May 15, 2013
ON THE BALL:  Princeton Day School baseball player Ross Colton displays his hitting form in recent action. Sophomore star Colton and the Panthers edged Montclair Kimberley Academy 1-0 last Monday in the state Prep B quarterfinals. The Panthers, who snapped a six-game losing streak with the win and improved to 9-9, were slated to play at Pennington on May 14 in the Prep B semis with the winner advancing to the title game on May 16 at Diamond Nation in Flemington.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON THE BALL: Princeton Day School baseball player Ross Colton displays his hitting form in recent action. Sophomore star Colton and the Panthers edged Montclair Kimberley Academy 1-0 last Monday in the state Prep B quarterfinals. The Panthers, who snapped a six-game losing streak with the win and improved to 9-9, were slated to play at Pennington on May 14 in the Prep B semis with the winner advancing to the title game on May 16 at Diamond Nation in Flemington. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into its state Prep B quarterfinal contest last Monday against visiting Montclair Kimberley Academy (MKA), the Princeton Day School baseball team seemed destined for a quick exit.

PDS brought a six-game losing streak into the contest while sizzling MKA had pulled two straight upsets to advance to the semifinals of the Greater Newark Tournament.

In assessing the match-up, PDS head coach Ray O’Brien acknowledged that his team was struggling.

“Collectively we have been slumping for the last four or five games,” said O’Brien.

“We have run into some good pitchers and when we have hit, we have had a lot of ‘at-them’ shots. We lost some close games and there was one game where we didn’t field. Our depth hurt us, we only dressed 11 for some of those games and you can’t make many moves when you have that few bodies.”

Giving the ball to sophomore pitching ace Cole McManimon on Monday proved to be the right move as PDS pulled out a 1-0 nailbiter over MKA.

“He is only a sophomore; it is just amazing to go out and pitch like that,” asserted O’Brien of McManimon, who pitched a complete-game two hitter in earning his sixth victory of the spring.

“Every time he goes out, we know what we are going to get. He struck out seven and didn’t walk anyone. He has three good pitches, a two-seam and a four-seam fastball and a really good change-up. He is also starting to throw a slider. For someone that tall, he has very good control. He is going to do some very special things.”

While the Panthers got only one hit in the victory, they made it count as Jake Alu drove in McManimon with a fifth inning single.

“We hit a lot of line drives right at people in the MKA game,” said O’Brien, whose team improved to 9-9 with the victory and was slated to play at Pennington on May 14 in the Prep B semis with the winner advancing to the title game on May 16 at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

“Jake hit two shots and then we get two on and he hits a bleeder through the hole. The pitcher put us on his back and carried us and we finally got a hit and scored a run.”

While PDS had hit a dry spell, O’Brien has seen plenty of positives this spring.

“Ross Colton has had a really good season, he has hit well in the leadoff spot and has played a good third base,” said O’Brien.

“Jake has done a great job at shortstop and is starting to hit again. B.J. Dudeck is playing well. The pitching has been pretty good. Cole and Jake have been our top two pitchers and J.P. Radvany and Ben Weiner have also pitched well.”

And the Panthers proved they have good character, coming through under tournament pressure.

“We bounced back and battled,” asserted O’Brien. “MKA just finished off two top 20 teams in northern Jersey and made the final four in the Greater Newark tournament. We played great defense.”

BUMP AND RUN: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Bump Lisk runs past a WW/P-S defender last Saturday in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. Senior attacker Lisk scored a goal to help third-seeded PDS post a 7-4 win over the No. 6 Pirates. The Panthers were slated to play second-seeded Princeton High in the MCT semis on May 14 at Ewing High with the winner advancing to the title game on May 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BUMP AND RUN: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Bump Lisk runs past a WW/P-S defender last Saturday in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. Senior attacker Lisk scored a goal to help third-seeded PDS post a 7-4 win over the No. 6 Pirates. The Panthers were slated to play second-seeded Princeton High in the MCT semis on May 14 at Ewing High with the winner advancing to the title game on May 16.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Bump Lisk and his teammates on the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse  took the field from the team’s Senior Day game against Blair Academy last Wednesday, they brought a special intensity.

“This is our last regular season game and we wanted to make sure that we were playing this like a playoff game,” said senior attackman Lisk.

“At this point left with six games left, including this one, we cannot let up at all. We can’t have a bad game. We can’t say that this game doesn’t matter and just forget about it.”

The Panthers didn’t let up, jumping out to an 8-0 lead on the way to a 13-3 victory.

“I am very proud of the team,” said Lisk, who scored five goals in the win and passed the 100-point mark in his PDS career. “We played awesome.”

The Panther attack had some awesome moments in the win, producing some superb ball movement and finishing.

“It is probably the tightest offense I have had here in four years,” said Lisk. “We all get along; we all hang out together in school. It is tight. Coach Cliff [Higgins] and coach [Rob] Tuckman have us doing stuff that really helps our game. It is a tight group of guys, we seem to find each other and work well.”

In assessing his recent scoring surge, which saw Lisk tally another goal on Saturday as the third-seeded Panthers topped No. 6. WW/P-S 7-4 in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals, he credited classmate Cody Triolo.

“Honestly, the secret to it is that the teams focus on Cody so much,” said Lisk, who was hoping to keep rolling as the Panthers were slated to play second-seeded Princeton High in the MCT semis on May 14 at Ewing High with the winner advancing to the title game on May 16.

“He is going to Lehigh, he is the best player on the field and he is probably the best player in the county. So teams focus on him so much it lets me get that third or fourth defenseman and sometimes I fall through the cracks. I think that helps a lot.”

Lisk, an ice hockey star who chose to play juniors this winter rather than skate with the Panthers, is bringing a special focus to lacrosse as he wears the PDS jersey for one last season.

“It is awesome playing juniors, but when you are doing it about you absolutely miss PDS,” said Lisk.

“You miss the fans and being around the guys. I am just trying to take it one game at a time. I am loving being with these guys; it is a great group of guys.”

PDS head coach Rob Tuckman believes that Lisk and his classmates have done great things for the PDS program. The team’s senior class includes Taran Auslander, Eddie Meyercord, Derek Bell, Brendan Shannon, Andrew Phipps, and Tucker Triolo in addition to Lisk and Cody Triolo.

“They are ambassadors for this program,” said Tuckman, whose team came up short in state Prep B championship game on Monday as the second-seeded Panthers lost 16-3 at top-seeded Rutgers Prep to move to 11-5.

“I knew as freshmen that they were going to make a huge impact on the program and they have and they continue to and that’s exciting.”

Tuckman is excited by the way Lisk has been playing down the stretch. “Bump is having a good time out there; he is playing well. He is exciting to watch,” said Tuckman.

“He plays with incredible confidence. Having him on that low side really opens things up because he is a force to reckon with.

PDS has proven to be a force collectively as the season headed into May. “We are peaking at the right time,” said Tuckman. “Part of why we are playing so well is that the boys really enjoy playing with each other. This is what it’s all about.”

Lisk, for his part, is enjoying his remaining time on the lacrosse field. “We just have to keep doing what we are doing,” said Lisk, who will be playing junior hockey in Wilkes Barre/Scranton, Pa. next year.

“I am just taking it one game at a time. You can’t overlook any team. There is a sense of urgency but we are just savoring every game here.”

May 8, 2013

In early April, Sheryl Severance was concerned that her Princeton High boys’ golf team might be in for a long spring.

“Initially, it started off rough,” said longtime PHS head coach Severance. “It was freezing cold and a little windy. We were a little nervous and had some bad scores.”

But as the weather warmed up, the scores have gone down for PHS. “We had a 205 in a win over Hightstown on April 19 and that really helped,” said Severance, whose team was 6-8 coming into this week and has been under 220 in most of its recent matches. “They saw they could play with anyone.”

Junior Laura Burke has proved that she can play with anyone this spring, emerging as PHS’s top performer.

“Last year she was in our top five or six; usually in mid-to-high 40s,” said Severance of Burke, who recently finished second in the girls’ Mercer County Tournament and has qualified for the state girls’ tourney to be held on May 23 at Cherry Valley.

“She is a different player this year. She is very confident; the major difference is that she is not afraid to go against anybody. Her drives are long, right down the middle. Her approaches are accurate and her short game and putting are strong. She has the best average on the team at 40.8.”

Another junior girl, Diane Karloff, has developed into a strong player for the Little Tigers.

“Diane picked up the sport as a freshman; it was golf or tennis and she liked golf,” said Severance.

“She works very hard. She gets lessons constantly and it is practice, practice with her. Sometimes she will ask to go to the driving range during practice. She is very dedicated, she has some great scores recently and she is getting better.”

Freshman Andrew Huang has been getting better and better as the season has unfolded.

“Andrew has fit right in; he is a good kid,” said Severance, whose team was slated to play in the MCT on May 7 before playing at Hightstown on May 8 and hosting Lawrence on May 9.

“I would say that he is pretty straight with his drives and long irons. He needs some tweaking around the green but that comes with experience.”

PHS has drawn strength from the experience that senior Robert Morelli brings to the table.

“Robert is our only senior in the top six; he provides a lot of leadership,” said Severance, who is getting some good contributions from a pair of veterans, juniors John Blair and Paul Murray.

“The kids go to him when they have questions or concerns. He doesn’t say much; he is a quiet leader. He is into it. He knows the scores of the other teams and the other players; he gives us information. He is a little more serious about it. Last year, it was just for fun.”

STEPPING FORWARD: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Dana Smith heads upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, junior star Smith contributed a goal as third-seeded PHS topped No. 14 Lawrence 19-2 in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament. The win lifted PHS to 12-2 as it advanced to host an MCT quarterfinal matchup against No. 6 Princeton Day School slated for May 7 with the winner advancing to the semis on May 9.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STEPPING FORWARD: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Dana Smith heads upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, junior star Smith contributed a goal as third-seeded PHS topped No. 14 Lawrence 19-2 in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament. The win lifted PHS to 12-2 as it advanced to host an MCT quarterfinal matchup against No. 6 Princeton Day School slated for May 7 with the winner advancing to the semis on May 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last fall, Dana Smith’s excellence at both ends of the field helped the Princeton High girls’ soccer team win the Central Jersey Group III sectional title.

This spring, junior Smith is assuming a similar role for the PHS girls’ lacrosse team, sparking the Little Tigers with savvy defense and some gritty play in the crease.

As third-seeded PHS hosted No. 14 Lawrence last Saturday in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament, Smith’s two-way prowess was on display. The speedy Smith raced up the field to score the first goal on the contest, picked up several ground balls, and helped PHS stymie the Cardinals on the way to a 19-2 win.

Afterward, Smith said she is relishing the chance to play a bigger role for the Little Tigers.

“This year I have been able to get on attack a lot more; I have always been on the defensive side,” said Smith.

“So now I get to move both ways, which has given me the opportunity to get to call plays, to lead plays, and to run through things. I am helping to organize everything; it is a really great position. I really enjoy working with our team since we have so many really talented underclassmen.”

Smith and her teammates enjoyed their MCT victory over the Cardinals. “Lawrence was actually our first game; it feels like our season has come full circle, seeing them again in the counties,” said Smith, reflecting on the win which lifted PHS to 12-2 as it advanced to host an MCT quarterfinal matchup against No. 6 Princeton Day School slated for May 7 with the winner advancing to the semis on May 9.

“So we knew the team and we were ready to perform against them. We have grown so much since that first game. We have learned new plays, new motions.”

PHS’s growth was demonstrated in the Lawrence game by its balanced attack as Gabrielle Gibbons, Oona Ryle, Liz Jacobs, and Emilia Lopez-Ona each scored three goals with Julia Ryan and Taylor Lis chipping in two apiece.

