some gutsiness in the circle.”

September 25, 2013
KICKING IN: Princeton High boys’ soccer player John Blair boots the ball in last year’s Group III state championship game which saw PHS tie Ramapo 1-1 for the title. This fall, senior midfielder and co-captain Blair has emerged as a top offensive threat for the Little Tigers, tallying three goals and a team-high five assists as PHS has produced a 3-1 start. The Little Tigers will look to keep on the winning track as they host Hamilton on September 26, play at Harrison on September 28, and then host Steinert on October 1.(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

KICKING IN: Princeton High boys’ soccer player John Blair boots the ball in last year’s Group III state championship game which saw PHS tie Ramapo 1-1 for the title. This fall, senior midfielder and co-captain Blair has emerged as a top offensive threat for the Little Tigers, tallying three goals and a team-high five assists as PHS has produced a 3-1 start. The Little Tigers will look to keep on the winning track as they host Hamilton on September 26, play at Harrison on September 28, and then host Steinert on October 1. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

John Blair quickly assumed the role of set-up man for Princeton High boys’ soccer team this fall, picking up three assists in the first two games of the season.

But with PHS clinging to a 1-0 lead against visiting Trenton High early in the second half last week, the senior midfielder displayed his finishing skills, getting free on a breakaway and calmly slotting the ball past the Tornado goalie.

“I saw the defender take a big touch; I went out and pressured him,” said Blair, reflecting on his tally in the September 17 contest. “I took a touch by him and just passed it around the goalkeeper.”

Blair’s goal opened the floodgates as the Little Tigers added three unanswered goals in a 12-minute span on the way to a 6-0 win.

“It gave us some motivation,” said Blair in assessing the impact of his tally. “We shut their offense down which really put the pressure on their defense. They lost their mental focus and we took advantage of that.”

For the Little Tigers, the lopsided win represented a major step forward at both ends of the field.

“It was the first clean sheet of the season which is a good thing; it is always our main goal,” said Blair.

“The phrase goes ‘offense wins games, defense wins championships’ so that is a good step in the right direction. For us to score six goals is also great. It is the most goals we have scored in a game so far this year and for there to be six different scorers, that is a good spread.”

While Blair enjoyed finding the back of the net in the victory over Trenton, he focuses on being a playmaker for PHS.

“My main goal is to get it to Kevin Halliday,” said Blair, referring to PHS star striker Halliday, who had 23 goals last year.

“All three of my assists were to Kevin so we are connecting pretty well. If we can continue to do that all season, we will be good.”

Having worked his way up in the PHS pecking order from reserve to key starter, Blair is savoring his final campaign with the program.

“I love being on the field, there is nothing like it, just the rush that I get and being able to play with my teammates is really cool,” said Blair, who certainly enjoyed himself last Thursday, tallying two goals and two assists as PHS routed Robbinsville 7-0 to improve to 3-1.

As a team co-captain along with Halliday, Blair prides himself on maintaining a cool head on the field.

“I try to keep the underclassmen’s heads up; they don’t have the experience that Kevin and I have because there are only three returning starters on the field along with Laurenz [Reimitz] in goal,” said Blair.

“We are really inexperienced so when they make a mistake, a lot of them will put their heads down so my goal is to keep their heads up so that instead of making another mistake they can fix it the next time.”

PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe believes that the win over Trenton shows that his squad is heading in the right direction.

“We are finding our form,” said Sutcliffe. “We are still a long way off but I think we are going to be fine. I am very happy with the game today, getting the first clean sheet in the home opener, it was great.”

Sutcliffe is very happy with the play he is getting from Blair. “John is a playmaker; he is our creative midfielder,” asserted Sutcliffe.

“Credit to him for coming out and really getting a quality goal early in the second half. I think we got some confidence after that second goal.”

Having a skilled finisher like Halliday at striker gives PHS a lot of confidence.

“Kevin is a guy who brings three years of being on the field” said Sutcliffe of Halliday, who scored a goal in the win over Trenton and added two more in the victory over Robbinsville to give him six on the season.

“He is getting in; he is finding his moments. We have just tried to get him up in and around and as close to the goal as we can.”

Junior star Chase Ealy produced a big moment late in the first half of the Trenton game, streaking down the side and blasting in the first goal of the contest.

“Chase on the flank is our priority; we always try to get to spring him from the left flank and get him in where he is most dangerous,” said Sutcliffe. “This all started last year. His first goal was great, he had a great game.”

PHS got a great game from his defense, which features new starters in senior Dalton Sekelsky together with sophomores Dwight Donis and Edgar Morales.

“The emphasis was to stay a little better organized; we found ourselves just chasing too much and being a little disorganized,” said Sutcliffe, whose team hosts Hamilton on September 26, plays at Harrison on September 28, and then hosts Steinert on October 1.

“Dalton is a first-year starter but his first three games have been fantastic.

I think with Dwight and Edgar in the center of the park, all credit to them, they played well. It was Laurenz’s first shutout of the year so credit to him too.”

Blair, for his part, believes that defending Group III state  co-champion PHS can be a title contender once again, even with heavy roster turnover.

“We have seven new starting faces, it is a big number,” said Blair. “We definitely have the individual talent, so if we are able to begin to work together as a team as we showed today, we could make it as far as we did last year.”

BREAKING LOOSE: Princeton High field hockey player Lucy ­Herring races up the field in action last season. On Wednesday, junior forward Herring scored the lone goal for PHS as it lost 2-1 to Hopewell Valley. The Little Tigers, who tied Peddie 3-3 on Saturday to move to 2-2-1, play at WW/P-S on September 25 and at Ewing on September 27 before hosting Notre Dame on September 30.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BREAKING LOOSE: Princeton High field hockey player Lucy ­Herring races up the field in action last season. On Wednesday, junior forward Herring scored the lone goal for PHS as it lost 2-1 to Hopewell Valley. The Little Tigers, who tied Peddie 3-3 on Saturday to move to 2-2-1, play at WW/P-S on September 25 and at Ewing on September 27 before hosting Notre Dame on September 30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With two years of varsity experience under her belt for the Princeton High field hockey team, Lucy Herring is calmer in the heat of battle.

“I think as a freshman and at the beginning of sophomore year, I was always very frantic with the ball and kind of jumpy whenever I got the ball,” said junior forward Herring.

“This year, I am definitely focusing on knowing my options before I get the ball and really slowing my tempo down in order to make better plays. It is just in the back of my mind now so I am always thinking about it.”

With PHS trailing Hopewell Valley 2-0 last Wednesday, Herring’s new coolness paid dividends for the Little Tigers as she scored with 4:55 left in regulation, firing in a feed from sophomore Trish Reilly.

“There was a lot of space on that and Trish was looking up,” recalled Herring.

“As she got the ball, she saw me at the top of the circle and it was a nice sweep. It was a good arrangement of passes and plays.”

While PHS continued to put the pressure on until the final whistle, it failed to add any goals and fell by that 2-1 margin.

Herring acknowledged that the Little Tigers waited too long to show a sense of urgency in the loss to the Bulldogs.

“We definitely didn’t expect the intensity that we should have from the start,” said Herring.

“At halftime, we realized that we really needed to pick it up. After that we really picked up our intensity and started pushing the ball forward. The communication improved tremendously in the second half. Through that, we were able to hear each other more and know where each other was.”

In addition to being battle-tested, Herring has put in extra work on her game to spur her improvement.

“Being a junior and it being my third year on the team has made me better,” said Herring.

“Also, playing with the Princeton field hockey club has helped me improve tremendously. We have sessions on Sundays during the fall and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the winter. The Princeton University coach Kristen Holmes Winn is remarkable; I can’t speak highly enough of her.”

PHS head coach Heather Serverson, for her part, wished that her players had shown a higher level of energy against HoVal.

“One of our goals was to make sure that we had at least 75 percent of all the loose balls and we didn’t do that,” said Serverson.

“Hopewell really stepped up to the ball well. We didn’t make that adjustment; we were waiting for it behind them. We were trying to hit it through them rather than around them, which wasn’t doesn’t work with a Hopewell team. They are very good at stopping the ball.”

While Serverson did see some good play from her team over the latter stages of the contest, it was too little, too late.

“We were focusing on quick passing instead of dribbling and telling the girls to know what’s open before you have the ball,” said Serverson.

“We cleaned it up a little bit with the passing but we couldn’t seem to intercept. We had the intensity that we needed in the beginning of the game too late. I think that’s what happened.”

In Severson’s view, Herring did give PHS what it needed. “I think Lucy played very well today,” asserted Serverson.

“She was one of the only forwards who cut back to the ball; she was one of the few that made the adjustment.”

In reflecting on the setback, Serverson believes that her squad needs to adjust its mentality.

“We need to learn a little bit more resilience,” said Serverson, whose team tied Peddie 3-3 last Saturday to move to 2-2-1.

“We need to adjust the intensity of our practices. The changes need to happen there and then I think it will come more easily on the field.”

Herring, for her part, believes the loss to HoVal could be a blessing in disguise if the Little Tigers build on how they played in the second half.

“Now we know how much better we can play once we put our minds together and get that communication set,” said Herring.

“We need to know our options before we get the ball, we can kind of work off of that and make sure before the next game that we think about that and remember how much better we played.”

GREAT BRIT: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Brit Murray controls the ball in recent action. Senior defender and co-captain Murray has sparked the Panthers at both ends of the field as the team has produced a 6-0 start. In upcoming action, PDS hosts Shipley School (Pa.) on September 26 before playing at Blair on September 28.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GREAT BRIT: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Brit Murray controls the ball in recent action. Senior defender and co-captain Murray has sparked the Panthers at both ends of the field as the team has produced a 6-0 start. In upcoming action, PDS hosts Shipley School (Pa.) on September 26 before playing at Blair on September 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Brit Murray was ready to shoulder more responsibility this fall in her senior campaign with the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team.

Having established herself as a pillar of the PDS defense over the last three years, Murray was asked to contribute to the Panther offense.

“Our coach [Pat Trombetta] asked me to be more of an attacking player and get more in the offense and get involved,” said Murray.

“With the outside backs getting up, it is really helping the center mids and the forwards and everyone is working hard off of each other. With me getting up, it is just opening up so much more space for everything.”

Against visiting Hun last Thursday, Murray’s new emphasis on scoring paid dividends as she booted in a Kirsten Kuzmicz pass some nine minutes into the contest to give PDS a 1-0 lead.

“It was a nice pass from Kirsten Kuzmicz, one of our great center mids; we have been working on that pass for a while,” said Murray.

“Kirsten has it in the middle and plays it out wide to whoever is running on it so we just try to take that shot. We have been doing a set play sometimes. It is coming together nicely. I was thinking I want to get it somewhere close to the net. I just tried to shift my foot in the direction of the net.”

