January 29, 2014
WILD ABOUT HARRY: Harry Rulon-Miller, far left, presents the trophy to the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team after it won the school’s invitational tournament in 2012, the year the event was renamed in Rulon-Miller’s honor. Pictured with Rulon-Miller, from left, are PDS head of School Paul Stellato along with former Panther stars Cody Triolo and Rob Colton. Earlier this month, Rulon-Miller formally retired from his position as coordinator of PDS hockey operations. Rulon-Miller joined the school’s faculty in 1961 and has been associated with its hockey program as a coach or rink administrator since 1965.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

WILD ABOUT HARRY: Harry Rulon-Miller, far left, presents the trophy to the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team after it won the school’s invitational tournament in 2012, the year the event was renamed in Rulon-Miller’s honor. Pictured with Rulon-Miller, from left, are PDS head of School Paul Stellato along with former Panther stars Cody Triolo and Rob Colton. Earlier this month, Rulon-Miller formally retired from his position as coordinator of PDS hockey operations. Rulon-Miller joined the school’s faculty in 1961 and has been associated with its hockey program as a coach or rink administrator since 1965. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After graduating from Princeton University and serving in the Navy, Harry Rulon-Miller was looking to teach abroad as he headed into 1961.

But not having any solid prospects overseas, Rulon-Miller was steered to a teaching opening at his high school alma mater, the Princeton Country Day School (PCD).

Rulon-Miller took the opportunity and through the homecoming, found a permanent home.

While Rulon-Miller had some teaching stints in Greece and Colorado, he never left PCD as it merged with Miss Fine’s School to become the Princeton Day School. Rulon-Miller, a hockey star at both PCD and Princeton, added coaching to his portfolio.

After leaving teaching, Rulon-Miller stayed at PDS to run the newly opened McGraw Rink in 1998. He morphed into an “ambassador” of hockey as a constant presence at rink, keeping things running like clockwork and nurturing generations of hockey players. The homey atmosphere he helped create at the rink made it a favorite stop for skaters, hockey players, fans, and parents alike.

Earlier this month, Rulon-Miller, 78, left his hockey home in the hands of others as he formally retired from his position of coordinator of hockey operations.

Fittingly, Rulon-Miller was granted the honor of making a ceremonial puck drop before PDS hosted Lawrenceville on January 15, drawing cheers from a packed house at McGraw.

“Through the good auspices of the Lawrenceville presence of people, they just had to be there, and the good presence of us, it was just nice,” said Rulon-Miller, in his raspy voice, the product of a battle with throat cancer 10 years ago.

Rulon-Miller has been a constant presence for the PDS hockey program, serving as an assistant varsity coach from 1965-68 before becoming head coach. He guided the squad until 1982 when he turned it over the Buzz Woodworth. He then coached juniors and helped with other PDS teams. When the outdoor rink on campus was converted to the indoor McGraw Rink, he managed the rink as well as handling scheduling for all the PDS teams.

In the view of PDS Director of Athletics Tim Williams, the retirement of Rulon-Miller signals the end of an era.

“I don’t think you can sum it up in a few words, Harry basically is PDS hockey,” said Williams of Rulon-Miller, who graduated from PCD in 1951 when it only went through the ninth grade and is a 1958 Princeton alum.

“He is an institution. It is exciting to see him retire on one hand but it is also sad. It will be bittersweet to not have him around all the time. He has done everything at the rink from sharpening skates to driving the Zamboni to doing all the scheduling. He cares for the people who come here and he wants them to have a good experience.”

Williams, who came to PDS in 2011, credits Rulon-Miller with helping to ease his transition to the school.

“He has a great wealth of knowledge about the school and hockey,” said Williams. “He really helped me as a southern boy coming to New Jersey to learn about PDS, hockey, and the history of the school.”

Rulon-Miller’s eyes light up through his trademark horn-rimmed glasses when he starts talking about the history of PDS hockey.

“I took over in 1968 or 1969 and that first team was very, very unusual because it had probably some of the best kinds of kids who worked together nicely,” said Rulon-Miller, noting that the late Christopher Reeve ’70 was the goalie on the first team.

“We were invited to go up to the Milton Tournament in Boston in December, 1969, and this little old school from New Jersey, within 24 hours, walked away with the championship. We had a nice little crew of about 15 kids. We had three rotations that featured a defensive cluster of players who just were magnificent and had some forward lines that wouldn’t quit.”

A key step in the lore of the program was the founding of its annual 4-team invitational tournament in 1971.

“It was a very exciting time because it was the first years that we were going head-to-head against Lawrenceville,” said Rulon-Miller.

