December 18, 2019

By Bill Alden

In the mid-1980s, Joe Scott starred in the backcourt for the Princeton University men’s basketball team, known for his sharpshooting from the perimeter and hard-nosed play.

New Jersey native Scott drained 59 three-pointers as a senior in 1986-87, a program record at the time, and ended up with 144 steals to rank seventh at Princeton.

From 1988-92, Leah Spraragen distinguished herself as one of the best playmakers in the history of Princeton women’s basketball, dishing out 362 assists, the second most in program history.

Scott and Spraragen ended up marrying each other and last Wednesday, their son Jack, displayed qualities of his parents as the Hun School boys’ basketball team hosted Pennington. more

HAIL TO THE VICTORS: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Hailey Wexler controls the puck in a game during the 2018-19 season. Last Saturday as PDS wrapped up its 30th annual Harry Rulon-Miller Girls’ Hockey Invitational at McGraw Rink, junior forward Wexler scored two goals, including the game winner, as PDS defeated Chatham 5-4 in overtime in the championship game. PDS, now 3-2, plays Morristown-Beard on December 18 at the Twin Oaks Arena. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Hailey Wexler was primed to pick up her offensive production this winter heading into junior campaign for the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team.

“I definitely try to be more of a scorer because our top scorer from last year is gone,” said Wexler, referring to the graduated Julie Patterson, who is now playing at Wilkes University.

“We have got a new sophomore in Ally [Antonacci] who was at the school already and we have a few great freshmen.”

Last Saturday as PDS hosted Chatham in the championship game of the program’s 30th annual Harry Rulon-Miller Girls’ Invitational, Wexler came up with some key scores.  more

A-PLUS: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Aleah James dribbles upcourt in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, junior guard James scored a game-high 22 points to help Stuart defeat Hun 73-35. The Tartans, now 3-2, are next in action when they compete in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Ariz. from December 18-21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Aleah James put her nose to the grindstone in an effort to become more of an all-around offensive threat this winter for the Stuart Country Day School basketball team.

“I have been working on my shot more; I am really trying to consistently hit threes this season and work on my outside game,” said junior guard James. “I am also looking to get easy points off of steals.”

James displayed her offensive skill set last Wednesday, tallying a game-high 22 points, including four 3-pointers, as Stuart pulled away to a 73-35 win over Hun.

Coming off an 84-38 loss to Blair two days earlier, James and her teammates were fired up to jump on the Raiders.

“Our mindset was just to bring the energy no matter what because we have the talent, we have the players,” said James, reflecting on a contest which saw the Tartans jump out to a 25-10 lead heading into the second quarter. “We have everything so as long as we brought the energy we were fine.”

Applying a full-court press, the energy Stuart displayed at the defensive end helped set the tone.

“Defense is our strong suit this season, especially pressuring the ball to get our points easily,” added James. more

DRIVING FORCE: Hun School girls’ basketball player Kennedy Jardine drives to the basket in recent action. Last Saturday, junior star Jardine scored 15 points in a losing cause as Hun fell 50-47 in overtime to the Baldwin School (Pa.) to move to 5-2. The Raiders are next in action when they host the Blair Academy on January 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Bill Holup liked what he saw as his Hun School girls’ basketball team won its first four games.

“We beat some solid teams and we won close games,” said Hun head coach Holup. “The girls were finding ways to win.”

Last Wednesday, Hun ran into a very solid team as it played at Stuart Country Day School and tasted defeat for the first time this winter, falling 73-35 to the Tartans.

