June 5, 2013
WINNING WAYS: Chris Hatchell of Winberie’s dribbles the ball in playoff action last year in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Hatchell was the playoff MVP in 2012 as he helped Winberie’s earn its first summer league crown. The league will tip off its 25th season on June 10 with a tripleheader at the Community Park courts slated to start at 7:15 p.m.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

WINNING WAYS: Chris Hatchell of Winberie’s dribbles the ball in playoff action last year in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Hatchell was the playoff MVP in 2012 as he helped Winberie’s earn its first summer league crown. The league will tip off its 25th season on June 10 with a tripleheader at the Community Park courts slated to start at 7:15 p.m. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The Community Park basketball courts will be getting a facelift this week with cracks being repaired and the surface getting a paint job.

On June 10, the courts will get christened when the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League tips off its 25th season, featuring some new faces along with popular stalwarts.

“It is interesting; we have four teams that are more or less new,” said league commissioner Evan Moorhead, referring to first-year entries, Northeast Realty, Sneakers Plus, WTG, and Ballerz.

Two of those teams, though, will include some players who have spent a lot of time on Princeton courts.

“The Northeast Realty has some familiar faces with former Princeton High players with Ben Harrison, Matt Hoffman, and Davon Black; they will have a strong PHS flavor,” said Moorhead, the department’s assistant director of recreation.

“Sneakers Plus is being run by Skye Ettin [a former PHS standout]. It is the current TCNJ team. I expect them to be competitive. I was walking through the park today and saw them out there playing pick-up with Jason Carter. They should have chemistry, they have some pieces and they have young legs.”

The WTG and Ballerz squads boast some young talent. “WTG has some college age guys from the same area as the Clinton Kings,” added Moorhead.

“Ballerz is a group of Montgomery and Hillsborough guys. They are guys who have played AAU, they are 18-19. They are playing D-3 or will be this winter. They could be similar to the PA Blue Devils.”

In Moorhead’s view, the Blue Devils, a Pennsylvania-based team with several D-3 players, could be line for a breakthrough campaign.

“It could be the Blue Devils year, they have a solid nucleus,” said Moorhead of the squad which posted a 6-3 record in regular season action last summer. “They always seem to be one big body short.”

After coming up short in recent seasons, Winberie’s won the 2012 championship series and will be shooting for a repeat.

“Winberie’s is back; the word on the street is that Evan Johnson won’t be able to play for them this year,” said Moorhead.

“He was their big guy and they will miss him, Mark [team manager Mark Rosenthal] is always working the waiver wire so I am sure he will bring some good guys in. Chris Hatchell will be back and he has hit more big shots than just about anyone out there.”

Last year’s runner-up, Ivy Inn, will be looking to take another title shot as they will be led again by former PHS and TCNJ standout Bobby Davison.

“Ivy will be a similar group,” said Moorhead. “They could make another run.”

Another perennial contender, Dr. Palmer, has added to its group. “DeQuan [former PHS star DeQuan Holman] is playing for Dr. Palmer, that is a big addition for them,” said Moorhead of the squad which went 7-2 in 2013 and entered the playoffs as the top seed.

The PHS boys’ hoops entry, Princeton Youth Sports, is back with Mark Shelley at the helm for the first time after completing his debut season at the helm of the program this winter. The team known as Clinton Kings last summer is returning under the Clear View Window Cleaning name.

While the league has produced some dynasties in its first 24 seasons, Moorhead believes that parity will be a theme this summer.

“I think it is wide open,” said Moorhead, noting that the league will mark its 25th anniversary and induct a new Hall of Fame class on June 28 with a doubleheader and a cookout.

“The four top returning teams, Winberie’s, Ivy Inn, Dr. Palmer, and PA Blue Devils have proven that they can stay competitive.”

May 29, 2013
TITLE SHOT: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Liz Jacobs looks for an opening last Thursday as second-seeded PHS hosted No. 3 Sparta in the North Jersey Group III sectional semifinals. Junior star and Dartmouth-bound Jacobs scored a game-high four goals to help PHS rally for a 12-9 win. The Little Tigers, now 18-3, will play at top-seeded Mendham on May 29 in the sectional final.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TITLE SHOT: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Liz Jacobs looks for an opening last Thursday as second-seeded PHS hosted No. 3 Sparta in the North Jersey Group III sectional semifinals. Junior star and Dartmouth-bound Jacobs scored a game-high four goals to help PHS rally for a 12-9 win. The Little Tigers, now 18-3, will play at top-seeded Mendham on May 29 in the sectional final. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Liz Jacobs wasn’t about to let rain slow her down as she took the field last Thursday for the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team as it hosted Sparta in the North Jersey Group III sectional semifinals.

With a downpour hitting Harris Field, junior star Jacobs was sizzling, scoring three goals in the early going to keep second-seeded PHS in the game as it trailed No. 3 Sparta 7-5 at halftime.

“I was feeling it,” said Jacobs, reflecting on her hot start. “I was just so excited. I was looking forward to this game all week. Everyone was super excited. We had a dance party in the locker room before. We had a team lunch before.”

The Little Tigers were still excited even thought they trailed at halftime. “Our coach [Kelsey O’Gorman] was saying that two goals isn’t that much, we can totally come back,” recalled the Dartmouth-bound Jacobs.

“I don’t think we looked at it in a negative light like we were behind. I think we were just really encouraging each other and trying to go out strong the second half.”

PHS showed its strength in the second half, going on a 5-1 run through a deluge to seize control of the game on the way to a 12-9 win, earning a date with top-seeded Mendham in the sectional finals on May 29.

“That was amazing; we got the wind under our sails literally with the rain,” said Jacobs, in assessing PHS’s second half surge that lifted it to a record of 18-3.

“I am just really proud of all the girls for playing through it because there were times when we really couldn’t see.”

Jacobs is proud of what PHS has accomplished in advancing to the sectional finals.

“I just want to win,” said Jacobs, who ended up with a game-high four goals in the victory over Sparta.

“We have a really close-knit team. I think the seniors are the glue and the fact that we are so close. It really makes such a difference on the field. “

PHS head coach O’Gorman views Jacobs as a difference-maker for the Little Tigers.

“Liz is a very powerful girl; she uses her height to her advantage,” said O’Gorman. “She drew it to herself to keep it out of the ring of everyone getting too involved. She knows when to drive and when not to now. She used to get called on charging, she is controlling her body and using it to her advantage.”

O’Gorman was heartened by how PHS seized control of the contest down the stretch.

“I told them that they need to show that they are the better team today,” said O’Gorman, reflecting on her halftime message.

“I know that they definitely had more to offer. We didn’t come out as hungry in the first half. I am just so proud of them that they could turn it on coming back from being behind to really show themselves. They capitalized on the other team’s errors; they kept themselves performing clean. As a whole, they were using everyone on the field; everyone was stepping up. They literally turned themselves around from the first half.”

In O’Gorman’s view, that turnaround was sparked by simply going after the ball harder.

“We changed up the draw a little bit,” explained O’Gorman, who got three goals and two assists from junior star and Penn-bound Emilia Lopez-Ona in the win with sophomore Gabrielle Gibbons chipping in three goals and an assist.

“We set up more defensively at the end too. When they were controlling the ball in the center, it wasn’t clean. It would get on our stick and go down. It was those 50/50 balls that we turned around. We were boxing out for each other, we were being more selfless. Everyone off ball was working a lot harder.”

PHS is turning things on at the right time, playing its best lacrosse of the season when it matters the most.

“I can’t stop smiling; I just feel like the team is bonding a lot better,” said O’Gorman, who is in her first year guiding the program.

“We have a lot going on. They went through their APs and their testing. They had a spurt where they looked really tired. Now they are revved up and ready to go and they are not going to slow down, that is what I see. I didn’t really sub much at all today; they are in shape.”

The Little Tigers are ready to give powerful Mendham a run for its money in the sectional final.

“They are definitely a solid team,” said O’Gorman of 14-5 Mendham which topped No. 4 Indian Hills 17-5 in its sectional semifinals.

“If we play our game, it is going to be a great matchup. They worked and earned their spot to be there for sure. I am excited to see them in this particular year because I think they are a little weaker than in the past.”

Jacobs, for her part, is excited about PHS’s prospects in the title game.