“For those years and many after that, PDS, Lawrenceville, and Hill were the main protagonists. We would invite other schools as well, sometimes it was a club or a team from Philadelphia or whatever.”

The event was renamed in Rulon-Miller’s honor in 2012. “I thought it was quite appropriate because I put my time in on it, number one, and I was there at the beginning,” said Rulon-Miller, reflecting on the honor. “I love to write the solicitation letters, I just hope I don’t repeat myself.”

For Rulon-Miller, putting in his time at the rink has been a labor of love.

“I know basically starting with spectators and going through officials, figure skaters, ice hockey teams, they love to come here,” said Rulon-Miller.

“Some of it is me and some is doing a lot of little things. The other hockey teams know that they don’t have to bring pucks along. I tell the opposing team’s coaches, especially if they have young kids, keep an eye on your players they are going to get lost on the benches because these are the biggest things you will ever see. You can even develop a hockey strategy of coming out one door and the other guy coming out the other. You are going to love the warming rooms. We feel offended if the opposing coach comes in and asks us for a broom to sweep out their locker room.”

It is going to be hard for Rulon-Miller to take his eye off the rink. “I think being a part of the world at the rink,” said Rulon-Miller, when asked what he will miss most in retirement.

“Whether it is the skaters at the skating club, the PDS programs, watching these little kids troop in or cheerleading our interscholastic teams. I rejoice in the fact that a girl who started hockey in the ninth grade ends up being a captain of the team by her senior year. I have been quietly proselytizing girls to join the ice hockey because it is such a fantastic sport. Boys and girls who are rookies have a chance to really have fun here.”

Working with his colleagues in handling the nuts and bolts of managing the rink has also been fun for Rulon-Miller.

“These people in the PE department and the facilities department which I have been especially close with over the last 15 years are supporters who are just cool,” said Rulon-Miller.  “I am going to miss them as being a part of whatever it is.”

Rulon-Miller has enjoyed the support of the coaches that have succeeded him in guiding the program.

“I have also gotten to know some different coaches who were very terrific in their own ways,” noted Rulon-Miller.

“From a Graham Craig who came to PDS and left in the early 70s. He was an NCAA champion with Michigan in 1954 and was courageous enough to come and coach our team at the varsity level when we needed him in the 80s. Chris Barcless is one of the best teachers of skating or hockey I have seen around. His biggest forte was preparing for a game. Then there is the present associate athletic director, Scott Bertoli, who has a phenomenal way with kids as kids, school as school, and sportsmen as sportsmen as anyone I have ever met. He may be the coach of hockey but his door is open in a special way to all athletes and their coaches.

Bertoli, for his part, has a special respect for Rulon-Miller. “In his 49 or 50 years with the school, Harry has been a huge part of the hockey program as a player, coach, and managing the rink,” said Bertoli.

“He is the face of the rink and the program. He has been a tremendous resource for me for the history of the program. He has helped me to get to know the alums. He has tremendous respect for the longstanding rivalries and their historical significance.”

Rulon-Miller’s example has inspired Bertoli and his players to go the extra mile to get better.

“There have been ups and downs and for us to rebuild it and have some very good seasons here recently is important to the coaching staff, players, and alums,” added Bertoli. “It has made Harry happy.”

Bertoli admires the manner in which Rulon-Miller dispenses important tips to the players.

“What I like is the way he gives kids advice, it is not so much about the Xs and Os, but carrying yourself the right way,” said Bertoli.

“It is all about representing your school in the right way, respecting the game and your opponent, and upholding the integrity of the game.”

As a result of Rulon-Miller’s desire to do things the right way, opponents view coming to McGraw Rink as a treat.

“We played Chatham, one of the top public programs in the state, last Friday,” recalled Bertoli.

“Even before the game, their coach came up to me and said he couldn’t thank us enough for the hospitality, people were pointing them in the right direction and being outgoing. He said they were really having a neat experience and that they would like to come here every year. That is all Harry. That is the atmosphere he wants and has created.”

As Rulon-Miller reflects on his decision to retire, one gets the sense that he  might make time to come back to McGraw on occasion to savor that atmosphere.

“I found out that I had been working too hard as a part-time employee,” said Rulon-Miller with a grin.

“I have a great sense of something being lifted off on one hand and a case of what do I do next. I am not the kind who can sit in a hammock.”

