September 10, 2014
STEPPING UP: Princeton High field hockey player Lucy Herring heads upfield last Saturday against Peddie. Senior star Herring scored a goal in the game to help PHS prevail 2-1. The Little Tigers, now 2-1, play at Robbinsville on September 10 before hosting Lawrence on September 15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STEPPING UP: Princeton High field hockey player Lucy Herring heads upfield last Saturday against Peddie. Senior star Herring scored a goal in the game to help PHS prevail 2-1. The Little Tigers, now 2-1, play at Robbinsville on September 10 before hosting Lawrence on September 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Lucy Herring and her teammates on the Princeton High field hockey team were determined to be proactive as they hit the field against Peddie last Saturday.

After falling 1-0 at Allentown a day earlier in a weather-shortened game to open the season, PHS brought an upbeat mentality into the contest.

“I think in general, there was a more positive attitude today; I think it started on the bus ride,” said senior star forward Herring.

“We realized that yesterday we didn’t get the result we wanted. We played to their game and responded to their game instead of playing what we know.”

PHS played its game from the start on Saturday, controlling possession and stifling Peddie in the midfield.

“In this game we were working hard, spacing and communication were definitely key,” said Herring.

That communication paid dividends as Herring banged home a feed from classmate Campbell McDonald to give the Little Tigers a 1-0 lead.

“It was kind of in slow motion, I saw the goalie move to one side and I just kind of hit at the back,” said Herring.

“Campbell and I have played with each other, whether it is field hockey or ice hockey, for something like seven years. We always have that on-field, on-ice connection.”

After the Falcons scored with 7:52 left in the second half to knot the game at 1-1, PHS hit back as senior Cara Straus scored off a penalty corner with 2:54 remaining in regulation to give the Little Tigers a 2-1 triumph.

“I think they were angry and we were angry; it was a really good match,” said Herring.

“We kind of knew that we could get a corner at the end; corners are definitely an advantage for us. Everyone knew that we had to get a goal no matter how we got it so I think everyone stepped it up. Cara was definitely in perfect position for that tip in so that was great.”

It was a great way for PHS to end a stiff opening weekend test. “Coach (Heather Serverson) put two of our hardest opponents first which was a challenge,” said Herring.

“I was glad that we got to face that first so we know what to work on and we know how to compete against the best, which is always a good lesson early on in the season.”

PHS head coach Serverson, for her part, was thrilled with the progress her team made in 24 hours.

“It was like night and day,” said a beaming Serverson. “Everything we didn’t do well yesterday, we fixed for today and that is all I ask of them. After our game yesterday, we talked about it. We wanted stick-to-stick passing, intensity, and the second wave.”

Serverson wasn’t surprised that the one-two punch of Herring and McDonald accounted for PHS’s first goal.

“They have mental telepathy on the field, they work well together,” said Serverson.

The Little Tigers displayed mental toughness when they broke the tie late in the contest.

“That is one of our goals as well, setting the tone and answering back,” said Serverson, whose team topped Hamilton 3-0 last Monday to improve to 2-1 and plays at Robbinsville on September 10 before hosting Lawrence on September 15.

“In the past, we would kind of sit back on our heels and be more reactive at that point. One of our goals this year is to be more proactive, to go after it right away, and not let anything get in our heads.”

Senior Cara Straus has been going after it in her final campaign, emerging as a valuable performer on the front line for the Little Tigers.

“Cara embodies hustle, she does what you tell her to do,” said Serverson. “You tell her to go pads, she is on pads; you tell her to go to the post, she is on the post. You tell her to hustle back and she hustles back. She has been a key on our offense.”

PHS got some good hustle on defense, spearheaded by senior star Julia DiTosto and junior Trish Reilly in the midfield, along with juniors Julia Snyder and Lucia Matteo on the back line.

“We have tightened that up positioning-wise,” said Serverson. “That is a key that we didn’t have yesterday. We were on our heels a lot yesterday and today they were more composed and in the right position in the defense and the midfield. That transitional marking was really good today.”

Reflecting on the opening weekend, Serverson believes her team has the right stuff when it comes to character.

“I think the big thing was that we were able to pick ourselves up from yesterday and we played in 90 plus weather back-to-back days” said Serverson.

“We had two tough games, that shows what they are made of. They have a lot of grit, that is going to take us really far this season.”

Herring and her classmates are committed to going as far as they can in their final campaign with the program.

“Since we have all been on the team since freshman year, we have that chemistry and I think we know what the team is about,” said Herring.

“We know how to play our game and we have tried our best to teach the team and the young ones. We have gotten better every year so this year, our senior year, we want to make it the best, so getting far in MCTs and states, those are definitely our goals.”

ROARING TIGER: Princeton High running back Rory Helstrom heads upfield in action last fall. PHS will be relying on Helstrom as its go-to rusher this fall as it looks to bounce back from a 0-10 season. The Little Tigers kick off their 2014 campaign by hosting Hamilton on September 13.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ROARING TIGER: Princeton High running back Rory Helstrom heads upfield in action last fall. PHS will be relying on Helstrom as its go-to rusher this fall as it looks to bounce back from a 0-10 season. The Little Tigers kick off their 2014 campaign by hosting Hamilton on September 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton High football team went through a rough 0-10 season last fall, Charlie Gallagher doesn’t want his players to totally erase 2013 from their memories.

“Last season was a big learning year and I hope it left a bad taste in their mouths,” said PHS second-year head coach Gallagher, whose squad was outscored by a 401-100 margin last fall.

“We have a good core of guys coming back, there is a sense of urgency. The schedule is different and they see opportunities for wins.”

Junior quarterback Dave Beamer’s passing skills give the Little Tigers an opportunity to score in a hurry.

“We are excited to have Dave back at quarterback,” said Gallagher, whose team opens its 2014 campaign by hosting Hamilton on September 13.

“He has a big arm, a live arm. He has a lot of velocity and a tight spiral. We will be looking for a lot of down the field plays from him.”

PHS boasts two playmakers at running back in junior tailback Rory Helstrom and senior fullback Colin Buckley.

“Rory is definitely going to be a go-to guy, he will get the bulk of the carries,” said Gallagher.

“He wants the ball in his hands. We have a solid fullback in Colin Buckley. He is 6’1, 200-pounds, and is not your typical guy at fullback, he hits hard. We are going to run some power formations and he is good at that kick out block. We will get him to run the ball. He has got some speed for a big guy.”

The Little Tigers have a jack-of-all trades in the backfield with senior Sam Smallzman, a starting linebacker and quarterback last year before getting sidelined by injury.

“Sam Smallzman is coming back, he doesn’t want to just be a defensive player,” said Gallagher.

“He is going to fill just about every offensive role, tight end, fullback, halfback, and he is our back-up QB. He can go anywhere we need him; he just wants to play some football.”

The group of junior Matt Ochoa, senior Ben Danis, senior Jack Cook, senior Joe Hawes, and senior Brian Tien gives PHS versatility at receiver.

“Matt Ochoa is back,” said Gallagher. “Ben Danis has come back. He was a starter as sophomore, had an ACL and took last year off. He will be a starter. Jack Cook is a senior but it his first year out. He is a big guy, 6’3, 185. Joe Hawes was backup soccer goalie and a good lacrosse player. The guys got him to come out; he’s a real nice player. Brian Tien is at tight end. He’s a strong guy, about 6’1, 185 pounds, and has done a lot of work in the weight room.”

Gallagher is relying on his battle-tested offensive line to give him some good work.

“Just about everybody is back,” said Gallagher. “We have Noah Ziegler at left tackle and Omar Moustafa at left guard. The right guard is up in the air. Brian Lemus-Camey is coming off an ACL. Joe Cunsolo has been playing there and is doing a good job. We have Tommy Moore at right tackle. He started last year at RG and then moved to tackle when Lemus-Camey got hurt. We have two or three guys at center. Matt Toplin is on the shelf and should be getting cleared soon. Ethan Guerra is a sophomore but is a real strong kid. Joe Cunsolo is also in the mix.”

Many of those linemen will be doing double duty as they will form the foundation of the front six in the PHS defense.

“We are playing a 4-2-5,” said Gallagher. “On the line will be Buckley, Moustafa, Ziegler, Tommy Moore, Guerra, Toplin, and Cunsolo. At linebacker, we have Tien, Smallzman, and Anthony Trainor.”

The backs and receivers will comprise most of the secondary. “At safety, we will have Rory and Danis,” added Gallagher. “Tad Moore is also helping us at safety. The corners are Ochoa, Cook, and Mike Chonka. At free safety, we have Joe Hawes.

While Gallagher knows it will be tough for the Little Tigers to break into the win column, he believes his players will compete to the final whistle.

“When you are coming off a 0-10 season, nothing comes easy,” said Gallagher, noting that PHS will be hosting Ewing under the lights on the evening of September 19 for homecoming.

“We just want to be competitive in the fourth quarter. The kids see the opportunities for wins but they know they have to work hard, there will be a lot of tight games. I am excited for the season.”

IN PLAY: Hun School soccer player Natalie Csapo takes a throw-in during action last season. Sophomore midfielder Csapo and the Raiders are looking to build on the last surge they made last fall when they rebounded from a 0-7 start and advanced to the state Prep A title game. Hun opens its 2014 campaign by hosting South Brunswick on September 13.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN PLAY: Hun School soccer player Natalie Csapo takes a throw-in during action last season. Sophomore midfielder Csapo and the Raiders are looking to build on the last surge they made last fall when they rebounded from a 0-7 start and advanced to the state Prep A title game. Hun opens its 2014 campaign by hosting South Brunswick on September 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It didn’t take long for the returning players on the Hun School girls’ soccer team to start looking forward to the 2014 season.

Advancing to the state Prep A finals last fall after starting the season at 0-7 left the team’s returners with a heavy dose of optimism.

“The mood is good, even from when the season ended last year knowing that we were losing only two players,” said Hun second-year head coach Joanna Hallac, who guided Hun to a 7-12-1 record in 2013. “They were feeling good about the direction of the program.”

Things have continued to move in the right direction as the Raiders have enjoyed a productive preseason.

“They are seeing good players coming in and the returning players making a lot of improvement,” said Hallac, noting that a strong group of freshmen have joined the program.

“It could be a special season. A big if is if we stay healthy; we have had difficulty doing that in the past. We have a little depth this year.”

That depth is evident at forward, where Hun will feature precocious freshman Kara Borden, junior Marleigh Nociti, senior Paige McGuire, and senior Becky Barus.

“We have a lot of forwards, it is a good problem to have,” said Hallac, whose team opens its 2014 campaign by hosting South Brunswick on September 13.

“Kara Borden has raised the level for the older girls. She has a real nose for the goal; she knows how to finish. Marleigh, Paige, Becky will all see action.”

The pair of Lehigh-bound senior Jess Sacco and promising freshman Nicole Apuzzi are showing a nose for the ball in the midfield.

“Jess will be center midfielder; she is such a calming influence,” said Hallac, who will also use junior Sophia Sauma, sophomore Natalie Csapo, sophomore Abby Gray, and freshman Kennedy Debow in the midfield.

“She is more defensive but she can go forward; she can help instigate things. Nicole Apuzzi is the attacking midfielder, she is a really strong player.”

One of Hun’s strongest players is Lehigh-bound senior defender Ashley Maziarz.

“Ashley is much like Olivia Braender-Carr,” said Hallac, referring to the team’s senior star last year who is currently playing at NYU. “She is very dependable. She is a great leader and a great defender. She can help offensively, she is good in the air on corner kicks. She can make those runs.”

Hun has some other good options on the back line. “Jess Johnson is the other center back; she is very graceful and very fluid,” added Hallac, noting that junior Amanda Douglas will also see time on defense.

“She is a very smart defender and she can be an offensive threat too. Kendall Dandridge is one of the outside backs and Julia Salerno is the other. Kendall can get up the field and makes some great crosses. She is also a great defender. Julia is just solid.”

At goalie, junior Courtney Arch has developed into a solid performer. “Courtney has been doing very well,” said Hallac, who has freshman Livia Kooker as the back-up goalie.

“I am really happy with her progress. She is communicating better; she is taking command in the box. Livia is pretty good, they will push each other.”

In order to build on last year’s progress, Hun will need to be more pushy around the goal and more intense on defense.

“We need to take advantage of our opportunities; we had a lot of chances last year but we didn’t finish well,” said Hallac.

“We lost some 1-0 games where we outplayed the other team, we really have to finish better. We need to be better on transition defense. If we lose the ball, we have to get it back. We have to maintain possession.”