“I think we are on such a high we just have to keep going,” said Jacobs. “We have to just get pumped for the next game because we are going to go out there swinging.”

GOOD RUN: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Matt DiTosto carries the ball up the field in recent action. Star defender DiTosto helped PHS win its first-ever county title and then advance to the South Jersey Group III sectional semifinals where it fell to powerful Shawnee 5-4 in overtime last Thursday. The loss left the Little Tigers with a final record of 16-4. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

GOOD RUN: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Matt DiTosto carries the ball up the field in recent action. Star defender DiTosto helped PHS win its first-ever county title and then advance to the South Jersey Group III sectional semifinals where it fell to powerful Shawnee 5-4 in overtime last Thursday. The loss left the Little Tigers with a final record of 16-4.
(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

This past winter, Matt DiTosto was primed for a big senior season for the Princeton High boys’ hockey team.

But high-scoring forward DiTosto broke his hand in December, missing several weeks and taking a while to get back up to speed upon his return.

With things not turning out as he had hoped on the ice, DiTosto brought a special sense of urgency this spring into his final campaign on the PHS boys’ lacrosse team.

“It was frustrating,” said DiTosto, referring to his hockey season. “I didn’t play varsity until last year for lacrosse. It means a lot to me and it means a lot to these other boys I have been playing with. We just want to see how far it takes us.”

DiTosto, a star defender for the Little Tigers’ lax team, helped PHS go far this season, as it won the program’s first-ever county title and then advanced to the South Jersey Group III sectional semifinals where it fell to powerful Shawnee 5-4 in overtime last Thursday.

“Our offense controls the ball a lot and the defense is finally sticking,” said DiTosto, after third-seeded PHS rolled to a 13-4 win over No. 6 Clearview in the sectional quarters on May 21.

“I think we are starting to play more defense which is important when we start going against these tougher teams. I love everyone on defense. I think we have been picking up each other’s slack and helping each other out. I think we are clicking on all cylinders.”

As a senior, DiTosto has gone out of his way to pick up his game. “I listen to my coaches; this year it was all about my footwork and staying in front of the offensive player,” said DiTosto.

“I feel like I have been doing that. I feel like I take a big leadership role on defense. I am a captain, huddling all the guys together, making sure we get our heads in the game and not get too out of it.

In the MCT title game victory over Allentown, DiTosto played a huge role, marking Redbird star Stefan Pappas and limiting him to one goal as the Little Tigers prevailed 10-4.

“It was a big moment for me,” said DiTosto, reflecting on his MCT title game effort.

“Pappas is a great player and I had the support of the defense behind me. That helps, that takes off some of the pressure. When you have got Colin Buckley sliding to a kid, I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be on the other end of that.”

PHS head coach Peter Stanton is proud of the way his squad played hard to the end.

“If you want to make a deep run, it is really a test of stamina and a test of will,” said Stanton, whose team posted a final record of 16-4.

“It is really challenging, coming down to the end of the school year, prom, and all these kinds of things and I am just so pleased that our boys really want to play lacrosse.”

Stanton was pleased with the way his offense clicked in the win over Clearview. “I know that they prepared for us; I know that some of the times when they see us play, we are just throwing the ball around,” said Stanton, noting that the Little Tigers had lost to Clearview in a preseason scrimmage.

“Today we dodged right at them, we got by them early and that was something that they didn’t expect.”

The PHS defensive unit ended up exceeding Stanton’s expectations.

“It is just really satisfying to see the level of improvement,” said Stanton.

“At the beginning of the year, we were giving up so many goals. It is just one of those things, I don’t know what comes first. Are the individuals improving or is their teamwork improving? It just seems to be one of those things where one doesn’t happen without the other.”

In Stanton’s view, winning the county crown helped spark PHS’s state tournament run.

“Sometimes you get a taste of success and you want a little bit more,” said Stanton.

“The risk of that is you might be like, well that was good enough and these guys are more of the former, they really want more.”

DiTosto, for his part, concurred, seeing the MCT triumph as prompting a hunger for more success.

“I definitely think it is a boost; winning the first one in school history,” said DiTosto, who is headed to St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia in the fall and is thinking about trying to walk on to the Hawks men’s lax team.

“We are able to share it together and I am sure everyone had that same mentality of we don’t want to quit.”

NET GAIN: Princeton High boys’ tennis doubles player Zach Hojelbane covers the net in action this spring. Last week, Hojelbane and PHS fell 3-2 to defending champions and top-seeded Hopewell Valley in Central Jersey Group III finals. The defeat left the Little Tigers with a final record of 16-2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

NET GAIN: Princeton High boys’ tennis doubles player Zach Hojelbane covers the net in action this spring. Last week, Hojelbane and PHS fell 3-2 to defending champions and top-seeded Hopewell Valley in Central Jersey Group III finals. The defeat left the Little Tigers with a final record of 16-2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In the beginning of the spring, the Princeton High boys’ tennis team didn’t seem destined to end up in the sectional finals.

Losing four key players to graduation and dealing with a series of injuries, PHS had to scramble all season long.

Yet last week, the third-seeded Little Tigers advanced to the Central Jersey Group III finals against defending champions and top-seeded Hopewell Valley and came one win away from making it to the state Group III Final 4 as they dropped a 3-2 nailbiter to the Bulldogs.

PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert was proud of what her team accomplished in its topsy-turvy campaign.

“We pushed HoVal as far as we could, I think they thought they were just going to walk over us,” said
Hibbert, whose team posted a final record of 16-2.

“We definitely made the most out of things. We weren’t considered as much of a threat in the beginning of the season.”

Fighting off unseasonably warm conditions with the temperature in the 80s, PHS battled to the end in its defeat to HoVal.

“They definitely worked hard,” said Hibbert. “The conditions were tough; it was really hot and humid. It had been cool for much of the spring. You can’t train for the heat.”

Junior Brock DeHaven brought the heat at second singles as he posted a 6-4,7-5 win over Trevor Johnson.

“He played a great match without feeling particularly well,” said Hibbert. “He was down 1-4 in the second set and fought back to win.  He was doing well with being patient. He has big shots and if he rushes to use them, he makes unforced errors. He was constructing points and staying away from unforced errors.”

The second doubles duo of Tyler Hack and Zach Kleiman produced a big comeback as they posted a 3-6, 6-0, 6-4 win over Roger Toussaint and Andreas Vermeulen.

“They had a great season,” asserted Hibbert of her second doubles pair who won their flight at the Mercer County Tournament.

“They were disappointed after the semifinal with Wall where they didn’t finish in the third set. Luckily we didn’t need their point that day. They came back with a vengeance; they wanted to go out big. They started out slow; they were able to withstand the loss of the first set and came back with a vengeance in the second set with a 6-0 win. They were ahead 5-2 in the third set and let up a little bit with the finish line in sight. They came through.”

Although Rishab Tanga at third singles and the first doubles pair of Zach Hojelbane and Eddy Zheng didn’t come through against the Bulldogs, Hibbert had no qualms about the efforts she got in those matches.

“Rishab is the kind of kid who doesn’t make excuses but he was sick the week before and he was struggling more with the heat more than he would have been,” said Hibbert, whose first singles player Michael Feeney retired early in the first set of his match against HoVal due to an ankle injury.

“I could see that. I think he was hoping he had more energy and played better. The first doubles had a tough match. They weren’t quite ready at the start. They made it competitive, we were right there with them in the first set. We made some unforced errors at the wrong time. We were right there in the second set and we had some unforced errors and Hopewell found a final gear.”

In the final analysis, Hibbert believes her team achieved as much as it could under the circumstances.

“It was one of the most successful seasons result-wise with the most chaos,” said Hibbert.

“We had people at different positions at different times. We had a great win over Wall in the semis. They were a very tough team and challenged us at every flight. We won a third set and closed out two tiebreakers.”

In Hibbert’s view, her
players’ upbeat attitudes helped them deal with the challenges they faced this spring.

“We had a very easygoing group of guys and they rolled with the punches,” said Hibbert.

“They came out everyday and figured out who was playing where and made the best of it. Everyone who got a chance, stepped up, and played as well as they could.”

