September 4, 2013
MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer head coach Malcolm Murphy makes a point in a preseason practice. PDS opens regular season play when it hosts New Hope Solebury High (Pa.) on September 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 21, 2013
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TO THE MAX: Maxime Hoppenot races up the field in action last fall in his sophomore campaign for the Tufts University men’s soccer team. Former Princeton Day School standout Hoppenot was the leading scorer in 2012 for the Jumbos, tallying seven goals and three assists, making first-team All-New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) honors as Tufts went 9-4-4 on the way to the NCAA Division III tournament. Later this month, Hoppenot starts preseason training at Tufts, looking to be even more productive as a junior.
(Photo by Alonso Nichols/Tufts Courtesy of Tufts University Sports Information Department)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 24, 2013
CHANGE UP: Tom Hrabchak delivers a pitch for the Bucknell University baseball team this past spring. Hrabchak, a Princeton resident and former Peddie School standout, switched to pitcher from catcher in 2013 and emerged as a bullpen contributor for the Bison. This summer, he is pitching for the Freehold Clippers of the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League (ABCCL) and made the league’s all-star game. (Photo Courtesy of Bucknell’s Office of Athletic Communications)

CHANGE UP: Tom Hrabchak delivers a pitch for the Bucknell University baseball team this past spring. Hrabchak, a Princeton resident and former Peddie School standout, switched to pitcher from catcher in 2013 and emerged as a bullpen contributor for the Bison. This summer, he is pitching for the Freehold Clippers of the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League (ABCCL) and made the league’s all-star game.
(Photo Courtesy of Bucknell’s Office of Athletic Communications)

For Tom Hrabchak, spending most of his first two seasons with the Bucknell University baseball team riding the bench as a back-up catcher was frustrating.

“The freshman and sophomore years were pretty tough, I didn’t get that much playing time,” said Princeton resident and former Peddie School standout Hrabchak, who played a total of 11 games in 2011 and 2012, going 3-for 13 at the plate.

“At Peddie, there are maybe 20 games. At Bucknell we are playing 40-50 games; it is tough to not be playing in that many games.”

Sensing that his catching knowledge could be applied in another way to help the team, Hrabchak switched to the pitching end of the battery.

“I had wanted to pitch for a long time, I had the body type more suited to be a pitcher than a catcher,” said the 6’1, 195-pound Hrabchak.

“The coach approached me at the end of my sophomore year and asked me to pitch over the summer. I had an advantage as a catcher, wanting to help pitchers do better. I know what good pitching mechanics are and I had to figure out how to do that myself.”

Getting some mound experience last summer for the Freehold Clippers of the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League (ABCCL), Hrabchak emerged as a bullpen contributor this spring for Bucknell.

He made his first appearance at Richmond in mid-February in a season-opening three-game series.

“I came in at the end of the weekend, I had the last inning of game 3,” recalled Hrabchak, who retired both batters that he faced.

“I was very nervous. From where I had been as a walk-on catcher to my first year of pitching and going against D-I hitters, I did well.”

Hrabchak was a work in progress this spring, pitching 8.1 innings in six appearances with nine strikeouts and nine walks and an ERA of 4.32.

“During the school year, I was working on a splitter, it is a tough pitch to get down and control,” said Hrabchak.

“My velocity is in the mid-80s, which is not great for D-I. I think every outing is a learning experience. I had my ups and downs during the season. I had one really poor outing.”

Pitching again this summer for the Clippers, Hrabchak has produced some excellent outings as he made the league’s all-star game.

“The summer league is more relaxed, it is lots of fun, I get to meet guys I wouldn’t get to know,” said Hrabchak, who had three saves and an ERA of 0.64 in his first six appearances this summer with 23 strikeouts and six walks in 14 innings of work.

“I am working mostly on my fastball. I want to get my fastball consistent and cut down on the walks. The other part is getting faster to the plate when runners are on base.”

Looking ahead to his senior campaign for Bucknell, Hrabchak will be working to provide leadership and production.

