January 7, 2015
PATRIOTIC MESSAGE: Princeton High wrestling head coach Rashone Johnson, far right, and his squad are all smiles after the recently held Secaucus Patriot Tourney. PHS placed third in the team standings at the event with sophomore James Verbeyst, senior Patrick Sockler, and senior Thomas Miers each placing first in their weight classes. Last Saturday, the Little Tigers went 1-2 in a quad meet, topping Lawrence 57-19 and falling 69-8 to Voorhees and 45-19 to Hopewell Valley.  In upcoming action, PHS hosts Allentown on January 7, Spotswood and Hightstown on January 10, and then wrestles at Robbinsville on January 13.

PATRIOTIC MESSAGE: Princeton High wrestling head coach Rashone Johnson, far right, and his squad are all smiles after the recently held Secaucus Patriot Tourney. PHS placed third in the team standings at the event with sophomore James Verbeyst, senior Patrick Sockler, and senior Thomas Miers each placing first in their weight classes. Last Saturday, the Little Tigers went 1-2 in a quad meet, topping Lawrence 57-19 and falling 69-8 to Voorhees and 45-19 to Hopewell Valley. In upcoming action, PHS hosts Allentown on January 7, Spotswood and Hightstown on January 10, and then wrestles at Robbinsville on January 13.

Although the Princeton High wrestling team absorbed two tough losses as it started the year by hosting a quad meet last Saturday, Rashone Johnson saw a lot of good things.

“Ultimately the guys came out, performed, and wrestled tough,” said PHS head coach Johnson, whose team lost 69-8 to Voorhees and 45-19 to Hopewell Valley while beating Lawrence 57-19 in Saturday’s action.

“It was good to come out with a win over Lawrence. I would have liked to have had a better showing against Voorhees and HoVal but they matched up well against us. We will be better as the season goes on.”

Senior star Tom Miers picked up wins in all three of his bouts Saturday and matches up well against just about anyone.

“Tommy has come a long way,” said Johnson of Miers, who has been wrestling at 138 pounds this season.

“He has put a lot of time into wrestling and it shows. He is a strong kid and a strong wrestler.”

Seniors Patrick Sockler (132 pounds) and Victor Bell (182) have emerged as strong leaders “Sockler and Bell are providing good leadership,” added Johnson. “They are really pushing the guys in the wrestling room at practice.”

Sophomore James Verbeyst (126) is pushing the envelope as he builds on a superb debut season.

“Verbeyst has gotten better; he does a lot of wrestling in the offseason,” said Johnson of Verbeyst, who posted 23 wins last season.

“I am looking for big things from him this season. He is going to grow; he just has to believe in how good he is.”

A trio of veterans in the heavier weights, senior Omar Moustafa (285), junior Noah Ziegler (220), and sophomore Ethan Guerra (195) have been making a big contribution.

“Those guys have been solid; they are coachable,” said Johnson, noting that  junior Dave Beamer is also showing progress at 170 pounds.

“They are doing the things in matches that we have been working on in practice and that is good to see.”

Another good development for PHS has been the progress resulting from a youth movement at the lower weights.

“We have some young guys who have come through,” said Johnson, whose team now has a 3-3 record in dual match action this season. “Will Smith, Noah Deitch, Remington Hebert, and Max Gensib are helping us down low.”

With PHS heading into the thick of the season, Johnson believes the team’s positive attitude should help it succeed.

“We have good guys on our team; it is a good set of kids,” said Johnson, whose team hosts Allentown on January 7, Spotswood and Hightstown on January 10, and then wrestles at Robbinsville on January 13.

“We are looking forward to a strong middle of the season and doing well in the counties.”

BIG MAC: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Connor McCormick controls the puck in a game last season. On Saturday, senior forward and co-captain McCormick chipped in a goal and an assist as PHS rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Wall 4-2. The Little Tigers, who fell 5-2 to Jackson Memorial on Monday to move to 5-5, play Notre Dame on January 12 and Steinert on January 13.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BIG MAC: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Connor McCormick controls the puck in a game last season. On Saturday, senior forward and co-captain McCormick chipped in a goal and an assist as PHS rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Wall 4-2. The Little Tigers, who fell 5-2 to Jackson Memorial on Monday to move to 5-5, play Notre Dame on January 12 and Steinert on January 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Connor McCormick and his teammates on the Princeton High boys’ hockey team realized they had reached a crossroads last Saturday as they trailed Wall 2-0 after two periods.

Having lost three straight games going into the holiday break to drop to 4-4, PHS was in danger of falling below .500 for the season and starting 2015 with a thud.

“We weren’t feeling it but then we came together as a group after the period and coach [Terence] Miller lifted our spirits,” said PHS senior co-captain McCormick.

“He said this period is most of our season. If we want to have a successful season and do well, we need to win this game and get back over .500 so we can make a deep run in the playoffs and the Mercer County Tournament.”

A fired up McCormick took matters into his own hands as he got PHS on the board two minutes into the third period, diving across the ice to put home a rebound of a Jackson Andres shot.

“Jackson was busting down the left side; he usually shoots the puck when he has it and I thought I might as well crash the net,” recalled McCormick.

“He shot the puck and it was going up and the goalie didn’t have it so I just dove and I was able to put it in. There was no way that I was going to miss that puck.”

McCormick slid past the goal on his back, pumping his arms in celebration as the puck hit the back of the net.

The acrobatic tally pumped PHS as it proceeded to score three unanswered goals to pull away to a 4-2 triumph.

“This Wall team is really good, they had three deep lines they kept rolling and they kept coming,” said McCormick.

“We had to muster up a lot of momentum and a lot of speed in the third period to get by them and bury a few goals.”

As a co-captain of the team along with fellow senior John Reid, McCormick is looking to emulate the example of his older brother, Patrick, a 2014 PHS alum who was a star defenseman and strong leader during his superb career with the Little Tigers.

“I just try to help the team out through energy on and off the ice,” said McCormick.

“I am always trying to pick the team up when we are not doing too well. When we have momentum, I try to do as much as I can. Last year Pat would try to do the same thing; he always lifted our team up. I just try to do what I can out there.”

The connection between McCormick and classmates Reid and Andres helps lift PHS. “We have been together since our freshman year; we work well together,” said McCormick, who also works well with younger brother, Brendon, a sophomore
forward for the Little Tigers.

“Even our sophomore year, we were the No. 1 line. We tried really hard out there and we were able to bury a few in the the third.”

PHS head coach Miller likes the work he is getting from McCormick.

“Connor is a heart and soul guy, when Connor is going, the team is going,” said Miller.

“When Connor is up on his front skates and he is moving and he brings energy, that is when he is at his best. We have told Connor to go down and get that first hit, it gets the blood flowing. I think that is almost better for him, he is a big kid and once he gets physical contact, that gets him into the game.”

In Miller’s view, McCormick’s goal changed the tone of the Wall game.

“I just liked the energy,” asserted Miller. “Once we got that first goal, the bench was up and we started playing a little more downhill. I told them after the second that we just had to get that first goal in the third to make it 2-1 and I knew the momentum would swing in our favor.”

Senior star Andres kept the momentum going for PHS as he scored three straight goals over the last 9:10 of the game.

“When Jackson is doing what he needs to do and when he stays disciplined and is playing hard, he is a force,” said Miller.

The Little Tigers got yeoman’s work from sophomore Brendon McCormick along with junior Nathan Drezner and senior Chris Munoz.

“I thought Brendon McCormick really anchored us on that second line,” added Miller.

“I thought both Nathan Drezner and Chris Munoz, they both had quiet solid games. They did what they needed to do. They may not have showed up on the score sheet but they gave us loads of big minutes and helped on the penalty kill as well.”

In Miller’s view, the win over Wall could pay big dividends for the Little Tigers.

“We told our guys, this is a huge, pivotal game for us in so many different aspects,” said Miller, whose squad fell 5-2 to Jackson Memorial on Monday to move to 5-5 and will play Notre Dame on January 12 and Steinert on January 13.

“Coming off the break, we wanted to get the second half of the season right, particularly coming off of three losses. So to fall down 2-0 and come back in the third and bury three and the empty netter and win this game is really a signature win for us. We needed it, we really did.”

McCormick, for his part, liked the character shown by the Little Tigers as they refused to lose.

“I would say we are pretty resilient,” said McCormick. “Even last year against Wall, we were down 5-1 after the second and then we tied it 5-5 in the third. We just didn’t want to lose tonight, we just didn’t have that feeling in our stomachs.”

PURPLE HEART: Hun School boys’ hockey player Frankie ­Vitucci chases down the puck in a game earlier this season. Last week, freshman forward Vitucci helped Hun win the Purple Puck Tournament in the Washington, D.C. area. The Raiders topped host Gonzaga in a shootout in the championship game and Vitucci was named the tournament MVP. Hun, now 10-1-1, plays at St. Joseph’s Prep (Pa.) on January 7 and at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

PURPLE HEART: Hun School boys’ hockey player Frankie ­Vitucci chases down the puck in a game earlier this season. Last week, freshman forward Vitucci helped Hun win the Purple Puck Tournament in the Washington, D.C. area. The Raiders topped host Gonzaga in a shootout in the championship game and Vitucci was named the tournament MVP. Hun, now 10-1-1, plays at St. Joseph’s Prep (Pa.) on January 7 and at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ian McNally had one major objective for his Hun School boys’ hockey as it competed at the Purple Puck Tournament in the Washington, D.C. area last week.

“The idea of going to the tournament is that you get away on a road trip and build chemistry,” said Hun head coach McNally.

“You have that as a catalyst for the rest of the season rather than taking a long break. We spent a lot of time together down there.”

Hun achieved that goal and a lot more as it made the most of its journey to the Nation’s Capital. The Raiders rebounded from the sting of their first loss of the season, they weathered a physical challenge from a Canadian team in the semifinals, and then they battled from behind to top host Gonzaga (D.C) in the title game which came down to a shootout.

When Hun started the tournament by falling 7-1 to St. Joseph’s Prep (Pa.) in the opening game of pool play, it looked like the Raiders might be headed for a bad time.

“We had been riding on a bus for three hours and we hadn’t skated in a week,” said McNally.

“The wheels fell off in the second half (games in the tournament were two halves rather than three periods), they have got some pretty skilled players. We got our wrists slapped. We outshot them, we had our chances. We had three breakaways and didn’t capitalize.”

In the next two games, Hun certainly capitalized on its chances as it beat DeMatha Catholic (Md.) 5-0 and then routed St. Albans (D.C.) 10-0.

The win over DeMatha got the Raiders rolling. “They were good, they were physical,” said McNally. “We scored right away. We got on the board, it is a different dynamic. We got up a couple. It is different than when you get 10 shots and no goals, you start to tighten up on the stick. We knew we had to get every point after the St Joseph’s game since they count wins and period points for the standings.”

The pair of sophomore star Jon Bendorf and Blake Brown triggered the Hun offense.

“When Jon is on the ice, everyone gets better offensive chances,” said McNally. When it matters, Jon always shows up. Blake works hard for all of his points, he is not flashy and you might not realize how many points he scored. He is among the points leaders again for us.”

Freshman forward Frankie Vitucci has benefitted from playing on the same line with Bendorf and Brown in the absence of injured star Evan Barratt.

“Vitucci has found his way the last couple of weeks; he was named MVP of the tournament,” said McNally. “He has been playing with Jon and Evan and has fit right in. He had more assists than goals at the tournament.”

Hun had to find a way to deal with a tough foe as they edged Auburn Drive High from Nova Scotia 5-3 in the semis.

“They were much more physical than the other teams,” said McNally. “We were able to pull it out at the end but we were rattled at times. I told the guys that it was nothing personal, that is just how they play. They hit everyone and they are chippy. Bendorf scored a goal 28 seconds into the game on the first shift, it set the tone. He had two goals and an assist. They outshot us 21-5 in the second half but we were able to hang on after getting off to a 4-0 lead.”

The win earned Hun a title game rematch with host Gonzaga, who won last year’s championship game 6-0.

“We stayed clear of last year but we have a lot of new guys and some of the other guys couldn’t play,” said McNally. “They were announcing it as a rematch of last year’s final. We have been harping on the kids that if they play the way they are taught and outwork the other teams, we are going to win.”

Working hard and showing resilience, Hun battled Gonzaga to a 4-4 tie through regulation.

“It was a great game, it was very exciting,” said McNally, who got a goal and three assists from senior Bobby Wurster in the title game with junior Kyle Pettoni adding two goals and Brown chipping in a goal and an assist. “We were never leading. Every time we would score, they would answer.

In the ensuing shootout, the Raiders had the right answers. “It went straight to a shootout,” said McNally, who got goals from Bendorf and Pettoni in the shootout while Hun junior goalie Diesel Pelke didn’t let anything past him. “Pelke was awesome, he had four saves. The kids are pretty confident in him.”

Winning the title was an awesome experience for the Raiders. “It was great, the guys were really excited,” said McNally, whose squad improved to 10-1-1 with the victory.

“Before the final we said that we accomplished the goal of chemistry so if we are going to be here and get home late on New Year’s Eve, let’s win this thing. We got home at 10 but it was worth it.”

With Hun playing at St. Joseph’s Prep (Pa.) on January 7 and at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 12, McNally is looking for his team to build on what it accomplished at the Purple Puck event.

“Every win is a lesson,” said McNally. “In the Gonzaga game we learned that we can come from behind and win. In most of the other games we have been ahead from the start. It is a confidence builder. You have different things to look at.”

December 31, 2014
Ratcliffe

HAMMER TIME: Princeton University women’s track star Julia Ratcliffe is all smiles after winning the hammer throw this June at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. Ratcliffe’s victory marked the 43rd straight year that Princeton has produced at least one team or individual national champion. (Photo by Kristy McNeil Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Winds of Change Hit Local Sporting Scene in 2014, As New Faces, Surprising Teams Garnered Headlines

Winds of change swept across the local sporting landscape in 2014. As for Princeton University, a major change came at the top as Mollie Marcoux, a 1991 Princeton alum who starred in ice hockey and soccer for the Tigers, was named in April as the University’s new Ford Family Director of Athletics. She succeeded Gary Walters, who announced in the fall of 2013 that he would be stepping down after leading the athletics program at Princeton for 20 years. Marcoux is the first woman to hold the post.

There were a number of moves among the coaching ranks at Princeton. Bob Prier resigned as the men’s hockey coach and was replaced by Ron Fogarty, the architect of a successful Division 3 program at Adrian College. Longtime women’s soccer coach Julie Shackford announced in the summer that she would be retiring in the fall after 20 seasons at the helm of the program. Sean Wilkinson started his tenure as men’s squash coach, succeeding legendary Hall of Famer Bob Callahan.

Marcoux

HERE’S MOLLIE: Mollie Marcoux smiles during her press conference this April after being named as Princeton’s new Ford Family Director of Athletics. Marcoux, a 1991 Princeton alum who starred in ice hockey and soccer for the Tigers, is succeeding Gary Walters, who retired after 20 years at the helm. Marcoux is the fifth Director of Athletics in school history and the first female to hold the post. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

In terms of wins and losses, there were some surprising developments. The wrestling program had one of its best seasons in years, posting an 11-4 record after going 2-13 a year earlier. The men’s volleyball team went 16-10, tying a program record for second most wins in a season. Posting a 7-0 mark in Ivy play, the women’s tennis team topped Arizona State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, giving the program its first-ever win in that competition. Sophomore Julia Ratcliffe won the NCAA championship in the hammer throw, becoming the first Tiger women’s track athlete to win an individual national crown. The women’s basketball team saw its Ivy title streak end at four as it finished second to Penn. The Tigers, though, did bounce back to top Virginia Commonwealth in the WNIT to earn the program’s first triumph in postseason play.

On the high school scene, change was also a major theme. Longtime Princeton High swimming and girls’ soccer head coach Greg Hand retired from teaching and coaching. Carly Misiewicz took the helm of the swimming program while former PHS standout Val Rodriguez went from assistant to head coach for girls’ soccer. The Little Tiger girls’ tennis team produced a breakthrough as it won its first Mercer County Tournament team title since 1984. The PHS football team authored a dramatic reversal of fortune, going 8-2 and winning a division crown after going 0-10 in 2013.

Over at Hun, it was musical chairs for coaches. Cheryl Beal took the helm of girls tennis while Hun Hall of Famer Joan Nuse moved from the girls’ program to become the head coach of the boys’ team in place of Todd Loffredo. Haley Sanborn stepped down from guiding the girls’ lacrosse program and was replaced by longtime Princeton Day School assistant Liz Cook. Todd Smith became the new head football coach and led the Raiders to a 7-1 season and the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title. Two Hun programs produced landmark wins as the girls’ soccer team topped perennial power Pennington in the state Prep A title game, ending its 11-year championship reign, while the boys’ hockey team defeated Notre Dame to win the program’s second-ever county crown.

