September 11, 2013
KICK START: Hun School girls’ soccer player Jess Sacco kicks the ball in a 2012 game. Junior tri-captain Sacco should provide plenty of punch in the midfield this fall for the Raiders, who are welcoming new head coach ­Joanna Hallec. Hun opens regular season play by hosting East Brunswick High on September 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

August 28, 2013
SAFETY NET: Alex Mitko poses last fall during his freshman season with the Hamilton College football team. Former Princeton High star Mitko made a sudden impact in 2012 for the Continentals, starting at safety and making 38 tackles with two forced fumbles, two tackles for a loss, and a blocked kick. (Photo Courtesy of Hamilton College Sports Information)

SAFETY NET: Alex Mitko poses last fall during his freshman season with the Hamilton College football team. Former Princeton High star Mitko made a sudden impact in 2012 for the Continentals, starting at safety and making 38 tackles with two forced fumbles, two tackles for a loss, and a blocked kick.
(Photo Courtesy of Hamilton College Sports Information)

During his senior season with Princeton High football team in 2011, Alex Mitko gave a vivid display of his leadership and grit.

Mitko started the year at quarterback and led PHS to a 20-14 win over Northern Burlington in the opener to snap an 11-game losing streak for the Little Tigers. He broke his right thumb in that contest but returned two weeks later and played at running back and defensive back with a cast on his hand.

By the end of the fall, he was back at quarterback, triggering the PHS offense while continuing to guide the Little Tiger secondary.

Joining the Hamilton College football team last fall, Mitko’s leadership and toughness came in handy shortly after he arrived on campus for preseason training.

“My coaches told me that I was going to play safety so I could look at the playbook and get a feel for the position,” said the 5’10, 165-pound Mitko, a native of Cranbury, who is starting preseason camp this week for the Continentals as he prepares for his sophomore season.

“I got thrown in there when one of the older kids got injured. I had to make the calls in the secondary, relaying all the coverages to the defensive backs. I had done that in high school so that was good. A lot of the seniors and the older guys made me feel comfortable, they gave me guidance. One of our captains, Mike MacDonald, a senior linebacker, helped me a lot.”

Mitko emerged as a dependable guy for Hamilton, starting all eight games, making 38 tackles with two forced fumbles, two tackles for a loss, and a blocked kick.

In reflecting on his debut against Amherst College, Mitko acknowledged that he had some uncomfortable moments.

“They ran a no-huddle offense and on first drive they didn’t huddle once,” recalled Mitko.

“They scored and then we ran the kickoff back for a touchdown so we had to go right back on the field. It was the fastest I have played. I was screaming out calls while racing back to my position.”

Mitko found himself in position to make some plays in that first drive. “It was one of the first plays; a kid ran up the middle and I got my first tackle out of the way,” said Mitko, who got credited with four stops in the 38-14 loss to the Lord Jeffs.

“I learned that 250-pound running backs go down like everyone else. After I got a few tackles, I started getting more comfortable.”

For Mitko, Hamilton’s lone win of the fall, a 14-13 triumph over Bowdoin, was a highlight.

“That game was important; our head coach had just come from being the defensive coordinator at Bowdoin and he really wanted that one,” said Mitko.

“It was a nailbiter; I would have liked the game to be more one-sided but any way you can win a game is OK.”

While Hamilton ended up going 1-7, Mitko feels the program is on the verge of turning a corner.

“In the first halfs, we played really well,” said Mitko. “We were back and forth in games. We had a lot of young players and we let things slip away in the third and fourth quarters. With experience, you learn to give 100 percent and finish plays. You try to be more flawless and you will come out with more victories.”

As Mitko heads into his sophomore campaign which will kick off when Hamilton hosts Amherst on September 21, he is looking to apply the experience he gained last year.

“I went from scrambling to settling in to knowing my role and what I am supposed to do now,” said Mitko.

“I want to do more than my job. I have talked to the coaches, I need to get out on breaks more and jump pass routes.”

Not surprisingly, Mitko is also looking to exert his flair for leadership. “We have a very young secondary,” said Mitko. “I would like us to be an improved unit and be someone to reckon with in the NESCAC.”

Utilizing his trademark grit from the start, Mitko has already proven that he is a player to be reckoned with at the next level.

FAMILY BUSINESS: Lior Levy battles in the paint as he competed for Team USA at the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel last month. The former Princeton High standout, who is joining Franklin and Marshall men’s hoops teams this fall, helped the U.S. to gold in the Junior Boys (ages 17-18) division. In so doing, he became the third generation of his family after grandfather, Sydney, and father, Howard, a former Princeton University star and assistant coach, to earn gold at the Maccabiah Games. In addition, his younger sister, Mia, a rising junior at PHS, played for Team USA Junior Girls division at the competition and also struck gold.

FAMILY BUSINESS: Lior Levy battles in the paint as he competed for Team USA at the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel last month. The former Princeton High standout, who is joining Franklin and Marshall men’s hoops teams this fall, helped the U.S. to gold in the Junior Boys (ages 17-18) division. In so doing, he became the third generation of his family after grandfather, Sydney, and father, Howard, a former Princeton University star and assistant coach, to earn gold at the Maccabiah Games. In addition, his younger sister, Mia, a rising junior at PHS, played for Team USA Junior Girls division at the competition and also struck gold.

As Lior Levy prepared this summer to start his basketball career at Franklin and Marshall, he embarked on an overseas hoops adventure that both sharpened his skills and added a chapter to a rich family history.

The recently graduated Princeton High star played for Team USA in the Junior Boys (ages 17-18) division at the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel last month, coming home with a gold medal.

Levy is the third generation of his family after grandfather, Sydney, and father, Howard, a former Princeton University star and assistant coach, to earn gold at the Maccabiah Games. In addition, his younger sister, Mia, a rising junior at PHS, played for Team USA in the Junior Girls division at the competition and also struck gold.

For Levy, the experience was the culmination of a long-held goal. “My dad told me a bunch of stories about it and my granddad did too,” said Levy.

“When my father coached in 2005, the whole family went to support him. I saw the gold medal match in 2009 and it was a great game. It is something I have wanted to do my whole life. It was great.”

The process of playing for the U.S. team started last summer. “I went to a tryout last August in Philadelphia,” recalled Levy, a 6’8 forward.

“It was one day, two sessions. I was there pretty much the whole day. I felt good about the way I played in the tryout but you never know. I found out in the fall, late October, early November. I was really happy.”

It didn’t take Levy long to feel good about the team assembled. “In May we all got together in Philly at the Chestnut Hill Academy,” said Levy, noting that the U.S. head coach Jamie Chadwin guides the boys’ hoops program at the school.

“You could definitely tell that everyone was playing well together and that we could be a good team. We had a lot of smart players.”

Arriving in Israel in early July, the squad came together even more, both on and off the court.

“We got there about 10 days before the games started,” said Levy. “In the first week, we had two practices a day. In the second week, we would get up early and practice at 7 a.m., eat lunch and then go touring. The Holocaust Museum was amazing; it was really moving. The Dead Sea was great.”

