March 4, 2015
FINAL CHAPTER: Princeton High boys’ hockey player John Reid heads up the ice in action this season. Last week, senior star and captain Reid chipped in a goal and an assist as 25th-seeded PHS fell 7-4 at eighth-seeded Middletown South in the opening round of the state Public B boys’ hockey tournament. The defeat in the February 24 contest left the Little Tigers with a final record of 10-10-2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FINAL CHAPTER: Princeton High boys’ hockey player John Reid heads up the ice in action this season. Last week, senior star and captain Reid chipped in a goal and an assist as 25th-seeded PHS fell 7-4 at eighth-seeded Middletown South in the opening round of the state Public B boys’ hockey tournament. The defeat in the February 24 contest left the Little Tigers with a final record of 10-10-2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Trailing eighth-seeded Middletown South 4-2 heading into the third period in the opening round of the state Public B boys’ hockey tournament, 25th-seeded Princeton High wasn’t about to go out without a fight.

Scoring two unanswered goals to start the period, PHS turned the game into a 4-4 nailbiter.

“We gave them a run, we tied them in the third,” said Little Tigers head coach Terence Miller, noting that the game-tying goal came on a backdoor play involving the McCormick brothers, sophomore Brendon and senior Connor. “Once we got it to 4-4 we created a lot of chances and were playing well.”

PHS, though, couldn’t close the deal as Middletown South pulled away to a 7-4 victory in the February 24 contest.

“We had a tough turnover in the back end and they made it 5-4,” recalled Miller, whose team ended the season with a 10-10-2 record. “We pulled the goalie and they got two empty net goals.”

Miller wasn’t surprised that his team fought to the end. “We usually come to play and rise to the occasion,” said Miller. “That is the MO of this team; we can give anyone a game. We showed that Princeton High grit and determination to do well in playoffs. The flip side of that is that when we didn’t come to play this year, we could lose to anyone. We are not a team that can steamroller people.”

In reflecting on the season, Miller acknowledged that it wasn’t a smooth ride.

“It was an interesting year; it was a challenging season,” said Miller. “We started well and then had a lull around the holidays. We lost some tough games to Cranford, HoVal, and Westfield. We managed to right the ship, we had a nice run into the counties.”

Miller credited senior co-captains John Reid (11 goals and 27 assists in 2014-15) and Connor McCormick (19 goals, 17 assists) with keeping the Little Tigers headed in the right direction.

“John and Connor were great leaders all year; they are good kids,” said Miller.

“They are really hockey guys; hockey is their passion. They are not rah rah holler guys but team success means a lot to them.”

The team’s other seniors, Chris Munoz (6 goals, 6 assists), Nick Palmer (4 goals, 3 assists), Becket Tovar (1 goal, 3 assists), Aidan Bitterman (2 goals), and backup goalie Joe Hawes (an 0.891 save percentage with 7 goals against) played a role in the team’s success.

“The seniors are a good group,” said Miller, whose team advanced to the county semifinals. “Even the guys who didn’t get a lot of playing time and weren’t scoring the goals still had their hearts in it. They were all in it for the right reasons; they wanted to have a good senior year.”

The future looks good for PHS with such returning players as sophomore starting goalie Sawyer Peck (an 0.828 save percentage and 72 goals against), sophomore defenseman Tooker Callaway (3 goals, 12 assists), sophomore defenseman Eamonn McDonald (3 goals, 11 assists), freshman defenseman Max Garlock (1 goal, 1 assist), sophomore forward Brendon McCormick (30 goals, 21 assists), junior forward Nathan Drezner (6 goals, 5 assists), and freshman forward Justin Joyce (7 goals, 4 assists).

“There is a good foundation; we have a good mix of younger guys,” said Miller.

“The guys got a lot of experience. We have three sophomores and a freshman on the back end. Brendon is a terrific player, he had a really good season. The whole group is into it; they want to be successful.”

TRUE BRITT: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Brittney ­Coniglione skates up the ice in a game this season. Senior defenseman and assistant captain Coniglione helped PHS win the  ‘B’ bracket at the WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) tournament. The Little Tigers finished the winter with a 7-8 record, more than tripling their win total from 2013-14 when they went 2-11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TRUE BRITT: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Brittney ­Coniglione skates up the ice in a game this season. Senior defenseman and assistant captain Coniglione helped PHS win the ‘B’ bracket at the WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) tournament. The Little Tigers finished the winter with a 7-8 record, more than tripling their win total from 2013-14 when they went 2-11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

A major goal for the Princeton High girls’ hockey team this winter was to play hard until the final buzzer of the season.

Wrapping up the season at the WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) tournament, PHS achieved that goal with aplomb, topping Holton Arms (Md.) 6-3 and Pingry 5-3 in its finale to win the league’s ‘B’ bracket.

PHS head coach Christian Herzog was proud of how his team ended the season on a high note.

“That was a productive final weekend,” said Herzog, whose team ended with a final record of 7-8.

“We really wanted to play Holton again; we thought we could have beaten them in the regular season if we had the Herrings (Lucy and Maggie) there. People stepped up and played well. We had confidence going into that Pingry game; we had beaten them twice.”

In the win over Pingry for the B title, the Little Tigers featured a balanced attack with sophomore Maggie Herring tallying two goals and an assist with older sister, senior star Lucy, senior Campbell McDonald, and junior Isabelle Sohn each chipping in a goal and an assist.

“They were psyched,” said Herzog. “We wanted to get a few goals so we would have a little leeway to get some of the others in and we wanted the seniors to end with a win.”

The players were psyched to help the program more than triple its win total from 2013-14 when PHS went 2-11.

“We won as many games this year as in the last three years combined,” said Herzog.

“They are a team that is not going to roll over, even when we are outmatched. No matter the record, what most coaches want is a team that wants to win and puts out their best effort to do so.”

The team’s core of seniors put in a great effort this season, on and off the ice.

“The senior class collectively is an eclectic group; each one contributes to the team dynamic in a positive way,” said Herzog, whose Class of 2015 includes Lucy Herring (10 goals and 15 assists this season), Brittney Coniglione (4 assists), Anne Daly (2 goals, 3 assists), Julia DiTosto (1 assist), Marian Hancock-Cerutti (1 assist), Campbell McDonald (3 goals, 6 assists), and Stephanie Ren.

“Some have more grit and tenacity while some are better communicators, and some are better at leadership. It makes it easier on captains, I don’t have to lean on the captains as much.”

Herzog acknowledges that the graduation of star forward and team captain Lucy Herring will leave a big void for his squad.

“Losing Lucy is going to be a big hit,” said Herzog, noting that she and younger sister Maggie were the high scorers this winter for PHS with 25 points apiece and were named team MVPs “Even when she is not scoring, she is keeping the puck in the offensive zone or defending.”

The seniors earned other honors as Ren and junior Sophie Corrodi were named to the WIHLMA All-Academic first team. DiTosto was the recipient of the program’s Head, Heart and Hustle award while Corrodi got the captain’s award for stepping up and being a leader and improving so much from the year before. Conglione won the team’s sportsmanship award.

Junior goalie Callie Urisko was cited as the program’s most improved player while junior forward Sohn was a WIHLMA All-Academic honorable mention choice and received the Harry Rulon-Miller WIHLMA sportsmanship award. Junior defenseman Allie Callaway was an All-WIHLMA honorable mention choice and the recipient of the program coach’s award.

In Herzog’s view, his veteran players have helped perpetuate the special spirit around the program.

“One thing I like is they see the value in recurrent things; the head, heart, and hustle cheer started before they got here but they keep it alive,” added Herzog.

“They are into maintaining program traditions like the second to last practice where they all dress funny. The team camaraderie doesn’t happen without the seniors. Most of the coaches and the refs say we have the most boisterous team with girls cheering on their teammates. It is a real positive environment.”

Things look positive going forward as PHS returns such standouts as Maggie Herring (15 goals, 10 assists), Sohn (4 goals, 3 assists), Callaway (7 goals, 7 assists), Urisko (.850 save percentage), Corrodi (3 goals, 1 assist), and freshman defenseman Alexa Zammit (4 goals, 1 assist).

“We have a good foundation,” said Herzog. “We have 11 players returning. We need a little more balance between offense and defense.”

SAVING GRACE: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey goalie Katie Alden makes a save in recent action. Senior co-captain Alden helped PDS post a 9-12-2 record this winter as it advanced to the ‘A’ bracket at the WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) tournament.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SAVING GRACE: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey goalie Katie Alden makes a save in recent action. Senior co-captain Alden helped PDS post a 9-12-2 record this winter as it advanced to the ‘A’ bracket at the WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Katie Alden began playing organized hockey in the fourth grade at the McGraw Rink on the campus of Princeton Day School when she joined the Nassau Hockey League in 2006.

Last month, Alden (this reporter’s daughter) came full circle, taking the ice as the senior goalie for the PDS girls’ hockey team as it hosted Kent Place in its season finale.

For senior captain Alden, finishing her high school career on the rink where she started the game was fitting.

“I am sure a lot of us who live in the area started playing at Nassau,” said Alden. “To start and end your career in the same place is special.”

Over the last four years, Alden has relished her PDS career. “I really enjoyed playing for the PDS Panthers all four years,” said Alden. “I grew in skill and in spirit in my four years here.”

Alden acknowledged that there were some mixed emotions as she and classmates, Sophie Jensen, Sophie Ward, Anna Williams, and Pria Louka were recognized before the finale in the program’s annual Senior Night.

“Ice hockey is my favorite sport so it is sad to have been a part of a team for four years and know that this is your last game with them,” said Alden, who made 22 saves in the contest as PDS fell 3-2 in overtime.

“I spent the most time and effort on hockey. I don’t play for travel teams in other sports. It is a really fun game, it is fast moving. As a goalie, I have the best perspective on the ice. It is similar to being a goalie in field hockey. I like that pressure, I thrive on that pressure.”

Serving as team captain this winter allowed Alden to apply the perspective she gained from helping to lead the PDS field hockey team this fall.

“Coming off the field hockey season where I was a co-captain, I had some good leadership experience,” added Alden, an All-Prep B performer in field hockey and recipient of that program’s Varsity Award.

“Going into the season, I really focused on having fun while also being passionate and focused during game time.”

Alden’s focus was reflected in her performance on the ice this season as she posted a 6-4 record with a 2.00 goals against average and an .887 save percentage.

“I was very happy with my stats this year,” said Alden, who produced a pair of shutouts in wins over Princeton High.

“Coming from my freshman year, I improved my stats each year. I would compare my save percentage from each game the different years. I was always improving. With PHS I don’t think I shut them out both times last year.”

The PDS seniors tried their best to create a happy atmosphere around the team.

“Even though they don’t play travel hockey it is clear that they love the game,” said Alden of her classmates.

“They really have fun when they are out there. They try their best to win battles and generate some offense for us. Sometimes the very serious travel girls get a little too wrapped up in the game, they let the score affect them too much. We have to remind them that it is all a game. We are here to have fun.”

PDS head coach Lorna Cook loves what the team’s Class of 2015 has brought to the program.

“I have been thinking about them a lot and how much fun it has been coaching them and seeing their improvement and growth on and off the ice,” said Cook.

“They were the class that came in with me so they mean a lot. It is a great group. We will miss them a lot, not just on the ice but the personality they brought to the long bus rides and on the bench. They are a fun group; their personalities work together for the team.”

Cook appreciates the effort she got from Alden over the last four years.

“Katie has improved a lot as a goalie, she has gotten better every season,” said Cook of Alden, who received the program’s Varsity Award.

“She was at almost all of the practices and games for the last four years. She gave the commitment level you want to see a player give a team. She has a passion for the game and sets the example for the younger players.”

The two Sophies, as they are known around the program, each received the team’s Coach’s Award and served as assistant captains.

“Sophie J. (2 goals and 4 assists this season) surprised us by how much she improved,” said Cook. “She gained confidence while she was away in Colorado. Sophie Ward (1 assist) has gotten better too, she is a smart player, she knows where to go on the ice. Had she played longer she would have been even better. She loved it and it was great.”

The pair of Williams (1 goal) and Louka (1 goal, 3 assists) got better and better as the season unfolded.

“Anna improved a lot; she could stick handle through people,” said Cook. “She was not shy, she would battle anyone. She doesn’t get penalties, she plays the right way and she plays hard. Pria learned a lot from that attitude. She would battle on the boards and she did what she needed to do on the ice.”

While PDS battled hard to make the ‘A’ bracket at the WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) tournament, Cook acknowledged that the team could have done better than the 9-12-2 mark it posted.

“Obviously with the record, there were a few games that stand out that we should have won, the first and last in particular,” said Cook.

“At the same time, it is a really young team and it’s not bad for them to go through challenges and learn that they have to bring it every day.”