In Hallac’s view, the optimism around the program is justified. “We have a lot of potential, we have a lot of talent,” maintained Hallac.

“The expectations are higher than last year. The MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) championship ought to be within our reach and we hope to get to another Prep A final. We want to advance farther in the MCT (Mercer County Tournament). We are setting the bar higher. The girls are putting in the work; they are competing hard in the preseason.”

ON THE BALL: Hun School boys’ soccer player Alex Semler, right, goes after the ball in a game last fall. Junior defender Semler has emerged as the rock of the Hun backline and helped the Raiders make an unlikely run to the 2013 Mercer County Tournament semifinals as an 11th seed. Hun kicks off regular season play by hosting Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON THE BALL: Hun School boys’ soccer player Alex Semler, right, goes after the ball in a game last fall. Junior defender Semler has emerged as the rock of the Hun backline and helped the Raiders make an unlikely run to the 2013 Mercer County Tournament semifinals as an 11th seed. Hun kicks off regular season play by hosting Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Youth will be served this fall for the Hun School boys’ soccer team.

Losing eight seniors from a 2013 squad that made an unlikely run to the Mercer County Tournament semifinals as an 11th seed, Hun will have sophomores and even some freshmen in key spots this season.

“It really is a youth movement,” said Hun head coach Pat Quirk, who led the Raiders to a 7-12 record last fall. “We have some big shoes to fill.”

In Quirk’s view, the inspirational MCT performance last fall could have a carry-over effect into 2014.

“We had a good run in the MCT last year and the returners have gained confidence from that; we have talked about it,” said Quirk, whose team opens regular season play by hosting Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 12.

“Once the guys play with each other a little more, we will get better. I get that feeling, like I had last year before the MCT. It is a fun group to be around and you see they like to kick it around and play the game.”

At forward, the Raiders will be depending on senior Tucker Stevenson and two young guns, sophomore Andrew Kaye and freshman Jake Keller, to show some game.

“Tucker is going to help us a lot,” said Quirk of Stevenson, who scored four goals in 2013. Andrew Kaye and Jake Keller are also going to be at forward.”

Two sophomores, Pat Nally and Connor Hufer, should get things moving forward from the midfield.

“Pat and Conor are shooting from the midfield,” said Quirk. “They are young, they have a good vision of the game and they have good feet. They can control the ball.”

Hun boasts good depth in the midfield with the return of  junior Devin Ducharme, sophomore Gunnar Schellscheidt, and senior Esham MacAuley

“Devin Ducharme is looking good, Gunnar Schellscheidt has stepped up,” said Quirk.

“Esham MacAuley has moved to the outside. He is a senior; he works hard and knows what to do. He is excited to get out there. He didn’t play much last year; he is seeing the field now and he wants to step up.”

Junior Alex Semler has stepped into a leading role for the Hun back line. “Alex is a rock back there on defense for us,” asserted Quirk. “He brings a lot of enthusiasm. He has that mentality that nobody is getting by us. He is always looking to push forward.”

The trio of sophomore James Nicholas, junior M.J. Cobb, and junior Chris Andrews will help Semler hold the fort.

“Nicholas is on the outside,” added Quirk. “M.J. Cobb has been playing for three years. Chris Andrews is also back there.”

Sophomore Logan Leppo will serve as Hun’s last line of defense as he fills the shoes of graduated star Chris Meinert at goalie.

“Logan Leppo came up through our middle school and was the starting JV goalie last year,” said Quirk.

“He has got skills, he has great reactions, quick hands, makes kick saves, the guys are getting confident in him. We want him to be more aggressive vocally but he is a sophomore and that takes a little time. It is good that we have Semler back there.”

While it may take some time for the Raiders to get into synch, Quirk believes the team can be formidable if it takes care of the basics.

“We have to work on keeping the ball moving.” said Quirk. “We have been talking to them about three keys — playing fast, having good communication, and keeping good possession of the ball.”

SHINING STAR: Hun School field hockey goalie Reina Kern surveys the action in a game last season. Hun is relying on senior star and Penn-bound Kern to have a big year as it looks to improve on the 6-14 record it posted in 2013. The Raiders open regular season play by hosting Academy of New Church on September 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SHINING STAR: Hun School field hockey goalie Reina Kern surveys the action in a game last season. Hun is relying on senior star and Penn-bound Kern to have a big year as it looks to improve on the 6-14 record it posted in 2013. The Raiders open regular season play by hosting Academy of New Church on September 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The Hun School field hockey team boasts strength in numbers as it looks to rebound from a 6-14 campaign last fall.

“We have 45 kids out, two of them are hurt right now,” said longtime Hun head coach Kathy Quirk.

“I have 40 field players and three goalies. The kids are working hard, we have been in preseason since August 22.”

A key to Hun’s success this fall will be getting some good work from its one-two punch of senior Vicky Leach and sophomore Julie Fassl at forward.

“I am looking for big things from Leach and Fassl,” said Quirk, who will also be using freshman Julia Revock on the front line. “

“Vicki is very determined, she is a great kid, very coachable. I am looking for senior leadership from her. Fassl gave up fall ball softball; she has committed herself to being a better field hockey player. She works hard every day in practice. She is great on carrying the ball upfield and making crosses into the circle.”

Quirk will be relying on senior Julia Blake and junior Maura Kelly to carry the team in the midfield.

“We had Blake at center but we are going to go with two midfielders so she will be on the right,” said Quirk, whose team opens regular season play by hosting Academy of New Church on September 11.

“We are hoping that she steps up and scores some goals. Maura Kelly has only played for two years. She has got a lot of speed, she is still learning the game but she is a good learner.”

The trio of senior Shannon Graham, sophomore Sophia Albanese, and senior Taylor Nehlig gives Hun some experience on defense.

“Shannon Graham will anchor the center,” said Quirk. “She left soccer after tearing her ACL. She is still learning the game but she is picking it up; I think playing defense in soccer really helped her. Sophia Albanese will be on one side. Taylor Nehlig on the other side; she is another senior who I hope will step up with her leadership.”

Penn-bound senior goalie Reina Kern figures to be a leading light this fall for the Raiders.

“We are hoping that Reina will have her best year ever,” said Quirk. “She knows the game and is good at directing her teammates. She communicates and keeps them in the right place. I am hoping that she is the strong anchor of the defense.”

Quirk is hoping her team will get better and better as the fall unfolds. “We are very inexperienced at the varsity level; it may take a couple of games for us to get going,” said Quirk.

“We will make progress every game. We may take our lumps before we make that big jump. We need to be goal hungry. Defensively, we need to remember who to mark and then mark them. We have to stay strong and communicate.”

FORWARD PROGRESS: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Tori Hannah controls the ball in a game last season. Junior star Hannah should be a catalyst of the Stuart attack this fall. On Monday, Hannah scored a goal in a losing cause as the Tartans fell 3-2 to Princeton Day School in their season opener. In upcoming action, Stuart plays at the George School (Pa.) on September 11 before hosting Pennington on September 13 and WW/P-S on September 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FORWARD PROGRESS: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Tori Hannah controls the ball in a game last season. Junior star Hannah should be a catalyst of the Stuart attack this fall. On Monday, Hannah scored a goal in a losing cause as the Tartans fell 3-2 to Princeton Day School in their season opener. In upcoming action, Stuart plays at the George School (Pa.) on September 11 before hosting Pennington on September 13 and WW/P-S on September 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The Stuart Country Day School field hockey team is clearly trending upward. After going 3-14-1 in 2012, Stuart improved to 7-14-1 last fall.

As the Tartans get their 2014 campaign underway, head coach Missy Bruvik senses that her players are primed to keep things headed in the right direction.

“In the back of their minds, they would like to be over .500 for the season,” said Bruvik, whose team dropped a 3-2 nailbiter to Princeton Day School last Monday in its season opener.

“We want to be ready for the state and county tournaments, no matter what the record is. We have a strong schedule and that helps us get ready for that.”

Stuart boasts a trio of strong juniors in Tori Hannah, Sam Servis, and Julia Maser.

“The three of them will be vital to midfield, attack, transition, and corners,” said Bruvik. “Julia is such a hustler, she helps on both offense and defense.”

Bruvik will be looking to junior Cate Donahue, junior Rose Tetnowski, and freshman Ali Hannah to help with the scoring.

“Cate Donahue looks good on offense, she has really improved her stick skills,” added Bruvik, who has senior Nneka Onukwugha on the front line.

“Rose has the chance to play all over the field. She is versatile, she is an up and coming athlete. Ali Hannah, Tori’s younger sister, has a strong presence on the field. We are throwing her in there.”

Sophomore Izzy Engel provides Stuart with a strong presence all over the field.

“Izzy Engel can play pretty much anywhere,” said Bruvik. “She is helping us in the backfield on transition, she has great field sense, she can give us four or five interceptions in a game and get the offense going that way.”

On defense, Stuart will be featuring a blend of veterans and new faces in junior Kate Walsh and senior Fayette Plambeck, along with a trio of sophomores, Emily Rounds, Mary O’Boyle, and Madeline McLaughlin.

“Kate Walsh is very versatile,” said Bruvik.

“Emily Rounds will be seeing time on defense. Mary O’Boyle will help us back there. Madeline McLaughlin is new to the team, she has the intangibles, speed, aggression, and nose for the ball.”

Senior Harlyn Bell is showing a lot of intangibles as she replaces graduated star goalie Margaret LaNasa.

“Bell has stepped into the goalie role,” said Bruvik. “She went to a couple of camps this summer and did a great job in goal in our scrimmage against Princeton High.”

On the whole, Bruvik has been impressed with the great work she has been getting from her players so far this season.

“Nneka and Fayette are returning seniors and they are providing great leadership along with the juniors,” said Bruvik, whose team plays at the George School (Pa.) on September 11 before hosting Pennington on September 13 and WW/P-S on September 16.

“There is a lot of heart and hustle, they are very coachable. Communication is key, we need to be on the same page. Everybody needs to know where they have to be on the field. They need to be better at knowing when to get back and when to get forward.”

For the Princeton Day School field hockey team, its season opener against Montgomery High last Friday was the first stage of a season-long growing process.

“I think the whole year is going to be a learning experience for this team, we have so many new faces,” said PDS head coach Tracey Arndt.

“The seniors are learning to step up; we had some vocal seniors last year and now these seniors have to take charge. The juniors know that they have to take on some of the leadership role. We have sophomores who have never played varsity before and we have a bunch of freshmen.”

In the clash against powerful Montgomery, the Panthers fell behind 1-0 but evened the game at 1-1 as one of those freshmen, Elizabeth Brennan tallied her first career goal with an assist by senior tri-captain Dana Poltorak. The Cougars then responded with a goal at the buzzer to take a 2-1 lead into halftime.

“I was proud of how we played in the first half,” said Arndt. “We got scored on and we didn’t let that get to us. We kept playing and going after it.”

After a weather delay of more than an hour due to thunderstorms in the area, the game resumed and Montgomery struck with a goal to make it 3-1, which ended up being the final score.

“When we came back, Montgomery pounced on the opportunities,” lamented Arndt.

“We kept fighting, there was no give up, there was no quit. They realized something like this delay could happen again and they will grow from this first game.”

Arndt was excited to see Brennan come through in the first game of her high school career.

“We were so psyched that she got a goal in her first game, that should be a good memory for her,” said Arndt. “She’s doing great, we expect a lot from her. She is really hungry for the ball, she is passionate about field hockey.”

On defense, junior Kate Laughlin came up big as she moved to the backline in the absence of senior tri-captain Niki van Manen. “We missed Niki but Kate really stepped up, we trust her all over the field,” said Arndt.

“She played in the center in a scrimmage and I know it isn’t her favorite spot. We may find a spot for her in the midfield. She is consistent and strong, she is cool as a cucumber.”

Two of PDS’s new faces, sophomore transfer Kiely French and freshman Kyra Hall, also produced strong defensive efforts. “Kiely French really stepped up, she hadn’t played left back before,” added Arndt. “Kyra Hall played right back, that is a tough position and she stepped up too.”

Senior goalie and tri-captain Katie Alden [this reporter’s daughter] showed some toughness as she stymied a number of Montgomery scoring opportunities.

“Katie Alden made some nice saves,” said Arndt of Alden, who was credited with seven stops. “They had more shots than we did and things could have gotten really shaky if she hadn’t made some of those saves.”

On Monday, the Panthers produced a very nice effort as they edged Stuart Country Day School 3-2 as Lauren Finley, Madison Mundenar, and Rowan Schomburg each scored goals and Alden made eight saves.

