December 4, 2013
BROTHER ACT: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Connor ­McCormick, left, waits for the puck in action last season. The junior star is one of three McCormick bothers on the team along with senior Patrick and freshman Brendan. The ­McCormick brothers helped the Little Tigers get off to a good start last Monday under new head coach Terence Miller as PHS opened the season with a 11-0 win over Nottingham. The Little Tigers are next in action when they face Hightstown on December 5 and Lawrence on December 6 with both games slated to be played at Mercer County Park.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BROTHER ACT: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Connor ­McCormick, left, waits for the puck in action last season. The junior star is one of three McCormick bothers on the team along with senior Patrick and freshman Brendan. The ­McCormick brothers helped the Little Tigers get off to a good start last Monday under new head coach Terence Miller as PHS opened the season with a 11-0 win over Nottingham. The Little Tigers are next in action when they face Hightstown on December 5 and Lawrence on December 6 with both games slated to be played at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Terence Miller boasts a wealth of experience around the Princeton High boys’ hockey team as he takes the helm of the program this winter.

“I have been an assistant coach for six of the last seven years,” said new PHS head coach Miller, who is succeeding Tim Campbell.

“I know all the guys. I played for the program; it really makes it special. I am familiar with the school, program, and the CVC.”

As a result of Miller’s ties to the program, the transition has been smooth.

“It is a good group,” said Miller, who guided the Little Tigers to a 11-0 win over Nottingham last Monday in his debut as PHS looks to build on the 10-9-1 record posted last season.

“They know my coaching style. They know what we expect. PHS has a strong tradition in the CVC; we take pride in playing the game the right way.”

PHS features some strong offensive threats at forward in junior John Reid, junior Jackson Andres, freshman Brendan McCormick, sophomore Nathan Drezner, and senior Spencer Reynolds.

“John Reid will be depended on to contribute as well as Jackson Andres,” said Miller, who will also be using Chris Munoz and Anthony Trainer at forward.

“Brendan McCormick will be a good player for us. Nathan Drezner is bigger and better, he will be a top six forward for us. Spencer Reynolds will be in the mix. He played defenseman before and is a strong, fast skater.”

The older McCormick brothers, senior Patrick and junior Connor, will spearhead the PHS defense.

“We had to move Connor McCormick to defense because we lost Harrison Naylor; he will be paired with his brother Patrick,” said Miller, whose team faces Hightstown on December 5 and Lawrence on December 6 with both games slated to be played at Mercer County Park.

“Patrick is our engine, he is a four-year starter, He is a good leader, he is our quarterback. He can get into the rush, I am looking for him to give us a Brian Leetch or Bobby Orr imitation.”

Miller will also be using a pair of freshmen, Tooker Callaway and Eamon McDonald on the blue line.

“Tooker Callaway is third on the depth chart, he will see some minutes,” added Miller. “He is a big kid. Eamon McDonald is the fourth defenseman.”

At goalie, the Little Tigers will feature a tandem of senior Robert Quinn and freshman Sawyer Peck.

“Robert is looking good; he has gotten better,” said Miller. “He doesn’t have years of goalie experience so he is a little raw. He is a very good athlete. Peck is right there with him; they are neck and neck right now. That is probably my biggest decision. Robert is a senior but we want to get Sawyer as many minutes as possible as he is the goalie of the future for us.”

With his deep ties to the program, Miller will be looking to maintain the hallmarks of the PHS style.

“We will play a defensive-type of system; we are not going to be run and gun,” said Miller.

“We will be a tight checking team. We will pick our spots offensively and look to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes. We will defend as a unit. We will try to keep the games tight. We want to play disciplined. We have never been the biggest team. We usually have two lines, two-three good defensemen and a scrappy goalie; that is our identity.”

TON OF FUN: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Andrew Clayton goes after a puck in a game last season. PDS will be looking to senior defenseman Clayton to be a key performer this winter. The Panthers, who went 21-3-1 last year and shared the state Prep championship, were slated to start their season with a home game against St. Augustine Academy on December 3 and then host the program’s annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational from December 6-7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TON OF FUN: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Andrew Clayton goes after a puck in a game last season. PDS will be looking to senior defenseman Clayton to be a key performer this winter. The Panthers, who went 21-3-1 last year and shared the state Prep championship, were slated to start their season with a home game against St. Augustine Academy on December 3 and then host the program’s annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational from December 6-7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last winter, a stellar group of nine seniors sparked the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey to a memorable campaign as the Panthers went 21-3-1 and shared the state Prep championship.

While PDS will miss its Class of 2013, those players have left a legacy that should benefit the program this winter.

“They did some terrific things for the program,” said PDS head coach Scott Bertoli, referring to last year’s seniors.

“The most important thing was that they created a culture of winning. It is up to juniors and seniors to continue that and take ownership. The seniors last year were not only great on the ice, they were good in the dressing room. They were good chemistry guys and exemplary student athletes.”

Bertoli believes that his quartet of current senior leaders, captain Sean Timmons and alternate captains Andrew Clayton, John Egner, and Connor Bitterman can keep that culture of winning intact.

“They are good kids, they have been varsity players for the last three years so they have experienced a lot of success,” said Bertoli, whose team was slated to start the season with a home game against St. Augustine Academy on December 3 and then hosting its annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational from December 6-7.

“I think we were something like 39-8-1 over the last two years. They were a big part of it and they know what it takes to be successful.”

Battle-tested forward Timmons should be a big gun for the Panthers this winter.

“Timmons has scored and produced for us over the last three years,” said Bertoli.

“He has played in every situation; he has gotten stronger. I really like the way his game is developing. I fully expect him to lead the way for us.”

Bitterman and sophomore Kyle Weller are also developing into offensive threats.

“Bitterman is always the fastest player on the ice; he is the most improved player in the program over the last three years,” said Bertoli, who will also be using Egner, senior Lewie Blackburn, sophomore Connor Fletcher, junior Mason Ward, freshman Keith Asplundh, sophomore Harrison Latham, senior Gabe Castagna, senior Hap Ammidon, and junior Will Wright at forward.

“He is understanding how to utilize his speed. His skills have developed and improved. Weller is extremely talented. He is healthy this year and has grown three-four inches. I look for him to do very well.”

On defense, Bertoli is expecting seniors Clayton and C.J. Young to do very well.

“Andrew Clayton got lost in the shuffle at times last year but when he played, he was outstanding at decision-making and distributing the puck,” said Bertoli.

“C.J. Young is a year round Tier 1 hockey player; he handles the puck well. They are going to log a lot of minutes and be out there in every situation.”

Junior Will Garrymore and sophomore Chris Hemlinger will see a lot of time as well along the blue line.

“Garrymore was in the mix at times last year, he understands our system and is a skilled player,” said Bertoli, whose defensive unit will also include freshman Gianluca Travia and senior Nelson Garrymore.

“He will be relied on in the power play and penalty kill. Chris Hemlinger was the seventh guy last year, now he is fourth. He has played a high level of travel hockey; he has a big body and he has been waiting for his opportunity and now it is here.”

At goalie, three players, sophomores Mark Anarumo and Colin Burgess together with freshman Logan Kramsky will get opportunities.

“Between the three of them, there is a lot of talent,” said Bertoli. “The three of them will compete and we are very confident with any one of them in there. It is a little early to tell who will be the starter. We have a scrimmage and some practices before the opener so we will see.”

The Panthers will be seeing some tough competition as it will participate in the newly-formed Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) along with Lawrenceville and Hill School (Pa.), Portledge School (N.Y.), LaSalle College High (Pa.), and Wyoming Seminary (Pa.).

“These are schools that we didn’t play four years ago but have played the last two or three years and have had success,” said Bertoli.

“They are the schools that we want to compete with and be at the same level. We know that some are boarding schools and have post-grads and that gives them an inherent advantage. I want the kids to compete on a higher level and be challenged. As athletes and hockey players, you gain so much more from that.”

While it may take a while for this year’s squad to reach a high level, Bertoli is confident the program will maintain its winning tradition. “We need to establish who this team is and what our identity is going to be,” said Bertoli.

“Last year, we had 17 returning players and we knew who we were. We have guys taking bigger roles and more responsibility. It will take time to evolve and find out who we are and what allows us to be the most effective. We have enough talent to be successful from the start. We are going to be different; we are not going to put up four or five goals in the first period. These are proud kids, they take a lot of pride in the program and the success we have had in recent years. They want to continue that.”

Kamau Bailey is a basketball lifer.

Bailey was a high school hoops star in Denver, Colo. before going on to play at NYU. After graduation, he worked for the New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, and San Antonio Spurs in various capacities.

In recent years, he has directed the Philadelphia 76ers summer camp in Princeton and started
a player development
business.

This winter, Bailey will be looking to impart his vast basketball knowledge to a new group of students as he takes the helm of the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball program.

With a roster comprised entirely of freshmen and sophomores, Bailey is starting from square one as he succeeds Mika Ryan, who led the Panthers to an 8-14 record last winter and is now coaching the WW/P-S girls’ squad.

“One of the things I have been working on with the girls is teaching them the fundamentals,” said Bailey.
“I am teaching them to play the game; it is basketball 101.”

That same approach paid dividends for Bailey last winter as he coached the PDS 6th/7th grade squad.

“We had a very successful middle school team,” said Bailey. “We went undefeated.”

In Bailey’s view, his current charges are exhibiting a similar learning curve
so far.

“We are starting from scratch and they have already made a lot of progress,” said Bailey, whose team opens the season by hosting Villa Victoria Academy on December 10.

“Freshman Shayla Stevenson is a 5’7 point guard. She can shoot and dribbles the ball well. She has great court awareness. Devika Kumar and Helen Healey are returning players and they give us some help in the paint.”

While Bailey is taking a serious approach as he passes on the lessons of a lifetime, he hasn’t lost sight of the essence of hoops.

“Basketball is a fun sport and sometimes we get away from that and it becomes too serious,” said Bailey.

“We will be doing some running and gunning, that is the style I like. They need to keep working hard and stay focused.”

COOL CUSTOMER: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Mary Travers controls the puck in a game last winter. Senior forward Travers is coming off a 10-goal season and should be a primary offensive threat for the Panthers in her final campaign with the program. PDS starts the season by playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on December 4 and then hosting its annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational from December 7-8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

COOL CUSTOMER: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Mary Travers controls the puck in a game last winter. Senior forward Travers is coming off a 10-goal season and should be a primary offensive threat for the Panthers in her final campaign with the program. PDS starts the season by playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on December 4 and then hosting its annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational from December 7-8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team has established itself as a solid program, Lorna Gifis Cook is setting the bar higher for her squad this winter.

“I think we can be in the top four of WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic),” said Cook, who guided the Panthers to a 10-8 record last year, the team’s second straight 10-win season. “The girls always work hard, the focus needs to be there.”

Cook is expecting to get some good work from a pair of senior forwards, Mimi Mathews (2 goals and 9 assists in 2012-13) and Mary Travers (10 goals, 5 assists).

“We are fortunate to have Mimi back at forward; she gives us a lot of speed and has good instincts,” said Cook, whose team starts its 2013-14 campaign with a game at the Hill School (Pa.) on December 4 and then hosts its annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational from December 7-8.

“Mimi and Mary go out there and work hard. They have a good read of each other on the ice. They shoot to score and they have good habits when they enter the offensive zone.”

Senior Colby Triolo is emerging as a force in the offensive zone for the Panthers.

“Colby is looking good,” said Cook of Triolo, who tallied four goals and seven assists last winter. “We moved her from defense to offense last year and she did well. It looks like she picked up where she left off.”

The trio of sophomore Emma Stillwaggon, freshman Daphne Stanton, and junior Carly King figures to pick up some points for PDS.

“Emma looks a lot better, she runs cross country and that has her in better condition,” said Cook, who will also use junior Sophie Ward, junior Sophie Jensen, and senior Abby Sharer at forward.

“She is a grinder and creates chances for her linemates. Daphne has looked really strong; positionally she is sound. I think she is going to give us reliability. Carly definitely improved over the course of the season. She is competitive on the ice and she makes sure that everyone is going to have fun.”