“I want to be there for the guys and help the younger players,” said Hrabchak, who is majoring in computer science with a minor in physics. “I am really happy I switched; it is giving me more opportunities to play.”

NEAR MISS: Ellis Bloom bunts the ball in action earlier this summer for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team. Recently graduated Princeton High star Bloom’s play at third base and pitcher helped Post 218 go 12-12 on the season. The team narrowly missed out on its first-ever state playoff berth, finishing one game behind Ewing for sixth place in the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) and the last spot in the state tourney.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

NEAR MISS: Ellis Bloom bunts the ball in action earlier this summer for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team. Recently graduated Princeton High star Bloom’s play at third base and pitcher helped Post 218 go 12-12 on the season. The team narrowly missed out on its first-ever state playoff berth, finishing one game behind Ewing for sixth place in the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) and the last spot in the state tourney. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ellis Bloom and his teammates on the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team found themselves in an unusual position as they headed into the final days of the regular season.

With Post 218 having never qualified for postseason play in its 24-year history, the team was battling Ewing for sixth place Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) and the final spot in the state playoffs and relishing the chase.

“We knew in the beginning of this week that we had to do well,” said Post 218 third baseman Bloom.

“We could slip up once or twice but we knew we had to win the majority of the games. We did a good job of fighting. We took care of business on Monday. We got two wins there (against Robbinsville), which was really big. Then we had a slip up (an 11-1 loss to Hamilton on July 16) and that happens but the best part about that was that we were able to bounce back and we didn’t take that 10-run loss to the grave. We actually used it to our advantage. We had a very exciting and great win against Hopewell.”

Coming into the final day of the regular season last Thursday, Post 218 hosted league champion Bordentown Post 26 and controlled its destiny.

If Princeton won, it was in the playoffs no matter what happened to Ewing, who was playing Lawrence and WW/P in makeup games on Thursday. A Princeton loss combined with a Ewing split would still get Post 218 a berth in the state playoffs.

Leading off the bottom of the first inning, Bloom helped Post 218 get off to a good start against Bordentown, singling and then scoring as Princeton took a 1-0 lead.

“I really felt good, especially after wiggling out of a runner on third situation in the top of the first and then coming right back and getting a run,” said Bloom, who graduated from Princeton High last month where he starred on boys’ basketball and baseball teams.

“Unfortunately we weren’t able to get more on that. If we got one or two past the pitcher, we might have scored more.”

Princeton gave up three runs in the top of the second and found itself trailing 5-2 in the fifth when Bloom came in from third to relieve starting pitcher Rohit Chawla.

“My mindset was just to throw strikes,” said Bloom. “Obviously, if I walked too many people they would start ringing up the score. So just throwing strikes was really important and I thought I did a good job of mixing up my pitches, which really showed keeping them at zero.”

Princeton did rally in the bottom of the seventh as it got two runners on but was unable to score as it fell 5-2. To make matters worse, Ewing swept Allentown and WW/P-to grab the last playoff spot.

While it was disappointing for Post 218 to fall short, Bloom was proud of the way the team battled in posting a final record of 12-12.

“That has been our calling card the entire year,” said Bloom, referring to the team’s perseverance.

“Our biggest win of the year was probably the Allentown win and we were down by four going into the seventh inning and being able to come back was great for our confidence. That is essentially the definition of this team. One game goes our way and we are in a different situation. Going 12-12 has been great, just being in the hunt for the first time in a long time has been exciting.”

Post 218 manager Tommy Parker tipped his hat to his scrappy club, which improved markedly from a 7-15 campaign in 2012.

“That is great progress,” asserted Parker, who is the only manager in the history of the Post 218 program.

“We lost a couple of games early and that was literally just the way the ball bounced against teams that became the cream of the crop. We actually split with the second place team (Allentown).”

Parker credited Bloom and his other veteran players with helping to put Post 218 in place for its run at a playoff spot.

“Ellis has been stellar the whole season; he has been one of our stalwart guys,” said Parker.