In moving to 1-1, the Panthers followed the blueprint Arndt formulated after the Montgomery game.

“We need to build on what we did in the first half; the forwards need to be coming back and tackling hard,” said Arndt, whose squad hosts Peddie on September 10.

“We have a lot of speed and we need to be pressuring the ball and making interceptions. We need Lauren Finley to come up big at forward and Rowan Schomburg to do big things in the midfield.”

September 3, 2014
BEARING DOWN: Princeton High field hockey player Julia ­DiTosto controls the ball in action last fall. Senior star and Stanford-bound DiTosto figures to spark PHS at both ends of the field as it looks to improve on the 13-4-2 record it posted in 2103. The Little Tigers start regular season play with a game at Allentown on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BEARING DOWN: Princeton High field hockey player Julia ­DiTosto controls the ball in action last fall. Senior star and Stanford-bound DiTosto figures to spark PHS at both ends of the field as it looks to improve on the 13-4-2 record it posted in 2103. The Little Tigers start regular season play with a game at Allentown on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Heather Serverson doesn’t have to wait for the season to begin to know that her Princeton High field hockey team is on the same page.

PHS features a battle-tested core of veterans who played key roles last year as the Little Tigers advanced to the Mercer County Tournament semis and the sectional quarterfinals.

“The seniors have been providing a spark, they are the glue that holds the team together,” said PHS head coach Serverson, who guided the Little Tigers to a 13-4-2 record in 2013.

“This group has experienced some key games with the MCT against HoVal and the states against Warren Hills. They are a close group, that is one thing I always focus on and I don’t have to put a lot of work into that with this team. They blend well together on and off the field and that is something that can’t be forced.”

The one-two punch of seniors Lucy Herring and Campbell McDonald should be a force on the front line this fall.

“They are looking really good, their experience is paying off,” said Serverson of Herring and McDonald, who will be joined by senior Elisa Kostenbader, sophomore Avery Peterson, and senior Cara Straus on the front line.

“They play year round together with their club. I am noticing composure and calm in them around the cage.”

Senior Julia DiTosto provides composure all over the field as a top defender who can trigger the offense through the midfield.

“If I had to sum it up, she has great game knowledge and she is a great ball distributor,” said Serverson of the Stanford-bound DiTosto.

“She can score and she can shut down the other team from scoring, you can’t ask for much more than that from a player.”

The Little Tigers boast a blend of veteran players and new faces in the midfield with the return of junior Trish Reilly, sophomore Jordyn Cane and junior Lucia Matteo and the addition of junior Natalie Campisi and sophomore Anna Cincotta.

“Trish complements Julia well,” said Serverson. “I have her on the right side but I am also putting her at center mid once in a while for the future. Cane and Matteo are back. We have two newcomers, Natalie Campisi and Anna Cincotta, and they are looking good.”

Along the back line, junior Julia Snyder and sophomore Georgia McLean are looking good.

“Julia Snyder is solid; she has really improved from last year,” asserted Serverson, who also has junior Allison Spann on defense.

“Her confidence level has increased from last year, it is catching up with her skills. I see McLean getting a lot of time back there. She will help us out. She moved from midfield to defense on her club team and she is really feisty back there.”

At goalie, junior Maggie Welch and freshman Kate Rogers will be vying for playing time.

“Right now we are looking at a rotation,” said Serverson. “They have different strengths and weaknesses, it will be a game-by-game situation.”

In Serverson’s view, PHS’s ability to win a lot of games this fall will be enhanced by its special team chemistry.

“I think they have the potential like last year’s team; the real strength is that a lot of them have been playing together for two or three years,” said Serverson, whose team opens the season by playing at Allentown on September 5.

“The experience they have gotten from those games is so valuable. The MCT game may have been more valuable, it showed what we are capable of. The skill, experience, and tightness as a group are the things that will pull us through.”

GETTING THEIR KICKS: Members of the Princeton High boys’ soccer team go through a drill during a practice last week at the Valley Road fields. PHS, which posted a 10-6-2 record last fall, starts its 2014 campaign by playing at Trenton High on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GETTING THEIR KICKS: Members of the Princeton High boys’ soccer team go through a drill during a practice last week at the Valley Road fields. PHS, which posted a 10-6-2 record last fall, starts its 2014 campaign by playing at Trenton High on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 2013, the Princeton High boys’ soccer team displayed flashes of superb play but the proud squad fell short of its usual standard of postseason success.

Used to contending for county and state titles, PHS was knocked out of the Mercer County Tournament in the first round and exited in the sectional semis at the state level as it finished the fall with a 10-6-2 record.

As longtime Little Tiger head coach Wayne Sutcliffe looks ahead to the upcoming season, he believes his squad has the mentality to again be a postseason force.

“The goal of this group is to achieve something,” said Sutcliffe, whose team opens its 2014 campaign by playing at Trenton High on September 5.

“They are aware that if you take it one training session at a time and one game at a time, big things can happen.”

PHS is expecting big things from versatile senior star Chase Ealy, who has excelled at midfield and defense but will be handling the striker role this season.

“Chase is our guy who has the most experience,” said Sutcliffe, who guided the Little Tigers to a state title in 2009 and state co-championship in 2012.

“He is a senior level player. He helps us on the training ground, in games, and especially big games. He has been doing a great job so far at striker. It looks like we will be playing one striker.”

Sutcliffe believes his midfield could emerge as a potent strike force, featuring junior Cole Snyder, sophomore Andrew Goldsmith, sophomore Sam Serxner, junior Nick Halliday, and sophomore Alex Ratzen.

“Cole Snyder has had a good start this summer,” said Sutcliffe. “Goldsmith is doing well. Sam Serxner is a great addition. Nick has been great. Alex Ratzen came up as a freshman last year and changed games for us.”

A trio of juniors, Edgar Morales, Chris Harla, and Dwight Donis, could be game-changers on defense.

“Edgar, Chris, and Dwight have a lot of experience,” said Sutcliffe.

“Dwight and Chris are the two center backs. Edgar is just getting cleared. We are not sure where we will slot him in, he could be a defender, could be a forward.”

Senior goalie and three-year starter Laurenz Reimitz is battle-tested and skilled. “Laurenz has been great,” said Sutcliffe, noting that Reimitz sparkled in a recent preseason scrimmage against Scotch Plains.

“It is his third year, he has a lot of experience in games and big games. His presence is felt by more people; his command of the box is better. I am happy with his current form.”

Sutcliffe likes the form his team has displayed collectively as it girds for the season.

“There is great spirit in this group, I am very happy with their response so far,” said Sutcliffe.

“We definitely feel good about things, the goals are hard work and the expectation to play good soccer. We are happy with our depth and balance. We are looking to get things going on a good note.”

NEW VISION: Val Rodriguez (wearing sunglasses) surveys the action during a recent training session for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team. Rodriguez, a former PHS standout and assistant coach for the last six years, has taken the helm of the program in the wake of the retirement of longtime head coach Greg Hand. PHS, which went 14-4 last year, opens the 2014 campaign by hosting Trenton High on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

NEW VISION: Val Rodriguez (wearing sunglasses) surveys the action during a recent training session for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team. Rodriguez, a former PHS standout and assistant coach for the last six years, has taken the helm of the program in the wake of the retirement of longtime head coach Greg Hand. PHS, which went 14-4 last year, opens the 2014 campaign by hosting Trenton High on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Val Rodriguez (nee Davison) played an integral part in the success of the Princeton High girls’ soccer team from 2000-03.

Starring as a tough and skilled sweeper, Rodriguez helped the program earn Colonial Valley Conference titles and reach the finals of the both the Central Jersey Group III sectional and the Mercer County Tournament.

After producing an all-conference career at Richard Stockton College, Rodriguez returned to her high school alma mater, assisting longtime head coach Greg Hand.

Now, Rodriguez is primed to assume a critical role in maintaining the winning tradition of the program, taking over as head coach in the wake of Hand’s retirement.

“I have been looking forward to this day for a while,” said Rodriguez, reflecting on ascending to the top job after six seasons as an assistant.

“I enjoyed working with coach Hand and I learned a lot from him. My goal was to be the next head coach and start a new era in PHS girls’ soccer.”

With Rodriguez’s PHS background and experience with the current players, the Little Tigers have picked up where they left off last year when they posted a 14-4 record.

“I think compared to coach Hand, I won’t do things much differently,” said Rodriguez, whose team opens regular season play by hosting Trenton High on September 5.

“It will be business as usual. We have some great young female assistant coaches and we are all very competitive-minded. It has been a smooth transition. The respect is there; the team work is there.”

The scoring punch is there for PHS with the return of senior striker Shannon Pawlak, who tallied 28 goals last season.

“Shannon is our go-to target player,” said Rodriguez, noting that junior Serena DiBianco and junior Gabrielle Deitch may also see time at forward.

“We are looking for her to dish balls and to do scoring. She is fit, focused, and did a lot over the offseason.”

In the midfield, the Little Tigers boast a lot of talent in junior Hayley Bodden, junior Taylor Lis, sophomore Zoe Tesone, Deitch, and junior Sasha Ryder.

“Hayley, Taylor, and Zoe are big girls and good distributors,” said Rodriguez. “Gabby and Sasha will be on the outside.”

Rodriguez is looking for Bodden, in particular, to have a very good season. “I have never seen Hayley more focused,” said Rodriguez.

“She is fit; she is looking heavily at the college level and that is showing through in her play. I am expecting her to win the 50/50 balls like she did last year, to dish, and score some goals.”

Another Pawlak sister, senior Emily, should spearhead the PHS defense. “Emily is looking good; she and Shannon worked hard in the offseason,” said Rodriguez, who will also use junior Maya Sarafin on the back line. “She is good at organizing things in the back. She has a good voice and is a good decision-maker.”

Junior goalie Rachel Eberhart has emerged as a solid last line of defense for the Little Tigers.

“Rachel is very good technically,” said Rodriguez. “We are working on her decision-making, communication, and knowing when to come out.”

In Rodriguez’s view, PHS knows what it takes to do well this fall. “This team can maintain and build on recent success,” asserted Rodriguez.

“There is no wasted time, we are here for business. It is a focused group. Looking at this team, it feels like we have played together for years. There is already a tight bond.”

SOLE CONTROL: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Stef Soltesz controls the ball in a recent training session. Senior star defender Soltesz figures to be a key performer as PDS looks to defend its Mercer County Tournament title. The Panthers start regular season play with a game at New Hope-Solebury (Pa.) on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SOLE CONTROL: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Stef Soltesz controls the ball in a recent training session. Senior star defender Soltesz figures to be a key performer as PDS looks to defend its Mercer County Tournament title. The Panthers start regular season play with a game at New Hope-Solebury (Pa.) on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming off a frustrating 4-9-4 season in 2012, the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team didn’t appear to be a championship contender last fall.

But producing a dramatic reversal of fortune, PDS went 17-2-1, winning the Mercer County Tournament for the first time and taking second in the state Prep B tourney.

Entering the 2014 campaign, PDS knows it is the hunted team after last year’s heroics.

“There is a big target on their backs; this is the first time the team has been in this position,” said head coach Pat Trombetta, whose team opens regular season play with a game at New Hope-Solebury (Pa.) on September 5.

“We have a good core of players here, they are excited to defend their county title.”

The Panthers boast a solid core of battle-tested seniors in Erin Hogan, Kirsten Kuzmicz, Erin Murray, Alexa Soltesz, Stef Soltesz, Jamie Thomas, and Kelly Tarcza along with a group of improving sophomores that features Abby Atkeson, Hannah Bunce, Alexis Davis, Allison Klei, Emily Simons, and Katie Simons.

“Kirsten and Erin are our captains, there is good leadership there,” said Trombetta.

“They are both passionate players and respected by their teammates. The twins give us a big boost with Alexa on offense and Stef on defense. The sophomores are one of the most improved groups I have seen in a while. I think a big part of it was being on a championship team and they saw what it takes.”

Alexa Soltesz appears to be in championship form already at forward. “Alexa is looking great, she has improved every year,” asserted Trombetta. “She has one of the best turns I have seen with her back to goal, she has a really quick move.”

Freshman striker Ann Xu has proved to be a quick study. “Ann Xu is a skilled player who plays outside of school,” added Trombetta, who will also use Murray at forward. “She is a passionate player. She is going to be a starter.”

The midfield features a number of skilled players, including Kuzmicz, Klei, freshman Madison Coyne, Atkeson, and Bunce.