“We have really been working on getting every single player on the field to have their stick skills really sharp and really solid,” said Smith.

“We can trust everyone single player on our attack now. It is really great. It has helped us a lot with our recent success; we have been on a roll recently.”

For Smith, the time she has spent playing defense in soccer has helped her be more effective on attack in lacrosse.

“I play a very similar position in soccer actually,” said Smith. “I think with my experience as a defender I have seen a lot on attack. I watch a lot of attack so now I get to use what I have seen and observed. I get to step back and see where the ball should move next, see the cuts, see the field.”

Smith’s next stop in lacrosse will be Lafayette as she has already committed to play for the Leopards.

“I was looking to play lacrosse in college; I was looking at some great schools,” said Smith.

“Lafayette was the perfect fit for me, close to home, great athletics, and great academics. I really liked the team, the location is perfect. I am so excited to go there after finishing up this season and next season.”

PHS head coach Kelsey O’Gorman was excited to see her team go full throttle in the victory over Lawrence.

“Today was good because we kept our intensity the entire game,” said O’Gorman.

“In the past, when were up against Allentown and against North (WW/P-N), we let that drop and we let them come back and get the win. Coming out today and keeping that intensity up all over the field for the entire 50 minutes is what is going to make us one of the stronger teams.”

The Little Tigers showed its strong depth on Saturday. “We got to try some new plays and some new concepts and strategies,” noted O’Gorman.

“We were able to just seal the deal and make everyone feel confident, comfortable, and involved. We did have quite a few players involved; everyone stepped up today.”

Involving more players has helped team chemistry. “The biggest thing is team bonding,” asserted O’Gorman.

“We hold the rope for each other. We make up for each other’s errors. As a whole, everyone leaves with a smile on their face. That’s what we want. We learned from our two losses. I think that sometimes losing in the beginning of the season is what you need. You bounce back from it.”

Talking about Smith’s impact puts a smile on O’Gorman’s face. “She is a really a strong asset for the team,” said O’Gorman.

“We have her on attack, we have her on defense, running both sides of the field. She is quick, she hustles to every ball. She is feisty. She is respectful, composed, and very reliable. She will definitely pull a player aside and she knows how to verbalize in a direct manner that isn’t offensive.”

With PHS looking at the possibility of seeing No. 3 WW/P-N in the county semis and top-seeded Allentown in the finals, O’Gorman believes her players will be ready to attack if they get that chance.

“I know those losses are something that is going to fuel us,” said O’Gorman, whose team fell 11-10 to WW/P-N on April 8 and 13-11 to Allentown on April 16.

“You can see that. We just want to see them again. These girls always want to be in competition with those teams. We just know that it is going to be exciting if and when we get to those games.”

Smith, for her part, is confident that the Little Tigers can compete with anybody if they stick to their game.

“We really have to focus on staying strong on our basics, catching, throwing, and running with the ball,” said Smith.

“We need to work on being really solid and keeping our heads; not getting too frazzled or confused because that is when we have problems holding on to the ball. We just need to keep each other up and stick together as a team. We want to be patient, we want to move the ball, we want to spread the field and that goes back to us being able to trust every single player on the field.”

ADVANCE SKILLS: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Cody Triolo races past a foe in action last year. Last Monday, senior midfielder and Lehigh-bound Triolo scored a goal as second-seeded PDS edged third-seeded Morristown-Beard 10-9 in the state Prep B semis to advance to a title game showdown at No. 1 Rutgers Prep on May 13. The Panthers, now 8-4, are also playing in the Mercer County Tournament where they are seeded third and will host No. 14 Steinert in the first round on May 9 with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals on May 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ADVANCE SKILLS: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Cody Triolo races past a foe in action last year. Last Monday, senior midfielder and Lehigh-bound Triolo scored a goal as second-seeded PDS edged third-seeded Morristown-Beard 10-9 in the state Prep B semis to advance to a title game showdown at No. 1 Rutgers Prep on May 13. The Panthers, now 8-4, are also playing in the Mercer County Tournament where they are seeded third and will host No. 14 Steinert in the first round on May 9 with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals on May 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Cody Triolo fell to his knees on the sideline to catch his breath early in the fourth quarter as the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team found itself in a tight battle with the Hill School.

But as PDS got the ball into its offensive zone, Triolo sprang to his feet and raced into the game.

Moments later, the senior star and Lehigh-bound midfielder buggy-whipped the ball into the net to give the Panthers an 11-9 lead.

That tally proved critical as PDS went on to a 12-11 win over Hill, culminating a gritty rally that saw the Panthers overcome an 8-5 deficit early in the third quarter.

In Triolo’s view, the win was a product of PDS’s team unity. “We actually played pretty sloppy as a team in the first half; what was really great about it was that we stuck together,” said Triolo.

“We came in at halftime and said this isn’t us. They score two goals in the beginning of the second half. After they pump those in, we could have folded. It just shows where our team is at in terms of bonds and brotherhood to come together and get those goals back and get back in that game.”

While Triolo contributed an assist and a goal to help narrow the gap to 8-7 and ended the afternoon with three goals and two assists, he doesn’t see himself as a catalyst for PDS.

“I think we all just play together and make our runs together,” said Triolo, who scored a goal on Monday as second-seeded PDS edged third-seeded Morristown-Beard 10-9 in overtime in the state Prep B semis to advance to a title game showdown at No. 1 Rutgers Prep on May 13.

“Everybody takes turns making their dodges. We have a great system with cuts and pops and everything. Honestly our team chemistry on offense right now is unreal. It is spreading the wealth.”

In addition to developing chemistry, the Panthers are showing character. “One of the big things our coaches really challenge us with is being real and dealing with gut check time,” said Triolo.

“You are going to face adversity, not only in lacrosse but it translates into life. That’s one of the things they have been pushing. I was really happy to see the team face adversity and come through with a big win. That was definitely tough.”

It is tough for Triolo to be wrapping up his PDS career. “It is kind of scary; it is flying by,” said Triolo, who also starred for the PDS boys’ hockey team and helped it earn a share of the state Prep title this past winter.

“It seems like the preseason trip to Hilton Head was last week. We are really remembering this and taking it all in. It is awesome. At the same time, you want to leave everything you have on the line. These are some of the last high school games we will ever play.”

PDS head coach Rob Tuckman was proud of how his team played hard and came through on a day when it wasn’t at its sharpest.

“I think we play our best when we just settle down; we went through a period of about four minutes where we got frazzled and started making mistakes,” said Tuckman.

“I think all day we struggled technically but the kids gutted it out and that’s the most important thing.”

The PDS defense showed some guts as it held the fort down the stretch. “When a mistake was made with 43 seconds left and caused the ball to go down to the defensive side of the field, the defense knew that they had to step up and play a role and I think they did that,” said Tuckman.

“Nelson had some really great saves. I think our defense has been solid throughout and that’s been a nice thing for us.”

Another nice thing for Tuckman is the balance he has been getting on the offensive end.

“I thought Taran Auslander had a great game today,” said Tuckman of the senior star who scored the game-winning goal in overtime against Mo-Beard as the Panthers improved to 8-4.

“Jacob Shavel had three goals and two assists, that’s five points for him. We had good balance and that is what has really been the mark of this team.”

While PDS benefits from spreading the wealth, Tuckman credits Triolo with being the team’s catalyst.

“Cody sets the tone, he really does,” said Tuckman, whose team was seeded third in the Mercer County Tournament and is slated to host No. 14 Steinert in the first round on May 9 with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals on May 11.

“He is a leader, both in his style of play and in his intensity. While I think it is complete and total team effort, Cody sets the one for everybody to play to and I think they do. They play up to it.”

Triolo, for his part, believes the Panthers are up for a big postseason run. “I think we have definitely got the drive and we want to play for each other and the school,” said Triolo.

“I am excited to play in the tournaments. Lacrosse is a game of runs and you have to keep your cool when they are on a run and you have to keep pushing when you are on your run.”

 

BRIGHT SCHADE: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player Maddie Schade heads to goal last Friday in Mercer County Tournament action as ninth-seeded Hun played at No. 8 Robbinsville. Senior star Schade scored a goal in a losing cause as the Raiders lost 26-15. On Monday, Schade had an assist as Hun fell 16-4 to Oak Knoll in the state Prep A semis. The Raiders, now 5-8, will look to get back on the winning track when they host Hamilton on May 8 in an MCT consolation game and then play at the Academy of Notre Dame (Pa.) on May 10.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BRIGHT SCHADE: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player Maddie Schade heads to goal last Friday in Mercer County Tournament action as ninth-seeded Hun played at No. 8 Robbinsville. Senior star Schade scored a goal in a losing cause as the Raiders lost 26-15. On Monday, Schade had an assist as Hun fell 16-4 to Oak Knoll in the state Prep A semis. The Raiders, now 5-8, will look to get back on the winning track when they host Hamilton on May 8 in an MCT consolation game and then play at the Academy of Notre Dame (Pa.) on May 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Things started out well for the Hun School girls’ lacrosse team last week.

Playing in the opening round of the state Prep A tournament on April 29,  fourth-seeded Hun edged No. 5 Blair 19-18 as senior star and Boston College-bound Kate Weeks scored 10 goals.

Three days later, the Raiders topped Pennington 19-15 with Weeks scoring eight goals and classmate Maddie Schade chipping in six.

But the week ended on a down note last Friday as ninth-seeded Hun fell 26-15 to No. 8 Robbinsville in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament.

While Hun head coach Haley Sanborn had hoped for a different result, she had no qualms with the effort she got from her players in defeat.

“It wasn’t one of our best games,” said Sanborn. “We played them in our first scrimmage. We are a different team now and they are too. I am not disappointed; I think we played well. We knew coming in that the Mercer County Tournament was going to be tough to begin with but I am proud of them. They all worked hard.”

The Raiders worked hard to the final whistle, outscoring Robbinsville 4-2 over the last six minutes of the contest.

“Kate Weeks did keep pressing forward,” said Sanborn, who got eight goals from Weeks in the loss with Brianna Barratt adding three.

“Schade and Barratt played well. Lauren Apuzzi was great on defense. Amanda Barbour is always a consistent defender for us. Fresca [Francesca Bello] has been having good games for us. Katie Consoli played excellent.”

On Monday, the Raiders played well but came up short again as they fell 16-4 at top-seeded Oak Knoll in the Prep A semis.

In Sanborn’s view, the losses have taught Hun some important lessons. “They have got to use each other; they can’t just rely on running up the field on their own,” said Sanborn, whose team moved to 5-8 with the loss to Oak Knoll and will look to get back on the winning track when it hosts Hamilton on May 8 in an MCT consolation game and then plays at the Academy of Notre Dame (Pa.) on May 10.

“The defense needs to be a little tighter. We need to mark better man-to-man. We just need to be on the same page.”

Sanborn and her players have developed a tight bond this spring. “They are awesome kids; I can’t say enough good things about them,” said Sanborn.

“They encourage each other, they support each other. They are just genuinely good kids. It is a dream for me. Obviously we want to win but I think the camaraderie is great. As a coach, I learn from them as well. It is a wonderful situation so regardless of what happens, the season has been successful.”