Three of the team’s young players, freshman forward Malia Leveson (11 goals, 10 assists), sophomore defenseman Kristi Serafin (7 goals, 10 assists), and sophomore goalie Annika Asplundh (2.54 goals against average, .920 save percentage), brought it throughout the winter. Serafin and Asplundh earned second-team All-WIHLMA recognition while Leveson was an honorable mention choice.

“It is hard when you are younger to be the leaders on the ice,” said Cook.

“They developed into those roles nicely, they gained a lot of experience that is going to help us for next year. They stood out in every game. Malia and Kristi brought another level of speed. It is not a secret that we were getting outshot in a lot of games and Annika kept us in games. You need a goalie like that.”

The Panthers got needed depth from sophomores Daphne Stanton (3 goals, 2 assists), Ashley Cavuto (9 goals, 12 assists), and Kiely French (8 goals, 5 assists) along with junior Emma Stillwaggon (7 goals, 4 assists).

“Daphne and Ashley improved a lot, the way they approached situations and took charge more,” said Cook.

“Daphne has always been good defensively but she improved offensively and put in some big goals for us. We could feel that coming at the end of last year. Emma and Kiely stepped up and played defense. When you are a natural forward that is not what you want to do but they went into it with a good attitude. They were still effective offensively and they broke up plays and played well in the d-zone.”

Cook is depending on the returning players to step up even more going forward.

“We are trying to up our intensity and take it to another level,” said Cook.

“We need to get physically stronger; we need to keep pushing it forward. We have a solid foundation. We have a lot of good young players, we just need to reach a higher gear.”

Alden, for her part, likes the way the team reached a higher level of unity this winter.

“It has been a great season with these girls,” said Alden, a WIHLMA All-Academic first team honoree who is headed to Bucknell University this fall.

“Coming from different travel teams and different levels, some playing travel hockey and some not playing travel hockey, it is hard to really get on the same page and learn the system but we really got together.”

February 25, 2015
SEEING IT THROUGH: Hun School boys’ hockey senior defenseman Danny Seelagy sends the puck up the ice last Friday as top-seeded Hun defeated No. 2 Notre Dame 4-0 in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. It was the second straight county title for the Raiders. Hun wrapped up the season by competing at the Hill School (Pa.) Mid-Atlantic Hockey Invitational last weekend, topping Princeton Day School 4-2 and Lawrenceville 5-4 before falling 6-4 to the Hoosac School (N.Y.). in the third place game to post a final record of 22-3-4.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SEEING IT THROUGH: Hun School boys’ hockey senior defenseman Danny Seelagy sends the puck up the ice last Friday as top-seeded Hun defeated No. 2 Notre Dame 4-0 in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. It was the second straight county title for the Raiders. Hun wrapped up the season by competing at the Hill School (Pa.) Mid-Atlantic Hockey Invitational last weekend, topping Princeton Day School 4-2 and Lawrenceville 5-4 before falling 6-4 to the Hoosac School (N.Y.). in the third place game to post a final record of 22-3-4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When Danny Seelagy joined the Hun School boys’ hockey program as a freshman in 2011, there were only enough players to fill out a varsity team.

With coach Ian McNally taking the helm that winter, Seelagy was confident that Hun would augment its numbers.

“I had played with Ian since I was a squirt and he has all of these connections so I had a pretty good feeling that he was going to reel a couple of good guys in,” said Seelagy.

Over the last few years, some really good players have come on board as Hun has developed into a powerhouse. This winter, with a deep roster and a flourishing JV program, the Raiders have enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in program history. Hun won the Purple Puck tournament in Washington, D.C. in late December and achieved its first state Prep championship since 1996 earlier this month when it topped Morristown-Beard 5-3 in the title game.

Last Friday, the Raiders added another trophy, topping Notre Dame 4-0 in the Mercer County Tournament championship game to earn its second straight county crown.

Hun’s depth was on display Friday as it overcame a powerful Notre Dame team without sophomore stars Evan Barratt and Jon Bendorf, two of the team’s most potent offensive threats who were away competing in a club hockey competition.

Coming into the contest, Seelagy and his teammates on hand were confident that they could rise to the occasion despite the absence of Barratt and Bendorf.

“We weren’t really worried about that because Evan has been hurt, he broke his knee at the beginning of the season and we have always been playing without him,” said Seelagy.

“That was a setback in the very beginning but I think we did pretty well without him. Missing Bendy had us a little bit nervous at first. I think it was fine overall; I think that we knew that we were going to win.”

The top-seeded Raiders didn’t waste any time seizing momentum against the second-seeded Irish, jumping out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Nick Ashcroft 54 seconds into the contest.

“That was huge, especially for us, because we are usually a third period kind of team,” said Seelagy. “Getting that first goal really helped us out.”

The defense took over from there, stifling Notre Dame, highlighted by killing off two 5-on-3’s in a vital stretch early in the second period.

“We stuck to our game plan, we weren’t trying to change anything since  everything has been working out for us,” added Seelagy.

The work of Seelagy and classmate Chris Rossi on defense has been a constant for Hun over the last four years.

“Chris Rossi and I are the only two seniors to be here since freshman year so we have always been playing together a while,” said Seelagy, an assistant captain for the Raiders along with Bobby Wurster with Rossi serving as the captain.

“I think we are really good teammates, especially when we play together. because we have known each other so long. He just plays amazing.”

Seelagy has gotten really good over the course of his Hun career.

“I think I have improved every single year,” said Seelagy, who was named the Hun recipient of the MCT’s Scott Bertoli Sportsmanship Award. “My coach came up to me one practice and said I think this is the best year you have ever had so that was huge for me. He loves me because me of my speed.”

Hun head coach McNally, for his part, believed that getting the first goal was huge for the Raiders.

“I know a lot of these guys at Notre Dame; I think if they get up a goal, they get pretty fired up,” said McNally.

“They have guys that have the ability to break the game open so for us to get up first, it was a statement of it doesn’t matter who is here, we are going to keep scoring and get the job done so that was good.”

With Barratt and Bendorf missing, it was critical for the Hun defense to do a very good job.

“We just had to; we pulled Tanner (Preston) and Bobby (Wurster) aside and said you guys have to be the best two players in this game because we won’t have the puck for two-thirds of the game like we usually do,” said McNally.

“They were great as was Chris (Rossi), Danny, and Griffin (Moroney), all five of them that we rolled pretty much. They were good because they had to be, you know that is going to happen when you are missing Jon and Evan, somebody else is going to step up.”

McNally likes the way Seelagy has stepped up in his final campaign for the Raiders.

“Danny stopped playing fall hockey a couple of years ago,” said McNally, noting that Seelagy plays for the Hun football team in the fall.

“I told him earlier I would hate to see what would happen if you played fall hockey; throughout the whole season he gets better. He is awesome; he got the sportsmanship award and he is a captain. He is totally deserving.”

Hun got some awesome play in the MCT from junior goalie Diesel Pelke, who was named the MVP of the tournament.

“They had two or three flurries; sometimes you worry when a goalie makes a save that he may not see what is going on but Diesel tracked the puck every where, up in the air, batting it out with his blocker and all over the place,” said McNally of Pelke, who didn’t give up a goal in the tournament and had 30 saves in the shutout of the Irish.

“He is just so calm; he is in the right spot and makes the save. There is no flair to it, he was awesome. If they score a goal in the first period, that kind of changes the game so that was big.”

In McNally’s view, a key factor in Hun’s success this winter has been the talent throughout the roster.

“The story of us is depth, regardless of who is here we still play the exact same way,” said McNally, whose team competed at the Hill School (Pa.) Mid-Atlantic Hockey Invitational last weekend, topping Princeton Day School 4-2 and Lawrenceville 5-4 before falling 6-4 to the Hoosac School (N.Y.). in the third place game to end the season with a 22-3-4 record.

“Sometimes when you don’t have guys, you have to change the strategy and things like that. Going into every big game, we had to change the lines and whoever it was got it done. Sometimes it was the defense, sometimes it was the big guns and sometimes it was the third line. It is nice to be able to keep the same strategy; it is easy on me.”

Seelagy, for his part, credits an easy going approach off the ice with giving the team a winning chemistry to go with its depth.

“This team is special because we don’t exclude anybody, everyone is happy, everybody is welcome,” said Seelagy.

“Before the games we have dance-offs in the locker room and stuff to keep it loose. In the past few years we were really strict and everybody was quiet in the locker room. We wanted to make it loose and fun.”

IN THE FAST LANE: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Melinda Tang heads to victory in the 100 butterfly in PHS’s 103-67 win over Manasquan in the Central Jersey Public B sectional final earlier this month. Last Sunday in the Public B championship meet against Scotch Plains-Fanwood, sophomore Tang posted wins in the 100 fly and 200 freestyle in a losing cause as PHS fell 100-70 to the Raiders. The Little Tigers ended the winter with a 15-1 record.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN THE FAST LANE: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Melinda Tang heads to victory in the 100 butterfly in PHS’s 103-67 win over Manasquan in the Central Jersey Public B sectional final earlier this month. Last Sunday in the Public B championship meet against Scotch Plains-Fanwood, sophomore Tang posted wins in the 100 fly and 200 freestyle in a losing cause as PHS fell 100-70 to the Raiders. The Little Tigers ended the winter with a 15-1 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Tears weren’t being shed by the members of the Princeton High girls’ swimming team last Sunday afternoon on the deck of The College of New Jersey pool even though they had just lost 100-70 to Scotch Plains-Fanwood in the state Public B championship meet.

Reflecting on a magnificent campaign that saw PHS roll to its second straight Mercer County crown and win all 15 of its meets coming into the final, including a 97-73 victory over Ocean City last Wednesday in the state semis, sophomore star Melinda Tang was all smiles.

“This season has been amazing,” said Tang. “Last year we lost to Ocean City in the semis and we knew that meet was going to be really close too and we weren’t sure if we were going to win that. Once we made it over that last obstacle and we were here, it was just about having fun.”

The Little Tiger realized that Scotch Plains-Fanwood posed a formidable obstacle to their quest for a state title.

“We knew that the meet was going to be really close because our frontrunners and their frontrunners were pretty close and we all had a lot of depth,” said Tang.

The PHS frontrunners proved their mettle, winning seven of eight individual events with Tang prevailing in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly while freshman Abbey Berloco won both the 50 and 100 free races, junior Madeleine Deardorff placed first in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke, and junior Brianna Romaine was victorious in the 100 backstroke.

Tang was pleased with her individual wins. “I can never say anything about the 200 free because it is right after the (medley) relay so I just have got to finish swimming this and it is all good,” said Tang. “For the 100 fly, I was really happy because I got a best time (56.36).”

The Little Tigers finished on a high note as the quartet of Tang, Berloco, Deardorff, and Romaine won the 400 free relay, the final event of the day.

“We knew at that point that they were going to win,” recalled Tang. “We had already made it this far so we were going to go down with a fight.”

With a season of high school swimming under her belt, Tang was more emotionally invested in fighting to the end for PHS.

“This year, I have gotten a lot closer with all of my teammates because freshman year was a time of transition,” said Tang.

PHS first-year head coach Carly Misiewicz appreciated how her swimmers kept their heads up as they tasted defeat for the first time this winter.

“Why I love being a part of this team so much is that every person is so classy,” said Misiewicz, whose team posted a record of 15-1.

“They are not going to bad mouth the other team because we lost, no one is a sore loser. Every person on the team knows that we did everything that we could, they swam faster. You can’t swim faster than you are capable of swimming.”

In Misiewicz’s view, the win in the 400 free relay spoke volumes about PHS’s desire to get the most out of its ability.

“Our girls are fighters and they are not going to give up, they are not going to give them a race,” said Misiewicz, a former Rider University swimming star.

“I told them that one of my biggest things in college when I was a swimmer, the other team may win the meet but don’t let them win the last race. They put their hearts and souls into everything and it really showed. I am so happy with what we have done this year.”

Making it to the state final exceeded Misiewicz’s expectations at the beginning of the year.

“Looking and scouting when we were going to come against Manasquan (in the sectional final), it was alright here we go, this is our next hurdle and then Ocean City was our next hurdle,” said Misiewicz.

“I am just so happy and proud of them to make it to this point, so many teams would kill to be in our position. I would have never thought we would have made it this far.”

While PHS’s big four of Tang, Berloco, Deardorff, and Romaine certainly made a point with their dominance on Sunday, Misiewicz credited Scotch Plains-Fanwood for its talent across the board.

“Unfortunately you can win first in everything but not win the meet,” said Misiewicz, noting that Deardorff set a school record in the breaststroke with her time of 1:09.35.

“What it came down to today is that they were just deeper than we were but again you can’t change anybody else. You can’t affect the other team or the other swimmers. You have to worry about yourselves and that is what they all did.”