THE BOURKE IDENTITY: Hun School boys’ basketball player Michael Bourke passes the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, senior guard Bourke scored a game-high 22 points to help Hun defeat the Princeton Day School 71-39. Hun, which has won three of its last four games to improve to 6-8, hosts Lawrenceville on January 30, Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa) on February 1, and the Solebury School (Pa.) on February 3.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

THE BOURKE IDENTITY: Hun School boys’ basketball player Michael Bourke passes the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, senior guard Bourke scored a game-high 22 points to help Hun defeat the Princeton Day School 71-39. Hun, which has won three of its last four games to improve to 6-8, hosts Lawrenceville on January 30, Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa) on February 1, and the Solebury School (Pa.) on February 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Michael Bourke and his teammates on the Hun School boys’ basketball team didn’t waste any time asserting their dominance over Princeton Day School last Thursday in the meeting of cross-town rivals.

With senior guard Bourke pouring in 15 points and classmate Eric Williams chipping in nine on three 3-pointers, Hun jumped out to a 29-6 lead by the end of the first quarter.

“As a team we came out really strong; Eric and I both came out strong,” said Bourke.

“We haven’t played in a while so coming out here and getting a jump on them was really good for us.”

For Bourke, nailing a trio of three-pointers as part of his 15-point outburst felt good.

“I practice a lot so hopefully it pays off and it did tonight,” said Bourke. “I have had a half like that before; the last time we played Trenton Catholic, I had 18 in the first half.”

Hun enjoyed the rest of the night as it pulled away to a 71-39 win over the Panthers.

In assessing the victory, Bourke acknowledged that the Raiders need to play a more complete brand of hoops.

“I think our defense lacked a little bit; that was one thing that coach talked to us about after the game,” said Bourke, who ended the evening with a game-high 22 points. “A key for us is to keep the defensive mentality up the whole game.”

In Bourke’s view, Hun’s recent come-from-behind win over the Hill School (Pa.) could turn out to be a key moment for the squad.

“We started off really slow in that game and to come back to win was a big momentum boost for us,” said Bourke, reflecting on the January 11 game which saw Hun overcome a 17-5 first quarter deficit to pull out a 51-50 thriller. “After that, we knew we could beat anybody.”

With Hun having gone 3-1 in their last four games, Bourke believes the squad is coming on strong.

“I think now that we have Remi back, we are playing really well as a team,” said Bourke, referring to senior forward Remi Janicot who was sidelined due to a concussion. “Everyone is buying into the defensive mindset. We should be really good from here.”

Bourke has worked hard to be really good for the Raiders. “Over the summer, I was playing AAU and working on my ball-handling a lot,” said the 6’2, 155-pound Bourke.

“I am trying to be more of a point guard than a two guard. My size has really helped me a lot. It creates mismatches. I have been labeled as a shooter ever since I was young. It is not a bad thing growing up so I just keep getting shots up in the gym and working on my overall game.”

Hun head coach Jon Stone appreciates Bourke’s overall contribution to the Raiders.

“Michael gives us a lot in his ability to score the ball, his ability to pass the ball as well as his ability to get deflections and steals on the other end,” said Stone. “He is certainly a competitor and he means a lot to this team.”

Sharpshooting guard Williams is starting to mean more and more to Hun. “Eric is just continuing to get better all of the time and the more experience he gets is really helpful and beneficial to him,” said Stone.

“He was 5-of-6 from 3 today so he is really shooting the ball really well. It wasn’t a fluke; he is more than capable. He is a very good player.”

In Stone’s view, the Raiders are developing into a very good team. “We have made a lot of great strides; this team has made a lot of improvements,” said Stone, whose team is now 6-8.

“We still have some work to do but we have improved and that is the goal of any season that you keep improving as you go along. Our defense has come a long way since the beginning of the year. I think we are just jelling a little better; the chemistry is better and sometimes that just takes time. We are in the latter part of the season and that helps because we are more familiar with each other. We know what our strengths are.”

Like Bourke, Stone views the victory over Hill as a major stride forward. “That was a great win for us,” asserted Stone.

“It showed how much these guys can compete. There is no question that was a big win for us, especially being in the league and against a really good team. I definitely think that gave us some momentum.”

With Hun having made a great run last winter to win the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament, Stone believes the team can have a big postseason.

“We are not there yet but we are just getting started,” said Stone, whose team hosts Lawrenceville on January 30, Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa) on February 1, and the Solebury School (Pa.) on February 3. “I think we have yet to play our best basketball, that’s for sure.”

Bourke, for his part, is confident that Hun’s best basketball is ahead of it. “As long as we dig in defensively which we have been doing, I think we should be fine and have a great run in the MAPL tournament,” said Bourke. “Hopefully, we can go farther in the state tournament.”