ON THE MOVE: Princeton High baseball player Zach Tesone rounds third base in recent action. Last Saturday, junior first baseman Tesone had two hits in a losing cause as 16th-seeded PHS fell 11-2 to No. 1 Notre Dame in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament. The Little Tigers have won four of their last six games after a 1-10 start. PHS will look to keep on the right track as it plays at WW/P-N on May 8 in an MCT consolation game and at Hamilton on May 9 before hosting Nottingham on May 10.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON THE MOVE: Princeton High baseball player Zach Tesone rounds third base in recent action. Last Saturday, junior first baseman Tesone had two hits in a losing cause as 16th-seeded PHS fell 11-2 to No. 1 Notre Dame in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament. The Little Tigers have won four of their last six games after a 1-10 start. PHS will look to keep on the right track as it plays at WW/P-N on May 8 in an MCT consolation game and at Hamilton on May 9 before hosting Nottingham on May 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Continuing its recent surge, the Princeton High School baseball team opened the Mercer County Tournament (MCT) on a high note.

Hosting Trenton last Wednesday in an MCT play-in game, the 16th-seeded Little Tigers topped the No. 17 Tornadoes 9-3. Andrew Frain led the way, going 2-of-4 with two runs and four RBIs while Ben Gross went 2-for-3 with three runs and Hayden Reyes had two hits with a run and an RBI. Rohit Chawla got the win on the mound.

After edging Princeton Day School 3-2 on Thursday in a regular season game for its fourth win in five games, PHS faced a stern test in the opening round of the MCT as it played at top-seeded Notre Dame.

Digging a 4-0 hole in the first inning, the Little Tigers fell short in its upset bid as the Fighting Irish went on to an 11-2 win. Senior third baseman Ellis Bloom and Chawla had RBIs in a losing cause as PHS moved to 5-12 on the season.

The Little Tigers will look to keep on the right track as they play at WW/P-N on May 8 in an MCT consolation game and at Hamilton on May 9 before hosting Nottingham on May 10.

After losing to PHS on Thursday, PDS couldn’t get its bats going as the third-seeded Panthers hosted No. 11 WW/P-S on Saturday in its MCT opener. The Panthers managed only three hits as they fell 5-0. Sophomore pitcher Cole McManimon took the loss as he moved to 5-2.

On Monday, the Panthers had a rematch with WW/P-S in a regular season contest and did hit better as Jake Alu and J.P  Radvany delivered RBIs but it wasn’t enough as the Pirates prevailed 7-4.

PDS, who is 8-7 and will play at Steinert on May 8 in an MCT consolation contest, are still in the hunt for the state Prep B title. The Panthers are slated to host Montclair-Kimberley in the Prep B quarterfinals on May 9 with the winner advancing to the semifinal game on May 14.

Eddie Paparella had three RBIs for third-seeded Hun as it hosted No. 14 Nottingham last Saturday its MCT opener but that wasn’t nearly enough as the Northstars rolled to a 16-4 win. The Raiders made five errors on the day as they trailed 7-1 after two innings and 12-3 after four.

Hun did bounce back from the defeat with a 14-1 win over Peddie last Monday. Post-graduate star Brett Ender led the way, pitching a no-hitter and going 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs as the Raiders improved to 12-5.

Like PDS, Hun has another title to shoot for as it starts play in the state Prep A tournament on May 15 in a quarterfinal contest. The Prep A semis are slated for May 18 with the championship round scheduled to take place at Lawrenceville on May 19. In addition, the Raiders have a regular season game at Robbinsville on May 9.

HITTING A RUT: Hun School softball player Julia Blake takes a cut in recent action. After a 9-1 start, the Raiders have lost four of their last five games. Hun will look to resume its winning ways when it plays at the Hill School (Pa.) on May 8 and then hosts Blair in the state Prep A semis on May 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HITTING A RUT: Hun School softball player Julia Blake takes a cut in recent action. After a 9-1 start, the Raiders have lost four of their last five games. Hun will look to resume its winning ways when it plays at the Hill School (Pa.) on May 8 and then hosts Blair in the state Prep A semis on May 14.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It was an unfortunate case of deja vu for the Hun School softball team as they played Gill St. Bernard’s last Friday.

The Raiders jumped out to a 4-1 lead only to lose 5-4 as they dropped to 10-5. It marked the fourth loss in five games for Hun, with three of the defeats coming by one run.

“We get a lead and we say we are OK, there is not the urgency to play the whole game,” lamented Hun head coach Kathy Quirk.

“We are struggling right now. I don’t know. There seems to be a lack of focus. It is not that we are an extremely young team. We do have a freshman on the mound but we aren’t a freshman-oriented team.”

Even though Hun has struggled recently, Quirk is happy with the effort she has been getting from star freshman hurler Alexis Goeke.

“Lexi is working hard; her youth is showing,” said Quirk. “She has only been pitching for three years and there are still a lot of things she needs to work on for the next three years. She hasn’t always gotten the best support from her fielders and that is frustrating. She is doing her best out there.”

Hun’s best player has been senior star catcher and Elon University-bound Carey Million. “Carey Million is going a great job offensively and defensively,” asserted Quirk. “She has five home runs and is hitting around .500.

Quirk is looking for Million and fellow seniors Dani Beal and Joey Crivelli to help Hun do a better job as it heads into the homestretch of the season.

“We need to stay focused to win,” said Quirk. “We are getting hits but we are not stringing them together. I am hoping that the seniors can lead the way and instill the desire and need to win.”

In order to give her team the best chance to win the state Prep A tournament, Quirk is foregoing the county tourney.

“I decided not to enter the Mercer County Tournament; it goes Saturday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday and that is tough with the preps going on at the same time,” said Quirk whose team plays at Hill School (Pa.) on May 8 before hosting Blair in the state Prep A semis on May 14.

“I think we need to focus on one tournament and not be on two tracks. I think we have a better chance in the preps.”

May 1, 2013
IMMEDIATE IMPACT: Princeton High boys’ tennis player Tyler Hack, foreground, and Zach ­Kleiman play a point last week at the Mercer County Tournament. Thrown together days before the MCT, the duo stunned the competition at the counties, going from unseeded to the second doubles title. Their win helped PHS finish fourth of 17 schools in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IMMEDIATE IMPACT: Princeton High boys’ tennis player Tyler Hack, foreground, and Zach ­Kleiman play a point last week at the Mercer County Tournament. Thrown together days before the MCT, the duo stunned the competition at the counties, going from unseeded to the second doubles title. Their win helped PHS finish fourth of 17 schools in the team standings.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It didn’t take long for Tyler Hack and Zack Kleiman to develop into a formidable doubles pair.

Thrown together just before last week’s Mercer County Tournament, the duo stunned the competition at the counties, going from unseeded to the second doubles title.

The triumph helped PHS place fourth in the team standings as WW/P-S won the title for the third season in a row and the ninth time in the last 10 years.

Sophomore Hack had a feeling that he and junior Kleiman could do some special things together.

“We played one match together as a team before this tournament,” said Hack.

“We won that match and we have known each other for a few years. We have been good friends for a couple of years now and I thought we had good chemistry.”

The pair utilized that chemistry as they endured a tough three-set match in the final, topping Pratyush Trivedi and Felix Su of WW/P-N, 6-0, 4-6, 6-0.

“It certainly had a lot of twists and turns,” said Hack, reflecting on the championship match.

“I was really worried in the second set. I knew that if we played the way we did during our first three matches here, I knew we could come out on top in the third.”

Kleiman, for his part, believed that the pair needed to bear down to prevail in the third.

“I think we lost focus in the second and we tried to have the mentality in the third that the first two sets never existed,” said Kleiman. “We tried to stay in each point and I think that showed in the last set.”

In assessing the third set, Hack attributed playing conservative tennis with making the difference.

“In the third, it was just stay consistent and play safe doubles, get our serves in and make our returns and not let them beat us down,” said Hack.

The PHS duo jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third set and cruised from there.

“I think my hold in the third game was really crucial,” said Kleiman. “We just couldn’t let them back in. It was crucial to keep the consistency, the mentality, and focus.”

PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert believed that the pairing of Hack and Kleiman had a chance to be something special.

“I was really proud of the way second doubles played this whole tournament,” said Hibbert.

“They played their first match on the Friday before the tournament. I definitely knew they had potential. Tyler has the groundstrokes and he plays well at the net. Zach volleys well. I thought they could have a good shot. Obviously any time you win a flight, you are really pleased, especially when the team hasn’t played together.”

Noting that she has been forced to juggle her lineup all spring due to injury, Hibbert was pleased to see the Little Tigers take fourth at the highly competitive MCT. The first doubles pair of Zach Hojelbane and Eddy Zheng took fourth while Rishab Tanga placed third at third singles.

“To have three flights go into the second day was good,” said Hibbert. “The first doubles ended up getting fourth. There were a few things here or there we are still trying to settle. Rishab did a great job as well. He had a tough match this morning against Neeraj [Devulapalli of PDS]. Neeraj played first singles last year so that is definitely a tough match. I think Rishab did a great job of coming back in his third place match. He fought hard through that match.”

In Hibbert’s view, PHS can make things tough on its foes with its balance.

“Our strength is depth; we don’t necessarily have a nationally ranked player,” said Hibbert.

“We have seven solid guys that we rely on different days to come through for us and I think with our depth, we have to make sure that our doubles teams are solid.”

Hibbert believes her players will draw strength from their play at the MCT.

“Any time you get good competition, it can only help you for what we have coming up with North (WW/P-N), South (WW/P-S), and the states,” said Hibbert, whose team is slated to host WW/P-N on May 1 before playing at Hightstown on May 3 and Nottingham on May 6.

Kleiman, for his part, feels that his pairing with Hack can help the team be better.

“The lefty/righty combination is always helpful when you have the forehand on either wing,” said Kleiman, who is a righty while Hack plays lefthanded. “We want to stay together.”

GOAL ACHIEVEMENT: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse players Adam Ainslie, left, and Matt Corrado celebrate after a goal in recent action. Last Friday, Ainslie and Corrado each scored two goals as PHS edged Christian Brothers Academy 10-9. The Little Tigers, who improved to 7-2 with the victory, hosts Notre Dame on May 2 and WW/P-N on May 3 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOAL ACHIEVEMENT: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse players Adam Ainslie, left, and Matt Corrado celebrate after a goal in recent action. Last Friday, Ainslie and Corrado each scored two goals as PHS edged Christian Brothers Academy 10-9. The Little Tigers, who improved to 7-2 with the victory, hosts Notre Dame on May 2 and WW/P-N on May 3 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After playing back-up goalie for the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team as a freshman in 2010, Adam Ainslie took a break from the sport.

The multi-talented Ainslie devoted his time to singing and performing in PHS musical productions.

This spring, Ainslie has returned to lacrosse and he is making some sweet music for the Little Tigers, emerging as a productive attackman.

Last Friday against visiting Christian Brothers Academy, Ainslie tallied two goals and two assists as PHS pulled out a thrilling 10-9 win over the Colts.

“We were really excited to have a challenge to play a good opponent,” said Ainslie, reflecting on the win which saw Patrick McCormick score the game-winning goal with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation. “I think our excitement showed. We stepped up and we were ready to play.”

While Ainslie is excited to be contributing for the Little Tigers, he acknowledges that his offensive production has been due, in large part, to the work of others.

“They make me look pretty; I give a lot of credit to the midfielders,” said Aislie.

“I kind of sit down on the right side there. I can catch and shoot and I can catch and pass so all of my points and goals this season are credited to the middies.”

After two years away from lacrosse, Ainslie decided he could couldn’t pass up his last chance to play for PHS.

“I missed the game; I have been playing since I was a little kid,” said Aislie. “I would be jealous watching the games and watching my friends play.”

Upon returning to the Little Tigers, Ainslie has quickly developed a comfort level at attack and with his teammates.

“I had actually only started playing goalie in seventh or eight grade; I had played all over the field since I was a little guy,” said Ainslie.