One of PDS top competitors is senior captain and star defenseman Robin Linzmayer. “Robin has a lot of speed; she can recover quickly in the defensive zone,” said Cook of Linzmayer, an All-WIHLMA performer last winter who led PDS in scoring with 19 goals and seven assists.

“She has a great shot and has done a good job of keeping it low. She plays offense for her club team. She always plays hard.”

A pair of freshmen, Christi Serafin and Ashley Cavuto, should make an immediate impact for the Panthers along the blue line.

“The girls are definitely impressed with Christi, they think she is going to be a star in the league,” said Cook, who will also be using sophomore Caroline Okun at defense.

“She has so much potential. There are things we can work on with her but her instincts are so good. Ashley will sneak up on you. She is not flashy but she is consistent. She has a really good shot. I have seen in practice that she can put it on the corners. She is excited about playing defense.”

Cook is excited about her goalie tandem of junior Katie Alden [this reporter’s daughter] and freshman Annika Asplundh.

“Katie has really been impressive so far, she is much improved over last season,” said Cook.

“The girls are talking about it and I think it has given her confidence. She is more sure of herself. Annika plays on a boys’ club team so she will need to make an adjustment to the girls’ game. I think it is going to be a really good thing to have two goalies competing for ice time. They are both committed to being there and it helps our practices.”

In Cook’s view, a commitment to scoring goals combined with a growing team chemistry could make PDS a force this winter.

“With our defense being solid, it will be a matter of how productive our forwards can be,” said Cook.

“The girls have fun with each other, they already seem to becoming a close team.”

MAKING A BID: Hun School boys’ hockey player Alex Bidwell chases down the puck in a game last year. Senior forward Bidwell figures to be a key performer for Hun this winter as it looks to defend its Independence Hockey League (IHL) title. The Raiders start their 2013-14 season by playing at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on December 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING A BID: Hun School boys’ hockey player Alex Bidwell chases down the puck in a game last year. Senior forward Bidwell figures to be a key performer for Hun this winter as it looks to defend its Independence Hockey League (IHL) title. The Raiders start their 2013-14 season by playing at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on December 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Hun School boys’ hockey team is experiencing some major roster turnover, Ian McNally is bringing a lot of confidence into the winter.

“We lost seven seniors, two post-graduates, and three or four other kids,” said Hun head coach McNally, who guided the Raiders toa 16-5-4 record and the Independence Hockey League (IHL) title last winter. “We have a lot of kids who never played but we should be even stronger.”

McNally’s optimism is fueled, in part, by the upbeat attitude he sees around the team.

“There is a positive hunger, we have an influx of new kids who don’t know any better,” said McNally, whose team starts the season by playing at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on December 4.

“It is infectious for older kids to have that youthful energy. There is a good buzz around the team at the rink and around school. We have taken another step in the chemistry; it was already upbeat.”

Hun will be looking for senior forwards Alec Karanikolas, Spy Avgoustiniatos, and Alex Bidwell to step up.

“Alec, Spy, and Alex Bidwell are seniors and are the biggest and strongest kids but none of them have led us in scoring,” said McNally. “They are going to give us a lot of ice time.”

A pair of freshman forwards, Evan Barratt and Jon Bendorf, figure to be productive scorers for the Raiders.

“Evan Barratt and Jon Bendorf have pretty dynamic offensive abilities,” said McNally. “We had a scrimmage with Holy Ghost and they accounted for three of our four goals. We put them together with Bidwell and that seemed to work well.”

On defense, McNally is expecting some good work from battle-tested senior Brad Stern.

“Brad Stern is an offensive guy,” said McNally. “He was injured for half the season last year with thumb and wrist and he couldn’t get into a rhythm. He played a short midget season this fall and he is looking good.”

Joining Stern along the blue line will be a pair of juniors, converted forward Chris Rossi and Bobby Wurster.

“Rossi is going to be on defense this year,” said McNally. “He plays defense for his junior team and I said we could use some defensemen and he stepped up. Billy Wurster was in middle school, left for two years and is back as a junior; he will log a lot of time. Rossi, Stern, and Wooster will carry a lot of the load.”

At goalie, senior standout Devin Cheifetz will continue to carry a big share of the load for Hun.

“Devin has started all four years; he has been our guy since he got here,” said McNally.

“We have gotten better every year since he has been here. We would like to send him out with a great senior year. He has put on a little size, filling out as a 17-18 year old. He looks big in the net; he has a lot of confidence. His strength is  his ability to play the puck into the break, he is like a third defenseman.”

In McNally’s view, the Raiders are poised to have a big winter. “I think we can be even better than we were last year,” said McNally.

“We have been bounced early in the preps, it would be nice to string together some wins in that. I think we can compete with everybody on our schedule. It would help to not have injuries, we don’t have a lot of depth. We have high-end talent. We will have five or six freshmen playing regularly; a third of the team is freshmen. They are not going to be on the fourth line so it will make a big difference if they can step in right away and produce.”

BIG MAC: Hun School boys’ basketball player Josh McGilvray looks to to pass the ball in a game last season. The 6’8 senior center figures to be a key player for Hun as it looks to build on last winter’s success which saw it win the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament and post a 20-6 record. The Raiders tip off their 2013-14 campaign by playing at The Phelps School (Pa.) on December 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BIG MAC: Hun School boys’ basketball player Josh McGilvray looks to to pass the ball in a game last season. The 6’8 senior center figures to be a key player for Hun as it looks to build on last winter’s success which saw it win the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament and post a 20-6 record. The Raiders tip off their 2013-14 campaign by playing at The Phelps School (Pa.) on December 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming together at the right time, the Hun School boys’ basketball team produced a memorable stretch drive last winter.

The Raiders won the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament and advanced to the championship game in the state Prep A tourney, ending the winter with a 20-6 record.

As Hun gets ready to tip off its 2013-14 campaign by playing at The Phelps School (Pa.) on December 5, Raider head coach Jon Stone is seeing some carry over from last year’s success.

“I think some guys got good experience last year and they will be taking it into this year,” said Stone, who welcomes back six returning players. “We did some good things last year and I think we can build on them.”

A chief building block for the Raiders this year will be senior Josh McGilvray, an imposing 6’8 center.

“Josh is doing well, he has continued to grow and develop,” said Stone, who is in his 14th year at the helm of the Hun program. “He is strong on defense and I think we are really going to need that.”

The Raiders have some other strong options in the frontcourt with post-graduate forward Remi Janicot, senior David Li, and senior Taylor Heilman.

“Remi is going to have a big role,” said Stone. “David Li continues to grow. He brings energy and he has the ability to score. Taylor didn’t get a lot of minutes last year, we are looking for him to play a bigger role.”

Hun boasts plenty of ability in the backcourt with the quartet of senior Michael Bourke, senior Jason Geter, junior Eric Williams, and post-grad Daniel Osley.

“We are looking for Bourke to be a mainstay for us,” asserted Stone. “Geter had been a starter for a year, he is a glue guy for us. Williams has improved a ton. Osley should help a lot. He is 6’3 and a slasher. He is long and can be a playmaker.”

Stone is confident that his squad can improve as the season unfolds. “We have good balance and good depth; we have a different personality than last year and that is fine,” said Stone.

“We are competing at a high level, we always play a tough schedule and I think it is even tougher this year. Like other years, I think we have a lot of potential, we have a lot of nice pieces. We need to bring it together and develop chemistry and see leadership.”

UP-TEMPO: Hun School girls’ basketball star Erica Brown races up the court in a game last season. Senior forward Brown gives Hun versatility in the frontcourt with her speed and inside-out game. The Raiders start their 2013-14 season by playing at Friends Central School (Pa.) on December 4.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

UP-TEMPO: Hun School girls’ basketball star Erica Brown races up the court in a game last season. Senior forward Brown gives Hun versatility in the frontcourt with her speed and inside-out game. The Raiders start their 2013-14 season by playing at Friends Central School (Pa.) on December 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The hurry-up offense has become the rage at all levels of football and the Hun School girls’ basketball team is planning to take a page out of the gridiron playbook this winter.

“I want us to really push the ball and try to score a lot on transition,” said Hun head coach Bill Holup, who guided the Raiders to a 14-11 record last year and is entering his 15th season at the helm of the program.

“We have a lot of girls who can handle the ball and run the court. We have speed and we need to utilize it. We have girls who can get up and down the floor.”

Holup is looking for senior guard Anajha Burnett to be a floor general for the Raiders.

“Anajha is a leader by example,” said Holup, whose team tips off its 2013-14 campaign by playing at Friends Central School (Pa.) on December 4.

“She had games last year where she really stepped up. She had a big game against Mercersburg where she had 12 assists. She is accepting of her role, whether it is coming off the bench or starting.”

A pair of juniors, Erica Dwyer and Janelle Mullen, should play a big role for the Raiders this winter.

“Erica is a three-year starter; she has really matured over the last two years,” said Holup.

“She has started since she was a freshman. She has the ability to hit shots. She is unselfish. She has a lot of experience. Janelle has ability on offense and she causes matchup problems on defense. She is long and can guard either small or big guards. On a zone, she causes problems with her long arms. She has the ability to get set and hit long shots.”

The Raiders has three sophomore guards with ability in Amber Bourke, Jess Johnson, and Maura Kelly along with senior Bella Cura.

“Amber played for Mt. St. Mary’s last year; she can push the ball up the floor and attack the basket,” said Holup. “She can shoot the 3. She will be seeing stronger competition than she has in the past so she will have to get used to that. Jess is coming off a good soccer season. She has a fractured wrist right now and is seeing the doctor on December 1 or 2 so we hope she gets cleared then. Bella is in her fourth year and she is much more aggressive. She is putting up her shot.”

In the frontcourt, Robert Morris University-bound Johnnah Johnson will provide plenty of aggressiveness in the paint.

“Johnnah is all set for college so she can go out and just play basketball,” said Holup. “She has more of a midrange jumper this year. She is a senior and has been has been working out for four years; her strength is  tremendous. She is a legit D-1 basketball player. She is more aggressive on rebounding and she is smarter on the fouls. Last year, she realized that it was better for her to be on the court and she was much better on not getting in foul trouble.”

Senior Erica Brown will give Hun’s foes plenty of problems with her all-around game. “Erica Brown has the ability to put the ball on the floor,” said Holup. “She can really run the floor in transition and lead the fast break. She has an inside-out game and she is versatile. She is also unselfish. She is a smart player with a high basketball IQ.”

Hun has two other inside options in 6’3 freshman Clare Maloney and sophomore Maura Kelly.

“Clare Maloney has talent right now; she gives us good size,” said Holup. “She is raw but she has played AAU ball so she has experience. She gives us a lot of size, she will help us a lot. Maura Kelly is coming off of field hockey; she is an athlete. She will complement the other girls, she will get on the boards, both offensively and defensively.”

In Holup’s view, the Raiders can have a good winter if they complement each other across the board.

“The girls need to be on the same page,” said Holup. “We have talent but they need to stick together and play together. I am very optimistic that we can have a strong season. I am happy with the kids we have; they are working hard. We need to use the talent that we have in the best way.”

November 27, 2013
STROKES OF BRILLIANCE: Princeton High girls’ tennis star Christina Rosca hits a backhand on the way to taking the title at first singles at the Mercer County Tournament. Sophomore Rosca went on to win the NJSIAA girls’ singles championship, earning the first state singles crown in program history.

STROKES OF BRILLIANCE: Princeton High girls’ tennis star Christina Rosca hits a backhand on the way to taking the title at first singles at the Mercer County Tournament. Sophomore Rosca went on to win the NJSIAA girls’ singles championship, earning the first state singles crown in program history.

Christina Rosca made quite a splash during the fall of 2012 in her freshman season on the Princeton High girls’ tennis team.

The precocious Rosca placed second at first singles in the Mercer County Tournament and advanced to the semifinals of the NJSIAA state singles competition. Along the way, she led PHS to the state Group III team championship match.

Rosca’s accomplishments during her debut campaign, though, were only a harbinger for things to come this fall.

In late September, Rosca rolled to the MCT first singles title without losing a set. In the championship match, Rosca posted a 6-1, 6-0 win over Claudia Siniakowicz of WW/P-S.