With most of its frontline swimmers returning, PHS is primed for a lot of big wins down the road.

“We do have quite a few girls coming back, which is phenomenal,” said Misiewicz.

“It just makes me even more excited for next year. I am just really excited to see where we leave off this year and where we are going to head into next year. Making it this far was huge and I couldn’t be any more proud of the girls.”

Tang, for her part, believes that PHS will be better in the future as a result of its experience on Sunday.

“If we had won, it would have been the first time since 1993 so we were all really, really excited for the meet,” said Tang. “I think this will help us because every winner needs to learn how to lose.”

FINDING HIS WAY: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Tooker Callaway controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, sophomore defenseman Callaway scored a goal in a losing cause as sixth-seeded PHS fell 10-2 to second-seeded Notre Dame in the Mercer County Tournament semis. The Little Tigers, who dropped to 10-9-2 with the defeat, will start action in the state Public B tournament this week where they are seeded 25th and slated to play at No. 8 Middletown South on February 24 in an opening round contest.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FINDING HIS WAY: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Tooker Callaway controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, sophomore defenseman Callaway scored a goal in a losing cause as sixth-seeded PHS fell 10-2 to second-seeded Notre Dame in the Mercer County Tournament semis. The Little Tigers, who dropped to 10-9-2 with the defeat, will start action in the state Public B tournament this week where they are seeded 25th and slated to play at No. 8 Middletown South on February 24 in an opening round contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having lost twice to Notre Dame in the regular season, getting outscored by a combined 13-1 margin, the Princeton High boys’ hockey team was looking to fine-tune things as the foes met for round three in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals last Wednesday.

“We felt good about ourselves, we switched up a couple of little things,” said PHS head coach Terence Miller.

For the first 13 minutes of the contest, sixth-seeded PHS battled the top-seeded Irish on even terms, trailing just 1-0.

“We were happy with our start,” said Miller. “We played well. We had a tough turnover to give them their first goal. I thought an early goal for us would have helped, just to settle the group down. We didn’t get it.”

Notre Dame scored a late first period goal to make it 2-0 and then took control of the game in the second, scoring three unanswered goals.

“When they score, they seem to get goals in bunches,” said Miller. “We just couldn’t seem to stop them. They ran that cherry picking, hanging system. It worked because it took our minds off the offensive end. We are worried about getting back and defending that. You should be able to punish them. If they want to hang a guy, they are creating a power play for you. It gets your defensemen back, they start icing and now we are running for our lives.”

PHS cut the deficit to 5-1 early in the third period on a goal by senior Connor McCormick but Notre Dame shifted into a higher gear, scoring five unanswered goals. The Little Tigers did get a tally from sophomore defenseman Tooker Callaway in the waning seconds to make the final 10-2.

“The wheels came off in the third,” said Miller.” You could see that they were ready to pounce on mistakes. We got a little something going but when we made mistakes, they made us pay. That is the sign of a good team. We know they are deep, they had their legs going a little bit, they have speed.”

Miller was proud of how his team stuck to its game even as Notre Dame pulled away.

“We fought to the end but we didn’t get chippy,” said Miller, reflecting on the loss which dropped the Little Tigers to 10-9-2. “That is not our game, that is not what Princeton is about. I was happy that they kept their heads up and played to the end.”

With PHS starting action in the state Public B tournament this week, where they are seeded 25th and slated to play at No. 8 Middletown South on February 24 in an opening round contest, Miller is hoping the team can build on its MCT run.

“We got back to the semifinals, we are happy about that,” said Miller. “We would have liked to have had a better performance tonight. I am proud of my guys. We hung in.”

February 18, 2015
PETER PRINCIPLE: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse head coach Peter Stanton surveys the action in a game last spring. Earlier this month, Stanton was inducted into the New Jersey Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Stanton has led PHS to 219 wins, two Mercer County Tournament championships, and six Colonial Valley Conference titles in his 19 seasons at the helm. For Stanton, a focus on building team chemistry has been a key ingredient in the program’s success.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

PETER PRINCIPLE: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse head coach Peter Stanton surveys the action in a game last spring. Earlier this month, Stanton was inducted into the New Jersey Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Stanton has led PHS to 219 wins, two Mercer County Tournament championships, and six Colonial Valley Conference titles in his 19 seasons at the helm. For Stanton, a focus on building team chemistry has been a key ingredient in the program’s success. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Peter Stanton didn’t enjoy much success in his first two years as the head coach of the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team.

Taking over the program in 1996, he guided the PHS to a 1-14 record. A year later, things weren’t much better as the Little Tigers posted a 2-13 mark.

But Stanton could sense that the program was turning a corner in that second campaign.

“Sometimes I tell people that I feel like I did my best coaching in 1997,” said Stanton.

“For some reason, that was the year with a combination of kids where I started to feel that we are going to get good at this. Everyone bought in. We kept the kids together; they had the feeling that we were going to achieve things.”

Staying the course, Stanton has gone on to achieve great things for PHS, leading the program to 219 wins, two Mercer County Tournament championships, and six Colonial Valley Conference titles. His teams reached the Group 2 semifinals in 2006 and 2007 and the Group 2 state title game in 2010.

Earlier this month, Stanton, 48, earned the ultimate achievement, getting inducted into the New Jersey Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

In reflecting on the accolade, Stanton said it is the bonds developed among the players that has been a key ingredient in his program’s success.

“What stands out most to me is the chemistry that we have had and you see guys that are still close eight, nine years out of high school,” said Stanton.

“They are still part of each other’s lives well after college. We have really worked hard to build that chemistry. It is a priority of the coaches. I think it comes down to two things, first is performance. You play better if you get along and hold each other accountable. When you enjoy each other’s company and play for each other, it is a lot more fun.”

Stanton has enjoyed lacrosse since 1982 when he took the sport up as a sophomore at Hunterdon Central High School, having tired of football and baseball.

“I liked the combination of physical contact and the gracefulness of the game,” said Stanton, who played midfield in high school, starting on varsity as a senior.

Continuing his playing career at the college level, Stanton headed to Stevens Tech, where he was a two-time Knickerbocker Conference second-team selection, the team MVP in 1987, and the team captain in 1988.

Stanton’s first taste of coaching came when he guided the PHS junior varsity team from 1992-94. After a year hiatus from coaching, he took the reins of the varsity program.

The Little Tigers experienced a breakthrough campaign in 1998, going 9-4 and making the state tournament. Two years later, PHS had one of the great seasons in program history, going 17-1, falling to eventual champion Delbarton in the state quarterfinals.

PHS earned Mercer County Tournament championships the last two years, displaying a competitive fire that has made Stanton proud.

“When you have a team that overachieves, nothing is better than that,” said Stanton.

“We were not necessarily the most talented team but we played the best at the most important moments and that is very satisfying.”

An important factor in Stanton’s success has been the contributions he has received from his coaching staff over the years.

“I have had great assistant coaches; they have really helped with team building,” said Stanton.

“So many of the best ideas came from Jason Carter. Chip Casto has such a wealth of knowledge. He is learning more and more about the game and finds ways to help us do things more efficiently. He is such a professional. When you have someone like that doing so much work, it makes my life easier. I get the credit but he is a big part of it.”

In accepting his Hall of Fame honor, Stanton was quick to spread the credit.

“What it really means is that I have been part of a really good thing for a long time,” said Stanton.

“I have had great people, great teams, great players. We have had phenomenal parental organizations. I have been fortunate to have been in a great situation.”

With the 2015 season around the corner, Stanton is fired up for another good campaign.

“This is the real reward and the reason I keep doing this,” said Stanton, a math teacher at PHS since 2004.

“Coaching is something that is always going to be very important to me. As a season comes up, you think it is a lot of work and a lot of effort. Part of me wonders if I can still do it but midway through the season, I can’t believe I was thinking that.”

RECORD PERFORMANCE: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Madeleine Deardorff swims the breaststroke leg on the 200 medley relay last Friday as top-seeded PHS faced second-seeded Manasquan in the Central Jersey Public B sectional final at the Neptune Aquatic Center. Junior star Deardorff along with classmate Brianna Romaine, sophomore Melinda Tang, and freshman Abbey Berloco helped PHS win the event in a program record time of 1:48.89. The Little Tigers went on to prevail 103-67 in the meet, improving to 14-0 and booking a spot in the Public B semis against Ocean City on February 18 at the Raritan Valley YMCA. The winner will advance to the state championship meet at The College of New Jersey on February 22.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RECORD PERFORMANCE: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Madeleine Deardorff swims the breaststroke leg on the 200 medley relay last Friday as top-seeded PHS faced second-seeded Manasquan in the Central Jersey Public B sectional final at the Neptune Aquatic Center. Junior star Deardorff along with classmate Brianna Romaine, sophomore Melinda Tang, and freshman Abbey Berloco helped PHS win the event in a program record time of 1:48.89. The Little Tigers went on to prevail 103-67 in the meet, improving to 14-0 and booking a spot in the Public B semis against Ocean City on February 18 at the Raritan Valley YMCA. The winner will advance to the state championship meet at The College of New Jersey on February 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Expecting a close battle with second-seeded Manasquan in the Central Jersey Public B sectional final last Friday, Madeleine Deardorff and her teammates on the top-seeded Princeton High girls swimming team relished the challenge.

“We all came in here with a lot of confidence and we knew what we had to do,” said junior star Deardorff. “Everyone was so positive.”

PHS got the meet off to a very positive start in the 200 medley relay as Deardorff combined with classmate Brianna Romaine, sophomore Melinda Tang, and freshman Abbey Berloco to win the event in a program and pool record time of 1:48.89.

“That was amazing; that was very unexpected,” said Deardorff. “We were all very happy. I think just that alone made us super confident for the rest of the meet. I think everybody from there on knew what they were capable of, not only with the relay that won but all of us did an amazing job. I think just getting off to that start really set the tone for the whole meet.”

PHS rolled from there, cruising to a 103-67 victory as it improved to 14-0 on the season.

Individually, Deardorff placed first in the 200 individual medley and second in the 100 butterfly while Tang won both the 200 freestyle and 100 fly, Romaine prevailed in the 100 free and 100 backstroke and Berloco placed first in the 50 free and second in the 100 free.

For Deardorff, the 200 IM was an amazing swim as she edged Manasquan’s Kathryn Petrone by 0.34 in setting a personal best of 2:08.19.

“I know Kathryn from club swimming, I knew she was a very good swimmer,” said Deardorff.

“We both know what each other are capable of. That was an amazing race, that was crazy. I don’t think either of us knew that we were doing that well. I think just being next to her made me motivated. It could have gone either way. I am definitely happy with what I did, it was my best time.”

In the 100 fly, Deardorff battled with another very good swimmer in teammate Tang.

“It was just amazing; we race each other all of the time,” said Deardorff, noting that she and Tang both compete for the X-Cel club team.

“Our teammates said you were in synch the whole time. To be able to pull out a 1-2 on that was amazing and then we continued to do that. Abbey and Bri went 1-2 in the free after that so that was really awesome.”

PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz saw the 200 medley relay record as a spark for her team as PHS won its fourth sectional title in the last six years.

“I remember looking over at the girls and Maddie Deardorff specifically,” recalled Misiewicz.

“I looked at her and she looked at the clock and she looked at me and her jaw dropped. We said at counties that we want to get under 1:50 so to go 1:48 today is just phenomenal. That just set the tone for the whole entire rest of the meet. From there, the ball just kept rolling.”

In reflecting on the win, Misiewicz said it was a total team effort with good performances from all lanes.

“We knew they had frontrunners, they knew we had frontrunners,” said Misiewicz.

“What was going to matter was the seconds, the thirds, and the fourths, the little points that we picked up. Our depth carried us through without a doubt. Our top swimmers did what they had to do and everything just fell into place. We had good times across the board.”

Misiewicz was thrilled by how Deardorff rose to the occasion in the 200 IM.

“Her IM was her lifetime best time I think she said by two seconds,” said Misiewicz.

“Maddie definitely stepped up in the IM, pulling out that win. That was really close towards the last 12 and a half. She is a competitor and really pulled it out.”

With PHS facing Ocean City in the Public B semifinals on February 18 for a spot in the state finals on February 22, Misiewicz  believes her squad is going to be hard to beat.

“I think it is a team that can go all the way, they feel it, I feel it,” said Misiewicz,

“Meet after meet, we are getting stronger and closer. Everybody has stepped up; it is positive all the time.”

Deardorff, for her part, is confident that PHS will keep stepping up. “I think this year we have a very special team,” said Deardorff. “I don’t think we have seen anything like this in a while. I think that our depth has carried us so far and I am excited to see what happens in the next few meets.”