“The coaches and the whole team have been so great welcoming me back and being accommodating with me. They are the best group of guys. I have nothing but great words to say about this group of guys. I am so excited to be back and playing.”

PHS head coach Peter Stanton is excited to have Ainslie back on the squad.

“We are so thrilled for him personally that he had a chance to finish up his high school career by playing a sport,” said Stanton.

“He has been really dedicated to the arts; it is such a huge commitment. The fact that he has been able to come back out and do this and have this to be part of his high school experience; I am happy for him individually and for our team.”

Stanton was thrilled to see his team pull out the win over CBA. “Our goal today was to experience winning a close game against a tough team,” said Stanton, whose team improved to 7-2 with the victory.

“Obviously it doesn’t always work out that way. Our objective was met as far as we wanted to play in a close game against a tough team. It was a great opponent and a great result.”

In Stanton’s view, a balanced attack made the difference for PHS in the close contest.

“When our team is playing well offensively, all six guys are a threat,” said Stanton, who got two goals apiece on Friday from Matt Purdy, Will Hare, and Matt Corrado in addition to Ainslie.

“It might just so happen that one or two of the guys get most of the goals and assists but they are doing the easy part. We got key goals from Matt Corrado. We got great plays from Will Hare and both Hallidays [Zach and Kevin] and then Pat McCormick scored the game winner.”

The Little Tigers were also sparked by some great work at the defensive end.

“We are improving; that was a big question mark coming into the season,” said Stanton, whose team hosts Notre Dame on May 2 and WW/P-N on May 3 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament.

“We are getting better each time out. I think Matt DiTosto did a fantastic job guarding really good players today. Jackson Andres was dominant, Jack Persico is improving a lot; he is improving at picking up ground balls and making great passes and clears. He had a couple today where I said I didn’t know he could make that pass. MacGregor [goalie Gabe MacGregor] gives us a great boost emotionally.”

Ainslie, for his part, believes the win over CBA is a big boost for the Little Tigers.

“This is absolutely a confidence builder; I think we are looking forward to the end of the season and playing more challenging teams like this,” said Ainslie, who is headed to Princeton University this fall.

“It is good to get this kind of experience where we score in the last few seconds to win. I think it is a great win for us. We had three games last week and three games this week. It is good to get something out of all that hard work. I think we are starting to play together. We have had a lot of parts come together this season. I think we are now just starting to mesh together and get it all clicking. It is exciting; this is fun lacrosse.”

YOUTH IS SERVED: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis star ­Michael Zhao chases down a ball last Wednesday at the Mercer County Tournament. Eighth-grader Zhao placed second at first singles, helping PDS take second of 17 schools in the MCT team standings behind champion WW/P-S.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

YOUTH IS SERVED: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis star ­Michael Zhao chases down a ball last Wednesday at the Mercer County Tournament. Eighth-grader Zhao placed second at first singles, helping PDS take second of 17 schools in the MCT team standings behind champion WW/P-S. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Michael Zhao’s play exemplified the highs and lows experienced by the Princeton Day School boys’ tennis team last week at the Mercer County Tournament.

The precocious eighth grader turned heads as he advanced to the first singles final at the MCT, which was held at Mercer County Park.

With Neeraj Devulapalli also making the finals at third singles, the Panthers headed into the championship round tied with WW/P-S for first in the team standings.

But in the title match against senior star Kenny Zheng of Hopewell Valley, Zhao dropped the first set 6-1 and retired from the match due to cramps.

Devulapalli also lost, falling in two hard-fought sets to John Hu of WW/P-S, as the Panthers took second to the Pirates, the winner of three straight MCT titles and nine of the last 10.

In reflecting on his defeat, Zhao didn’t make any excuses. “It was a tough match,” said Zhao. “I cramped up a little bit but Kenny was playing really well. He deserves it.”

As Zhao took the court for the final match, he knew he couldn’t afford to fall behind.

“Towards the end of the second set of my first match, I felt it a little bit,” said Zhao, who defeated Michael Song of WW/P-S 6-4, 6-0 in the semis earlier on Wednesday. “It was my left quad. It wasn’t bad but I knew that it would cramp later on in the final.”

Zhao was proud to see the Panthers end up second in the team standings. “It was really great,” said Zhao.

“This year, our team is really strong and I really enjoy playing here and playing as a team. Last year, we got 11th. I think this year doing so well gives us confidence. We know that we can play with these top teams.”

For Zhao, playing with high school teammates as an eighth grader has turned out to be an enjoyable experience.

“It has been a little bit new but I have played with a lot of these kids in USTA tournaments outside of school so I am used to it,” said Zhao. “I see them all the time so we are good friends.”

Zhao recently earned a big tournament victory on the national scene when he won the doubles at the prestigious Easter Bowl competition in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

“That was really unexpected,” said Zhao, who teamed with Bryce Periera to win the title.

“I had never been past the quarterfinals at a super national. Actually my original doubles partner got injured and at the last minute we found a doubles player to play with. We started out a little bit slow but we clicked.”

In assessing his game, Zhao is focusing on being more powerful. “I would like to improve my serve and return a little bit; those are two really important shots,” said Zhao. “Also, I need to work on my overall fitness so I don’t cramp as often.”

PDS head coach Will Asch saw Zhao’s victory in the semis as an important step forward.

“I was really happy with Michel Zhao’s win over Michael Song,” said Asch.

“That was a great win against an older player. He is more experienced; Michael [Song] has been in three semis already here.”

Freshman David Zhang and junior Devulapalli gained some valuable experience at second and third singles, respectively.

“I think David Zhang lost because he doesn’t have the experience that the boy from South does,” said Asch of Zhang, who fell to Tom Weng of WW/P-S in the semis.

“I think that my player is going to be a much better player. He is not there yet. Neeraj had a tough battle. I was very impressed by the player from West-Windsor South. He is obviously a very good athlete, he moves very, very well.”

The PDS second doubles team of Josiah Meekins and Luka Graonic produced an impressive performance as they defeated the top-seeded WW/P-S pair of Pranay Nadella and Yuefang Zhu on the way to the semifinals.

“They had a great tournament; they knew they had nothing to lose in the first round,” said Asch.

“While they were playing I was trying to keep them from thinking about winning and losing because they got in a zone and they were able to stay in it. I had never seen them play like that before. Josiah is a very good competitor. He is a very good athlete; he is a very good player. Luka just had an unbelievable day against West Windsor South.”

Asch believes that the lessons gained from the MCT will help PDS as it goes for a title in the state Prep B tourney later this month.

“We know what we have to do in practice,” said Asch, whose team has matches at Solebury School (Pa.) on May 1, at WW/P-S on May 2, and at Pennington on May 3 as it tunes up for the preps which are slated for May 19 and 21.

“We have to help David and Neeraj get ready and make sure Michael gets better with the cramps. I am confident that we have a very good team. I have to see what the other teams look like. I thought we had an excellent chance to win today but we needed that win at second singles; that was a very tough loss. We were still in it but the loss at third kind of ended the day for us.”

Zhao, for his part, thinks the Panthers can end the spring on a high note.

“Hopefully we come out of that with a win,” said Zhao, referring to the Prep B tournament. “We have had a good season. We are going to play some good teams coming up like South (WW/P-S), and I hope we do well.”

TRIGGERING EVENT: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse senior star Hannah Levy looks for an opening in recent action. Last Wednesday, MIT-bound Levy scored six goals as PDS edged the Blair Academy 14-12. The Panthers, now 5-5, host Peddie on May 1 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament where sixth-seeded PDS will host No. 11 Hightstown on May 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TRIGGERING EVENT: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse senior star Hannah Levy looks for an opening in recent action. Last Wednesday, MIT-bound Levy scored six goals as PDS edged the Blair Academy 14-12. The Panthers, now 5-5, host Peddie on May 1 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament where sixth-seeded PDS will host No. 11 Hightstown on May 3.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Hannah Levy was the top scorer for the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team in 2012 as a junior but she wasn’t about to rest on her laurels coming into her senior campaign.

“I have been working on my shooting a lot this season because that was lacking going into it,” said Levy.

“I am just really going for placement and the power shot and not thinking about it too much and just letting it fly.”

Last Wednesday against visiting Blair Academy, Levy let it fly all afternoon, scoring six goals as PDS posted a 14-12 win over the Buccaneers.

In the early stages of the contest, it looked like the Panthers could be headed to a rout as they jumped out to a 6-1 lead with Levy scoring three goals.

“I think we started off strong,” said Levy. “We were running our offense really well. We were getting the ground balls; we were making the passes.”

Hitting a lull, Levy and PDS headed into halftime clinging to a 7-6 advantage. In the second half, the Panthers settled down and found a nice rhythm.

“I think we were really just looking to play our game,” said Levy. “We needed to get the ball; we needed to get more ground balls. We needed to run through the offense. I think we played our own tempo; we played under control. The draw was a huge key and we started capitalizing on that.”

In Levy’s view, the victory over Blair was a confidence builder. “We need some more of these,” said Levy with a grin. “I think we are playing pretty well going into the tournaments. That’s what really matters and we have momentum.”

PDS head coach Jill Thomas saw the win over Blair as a good step forward. “It was a quality win, a tough win against a tough team,” said Thomas, who got three goals from Corinne Urisko in the win with Sarah Brennan adding two and the trio of Morgan Foster, Zeeza Cole, and Lucy Linville chipping in one apiece.

“We were pretty comparable coming in; we knew that. We had like opponents, like wins, like losses and close scores. They have that Council Dawson kid, we knew that. She can play.”

While Thomas acknowledged that it was an uneven performance by the Panthers, she was happy with the end result.

“We didn’t ever lose the lead,” said Thomas. “We had it and we kept going so kudos to them for that. They got that. Being sharper and being tougher made the difference. We had somebody who could get to the ball before anybody else and that was No. 5. Tess Gecha. She’s fast and you can’t beat speed.”

PDS is hard to beat when Levy is finding the back of the net. “We said to her at half, just go north and south,” said Thomas.

“Don’t set anything up; you found it, you can score 10. If it takes you to score 10 for us to win, that’s OK. Good for her, she has that signature move and they can’t stop it. She finds it down the side of the net.”

The combination of sophomore Kirsten Kuzmicz and junior Sarah Brennan helped stop the Buccaneers.

“Kuzmicz was face-guarding Dawson; she is one of our best face guarders and she has got that,” said Thomas.

“Brennan is a workhorse, they are both workhorses that do whatever they can do.”

In Thomas’s view, her team has the ability to do a lot this spring if it plays with heart.

“I always tell them potential is a terrible thing to waste, that is the bottom line,” said Thomas, whose team fell 16-13 to Kent Place last Monday in the first round of the state Prep A tournament and will host Peddie on May 1 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament as the sixth-seeded Panthers host No. 11 Hightstown on May 3.

“We can do all the drills and all that stuff that we want to do. This is a good team; when they are on they can play with anyone. I just think it is believing; I do think they have the energy. The need to have that hunger to feel that you can play with these other girls.”

Levy, for her part, is hungry to get the most out her last season at PDS.

“It is crazy; this season is quicker than all of the other ones,” said Levy, who is heading to MIT where she plans to play both lacrosse and soccer.

“It is really only a month long when we get back from Florida. We really have to make it count now because there is not much time.”