SHARED OWNERSHIP: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis star Neeraj Devulapalli prepares to hit a forehand in a match earlier this season. Last week, junior Devulapalli was the runner-up at second singles in the state Prep B championships as the Panthers earned a share of the team title along with Pennington and Montclair Kimberley.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SHARED OWNERSHIP: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis star Neeraj Devulapalli prepares to hit a forehand in a match earlier this season. Last week, junior Devulapalli was the runner-up at second singles in the state Prep B championships as the Panthers earned a share of the team title along with Pennington and Montclair Kimberley. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into the state Prep B tournament last week, the Princeton Day School boys’ tennis team faced an uphill battle.

PDS has been juggling its lineup over the last few weeks and was not at full strength coming into the competition.

“We had a lot of injuries and illness this year,” said PDS head coach Will Asch, noting that first singles player David Zhang was recovering from pneumonia and that his first doubles team couldn’t play in the tourney due to scheduling conflicts.

Undeterred, PDS ended up earning a share of the title along with Pennington and Montclair Kimberley.

While the Panthers would have like to have had the championship to themselves, Asch saw the crown as a positive step for the program which was coming off of a 5-9 season in 2012.

“It was good to win a share of the title after being under .500 last year,” said Asch.

“It is all about the boys playing and having fun. They played a lot of matches and it was a good learning experience. It was good that three teams got to share the title, the two other teams were very good.”

Freshman Scott Altmeyer showed quite a learning curve as he prevailed at singles after playing doubles much of the spring. “Scott was our best player,” said Asch. “He won at third singles.”

While Zhang fell short at first singles, losing to eventual champion Jerry Jiang of Pennington in the semis, the freshman showed a lot of grit. “We didn’t know what to expect of David at the Prep B,” said Asch

“David came out and played well in his first match. He had to play Jerry in the semis; they were the two best players in the tournament. He was up 2-1 in the third set and then Jerry got cramps and took a 20-minute break and got some medical attention. When Jerry got back, he played really well. He was really hurting and so was David. It was tough on both of them.”

The Panthers suffered a tough defeat at second singles as junior Neeraj Devulapalli was edged by Pennington’s Nick Gorab 6-7, 7-6, 6-2.

“Neeraj was up 5-4 in the second set; it was one of those things, he just couldn’t finish it,” said Asch.

“It was a close match; they were evenly matched players. In the match they played in the regular season, Neeraj lost the first set and then dominated. In the Prep B, he lost a tiebreaker in second and couldn’t come up with the goods. These things happen.”

The Panthers made some good things happen at second doubles as the pair of junior D.J. Modzelewski and senior Alec Gershen advanced to the championship round where they were defeated 6-2, 6-0 by Joel Battsek and Karan Juvekar of Montclair Kimberley.

“We brought in substitutes for second doubles, D.J. Modzelewski and Alec Gershen,” said Asch.

“D.J. had hurt his shoulder and had to serve underhanded. They wound up getting two wins but were outclassed in the finals.”

In Asch’s views, his players showed a lot of class this spring as they persevered through the ups and downs.

“It was a rocky year but it was a wonderful group of kids and they dealt with things very well,” asserted Asch, who guided the Panthers to a second place finish in the Mercer County Tournament earlier this spring.

“We went 10-3, that is quite a record. We lost to Haddonfield and South (WW/P-S), who we usually wouldn’t play. In head-to-head matches against Prep B teams, we were
undefeated.”

May 22, 2013
POLE POSITION: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Jack Persico carries the ball up the field last Thursday past an Allentown foe in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. Senior defender Persico contributed an assist and helped the PHS defense stifle the Redbirds as the Little Tigers won 10-4, earning the program’s first-ever MCT crown. PHS is competing in the state tournament where the Little Tigers have been seeded third in the Group III South sectional. PHS got off to a hot start in that tourney, topping 14th-seeded Mainland 12-1 last Saturday in an opening round contest and improving to 15-3.(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

POLE POSITION: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Jack Persico carries the ball up the field last Thursday past an Allentown foe in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. Senior defender Persico contributed an assist and helped the PHS defense stifle the Redbirds as the Little Tigers won 10-4, earning the program’s first-ever MCT crown. PHS is competing in the state tournament where the Little Tigers have been seeded third in the Group III South sectional. PHS got off to a hot start in that tourney, topping 14th-seeded Mainland 12-1 last Saturday in an opening round contest and improving to 15-3. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

After suffering its first-ever loss to Allentown in early April, the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team was fired up for a rematch with the Redbirds in the Mercer County Tournament championship game last Thursday.

“It was a long time ago but we still remember that loss,” said PHS senior defender Jack Persico, referring to the 13-8 setback on April 9.

“A lot of the team changed because we have got a lot of guys back and positions changed.”

Persico and his teammates didn’t waste time showing that those changes were going to lead to a different result in round two between the teams as the Little Tigers jumped out to a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter of the contest at WW/P-N.

“I didn’t expect that,” said Persico, reflecting on PHS’ blazing start. “It was a tough game but we just managed to get the goals and they didn’t. We got the shots.”

PHS kept getting the goals as it went on to a 10-4 victory and the program’s first-ever MCT title.

As his teammates hugged each other and whooped it up in a raucous post-game celebration that started when PHS head coach Peter Stanton was doused with a bucket of water, Persico beamed as he reflected on the championship.

“In my athletics career, I haven’t brought home any titles or anything like that,” said Persico, also a star lineman for the PHS football team.

“I was really hoping this year to take it home. We finally got one and I am so stoked and so happy about it.”

Persico was particularly happy about picking up an assist on PHS’s seventh goal when he scooped up a ground ball and launched a long pass to Adam Ainslie, who buried the ball in the back of the net.

“That was literally all I have ever wanted for my entire lacrosse career,” said Persico, referring to his assist. “That was special.”

In Persico’s view, PHS’s success stems from a special unity. “It is chemistry,” asserted Persico. “I look out there at the starting lineup; I hang out with all of these guys. These guys are all my friends. That chemistry shows on the field, we all know what’s going on.”

That chemistry helped PHS stifle Allentown’s high-powered attack. “That is an offense we talked a lot about; they have some good players,” said Persico.

“That guy 15 [Stefan Pappas] is probably the best lacrosse player I have ever seen. It’s scary. You have to give it to Matt DiTosto; he shut that kid down. We wanted to play them straight up. We figured our defense was good enough to hold them to three or four goals and we did that. I feel proud of all the guys, and that we managed to pull that off.”

PHS head coach Peter Stanton is proud of the way his players have carried themselves in their title run.

“If you look at our team you might not be wow those guys are so nasty,” said Stanton, who hit the 200-win mark in his PHS career with the Little Tigers’ 7-6 overtime victory against Princeton Day School in the county semis.

“The sum is greater than the parts; the behavior, the attitude, the work ethic and our guys just always doing the right things. That’s the difference. That is a team of guys that did the right things for a long time.”

In the win over Allentown, the Little Tigers did everything right at both ends of the field.

“We felt all along that we had the ability to put that kind of effort out but every game we have had so far it is like we are pulling dandelions,” said Stanton, who got three goals from senior star Ainslie in the victory with Matt Corrado and Kevin Halliday adding two apiece.

“It is we got this fixed over here but there is something else over there. We felt like all along that we were growing and today we finally got it all together.”

Stanton saw Persico’s assist as exemplifying the team’s growth. “To me, that was the play that was like whoa, that ground ball that he picked up, running the ball up the field through that pressure and then making that pass was just amazing,” said Stanton.

After having come so close to the county title with overtime losses in the championship game and the semis in recent years, Stanton was thrilled to see PHS get the breakthrough win.

“It is a fantastic experience for this group of boys,” asserted Stanton. “In high school sports, it’s all about the now. It’s all about where these kids are now. Just look at the faces on these kids, they are ecstatic. It just means a whole bunch of happiness.”

PHS will be looking to experience more happiness as they take part in the state tournament where the Little Tigers have been seeded third in the Group III South sectional. PHS got off to a hot start in that tourney, topping 14th-seeded Mainland 12-1 last Saturday in an opening round contest in improving to 15-3.

In Stanton’s view, winning the county crown gives his team momentum going into states.

“We know the emotional drain of not winning that county title game; that’s a painful game to lose,” said Stanton, whose team was slated to host sixth-seeded Clearview on May 21 with the winner advancing to the sectional semis on May 23 against the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between second-seeded Shawnee and No. 7 Colts Neck. “To win it makes it real easy to take tomorrow off. It gives us a little shot going into the states.”