“Today was more of a reality check,” said Holup. “I think we did a little too much dribbling, we just weren’t prepared for the pressure they were going to put on us.” more

December 11, 2019

GOAL ORIENTED: Princeton High boys’ hockey player John Zammit goes after the puck in game last season. This past Wednesday, sophomore forward Zammit scored three goals to help PHS defeat Lawrence 12-2 in its season opener. Last Monday, Zammit scored two goals as the Tigers defeated WW/P 9-3 to improve to 2-0. In upcoming action, PHS faces Paul VI at the Skate Zone in Pennsauken on December 13 and then plays Hopewell Valley on December 17 at Mercer County Park.  (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

John Zammit has taken his game to a higher level this winter as he starts his sophomore season for the Princeton High boys’ hockey team.

“It is just a bunch of confidence; freshman year, I was a little hesitant at times with the size and weight difference of the older players,” said Zammit.

“I am bigger and more physical, size helps. Puck possession wise, I think my stickhandling has been getting more accurate and I am more consistent.”

Last Wednesday, Zammit displayed some deft stickhandling, scoring three goals as PHS overcame an early 1-0 deficit and defeated Lawrence High 12-2 in its season opener at Mercer County Park. more

FAST START: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Gibson Linnehan races to goal in recent action. Last Thursday, junior forward Linnehan scored a goal to help PDS defeat Randolph 3-1. The Panthers, now 2-0, host Morristown-Beard on December 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Moving up to the top line for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team this winter, Gibson Linnehan is ready to shoulder more responsibility.

Teaming with Stefan Gorelenkov and junior Drew McConaughy, junior Linnehan is relishing his new duties.

“We are leading the team every single practice and every single game,” said Linnehan. “It is our job, we are having fun with it.”

The trio has been doing a good job of controlling play. “We keep the puck in the offensive zone the whole game, we get shots to the net,” said Linnehan. more

ON A ROLL: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Jaylin Champion-Adams looks to make a pass in a game last season. Junior forward Colon helped the Panthers get their 2019-20 season off to a promising start as they won the Solebury School (Pa.) Invitational last weekend, defeating George School (Pa.) 69-59 in the opening round on Friday and then defeating host Solebury 71-49 in the final on Saturday. PDS will look to keep on the winning track as it plays at the Academy of New Church (Pa.) on December 14 before hosting Pennington on December 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last winter, the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team displayed flashes of brilliance but ended up faltering in postseason play.

PDS was seeded first in the state Prep B tournament but fell to archival Pennington in the semis. Days later, the Panthers lost to WW/P-North in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament.

“There were a lot of missed opportunities last year, that is from the top down,” said PDS head coach Doug Davis, who guided the Panthers to a 12-13 record last winter in his debut season at the helm of the program.

“We are thinking about things we could do better as a coaching staff and what our guys who were there last year can improve on this season. We are really trying to right the wrong and go a bit farther. We want to play together as a team a little bit more. There were some spots last year where we didn’t play together as much.” more

BRAKE OUT: Hun School boys’ hockey player Chris Brake, right, goes after the puck in action last week. Senior captain and forward Brake has helped Hun start the 2019-20 season at 1-0-1 as the Raiders defeated LaSalle College High (Pa.) 6-3 in their season opener last Wednesday and then skated to a 4-4 tie with St. John Vianney a day later. In upcoming action, Hun faces St. Joe’s Metuchen on December 11 at Woodbridge Community Center and then plays at the Lawrenceville School on December 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With a roster stocked with newcomers, the Hun School boys’ hockey team will have a markedly different look this winter.

Noting that two-thirds of his players are new to the school as well as the program, Hun head coach Ian McNally is embracing the changes to his squad.

“The mood is great, it is like a new group; it is an excited energy,” said McNally, who guided Hun to a 15-8-1 record last winter and its sixth straight Mercer County Tournament title.

“They don’t know the history or anybody or any of that stuff. It is a fun vibe right now.”

McNally is relying on one of his old hands, Chris Brake, who has quite a history with the program, to lead the group. more

December 4, 2019

IN THE ZONE: Hun School football player Ian Franzoni races up the field this fall. Senior running back and Brown commit Franzoni had a huge final campaign for the Raiders, gaining 1,178 yards rushing on 87 attempts for an average gain of 13.5 yards a carry. He ran for 12 touchdowns and also made 12 receptions for 322 yards and four TDs. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Ian Franzoni was primed to assume a leading role this fall for the Hun School football team.