Across town at Princeton Day School, Rob Tuckman retired as the head coach of the boy’s lacrosse team. Tuckman went out in a blaze of glory, guiding the Panthers to a 10-8 win over Rutgers Prep in the state Prep B title game, giving the program its first state crown since 1996.

On the other side of Great Road at Stuart Country Day School, Justin Leith was named as the new director of athletics, replacing Kim Ciarrocca, who moved to Michigan where her husband coaches for the Western Michigan football team. Leith later took over the basketball program as head coach Dana Leary decided to not come back for a third season.

Winter Wobbles

Princeton women's tennis

PUMPED UP: Princeton University women’s tennis player ­Lindsay Graff enjoys herself on the court this spring. Junior standout Graff was named Ivy League Player of the Year in 2014, helping the Tigers go 7-0 in league action on the way to the team crown. She helped Princeton beat Arizona State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, giving the program its first-ever win in that competition. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Going after a fifth straight Ivy League title, the Princeton University women’s basketball team found itself locked in a tie for first with Penn and hosting the Quakers in the regular season finale. Digging an early hole in the title showdown, coach Courtney Banghart’s team tried to rally but fell short in an 80-64 defeat.

Showing its championship pride, Princeton bounced back by beating Virginia Commonwealth 94-76 in the first round of the WNIT, earning the first postseason win in program history. The Tigers ended the winter with a 21-9 record after they fell 75-74 to Seton Hall in the second round of the WNIT. Senior Kristen Helmstetter capped her career by earning second All-Ivy honors while junior guard Blake Dietrick was a first-team choice and sophomore Alex Wheatley earned honorable mention.

The men’s hoops team was essentially eliminated from Ivy title contention by starting 0-4 in league play. But with senior T.J. Bray putting together one of the better seasons in recent program history, the Tigers won eight of its last 10 games to earn a bid in the CBI. Guard Bray led Princeton in scoring (19.2 points per game), steals (21, 1.5 spg), assists (59, 4.2 apg) and rebounds (5.5 rpg) in earning first-team All-Ivy honors. He also passed the 1,000-point milestone in his career.

Coach Mitch Henderson’s squad posted a final record of 21-9 after falling 72-56 to Fresno State in the CBI quarterfinals.

Over at Baker Rink, the Princeton women’s hockey team returned to the ECAC Hockey playoffs after a one-year absence. Coach Jeff Kampersal’s team was led by a pair of senior forwards, Denna Laing and Sally Butler, who scored 27 and 23 points, respectively. The Tigers were swept by sixth-ranked Cornell in the ECACH best-of-3 quarterfinal series and ended the winter with
a 14-13-4 overall record.

Unable to generate much offense, the Princeton men’s hockey team suffered through a long winter. The Tigers went 6-26 and coach Bob Prier stepped down in May after three seasons at the helm of the program. He was replaced by Ron Fogarty, who came from Adrian College where he guided the program to a 167-23-10 record in seven years and to the NCAA Division 3 championship game in the 2010-11 season.

The men’s squash team welcomed a new coach, Sean Wilkinson, the replacement for Hall of Fame coach Bob Callahan, who retired after 32 seasons at the helm and leading Princeton to 314 victories, 11 Ivy League titles, and national championships in 1982, 1993, and 2012. The Tigers took their lumps in the transition to the new coach, going 8-7 overall and 3-4 Ivy. Princeton did end the season on a high note as it won the Hoen Cup at the CSA competition for the teams seeded 9-16. Juniors Samuel Kang and Tyler Osborne earned first-team All-America honors while senior Dylan Ward was a second-team choice.

Freshman Maria Elena Ubina made an impact right from the start for the women’s squash team. She earned All-American honors and was named the Ivy Rookie of the Year, helping the Tigers go 11-5 overall and 4-3 Ivy. Coach Gail Ramsay’s team advanced to the quarterfinals of the Howe Cup national championships where it fell in a 5-4 thriller to Yale. Libby Eyre and Nicole Bunyan joined Ubina in earning All-American recognition.

Under the leadership of dynamic head coach Chris Ayres, the Princeton wrestling team continued its rise up the Ivy ladder. The Tigers tied for second in the league, posting an 11-4 record in dual match competition. The program had both double-digit wins and fewer than five losses for the first time since the 1980-81 season. Junior Adam Krop earned second-team All-Ivy League honors, while sophomores Abram Ayala and Kevin Moylan both earned Ivy League honorable mention. Ayala finished fifth at the EIWAs at 197 pounds and went on to the NCAA championships where he fell in the second round of consolation matches.

The Tiger fencing program had another big year, taking second at the NCAA championships. Coach Zoltan Dudas’ squad fell just short of defending their 2013 title as they came within three wins of national champion Penn State.

The men’s team featured three All-Americans, including freshman Pete Pak at saber, sophomore Michael Dodey at foil and sophomore Jack Hudson at epee. On the women’s side, sophomore Gracie Stone and senior Diamond Wheeler earned All-American honors at saber while junior Ambika Singh and junior Sharon Gao were All-Americans at foil. Susannah Scanlan earned her fourth All-American honor epee while junior Katherine Holmes got her third All-American honor in the weapon.

Senior Lisa Boyce ended her women’s swimming career on a high note, wining a ninth Ivy title with a victory in the 100 freestyle at the league championships. Boyce’s heroics weren’t enough as coach Susan Teeter’s team finished second to Harvard. Boyce went on to finish seventh at the NCAA championships in the 100 butterfly, earning her second All-American honor and becoming the first Tiger NCAA finalist since Alicia Aemisegger ‘10, who reached 10 NCAA championship finals.

Tiger men’s swimming saw its streak of five straight Ivy titles come to an end as it was edged by Harvard in the league championship meet. Coach Rob Orr’s squad got an Ivy title from sophomore Teo D’Allesandro in the 200 individual medley while sophomore En-wei Hu-Van Wright set a Princeton record in the 200 back, going 1:43.44 as he placed second in the league meet.

Coach Fred Samara guided the men’s track and field team to a second place finish at the Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championship. It marked the 21st year the Tigers have finished either first or second at the competition.

197 lbs. Abe Ayala, won his bout vs his RU opponent

UPLIFTING EXPERIENCE: Princeton University sophomore wrestler Abe Ayala gets his arm raised in triumph after winning a match last season. Ayala starred at 197 pounds, helping Princeton go 11-4. He capped his season by making the NCAA championships. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

All-Ivy performers for Princeton included sophomore Adam Bragg in the pole vault, senior Tom Hopkins in the 4×400, 500, and long jump, sophomore Jabari Johnson, in the 4×400,senior Daniel McCord, 4×400, freeman Ray Mennin in the 4×400, senior Damon McLean in the triple jump and long jump and junior Stephen Soerens in the heptathlon. McLean won his fourth straight triple jump, becoming just the second athlete in Heps history to sweep the event.

Samantha Anderson provided a highlight with a win in the pole vault as the Tiger women’s track team took fourth at the Indoor Heps. Coach Peter Farrell’s squad boasted six other All-Ivy performers besides senior Anderson including sophomore Inka Busack in the high jump, freshman Megan Curham in both the 3,000 and 5,000, freshman Allison Harris in the pole vault, senior Beth McKenna in the pentathlon, senior Imani Oliver in the triple jump, and sophomore Julia Ratcliffe in the weight throw.

The men’s volleyball enjoyed a thrilling season, knocking off national power Penn State 3-2 in a regular season match. The Tigers went on to make the EIVA title match where they fell to Penn State. Princeton concluded its season with an overall record of 16-10 under coach Sam Shweisky, tying for the second-most single-season wins in program history since the team earned varsity status in 1997. It was the fourth Tiger team to advance to the EIVA final and it was only the second Princeton team during that time period to defeat Penn State.

Spring Sensations 

22 Schrecker

TOM TERRIFIC: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Tom Schreiber heads upfield in a game this spring. Senior Schreiber was named as the winner of the Lt. j.g. Donald MacLaughlin Jr. Award given to the nation’s top midfielder. Four-time All-American Schreiber was the 2013 winner as well, making him just the sixth player — and second Tiger player after Josh Sims — to win it twice. Schreiber had 30 goals and 21 assists in 2014 and ended his career with 200 points on 106 goals and 94 assists. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Sophomore hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe captured headlines all spring long. The New Zealand native went undefeated in regular season meets. She then won the hammer throw title at both the Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Championships and culminated the college season by winning the NCAA title in her event with a throw of 219’5. Her victory extended Princeton’s streak to 43 consecutive years with at least one individual or team national championship. She placed second in the Commonwealth Games in July in Scotland, taking another key step in her drive to represent New Zealand in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Ratcliffe was hardly the only star for coach Peter Farrell and his women’s track team as the Tigers took fifth at the Heps. All-Ivy performers for Princeton besides Ratcliffe included senior Imani Oliver in the long jump and triple jump, senior Samantha Anderson in the pole vault, freshman Megan Curham in the 10,000, and senior Beth McKenna in the Heptathlon. Curham went on to take 11th in the 10,000 at the NCAA championships to earn second-team All-American honors.

The men’s track team fell just short of its fourth straight Heps Outdoor title, placing second to Cornell by less than seven points. Coach Fred Samara’s squad boasted a number of stellar performers. All-Ivy honorees for the team included senior Chris Bendsten in the 10,000, sophomore John Hill in the 100 and 4×100, senior Damon McLean in the triple jump, senior Tom Hopkins in the 400, 200, long jump and 4×100, sophomore Greg Caldwell in the 110 hurdles, junior Stephen Soerens in the decathlon, junior Daniel McCord in the 4×100 and 4×400, sophomore Dre Nelson in the 4×100, freshman Greg Leeper in the 4×400, and freshman Bryant Switzer in the 4×400.

Led by a trio of All-Americans, sophomore goalie Ashleigh Johnson, senior Katie Rigler, and senior Molly McBee, the women’s water polo team enjoyed a record-breaking campaign. Coach Luis Nicolao’s team went 31-2, setting the program mark for most wins and fewest losses. The season did end in disappointment, however, as the Tigers fell 11-10 to Indiana in the CWPA final, just missing out on a bid to the NCAA tournament.

The women’s lacrosse team made the NCAA tournament, earning an at-large bid after a superb regular season and advancing to the Ivy League title game. Coach Chris Sailer’s squad topped Penn State 16-13 in the opening round of the NCAAs as it made the program’s 22nd appearance in the national tournament. The Tiger’s NCAA run ended in the second round when they fell 13-11 to Virginia to end the season with a 12-7 record. The squad boasted four first-team All-Ivy performers in senior midfielder Sarah Lloyd, junior midfielder Erin Slifer, junior attacker Erin McMunn, and senior defender Colleen Smith while sophomore defender Liz Bannantine earned second-team honors.

Senior midfielder Tom Schreiber earned a slew of honors as he wrapped up one of the best careers in the history of the men’s lacrosse program. Schreiber won the Lt. j.g. Donald McLaughlin Jr. Award for the nation’s top midfielder for the second time, was USILA first-team All-America for the third straight year and a four-time first-team All-Ivy selection. He had 30 goals and 21 assists in 2014 and ended his career with 200 points on 106 goals and 94 assists.

Unfortunately, Schreiber’s heroics weren’t enough for coach Chris Bates’ squad to earn a bid in either the Ivy or NCAA tournament as the Tigers went 7-6 overall and 2-4 Ivy. Princeton lost three games by one goal and two others by two goals. Joining Schreiber on the All-Ivy team were sophomore attackman Ryan Ambler, junior attackman Mike MacDonald, and sophomore midfielder Jake Froccaro, who were second-team selections, while senior longstick midfielder Derick Raabe was named honorable mention.

The women’s open crew team won its second straight Ivy team championship, paced by the first varsity 8, which set an Ivy course record in defeating Brown and Harvard. The performance at the Ivy regatta clinched the program’s 18th straight trip to the NCAA championship regatta, making it one of just three programs along with Brown and Washington to compete in the event every year since is started in 1997.

Princeton, though had mixed results at the national regatta at Eagle Creek Park at Indianapolis, Ind. Coach Lori Dauphiny’s second varsity eight took second place while the first varsity just missed the final and ended up seventh. The team placed sixth overall in the team standings. Seniors Angie Gould and Kelsey Reelick joined junior Faith Richardson on the CRCA 2014 Pocock All-American Team.

Gaining some valuable experience, a young women’s lightweight varsity 8 took fifth in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) championship regatta. Coach Paul Rassam’s top boat had just two seniors, Maggie Stroebel and Emily Hill, so the future looks bright for the program. One of the returning rowers, junior co-captain Becky Kreutter, was named to the CRCA 2014 Pocock Lightweight All-American Team.

Continuing its climb back to championship level, the men’s open crew enjoyed a solid performance at the IRA championship regatta. Coach Greg Hughes’ varsity 8 placed fourth in the grand final, its best finish in the race since 2006. The second varsity 8 placed second while third varsity 8 took sixth.

Enjoying a superb season that saw them ranked at No. 2 nationally after the regular season, the men’s lightweight varsity 8 placed fifth in the grand final at the IRA national championship regatta. With every rower returning from the top two boats, coach Marty Crotty’s program should continue to be a national title contender.

It was a rough spring for the baseball team as it went 14-26 overall and 8-12 in Ivy play. Coach Scott Bradley’s squad got big years from senior pitcher Mike Fagan (4-2, 2.33 ERA) and senior infielder/outfielder Alec Keller (.327, 48 hits). Keller was named Ivy Player of the Year and first-team All Ivy while Fagan joined him as a first-team All-Ivy selection. Freshman first baseman Zack Belski was an All-Ivy honorable mention choice.

Senior star Kelly Shon ended her career women’s golf team in style, finishing second at the Ivy championship and getting named as the Ivy Player of the Year for the second straight year. Princeton finished second in the team standings at the Ivy event, 21 strokes behind champion Harvard. After the season, head coach Nicki Cutler stepped down after four years guiding the program and was replaced by Erika DeSanty, who spent the last five seasons leading the Williams College women’s golf program. Shon, for her part, achieved LPGA Tour status in December battling through three stages of qualifying.

Like Shon, Greg Jarmas ended his Tiger golf career on a high note. Firing a final round 69 at the Ivy men’s golf championship, Jarmas charged up the leaderboard to tie for ninth and earn second-team All-Ivy honors. Coach Will Green’s squad placed fourth in the Ivy team standings of the competition, which was won by Columbia. After graduation, Jarmas made his pro debut, competing on the eGolf Professional Tour.

Led by Ivy League Player of the Year, junior Lindsay Graff, the women’s tennis team rolled to the league title, going 7-0 in Ivy play. Coach Laura Granville’s squad made program history edging Arizona State in the first round of the NCAA tournament, earning Princeton’s first match win in the national tourney. The Tigers went on to fall 4-2 to Alabama in the second round to finish with a final record of 19-6.

Fighting through an uneven season, the men’s tennis team went 13-11 overall and 3-4 Ivy. Coach Billy Pate’s team featured two All-Ivy performers in junior Zack McCourt and freshman Tom Colautti.

Fall Fun

Fueled by the finishing skill of senior star Cameron Porter, the men’s soccer team enjoyed a terrific season. Coach Jim Barlow’s squad produced a late surge, going 8-0-1 in its last nine games to end the season at 11-3-3 overall and 5-1-1 Ivy. The Tigers shared the Ivy title with Dartmouth but the Big Green got the league’s automatic bid to the tournament by virtue of beating Princeton 2-1 in overtime in regular season play.

The Tigers didn’t receive an at-large bid to the national tourney but the honors kept pouring in for Porter, who was named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year. He was the NCAA leading points scorer with 2.00 points per game and .88 goals per game, and tied for first in total goals with 15 and second in total points with 34. Porter completed his career with 75 points on 31 goals and 13 assists in 67 games. He was also a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar All-America and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Offensive Player of the Year.

Another prolific scorer, sophomore Tyler Lussi, triggered the offense for the women’s soccer team. Lussi, the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, had 18 goals and three assists, tying for the second-most goals in a season in program history as the Tigers went 7-6-3 overall and 3-3-1 Ivy.

Senior Lauren Lazo helped Lussi up front, finishing the year with eight goals and 10 assists, the most assists in the Ivy League this season and the second-most assists in a season in program history behind the 12 from Esmeralda Negron ’05 in 2004. Lazo also finished with 26 career assists, tying her for the program record now shared with Diana Matheson ’08. Lazo finished her career with four All-Ivy League honors and her second first-team all-league recognition, making her the first Tiger since Matheson to earn All-Ivy recognition all four years.