On the eve of the pool play portion of the competition, the U.S. team was confident that it could do some great things.

“We thought we could do some damage,” said Levy. “We were playing well together. We had a scrimmage against an older Israeli team and we only lost by two.”

The U.S. team played well from the start, topping South Africa 105-15 in its opener as it went 4-0 in Group B play, winning by an average margin of 81.5 points a game.

“Some of the teams weren’t that good but we kept practicing everyday and got better,” said Levy, who came off the bench and played all three frontcourt spots and had his tournament high with 17 points in a 100-11 rout of Turkey.

“There was a 24-second clock so we played up tempo. We pushed it when we got a chance but we moved the ball around really well in the half court. Defensively we played man to man with a lot of pressure.”

While the U.S. had a lackluster performance in a 63-37 semifinal win over Brazil, the team responded with aplomb to the pressure of facing host Israel in the gold medal game.

“We played our best game against Israel,” said Levy, reflecting on the 78-62 triumph.

“The night before we had a really good team meeting. The coaches prepared us well, they had really scouted them. It was a gold medal game and there was a lot of adrenaline. We were really pumped, the gym was packed and the crowd was against us.”

In the postgame celebration, Levy and his teammates were pumped up. “It was awesome; we were all jumping on each other,” said Levy.

“Our goal was to win and we were relieved. If we had lost it still would have been a good experience. I made some great friends.”

As a bonus, Levy got to share some great moments with his younger sister as she helped the U.S. Junior Girls team win the gold medal.

“That was awesome; I got to go to most of the girls’ games,” said Levy. “They usually played before us so we would get to see half of their games. It was great to support her. It was pretty cool that both of us got gold medals.”

Having arrived at F&M last weekend, Levy believes his experience this summer will help him as he gets into the college game.

“I got a lot better; there were a bunch of good big men on our team and it was great going against them in practice,” said Levy.

“Everyone on the team is going to play in college and the coach ran practices like it was college. We will have captains’ practices and conditioning at F&M this fall. I want to get as good as I can be and fight for some playing time.”

WATTS UP: Sydney Watts sends the ball up the field during her career for the Princeton High field hockey team. Watts, who helped the Little Tigers advance to the quarterfinals of both the Mercer County Tournament and the NJSIAA Group III North 2 sectional last fall in her senior season, hits the field for the Amherst College field hockey team this week as the Lord Jeffs start preseason training.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

WATTS UP: Sydney Watts sends the ball up the field during her career for the Princeton High field hockey team. Watts, who helped the Little Tigers advance to the quarterfinals of both the Mercer County Tournament and the NJSIAA Group III North 2 sectional last fall in her senior season, hits the field for the Amherst College field hockey team this week as the Lord Jeffs start preseason training. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

During her grade school years, Sydney Watts’ favorite recreational activity was riding horses.

But things changed for Watts when she entered the John Witherspoon Middle School in the fall of 2006.

“I started playing field hockey in the 6th grade, playing at JW,” said Watts. “Then in December of 6th grade, I started playing with Champions Edge at Princeton. They had Sunday practices and I really got into it.”

That extra work paid dividends as Watts developed into a skilled, versatile player for Princeton High. With Watts playing at both defense and in the midfield over her career and serving as a team captain, the Little Tigers emerged as one of the top teams in the area.

This week, Watts is taking her skills to the next level as she starts her career with the Amherst College field hockey team.

For Watts, playing for the IMPACT club team in northern Jersey during high school helped put her on the radar for college programs.

“The club experience brought it up; I was not considering it until high school and then I realized it might be an option,” said Watts, reflecting on her college search.

“We would go to showcases and the coaches were there. I got to know the older girls and they had been through the process so that helped.”

After initially looking at D-I programs, Watts changed her focus to D-III schools.

“I was looking at the Ivy League schools,” said Watts. “Princeton has a great field hockey program and my dad went to Brown. By my sophomore year, I had narrowed it to the D-III. I felt the academics and athletics were the best fit. I really liked the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) schools.”

In the end, Watts’ choice came down to a pair of NESCAC schools, Tufts and Amherst.

“I was pretty intent on going to Tufts; I liked the size and the opportunities with engineering there,” said Watts.

“I visited Amherst and the athletes seemed to have a more important role there.”

Since the end of the PHS season, Watts has been working hard to get ready for college athletics.

“I played club until the end of senior year,” said Watts. “There was a summer league at Princeton Day School on Wednesday nights and I played in that. I have also been doing the Amherst workout packet. We lift weights three days a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, we do stick training. The coach wants us to play as much field hockey as possible; she feels that experience from the game is the best training.”

Prior to starting the Amherst preseason, Watts got in some extra training with her future teammates as the squad spent a weekend in the 4Goals college program.

“We were at Harvard; it was full intensity with game situations,” said Watts.

“We played a 7-on-7 tournament and an 11-on-11 tournament. It was awesome. Our whole team was there. All the starters came back and all seven freshmen were there. We got to see how we fit in. Everyone got to play. We actually played really well with each other; we went undefeated in the 7-on-7 tournament.”

As Watts looks ahead to her freshman campaign, she is confident she will fit in, no matter what role she assumes for the Lord Jeffs, who begin regular season play by hosting Middlebury on September 7.

“I was talking to the other girls and they asked me what position I play,” said Watts.

“I played center mid and sweeper in high school. I told them I would play anywhere they need me. I just really want to make an impact on the team, even if it is cheering on the
sidelines.”

LAND OF OZ: Carly Ozarowski, right, marks a foe in action last fall during her freshman season with the Connecticut College field hockey team. Former Princeton Day School standout Ozarowski, who helped the Camels go 7-8 in 2012, starts preseason training this week for her sophomore campaign.                                                      (Photo by John Narewski, Courtesy of Connecticut College Sports Information)

LAND OF OZ: Carly Ozarowski, right, marks a foe in action last fall during her freshman season with the Connecticut College field hockey team. Former Princeton Day School standout Ozarowski, who helped the Camels go 7-8 in 2012, starts preseason training this week for her sophomore campaign. (Photo by John Narewski, Courtesy of Connecticut College Sports Information)

Carly Ozarowski kept her options open when she began considering college field hockey programs a few years back.

“I started thinking about it sophomore year and it became more concrete in my junior year,” said former Princeton Day School star defender Ozarowski, reflecting on her college search.

“I started going to the camps of the schools I was interested in. I looked at all of the NESCAC [New England Small College Athletic Conference] schools.”

But her search narrowed considerably when she met with Debbie Lavigne, the head coach at Connecticut College.

“I talked to Debbie and she asked me to come to their camp two days later,” recalled Ozarowski.

“I drove back up there again. I had a gut feeling; when I was there I had the sense that this was it. My brother told me that was the school I was talking about the most.”

Acting on that gut feeling, Ozarowski ended up going to Connecticut College and helped the Camels go 7-8 last fall in her freshman season.

As Ozarowski starts preseason this week for her sophomore campaign, she brings a comfort level to the process.

“It was a tough transition last year because I was coming in playing a fall sport,” said Ozarowski.