“The senior guys have showed great leadership to the younger guys. What can I say about the older guys, like Ian Naccarella and Jon Hayden. Jess Russo is a warrior, he has been bumped and bruised and beat up and he has hung in there. It has been a total team effort. We have had great pitching. I am pleased.”

Boasting a foundation of some promising young players, Princeton should be able to hang with the best teams in the MCALL going forward.

“The most exciting thing is that a lot of these guys, if not most, are going to be back,” said Parker.

“The young guys have gained experience. We got a lot of help from Colin Ganges; he played as though he has been playing forever. He went on a hitting tear. Chris Sumners is an eighth grader and he has been playing good ball. I look forward to Ben Grass’ development. The young guys are going to be great.”

Bloom, for his part, has had a great experience this summer. “Starting two years ago, we won two games but one was by forfeit,” said Bloom, who is heading to Gettysburg College where he will be trying to walk on the school’s baseball team.

“So winning 10 more games than two years ago has been excellent. We always start the game thinking that we are going to win. It doesn’t matter if we are playing Bordentown or Broad Street Park or any of the tough teams or any of the bottom teams. It is just a tribute to the toughness of this team.”

DOUBLE TAKE: DeQuan Holman dribbles upcourt in previous Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League action. Last Monday, former Princeton High standout Holman scored a game-high 15 points as third-seeded Dr. Palmer edged No. 6 Clear View Window Cleaning 42-39 in double overtime in the opening round of the league playoffs. Dr. Palmer will face second-seeded Sneakers Plus on July 26 in the semis.(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

DOUBLE TAKE: DeQuan Holman dribbles upcourt in previous Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League action. Last Monday, former Princeton High standout Holman scored a game-high 15 points as third-seeded Dr. Palmer edged No. 6 Clear View Window Cleaning 42-39 in double overtime in the opening round of the league playoffs. Dr. Palmer will face second-seeded Sneakers Plus on July 26 in the semis. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

As Dr. Palmer battled Clear View Window Cleaning late in the second overtime last Monday in the opening round of the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League playoffs, DeQuan Holman proved to be in the right place at the right time.

With third-seeded Dr. Palmer ahead 40-39 in the waning seconds of the contest, former Princeton High star Holman seized the advantage after a turnover, getting open on the wing and putting in a layup to stretch the lead to 42-39. Moments later, when No. 6 Clear View was looking to hit a three and extend the marathon nailbiter, Holman was on the receiving end of a botched pass and dribbled out the clock as Dr. Palmer survived by that 42-39 margin.

After it was over, a sweating, winded Holman headed to a corner of the John Witherspoon gym to catch his breath.

“We both played hard,” said Holman. “With the layoff that we had coming in here from our last game to this one, we started off pretty good with defense. But they slowed the game down and got back into it. From there, we couldn’t make shots and we struggled a little bit. They played a tough game as well.”

In the early stages of the contest, Holman was playing tough, scoring seven points as Dr. Palmer built a 20-15 halftime lead.

“I was moving around
early, I got a couple of steals early but then it stopped coming so easy,” said Holman.

Things became even harder for Dr. Palmer when Mike Scott was ejected with 5:28 left in regulation.

“That was a tough situation especially with him being athletic as he is,” said Holman, who scored a game-high 15 points on the evening with Mike Snider tallying 12 to lead Clear View.

“That’s a big piece missing for us. The game is played on the floor and not on paper. Whatever is going to happen out there, we are going to try our hardest. We had to adjust; we were able to and we got the win.

By virtue of winning its game, Dr. Palmer will face second-seeded Sneakers Plus, a 45-34 victor over Northeast Realty in the first round, on July 26 in the semis. WTG topped Princeton Youth Sports 40-20 to advance to a quarterfinal matchup on July 24 with top-seeded Winberie’s. Fourth-seeded Ivy Inn will face No. 5 PA Blue Devils in the other quarter that evening.

The winners of the Wednesday games will meet in the other semifinal on Friday. The best-of-three championship series will begin on July 29.

Holman, who helped University Radiology to the 2011 crown, is hoping to make a similar impact in his first season with Dr. Palmer.