BOUNCING BACK: Hun School girls basketball player Janelle Mullen dribbles the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, junior guard Mullen scored 10 points to help Hun beat North Brunswick 53-35 as the Raiders posted their third straight win in rebounding from a two-game slide. Hun, which improved to 7-6 with the victory, plays at Germantown Friends (Pa.) on January 31 before hosting Padua (Del.) on February 1.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BOUNCING BACK: Hun School girls basketball player Janelle Mullen dribbles the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, junior guard Mullen scored 10 points to help Hun beat North Brunswick 53-35 as the Raiders posted their third straight win in rebounding from a two-game slide. Hun, which improved to 7-6 with the victory, plays at Germantown Friends (Pa.) on January 31 before hosting Padua (Del.) on February 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Bill Holup and his players on the Hun School girls’ basketball team have gotten a lesson in rolling with the punches this winter.

When senior star and dominant center Johnnah Johnson was sidelined in January, Hun head coach Holup was forced to reshuffle his lineup and his players had to adjust accordingly.

“We are still learning; it is tough without Johnnah who is a going to be a solid D-I player,” said Holup of Johnson, who has committed to play at Robert Morris and is out indefinitely.

“People are playing more minutes than they might have and they are getting thrown into the fire. People are taking different roles and everyone has stepped up.”

After suffering some losses right after Johnson’s injury, the Raiders have been stepping up collectively, having won three straight games over the last week, topping Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 57-22 on January 18, defeating Pingry 46-20 last Thursday, and then topping North Brunswick 53-35 on Saturday.

Holup pointed to the win over Pingry as an example of the team’s fortitude. “It was a good win; we were pretty sluggish because we didn’t have school or practice for two days,” said Holup, noting that Hun was closed last Tuesday and Wednesday due to the snowstorm that hit the area.

“It was a competitive game in the first half and then we came alive in the second half. We were not shooting well so it was good to see our defense do a really good job.”

The Raiders built on that performance with their win over North Brunswick.

“We lost to North Brunswick last year at their place; it was a very physical game,” said Holup who got 15 points from Erica Brown and 10 points from Clare Moloney in the win which lifted Hun to 7-6.

“It was a very physical game on Saturday. We were expecting to be physical and there was a lot of pushing and shoving. They are a Group IV team and they are tough. We were shooting much better than Thursday. Defensively we did a terrific job. We held them to 11 points in the first half. We hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and scored 22 points.”

Freshman Moloney has been doing a fine job in replacing Johnson at center. “Moloney has been coming into her own,” said Holup.

“She is getting more minutes and is getting more confident. Her teammates are getting more confident in her. She is only a freshman so we don’t want to put too much pressure on her.”

Senior star Brown, for her part, has been putting pressure on Hun’s foes all over the court.

“Brown has been relentless at both ends of the floor,” asserted Holup. “She is exhausted sometimes when we call timeouts because she is playing so hard. We are putting her on the opposing team’s best player. She can defend guards or forwards. She is playing bigger than she is and she has been doing a good job with that.”

Holup has been trying to get his players to look at the big picture. “I have been emphasizing three things with them,” noted Holup.

“I tell them they have to trust each other, they have to have confidence in themselves and their teammates, and they need to leave their egos outside the court. Once they are on the court, they have to play together.”

The Raiders appear to be responding to that message. “The girls have shown growth,” said Holup, whose team plays at Germantown Friends (Pa.) on January 31 before hosting Padua (Del.) on February 1.

“We still have enough talent to be really good. We are not going to be a pushover for anybody.”

January 22, 2014
DIPLOMATIC APPROACH: Lior Levy in action this winter for the Franklin and Marshall men’s basketball team. Former Princeton High star Levy has made five appearances off the bench so far this season for the Diplomats as he learns the ropes of college hoops.(Photo Courtesy of F & M’s Office of Athletic Communications)

DIPLOMATIC APPROACH: Lior Levy in action this winter for the Franklin and Marshall men’s basketball team. Former Princeton High star Levy has made five appearances off the bench so far this season for the Diplomats as he learns the ropes of college hoops. (Photo Courtesy of F & M’s Office of Athletic Communications)

It was a night to remember for the Franklin and Marshall men’s basketball team as it hosted Dickinson last February in the regular season finale.

F&M ended up routing up the Red Devils 64-34 to earn the first seed in the Centennial Conference tournament, much to the delight of the near-capacity crowd of 3,127 on hand at the Mayser Center.

For one of the fans in the gym that night, Lior Levy, the experience changed the course of his life.

“I went to see the last regular season game last year when they won the league,” recalled Levy, a former star for the Princeton High boys’ hoops team. “There was a huge crowd and that turned me on to the program.”

Having considered taking a post-graduate year and looking at some other Division III programs, Levy decided to come to F&M and play for the Diplomats.