“That makes it more difficult; I couldn’t go to all of orientation. I was going to practice three times a day; I didn’t know where I was going on the first day of classes.”

All of that practice, though, paid off for Ozarowski when she made her debut for the Camels in a 4-0 win over East Connecticut State last October in a non-conference contest.

“That was exciting,” said Ozarowski, reflecting on her first college action. “I got to play most of the game and it really helped me figure out what I was doing out there. It helped with the NESCAC games that I played later.”

A key factor in doing well on the college level is getting up to speed with the opponents, according to Ozarowski.

“The first thing is that the game is extremely fast,” explained Ozarowski, who ended up making four appearances last fall. “I have to figure out how fast that forward is who is coming at me.”

In Ozarowski’s view, the Camels are ready to take a step forward this fall. “We just had a team camp and we were talking about this being a new year,” said Ozarowski, noting that the squad took part in the 4Goals camp in Wellesley, Mass. where it scrimmaged other New England college teams.

“We are ready to do some big things and go farther in NESCAC. Our team dynamic feels different this year. We are closer on the field. We prided ourselves on playing well in the second half of last year; this season we need to try hard from the first minute.”

Ozarowski, for her part, will be trying hard to be a more dynamic player for the Camels, who start their season on September 7 against Babson.

“I am so excited; I want to have more confidence on the field,” asserted Ozarowski, who will be facing former PDS teammate and current Babson freshman back Corinne Urisko in the opener.

“I want to be comfortable with playing defense and my position. I am working on my speed and defensive positioning and being better at containing the other players.”

August 21, 2013
121110_9202_msoccer094.JPG

TO THE MAX: Maxime Hoppenot races up the field in action last fall in his sophomore campaign for the Tufts University men’s soccer team. Former Princeton Day School standout Hoppenot was the leading scorer in 2012 for the Jumbos, tallying seven goals and three assists, making first-team All-New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) honors as Tufts went 9-4-4 on the way to the NCAA Division III tournament. Later this month, Hoppenot starts preseason training at Tufts, looking to be even more productive as a junior.
(Photo by Alonso Nichols/Tufts Courtesy of Tufts University Sports Information Department)

As Maxime Hoppenot looked forward to playing college soccer, he dreamed of following in the footsteps of his older bother, Antoine, a star at Princeton University.

“Ideally I would have been going to Princeton to play with my brother,” said Hoppenot, a star midfielder at Princeton Day School who helped the Panthers win both the Mercer County Tournament and state Prep B tourney in his senior campaign in 2010.

“They only saw me three times and each time I had bad luck. One game I got hurt after 10 minutes. They didn’t see me enough to recruit me.”

But Hoppenot’s luck changed in 2010 when he spoke to Josh Shapiro, the newly installed coach of the Tufts University men’s soccer team.

“I really liked the coach at Tufts,” said Hoppenot. “I was in his first recruiting class. I talked to him on the phone and he was so excited about the program.”

Hoppenot ended up matriculating to Division III Tufts of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and produced an exciting debut season in 2011, scoring six goals, second most on the team.

Last fall, Hoppenot was even better, tallying seven goals and three assists to lead Tufts in scoring, making first-team All-NESCAC honors as the Jumbos went 9-4-4 on the way to the NCAA Division III tournament.

With the Tufts preseason kicking off next week, Hoppenot is primed to make even more progress this fall.

“We are all excited to get started; we think we can do some special things,” said Hoppenot. “We have to pull it together as a team.”

It took Hoppenot a while to pull things together in his freshman season. “In the first game, I was going in and fouling a lot of players,” recalled Hoppenot.

“I was sliding late into tackles, I had a lot of energy and excitement. The coach told me he liked the way that I played but that I had to calm down.”

Hoppenot had to change the way he played as he was moved to forward from his customary spot in the midfield.

“I had to make the transition from midfielder to point striker; I had to learn to hold the ball up and finish,” said the 6’0, 170-pound Hoppenot.

“In the fourth or fifth game, I started to get comfortable; I was getting more playing time.”

Notching his first goal in a 2-1 win over Colby helped increase Hoppenot’s comfort level. “Late in the first half, there was a through ball and the goalie was trying to waste time; Jono [Edelman] battled him, the ball came loose and he passed it to me and I scored,” said Hoppenot, recalling his initial tally which took place in a September 24, 2011 contest.

“It was a big weight off my shoulders, getting the first goal of the season and particularly your first college goal.”

Three weeks later, Hoppenot produced a breakout performance, scoring both of Tufts’ goals in a 2-1 victory over Williams.

“It was a homecoming and a huge crowd,” recalled Hoppenot. “I scored on my first touch; I came on and scored with my left foot to the side of net. About 10-12 minutes later, I scored again.”

By the end of October, Hoppenot’s scoring prowess earned him a promotion.

“I got to start against Bowdoin and I scored two goals and I have started ever since,” said Hoppenot.

Starting his sophomore season with a bang, Hoppenot emerged as one of the top performers in New England.

“I got four goals in the first four games,” said Hoppenot. “My sophomore year was a big step in the right direction. I only went from six goals to seven goals but I felt like I was playing much better. I was getting more attention from the other players.”

Hoppenot’s heroics drew the attention of his foes as he earned first-team All-NESCAC honors.

“I felt like I was playing well but I didn’t expect that,” said Hoppenot, who had two goals in a 3-0 win over Suffolk in mid-October and then tallied a goal and an assist in a critical 2-1 league victory over Hamilton.

“I have never been one of those guys who gets much recognition. I am the guy that does the dirty work and I am fine with that.”

Working with former PDS teammate Rui Pinheiro, who joined the Tufts program last fall as a freshman midfielder, was a bonus for Hoppenot.

“At first, he wasn’t on the field as much but he played more and more,” said Hoppenot, who is one of three Princeton residents on the Tufts squad with classmate Peter Lee-Kramer, a Philips Andover alum, being the other. “It is great having him there, he is one of my best friends off the field.”

While Tufts didn’t play its best in falling 1-0 in overtime to Vassar in the NCAA tournament, Hoppenot drew positives from the experience. “We didn’t take as big a step as I would have liked,” added Hoppenot.

“We lose our heads at times and play down to our opposition. Making the NCAAs was great, we lost on a penalty kick in OT. We had dominated the game. It was a cause for optimism.”

Hoppenot, for his part, is optimistic that he can be even more of a force in his junior campaign.

“I would like to be the NESCAC Player of the Year; I would like to score more goals,” said Hoppenot, who played for the Central Jersey team this summer in the Premier Development League (PDL) in addition to doing arduous fitness work.

“I don’t have a specific target, I just go from game to game and try to play my best. I need to finish my chances better; I have been working on that a lot this summer.”

PINPOINT: Rui Pinheiro controls the ball last fall in his freshman season for the Tufts University men’s soccer team. The former Princeton Day School star made his presence felt in the midfield for the Jumbos, getting into 15 games and making six starts. Next week, Pinheiro will begin preseason for his sophomore season, determined to build on the progress he made in 2012. (Photo by SportsPix, Courtesy of Tufts University Sports Information)

PINPOINT: Rui Pinheiro controls the ball last fall in his freshman season for the Tufts University men’s soccer team. The former Princeton Day School star made his presence felt in the midfield for the Jumbos, getting into 15 games and making six starts. Next week, Pinheiro will begin preseason for his sophomore season, determined to build on the progress he made in 2012.
(Photo by SportsPix, Courtesy of Tufts University Sports Information)

Rui Pinheiro didn’t have to wait long to get a taste of college action when he joined the Tufts University men’s soccer team last fall.