“I just want to bring my game to the team,” said Holman. “I just wanted to come in and be a contributor any way possible and I don’t think they have slipped too far from where they were last year or the year before.”

In Holman’s view, Dr. Palmer’s hard-earned win on Monday could help it go far in the playoffs.

“To get a tough game like that out of the way in the first round sets us up,” said Holman. “But nothing is going to come easy here, we are not going to be expected to get anything but we are going to work hard for everything.”

July 17, 2013
MAKING HAY: Jon Hayden of the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team rounds second base in recent action. Centerfielder Hayden has been a catalyst as Post 218 is in the chase for a spot in the District playoffs. Through July 15, Princeton stood at 11-10 and tied with Ewing for sixth place in the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) standings and the final postseason berth.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING HAY: Jon Hayden of the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team rounds second base in recent action. Centerfielder Hayden has been a catalyst as Post 218 is in the chase for a spot in the District playoffs. Through July 15, Princeton stood at 11-10 and tied with Ewing for sixth place in the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) standings and the final postseason berth. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Jon Hayden sees himself as a catalyst for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team.

“I like to try to get people pumped up in the game,” said centerfielder Hayden, who recently graduated from the Lawrenceville School. “I talk a lot and I try to make sure that people are ready to go. I try to ignite the flame a little.”

Last week, with Post 218 trailing Robbinsville Post 530 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, Hayden sparked Princeton as he cracked a towering double to the left field fence at Smoyer Park. Hayden scored and Post 218 had knotted the game at 2-2 by the end of the frame.

“He threw me a lot of curve balls in my first at bat,” said Hayden, reflecting on his double.

“I was just trying to sit back on whatever the off-speed pitch which was a curve ball and try to take it the other way instead of pulling my head out and trying to yank one down the first base line.”

Princeton fell behind 3-2 and then the game was suspended due to a
cloudburst. The teams met again last Monday to finish last week’s game and to play a regularly scheduled contest. Post 218 rallied for two late runs to win the resumed game 4-3 and then proceeded to top Robbinsville 10-3 to improve to 11-10 on the summer.

The two-win evening put Princeton in a tie with Ewing for sixth place in the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) standings and the final spot in the upcoming District tournament.

With Post 218 having never qualified for postseason play in its history, Hayden and his teammates are excited to be in the playoff chase.

“Last year, we were out of it pretty early but we still played hard,” said Hayden.

“This year we have even more of an incentive to play hard baseball. And we have hung with all of the best teams in the league so we know if we play hard and hit the ball hard, we have a chance against anybody in this league.”

The Post 218 mound staff of Rohit Chawla, Jacob Eisenberg, Mike Dunlap, and Andrew Frain has given the team a chance every time it takes the field.

“I can’t stress enough how good our pitching has been this year, they keep us in every single game,” said Hayden.

“Then it is up to us hitters to just do a little bit and put a couple of runs on the board because we know that our pitching is going to hold them down every single game.”

Hayden fine-tuned his hitting over the last year, enjoying a big spring in his final season for Lawrenceville and carrying over that production for Post 218.

“I changed a lot of stuff late last summer and then I tried to pick up from there during the Lawrenceville season and it turned out pretty well,” said Hayden, who is heading to Johns Hopkins this fall where he will be playing for the school’s baseball team.

“I changed my batting stance a little; I widened my stance and made sure I was more balanced because I was out in front a lot in junior season. I sit back and try to take more balls to left center than right center.”

Post 218 manager Tommy Parker likes his squad’s balance and upbeat mentality.

“I would say these guys have been pretty resilient throughout the season and they came back today,” said Parker.

“I can’t talk enough about this combination of kids. We have a youth movement, we have senior leadership, and we have some of the best pitching in the league. Everyone has been excited this season about playing. Everybody has contributed, no deer in the headlights moments. The young guys step up like they have been playing for a few seasons up here. They are not intimidated; they have good on-field presence.”

Hayden’s presence has been a real plus for Princeton. “Jon is a quiet leader,” said Parker.