Rosca was thrilled to reach the top of the singles ladder in the county.

“Last year, I was a little disappointed that I lost but there was no shame in losing to Sam [former Princeton Day School star and current Wake Forest player Samantha Asch] because she was an exceptional player,” said Rosca. “I am definitely happy that I was able to play well and do it.”

Three weeks later, Rosca proved that she is exceptional in her own right as she rallied from a set down to defeat Fair Lawn’s Valerie Shklover  3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the NJSIAA girls’ singles final to earn the first state singles crown in program history.

In reflecting on the win, Rosca attributed it to a more mature mentality on the court. “I think my mental state and attitude made a really big difference,” said Rosca, who had rallied after losing the first set in the semifinals to make the title match.

“That is something I have improved a lot on. A year ago or a half a year ago I think I would have lost those matches because I would have let my emotions get the better of me. Staying calm really helps. As time progressed, starting last year from the state tournament, I saw sometimes in matches, it is not a difference of strokes or technique but rather it is a difference of how you play the important points and your mental attitude.”

PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert lauded the skill and attitude that Rosca brought to the court.

“Chris has continued to work hard,” said Hibbert, whose team again advanced to the state Group III team championship match.

“She has really upped all aspects of her game. She can put a lot of pace on the ball but she does have other options to fall back on as well. She is a team player as well. She enjoys being out there, rooting for the other girls. She wins her matches and she doesn’t take off. Instead she goes around and sees who else is playing which is really nice.”

For rising to the top of both the county and state singles ladder and making history in the process, Rosca is the choice as the Town Topics’ top female performer this fall.

Top Male Performer

When the Willingboro High band accidentally left its banner on the field after performing at halftime of the Princeton High-Willingboro football game in mid-October, PHS star Liam Helstrom gathered it up and ran it over to the musicians.

That moment was emblematic of a fall during which senior receiver/linebacker Helstrom did everything for the Little Tigers.

The 6’2, 190-pound Helstrom stood out on both sides of the ball even as PHS struggled to an 0-10 campaign.

On offense, Helstrom, grabbed 50 receptions for 853 yards and seven touchdowns. He was equally dominating on defense, making 110 tackles with four forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.

While Helstrom was disappointed by the steady diet of losing this fall, he never lost his hunger to perform.

“I am out there to play football; it is my senior year,” said Helstrom. “Even when I am down, I am still busting hard.”

Things were made harder for Helstrom as he switched positions on both offense and defense, going from tight end to wide receiver and from defensive end to linebacker.

“Playing tight end taught me a lot about using my hands, plus going into the weight room and thinking about going up against these big 250-pound guys, I had to lift a lot more,” said Helstrom, noting that he bench presses 285 pounds.

“Now I am out here against 150-pound kids running track. I have what they call deceptive speed.”

Helstrom also utilized his power and speed on defense. “They moved me to linebacker,” said Helstrom.

“I always thought of myself as more of a defensive end. So there are holes and cutback lanes that I find. Sam [Smallzman] is telling me what to do; he is a real good linebacker.”

Helstrom produced some monster games as the losses piled up. In a 27-14 loss to WW/P-S, he made seven catches for 71 yards and a touchdown to go with 11 tackles and 2 forced fumbles. Helstrom exploded for eight receptions, 185 yards, and two touchdowns in a 57-14 loss to Trenton. Against Lawrence, he made six catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns. In his career finale in a 28-21 loss to Marlboro in an NJSIAA consolation contest, Helstrom ended on a high note with five catches for 149 yards and a touchdown.

PHS head coach Charlie Gallagher noted that Helstrom turned a lot of heads this fall.

“You look at a kid like Liam Helstrom, he is out here having fun, he is out here playing football,” said Gallagher.

“I keep getting complimented by the refs, saying my God, your guys are fighting. Liam is a great football player, he loves playing football.”

For providing such production and spirit in the face of a winless campaign, Helstrom gets the nod as the top male performer this fall.

Top Newcomers

Before Princeton Day School cross country coach Merrill Noden even met freshman runner Morgan Mills, he had the feeling she might be something special.

“Morgan Mills moved here from London,” said Noden “She ran for a school there, St Paul’s, and the Thames Valley Harriers. I knew that if she ran for Thames Valley, she must be good.”

Mills turned out to be very good this fall for the Panthers. With Mills asserting herself as the team’s top runner from day one, the Panthers posted dual meet wins over Pennington, Hun, Stuart, Rutgers Prep, and Hamilton and placed eighth in the Varsity E girls’ race at the Shore Coaches Invitational. Mills placed 18th in the Shore meet, clocking a time of 21:55 on the 3.1 mile course at Holmdel.

Mills then placed 35th in the Mercer County Championships with a time of 20:59 to help the Panthers take ninth in the team standings. The precocious Mills ended the fall by placing 10th in the individual standings at the state Prep B championship meet, posting a time of 20:40.50 over the 3.1 mile course at Blair as PDS took third overall.

“She is very competitive; she does most of her training with our boy runners,” said Noden of Mills. “She is also a very good competitive swimmer.”

For utilizing that competitiveness to get PDS on the right track, Mills is the pick as the top female newcomer this fall.

As he took the helm of the Princeton High boys’ cross country program this fall, Mark Shelley exercised caution with his freshman runners.

“I am really focused on daily development,” said Shelley. “We really, really try for a developmental approach: we try to not put pressure on the runners.”

One of Shelley’s freshmen, Alex Roth, though, proved to be up to the pressure of running near the front of the varsity pack.

Roth took 18th in the Varsity C race at the Shore Coaches Invitational held in Holmdel in a time of 17:37 in early October as PHS placed third in the team standings. He took 16th with a time of 17:11 in the Group III Central Jersey sectional meet to help the Little Tigers place second. Roth ended the season by finishing 51st at the state Group III in 17:16 as PHS took 11th overall.

“Alex has taken off tremendously, he has been in the low 17s,” said Shelley.

“He is so unflappable. He works hard and doesn’t seem to get too excited. We have been careful with his mileage and training.”

Roth’s instant impact for PHS makes him the choice as the top male newcomer.

Top Coaches

For the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer program, the 2012 season proved to be a nightmare.

Hampered by injuries and internal dissension, the Panthers slipped to a disappointing 4-9-4 record.

As a result, PDS head coach Pat Trombetta concentrated on getting the players on the same page.

“The team chemistry is excellent this year; that is due a lot to our leadership from the captains and the upperclassmen,” said Trombetta.

“Overall we have a strong upperclassmen group and they know with nine freshmen on the squad, they are taking them under their wings and being very good mentors and so forth. I like the way the girls are working together. It is a very close-knit group.”

As PDS got off to a sizzling 11-0-1 start, senior co-captain Britt Murray attributed the turnaround to team unity as much as skill.

“I think last year, our chemistry was not there,” said Murray. “We have tried to do a lot of team bonding; we are all just on the same page I think. On the field we always want to work for each other and not individually. No one is fighting or arguing; we just want to be like one team.”

Playing together, PDS proceeded to produce a dream run in postseason action. Getting seeded first in both the Mercer County Tournament and state Prep B tourney, PDS lived up to its billing.

In the MCT, the Panthers survived a scare in the first round, topping 16th-seeded Hamilton 3-2 in overtime. PDS gathered momentum from there, topping ninth-seeded Robbinsville 3-0 in the quarters and then rallying for a 2-1 win over fourth-seed Princeton High in the semis to earn a shot at second-seeded Hopewell Valley in the title contest.

Before an overflow crowd at Rider University on hand for the championship contest, PDS broke open a scoreless nailbiter with two late goals to earn a 2-0 victory and the program’s first-ever county crown.

“This is for all the teams out there, the small schools that nobody looks at,” said Trombetta, during the raucous on-field celebration after the title game.

“The girls that might not be academy-type players but if you have a bunch of girls who have great team chemistry, it goes a long way. They have got so much heart and determination.”

In the Prep B tournament, PDS topped Rutgers Prep 3-0 in the semis. Facing Morristown-Bread less than 24 hours after their MCT triumph, PDS ran out of gas and just missed a title double as they fell 2-0 to the Crimson.

While Trombetta was disappointed by that result, the pluses far outweighed the minuses.

“We couldn’t be more proud of the performance of these girls and the team as a whole and the way they stuck together,” said Trombetta, whose squad posted a final record of 17-2-1.

“I told the seniors, regardless of how this stings, what you did this year, no other PDS team did. I am very happy for the seniors to go out this way.”

For getting his players on the same page and guiding them to a reversal of fortune that resulted in a championship campaign, Trombetta is the choice as top coach of a female team this fall.

Even after the Hun School boys’ soccer team fell 3-2 to Pennington in late September to fall to 1-4, Pat Quirk saw cause for optimism.

“I thought we played extremely well; it was a well-played game of soccer,” said Hun head coach Quirk.

“We did what we have been preaching to them which was to get creative around the goal and not just trying to settle on long balls. This is a team that is never going to give up and that stems from the seniors in the middle, Felix [Dalstein] and Bailey [Hammer].”

As Quirk left the field that day, he asserted his belief that Hun had the potential to do some damage in the Mercer County Tournament.

When the MCT rolled around in late October, not many shared Quirk’s view as his team was seeded 11th.

Getting matched in the opening round against No. 6 Princeton High, the defending Group III state co-champion and a perennial MCT finalist, it looked like the Raiders were headed for an early exit. But showing its grit, Hun prevailed 1-0 in overtime on a goal by Alex Semler.

In the quarters, the Cinderella ride continued as Hun edged third-seeded and eventual 2013 Group III state co-champion Allentown 2-1 in overtime on goals by Patrick Nally and Felix Dalstein.

Facing second-seeded Hightstown in the MCT semis, Hun was in position for another upset as the game was knotted in a scoreless tie at halftime. But the Rams were able to score two late goals and the Raiders’ valiant run ended with a 2-0 defeat.

“We couldn’t finish but we never gave up and that’s been the story of this team all season,” said Quirk, whose team ended the fall with a 7-12 record.

“I had a good feeling coming into the tournament. We started playing well together. We started making some combinations and we had that whole never give up thing. The first two games in the tournament we won in overtime. No one really expected us to do anything and we were able to prove some people wrong.”

Quirk’s role in driving his team to exceed expectations makes him the top coach of a male team.

PASSING LANE: Princeton High quarterback Dave Beamer gets ready to pass in a game this fall. Sophomore Beamer made a lot of progress as he moved into a starting role, hitting on 73 of 165 passes for 1,084 yards and nine touchdowns.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

PASSING LANE: Princeton High quarterback Dave Beamer gets ready to pass in a game this fall. Sophomore Beamer made a lot of progress as he moved into a starting role, hitting on 73 of 165 passes for 1,084 yards and nine touchdowns. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having lost all nine regular season games and getting outscored 373-79 in the process, the Princeton High football team could have been discouraged as it prepared for an NJSIAA consolation contest.

But as PHS got ready to play at Marlboro High for the finale on November 16, the Little Tiger players were upbeat.

“The kids had a good week of practice,” said PHS first year head coach Charlie Gallagher.

“They were still having fun playing football and the morale was still high. They were still excited to be out there.”

The Little Tigers produced an exciting performance, building a 21-7 lead over the Mustangs. Unfortunately, PHS couldn’t hold on as Marlboro rallied for a 28-21 victory.

“We unraveled in the fourth quarter,” said Gallagher. “The football gods weren’t looking out for us. We turned the ball over a couple of times. We struggled to run the ball. We didn’t have our fullback, Colin Buckley, and that hurt us.”

While the Little Tigers struggled this fall, Gallagher believes the program has a good foundation in place.

“The biggest positive is that we are young,” said Gallagher. “The quarterback (Dave Beamer) is a sophomore, all the defensive backs are sophomores. We have some sophomores on the line. We have some nice juniors.”

A big positive for PHS this year was the two-way brilliance of senior star receiver/linebacker Liam Helstrom.

“Liam has a lot of fun on the football field,” said Gallagher, whose group of seniors also included Tom Forrey, Chris Harisiades, Will Harrison, and Papakojo Kuranche in addition to Helstrom.