It was the final season for longtime Tiger head coach Julie Shackford, who announced her retirement before the season began. She ended her 20-season tenure with a record of 203-115-29. Her legacy includes six Ivy League championships, eight NCAA tournament appearances (the most by an Ivy women’s soccer coach), a national Division I Coach of the Year Award, three regional Coach of the Year honors and the distinction of having won more games coaching soccer at Princeton than any coach with either the men’s or women’s program. She took her team to the 2004 NCAA College Cup Final Four, something unmatched in Ivy League women’s soccer history.

As for the football team, it was a defensive player, senior linebacker Mike Zeuli, who earned many of the headlines. Zeuli was named as the co-winner of the Bushnell Cup Ivy League defensive Player of the Year along with Harvard’s Zach Hodges and was a third-team All-American. A defensive back-turned-linebacker, Zeuli led the Ivy League with 16.5 tackles for loss, ranked second with 8.7 tackles per game and tied for fifth in sacks with four. He had 16 tackles in his final collegiate game, which moved him over the 200-tackle mark for his career.

Despite Zeuli’s exploits, Princeton ended up in the middle of the Ivy pack with a 5-5 overall record and a 4-3 league mark coming off a title campaign in 2013. Coach Bob Surace’s squad got great work offensively from two of Zeuli’s classmates as senior receivers Matt Costello and Conner Kelley capped their careers in style with big final campaigns. Costello finished his career third on Princeton’s all-time receptions list (154), and he finishes fourth on the all-time receiving yards list (1,721) while Kelley finished seventh in receptions (129) and 11th in receiving yards (1,392).

Working some younger players into the rotation, the field hockey team underwent a transition season. Coach Kristen Holmes-Winn’s club struggled to a 3-9 start but then caught fire down the stretch as it won four of its last five regular season games to earn the program’s 20th Ivy crown in the last 21 seasons. Princeton edged Monmouth 4-3 in an NCAA play-in game before falling 5-1 to Maryland in a first-round contest as it finished the season at 8-11 overall and 6-1 Ivy. Seniors Sydney Kirby and Allison Evans earned first-team All-Ivy recognition while sophomore Cat Caro, sophomore Annabeth Donovan, and junior Kate Ferrara were second-team selections and freshman Ryan McCarthy earned honorable mention. Kirby was also named as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Led by senior star and co-captain Drew Hoffenberg, the men’s water polo team enjoyed a superb campaign as it was ranked in the top 10 nationally most of the fall. Coach Luis Nicolao’s team won the Southern Division championship and brought a 23-3 record into the CWPA title game against Brown. With a berth to the NCAA tourney on the line, the Tigers fell 7-6 to the Bears. Hoffenberg was named the Southern Player of the Year and was joined on the all-league first team by teammates Vojislav Mitrovic and Thomas Nelson.

Coming up big when it counted most, junior Michael Sublette produced a second-place finish at the Ivy League Heptagonal Cross Country championships to help Princeton win the men’s team title. Senior Sam Pons followed in third place with seniors Eddie Owens and Matt McDonald sixth and seventh, respectively for coach Jason Vigilante’s squad.

Megan Curham set the pace all fall long for the women’s cross country team. She placed first individually at the Heps championships to help Peter Farrell’s squad take second in the team standings at the meet. Curham took 18th place at the NCAA championships to earn All-American honors.

Junior Kendall Peterkin produced 423 kills, eighth-most in program history, to help women’s volleyball take third place outright in the Ivy standings. Coach Sabrina King’s squad finished the season with a 14-10 overall record and a 9-5 league mark. Peterkin and senior Nicole Kincade earned first-team All-Ivy honors with sophomore Brittany Ptak earning honorable mention.

Hun

2 Maziarz

AMAZING JOURNEY: Hun School girls’ soccer player Ashley Maziarz dribbles a ball in a game this fall. Senior star and Lehigh-bound Maziarz helped Hun produce a historic triumph as the Raiders stunned perennial champion Pennington 2-0 in the state Prep A title game, ending its 11-year championship reign. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

A trio of freshman forwards, Evan Barratt, Jon Bendorf, and Blake Brown, helped transform the Hun School boys’ hockey team into a power. With the so-called Killer B’s line comprised of the three freshmen supplying much of the firepower, the Raiders won the program’s second Mercer County Tournament title and its second straight Independence Hockey League (IHL) crown.

Coach Ian McNally’s squad finished the winter with a 20-7 record. Each of the freshman phenoms tallied at least 60 points with Barratt scoring 61 points on 28 goals and 33 assists, Bendorf adding 66 on 36 goals and 30 assists and Brown contributing 60 on 32 goals and 28 assists.

It was a season of near misses for the Hun boys’ basketball team. Coach Jon Stone’s squad posted an 8-13 record, advancing to the semis of both the state Prep A and Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tourneys.

Going through some growing pains with a young lineup and getting hampered by an injury to senior star Johnnah Johnson that sidelined her for much of the season, the Hun girls’ hoops team took its lumps. Coach Bill Holup’s team went 10-11. Johnson did return late in the season and eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in her career.

Fueled by a blend of talented newcomers and some battle-tested veterans, the Hun boys’ lacrosse team enjoyed a terrific campaign. Coach MV Whitlow’s squad went 13-7 and advanced to the state Prep A title game where it fell to perennial power Lawrenceville. The squad’s attack was bolstered by transfers Drake Roy, Jon Levine and Cole West while veterans Tucker Stevenson, Brendan Black, and Owen Black provided production and leadership.

Senior star and Syracuse-bound Brianna Barratt produced a superb final campaign to provide a highlight in a rough spring for the Hun girls’ lax team. Coach Haley Sanborn’s team posted a 1-11 record. Sanborn stepped down after the season and was replaced by longtime Princeton Day School assistant coach Liz Cook.

Sparked by shortstop Julia Blake, the Hun softball team proved to be competitive. Coach Kathy Quirk’s team went 9-8 and advanced to the state Prep A semifinals.

It was an uneven spring for the Hun baseball team as coach Bill McQuade’s squad produced moments of brilliance but was inconsistent. The Raiders went 8-12 as the program underwent a youth movement.

Continuing its rebuilding efforts, the Hun boys’ tennis team placed 11th of 17 teams at the MCT under coach Todd Loffredo. After the season, Loffredo stepped aside and was replaced by Joan Nuse, a Hun Hall of Fame girls’ tennis coach.

Building on a late surge in the 2013 campaign, the Hun girls’ soccer team took things to the next level and made history. Coach Joanna Hallac’s team posted wins over such formidable foes as Princeton Day School, Pennington, East Brunswick, Hill School (Pa.) in regular season play.

Led by senior co-captains Ashley Maziarz and Jess Sacco, the Raiders saved their best for last, stunning perennial champion Pennington 2-0 in the state Prep A title game, ending its 11-year championship reign. Maziarz scored a first half goal on a brilliant free kick and freshman Kara Borden added a late tally to seal the historic win, which was witnessed by a throng of around 1,000 ringing the field. Hun ended the fall with a 14-4-1 record.

34 Zeuli

IRON MIKE: Princeton University linebacker Mike Zeuli heads up the field in a game this fall. Senior star Zeuli was named as the co-winner of the Bushnell Cup Ivy League defensive Player of the Year along with Harvard’s Zach Hodges and was a third-team All-American. A defensive back-turned-linebacker, Zeuli led the Ivy League with 16.5 tackles for loss, ranked second with 8.7 tackles per game and tied for fifth in sacks with four. He had 16 tackles in his final collegiate game, which moved him over the 200-tackle mark for his career. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The arrival of new head coach Todd Smith gave the Hun football program a major shot in the arm. Led by running back Chris Sharp and quarterback Simon Vadas, the Raiders offense became a juggernaut, averaging more than 46 points a game on the way to a 7-1 record and an undefeated MAPL campaign. The Hun defense, which was sparked by Kyle Horihan, Cameren Kitchen, and Jordan McGriff, stymied the opposition as the Raiders only gave up 121 points all fall.

A trio of stellar seniors, goalie Reina Kern, midfielder Julia Blake and forward Vicki Leach, led the way as the Hun field hockey team enjoyed a solid season. Coach Kathy Quirk’s squad posted an 8-11 record and advanced to the state Prep A semis and the MCT quarters.

Cheryl Beal took the helm of the girls’ tennis team and guided the Raiders to sixth place of 18 schools in the team standings at the MCT. The second doubles team of Olivia Hartman and Nina Yao took fourth in their flight to lead the way at the county tournament.

PDS

Led by a group of overachieving seniors, the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team won the state Prep title. Coach Scott Bertoli’s squad edged Morristown-Beard 4-3 in the championship game as seniors Sean Timmons, Lewie Blackburn, John Egner, and Connor Bitterman rose to the occasion. The Panthers also produced another major highlight, topping Lawrenceville 6-3 in January to post their first win over the Big Red since the 2000-01 season. The Panthers finished the winter with a 14-7-2 record.

Lifted by its quintet of seniors, Robin Linzmayer, Mary Travers, Mimi Mathews, Colby Triolo, and Abby Sharer the girls’ hockey team placed in the top 4 of the WIHLMA standings, earning a spot in the league ‘A’ bracket for the playoffs. Coach Lorna Cook’s team fell in the semis and ended the season with a record of 11-8-1.

Seniors Langston Glaude, Deante Cole, Chris Okorodudu, and Ford Schneider each averaged in double figures in scoring as the boys’ hoops program underwent a transition season. Coach Paris McLean’s team posted an 8-14 record, leaving the seniors with 58 wins in their career after they helped the program posts 15, 16, and 19 victories in their first three campaigns.

Kamau Bailey took the helm of the girls’ basketball team and helped a young squad gain valuable experience as it went 2-11.

7 Fletcher

DOUBLE THREAT: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Connor Fletcher heads up the field in a game this spring. Fletcher helped both the PDS boys’ lacrosse and hockey teams win state Prep crowns. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It was coach Rob Tuckman’s last year guiding the boys’ lacrosse team and he went out in a blaze of glory as the Panthers topped perennial champion and nemesis Rutgers Prep 10-8 in the championship game. PDS was sparked by Connor Fletcher, Jonah Tuckman, Chris Azzarello, Ben Levine and Culver Duquette as it ended the spring with a record of 13-3. Tuckman will be succeeded by assistant Rich D’Andrea.

Hope Anhut, Lucy Linville and Morgan Foster starred for the girls’ lacrosse team. Coach Jill Thomas’s squad went 6-5 on the spring.

Hurt by an early season injury to junior pitching ace Cole McManimon, the baseball team struggled. Fellow juniors J.P. Radvany and Jake Alu had big years to keep the Panthers competitive as they posted a record of 4-12 for coach Ray O’Brien.

Senior Neeraj Devulapalli and sophomore Scott Altmeyer won state Prep B titles at second and third singles, respectively to help the boys’ tennis team win the team title for the second straight year. Coach Will Asch’s squad won nine of 10 matches on the first day of the Prep B tourney to clinch the title before the finals were even played.

After winning the county title in 2013, the girls’ soccer team added another championship as it won the state Prep B crown. Coach Pat Trombetta’s team edged Morristown-Beard 1-0 in the title game to end the season at 12-4-3. The team’s senior class of Erin Hogan, Kirsten Kuzmicz, Erin Murray, Kelly Tarcza, Jamie Thomas, and the Soltesz twins, Alexa and Stef, is leaving a championship legacy. Boasting such returning stars as Allison Klei, Abby Atkeson, Madison Coyne, Hannah Bunce, and Grace Barbara, the program should continue to be a title contender.

With seniors Maria Martinovich and Emily Dyckman winning titles at second singles and third singles, respectively, the girls tennis team won the Prep B title for the third year in a row. Coach Ed Tseng’s squad also had strong showing at the MCT, taking fourth of 18 schools in the team standings.

Bouncing back from a 3-11-3 record in 2013, seniors Marco Pinheiro and Oscar Vik led the way as the Panthers went 11-6-2. Coach Malcolm Murphy’s team advanced to the state prep B semis and MCT quarterfinals. Pinheiro and Vik were both named as first-team All-Prep B performers.

With a roster stocked with freshmen and sophomores, the field hockey team underwent a rebuilding season. Coach Tracey Arndt’s squad went 2-15 as senior goalie Katie Alden held down the fort. Alden was named a first-team All-Prep B performer with junior star Rowan Schomburg getting honorable mention notice.

The trio of John Gudgel, Kevin Sun, and Peter Klein helped the boys’ cross country team place fifth at the state Prep B meet. Junior Gudgel placed 27th for coach Merrell Noden’s squad with sophomore Sun and junior Klein right behind, finishing 28th and 29th, respectively. As for the PDS girls’ team, junior Emma Sharer was the top finisher at the Prep meet, taking 22nd. The boys’ team was hurt by injuries to sophomore star Ian Moini while girls’ standout Morgan Mills was also hampered by injury after setting the pace in the early going.

PHS

PHS rejoice after their win

BACK ON TOP: Members of the Princeton High boys’ soccer team celebrate after they beat Allentown in the Mercer County Tournament championship game in November. PHS went on to win the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional title and advance to the state championship game where they fell 4-3 to South Plainfield. The Little Tigers ended the fall at 18-3-2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For most of the winter, the Princeton High boys’ swimming team looked unbeatable. Led by a stellar group of seniors in Will Stange, Peter Kalibat, Colburn Yu, Matt Purdy, Avery Soong, and Scott MacKenzie, the Little Tigers roared through the regular season without a loss. They went on to win their fourth straight county title and a sixth straight Public B Central Jersey sectional title. Advancing to the Public B state championship meet, coach Greg Hand’s squad met its match in Moorestown, falling 87-83 to finish with a final record of 13-1.

Paced by a pair of standout juniors, Maddie Deardorff and Brianna Romaine, the girls’ swimming team also proved to be dominant. The squad went undefeated in regular season meets, won its second straight country title, and then defeated Lawrence to win the Public B Central Jersey sectional title. Coach Hand’s team finally tasted defeat when it lost 96-74 to Ocean City in the Public B state semis.

The squad finished the season with a 12-1 record.

Coach Hand

GUIDING HAND: Greg Hand enjoying the moment at a Princeton High swim meet this past winter. Hand, the longtime head coach of the PHS boys’ and girls’ swimming teams and the girls’ soccer program, announced in June that he was retiring from teaching and coaching. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After the season, the program suffered a major loss as longtime mentor Hand retired from teaching and coaching, leaving a special legacy as his boys’ squad has gone 202-46-3 with seven county crowns, 12 sectional titles, five appearances in the state finals, and a New Jersey Public B championship in 2012 while the Little Tiger girls’ team has posted a record of 152-63-2 with two county crowns, seven sectional titles, and four appearances in the Public B championship meet. He was succeeded by assistant coach Carly Misiewicz, a former Rider University swimming star.

A new head coach, Terence Miller, kept the boys’ hockey team on the winning track. Miller guided the Little Tigers to a 14-6-2 record as the team advanced to the county semis and the second round of the state Public B tourney. Senior star defenseman Patrick McCormick provided leadership and production to help lead PHS to the superb campaign.

The one-two punch of the Herring sisters, junior Lucy and freshman Maggie, helped the girls’ hockey team make progress. Coach Christian Herzog’s squad went 2-11 as the Herrings provided much of the offense.

The girls’ hoops program started a new era as Dan Van Hise took the helm as head coach. Guards Mary Sutton and Julia Ryan starred as the team struggled early but improved as the season went on, finishing with a 3-16 record.

A pair of guards, Matt Hart and Kevin Kane, had good seasons but the boys’ basketball team took its lumps, dropping a number of close games. Coach Mark Shelley’s team went 5-16 and did end the winter on a high note by beating PDS in a county tournament consolation game in its season finale.

Boasting more depth than in recent years, the wrestling team enjoyed one of its best seasons in years, going 11-9 in dual match competition. Coach Rashone Johnson’s squad got solid performances from Patrick Sockler, Tom Miers, Victor Bell, James Verbeyst, and Noah Ziegler.

Senior stars Kevin Halliday and Matt Purdy triggered the attack while junior Jackson Andres spearheaded the defense as the boys’ lacrosse team produced another championship campaign. Coach Peter Stanton’s team won the county title in an 11-10 overtime thriller against Allentown and then advanced to the sectional semis where it fell 10-8 to top-seeded Shawnee. The squad finished the spring at 16-4.

The girls’ lacrosse team also had a big season, riding the offensive prowess of senior stars Emilia Lopez-Ona and Liz Jacobs along with junior Gabby Gibbons. Coach Kelsey O’Gorman’s squad made it to the finals of both the county tournament and the sectional tourney as it went 17-4.

Sophomores Hayden Reyes and Colin Taylor along with junior John Reid starred for the baseball team. Coach Dave Roberts’ team posted a final record of 9-14.