“Kirsten is playing well,” said Trombetta. “We are expecting her to win a lot of 50/50 battles; she gives us a real presence. Allison Klei is playing well, she came back in great shape. Madison Coyne is a talented player, she is another freshman who is going to start. Abby Atkeson and Hannah Bunch will be on the outside.”

On defense, the trio of Stef Soltesz, Hogan, and Davis should win a lot of battles along the back line.

“It is great having Stef back there, any time we make a mistake on defense, she is there to sweep it up,” said Trombetta, who will also be using junior Isabel Meyercord and Tarcza on defense.

“She is a goalie’s best friend. Erin had a great second half last year. We are looking for her to build on that. Alexis Davis was on offense last year but we are moving her to defense, we think she gives us depth there.”

In goal, freshman Grace Barbara gives PDS an exciting new face. “Grace Barbara is starting in goal, she is a dynamite keeper,” said Trombetta.

“She is very talented. She can play balls with her feet and gives us a lot of options. She is playing beyond her years, she is yelling out there and is in control.”

Trombetta, for his part, believes his team can build on last year’s success. “The major goals are to defend the county title and win the state Prep title,” said Trombetta.

“People ask what can you do for an encore; we didn’t win both last year. We have to take it one game at a time. The No. 1 key to success is to stay healthy and the No. 2 is to find someone to step up on free kicks.”

SAVING GRACE: Princeton Day School field hockey senior goalie Katie Alden makes a save in a recent training session. Tri-captain Alden and the Panthers will get their 2014 season underway by hosting Montgomery on September 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SAVING GRACE: Princeton Day School field hockey senior goalie Katie Alden makes a save in a recent training session. Tri-captain Alden and the Panthers will get their 2014 season underway by hosting Montgomery on September 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

A quartet of skilled seniors, Sarah Brennan, Emma Quigley, Mary Travers, and Emily Goldman, carried the bulk of the scoring load last fall as the Princeton Day School field hockey team advanced to the state Prep B semifinals.

With the graduation of those standouts, three of whom are playing college field hockey (Brennan at Princeton, Quigley at Brown, and Travers at Tufts), PDS will have a different look on attack this season.

“For us, it is totally about team play and team finishing,” said Panther head coach Tracey Arndt, who guided the squad to a 9-10 record in 2013.

“So to look for one person, I don’t think that is going to be our bread and butter this year. It is going to be the team that is successful and not relying on a couple of players, which was great about last year, but this year everybody gets to step up and be a part of it and that is a great thing too.”

Arndt will be relying on some young players to grow up fast as junior Lauren Finley and a pair of freshmen, Elizabeth Brennan and Gretchen Lindenfeldar, will be at forward.

“Lauren has done a great job, she is a forward who has really improved,” said Arndt, who also has sophomores Suma Kanuri and Emma Garcia along with freshmen Emma Latham and Madison Mundenar on the front line.

“I think her finishing skills have really stepped up so we are going to look to her as a leader because we did lose a lot of leadership on the forward line. We have Gretchen and Elizabeth coming in, they have showed us some really good stuff in the last week so we look to them to be finishers as well.”

PDS will be looking for senior tri-captain Dana Poltorak and juniors Rowan Schomburg and Kate Laughlin to spearhead the midfield.

“Dana is going to play midfield for us as well,” said Arndt, whose corps of midfielders will also include freshman Catherine Laylin and sophomore Catherine Stevens.

“She has really picked up her game. She has a great hit that we are going to look to use. She is just really fluid with her stickwork so we do like that. Rowan is going to be a good step up for us in the midfield, we are going to look for her and her tenacity around the goal cage. Kate Laughlin is back, she played left mid for us last year, she may be moving into a more defensive role. She is just really patient, consistent, and steady; we really need that. We’ll look for her on the left side of the field for sure.”

Another senior tri-captain, Niki van Manen, brings skill and savvy to the back line.

“Niki brings a lot of good experience, she brings a lot of composure,” said Arndt, whose defensive unit will also include junior Katie Shih.

“We moved her from a left mid position to a defensive role last year and she really took that on with strength. She knows how we want the game to be played. I just look for her strength, her defensive consistency. She has the best of both worlds, she can play attack and she can play defense so we look to use her for both.”

Youth will also be served on defense as freshmen Kyra Hall and Elena Schomburg along with sophomore transfer Kiely French should see action.

“Elena Schomburg has done a good job as has Kyra Hall,” said Arndt. “Kiely French is a great athlete and she is really coachable. I think we can use her in a lot of different positions, which is going to be really important for us to fill any voids that we have.”

Last fall, Katie Alden (this reporter’s daughter) filled a void at goalie and Arndt is expecting the senior tri-captain to benefit from that experience.

“We really needed Katie to step up last year; we had some new faces on the outside and now this year we certainly will again,” said Arndt, whose back-up goalie is sophomore Kyra Mason.

“She stepped up her game. She is stronger physically and she definitely has a stronger presence. I think she gained a lot of confidence last year. I just remember in a couple of our last games, she really took control of the circle. We look for her to continue to do that and continue that wave of confidence.”

With PDS opening its 2014 campaign by hosting Montgomery on September 5, Arndt believes the sum will be greater than the parts for the Panthers this fall.

“The key to our success this year is to play as a team,” said Arndt. “We have the skill, we have the ability but it is bringing it together. There is not going to be one person that I can say you go take the ball and do it. It really is going to be everybody but I think that really makes the success even sweeter when every single person from our freshmen to the senior captains are really going to be a part of our success. I am looking forward to that because everybody has to step up this year.”

Based on the first few weeks of preseason, Arndt sees things coming together for her squad. “There is a lot of support, both on and off the field,” said Arndt.

“They are very coachable students. They are very adaptable. We ask them to make a change and they make a change. We have seen a lot of growth and for us, it truly is taking it one game at a time. We are going to take this half and see if we can improve to the next half and then go game by game. We have lofty goals but at the same time, we have to focus on each game at a time and that is when the success will come.”

August 27, 2014
HOLDING HER OWN: Kate Kerr holds her ground last fall during her freshman season with the Franklin & Marshall College women’s soccer team. Former Princeton High standout Kerr made 16 appearances with four starts in 2013,  picking up an assist. The midfielder is looking to provide more scoring punch this fall for the Diplomats, who get their 2014 campaign underway when they face Lebanon Valley on August 29.(Photo by David Sinclair, Courtesy of F&M Athletic Communications)

HOLDING HER OWN: Kate Kerr holds her ground last fall during her freshman season with the Franklin & Marshall College women’s soccer team. Former Princeton High standout Kerr made 16 appearances with four starts in 2013, picking up an assist. The midfielder is looking to provide more scoring punch this fall for the Diplomats, who get their 2014 campaign underway when they face Lebanon Valley on August 29. (Photo by David Sinclair, Courtesy of F&M Athletic Communications)

Kate Kerr can’t imagine life without soccer.

Starring for the Princeton High girls’ team and the Match Fit Chelsea club program, Kerr had long range plans in the game.

“I think playing college soccer has always been in the back of my mind from the beginning of high school,” said Kerr, who helped PHS win the 2012 Central Jersey Group III sectional title in her senior season.

“Soccer has been such a huge part of my life, I have never thought about stopping playing.”

After looking at several Division III programs, midfielder Kerr found a home at Franklin & Marshall College and its women’s soccer team.

Upon starting preseason practice in 2013 for her freshman season at F&M, Kerr did have some jitters in making the jump to the next level.

“I was a bit nervous; the biggest thing was being mentally prepared and not psyching yourself out,” said Kerr.

“It is important to relax and tell yourself that you have been playing this game for a long time.”

It was hard for Kerr to relax when she got her first college start in the Diplomats’ game against Elizabethtown College on September 10.

“It was really exciting to see my name on the whiteboard,” recalled Kerr, who made 16 appearances and four starts in her debut campaign. “It meant my hard work had paid off.”

Less than two weeks later, Kerr got her first college point, picking up an assist in a 3-3 tie at Ursinus.

“It was a downpour, the ball was moving fast,” said Kerr. “I was out wide and I got the ball at half field. I took on a girl and beat her. I saw a teammate making a run and I crossed it to her in the box and she scored. It tied the game at 3-3 so it was a big goal.”

Over the course of the fall, Kerr made a lot of progress. “I think I just got more confident,” said Kerr. “At the beginning, I was nervous being a freshman. I got to know my place on the team. I tried new things in practice because I wasn’t worried about being judged.”

Off the field, F&M has proven to be a good place for Kerr. “It is tough, it is a lot of work,” said Kerr. “I did well, I had some tough courses. I am thinking about being a math major with a Spanish minor. I joined a sorority for fun. I have met some great girls.”

With the Diplomats getting ready for their season opener against Lebanon Valley on August 29, Kerr has a great feeling about this year’s squad.

“We just had our first fitness test,” said Kerr. “I think everyone is excited, we have a good group of freshmen coming in. We kicked the ball around after the test and everyone was working hard, there was high energy.”

As Franklin and Marshall looks to improve on the 5-9-3 record it posted in 2013, Kerr believes the team will have to work smarter around the goal.

“We had the best start in years; we only lost one of our first seven games (4-1-2) but towards the end we lost focus,” said Kerr. “We need to be better in the final third this year with our attacking and finishing. The defense is fine.”

For her part, Kerr is determined to be a more productive finisher this fall. “I want to be on the starting line and I want to start scoring goals,” said Kerr, who is hoping that her younger sister, Kirsty, will be scoring goals for PHS as she follows in the family tradition by playing on the Little Tiger varsity squad this year.

“I came close a few times last year. I want to get on the end of balls more, I think that would help the team.”

NAVAL ENGAGEMENT: Brendan Dudeck heads upfield for Navy last fall in the Midshipmen’s 34-7 win over Army. Dudeck, a former Hun School standout, is entering his senior season with Navy as one of the team’s starting receivers. The 6’0, 202-pound Dudeck made five catches for 48 yards last fall and threw for a two-point conversion in the victory over Army. (Photo by Phil Hoffmann, Courtesy of Navy Sports Information)

NAVAL ENGAGEMENT: Brendan Dudeck heads upfield for Navy last fall in the Midshipmen’s 34-7 win over Army. Dudeck, a former Hun School standout, is entering his senior season with Navy as one of the team’s starting receivers. The 6’0, 202-pound Dudeck made five catches for 48 yards last fall and threw for a two-point conversion in the victory over Army.
(Photo by Phil Hoffmann, Courtesy of Navy Sports Information)

Brendan Dudeck’s goal growing up was to be a big-time college athlete, not a soldier.

“In middle school and high school, my dream was to someday play college sports at the D-1 level,” said former Hun School standout Dudeck.

“Football became the sport I could do that over basketball and baseball. I wanted to play against schools like Notre Dame and Penn State.”

But when Army recruited him for football, Dudeck decided to give the armed forces a look.

“We didn’t have anyone in the family who had been in the military,” noted Dudeck.

“I said to my dad (former Hun football coach Dave Dudeck), I didn’t know if the military was for me so I better take a visit there. I knew about the great character of the kids they bring in and I took a liking to the lifestyle.”

Once he realized that the military could be for him, Dudeck decided to check out the Naval Academy as well.

“I thought if I have seen Army, I want to see Navy,” said Dudeck with a laugh. “I went on a visit to Annapolis and fell in love with the place and the guys they bring in. There is a real brotherhood.”

Deciding that the Naval Academy and its football program was the best fit, Dudeck made military service and football his dual focus. The 2010 Hun alum, who did a post-graduate year at the Peddie School, has worked his way up the squad’s depth chart and is serving in the big brother role as he enters his senior season with the Midshipmen.

“I understand how things work and what is important,” said the 6’0, 202-pound Dudeck, who will be one of the team’s starting receivers this fall. “I lead by example. If I can say at the end of the day that I worked as hard as I can, that is the goal. You can’t just talk about it, you have to walk the walk.”

It took Dudeck plenty of hard work to learn the ropes, starting before school even began in his first year.

“We had plebe summer before we get in there which is the indoctrination into the military,” said Dudeck.

“They break you down and build you up; they want to see if you can be a team player. I think it was a tough adjustment.”

Joining the football team after getting through that indoctrination led to other adjustments for Dudeck.

“It was the best and craziest,” said Dudeck, reflecting on his first taste of college football.

“You go through plebe summer and you think you have it figured out. Then you get to the practice and you are not the center of attention, everyone has been captain or an all star. The practices are all on the clock. You have 24 five-minute periods and the horns are blowing. I started off as a quarterback.  The QBs wear green jerseys so I
followed the green jerseys.”