Things kept going in the right direction for the Panthers as they pulled away to a 4-0 victory over Hun and improved to 5-0.

“I think this was our first game where we actually moved the ball around the field,” asserted Murray.

“We worked hard together; we were working for each other and not individually. I think our communication was just great. Our passing was great. Everything was just coming together like we have been practicing. That’s what we have been hoping for as a team.”

PDS is coming together much better as a team this fall, showing a new unity as the squad already surpassed its 2012 win total when it went 4-9-4.

“I think last year, our chemistry was not there,” said Murray, who helped the Panthers improve to 6-0 as they blanked the Hill School 3-0 last Monday.

“I think our chemistry is what is really helping us this year. We have tried to do a lot of team bonding; we are all just on the same page I think. On the field we always want to work for each other and not individually.”

Murray is assuming extra responsibility for that chemistry, serving as a team co-captain with classmate Lily Razzaghi.

“Lily and I have made it a point this year to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that the chemistry was perfect,” said Murray, who recently committed to the Iona College women’s soccer program. “No one is fighting or arguing; we just want to be like one team.”

PDS head coach Pat Trombetta credits Murray and the team’s other veterans with setting the right tone this fall.

“The team chemistry is excellent this year; that is due a lot to our leadership with the captains and the upperclassmen,” said Trombetta.

“Overall we have a strong upperclassmen group and they know with nine freshmen on the squad, they are taking them under their wings and being very good mentors and so forth. I like the way the girls are working together. It is a very close-knit group.”

Trombetta liked the way his team clicked in the win over Hun. “I was very happy with the effort today, especially in the first half,” said Trombetta whose team led 3-0 at intermission as junior Alexa Soltesz and freshman Allison Klei found the back of the net along with Murray in the first 40 minutes of the contest.

“I think the first half was probably our most complete half of the season. Everything was clicking on all cylinders. We were looking for each other. We were distributing the ball nicely.”

In Trombetta’s view, Murray’s two-way play has served to make PDS a more complete team.

“The difference with Brit Murray this year is that she is looking to attack from the outside,” said Trombetta.

“That is a big difference for us; we haven’t had that in the past. She is doing very well with it. I am giving her more free rein than I have in the past. They are coordinating pretty well out there. She is another weapon we can use coming out of the back.”

Junior forward Alexa Soltesz is another key weapon for the Panthers. “Alexa is a player who is going to get tightly marked up there,” said Trombetta.

“She still finds a gap and she has a quick explosive first step that opens up things for her.”

Senior midfielder Eloise Stanton is emerging as a key player for PDS.

“Eloise has been a bright surprise for us; she has four goals on the season and is probably our high scorer right now,” said Trombetta of Stanton, who scored a goal in the second half in the win over Hun.

“One of the things I said in the beginning of the season is that we needed contributions from our outside midfield and Eloise has stepped up and has accepted that challenge and she is doing great.”

PDS appears ready to challenge for titles. “I think we are definitely going to make a lot of noise in the preps,” said Trombetta, whose team hosts Shipley School (Pa.) on September 26 before playing at Blair on September 28.

“In the counties, we have got to do a better job of finishing. We have had a lot of opportunities, even today, in front of the net that we didn’t finish. If we can start finishing our chances, I think we could surprise a couple of teams.

Murray, for her part, believes the Panthers will finish strong. “I definitely feel it. I think we can make it to Prep championships. I think we are going to get a good seed in the MCT. I feel we are going to go far.”

DONNY FOOTBALL: Hun School junior quarterback Donavon Harris heads to daylight last Saturday as Hun fell 31-27 to visiting Seton Hall Prep in its season opener. Harris excelled in his first start at quarterback, going 17-of-30 passing for 156 yards and scoring on touchdown runs of 12 and 55 yards.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DONNY FOOTBALL: Hun School junior quarterback Donavon Harris heads to daylight last Saturday as Hun fell 31-27 to visiting Seton Hall Prep in its season opener. Harris excelled in his first start at quarterback, going 17-of-30 passing for 156 yards and scoring on touchdown runs of 12 and 55 yards. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While John Law couldn’t be sure what was going to happen last Saturday in his debut as the head coach of the Hun School football team, he already knew that his players possessed character.

When longtime Hun assistant coach Law suddenly took the helm of the program earlier this month as previous head coach Dave Dudeck was placed on administrative leave by the school due to ongoing litigation in connection with his tenure as Princeton police chief, the players didn’t miss a beat in preparing to face Seton Hall Prep in their opener.

“The kids are resilient,” said Law, who has been coaching at Hun for 23 years. “They are so task-oriented, they know what their goals are. The seniors have really taken that on. They were only concerned about Seton Hall Prep.”

In the early going of the contest last Saturday, Law was concerned as Hun made three turnovers and fell behind 3-0.

“You have new faces and new kids seeing varsity action for the first time,” said Law.

“We wanted them to play smart football sooner than later. It was evident in the game that we are not there yet.”

The team’s heart, though, was evident as Hun rallied to take a 13-10 lead at halftime. In the second half, the game turned into a topsy-turvy contest with the lead changing hands five times. In the end, Hun fell just short as it lost 31-27.

While Law was disappointed with the result, he had no qualms with the effort he got from his players.

“That was a heckuva high school football game,” asserted Law. “Seton Hall is a very good team and we think we are a very good team too. The heartbreak of it is that we ask the players to give everything they have got and they left it all on the field but we couldn’t overcome our mistakes.”

The Raiders appear to have a good one-two punch in the backfield with junior quarterback Donavon Harris and junior running back Christopher Sharp. Harris went 17-of-30 passing for 156 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 12 and 55 yards while Sharp had touchdown jaunts of 27 and 12 yards.

“Donavon is what we were hoping for; he had never taken a snap before,” said Law.

“We definitely think he is a dual threat. It was amazing to see some of the things that he did and how he managed the game. He has a bright future. Chris is another young kid who is learning. He is an exceptional talent. He is learning tailback, he played receiver last year. The more experience he gets, the better he is going to be.”

Hun got some good play in the trenches from seniors Colton Jumper and Andrew Foster.

“I was really happy with Colton Jumper, he is a middle linebacker out of Tennessee,” added Law.

“He was a rock in the middle and he really helped with the leadership. Andrew Foster did a good job on the line.”

Overall, Law is enthusiastic about his team’s prospects going forward. “When you go into the first game, you don’t know what it is going to look like,” said Law.

“We thought that we had hungry, talented kids who like to play and are physical and we saw that.”

Law acknowledges that Hun needs to fine-tune its execution. “I knew we were going to make some mistakes but I was disappointed by how many we made,” said Law.

“It starts in practice by being regimented and disciplined. We had some first game jitters.”

As he reflected on his first game at the helm of the program, Law acknowledged that he experienced some jitters.

“It is a little different,” said Law. “My coaching staff was instrumental in helping me. Coach [Pat] Jones took over the offense which allowed me to stay with the defense. There was a lot of emotion. I told the coaches to stay calm and focus on what is going on and I tried to do that.”

PUSHING BACK: Hun School girls’ soccer player Jess ­Johnson, right, battles for the ball in recent action. Sophomore midfielder Johnson and the Raiders fell 1-0 to Mount St. Mary Academy last Saturday to drop to 0-4. In upcoming action, Hun hosts the George School (Pa.) on September 27 and Pennington on October 1.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

PUSHING BACK: Hun School girls’ soccer player Jess ­Johnson, right, battles for the ball in recent action. Sophomore midfielder Johnson and the Raiders fell 1-0 to Mount St. Mary Academy last Saturday to drop to 0-4. In upcoming action, Hun hosts the George School (Pa.) on September 27 and Pennington on October 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Over the last decade, the annual showdown between the Hun School and Princeton Day School girls’ soccer teams has featured a number of tight games.

As Hun took the field last Thursday at PDS, it looked like the cross-town rivals could be headed for another nailbiter with the teams knotted in a scoreless tie eight minutes into the contest.

But the Panthers broke the ice on a goal by Brit Murray with 31:15 remaining in the half and then broke the game open with two more tallies as they took a 3-0 lead at halftime.

Hun’s first-year head coach Joanna Hallac acknowledged that her squad found itself on its heels early in the contest.

“The first few minutes I thought we looked OK but then they settled down and really took control and didn’t look back.”

PDS ended up pulling away to a 4-0 victory, a rare lopsided game in the series.

In assessing her team’s effort, Hallac acknowledged that it turned into a long day for the Raiders.

“We were under pressure the whole 80 minutes and we didn’t respond well to it,” said Hallac.

“There were maybe one or two sequences where we possessed the ball for more than two passes. You are not going to generate a lot of offense that way. We just didn’t put our defenders and especially our goaltender in a very good position today so it was tough.”

In order to get into a winning position, Hallac believes that her players need to work harder on the practice field.

“It is going to be tough competition every game,” said Hallac, whose team fell 1-0 to Mount St. Mary Academy last Saturday and has now been outscored 10-0 on the season.

“There are not going to be any easy games and we have to train harder. The training needs to be better because the competition we are facing is intense and they are physical.”

Things were made harder for Hun in the PDS game as all three of its co-captains, Olivia Braender-Carr, Ashley Maziarz, and Jess Sacco, were sidelined by injury. Although that was a disadvantage against PDS, Hallac believes it will help the squad in the long run.

“The oldest players we had out there were three sophomores,” said Hallac. “It was tough not having any veteran players that can help calm things down and control the game. The freshmen are nervous. They have been working hard and this is going to give them great experience going forward. It is hard right now.”

Hun needs to be tougher at both ends of the field going forward. “I want to see possession; we can’t seem to possess the ball very well,” said Hallac, whose team hosts the George School (Pa.) on September 27 and Pennington on October 1.

“We need possession with intent to go forward and be offensive. We need better defending as a team. We get pulled out of shape really quickly and easily. They are just not showing the potential I have seen and that they showed in preseason. I think that has to do a little bit with injuries. It is a work in progress.”

September 18, 2013
HALEY’S COMET: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Haley Bodden boots the ball in recent action. Sophomore midfielder Bodden has been a catalyst this fall for PHS, tallying a goal and four assists in PHS’s first two games as the Little Tigers have produced a 2-0 start. PHS will look to keep on the winning track as it hosts Robbinsville on September 19 in its first appearance on the school’s new turf field and then plays at Lawrence High on September 24.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HALEY’S COMET: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Haley Bodden boots the ball in recent action. Sophomore midfielder Bodden has been a catalyst this fall for PHS, tallying a goal and four assists in PHS’s first two games as the Little Tigers have produced a 2-0 start. PHS will look to keep on the winning track as it hosts Robbinsville on September 19 in its first appearance on the school’s new turf field and then plays at Lawrence High on September 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While Haley Bodden starred on defense last year in her freshman season for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team as the squad won a sectional title, she was ready for a switch this fall.