With a number of younger players assuming prominent roles, the softball team also found the going tough as it lost 12 of its first 15 games. Coach Dave Boehm’s squad went 4-4 down the stretch to finish 7-16 and welcomes back such stars as Kayla Volante, Sarah Eisenach, Stephanie Wu, Kelli Swedish, and Nancy Gray.

A girl, senior star Laura Burke, was top player for the PHS boys’ golf team. Burke placed in the boys’ country tourney was consistently the low scorer for coach Sheryl Severance’s team.

3 Hellstrom

ROARING AGAIN: Princeton High football player Rory Helstrom breaks through the defense in a game this fall. Junior running back Helstrom rushed for more than 1,000 yards as PHS produced one of the top turnarounds of 2014, going 8-2 after posting a 0-10 record in 2013. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Conor Donahue and Joe Gray starred for the boys’ track. Gray placed third in the 400 at the sectional meet while Donahue took second in the 800 and fourth in the 1,600. The 4×400 relay placed second. Coach Rashone Johnson’s squad ended up 10th of 18 schools in the team standings at the sectionals.

Senior throwing star Michelle Bazile produced one of the finest campaigns in the history of the girls’ track program. She won both the discus and the shot put at the sectional meet as coach Jim Smirk’s PHS placed 10th of 20 schools in the team standings. The Brown-bound Bazile went on to win the shot put at the Meet of Champions, producing a school-record heave of 43’6.25 in taking the title.

It was a banner fall for PHS athletics. One of the school’s most storied programs, the boys’ soccer team, regained its championship form. Coach Wayne Sutcliffe’s team won division, county, and sectional titles. It advanced to its third Group 3 state title game in the last six seasons, dropping a 4-3 heartbreaker to South Plainfield in the finales. Senior Chase Ealy triggered the attack for the Little Tigers while junior defender Chris Harla and senior goalie Laurenz Reimitz solidified the defense as PHS ended the fall at 18-3-2.

Led by junior superstar Christina Rosca and senior standouts, Rory Lewis, Zhenia Dementyeva, and Katelyn Hojeibane, the girls’ tennis team had another big season. Coach Sarah Hibbert’s team won the county title for the first time since 1984 and then won the sectional title. The team advanced to its second straight state final, where it fell to perennial power Millburn. It ended the fall with a 19-3 record.

The girls’ cross country team placed second in the county, won the sectional meet, and then took second in the state Group 3 meet to earn a spot in the prestigious Meet of Champions for the first time since 2010. Espousing a pack mentality, coach Jim Smirk’s team saw seniors Mary Sutton, Julie Bond and Paige Metzheiser along with juniors Lou Mialhe and Emma Eikelberner stick together among the leaders in most races.

Producing the most remarkable turnaround of the fall, the football team went from a dismal 0-10 campaign in 2013 to a remarkable 8-2 season. Coach Charlie Gallagher’s team was led by senior stars Sam Smallzman, Colin Buckley and Joe Hawes along with juniors Rory Helstrom and David Beamer. The Little Tigers won the West Jersey Football League’s Valley Division title and made the state tournament for the first time since 2009.

A core of battle-tested veterans, Julia DiTosto, Lucy Herring, Campbell McDonald and Trish Reilly, set the tone as the field hockey team solidified its place among the elite teams in the area. Coach Heather Serverson’s squad won a division title, placed second in the MCT, and advanced to the sectional quarterfinals and ended the fall with an 18-4 record.

A season-ending leg injury to senior star striker Shannon Pawlak hampered the girls’ soccer team. But with Pawlak’s twin sister, senior defender Emily, having a big year, the Little Tigers remained competitive under first year head coach Val Rodriguez. The squad finished with a 9-7-2 record and advanced to the second round of the state tournament.

The boys’ cross country team was also slowed by injury as two of its top performers, senior Jacob Rist and sophomore Alex Roth, were sidelined for much of the fall. With some younger runners stepping up, coach Mark Shelley’s team placed fifth in the county meet, second in the sectionals, and 13th in the Group 3 state meets.

Stuart

2 Hannah

HITTING HER STRIDE: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Tori Hannah dribbles the ball upfield this fall. Junior ­Hannah, a first-team All Prep B performer along with classmate Sam Servis, helped Stuart make strides this fall. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Quadrupling its win total, the Stuart Country Day School basketball team posted an 8-8 record after going 2-13 in the 2012-13 campaign. Coach Dana Leary’s squad featured a potent inside-out attack with Kate Walsh and Nneka Onukwugha providing punch in the paint with guards Harlyn Bell and Harley Guzman starring on the perimeter. Leary left the program after the season and was succeeded by the school’s new athletics director, Justin Leith.

With an attack paced by senior Amy Hallowell and sophomore stars Sam Servis, Julia Maser, and Tori Hannah along with rock-solid goalie play from Harlyn Bell, the lacrosse team enjoyed a solid campaign. Coach Caitlin Grant’s team won its last four games to end the spring at 8-6, the program’s first winning season in seven years.

The pair of Servis and Hannah triggered the offense for the field hockey team as they both earned first-team All-Prep B honors. Coach Missy Bruvik’s squad showed progress, going 2-2-1 down the stretch to post a 6-14-1 record.

Casey Nelson set the pace as Stuart placed fifth in the state Prep B championship. Sophomore Nelson placed 12th individually while junior Lindsay Craig finished 16th and senior Emily Morgan took 19th for coach Len Klepack’s squad.

Senior co-captain Maya Huang and Julia Rourke provided solid leadership and play as the tennis team went 4-6 in dual match action. Coach Katherine Stoltenberg’s squad finished 10th of 18 teams at the Mercer County Tournament.

 

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HOLIDAY CHEER: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player J.P. Radvany accepts congratulations in a game last winter. Over the weekend, senior forward Radvany played well as PDS made it to the final of the Wardlaw-Hartridge Tournament. He scored 10 points as the Panthers edged Keyport 43-41 in the opening round last Friday. PDS went on to fall 39-28 to North Warren in the title game a day later. The Panthers now 2-4, host Hamilton on January 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After losing its first three games this season, the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team found the formula for success when it edged George School (Pa.) 39-32 on December 18.

“In the George game they saw that if they focus on defense for 32 minutes, they could pull out a win,” said PDS head coach Paris McLean.

“It made me happy to see them happy. We know how hard they work in practice, in the weight room, and watching film. They were rewarded with a victory that they earned.”

Last weekend at the Wardlaw-Hartridge Tournament, the Panthers displayed their defensive intensity and work ethic. On Friday, they rallied to edge Keyport 43-41 in an opening round contest.

“We called a timeout with six minutes left in the game when we were down by six,” recalled McLean. “We told them they were acting like the game was over even though there was a lot of time left. They came out and made three stops and got three baskets. Then Chase (Lewis) hit a runner to win the game.”

McLean liked the way his players built on the George win. “It was a great team effort,” said McLean, who got 19 points from Lewis with seniors J.P. Radvany and Josiah Meekins, scoring 10 and nine, respectively. “They had a 6’6 center and we did a good job on him.”

In the title game, the Panthers went cold offensively but didn’t lose their defensive focus in a 39-28 defeat to North Warren.

“The offense sputtered a bit; I think we were a little gassed from the game before and playing on back-to-back nights,” said McLean. “The defense held up. The shots aren’t always going to fall but you can have that tenacious defense.”

With only three returning players from last year, defense is going to be a calling card for the young, inexperienced Panthers.

“The scoring will come; it takes a little longer for the offense to jell,” said McLean. “If we continue to be focused on the defensive end, we will stay in games. People talk about going on 8-0 runs. We are looking at the 0 part of that and getting three stops in a row to have defensive runs. You can always be disciplined on defense.”

McLean sees good things on the horizon for his squad. “We just need to keep getting better and getting experience,” added McLean, whose team starts the 2015 portion of the season by hosting Hamilton on January 5. “It is a lot of teaching but it is a lot of fun.”

Two girls’ teams, Princeton High and Stuart Country Day, stayed home to play during the holidays and had plenty of fun. Stuart hosted a Christmas Tournament last weekend and crosstown rival PHS was one of the four participants.

The Little Tigers fell 44-36 to Germantown Friends (Pa.) in the first round on Saturday but rebounded a day later to defeat the Doane Academy 58-23 in a consolation contest. Three seniors led the way for PHS against Doane as it improved to 2-2 with Mira Shane scoring 12 points and classmates Catherine Curran-Groome adding nine and Mia Levy chipping in eight. The Little Tigers are next in action when they play at Florence on January 5 and at Ewing on January 6.

Stuart, for its part, started things with a bang, topping Doane 44-31 in an opening round contest on Saturday as senior Kate Walsh poured in 24 points and classmate Harlyn Bell contributed 10. The Tartans, though, fell in the title game as Germantown Friends posted a 45-17 victory. Stuart, now 6-4, plays at Hightstown on January 2.

 

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A TAD BETTER: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Tad Moore gets inside position last week against WW/P-S. Senior forward Moore contributed six points in the contest to help PHS rally to a 75-71 win over the Pirates. PHS, now 1-1, plays at Hillsborough on January 3 before hosting Morristown on January 5 and Ewing on January 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It looked like the Princeton High boys’ basketball team was headed to a 0-2 start as it played at WW/P-S on December 22.

After falling 67-55 to Hamilton in its season opener three days earlier, PHS  found itself down by nine points in the third quarter against the Pirates.

But sticking with its man-to-man defense and making some clutch plays on the offensive, PHS clawed back and pulled out a 75-71 victory.

“What I liked is that we played man almost the whole game; sometimes we play zone or trap, especially when we get down,” said PHS head coach Mark Shelley.

“We stayed the course; we played solid man. We made some big shots to make it close early in the fourth quarter and then we had another big run to take the lead.”

The one-two punch of senior Kevin Kane and junior Matt Hart led the way as Kane poured in a game-high 27 points and Hart chipped in 17.

“Kane had a big game,” said Shelley. “When a team presses us, we put Kevin in the corner. He is really good at driving on the baseline. He was drawing foul after foul against South. Hart was a little off, his shots weren’t falling but he didn’t get selfish.”

When Hart scored 27 in the opening day loss to Hamilton and Kane added 15 but nobody else had more than five, Shelley called for others to help carry the offensive load.

“After the game, we talked about a couple of years ago when Lior (Levy) and Scotty (Bechler) would score 20 points and nobody else scored in double figures we would lose,” said Shelley. “We need a third person in double figures, that means that the ball is moving better.”

Against WW/P-S, sophomore forward Zahrion Blue proved to be that vital third option, tallying 11 points.

Blue, though, wasn’t the only member of PHS’s supporting cast who came up big in the victory over the Pirates.

“We got a lot of good contributions,” asserted Shelley. “John Morelli hit a 3 to give us the lead. They were playing back in the zone and he pulled up at the top of the key. Sam Serxner played a stretch of good defense. Tad and Tommy Moore each had six points and were active on the boards.”

With PHS playing at Hillsborough on January 3 before hosting Morristown on January 5 and Ewing on January 6, Shelley is hoping his team can build on its effort against WW/P-S.

“I am so proud of the boys,” said Shelley. “Every win is a confidence builder but to win on the road against a strong team and come from nine down in the third quarter and staying the course is great. We hadn’t beat South in five or six years. They are very good and they are always a very good shooting team. Going into their gym, especially after losing the first game, was tough. We have five tough games to start and we needed to get a win somewhere.”

 

December 24, 2014
ON THE MOVE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Mary Sutton brings the ball up the court last Friday in PHS’s 40-21 win over Hamilton in its season opener. Last Monday, senior point guard and co-captain Sutton scored a team-high 15 points but it wasn’t enough as PHS fell 39-32 to WW/P-S.  In upcoming action, the Little Tigers will take part in the Stuart Country Day School Christmas Tournament on December 27-28.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON THE MOVE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Mary Sutton brings the ball up the court last Friday in PHS’s 40-21 win over Hamilton in its season opener. Last Monday, senior point guard and co-captain Sutton scored a team-high 15 points but it wasn’t enough as PHS fell 39-32 to WW/P-S. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers will take part in the Stuart Country Day School Christmas Tournament on December 27-28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming off an impressive 40-21 opening day victory over Hamilton, the Princeton High girls’ basketball team seemed on track to make it a 2-0 start as it hosted WW/P-S last Monday.

Utilizing a stingy defense and opportunistic offense, PHS jumped out to an 18-9 halftime lead over the Pirates.

“We came out strong,” said PHS senior guard and co-captain Mary Sutton. “We get pretty nervous in the first quarter so if we can score the first couple of baskets and just control things and calm things down a little bit, we’ll be fine for the rest of the quarter and the rest of the half. We were moving the ball really well in the first half and getting back on defense and getting stops. We were talking. We had lots of energy on the floor and the bench. It was overall a really big team effort.”

But in the second half, WW/P-S had a burst of energy, outscoring the Little Tigers 30-14 to pull away to a 39-32 victory.

“When South picked up the intensity and the toughness, we didn’t get defensive rebounds,” said Sutton. “They were getting offensive boards and they were able to put them up for baskets. That killed us.”

While PHS knows it let a win slip away, Sutton believes the team will be better for the experience.

“We could have had that one but we needed to stay positive,” said Sutton, who had seven points in the third quarter on the way to a team-high 15 points. “I think by the end of the season we will be tougher and better than we are now.”

Sutton and her four fellow seniors on the team, Mira Shane, Mia Levy, Briana Blue, and Catherine Curran-Groome, are looking to end things on a high note this winter.

“Some of us have played with each other since the 5th grade with coach Clarence White on travel basketball,” said Sutton.

“They are my right and left hand girls. They are awesome. It is just wonderful being able to play with them for four years in a row and finish strong.”

PHS head coach Dan Van Hise liked his team’s strong start on Monday. “We tried to switch things up defensively a little bit more this year, trying to stay ahead of things,” said second-year head coach Van Hise.

“We came out in our man and then we made some substitutions to get some more athletic girls in and run some zone press and fall back into a little bit of a matchup zone. I think that really worked. I mentioned after the game that we should really hang our hats on that as one of the positives. That is a good way to get some of the bench girls involved. We will do that more and more.”

Van Hise tipped his hat to WW/P-S for playing sharper and harder in its second-half rally.

“They started heating up from the outside, they had a couple of wing jumpers so that brought me out of the zone a little bit,” said Van Hise.

“We didn’t have the energy left to play hard man defense. Credit goes to them, they hit some shots. We can’t give them so many second chance shots, whether it is off of actual rebounds that they get or deflections that go out of bounds for them. It is too demoralizing to have them get another shot.”

Sutton’s energy on the offensive end was a plus for PHS. “Mary is going to the basket,” said Van Hise. “I think the best part about her shot not being on early and in our scrimmages is that she has forced herself to go to the hoop. So if her shot is on, that’s great, but she is always going to go to the basket. That is really good to see.”

Junior guard Julia Ryan showed her shooting touch, scoring 10 points against WW/P-S after tallying 15 on opening day.

“I think Julia is going to be a little more consistent this year,” said Van Hise. “I think it is her nature to be a little bit streaky. She is going to be more consistent in not going away.”

In Van Hise’s view, PHS is not going to go away when things get tough this winter. “You have got to stay pretty positive in the fact that we were trying to get some defenses in and we are doing things that the program really hasn’t tried in the past and stuff has been working,” said Van Hise, whose team will take part in the Stuart Country Day School Christmas Tournament from December 27-28.

“I think at some point it is going to come down to whether we can do those things that just killed us tonight. Whether we can rebound, whether we can hit shots. I think the chemistry is great. They play hard all the way through. From that stance, I think we are going to be in a lot more games this year. I would just love to have them reward themselves by doing those other things so those close games turn into wins.”

Sutton, for her part, believes that PHS has what it takes to win a lot of games this winter.

“We have so much more energy than last year, so much more intensity and toughness, mentally and physically,” said Sutton.

“I think if we can keep building on those three things and start making our shots we can have a good season, better than last year.”

SHOWING PROMISE: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Maggie Herring controls the puck in recent action. Sophomore forward Herring’s offensive prowess has helped PHS produce a promising 2-3 start this winter. The Little Tigers are next in action when they play at Princeton Day School on January 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SHOWING PROMISE: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Maggie Herring controls the puck in recent action. Sophomore forward Herring’s offensive prowess has helped PHS produce a promising 2-3 start this winter. The Little Tigers are next in action when they play at Princeton Day School on January 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Producing a promising 2-2 start this season, the Princeton High girls’ hockey team was looking to head into the holidays on a high when it played Princeton Day School last Wednesday in its final game of the calendar year.

“Coming in and taking the first two wins is a big thing,” said PHS head coach Christian Herzog, referring to his squad’s 5-3 win over Pingry and 4-3 triumph over Summit in its first two outings.