“He goes out there, he is real enthusiastic. He gets the guys up. I like what he has done and what Jess [Russo] and Ian [Naccarella] has done. They mentor to the younger guys.”

Parker shares his players’ enthusiasm over their bid for a playoff berth. “It is a good feeling; it has been a lot of years since we have had a team that has been close enough to the playoffs that you can touch it,” said Parker.

“You remember our 15-12 season, we missed the playoffs on the last day of the season. I want to push these guys to make the playoffs. It has been a total team effort.”

Hayden, for his part, believes the team will push to the end. “We have a lot of heart on our team; everyone really loves the sport of baseball,” said Hayden. “We all go out there everyday trying to do what we can to get a win.”

RAISING KANE: Kevin Kane of Princeton Youth Sports (PYS) dribbles upcourt last month in the Princeton Recreation Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Kane scored 12 points as PYS, the Princeton High boys’ hoops team entry in the league, topped WTG 49-33 for its first win of the summer. On Monday, rising junior Kane scored 17 in a losing cause as PYS fell 44-42 to Clear View Window Cleaning and dropped to 1-7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RAISING KANE: Kevin Kane of Princeton Youth Sports (PYS) dribbles upcourt last month in the Princeton Recreation Summer Men’s Basketball League. Last Wednesday, Kane scored 12 points as PYS, the Princeton High boys’ hoops team entry in the league, topped WTG 49-33 for its first win of the summer. On Monday, rising junior Kane scored 17 in a losing cause as PYS fell 44-42 to Clear View Window Cleaning and dropped to 1-7.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Clutching a clipboard, Mark Shelley put in a workout on the sidelines at the Community Park courts last Wednesday evening, never sitting as he urged on his players verbally and with hand gestures to the final whistle.

It may have been July but Princeton High boys’ basketball head coach Shelley was in mid-winter form in the Princeton Recreation Summer Men’s Basketball League.

Shelley’s instructions were heeded as the PHS entry in the league, Princeton Youth Sports (PYS), pulled away to a 49-33 win over WTG.

“I really try to coach them up,” said Shelley, who guided PHS to a 12-11 record and the second round of the state tournament last winter in his debut season at the helm of the program. “I want to stay positive but I want it to be a learning experience.”

Shelley saw plenty of positives on the offensive end as PYS jumped out to a 30-11 halftime lead in the victory over WTG.

“What I like is that I thought we took smart shots,” said Shelley, who got 14 points from Paul Murray on the evening with Kevin Kane scoring 12 and Matt Vasseur chipping in 10.

“It helps when you shoot well. For the most part, one of our issues with a lot of new people is some of them can be good shooters in practice but they force shots in the game. We talked about a lot about going inside out, whether it is with the post or with dribble penetration and kicks and almost all of our threes tonight were on that.”

PYS also played some good defense, giving up only two points in the first 10 minutes of the contest.

“We have worked a lot on communicating within the zone and I think you heard them talking a lot on defense tonight,” said Shelley.

“The defense was really solid and the other team said a couple of things to me about that.”

Despite having produced some solid performances this summer, the win over WTG marked a breakthrough for PYS as the team improved to 1-5.

“We come in with the attitude that we just want to play well and if we get beat by 15, that is fine,” said Shelley.

“It is nice to win. We were missing a lot of key players [Peter Mahotiere, Cal O’Meara, Matt Hart, and Andrew Braverman] and we talked before the game about the secondary break and certain things and we did those things.”

Over the course of the summer, the PHS players have been doing a lot of things to get better.

“We have had a lot of open gyms where they do an hour of drills and then they scrimmage,” said Shelley.

“I don’t coach during the scrimmages, I just let them play 5-on-5. We went to the University’s team camp and we played six or seven games there in a weekend. Our JVs are playing in a league in Hillsborough with a lot of Group IV teams like Piscataway, and other big-time competition. The JVs were at the University camp too.”

In Shelley’s view, there is a dual focus to the competition this summer. “One is individual; we want them to work on what they are not good at,” explained Shelley.