Persico, for his part, thinks the Little Tigers have a shot at another crown. “There are some tough teams there toward the end but I think we can make a run if we play the way we played today,” said Persico.

“I think from start to finish, this was our best game. From the first quarter to the fourth quarter, we played hard. We played consistently well. To hold a team like that to four goals, that’s good. That’s one of our better goal totals of the year. We played with more heart than we have played with all year.”

PAIN MANAGEMENT: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse star Zach Halliday, left, looks to get past Princeton Day School defender Brenden Shannon last week in the Mercer County Tournament boys’ lacrosse semifinals. Undeterred by a fourth quarter ankle injury, Halliday assisted on the winning goal as second-seeded PHS edged third-seeded PDS 7-6 in overtime in the May 14 contest. The Little Tigers went on to defeat top-seeded Allentown 10-4 in the MCT championship game last Thursday, earning the program’s first county crown.(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

PAIN MANAGEMENT: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse star Zach Halliday, left, looks to get past Princeton Day School defender Brenden Shannon last week in the Mercer County Tournament boys’ lacrosse semifinals. Undeterred by a fourth quarter ankle injury, Halliday assisted on the winning goal as second-seeded PHS edged third-seeded PDS 7-6 in overtime in the May 14 contest. The Little Tigers went on to defeat top-seeded Allentown 10-4 in the MCT championship game last Thursday, earning the program’s first county crown. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

With 6:25 left in the fourth quarter of the Mercer County Tournament boys’ lacrosse semifinals, it looked like Princeton High midfielder Zach Halliday was finished for the day,

Chasing a loose ball in a tense battle against Princeton Day School last week, the PHS senior star took a tumble out of bounds and crumpled to the ground in pain after a PDS player landed on him.

“I thought the ball was going out and I was going to be the first one there because it was a shot,” recalled Halliday.

“I didn’t think the guy was going to keep coming and he landed awkwardly on the back of my knee and I rolled the front of my ankle going over on the turf. I was a bit concerned and scared when it happened that it would be worse than I initially thought.”

The crowd at Ewing High was hushed as Halliday writhed on the ground for minutes before getting helped to his feet and gingerly making his way to the bench with assistance and barely putting any weight on his foot.

As third-seeded PDS knotted the May 14 contest against second-seeded PHS at 6-6 late in regulation, Halliday wasn’t about to let the pain keep him out of the fray.

“There was no way I was going to sit and watch this team score on us,” said Halliday. “It hurt when I got back on but once you start running, things like that go away. The monumental game that we had in front of us and everything that we had going for us, I didn’t feel it once I got back on the field.”

Halliday reentered the game and nearly put PHS in front as he scored an apparent goal with 2:14 left in regulation. The tally was waved off and the teams headed to overtime knotted at 6-6.

Seconds into overtime, Halliday came through with a monumental play, whipping a pass to Adam Ainslie, who buried the ball in the top corner of the net for the game winner.

“I saw Adam open, he is the best shooter on our team so I thought I had to find him and he stung it into the top shelf,” said Halliday, who had a goal and two assists in the victory.

“A couple of other looks were open on that play but my faith was in Adam and I knew the big guy would come through.”

It was a big win for PHS which had lost to crosstown rival PDS 8-7 in overtime in the semis of the 2012 MCT.

“There were so many different alumni calling me, Elliott Wilson, Kirby Peck, Coleman Preziosi, and others,” said Halliday, who helped PHS beat top-seeded Allentown 10-4 last Thursday in the MCT championship game, as the program earned its first county crown.

“They were all telling me that you have got to beat this team. You can’t let them do it to us again. It would have been nice to do it on our home turf but beating them in the same fashion they beat us is nice. It is a good thing we are going back and forth and I hope it stays competitive between the two of us for a long time.”

In Halliday’s view, this year’s PHS squad has a really good thing going. “This team is the most unselfish team I have ever played on in lacrosse,” said Halliday, who is headed to Tufts University this fall and will be looking to play for the men’s soccer team.

“It is a great group of guys. We have so many different characters. Everybody understands their role and everybody works to do what they can do. You don’t have people trying to be the all star or trying to score nine goals. We work for a team; we work within a system. We don’t try to go for the individual accolades.”

LATE BLOOMERS: Princeton High baseball player Ellis Bloom takes a cut in recent action. Senior star third baseman Bloom has helped PHS enjoy a late surge that saw the Little Tigers win eight of 11 games after a 1-10 start. Last Friday, Bloom and his classmates enjoyed a special Senior Day as PHS topped Nottingham 6-2. Senior Rohit Chawla pitched six innings in the win, earning his fifth victory of the spring.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LATE BLOOMERS: Princeton High baseball player Ellis Bloom takes a cut in recent action. Senior star third baseman Bloom has helped PHS enjoy a late surge that saw the Little Tigers win eight of 11 games after a 1-10 start. Last Friday, Bloom and his classmates enjoyed a special Senior Day as PHS topped Nottingham 6-2. Senior Rohit Chawla pitched six innings in the win, earning his fifth victory of the spring. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Princeton High pitcher Rohit Chawla was pumped up to pitch against Nottingham long before he took the mound last Friday with PHS hosting the Northstars for Senior Day.

“I was thinking about this for weeks; it got rained out originally and I knew I was getting the ball then,” said senior star Chawla.

“Coach [Dave Roberts] asked me what I wanted to do this week, we had five straight games. I told him I wanted to go four innings against Voorhees on Tuesday and then come back for Senior Day. All day I was thinking about the game, starting when I woke up. It is one of my last high school games; it is going to be a special time for the seniors with all my buddies out there. It was definitely a really emotional game; I had a lot of fire.”

With blue and white balloons hanging from the fence at the Valley Road field for the Senior Day festivities, Chawla fired the ball hard, shutting out the Northstars over the first three innings.

In the fourth, Chawla ran into some trouble giving up two runs and loading the bases. He worked out of the jam, though, without giving up any more runs.

“My arm wasn’t feeling too good yesterday so I was a little bit scared that I wasn’t going to feel 100 percent but I came out here and said whatever,” said Chawla.

“With three days rest and 60 pitches, it was pretty tough. I just wasn’t pitching [in 4th inning jam]. I was throwing fastball after fastball but I settled down and focused and collected myself and started pitching.”

Chawla ended up pitching six innings, not giving up another run, as PHS went on to a 6-2 triumph.

The win was Chawla’s fifth of the season and it was the eighth victory in the last 11 games for the Little Tigers after a 1-10 start.

“It feels good, it is one of the first years I have been able to string together a good season,” said Chawla, reflecting on his solid spring.

It feels good for the Little Tigers to get rolling collectively as the program is coming off a 4-18 season in 2012.

“I think we are really focusing, we are getting everything together,” said Chawla.

“Early in the season, we would hit but we wouldn’t pitch or we would pitch well and we wouldn’t hit. We had a couple of games where we were hitting balls right at people. We are finding holes now.”

PHS head coach Roberts enjoyed seeing his team roll on Senior Day. “This is fantastic,” asserted Roberts.

“We have had two 3-game winning streaks. We have won eight out of 11, all great things for us. Nine wins are the most since 2005. We have two chances for 10. That team in 2005 was 11-14. This is a quality baseball team we have put together here.”

In Roberts’ view, the team’s recent success has come down to basics. “I think pitching and defense [has made the difference],” said Roberts.

“Rohit, Ben Gross, and Andrew Frain have been running out there, start after start after start. The defense has been there most of the days behind them.”

Chawla has produced a special run, according to Roberts. “Rohit, from what we know, just set the modern day school record for five wins in a single year,” said Roberts.

“There were two kids from the 2001 that had five wins and Jake Horan had five wins for the 2005 team. That’s a pretty big achievement, five wins in a single year. It is pretty good for this team and this high school.”

In getting out of the fourth inning jam, Chawla displayed some good maturity.

“The one thing he started to do and I tried to relay that to him without going out there was to remember to pitch,” said Roberts.

“He is in trouble, the bases are loaded, and I said don’t forget the breaking ball, don’t forget the offspeed stuff because those guys are excited and you can get them out on the front foot and that is what he did.”