“I tried to let them know I would like us to put our best foot forward today. Coming in 2-2 with a .500 record, I would have liked to see us going into Christmas break with a little more relaxation with a big win.”

But unable to find an offensive rhythm, the Little Tigers fell 3-0 to the Panthers at Lisa McGraw Rink.

“It is a different team this year, we had a little more confidence coming into this game but it didn’t help that we dropped two in a row to Portledge and Mo-Beard the last two days,” said Herzog.

“We were real hyped coming in. I know the girls were feeling real positive with their chances today. We still have to work on some serious position issues, angles and little things.”

Despite trailing 2-0 heading into the third period, PHS was feeling good about its chances against the Panthers.

“Even when we went into the locker room after two goals, they were still positive,” said Herzog.

“They know that is only three bounces away and anything is possible but we didn’t finish.”

Sophomore forward Maggie Herring has been doing a lot of finishing this season with a team-high seven goals through five games.

“Maggie is doing well with the numbers but we also need her to use her strength to beef up some other people and make them playmakers,” said Herzog of Herring, who also has four assists.

“You go in here or anywhere in the league and you have only one or two goal scorers; it is real easy to stop those one or two goal scorers.”

Junior Allie Callaway is doing well on defense in her return to the team after a season-long hiatus due to injury.

“Allie is a strong player, I like her physicality,” said Herzog. “I like that she can just move two or three girls out of the front of the net. She is physical; she has got some size. She is a really good defender.”

After going 2-11 last season, Herzog likes the progress the team has shown already this winter.

“Last year, I think we only had wins against Academy of New Church, which isn’t in our league,” said Herzog.

“This year, we started off a little more positive. The girls are buying in a little more. Last year, the focus with them was having fun. I told them we have got eight seniors this year with a variety of different skill levels. This is the year where we have the strongest collective team.”

Herzog is hoping for a strong effort when PHS returns to action from the holiday break.

“I think going back to the beginning of the season, the girls are still hopeful; they are confident,” said Herzog, whose team starts 2015 by playing at PDS on January 5. “This is just one game. We can build on this, it goes back to the core of their confidence.”

Abbey Berloco didn’t waste any time making an impact for the Princeton High girls’ swimming team.

Making her high school debut earlier this month against Hopewell Valley, precocious freshman Berloco set a program record in the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.58, bettering the previous mark by 0.11.

Reflecting on the record, Berloco is ahead of the schedule she set for herself.

“I had my eye on that record for a really long time, I was really hoping that by the end of my high school career that I could get it,” said Berloco, who swims for the Hamilton Aquatics Club.

As she gets her PHS career underway, Berloco is enjoying the intensity and camaraderie of high school swimming.

“It has really been a challenge managing my time but it has been a lot of great competition,” said Berloco, who started swimming at age 8, following in the footsteps of her older sister.

“It has been really good getting to know the other high school swimmers. It is a really close team and they do a lot together and it is just really nice to be part of it.”

Berloco has enjoyed training and competing with PHS junior sprinting star Brianna Romaine. “There is a lot of healthy competition between us,” said Berloco.

Last week, Berloco showed her competitive fire in a 107-63 victory over WW/P-N, taking first in both the 200 and 100 freestyle races.

“I am really a sprinter, I like high school swimming because it gives me a chance to swim different events,” said Berloco. “The 200 is a little long but it is something to work on at the beginning of the season. I really like the 100 free, it is one of my better events.”

PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz saw Berloco’s performance in the 200 as a reflection of her will to win.

“Abbey is so competitive; she was a lap ahead in the 200 today and she didn’t let up, that is the mark of a true competitor,” said Misiewicz. “I saw her times from the weekend at her club meet and I thought the 200 free looked like a good event for her.”

First-year coach Misiewicz likes the way her girls’ team is competing collectively.

“They have such a great attitude,” said Misiewicz of the squad which improved to 6-0 with a 120-50 win over Notre Dame last Monday. “They know they have a good team and they are in it to win it.”

The PHS boys’ team showed a good attitude as they beat WW/P-N 102-68 to bounce back strongly from an 87-83 loss to WW/P-S on December 9, which snapped a run of 48 straight Colonial Valley Conference dual-meet wins.

“That was a tough loss but we had a lot of personal bests in the meet,” said Misiewicz, whose boys’ squad moved to 4-2 with a 109-61 loss to Notre Dame last Monday. “They said OK we will get them in the counties. I think it gives them extra motivation.”

In the victory over WW/P-N, the boys’ team found an extra gear. “They were excited for the meet today,” said Misiewicz, who got wins against the Northern Knights from Alex Petruso in both the 100 free and 100 backstroke with Gabriel Bar-Cohen winning the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke.

“We tried some guys at different events today. It is good for them to not always be swimming the same races.”

Berloco, for her part, is determined to race better and better when PHS starts the 2015 portion of its schedule with a meet at Hightstown on January 6.

“I am just hoping for some more personal bests and having a really good season,” said Berloco, who lowered her 50 free time to 24.16 in the victory over Notre Dame on Monday and puts in five or six two-hour training sessions a week with her Hamilton club.

“My goals are I just want to improve and I want to keep enjoying the sport. This team is a great team. I think that we have a good shot at counties this year and I hope with hard work and a lot of dedication that we can really go somewhere this season.”

BEST OF THE WURST: Hun School boys’ hockey player Bobby Wurster, right, goes after the puck in recent action. Last Thursday, senior defenseman Wurster chipped in an assist and provided some rugged play on the blue line to help Hun top Princeton Day School 6-1. The Raiders, who improved to 6-0-1 with the victory, are next in action when they compete in the Purple Puck tournament in the Washington, D.C. area from December 28-31.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BEST OF THE WURST: Hun School boys’ hockey player Bobby Wurster, right, goes after the puck in recent action. Last Thursday, senior defenseman Wurster chipped in an assist and provided some rugged play on the blue line to help Hun top Princeton Day School 6-1. The Raiders, who improved to 6-0-1 with the victory, are next in action when they compete in the Purple Puck tournament in the Washington, D.C. area from December 28-31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Hun School boys’ hockey team clinging to a 2-1 lead at Princeton Day School last Thursday, Bobby Wurster took matters into his hands.

“We needed to get that next goal so I just threw it on net,” said Hun senior defenseman Wurster.

“Pat Brake got a high tip and it went off Chris Rossi, it was a big game from him today.”

From there, Hun cruised as it posted a big 6-1 win over the Panthers, improving to 6-0-1 before the holiday break.

“There was never a doubt in our mind that we were going to finish this game,” said Wurster.

“It was just a matter of who was going to get it and when. We just tried to stay on them the whole time. I know with coach Ian McNally, his mindset has always been pressure, pressure. Once we get our forecheck going, no one can beat us. We were on the puck. We were getting good shots; we were burying rebounds. We were paying the price to get the little goals.”

It was a major goal for Hun to beat nemesis and defending state Prep champion PDS.

“It is huge,” said Wurster, noting that last year’s meeting between the local rivals was snowed out twice.

“We had this one circled on our calendar for a while. I have to give credit to our fan section. We had probably about 100 kids who came out here to support us. I thought that win came from them. We had the support and we wanted to give them a show and we gave it to them.”

Playing in his final campaign with the program, Wurster is looking to bring maturity and production to the squad.

“I step in with the leadership,” said Wurster. “I have Chris Rossi and Danny Seelagy, the other two seniors on my side. They are there to help me. Coach McNally wants me to step up. I give my best and once the younger kids see I am stepping up, they want to top that.”

With Hun undefeated through seven games, people are stepping up all over the ice.

“It is hard work, every single one of those guys in there has each other’s back,” said Wurster. “There is no fighting in the locker room. Every man is there to protect you.”

Hun coach McNally liked the way his team fought back to get its third goal against PDS, a tally he saw as the turning point of the contest.

“When they scored to make it 2-1, it was worry, worry,” said McNally. “But when we scored to make it 3-1, I was like OK, we are alright. From then, we just did the job.”

McNally is pleased with how Wurster and his fellow defensemen are taking care of their jobs.

“I am very impressed with our overall poise with the puck,” said McNally. “Our defensemen are confident with the puck, they wait and try to pass it to each other and very rarely do they cough it up. Bob is a big part of that. He sees times to jump into the play and be in front of the net and then he will be the first guy back. He is all over the ice but it is with purpose and it helps at both ends. You saw him make a decision on the third goal. He was behind the net and we were stuck. Their guy decided to gamble and Bob was gone. Somebody else probably would have just passed that puck away but he saw a hole and went and we were able to bury it.”

Hun’s intensity all over the ice made the difference in the eagerly anticipated showdown with PDS.

“I think they were waiting for it and they were excited,” said McNally. “I don’t know that we thought this would happen. We said before the game if we work incredibly hard and we play the way we have decided to play with our sound strategies and our identity, then I am pretty confident that we can win all the time. I thought they did that today.”

With sophomore star and offensive catalyst Evan Barratt having not played yet this season due to a knee injury, Hun’s 6-0-1 start is even more impressive.

“We have very much risen to the occasion,” asserted McNally. “There is nobody we are going to play in tournaments or the rest of the year where the kids are going to be scared of losing. That doesn’t mean that we are going to win every game but at least we will go in with the idea that we can win today. That is important.”

Wurster, for his part, is confident that the Raiders will keep rising to the occasion.

“We are not in a league any more and we are playing the better prep schools in the area,” said Wurster.

“We want to make a name for ourselves, starting off 6-0-1 before Christmas is a good start. We have a couple of big games coming up here and we are putting ourselves on the map and a lot of good things are to come.”

BENDING IT IN: Hun School boys’ hockey player Jon ­Bendorf tracks the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, sophomore Bendorf scored a dazzling end-to-end goal to help Hun defeat the Princeton Day School 6-1. The Raiders, now 6-0-1, are next in action when they play in the Purple Puck Tournament in the Washington, D.C. area from December 28-31.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BENDING IT IN: Hun School boys’ hockey player Jon ­Bendorf tracks the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, sophomore Bendorf scored a dazzling end-to-end goal to help Hun defeat the Princeton Day School 6-1. The Raiders, now 6-0-1, are next in action when they play in the Purple Puck Tournament in the Washington, D.C. area from December 28-31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The trio of forwards Evan Barratt, Jon Bendorf, and Blake Brown made an immediate impact on the local high school hockey scene last winter, helping to transform the Hun School boys’ squad into a power.

With each of the Killer B’s freshman line scoring at least 60 points (Barratt — 23 goals, 38 assists, Bendorf — 36 goals, 30 assists,  and Brown — 28 goals, 32 assists), Hun posted a 20-7 record, winning the Mercer County Tournament and a second straight Independence Hockey League (IHL) crown.

Coming into this winter, Hun dropped out of the IHL to upgrade its schedule and earn a spot among the elite teams in the state.

But with Barratt suffering a knee injury that has him sidelined until January at least, it looked like Hun may have bitten off more than it can chew.

“We are missing Barratt and that is a big roadblock for us so we had to rise to it,” said Hun head coach Ian McNally.

Last Thursday as Hun played at perennial power and nemesis Princeton Day School, the pair of Brown and Bendorf rose to the occasion. Brown tallied two goals and an assist while Bendorf scored a dazzling end-to-end first period goal that gave Hun a 1-0 score, jumpstarting the Raiders to a 6-1 triumph as they improved to 6-0-1.

With last year’s installment of the rivalry having been snowed out, Brown and his teammates were eager to finally get a shot at the Panthers, the defending state Prep champs.

“We have been looking forward to playing them since last year,” said Brown. “It got snowed out twice so the anticipation has been building.”

Brown and his teammates drew inspiration from some of their former teammates.

“Coach read us alumni messages about this game and how we were never able to beat these guys in past years,” said Brown. “It is sweet to be finally  able to do it.”

One of those messages mentioned Brown specifically but it took a key assist from Hun head coach Ian McNally to help him have a big game.

“Spy Avgoustiniatos, one of the seniors from last year, had some predictions for the game and one of them was that Blake was going to score,” said McNally.

“Blake forgot his socks. I had a new pair of black socks in my bag so I gave them to him and I said every time you have fresh socks on, you have to score, that is a hockey rule. He said ‘I better,’ he hasn’t scored in a long time. He got two and he probably could have had four.”

Bendorf, for his part, was proud to see Hun rule the Panthers. “We were so excited to play this game,” said Bendorf.

“I couldn’t even focus during exams today, I just wanted to get to this game. We got a huge crowd out there and we were able to show them who the best team in Princeton is.”

While Bendorf acknowledged that the absence of Barratt leaves a major void, he liked the way his teammates have risen to the challenge.

“You can win with anybody as long as you are out there and playing your hardest and giving all of your heart,” said Bendorf.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge, every step of the way but we were able to get the win. To start off the season at 6-0-1 is great going into vacation.”

In Brown’s view, not having Barratt early in the season could benefit the team down the road.

“Obviously it hurts without Evan but we are still able to be great without him,” said Brown. “When he comes back, we will be even better.”

That is a scary proposition for Hun’s foes.

FRENCH CONNECTION: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Kiely French takes the puck up the ice in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, sophomore defenseman French scored a goal to help PDS top Princeton High 3-0. The Panthers, now 4-3, are next in action when they host PHS on January 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FRENCH CONNECTION: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Kiely French takes the puck up the ice in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, sophomore defenseman French scored a goal to help PDS top Princeton High 3-0. The Panthers, now 4-3, are next in action when they host PHS on January 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kiely French was moved to defense this fall for the Princeton Day School field hockey team and emerged as a key contributor.

This winter, sophomore French has been asked to switch from her natural position of forward to defense to solidify things along the blue line for the PDS girls’ hockey team.

As a result, French is applying some of the lessons she learned this fall to the ice.

“I have never played defense; I think it is difficult at first,” said French. “At the beginning the toughest thing was probably learning which girl to play on a 2-on-1 because I was so used to playing the girl who had the puck and I forgot to look back. In field hockey, I played defense and I think that is transferring over. I am becoming more confident and I have started trying things that I wouldn’t normally be comfortable with.”

Displaying her confidence last Wednesday as PDS hosted Princeton High, French went end-to-end with the puck with less than a minute remaining in the second period and fired it into the back of the net for a goal.

“I looked up and I didn’t see anyone open so I just took it,” said French, reflecting on her tally.

“I saw the defense and I was like I am going to go around her. Lorna (PDS head coach Lorna Cook) told me to go around her so I am going to go around her. I saw the whole left side of the net was open in between her gloves and her pads so I just shot there. I was really happy.”

French was happy to give PDS a little breathing room after it took a 1-0 lead on a first period goal by sophomore star Kristi Serafin.

“It definitely made us feel more relaxed,” said French referring to Serafin’s tally.

“I think it fired us up more to score more so we would be more ahead and we would just keep going and just completely say we are winning this game.”

PDS went on to post a 3-0 win with Serafin adding a third period goal as the Panthers take a 4-3 record into the holiday break.

French acknowledged that an improved PHS squad gave PDS a stiff test. “I think a lot of us knew that they had more club players than in previous years; I think we were a lot more fired up,” said French, reflecting on the victory which saw senior goalie and captain Katie Alden make 12 saves in earning the shutout.

“In the locker room, we were all singing and dancing,” said French. “We really wanted to win, especially because it was a home game and it was Kristi’s birthday.”

Entering PDS this year as a transfer, French has quickly found a home. “I love it so much, everyone was so welcoming,” asserted French. “I feel like I have been here my entire life.”

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, French feels PDS has room to grow.

“I think something we can build on is probably passing; I think we are doing a really good job compared to how our season started but I still think we can work on that,” said French.

“We also need to work on getting open for the puck and communication. We have started talking a lot more on the ice but I think we can still improve on that.”

FACE TIME: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Nneka Onukwugha takes a shot to the face as she heads to the basket in recent action. Last Friday, senior forward Onukwugha scored eight points as Stuart topped Noor-Ul-Iman School 48-10 to improve to 5-3. The program will be hosting its Stuart Christmas Tournament from December 27-28.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FACE TIME: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Nneka Onukwugha takes a shot to the face as she heads to the basket in recent action. Last Friday, senior forward Onukwugha scored eight points as Stuart topped Noor-Ul-Iman School 48-10 to improve to 5-3. The program will be hosting its Stuart Christmas Tournament from December 27-28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Hosting Pennington last Wednesday the Stuart Country Day School basketball team battled the Red Raiders to an 8-8 standoff in the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately since the Tartans entered the quarter trailing Pennington 51-23, their good play down the stretch just maintained the status quo in a 59-31 win by the Red Raiders.

Stuart first year head coach Justin Leith acknowledged that a sluggish first quarter doomed his squad to defeat.

“The key was that we started out that slow,” said Leith, whose team trailed 23-8 heading into the second quarter.