GETTING IT DONE: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Brendon McCormick goes after the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, sophomore star McCormick tallied two goals and an assist to help sixth-seeded PHS edge No. 3 WW/P-S 4-3 in overtime in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. PHS, now 10-8-2, faces second seeded Notre Dame in the MCT semis on February 18 with the winner advancing to the championship game on February 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GETTING IT DONE: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Brendon McCormick goes after the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, sophomore star McCormick tallied two goals and an assist to help sixth-seeded PHS edge No. 3 WW/P-S 4-3 in overtime in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. PHS, now 10-8-2, faces second seeded Notre Dame in the MCT semis on February 18 with the winner advancing to the championship game on February 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Facing third-seeded WW/P-S in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals last Wednesday, it looked like sixth-seeded Princeton High boys’ hockey team might not be around long in the tourney.

Getting off to a sluggish start, PHS trailed 3-1 after the first period as the Pirates seemed to be quicker to the puck.

In between periods, the Little Tigers decided to be more aggressive. “After the first period we came together and convened and talked about our plan,” said sophomore forward Brendon McCormick. “We were going to go out and attack and we just executed.”

McCormick took matters into his own hands, scoring two goals in the period as PHS pulled into a 3-3 tie heading into the final period.

“It was to get the puck deep, get a lot of shots, crash the net, and try to get on the goalie because he was playing well,” said McCormick.

Neither team scored in the third period and the game was deadlocked at 3-3 heading into overtime. With both teams getting power play chances in the extra session, PHS cashed in on a goal by senior John Reid with 3:44 left in OT to earn a 4-3 win and book a spot in the semis against second-seeded Notre Dame on February 18.

“We got lucky going into OT, we started on a power play to get up our momentum,” said McCormick, reflecting on the win which improved PHS to 10-8-2.

“That was a big key because that started the ball rolling. We got a little frustrated. They got a scary one there, hitting the post. We just pulled together. John had a great play.”

With the Little Tigers needing to lift their record to .500 to earn a berth in the upcoming state public tournament, the team has thrived with its back to the wall.

“The past few weeks we have been battling,” said McCormick. “It has been like a playoff atmosphere around our team so we were prepared for this game. Going into OT, we were ready with the great mindset. It is a sense of urgency. Coach has been telling us we have got to win this one, and then the next one. We just go out there and win it because we need to.”

McCormick has shown urgency in the MCT, tallying seven points on five goals and two assists as PHS topped Nottingham 10-0 in an opening round contest the day before his big effort against WW/P-S.

“I feel like I am playing better,” said McCormick. “I had a slower start to the season, now I am playing with John on a line and he is really helping me out. We are helping each other out.”

PHS head coach Terence Miller appreciated the work he got from McCormick in the win over WW/P-S.

“Brendon just never seems to get tired; his heart and his legs never stop,” said Miller. “We really had to lean on him at the end, killing off those penalties and on the power play. He was huge, his engine just never seems to stop.”

The Little Tigers displayed huge resolve in rallying for the win over the Pirates.

“I think we have shown some resiliency here, especially falling down early 3-1,” said Miller.

“We have fallen behind a few times this year and we have battled back so that speaks to the character of the group, especially our senior leaders, John (Reid) and Connor (McCormick). When it got to 3-1, we knew we had to get the next one and not let the game get out of hand. Our guys showed a lot of heart, battling back.”

Miller acknowledged that the heart-stopping overtime jangled his nerves. “Sawyer (Peck) came up with some big saves for us, they had a shorthanded breakaway,” said Miller.

“We were dead even in shots. They are a well coached team, they play hard and this game clearly could have gone either way. By that overtime period it was just hold your breath and hope you can get the next one.”

In Miller’s view, it was fitting that senior co-captain Reid notched the winning tally.

“John Reid was buzzing, he is a guy we bump back to defense when we need him there, he is on the penalty kill, he is on the power play,” said Miller.

“I was happy for him to get that game winner. He has had to carry us all year, through a lot of ups and downs. He was due, I am glad he got it.”

Looking ahead to the MCT semis, Miller is confident his squad can keep up its resilient play.

“Hopefully this can catapult us into the semifinal,” said Miller. “We know we are going to get another tough test there with one more shot to get back into the final. Hopefully we can carry this momentum into the next one.”

McCormick, for his part, believes the Little Tigers are going to be tough to knock out.

“I think we can put a good run together,” said Reid. “We have been working hard. We want to keep going as long as we can go for the seniors and keep their season alive for the last time.”

RISING STAR: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Shayla Stevenson heads to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, sophomore guard Stevenson scored nine points in a losing cause as PDS fell 36-34 to Solebury School (Pa.). The Panthers, who fell to 5-13 with the defeat, are next in action when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded 14th and will play at No. 3 Ewing in the opening round contest on February 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RISING STAR: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Shayla Stevenson heads to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, sophomore guard Stevenson scored nine points in a losing cause as PDS fell 36-34 to Solebury School (Pa.). The Panthers, who fell to 5-13 with the defeat, are next in action when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded 14th and will play at No. 3 Ewing in the opening round contest on February 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It was a frustrating first half for Shayla Stevenson and the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team as they hosted the Solebury School (Pa.) last Thursday.

PDS trailed the Spartans 22-13 at halftime and sophomore guard Stevenson was scoreless.

As the Panthers met during the break, the emphasis was on playing harder. “We just had to make open shots,” said Stevenson. “We had to be more intense, we had to attack the basket more. One of their best players had four fouls so we had to attack her. We just had to be confident in our teammates.”

Minutes into the third quarter, Stevenson drained a long three-pointer from the corner that helped get her going.

“It gave me a lot of confidence,” said Stevenson. “Then my teammates having confidence in me and finding me when I was open was great.”

After outscoring Solebury 8-4 in the quarter to cut the deficit to 26-21, the Panthers turned the game into a nail-biter, forging ahead 34-32 with 3:20 left in regulation. PDS, though, never scored after that as it lost 36-34 in moving to 5-13.

“I definitely think we had good momentum,” said Stevenson. “(Bridget) Kane and I were shooting threes and Ryan Robinson was attacking the basket. Even though Ryan and I had three fouls each, we still played hard.”

Despite falling just short, the trio of Stevenson and freshmen Kane and Robinson showed that they have a bright future as Stevenson and Kane each ended up with nine points in the loss with Robinson adding eight.

“We are developing something; we are having a lot of chemistry,” said Stevenson. “That is one thing we are trying to work on in practice and in games, getting better team chemistry with team building and team bonding.”

Stevenson has put in a lot of work to build herself into a better player. “From last year to this year, I have tried to improve on my handle and my shot,” said Stevenson.

“Last year, my shot was a little bit off so coming into this year, I wanted to make a lot more threes and get open for teammates and just be there. Last year was really hard for me, because I had a lot on my shoulders.”

As the Panthers start play in the Mercer County Tournament this week, where they are seeded 14th and will play at No. 3 Ewing in the opening round contest on February 20, Stevenson believes they can build on their hard effort against Solebury.

“Going into MCTs, I think this is a good game to lead off from and we are going to just keep this momentum,” said Stevenson.

“I think the second half in this game is how we have to play the full game.”

BLUE LINE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Briana Blue drives to the basket in recent action. Last Monday, senior star Blue scored seven points to help PHS edge WW/P-S 33-32 and snap a six-game losing streak. The Little Tigers, now 7-13, play at Robbinsville on February 18 before starting action in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded 12th and will play at No. 5 Hopewell Valley in a first round contest on February 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BLUE LINE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Briana Blue drives to the basket in recent action. Last Monday, senior star Blue scored seven points to help PHS edge WW/P-S 33-32 and snap a six-game losing streak. The Little Tigers, now 7-13, play at Robbinsville on February 18 before starting action in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded 12th and will play at No. 5 Hopewell Valley in a first round contest on February 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After defeating Hightstown on January 16 to improve to 6-7, the Princeton High girls’ basketball team experienced some hard times.

Playing a murderer’s row of tough foes like Trenton, Notre Dame, and Allentown, PHS dropped six in a row.

During the skid, the Little Tigers struggled offensively and its 50-36 loss to Howell last Thursday was a case in point. Scoring just three points in the second quarter, PHS found itself trailing 27-13 at half.

While his team didn’t throw in the towel, Little Tiger head coach Dan Van Hise acknowledged that inconsistent production has been an issue.

“If we don’t score, we don’t win,” said Van Hise. “We went into a drought in the second quarter. In the second half, we fought. We always fight. We got it to eight or nine but then Howell took the air out of the ball and we are not fast enough to trap them. We put them at the line and they made their free throws.”

PHS showed its fight last Monday as it edged WW/P-S 33-32 to snap the losing streak and improve to 7-13. Junior Julia Ryan scored 11 points in the win with Briana Blue adding seven and Mary Sutton and Zoe Tesone chipping in six apiece.

“We are still taking steps in the right direction, we have doubled last year’s win total,” said Van Hise, noting that the Little Tigers went 3-16 last winter. “We still have some winnable games and I don’t want them to be complacent.”

Van Hise believes that some of his key players have taken steps forward as the season has unfolded.

“Briana and Zoe had 18 points combined against Howell, they have found a niche inside,” said Van Hise.

“Catherine (Curran-Groome) is a solid contributor in every way that she can. Mary and Julia are the x-factors, when they are shooting well, we are tough to beat.”

PHS is shooting to do some good things in the postseason as it starts play in the Mercer County Tournament this week before taking part in the state tournament. The Little Tigers are seeded 12th in the MCT and will play at No. 5 Hopewell Valley in a first round contest on February 20. In the states, they are seeded 15th in the Central Jersey Group 4 tourney and will play at second-seeded Marlboro in the opening round on March 2.

“We have HoVal on Friday in the counties, they are always a solid team who can shoot,” said Van Hise.

“I don’t think they outmatch us athletically like some of the other teams. If we play our best game of the season, we have a chance. I am proud of the team for making states. I know we are a low seed but we feel pretty pumped up about it.”

Van Hise is confident that the six-game losing streak won’t get his players feeling down on themselves.

“We are not a different team than we were earlier even though it feels like it with these losses,” said Van Hise.

“The mood is good. We have talked this year about when things get tough, we have to stick together and not make excuses.”

February 11, 2015

Blake Brown was especially happy to see Evan Barratt return to action for the top-seeded Hun School boys’ hockey team as it hosted fourth-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy last week in the state Prep semis.

Last winter sophomore Brown combined with classmates Jon Bendorf and Barratt to form a high-powered line that helped Hun win the Independent Hockey League and Mercer County Tournament titles.

With Barratt sidelined with a knee injury all season until the semi contest on February 3, it was like old times when the trio reunited.

“It helped that Evan was back, that was huge for us,” said Brown. “It adds a huge offensive element for us, it is a big part of our game.”

Brown benefitted right away in the contest against Montclair Kimberley, scoring two first period goals as the Raiders jumped out to a 3-0 lead.

“We were able to score a couple of goals quick,” said Brown. “Right from the start, we were back to where we were. We felt like the beginning of the season again.”

Reflecting on his two early goals, Brown didn’t take too much credit for the tallies.

“Those were some shots I could not have missed, they put the pucks perfectly to me,” said Brown. “If I had missed those, I shouldn’t be playing hockey.”

Hun head coach McNally credited Brown with working hard to get into perfect scoring position.

“Blake can move the puck with Jon and Evan but he can also wait until they find their shot and bang in the rebound,” said McNally.

“He is the workhorse. He is the dog that goes into the corner to get it and then goes to the front of the net and it eventually comes back to him.”

When MKA made a comeback to narrow the Hun lead to 5-3 late in the third period, Brown tallied with 1:41 left in the period and then added another 38 seconds left to seal the deal for the Raiders.

“It was everything,” asserted Brown of his insurance goal. “It secured the win for us and we are going to the championship.”

The win also marked another achievement for a Hun program on the rise. “Each year we have been progressing,” said Brown. “Last year we won Mercer counties and this year we are in state final.”

Brown helped Hun continue that progression, scoring two goals to help Hun beat second-seeded Morristown-Beard 5-3 in the title game last Thursday.

McNally, for his part, was not surprised that Brown was the top goal scorer for Hun in its Prep title run.

“Blake had six goals in two games and they were all within two feet,” said McNally, noting that Brown’s final tally against Mo-Beard marked the 100th point of his Hun career. “He was in the right spot.”

In Brown’s view, Hun’s team camaraderie has put it in a very good spot. “Everyone loves each other; it is a big family for us,” said Brown. “Everyone hangs together at school, it is like a brotherhood.”

The Hun hockey band of brothers is looking to keep the titles coming.

“This brings the school together; we don’t get a lot of championships at Hun,” said Brown, who will be shooting to help Hun gain another championship as it goes after its second straight Mercer County Tournament crown next week.   “Hopefully we will bring a new chapter to Hun and start winning a lot of championships.”