Roberts is excited about the balanced offense that PHS has shown down the stretch.

“It has been different guys, different days,” said Roberts, whose team lost 7-1 to Hamilton last Saturday to move to 9-14 and was slated to end the season by hosting Notre Dame on May 21.

“But the addition of Hayden Reyes as a freshman has been amazing. He had a seven-game hitting streak snapped yesterday; he is up over .300 as a freshman. Gross and Ellis [Bloom] are up over .300.”

PHS has been sparked by good leadership from senior captains, Matt Farinick, Chawla, and Bloom.

“I think the three captains who have been here a long time have kept them up mentally,” said Roberts, whose other seniors include Frain, Christian Giles, Zach DiGregorio, and James Itkoff.

“They have kept their heads in it. We were 1-10 at one point and now it’s 9-13. You can’t ask for much more right now.”

Chawla, for his part, believes the seniors have brought a special sense of urgency this spring. “We are all taking charge, coming out as seniors,” said Chawla.

“We know we have the talent. Everything is coming together now, it feels good.”

THANKS A MILLION: Hun School softball player Carey Million takes a cut last Thursday against the Peddie School in the state Prep A championship game. Senior catcher and Elon University-bound Million ended her stellar career on a down note as the Raiders fell 5-3 to Peddie to finish the spring with an 11-7 record.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

THANKS A MILLION: Hun School softball player Carey Million takes a cut last Thursday against the Peddie School in the state Prep A championship game. Senior catcher and Elon University-bound Million ended her stellar career on a down note as the Raiders fell 5-3 to Peddie to finish the spring with an 11-7 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Hun School softball team has suffered several heartbreaking defeats to Peddie in postseason play over the years, the Raiders were upbeat as the rivals met last Thursday in the state Prep A championship game.

Snapping a four-game losing streak, Hun routed Blair Academy 7-1 in the Prep A semis to earn its trip to the title game and gain a much-needed jolt of confidence.

“I am shocked the way we played against Blair,” said longtime Hun head coach Kathy Quirk.

“We had lost four or five in a row by one run. The atmosphere had been ‘oh do we have to play another game.’ It just seemed to not be where we wanted it to be. They battled back. The Blair game was the game of our life.”

Hun senior star catcher and Elon University-bound Carey Million and her teammates believed they had
the talent to play with the Falcons.

“I think we realized how close we were,” said Million, noting that Hun had dropped two one-run nailbiters to Peddie in regular season play. “I think everyday could be our day.”

Building on its strong game against Blair, Hun scored three runs in the top of the first in the title game to jump out to a 3-0 lead. Million, for her part, realized that wouldn’t be enough.

“We knew we couldn’t settle with three runs,” said Million. “After that inning, we just couldn’t find holes with our bats.”

Peddie, as its custom, chipped away with its bats, scoring two runs in the bottom of the second inning and adding another in the bottom of the fourth to knot the contest at 3-3. The Falcons forged ahead in the bottom of the sixth, scoring two runs to take a 5-3 lead.

Hun, though, didn’t throw in the towel, loading the bases in the top of the seventh before succumbing by the 5-3 margin.

Million was proud of how Hun kept battling in the seventh as Kristen Manochio singled, Alexis Goeke drew a walk and Alexa Fares was hit by a pitch.

“It showed a lot, especially with the bottom of our lineup,” said Million.

“I think Fares fought in that at-bat. Sometimes you can’t do it all and it just happens.”

A disappointed Quirk was frustrated as she reflected on her team’s unfortunate case of déjà vu.

“I don’t know what to say; it is like a monkey on our back and we just can’t seem to get rid of it,” said Quirk, who took out starting pitcher Goeke in the sixth inning and replaced her with Dani Beal in an effort to stop the Falcons.

“We come out strong. We have an inning or two and let them creep back in. I made the pitching change, which I thought I needed to do. Goeke just seemed to be struggling a little bit today and I did what I had to do. I don’t think I would change it. And then you have bases loaded and you don’t get anything. We just couldn’t capitalize on it. I was very proud of them: I thought they played a nice game today.”

Quirk is proud of the contributions made by her trio of seniors, Joey Crivelli together with Million and Beal.

“They are going to be missed; there is no doubt about that,” asserted Quirk, whose team ended the spring with a final record of 11-7. “These three seniors are key players for us.”

With such key returners as freshman Goeke, sophomore Julia Blake, sophomore Caitlin Hoagland, and freshman Sierra Hessinger together with juniors Manochio and Fares, the Raiders have a good foundation in place.

“We are young so there is next year,” said Quirk. “Goeke is only going to get better. You have to keep fighting hard and you can’t ever give up. You have to work hard in the offseason, which is something that my younger kids don’t seem to understand. We’ll work on it.”

For Million, it is hard to say goodbye to Hun softball. “I thought I played pretty well, I am glad we won games where I played well,” said Million, who batted .510 this spring with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 6 home runs, 26 RBIs, and 23 runs scored.

“In games where I played well and we didn’t win, I really didn’t care about what I did. You can’t get anywhere by yourself. I am going to miss everyone; it is going to be rough. I think it is hard for everything to come to an end.”

Million’s brilliant play has her heading somewhere special as she will continue her softball career at Division I Elon in North Carolina.

“It is something I have always wanted to do and I got to go to my No. 1 school so it works out,” said Million.

“I am looking forward to it but I wish we could be holding the trophy right now.”

While Million didn’t end her Hun career with a trophy, she produced some great work over the last four years.

BIG APPLE: Hun School baseball player Jason Applegate heads to first in recent action. Last Wednesday, sophomore star Applegate got the win on the mound and contributed a run-scoring double as top-seeded Hun beat No. 4 Lawrenceville 11-1 in the first round of the state tournament. The Raiders find themselves in a do-or-die situation in the double elimination Prep A tourney as they beat No. 2 Blair Academy 5-3 on Saturday but then fell to the Buccaneers 7-5 last Sunday in the championship round. The rivals were slated to play on Tuesday in a winner-take-all finale.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BIG APPLE: Hun School baseball player Jason Applegate heads to first in recent action. Last Wednesday, sophomore star Applegate got the win on the mound and contributed a run-scoring double as top-seeded Hun beat No. 4 Lawrenceville 11-1 in the first round of the state tournament. The Raiders find themselves in a do-or-die situation in the double elimination Prep A tourney as they beat No. 2 Blair Academy 5-3 on Saturday but then fell to the Buccaneers 7-5 last Sunday in the championship round. The rivals were slated to play on Tuesday in a winner-take-all finale. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Jason Applegate displayed his growth as a pitcher when top-seeded Hun School baseball team battled No. 4 Lawrenceville last Wednesday in the opening round of the state Prep A tournament.

Battling through some control issues, the Hun sophomore righty held the Big Red scoreless in four innings of work, giving up no hits, as the Raiders pulled away to an 11-1 triumph.

In assessing his mound effort, Applegate was proud of the way he kept his cool as he worked out of a couple of jams.

“My previous couple of starts, I was rushing to the plate and I was trying to throw the ball harder than I should,” said Applegate.

“Today I took a different approach. I slowed down and I stayed back and tried hitting more spots. I got my curve ball back; that was working. The changeup still needs work but the curve ball is there.” Applegate believes he has matured a lot with one season of high school ball under his belt.

“I know the situations and I know how to get out of them,” said Applegate, who doubled in a run to help his cause.

“I am starting to learn how to pitch and I am trusting myself more. I was 14 years old as a freshman last year, playing on the varsity. I am 15 now. It is still young but I have matured a lot through this organization.”

Hun finds itself in a do-or-die situation in the double elimination Prep A tourney as it beat second-seeded Blair Academy 5-3 on Saturday but then fell to the Buccaneers 7-5 last Sunday in the championship round. The teams were slated to play on Tuesday in a winner-take-all finale.

“Our goal is to win the states,” said Applegate. “After losing in the county tournament, we are just focused on states now. It is going to be tough because there are some really good teams in the state prep.

Hun head coach Bill McQuade liked the mental toughness Applegate displayed on the mound in the win over Lawrenceville.

“He still threw too many pitches but he battled when he had to battle and it is one of his better games in terms of composure,” said McQuade.