While the former Princeton Day School star had been working as a reserve midfielder in the preseason, an injury to one of the squad’s veterans thrust Pinheiro into the starting lineup for the season opener against Middlebury.

“The coaches told me a day or two before the game so I would be prepared,” recalled Pinheiro.

“It was awesome. I adapted pretty well. The depth of the team is so competitive; the practices are hard.”

Pinheiro did run into some hard times after that start as he was slowed by an injury.

“I took a knock and had a contusion on the back of my hamstring,” said Pinheiro, who came off the bench for much of the fall. “My athleticism was not there, it took a while for me to get my legs back.”

The skilled midfielder did make it back into the lineup, starting the last five games and helping Tufts go 9-4-4 as the Jumbos advanced to the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament.

Next week, Pinheiro will start preseason for his sophomore season, determined to build on the progress he made in his debut campaign.

“I am looking to start every game, play hard, and help the team do well,” said the 5’10, 150-pound Pinheiro, reflecting on his personal goals for the 2013 season.

In assessing the transition to college soccer, Pinheiro noted that it was like playing a different game.

“You have to step up with the physicality and the speed of the game,” said Pinheiro, who had one assist in his 15 appearances in 2012.

“In high school, you have a range of players. You have club players and others who are good athletes but not soccer players. In college, all the players are well-rounded, physical, and good soccer players. Everything is so quick; you have to be quick with the ball and make good decisions.”

Teaming up with former PDS teammate Maxime Hoppenot, a rising junior forward with the Jumbos, helped Pinheiro develop more quickly.

“We had a great connection,” asserted Pinheiro, who teamed with Hoppenot to help the Panthers win both the Mercer County Tournament and state Prep B tourney in 2010.

“In high school we both played center midfield so we were next to each other and talked a lot. We communicate a lot. I like bringing the ball up the field and getting it to him.”

Over the course of the summer, Pinheiro has worked hard to get better.

“I played Super Y this summer with PSA (Princeton Soccer Association); it is good to get more game experience in the summer,” said Pinheiro.

“The Tufts coaches give us a program with strength training, with lifting, and fitness work.”

In Pinheiro’s view, the Jumbos possess a strong blend of chemistry and skill that should serve the program well this fall and beyond.

“We had a really young team, by the end of the season, it was mainly freshmen and sophomores starting,” said Pinheiro.

“We showed improvement last season; we can only get better in the future. I think the camaraderie is awesome. We are all great friends; we hang out off the field. We are unique for an NESCAC team; a lot of the teams are physical and win that way. We have a lot of kids who are small and quick; we like to keep the ball and string passes together.”

MAIDEN VOYAGE: University of California, Berkeley-bound Vicki Jorgensen (a graduate of West Windsor-Plainsboro North High), left, and Rena White (Princeton High) of the Princeton National Rowing Association’s Mercer Rowing Club (PNRA/Mercer) head to a third-place finish in the Women’s U23 2- at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta earlier this month. Their performance was one of many superb efforts by PNRA/Mercer as the club made its debut appearance at the storied event.

MAIDEN VOYAGE: University of California, Berkeley-bound Vicki Jorgensen (a graduate of West Windsor-Plainsboro North High), left, and Rena White (Princeton High) of the Princeton National Rowing Association’s Mercer Rowing Club (PNRA/Mercer) head to a third-place finish in the Women’s U23 2- at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta earlier this month. Their performance was one of many superb efforts by PNRA/Mercer as the club made its debut appearance at the storied event.

With a tradition that stretches back to the 19th century, the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta has established itself as a premier fixture on the summer rowing scene.

When the storied regatta was held for the 131st year earlier this month at Saint Catharines, Ontario, Canada, the Princeton National Rowing Association’s Mercer Rowing Club (PNRA/Mercer) created some history of its own as it competed for the first time at the event, which included more than 2,800 athletes from over 150 rowing clubs.

Of the 22 events they entered, Mercer Junior crews reached the finals in seven events. The Mercer Juniors finished second in three events, the Women’s Under 17 4+, Women’s Under 23 Lightweight 4-, and Men’s Under 19 8+.

The Mercer Masters also excelled at the competition, reaching the finals in four events, the Women’s Masters C (age 43 to 49) 4+, the Women’s Masters D (age 50-54) 8+, Women’s Master D 4+, and the Mixed Masters D 8+.

“We entered the club to compete at Canadian Henley this year so our crews would have the opportunity to test themselves against a very high level of competition,” said Ted Sobolewski, the manager of PNRA/Mercer rowing programs and varsity girls’ coach who has previously competed at Henley as a rower and as a coach. “Getting to the finals at Henley is a great accomplishment for any rower.”

The Women’s U17 4+ of Kate Hickey (Notre Dame High), Rena White (Princeton High), Catherine Porter (Hopewell Valley High), Haley Bork (Robbinsville High), and coxswain Katarina Stough (Princeton High) accomplished a lot as they finished second behind gold-medal winning Brockville Rowing Club (Ontario) by 1.3 seconds.

The quartet of University of California, Berkeley-bound Vicki Jorgensen (a graduate of West Windsor-Plainsboro North High), Rachel Calabro (Robbinsville HS), Geena Fram (Lawrenceville), and White placed second in the Women’s U23 Lightweight 4- while Jorgensen and White also teamed up for a third place finish in the Women’s U23 2-.

Another impressive performance from Mercer came in the Men’s Under 19 8+ event. Finn Ludwig (West Windsor-Plainsboro South High), Aaron Goodman (Princeton High), Sean Kelly (West Windsor-Plainsboro South High), Timothy Lee (West Windsor-Plainsboro South High), Elias Albiheira (Princeton High), Brad Mills (Princeton High), Connor Ilchert (Lawrence High), Ron Haines (Hamilton High West), and cox Matt Perez (Robbinsville High) finished second to Canada’s Don Rowing Club. The crew is coached by PNRA/Mercer varsity boys’ coach and Masters’ coach Jimmy Newcombe.

The Mercer Masters, for their part, made a fine debut appearance at the regatta. The Women’s Masters C (age 43 to 49) 4+ finished second with the crew of Cheryl Baldino, Allison Lee, Sharon Waters, Kristin Tedesko, and cox Kat Stough. The Women’s Masters D (age 50-54) 8+ finished second with the crew of Kristin Appelget, Cassandra Cohen, Baldino, Kathy Kalinowski, Susan Voorhees, Lee, Waters, Tedesko, and cox Maddie Alden.