SQUEEZE PLAY: Hun School boys’ hockey star Evan Barratt squeezes between two defenders to control the puck against Montclair Kimberley in the state Prep semis. Last Thursday, sophomore Barratt, playing in his second game this season after being sidelined by a leg injury, chipped in three assists as top-seeded Hun defeated No. 2 Morristown-Beard 5-3 in the state Prep title game. It marked the program’s first Prep title since 1996. The Raiders, now 14-2-4, are next in action when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded first and have a quarterfinal game slated for February 11 at Mercer County Park.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SQUEEZE PLAY: Hun School boys’ hockey star Evan Barratt squeezes between two defenders to control the puck against Montclair Kimberley in the state Prep semis. Last Thursday, sophomore Barratt, playing in his second game this season after being sidelined by a leg injury, chipped in three assists as top-seeded Hun defeated No. 2 Morristown-Beard 5-3 in the state Prep title game. It marked the program’s first Prep title since 1996. The Raiders, now 14-2-4, are next in action when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament, where they are seeded first and have a quarterfinal game slated for February 11 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Facing second-seeded Morristown-Beard last Thursday in the state Prep championship game, the top-seeded Hun School boys’ hockey team was serenaded by derisive chants of “overrated, overrated” by the fans at the Twin Oaks Rink.

Noting that his players laughed off that greeting from the Mo-Beard partisans, Hun head coach Ian McNally sensed that his team was ready to silence its doubters.

“They were in a very good place,” recalled McNally. “There was a lot of excitement in the room, you sensed that when you saw how they were preparing.”

Hun showed why it had been rated so highly coming into the tourney, jumping out to a 4-1 lead through two periods and holding off a late Mo-Beard charge to prevail 5-3 and earn the program’s first Prep crown since 1996.

Led by its Killer B’s line of sophomores Blake Brown, Jon Bendorf, and Evan Barratt, the Raiders were buzzing from the opening face-off.

“You could tell right from the start, Evan, Jon, and Blake spent 40 seconds in the offensive zone on the first shift and had three good chances,” said McNally, whose team scored late in the period to go ahead 1-0.

“The first period was good, the guys were excited. We felt the goal was coming but if it never does, you do get frustrated and worried. The goal was beautiful. It was Evan to Jon to Blake like tic tac toe so we were able to get on the board.”

When Mo-Beard scored the first two goals of the third period to make it a 4-3 contest, Hun wasn’t fazed.

“We were still in control of the game; it didn’t feel like they were coming,” said McNally.

“The first of the two goals was a shot that bounced off Chris Rossi’s skate. On the next goal, the guy came in and had a nice shot. When it is 4-3, you are worried that one mistake could tie the game. They took two penalties in the last five minutes. Blake scored and things slowed down. We were able to get a breath.”

Having the trio of Barratt, Bendorf, and Brown to trigger the offense helps McNally breathe easier. Brown and Bendorf each scored two goals in the championship contest with Barratt chipping in three assists as Hun improved to 14-2-4.

“It is huge, you put those guys out and you know you are going to have the puck in your offensive zone,” said McNally, noting that Barratt just returned to action after being sidelined since the fall due to a knee injury.

“They work so hard and they are so competitive. Jon and Blake were getting it done without Evan but having him back does change things. He is a dynamic kid in every way. He has energy, skill, and he doesn’t stop talking on the ice. You can’t help but notice him. When he gets the puck the other teams are thinking I want to stop that guy and they pay attention to him and one of the other two gets open. They find each other.”

In McNally’s view, senior stalwarts Danny Seelagy and captain Chris Rossi are deserving of special notice.

“They were freshmen and it was my first year; it is neat to have gotten to this point,” said McNally.

“We have added something every year. We won the Independent Hockey League when they were sophomores, then the league and county last year and now preps. It was not like it was imminent for them when they came in. They had to work through it. They are in our top four defensemen. Danny set up the second goal against Mo-Beard and Chris had some big physical plays in the d-zone.”

In becoming a top team, Hun has shown that it possesses the intangibles to go with its talent.

“We have the skill but we also have chemistry and work ethic and you don’t always get that with the skill,” said McNally. “If you have those three things, you can do well in any league.”

Hun is now looking to do well in the upcoming Mercer County Tournament as it goes after a second straight county crown.

“The most fun we had in a long time was that Notre Dame game in the final last year,” said McNally, whose team is seeded first in the MCT and has a quarterfinal contest slated for February 11 at Mercer County Park.

“The guys are definitely excited for the counties, they have siblings and friends who have played in it. It is great that we have the preps and then the counties so it is not just a two-day tournament. It feels like a real postseason.”

BORDENTOWN Hun School boys’ basketball player Kyle Borden puts up a shot in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior Borden scored 10 points off the bench to help Hun defeat Metuchen High 40-24 and win its ninth straight game. The Raiders, now 14-7, will be competing in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament at the Blair Academy from February 13-15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BORDENTOWN Hun School boys’ basketball player Kyle Borden puts up a shot in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior Borden scored 10 points off the bench to help Hun defeat Metuchen High 40-24 and win its ninth straight game. The Raiders, now 14-7, will be competing in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament at the Blair Academy from February 13-15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kyle Borden wasn’t in the starting lineup for the Hun School boys’ basketball team when it hosted Metuchen High last Wednesday but he was confident he would impact the game.

“I don’t mind it, I enjoy it,” said senior forward Borden, reflecting on coming off the bench for Hun.

“I bring energy, that is something I love to do. My coach (Jon Stone) told me he is going to bring me off the bench to bring a spark to the game. I take pride in doing that.”

Borden entered the contest in the first quarter and made a key contribution, scoring seven points in the first half as Hun jumped out to a 25-5 halftime lead.

“Something I have learned this season and the whole team has learned, is to take the best shot,” said Borden. “Today I was in rhythm; I stepped up and made them.”

The whole Hun team showed a commitment to defense against Metuchen as it took a 34-7 lead into the third quarter on the way to a 40-24 win.

“We came with defensive intensity, that is something our team prides itself on,” said Borden.

“You definitely have to learn how to have fun but you have to play defense first, that is what wins games. That’s what we did, we made a statement.”

Borden has had fun developing over his Hun career. “It is growing a lot and learning how to be a leader on and off the court,” said Borden, who ended up with 10 points in the win over Metuchen. “I worked on developing my game over the summer because I knew I had to step up this season.”

Hun head coach Jon Stone liked the way his team stepped up in the early stages as it jumped out to an 18-2 lead by the end of the first quarter. “I think our defense was very, very good,” said Stone, whose team improved to 14-7 as it won its ninth straight game.

“We were able to get some good looks, both in our halfcourt and our transition. Unfortunately it only lasted for a quarter. Fortunately our defense lasted a little longer. Our defense was very good for at least two and a half quarters.”

In Stone’s view, Borden has given Hun some very good play off the bench. “He’s been doing that all year long,” asserted Stone. “He plays with a lot of energy and he has been giving us a spark off the bench.”

Senior center Dominic Robb gave Hun a big spark in the win over Metuchen, scoring a game-high 15 points and making a number of blocked shots.

“Dominic effects the game in so many ways, he has the ability to finish,” said Stone. “You saw his blocked shots out there today, two in one possession. He really adds a great dimension to the rest of the team.”

With his team riding a late surge, Stone is hoping its best basketball is to come.

“Your hope is always that you peak at the right time,” said Stone. “I think we have just been competing well. We have shown some mental toughness and the ability to play well together and to just get more and more comfortable with each other.”

Stone knows his team faces a tough challenge this weekend as it competes in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament at the Blair Academy from February 13-15.

“It looks like we are going to be the two seed, it is anybody’s tournament to win because anybody can beat anybody on a given night,” said Stone.

“You just hope you are playing good basketball and you know you are going to play some really good games and they are probably going to come down to the wire so it should be a lot of fun and a great weekend. I think we have been climbing and making moves in the right direction, the time is now. We are ready to test ourselves and see how good we are.”

Borden, for his part, believes the Raiders are headed in the right direction.

“When we first started playing, it was rocky,” said Borden “We had to learn all of our different personalities, where we wanted to be on the court, and the chemistry and now it is there. We have bought into the system and we have become a family. We were a team of individuals in the first couple of games and now we play for each other. Our goal is the MAPL championship and that is what we are going for.”

HOT HAND: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Kevin Kane heads to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior guard Kane scored a game-high 26 points to help PHS top Trenton 68-58 and improve to 7-10. PHS hosts WW/P-S on February 16 and Robbinsville on February 18 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 10th and will play at No. 7 Trenton in a first round contest.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HOT HAND: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Kevin Kane heads to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior guard Kane scored a game-high 26 points to help PHS top Trenton 68-58 and improve to 7-10. PHS hosts WW/P-S on February 16 and Robbinsville on February 18 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 10th and will play at No. 7 Trenton in a first round contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton High boys’ basketball team, pulling out a win over a strong Allentown team last Wednesday gave it a lift as it hosted Trenton two days later.

“The Allentown game was really good, it was the first game this season where we really held the lead in the fourth,” said PHS senior guard Kevin Kane. “We got confidence, we knew we could play with Trenton.”

But when PHS struggled in the early stages against Trenton, Kane’s confidence in his offensive skills helped keep the Little Tigers in the contest.

“I was just trying to attack the basket in the first half,” said Kane, who scored 15 points in the half as PHS trailed 33-28 going into intermission. “Matt Hart got into early foul trouble so I knew I had to put up more shots.”

PHS kept attacking in the second half, outscoring Trenton 40-25 over the last two quarters in rolling to a 68-58 victory and improving to 7-10.

In Kane’s view, the Little Tigers seized momentum in the third quarter when it erased the Trenton lead with a 19-13 run.

“We were passing the ball well,” said Kane. “Zahrion [Blue] played well keeping us in it, going to the basket. We handled the pressure well and we guarded Derek Dix well.”

The fourth quarter turned into the Kevin Kane show as he scored 11 points, draining a trio of three-pointers in the process.

“That was awesome,” said Kane, who ended the evening with a game-high 26 points.

“My role is to keep the team’s heads up and when I am open shoot the ball. My teammates, J.C. [Silva], Zahrion, and Chris [Diver] do a good job, dribbling through the lane and getting me the ball. There is more balance and we have good team chemistry.”

Having narrowly lost 60-55 to Trenton a week earlier, PHS was looking to play better team defense in the rematch.

“We just wanted to trap more,” said Kane. “Today with our traps in the second half, coach Karim (assistant coach Shahid Abdul-Karim) was saying that we have to stand there and don’t jump. We got four turnovers because of that. We had to box out, which we did, and hold them under 60, which we also did.”

In the view of PHS head coach Mark Shelley, the formula for success in the rematch was simple.

“We wanted to play more fundamental and harder,” said Shelley, noting that the tape of the first Trenton game showed PHS standing around on defense at times.

It took a while, however, for PHS to get into a groove against the Tornadoes.

“I thought they came out with a little more energy than us in the first half, we struggled with that a little bit,” said Shelley, who got 17 points from sophomore Blue in the win with junior Hart chipping in 12.

“We need Kevin’s scoring, obviously. He really played well overall tonight. He got some key rebounds. He played well defensively, he is so much better in that area. His scoring really kept us in it. We got down by seven, four or five times in the first half but we managed to get it to five at the half.”

Like Kane, Shelley believed that PHS applied the lessons it gained from the Allentown win.

“It was sort of like the Allentown game,” said Shelley. “We were the more fundamental, patient, harder working team in the second half. In the third quarter tonight, we were methodical. As good as we were in the fourth quarter, to me the key was winning the third. We went from down five to up one. That was the key for me because then we just built on that. We hit a flurry of 3s, which we can do. Kevin’s threes were key, it is hard to guard us when one of our guys are stroking it.”

Starting the week with a 60-58 win over WW/P-N in double overtime on February 3 that snapped a six-game losing streak and got things headed in the right direction for the Little Tigers.

“I told them for several weeks, I thought if we could just get one, we would be fine,” said Shelley, whose team hosts WW/P-S on February 16 and Robbinsville on February 18 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 10th and will play at No. 7 Trenton in a first round contest.

“We beat North and Steinert and then we lost to Nottingham with just a terrible fourth quarter. Then we had that slide where Hopewell was close, Notre Dame was close and Hightstown was overtime. We just couldn’t get over the hump and we were a little dispirited and coach Karim gave a pretty excited talk at halftime of the North game. It got us going. Matt Hart had a great shot to win it. He literally hit a 17-foot fadeaway step back swish with three seconds left. It was a tough shot.”

Kane, for his part, believes PHS will be tough to beat down the stretch. “This is a great win; it just shows how our character has built through the season,” asserted Kane. “We have lost a lot of games late. Tonight we got the lead and kept it, which was really good.”