Dudeck, who was switched to receiver in the spring of his first year, took some important lessons from his debut campaign even though he didn’t see any game action.

“You see the level of dedication it takes to play,” said Dudeck. “It is one thing to get recruited but to get on the field, there is the film study, weight lifting, and catching extra balls. People see the game on Saturday but they don’t see you in the winter doing suicide sprints.”

For Dudeck, the transition to receiver proved to be relatively seamless. “I had never played receiver before but I had been a defensive back all of my life so that helped me figure it out,” said Dudeck.

“I had a head start from playing QB; I had a grasp of all the plays and a different view of the offense.”

In his sophomore season, Dudeck got in his first game through special teams play.

“We went to Ireland to play Notre Dame in the first game and then we came back and we played at Penn State,” recalled Dudeck.

“One of the receivers got hurt and I was pulled up to special teams. It hit me, this my dream, this is exactly what I wanted.”

As Dudeck saw more action on special teams that fall, he started to develop a comfort level with the college game.

“The speed and size is a big difference but when it comes down to it, it is still football,” said Dudeck, whose younger brother, David, is a junior receiver for Boston College and youngest brother, Cameron, is headed for Navy and plans to play on the football team.

“You want to score touchdowns and keep the other team from scoring touchdowns.  You need to focus in and play with confidence. When you are on the field, you need to focus on doing your job. It was awesome to get on the field and pick up my confidence. Special teams is one-third of the game. You can make huge plays on special teams that can change a game.”

Moving up in the receiver rotation in 2013, Dudeck started playing a greater role in the Navy offense, making five receptions for 48 yards and getting three rushes for 21 yards.

“I played with three older guys, it was awesome to learn from them,” said Dudeck.

“My first catch was against Western Kentucky. I ran my route, I caught the ball. I was so pumped after that.”

Other highlights last fall for Dudeck came in games against traditional powers Pitt and Notre Dame.

“I made two catches against Pitt, my family was there so that was great,” said Dudeck.

“That Notre Dame game was really cool. I went there with my dad when I was in second grade when he took a Hun recruit and when I made that catch in that
stadium, I couldn’t believe how much I have been blessed.”

The coolest moment of the season for Dudeck took place in a 34-7 win over archrival Army when he utilized his passing skills to throw for a two-point conversion late in the contest.

“We had just scored a TD and I was sprinting to the other side because I was on the kickoff team,” recalled Dudeck.

“All of a sudden everyone is screaming, saying they are going to run your play. We had been practicing it for weeks so that was my college quarterback moment.”

With Navy currently in preseason camp in preparation for its season opener against No. 5 Ohio State on August 30, Dudeck likes the way the team is practicing as it looks to improve on the 9-4 record it posted in 2013.

“Camp has been going well so far, everyone on the team is working hard,” said Dudeck. “We are trying to work out the kinks. We have come a long way but we have a long way to go.”

Dudeck, for his part, has come a long way from his debut season, mastering the nuances of his role in Navy’s run-oriented option attack.

“I truly understand the offense,” said Dudeck. “Unlike other teams, it is not solely about catching the ball. When we are asked to make a play, we have to step up. In the option offense it is more about blocking, you never know what block is
going to spring somebody for a long run.”

Navy is ready to take a run at Ohio State this Saturday, thrilled about the opportunity to play the powerhouse Buckeyes.

“We are focused on August 30; we couldn’t ask for anything more,” asserted Dudeck. “Everybody has been thinking about that since the very first day after the Middle Tennessee game (a 24-7 win in the Armed Forces Bowl last December). We are ready to give it everything we have got.”

Drawing on his experience at Annapolis, Dudeck, who trained with the SEALs this summer and hopes to join that legendary unit after graduation, is ready to give everything as he looks ahead to serving as a soldier.

“It is just overall maturity; I have seen stuff over the last four years,” said Dudeck.

“I realize the amount of sacrifice that people are making on a daily basis. It is a change of perspective for me and my family and realizing how lucky we are to live in this country. It is a blessing.”

August 20, 2014
FAMILY TIES: Sarah Brennan looks for the ball in action last fall in her senior season with the Princeton Day School field hockey team. This week, Brennan will be beginning her career with the Princeton University field hockey program as the Tigers start preseason practice. Brennan is following in a family tradition by going to Princeton as her parents are both PU alums. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FAMILY TIES: Sarah Brennan looks for the ball in action last fall in her senior season with the Princeton Day School field hockey team. This week, Brennan will be beginning her career with the Princeton University field hockey program as the Tigers start preseason practice. Brennan is following in a family tradition by going to Princeton as her parents are both PU alums.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Some of Sarah Brennan’s earliest memories revolve around time spent on the Princeton University campus.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I have been going there,” said Brennan, whose father, Sean, and mother, Susan, are both Princeton alums.

“I went to my first reunion when I was under one. I have been to 18 reunions. I have all kinds of crazy orange and black outfits.”

This week, Brennan will be donning a new orange and black outfit as she starts preseason training for her freshman season on the Princeton University field hockey team.

For Brennan, an All-Prep midfielder for Princeton Day School, the road to college field hockey started with some advice from Tiger head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn.

“It was really in sophomore year when I went to a Princeton camp and decided that I wanted to keep playing,” said Brennan.

“Kristen recommended that I join the Mystx club program. I tried out and I made it. We train year round. They have an indoor facility with a really fast surface that is like an astroturf hockey field.”

That training paid off last fall for Brennan, who was the second leading scorer for PDS and helped the Panthers advance to the state Prep B semifinals where they fell 2-1 to Morristown-Beard.

“I was personally happy with the season but didn’t like ending it with a loss,” said Brennan. “I am faster with the stick, I know I still have a lot more to do.”

Brennan’s improved stick skills helped her earn a spot in Princeton’s recruiting class.

“Princeton was always my first choice, the question was whether I had the ability to play there and whether they wanted me,” said Brennan.

“I committed in the beginning of August. For the first time, I cried because I was so excited.”

That excitement was shared by Brennan’s family. “My parents couldn’t have been happier,” said Brennan. “It is pretty special to be going to the same school as your parents.”

Princeton head coach Holmes-Winn is happy to welcome Brennan to the program.

“Sarah is grit,” said Holmes-Winn in recent comments on the Princeton sports website regarding the team’s incoming freshmen.

“Her character is evident with how she backs up will with work. As a high school student, Sarah juggled multiple jobs, demanding academic obligations, and a rigorous club and school athletic schedule. Sarah is a determined player whose strength is in her physiology and competitive drive. She will not be out-worked — her relentless nature will fit in well here. We know Sarah will give Princeton her very best on and off the field and we are honored to welcome her to the Tiger family.”

In preparing to join her new family, Brennan has put in plenty of work. “I kept my club affiliation with Mystx and did some club tournaments in the spring,” said Brennan.

“I also trained with Kristen’s club team, it was great to get out there with them. I have been working by myself and with Mary Travers (former PDS teammate who will be playing for Tufts University field hockey this fall). I have been going to camps. I went to Princeton camp and all the other freshmen recruits were there. All four of them stayed at my house. I am really looking forward to playing with them in a few weeks.”

Brennan is looking forward to hitting the field with the Tigers later this week and contributing to the powerhouse program, which took the 2012 NCAA championship and has won 19 Ivy League titles in the last 20 years.

“We report on August 22 and I am literally counting the minutes to camp,” said Brennan. “I can’t wait to start. I am ready to play wherever Kristen wants me to. I want to be a part of the team and help it win a national title.”

TURNAROUND PROJECT: Todd Smith is excited to take the helm of the Hun School football program. Smith brings a proven track record of success to his new post, having guided WW/P-S to a 63-22 record from 2005 to 2012 as the program’s head coach and then helping Hopewell Valley to the Central Jersey Group III title last fall as its offensive coordinator. The Raiders, who start preseason practice this week, are looking to rebound from a 1-6 campaign last fall under interim head coach John Law.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TURNAROUND PROJECT: Todd Smith is excited to take the helm of the Hun School football program. Smith brings a proven track record of success to his new post, having guided WW/P-S to a 63-22 record from 2005 to 2012 as the program’s head coach and then helping Hopewell Valley to the Central Jersey Group III title last fall as its offensive coordinator. The Raiders, who start preseason practice this week, are looking to rebound from a 1-6 campaign last fall under interim head coach John Law. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After a superb eight-season run as the head coach for the WW/P-S football team, Todd Smith narrowed his focus last fall, serving as the offensive coordinator for Hopewell Valley.

Building on his success at WW/P-S, which saw him guide the Pirates to a 63-22 record from 2005 to 2012, Smith’s high-powered offense helped HoVal to the Central Jersey Group III title.

But while Smith enjoyed his stint with the Bulldogs, he missed being in charge.

“I was happy at HoVal and we had a lot of success but deep down inside I knew I wanted to be a head coach again,” said Smith.

So when Smith learned that the Hun School was looking for a new football coach, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I heard through the grapevine that the position was open and I applied,” said Smith.

“The interview process was rigorous. The headmaster, Jon Brougham, was fantastic, he was very warm and kind. We established a rapport.”

The feeling was apparently mutual and Smith, 36, got the job, taking over for interim head coach John Law, who guided the Raiders to a 1-6 record in 2013.

This week, Smith hits the field looking to get the Raiders back on the winning track as the team starts preseason practice.

“I am excited, I can’t wait,” said Smith. “The public schools get the shot to start a week before and they had time all summer to work on 7-on-7s. I miss that stuff; I am ready to get going.”

Smith was excited by what he saw around Hun as he got to know the school. “I had never been to Hun, it was great to experience it,” said Smith.

“It had a different vibe from public school. The kids are really upbeat. It is a smaller setting; you could see a rapport between the teachers and the kids. Everyone said hello, even if they didn’t know you. Everybody seems really supportive of each other.”

Despite his busy schedule which also includes teaching fifth-grade in West Windsor and coaching track at WW/P-S, Smith was able to spend a lot of time at Hun this spring to get acquainted with his new players.

“I was over there after track,” said Smith, a 2001 graduate of The College of New Jersey. “I got to work out with them and meet the guys living on campus. We had a couple of meetings. My message to them was that we were going to build the team on hard work and dedication and that we were going to make the most out of the summer time and the offseason to showcase their abilities in the fall.”

To that end, Smith held a week-long mini camp earlier this summer. “I wanted the kids to come in and learn the terminology and the base stuff,” said Smith.

“It went well. The kids had fun and developed a rapport with each other. We had some 7-on-7s against other teams and I thought we held our own.”

As he looks ahead to preseason, Smith is looking to fine-tune things physically and mentally.

“We will be doing 2-a-days,” said Smith, noting former HoVal assistant Nick Steffner will be his offensive coordinator and that Law will return to coach both lines.

“We don’t have a lot of numbers so we have to be careful. We will work on fitness and tempo. We will do our fair share of hitting but health is the No. 1 priority. We will be doing a lot of film work, chalk talk, and walkthroughs.”

Smith, who is known for his voluminous playbook and developing high-powered offensive attacks, believes he can implement his full system over the next few weeks.

“We should be able to run the whole offense,” maintained Smith, noting the senior running back Christopher Sharp has already established himself as a star.

“You need a lot of pieces for everything in the playbook to come out and we have a good running quarterback, wide receivers, and offensive line. Sharp is a good starting point, he just committed to Virginia.”

While Smith faces a challenge in getting things back on the right track after last fall’s frustrating campaign, he doesn’t believe that things are desperate by any means.

“The first thing I did was watch the film from every game last year,” said Smith, who guided WW/P-S to three 10-win seasons and seven state playoff appearances in his eight seasons there.

“The record was not reflective of how well they played, they lost a couple of a games by a few points and they were hurt by turnovers. We will focus on the little things so they won’t turn into big things.”

With Hun kicking off its 2014 campaign by playing at Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) on September 20, Smith is looking forward to a big fall.

“It comes down to how fast they learn everything,” said Smith. “Our goal is to play mistake free football, have fun, and win the MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League).”

August 13, 2014
TOUGH TO STOP: Zach Halliday races past a foe in a 2012 state tournament game during his senior season with the Princeton High boys’ soccer team. Last fall, central midfielder Halliday walked on to the Tufts University men’s soccer team and broke into the starting lineup by the end of the fall. This season, he will be joined by younger brother, Kevin, a high-scoring forward for PHS, as the pair look to help Tufts be a force in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play.(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

TOUGH TO STOP: Zach Halliday races past a foe in a 2012 state tournament game during his senior season with the Princeton High boys’ soccer team. Last fall, central midfielder Halliday walked on to the Tufts University men’s soccer team and broke into the starting lineup by the end of the fall. This season, he will be joined by younger brother, Kevin, a high-scoring forward for PHS, as the pair look to help Tufts be a force in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

For Zach Halliday, competing in soccer beyond high school has been on his radar for a while.