Moving up to midfield for the 2013 campaign, Bodden has made an immediate impact from her new spot, tallying a goal and four assists in PHS’ first two games, helping the Little Tigers to a 2-0 start.

For Bodden, the switch has allowed her to assume her natural spot on the field.

“I usually play that position but last year I played sweeper to help them out, they needed me there,” said Bodden, after picking three assists in a 5-4 win over Hightstown last week.

“I think being a playmaker is a lot better for me because I can give them balls like today and get assists like today. I think it worked out pretty well.”

Bodden has been working well with junior forward Shannon Pawlak, who has five goals in the team’s first two games, including a hat trick in the victory over Hightstown.

“Shannon is really good with her feet so if I give her a ball, I know she will be able to turn around and just finish it for us,” said Bodden. “I can rely on her a lot.”

PHS needed the one-two punch of Bodden and Pawlak in the topsy-turvy Hightstown game which saw the Rams battle back from being down 2-0, 3-1, and 4-2 only to tie the game at 4-4 with 14:00 left in regulation.

“After we scored a few goals I felt we got the momentum,” said Bodden. “Then they scored and we kind of lost it on defense. But I think we brought ourselves back together. We finished it on a good note.”

With one high school season under her belt, Bodden believes she can do some good things this fall.

“This year I know that it is OK to make mistakes,” said Bodden. “I know that everyone makes mistakes but we all help each other in the long run. I feel more powerful on the field this year. Last year I was kind of timid.”

In Bodden’s view, PHS can build on last year’s experience to be a power again.

“It gave us a lot of confidence,” said Bodden, referring to the team’s run to the Group III state semis in 2012.

“I didn’t know this year if we were going to be as good as last year. We look pretty good, I don’t know what is going to happen but hopefully it will be just like last year.”

PHS head coach Greg Hand thought his offense looked pretty good in the victory over Hightstown.

“We created four very good high quality goals and then the fifth one was a nice hustle goal,” said Hand.

“It wasn’t the finishes, it was the fact that there were four or five very intentional passes that showed some real understanding of how to create a chance so that was terrific.

Hand credits Bodden with creating some great chances for the Little Tigers from the midfield.

“Haley is doing a terrific job on attack and there are two sides to it,” asserted Hand.

“One, when she has the opportunity to do something by herself, she’ll take the initiative. But she is reading when she needs to be there to support someone else and just help them really pressure. She is a real cog in that.”

Another key cog for PHS is senior star Dana Smith. “Likewise Dana, who worked end to end today, has done a terrific job of being involved in the development of most every scoring chance that we get,” said Hand.

“That’s what we need, we want her to touch the ball somewhere in that progression because she finds people so quickly.”

Junior star Shannon Pawlak has been displaying an uncanny finishing touch for the Little Tigers.

“It is wonderful; a forward is never going to score 100 percent of her chances but she does some wonderful things to give herself a view of the goal,” said Hand of Pawlak.

“The finishes that she has converted and a few that she has just missed have been really, really excellent.”

Hand acknowledges that his squad wasn’t excellent at the defensive end against Hightstown.

“As hard as we were working and we were working really hard, we made a lot of mistakes that were matters of concentration and focus,” said Hand, whose team hosts Robbinsville on September 19 in its first appearance on the school’s new turf field and then plays at Lawrence High on September 24.

“I am just concerned that when we are playing in a hard fought, fast-moving game that we tend to make mistakes that we are well aware we shouldn’t be making. It is frustrating but I think that is the kind of thing you can fix if the players make it an item among themselves as to how they are going to handle tight game situations.”

Bodden, for her part, believes that the team has the chemistry to address that situation.

“Our communication is a lot better since we know each other, we know how we play with each other and how each person plays by themselves,” said Bodden.

“We know how to support in the right way and send balls and we know that our teammates will get on them.”

CHARLIE COMPANY: Princeton High football head coach Charlie Gallagher prowls the sideline during a recent practice. Last Friday, PHS fell 35-0 at Northern Burlington in the season opener and Gallagher’s debut at the helm of the program. The Little Tigers will look to get on the winning track when they host Hightstown on September 21 in their first game on the school’s new turf field.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CHARLIE COMPANY: Princeton High football head coach Charlie Gallagher prowls the sideline during a recent practice. Last Friday, PHS fell 35-0 at Northern Burlington in the season opener and Gallagher’s debut at the helm of the program. The Little Tigers will look to get on the winning track when they play at Hightstown on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Opening its season at Northern Burlington last Thursday, the Princeton High football team got off to a rough start, falling behind 7-0 on first play from scrimmage.

But thunderstorms hit the area and the game was suspended until Friday afternoon when it was picked up in progress in the first quarter.

Unfortunately, PHS was struck by lightning on Friday, this time in the form of Northern Burlington running back Kenyatta Green, who rushed for 163 yards on 10 carries and scored four touchdowns as the Greyhounds jumped out to a 35-0 halftime lead.

“He is obviously a quality running back,” said Gallagher of Green. “We didn’t play him last year but we had heard things about him. You need all 11 hats on him. He is a violent runner, he was slinging people all over.”

Facing such a large deficit, Gallagher decided to mix things up a little bit in the second half.

“At half, we decided to try some different people,” said Gallagher.

“We wanted to get a couple of scores but it was an opportunity to find more ball players. We wanted them to keep their heads up and stay positive.”

While the score ended up 35-0, Gallagher saw some positives over the last 24 minutes of the contest as he made his debut at the helm of the program.

“On defense, we had some guys who played really well,” said Gallagher, a former assistant coach for PHS who was elevated to take over for Joe Gargione.

“Colin Buckley did well at end. We moved Liam Helstrom to middle linebacker and he did well. We moved Chris Harisiades from linebacker to defense end and he made some plays there. Sam Smallzman took some big hits at quarterback but he delivered some big hits at linebacker.”

Gallagher acknowledged that his offense needs to deliver some more production.

“Both quarterbacks (Smallzman and Dave Beamer) went 3-for-11 passing; we need to have a better completion rate,” said Gallagher.

“We need to run the ball more. I think we only had 11 attempts. We couldn’t get anything going. We had a lot of three and outs. We had the ball on their 50 a couple of times but we didn’t get any deeper than the 15-yard line.”

PHS is determined to have a better day when it plays at Hightstown on September 20.

“We didn’t look pretty against Northern Burlington and it wasn’t pretty for Hightstown against Nottingham (a 48-7 loss), the defending Central Jersey Group III champions,” said Gallagher. “We are looking at film of Hightstown and we will try to figure them out. We need to get on the board a few times and try to hold them and make it a low scoring game.”

Coming into the fall, the Hun School girls’ tennis team faced a major obstacle before it even played a match.

The school’s tennis courts are being ripped up to make way for a new school building and a reconfiguration of the tennis facility on campus. As a result, the team is practicing and playing across town at the Community Park tennis courts.

Hun head coach Joan Nuse acknowledged that the arrangement has required some flexibility.

“It is a challenge to go off campus everyday,” said Nuse, whose team opens regular season play with a match at Stuart Country Day on September 21.

“We take a bus over to the Community Park. At least it is close and the courts are fine.”

As Nuse assesses her squad, she believes she has some fine singles players in junior Steph Taylor, sophomore Caroline Wilkinson, and freshman Paige Braithwaite.

While Nuse hasn’t sorted out who will be in each of the three singles slots in the lineup, she is confident each player can excel.

“We are working on it; they are really close in tennis ability,” said Nuse.

“They are all strong players. Caroline is a real surprise; I didn’t know she was going to play. Paige was on the middle school team so I knew her from that. Steph keeps improving. She got contact lenses and is actually seeing the ball. She is an all-around player.”

The doubles lineup features a veteran in junior Olivia Hartman together with three newcomers, sophomore Olivia Kotler, sophomore Rachel Heller, and freshman Tali Prozementer.

“We are young, it is nice to have a team like that,” said Nuse. “We have some solid talent. They have nice singles games and we are trying to incorporate their singles skills into doubles.”

With the Mercer County Tournament starting on September 23 at Mercer County Park, Hun is looking for a solid effort at the competition.

“We are just going to go in and see how people do,” said Nuse. “We hope we can win some matches and get some experience.”

Nuse is confident that her young squad can get some wins to go with the experience as the fall unfolds. “I think we can continue to grow and improve as we get to the end of the season on November 9,” said Nuse.

In Nuse’s view, the players have shown a desire to get better as a group.

“They have a good attitude; it is nice that they all get along,” said Nuse.

“Steph is a leader and is going to be a captain. She gives good leadership and helps keep them on the right path. They have actually asked to do more conditioning. They want to be in better condition so they can perform at their best.”

HERE COMES THE SUN: Princeton Day School girls’ tennis star Renee Karchere-Sun hits a backhand in a match last season. Sophomore Karchere-Sun has moved up to first singles for PDS this fall and has helped the Panthers get off to a 2-1 start. PDS has matches at the George School (Pa.) on September 18 and at the Hill School (Pa.) on September 20 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament on September 23 at Mercer County Park.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HERE COMES THE SUN: Princeton Day School girls’ tennis star Renee Karchere-Sun hits a backhand in a match last season. Sophomore Karchere-Sun has moved up to first singles for PDS this fall and has helped the Panthers get off to a 2-1 start. PDS has matches at the George School (Pa.) on September 18 and at the Hill School (Pa.) on September 20 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament on September 23 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Experiencing mixed results in its first full week of regular season play, the Princeton Day School girls’ team fell 5-0 to public school power Haddonfield before topping Prep B rival Rutgers Prep 5-0.

For PDS head coach Ed Tseng, his team’s performance in defeat was more heartening than in the easy win.

“I like having them in the beginning, playing a tough match in the beginning makes other matches seem easier,” said Tseng, reflecting on the matchup against Haddonfield.

“Also, getting beat is a wake-up call. Even though we lost, I look at the effort, they didn’t give up, that is a plus. Rutgers Prep was about a 180-degree difference in skills; it was a hot day and we stayed focused.”

Sophomore Renee Karchere-Sun has shown increased focus as she has taken over the first singles spot for graduated star Samantha Asch, a four-time Mercer County Tournament singles champion who is now playing at Wake Forest.

“Renee is still a sophomore and she is definitely getting used to the No. 1 spot,” said Tseng.

“She will face a lot of tough matches; the key is how she responds. She is being more of a leader, maybe because it is because she is No. 1 and more comfortable with the team.”