“That was all about composure. We have been talking to him from last year to this year, he has to slow the engine down and become the pitcher, the thinker, before he throws the pitch. He’s got the God-given ability, now he’s got to harness the energy behind it and turn into a thinking pitcher because the arm is there.”

Last Sunday, Hun and Blair both showed composure as they played through a steady drizzle at Lawrenceville in the first game of the Prep A championship round.

“Considering the weather, considering the field condition, both teams gave it everything they had,” said McQuade, whose team moved to 15-6 with the loss.

“Remarkably it was a pretty clean ballgame, considering the weather. Once the ball hit the ground, it was soaking wet so actually it wasn’t until the last inning or two when wild pitches started happening but you couldn’t run, the kids had no left-to right mobility because of the mud on their shoes.”

McQuade tipped his hat to the Buccaneers for coming through under such conditions as they battled back from deficits of 1-0 and 3-2 to earn the win and force the final game.

“They came up with a great hit when they had to, they really did,” said McQuade, referring to a decisive bases-clearing double by Blair’s Ed Lehr in the top of the sixth which gave the Buccaneers a 7-3 lead. “In terms of today, they did their job and they deserved it.”

Hun will be looking to do the job when the rivals meet in the rubber match for the title. “It is one game, winner take all, you can’t ask for anything better than that,” said McQuade. “We have got Applegate and then pitching by committee. We have got to hit them.”

Applegate, for his part, believes Hun can emerge as the better team. “We are looking pretty good so far,” asserted Applegate. “I think we are on the slope upward.”

FINAL APPROACH: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse star Cody Triolo heads to goal in PDS’s 7-4 win over WW/P-S in the quarterfinals of the Mercer County Tournament. Senior midfielder and Lehigh-bound Triolo scored a goal in a losing cause as third-seeded PDS fell 7-6 in overtime to second-seeded and eventual champion Princeton High in the MCT semis last week. The loss left PDS, which also advanced to the state Prep B title game, with a final record of 11-6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FINAL APPROACH: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse star Cody Triolo heads to goal in PDS’s 7-4 win over WW/P-S in the quarterfinals of the Mercer County Tournament. Senior midfielder and Lehigh-bound Triolo scored a goal in a losing cause as third-seeded PDS fell 7-6 in overtime to second-seeded and eventual champion Princeton High in the MCT semis last week. The loss left PDS, which also advanced to the state Prep B title game, with a final record of 11-6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

There were tears mixed with smiles as the seniors on the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team embraced their younger teammates one by one last week after the Panthers lost in the semifinals of the Mercer County Tournament.

The bonds that sustained the squad were evident in the post-game exchange which took place on the Ewing High track in the wake of the disappointing setback that saw the Panthers battle eventual county champion Princeton High tooth-and-nail before falling 7-6 in overtime.

A subdued PDS head coach Rob Tuckman acknowledged that his team was drained after a 14-day stretch that saw the Panthers go 6-2, advancing to the state Prep B title game as well as the county semis.

“We have just played a lot of lacrosse in two weeks,” said Tuckman, whose team had edged PHS 8-7 in overtime on the MCT semis last year.

“There are tired legs, banged up legs but this is the time of the season when everybody has them. Princeton High is a great rivalry for us. We stole it from them last year and they stole it from us this year. It is good lacrosse.”

The clash between third-seeded PDS and second-seeded PHS proved to be a very good lacrosse game as the Panthers battled back from deficits of 2-0, 3-2, 4-3, 5-4 and 6-5 to force overtime after senior Cody Triolo scored the tying goal with 3:30 left in regulation.

In Tuckman’s view, the tenacity his team displayed against PHS was a microcosm of its play all season long.

“I think we are a team that has just gritted it out and have put it out in the line every game,” said Tuckman, who got three goals from Jacob Shavel and two from Bump Lisk in the defeat which left the Panthers with a final record of 11-6.

“I am not sure there is any one particular thing. It is a game that could have gone either way. I think Pete [PHS head coach Pete Stanton] does an outstanding job with his program and this was just two teams that matched up well and fought hard together.”

Tuckman credited his senior class with setting an outstanding example this spring. “It starts with our senior class and it just goes from there,” said Tuckman, whose Class of 2013 includes Taran Auslander, Eddie Meyercord, Derek Bell, Brenden Shannon, Andrew Phipps, and Tucker Triolo in addition to Lisk and Cody Triolo.

“This senior class has really set a tone and an expectation for what we looked to accomplish for the 10 years that I have been a part of this program.”

Those seniors have left a legacy that will impact the program for years to come.

“I think that this is just a start,” asserted Tuckman, who returns such talented players as juniors Nelson Garrymore, Ben Levine, Connor Bitterman, and Lewis Blackburn together with sophomores Shavel, Chris Azzarello, Christian Vik, and Kevin Towle.

“We have a talented junior group; we have a talented sophomore group. We have a talented freshman group. We have got some talent coming in so it is going to continue to build and continue to push. I think this year nobody took us lightly and nobody should.”

Tuckman, for his part, enjoyed guiding the Panthers this year. “Watching this team go from the beginning of our season where we were just trying to find our way to where we are at the end of the season, which is playing a real team offense, a team defense, I think that’s the highlight,” said Tuckman.

“Watching these kids develop into lacrosse players, that’s what makes this so much fun as a coach.”

And the fun the players had this spring should spark memories that will outlive the disappointment felt last week.

May 15, 2013
POOL PLAY: Princeton University water polo coach Luis Nicolao goes over strategy with his women’s squad in a game earlier this season. Last weekend, the Tigers went up to Boston for the NCAA Championships and placed fifth, losing to UCLA in the quarterfinals before beating Iona and UC San Diego in the consolation rounds. The Tigers, who were making their second straight trip to the NCAAs, finished the season with a 28-6 record.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

POOL PLAY: Princeton University water polo coach Luis Nicolao goes over strategy with his women’s squad in a game earlier this season. Last weekend, the Tigers went up to Boston for the NCAA Championships and placed fifth, losing to UCLA in the quarterfinals before beating Iona and UC San Diego in the consolation rounds. The Tigers, who were making their second straight trip to the NCAAs, finished the season with a 28-6 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 1996, the Princeton University men’s basketball team stunned UCLA in the NCAA tournament, an historic upset that helped put the program in the national limelight.

Last Friday, the Princeton women’s water polo team was looking to take a page out of the men’s hoops playbook as the sixth-seeded Tigers faced No. 3 UCLA in the NCAA quarterfinals at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool.

“We were definitely excited; we had the feeling that we could hang with UCLA and give them a game,” said Princeton head coach Luis Nicolao, whose team was making its second straight trip to the NCAAs.

“The fact that we were not traveling west made it less stressful; we didn’t have to worry about that one long day. We were familiar with the Harvard pool. The attitude was let’s get there and see what we can do.”

Trailing the Bruins 2-1 after the first quarter, Princeton made some miscues in the second period which the Bruins converted into a 3-0 run as they took a 6-2 lead into halftime. After the break, the Tigers got into a rhythm, outscoring the Bruins 4-2 in the second half but it was too little, too late as UCLA held on for an 8-6 win.

“Once we settled down, we got back into the game and had a great defensive effort,” said Nicolao, reflecting on the setback which saw freshman goalie Ashleigh Johnson make nine saves and two steals with junior star Katie Rigler scoring three goals and sophomore standout Jessie Holecheck adding two.

“We surprised some people but we felt that we could play with them. We knew they would be looking to play Stanford. We thought we had them at the right time.”

The Tigers looked very sharp the next day as they rolled to a 12-2 win over Iona in a consolation round contest.

“That was a game I was concerned going into it; we had already played them and I was afraid of a letdown after the UCLA game,” said Nicolao, whose team jumped out to a 7-1 lead at halftime and never looked back with senior Saranna Soroka scoring four goals and freshman Pippa Temple adding three.

“It speaks to our depth, we have had a lot of different players step up this year. It was nice to come back with a win like that. We played well.”

In the fifth-place contest on Sunday against UC San Diego, the Tigers didn’t play well in the beginning as they trailed 6-5 heading into the second half. Princeton outscored the fifth-seeded Tritons 5-4 to knot the game at 10-10 at the end of regulation and force overtime. In the extra periods, the Tigers scored two unanswered goals to pull out the win and the highest finish in program history.