“I was thinking about college soccer, starting in the sixth or seventh grade,” said former Princeton High star Halliday.

“I played for PSA (Princeton Soccer Association) and I moved up to PDA (Players Development Academy). It was more intense and competitive, things really started heating up for me at PDA.”

The heat was on Halliday last August as he looked to earn a spot on the Tufts University men’s soccer team.

“I did have to walk on, that was a little stressful,” said Halliday. “When I got into Tufts, I sent the coach (Josh Shapiro) a note telling him I got in and he invited me to preseason. There were 28-29 guys and only 25-26 spots.”

Once on the field with the Jumbos, Halliday showed his trademark hustle and intensity.

“We came in and had the fitness test, only three of the eight freshman passed and I was one who passed,” said Halliday.

“It helped my confidence; it was also the first time we saw coach. I play center mid and we have a lot of players who are technically skilled at that position. I brought a different level of work rate and a willingness to do the dirty work and make the tackles that others may not want to.”

Halliday’s work paid off as he made the squad and achieved his long-held goal.

“It took a big weight off my shoulders, it is something I have wanted to do for a long time,” said the 6’0, 160-pound Halliday. “I was able to play looser, I wasn’t stressed as much, and I tried things I wouldn’t do before.”

Halliday didn’t have to wait long to make his college debut as he saw action off the bench in a 3-0 season-opening win at Bates.

“That was really fun, we were up 2-0 and there was five or 10 minutes left and coach gave me a chance,” recalled Halliday, who ended up playing in seven games and making four starts as Tufts went 8-5-2 and advanced to the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) quarterfinals. “I got a good run and I got my foot on the ball. It was a good feeling to know that I could play at this level and I knew then that it is going to be a fun four years.”

Halliday got his first college point with an assist in a 7-0 win over Suffolk in the second game of the season and then made his first college start in a 1-0 loss to MIT on October 16.

“We had lost to Connecticut College the game before and the coach chewed us out,” said Halliday, reflecting on his first start.

“We had a players-only meeting and aired some things. We needed players willing to break plays and play with an edge. Coach told me I was starting. It was great. I was super nervous but after the first few minutes, I started feeling good. I knew I wasn’t in over my head.”

In assessing his debut campaign, Halliday said the most important lesson he took from the fall was that success comes when the players are all on the same page.

“You need to buy in together, there has to be a sense of camaraderie and not just individuals playing for accolades,” said Halliday, noting that the Tufts squad includes former Princeton Day School stars Max Hoppenot and Rui Pinheiro along with Princeton resident Peter Lee-Kramer. “You have to buy into the system your team is abiding by.”

This fall, the Tufts squad will get a boost to its camaraderie when Halliday’s younger brother, Kevin, a high-scoring forward for PHS, joins the squad.

“It is exciting to play with Kevin; we are training together and it’s fun to know we are working for the same goal and same fitness test,” said Halliday.

“I can’t wait to play with him. We started on U-8 when he played and my dad was the coach. He has been a big part of my soccer life.”

PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe credits Halliday with being a big part of his program’s success over the last four years.

“We had been tracking him since the sixth grade over at Cranbury and we knew what a quality player he was,” said Sutcliffe, noting that Halliday helped PHS win two state titles during his career.

“He showed up in the summer before his freshman year when we have games with alumni against current players and he stood out immediately. He had this vitality and ability to inspire even as a freshman and that got better and better over the four years.”

Sutcliffe is not surprised that Halliday made an impact in his debut campaign.

“He’ll take nothing for granted,” said Sutcliffe. “His ability to work hard on both sides of the ball separates him from other players. I am so proud of him, he’s a special player. We were fortunate to have him for four years.”

In Sutcliffe’s view, Tufts is very fortunate to be getting the 1-2 punch from the reuniting of the Halliday brothers.

“I think it is going to be great,” said Sutcliffe. “Kevin was on the short list of their top guys. The staff is lucky to have both of them.”

Halliday, for his part, believes Tufts has what it takes to be one of the top teams in the NESCAC this fall.

“I am looking to build on the end of last season when I was starting,” asserted Halliday, who will be heading to preseason camp in mid-August with the team slated to open its 2014 season by hosting UMass-Boston on September 3.

“I want to help us win any way I can, whether as a starter or as a role player. We have a lot of talented players; I think we can make waves in the NESCAC and NCAA tournament. It is a good group; coach Shapiro is a great coach.”

SOMETHING BRUIN: Maddie Alden, right with sunglasses on her head, huddles with her boatmates and coach for the UCLA rowing varsity 4 during the NCAA championship regatta this June at the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind. Princeton High alum Alden helped guide the Bruins varsity 4 to a 15th place finish at the event. This summer, she is coaching at the Mercer Rowing Club as she prepares for her senior season at UCLA.

SOMETHING BRUIN: Maddie Alden, right with sunglasses on her head, huddles with her boatmates and coach for the UCLA rowing varsity 4 during the NCAA championship regatta this June at the Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind. Princeton High alum Alden helped guide the Bruins varsity 4 to a 15th place finish at the event. This summer, she is coaching at the Mercer Rowing Club as she prepares for her senior season at UCLA.

Maddie Alden has no trouble voicing what’s on her mind, something I can attest to as her father.

That trait combined with her petite stature led to suggestions before entering Princeton High that she would be ideally suited to be a crew coxswain.

“One of my best friends in middle school had an older sister who did crew and their family thought I would be perfect for the role of the coxswain because I was so tiny and really loud,” said Alden.

Alden took up the suggestion and joined the Mercer Junior Rowing Club (MJRC) and quickly fell in love with coxing. She worked her way up the ranks, guiding the women’s lightweight 4 to the nationals twice before coxing the women’s varsity 8 to the nationals as a senior.

Inspired by other MJRC athletes who went on to  compete at the next level, Alden, a 2011 PHS grad, ended up going to UCLA, where she was recruited by the Pacific 12 school’s rowing program.

But once out in Westwood, Alden had trouble finding her voice. “It was hard; you come from a program where you are the varsity coxswain, you are top dog,” said Alden, listed at 5’0 on the UCLA roster.

“People look up to you, because you are going to school for this, that is really impressive and then you start at the bottom again. It was really hard to go into a new program where the coaches have a completely different coaching style, you have to learn what they want and that is one of the hardest things. Coxswains are supposed to be coaches in the boat so if you are doing a drill, they expect you to do it properly and they expect you to do it right the first time, not the second time. They want practice to run smoothly and your job is to enforce the smoothness of the practice. It was hard because I didn’t know what these coaches wanted.”

Figuring out what the coaches wanted, Alden coxed the novice 4 to a win at the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships in her freshman year. As a sophomore, she guided the second varsity 4 to a third place finish on day one at the San Diego Crew Classic and to a big win over USC.

This spring, she moved up to the varsity 4 and helped the boat make it to the NCAA championships where it placed 15th in the country.

“Sophomore year I kind of got my grounding; I think the biggest thing about the varsity 4 coming from the second varsity 4 was that I met with my coach (associate head coach Justin Price) twice a week and sometimes three times,” said Alden, a sociology major and education minor who has earned honorable mention Pac 12 All-Academic honors.

“I would just talk out practice and how practice was going. I would talk out future races with him. I would just really get in his head, picking his brain for what he wanted and what he saw was going on. I became more of a liaison for him, a messenger between him and the rowers. I am a connection between how they are feeling and how he is feeling to see where his head is at and to prepare the rowers for what he is thinking.”

For Alden, earning the trip to the NCAAs at Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis, Ind. was a heady accomplishment.

“I had seen my team go two years in a row and I was stuck at home watching the races,” said Alden.

“As much as I was proud of them, I wanted to be in one of those boats. It was awesome to know you have done well, you are now on the team that is chosen to go.”

Alden and her boatmates put in extra effort to do well in Indianapolis. “It was intense, we had changed our lineup so you go in with an untested lineup,” said Alden.

“I had never been to a bigger race than the NCAAs. There is no bigger race besides international competition. This is it for most rowers. You go into it knowing that it is the big deal and what you have trained for. This is what I worked for seven years so finally getting to be there, I was dialed in. I remember the two weeks before all I could think about was how to make the boat go faster.”

While the varsity 4 had hoped to make the B final and have a shot at finishing 7th-to-12th in the country, Alden was happy with the boat’s effort.

“We had some tough breaks, I just remember just wanting to be the best we could be,” said Alden.

“We weren’t the fastest. I wasn’t looking to go win the grand final, I was looking to be the fastest and perform at our best. The repechage (second-chance race) was a big race for us, I wish we had gotten second to make it into that B final but it didn’t work out in our favor and that is fine. In the C final, we had a great performance. I just remember being so proud of just being there.”

For Alden, just being at the NCAA won’t be enough as she and her fellow rising seniors look ahead to their final campaign

“I am already ready to go back and get faster; I have been there, I have seen what it is like,” said Alden of the Bruins, who placed 12th overall in the team standings at the NCAAs.

“It made me want to be more successful. I think the biggest thing I took away from NCAAs is seeing the future and how strong of a senior class we have this year with 10 seniors. Knowing how strong and how close knit our senior class is and how committed we all are to being the best, the NCAAs really just amped me up. Right after I finished my last race, I thought I just want to go back and do it all again. I know what we can do, I know what we were missing this year. I know that I want to improve and just keep getting faster.”

This summer, Alden is refining her voice on the water, helping to coach the Mercer Rowing Club women’s rowers.

“Normally with a coxswain,
in an 8 especially, you see the boat and the oars in front of you, you don’t see the side view so being on the launch gives you a different perspective,” said Alden, who also guides the club’s summer learn-to-row program and proudly notes that the Mercer women won two races at the Independence Day Regatta in Philadelphia and had five first-place finishes last week at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta in St. Catherines.

“You have to tell them what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. It makes me have to be sharp with my knowledge and how I can help them. It also gives me the ability to really hone in on using my vocab and making sure the girls understand what I am saying and getting my point across. So the communication of seeing a problem, addressing it and fixing it has exponentially gotten better.”

ASSUMING THE RISK: Corinne Urisko controls the ball in action last fall during her freshman season with the Babson College field hockey team. Former Princeton Day School standout Urisko emerged as a starting defender for the Beavers. (Photo Courtesy of Babson College Sports Information)

ASSUMING THE RISK: Corinne Urisko controls the ball in action last fall during her freshman season with the Babson College field hockey team. Former Princeton Day School standout Urisko emerged as a starting defender for the Beavers.
(Photo Courtesy of Babson College Sports Information)

When Corinne Urisko headed to preseason camp last summer for her freshman season with the Babson College field hockey team, she was a bit apprehensive.

“I was nervous, I didn’t know exactly what to expect,” said Urisko, a former Princeton Day School standout. “The team was predominantly juniors and seniors so I was a little scared.”

But with the veterans rolling out the welcome mat for Urisko, she overcame those fears and emerged as a starting defender for Babson.

“They were all so welcoming, I realized that I fit in with them,” said Urisko. “I was lucky enough to start every game and play almost every minute of the season. I started at right back and moved to center. The seniors had a big impact on me. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

While Urisko had jitters in her college debut against Endicott, she found she enjoyed the challenge of playing at the next level.

“I was nervous for the first few minutes then I really got into it,” said Urisko, crediting PDS head coach Tracey Arndt with helping prepare her well for the jump to college field hockey.

“The speed of the game is completely different, it is much more upbeat. In high school, you see all ranges of skill. In college all of the players are skilled, it is a fun game.”

One of the most fun moments for Urisko last fall came when Babson played Connecticut College and former PDS teammate Carly Ozarowski.

“It was so nice to see her again,” said Urisko, recalling the game. “It was a little weird to play against her after we had worked together so much in high school.”

The Beavers did well last fall, posting an 11-9 record, winning three of four games before ending the season by falling 3-2 to Wellesley in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) semifinals.

“Beating Springfield, we were so happy for that win,” Urisko, referring to a 5-4 victory over the Pride in the NEWMAC quarters. “Losing to Wellesley in semis was a highlight because we played so well. It was a close game.”