The PDS team was happy to welcome Lawrenceville junior transfer Maria Martinovic, who has slotted in at second singles.

“Maria is a nice addition,” said Tseng. “She is a great girl and a great player. She is a steady player and she is fit, those are her main strengths.”

At third singles, the Panthers feature junior Emily Dyckman, one of the program’s steadiest players over the years.

“Emily played quite a bit this summer which is always good,” said Tseng. “She is a great team player and has a great attitude. She is one of the veterans.”

The pair of junior Charlotte Zaininger and sophomore Devika Kumar at first doubles form a good mix of playing styles.

“Charlotte is like a wall, she is so consistent,” said Tseng. “Charlotte likes to play doubles and is a nice doubles player. Devika is an athlete; she also plays basketball. She is great at the net.”

The second doubles team of junior Hope Boozan and freshman Touria Salvati is showing some great potential.

“Hope has been playing on the team the last few years,” said Tseng. “Touria has good playing experience and got injured and is just coming back. They were more similar to each other than the first doubles team. They play well together.”

Tseng is confident that his team will play well at the upcoming Mercer County Tournament (MCT), which is slated to take place on September 23 and 25 at Mercer County Park.

“Two years ago we won the MCT and last year we won the Prep B,” said Tseng, whose team will tune up for the MCT with matches at the George School (Pa.) on September 18 and at the Hill School (Pa.) on September 20.

“Every year, I think we have a chance. It is sports so there are no guarantees. South [WW/P-S] looks like the team to beat but if we can get through the first round and the other teams beat each other up, who knows? It depends on matchups. I think we are deeper than we were last year.”

No matter what happens at the MCT, Tseng believes his team is going to have a positive fall.

“I am very happy with the way they are working,” said Tseng. “They are enjoying themselves and are having fun.”

In the view of Stuart Country Day School tennis coach Katherine Stoltenberg, her team’s win over Pennington last week marked the harbinger of things to come.

“We played well, it was great to win,” said second-year head coach Stoltenberg reflecting on the Tartans’ 4-1 victory last Wednesday. “It was the first win for the girls; it was a good starting point.”

Building on that triumph, Stuart topped George School (Pa.) 3-2 last Thursday and then edged Country Day School of the Sacred Heart 3-2 on Saturday. “We are on a pretty good roll,” said Stoltenberg, whose team ended the week with a 3-1 record.

Junior co-captain Maya Kuang has been on a roll this year as she has taken over the first singles spot.

“Maya played first doubles last year so she has made a big jump this year,” said Stoltenberg. “She has learned more about singles strategy. It is a lot different than doubles; you don’t have a partner to bounce ideas off or rely on. She doesn’t come to the net as much. Her groundstrokes are better and she has a nice slice. Her serve has improved a lot.”

At second singles, Julia Rourke has proven to be one of Stuart’s most reliable performers.

“Julia is our other junior and co-captain,” said Stoltenberg. “This is her third year at second singles so she has great experience at that spot.”

Freshman Caitlyn Delaney is showing great potential at third singles. “Caitlyn did real well in the preseason to get that spot,” said Stoltenberg.

“She has three wins in a row. She is a fighter; she will play long games to win a set.”

It is a family affair at doubles for the Tartans as the four McGowen sisters, sophomore triplets Pam, Natalie, and Juliet, together with freshman Ally comprise the two pairs.

“They are a great group of girls; they help the whole team’s morale because they get along so well,” said Stoltenberg.

“Of course, they know each other really well and they are getting to know each other on the court better.”

In sorting out the doubles teams, the sisters had to work through some sibling rivalry.

“It was the first time they had to challenge each other,” noted Stoltenberg, who has Pam and Natalie at first doubles with Juliet and Ally at second doubles.

“They have taken the opportunity well; the pairs are working out well. It was the way the ladder worked out; it came down to how they did in the challenge matches. The first pair, Pam and Natalie, have a good strong game. They are both good baseline players but they know when to come to the net. Juliet and Ally like to come to the net a lot, that is good to see in doubles.”

Stoltenberg is confident she will see some good things from her players next week when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament (MCT) at Mercer County Park starting on September 23.

“We will play some big public schools that we don’t usually get to see,” said Stoltenberg, whose team will play at the Ranney School on September 20 and host Hun on September 21 before starting action in the MCT.

“My girls are always ready to fight. They also have a good time and support each other. They have fun.”

Based on the team’s promising start, it looks like the Tartans are going to  have a lot of fun this fall.

“We don’t have any seniors and we have only two juniors and only one of them went back to her old spot,” said Stoltenberg.

“We have a lot of players at new positions. We will get experience and exposure this season. All of them are returning, it looks good for us further down the road. It is a good mix of girls. They really support each other. They stay and cheer for each other.”

GOOD SERVIS: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Sam Servis heads upfield in action last fall. Last Thursday, sophomore Servis scored the game-winning goal in overtime as Stuart edged the George School (Pa.) 2-1. The Tartans, now 2-2, play at South Hunterdon on September 20 and at Pennington on September 24.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOOD SERVIS: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Sam Servis heads upfield in action last fall. Last Thursday, sophomore Servis scored the game-winning goal in overtime as Stuart edged the George School (Pa.) 2-1. The Tartans, now 2-2, play at South Hunterdon on September 20 and at Pennington on September 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In the wake of a one-sided loss to Princeton Day School last week, Sam Servis and her teammates on the Stuart Country Day School field hockey squad did some soul-searching.

“We had a talk after the PDS game and it was about getting our heads in the game,” said sophomore forward Servis.

Hosting the George School (Pa.) last Thursday, Stuart was on its game from the start, dominating possession and outshooting the Cougars 6-0 in the first half.

“We connected really well,” said Servis. “At the PDS game, we didn’t come out with intensity but this game we did.”

Despite keeping the ball in its offensive end for most of that half, Stuart found itself locked in a 0-0 tie at halftime. Some six minutes into the second half, George scored to take a 1-0 lead.

The Stuart players, though, didn’t lose their heads, tying the game at 1-1 two minutes later on a goal by Tori Hannah and then winning the game 2-1 in overtime on a breakaway goal by Servis.

“It was super frustrating but we kept going,” said Servis. “We knew we would get there eventually. We came together and we said we are a good team and we can do this and we can beat them and we did.”

As the teams headed into overtime, Servis felt some nerves. “I was concerned because we had played the full 60 minutes and we were really tired but they were tired too,” said Servis.

“We talked again and we just said, give it our all because this is the last 10 minutes of the game. We are good to go and we can rest our legs.”

As Servis raced into the circle with just over a minute left in overtime, she was determined to end the contest.

“I really needed to make this,” recalled Servis with a grin. “I did look up and I saw that the goalie was to the left a little more than she was to the right so I tried really hard to get it to the right so that is where I aimed for. I was lucky I had a teammate there to help. It was good.”

Since last season, Servis has tried hard to become a better player for the Tartans.

“I joined a club team and I worked all winter and spring,” said Servis, who plays for the Spirit Eagles club program. “I have definitely improved my skills a lot. I think that this year I am a lot better and I can help my team more.”

Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik saw a big improvement in her team from the PDS defeat.

“It is hard, early in the season; it is not just a physical game, it is also very mental,” said Bruvik, whose team fell 4-1 to WW/P-S last Monday to move to 2-2.

“You have to be mentally prepared so we worked on that yesterday. I think even more important in terms of being down there today was how we worked the ball up the field and how we worked it on our attack.”

Due to Stuart’s good work on attack, Bruvik wasn’t fazed when her team fell behind early in the second half.

“I felt that we still had enough control of that game that if we keep playing hard, we will finish,” said Bruvik.

“I didn’t think another 30 minutes was going to go by and we weren’t going to be able to out it in just because of our play in the circle.”

Bruvik was impressed by Servis’ finish on the game-winning tally. “Sam was knocking on the door and she is one of the most unselfish forwards,” said Bruvik. “I think there are multiple times she has the opportunity to take the shot and she looks to pass. I think when she knew she was the only one, she had to take it. She’s also out it in a space where a teammate was because that is the way she thinks.”

The Tartans also got some inspired play in the win over George from sophomores Hannah and Kate Walsh.

“Tori had much better control today, she was keeping the ball down, finding her teammates,” said Bruvik, who also cited the play of senior star Amy Hallowell. “Kate Walsh played center back for the first time and she stepped up beautifully. She stayed composed and made some good stops today.”

Bruvik is hoping her team will get more and more control of the game as the season goes on.

“We talked about Tuesday’s big defeat and what do we take from that,” said Bruvik, whose team plays at South Hunterdon on September 20 and at Pennington on September 24.

“I think we are still in a little bit of a rebuilding process and we have to take it one game at a time. We have to break it down and be patient with ourselves and patient with each other. Nobody should be frustrated.”

Servis, for her part, believes the team, led by its core of sophomores is working well with each other.

“I love the sophomores; I love the entire team,” said Servis. “We do hang out as a grade. We just have a connection that really helps us get the ball around. We know where we are; we know each other’s voices. It is great to know each other so well like we do.”

September 11, 2013
RAISED HOPES: Members of the Princeton High football team gather together during a recent practice session. Coming off a 2-8 season, PHS is primed to get back on the winning track under new head coach Charlie Gallagher. The Little Tigers kick off their 2013 season by playing at Northern Burlington on September 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RAISED HOPES: Members of the Princeton High football team gather together during a recent practice session. Coming off a 2-8 season, PHS is primed to get back on the winning track under new head coach Charlie Gallagher. The Little Tigers kick off their 2013 season by playing at Northern Burlington on September 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Things have been hectic for Charlie Gallagher as he has taken the helm of the Princeton High football program.

“I tried to prepare as much as I could over the summer to be ready for the practices and to have the playbook completed,” said Gallagher, an assistant with the program for five years before moving up to replace previous head coach Joe Gargione.

“We only had three coaches coming back from last year’s staff, including me. We have five new coaches, we are putting in a new offense and a new defensive scheme and we are trying to get on the same page.”

Based on the team’s play in the preseason, it appears that coaches and players have been getting on the same page.

“I think we have done a nice job of preparing the kids; I think we have gotten better in each scrimmage,” asserted Gallagher, who is taking over a squad that posted a 2-8 record in 2012.

“The South Hunterdon scrimmage was average but it was good to hit someone else. North (WW/P-N) was a great scrimmage; we didn’t put as many points on the board as we wanted but the defense played well. Against Robbinsville, we were on top after three quarters. The offense did a nice job, putting 19 points on the board. I think the kids have responded well.”

Junior Sam Smallzman has responded well as he has taken over as starting quarterback spot for graduated star Zack DiGregorio.