“We give them things at the end of the season and over the summer and a lot of them come and ask us what can I work on. The other thing is the team-building thing. It is bonding and learning each other’s tendencies. For Peter and Cal, it is knowing that without Lior [Levy] and Scotty [Bechler], they have to score more, not 20 a game but they have to be around 10 or 12 a game. It is getting confidence in these younger guards.”

Shelley is confident that the work everyone around the program is putting in this summer will pay dividends over the winter.

“They know what we are looking for; it is so much easier for me now,” said Shelley.

“I took over last year in the fall and that was hard, it was late. This is a lot better. We are able to put our summer program together and the other coaches are on the same page as I am in terms of what we are looking for from the kids. It has been a real good summer so far and the guys have enjoyed it. We have realistic expectations; we are losing some really good players but we feel good about the balance we have, that is the big thing.”

MILE HIGH: Jeremy Sallade, 8, of Princeton flies to the finish line in winning a heat at the recently-held Princeton Community Mile. The third annual mile event, hosted by the Princeton Athletic Club (PAC), took place at the Hun School track. Princeton resident Michael Fonder provided a highlight of the evening as he set a new event record with a time of 4:27.0. (Photo by Bonnie Davis, Courtesy of the Princeton Athletic Club)

MILE HIGH: Jeremy Sallade, 8, of Princeton flies to the finish line in winning a heat at the recently-held Princeton Community Mile. The third annual mile event, hosted by the Princeton Athletic Club (PAC), took place at the Hun School track. Princeton resident Michael Fonder provided a highlight of the evening as he set a new event record with a time of 4:27.0.
(Photo by Bonnie Davis, Courtesy of the Princeton Athletic Club)

Billing itself as a community of runners within the Princeton community, the Princeton Athletic Club (PAC) recently held two events which are becoming annual fixtures on the local running scene.

In mid-June, the PAC held its third annual mile running event, the Princeton Community Mile, at The Hun School track.

The competition featured four heats so that participants had the opportunity to run with others of similar paces.

“The weather was great, high 70s and sunny,” said event director David
Kimmel of the PAC.

“We also had a number of people come back from past years, and it was good to see several families sign up and run. Sometimes a parent was running in one heat and their kids in another, and they took turns cheering each other on.”

In the final heat of the evening, Princeton resident Michael Fonder set a new Princeton Community Mile record with a time of 4:27.0. Chris Sallade finished second in 4:44.1 with Noah Chen taking third in 5:05.3.

The top finisher in the first heat was 8-year old Princeton
resident Jeremy Sallade with a time of 7:05.2, followed by Steve Dans in 7:13.7 and Stephanie Weber in 7:21.7. In the second heat, Princeton resident Jamie Reuland finished first with a time of 6:46.8, followed by Gourin Bhagavathi in 6:55.4 and Euen Ekman-Gunn in 7:05.6. In the third heat, Princeton resident Clara Blättler finished first and recorded the fastest female time of the evening as she ran 5:52.9, followed by Rob Borham in 5:57.4 and Rich O’Brien in 6:02.9.

A week later, PAC returned to Hun for its All-Comers Track Event, which included a 3,000-meter run, an 800-meter run, a 100-meter dash, and a 4×400 relay.

Benefitting from another good weather night with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70’s, the meet attracted a good turnout. In the 3,000 meter run, Princeton High track star Jacob Rist took first in a time of 9:34.4. The top women’s finisher in the 3,000 was Erin Grosskurth of Dix Hills, N.Y., as she finished in 12:35.2.

In the 100 dash, the men’s winner was Romano Foti of Princeton with a time of 12.2 while Blättler was the fastest woman as she clocked a time of 13.5.

In the 800-meter run, Rist posted his second win of the evening with a time of 2:05.4. Jadee Gordon of Trenton was the first woman, clocking a 2:42.1. In the 4×400 meter relay, the quartet of of Noam Chen, Alex Harvey, Antonio Pinheiro, and Rist, all of Princeton, placed first in 4:01.3.