The mother-daughter duo of Susan Voorhees and Maddie Alden teamed up with Appelget, Cohen and Kalinowski to win a second silver medal in the Women’s Master D 4+. The Mixed Masters D 8+ finished third with a crew of Appelget, Neil Linzmayer, Miles Truesdell, Charles Gilbert, Michael Vaccaro, Cohen, Voorhees, Kalinowski, and coxswain Kat Stough.

August 14, 2013
BACK FOR MORE: Will Stange heads to victory in a backstroke race last winter for the Princeton High boys’ swim team. This summer, rising PHS senior Stange picked up plenty of wins in his 11th season with the Community Park Bluefish. He culminated the season by placing first in both the 18-and-under 50 backstroke and 50 butterfly and taking second in the 100 individual medley at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in late July. Stange then headed to Plantation, Fla. to compete for the Princeton Piranhas in the Southern Zone Senior Long Course Championships and later travelled west to Irvine, Calif. to swim in the Junior Nationals. Stange is looking forward to a big final season at PHS.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BACK FOR MORE: Will Stange heads to victory in a backstroke race last winter for the Princeton High boys’ swim team. This summer, rising PHS senior Stange picked up plenty of wins in his 11th season with the Community Park Bluefish. He culminated the season by placing first in both the 18-and-under 50 backstroke and 50 butterfly and taking second in the 100 individual medley at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in late July. Stange then headed to Plantation, Fla. to compete for the Princeton Piranhas in the Southern Zone Senior Long Course Championships and later travelled west to Irvine, Calif. to swim in the Junior Nationals. Stange is looking forward to a big final season at PHS. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Will Stange got his start in swimming with the Community Park Bluefish as a 6-year-old.

Becoming a consistent winner that first summer after obtaining some goggles, Stange has come a long way in the sport.

He started swimming year-round for the Princeton Piranhas club and has competed in a number of regional and national competitions.

Joining the Princeton High boys’ squad in the 2010-11 season, Stange emerged as a standout from his first meet. In his sophomore year, he helped the Little Tigers go undefeated on the way to the program’s first state Public B title. As a junior, Stange won the 100 back and took second in the 100 butterfly to help PHS win its third straight boys’ title at the Mercer County Swimming Championships.

As this summer rolled around, rising PHS senior Stange was excited for
another season with his first team.

“I have been doing it for 11 years and I always look forward to it,” said Stange, referring to the Bluefish. “I know pretty much everyone on the team, it is a lot of fun.”

Stange had a lot of fun for the Bluefish at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in late July, placing first in both the 18-and-under 50 backstroke and 50 butterfly while taking second in the 100 individual medley.

“I would have liked to win every event,” said Stange. “Jamie Finnegan [of Flemington Raritan] got me in the IM on the breaststroke. I was happy with the back and the fly.”

After wrapping up the PASDA season, Stange headed to Plantation, Fla. to compete for the Piranhas in the Southern Zone Senior Long Course Championships and then travelled west to Irvine, Calif. to swim in the Junior Nationals.

Going against some of the top swimmers in the nation in the California meet, Stange acquitted himself well.

“The 200 back is my main event; I did a 2:07,” said Stange, noting that his personal record is 2:05.5.

“I was looking for the senior national cut of 2:04.99. I also did the 100 back, 100 fly, and 200 free. I set PRs in the 100 fly and the 200 free.”

Stange is planning to do some big things in his final season at PHS.

“I am really looking forward to it,” said Stange. “I want to break the 100 back and 200 free records, they are the only ones to break after the state championship meet our sophomore year.”

The Little Tigers are looking for another state championship. “We are going for it; we talk about it,” said Stange, who helped PHS win its fifth straight Public B Central Jersey sectional title this past winter. “We are going to take it one meet at a time.”

Having come so far in swimming since starting with the Bluefish, Stange has his sights set on competing in college and beyond.

“I am looking at a number of schools, both D-3 and D-1,” said Stange, who is in the thick of the recruiting process.

“I definitely want to swim through college and then I would like to swim at the 2016 Olympic trials.”

AIMING HIGH: Sophia Monaghan prepares to unload the ball in action for the Tiger Aquatics water polo club team. The Princeton resident and former Lawrenceville School standout has had a busy summer. She coached and starred for the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings, winning two titles at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in late July. After completing that season, she headed to California where she helped her Tiger Aquatics team take 9th in the gold division at the Junior Olympics. Now she is preparing to start her freshman season with the Stanford University women’s water polo team.

AIMING HIGH: Sophia Monaghan prepares to unload the ball in action for the Tiger Aquatics water polo club team. The Princeton resident and former Lawrenceville School standout has had a busy summer. She coached and starred for the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings, winning two titles at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in late July. After completing that season, she headed to California where she helped her Tiger Aquatics team take 9th in the gold division at the Junior Olympics. Now she is preparing to start her freshman season with the Stanford University women’s water polo team.

For Sophia Monaghan, coaching was a primary focus of her experience this summer in her 10th and final campaign with the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings.

“I came into this season more as a coach than as a swimmer,” said Monaghan, who guided the 10-and-under swimmers for the Lemmings.

“I had a very good group. I don’t think I had a swimmer who came to practice who didn’t improve or have fun. It is so rewarding to have had the 10-and-under swimmers; it is an age group where they really look up to the older kids. My being able to swim helped. They would come up and say they were going to watch my race. I would support them and then they would cheer me on. It is not professional coaching; it is a community thing.”

Monaghan still had time to earn cheers for swimming, taking first in both the 18-and-under 50 freestyle and 50 backstroke and placing third in the 50 fly at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in late July.

“I just wanted to be able to swim fast and do it for fun,” said Monaghan. who graduated from the Lawrenceville School this spring and is headed to Stanford University where she will be a member of the Cardinal women’s water polo team.

“When I was younger, the PASDA meet was a big deal. It definitely made me want to swim. Swimming in a year-round club can be tough; some kids burn out. The sense of community and encouragement that you get at Nassau makes kids want to compete. It helped shape me as an athlete and as a person.”

For Monaghan, that competitiveness manifested itself in water polo as she was a four-year starter for the Lawrenceville team and rose through the Olympic Development Program, playing for the 2012 USA Women’s Water Polo Junior team in the Under-19 Pan American Championship last summer in Montreal, Canada.

After finishing the PASDA meet, Monaghan headed to California to compete with her Tiger Aquatics water polo club team in the Junior Olympics.

“The team has a range of players; water polo is growing on the east coast,” said Monaghan.

“We were 9th in the gold division. We were pretty happy with that. We weren’t happy with some of our close losses. The junior national team is a lot more of an individual focus. The Junior Olympics is a team and club focus. It is more fun. You are playing to win with your team rather than trying to make a team.”

Playing with the national program, though, helped put Monaghan on the path to college water polo.

“It started in my freshman and sophomore year when I started doing Olympic development and got to go out to California,” said Monaghan. “I saw how much I loved the sport and I realized that I could play with the girls out there.”

Monaghan fell in love with Stanford years ago and was thrilled to get recruited by the Pacific 12 power.

“I had wanted to go there as a school since 7th or 8th grade, it was always a dream of mine,” said Monaghan, who was a team captain for Lawrenceville and helped the Big Red go 18-1 last winter on their way to winning the prestigious Beast of the East Tournament.