“We have a really fantastic quarterback in Sam Smallzman; he is a great leader,” said Gallagher, whose team opens the 2013 campaign with a game at Northern Burlington on September 12.

“He is a phenomenal football player. There are not many guys that play quarterback and middle linebacker. He worked real hard in the offseason. He wanted to lift with the team this spring and he also went out for the track team to learn how to sprint. He has worked on his passing game; that is much improved. First and foremost, he is a great leader for the kids.

PHS will feature a leading offensive threat at receiver in senior star Liam Helstrom.

“When everyone sees Liam, they are going to double team him,” said Gallagher.

“He is 6’2, 195 and he bench presses 285 pounds. He had a great year at tight end for us last year and he is going to be one of the strongest wide receivers around. We need to make sure to get others the ball; the rest of the offense has to be involved.”

Gallagher will be looking to get the ball to junior Colin Buckley, senior Will Harrison, and sophomore Rory Helstrom in the running game.

“Buckley has moved from guard to fullback,” said Gallagher. “He is a good lacrosse player; he has endurance and speed. Will is a scatback; he is a tough kid. Rory will also be at running back.”

PHS has some tough young kids at offensive line in sophomore Noah Ziegler, junior Omar Moustafa, sophomore Matt Poplin, junior Brian Lemus-Camey, junior Tom Moore, and senior Jo-Jo Kuranche.

“On the line, we are young, we have two sophomores, two or three juniors, and a senior,” said Gallagher.

“Ziegler is at left tackle, Moustafa is at left guard, Poplin is at center, Lemus-Carney is at right guard, and Moore is at right tackle. Jo-Jo can play anywhere.”

Gallagher is confident that his defense will play well. “We are running a 50 front,” said Gallagher.

“Our No. 1 goal is to stop the run. We need to make teams pass because when teams pass, three things can happen and two of them are bad. The odds are in our favor if we can stop the run.”

In preseason play, the Little Tigers have done a good job of stopping foes.

“I think the defense usually clicks sooner than the offense,” asserted Gallagher.

“Buckley and Jo-Jo are at tackle, Harrison is at strong safety, Mike Chonka is at free safety, and Rory will also be at defensive back. Sam is a player. Liam and Buckley can really get after the quarterback, we have seen that in scrimmages.”

In Gallagher’s view, the Little Tigers are ready to get after it collectively.

“I think we can be OK; we want to win football games this year,” said Gallagher.

“We want the games to be competitive and go down to the wire. We want it to matter at the end.”

In order to be more competitive, PHS will need some luck and execution. “The No. 1 thing is to stay healthy; we only have 48 or 49 kids and 15 of them are freshmen,” said Gallagher.

“Will Harrison is a really big component for us. He has the ability to be a great football player; we need to get him holes. We need 75-80 yards from him a game. We also need to win the turnover battle. We have done a good job of that in the scrimmages.”

PHS is facing a battle in its opener against Northern Burlington. “We are excited for that game,” said Gallagher.

“We have beaten them two years in a row and they have been in the state semis. We know they are a good ball team and they are going to pull out all their stops to beat us.”

SURE SHOT: Princeton High girls’ tennis star Christina Rosca hits a forehand in action last fall. Sophomore Rosca is back at first singles for PHS as the Little Tigers look to pick up where they left off in 2012 when they went 20-1 and advanced to the Group III state championship match. The Little Tigers are 2-0 so far this fall and hope to keep on the winning track as they host Robbinsville on September 12 before playing at Hamilton on September 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SURE SHOT: Princeton High girls’ tennis star Christina Rosca hits a forehand in action last fall. Sophomore Rosca is back at first singles for PHS as the Little Tigers look to pick up where they left off in 2012 when they went 20-1 and advanced to the Group III state championship match. The Little Tigers are 2-0 so far this fall and hope to keep on the winning track as they host Robbinsville on September 12 before playing at Hamilton on September 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Surpassing expectations last fall, the Princeton High girls’ tennis team produced a season to remember as it went 20-1 and advanced to the Group III state championship match.

Picking up where it left off, PHS opened its 2013 campaign by breezing past Allentown 5-0 last Friday, winning all five matches in straight sets and losing only four games in the process.

“Any time you get the first win of the season it is good,” said PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert, whose team improved to 2-0 with a 5-0 win over Hightstown last Monday. “The girls want to duplicate or exceed last year’s success.”

A major factor in PHS’s success is the play of sophomore Christina Rosca at first singles.

“Chris is looking strong,” said Hibbert. “She does everything well. I think she has a year of experience of high school under her belt and another year of tournaments. She has played a lot of tough matches. She enjoys being part of the team, tennis is such an individual sport. Our goal this year is to put together a strong lineup to supplement her.

In Hibbert’s view, junior Rory Lewis gives the team a strong performer at second singles.

“Rory has worked hard every year,” said Hibbert. “As a freshman, she was close to being in the lineup but we had six seniors that year so it was tough. Last year, she was a little nervous in her challenge matches. As soon as the year got started, she clicked with Maddie [Cahill-Sanidas] at first doubles. Playing with Maddie helped her game and gave her confidence. If you would go by the courts in the offseason, there was a good chance that she was out there playing. She has worked really hard on her game and she is ready to play.”

Junior Katelyn Hojelbane is ready for a another season at third singles. “Katelyn played there last year,” noted Hibbert. “She gives a lot of strength to our singles lineup. She has a year of experience in that spot and hopefully that will help.”

As the season gets underway, Hibbert is still searching to find her strongest options at doubles.

“Our doubles is a work in progress; we have four players I am going to start with and I have others nipping at their heels who have strengths and weaknesses,” said Hibbert, noting that senior Allison Hubert, sophomore Chenchen Wang, junior Zhenia Dementyev, sophomore Nikhita Salgame, freshman Elise Gerdes, freshman Brina Suppiah, and sophomore Gillian Samios are all in the mix.

“I have an idea of how we are going to start the season. There is always a possibility of changing the lineup. We are hoping to get the doubles pairings that will complement singles. Our strength has typically been our depth. We have a lot of good players.”

In Hibbert’s view, getting the doubles pairings right will go a long way in determining whether PHS can make another deep run in the state tourney.

“The doubles is the key to our success,” said Hibbert, whose team hosts Robbinsville on September 12 before playing at Hamilton on September 16.

“It is easy to come up against a team with one or two strong players. We have that point at the top of the lineup. The doubles coming together is a key; it is important to be consistent. I feel our second and third singles can do well but it is important to have depth at doubles.”

MORE TO COME: Princeton Day School field hockey player Morgan Foster heads upfield in PDS’s 5-1 loss to Germantown Academy (Pa.) last Friday in its season opener. Junior defender Foster notched her first career goal in the setback as she accounted for the Panthers’ only tally. In upcoming action, PDS is scheduled to host Northern Burlington on September 12 before playing at Peddie on September 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MORE TO COME: Princeton Day School field hockey player Morgan Foster heads upfield in PDS’s 5-1 loss to Germantown Academy (Pa.) last Friday in its season opener. Junior defender Foster notched her first career goal in the setback as she accounted for the Panthers’ only tally. In upcoming action, PDS is scheduled to host Northern Burlington on September 12 before playing at Peddie on September 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Tracey Arndt possesses extensive experience with Pennsylvania field hockey, having starred at Pennsbury High and then going on to Penn State where she earned All-American honors.

Last week, Arndt’s Princeton Day School field hockey team got a double dose of the Keystone State, topping Penn Charter 5-2 in a scrimmage on September 10 before falling to Germantown Academy 5-1 last Friday in the regular season opener.

“Any of the private schools or public schools in that Pennsylvania area are very good and I am actually glad that we got to play them,” said Arndt, who is in her second season as the PDS head coach.

“We played a great game against Penn Charter, which is another private school over there the other day. They are great competition for us. I think we are going to see teams just as strong. It really got us going. To me, you have to play some of the best teams to know where you are standing.”

Against Germantown, the Panthers were trailing 2-1 at half but couldn’t find a rhythm in the second half.

“I think we did really well the other day, so build on the strengths that we had in the other game and come out firing,” said Arndt.

“I think we had so many opportunities; our finishing wasn’t there. The first shot was going but the second and third shots weren’t going. They were pretty tenacious defensively and their goalie certainly stepped up to make some saves.”

With PDS trailing 4-1 with 15:28 remaining, Arndt took a timeout to urge her team to battle to the final whistle.

“I told them at the timeout that it was a gut check; it doesn’t matter if the score is 1-0 or 7-0, you have to pretend it’s a tie game or you are down one and keep fighting and don’t get down on yourself,” said Arndt, who got a goal from junior Morgan Foster in the game as she notched the first goal of her PDS field hockey career.

“I thought this was a great lead-up for the rest of the season. The result is not what we wanted but we have tough games the whole season and with such a low number of players, we have to rely on every single person. We have two sophomores and they need to step up just as much as the seniors are stepping up. It is a hard lesson to learn but hopefully they are competitors and will step up and be motivated by this.”

Arndt believes that her players will benefit from the lessons learned against Germantown.

“As we got tired, we got too individual,” said Arndt. “The more tired we are, the more we have to rely on each other instead of just relying on one person. We have to put the same effort into the game, no matter what the score is. They came out after halftime with a really great fire under them. They knew that was their time to shine but they needed to do that the whole time. In college, I always played tough teams in the beginning and I think it is a great lesson, helping us know what we need to build on, what we need to do tactically, and as a team.”

With PDS slated to host Northern Burlington on September 12 before playing at Peddie on September 16, Arndt wants her team to focus on sticking together at both ends of the field.

“I think we need to work on our communication, our finishing skills as a team, and our recovery defense as a team,” asserted Arndt.

“To me, it is all a team thing. We have some great individual players but that means nothing if you don’t play as a team.”

KICK START: Hun School girls’ soccer player Jess Sacco kicks the ball in a 2012 game. Junior tri-captain Sacco should provide plenty of punch in the midfield this fall for the Raiders, who are welcoming new head coach ­Joanna Hallec. Hun opens regular season play by hosting East Brunswick High on September 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

KICK START: Hun School girls’ soccer player Jess Sacco kicks the ball in a 2012 game. Junior tri-captain Sacco should provide plenty of punch in the midfield this fall for the Raiders, who are welcoming new head coach ­Joanna Hallac. Hun opens regular season play by hosting East Brunswick High on September 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

 

During her four-year tenure coaching the Weston High (Conn.) girls’ soccer team, Joanna Hallac had to be creative.

“We were a smaller school in a good league but we were able to do well,” said Hallac. “We had to do more with less.”

As Hallac replaces Ken Stevenson as the head coach of the Hun School girls’ soccer program, she is bringing that open-minded mentality.