After paying his dues the previous three seasons as the backup to star running back Josh Henderson, now playing for the University of North Carolina, Franzoni stepped into the starting tailback spot for the season opener at Cheshire Academy (Conn.) in early September.

In a sign of things to come, Franzoni piled up more than 300 yards total offense against Cheshire, including kick returns, rushing, and receiving as the Raiders rolled to a 44-7 win.

A week later, Franzoni showed that his opening salvo was no fluke, rushing for 275 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries in the victory as Hun routed Canada Prep 50-8. more

MAC ATTACK: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Drew McConaughy chases down the puck in a game last winter. Junior forward McConaughy figures to be a key offensive threat for the Panthers this season. PDS opens its 2019-20 campaign on December 4 by facing St. Joe’s Prep School (Pa.) at the University of Pennsylvania 1923 Rink. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the graduation of its big three of star forwards — Coby Auslander and Ty Eastman along with standout defenseman Chip Hamlett — there will be new faces in new places this winter for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team.

“We are definitely going to have a young group, we have 12 new players,” said PDS head coach Scott Bertoli, who led the Panthers to a 14-12-1 record last winter.

“It is a group that is buying into what we are doing. The kids are excited, they are eager, and they want to learn.”

PDS opens its 2019-20 campaign on December 4 by facing St. Joe’s Prep School (Pa.) at the University of Pennsylvania 1923 Rink, resulting in a steep learning curve for the young Panthers. more

READY TO ROCK: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Rocco Salvato controls the puck in action last winter. Senior star Salvato is looking to have a big final campaign for PHS. The Tigers, who will be guided by new head coach Joe Bensky, are scheduled to face Lawrence High on December 4 at Mercer County Park in their first game of the 2019-20 season. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Joe Bensky has spent a lot of time around Colonial Valley Conference (CVC) hockey.

He starred for the WW/P-North boys’ hockey team from 2009-12 and later served as an assistant coach for the WW/P coop squad in the 2017-18 season.

Now Bensky is taking on a big role with another CVC program as he is taking the helm of the Princeton High boys’ hockey program, succeeding Tim Chase as the head coach of the team.

When Bensky, who played club hockey at East Stroudsburg University and The College of New Jersey and works as school counselor at Ewing High, found out that he got the PHS job, he was elated.

“I was really, really excited, I knew they were a pretty talented group,” said Bensky, who is taking over a team that went 14-10-3 last winter, advancing to the Mercer County Tournament final and the quarterfinals of the state Public B tourney. more

KENNEDY ADMINISTRATION: Hun School basketball player Kennedy Jardine dribbles the ball in a game last season. Junior guard Jardine figures to be a go-scorer for the Raiders this winter. Hun was slated to open its 2019-20 campaign this week by hosting Germantown Friends (Pa.) on December 3 and then playing at the St. Luke’s School (Conn.) on December 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

There is a good vibe around the Hun School girls’ basketball team as it gets ready to tip off its 2019-20 campaign.

“We have had a couple of scrimmages and the girls have played extremely well,” said Hun head coach Bill Holup, who led the Raiders to a 9-14 record last winter and is in his 21st season guiding the program. “They are very positive and upbeat.”

Holup is expecting a positive contribution from junior star guard Kennedy Jardine as she has refined her game.

“Kennedy is stronger and better; she is looking to attack the basket more,” said Holup, whose team tips off the season this week by hosting Germantown Friends (Pa.) on December 3 and then playing at the St. Luke’s School (Conn.) on December 7.