“He is a free spirit and he just enjoys playing the game. He gives his all and he is a coachable kid. He wanted to win but he took the season in stride. The kids carried him off the field after our last game. It was his team and I think the kids took on his personality; they went out there and had fun playing football.”

Gallagher acknowledges that the program needs more kids to get on the winning track.

“We are having a football interest meeting this week; we do need to get the numbers up,” said Gallagher.

“I think that would cut down on injuries. We could give guys playing both ways some rest so they are fresher at the end of games. I want to keep football in the foreground, not the background.”

As Gallagher looks ahead to next fall, he is depending on rising senior Sam Smallzman to bounce back from a knee injury and take a leading role.

“Sam Smallzman went out with an ACL, he will be a leader of the program next year,” said Gallagher. “He is a determined individual and I want the team to take a little of his personality. We have an opportunity to win some games.”

In the meantime, the players are going to get the chance to lick their wounds before starting their off-season program.

“We are going to give the kids some time off to enjoy the rest of the fall,” said Gallagher.

“The offseason is going to be more structured. We are going to get into 7-on-7s, which we didn’t do last summer. We need to give Dave the opportunity to throw the ball more.”

For Gallagher, getting the opportunity to be head coach has been something he has relished.

“I was learning everyday on the job,” said Gallagher. “It was a great experience; it was very humbling. I loved being there for the kids everyday and developing relationships. I never looked at it as a team that didn’t win a game. We prepared hard each week and the kids were focused. As an assistant you have ideas and sometimes you get to try them. As a head coach, you can make that happen.”

MAKING A JUMP:  Hun School football senior star Colton Jay Jumper gets ready to charge through the line in a game this fall. Jumper’s contributions at linebacker and running back helped the Raiders finish 2-6 under new head coach John Law as they bounced back from an 0-4 start.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING A JUMP: Hun School football senior star Colton Jay Jumper gets ready to charge through the line in a game this fall. Jumper’s contributions at linebacker and running back helped the Raiders finish 2-6 under new head coach John Law as they bounced back from an 0-4 start. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When the Hun School football team built a 21-0 lead in the second half of its season finale at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) earlier this month, the Raiders appeared to be cruising to victory.

But nothing came easy for Hun this fall and the Blue Waves scored 14 unanswered points to turn the game into a nailbiter. Coming up with a late turnover, the Raiders were able to hold on for a 21-14 win and end an up-and-down fall on a high note.

Hun head coach John Law was relieved to see his team escape with the win.

“That was a great ending; we went in a little banged up and it was a little more of a challenge than usual,” said Law, who guided Hun to a 2-6 record in his first year at the helm of the program.

“We had control of the game for three quarters. They scored in the fourth quarter when one of defensive backs slipped on a play. We were sputtering on offense and they scored. We were taking on water. Brendan Black intercepted a pass with 50 seconds left when they were driving. It was good to see one of those plays go our way.”

The Raiders faced challenges even before the first game as longtime head coach Dave Dudeck was placed on administrative leave by the school in early September due to ongoing litigation in connection with his tenure as Princeton police chief.

Veteran assistant Law was handed the reins and the Raiders proceeded to lose  their first four games, getting outscored 119-61. Hun broke through with a 41-0 win over the Hill School (Pa.) and played well down the stretch, losing two tight games to Lawrenceville and Peddie before edging Mercersburg.

While Law would’ve liked to seen the Raiders get more wins this fall, he had no qualms with the character shown by his players.

“I was proud of the kids and the way they fought through a tough season, they competed every week and showed a lot of guts,” said Law.

“It was a little discouraging because of the record, we are not used to that. We knew how close we were in a lot of games. We really matured mentally as a football team. If we take any lesson from this season, it is that we have to stay mentally focused for all four quarters and handle the intensity and ebbs and flows of the game.”

With junior quarterback Donavon Harris triggering the offense with his passing and running and tailback Christopher Sharp racing through and past opposing defenses, the Raiders offense got into a rhythm down the stretch, scoring 119 points in their last four contests.

“We had firepower on offense and defense,” said Law. “We were confident, especially in our offense. We had new kids playing new positions and it took time for them to get used to that.”

Law credited the team’s seniors with helping the young kids stay on track.

“In a such a tough season, we had to lean on our leadership,” said Law, whose Class of 2014 included Cameron Dudeck, Kamerin Thomas, Zack DiGregorio, Kyle Drayton, Muhammad Wainwright, Corey Reynolds, Colton Jay Jumper, Andrew Foster, J.T. Bucsek,  Ryan Anderson, Jess Coleman, and Raymond Pfundt. “Through everything, they kept us together.”

For Law, moving up to the head coach role proved to be a tough challenge. “The crazy thing is that when I started I thought I have been doing this 23 years and I was thinking how much different can it be,” said Law.

“There was a lot new and I still need to learn more. It is quite a responsibility and I am humbled by it. The biggest thing is that you don’t get any rest. As a position coach, you get a break at times. As a head coach, you have to be in it the whole way. There are administrative and outside things that you have to deal with.”

In Law’s view, the program is in a good position going forward having undergone this fall’s travails.

“I am really excited,” asserted Law. “We have some good players who got some great experience this fall. The kids are competitors, they love the game and that is what drives them.”

With a roster that didn’t include one senior, the Hun School girls’ tennis team faced an uphill battle this fall.

But with its young players fighting hard and showing growth, the Raiders enjoyed an encouraging season as they went 6-7 in dual match play and placed fourth in the season-ending Mid-Atlantic Prep league (MAPL) tournament.

“I was very happy, each of the girls gave their all,” said longtime Hun head coach Joan Nuse.

“Even in the matches we lost, they fought to the end and that is all you can ask.”

Nuse was happy with the work she got from junior Steph Taylor at first singles, freshman Paige Braithwaite at second singles, and junior Rachel Heller at third singles.

“Steph had an unenviable position at first singles going against the best players, she worked hard and did her best,” said Nuse.

“Paige played second singles as a freshman and was fourth in the MAPL. Rachel played third singles and always gave her all.”

The pairs of sophomore Caroline Wilkinson and freshman Tali Prozementer at first doubles along with junior Olivia Hartman and sophomore Olivia Kotler at second doubles gave Hun a lift.

“I think they did a good job of coming together,” said Nuse, reflecting on her doubles teams.

“The Olivias definitely put in some effort. Caroline and Tali had some great matches. No matter what the situation, they gave their best effort. In their last match, they lost in a tiebreaker in the third set after winning the first set in a tiebreaker and losing the second in a tiebreaker. It was as close a match as you could have.”

With all seven varsity players slated to return, Nuse believes Hun has the chance to win a lot of matches next fall.

“When you have a situation where everyone could be back, there is potential for growth,” said Nuse.

“They should all be as good if not better than they were this year. We had one of our better seasons in recent years and we have a good opportunity to do even better next year.”

November 20, 2013
Q-FACTOR: Princeton Day School field hockey player Emma Quigley dribbles the ball in a game this season. Recovering from an early season thumb injury, the Brown-bound Quigley returned to action and helped PDS post a 9-10 record and make the state Prep B semifinals.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Q-FACTOR: Princeton Day School field hockey player Emma Quigley dribbles the ball in a game this season. Recovering from an early season thumb injury, the Brown-bound Quigley returned to action and helped PDS post a 9-10 record and make the state Prep B semifinals. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As the Princeton Day School field hockey team faced Morristown-Beard in the state Prep B semifinals, its resolve was severely tested.

“Mo-Beard played a different style; they were very aggressive and there was a little more physicality,” said PDS head coach Tracey Arndt.

“We had to stay with what we know. When you go against an aggressive team like that, you rise up or fall back. We rose up. The girls tried to keep possession; people stepped up. We showed versatility and commitment.”

While the third-seeded Panthers ended up dropping a 2-1 nailbiter to the Crimson, Arndt had no qualms with her team’s intensity.

“They put together a tremendous effort,” said Arndt. “If you give your best effort, you have to be OK with that no matter what the result is. I don’t think we played our best but we tried our hardest.”

Fittingly, senior star and Princeton-bound Sarah Brennan notched the lone tally in the finale as the Panthers finished the fall with a 9-10 record.

“It was great that Sarah got our goal,” said Arndt. “She ended up as our second leading goal scorer. We looked for her to do a lot of things for us. She showed such a dedication to improve individually, to help the team and continue her career at college. She did positive work.”

The team’s core of seniors, which included Tufts-bound Mary Travers, Brown recruit Emma Quigley and Emily Goldman in addition to Brennan, set a positive tone for PDS.

“They had some great leaders before them and they used what they learned from them,” said Arndt. “They brought their own qualities to that. They gave us a great example of hard work, practice, commitment. They have such great passion for the game and three of them are going on to play in college. Emily gave us great balance.”

PDS certainly needed that leadership as it endured a topsy-turvy campaign this fall.

“It was a rollercoaster,” said Arndt, whose team got off to a 2-4 start. “We had a big win early against Stuart, they are always well coached and come out hard against us. We lost Emma in that game and we had  definitely had a lull, figuring out what we were going to do when she was out. The Peddie game was a hard hit. I told them that it is not who we are or who we were going to be. You have to get up or get out.

The Panthers responded by figuring out the combination that worked the best, winning seven games down the stretch and playing well in a pair of 2-1 losses to county champion  Lawrenceville and a 2-1 loss to Princeton High.

“We made some changes,” said Arndt. “We adjusted positions. The girls really showed versatility. We moved Nikki van Manen to center back and she did really well. We moved Morgan back to left back which was a more familiar position for her. Mary Travers moved up front. Rowan Schomburg moved to Mary’s spot in the midfield and was our link at getting the ball from defense to offense and also had to mark some of the other team’s best forwards.”

Arndt is confident going forward about the program’s prospects. “We lose four, which is tough, but we have seven to eight varsity starters coming back,” said Arndt.

“We had three sophomores who saw a lot of varsity action and they know the ropes. Katie Alden [this reporter’s daughter] had a great year at goalie and we have the whole defense coming back.”

The PDS players have shown a great attitude that bodes well for the future. “It is so nice working with a group of kids when it doesn’t matter who is playing where,” said Arndt.

“They are going to give their best wherever they are on the field. We don’t have a lot of numbers and I told them that the more positions you know how to play, the more chance you have to play.”

BELLOWING OUT: Hun School field hockey player Francesca Bello, right, goes after the ball in action this fall. Senior Bello provided offensive punch for Hun as it went 6-14 this fall.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BELLOWING OUT: Hun School field hockey player Francesca Bello, right, goes after the ball in action this fall. Senior Bello provided offensive punch for Hun as it went 6-14 this fall. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Hun School field hockey team, its season finale against Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) turned into a microcosm of an uneven campaign.

Hun fell behind 2-1 at halftime only to forge ahead 3-2 after the break. Mercersburg, though, reeled off three unanswered goals to pull away to a 5-3 victory.

“We did OK in the first half and then we took a 3-2 lead but I don’t know what happened after that,” said Hun head coach Kathy Quirk, whose team finished with a final record of 6-14. “It was a frustrating year, it was up and down.”

The Raiders did produce some good hockey along the way. “We had highs and lows; we had games that we should have won,” said Quirk.

“We held Lawrenceville scoreless for 51 minutes but lost 2-1. We played the game of our lives. I wish we could have played every game like it was Lawrenceville. We lost in the county opener and consolation and then came back and beat George, that was a nice win.  We played Hill tough, they were beating up on everybody but we only lost 2-0. We couldn’t seem to capitalize.”

Hun’s group of seniors, Francesca Bello, Alex Kane, Courtney Faulkner, Liz Mydlowski, and Brianna Barratt, showed toughness.

“When Francesca Bello was on, she was on,” said Quirk. “Alex was solid in the back. We moved Courtney from the line to defense to give us a spark there. Bettner came in and did a good job, she was very coachable. Mydlowski was a four-year player. She never missed a practice or game in four years, that really says something about her. Bri Barratt did a nice job in the midfield.”

The Raiders have a nice foundation in place with such players as junior Vicki Leach, junior Julia Blake, freshmen Julie Fassl, and junior Reina Kern.

“Vicki Leach has really come on strong,” said Quirk of Leach, who tallied 10 goals and five assists this fall.