“In terms of a system, I like to see the personnel and what works best,” said Hallac, who will also be teaching upper school history at Hun as she returns to education after a three-year hiatus that saw her earn a masters degrees in legislative affairs from George Washington.

“I am flexible in my approach. I thing we are going to start with 3-5-2 but we could change.”

Hallac’s approach also includes a heavy emphasis on character. “I am really big on sportsmanship,” said Hallac, who played college soccer at Lafayette.

“I also see this as a chance for the players to learn life lessons as well as soccer lessons. They learn the benefits of working hard and working together and that can help them through their life.”

The Hun players have been working hard for Hallac in preseason training. “I think they have been great; I am teaching them new things and challenging them in soccer and conditioning,” said Hallac, crediting team captains Olivia Breander-Carr, Jess Sacco, and Ashley Maziarz with easing her transition.

“They have really been positive: I couldn’t be happier. The commitment is there. They have all bought in; they have put the work in. We have a good core of talent.”

Hallac believes she has some fine talent she can deploy on the offensive end of the field.

“I have Abby Gray at forward; she has shown promise,” said Hallac.

“She scored the winning goal in our scrimmage with WW/P-S. Palomo Rodney is a sophomore. She has improved by all accounts. She is a defender by trade. She worked hard this summer and I have been trying to get her to play up front. I would also like to play Olivia up front at times. I have a lot of players who can be options.”

The Raiders also boast some good options in the midfield as they look to improve on the 4-5-4 record posted in 2012. “Jess Johnson is unbelievable on defense but has skills and I would like to get her into the midfield. Ashley Maziarz is good on the corner kicks; she is great in the air. Jess Sacco is a threat in the midfield; I have a lot of players who can be options.”

As for the defense, Hallac is going with a mix of experience and youth.

“I have Olivia, Ashley and a freshman, Julia Salerno, on defense,” said Hallac. “Jess Johnson is alternating between defense and midfield.”

Sophomore Courtney Arch will be taking over at goalie. “Courtney is working hard and has been playing well,” said Hallac.

“She has the ability to make big saves. We are working on communication and concentration. We need her to stay focused for the full 80 minutes. We want to get her to be confident so she is 100 percent there. She has been really good and the girls are comfortable with her back there.”

With Hun opening the 2013 season by hosting East Brunswick High on September 12, Hallac is looking for her players to show an intense focus.

“I am making sure that everybody is working together for the full 80 minutes, offensively and defensively,” said Hallac.

“If someone takes a minute off, offensively or defensively, that is when the other team could score. We need to take advantage of the mistakes made by the other teams. We need to capitalize on opportunities. We don’t have a natural goal scorer so we are going to have to work hard to score goals.”

SUPER SAVER: Hun School boys’ soccer goalie Chris Meinert makes a save in action last fall. Senior star Meinert will be a key performer for Hun as it looks to improve on the 5-13 record it posted last season. The Raiders play at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 13 in their 2013 season opener. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SUPER SAVER: Hun School boys’ soccer goalie Chris Meinert makes a save in action last fall. Senior star Meinert will be a key performer for Hun as it looks to improve on the 5-13 record it posted last season. The Raiders play at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 13 in their 2013 season opener.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Hun School boys’ soccer team coming off a disappointing 5-13 season last fall, the squad’s veterans are determined to lead a reversal of fortune.

“I think the seniors are extremely ready to go at it,” said Hun head coach Pat Quirk. “They have been working extremely hard.”

Hun is looking for some good work from junior Tucker Stevenson up front.

“Tucker is probably one of our strongest players,” said Quirk of Stevenson, who is back on the pitch after studying abroad last fall. “He can hold defenders off and he is good at shooting on the run.”

In the midfield, the Raiders will be depending on three of its senior stalwarts, Bailey Hammer, Felix Dalstein, and Andres Gonzalez, to lead the way.

“Bailey Hammer has been with us for four years; he has always been a hard worker,” asserted Quirk, whose team plays at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 13 in its season opener.

“He has played on defense in the past and is playing in the middle now. I am expecting Felix and Andres to be extremely dangerous. Patrick Nally is a freshman; he has been looking pretty good.”

The Hun defense will feature a trio of sophomores along with some veteran assistance.

“We are going with M.J. Cobb, Alex Semler, and David Ducharme in the back; they played last year as freshmen,” said Quirk. “We will put Andres back there at times.”

Senior star goalie Chris Meinert figures to pull a lot of weight for the Raiders.

“Chris has been phenomenal; I can’t believe some of the saves that he makes,” said Quirk. “He has been starting since he has been a sophomore. He has gotten better at directing the defense.”

In order for Hun to play better this fall, it will come down to the seniors going out with a bang.

“I am expecting the three guys in the middle to lead by example,” said Quirk. “They are working hard and I know what they are capable of doing. We need to play more together as a team.”

DEFENSIVE ACTION: Hun School field hockey star Alex Kane leads the defense in a game last season. Senior back Kane will be a key player for Hun as it looks to improve on the 6-8 record it posted in 2012. The Raiders open their 2013 campaign by playing at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on September 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DEFENSIVE ACTION: Hun School field hockey star Alex Kane leads the defense in a game last season. Senior back Kane will be a key player for Hun as it looks to improve on the 6-8 record it posted in 2012. The Raiders open their 2013 campaign by playing at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on September 12.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kathy Quirk acknowledges that her Hun School field hockey team hasn’t been looking like a powerhouse in preseason play.

But with the program having established a penchant for strong finishes over the years, longtime Hun head coach Quirk isn’t overly concerned.

“We typically start out slow,” said Quirk. “We have to play as a team and build on each other.”

In Quirk’s view, her squad has a good foundation to build at forward with the trio of senior Francesca Bello, junior Vicki Leach, and senior Courtney Faulkner.

“I think Francesca should be moving up and down the field; she should be our go-to scorer,” said Quirk, who guided the Raiders to a 6-8 record last fall. “Vicki plays on the line; she is scrappy in front of the cage. Courtney Faulkner is also up there.”

The pair of senior Bri Barrett and junior Julia Blake will be heading up the Raider midfield.

“Bri Barrett and Julia Blake are our two leaders there,” said Quirk, whose team opens the 2013 campaign by playing at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on September 12.

“They both have good speed and hunger to score goals; they play a lot at the top of the circle.

On defense, Davidson-bound senior star Alex Kane is one of Hun’s top performers.

“Kane brings a lot, she has a great knowledge of the game,” said Quirk, whose defense will also include senior Hanna Bettner, senior Liz Mydlowski, junior Taylor Nehlig, sophomore Alexis Goeke, and sophomore Charlotte Stout, with freshman Sophis Albanese seeing time either as a middie or a backfielder.

“She runs the show back there. We have changed up our defense. We are trying to pick the defense up the field and she helps the continuity between defense and offense.”

Junior standout goalie Reina Kern figures to be the backbone of the Hun defense.

“Reina plays all summer and comes back in good shape,” said Quirk. “We are looking for big things from her this season. She can control things in the back; she does a great job of directing the defense.”

Quirk believes the Raiders can do some big things this fall collectively if they give extra effort all over the field.

“We have good players in each unit but we need everyone to step up,” said Quirk.

September 4, 2013
TRAINING EXERCISE: Members of the Princeton High boys’ soccer team go through a drill in a recent training session. PHS produced a season to remember in 2012 as the Little Tigers went 18-3-1 on the way to tying Ramapo 1-1 in the NJSIAA Group III state title game. Despite some heavy graduation losses, PHS is confident it can again be a championship contender. The Little Tigers open the  2013 season at Allentown on September 6 in a rematch of last year’s Group III Central Jersey sectional final won 4-3 by PHS.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TRAINING EXERCISE: Members of the Princeton High boys’ soccer team go through a drill in a recent training session. PHS produced a season to remember in 2012 as the Little Tigers went 18-3-1 on the way to tying Ramapo 1-1 in the NJSIAA Group III state title game. Despite some heavy graduation losses, PHS is confident it can again be a championship contender. The Little Tigers open the 2013 season at Allentown on September 6 in a rematch of last year’s Group III Central Jersey sectional final won 4-3 by PHS. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last fall, a group of 12 seniors helped the Princeton High boys’ soccer team enjoy a season to remember as the Little Tigers went 18-3-1 on the way to tying Ramapo 1-1 in the NJSIAA Group III state title game.

With all of that firepower having departed, it would appear that PHS is facing a rebuilding job this fall.

But longtime head coach Wayne Sutcliffe is confident that Little Tigers have the talent on hand to maintain the program’s winning tradition.

“Pretty much every guy on the team is a full time soccer player,” said Sutcliffe.

“We have seven sophomores coming off an undefeated freshmen season; they are working hard and improving. You never know until you are in the thick of it but based on our scrimmages so far, we are really encouraged.”

It is encouraging for PHS to have senior star Kevin Halliday back at striker.

“Kevin scored two goals against North Brunswick in a scrimmage the other day and they were both beautiful goals,” asserted Sutcliffe.

“We are a different team when he is on the field. He had 23 goals last year and 10 of them were game winners. He is a very savvy player. He is playing attacking center midfield.”

The Little Tigers feature two other attacking threats in junior Chase Ealy and senior Mike Papakonstantinos.

“Chase and Mike will also be up front,” added Sutcliffe, whose team opens the season at Allentown on September 6 in a rematch of last year’s Group III Central Jersey sectional final won 4-3 by the Little Tigers.

“Chase is looking fantastic, he is continuing to refine his game. Getting all of the experience last year in the sectional and state final as a sophomore was great for him. He is a junior but experience-wise he is like a senior. Mike has given us a nice spark, he can be an attacking player in the box.”

Senior John Blair should give PHS a spark in the midfield. “John has had a good preseason camp,” said Sutcliffe.

“With all of his experience on our run last year, he is ahead of the curve. He needs to keep working hard and he can do some big things. Zeno Mazzaocato, Cole Snyder, Nick Halliday, and Renaud Miahle will also be in the midfield. They are all talented.”

The defense will be a work in progress, as the Little Tigers is replacing four key seniors from last year in Pablo Arroyo, Scott Bechler, Juan Polanco, and Adam Klein. Sutcliffe has three seniors, Andrew Braverman, Dalton Sekelsky, and Alex Torske working on the backline along with three sophomores, Chris Harla, Dwight Donis, and Edgar Morales.

“We have a lot of size there; they are finding their way to the same page,” said Sutcliffe.

“They need to get their communication going and work well with Laurenz. [goalie Laurenz Reimitz]”

PHS needs junior Reimitz to provide some good work at keeper. “Laurenz is having a good preseason,” said Sutcliffe.