For Urisko, keeping a close eye on her studies was particularly critical since she was spending so much time on field hockey.

“I learned that you have to balance schoolwork with playing,” said Urisko, who is studying business and notes that Babson was ranked first on Money magazine’s recently-released list of best colleges.

“There are so many things going on at campus. We are traveling a lot so you have to have your assignments prepared and keep up with the professors.”

Socially, Urisko was able to keep up with things on campus. “I made so many friends,” said Urisko, who joined a sorority. “The athletes are a close unit, most of my closest friends are on the fall sports teams.”

This spring, the field hockey team got a sense of what kind of unit it is going to be this fall.

“We have a big spring training program; we do track workouts and skill sessions,” added Urisko.

“We have a spring tournament in April. It was good practice for us to not be playing with the seniors. It gives us a preview of what things are going to be like without them.”

Over the summer, Urisko has focused on conditioning and honing her skills.

“I have been doing a big workout packet and playing some pick-up field hockey,” said Urisko.

“We have a team camp at our college called 4Goals with different coaches. We start preseason training on August 15.”

With a season under her belt, Urisko is looking to take a bigger role on the field this fall for the Beavers.

“I want to be a good influence on the underclassmen,” asserted Urisko. “I am the only returning defender so I want to emerge as a leader. It is going to be hard without the seniors, but we have a lot of talent and potential.”

August 6, 2014
WINNING FEELING: Members of the Winberie’s squad celebrate last Wednesday night at the Community Park courts after they defeated King’s Pizzarama 61-60 to clinch the title in Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League best-of-three championship series. Pictured, from left, are Chris Hatchell, Cliff Pollard, Kurt Simmons, Jesse Krasna, Terrence Bailey, and Lou Kirkley. It was the second summer hoops crown for Winberie’s in the last three years.

WINNING FEELING: Members of the Winberie’s squad celebrate last Wednesday night at the Community Park courts after they defeated King’s Pizzarama 61-60 to clinch the title in Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League best-of-three championship series. Pictured, from left, are Chris Hatchell, Cliff Pollard, Kurt Simmons, Jesse Krasna, Terrence Bailey, and Lou Kirkley. It was the second summer hoops crown for Winberie’s in the last three years.

With its core of veterans utilizing their playoff savvy, Winberie’s pulled out a 60-57 nailbiter over King’s Pizzarama in the opener of the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League best-of-three championship series.

But in the early stages of the second game on Wednesday evening at the Community Park courts, top-seeded Winberie’s showed its age as second-seeded King’s raced out to a 22-10 lead.

Sensing that the game could be getting out of hand, Winberie’s guard Terrence Bailey implored his teammates to hang in there.

“I talked to them and said we have to pull it together and play our game and not play theirs,” said Bailey.

Displaying his multi-faceted game, Bailey’s dazzling drives to the hoop combined with some deadeye outside shooting sparked a 23-6 run that gave Winberie’s a 33-28 lead at halftime.

“In the beginning I knew,” said former Lawrence High standout Bailey reflecting on his first half heroics which saw him pour in 16 points. “When I hit the three 3s, I am ready to ball. It was game time for me.”

While the game turned dicey as King’s made some big runs, Winberie’s hung on to prevail 61-60 and win its second summer league title in the last three years.

Led by a pair of Princeton University football players, Jakobi Johnson (19 points) and Anthony Gaffney (11 points), along with Lou Conde (15 points), King’s narrowed the gap to 39-37 early in the second half and then made the last minute harrowing for Winberie’s, whittling a 61-56 deficit to a one-point margin before succumbing.

“We let up on pressure and the intensity dropped a little bit,” said Bailey, who ended up with a game-high 20 points. “We had to pull back together and play our game and we brought it back.”

Noting that he may be playing for another team next summer, Bailey was proud to come through in his Winberie’s finale.

“It was great to go out like this to get a title and bring it home for them,” said Bailey of Winberie’s which went 11-1 this summer with the one defeat coming on a forfeit when it didn’t have enough players on hand for a game against Princeton Youth Sports. “This is a great group of guys and I am happy that we accomplished it.”

Winberie’s player-coach Kurt Simmons noted that the title was the product of a group effort as Cliff Pollard scored 14 points in the clincher while Jesse Krasna added 10 and playoff MVP Chris Hatchell contributed 9.

“We have got a lot of veteran guys here,” asserted Simmons, who scored 8 points in the finale and was a force in the paint.

“You look at everybody on the team. Jess [Krasna] was a great pickup. Chris Hatchell speaks for himself the way he plays. A lot of credit needs to go to Cliff Pollard and TB (Bailey), those are two athletic and great guys. The one guy who doesn’t get as much credit as he should is Lou Kirkley. He is a guy that comes into the game, he doesn’t play that much but he does his job and he is a great asset to have on the team.”

Bailey, for his part, cited the team’s togetherness as its greatest asset.

“Chemistry is the best thing you need to have for a team,” said Bailey.

“If you don’t have chemistry then you aren’t a team, you just have individual players that come out and want play the game. When everybody has the mindset of they all want to win and play as a team and play together like a family, then you can do anything. We won every game we played, definitely chemistry is No. 1.”

INSIDE KNOWLEDGE: Winberie’s player-coach Kurt Simmons, right, thwarts Matt Johnson of King’s Pizzarama in action last week during the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League best-of-three championship series. Simmons’ inside play helped Winberie’s sweep the series 2-0 to win the title.                                                                                             (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

INSIDE KNOWLEDGE: Winberie’s player-coach Kurt Simmons, right, thwarts Matt Johnson of King’s Pizzarama in action last week during the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League best-of-three championship series. Simmons’ inside play helped Winberie’s sweep the series 2-0 to win the title. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While Kurt Simmons helped to start the Winberie’s team in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League several years ago, he assumed a bigger leadership role this season.

With co-founder Mark Rosenthal deciding to step aside as the team’s manager to help out with league administration, Simmons became a player-coach for Winberie’s.

In reflecting on his increased responsibility, Simmons acknowledged that it initially took some adjusting.

“It was tough in the beginning,” said Simmons. “We had a lot of good guys but bringing these guys together was rough. Mark and I started this team with another guy, Dave Uitti. It was a struggle in the beginning but Mark really put in the foundation for this team and I just took over that role for him.”

Building on that foundation, Simmons guided Winberie’s to the league title last week as it swept King’s Pizzarama in the best-of-three championship series, culminating with a 61-60 win last Wednesday evening at the Community Park courts.

“We have been battle-tested throughout the season,” said Simmons, noting that the team posted a 7-1 regular season record with the one loss being a forfeit.

“Coming into tight games like this, we are ready for them. If you look at our record over the last five years, we have only lost four or five or six games. We are a pretty impressive team.”

In the finale on Wednesday, former LaSalle player Simmons produced an impressive performance in the paint, blocking several shots and chipping in 8 points.

“The legs felt good tonight,” said the 6’6 Simmons with a laugh. “I just wanted to come out and be aggressive. I didn’t want to go back to a third game on Friday. We just wanted to close this out tonight and get this championship.”

For Simmons, the squad’s solidarity, forged through past playoff battles — including a run to the 2012 league crown, was a key factor in the win.

“Having those veteran guys and that camaraderie,” said Simmons, when asked what qualities make Winberie’s special.

“A lot of us have been playing together for the last five or six years. A lot of us play together throughout the year in different leagues so coming out here and playing is just another day in the park basically.”

Holding things together as a coach made the title extra special for Simmons.

“It means a lot, this is my first year as a player-coach, technically if you take away that forfeit, I haven’t lost a game as a coach,” said Simmons.

“It is great to be able and come out and win a championship in a league that is as good as this. It means a lot, especially to be able to say we have won two in the last three years.”

TITLE TRACK: Hun School girls’ soccer player Ashley Maziarz tracks a ball in a 2012 game. Last month, Maziarz helped her club team, FC Bucks, win the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) championship in Richmond, Va. as she gets ready for her senior year at Hun.                                                                   (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TITLE TRACK: Hun School girls’ soccer player Ashley Maziarz tracks a ball in a 2012 game. Last month, Maziarz helped her club team, FC Bucks, win the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) championship in Richmond, Va. as she gets ready for her senior year at Hun. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Five years ago, Ashley Maziarz decided to commute to Pennsylvania for her club soccer.

The Chesterfield, N.J. resident joined the FC Bucks program and quickly realized that she had made a wise move.

“We were pretty good from the start,” said Maziarz, a central defender whose skills have helped her star at the high school level for the Hun School girls’ soccer team.

“We kept building and we got two new coaches last year and they have really helped.”

This summer, that foundation resulted in a national title as FC Bucks won the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) championship in Richmond, Va. last month, defeating Internationals Soccer Club (Ohio) 2-1 in the final.

For Maziarz, the championship sparked a sense of redemption. “We knew it was going to be tough competition,” said Maziarz, who was joined on the FC Bucks squad by Hun teammate and fellow rising senior Jess Sacco.

“We had made it to another national tournament two years ago but we didn’t do too well. We wanted to do better.”

FC Bucks qualified for the ECNL nationals by winning their group in playoffs held in Seattle. The team pulled a draw in its finale to earn one of the eight spots in Richmond, where the format involved two groups of four teams with the winners of each group meeting in the title game.

Coming into the competition, Maziarz had a good feeling about the team’s prospects.

“I think we were playing better; we knew we were going to be playing really good teams in Virginia,” said the Lehigh-bound Maziarz.

“We enjoy moving the ball around and keeping possession. We are not a kick and run team. We like to work it around.”

Starting the nationals with a 2-1 win over the Utah Avalanche gave Maziarz and her teammates the feeling that they could go on a title run.

“I think we had a lot of energy; we were nervous but when we got on the field and started the game we did what we had to do to win,” said Maziarz.

“Our two forwards work well together and they were really clicking. We gained confidence from that win. We realized that we had a shot to win this.”

After topping the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Illinois SLSG-Metro team 2-0 and the East Meadow (N.Y.) Soccer Club 3-2, FC Buck won Group B to set up a clash with the Group A winner, Internationals SC, in the ECNL national title game.

The title contest proved to be a nailbiter with some late drama. “It was back and forth the entire game, near the end they got a penalty kick and our goalie saved it, that was big,” said Maziarz.

“We had about 10 minutes left after the saved PK. We were really, really determined to win. We let go of the fatigue and didn’t think about the heat. They had the trophy on the sidelines and we were looking at it. We wanted to get it.”

Earning that trophy triggered a raucous celebration. “We ran into a pile and we were screaming, it was exciting and awesome,” said Maziarz. “Now we have to live up to that standard. Next year, everyone is going to be looking at us as national champs and trying even harder to beat us.”

This fall, Maziarz and Sacco, who has also committed to Lehigh, are looking for an exciting final season at Hun as the Raiders look to build on an inspiring 2013 campaign that saw them rebound from a 0-7 start to make the state Prep A championship game.

“Jess and I talked about it, we want to win title this year,” asserted Maziarz, who is a team co-captain along with Sacco.

“We are on the same page as to what we want for the season. We saw how this team did at the end of last year and its potential and we want to work as hard as we can.”

Maziarz is primed to continue working hard at the next level. “When I went to Lehigh, I fell in love with the campus,” said Maziarz, who plans to study biomedical engineering.

“I enjoyed the coaches; they made me feel happy when I went there. I met a lot of the girls and they were welcoming, they made me feel comfortable.”

Having Sacco matriculate along with her adds an additional layer of comfort. “We are going to be rooming together; we are close and know each other’s quirks,” said Maziarz. “I am happy to have made the decision.”

BUCKLING DOWN: Hun School girls’ soccer star Jess Sacco, right, battles a Pennington player for the ball last fall in the state Prep A title game. Last month, rising senior and Lehigh-bound Sacco helped her FC Bucks U17 squad win the Elite Clubs National League championship in Richmond, Va.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BUCKLING DOWN: Hun School girls’ soccer star Jess Sacco, right, battles a Pennington player for the ball last fall in the state Prep A title game. Last month, rising senior and Lehigh-bound Sacco helped her FC Bucks U17 squad win the Elite Clubs National League championship in Richmond, Va. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last fall, Jess Sacco started her junior season with the Hun School girls’ soccer team on the sidelines as she recovered from a Lisfranc foot injury.

The central midfielder returned to action late in the campaign and helped Hun advance to the Prep A championship game where it fell to perennial power Pennington.

This summer, though, Sacco gained a title as she helped the FC Bucks U17 team win the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) championship in Richmond, Va. as it edged Internationals Soccer Club (Ohio) 2-1 in the final.