“They have been ranked No. 1 for water polo. It didn’t always seem realistic. When it got to be a possibility, I realized that I wanted to play at the highest level of water polo. I wanted to give myself the chance to be the best water polo player I can be.”

As Monaghan looks forward to starting her college career next month, she knows she has to raise to the level of her game.

“A big challenge is seeing how I play going from east to west coast; it is a really different game out there,” said Monaghan, a 5’9 center-defender.

“We only have three or four girls that are not from California. I am going into this year looking to learn as much as I can. I don’t know how much playing time I am going to get; we have Olympians and it is a star-studded team. My goal is to get in and play and show some improvement.”

August 7, 2013
MAKING HIS MARK: Mark Aziz of Ivy Inn, with the ball, establishes position in the paint against Bobby Brackett of Sneakers Plus last week in the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Ivy Inn swept the series 2-0 and Aziz was named as Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING HIS MARK: Mark Aziz of Ivy Inn, with the ball, establishes position in the paint against Bobby Brackett of Sneakers Plus last week in the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Ivy Inn swept the series 2-0 and Aziz was named as Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Mark Aziz’s thoughts went back to last year as the Ivy Inn squad took the court last Wednesday against Sneakers Plus with a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League.

“We lost to Winberie’s in three so we knew,” said Aziz. “That is not a feeling we wanted to have again. Last year, I had a big turnover that helped cause it.”

When Ivy Inn took a 21-18 lead into halftime against Sneakers Plus on Wednesday at Community Park, Aziz and his teammates weren’t about to let the title slip out of their grasp.

“We knew we didn’t want to take it to three,” said center Aziz. “We got ahead in the first half and just kept it strong so we could close it out today. We just wanted to get in and out in two games; that was our mindset.”

Ivy Inn finished strong, pulling out a 41-34 win to earn the title, the fourth in six years for the squad.

The win had a special meaning since the core of the Ivy Inn team is former College of New Jersey players while the Sneakers Plus entry is comprised of current TCNJ performers.

“This team was us eight years ago; it is almost like little brother, big brother,” said the 6’7, 225-pound Aziz, who scored 815 points in his career with the Lions from 2004-2008 and is an assistant coach for the TCNJ program.

“You will give them a run but you are going to try to get them at the end. That is not a knock in them. We coach them and we all come from the same program and they are going to be us in eight years. You have got to learn the ropes, though. I knew I couldn’t go back next year with the knowledge that they beat me. It would be like my younger brother beating me.”

The powerful Aziz taught his younger brothers some lessons in the finale on Wednesday, scoring 11 points in the second half as Ivy Inn outscored Sneakers Plus 20-16 over the final 20 minutes of the contest.

“I was finding my space, I was creating space for myself and finding my shot,” said Aziz, who ended the evening with a game-high 15 points.

“That is what helped me out, just attacking the basket. I knew it was going to go in eventually so I just kept being aggressive and playing my game.”

As a result of his clutch play, Aziz was named as the Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP. In reflecting on the honor, Aziz spread the credit to his teammates.

“It just means that we won, this is a representation of my input to the team,” said Aziz, who previously scored 17 points as Ivy Inn edged Winberie’s 55-50 in the semis to get some measure of revenge for last year’s championship loss.

“Obviously if we didn’t win, I wouldn’t get it so it is an extension of what we did during the year and in the playoffs.”

In the view of Ivy Inn manager and forward Bobby Davison, Aziz was the obvious choice for MVP.

“Truth be told, Mark sent a text message earlier on saying that his back hurt and that he was going to need a lot of help tonight,” said Davison.

“He didn’t warm up before the game tonight because he was hurting. He loosened up as the game went on. I can’t say enough about the guy. He does everything for us; he is our centerpiece down low.  Not having Sherm [Brittingham] tonight, everybody had to step up. It started with Mark. He is great.”

Aziz, for his part, is proud of how Ivy Inn has stepped up over the years in the summer league.

“Most of us live in the area and it is a sense of pride when we come out here and play,” said Aziz of the squad which features such stalwarts as Shahid Abdul-Karim, Bobby Davison, Buddy Thomas, and Dave Boudwin.

“The guys that make up the team to Scott [Findlay] coming in and getting into the Hall of Fame to the guys at Ivy Inn that sponsor us; it is a community representation on the court and that is what we stand for.”

SWEEP AWAY: Bobby Davison of Ivy Inn dribbles upcourt against Alex Fox of Sneakers Plus last week in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League championship series. Former Princeton High and College of New Jersey standout Davison provided strong defense and leadership as Ivy Inn posted a 2-0 sweep over Sneakers Plus to win its fourth summer league title in the last six years.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SWEEP AWAY: Bobby Davison of Ivy Inn dribbles upcourt against Alex Fox of Sneakers Plus last week in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League championship series. Former Princeton High and College of New Jersey standout Davison provided strong defense and leadership as Ivy Inn posted a 2-0 sweep over Sneakers Plus to win its fourth summer league title in the last six years. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Bobby Davison scored only two points but that was right in line with the game plan as Ivy Inn played Sneakers Plus last Wednesday in Game 2 of the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League championship series.

“All season, it was defense, defense, defense,” said Davison, a bruising forward and founding manager of Ivy Inn.

“Everything starts on the defensive end and our offense will eventually come as we get into the game. We started slow throughout the year. We held the teams that we played to the least points. Defense was our focal point the entire year.  That was our biggest thing. We wanted to shut down Skye [Ettin]; we knew that after Game 1 that he was their go-to guy and if we could limit his opportunities, we were going to have a shot.”

Davison, along with Mark Aziz, Buddy Thomas and Dave Boudwin, controlled the paint as Ivy Inn stifled Sneakers Plus 41-34 to sweep the best-of-three series 2-0.

The former Princeton High and College of New Jersey standout was thrilled to get another shot at the title in the wake of Ivy Inn’s loss to Winberie’s in the 2012 championship series.

“It gave me a lot of motivation because I didn’t have an opportunity to play in the finals last year because I had work,” said Davison, an officer with the East Windsor police department.

“Getting our opportunity to come back this year, I was highly motivated to win.”

Experience helped Ivy Inn seize opportunity as it won its fourth summer league crown in the last six years.

“It wasn’t too long ago that I was a freshman at TCNJ; I brought these guys together,” recalled Davison, a 2006 TCNJ alum who ended his Lions career with 666 rebounds, fifth-best in program history.

“We have been able to keep for the most part a nucleus. We would make it to the finals or we would win the regular season and then lose in the playoffs because we just didn’t have the experience. Now, we have all veterans on the team. We know what we can do and what we can’t do. It shows.”

Ivy Inn is showing the way for Sneakers Plus, which is comprised of current TCNJ players and is led by Ettin, a former PHS star like Davison.

“There is no team that I would rather see in the finals; I am happy for these guys,” said Davison.

“As we were playing, going up and down we were talking to each other and giving pointers here and there. Don’t fight among yourselves, stay together.  There is no other team that we are going to reach across the table like that. We love seeing them here. We will be there in the wintertime to root them on and support them.”