HOUSTON ROCKET: Hun School baseball player Shane Adams takes a cut in recent action. Last Thursday, post-graduate second baseman Adams, a native of Houston, Texas, smacked a triple and a single with two runs and two RBIs in a 6-3 victory over Lawrenceville. Hun, now 11-3, is seeded third in the Mercer County Tournament and is slated to host No. 14 Nottingham on May 4 in an opening round contest. The Raiders will also be playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on May 1 and hosting Peddie on May 6 in regular season contests.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HOUSTON ROCKET: Hun School baseball player Shane Adams takes a cut in recent action. Last Thursday, post-graduate second baseman Adams, a native of Houston, Texas, smacked a triple and a single with two runs and two RBIs in a 6-3 victory over Lawrenceville. Hun, now 11-3, is seeded third in the Mercer County Tournament and is slated to host No. 14 Nottingham on May 4 in an opening round contest. The Raiders will also be playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on May 1 and hosting Peddie on May 6 in regular season contests. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After dropping a doubleheader at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.), Shane Adams and his teammates on the Hun School baseball team weren’t about to let losing become a habit.

“We had a good winning streak before the weekend so we are just looking to get back on the train,” said post-graduate second baseman Adams, reflecting on the team’s mood in the wake of the double setback on April 20.

Adams helped get the Raiders on the right track, collecting three hits in a 4-2 win over WW/P-S on April 23 and then smacking a triple and a single with two runs and two RBIs in a 6-3 victory over Lawrenceville last Thursday.

“That was a good way to come back out and get another W,” said Adams. “It was a close game so it was nice to grind it out and start winning again and then beating a MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) team today.”

Against Lawrenceville, the Raiders battled back after falling behind 1-0 in the top of the first inning.

“We knew they were going to come out tougher in this game,” said Adams of Lawrenceville which fell 8-0 to Hun in the season opener on March 28.

“We just wanted to jump on the board, two runs in the first is the best way to do it. Devo [Devan Birch] getting on is always good and hitting him in is great. He always scores because he is so fast. We have a great one-two combo right there.”

The Houston, Texas native and Columbia-bound Adams has made a fast transition to life in New Jersey.

“I got All-State my senior year, which was kind of out of the blue,” explained Adams.

“I got picked up at Columbia. I didn’t know a PG existed and they said here is a good school. I came up here, great ballclub. That is just how it wound up. It has been like a first year moving away; you are not quite in college but it is still like that. It has been a weird transition but it has been smooth.

Hun head coach Bill McQuade is happy that Adams made his way to Hun from Texas.

“We knew he was a ballplayer as soon as we saw him in Florida,” said McQuade.

“He may be the fastest guy from home to first right-handed that I have ever had here. When he gets moving, he is something else.”

McQuade credited Adams with helping to get things moving for Hun in the win over Lawrenceville.

“Shane handles the bat so well; he can bunt and get on base,” said McQuade.

“He is smart. Today, you saw he has that sneaky power. He smacks a triple and smokes another one later in the game. He really understands the game.”

In McQuade’s view, coming through in the WW/P-S game was critical for his team’s psyche.

“The South game was so crucial,” said McQuade. “After you lose two heartbreakers, it can either lead to a slide or the true character comes out. They battled back from some adversity and heartbreak.”

The Raiders had to battle to overcome rival Lawrenceville. “This was a gutty game, Lawrenceville came out and fought,” said McQuade, whose team posted another gutty win as it topped Blair 7-5 last Saturday to improve to 11-3.

“They scored a run and we came back; that was critical. They are young so you know they are going to get better and they have gotten better. They were one hit to the fence away from tying the game so I give them a ton of credit. In turn, I give our team credit for continuing to fight.”

McQuade knows that his team faces a tough fight in Mercer County Tournament and Prep A tourney.

“It is going to be a struggle because the teams we are playing are all good,” said McQuade, whose squad is seeded third in the MCT and is slated to host No. 14 Nottingham on May 4 in an opening round contest.

“There are some good teams that we are playing. You really don’t want to play a bad team because you don’t want to lose your edge. No matter whom you face, when you are in the first round you are facing the other guy’s ace. Everybody has somebody who can throw the ball hard. On any given day, anybody can beat anybody.”

Adams, for his part, feels that Hun will be hard to beat at tournament time.

“We have got a bunch of great guys,” said Adams. “Every loss is a killer and we don’t want to let that happen again. Now that we have some bats going it is going to look good the next few games.”

April 24, 2013

sports6In the early stages of its game at Steinert last Wednesday, the Princeton High baseball team had its chances to seize momentum.

PHS started the game with a single by Ellis Bloom but didn’t push him across. In the bottom of the first, PHS pitcher Andrew Frain retired the Spartans 1-2-3.

After Steinert scored three runs in the bottom of the second, the Little Tigers got two runners in the top of the third as Colin Frawley and Bloom delivered singles.

PHS didn’t convert and things went downhill from there as the Little Tigers lost 12-0.

Afterward PHS head coach Dave Roberts acknowledged that an ill-timed miscue helped turn the tide of the contest.

“We held our own,” said Roberts. “We started the second inning with an error. It kills you; you can’t do that against those guys. You can’t give them outs.”

While the Steinert game turned out to be one-sided, PHS has given most of its foes tight battles.

“They haven’t to be able to clear the hurdle,” said Roberts of his team who fell to 1-9 with a 9-0 loss to WW/P-S last Monday. 

“All I can do is put who I think the best nine to 10 guys out there and they have to be able to perform. I can call steals, hit-and-runs; they have to be able to execute.”

The Little Tigers have been getting some good execution from its mound corps.

“The pitching has been fantastic, I can’t say enough about the pitching,” said Roberts.

“From Rohit Chawla to Ben Gross to Ellis coming in every now and then, it has been fantastic.”

A lack of clutch hitting has been an ongoing issue for the Little Tigers. “Our weakest thing is hitting with runners in scoring position and leaving people on base,” said Roberts. “The hits are not getting strung together.”

Senior star third baseman Bloom has been a standout for the Little Tigers. “Ellis has been on a hot streak here the last couple of days,” said Roberts, noting that Ben Gross and Zach Tesone have also given PHS some hitting punch.

“We started 1-6 and he had seven stolen bases. He is on track to probably get to 20, which is a heck of a job. The problem is that he doesn’t have enough runs to back that up, which is the job of everybody else behind him.”

Roberts believes that the Little Tigers have what it takes to get on a good run.

“I hope they are keeping their heads up,” said Roberts, whose team hosts WW/P-N on April 24 before playing at Hightstown on April 26 and at Nottingham on April 29. “There are still a million winnable games on the schedule.”  

 

#13 slides safely into 2ndHannah Gutierrez is willing to do whatever she can to help the Princeton High softball team succeed.

The senior star has moved up to the leadoff position in the batting order and has switched to shortstop from third base on defense.

For Gutierrez, assuming different roles has been challenging but rewarding. “It is tricky going up first and having to hit off the pitcher without seeing other players do it,” said Gutierrez.

“I like it. You get up more, which is really good. I have been playing third since my sophomore year and I just recently switched to short. It is a lot more thinking and having to know what to do on different plays. I definitely like it; it is more work. I like getting the ball more.”

Last Thursday against visiting Princeton Day School, Gutierrez got the ball rolling as she hit a leadoff double for the Little Tigers.

“It felt really good,” said Gutierrez. “I wasn’t sure about the pitching. I am glad I hit that.”

Gutierrez’s hit helped ignite an offensive outburst as the Little Tigers proceeded to beat PDS 16-1.

Having suffered defeats to Robbinsville and Steinert coming into the game, Gutierrez and her teammates enjoyed the lopsided win over the Panthers.

“We still came out playing our hardest,” said Gutierrez, who went 1-for-3 with two runs and a walk in the win. “We wanted to get them out early; I think we did a good job of that. This game was definitely needed.”

Gutierrez believes PHS has a good shot at winning 10 games in a season for the first time in program history.

“We have had a good start; we still have a lot more games to play in the season,” said Gutierrez.

“I definitely think we have a lot of time to win more games and just get better as a team. We have played some of the best teams in the CVC so far.”

PHS head coach Dave Boehm likes the way Gutierrez has played as she has taken on new responsibilities for the Little Tigers.

“Hannah has better range than anyone we have and she has a stronger arm,” said Boehm.

“Putting her at leadoff was one of those things, she has good speed, she is probably one of our best bunters so when she lays one down early she gets on and we have Marisa [Gonzalez] and Maddie [Cahill-Sanidas], who has been hitting the ball pretty solid too, to bring her in.” 

Senior star and Wisconsin-bound Gonzalez, the program’s all-time hit leader, has been a constant for the team.

“It is one of those things where you sit there and say that is my dependable one,” said Boehm who got two RBIs from Gonzalez in the win over PDS with Helen Eisenach and Stephanie Wu chipping in four RBIs apiece.

Sophomore Sarah Eisenach is emerging as a dependable pitcher for the Little Tigers.

“Sarah has been consistent, she is not walking as many batters,” said Boehm of Eisenach, who struck out eight and gave up four hits in the victory over the Panthers.

“She is around the plate. She changes speeds pretty well; she has improved this year.”

The addition of freshmen Wu and Kelli Swedish has helped improve the Little Tigers.

“We gave the freshman kid Stephanie Wu a chance at third base,” said Boehm.

“She had a nice hit today; she played a great defensive game against Steinert. Kelli Swedish plays a steady left field. She is not going to give you anything flashy. She looks awkward but she catches everything out there. You don’t want to change anything with the kid because it is working. I am pretty happy with her and she is a freshman.”

With PHS moving to 4-6 with a 3-2 loss WW/P-S last Monday, Boehm believes the team has a good shot at breaking into double digits in wins for the first time ever.

“We have been capable of jumping out to a lead,” said Boehm, whose team hosts WW/P-N on April 24 before playing at Hightstown on April 26, taking part in a one-day tournament in Teaneck on April 27, and then playing at Nottingham on April 29.

“In Florida, we would score a run or two in the first inning and we would get a lead. We have to hold leads now. We have been playing better defense now. I think we can we do it. We have five games next week.”

Gutierrez, for her part, is looking to end her PHS career with a bang. “This is my last year and I want to win as many games as possible,” she said.

“I think it will be good. It is a big goal (winning 10 games), we have never done that before. I would love to help to make that happen.”

sports7It didn’t seem like much but a bad-hop single by Morrisville High (Pa.) in the first inning turned out to be the only thing that kept Princeton Day School pitcher Cole McManimon from making some history last Monday.

The sophomore hurler didn’t allow another runner to reach base the rest of the day, striking out nine, as PDS rolled to a 15-0 win in five innings.

Afterward, McManimon acknowledged that he was disappointed to just miss a no-hitter.

“In the first inning I wasn’t really thinking about that but as the game went on it was pretty upsetting,” said McManimon.

There was nothing else for the hard-throwing right-hander to be upset about as he assessed his mound gem.

“I felt sharp, a couple of my pitches were up but I had pretty good location on the ball,” said McManimon, who also knocked in three runs at the plate to help his cause. “My fastball had some zip; I was throwing pretty hard. My curveball was pretty good.”

The victory improved McManimon to 4-0 on the season and gave further evidence that he is a rising star.

In McManimon’s view, his progress has come down to being more of a power pitcher. 

“I think striking out kids has been my biggest improvement this season,” said McManimon, who has grown three inches and gained 25 pounds since last season and is now 6’5, 190 pounds.

“Last year, I didn’t really have as high a strikeout total. I was only a freshman and I wasn’t throwing that hard. My walk total is down.”

McManimon is relishing his new role as the ace of the Panther staff. “I like the feeling a lot,” said McManimon, who has already posted wins over Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) powers Hill and Peddie this spring. “It is nice knowing that your team has a lot of faith in you.”

PDS head coach Ray O’Brien has plenty of faith in the precocious McManimon.

“Cole has been great all year; he is really coming around,” said O’Brien.