“She is putting the ball in the cage, she is carrying the ball up the field and she is getting into the right place at the right time. Julia Blake played well in the midfield. Julie Fassl did a quite a bit of scoring for us. Our goalie Reina Kern returns.”

Quirk is hoping that her returners will be strong competitors. “We have a good group of kids who will be stepping up and getting their chance,” noted Quirk. “They need to play hard every game.”

STICKING TOGETHER: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Tori Hannah controls the ball in a game this fall. Hannah was one of several sophomore standouts who helped Stuart show progress this fall as the Tartans posted a 7-14 record, doubling its win total from 2012 when it went 3-14-1.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STICKING TOGETHER: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Tori Hannah controls the ball in a game this fall. Hannah was one of several sophomore standouts who helped Stuart show progress this fall as the Tartans posted a 7-14 record, doubling its win total from 2012 when it went 3-14-1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team edged Pennington 1-0 in overtime in the opening round of the state Prep B tournament, it symbolized how far the squad has progressed this fall.

“That was a great win for us,” said Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik of the October 23 contest.

“We had lost to them 4-0 earlier in the season. They had talent in the midfield. By the time we saw them again, we were doing a better job taking what we were working on in practice and applying it in the game.”

In the second half of the Pennington game, Stuart applied those lessons with aplomb, as it held the Red Raiders scoreless and got the game winner on an overtime goal by sophomore Sam Servis.

“At halftime, it was 0-0 and we were doing a lot of things right,” recalled Bruvik.

“Margaret LaNasa was rock solid in the goal and that ignited the rest of the team. The kids felt they had to play well. Amy Hallowell was out with an injury and they dug deep to win for the seniors so that they would have another game to play. We won in overtime; we were 3 for 3 in OTs.”

While Stuart ended up falling to eventual champion Montclair Kimberley in the Prep B semis to end the season at 7-14, Bruvik believes the program is headed in the right direction.

“We went from three wins to seven so we doubled what we did last year,” said Bruvik.

“The overtime games were huge for us, it showed we could persevere and had the talent to execute for 70 minutes or more.”

Bruvik credits her core of seniors with setting a positive tone. “All four of the seniors were leaders for the kids,” said Bruvik, whose Class of 2014 includes Hallowell, LaNasa, Meghan Shannon, and Sarah Barkley.

“They always focused on what they could do not only to help the team but to help the program. Three of the four of them played in JV games when we needed enough players to go 11 on 11. It was never about them, it was always what could they do to help the program.”

Senior midfielder Hallowell was a huge help for the Tartans over her career.

“Amy was the heart and soul of the program the last two years,” said Bruvik. “She was out three weeks with a high ankle sprain and she was great on the sidelines. She came back for the last two games. She sees the field so well and has a great way of communicating with the kids. She was really the quarterback of the team on the field.

Shannon, LaNasa, and Barkley helped spearhead the Stuart defense. “Meghan dropped to the back line and she was very in tune with wanting to know what she could do to help the team every game,” said Bruvik.

“For Margaret LaNasa, working with Gia [assistant coach and former star Princeton goalie Gia Fruscione] the last two years really helped her. She finished 17th in the state in saves, she had around 225. She was really tested this year. She kept us in all the games we won in overtime. Sarah was a good leader for the team; she was really a committed player to the program.”

The team’s core of sophomores showed plenty of game, led by Servis and Tori Hannah.

“Sam has really improved. Her stick skills and timing are much better. She is finding the back of the net. Tori was very good for us, she filled in for Amy, she played in the midfield and she went up on the line to help our offense.”

Four other sophomores, Julia Maser, Elena Bernewitz, Kate Walsh, and Cate Donahue, also made valuable contributions this fall for the Tartans.

“Julia Maser can run the field for 60 minutes, she never stops,” added Bruvik. “She was playing left mid and went against a lot of good players. Bernewitz has exceptional speed and she is becoming more self-confident. Kate Walsh is very versatile and will help wherever you need her. Cate Donahue had a concussion and was out for a while. She played some of her best hockey when she came back near the end of the season.”

The Tartans also got some good hockey from a number of other returning players.

“The dedication, versatility, and improvement of Izzy Engel, Fayette Plambeck, Asha Mohandas, Madison Kirton, Nneka Onukwugha, Harlyn Bell and Rose Tetnowski were critical to this team and to the future of the hockey program,” said Bruvik.

“Their contributions were pivotal in what defines teamwork in both practice sessions and games.”

Going forward, Bruvik believes Stuart has the potential to be a formidable team. “Knowing that we are still young has the girls excited,” asserted Bruvik.

“The sophomores were all very versatile and we played a schedule that was much more competitive than last year.”

November 13, 2013
TITLE CHASE: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Chase Ealy controls the ball in 2012 state tournament action. Last Thursday, junior star Ealy scored two goals to help fourth-seeded PHS top No. 5 Hopewell Valley 3-0 in the Group III Central Jersey sectional quarterfinals. The win earned PHS a shot at top-seeded Allentown in the sectional quarters in a game slated for November 12 with the winner advancing to the title game on November 15.(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

TITLE CHASE: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Chase Ealy controls the ball in 2012 state tournament action. Last Thursday, junior star Ealy scored two goals to help fourth-seeded PHS top No. 5 Hopewell Valley 3-0 in the Group III Central Jersey sectional quarterfinals. The win earned PHS a shot at top-seeded Allentown in the sectional quarters in a game slated for November 12 with the winner advancing to the title game on November 15. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

Over the last two seasons, Chase Ealy has been a threat from left back for the Princeton High boys’ soccer team.

But with senior midfielder John Blair getting sidelined for the season due to a knee injury and the team struggling to score goals, the PHS coaches decided to move Ealy up the field.

Putting junior star Ealy at striker paid immediate dividends as he scored a goal in a 1-1 tie with Pennington in a Mercer County Tournament consolation game and then chipped in two tallies as the fourth-seeded Little Tigers topped No. 13 Neptune 4-0  in the opening round of the Group III Central Jersey sectional.

Last Friday in a sectional quarterfinal contest against fifth-seeded Hopewell Valley, Ealy gave further evidence of his finishing prowess, scoring two more goals as the Little Tigers topped the Bulldogs 3-0.

The win earned PHS a shot at top-seeded Allentown in the sectional quarters in a game slated for November 12 with the winner advancing to the title game on November 15.

Ealy is relishing the chance to have a bigger role in the PHS attack. “I have had a lot of good looks in the state tournament,” said Ealy.

“Coach put me up at striker and obviously that puts me in front of the net a lot more and I have been hitting the shots.”

The loss of Blair left a void that Ealy is trying to fill. “John was definitely a big part of our offense and now that I am up at striker I do feel as if I can really help Kevin [Halliday] and Zeno [Mazzucato],” said Ealy.

“The other two have been at the forward positions all year to get the goals. I have been working here a long time; I know the team.”

In the win over HoVal, Ealy benefited from being a bit of an unknown quantity. He scored on a penalty kick midway through the first half and then tallied on a point blank blast as he converted a feed from Kevin Halliday with 24:01 remaining in regulation to put PHS up 2-0.

“They knew to mark Kevin, I don’t think they had much of a report on me and I took advantage of that,” said Ealy.

“I hit my corner every time on the PK, I don’t change it. That was a great play by Kevin on the second goal. No one stepped up to him, he had all the time in the world to find his pass. I just knew if I posted up, he would hit me and off the six I can hit my shots. It was a nice tap-in.”

The PHS defense also put in a great effort against HoVal, stifling the talented Bulldogs throughout the contest.

“I was so impressed with our defense today,” asserted Ealy. “They held down that line. They did what they needed to do. Whenever they did get back there, Laurenz [Reimitz] was a wall. It all went well.”

PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe knew that Ealy’s skills could be put to good use up the field.

“We weren’t really in a position to really use him as a striker in the first half of the season,” said Sutcliffe, who also got a goal from freshman Andrew Goldsmith in the win over HoVal.

“We worked to slot him in there. John is out for the season, Chase characteristically can play anywhere. He is a flank left player but he is pretty threatening so what a day for him. These moments are scripted for guys like that.”

With PHS having lost 2-1 to HoVal in the rivals’ regular season encounter, Sutcliffe knew that his team had to flip the script through better ball possession.

“In the middle third and the front third, we wanted to hold it and let the ball move in different ways because Hopewell has such a big, fast, athletic team,” said Sutcliffe, whose team improved to 10-5-2.

“Our goal is to make them chase and to try to keep it, build from there, switch the point, and get it in to Kevin and Chase who can put pressure on them there and hold the ball up.”

With a playoff pedigree that features a 16-2-1 record in state tournament play over the last four years, including three sectional titles, a state title in 2009, and state co-championship last year, the Little Tigers have proven they can thrive under postseason pressure. As a result, PHS was not fazed when it struggled down the stretch, going 1-4-2 in its last seven games before the state tournament.

“We lost 12 guys from last year so we knew we had to rebuild,” said Sutcliffe.

“So during the season we are going to have some ups and downs. We are either going to bow out in a bad way or we are going to be where we are now and credit to the guys for doing it. I think there is a lot of resilience in the group, there is a lot of quality with eight sophomores and three freshmen. But then we have guys on this team who have been around for three or four years, and in the last two years, we have won 10 state tournament games.”

Ealy, for his part, believes that the program’s tradition of tournament success drives the Little Tigers.

“We just have a legacy here where we are a championship team,” said Ealy.

“We know that no matter what we did in the regular season we are always expected to contend for every championship. No one wants this to be that year that we didn’t win anything. No matter how we did in the regular season, we want states and we want the MCT. We can do it, we always have the skill for it.”

GROUNDED: Princeton High girls’ soccer star Dana Smith slides to the ground after a ball in the midfield in recent action. Last Thursday, senior midfielder and co-captain Smith saw her high school soccer career come to an end as third-seeded PHS fell 4-1 to No. 11 Hightstown in the Central Jersey Group III sectional quarterfinals. The defeat left the Little Tigers with a final record of 14-4.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GROUNDED: Princeton High girls’ soccer star Dana Smith slides to the ground after a ball in the midfield in recent action. Last Thursday, senior midfielder and co-captain Smith saw her high school soccer career come to an end as third-seeded PHS fell 4-1 to No. 11 Hightstown in the Central Jersey Group III sectional quarterfinals. The defeat left the Little Tigers with a final record of 14-4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Dana Smith expected her career with the Princeton High girls’ soccer team to extend beyond last Thursday when the third-seeded Little Tigers hosted No. 11 Hightstown in the Central Jersey Group III sectional quarterfinals.

But PHS fell behind the Rams 2-0 by halftime and, despite some valiant play, couldn’t overcome an inspired Hightstown squad, falling 4-1 to end the fall with a final record of 14-4.

While star midfielder and team co-captain Smith desperately wanted the Tigers to keep going in the states, she has no regrets when looking back at her four years with the program.

“I am so happy with what I have done and what I have gotten to be part of at Princeton High School,” said Smith, a key performer last fall in PHS’s run to its first-ever sectional title.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better second half to finish with. Every single girl on the team was giving her all. Our fans were here. It just wasn’t our day. We gave it our all and did the best we could.”

The day got off to a rough start for PHS as Hightstown scored with 25:21 left in the first half to take the lead and then added a critical tally just 4:22 before halftime.

The Little Tigers came out firing in the second half, generating several corner kicks but just couldn’t cash them in. The Rams tallied with 24:56 left in regulation to go up 3-0 and then PHS senior Ally Rogers found the back of the net to narrow the gap to 3-1. The Little Tigers kept pressing forward but got burned on a counter attack in the waning seconds as they lost 4-1.

“We never really put our heads down,” said Smith. “We were really focusing on coming back and trying for that goal. Even when they scored that third goal, we were still fighting. We thought we still had time; there was about 20 minutes left at that point. We never gave up; we played to the last second all the way to the last kickoff with seven seconds left. We were still going to goal.”

Although PHS fell short of its goal to win a second straight sectional crown, Smith believes that the pluses outweighed the minus of the finale.

“This whole season has been really great,” said Smith. “We have had so many great wins, beating Hopewell at night was a really good one. Starting the season with two close wins set the tone for the whole season. We knew we were going to fight until the end in every single game. We were never going to give up. I don’t think we did, not for a minute.”