“She still has her three-point shot but she has really expanded her game. Her ball handling is good. In the past, she pretty much stayed on the perimeter. It is good to be more than one-dimensional.” more

X-MAN: Hun School boys’ basketball player Xander Alvarado gets the ball upcourt in a game last winter. Senior point guard Alvarado will be counted on to trigger the Hun offense this winter. The Raiders were slated to tip off their 2019-20 season by hosting the Haverford School (Pa.) on December 3 and then playing at St. Benedict’s Prep on December 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jon Stone is dealing with a problem regarding his Hun School boys’ basketball team this winter that would be the envy of many coaches.

“It is a little unique this year, I have 11 guys who can play, there are definitely some interchangeable positions,” said Hun head coach Stone, who is in his 20th season at the helm of the program and guided the Raiders to an 11-14 record last winter. “We are just incredibly deep. Figuring out the rotation is going to be my biggest challenge without a doubt.”

Hun’s rotation boasts four returning guards in senior Xander Alvarado, senior Liam Gunnarson, senior Dylan Knight, and sophomore Daniel Vessey. more

B-LINE: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Nia Melvin heads upcourt in a 2018 game. Junior guard Melvin, who has helped Stuart win state Prep B titles in her first two seasons with the program, has emerged as a key leader for the squad. The Tartans open their 2019-20 season by hosting Kings Christian on December 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While bombing three-point shots has become a predominant focus at all levels of basketball in recent years, the Stuart Country Day School basketball team will be employing a bit of an old school approach this season.  more

November 27, 2019

By Bill Alden

Will Asch knew that his Princeton Day School girls’ tennis team faced an uphill battle as they competed in the state Prep B tournament in late October to culminate the season.

“There were some incredibly good singles players in the Prep B this year, two on Ranney and two on Gill St. Bernard’s; certainly all four of them would have been among the best in Mercer County,” said PDS head coach Asch.

“There wasn’t really much of a chance at first or second singles for anybody else.”

But making the most of its chances in the other flights, PDS got state titles at third singles from freshman Neha Khandkar and at first doubles from juniors Hayden Masia and Hannah Van Dusen.

As a result, PDS took second in the team standings behind champion Gill St. Bernard’s. more

TOP GUN: Princeton Day School boys’ cross country star Gunnar Clingman heads to the finish line in a race earlier this fall. Junior Clingman placed second individually in the state Prep B championship meet to help PDS take fourth in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Things looked bleak for the Princeton Day School boys’ cross country team as it convened for its 2019 campaign.

“We lost two of our top three runners that were supposed to come back and I was thinking this was going to be a disaster,” said PDS head coach John Woodside.

But with some veterans making progress and some newcomers stepping up, the Panthers made strides through the fall and culminated the season by finishing a strong fourth at the state Prep B championship meet  at Blair Academy earlier this month.

“We showed very well, it was the best we had done there in a while,” said Woodside, whose team had 102 points in taking fourth with Newark Academy winning the meet with a score of 28. more

ALEX THE GREAT: Hun School boys’ soccer goalie Alex Donahue sends the ball up the field in a game this fall. Junior Donahue emerged as a star for Hun, earning All-Prep A first team honors. The Raiders advanced to the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals and the state Prep A semis on the way to posting a 6-10-3 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In the early stages of the 2019 season, the Hun School boys’ soccer team didn’t look like it was destined to do any damage in postseason play.

The Raiders suffered three straight losses in the first two weeks of the season, getting outscored 10-5 in those setbacks. 

Undeterred by the shaky start, Hun regrouped and ended up advancing to the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals and the state Prep A semis.

“It is the first time we won a county game and a state game in the same year a while,” said Hun head coach Pat Quirk, whose team ended 2019 with a final record of 6-10-3. “It was good for the younger guys to see what it takes to win in those tournaments.”

Two of the squad’s older guys, senior Brian Spencer and junior Amar Anand came through in a dramatic 3-2 overtime win against Blair in the opening round of the Prep A tourney.