“That kid is really going to be special. He is still so young. He is bigger and stronger, he is a little more mature. He really has an idea out there. He has always had a presence. He has that mentality where nothing bothers him. He is quiet on the outside but he is a competitor. That kid has got unlimited potential, the sky is the limit.”

O’Brien liked the way the Panthers competed against Morrisville as they improved to 6-3.

“When we had the opportunities to make plays we did,” said O’Brien. “It was all in all a good team effort, we played pretty well.”

Pitching is a group effort for PDS when McManimon isn’t on the mound. “The pitching has been coming around,” said O’Brien. 

“After Cole, pretty much the rest of the guys are position players first, pitchers second. Everyone is getting in some bullpen work and we are breaking guys in. We are going to have to space it out and get our way through the season. Hopefully when the tournaments come, our arms will be ready to pitch our way through two tournaments but it is coming around.  J.P. Radvany has been throwing the ball pretty well. We also have Ford Schneider and Ben Weiner. Jake Alu is basically our No. 2 pitcher. He can close games for us if we need him to, I just hate to take him away from shortstop.”

The Panther hitting attack has the punch to close out foes. “Offensively from top to bottom, they have all hit in spurts,” said O’Brien, who got two doubles from senior star B.J. Dudeck in the win over Morrisville with sophomore standout J.P. Radvany contributing four RBIs. 

“Most of the guys have been consistent. Jake Alu, B.J. Dudeck, and J.P. Radvany, the Coltons, Ross and Rob, have been hitting. We put Dom Gasparro in the nine hole and we have just left him alone. He is having a great year; he has been playing really well for a freshman.”

While O’Brien acknowledges his team doesn’t have a lot of depth, he is confident that it beat anyone on its schedule.  

“We know the way that we are set up for pitching it is tough for us to go out there and play four or five games in a week” said O’Brien, whose team plays at Pennington on April 24, at Delran High on April 25, at the George School (Pa.) on April 27, hosts Hopewell Valley on April 29, and then plays at Hamilton on April 30. 

“But when we are settled and we have the right lineup and everybody is fresh, we feel we are as good as anybody. We have quality and the kids are into it. It is a good group of guys. I like the way we are progressing. We are using the season to hopefully be ready for tournament time.”

McManimon, for his part, believes PDS can be dangerous come tournament time.

“We have a good hitting group and our pitching is there,” he said. “If we keep those two things together, we should be OK.”

sports8The Panthers fought back from a 3-1 halftime deficit to make it 3-3 with 2:50 left in the third quarter.

In the waning moments of regulation, PDS found itself trailing 6-4 but didn’t fold. Senior star and Lehigh-bound Cody Triolo scored with 23.9 seconds left and then the Panthers achieved one last possession. They were unable to find the back of the net as they lost 6-5 in the April 16 contest.

While PDS head coach Rob Tuckman was disappointed to see his team fall just short against Hun, he saw no reason for his players to hang their heads.

“I think we take a couple of things from this,” said Tuckman. “Number one, we were two goals down and we came back. Our kids can play with any team on any level. I think they saw that today and we will go with that and move forward.”

Tuckman sensed that his team was in for a nailbiter when it played at its crosstown rival Hun.

“I knew this was going to be a tough one for us,” said Tuckman. “They have an outstanding program; they have some real good lacrosse players and real good athletes. They have got MV (new head coach MV Whitlow) and MV does a nice job.”

Although the Panthers only scored five goals against the Raiders, Tuckman thought his team did a good job offensively considering that it had trouble getting possession with Hun’s Zach Bicho dominating in the face-off circle.

“I would argue that our percentage in the offensive end was very, very good,” said Tuckman, who got three goals from Triolo with Taran Auslander and Jacob Shavel adding one apiece.

“We scored five goals and I would argue that we weren’t on the offensive end that much today.”

Tuckman was also pleased with his team’s work at the other end of the field. “I think they played great; we went at them with a game plan,” said Tuckman.

“Our guys held to the game plan. Our kids played some sound D. They have some real threatening kids; the Reynolds kid [Corey Reynolds], the Blacks [Brendan and Owen] and [Zach] Bicho can score. I thought our kids did really well with that.”

Junior goalie Nelson Garrymore helped snuff out some Hun scoring threats.

“Nelson has been solid,” added Tuckman. “He is getting strong as a distributor. I thought we did really well on our clears. When we stopped them, we were able to transition into the offensive end. We rushed the ball a couple of times but otherwise I thought we did a great job.”

In Tuckman’s view, going against tough competition will help PDS be strong when it matters most.

“For me, it is all about postseason play,” said Tuckman, whose team moved to 4-3 with a 16-8 loss to Somerville last Friday and plays at Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on April 25 before starting play in the state Prep B tournament.

“I think this is all in preparation for that. We have got a really tough schedule, by design, to get these kids ready. I think if you look at the county and the state Prep B tournaments, we have a good shot. I think by the time we get there, we will have plenty of reps.”

FACE VALUE: Hun School boys’ lacrosse player Zach Bicho controls a face-off in a game earlier this season. Senior midfielder Bicho’s dominance on face-offs has helped Hun produce a 6-2 start. In upcoming action, the Raiders host Peddie on April 25, Notre Dame on April 27, and Somerville on April 30.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FACE VALUE: Hun School boys’ lacrosse player Zach Bicho controls a face-off in a game earlier this season. Senior midfielder Bicho’s dominance on face-offs has helped Hun produce a 6-2 start. In upcoming action, the Raiders host Peddie on April 25, Notre Dame on April 27, and Somerville on April 30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Zach Bicho and his teammates on the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team had plenty of motivation as they hosted Princeton Day School last week.

“We lost to them last year in overtime and we have been looking forward to this game since the beginning of the season,” said Hun senior midfielder Bicho. “We knew it was a big one, we knew they were a good opponent.”

The annual meeting between the cross-town rivals turned into a very good game, as the teams were never separated by more than two goals throughout the April 16 contest.

With the game knotted at 4-4 late in the fourth quarter, Bicho fired in the go-ahead goal for the Raiders who held on for a 6-5 victory.

“That was our man-up play and I wanted the ball and defense was slow to ride and I got my hands free and, as coach [MV Whitlow] would say, I stuck to the fundamentals and just stuck it,” said Bicho, reflecting on his clutch tally. “That was the important one, the important one went in.”

Bicho played a vitally important role for Hun throughout the game as he dominated in the face-off circle, winning virtually every draw on the afternoon.

For Bicho, who started facing-off in middle school, becoming so accomplished in that aspect of the game has come down to hard work and savvy.

“It is just a lot of repetition, knowing the different guys that go out there, quick hands, just getting that ground ball,” said Bicho, who is headed to McDaniel College where he will continue his lacrosse career.

In Bicho’s view, Hun’s defensive effort made the difference in the win over PDS.

“Our offense was a little slow today; we weren’t getting what we really wanted,” said Bicho, who also picked up an assist in the contest.

“But they won us that game. Our captain Greg Flood got the game ball today because of his leadership.”

The Raiders have also benefited from the leadership of new head coach Whitlow.

“Coach Whitlow has changed the team around tremendously,” said Bicho. “He wants things perfect, he sticks to the fundamentals and he knows how to win.”

Whitlow, for his part, credited Bicho with playing a major role in the victory over the Panthers.

“What Zach gives us is consistency on the face-off; it is about strength and desire,” said Whitlow. “When the game was on the line, he wanted the shot and he made it.”

In Whitlow’s view, a strong defensive effort proved critical for the Raiders.

“No. 29 [PDS senior star and Lehigh-bound Cody Triolo] is a really good player and we tried some different things on him to try to slow him down,” said Whitlow. “We performed well on defense; this was a defensive win.”

Hun got some good offensive performances as well with Corey Reynolds and Brendan Black each scoring two goals and Zach Winterstein adding a goal and an assist.

“Brendan Black had a big game, he may only be a sophomore but he is a leader out there for us,” added Whitlow. “Zach Winterstein is playing well; he has been working very hard on his offense.”

Winning six straight games after an opening day loss, the Raiders have shown the benefit of hard work.

“We have been executing well,” said Whitlow, whose team lost 10-4 to Rutgers Prep on Monday to drop to 6-2 and will look to get back on the winning track as it hosts Peddie on April 25, Notre Dame on April 27, and Somerville on April 30.

“We were already confident but this was a very good win. We are very excited to come away with this game.”

Bicho, for his part, is excited about Hun’s prospects this spring. “This is the best team I have been on in my four years here,” asserted Bicho. “We have great guys; we have really been coming together and executing.”

ON THE BALL: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player Briana Barratt tracks the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, Barratt tallied two goals and four assists to help Hun edge Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 21-20. The Raiders, now 3-4, play at the Hill School (Pa.) on April 24 and at Princeton High on April 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON THE BALL: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player Briana Barratt tracks the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, Barratt tallied two goals and four assists to help Hun edge Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 21-20. The Raiders, now 3-4, play at the Hill School (Pa.) on April 24 and at Princeton High on April 27.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though her Hun School girls’ lacrosse team started the season with four losses in its first five games, Haley Sanborn wasn’t discouraged.

“You can always tell a team’s character when they are losing,” said Hun head coach Sanborn.

“We were in a losing streak and the girls were having team meetings, talking about what they needed to do to come out of it.”

Last Thursday, Hun came out of its early slump in a big way, cruising to a 21-7 win at Peddie.

“I think it was a great win; the girls were pumped up coming into the game,” said Sanborn.

“Everyone played their best game of the year. Every single player got in and they all played well. I am hoping it will propel us into the rest of the season.”

Senior star and Boston College-bound Kate Weeks helped propel the Raiders in their win over the Falcons, tallying 12 goals and two assists.

“It is the type of player she is; she wants it and she goes for it,” said Sanborn of Weeks, who recently scored the 200th goal of her career. “She has such a drive for the game.”

Last Saturday, Weeks produced another 12-goal effort to give her 58 for the season as Hun edged Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 21-20.

“It takes four hours to get there and we have a one and half hour wait; it took us a little while to get going,” said Sanborn, who got three goals and five assists from Maddie Schade with Brianna Barratt adding two goals and four assists and Erica Dwyer tallying two goals and an assist as the Raiders improved to 3-4.

“It was a back-and-forth game. It was not one of our best games in terms of passing, shooting, and getting ground balls. To compensate, they worked twice as hard. We got up three, they were up three, and no team had a bigger lead than that. It came down to possession. We had to stop with sloppy play; we were smart with the passing and the draw controls at the end.”

The Raiders have been showing some smart play on the defensive end. “Our defense has been jelling well; Lauren Apuzzi is controlling things there for us,” said Sanborn.

“We dropped Francesca Bello to defensive wing and she has been fantastic. Taylor Nehlig and Lucy Morgan are starting to step up; they are starting to understand the pace of the game. Emma Consoli has also been playing well there. They are coming together well, they are playing as a unit.”

Sanborn is confident her team can keep coming together as it heads into the homestretch.

“It was a good sign, we are on a good streak but we have a tough week ahead with Hill and PHS,” said Sanborn, whose team plays at Hill (Pa.) on April 24 and at Princeton High on April 27.

“Winning two in a row shows them that even when they are playing sloppy, hustle and heart can help you win. I am proud of them; every single player has stepped up, especially the younger players. It is about discipline, being clean on passing and shooting. The season is so short; I hope we hit our stride at the end. I have a lot of faith in them.”