In Smith’s view, the tone set this season will benefit the PHS program going forward.

“We have six sophomores and a freshman so they are going to come back so strong next year,” said Smith. “We have built off of last year’s success. We are going to build off of this year’s successes.”

PHS head coach Greg Hand viewed the season as a success despite the sour ending.

“I was so impressed with the quality of the soccer we played this season,” said Hand. “Sometimes it was a little sporadic and we hoped that we would be more consistent over the course of a whole game. It was some of the best soccer that PHS has played over the years. We became a better defensive team as well as the year went along.”

The Little Tigers displayed that quality game in the second half as they tried to overcome the deficit.

“It was tough falling behind,” acknowledged Hand. “We worked so hard in the second half to try to get it back. We played some terrific soccer and we found a way to get one. It was too much to get back.”

In Hand’s view, the team’s group of seniors, which includes Kaity Carduner, Emily Costa, Krysta Holman, Jordan Provorny, and Eve Reyes in addition to Smith and Rogers, has shown the way for the younger players.

“What a terrific group, they are really great role models for what you need to do to be successful,” said Hand.

“Regardless of the record, I think this was a very successful team. Certainly by external measures, they were successful as well.”

While Smith also stars in lacrosse for PHS and has committed to play for the Lafayette College women’s lax program, soccer isn’t truly over for her.

“I am going to focus on lacrosse but it is going to be sad to end my soccer career,” said Smith. “It will always be a part of my life. This is definitely not going to be the last soccer game. I will definitely find a way to get a ball and kick it around. It has been such a huge part of my life and this team has been such a huge part of my year so far. We are going to wake up tomorrow and still be a team. We’ll be hanging out in the halls together.”

JACOB’S LADDER: Princeton High boys’ cross country star Jacob Rist heads to the finish line in a race earlier this fall. Last Saturday, junior Rist placed 12th individually at the Group III Central Jersey sectional meet to help PHS take second in the team standings. Senior Conor Donahue led the way for the Little Tigers, finishing eighth as he clocked a time of 16:33 over the 5,000-meter course at Thompson Park in Monroe. PHS will compete in the Group III championship meet on November 16 at Holmdel.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

JACOB’S LADDER: Princeton High boys’ cross country star Jacob Rist heads to the finish line in a race earlier this fall. Last Saturday, junior Rist placed 12th individually at the Group III Central Jersey sectional meet to help PHS take second in the team standings. Senior Conor Donahue led the way for the Little Tigers, finishing eighth as he clocked a time of 16:33 over the 5,000-meter course at Thompson Park in Monroe. PHS will compete in the Group III championship meet on November 16 at Holmdel. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Mark Shelley liked what he saw from his Princeton High boys’ cross country team as it got ready to compete in the Group III Central Jersey sectional meet last Saturday.

“I felt like we had trained and tapered appropriately,” said first-year head coach Shelley.

“When you are working with your top 10-12 runners, you can really get in some great workouts.”

The Little Tigers proceeded to put in some good work in the meet held at Thompson Park in Monroe, placing second of 18 teams, trailing only champion Middletown North.

“We knew how good Middletown North was and that we were going to be in a dogfight for second place,” said Shelley, whose team trailed Middletown North 40-88 with Northern Burlington taking third at 95 and Middletown South coming in fourth with 109. “It was good to see us come through.”

Senior star Conor Donahue came through in a big way for PHS, placing eighth in the individual standings, clocking a time of 16:33 over the 5,000-meter course.

“Conor was actually a little sluggish in the first mile,” said Shelley. “He had a super last mile. He had a great kick, he passed some guys who have finished ahead of him before.”

The next Little Tiger finisher, junior Jacob Rist, showed some great character as he battled through injury to finish 12th in a time of 16:48.

“Jacob looked great in the first two miles but he had an issue with his foot over the last mile,” said Shelley.

“His kick wasn’t there. He gutted it out and that’s what you want from your top runners. You don’t drop out, you keep running and do as well as you can.

Freshman Alex Roth is emerging as a top runner for PHS, taking 16th at the sectional with a time of 17:11.

“Alex is so unflappable,” asserted Shelley. “He works hard and doesn’t seem to get too excited. We have been careful with his mileage and training. We have been working on getting him to race more aggressively. He tends to start a little slowly, relatively speaking. We want him to be quicker at the starts. We have been doing some interval pacing with him, trying to cut 10-15 seconds from his time.”

Two PHS juniors, Alex Harvey and Karl Bjorkland, had a good time at the sectional meet. Harvey placed 24th in 17:30 with Bjorkland taking 28th in 17:32.

“They were both fighting a cold,” said Shelley. “Harvey ran an exceptional race. I give the runners goals in each race based on the course and how they are running and he hit his goal exactly. Karl had a good race, but not his best. He is usually closer to Alex Roth. Karl has been a good surprise, he is a transfer from Pittsburgh.”

With PHS competing at the Group III championship meet on November 16 at Holmdel, Shelley knows his team faces a challenge as it shoots to stay around the front of the pack and earn a spot in the season-ending Meet of Champions.

“I like where we are at,” said Shelley. “It depends on being injury free and running our very best. We have some injuries to work through but that’s why you run the race. We are going to continue our tapering. We try to do more speed work at this time of the season to keep them sharp as we are cutting the mileage.”

LIVING IT UP: Hun School girls’ soccer player Olivia Braender-Carr boots the ball up the field last Wednesday in the state Prep A championship game. Senior defender Braender-Carr and the sixth-seeded Raiders fought hard in falling 2-0 to top-seeded and 11-time champion Pennington. Last Saturday, NYU-bound Braender-Carr ended her Hun career by picking up an assist as the Raiders topped  Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 3-0 in their regular season finale to post a 7-12-1 record.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LIVING IT UP: Hun School girls’ soccer player Olivia Braender-Carr boots the ball up the field last Wednesday in the state Prep A championship game. Senior defender Braender-Carr and the sixth-seeded Raiders fought hard in falling 2-0 to top-seeded and 11-time champion Pennington. Last Saturday, NYU-bound Braender-Carr ended her Hun career by picking up an assist as the Raiders topped Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 3-0 in their regular season finale to post a 7-12-1 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Olivia Braender-Carr’s senior season with the Hun School girls’ soccer team got off to a rocky start.

Hampered by injuries and with young players taking their lumps as they were thrust into key roles, Hun lost its first seven games this fall.

As the lone senior captain on the squad, Braender-Carr did her best to pump up the team’s younger players during the early losing streak.

“I just tried to keep them positive after those first couple of losses,” said Braender-Carr, a defender who helped trigger Hun’s offense with her deft corner kicks and penetrating runs up the field.

“I was trying to keep them working, trying to figure out what I could do to motivate them.”

Braender-Carr’s influence paid dividends as Hun caught fire in mid-October, propelled by a pair of wins over Lawrenceville in a week.

“The wins over Lawrenceville really got us going,” said Braender-Carr. “I think it just kept building and building. We really started to want to win, the drive got bigger. We got some players back that were injured, Ashley Maziarz and Jess Sacco.”

That drive to win spurred Hun on a stirring run in the state Prep A tournament as the sixth-seeded Raiders topped No. 3 Lawrenceville and No. 2 Peddie on the way to the title game last Wednesday against top-seeded Pennington School.

While Hun fell 2-0 to 11-time champion Pennington in the championship game, Braender-Carr had no qualms with the effort produced by the Raiders.

“I think we played really tough; we hung in there,” said Braender-Carr in assessing the contest that was knotted 0-0 at halftime.

“I think we had more shots in the first half on goal, some good chances. We had a few breakdowns in the back obviously. We didn’t stay on our marks enough on the 18 when they scored their first goal and on the other one they showed a great counterattack off the corner kick.”

Despite trailing 2-0 in the waning moments of the contest, Hun kept attacking to the final whistle. “Ashley had a chance off my corner; I had a shot at the end,” said Braender-Carr.

“We really worked well as a team defensively, stopping them at the box. I just thought we played our hearts out.”

Hun head coach Joanna Hallac thought that her team showed plenty of heart in defeat.

“We knew it was going to be a really tough matchup,” said Hallac. “We hung with them. I thought the first half was a really good battle. They had more looks but I didn’t think they had great looks, it was nothing too dangerous so I felt good heading into the second half.”

Pennington, though, took charge in the second half, going up 1-0 with 32:30 remaining in regulation and then tacking another tally with 5:25 left.

“Giving up that goal changed the momentum,” said Hallac. “We were down for a few minutes there and we were able to claw back a little but the second one kind of sealed it. The girls should really be proud of the way they played.”

Hallac is proud of how her squad rebounded from its 0-7 start. “It makes you wonder what could have happened if everyone was healthy all year,” said Hallac, whose team topped Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 3-0 last Saturday in its regular season finale to end the fall at 7-12-1.

“But you know what, you have all of these freshmen who wouldn’t get the experience that they did and that not only helped us at the end of this season, but it is going to be a huge help going forward.”

Hun’s late surge has Hallac looking forward to 2014. “I think the way that we finished the season, they should see what is there for us in the future and keep looking towards that,” said Hallac.

“We need to keep building towards that because we basically bring almost everyone back. There is no reason that we can’t be back here next year.”

It will be difficult not having Brander-Carr back on the team. “It is hard to even put it in words; Olivia has done such a great job as a leader on the field, off the field in so many ways,” said Hallac, whose other senior on the team this year was Tanya Clark.

“She does a lot of those intangible things that coaches just love to have in their players, but especially in their captains. We are going to feel her loss tremendously. She has really done so much for this program; we are going to miss her.”

Braender-Carr, for her part, loved the way things came together in her final days with the program.

“The last three or four weeks have really been good; that’s how I wanted my whole senior season to go,” said Braender-Carr, who will be playing for the NYU women’s soccer team next fall.

“I am glad I got to spend time with this group of girls; this is the closest bond we have had in all the grades in the four years I have been here.”

November 6, 2013

While the Princeton University men’s soccer team may have won ugly in posting a 2-1 victory over Cornell last Saturday, the triumph left the Tigers in pretty good shape in the Ivy League title race.

The Tigers are now 6-7-1 overall and 3-1-1 Ivy, tied with Penn (6-8-1 overall, 3-1-1 Ivy) for second place and trailing frontrunner Harvard (5-7-2 overall, 4-1 Ivy).

In reflecting on the win, Princeton head coach Jim Barlow acknowledged that his team wasn’t at its sharpest.

“It is funny we didn’t think we were playing that well but we got two goals,” said Barlow.

“We thought we got off to better starts against Dartmouth and Columbia but they got the first goal. That was not one of the best games soccer-wise from beginning to end but we got those two first half goals.”

The Princeton tallies came on good individual efforts by junior star Cameron Peter and senior standout Patrick O’Neil.

“Cameron did a good job on that play,” said Barlow. “Thomas Sanner made a play in the midfield and then Brendan McSherry got it to Myles McGinley and he sent it up the field. Cameron was in a wrestling match with the two center backs and was able to score. O’Neil came in at left back due to an injury to Joe Saitta. We like our backs to come up wide and he scored that goal from left back.”

Barlow didn’t like what he saw in the second half as Cornell put Princeton on its heels.

“We had a good opportunity to get a third but Thomas Sanner hit the post,” lamented Barlow.

“They had a player seriously injured, he got tangled with Chris Benedict and his head hit Benedict’s knee. They thought there might be a neck injury; he was immobilized and taken off by an ambulance. The game was delayed for 25-30 minutes. When it restarted, they threw the kitchen sink at us. They scored on a corner and we had to hold them off.”

In Barlow’s view, the Tigers have a good opportunity to come out on top in the Ivy dogfight.

“I have been saying all along that we have a good team,” said Barlow. “It was good to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Harvard; we had our backs to the wall. We are focused on the league right now. We hope Columbia can beat Harvard so our game with Penn will be for first place. It is wide open with two weeks to go, we think if we play our best we can win the title.”

The Tigers will have to be at their best to pull out a win over the Quakers. “They have one of the best attacks in the league,” asserted Barlow.

“They have four special players in Duke Lacroix, Alec Neumann, Sam Hayward, and Stephen Baker. They are also not conceding many goals. We will have to keep track of those four going up the field. We need to win the midfield, that sets the tempo. It is going to be a really good game.”