The Sneakers Plus group, though, has a long way to go before they become boys of summer like their Ivy Inn brethren.

“If you look at the average age of the league, we are one of the oldest teams and we only have one guy over 30,” said Davison.

“A lot of people year in, year out, count us out and think we are not going to come back and get another one. We were able to turn back the clocks and grab another one this year. You never know. It is a testament to the guys. I think we collectively have a good group of guys. Everybody contributes.”

July 31, 2013
GREAT BRIT: Sherman Brittingham of the Ivy Inn, center, lofts a shot over Alex Fox of Sneakers Plus last Monday in Game 1 of the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. ­Brittingham scored a game-high 20 points as fourth-seeded Ivy Inn defeated second-seeded Sneakers Plus 49-43. Game 2 of the series is slated for July 31 at 8 p.m. at the Community Park courts with Game 3, if necessary, to take place on August 2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GREAT BRIT: Sherman Brittingham of the Ivy Inn, center, lofts a shot over Alex Fox of Sneakers Plus last Monday in Game 1 of the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. ­Brittingham scored a game-high 20 points as fourth-seeded Ivy Inn defeated second-seeded Sneakers Plus 49-43. Game 2 of the series is slated for July 31 at 8 p.m. at the Community Park courts with Game 3, if necessary, to take place on August 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The Ivy Inn squad boasts some of the most battle-tested performers in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League.

Players like Bobby Davison, Mark Aziz, Shahid Abdul-Karim, and Buddy Thomas have been through the hoops wars on the Community Park courts and have titles to go along with their combat wounds.

So when Sherman Brittingham joined the squad this summer, the former California University of Pennsylvania standout was just looking to fit in with his new mates.

“I have tried to come in here and get us a couple of buckets,” said the 6’5 Brittingham.

“I try not to force the issue because we have a lot of guys that can play. Sometimes I might start forcing the issue and then I have got to think to myself I have got some guys here who can play so I don’t have to force it too much. I play the team game, I try to be the team player.”

Brittingham, though, has emerged as the X-factor for Ivy Inn as his scoring prowess helped carry the squad into the league’s best-of-three championship series. He scored a game-high 24 points to help fourth-seeded Ivy Inn edge top-seeded and defending champion Winberie’s 55-50 in the semis last Friday.

On Monday, Brittingham was at it again, tallying 20 points as Ivy Inn topped second-seeded Sneakers Plus 49-43 to take a 1-0 lead in the title series and improve to a 9-3 record. Game 2 of the series is slated for July 31 at 8 p.m. at the Community Park courts with Game 3, if necessary, to take place on August 2.

In reflecting on the victory over Sneakers Plus, which is comprised of current players from The College of New Jersey men’s hoops team, Brittingham acknowledged that the game was a struggle.

“They played tough,” said Brittingham of Sneakers Plus, which got 15 points from former Princeton High standout Skye Ettin with Alex Fox chipping in 11 as it moved to 9-3 on the summer. “We just have to play sound on defense because they are going to run their sets. They are a lot younger.”

In Brittingham’s view, Ivy Inn’s experience and size counteracted the young legs of Sneakers Plus.

“We have a lot of veterans, we have me, big Mark, and Bobby,” said Brittingham, who trained with Aziz to get ready to play professionally overseas as Brittingham played in Saudi Arabia and Israel while Aziz competed in Egypt. “We have got a lot of strength and size and we are all vets of the game. I think that is what is going to carry us over.”

Ivy Inn showed that savvy as it closed out the game with a decisive 10-5 run. “Down the stretch, we executed, we hit our free throws, and we went where the money was,” said Brittingham. “Winning the first game was important; we have a little bit of leeway now.”

And adding a money player like Brittingham has turned out to be an important move for Ivy Inn.

Darius Young and Freddie Young were on different teams last Friday evening as the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League held its semifinals but the cousins left the Community Park courts forever linked in lore of the league.

In a ceremony between games, the Youngs, together with Scott Findlay, were inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame.

Darius, who helps coach the Ivy Inn team which topped defending champion Winberie’s to advance to this year’s title series, basked in the glow of the Hall of Fame accolade.

“It is nice to be noticed for things you have done in the past and not be forgotten,” said Young, a star performer for the legendary My-T-Sharp and Tigers Tale teams that won eight titles in the first 11 years of the league. “I am honored to still be thought of as a good player.”

Young was especially honored to be going into the Hall of Fame along with cousin Freddie, his running mate on those storied Tiger’s Tale squads. “That was really special,” said Young, 43, a 1988 Princeton High alum who starred in basketball and football.

“Freddie and I started in 1989. Even though we are not on the same team now we still have the feelings of being together. There are a lot of memories.”

Freddie, currently a player/coach for a Dr. Palmer squad that fell to Sneakers Plus in the semis, was pleasantly surprised to to get the Hall of Fame honor while still active on the court.

“To be honest, the first thing I said is don’t you have to be retired to get inducted,” said Young.

“They said Freddie it has been long enough, it has been 25 years. I guess I have been kind of grandfathered. It’s hard for me to stop playing but that’s what Dr. (Michael) Palmer and I were just talking about, maybe not coming back to play next year. We said that last year and here we are this year.”

Freddie and his cousin have been talking about going into the Hall of Fame at the same time.

“That was a vision we had for many years, we talked about it, not to the league but between the two of us so it was a big surprise to know that the both of us were going in at the same time,” said Young, 45, who also was a football and basketball standout at PHS.

“Him being my younger cousin, that means a lot also. We started this league, we have been here since day one when it was four teams.”

Young is proud to be a building block of the league, which started in 1989 and is celebrating its 25th season this summer.

“It was really fun for us because we were young and very dominant over the other teams,” said Young, a Physical Education teacher at Pace Charter School in Hamilton who coaches basketball and lacrosse at Princeton Day School.

“After the first couple of years, it was let’s go out and win another one, let’s go out and win another one. They sanctioned the league, which allowed Division I college players to come and play. Once they did that, the competition got a lot better. We still won a few more titles after that but then our age got to us. The 18, 19, 20, and 21 year olds were coming in. That was a little tough.”

Darius hopes that today’s younger players will take something from what he and his cousin have done on the Community Park courts.

“I want the young players to know the history of the league,” said Young, the strength and conditioning coach at PDS who also helps guide the Panther boys’ hoops team.

“It is the 25th year and it is good for them to know the foundation of the league. There is a pride that goes into it. The guys on Tiger’s Tale, even today still think they are the toughest in the league. They are always talking about how tough they were.”

Freddie takes pride in giving back to his community through summer hoops.

“I am a Princetonian,” said Young. “Princeton raised me, so whatever I can do, whether it be playing in this league, coaching in this league, helping out in any way in this league, that’s what I am going to do because this is where I come from. With that being said, as long as this league is going on, you will see my face around.”

Darius, for his part, can’t face not being around the league either.

“It all goes back to being with a team where the guys are close,” said Young.

“We are friends outside of the game. You come to the park and there is a family atmosphere. These are the guys that you want to go to battle with. In the heat of battle, I know I can depend on them. Take Friday’s game, we didn’t point fingers, we were encouraging each other and we came out with the win. I can’t see myself with any other team.”