April 17, 2013
SCORING DRIVE: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Emilia Lopez-Ona heads to goal in a game last season. Last Thursday, junior star and Penn-bound Lopez-Ona scored eight goals and had two assists to help PHS pull out a 16-12 win over WW/P-S. The Little Tigers, who improved to 4-1 with the victory, play at Hopewell Valley on April 18, host Notre Dame on April 20, and then play at Robbinsville on April 23.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SCORING DRIVE: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Emilia Lopez-Ona heads to goal in a game last season. Last Thursday, junior star and Penn-bound Lopez-Ona scored eight goals and had two assists to help PHS pull out a 16-12 win over WW/P-S. The Little Tigers, who improved to 4-1 with the victory, play at Hopewell Valley on April 18, host Notre Dame on April 20, and then play at Robbinsville on April 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Emilia Lopez-Ona was huffing and puffing a bit as she caught her breath after helping the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team edge WW/P-S last Thursday.

The junior star had reason to be winded as she was all over the field, tallying eight goals and two assists to help PHS prevail 16-12.

The Penn-bound Lopez-Ona started the game on fire, scoring six of PHS’s first seven goals.

“With my shot, I feel it is a lot about composure and staying with the fundamentals,” said Lopez-Ona.

“I feel I started out the game pretty focused and I didn’t get frazzled. I was pretty happy I came out strong because they were marking me pretty tight. I have been watching a lot of film when girls are getting marked out and doing stuff like using the crease, popping out, and being physical. They had great defenders on me and I was happy with the way I was rubbing them off.”

Lopez-Ona was happy to see the Little Tigers rally from a 9-7 deficit early in the second half as they improved to 4-1.

“I think it was just about communication of offense and defense because we were lacking the unity on the field,” said Lopez-Ona, reflecting on the PHS rally during which the Little Tigers went on a 9-2 run to seize control of the contest.

“I feel like it really pieced together when some of the low attackers started popping out and yelling for the ball. Everyone got a lot more involved in the offense.”

In Lopez-Ona’s view, junior midfielder Dana Smith helped trigger the PHS offense with her hustle on draw controls.

“Dana Smith on the draw was just insane; her possessions kept us in the game when they started to pull ahead a little bit,” said Lopez-Ona of the Lafayette-bound Smith who scooped up five ground balls in the contest.

“As we started to run a couple more of our plays on offense, we worked the ball around better than before and attacked the goal. It gave us more confidence on offense.”

Coming off a tough 11-10 loss to WW/P-N, the victory over the Pirates was a confidence builder for the Little Tigers.

“The difference between the North game and this game was at the end of the North (WW/P-N) game we were still having trouble controlling the ball,” said Lopez-Ona.

“Today we were working for good shots and we were working for good possessions. I feel like after this game we will be pretty confident with how we can play the end of the game on offense with our stall with the whole team getting involved there.”

PHS head coach Kelsey O’Gorman liked the way her team grew from the defeat to WW/P-N.

“In the end, we are really taking away North as a learning experience,” said O’Gorman.

“We left saying, that was a great lacrosse game. I think both teams came out full force. The girls know that was one of our hardest games. It really prepared us, it was a preparation game. I am really proud of the way of the girls played today.”

O’Gorman was proud of the way Lopez-Ona played against WW/P-S. “We actually had her more on attack today so when she puts her full energy and focus on attack, that is the type of result you are going to get from that type of player,” said O’Gorman.

“She is just a great leader, on and off the field. You know she is always going to be pumping everyone up in the huddle; she is always psyched up for her team.”

Sophomore Gabrielle Gibbons helped pump up PHS in its second half run as she tallied a hat trick.

“She really knows when to show herself and makes consistent cuts to the center,” said O’Gorman of Gibbons.

“You know when her target is up, she wants the ball and she is going to have a nice finish for you at the end. She is learning from these upperclassmen to have a lot of information and a lot of experience.”

The Little Tigers utilized their experience and savvy in pulling away from the Pirates.

“We came back at halftime and said let’s go back to the basics,” said O’Gorman, whose team plays at Hopewell Valley on April 18, hosts Notre Dame on April 20, and then plays at Robbinsville on April 23.

“Let’s play our defense. Let’s be steady and composed. Let’s do what we know how to do on attack; pull it out and start driving hard.”

Lopez-Ona, for her part, believes that the composure that PHS displayed down the stretch against WW/P-S will help the team in its drive for titles.

“It is a huge confidence boost because of the fact that we were able to hold on to the lead in the end,” said Lopez-Ona. “It was really telling for us that we have the stick skills all around.”

NOT STANDING PAT: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player ­Patrick McCormick races up the field in action last season. Junior midfielder McCormick has helped PHS get off to a 2-1 start this spring. The Little Tigers host Lawrenceville School on April 19 before playing at New Egypt on April 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

NOT STANDING PAT: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player ­Patrick McCormick races up the field in action last season. Junior midfielder McCormick has helped PHS get off to a 2-1 start this spring. The Little Tigers host Lawrenceville School on April 19 before playing at New Egypt on April 23.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While Peter Stanton was disappointed to see his Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team lose to Allentown last week, he liked how his players responded to the setback.

“We certainly had some good moments and we had a couple of bad stretches,” said PHS head coach Stanton, reflecting on the 13-8 defeat which saw junior star Matt Purdy tally three goals and an assist with Kevin Halliday adding two goals and Matt Corrado chipping in a goal and two assists.

“The encouraging thing is that everybody felt they had something to do with it. As a team, everyone shouldered the blame.”

The Little Tigers, who moved to 2-1 with the loss, have had a lot of good moments on offense so far this spring.

“We feel like when we put six guys on the field on offense, all of them can score,” said Stanton, whose squad started the season by beating Nottingham 14-7 and then edged WW/P-S 13-12. “Everyone is a threat and it is tough to defend.”

Junior Purdy has emerged as PHS’s most lethal offensive threat. “Matt set a goal to be a more complete player and the early evidence is that he has done that,” said Stanton of Purdy, who has 18 points this season on 11 goals and seven assists.

“He has had games with multiple assists, he gets ground balls, he is riding, he is controlling the offense at times.”

Juniors Halliday and Corrado have also been riding high for the Little Tigers.

“Kevin Halliday is real dynamic and creative,” said Stanton. “Matt Corrado is another example of somebody who has worked really hard. He spent a lot of time in the offseason training. He comes to practice every day ready to work hard. His habits and dedication are really something to admire.”

Stanton acknowledges that the PHS defense needs to tighten up. “It is interesting with people playing more lacrosse, the stick skills are better and the offensive skills have improved,” said Stanton.

“People used to say that the defense was ahead of the offense at this stage but I think now the offense is ahead of the defense. Team defense takes seven guys to coordinate with each other and be on the same page. We have capable athletes back there; we have to do a good job of coaching them.”

In Stanton’s view, he has a group that is highly receptive to coaching.

“We have some potential but we are a work in progress, they are showing a willingness to improve,” said Stanton, whose team hosts Lawrenceville School on April 19 before playing at New Egypt on April 23.

“I like their attitude. After the loss last Tuesday, they were ready to learn about what they need to do better.”

TALKING POINT: Michael Zhao gets interviewed after he won the 2011 Longines Future Aces Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. This spring, Zhao, an eighth grader, is starring at first singles for the Princeton Day School boys’ squad, helping the Panthers to a 4-0 start. PDS has a match at the Pingry School on April 18 before taking part in the Mercer County Tournament, slated for April 22 and 24 at the Mercer County Park tennis complex.(Photo by David Martin, Courtesy of Longines)

TALKING POINT: Michael Zhao gets interviewed after he won the 2011 Longines Future Aces Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. This spring, Zhao, an eighth grader, is starring at first singles for the Princeton Day School boys’ squad, helping the Panthers to a 4-0 start. PDS has a match at the Pingry School on April 18 before taking part in the Mercer County Tournament, slated for April 22 and 24 at the Mercer County Park tennis complex. (Photo by David Martin, Courtesy of Longines)

While the addition of a talented crop of freshmen to a tennis team would normally be a harbinger of good things to come down the road, the arrival of three young stars this spring has immediately changed the fortunes for the Princeton Day School boys’ squad.

After guiding the team to a 5-9 record in 2012, PDS head coach Will Asch knew things would be radically different when highly-touted eighth-grader Michael Zhao and freshmen David Zhang and Scott Altmeyer stepped on the court this March.

“I knew we had a good team as soon as we saw players like Zhao, Zhang, and Altmeyer,” said Asch

Sure enough, the Panthers have produced a sizzling start, going 4-0 and winning each of their matches by 5-0 margins.

The team’s success starts at the top where the precocious Zhao is displaying brilliant talent and skill at first singles.

“I would say that there is no ball he can’t handle, he has great hands, and he is extremely consistent,” said Asch, reflecting on the strengths of Zhao’s game.

“He volleys very well. He has a very big forehand for an 8th grader. He does everything well on the court and he has a great mind for the game.”

Zhao also possesses a maturity beyond his years on the court. “He doesn’t worry about winning or losing,” said Asch, noting that Zhao is coached by Marc Hill and former Princeton University head coach Glenn Michibata.

“He has an idea of what he wants to do and he doesn’t worry about the score. He has a certain shot and sequence of play that he wants to develop and he will work on it even if he is in a national tournament.”

At second singles, Zhang figures to give PDS some very good work. “He is very good,” said Asch. “He is very aggressive on the forehand; he covers the court very well. He is very consistent. He hits hard from the baseline and he is very fast.”

Last season’s top singles player, junior Neeraj Devulapalli, has moved to the  No. 3 spot and should be dominant in that position. “Neeraj is playing well, his serve has really improved,” said Asch. “He is having a great season.”

Altmeyer has also bolstered the PDS lineup as he been paired with junior D.J. Modzelewski at first doubles.

“Scott Altmeyer and D. J. are our strongest team,” said Asch. “They are both very good singles players. Scott is a very strong player; he has a lot of tournament experience. D.J. is someone who we have brought along; he has learned a lot of his tennis from playing on the team.”

Talented sophomore Josiah Meekins will anchor the second doubles pair with Asch tinkering with things to find the best combination.

“Meekins is our next best player,” said Asch. “We have a bunch of guys who are playing at the same level. We are sill working on that.”

Asch is confident that his team can perform at a high level in the upcoming Mercer County Tournament, which is slated for April 22 and 24 at the Mercer County Park tennis complex.

“The toughest thing is to win in the doubles at the MCT; we have four guys in the school who play in tournaments and some schools have 10 or 15,” noted Asch, whose team also has a match at the Pingry School on April 18.

“In singles, we should be the strongest team. Sometimes that is enough to win and sometimes it isn’t. We won all three singles a few years ago but South (WW/P-S) won the title. In the girls’ tournament two years ago, Sam [Asch’s daughter Samantha Asch] was our only flight winner but we won the team title.”

WELL STRUCK: Hun School baseball player Stevie Wells displays his powerful swing in Hun’s 6-3 win over the Hill School (Pa.) last Wednesday. Senior first baseman Wells hit a go-ahead two-run single in the victory. Hun, now 6-1, will look to keep on the winning track as it hosts Princeton Day School on April 17 and Pennington on April 18 and then plays a doubleheader at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on April 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

WELL STRUCK: Hun School baseball player Stevie Wells displays his powerful swing in Hun’s 6-3 win over the Hill School (Pa.) last Wednesday. Senior first baseman Wells hit a go-ahead two-run single in the victory. Hun, now 6-1, will look to keep on the winning track as it hosts Princeton Day School on April 17 and Pennington on April 18 and then plays a doubleheader at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on April 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Stevie Wells is a power hitter but he wasn’t looking to crush the ball as he came up for the Hun School baseball team against Hill last Wednesday in the bottom of the third inning with two runners in scoring position.