GLORY DAY: Players on the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team celebrate in the wake of beating Hopewell Valley 2-0 last Saturday in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. It was the first-ever MCT crown for the program. A day later, PDS fell short of a title double as it lost 2-0 to Morristown-Beard in the state Prep B championship game. The Panthers finished the fall with a 17-2-1 record.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GLORY DAY: Players on the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team celebrate in the wake of beating Hopewell Valley 2-0 last Saturday in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. It was the first-ever MCT crown for the program. A day later, PDS fell short of a title double as it lost 2-0 to Morristown-Beard in the state Prep B championship game. The Panthers finished the fall with a 17-2-1 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

At around 6:30 on Saturday evening, the players on the Princeton Day School soccer team were crying tears of joy after their dramatic 2-0 win over Hopewell Valley in the Mercer County Tournament championship game at Rider’s Ben Cohen Field.

“That was huge; I don’t know if there was one dry eye on the team after that,” said PDS senior star Lilly Razzaghi, reflecting on the emotions triggered by the program’s first-ever county crown. “We were all so happy.”

PDS head coach Pat Trombetta was happiest about the character his team displayed in its rise from a 4-9-4 campaign in 2012 to the MCT title.

“You know what it is; it is a team that is resilient,” said Trombetta. “The whole thing started last season when we finished with only four wins. It was a bad taste in our mouths and those girls remember that. I said it is unacceptable. I said you have got to come back and bounce back and that is exactly what they did this year.”

The first-seeded Panthers had to bounce back in the second half as No. 2 HoVal had them on their heels in the early going.

“I said you didn’t play well and it is 0-0 right now, you start making things happen and we are going to win this game,” said Trombetta, recalling his halftime message.

“Hopewell had the better of the play  But if you look at our back four, I will put them up against any back four in the county, with Stef Soltesz, Brit Murray, Erin Hogan, and Lily Razzaghi, That it is a strong four. I thought Rory Finnegan played excellent in goal today.”

In the the second half, PDS got goals through its strong play on set pieces as Eloise Stanton scored on a corner kick from Alexa Soltesz and Kirsten Kuzmicz headed in a free kick from Brit Murray.

“We have been working on that in practice over and over and I told the girls this is how games are won or lost right here on this stuff,” said Trombetta. “I said  you guys need to be the aggressive team inside the box and they did it.”

In Trombetta’s view, pushing his players to come together as a team was a key factor in PDS’s title win.

“The chemistry is great,” said Trombetta. “If you look at the makeup of the team with underclassmen and upperclassmen, it is about 50/50. What I had the upperclassmen do is for each to take an underclassmen under their wing and just mentor them all season so that tightens the bond and it just grew and grew. It is a real close-knit group and, you know what, it means a lot in games when the players are playing for each other. It has been an amazing journey.

Utilizing that camaraderie, PDS struck a blow for the underdogs. “This is for all the teams out there, the small schools that nobody looks at,” said Trombetta, with his voice rising.

“The girls that might not be academy-type players but if you have a bunch of girls who have great team chemistry, it goes a long way. They have got so much heart and determination.”

At around 2:30 the next afternoon, however, the PDS players cried tears of frustration as their hearts were broken in a 2-0 loss to Morristown-Beard in the state Prep B championship game played on their Jan Baker Field.

The top-seeded Panthers got off on the wrong foot against No. 6 Mo-Beard as they surrendered two goals in the first 13 minutes of the contest and then had a player sent off with a red card minutes later.

“It is bad enough playing less than 24 hours after the county game and then you get dealt a red card,” lamented Trombetta.

“That was an unfortunate situation, playing a man down for three-quarters of the game. The girls competed right to the end, they never gave up.”

Trombetta acknowledged that team’s grueling schedule, which saw it play six tournament games in nine days, may have caught up with the players on Sunday.

“We were flat off the bat,” said Trombetta. “It is tough. I have been coaching this game a long time and trying to play six games in nine days is tough. Fatigue was a factor, we were running on fumes to be honest with you. To have a game like last night with that kind of emotional game and that hard-fought battle and then to come back the next day and play in another championship game is a tall task.”

Razzaghi, for her part, liked the way the Panthers kept on task despite tired legs.

“We definitely have had a lot of games and it catches up to us sometimes,” said Razzaghi.

“But I don’t think we ever gave up. We kept playing. They may have scored on us but we came back and fought hard. Even when we switched up our formation, we played really hard. I am really proud of the girls.”

The loss to Mo-Beard didn’t diminish the pride that Razzaghi feels over what the Panthers accomplished this fall.

“In the four years I have been here, I have never seen a team of girls work so well together towards such a common goal,” said Razzaghi.

“We played so well. We have these (holding up county champion t-shirts) which is the first time we have these and I am pretty proud of the girls for having done that.”

Trombetta, for his part, won’t soon forget what his team did in 2013. “We couldn’t be more proud of the performance of these girls and the team as a whole and the way they stuck together,” said Trombetta, whose squad posted a final record of 17-2-1.

“I told the seniors, regardless of how this stings, what you did this year, no other PDS team did. I am very happy for the seniors to go out this way. Obviously they are upset and I told the other girls, take a look at the seniors right now.”

Things are looking up for PDS in the wake of its historic run. “We had a very good eighth grade team that didn’t lose a game,” said Trombetta.

“The junior class has been the warriors in this group. I think next year we are going to hopefully be up there again.”

ON TARGET: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Eloise Stanton dribbles that ball last Saturday in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. Senior midfielder Stanton scored the game-winning goal as top-seeded PDS edged No. 2 Hopewell Valley 2-0 to win the program’s first MCT title. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON TARGET: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Eloise Stanton dribbles that ball last Saturday in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. Senior midfielder Stanton scored the game-winning goal as top-seeded PDS edged No. 2 Hopewell Valley 2-0 to win the program’s first MCT title.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Eloise Stanton waited to get back on the field midway through the second half of the Mercer County Tournament girls’ soccer title game last Saturday, the Princeton Day School senior midfielder was confident she could make an impact.

With top-seeded PDS locked in a scoreless tie with No. 2 Hopewell Valley, Stanton trotted onto the field at Rider University and got into the fray.

“I came off from outside mid and I was pretty tired and just got a quick drink,” said Stanton. “Everyone on the bench cheered me on and I went in and when I was on the field everybody was really helpful.”

With 11:21 left in the half, Stanton got her teammates cheering as she headed in a soaring cross from Alexa Soltesz to give PDS a 1-0 lead.

“It was perfectly placed and I just looked up and hit it,” said Stanton, recalling the goal that proved to be the game-winner in a 2-0 victory for the Panthers as they won the program’s first county crown.

“It was easy for me, she did all the work. As an outside mid, I am told to go on the keeper and I tried to do that. Alexa has amazing crosses. She has a great foot and her corners are always beautiful.”

PDS head coach Pat Trombetta was happy to see Stanton’s work pay off with the decisive tally.

“Eloise started the season off great,” said Trombetta. “I had a conversation with her the other day and I said ‘Eloise you have had a little bit of a lull here in scoring. This is your last week as a PDS Panther, go out and make something happen.’ That was a beautiful header.”

Just over a minute later, Stanton and her teammates experienced another beautiful moment as junior Kirsten Kuzmicz headed in a free kick from senior star Brit Murray to give the Panthers some insurance.

“It felt really good; getting the first goal is good but you know it can easily be tied up,” said Stanton, reflecting on Kuzmicz’s tally.

“Getting the second goal is really nice, especially since there were only about 10 minutes left in the half. I think that is when we knew we had it in our grasp.”

With the game tied at 0-0 at halftime, things weren’t coming easy for PDS as it battled a tough HoVal squad that had knocked off powerful Pennington on the way to the title game.

“We were concerned,” said Stanton. “We knew how to play it, especially from the PHS game when we were down 1-0 at the half. We have a lot of heart.

“We knew we could do it. We all have faith in each other. I think that is the main thing, we have confidence in our teammates and that is what makes us good.”

Coming together as a team paved the way to PDS’s championship breakthrough with the squad bouncing back from a frustrating 4-9-4 campaign in 2012.

“I think a lot of it is that we have been working on team chemistry,” said Stanton.

“Last year, we had all the talent but the seniors have been working on bringing that together because we kind of played individually. We did have the talent but we didn’t really work together as well. So this year the seniors tried to get the team to have one goal and one big picture in mind for what we wanted in the end.”

In Stanton’s view, winning the county title was not only a great way to end her career, it should serve as big inspiration for the program going forward.

“It means so much especially for the seniors and this being our last season,” said Stanton.

“It is a great way to end. I think for the incoming freshmen it is a great way to start because it shows them how much everything means to us and that getting this far, it gives them something to shoot for in the future.”

JOLLY ROGERS: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Ally ­Rogers eyes the ball in a recent game. Last Monday, senior forward Rogers scored two goals as third-seeded PHS topped No. 14 Jackson Liberty 6-0 in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group III sectional. PHS, the defending sectional champions, will host 11th-seeded Hightstown in the quarterfinals on November 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

JOLLY ROGERS: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Ally ­Rogers eyes the ball in a recent game. Last Monday, senior forward Rogers scored two goals as third-seeded PHS topped No. 14 Jackson Liberty 6-0 in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group III sectional. PHS, the defending sectional champions, will host 11th-seeded Hightstown in the quarterfinals on November 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After suffering a disappointing 2-1 loss to Princeton Day School last week in the semis of the Mercer County Tournament, Ally Rogers and her teammates on Princeton High girls’ soccer team were excited to get things started in the state tourney,

With third-seeded PHS hosting No. 14 Jackson Liberty in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group III sectional last Monday, the Little Tigers were looking to make a statement.

“This is a new tournament, this is a new start,” said senior forward Rogers. “We want to just show everyone what we have because we didn’t do that in the county tournament so we are going to do that in this tournament. We are going to come out strong.”

PHS certainly came out strong against Jackson Liberty, scoring five unanswered goals in the first half on the way to a 6-0 victory.

Rogers, who scored two of the first half goals, said that the Little Tigers showed progress from the PDS setback.

“We learned from it; we know we didn’t play our best in that game,” said Rogers.

“We could have won, I think. We just lost the momentum a little bit and stopped winning the 50/50 balls, which was a big problem. We just focused on that in our practices and we focused on that in this game and I think we did fairly well.

“Placing the ball and just calming down when you are in front of the goal are two of our other biggest things.”

In blasting in her tallies, Rogers showed clinical precision. “On my goals personally, I just made sure I took a breath before I shot,” said Rogers, who now has 10 goals and eight assists on the season. “I just saw the goalie and saw where she was and just placed it in the space.”

The productive partnership between Rogers and junior Shannon Pawlak was on display as Pawlak contributed two goals and an assist in the first half onslaught.

“Shannon uses her foot skills in the middle and I use my speed to get up the side and cross it to her,” explained Rogers.

“We just work very well with each other and we have learned to play off of each other and we talk to each other and make sure that we are on the same page.”

PHS head coach Greg Hand thought his players were on the same page Monday as they bounced back from the PDS loss and started the defense of their sectional crown.

“We were disappointed there, we were not dejected,” said Hand, referring to the team’s mood after the PDS setback. “We had been focusing on training well and wanted to come out and be sharp on attack and on defense. Today was a good start.”

In Hand’s view, Rogers and Pawlak were particularly sharp in the win over Jackson Liberty.

“Ally is so dynamic; she does some surprising things in every game,” asserted Hand, whose team will host 11th-seeded Hightstown in the sectional quarterfinals on November 7.

“She is always working hard. She has developed a great ability to hold the ball under pressure and to get behind people and get in serves from really difficult angles. Shannon always works so hard for us. She did a great job of finishing off that early goal in the game.”

Rogers and her classmates, for their part, are determined to produce a big finish to their PHS careers.

“All of the seniors are so stoked that this is the team that is going to be our last team for the high school,” said Rogers.

“We just know that we are so strong that we can go all the way if we connect and play our game the whole time.”