MAKING WAVES: Madeline Hoedemaker of the Community Park Bluefish displays her freestyle form in a race earlier this summer. Last week, Hoedemaker came up big at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, getting named the MVP for 12-and-under girls. She earned that honor by placing first in both the 12-and-under 100-meter individual medley, 50 butterfly, and the 50 freestyle along with helping the 200 free relay take second. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING WAVES: Madeline Hoedemaker of the Community Park Bluefish displays her freestyle form in a race earlier this summer. Last week, Hoedemaker came up big at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, getting named the MVP for 12-and-under girls. She earned that honor by placing first in both the 12-and-under 100-meter individual medley, 50 butterfly, and the 50 freestyle along with helping the 200 free relay take second.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While the Community Park Bluefish placed fourth of six teams in Division I last week at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, the club produced some memorable individual performances.

Madeline Hoedemaker will certainly have fond memories of the competition, which was held July 22-23 at the Flemington-Raritan Community Pool, as she was named the meet’s MVP for 12-and-under girls. She earned that honor by placing first in the 12-and-under 100-meter individual medley, 50 butterfly, and the 50 freestyle along with helping the 200 free relay take second.

Hoedemaker’s heroics helped the Bluefish pile up 1,555.50 points in the meet and take fourth in the Division I standings. Lawrenceville Swimming Association placed first in the division, totaling 2,724 points, followed by Flemington-Raritan and the Hamilton Hurricanes.

She wasn’t the only one in her family to shine as younger sister, Grace, also had a big meet. The younger Hoedemaker won the 10-and-under 25 fly and took second in the 100 IM and seventh in the 25 free.

Ella Jones emerged as another top young girl swimmer for the Bluefish, taking second in both the 8-and-under 100 IM and in the 25 free. Alysse Kiesewetter earned a win in the girls’ 6-and-under backstroke and took fourth in the 25 free. Piper Dubow who was second in the 8-and-under 25 back while Bridget Lawn placed second in the 10-and-under back and third in the 25 free. Abby Walden was third in both the 8-and-under 25 free and the 25 fly.

Among the younger Bluefish boys, Daniel King came up big, winning the 6-and-under back and helping the 100 free relay take third. The quartet of Ben Eckerson, Brandon Lim, Jason Kratzer, and Jaxon Petrone combined to win the 10-and-under 100 medley relay. Paul Lacava placed third in the 8-and-under 25 butterfly and fourth in the 25 breaststroke.

Morgan Linsley stood out as a versatile performer for the older CP girls, taking second in both the 12-and-under 100 IM and the 50 back as well as fifth in the 50 free. She also helped the 200 free relay take second, combining with Madeline Hoedemaker, Eva Petrone, and Isabella Phillips.

Another sister act, Robyn and Kirstin Carter, piled up points for the Bluefish. Robyn took third in the girls’ 14-and-under 50 back and fourth in both the 50 free and the 50 breast while Kirstin placed third in the 18-and-under 100 IM and 50 free. Hannah Ash finished fourth in both the 18-and-under 50 back and 50 free.

Princeton High boys’ swimming rising senior star Will Stange was a top producer for the Bluefish older boys contingent, placing first in both the 18-and-under 50 back and 50 fly while taking second in the 100 IM. Stange also helped the Bluefish win the 200 medley relay, combining with Matthew Shanahan, Thomas Galvin, and Jackson Miller for the victory.

Charles Yandrisevits also had a big meet for CP, taking first in the 12-and-under 50 breast and second in both the 12-and-under 100 IM and 50 back. Stephen Kratzer was fourth in the 14-and-under 100 IM, 50 fly, and 50 free.

BAY WATCH: Daniel Baytin of the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings shows his butterfly form in a race this summer. Last week, Baytin came up big at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, placing first in both the 8-and-under 100 individual medley and the 25 freestyle.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BAY WATCH: Daniel Baytin of the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings shows his butterfly form in a race this summer. Last week, Baytin came up big at the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, placing first in both the 8-and-under 100 individual medley and the 25 freestyle. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After finishing second in the 2013 Division 2 dual meet standings in the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA), the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings matched that performance in the league’s championship meet last week.

Showing good depth, Nassau piled up 2,344 points at the season-ending competition held July 22-23 at the Flemington-Raritan Community Pool, finishing behind only to the Ben Franklin Swim Club (2,676 points) among Division 2 teams.

Among the 10-and-under girls’ swimmers, Veronique DiBlasio was a key producer for the Lemmings, taking second in both the 25-meter backstroke, and the 25 breaststroke, and helping the 100 medley relay to victory, joined by Ella Caddeau, Margaret Hill, and Julie Troilo.

Caddeau for her part, won the 10-and-under butterfly and finished third in the back while Hill placed first in the 10-and-under 25 free and third in the 25 fly.

Cate Bashore took first in the eight-and under 100 individual medley while Sophia Burton placed fifth in the eight-and-under 25 free and second in the 25 back. Emma Hopkins was second in the 100 IM and fourth in the 25 fly. Sabine Ristad placed second in the six-and-under 25 back.

A pair of Simons, Simon L’Heveder and Simon Sheppard, came up big for Nassau’s 10-and-under boys. L’Heveder was second in the 10-and-under 100IM and third in the 25 back while Sheppard placed second in the 25 back and the 25 fly.

Daniel Baytin was a double winner in the eight-and-under division, placing first in the 100 IM and the 25 free. Alex Burton took fifth in the six-and-under 25 free and second in the 25 back.

The Monaghan sisters, Isabelle and Sophia, piled up a lot of points for Nassau’s contingent of older girls. Isabelle took second in the 12-and-under 50 back and third in the 100 IM as well as helping the 200 free relay to victory, joined by Rachel Adlai-Gail, Grace Sheppard, and Jane Uricoli. Stanford-bound water polo star Sophia placed first in both the 18-and-under 50 free and 50-and-under back and took third in the 50 fly.

The team’s 14-and-under girls’ contingent had a big meet. The quartet of Brigid DiBlasio, Emma Campisi, Becca Adlai-Gail and Maddie Troilo won the 200 medley relay. The 200 free relay of DiBlasio, Adlai-Gail, and Troilo together with Anna Hill also took first.

DiBlasio added wins in the 14-and-under 100 IM and 50 back while Campisi won the 14-and-under 50 breast and took fourth in the 50 free. Becca Adlai-Gail won the 14-and-under 50 fly while Troilo was second in the 50 breast.

As for the team’s older boy swimmers, Nick Bunn and Will McGuirk, piled up a lot of points. Bunn took first in the 18-and-under 50 fly and second in the 50 free while McGuirk won the 18-and-under 50 free and placed fourth in the 50 back. Bunn and McGuirk combined with David Adlai-Gail and Andrew Mavis to win the 200 free relay. Mavis also took second in the 18-and-under 50 back.

Ben Amon took fourth in the 12-and-under 50 breast while Sacha L’Heveder placed third in the 14-and-under 50 back and fifth in the 50 breast.