“It teaches us that you can’t come out with nerves; you can’t come out with  apprehension. We have to come out the way we started the second half and the way some of the players finished the game.”

Leith liked the way junior forward Kate Walsh finished inside as she tallied a game-high 20 points in a losing cause.

“I thought Kate was gritty,” said Leith. “She had 22 points against  Germantown Friends the other day when we came back and almost won. She did a great job today, she has nice inside moves. We need to follow that up with some more defensive pressure and defensive stops.”

Senior Harlyn Bell did provide the Tartans with some defensive intensity in the loss to Pennington.

“I liked what she did on help side defense,” added Leith. “She was there, she was talking. She wasn’t allowing people to cut in front of her, she was boxing out every single time. One time she left her man on the weak side to go pick up someone on the strong side because she wasn’t being guarded and when I see things like that, then I am encouraged.”

The play of junior guard Harley Guzman and senior forward Nneka Onukwugha has been encouraging.

“Harley is our leader, she needs to be our point guard,” said Leith. “She certainly has her moments where she sometimes takes over. In this game, she tried to a couple of times but the lay-ups didn’t fall the way she wanted to. She had 15 points against PDS. You get Nneka in there, playing tough inside and getting rebounds and we are putting together a nice little basketball team.”

Leith acknowledges that Stuart hasn’t put it together yet. “We have had a bunch of pieces of great basketball,” said Leith, whose team improved to 5-3 with a 48-10 win over Noor-Ul-Iman School last Friday.

“Against Germantown Friends, we came all the way back and they went up by four with 13 seconds left, it was just so close. We have had all of these moments that we need to put together and that is going to happen.”

In order to make more good things happen, Stuart has to show more resolve on the court.

“I told them that some of the toughness is cultivated and they really out-toughed us today,” said Leith.

“Our girls are tough, they are, but we need to put together the moments. We need to continue to cultivate that toughness and we are going to do that over winter break.”

With its Stuart Christmas Tournament being held from December 27-28, the team is going to work hard over the holidays.

“A lot of that is going to be going back to the basics and teaching more,” said Leith, whose team faces Doane Academy in the opening round on December 27 and then either Princeton High or Germantown Friends the next day.

“It is like another preseason with no distraction of homework or anything else. It is just basketball and we get to come together as a team and bond a little bit more.”

In Leith’s view, mastering the basics will yield dividends over the course of the winter.

“We need to continue to get better over the season with each practice and each game,” said Leith.

“As long as we put more and more of those moments together, those good moments of the great defense, the hustle, the diving on the floor, the beautiful offense that they show sometimes, that is a successful season. We are going to build on that over the year here.”

December 17, 2014
TITLE PUSH: Tufts University men’s soccer star Maxime Hoppenot, center, pushes through a foe to get the ball in the NCAA Division 3 championship game earlier this month. Senior forward ­Hoppenot, a former Princeton Day School standout, helped the Jumbos top Wheaton (Ill.) 4-2 in the title game, giving the program its first-ever national crown. He was joined on the team by four other Princeton-area players, including former PDS teammate Rui Pinheiro, Princeton High alums Zach and Kevin Halliday, and Princeton native Peter Lee-Kramer.(Photo Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information)

TITLE PUSH: Tufts University men’s soccer star Maxime Hoppenot, center, pushes through a foe to get the ball in the NCAA Division 3 championship game earlier this month. Senior forward ­Hoppenot, a former Princeton Day School standout, helped the Jumbos top Wheaton (Ill.) 4-2 in the title game, giving the program its first-ever national crown. He was joined on the team by four other Princeton-area players, including former PDS teammate Rui Pinheiro, Princeton High alums Zach and Kevin Halliday, and Princeton native Peter Lee-Kramer. (Photo Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information)

Joining the Tufts University men’s soccer team in the fall of 2011, Maxime Hoppenot didn’t get the feeling that he had signed on with a powerhouse.

“When I came in as a freshman, we had a bag of balls that got deflated every day and I would pump up the balls,” said Hoppenot, a former Princeton Day School standout.

But with dynamic head coach Josh Shapiro stocking the program with a number of talented players, Tufts started to climb up the ladder of Division 3 soccer.

Earlier this month, the Jumbos reached the summit of their world, topping Wheaton (Ill.) 4-2 in the Division 3 title game to earn the program’s first-ever national crown.

Coming into the fall, Hoppenot and his teammates were cautiously optimistic about their prospects.

“I think everybody on the team knew how talented we are, it was a question of getting everything to click,” said the 6’0, 170-pound Hoppenot, who was one of five talented Princeton-area players on the team, joined by former PDS teammate Rui Pinheiro, Princeton High stars Zach and Kevin Halliday, and Princeton native Peter Lee-Kramer

“We wanted to challenge for the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) title, we thought that was realistic. If we got into the NCAAs, we thought we could make a run. We went 8-5-2 last year with basically the same group, no one knew what was missing.”

After starting 5-0, the Jumbos hit a rough patch in the middle of the season, going 0-1-3 with a loss to Brandeis and ties against MIT, Amherst, and Middlebury.

“We were not super happy but we were playing well, even in the loss to Brandeis,” said Hoppenot.

“We could have won any of those games. Even when we didn’t have the results we wanted, that brought us together. The balls started bouncing our way, it was pretty gradual.”

Getting bounced out of NESCAC tournament in the first round with a loss to Connecticut College, Hoppenot feared that setback might mark the end of his college career.

“The Conn Coll game was the one game we have regrets about, it was by far our worst game,” recalled Hoppenot.

“We started out slow. When we finally got going, we couldn’t get that second goal and it went to PKs. We were not as decisive as we usually are. We were all very concerned. It was a toss-up for us, it was depending on other results.”

But getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney gave the Jumbos a new lease on life.

“We felt like it was a brand new season,” said Hoppenot. “We had 10 days in purgatory after the NESCAC loss. We watched the selection show in our film room. We had new energy, we got a lot of rest. We got hungry.”

Hoppenot and his classmates were especially hungry coming into the NCAAs as they wanted to extend their careers as long as possible.

“As a senior, you win or you go home and you are done,” said Hoppenot. “We had urgency and a lot of the team saw that in us and they picked up on that and wanted to help us.”

After posting wins over Dickinson and Wheaton (Mass.) in the first weekend of NCAA play, the Jumbos faced a daunting challenge as they headed to play at a powerful Muhlenberg squad with perennial champion Messiah looming in the quarterfinal round.

“Going into that weekend, we had a huge game on Saturday,” said Hoppenot.

“Muhlenberg had one loss and was undefeated at home and we were playing them there. We spent our whole week preparing for them.”

Tufts topped Muhlenberg 2-0 and then edged Messiah 1-0 to book a spot in the final 4 in Kansas City.

“We had one day to prepare for Messiah and maybe that was better because we didn’t have time to psyche ourselves out,” said Hoppenot.

“Rui said in the locker room before the game that each team has 11 players on the field and the ball is round. At that point we were confident in the way we were playing. We came out fast and got them on their heels. We scored in the first 52 seconds. We were extremely relieved; scoring early was great but then we had 89 minutes of having to deal with the best team in D-3. We dealt with that well. We defended more, we defended with 11 guys.”

In the national semis, the Jumbos upended another national power as they defeated Ohio Wesleyan 3-0.

“We had Ohio Wesleyan and they are probably the second most storied program after Messiah,” said Hoppenot, who picked up an assist in the win.

“We play our best when we are hungry and we have our backs to the wall. It was to our advantage to be maximum underdogs. We could come out and focus on the way we were playing and they had to beat us.”

Taking on Wheaton (Ill.) in the title game, Tufts played its game, building a 3-0 lead by early in the second half and then surrendering two goals before tacking on one at the end to pull out the 4-2 win.

“You get to the final and all bets are off; we were excited, they were excited,” said Hoppenot.

“We came out flying. We found a goal in the first half. We had a 3-0 lead with 35 minutes left in the second half and I think we relaxed for about 10 minutes and they scored two goals. Then we started finding our feet again. We started playing more of a territorial game; that insurance goal helped us relax.”

Reflecting on what made the difference in the title run, Hoppenot pointed to a selfless approach.

“We played more as a team this year,” said Hoppenot, who tallied three goals and three assists this season as Tufts posted a final record of 16-2-4.

“We made a tactical change. We had played two defensive center midfielders in the past and we moved Rui up this year. He played box to box and that opened us up offensively. We were a more unselfish team. We were a pass-first team, we were distributing the ball more. We had guys who didn’t have big stats who were really key players.”

Having played with Pinheiro for years, Hoppenot said the pair has developed a special connection on the field.

“We played together all of PDS; we played in the summers with our brothers,” said Hoppenot.

“With him moving up the field we were able to find each other more on the field this year. We have a great understanding of where we are on the field.”

It didn’t take long for Hoppenot to develop an understanding with former rival Zach Halliday when he walked on to the team in 2013.

“When he reached out to me saying he was coming to Tufts, I thought he was a good soccer player and he was used to winning being with PHS,” said Hoppenot, who battled with Halliday in the 2010 Mercer County Tournament title game won by PDS 1-0 in double overtime.

“When he got a chance he took it and he was starting by the end of his freshman year, which was really impressive. Zach looks up to me, he is my protege.”

Hoppenot was also impressed by the younger Halliday, Kevin, who joined the squad this fall as a top recruit.

“We saw in preseason what kind of player he was,” said Hoppenot. “I thought he would be the first or second guy off the bench but then he hurt his knee. The first time he was cleared was just before the first NCAA game. He decided to play even though his season may only be one game. I have a lot of respect for that; it showed that he had a lot of confidence in us.”

Even though the other Princeton product on the team,  Lee-Kramer, played his high school soccer at Phillips Andover (Mass.), Hoppenot kept close to him over the years.

“Peter and I were good friends at Charter School and then he went to boarding school in New England,” said Hoppenot.

“When he came home we would spend time together. We were both getting recruited by Tufts. Peter called and said he just committed to Tufts and I should too. I committed later that day. I was down to three schools and I needed a push.”

After making the title push, Hoppenot and his teammates didn’t have much time to bask in the glow of their accomplishment.

“We had a lot of the campus following us; we celebrated the night of the finals but then we came back and reality hit,” said Hoppenot.

“It was final exam period and we had a lot of work to do. We were in Kansas City for five days and didn’t do as much work out there as we should have but it has definitely been worth it.”

And seeing Tufts work its way up the ladder of D-3 soccer to make the national championship a reality is an experience that Hoppenot will definitely savor over the years.

PERIMETER ATTACK: Princeton High girls basketball player ­Julia Ryan heads upcourt in a game last season. PHS will be relying on junior guard Ryan to provide production on the perimeter this winter. The Little Tigers tip off their 2014-15 campaign by hosting Hamilton on December 19.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

PERIMETER ATTACK: Princeton High girls basketball player ­Julia Ryan heads upcourt in a game last season. PHS will be relying on junior guard Ryan to provide production on the perimeter this winter. The Little Tigers tip off their 2014-15 campaign by hosting Hamilton on December 19. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Dan Van Hise enters his second year at the helm of the Princeton High girls’ basketball program, he and his players are on the same page.

“It is really big, they are more comfortable with me,” said Van Hise, who guided PHS to a 3-16 record last winter.

“I have learned what gets them going and what turns them off. I have to be positive no matter what.”

Van Hise is expecting a positive impact from his quintet of seniors, which includes co-captains Mary Sutton and Mira Shane along with Catherine Curran-Groome, Bryanna Blue, and Mia Levy.

“It is really going to be the biggest factor,” said Van Hise, whose team gets its 2014-15 campaign underway by hosting Hamilton on December 19 and WW/P-S on December 22.

“The five of them are close knit. It is amazing what it does for a team. You can tell that the ball is moving faster. They like playing with each other.”

One of those seniors, Sutton, will combine with junior Julia Ryan to give the Little Tigers a potent one-two punch in the backcourt.

“Mary is buying into the point guard role,” said Van Hise. “Two of the biggest things I have noticed is that she is trying to get to the hoop more and she is looking for her teammates more. Julia has been on fire, she has been showing her stuff. She is a little tougher as well, she is going more to the basket. I am hoping she will get more free throws this season and won’t be as reliant on her jump shot.”

Van Hise is depending on another senior, Catherine Curran-Groome, to provide depth at guard.

“Catherine is going to be a big contributor this year,” said Van Hise, who will also be using sophomore Jamaica Ponder and junior Crystal Wang at guard.

“She sees the floor really well, she has good basketball sense. She is a good floor player, she gets her teammates involved.”

Blue should be involved a lot in the paint for the Little Tigers. “Bryanna will be our main post player,” said Van Hise.

“She is finishing around the basket, she is a lot more confident putting shots in. She is not thinking out there, she is just playing. She has stepped up, she is talking on defense, pushing the others to play harder.”

Two other seniors, Levy and Shane, along with sophomore Zoe Tesone give Van Hise confidence that PHS will be solid down low.

“Mia is the other post player; she is another senior who knows what she is doing,” said Van Hise.

“She has that inherent basketball IQ. Mira brings leadership and energy. She has turned into our defensive stopper; she will guard the other team’s best player. Zoe Tesone will help a lot. She is athletic and puts it all together. She can face the basket and will help us when we press.”

In order to put things together this winter, PHS will need to show energy all over the court.

“We talk about being aggressive and fighting as hard as the other team is fighting and I am seeing that at practice,” said Van Hise.

“In our first scrimmage we were coming after the ball hard and playing tougher defense. We need to make sure that the aggressiveness and toughness shows up in games. We can’t let the other teams get three or four shots at a time. I think we will make a lot more shots. We are playing more as a team, the ball movement is better. We have to do the little things, like boxing out, helping out on defense, and getting loose balls.”

IN TOUCH: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Kevin Kane brushes past an opponent in a game last winter. Senior guard Kane figures to provide a lot of scoring punch this winter as PHS looks to improve on the 6-15 record it posted last season. PHS tips off the 2014-15 season by playing Hamilton on December 19.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN TOUCH: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Kevin Kane brushes past an opponent in a game last winter. Senior guard Kane figures to provide a lot of scoring punch this winter as PHS looks to improve on the 6-15 record it posted last season. PHS tips off the 2014-15 season by playing Hamilton on December 19. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton High boys’ basketball team is welcoming back only three returning players from last season, Mark Shelley believes the squad is already a cohesive unit.

“What I feel and what the players sense is that we have a lot of chemistry,” said PHS head coach Shelley, who guided PHS to a 6-15 record last winter. “The guys like each other. We have a lot of guys who can fill different roles.”

The three returning guys, senior Kevin Kane, junior Matt Hart, and senior J.C. Silva, will assume leading roles at guard for PHS.

“Kevin and Matt look great, they are going to be real leaders for us,” said Shelley, whose team starts its 2014-15 campaign by playing at Hamilton on December 19 and at WW/P-S on December 22.

“They are the two guys that we are going to look to to do the bulk of the scoring. They worked hard all summer and fall, going to camps and lifting weights. J.C. will handle the ball a lot, he can also play some wing.”

Shelley has a lot of options off the bench in the backcourt, including seniors John Morelli and Chris Diver along with junior Michael Dowers and sophomores Sam Serxner and Andrew Goldsmith.

“Morelli, Diver, and Serxner will be backups by committee, they each do different things well,” said Shelley.

“John and Chris are a little better offensively. Sam is better defensively and is still learning our offense. Michael Dowers can really shoot. Andrew Goldsmith is a wonderful passer; he sees the court really well. He is also a really good defender.”

PHS will be looking to sophomore Zahrion Blue and the Moore twins, seniors Tommy and Tad, to provide some good punch in the paint.

“Blue is going to be really good; he can play the wing, he can play inside,” said Shelley.

“He has grown, he is about 6’2. He is versatile. He and the Moores are interchangeable. The Moores have that twin chemistry on the court. Tommy has a better outside shot, Tad gets more shots around the basket. We can go big with the three of them and Matt or we can play two of them with the guards and go small.”

As PHS looks to get back on the winning track, the big focus is on being on fundamentally sound at both ends of the court.

“Our offense last year was close to where it had been the year before but we just didn’t defend like the year before,” said Shelley.

“I think our points against average went up 10 points. We have put greater emphasis on defense, just in terms of the amount of the time we are spending on it. We need to defend better and keep people out of the lane. We struggled last year with athletic guards who could go to the basket. On offense, we need to be more consistent. Matt came on at the end of the year and Kevin was a little up and down. I am hoping both of them will be more consistent this year. I think we should be a better team all around.”