“It was a back and forth game; it was a battle,” recalled Quirk. more

STICKING WITH IT: Hun School field hockey player Catherine Argiriou dribbles the ball in a game this fall. Senior Argiriou provided leadership and production for Hun as it showed improvement down the stretch. After starting 0-9, the Raiders ended up with a 3-15 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When the Hun School field hockey team started this fall by losing its first nine games, it would have been understandable if its players had simply thrown in the towel on the season.

Instead, the Raiders didn’t stop grinding, sharpening their skills and earning three wins over the last few weeks of the season.

“They kept getting better,” said Hun head coach Tracey Arndt, who was in her first season guiding the program.

“I was really proud of them that they continued to work hard no matter what with the setbacks and adversity they had.”

Displaying that progress, the Raiders gave second-seeded Lawrence a battle in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament, falling 2-0 after having lost to the Cardinals 6-0 two weeks earlier in a regular season contest. more

November 20, 2019

MILES TO GO: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Miles Ryan controls the ball in a game this fall. Sophomore midfielder Ryan was one of several young players who stepped up this season for PHS as it went 14-7 and advanced to the Mercer County Tournament semifinals and the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional quarters. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Wayne Sutcliffe has never guided such a young Princeton High boys’ soccer team in his 23 years as head coach of the program as he had this fall.

There was not a senior on the field when fifth-seeded PHS lost 1-0 to 13th-seeded and eventual sectional finalist, Long Branch, on November 1 in the Central Jersey Group 4 quarterfinal.

While the harsh finality of the result stung, the Tigers could look ahead with justified optimism to the 2020 season.

“There’s clear desire on their part to win some silverware next year,” said Sutcliffe.  more

SPOILS OF VICTORY: Members of the Princeton Football Club (PFC) Porto U-12 boys team show off the trophy and medals they earned for winning the New Jersey Youth Soccer State President’s Cup earlier this month. The PFC team edged Cinnaminson SC Union 2-1 in overtime in the championship game on November 3 at the Capelli Sports Complex in Tinton Falls. By winning the New Jersey title, PFC qualified to compete in the East Regional, which will be held next June in Barboursville and Charleston, W. Va. Pictured in the front row, from left, are Nishanth Balaji, Mario Radzicki, Quinn Shannon, Gus Shapiro, Siddarth Goyal, and Logan Miller. In the back row, from left, are Coach Yordan Hristov, Aaron Thyrum, Vidur Jain, Trey McFadden,  Billy Crawshaw, Declan Hughes, Christian Tharney, Ivan Marinov, and Aahil Sikkander.

By Bill Alden

Yordan Hristov sensed that his PFC Porto U-12 boys’ soccer team was poised for a championship run this fall.

Hardened by losing in the state quarterfinals last spring as the bounces didn’t go the club’s way, Hristov saw a greater resolve in his players.

“I felt going into this season that we have something special going on,” said PFC Porto head coach Hristov.

“We are more prepared a little more mature and smarter. We have a little bit more determination and we all have a better understanding and the experience of the past.” more

November 13, 2019

MIDFIELD MAESTRO: Zoe Sarnak displays two of her many talents, recently performing on stage, left, and playing soccer for the Harvard women’s soccer team in 2006. Sarnak, a stellar midfielder for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team from 2001-04, will be inducted in the PHS Athletic Hall of Fame this Saturday. (Photos provided by Zoe Sarnak and Harvard Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

As an award-winning composer and lyricist, Zoe Sarnak relishes the process of combining her talents with others to create productions.

For Sarnak, working together to achieve something special stems naturally from her experience as a star midfielder for the Princeton High girls’ soccer program more than a decade ago.