DRIVE THROUGH: Stuart Country Day basketball player Harlyn Bell puts up a shot over a foe in recent action. Last Friday, senior Bell scored six points in a losing cause as Stuart fell 37-27 to the George School (Pa.). The Tartans, now 10-9, are starting action in the state Prep B tournament this week where they are seeded fifth and will play at No. 4 Pennington in a quarterfinal contest on February 11. Stuart is also slated to host Steinert on February 12 and to play at the Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 13. The Tartans will also be taking part in the Mercer County Tournament, where they have been seeded ninth and will play at No. 8 Steinert in the first round.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DRIVE THROUGH: Stuart Country Day basketball player Harlyn Bell puts up a shot over a foe in recent action. Last Friday, senior Bell scored six points in a losing cause as Stuart fell 37-27 to the George School (Pa.). The Tartans, now 10-9, are starting action in the state Prep B tournament this week where they are seeded fifth and will play at No. 4 Pennington in a quarterfinal contest on February 11. Stuart is also slated to host Steinert on February 12 and to play at the Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 13. The Tartans will also be taking part in the Mercer County Tournament, where they have been seeded ninth and will play at No. 8 Steinert in the first round. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Harlyn Bell liked how things were going as the Stuart Country Day School basketball team battled the George School (Pa.) to a 12-12 stalemate through two quarters last Friday.

“I definitely thought we were in good shape,” said Stuart senior standout Bell. “Our defense was really great, we have been working on it all season.”

After Stuart fell behind 22-16 early in the fourth quarter, Bell had some good moments, hitting two jump shots as Stuart narrowed the gap to 26-22 with about three minutes remaining in regulation. The Tartans, though, never got any closer as they fell 37-27.

“Coach Leith always says you can never lose the game in the last two minutes so that kind of mentality really pushed me to score a little,” said Bell, reflecting on her fourth quarter heroics.

In reflecting on the loss, Bell acknowledged that Stuart has to be sharper with the ball.

“Unfortunately we had a few breakdowns,” said Bell. “We can learn better offensive execution with crisper passes, faster transition, and less dribbling.”

Working hard over her career, Bell has transitioned into a solid defensive player for the Tartans.

“I have improved defensively, when I was a freshman, I would foul out,” said Bell.

“I really picked up moving my feet, especially this year with coach [Justin] Leith. He has been amazing ingraining that in us.”

Bell has also picked up her offensive game, gaining confidence in her shot.

“That is something we work on in practice a lot,” said Bell “Coach is trying to get all of us to be confident in putting up shots. This year I have seen improvement in myself.”

In Bell’s view, first-year head coach Leith has helped each of the Stuart players improve.

“He is definitely different than all of our other coaches,” said Bell. “He is very tough but he can see potential in all of us. He really forces us to step up so that is good.”

Coach Leith, for his part, was disappointed with how his team failed to step up in the fourth quarter against George.

“One of the goals is to speed the tempo and play our game in the second half but we didn’t execute,” said Leith.

While Leith was heartened to see Bell’s second fourth quarter jumper draw Stuart to within four, he felt like his squad never found an offensive rhythm.

“There were very small flashes of how we can play and that was one of them,” said Leith. “That didn’t give me any more encouragement because we never put those things together. The game felt like one big lull.”

In order to put things together, Stuart needs to transfer what it does in practice to the games.

“It really is about growing as individuals and growing as a team,” said Leith, whose team moved to 10-9 with a 55-27 loss to Country Day School of the Sacred Heart last Saturday.

“They are understanding how to work hard but they are not understanding how to apply it. That is obvious from this game.”

Leith is seeing growth from junior Harley Guzman and Bell. “Harley did a great job of staying out of foul trouble, she shot the ball pretty well,” said Leith.

“She didn’t make the best decisions but she is still a junior. She is getting there, she has definitely improved over the season. Harlyn wasn’t hitting shots that she hits in practice, she had some really good looks. Against Villa Victoria, she had the same open looks and she hit six or seven in a row. She just wasn’t hitting today but she played great defense.”

As fifth-seeded Stuart plays at No. 4 Pennington on February 11 in the state Prep B quarterfinals, Leith is looking for a great effort.

“It was really about getting a win in the first round of the preps,” said Leith, noting that Stuart fell 59-31 to Pennington in regular season play.

“If we play our game, there is a possibility to beat them but we have to play our best game. If we are firing on all cylinders on Wednesday, it should be a good game.”

Bell, for her part, is looking to end her Stuart career by firing away. “I haven’t had a 20-point game ever so I would like to get that, I have had 18,” said Bell, who also stars as a goalie in both field hockey and lacrosse and is headed to Wake Forest. “That is a goal I want to get by the end of the season. But you know what, I just want to enjoy the last few games.”

IN THE ZONE: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Paul Franzoni heads upcourt in recent action. Last Sunday, sophomore guard Franzoni scored 14 points in a losing cause as sixth-seeded PDS fell 77-52 to third-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy in the state Prep B quarterfinals. The Panthers, who dropped to 5-15 with the defeat, will host New Egypt on February 11 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 13th and will play at No. 4 Trenton Catholic in the first round.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN THE ZONE: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Paul Franzoni heads upcourt in recent action. Last Sunday, sophomore guard Franzoni scored 14 points in a losing cause as sixth-seeded PDS fell 77-52 to third-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy in the state Prep B quarterfinals. The Panthers, who dropped to 5-15 with the defeat, will host New Egypt on February 11 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, where it is seeded 13th and will play at No. 4 Trenton Catholic in the first round. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Playing at third-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy in the state Prep B quarterfinals last Sunday, the sixth-seeded Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team enjoyed a solid offensive performance.

Featuring three players in doubles figures with Chase Lewis at 18 points, Paul Franzoni chipping in 14, and Mark Washington adding 11, PDS exceeded its usual output this winter as it tallied 52 points.

But that wasn’t nearly enough as MKA pulled away to a 77-52 win.

PDS head coach Paris McLean acknowledged that his team fell short on the defensive end.

“We mustered up more points than we normally do but we couldn’t stop them,” said McLean, whose team dropped to 5-15 with the  setback. “If you look at our wins, we kept those games in the 40s.”

Tipping his hat to an underrated MKA squad, McLean said the Cougars posed some match-up problems for his team. “We battled but we struggled at times to match their intensity, they were 8-8 coming in but that is not indicative of how good a team they were,” said McLean. “They had a good big man in Josh Chery and they had some good outside shooters.”

McLean liked the intense efforts he got against the Cougars from sophomores Franzoni, Lewis, and Washington.

“Paul really battled, he really scrapped,” said McLean. “We needed others to match his intensity. You know what you are going to get from Chase, 15-20 points and a good floor game. Mark has had two solid games in a row, he also had 11 against Hightstown in our last game. The good thing is that all three of them are coming back.”

While the early tourney exit stung, McLean is looking for his players to keep battling over the last few weeks of the season.

“We had an honest conversation with them in the locker room; when you lose this early in the Prep tournament, you can feel like the season is over,” said McLean.

“We told them that there is a lot to play for. We have New Egypt on February 11, that is our senior night, and then we have the Mercer County Tournament. We will be playing a really good team in the first round of the counties but we could possibly play a spoiler role. We will have a consolation game no matter what happens so we are guaranteed at least four more games. If we can win four more, that would give us nine wins and one more than last year.”

Despite taking plenty of lumps this winter, PDS hasn’t lost its upbeat approach.

“They have kept their heads up,” asserted McLean, whose team is seeded 13th in the MCT and will play at No. 4 Trenton Catholic in the first round.

“For many of them it is the first full season of varsity basketball and they are realizing what a grind it is and how hard it is to keep up a high level of play. The practices have been good, they are giving a good effort in the games and if you look at our bench during games, they are all cheering for each other.”

February 4, 2015

After limping into the exam break with 5-2 losses to Union and Rensselaer in early January, the Princeton University men’s hockey team wanted to end the month on a high note.

Returning to action against visiting Army last Wednesday for its first game in 18 days, Princeton produced one of its better performances of the season, pulling away to a 4-1 win over the Black Knights.

“The game was a little sloppy in the first period, we had solid defensive zone structure in the second half of the game,” said Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty, who got goals from senior Tucker Brockett, senior Mike Ambrosia, sophomore Ben Foster, and sophomore Tommy Davis in the victory with junior Jonathan Liau picking up three assists.

“It was nice to score a bunch of goals. I hope that sets us up for games to come. One good thing was the power play, we were 2-for-4. We have been working on that a lot and that was good for our confidence.”

Last weekend, the Tigers gained some more confidence as they rebounded from a 4-0 loss at Yale on Friday to pull out a 2-2 tie at Brown a day later.

The Tigers played a solid first period against Yale as the teams were knotted at 0-0 heading into the first intermission. But a five-minute major penalty incurred by Princeton late in the period came back to haunt the Tigers.

“The 5-minute major was the turning point of the game, they scored twice on it,” said Fogarty, whose team ended up yielding four goals in the second period.

“Losing (Mike) Ambrosia and Tucker (Brockett) early on was tough, we were down to three lines.”

A day later, Princeton showed some toughness at Brown, fighting back from a 2-1 second period deficit to pull out the 2-2 tie.

“We got back to more puck possession on Saturday, we were forcing Brown to chase us,” said Fogarty, who got goals from freshman Eric Robinson and Liau in the win.

“It was good to get points on the road. It is good to get any points at this time of the season.”

The play of Liau and Robinson since the break has impressed Fogarty.

“That three-game stretch was the best hockey Liau has played,” said Fogarty of Liau, who was later named the ECAC Hockey Player of the Week.

“He understands the system. He is not thinking out there, he is just playing. We took Eric off the power play and put him back on 5-on-5. He is getting back to the basics. He had that goal and had a great chance late.”

In Fogarty’s view, Princeton is getting better collectively at the basics. “Overall, we were looking at things before and after Christmas,” said Fogarty, whose team moved to 3-15-2 overall and 1-12-1 ECACH with the tie at Brown.

“Before there was a shot differential of -15 with opponents outshooting us by 15 shots a game. The differential has been below two since Christmas. We are playing better defense, we are controlling the puck, we are passing better. We are getting some opportunities.”

Princeton will be looking to generate more opportunities as it hits the road again this weekend, playing at Colgate (14-9-3 overall, 6-5-3 ECACH) on February 6 and at Cornell (9-9-3 overall, 7-6-1 ECACH) a day later.

“Every road trip is tough, there is so much parity in the league,” said Fogarty, noting that the Colgate game has special significance for assistant coach Brad Dexter, who spent the last nine seasons coaching for the Raiders.

“I am excited for Brad to get back to Colgate, that is the team he helped assemble. We would like to get a win for him and then go for a sweep of Cornell, they are our one league win. I get excited for every road trip. It is fun to coach a team like this Princeton group. They have all bought in and they are trying to get better everyday.”

Competing in the boys 100-meter breaststroke final at the Mercer County Championships last Saturday at the WW/P-N pool, Princeton High freshman Oliver Hunsbedt was happy to have junior teammate Christian Chiang in the next lane.

“It was a great way to push each other and for us to have a great competition together,” said Hunsbedt. “We were talking about it before; we really wanted to beat each other.”

Hunsbedt went on to have a great swim, taking first in a time of 1:09.70 with teammate Chiang coming in third at 1:12.85.

“As a freshman, I am just really excited,” said Hunsbedt, who also swims for the Whitewaters club.

“There are too many emotions right now, it is crazy. My club coach is going to be so proud and so will my high school coaches. I am just so happy to win it.”

Hunsbedt was happy to end the day by helping PHS take second in the 400 free relay behind Notre Dame.

“That was really fun,” said Hunsbedt. “Notre Dame is a really great team and we tried our best to beat them. We got second so we beat everyone else.”

PHS had a fun day collectively, taking third in the team standings behind champion Notre Dame and runner-up WW/P-S.

Chiang took sixth in the 100 butterfly while Alex Petruso placed fourth in the 100 free and fifth in the 100 backstroke. The Little Tigers took third in the 200 medley relay and second in the 200 free relay in addition to the second-place finish in the 400 free relay.

While the Little Tigers saw their four-year county title streak come to an end, PHS first-year head coach Carly Misewicz believed that her boy swimmers competed to their potential.

“We swam our hearts out today,” said Misiewicz. “The guys were awesome, they far surpassed all of our expectations. Everybody was stepping up and filling in those spots on the relays.”

Misiewicz liked the heart Hunsbedt displayed in his first county meet. “He was psyched; he was so excited and pumped,” said Misiewicz.

“Going into that breaststroke final, he said “Oh my god, I’m going for it.’ He had that last relay coming off the breaststroke. Oliver is the kind of kid who likes to chase somebody. He likes it when we are behind and are chasing people down.”

Seeded fourth in the Group, North 2 sectional, PHS is looking forward to being in the chase for a state title.