“We gave up some shots in the first half that we don’t normally give up; we were playing in a fog,” said Nicolao, who got four goals from Holechek in the victory with senior Brittany Zwirner scoring three and junior Molly McBee chipping in a goal and two assists.

“Once we settled in the second quarter, we didn’t do anything different scheme-wise, we just started playing the scheme. I told them at halftime that it would come down to focus and intensity in the second half. It was one of those fun games to be in, two good teams battling really hard.”

For the Tigers, placing fifth was an important step forward. “It was a good feeling to win; last year we lost the fifth place game and losing the final game is a bitter way to end the season,” said Nicolao, whose team ended the season with a 28-6 record.

“It is good to get a little bit of respect for our team and conference. We came in with a chip on our shoulder. We wanted to show that we were better than we were seeded. It is hard to get there once but to get back and to go 2-1 with the one loss being close to a huge upset was great. It would have been a dream to win the first one but I can’t be any prouder of them.”

Nicolao is proud of what his seniors Rachele Gyorffy, Laura Martinez, Soroka, and Zwirner have accomplished over their careers.

“Every senior group that has come through here has been part of our success,” said Nicolao, who is in his 15th season overseeing both the men’s and women’s water polo programs at Princeton.

“They have helped lay the foundation. You are always building and they were part of that process.”

A key part of Princeton’s foundation going forward is goalie Johnson, who established a new NCAA Championship record for saves with 38 in the tournament.

“Ashleigh had a great weekend, she is a special player,” said Nicolao of the Miami, Fla. native. “She allows us to do other things. The goalie is one position where you can neutralize the game and make it an even playing field.”

Nicolao believes Princeton has the pieces in place to make another run at the NCAA field.

“We are excited about the future but we know the Indianas and the Michigans are going to bring some good girls in and reload,” said Nicolao.

“Every year presents new challenges. We are going to have the target on our backs for a second year. The good part is that this group has now been to the NCAAs two years and they know what it’s about. They want to win that first game and get to the Final 4. We have some great players coming back and we have a nice class coming in. We should be right in the mix. The rising juniors are a talented group and you mix them with Rigler and McBee. We have great balance.”

ACTION JACKSON: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player ­Jackson Andres controls the ball in recent action. Sophomore defender Andres helped second-seeded PHS stifle No. 7 Northern Burlington 14-5 in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals. The victory improved the Little Tigers to 12-3 and earned them a date with No. 3 PDS in the semis on May 14 with the winner advancing to the title game on May 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ACTION JACKSON: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player ­Jackson Andres controls the ball in recent action. Sophomore defender Andres helped second-seeded PHS stifle No. 7 Northern Burlington 14-5 in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals. The victory improved the Little Tigers to 12-3 and earned them a date with No. 3 PDS in the semis on May 14 with the winner advancing to the title game on May 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It took a while for Jackson Andres to develop a comfort level last spring in his freshman season on the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team.

“Last year I was a little shell-shocked going from club straight to high school; it is a lot faster pace,” said Andres.

“Everybody is bigger, everybody is stronger.  Now I feel like it has slowed down and I am catching up with everyone.”

This spring, Andres has emerged as a strong defensive presence for the Little Tigers.

“Getting big Colin Buckley, a transfer from Peddie, has helped,” said Andres.

“The first game we had him was the Notre Dame loss. He had to wait the 30 days. He is great. I had to play the close defense for the beginning and now that he is here I am strictly a longstick midfielder, which I kind of like better.”

Andres liked the way second-seeded PHS started things in the Mercer County Tournament last Thursday by blanking 15th-seeded New Egypt 12-0 in a first round contest.

“All we were thinking about was don’t let in any goals,” said Andres, who helped PHS produce another strong defensive effort as the Little Tigers topped No. 7 Northern Burlington 14-5 in the MCT quarters last Saturday to earn a date with No. 3 PDS in the semis on May 14 with the winner advancing to the title game on May 16.

“Against North (WW/P-N), we were going into it the same way and they put one in shorthanded and we were not too happy. That was our biggest goal today, have a shutout. It is a confidence booster.”

In Andres’ view, the Little Tigers are bringing a lot of confidence into the postseason.

“I think we all feel that we can go very far,” said Andres. “These three games going into it I feel are the best things we can have. I feel like we couldn’t be in a better position, getting the two seed.”

PHS head coach Peter Stanton likes having Andres at the longstick position.

“Jackson has the ability to be really disruptive in between the restraining lines,” said Stanton. “He picks up lots of ground balls, he starts transition and that gives us a nice spark.”

In the win over New Egypt, the Little Tigers were sparked by some of the members of the team’s supporting cast.

“It is very satisfying to not just see some of the other kids get their playing time but to see them receiving support from the guys who do get the accolades,” said Stanton.

“We are thrilled for a kid like Dillon Johnston who has put in four years of hard work; to see him get out there and get five or six goals you have to be happy about that.”

Stanton was happy about the defensive effort he got as his team blanked the Warriors.

“Learning has occurred this season as far as our defenders understanding the riding and the clearing, and the transition game,” said Stanton. “You see evidence of that in a game like today.”

The Little Tigers have been giving evidence of how good they can be in recent action.

“You have put in the hard work during those cold March practices,” said Stanton, whose team’s win over Northern Burlington was its fifth straight and improved its record to 12-3. “Now is the time when you really want to have it.”

Andres, for his part, is having fun seeing PHS come together. “This is my favorite team I have ever been on at this school,” said Andres, who also stars for the PHS boys’ hockey team.

“The guys on this team and the atmosphere are amazing. Going to Disney over spring break was probably the most fun I have ever had in a 5-day span. The special thing about this team is that no one player is doing everything. We have four or five extremely strong poles who can cover anybody. We have at least eight short sticks who can put the ball into the net.”

NEW HEIGHTS: Princeton High softball player Maddie Cahill-Sanidas gets ready to hit in recent action. Senior catcher Cahill-Sanidas contributed three RBIs last Monday to help seventh-seeded PHS top No. 10 Hightstown 7-3 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament. The Little Tigers improved to 11-10 with the triumph as they added to their program record single-season win total. PHS was slated to play second-seeded Steinert on May 14 at Armstrong Park in Ewing in the MCT quarterfinals with the winner advancing to the semis on May 15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

NEW HEIGHTS: Princeton High softball player Maddie Cahill-Sanidas gets ready to hit in recent action. Senior catcher Cahill-Sanidas contributed three RBIs last Monday to help seventh-seeded PHS top No. 10 Hightstown 7-3 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament. The Little Tigers improved to 11-10 with the triumph as they added to their program record single-season win total. PHS was slated to play second-seeded Steinert on May 14 at Armstrong Park in Ewing in the MCT quarterfinals with the winner advancing to the semis on May 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton High softball team, 10 was the magic number this spring.

After having tied the program single-season record for victories with nine wins in 2012, PHS had its sights set firmly on breaking into double figures.

Last week, the Little Tigers achieved their goal, topping Lawrence 4-3 in extra innings on May 6, exemplifying the scrappiness that has fueled their improvement.

Although PHS managed seven hits, the team came through in the clutch in pulling out the win that lifted it to 10-8.

“We struck out 19 times, you don’t usually win when that happens,” said PHS head coach Dave Boehm.

“We know we don’t have a heavy hitting team. We have to make some bunts and execute. We used the international rules in extra innings. We had Charlotte Heller at second and bunted her home.”

Getting the breakthrough win was a proud moment for Boehm and his players.

“It was good to get the monkey off of our back,” said Boehm, who will be getting a mohawk haircut and dying his hair blue to honor a promise he made to the team if they hit the 10-win mark.

“The girls were disappointed last year when we didn’t get it. I have to say double digits looks nice; we have had some nice wins this year.”

PHS has been the beneficiary of some nice pitching from sophomore Sarah Eisenach all spring and she came up big against Lawrence with 17 strikeouts.

“Sarah had a good game,” said Boehm, who got another big mound effort from Eisenach on Monday as she struck out four and gave up four hits to help the seventh-seeded Little Tigers top No. 10 Hightstown 7-4 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament and improve to 11-10. “She really came on; she kept the ball down.”

Led by record-breaking hitter and Wisconsin-bound Marisa Gonzalez, the team’s group of seniors has come on strong in their final campaign.