FIRING AWAY: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Jackson ­Andres gets ready to blast the puck in a game earlier this season. Last week, senior star Andres tallied five points on a goal and four assists as PHS topped WW/P-S 6-3 on December 9. This past Friday, Andres scored two goals to help the Little Tigers defeat WW/P-N 12-2. PHS, which moved to 4-2 with a 5-2 loss at Cranford on Monday, plays Hopewell Valley on December 17 at Mercer County Park and then hosts Westfield on December 19 at Baker Rink.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FIRING AWAY: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Jackson ­Andres gets ready to blast the puck in a game earlier this season. Last week, senior star Andres tallied five points on a goal and four assists as PHS topped WW/P-S 6-3 on December 9. This past Friday, Andres scored two goals to help the Little Tigers defeat WW/P-N 12-2. PHS, which moved to 4-2 with a 5-2 loss at Cranford on Monday, plays Hopewell Valley on December 17 at Mercer County Park and then hosts Westfield on December 19 at Baker Rink. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Jackson Andres’s athletic future lies in college lacrosse.

Princeton High senior Andres, a rugged and skilled defender, recently signed a letter of intent to attend Drexel University and play for its men’s lax program.

But this winter, Andres is looking to get the most out of his final season on the ice as a star forward for the PHS boys’ hockey team.

“I really want to make it past that second round of states, three years running it has been losing second round in states,” said Andres.

“I want to win a Mercer County Tournament; it is a big goal of mine. We have done it twice in lacrosse and that is awesome but I want to do it in both sports.”

Last week, Andres had an awesome game as PHS topped WW/P-S 6-3, tallying five points on a goal and four assists in the December 9 contest.

In the view of Andres, topping the Pirates was a good step for PHS as it marked the team’s third straight win since a 5-1 loss to Montgomery in its season opener.

“It is a big momentum booster, starting the season with a loss to Montgomery wasn’t the best thing for us,” said Andres.

“We had Nottingham (an 11-1 win on December 4), we got our feet under us and then we beat
Lawrence (6-1)). This was a big win.”

Playing on the same line with sophomore Brendon McCormick has been a big plus for Andres.

“I am trying to be the biggest playmaker that I can be; I am looking for big Brendon McCormick in my line,” said Andres, who scored two goals in a 12-2 win over WW/P-N last Friday. “He and I are really jelling together.”

Andres and fellow seniors Connor McCormick and John Reid have assumed responsibility for getting the team to jell collectively.

“The three of us need to get the team together,” said Andres. “We need to be at the forefront of the momentum, we need to be out there at all times. It is big for us on and off the ice.”

PHS head coach Terence Miller sees Andres as a big factor for the Little Tigers this winter.

“Jackson is a really strong offensive player, he has size, speed, and hands,” said Miller.

“If we can get him to zone in and focus on his strengths and play to his strengths, he can be a real force. He is out there playing with Brendon on his line, that is a good combination, those two together along with Chris [Munoz] on the wing.”

Miller likes the leadership he is getting from
co-captains Connor
McCormick and Reid.

“They are two hardworking blue collar hockey players, they do things the right way,” said Miller.

“I named them captain and they have embraced the leadership role well. John Reid has even opted to go back and play some defense for us when we need it so they are always willing to do what is necessary for the team to win. They just set a good precedent and a good example for the younger guys. They are quiet, strong leaders by example and that goes a long way for us.”

In the win over WW/P-S, the Little Tigers seized control of the game by scoring two goals in the first four minutes of the third period to build a 5-2 lead.

“I like the way we started out third period,” said Miller, whose team lost 5-2 at Cranford last Monday to move to 4-2.

“We had a minute left on our power play, we regrouped and came out and buried one early. We were able to create a little separation there.”

While the Little Tigers are a little inexperienced on defense as they feature sophomore defensemen Tooker Callaway, Eamonn McDonald, and Anthony Trainor along with freshman Max Garlock and sophomore goalie Sawyer Peck, Miller believes that group will emerge as a strength for the squad.

“We are young on the back end,” said Miller, whose team faces Hopewell Valley on December 17 at Mercer County Park and then hosts Westfield on December 19 at Baker Rink.

“We feel like as the season goes on, we always improve. We are not at our best in the beginning but hopefully we build up at the end, playing a little stronger. We emphasize defense first. We have to defend first and then get the chances going forward and the power play. Defensive discipline is really key for us.”

Andres, for his part, believes PHS has the pieces to be a strong team by the time it gets into postseason play.

“I feel like we are a little bit deeper than we usually are which is nice but we still need to work on a lot of things,” said Andres.

“To accomplish the goals, I think some key players really need to step up. I feel that players like Chris Munoz and Nathan Drezner can help us. Justin Joyce is a freshman coming in and scoring goals. Max Garlock is a freshman on defense and is a big surprise, it is awesome to have him.”

WRIGHT DIRECTION: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Will Wright celebrates after a goal last winter. Last weekend, senior forward Wright tallied a goal and two assists as the Panthers took second at the program’s 45th annual Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational. PDS, who ended the weekend at 1-2-2, hosts the Hun School on December 18.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

WRIGHT DIRECTION: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Will Wright celebrates after a goal last winter. Last weekend, senior forward Wright tallied a goal and two assists as the Panthers took second at the program’s 45th annual Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational. PDS, who ended the weekend at 1-2-2, hosts the Hun School on December 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Will Wright wasn’t quite in synch in the early going this season for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team.

“The first couple of games I started out slow,” said senior forward Wright. “I was playing on the wing and last year I played center. I moved down to the second line to play center and that has helped me a lot because I can control the pace a little bit.”

Wright picked up the pace last weekend as PDS hosted its 45th annual Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational. In an opening round contest against Rye Country Day (N.Y.), Wright tallied a goal and an assist as the Panthers prevailed 5-2 to earn their first victory of the season. A day later, he added an assist as a late PDS rally fell short in a 4-3 loss to Shady Side Academy (Pa.) in the championship game.

In Wright’s view, the Panthers made progress over the weekend as they moved to 1-2-2 on the season.

“I think getting that first win was a good thing,” said Wright. “The ties we had were against two teams that are now in the top 10 teams in the state so it is good to know now we can close it out. The team we played today was a good team and we didn’t have our whole team. It was a good effort.”

Wright was happy with his effort individually in the tournament. “I thought I played well,” said Wright.

“In past years, I was more of a role player and chipped in a couple times but now I am being relied on a lot more to score.”

PDS head coach Scott Bertoli was happy to see Wright and sophomore Keith Asplundh chip in offensively over the weekend.

“The only way that we are going to compete against the better teams is if we get secondary scoring,” said Bertoli, who got two goals and an assist from Asplundh in the tournament. “Will and Keith had tremendous weekends and contributed offensively and we need that.”

Bertoli also liked the way his team competed against Shady Side as it saw a 2-1 lead turn into a 4-2 deficit after the visitors scored three goals during a 1:24 span in the second period.

“What I love about it is that fact that we responded; they got three goals, bang, bang, bang and then we take control the last three minutes and we make it a 4-3 game and the kids are feeling good about themselves,” said Bertoli, who felt good about the play of senior Harrison Latham, who got the third goal for PDS in the final and was later named the PDS recipient of the Christopher Reeve Sportsmanship Award at the tournament.

“We came into the locker room and we made a few adjustments. I just told them there is no question that they are the better team, they are bigger and stronger and faster but it doesn’t mean they have to win. You go out there and you execute and you play and you look for a bounce and you play good defensive hockey, you can keep yourself in the game and I think we did that.”

While PDS didn’t pull out the game on Saturday, Bertoli sees good things ahead for his young squad which only has three seniors and four juniors.

“I think it is growing pains; it is always going to go in cycles like this,” said Bertoli.

“Every program is going to go through it. You just hope that your lows  aren’t that low and I don’t think that they are going to be with this group because I think they are talented, they are motivated, and I think they genuinely enjoy each other and playing for the school. They are highly motivated and they play at a very high competitive level. They are smart enough to recognize that they will make some mistakes and they will learn from them and move on.”

Wright, for his part, believes the Panthers are moving in the right direction. “All the freshmen are really good players and I think we are just beginning to get the system down and you see that progression throughout our games,” said Wright.

“Once we perfect the system, which I would guess is four or five games away, I think we will be a really good team.”

ENERGY BOOST: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Anna Williams heads up the ice in recent action. Senior forward ­Williams has provided the Panthers with an infusion of energy as she has returned to the team after not playing last season. Last weekend, Williams was the PDS recipient of the Christopher Reeve Sportsmanship Award at the program’s annual Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational as the Panthers placed second. PDS, now 3-3, hosts Princeton High on December 17.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ENERGY BOOST: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Anna Williams heads up the ice in recent action. Senior forward ­Williams has provided the Panthers with an infusion of energy as she has returned to the team after not playing last season. Last weekend, Williams was the PDS recipient of the Christopher Reeve Sportsmanship Award at the program’s annual Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational as the Panthers placed second. PDS, now 3-3, hosts Princeton High on December 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

There was no shortage of drama as the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team hosted its annual Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational last weekend.

In the opening round on Saturday, PDS battled the N.J. Colonials U16 Tier 2 team to a 1-1 tie through regulation and overtime. The Panthers prevailed in the ensuing shootout as sophomore Kiely French and freshman Malia Leveson each found the back of the net while PDS sophomore goalie Annika Asplundh held the Colonials scoreless.

A day later in the title game, PDS found itself locked in a 0-0 stalemate with Rye Country Day (N.Y.) through two periods. Rye scored midway through the third period and held off several charges by the Panthers to earn a 1-0 victory and the championship.

While PDS head coach Lorna Cook was disappointed that her team didn’t come away with the crown, she saw plenty of progress.

“It was good to have two challenging games; both teams that we played used their points a lot so it was good,” said Cook, whose team moved to 3-3 with the loss to Rye.

“I thought as the game went on today our wingers did a much better job of  getting out there to challenge those shots. They did a good job of reading when to get on the boards for the breakout.”

Although Cook was encouraged to see the Panthers outshoot Rye 27-23, she acknowledged that the finishing has to be sharper.

“Obviously we need to find a way to get more pucks to the net,” said Cook. “We certainly got chances today. We had more opportunities than they did. We have to capitalize early before we start getting tired. We have got to work our shots from outside and crashing in on rebounds and burying those chances.”

PDS has been getting good work along the blue line from Leveson and French.

“We have challenged Malia and Kiely by having them each be a regular defenseman,” said Cook.

“I think with each game they are getting more comfortable with what that means. They are doing a great job in our own zone, covering in front, making sure that they are winning battles in the corners. They just need to find that balance with the offensive push and the defense.”

Sophomore goalie Annika Asplundh has been the backbone of the PDS defense.

“I think she has definitely been stronger at just being able to control rebounds, especially on the different velocities of shots that she is getting,” said Cook of Asplundh, who made 22 saves in the loss to Rye.

“She is seeing the pucks that are coming in low better. We saw in the shootout yesterday, she came up huge for us. The goal today was not her fault.”

While PDS didn’t achieve its goal of winning the tournament for a second year in a row, last weekend’s drama should lead to better performances down the road.

“The tough losses help you become a better team and get a little bit stronger mentally,” said Cook, whose team hosts Princeton High on December 17.

“You get a little more momentum, a little bit more motivated. I am never really concerned with the record, I am more concerned with where we are headed.”

DIESEL POWER: Hun School boys’ hockey goalie Diesel Pelke tracks the puck in recent action. Last Friday, junior Pelke made 31 saves as Hun skated to a 1-1 tie with Calvert Hall (Md.) The Raiders, now 5-0-1, play at Princeton Day School on December 18.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DIESEL POWER: Hun School boys’ hockey goalie Diesel Pelke tracks the puck in recent action. Last Friday, junior Pelke made 31 saves as Hun skated to a 1-1 tie with Calvert Hall (Md.) The Raiders, now 5-0-1, play at Princeton Day School on December 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Over the last four years, goalie Devin Cheifetz was a constant for the Hun School boys’ hockey team.

Starting from day one as a freshman in the 2010-11 season, Cheifetz’s brilliance in goal helped Hun turn the corner on the way to winning Independence Hockey League (IHL) titles in 2013 and 2014 along with the Mercer County Tournament in 2014.

With Cheifetz graduating last spring, Diesel Pelke transferred from Lawrence High to take over between the pipes.

Based on the early returns, it appears that Hun has another star goalie to serve as the foundation for a championship run.

Despite the absence of star forward Evan Barratt, who is sidelined until January with a leg injury, the Raiders have produced a 5-0-1 start.

Pelke has been giving up less than two goals a game, posting a 1-0 shutout in overtime against LaSalle last Wednesday and then making 31 saves in a 1-1 tie with Calvert Hall (Md.) last Friday.

For Pelke, succeeding Cheifetz did pose a challenge. “Those are big shoes to fill,” said the 5’9, 195-pound Pelke. “I felt a little bit of pressure.”

Against Calvert Hall, Pelke withstood a lot of pressure, coming up big repeatedly, particularly in the second period when Calvert Hall generated several good scoring opportunities.

“I thought I was doing pretty good, I was coming off of a shutout against LaSalle,” said Pelke. “They had a little more pressure on us in the second but we still kept them out.”

Pelke did yield a goal with 1:19 left in regulation as Calvert Hall found the back of the net after producing a flurry of chances. “It was just a bad bounce, we couldn’t get it out,” said Pelke.

While Pelke was disappointed with the tie, he thought the experience would benefit the Raiders in the long run.

“I think it helps us for the playoffs when it gets closer and we are playing better teams,” said Pelke.

Off the ice, Pelke has fit in nicely, helped by a familiarity with the Hun community. “The transition is great, I had a lot of friends coming into the school,” said Pelke.

Hun head coach Ian McNally sees Pelke as a great addition to the program.

“He has been an incredible rock for us,” said McNally. “They had 30 chances tonight and he played great against LaSalle. He is just always in the right place. He is not flashy. We talk in the room about what to do with the rebounds because you know it is not going to go in and we need to make sure that we are the next one to touch the puck. He has been a big reason we have the record that we have.”

Sophomore forward Jon Bendorf has stepped up in the absence of Barratt.

“This happened twice last year where he was without his running mate in Evan and he was able to dial it up on his own,” said McNally of Bendorf, who scored the winning goal against LaSalle and assisted on Frankie Vitucci’s tally against Calvert Hall.

“When he is with Blake (Brown) and Evan, we talk about the three of them as a package. When he is on his own, he can dominate a shift. There were times today where he had the puck for 30 seconds in a row, nobody can hit him, nobody can get it from him.”

On the blue line, 6’3, 185-pound Bobby Wurster has been giving Hun some dominant play.

“Bobby Wurster has been awesome in the back,” said McNally. “He plays the bulk of the game. Same as Diesel, if we didn’t have Bobby, these games would be a much different story. He has been great.”

Senior transfer Brayden Stasow, a native of Alberta, Canada, has been impacting games for the Raiders.

“He is the kind of kid who is not going to score the most goals and he is not going to do something extremely fancy that will catch attention,” said McNally.

“But if you watch him the whole shift, he is very impressive. He is always around the puck. He is small but he will play physical to get the puck. He does the little things very well and complements some of our offensive guys nicely because they have the ability to go finish because Brayden goes and gets the puck. He always seems to be in the right place.”

Hun’s impressive start has raised the bar for the program and what it can accomplish this winter.

“The expectations grow a little bit which is great,” said McNally, whose team plays at Princeton Day School on December 18.

“We didn’t know what we were coming into the season because we changed our schedule and we are missing a pretty big piece for being able to play those teams that we scheduled. We really weren’t sure how these first two months would play out. What we have learned is that we can play with everybody and we should expect to win and go in with that sort of confidence. We have learned that we are no longer building towards something, we are here and it is time to go ahead and play with everybody.”

Pelke, for his part, believes that the team has built a special camaraderie which has helped it play with confidence.

“We are close on this team, everyone likes each other,” said Pelke. “I think seeing each other in school a lot is a big part of it, that helps us have a good relationship on and off the ice.”

COMING AROUND: Hun School boys’ basketball player Eric Williams bounces a pass around a foe in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior guard Williams tallied 16 points in a losing cause as Hun fell 73-59 to powerful St. Benedict’s. Over the weekend, Williams averaged 10 points a game as Hun went 1-2 at the Peddie School Invitational Tournament, taking fourth place at the annual event. In upcoming action, the Raiders, now 3-4, face Trenton Catholic on December 20 in the Boys Club and Girls Club of Trenton event and then play Linden High in the Tip Off Classic on December 21.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

COMING AROUND: Hun School boys’ basketball player Eric Williams bounces a pass around a foe in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior guard Williams tallied 16 points in a losing cause as Hun fell 73-59 to powerful St. Benedict’s. Over the weekend, Williams averaged 10 points a game as Hun went 1-2 at the Peddie School Invitational Tournament, taking fourth place at the annual event. In upcoming action, the Raiders, now 3-4, face Trenton Catholic on December 20 in the Boys Club and Girls Club of Trenton event and then play Linden High in the Tip Off Classic on December 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Hun School boys’ basketball team trailing St. Benedict’s 7-0 midway through the first quarter last Wednesday, Eric Williams decided to take matters into his hands.