“Everyone is dropping crazy amounts of time so they now are knowing their potential and we just want to keep it rolling through states,” said Misiewicz.

Hunsbedt, for his part, feels that PHS has the potential to do well in the states.

“We all just pushed each other to the limits today, we competed well as a team,” said Hunsbedt.

“We can’t wait for states. We have a lot of stuff planned; we are going to have an exciting time.”

ABBEY ROAD: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Abbey Berloco displays her butterfly form in a recent meet. Last Saturday, freshman star Berloco won both the 50 and 100 freestyle races at the Mercer County Swimming Championships to help PHS win its third straight county crown. Berloco set a meet record in both races and was named the meet’s Most Valuable Swimmer on the girls’ side. PHS will now go after more titles as it was seeded first in the Public B Central Jersey sectional.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ABBEY ROAD: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Abbey Berloco displays her butterfly form in a recent meet. Last Saturday, freshman star Berloco won both the 50 and 100 freestyle races at the Mercer County Swimming Championships to help PHS win its third straight county crown. Berloco set a meet record in both races and was named the meet’s Most Valuable Swimmer on the girls’ side. PHS will now go after more titles as it was seeded first in the Public B Central Jersey sectional. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After rolling through a 12-0 regular season with one lopsided win after another, the Princeton High girls’ swimming team was determined to make a statement at the Mercer County Swimming Championships last week.

“Since we made such an impression in our dual meets, we were looking to try to win the meet and really do something great,” said PHS junior star Brianna Romaine, reflecting on a season which started with a 145-25 rout of Hopewell Valley and has seen no meet closer than a 107-63 win over WW/P-N in mid-December.

Romaine and her teammates achieved that goal with aplomb at the county competition held at WW/P-N, piling up 266.5 points to win the title and nearly double runner-up Pennington’s score, who finished with 140.

In earning its third straight county crown, PHS won six of eight individual events and two of the three relays. Capping the day in style, the Little Tigers produced a meet record in winning the 400-meter freestyle relay, breaking the 4:00 barrier with a time of 3:58.61.

Romaine won the 200 free and 100 backstroke while classmate Madeleine Deardorff prevailed in the 200 individual medley, sophomore Melinda Tang was victorious in the 100 butterfly, and freshman Abbey Berloco won both the 50 and 100 free. The precocious Berloco set a meet record in both races and was named the meet’s Most Valuable Swimmer on the girls’ side.

In reflecting on her win in the 200 free, Romaine said the cheers of her teammates spurred her to victory as she had trailed early in the race.

“I did realize I was behind, I was just trying to swim my own race,” said Romaine. “I saw her but the atmosphere of our team was so motivating, I wanted to do it for them.”

The Little Tigers were motivated to set a new county standard in the 400 free relay.

“After we hit 4:00 in the prelims, trying to go sub 4 was definitely on our minds,” said Romaine, who combined with Deardorff, Tang, and Berloco in the record-breaking effort. “It was great to finally do it.”

The addition of freshman star Berloco has been a great plus for PHS. “It is amazing, Abbey takes it to a whole other level,” said Romaine. “She really completes the team.”

Berloco, for her part, came into the county meet simply looking to enjoy the experience.

“I have heard that counties is a really fun meet,” said Berloco. “I was trying to have a great time with everyone else on the team.”

In the 50 free, Berloco was inspired by the example of former Lawrence swim star Katie O’Rourke.

“I knew that Katie O’Rourke had the record; I wasn’t really sure what it was,” said Berloco, who clocked a time of 26.37 to break O’Rourke’s record of 26.46. “She is just such a phenomenal swimmer. I just wanted to maybe come close to what she did last year.”

As for the 100 free, dueling with a buddy helped Berloco produce another record.

“I was really happy with that; I felt pretty good,” added Berloco, who posted a time of 57.20 to break the mark of 57.62 that she set on Friday in the county preliminaries.

“It was really great because I was right next to my best friend Maddie Horner (of Steinert). I am on the same club team (Hamilton Aquatic Club) with her so we practice together.”

For Berloco, the relay record was icing on the cake. “That was really fun,” added Berloco. “I knew we could do it. We have such a strong team. It was really great to break it with them.”

Berloco got a surprise when she was singled out as the meet’s top girl swimmer.

“I didn’t even know that there was a MVS, everyone said we have to go up for awards,” recalled Berloco. “I was like OK. I was really shocked when I heard my name called.”

While Berloco was thrilled to earn the individual award, she was more excited about the team’s superb performance.

“Everyone did such an amazing job,” said Berloco. “It is great to be part of that; it was really fun to win counties.”

PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz liked how her girl swimmers took care of business on Saturday.

“They stepped it up and put their all into it,” said Misiewicz. “We had better times than we did yesterday pretty much across the board. They were super psyched, the energy level was up.”

In Misiewicz’s view, Berloco’s propensity to go all out sets her apart. “She is a stellar athlete without a doubt,” said Misiewicz.

“She gets in there and swims her heart out no matter what. If she is a body length ahead or a lap ahead of everybody, she puts her heart and soul into it. That is all you can ask for and that is what makes her the kind of swimmer that she is. She puts 200 percent effort all of the time.”

The trio of Romaine, Deardorff, and Tang has been giving PHS great efforts all winter long.

“Brianna, Maddie, and Melinda are so consistent and so constant,” said Misiewicz. “They are all into the next one. Their goal as a team was to go under 4, that was awesome. It was a great way to end the meet, crushing 4 minutes is huge because we were well under.”

With PHS seeded first in Public B Central Jersey sectional, Misiewicz believes her squad is primed for a happy ending this winter.

“We told them the other day that we are seeded first for states and I think that fired them up,” said Misiewicz.

“They were super excited. They knew there were a lot of expectations coming into counties. They all rose to the occasion, every single person.”

Romaine, for her part, is fired up about PHS’s chances to make a deep run in state competition.

“I am pretty confident going into states; I think this is the most we have had talent-wise,” said Romaine. “We are seeded first in the sectionals, we’ll see what happens.”

FINAL APPROACH: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Lucy Herring heads up the ice in recent action. Senior captain Herring chipped in two assists as PHS topped Pingry 4-2 in the program’s annual Senior Night. The Little Tigers, now 4-8, are next in action when they play at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 4.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FINAL APPROACH: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Lucy Herring heads up the ice in recent action. Senior captain Herring chipped in two assists as PHS topped Pingry 4-2 in the program’s annual Senior Night. The Little Tigers, now 4-8, are next in action when they play at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Lucy Herring entered Baker Rink for her Senior Night with the Princeton High girls’ hockey team, she gained extra inspiration from looking into the rafters.

“I saw the signs, it was awesome to see my name,” said senior forward and captain Herring, referring to the banners hanging in front of the bleacher honoring each of the seven seniors on the squad.

“After the three senior days when I have made the signs and then seeing a sign made for me, it was pretty special.”

Herring went on to enjoy a special evening, passing for two assists to help PHS top Pingry 4-2 in the January 23 contest.

Both of Herring’s helpers came on passes to younger sister, sophomore star Maggie, as the Little Tigers scored three goals in a 33-second span in the first period and then added an insurance goal in the third.

“In the beginning, we wanted to make sure that we were focused on passing,” said Herring. “I know Maggie has a really strong shot so I can always trust passing to her and having her get it in with her slap shot.”

The victory gave PHS its fourth triumph of the season, already doubling its win total from last winter when the Little Tigers posted a 2-11 record.

“It is really surreal actually,” said Herring. “My freshman year, we didn’t win a single game and my sophomore year we didn’t win anything and last year it was two. It is so amazing, especially my senior year. It is a great note to end on.”

In Herring’s view, the bond among the seniors has helped spark the team’s improvement.

“The senior class this year is really close,” said Herring, whose classmates on the squad include Britney Coniglione, Anne Daly, Julia DiTosto, Marian Hancock-Cerutti, Campbell McDonald, and Stephanie Ren.

“We have played since freshman year together, it has definitely been an experience. Senior year is fun. Everyone wants to be at practice, everyone wants to be at the games. It is not as much of a hassle and that just creates a more fun environment and motivates people to do well.”

Getting an infusion of talent has helped give PHS extra motivation. “I think we have definitely gotten new players like Alexa Zammit,” said Herring. “Campbell who left and came back and then Allie Callaway. Also Maggie has gotten a lot better through sheer practice.”

Herring relishes the on-ice connection she has developed with her younger sister. “It is really fun because we know each other really well,” said Herring. “I know what she is going to do with the puck; she knows what I am going to do with it. We sense where each other is going to go so we know where to pass.”

As Herring reflected on her career, she noted that she also got to be on the ice with older sister, Keely, a 2012 PHS alum and former hockey star herself.

“On the high school team, I played one year with Keely,” said Herring. “I was thinking about that. It was very different with Keely. Our playing styles were different. We didn’t have that same tight connection as Maggie. That is the benefit to being the middle child.”

PHS head coach Christian Herzog knows that his program has benefitted from Herring’s constant presence over the last four years.

“I can’t say enough good things about Lucy,” asserted Herzog. “When she came to the program, we were already struggling. It speaks volumes about her level of character that she didn’t just throw in the towel and say I want to play with a better team. She has really given some significant effort; her leadership has gotten better throughout the year. Over four years, she has done a lot for this program and the school in general. She has been a pretty good ambassador with her sportsmanship.”

In addition to providing plenty of intangibles, Herring shoulders the burden on the ice in crunch time.

“The sign of a good player is one who is asking for the puck when there are 30 seconds left and you are down by one, added Herzog. “Like her older sister Keely, she is one of those who is asking for the puck. She wants the opportunity to rise above and make that play and get that goal.”

As PHS got ready to hit the ice for the Pingry game, emotions were on the rise for the Little Tigers.

“The girls were buying into the fact that we were going to play period by period,” said Herzog.

“We are just going to go out there and play our game and regardless we are going to leave all of that emotion on the ice. I told them that if  nothing else, you guys should play even harder for the seven people graduating in here because eventually you younger players are also going to be in the same situation. You don’t know what it feels like until you are in that position. You start to think alright this is the last hurrah.”

Herzog liked the position PHS put itself in with the three-goal outburst in the first period that started with an Isabelle Sohn tally.

“Izzy admitted it was a garbage goal but if a garbage goal goes in, the goalie focuses on that garbage goal,” said Herzog.

“They put a little more pressure on her and they got lucky with some opportunities. That is a first this season, I haven’t seen that since the Gabby Vukasin days when we had four in 1:05. That changed the tone of the game and it gave me the opportunity to get the novice skaters in as well.”

The team’s progress this season has been heartening for Herzog. “It is night and day different compared to some of our previous years,” said Herzog. “It means a lot. You are coming from the very bottom and you aren’t focusing on not getting people to quit.”

Herzog credits the program’s Class of 2015 with getting people to play their best.

“The senior class, in general, is a good group of girls,” said Herzog. “They are always out to have a good time, they are a very inclusive kind of group. They all vibe together and they have a collective vision for the program.”

As Herzog looks ahead to the last few weeks of the season, he envisions some good things ahead.

“I don’t want to have a let up, regardless of what the record is at the end of the season,” said Herzog, whose team is now 4-8 and is next in action when it plays at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on February 4.

“I want to reflect back on this when we have our banquet and be able to say that to the end, there was no let up or throwing in the towel. The season is not over until that second game on February 15; I want to focus all the way through.”

Herring, for her part, isn’t about to lose her focus. “We have never had so many close games that are winnable,” said Herring. “I am really excited to try our best in them and see where we go.”

READING THE GAME: Princeton High boys’ hockey player John Reid controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior forward Reid enjoyed a big game on the program’s annual Senior Night, tallying four assists as PHS topped WW/P-N 10-3 to improve to 7-8-1. The Little Tigers play Hopewell Valley on February 6 and Robbinsville on February 8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

READING THE GAME: Princeton High boys’ hockey player John Reid controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior forward Reid enjoyed a big game on the program’s annual Senior Night, tallying four assists as PHS topped WW/P-N 10-3 to improve to 7-8-1. The Little Tigers play Hopewell Valley on February 6 and Robbinsville on February 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

John Reid and his senior classmates on the Princeton High boys’ hockey team have become closer through adversity.

“We have had a couple of tough state tournament losses; we had a couple of tough losses early on,” said Reid.

“I think as a class we have grown into really strong hockey players. We all like each other. As a whole, I think we are a pretty cohesive unit.”

Last Saturday, Reid and his classmates were showered with affection as the program held its annual Senior Night celebration at Baker Rink in conjunction with its game against WW/P-N.

“Sending off three classes of seniors before me in this building and now doing it with my classmates is really special; getting the opportunity to play our last game here at Baker,” said Reid. “It is tough to swallow that we can’t be back here. It was a fun night.”