“I think the seniors have really stepped up,” asserted Boehm, who will be looking for his team to step up when it plays second-seeded Steinert on May 14 at Armstrong Park in Ewing in the MCT quarterfinals with the winner advancing to the semis on May 15.

“Hannah Gutierrez has had a really good season. Heller has hit well. Maddie Cahill-Sanidas has had a monster year, hitting homers and batting well. She is a good athlete; she is one of the few three-sport athletes in the school.”

While PHS’s senior class, which also includes Helen Eisenach and Charlotte Gray, will leave a void, Boehm thinks the program can keep going for records.

“We also have some freshmen who have done well in Stephanie Wu and Kelli Swedish,” added Boehm.

“When I look at them I see the same thing I saw when I looked at the John Witherspoon team a few years ago and saw Marisa, Maddie, and all of them. It is a good group coming up; I hope they stick together like the seniors have.”

WHALE OF AN EFFORT: Princeton High girls’ distance running star Amelia Whaley shows her form in a cross country race last fall. This past Saturday, senior star Whaley took third at the Mercer County Championships in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 11:58.05. The Little Tigers stood seventh in the team standings of the meet, which was delayed due to rain and was slated to be completed on Tuesday.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

WHALE OF AN EFFORT: Princeton High girls’ distance running star Amelia Whaley shows her form in a cross country race last fall. This past Saturday, senior star Whaley took third at the Mercer County Championships in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 11:58.05. The Little Tigers stood seventh in the team standings of the meet, which was delayed due to rain and was slated to be completed on Tuesday. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After guiding his Princeton High girls’ track squad to the team title last spring at the Mercer County Championships, Jim Smirk had different goals coming into this year’s meet last Saturday at Steinert.

“It is a young team with the exception of Michelle Bazile and Amelia Whaley,” said PHS head coach Smirk, whose team stood seventh in the standings of the meet, which was delayed due to rain and was slated to be completed on Tuesday.

“We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores and this was a good tune-up for the sectionals. We knew we couldn’t score enough points to win so we cut back on the events so they could really focus.”

Sophomore Paige Metzheiser showed her focus, taking fourth in the 800 with a time of 2:22.69.

“Paige ran track last year and got introduced to the sport,” said Smirk. “She ran cross country this fall and made the varsity. The surprise is the distances she is competing at. We thought she was going to be a pure 400 runner but she has found a niche in the 800.”

Another young performer finding a niche is freshman Maia Hauschild, the fourth place finisher in the long jump in 16’1.5.

“She is a very hard worker,” said Smirk of Hauschild. “She came out for cross country last fall to build her strength. She also runs the 400. We are keeping her to the fundamentals and letting her get strong and fit and see where that takes her. She didn’t worry about the slippery track on Saturday. She was herself and jumped really well.”

Another hard worker for the Tigers is sophomore distance runner Mary Sutton.

“Mary Sutton took seventh in the 2-mile; she ran a 12:03, four weeks ago she was running a 12:51,” said Smirk, noting that freshman Sarah Klebanov placed 13th in the 3,200-meter run.

“She plays basketball and she doesn’t get the winter track work so it takes her a while to get going in the spring.”

Senior star Whaley got going down the stretch in the 3,200 as she took third in 11:58.05.

“Amelia is really carrying the load this year; most of her career she had two very good runners [Elyssa Gensib and Jenna Cody] with her,” said Smirk.

“She has put herself out there each week. She is working on being competitive when it counts the most. We saw that yesterday in the 2-mile. She got to the mile mark and she realized she wasn’t going to get a PR so she set herself up for a good finish. She usually grinds it out at a steady pace and she flipped the script. She showed what kind of a veteran she really is. I told her with a half mile you have to go and she made a great move.”

Bazile, for her part, showed once again that she is one of the great throwers in the area as the junior star won the discus with a heave of 119’2.

“You have to start with her work ethic; she is there every day,” said Smirk.

“She is completely focused at all times. She is always there figuring out how great she can be. She is a strong athlete and brings a different level of intensity. She balances that with having a good time, she has an exciting personality and is a lot of fun to have on the team. She is a junior; she is not as polished as she is going to be and she is working on that.”

Smirk is excited about his team’s potential as he looks ahead to the upcoming sectional meet.

“This crew might not be as impressive out of the gate; we are not going to score points in the big meets like we did last year,” said Smirk.

“But as they develop, they are understanding what it takes to compete at a higher level. We may come up short, but it will be a good chance for the freshmen and sophomores to get experience and compete hard. If we do that, that will be success for us. We have people that had never run track before this year and some of them may score points in the sectional, which is exciting.”

BLACK MAGIC: Hun Boys’ lacrosse player Owen Black heads to goal in recent action. Last Monday, freshman star Black scored two goals in a losing cause as second-seeded Hun fell 17-6 to top-seeded Lawrenceville in the state Prep A championship game. The Raiders, who dropped to 10-6 with the defeat, were slated to wrap up their season by playing at Voorhees on May 14.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BLACK MAGIC: Hun Boys’ lacrosse player Owen Black heads to goal in recent action. Last Monday, freshman star Black scored two goals in a losing cause as second-seeded Hun fell 17-6 to top-seeded Lawrenceville in the state Prep A championship game. The Raiders, who dropped to 10-6 with the defeat, were slated to wrap up their season by playing at Voorhees on May 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team trailed Lawrenceville 17-6 last Monday with under two minutes left in the fourth quarter of the state Prep A championship game, Greg Flood was still battling.

The Hun senior star defender and team co-captain bulled his way through a group of Lawrenceville players to snatch a ground ball and give the Raiders one last possession.

While Hun ended up falling by that 17-6 margin, Raider head coach M.V. Whitlow had no qualms about the effort he got from Flood and his teammates.

“I was proud of all of our players; we never gave up,” said first-year head coach Whitlow, whose team dropped to 10-6 with the setback.

“It is a tough loss but I just told the players that we have a lot to be proud of. Our goals for the season have been accomplished. We slightly overachieved and we have a strong sense of who we are and we have  a strong self-awareness.”

Whitlow credited the strong leadership from his seniors as a key factor in the team’s achievements this spring.

“The seniors really gave us great leadership,” asserted Whitlow.

“Zach Bicho going down with injury and he still remained as almost a coach. Flood and [Zach] Winterstein were great.”

In the game with Lawrenceville, which has now won 13 straight Prep A titles, Whitlow acknowledged that getting down by 11-3 at half put the Raiders behind the eight-ball.

“When it was 7-3, that’s what you want to do in a game like this against a team this talented, to stay close,” said Whitlow, whose team gave up four goals in the last 2:56 of the half.

“It was the clearing mistakes that undid us. You have to attribute Lawrenceville’s ability to ride. I thought that the riding and clearing game was where the game got away from us.”

In the second half, Hun played the Big Red tighter, as the teams played a 3-3 third quarter before Lawrenceville tallied the last three goals of the contest.

“The message at halftime was stay focused, keep doing the little things, clean up the clearing game a little bit, and keep shooting,” said Whitlow, who got two goals apiece from Owen Black and Winterstein with Alex Semler and Corey Reynolds each adding one.

“We didn’t want to regret the shots that we didn’t take today. We didn’t want to slow it down. When you play against a team as talented as Lawrenceville, you have to clear the ball and you have to possess the ball. Give their defense a lot of credit, they are very athletic and their defense was very well coached.”

Hun has some good athletes in such returning players as Owen and Brendan Black together with Semler and Cam Dudeck.

“Both Brendan and Owen are natural leaders; they set high standards for themselves and are very respected by their teammates,” said Whitlow.

“I thing Alex Semler did a real good job today. Cam Dudeck was a leader back there on defense. He is a junior.”

In Whitlow’s view, the Raiders have the potential to be really good in the future.

“The young foundation is in place and, most importantly, the work ethic is there,” asserted Whitlow.

“These players really want to work hard and the commitment level is there. I think our game IQ has gone up quite a bit. I think our stick skills have improved. We can get older, we can get bigger, we can get stronger. Those are all good things. We have a lot of things to build on.”

While the defeat to Lawrenceville stung, the experience should help Hun in its growth process.

“They can take that they are young, that they have room for growth and they can learn,” said Whitlow. “They just have to stick together.”

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.”