“Team sports were really good because they taught me how to play a certain leadership role on a team; I definitely think they helped me in my career,” said Sarnak, a 2005 PHS grad now based in New York City whose professional resume includes such theater and songwriting honors as winning the Jonathan Larson Award and the Davenport Contest and being named as a finalist for the Fred Ebb Award, Kleban Prize, Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award, and the NY Stage & Film’s Founders Award. more

SERVE AND PROTECT: Princeton High girls’ volleyball player Emily Dobler blasts a serve in a match last season. Last Thursday, senior libero Dobler contributed 10 digs and nine service points in a losing cause as seventh-seeded PHS fell 2-1 to 10th-seeded East Brunswick in the second round of the state Group 4 tournament. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 19-8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming into the fall, the Princeton High girls’ volleyball team was looking for someone to fill the critical libero role.

“The libero serves as a defensive specialist and playmaker, wearing a different color jersey than her teammates to signify her unique responsibilities.

While PHS senior Emily Dobler had never played that position before, she reluctantly agreed to give it a shot.

“This is my first year paying libero, I used to be a hitter on the front row,” said Dobler.

“I wasn’t that excited about it at the beginning of the year, but it is really fun to work on getting the passes there and getting them up. I am improving on that because I never thought of myself as a passer.” more

FAST COMPANY: Members of the Princeton High girls’ cross country team take off at the start of the Mercer County Championships last month. This past Saturday, PHS took third in the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional meet. As a result of making the top five, the Tigers qualified to compete in the state Group 4 meet this Saturday. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Three apples a day keeps the Princeton High girls’ cross country season going.

“We’ve all been eating apples all year,” said PHS veteran stalwart Lizzy Hare with a laugh. “That’s the key.”

Last Saturday at the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional at Thompson Park in Jamesburg, Hare, the lone senior in the Tiger top seven, posted a personal record of 20:37 over the 5,000-meter course to come in fourth out PHS’s scoring five runners and help the squad place third in the meet.

“I think it’s very inspiring,” said Hare. “It’s really pushing us. We want to hopefully make it to Meet of Champs this year. It’s a big goal. We’ll have another hard week of training to hopefully make it out next week.” more

November 6, 2019

THRUST AND PARI: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Tulsi Pari gets the ball up the field last Friday against Newark Academy in the state Prep B final. Senior defender Pari helped top-seeded PDS edge Newark Academy 2-1 to earn the program’s sixth straight Prep title. The Panthers finished the fall with a 16-3-1 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It didn’t take long for Tulsi Pari to realize that playing for the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team meant that you had a bull’s-eye squarely on your back.

“It is a lot of pressure because coming in freshman year we already had that legacy and everything,” said senior defender Pari.

“Riley [Felsher], Bri [Astbury] and Ariana [Jones] are all in this together with me. The whole team has worked hard to keep this legacy up.”

Last Friday, Pari and classmates Felsher, Astbury, and Jones helped write another chapter in the program’s storied legacy as the top-seeded Panthers edged third-seeded Newark Academy 2-1 in the state Prep B final to earn their sixth straight state title and end the fall at 16-3-1. more

COMING TOGETHER: Princeton High girls’ soccer players Morgan Beamer, left, and Vanessa Ponce celebrate a goal in recent action. Fueled by team chemistry, PHS went 8-6-3 this fall, advancing to the quarterfinals of the Mercer County Tournament before getting edged 1-0 at Old Bridge in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although the PHS girls’ soccer team didn’t go as far in postseason play as it had hoped, Val Rodriguez believes that her senior group helped the squad accomplish something special.

“I had a group of girls that I enjoy spending time with; they are good kids, they are fun kids with good character who care about each other,” said PHS head coach Rodriguez, whose senior group included Morgan Beamer, Caroline Ealy, Molly Frain, Kirin Kunukkasseril, Shaylah Marciano, Eva Petrone, Voula Papakonstantinou, and Lauren Rougas.

“I finally reached my goal here, creating a team like that, being part of a team like that. They made that a priority this year and they stayed committed to it from start to finish. The seniors work hard, they are committed to the game and a lot of them are going on to the next level to play college sports of some kind, either lacrosse or soccer.” more