“I knew it was going to be a big game and I knew my team was going to need me to knock down big shots,” said Hun senior guard Williams.

“So when I saw we got down seven in the first quarter then I just said hey I have got to make something happen.”

Williams did just that, draining a long three-pointer from the corner and getting fouled in the process and turning it into a four-point play after making the free throw.

“As soon as I let it go, it felt good, that is when I just knew,” said Williams, recalling the shot.

Catching fire, Williams proceeded to hit four more threes in the first half to tally 16 points and keep the Raiders in the game as they trailed 42-29 at intermission.

“It has got to go in,” said Williams, reflecting on his hot shooting. “I believe it is going to go in, my team believes it is going to go in and I think at some point even the fans believe it is going to go in.”

After the break, Hun out scored the Gray Bees 20-15 in the third quarter to narrow the gap to 57-49 heading into the final eight minutes of regulation. The Raiders closed to within 58-52 early in the fourth but could get no closer as St. Benedict’s pulled away to a 73-59 victory.

“I thought we were going to come back and take the lead and try to sustain it,” said Williams. “I guess at some point, transition defense played a big role so then we didn’t get back on defense and they just outran us. It is not that they played tougher or harder than us, they just outran us.”

Despite the setback, Williams saw progress as Hun battled to the final whistle.

“We started communicating more as a team,” said Williams. “We made sure we got back on defense, the total opposite of what we did in the first half. It is a big turnaround from the past three games we played. This is, by far, one of the toughest teams we have played but there is no doubt in my mind that we can beat them.”

Over the last four years, Williams has worked on turning himself into a more complete player.

“I came in as a freshman and all I wanted to do was shoot,” said the 6’1, 190-pound Williams.

“Then after playing with a few guys like Myles Melville, Fergus Duke, and Hashim Moore, they showed me that it is easy to defend somebody who is just looking to shoot so you have to learn how to move around. I started watching tape on Ray Allen and Reggie Miller and I saw how they were constantly moving. That is what I tried to get into my game and by me moving, it gets other people moving.”

Hun head coach Jon Stone liked the way his team got back in the game against St. Benedict’s after falling behind early.

“I was proud of them, some of the things we talked about improving on from the first half to the second half we did,” said Stone.

“The downside is that we can’t afford to make the mistakes we were making in the second half but we were only down six with about five minutes to go. We also had three or four good shots in that stretch that just didn’t go. A couple of those drop and things are a little different.”

Stone is proud of how Williams has developed over his time at Hun. “He has taken his game to the next level; he is a great kid, a great leader, and a great player,” asserted Stone.

“I just think that in every facet he has stepped up. I think he has really taken his leadership role seriously. He is really growing in terms in his ability to take charge and his ability to compete. He knows that it is his senior year and it is his time.”

Hun had other players step up in the loss to St. Benedict’s as senior Kyle Borden chipped in 14 points with junior Austin Harriott and senior Dominic Robb adding 10 apiece and junior Niall Carpenter contributing seven points off the bench.

“Niall and Robb were really good; they have the ability to really help this team,” said Stone, whose team went 1-2 at the Peddie School Invitational Tournament last weekend, taking fourth place at the annual event.

“When Borden catches fire and gets his feet set, he is really, really good. There is no question that he can get us going. I think Austin Harriott getting in foul trouble in the first half really hurt us; it helped getting him back in and giving us a little push.”

With the Raiders off to a 3-4 start, Stone believes the team is going in the right direction.

“We just have to grow from it, every game that we play,” said Stone, who will be looking for more growth as his squad faces Trenton Catholic on December 20 in the Boys Club and Girls Club of Trenton event and then plays Linden High in the Tip Off Classic on December 21.

“We have to take the good and the bad and move on. It is always a work in progress. I do think that in the first four games we have improved. The goal is you improve after every single game and I think we have. So if we can keep improving, I think we are going to be alright. I think we just need more consistency in a lot of different things at both ends of the floor. There are some mental things on the offensive end and some more physical, more aggressive things on the defensive end.”

Williams, for his part, is hoping to end his Hun career by helping the program do some big things.

“My biggest thing this year is I want to win by any means necessary,” said Williams.

“I am trying to make Hun even more known than it already is. I want to win the MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) tournament again. We won it my sophomore year and I want it again going out. I also want to win states.”

December 10, 2014

After producing a dominant campaign in 2013-14 as it won county and sectional titles and fell just a few points short of a state title and an undefeated season, the Princeton High boys’ swimming team will have a new look this winter.

The program lost such stars as Pete Kalibat, Scott MacKenzie, Matt Purdy, Avery Soong, Will Stange, and Colburn Yu to graduation.

In addition, longtime head coach Greg Hand retired and has been succeeded by Carly Misiewicz.

But as it hosted Hopewell Valley last week in its season opener, things looked familiar as PHS rolled to a 107-62 victory over the Bulldogs.

“I think overall the guys performed great,” said Misiewicz. “You are not sure who the other team has at the beginning of the season. Today’s performance all the way through was great swims.”

Two of PHS’s new faces, freshmen Oliver Hunsbedt and Grant Ding, came up big in their debut as Hunsbedt placed first in both the 100 and 200 freestyle while Ding won the 500 free.

“There were a lot of freshmen who I have seen their times and what they have done in practice but they really surprised me today. Oliver Hunsbedt had a 1:55 in the 200 free and and a 52.1 in the 100 free. Grant Ding had a 5:20 in the 500 free.

The team’s veterans also produced some superb performances as sophomore Gabe Bar-Cohen won the 100 breaststroke  and took second in the 200 individual medley while junior Christian Chiang won the 100 butterfly and took second in the 100 breast. Senior Alex Petruso placed second in the both the 200 free and 100 backstroke with sophomore Will Kinney taking second in the 50 free and senior Take Numata finished second in the 100 free.

“There are definitely some big shoes to fill, I am feeling a lot of it especially from the juniors and the seniors,” said Misiewicz, “We know who graduated last year and they know what shoes they need to fill and where they need to step up.”

Misiewicz has big shoes to fill herself in succeeding Hand, who built the PHS swimming program into a perennial power, guiding the boys’ team to seven county crowns, 12 sectional titles, five appearances in the state finals, and a New Jersey Public B championship in 2012.

“He has been great, if I have any questions, he helps me,” said Misiewicz, a former Rider University swimming star who was an assistant coach for PHS last year.

“He has given me practices that he has done before, saying here is a schedule, do what you want to do but here is this as well if you want it. He gave me all of his resources and he is still such a great mentor. I look up to him so much and I can only hope to be the coach that he is someday.”

With her recent experience of competing at the Division I level, Misiewicz has incorporated some new wrinkles into the PHS training regimen.

“We have changed our dryland a little bit, stepping it up a notch,” said Misiewicz, who started swimming at age 4 and was competing year-round by age 8.

“We are doing medicine balls, we are using the combat ropes, the big, thick ropes. We do abs, weighted lunges, weighted squats for just a half-hour or 45 minutes, before or after practice.”

But despite the input from Hand and her background, Misiewicz still had plenty of butterflies for the opener.

“It was the whole first meet jitters, all day it was all I kept thinking about,” said Misiewicz.

“It was OK, is the lineup ready, is this ready, is that ready so when I came here, everything was already done,” said Misiewicz.

“So then it was thinking are they ready, have we done everything in practice to get them ready to this point, the relay starts, the technique, the turns, and the endurance. A lot of kids really haven’t swam since last February or March.”

The kids have helped Misiewicz keep things on track. “They are taking charge, getting everyone positive and in the right mindset,” said Misiewicz, whose team topped Trenton 129-39 last Thursday and will host WW/P-N on December 16.

“I have been talking with a lot of the club swimmers about this season once the school year started. They had a running joke that we are going to set the practice lineup for the end of the season already and I said you guys don’t even know who we have and who is coming out. We just want to see what holes we have to fill and what we can really do. That was just great.”

MAIN THRUST: Princeton High girls’ swimming star Brianna Romaine displays her backstroke form in a race last winter. Junior Romaine got her 2014-15 campaign off to a good start, winning both the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke as PHS rolled to a 125-45 win over Hopewell Valley in the season opener on December 2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAIN THRUST: Princeton High girls’ swimming star Brianna Romaine displays her backstroke form in a race last winter. Junior Romaine got her 2014-15 campaign off to a good start, winning both the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke as PHS rolled to a 125-45 win over Hopewell Valley in the season opener on December 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Carly Misiewicz takes the helm of the Princeton High girls’ swimming team, she knows there are plenty of resources at her disposal.

Starting with a quartet of junior stars Brianna Romaine and Maddie Deardorff together with sophomore Melinda Tang and precocious freshman Abbey Berloco, PHS boasts some high quality performers.

“You can’t beat it, a sprinter (Romaine) and a distance swimmer (Deardorff) and Melinda Tang in the mix; she can do anything,” said Misiewicz, the successor to longtime PHS head coach Greg Hand, who retired last June.

“Abbey Berloco can do anything as well. So those four girls are frontrunners across the board. We lost a couple of girls but we returned almost everybody so we are definitely looking really good.”

Last week in its season opener against Hopewell Valley, PHS looked really, really good, rolling to a 125-45 win over the Bulldogs.

Victors for the Little Tigers in the December 2 meet included Tang in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly, Deardorff in the 200 individual medley and 500 free, Berloco in the 50 free, along with Romaine in the 200 free and 100 backstroke.

Berloco lived up to advance notices in a big way. “Abbey set the 50 free record today by .11 (24.58) so that was a great swim,” said Misiewicz, a former standout swimmer at Rider University who joined the PHS program last year as an assistant coach. “I heard all of this talk last year about her and that we have a great swimmer coming up.”

PHS is getting some great leadership from its core of veterans which includes seniors Hannah Ash, Jessica Bai, Lopa Krishnan, and Stephanie Tam along with junior standouts Romaine and Deardorff.

“The juniors and seniors are really stepping it up as well as far as leadership roles and taking charge of the team,” said Misiewicz, whose team hosts WW/P-N on December 16.

“They were getting the freshmen and letting them know what a meet is like, getting in the water and warming up. It’s nice that I can trust them. I can do the things that I need to do before meets and get things ready and they will do what they need to do to get the team in the water and get them ready, pumped, and excited.”

OPENING SALVO: Princeton High girls’ hockey star Lucy ­Herring heads up the ice in action last winter. On Monday, senior forward Herring chipped in a goal and three assists as PHS topped Pingry 5-3 in its season opener. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers play at Summit High on December 10, at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on December 15, and at Morristown-Beard on December 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OPENING SALVO: Princeton High girls’ hockey star Lucy ­Herring heads up the ice in action last winter. On Monday, senior forward Herring chipped in a goal and three assists as PHS topped Pingry 5-3 in its season opener. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers play at Summit High on December 10, at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on December 15, and at Morristown-Beard on December 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

There is a heightened sense of urgency surrounding the Princeton High girls’ hockey team as it heads into the 2014-15 season.

“These girls are putting pressure on themselves; we have eight seniors and they feel this is the year,” said head coach Christian Herzog, whose team posted a 2-11 record last winter.

“This is their last chance. It is carpe diem, seize the day. There is a general upbeat spirit around the team, they are willing to work harder and push through things. It is a whole different mentality.”

On offense, the combination of the Herring sisters, senior Lucy and sophomore Maggie, together with senior Campbell McDonald, who has returned to the team after a hiatus from hockey, gives PHS an attacking mentality.

“We have a 1-2 punch with the Herrings, I have them on line with Campbell; there is really good chemistry,” said Herzog, whose team posted a 5-3 win over Pingry last Monday in its season opener as Maggie Herring led the charge with three goals and two assists with sister Lucy adding a goal and three assists and McDonald chipping in a goal and two assists.

“McDonald is looking surprisingly good, she is still in shape from field hockey. Her stick skills are there, it is like riding a bicycle. Lucy looks good. Maggie has improved a lot; she has speed, she has a shot.”

The Little Tigers boast depth on offense as Herzog will be able to roll out two other lines to back up his top trio.

“The second line is Ann Daly at right wing with Isabel Sohn at center,” said Herzog. “Izzy can run and gun with the others, I could have her on the first line but I want to spread things out. Sophie Corrodi is on the left wing. The third line is Stephanie Ren, Marian Hancock-Cerutti, and Jordan Cane.”

Along the blue line, PHS features two battle-tested seniors in Julia DiTosto and Britney Coniglione along with talented junior Allie Callaway, who is back from an injury which sidelined her last year, and promising freshman Alexa Zammit.

“Julia is looking good; I have her with Zammit,” said Herzog in assessing his defensive unit. “Allie is ready to go; she is a finisher. It is good to have a defenseman like that who gets involved in the offense. I have her with Coniglione.”

In Herzog’s view, junior goalie Callie Urisko is ready to have a big year. “Urisko has improved, it is like night and day,” said Herzog of Urisko, who made 20 saves in the victory over Pingry. “Her general movement is a lot better.”

All in all, PHS appears primed to show major improvement collectively this winter.

“Last year we went into some games just looking to prevent a blowout,” said Herzog, whose team plays at Summit High on December 10, at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on December 15, and at Morristown-Beard on December 16. “This is a talented group. They feel like they can skate with every team.”

IN PLAY: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Josiah Meekins dribbles the ball in a game last winter. Senior guard Meekins figures to be a key performer for the PDS in his final campaign. The Panthers get their 2014-15 season underway this week as they were slated to host Conwell Egan (Pa.) on December 9, Pennington on December 11 and  Solebury School (Pa.) on December 15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN PLAY: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Josiah Meekins dribbles the ball in a game last winter. Senior guard Meekins figures to be a key performer for the PDS in his final campaign. The Panthers get their 2014-15 season underway this week as they were slated to host Conwell Egan (Pa.) on December 9, Pennington on December 11 and Solebury School (Pa.) on December 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With just three players returning from last year’s squad, the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team will have a new look this winter by necessity.

“It is a fresh start, it is a good opportunity for young guys, not just in age but in basketball experience, to play at the varsity level,” said PDS head coach Paris McLean, who guided the Panthers to a 9-14 record in 2013-14. “There is optimism, excitement, and some nervousness.”

McLean is excited about his backcourt tandem of sophomore Chase Lewis and senior Josiah Meekins, who do bring plenty of varsity experience to the table.

“Chase has improved a great deal, he is taller and stronger,” said McLean, whose team gets regular season play underway this week as it was slated to host Conwell Egan (Pa.) on December 9, Pennington on December 11, and  Solebury School (Pa.) on December 15.

“He has worked on his game, his outside shot is better. His ballhandling has always been good, he has the ability to get to the rim. He will play multiple positions for us this year. He will bring the ball up the court for us and also be the off guard sometimes. He is our most seasoned player in terms of minutes, which is unusual for a sophomore. We will be looking to Josiah to play a bigger role, we will rely on him to play multiple positions too. He has a strong body and can help us in the post.”

The Panthers have multiple options in the backcourt with a trio of sophomores, Hassan Ladiwala, Mark Washington, and Paul Franzoni.

“We are a guard-heavy team,” said McLean. “Hassan, Washington and Franzoni are all sophomores, that bodes well for the future. They are kids that will come in and eat up minutes. We have talked to them about that. There are a total of 160 minutes available in a game and are you going to be a 10-minute guy, a 15-minute guy, or a 25-minute guy.”

The key guy in the paint for the Panthers will be senior J.P. Radvany, a Villanova-bound baseball star.

“J.P. is looking good, he is a strong, lean guy at 6’4 and 195 pounds,” said McLean.

“He has a great presence inside. We will be relying on him to defend and rebound and put in shots close to the basket. He is a great glue guy; he brings that commitment to work ethic and athletics.”

Helping Radvany inside will be Meekins, junior James Fragale, freshman Nick Darenkov, senior Cody Meagher, senior Zaire Mitchell, and senior Rob Hoffman.

“Josiah and James Fragale will see time in the post,” said McLean. “Nick Darenkov is every inch of 6’4. We don’t have a small team; Cody, Zaire, and Robby are all 6’2. We have made great strides in practice and I think we will continue to develop as the season goes on.”

McLean believes the Panthers can develop into a competitive squad by the time postseason play comes around.

“It might be tough for us early on, Conwell, Egan, and Pennington will be two of the toughest teams we play,” said McLean.

“I think we will play our best basketball in February and that is all a coach can ask. There is a lot of room for growth. The attitude in practice has been outstanding. Consistent with other teams we have had, this is a group of great kids who want to learn and get better.”