“He had a shutout in our scrimmage with North Brunswick; that was his first clean sheet of the preseason so that was encouraging. Having all that experience last year really helped him as well. We are hoping that by midseason, he will be in great form.”

Sutcliffe believes that his team can find winning form collectively as the fall unfolds.

“The season goes in phases; we are confident going in,” said Sutcliffe. “We have a lot of work to do. The team has the potential to achieve whatever it wants to achieve in the CVC and beyond. We have to make small strides in training everyday and work on the little things.”

 

STRONG ALLY: Princeton High girls’ soccer standout Ally ­Rogers controls the ball in a recent practice. PHS will be relying on senior forward Rogers to provide a finishing touch this fall as the squad looks to build on a historic 2012 season that saw the Little Tigers go 16-3-1 on the way to winning the program’s first-ever Central Jersey Group III sectional crown. PHS opens the 2013 season by hosting Hamilton on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STRONG ALLY: Princeton High girls’ soccer standout Ally ­Rogers controls the ball in a recent practice. PHS will be relying on senior forward Rogers to provide a finishing touch this fall as the squad looks to build on a historic 2012 season that saw the Little Tigers go 16-3-1 on the way to winning the program’s first-ever Central Jersey Group III sectional crown. PHS opens the 2013 season by hosting Hamilton on September 6.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Making history in 2012, the Princeton High School girls’ soccer team went 14-1-1 over its last 16 games on the way to winning the program’s first-ever Central Jersey Group III sectional crown.

As the squad started its preseason training in mid-August, longtime PHS head coach Greg Hand believes his returning players have picked up where they left off.

“They are bringing back a lot of confidence,” said Hand, who guided the Little Tigers to 16-3-1 record last fall and is in his 23rd season guiding the program.

“We have a large number of returners who have been playing a lot since the end of the last high school season. I am seeing a lot of fitness across the board along with both tactical and technical improvement. We have had a productive start. We are healthy and having good hard training.”

Hand is expecting a productive fall from his pair of star forwards, senior Ally Rogers and junior Shannon Pawlak.

“Ally is a good athlete,” said Hand, who will also use senior Jordan Provorny at forward. “

“She doesn’t play soccer after the end of the high school season but she always gives us 100 percent. Shannon Pawlak is a very committed, year-round soccer player and has her heart set on playing at the next level. She had some very good coaching on the outside. She is sharper than she has ever been and is technically very sound.”

Despite losing stars Kate Kerr and Meghan Brennan to graduation, the PHS midfield should be sound this fall, spearheaded by the pair of senior co-captains Dana Smith and Eva Reyes together with sophomore Haley Bodden.

“In the central part of the midfield will be Dana Smith who has done so much for us at different spots on the field,” said Hand, whose team kicks off the season by hosting Hamilton on September 6.

“She may be a recruited lacrosse player [Lafayette] but it never feels like soccer is her second sport. She has great leadership abilities. She can be an attacking midfielder or play in a holding role. Reyes played on the outside last year; she will now be playing in a central role. Haley Bodden played on defense last year and we are moving her into midfield. She has played a lot of soccer in addition to being a very tough player. She has improved her soccer skills.”

A trio of promising sophomores, Gabby Deitch, Sasha Ryder, and Taylor Lis, gives the Little Tigers some firepower on the wing.

“Gabby Deitch, Sasha Ryder, and Taylor Lis will be on the outside,” added Hand. “Between the end of high school season and now, they have been building their game.”

Due to the abundance of talent in the middle of the field, PHS will be changing its look tactically.

“We will be playing a 3-5-2 formation at times; we feel we can have an attacking midfield,” said Hand.

“They should give us loads of service and they have better mastery of the ball.”

With junior Emily Pawlak and senior Kaitlyn Carduner patrolling the backline, Hand feels good about his defense.

“Emily Pawlak will be in the central defender role,” said Hand. “She is a natural and strong defender. Kaitlyn is one of our most tenacious and responsible defenders. She is aggressive and so fast. She is hard to get around.”

The Little Tigers boast some depth among their corps of defenders with freshman Zoe Tesone, sophomore Maya Sarafin, senior Krysta Holman, and senior Emily Costa.

“Zoe Tesone is a strong defender, she is a great addition,” said Hand. “Maya Sarafin will be getting more time than before. Krysta Holman is looking very good. Emily Costa is a player in the back who is going to get important minutes.”

PHS will need sophomore goalie Rachel Eberhart to look good as she follows graduated star goalie Lauren Ullmann, who is now playing at MIT.

“Rachel is definitely a better keeper through her training year round,” said Hand.

“She is very quick. As a younger player, she needs to communicate better and direct the other players.”

In assessing his team’s potential this fall, Hand is more concerned with daily progress than wins and losses.

“I have no specific goals; we just need to keep improving on the most basic elements of soccer,” said Hand. “We understand the concepts of support but we need to support all of our possessions, not 80 percent but 100 percent. The second thing we need to work on, especially when we play harder teams, is the most simple things, like first touches because the quality of first touches can always get better.”

While it will be tough to PHS to match last year’s finish, Hand is confident that he will get a quality effort from his players this fall.

“I like the attitude of this team as much as any girls’ soccer team I have coached,” said Hand.

“They are so dedicated and there is a sense of working together. They are serious about what they are trying to do but they are having a blast doing it.”

 

MOVING UP: Princeton High field hockey star Julia DiTosto sends the ball upfield in action last fall. Junior DiTosto has moved to midfield from defense for the Little Tigers and figures to be a key catalyst for PHS this fall. The Little Tigers start their 2013 season by playing at Hamilton on September 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MOVING UP: Princeton High field hockey star Julia DiTosto sends the ball upfield in action last fall. Junior DiTosto has moved to midfield from defense for the Little Tigers and figures to be a key catalyst for PHS this fall. The Little Tigers start their 2013 season by playing at Hamilton on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

On one hand, the graduation of Sydney Watts has left a gaping void for the Princeton High field hockey team.

The skilled Watts, who is now playing at Amherst College, triggered the Little Tigers from the midfield last fall and provided superb leadership.

“At first, we were missing Sydney, we relied on her a lot last year,” said PHS head coach Heather Serverson.

But Serverson believes that Watts’ departure will ultimately help PHS be a better-rounded squad in the long run.

“I think that will be an advantage because we have strong players all over the field,” said Serverson, who guided PHS to a 14-5-1 record last year as the team advanced to the quarterfinals of both the Mercer County Tournament and the NJSIAA Group III North 2 sectional. “We won’t have to rely on one go-to player.”

PHS does boast a very strong player in senior star Emilia Lopez-Ona. “I have Emilia at sweeper,” said Serverson of Lopez-Ona, who also stars in lacrosse and has committed to join the Penn women’s lax program.

“She is the energy of the team. When she is up, the team is up. She communicates well. She is an all-around player.”

Another all-around talent for the Little Tigers is junior standout Julia DiTosto.

“We were able to move Julia up to center mid from defense,” said Serverson. “She is very good at getting the ball on defense and then transitioning quickly to offense.”

The PHS defensive set up will also include sophomore Julia Snyder, senior Merritt Peck, junior Emily Kinney, sophomore Allison Spann, and freshman Kennedy Corrado along with returning senior goalie Breanna Hegerty-Thorne.

On offense, Serverson believes she has several scoring options. “Two of our forwards, Lucy Herring and Elisa Kostenbader have really stepped up,” said Serverson, who will also be using junior Campbell McDonald at forward.

“Kostenbader has about half of our goals in our scrimmages so far. Avery Peterson is new to forward. She has played a lot of midfield and is adjusting to the position.”

The PHS midfield features a mix of youth and experience, led by sophomore Trish Reilly.

“Trish was solid for us last year and we are looking for more of the same this year,” said Serverson.

“Two freshmen, Jordyn Cane and Georgia McLean, will be in the midfield. Bea Greenberg is also in the mix.”

Based on its play in preseason scrimmages so far, PHS has reason for confidence. “I think we are passing very well,” asserted Serverson. “We are composed. We know what we want to do with the ball before it leaves our sticks.”

In Serverson’s view, the players will need to stick together to produce another big season.

“I think we can do as well as we did last year; we need to come together and operate as a group,” said Serverson.

“I think one of the things that works well for us is being a unit on and off the field. They need to come together in everything they do as a group. We need to stay healthy and push ourselves in practice.”

 

GOLD RUSH: Princeton Day School field hockey star Emily ­Goldman heads upfield in a preseason practice. Senior Goldman figures to be a key offensive threat for the Panthers this fall. PDS was slated to host Penn Charter (Pa.) on September 3 in its opener and then host Germantown Academy on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOLD RUSH: Princeton Day School field hockey star Emily ­Goldman heads upfield in a preseason practice. Senior Goldman figures to be a key offensive threat for the Panthers this fall. PDS was slated to host Penn Charter (Pa.) on September 3 in its opener and then host Germantown Academy on September 6.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Tracey Arndt heads into her second year at the helm of the Princeton Day School field hockey program, she believes the team is ahead of where it was at this point last year technically.

“Our core base of skills is better this year,” said Arndt, who guided the Panthers to an 11-4-3 mark and a spot in the state Prep B finals last fall in her debut season.

“I am able to work on second level skills and ideas that I didn’t think about last year. The girls know what I stand for and what I expect.”

Arndt expects her four seniors, Emma Quigley, Emily Goldman, Mary Travers, and Sarah Brennan, to provide a high level of leadership this fall.

“I talked to them last year and said this is going to be you guys next year,” said Arndt, noting that her 2012 seniors set a positive tone. “They have taken that to heart. They have worked hard on and off the field.”

PDS is expecting some good work from Quigley and Goldman at the offensive end of the field.

“Emma was one of our leading scorers last year,” said Arndt, who will also be using junior Bian Maloney and sophomore Rowan Schaumburg at forward.

“I am looking for her to use her attacking skills. She is a great finisher and a fierce competitor. She is just as fast with the ball on her stick as a lot of players are without the ball. Emily has really improved. We are looking for her leadership up front, especially since we may put Emma in the midfield depending on the situation.”

The Panther midfield will be driven by the combination of Travers and Brennan.

“I talk about Mary and Sarah as pistons working together; their roles as individuals are important but how they work together is even more important,” said Arndt, whose midfield unit will also include juniors Nikki van Manen and Dana Poltorak.

“We are looking for them to lead the younger girls in the midfield. They have abilities and skills but we also need them to communicate and show poise.”

Poise will be a key goal for the Panther backline, which lost three seniors to graduation (Cami McNeely, Zeeza Cole, and Corinne Urisko), and will be featuring junior Morgan Foster, sophomore Tess Gecha, and junior Sophie Jensen.

“Morgan is a terrific athlete; I think you could give her any piece of athletic equipment and with a little guidance she could be good,” said Arndt.