ON THE BALL: Princeton High field hockey player Julia ­DiTosto controls the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, junior star DiTosto scored a goal in a losing cause as fifth-seeded PHS fell 3-2 to No. 4 Warren Hills in the North 2, Group III sectional quarterfinals. The defeat left the Little Tigers with a final record of 13-4-2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON THE BALL: Princeton High field hockey player Julia ­DiTosto controls the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, junior star DiTosto scored a goal in a losing cause as fifth-seeded PHS fell 3-2 to No. 4 Warren Hills in the North 2, Group III sectional quarterfinals. The defeat left the Little Tigers with a final record of 13-4-2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As the Princeton High field hockey team battled Warren Hills last Saturday in the first half of the North 2, Group III sectional quarterfinals, it was clicking on all cylinders.

Looking strong at both ends of the field, fifth-seeded PHS took a 2-0 lead over the No. 4 Blue Streaks into halftime.

“We played the way we play best with a quick passing, possession game,” said PHS head coach Heather Serverson, reflecting on her team’s first-half performance.

“We have been working on pushing harder to the goal and playing tighter defense and we did both of those in the first half.”

But midway through the second half, a hard six-minute stretch doomed the Little Tigers to a 3-2 defeat.

“About 15 minutes in, we were still ahead 2-0 but then they scored three goals in six minutes, it was a wave of intensity,” said Serverson, who got goals from Julia DiTosto and Trish Reilly in the loss. “We had trouble responding and we had a couple of injuries in that stretch.”

In addressing her players in the wake of the defeat that left PHS with a final record of 13-4-2, Serverson saw parallels to the team’s heartbreaking loss on strokes to Hopewell Valley a week earlier in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals.

“It was sort of the same as after the Hopewell loss in the Mercer County Tournament,” said Serverson.

“I told them they have to be able to respond and adjust to the other team. It is the little things that make a difference at this level.”

In Serverson’s view, while her team played high-level hockey all fall long, it could have reached even greater heights.

“It was an excellent season,” said Serverson. “We had a great record even with the two late losses. I feel that they didn’t reach their potential, they were capable of more.”

The team’s core of seniors did their best to help the team maximize its potential.

“Our captains [Emilia Lopez-Ona, Merritt Peck, and Gennie Quinn] helped provide stability and calm in the postseason games,” said Serverson. “Breanna [Hegarty-Thorne] did a great job in the cage.”

Welcoming back such talented players as DiTosto, Reilly, Lucy Herring, Elisa Kostenbader, Campell McDonald, Jordyn Cane, and Georgia McLean, Serverson believes PHS can do some great things next fall.

“I think the experience they got in this postseason will be drawn upon next year,” said Serverson. “We are returning more than half the starters.”

SURPRISE ENDING: Hun School girls’ soccer player Ashley Maziarz tracks a ball in a game last season. Junior captain Maziarz scored the lone goal last Thursday as sixth-seeded Hun upset No. 2 Peddie 1-0 in the Prep A semifinals. The Raiders, who are now 6-11-1 after starting 0-7 this fall, will play at top-seeded Pennington on November 6 in the Prep A championship game.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SURPRISE ENDING: Hun School girls’ soccer player Ashley Maziarz tracks a ball in a game last season. Junior captain Maziarz scored the lone goal last Thursday as sixth-seeded Hun upset No. 2 Peddie 1-0 in the Prep A semifinals. The Raiders, who are now 6-11-1 after starting 0-7 this fall, will play at top-seeded Pennington on November 6 in the Prep A championship game. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The mood was solemn as the Hun School girls’ soccer team headed to Peddie last Thursday for a state Prep A semifinal clash.

”We had to prepare ourselves for this game,” said Hun junior star Ashley Maziarz.

“We were really focused on the way here. We were very quiet and focused on the game when we got here. We paid attention to what we were doing in the warm up. We really worked hard.”

Once the game started, a business-like sixth-seeded Hun team controlled possession, generating a number of corner kicks and putting the second-seeded Peddie defense under pressure.

On one of those corners, defender Maziarz got on the end of an Olivia Braender-Carr volley and headed the ball in for a goal.

That combination has been the blueprint for several Hun goals this fall. “Usually that is how we set up the corners; we like to get me to the far post,” said Maziarz.

“Olivia likes to take the kick, she has a really good strike. She always know swhere to hit it and knows where I am. A lot of time it falls into place. It was a really lucky goal. The goalie came out and I think she might have gotten a tip on it and the ball fell right on my head.”

Maziarz’s goal proved to be the lone tally of the contest as Hun prevailed 1-0 and booked its spot in the Prep A championship game at top-seeded Pennington on November 6.

After the final whistle below, the mood around the Hun squad was joyous as the players hugged after the game and then jogged to the cheers of their fans on the post-game warm down.

A smiling Maziarz acknowledged that there were some anxious moments as Peddie battled hard after intermission.

“It was definitely a different feel in the second half, they were pressing hard,” said Maziarz. “They came out strong. We had some rough moments but we pulled together.”

The victory was another step forward in a surprisingly strong late surge which has seen Hun rebound from a 0-7 start to make its first appearance in the state Prep A title game since 2009.

“We started off weak,” said Maziarz, noting that she was sidelined in the early going due to a partial tear in her patella.

“Now is the time that really matters; we seem to be pulling together and peaking at the right time. We are working as a team and we are working hard, especially in practice, getting what we need to do.”

As a team captain, Maziarz has felt the need to be extra supportive of Hun’s large contingent of freshmen and sophomores.

“I like to keep them focused and positive,” said Maziarz. “In the beginning of the season when it wasn’t going  the way we wanted it to, I tried to build them up.”

Hun head coach Joanna Hallac points to the return of Maziarz as a key factor in her squad’s strong finish.

“Getting Ashley back from injury as well as Jess Sacco has really changed the dynamic on the team,” asserted Hallac.

“The two of them not only possess the ball well, but they calm things down, they control things out there. Now that these freshmen have had all of this experience and you are getting veteran players back, it is really a good time to start jelling and we are.”

In Hallac’s view, Hun got off to a really good start in the Peddie clash. “I told the girls at halftime this was the best 40 minutes of soccer I had seen them play all year,” said Hallac.

“They were doing everything right other than one little missed communication in the back. We really possessed the ball, we were moving it around. We were getting good looks at it and all it takes is that one opportunity that you capitalize on.”

Hun had to hold the fort in the second half as Peddie looked to equalize. “I thought we handled it well,” said Hallac.

“There are always going to be those scary moments, a couple where we got lucky. I told the girls that you make your own luck. We took care of our chance and then we did what we needed to do to solidify the win. We were able to hold on and I was proud of them.”

Hallac is proud of the resilience her players have shown in battling back from their rocky start this fall. “These girls have been working hard and getting better every time they step on the field,” asserted Hallac.

“Even when we were 0-7, they were showing such improvement every game. It was just a matter of keeping them positive and keeping them hungry. They kept showing up every day and working hard and doing every thing I asked and I told them it is going to come together you have just got to believe me. They saw it and kept working.”

Beating Lawrenceville in the opening round of the Prep A tournament and in a regular season contest in the same week helped propel Hun, now 6-11-1, into the title clash with perennial power Pennington.

“They gained a new kind of confidence that is allowing them to really reach their potential and playing the kind of soccer I know they have been capable of the whole time,” said Hallac, whose team battled hard in losing to Pennington 4-2 in a regular season contest and 2-0 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament. “I  think they feel they can beat Pennington if they play their best soccer.”

Maziarz, for her part, believes Hun will give Pennington all it can handle. “I think right now we are focused a lot more and that is really helping,” said Maziarz. “Once we won those games against Lawrenceville, it definitely gave us confidence. We want to keep playing and play hard.”

HAMMER TIME: Hun School boys’ soccer player Bailey Hammer heads the ball during Hun’s 2-0 loss to Hightstown last Wednesday in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals. Sparked by senior star Hammer’s fiery play, the 11th-seeded Raiders upset sixth-seeded Princeton High 1-0 in overtime in the MCT opening round and third-seeded Allentown 2-1 in overtime in the quarterfinals before falling to No. 2 Hightstown. The Raiders, now 7-11, will play at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on November 9 in its season finale.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HAMMER TIME: Hun School boys’ soccer player Bailey Hammer heads the ball during Hun’s 2-0 loss to Hightstown last Wednesday in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals. Sparked by senior star Hammer’s fiery play, the 11th-seeded Raiders upset sixth-seeded Princeton High 1-0 in overtime in the MCT opening round and third-seeded Allentown 2-1 in overtime in the quarterfinals before falling to No. 2 Hightstown. The Raiders, now 7-11, will play at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on November 9 in its season finale. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When Bailey Hammer joined the Hun School boys’ soccer team as a freshman in 2010, he soaked up some important lessons from the squad’s veterans.

“Three of us were on the varsity team our freshmen year, Andres Gonzalez, Chris Meinert, and me,” recalled Hammer.

“We had a phenomenal group of seniors, a lot of them went D-1. Guys like Julian Plummer who played at Lafayette. There were a lot of great kids and we were learning from them. Thank God for them because they taught us so much at a young age.”

Over the last few weeks, senior midfielder Hammer together with classmates Gonzalez, Meinert and Felix Dalstein applied those lessons as they led 11th-seeded Hun on an improbable run to the Mercer County Tournament semifinals.

The Raiders came together as they stunned sixth-seeded Princeton High 1-0 in overtime in the opening round and third-seeded Allentown 2-1 in overtime in the quarterfinals before losing 2-0 to Hightstown last Wednesday night in the semis.

“It would be our leadership, the four senior captains,” said Hammer, when assessing what made the difference for the Raiders in its MCT run.

“A lot of guys listened to us, they looked up to us which helped us out a lot and definitely our coaches. They were there for us no matter what, academically, anything so it was nice to have that friendship and bond where you could bond off the field. You could go out for pizza but at the same time, battle on the field together like brothers. It was really nice.”

The Raiders brought a battling spirit into the postseason. “Our whole motto is if you don’t believe us, we’ll show you how we do it,” said Hammer.

In the loss to Hightstown, Hun showed plenty of skill and fight, generating some good chances as the teams were knotted 0-0 at halftime. In the second half, Hun kept pressing forward, just missing goals on a header attempt by Hammer and a point blank volley by Alex Semler off a corner kick. Hightstown broke through with a goal on a penalty kick with 19:09 left in regulation and then added a second score on a free kick some seven minutes later.

“Coming off of two overtime wins, we were hyped, we were ready to go,” said Hammer.

“We had a light practice yesterday and we knew what we had to do coming into the game. I just wish we could have come out with a win but I thought we battled to the end, everyone hustled. It was a really good game.”

Hammer’s fiery presence helped spark Hun to give its all against Hightstown. “I like being loud, I am competitive and everything,” said Hammer, who also stars for the Hun baseball team.

“It was definitely a blast being out there and getting the team fired up. I think we battled and it was just really nice to see everyone leave it out on the field.”

Hun head coach Pat Quirk was likewise proud of Hun’s effort. “We created a lot of good opportunities for ourselves,” said Quirk.

“We couldn’t finish but we never gave up and that’s been the story of this team all season. There were times where they could have packed it in but they never do. They are always trying to keep scoring.”

Even though the Raiders brought a losing record into the MCT, Quirk sensed that his team could pull off some surprises.

“I had a good feeling coming into the tournament,” said Quirk. “We started playing well together. We started making some combinations and we had that whole never give up thing. The first two games in the tournament we won in overtime. No one really expected us to do anything and we were able to prove some people wrong.

Quirk credits his quartet of seniors with holding things together for the Raiders.

“Bailey, Felix, Andres, and Chris have all shown some great leadership,” said Quirk, whose team topped Peddie 3-2 last Saturday to move to 7-11 and will play at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on November 9 in its season finale. “They are lead by example players.”

Based on the team’s late surge, Quirk is confident that his younger players will follow the good example set by the seniors going forward.

“We have guys coming back that are part of this,” said Quirk. “Two freshmen are on the field the majority of the time in the game for us. We have a bunch of sophomores and some juniors. I think it looks good.”

Hammer, for his part, believes his class is leaving a good legacy for the program.

“We are going to be ready for next year,” said Hammer. “We got a lot of young kids so hopefully this is a good learning experience for them.”