“My mentality there is to do my job and move the runner,” said Hun senior first baseman Wells, referring to the situation which came with the Raiders trailing 2-1.

“There was second and third and I was thinking I have got to get the ball to the right side and make sure I get that ball through the infield.”

Wells did his job, muscling a flare into the outfield for a two-run single to put Hun ahead 3-2, a lead the Raiders didn’t relinquish as they went on to a 6-3 victory.

For Wells, his clutch hit was the product of an effort to hit to all fields. “The coaches have been trying to get me to hit the ball to center, left, and right and make sure that I am more versatile as a hitter so this way they can’t get me out,” said Wells.

Hun was certainly trying hard in its matchup with Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) rival Hill.

“They are a good team; unfortunately last year we didn’t do that well against them in the playoff game in our park,” said Wells.

“This year we came out with a lot more power and a lot more fire. I think we really put ourselves out there and did a good job today.”

With the Raiders off to a 6-1 start after beating Rutgers Prep 13-4 Monday, Wells senses a special spirit around this year’s team as it looks to rebound from a 9-14 season in 2012.

“We are more together as a family,” asserted Wells, who had two RBIs in the win over Rutgers Prep. “This year, I think we are really together. We work on and off the field to make sure that we are doing what we need to do.”

As a starter since his sophomore season, Wells knows that he has to take a major role in holding things together for the Raiders.

“It is my third year with program; I try to make sure that I am positive,” said Wells.

“At first base, I make sure that everyone knows the situations and I encourage people.”

Hun head coach Bill McQuade wasn’t surprised that Wells came through in the pressure situation against Hill.

“Steve Wells got a huge hit because he battled,” said McQuade. “Everybody knows that Stevie has power, what they don’t realize is that he has a really good understanding of the strike zone. So therefore, he fights off the hard pitches and doesn’t try to overpower it. He took a high pitch, which is hard to get your bat on, and he had enough strength to get it over the infield.”

Wells’ strength of character also powers Hun. “He is the nicest man in the world,” asserted McQuade. “He is the captain of the team for a reason, everyone respects him.”

McQuade respected the way the Raiders overcame a 2-0 deficit in topping Hill.

“We showed some character,” said McQuade.  “We played a great game against Hunterdon Central the other day, they are an outstanding team. We started out a little lethargic today; they got two runs as a result of a couple of errors. We got some runs; some of our guys are scuffling a little bit at the plate and they battled.”

Hun ace Austin Goeke showed a battling spirit as he pitched in and out of jams in the win over Hill.

“He didn’t have his greatest stuff but when he had to make the big pitch, he did,” said McQuade of the Wagner College-bound Goeke who pitched a complete game in improving to 2-0 on the season.

“I think his command was good. As the weather warms up he is getting looser and throwing more breaking stuff.”

McQuade is hoping that the Hun bats warm up with the weather. “We are still trying to find the right lineup, the correct batting positions,” said McQuade.

“We are solid in the first six or seven and in a couple positions in the field. We are going to go as far as Goeke and [Jason] Applegate and a couple of others take us. Our hitting is coming around. Brett Ender had a good game the other day. Shane Adams is a player, he and Devo [senior star Devan Birch] are tablesetters. Bailey Hammer has gotten off to a terrific start. He has gotten bigger, he is lifting weights. He is a star.”

In McQuade’s view, his players have developed a terrific chemistry this spring.

“It is more a family feeling this year, without a doubt,” said McQuade, whose team hosts Princeton Day School on April 17 and Pennington on April 18 and then plays a doubleheader at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on April 20.

“Down in Florida, the key for us is that everyone gets to know each other because we have so many new faces. We have Mike Edenson, who is an outstanding catcher and hitter. He got a concussion yet he still comes to the games and supports the team. He is a class act. We are still carrying 22 people; we could have a bunch of kids ticked off because they are not playing but we haven’t seen that yet. That is a credit to this team.”

Wells, for his part, believes the Raiders are poised for an outstanding season.

“I think we let a lot of people know we are here to play and we are ready,” said Wells, who will be continuing his baseball career on the college level at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

“We are ready to go. I hope that we win our league, I hope we make a good run in the states and also in the Mercer County Tournament.”

GO TIME: Hun School softball pitcher Alexis Goeke fires the ball in recent action. freshman Goeke has been dominant in the circle, helping Hun produce a 5-1 start. In upcoming action, the Raiders host Hopewell Valley on April 18 before playing at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on April 20 and Peddie on April 23.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GO TIME: Hun School softball pitcher Alexis Goeke fires the ball in recent action. freshman Goeke has been dominant in the circle, helping Hun produce a 5-1 start. In upcoming action, the Raiders host Hopewell Valley on April 18 before playing at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on April 20 and Peddie on April 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Alexis Goeke started her softball career as a catcher but eventually decided that she didn’t want her older brother to be the only star pitcher in the family.

“I started pitching three years ago, I used to be a catcher,” said Goeke. “With my brother, Austin, pitching all the time, I also wanted to be a pitcher. I like being in the head of the game and having the leadership position.”

Austin, for his part, has earned a position at the top of the rotation for the Hun School baseball team and the senior is starring this spring for the Raiders on his way to the Wagner College program.

The younger Goeke meanwhile joined the Hun softball team this season and immediately assumed the role of ace. She made her impact felt in her debut against the Hill School (Pa.) in late March, striking out 12 and giving up two hits in a 9-0 win.

For Goeke, having the responsibility of being the team’s top pitcher is something she relishes.

“It doesn’t feel like I have a lot of pressure on my hands but I have a lot to prove,” said Goeke.

“With the upperclassmen’s help, it makes it much easier on me. All I want is to be in the circle. As a freshman, it feels good to have that opportunity to be out there and pitching.”

Things came easily for Goeke last week as she pitched a three-inning no-hitter in a 17-0 win over Rutgers Prep, striking out eight of the nine batters she faced.

“My focus was to really buckle down and pitch strikes and pitch really well,” said Goeke.

“The team was good with the bats today. It helps support us when we are on defense when you have runs behind you. I worked really hard over the winter to get all six pitches working really well so I tried to move it around the strike zone as much as I could. It is great practice.”

Goeke helped herself with the bat in the win over Rutgers Prep, pounding out a double and getting five RBIs.

“I like both parts; a lot of people say pitchers can’t bat but I really think the opposite,” said Goeke. “It is a great break. You get off the field and you go hit.”

Hun head coach Kathy Quirk likes the way Goeke has started her career.

“I am very impressed with her,” said Quirk, whose team improved to 5-1 with a 15-4 win over Lawrenceville last Monday.

“I think she is a very composed freshman and she wants to be out there. She knows what her role is, she knows what her job is. She doesn’t say to herself I have to strike everyone out. She knows she has good fielders behind her and she depends on them and if she gets a strikeout, she gets it.”

Quirk is also impressed with Goeke’s good hitting. “Today, she had two really nice drives,” said Quirk.

“I haven’t been getting that power hit out of her, I have been getting hits but not the power she had today. I think it is a boost to her confidence.”

With Hun having produced a superb start, Quirk is gaining plenty of confidence in her club.

“I am happy with their attitude,” said Quirk. “I think they are a good bunch of girls who want to come out and play and have fun. Sometimes I worry that they are not focused but I know that they are focused.”

In Quirk’s view, her trio of seniors, Carey Million, Danielle Beal, and Joey Crivelli, has helped keep the team focused.

“The seniors are doing a nice job with the leadership,” said Quirk, whose team hosts Hopewell Valley on April 18 before playing at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on April 20 and Peddie on April 23.

“Carey is doing a great job behind the plate. She is having fun with it. Dani Beal is the same way; she has been solid for us at third base. I took her out of No. 4 in the batting order and put her up to No. 1 because she gets on base and she is smart. Joey, who we didn’t know if she was going to play because of her knee injury, has just come in and stepped it up as a second baseman.”

Goeke, for her part, believes she and Hun will keep stepping up.

“I am looking to limit hits, do my best, and stay focused,” said Goeke “We need to make sure we just play as a team and it will lead to our success.”

April 10, 2013
READY POSITION: Princeton High boys’ tennis player Tyler Hack waits for the ball in a match last spring. Sophomore Hack has displayed his versatility, playing at singles this spring as PHS works through some early season injuries. The Little Tigers, who topped Trenton 5-0 last Monday to improve to 3-1, are slated to host Robbinsville on April 10 and then play at Hamilton on April 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

READY POSITION: Princeton High boys’ tennis player Tyler Hack waits for the ball in a match last spring. Sophomore Hack has displayed his versatility, playing at singles this spring as PHS works through some early season injuries. The Little Tigers, who topped Trenton 5-0 last Monday to improve to 3-1, are slated to host Robbinsville on April 10 and then play at Hamilton on April 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Sarah Hibbert, the die is usually cast by the time the regular season rolls around for her Princeton High boys’ tennis team.

The preseason is devoted to challenge matches and figuring out who is going to play in the three singles spots and who will be combining to form the two doubles combinations.

But when the 2013 season started last week, PHS was in a state of flux with two of its top players, junior Brock DeHaven and sophomore Adib Zaidi, out with injuries.

“It has been quite difficult; usually I spend the preseason making sure I have things right with the lineup,” said PHS head coach Hibbert, who guided the Little Tigers to a 13-3 record last spring.

“I don’t like scrambling; it can make it tough for the seedings for the counties and the states. Brock fractured his ankle after a week of preseason. Adib is out with an elbow injury. We were not able to finish the challenge matches due to injuries. I hope they both come back at the same time  so we won’t have to change up doubles twice. We have a lot of transition this year, we graduated four and we got two new players that weren’t freshmen and we have some freshmen.”

Despite having players out of position, PHS has shown plenty of mental toughness this spring, getting off to a 3-1 start.

Hibbert pointed to the team’s 4-1 loss to defending Group III Central Jersey sectional champion Hopewell Valley on April 2 as a positive.

“We were pretty competitive considering that we were missing two of our top players,” said Hibbert, whose team’s lone victory in the HoVal match came from sophomore Tyler Hack at third singles. “Tyler had a great match. He didn’t let the cold or wind bother him.”

While the first doubles team of junior Zach Hojelbane and freshman Lucas Mitchell and the second doubles pair of junior Zack Kleiman and senior Eddy Zheng both lost to HoVal, Hibbert liked the competitive fire they displayed.

“They haven’t been together long; I was pleased with the way they hung in there against HoVal,” said Hibbert, whose team topped Allentown 5-0 last Friday and then defeated Trenton 5-0 last Monday and is slated to host Robbinsville on April 10 and then play at Hamilton on April 12.

“They fought hard against guys with a lot more varsity experience. They had one match being paired together and they were thrown in against one of the toughest teams. The first doubles went to a tiebreaker and the second doubles lost 3 and 4, they were in the match the whole way.”

The addition of senior Feeney and DeHaven makes PHS a tougher team.

“Michael is a senior, he was previously devoted to soccer and he has played tennis outside of school,” said Hibbert.

“As a senior, he decided that he wanted to come out and be a part of the team. He is very quick, he runs everything down. He has good ground strokes and he is quick around the court. Brock is a junior. He was in Princeton through middle school and then his family moved out to Colorado. Now they have moved back. He hits the ball well, he is willing to mix up his style of play. He is consistent and steady.”

Once Hibbert gets her lineup set, she believes the Little Tigers will show the consistency that has made the program a traditional local power.

“I will be grateful for the guys who do come back,” said Hibbert, who is expecting to have DeHaven and Zaidi back in action this week.

“There is a lot of talent. The sophomores bring experience and depth. The new additions give us strength at the top of the lineup. I am looking forward to getting everything finalized so we can have clarity and put our attention on tennis.”