“I told her she might have to take on a new role and she accepted it. She said whatever you need coach, as I knew she would. She has great vision and sees the field well. Tess is playing the right back position. When you are playing forwards who are fast, you need to be just as fast. She has the speed and she has stepped up. Sophie is at left back; we are talking to her about supporting and positioning.”

At goalie, junior Katie Alden (this reporter’s daughter) is stepping into some big shoes as she takes over for graduated three-year starter Sarah Trigg.

“Katie had a good example to look up to last year in Sarah,” said Arndt. “She was put into a lot of situations in our first scrimmage. We needed her to communicate to the other players and she did that. She has been making some nice saves.”

Noting that her squad is facing a tough situation as it lacks depth with hardly any reserves, Arndt believes her players will come together in response to adversity.

“We can’t rely on a few players; we have to work as a team all over the field,” said Arndt, whose team was slated to host Penn Charter (Pa.) on September 3 in its opener and then host Germantown Academy on September 6.

“The wins are important but the growth is more important. Staying healthy is the first thing. We also need to be efficient in how we move the ball and play on attack. We have to be fighters. We need to fight together, whether we are winning by five goals or losing by five goals.”

 

MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer head coach Malcolm Murphy makes a point in a preseason practice. PDS opens regular season play when it hosts New Hope Solebury High (Pa.) on September 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer head coach Malcolm Murphy makes a point in a preseason practice. PDS opens regular season play when it hosts New Hope Solebury High (Pa.) on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Malcolm Murphy has a sense of deja vu as he assesses the state of his Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team.

“It is the same as last year,” said longtime PDS head coach Murphy, whose squad posted a 3-11-2 record in 2012.

“In a week of preseason it was already out there that we were going to be a team that was going to try to play attractive soccer and play from the back and everybody came to pressure us. We just weren’t established enough as an older group to have that experience under our belt.”

Murphy is looking for junior Marco Pinheiro and sophomore Chris Chai to provide an attractive brand of soccer.

“Marco and Chris are in the midfield,” said Murphy. “We have played the one scrimmage and a number of sessions here. Marco and Chris play excellently together. They play off of each other. We build out of the back through them. Both are midfield and defensive and can translate into going to the offensive.”

The Panthers are searching for answers on offense. “We do not have an out-and-out forward,” said Murphy, whose team opens regular season action by hosting New Hope Solebury High (Pa.) on September 6.

“We have tried David Cedeno up top; he is more of a playmaker than a finisher. He is a player that can play in so he will play a #10, a player who can play behind them. We have played Gabe Vasquez there as well.”

PDS is hoping that junior Oscar Vik and sophomore Amir Melvin can provide some punch from the midfield.

“Oscar Vik is an offensive middie,” said Murphy. “I would have preferred to play him higher but he is more of a link-up, combination player. Amir Melvin is also seeing time there.”

The defense will be led by senior Culver Duquette, who has moved from forward to bring his skills to the backline.

“Culver Duquette was going to be one of the guys up front but he is going to be in the back because we are looking to complement that spot and see if we can move him back up,” said Murphy.

“Dominic Gasparro is more of a defensive defender. Kevin Hagan is in there because he is good technically with the ball. He gives us the ability to play out of the back. He is a good technical player. A guy who came back to soccer is Jacob Shavel; he is playing on the right flank.”

At goalie, the Panthers will be going with a rotation. “Tom Hagan and Christian Vik will be at goalie,” said Murphy. “When Christian is going half a game at goalie, we will certainly use him to play the field.”

The Panthers are trying to make the best use of their training time as they get ready for the season.

“We have only been back for a week,” said Murphy. “We are trying to establish that fitness level in the game. It is going to be that quick progression between the tactics, technique, and the fitness level.”

The freshmen in the program have been making a quick transition. “I have actually been very impressed with the group of freshman we have brought in,” said Murphy.

“We have played four or five scrimmage games between all of the players and we have had a very good standard of games. Everybody is looking to play the same style of play and it’s across the board. In the past, the freshmen had their idea of playing and it has been harder for them to come into our philosophy and concept. We have not had a problem with these guys.”

While Murphy is happy with his team’s style of play, he acknowledges that it runs into problems when it is hit with rough stuff by its foes.

“People know us, they know how we are going to play,” said Murphy. “We want to play an attractive style of soccer but you have to bring a bit of physicality with it as well.”

 

CENTER STAGE: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer star Kirsten Kuzmicz patrols the field in action last fall. The Panthers are depending on junior center midfielder Kuzmicz to have a big season as they look to rebound from a 4-9-4 campaign in 2012. PDS opens its 2013 campaign by playing at Wardlaw Hartridge on September 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CENTER STAGE: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer star Kirsten Kuzmicz patrols the field in action last fall. The Panthers are depending on junior center midfielder Kuzmicz to have a big season as they look to rebound from a 4-9-4 campaign in 2012. PDS opens its 2013 campaign by playing at Wardlaw Hartridge on September 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After a superb four-year stretch that saw the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team go 49-23-3 with two state Prep B titles, the program hit some hard times last fall.

Dealing with key injuries and struggling to find a rhythm, the Panthers slipped to a 4-9-4 record in 2012.

As the squad looks ahead to the 2013 campaign, there is a hunger to resume its winning ways.

“The girls are definitely anxious to come back,” said PDS head coach Pat Trombetta, who is entering his sixth season at the helm of the program.

“The record was not a good indication of how we played. We were in every game; there were a lot of one-goal games. We want to turn those games around. I expect us to improve.”

The partnership of junior stars Kirsten Kuzmicz and Erin Hogan in the midfield could be a key to triggering a PDS revival.

“Kirsten and Erin have been playing really well in the central midfield,” asserted Trombetta, whose team opens regular season play with a game at Wardlaw Hartridge on September 7.

“Kuzmicz has matured; she has gone to a lot of college camps. She is our most passionate player about playing at the next level. Erin has definitely improved, she is ready to roll.”

The PDS midfield will also feature a pair of veterans in Eloise Stanton and Lilly Razzaghi along with promising freshman Allison Klei.

“The two seniors, Stanton and Razzaghi, will be the outside mids,” added Trombetta. “They had some good moments last year. Klei should give us a lot of good minutes.”

Trombetta is hoping that the combination of juniors Alexa Soltesz and Erin Murray will be productive at forward.

“We will be turning to Alexa for scoring,” said Trombetta. “We have to find a second forward to complement Alexa. Erin Murray will get the first shot to be the second forward, she has improved a lot.”

On defense, the Panthers will be relying on senior star Britt Murray and junior standout Stef Soltesz to stifle the opposition.

“Britt will have a different role,” said Trombetta. “We are going to move her to outside back; we want to get her involved more in the attack. Stef is unbelievable, the amount of ground she covers is amazing. She could play anywhere on the field.”

At goalie, the Panthers feature battle-tested senior Rory Finnegan. “Rory is still developing; it is her third year as a starter,” said Trombetta. “She is a mature player. She knows that game; she has started to become more vocal on the field.”

In the team’s opening preseason scrimmage against Nottingham, Trombetta was pleased with the game displayed by his players.

“I liked the way we moved the ball around,” said Trombetta. “We switched fields and got everyone involved. The girls off the bench played well; we are deeper than last year.”

In Trombetta’s view, how well his squad does this fall could come down to having everyone on the same page.

“It is very positive; the chemistry early on is a lot better than it was last year,” said Trombetta.

“We have a very strong junior class, they tried to carry the team last year and they are more mature this year as upperclassmen.”

 

KICKING OFF: Stuart Country Day School senior goalie ­Margaret LaNasa makes a kick save in a training session last week. ­LaNasa’s progress in the cage should help Stuart improve on the 3-14-1 record it posted last fall. The Tartans open regular season play with a game at the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on September 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

KICKING OFF: Stuart Country Day School senior goalie ­Margaret LaNasa makes a kick save in a training session last week. ­LaNasa’s progress in the cage should help Stuart improve on the 3-14-1 record it posted last fall. The Tartans open regular season play with a game at the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team won only three games last fall, the players didn’t get discouraged.

“Granted we went 3-14-1 but the girls didn’t come off the field feeling defeated very often,” said Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik. “There were a lot of close games. We had a lot of improvement.”

As Bruvik gets ready for the second year of her return engagement guiding the Tartans, she is depending on a group of stellar sophomores to continue the improvement made last fall.

“I think there are seven of them; they make up half of the varsity roster,” said Bruvik, who led the program to several county and prep titles in her first tenure which lasted 21 years and ended in 2006.

“Some of them played club and went to camps; they look like they have that one more year of experience. They are bigger, faster, and smarter on the ball. They are getting to know each other better. They know coming into preseason what I am expecting in terms of conditioning and ball control.

Bruvik will be relying on four of those sophomores to trigger the Tartan offense.

“We have Sarah Barkley, Elena Bernewitz, Catherine Donahue, and Sam Servis on attack,” said Bruvik of the quartet of 10th graders. “Sam’s stick skills have really improved.”

Two veterans, juniors Nneka Onukwugha and Madison Kirton, are looking more skilled at forward.

“Nneka has really improved,” added Bruvik. “Madison Kirton is in her second year and she is better.”

Senior star Amy Hallowell figures to be one of the better players in the county this fall.

“We are going to have Amy at center back,” said Bruvik. “We want her to control the ball all over the field, on transition, and on corners. We also need her to be good on defensive corners. We are really looking at her to distribute the ball.”

Stuart is looking for sophomore standouts Tori Hannah and Julia Maser to be scoring threats.

“Tori and Julia will be in midfield,” said Bruvik. “Julia has incredible endurance and is a smart player. I expect her to do a good job this year. Tori is looking good, we could also use her on attack. She has a knack for finishing.”

The quartet of senior Meghan Shannon, junior Asha Mohandes, junior Faye Plambeck, and sophomore Kate Walsh, will be leading the backline.

“Meghan, Asha and Faye are on defense,” said Bruvik. “Kate Walsh is very versatile; she can play in the backfield or at mid.”

Senior goalie Margaret LaNasa has been playing well in the preseason. “Margaret is looking good, she looks so much more comfortable this year,” said Bruvik, noting that LaNasa just started playing goalie as a junior.

“She has her routine with Gia [assistant coach and former Princeton University goalie Gia Fruscione], who has really helped her.”

Bruvik believes that the Tartans can do some good things this fall. “We have got to finish,” said Bruvik, whose team starts the season by playing at the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on September 6.

“Last year it was not for lack of effort, we worked hard to get the ball into the circle. We need to be stronger at keeping the ball on our sticks in the circle. We have a good combination of speed and aggressiveness. We need to try to build on that.”