“At the beginning of the season, our coaches said this might be our last shot for a national title with this group because so many are going off to college,” said Sacco, who has committed to Lehigh University where she will be competing for the school’s women’s soccer team.

“I wouldn’t want to win with any other group, we have been seeing each other five times a week with practices and games.”

In order to make it to Richmond, the team had to raise its game in the playoffs in Seattle.

“We had to do well in the regular season to qualify for the tournament in Seattle,” said Sacco, who was joined on the FC Bucks squad by Hun teammate and fellow rising senior Ashley Maziarz.

“There were eight groups of four teams and the top team from each group made it to the nationals in Richmond.”

Coming into its final contest in Seattle, FC Bucks had to win or tie to earn one of the coveted eight spots.

“It was tough; we were shorthanded because two girls had to fly back due to prior flight arrangements,” said Sacco. “We were all tired, we played well and pulled out the tie.”

Sacco had the feeling that the team was going to keep playing well in Richmond.

“I could tell that everyone was nervous but we were also fired up,” said Sacco. “I had never seen the team so excited. Seattle gave us momentum. We had been undefeated in our last eight or nine games. I think we all wanted to win.”

FC Bucks kept up its winning ways in pool play, topping the Utah Avalanche 2-1, the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Illinois SLSG-Metro team 2-0, and the East Meadow (N.Y.) Soccer Club 3-2 to win Group B and earn a matchup with the Group A winner, Internationals SC, in the ECNL national title game.

Sacco and her teammates were fired up for the contest, having lost to Internationals in the teams’ last two meetings.

“We really wanted to take it to them,” said Sacco. “Our defense played well. Our goalie made an insane save on a penalty kick with 10 minutes left. Our central defender fouled one of their girls in the box and I was thinking the ref isn’t going to call this with a national title on the line. I was crushed but then our goalie saved it. I had never felt that kind of emotion; that made us fly the last 10 minutes of the game.”

In Sacco’s view, the emotional connection between the FC Bucks’ players helped the club prevail.

“It is the bond,” said Sacco. “Honestly, the teams at this level can be pretty cutthroat. We are really close. We support each other and push each other.”

Looking ahead to her final season with Hun, Sacco and close friend Maziarz are hoping to push the Raiders to a championship campaign.

“For Ashley and me, one of the biggest things is to motivate everyone to go out and play hard every game,” said Sacco, who will be serving as a co-captain of the squad along with Maziarz.

“The summer is important, we have been having captain’s practices. I think the biggest thing is working hard and working together. Even if we don’t have the most talent, I think we have the heart. Last year, the freshmen and sophomores had to play and they stepped up. We told them they could do it and they got better and better.”

Sacco is excited about going to Lehigh to play at the next level. “They have a great engineering program and I am thinking about chemical engineering,” said Sacco, who will continue her partnership with Maziarz as she is also heading to Lehigh and will play for the soccer team.

“You know how they say you will be walking at a school and you can see yourself going there, that is how I felt when I was on campus. I did a camp after I had decided and I thought I can see myself playing on this field. It is great to have it over with; we still have to work hard at everything this year.”

July 30, 2014
SNEAKING BY: Jesse Krasna of Winberie’s heads up the court in recent action in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Monday, Krasna got off to a late start in the league’s best-of-three championship series as he forgot his sneakers and had to head home to retrieve them. Hitting the court in the second half, guard Krasna scored 5 points and got a big steal in the waning seconds as top-seeded Winberie’s edged King’s Pizzarama 60-57. Game 2 of the series is scheduled for July 30 at the Community Park courts with Game 3, if necessary, slated for August 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SNEAKING BY: Jesse Krasna of Winberie’s heads up the court in recent action in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Monday, Krasna got off to a late start in the league’s best-of-three championship series as he forgot his sneakers and had to head home to retrieve them. Hitting the court in the second half, guard Krasna scored 5 points and got a big steal in the waning seconds as top-seeded Winberie’s edged King’s Pizzarama 60-57. Game 2 of the series is scheduled for July 30 at the Community Park courts with Game 3, if necessary, slated for August 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Jesse Krasna’s mom unwittingly gave Winberie’s a big assist in its win over King’s Pizzarama last Monday in the opener of the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

Upon arriving at the Community Park courts, Winberie’s point guard Krasna realized that he had forgotten his sneakers and he reached out to his mom.

“I came right from work and I thought I had packed my show the night before but I got here and opened up the trunk and they weren’t there,” said Krasna.

“I still live at home, about a half hour away in the Bucks County area. My mom is a doll, she met me halfway with the shoes. I have got to go home and give her a big hug and a kiss. I would have felt really bad if I wasn’t here and we weren’t able to pull this one out.”

Upon getting into the fray with 14:25 left in the second half, Krasna played a key role in helping top-seeded Winberie’s pull out a 60-57 win, scoring 5 points and getting a big steal in the waning seconds to hold off a furious rally by second-seeded King’s.

“I shot around a little bit and got loose,” said Krasna. “I was able to come in and I had my legs right away.”

After Krasna made a three-point play to give Winberie’s a 53-44 lead, King’s  came on strong, going on a 13-3 run to forge ahead 57-56 with 30 seconds left in regulation.

“I think King’s Pizzarama just played really hard and scrappy,” said Krasna. “They made a lot of plays. To their credit, they took us out of our rhythm. They are a young team that really wants it.”

After Winberie’s regained the lead at 58-57 on two free throws by Chris Hatchell, Krasna made a steal with five seconds left to take the wind out of King’s sails.

“That was a big steal, the ball came right to me,” said a smiling Krasna. “I really didn’t do much, it was a lucky bounce. That was big because it was a one-point game. Paul [Johnson] got to the foul line and knocked down some big free throws for us.”

Hatchell led Winberie’s with 17 points with Cliff Pollard and Paul Johnson chipping in 10 points apiece. Matt Johnson tallied 14 points for King’s with Princeton University football players Anthony Gaffney and Jakobi Johnson contributing 12 and 10 points, respectively. Game 2 of the series is scheduled for July 30 at the Community Park courts with Game 3, if necessary, slated for August 1.

In Krasna’s view, the fact that veteran Winberie’s is battle-tested in summer league playoff battles, having won the crown in 2012, gave it an edge down the stretch.

“We know where to go; we have the experience,” said the 6’0, 164-pound Krasna, who recently wrapped up an outstanding career for Ursinus College men’s hoops program, scoring more than 1,000 points and earning second-team All-Centennial Conference honors this winter in his senior campaign.

“Chris Hatchell is a great leader for us. I think everybody on our team really trusts him so when things start to go haywire, he is there to calm us down and get us a good shot and get us a stop.”

Having previously played for the now-defunct PA Blue Devils in the summer league, Krasna is relishing the experience of getting to play for Winberie’s as he joined the squad this summer.

“Kurt Simmons of Winberie’s e-mailed me right away and told me he would love to have me,” said Krasna.

“We never could get by Winberie’s so when I saw that it I was excited; if you can’t beat them, join them.”

For Krasna, getting into the flow with Winberie’s has come easily. “I love playing with these guys, everyone is so unselfish,” asserted Krasna.

“They play really hard and they took me and the Sibols [former Blue Devils John and Zach Sibol] in right from the start. Those guys are easy to get along with and play because they all share the ball and look for each other. I knew what to expect  coming it. I think our biggest problem with the Blue Devils is that we didn’t have more size so whenever we ran into these guys, it was tough. So I am finally on a team with a bunch of big guys. I am one of the steadying guards so it has been a pleasure playing with them; I hope we can make it work for years down the road.”

After the close call on Monday, Winberie’s will need to work out some kinks in order to overcome King’s and earn the title.

“I think we need to take care of the ball under pressure,” said Krasna. “If we can break their pressure and get easy shots, they won’t be able to press us as much and that won’t affect us. I think we got away from the pounding the ball inside. Playing outside, with the wind like this, it is important that we stay disciplined and stay with that game plan.”

 

CATCHING HER BREATH: Eva Petrone of the Community Park Bluefish swim team competes in a breaststroke event earlier this summer. Last week, Petrone took fifth in the 12-and-under 50 backstroke and 10th in the 50 breaststroke at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championships. The Bluefish placed third of six clubs in the Division 1 team standings at the meet. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CATCHING HER BREATH: Eva Petrone of the Community Park Bluefish swim team competes in a breaststroke event earlier this summer. Last week, Petrone took fifth in the 12-and-under 50 backstroke and 10th in the 50 breaststroke at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championships. The Bluefish placed third of six clubs in the Division 1 team standings at the meet. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Utilizing its strength in numbers, the Community Park Bluefish swim team proved to be a force last week at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet.

“We did well, we bumped up from fourth place last year,” said Bluefish head coach Andy Sichet, whose squad placed third of six teams in Division 1 with 2,075.50 points, trailing host Flemington-Raritan Community Pool, the winner of the meet at 2,2804.50 and runner up Lawrenceville Swim Association at 2,407.50.

“We took a bigger team than last year. Officially we have the biggest team in the league. We had a lot of kids who swam well and dropped a lot of time.”

Recent Princeton High grad and Cornell-bound Will Stange had a good time in his final PASDA appearance. Stange took first in the 18-and-under 50-meter backstroke and the 50 butterfly and helped the Bluefish to first place in the 200 medley relay and second in the 200 free relay.

“It was Will’s last year so it was an extra special swim and an extra special meet for him,” said Sichet. “He broke the team record in the backstroke at 27.74.”

While Stange led the way, the 18U boys piled up a lot of points for the Bluefish with Gabe Bar-Cohen placing second in the 18U 50 breaststroke and fifth in the 50 fly, Matt Shanahan finishing third in the 50 breast, and Stephen Kratzer coming in sixth in both the 50 free and 50 fly.

“The 18U boys was the strongest part of our team, which it never is,” noted Sichet. “When the boys hit 14, they start going to other sports ands swimming isn’t always a priority.”

The squad’s younger boys also showed plenty of strength. In the 14U  boys’ division, Matthew O’Boyle was second in the 50 free and fifth in the 50 back while Karl Lackner was second in the 50 back and the 100 individual medley. The pair of O’Boyle and Lackner together with Charles Yandrisevits and Phillip Lacava helped CP win both the 14U 200 free and medley relays. Ethan Rizzi, Gafen Bar-Cohen, and Jason Kratzer stood out in the 12U division as Rizzi placed fifth in the 50 back while Bar-Cohen was third in the 50 breast, and Kratzer finished fifth in the 50 fly. Alex Pendrous showed his versatility, winning the 10U 25 breast and taking second in the 25 fly and seventh in the 100 IM. In the 8U division, Brett Torgerson and Brendan Dombrowski proved to be a solid one-two punch. Torgerson took third in the 25 back and fourth in the 25 free while Dombrowski finished fourth in both the 25 back and 25 breast.

As for the CP girls’, Ella Jones emerged as a standout for the CP girls as she won the 8U 25 free, 25 breast, and 100 IM. Piper Dubow placed first in the 8U 25 back and fourth in the 25 breast.

“Ella Jones has become a powerhouse for us,” asserted Sichet. “She keeps going and going no matter who we have her training with. She is naturally talented and has a lot of passion for swimming. She is a wonderful kid to have on the team.”

Sichet noted that CP received some wonderful family efforts at the meet.

Three Maslanka sisters joined the team this year and made an immediate impact. Sara Maslanka displayed her all-around abilities, taking fourth in the 10U back, fifth in the 100 IM, and sixth in the 25 free. Carolyn Maslanka placed fifth in the 14U 50 breast while Rebecca Maslanka placed third in the 18U 50 back.

A stalwart CP family, the Petrones, was ably represented as Jaxon Petrone placed first in the 10U 25 free and fourth in the 100 IM while older sister, Eva Petrone, was fifth in the 12U 50 back and 10th in the 50 breast

“The Maslankas did well as a group,” said Sichet. “The Petrones are a big Bluefish family. They have been with the Bluefish for years and they are very dedicated, they come to every practice and work very hard.”

The Bluefish got some good work from a number of other girl swimmers as Piper Dubow placed first in the 8U 25 back and fourth in the 25 breast with  Isabelle Phillips taking fourth in the 100 IM, Emily Becker finishing ninth in the 50 free, Charlotte Singer coming in fourth in the 18U 50 breast, and Jessica Bai taking third in the 18U 50 fly.

All in all, the CP numbers added up to something special as the team went 4-1 in dual meets before its strong showing in the championship meet. “We had some fantastic swimming throughout the summer,” maintained Sichet.