July 10, 2013
JOURNEY’S END: Six Princeton High runners are all smiles after they finished a 139.3 mile run down the New Jersey coast to raise money to rebuild sand dunes damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Pictured, from left, are Evie Bentch, Paige Metzheiser, Laure Hartmanshenn, Raakel ­Vuojolainen, Julie Bond, and Lou Mialhe. The girls traveled 15 miles a day on their 9-day journey from Sandy Hook to Cape May.

JOURNEY’S END: Six Princeton High runners are all smiles after they finished a 139.3 mile run down the New Jersey coast to raise money to rebuild sand dunes damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Pictured, from left, are Evie Bentch, Paige Metzheiser, Laure Hartmanshenn, Raakel ­Vuojolainen, Julie Bond, and Lou Mialhe. The girls traveled 15 miles a day on their 9-day journey from Sandy Hook to Cape May.

The idea of running around 135 miles in nine days on the Jersey shore this summer to raise funds for Hurricane Sandy relief seemed far-fetched to Lou Mialhe at first.

“I heard about it a couple of months ago; I didn’t think that it was that realistic,” said Princeton High runner Mialhe, noting that track teammates Julie Bond and Paige Metzheiser formulated the plan.

“I thought they were just joking around. Julie initiated everything and when she mapped out all of the routes, I realized that it was going to happen.”

Once Mialhe realized that the project, which was done in conjunction with the Alliance for a Living Ocean to raise funds to rebuild dunes damaged by the superstorm, was coming to fruition, she was all in.

“First of all I really liked the girls; we are all good friends and runners,” said Mialhe, who was joined in the effort by Evie Bentch, Laure Hartmanshenn, and Raakel Vuojolainen, in addition to Bond and Metzheiser.

“It was also a good idea to do something to help the shore. I love the beach and the dunes and I knew so much damage had resulted from Hurricane Sandy.”

The girls took off on June 24 on a route that started in Sandy Hook and ended in Cape May.

“It was really great; I really enjoyed running on the boardwalk,” said Mialhe, reflecting on the group’s first day on the road.

“We were wearing shirts that said what we were doing and people would stop and talk with us and clap for us.”

There was some trial and error involved as the girls figured out the best way to handle their daily 15-mile journey.

“At first we were doing four miles of running and one mile walking but that was way too hard,” said Mialhe, noting that the runs started early in the morning and ended by noon each day and that the group ended up covering a total of 139.3 miles.

“Then we went to eight minutes running and two minutes walking but we wanted to break longer. We finally decided on two-and-a-half miles running and a half-mile of walking. All of us ran together and each girl covered 15 miles a day.”

Things did drag at times as the girls headed inland for part of the trip.

“We ran two days on Route 9,” said Mialhe, noting that one of the girls’ parents always accompanied the pack in a chase car and that they spent nights at beach homes of family or friends. “Those were boring days; we were not on the beach.”

For Mialhe, a highlight came on one of the beach runs near the end of the trek. “I really enjoyed Ocean City,” said Mialhe. “I had never been there before and I thought it was really interesting.”

With such an ambitious undertaking, aches and pains were inevitable. “After day three, my quads were very sore,” said Mialhe.

“The other girls were sore too so we spent an hour stretching and icing everyday. We all helped each other on the run. If someone was falling off, we would run behind her,”

On the final day, Mialhe experienced mixed emotions. “It was such a great adventure; I didn’t want it to end,” said Mialhe. “There was a lot of sadness.”

While Mialhe was sorry to see the run end, she is hopeful the group may do other fundraising activities in the future.

“It was a lot of fun; we were living with each other for 10 days,” said Mialhe, noting that the fundraising goal was $5,000 and that contributions of around $4,000 had been raised by the end of the run.

“There was a sense of accomplishment. I feel like I would do it again; it was such an interesting experience. We are talking about organizing something else and making it a regular thing.”

In the short term, making the journey should pay dividends for PHS when cross country season rolls around.

“It was great training,” said Mialhe. “If we can keep that shape, it should really help us for cross country.”

But no matter what happens this fall, Mialhe and her friends have already done a great thing.