Reid ended up having a lot of fun in the game, getting four assists to help trigger PHS to a 10-3 win over the Northern Knights which improved the Little Tigers to 7-8-1.

In reflecting on his performance, Reid said he enjoys being the playmaker.

“That is usually my game, it mostly comes from the fact that I don’t have the best shot,” said Reid with a smile. “I like setting guys up. I guess tonight it showed itself.”

Many of Reid’s passes over the years have found the stick of classmate and fellow captain Connor McCormick.

“Connor played a big role freshman year and then both of us have gotten a lot of minutes since our sophomore year,” said Reid of McCormick, who scored two goals in the win over WW/P-N.

“I think he and I bonding has really helped the team. I think we both came in knowing that this was our last game in Baker. I think knowing that gave us a little extra spark.”

Reid is hoping the win will spark PHS as it looks to qualify for the upcoming state tournament, needing to have a .500 record as of the February 9 cut-off date.

“We need four more points to qualify for the state tournament,” said Reid. “I think this is huge for us to come in tonight and get a big win. We have struggled finding our identity. We are just kind of finding that now later in the season.”

PHS head coach Terence Miller saw the win over WW/P-N as a huge plus. “We have a big week coming up, this was much needed,” said Miller.

“We just told our guys that our season is on the line from now on. I think we realize that we have no room for error at this point. We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole and we are trying to climb out with about 10 days left in the regular season.”

The emotions surrounding Senior Night gave PHS a lift on Saturday. “It is fun to see these guys get honored on Senior Night in Hobey Baker Rink,” said Miller, whose Class of 2015 includes Joe Hawes, Chris Munoz, Nick Palmer, Becket Tovar, and Aidan Bitterman in addition to Reid and McCormick.

“It is great stuff, it is well deserved. We have a great group of guys, great seniors. They are genuinely good kids and they deserve the recognition. Hockey aside, they are just really good kids. I was happy for them.”

The pair of Reid and McCormick had provided good leadership for the program this winter.

“Connor and John have the ‘C’ on their sweater for a reason, they are our leaders,” said Miller.

“They have been good at adapting to different needs, whether that be on the back side, playing defense or going to wing or center. They are both willing and eager to play wherever they are asked. They are good solid good-hearted kids that set a good tone for our guys. They are not necessarily the loudest rah rah type guys but they lead by example. They quietly go about their business and the other guys follow that lead.”

Some of the other PHS seniors took care of business on Saturday. “Aidan Bitterman got his first career goal,” said Miller. “Nick Palmer is a great kid, he plays on the back end and he got a lot of good minutes tonight. I am happy he was honored and had a good night on Senior Night. It is important.”

In Miller’s view, PHS has what it takes to produce a good finish this winter. “I think we are a game off the pace for states,” said Miller, whose team plays Hopewell Valley on February 6 and Robbinsville on February 8.

“We are just trying to take this one game at a time; we want to finish on a good note. Hopefully this gets us going, gets our mojo going, gets our legs going a little bit.”

Reid, for his part, is confident that the Little Tigers will do their best to go as far as possible in postseason play.

“We don’t have the deepest team but we have some great skill,” said Reid. “We have guys that are going to fight until we are done so a run in the counties is definitely not out of the question.”

OUT OF STEP: Hun School girls basketball player Erica ­Dwyer drives to the basket in a recent game. Last Saturday, senior guard Dwyer tallied 20 points in a losing cause as Hun fell 62-38 to Montgomery to suffer its eighth straight defeat. The Raiders, now 3-13, are slated to host Germantown Friends (Pa.) on February 5 and then play at the Shipley School (Pa.) on February 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OUT OF STEP: Hun School girls basketball player Erica ­Dwyer drives to the basket in a recent game. Last Saturday, senior guard Dwyer tallied 20 points in a losing cause as Hun fell 62-38 to Montgomery to suffer its eighth straight defeat. The Raiders, now 3-13, are slated to host Germantown Friends (Pa.) on February 5 and then play at the Shipley School (Pa.) on February 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Just a few years ago, the Hun School-Peddie matchup was the most heated rivalry in local prep girls’ basketball.

The two programs met in the state Prep A finals five straight seasons from 2005-2009 and even though Peddie always prevailed, Hun customarily fought the Falcons to the final horn.

Last Wednesday, when the teams met in the latest installment of the series, those halcyon days were a distant memory.

A shorthanded Hun team, missing some key players to injury, fell behind visiting Peddie 16-0 on the way to a 74-40 defeat.

Afterward, a glum Hun head coach Bill Holup declined to use the injuries as an excuse.

“The injuries obviously impact the team but psychologically we have to be ready to play and physically we have to be ready to play,” said Holup, who was without the services of top scorer Janelle Mullen along with Alexis Goeke and Clare Moloney.

“We have got to get used to playing without Janelle. We are hoping she will be back the first week of February.”

Holup acknowledged that his team didn’t play well at either end of the court in the loss to Peddie.

“I don’t think we gave ourselves a chance at all in this game,” lamented Holup. “Defensively we were disorganized and offensively we didn’t move.”

In Holup’s view, his team needs to undergo some soul searching. “The bottom line is that we have to come ready to play,” said Holup, whose team fell 62-38 to Montgomery last Saturday to drop to 3-13 and is slated to host Germantown Friends (Pa.) on February 5 and then play at the Shipley School (Pa.) on February 7.

“I am disappointed in the overall effort that we put in. It is upsetting. I am hoping it is an aberration.”

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Gianluca Travia holds his position in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore defenseman Travia and the Panthers skated to a 4-4 tie with Chatham. The Panthers, who moved to 2-11-4 with the tie, were slated to play Morristown-Beard on February 3 in the state Prep semifinals with the winner advancing to the title game on February 5 against the victor of the Hun/Montclair-Kimberley semi. In addition, PDS is hosting Bergen Catholic on February 6 and Saint Augustine Prep on February 9.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Gianluca Travia holds his position in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore defenseman Travia and the Panthers skated to a 4-4 tie with Chatham. The Panthers, who moved to 2-11-4 with the tie, were slated to play Morristown-Beard on February 3 in the state Prep semifinals with the winner advancing to the title game on February 5 against the victor of the Hun/Montclair-Kimberley semi. In addition, PDS is hosting Bergen Catholic on February 6 and Saint Augustine Prep on February 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Hosting a powerful and skilled Portledge School (N.Y.) last Wednesday, the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team held its own in the early stages of the contest.

“I look at the first period and I thought the first six or seven minutes, the game played out the way we wanted it to,” said PDS head coach Scott Bertoli.

“We had more chances early in that first period then at any point in any game in the last month. I told our kids if you are willing to be disciplined and compete in the offensive zone, you are going to get opportunities.”

But it was Portledge that broke through with two goals in the first period to take a 2-0 lead and then the roof fell in on the Panthers as they gave up four unanswered goals in the second to fall behind 6-0 heading into the final period. PDS did show some fight in the third but it went on to lose 8-1.

“We hung with them early but we are so limited offensively that we can’t give up easy goals,” said Bertoli.

“The first two goals are backbreakers. It falls apart because we take chances, we take dumb penalties and some of our older guys are taking penalties.

Bertoli acknowledges that his team lacks firepower. “There were four or five opportunities today where the puck hit their sticks in scoring areas but we are just not ready to score,” said Bertoli.

“We don’t play stick, we don’t body up on men; that is the frustrating part. That is why we average a goal a game. We don’t have the type of kids who can make plays and beat people one-on-one and we don’t have kids who are ready to score the puck.”

As a result, Bertoli wants his players to focus on being ready to make things tougher on their foes.

“I talk about it all the time, our kids play hard but they are not hard to play against,” said Bertoli, whose team put in some good work last Friday, pulling out a 4-4 tie with Chatham to move to 2-11-4.

“They work hard but they have to work outside their comfort zone and that has to happen in practice. We have to demand more in practice.”

As defending state prep champion, PDS faces a demanding road to a title repeat as it is slated to play at Morristown-Beard on February 3 in the state Prep semifinal with the winner advancing to the title game on February 5 against the victor of the Hun/Montclair-Kimberley semi.

“We have a lot to work on and a lot to improve on,” added Bertoli, looking ahead to a big week that also includes home games against Bergen Catholic on February 6 and Saint Augustine Prep on February 9.

“It is a young group and we need to take advantage of every opportunity we throw the uniform on. The focus has to shift to going to Mo Beard and beating a very good team. They came in here and beat us pretty handily; that is not to say that we can’t have some success because I think we did some things in the third period of that game.”

No matter how his squad does in the Prep tourney, Bertoli believes it can take steps to laying a foundation for future success.

“The reality is it doesn’t matter how many games we win this year,” said Bertoli. “It is building and getting that mindset that we have to play outside our comfort zone. We have to be harder to play against. My focus is on them playing the right way and competing at the level I want to see them compete at.”

January 28, 2015

Hannah Ash has experienced a breakthrough in her final campaign with the Princeton High girls’ swimming team.

After being a member of the supporting cast for PHS over the last three seasons, senior Ash has emerged as a star this winter.

Coming into last Thursday’s showdown with Lawrence, Ash had posted six individual wins and had taken part in six relay victories in the last five meets for PHS.

In reflecting on her recent success in the water, Ash attributed her progress to some work on the water as a rower for Mercer Rowing Club.

“It has been really exciting getting to drop times this year since the past couple of years I have been in a lull,” said Ash.

“I think it is because of the cross training with crew, that’s definitely showing.”

There was plenty of excitement in the air at the John Witherspoon School pool on Thursday as both PHS and Lawrence brought 10-0 records into the contest. Ash had a big day as the Little Tigers rolled to a 120-50 victory, placing second in the 100 freestyle and helping the 200 free relay to victory.

“It was really impressive seeing everyone definitely swimming their hardest,” said Ash, reflecting on the win. “The atmosphere in here was so amazing.”

There was a special atmosphere on the deck as PHS held its annual Senior Day ceremony.

“It is kind of bittersweet,” said Ash. “It is really exciting that it is finally us up there but it is definitely sad knowing that we are going to leave these people.”

The PHS squad has definitely come together this winter. “I think we bond as a team really well; everyone is so supportive of
each other,” said Ash.

“That definitely helps when you are in the pool and you hear everyone cheering for you. That is a really good feeling.”

Ash and her fellow seniors support each other on a daily basis. “Since there are so many of us is it is really good being able to feed off of each other,” said Ash.

“We get the vibes from each other and get each other’s opinions on what we think is going to make the team better. Since none of us are club swimmers we are at practice everyday so it is definitely good being around each other.”

PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz believes Ash is making PHS better in a number of ways.“Hannah Ash is definitely stepping up this year as far as times,” said Misiewicz. “She is also making sure that the freshmen are really involved in what is going on as a whole team.”

In Misiewicz’s view, the whole senior class has been making a positive impact.

“They are great,” asserted Misiewicz, whose other senior swimmers include Jessica Bai, Rhea Bhatt, Lopa Krishnan, Lindsey Lim, Charlotte Singer, and Stephanie Tam.

“They are here everyday because none of our seniors are club swimmers. It is nice that the high school kids see them on a daily basis. They see them here, training so hard, practicing day in, day out.”

The team’s hard work certainly paid off against Lawrence. “I can’t be any happier for the swimmers, they are swimming out of their minds,” said Misiewicz, whose team improved to 12-0 with a 124-45 win over Ewing last Thursday.

“We knew going into the season that our girls are definitely good; this is their year in our opinion.”

In the win over Lawrence, the Little Tigers’ quartet of stars, sophomore Melinda Tang, freshman Abbey Berloco, and juniors Brianna Romaine and Maddie Deardorff, showed they are very good as they each won two races. Tang placed first in the 200 and 500 freestyle races, Berloco won the 50 free and 100 butterfly, Romaine was victorious in the 100 free and 100 backstroke while Deardorff prevailed in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.

“When Abbey, Maddie, Bri, and Melinda get into the pool, they get in to race,” said Misiewicz. “It doesn’t matter if they are a body length ahead or a fingertip ahead.”

The rest of the squad has adopted that competitive approach. “All of other girls are getting the hang of it, reaching for that second or third, out-touching the person next to them,” said Misiewicz.

“That is what I have been stressing, outrace the person next to you. Be aware of the whole entire pool, you may in lane seven but something is happening in lane two.”

With PHS going after its third straight Mercer County Swimming Championships team title this week as the competition is slated for January 29-31, Misiewicz is confident that her team will keep racing as hard as it can.

“They are having fun with every single meet,” said Misiewicz. “They are getting excited for counties and seeing how far we can make it in states after counties.”

Ash, for her part, is excited for her final county meet. “I think we have a pretty good chance; I am pretty enthusiastic about it,” said Ash.

“I think we have really good depth in our team. That is definitely important at counties since it is more individual than team-wise. I think it is looking good.”