This past November, the 6’7, 205-pound Levy made his debut at the Mayser Center as he got on the court for the waning moments of an F&M win over Johns Hopkins.

“It was pretty cool,” said Levy, reflecting on his debut. “I have been dreaming of playing college basketball all of my life.”

While things haven’t been dreamlike this winter for Levy as he has been paying his dues as a reserve, he understands the process.

“Everything is a lot more intense, the coaches expect more of you,” said Levy, whose father, Howard, starred at Princeton and is the head coach for the Mercer County Community College men’s hoops program.

“It is a lot tougher physically. Instead of a 6’2 person guarding me, I have 6’8 kids guarding me. Last year, I was one of the main players so coming off of that is a little tough.”

Levy is enjoying soaking in the wisdom of legendary F&M coach Glenn Robinson, the most victorious coach in NCAA Division III history with 863 wins.

“Coach Robinson has been around so long, he has got a system and he is a perfectionist,” said Levy. “He is a tough coach but when he is happy you know it.”

The team’s more experienced players have been helping Levy pick up Robinson’s system.

“We have a bunch of post players and they are good kids and they have taken me under their wing,” said Levy, who was exposed to some good players last summer when he helped the U.S. Junior Boys (ages 17-18) squad win the gold medal at the Maccabiah Games in Israel.

“The most dominant players on the team are in the post so I have been watching them carefully and picking things up from them.”

As the winter has gone on, Levy has been developing a comfort level. “I know what I need to work on to get better,” said Levy, who has made five appearances so far this season for the Diplomats and has a rebound and an assist in eight minutes of action.

“The coaches are excited about me, they have been giving me good feedback. Over the past few weeks, I have been feeling a lot more comfortable. During the winter break practices, I was playing well. I am getting more confident in my game.”

With the Diplomats having won eight of their last nine games to improve to 10-5 overall, Levy and his teammates are looking forward to some big games down the stretch.

“Everyone is confident,” said Levy. “We are still working hard because we don’t want to get overconfident.”

Levy, for his part, is dedicated to putting in the work to make himself a bigger contributor for F&M.

“The biggest thing for me is fighting for position in the post,” said Levy. “I need to move my feet better on defense. I need to get up and down the court quicker and guard better. I need to continue to lift and get stronger and faster. I have the basketball skills that are good enough to play.”

DOUBLE DUTY: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Matt Purdy powers to a win in the 200 freestyle last week as PHS topped Hightstown 105-65 on January 14. Senior star Purdy, who doubles as a star attackman for the PHS boys’ lacrosse team in the spring, also won the 100 breaststroke in the meet as the Little Tigers improved to 8-0. PHS will look to keep on the winning track as it swims at Nottingham on January 23 and then takes part in the Mercer County Championships from January 30 - February 1.                                                      (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DOUBLE DUTY: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Matt Purdy powers to a win in the 200 freestyle last week as PHS topped Hightstown 105-65 on January 14. Senior star Purdy, who doubles as a star attackman for the PHS boys’ lacrosse team in the spring, also won the 100 breaststroke in the meet as the Little Tigers improved to 8-0. PHS will look to keep on the winning track as it swims at Nottingham on January 23 and then takes part in the Mercer County Championships from January 30 – February 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Matt Purdy specializes in sprint events but he was happy to branch out as the  Princeton High boys’ swimming team hosted Hightstown last week.

Earning wins in the 200 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke, senior star Purdy helped PHS post a 105-65 win over the Rams.

“I am a sprinter, swimming more in the 50 and the 100 freestyle,” said Purdy, whose heroics helped PHS improve to 8-0.

“I think that one thing coach [Greg Hand] has emphasized is to focus on all different lengths of races to build overall endurance. The initial game plan was to build through the first 100 and then the biggest thing was to maintain in the third 50 and then give whatever you have left in the fourth 50. For the breaststroke race here, it was really just keeping the elbows high and maintaining a good solid stroke, even after doing the 50 free on the 200 relay.”

Purdy’s versatility, fitness, and knack for mastering technique has allowed him to accomplish a rare athletic double as he also stars for the PHS boys’ lacrosse team.

“I bet that there are very few swimmers and lacrosse players,” said Purdy, a high-scoring attackman for the Little Tigers in the spring who keeps up his stick skills during swimming season by playing in a winter lax league and teaching at a youth clinic.

“I would say going into lacrosse season every year, I have much better endurance than most people. Even though it is not running-based, the overall swimming  anaerobic and aerobic exercise really helps me build my lungs and control my heart rate. With lacrosse, specifically in the fall where we do our captains practices, which I run, because of our cross of cardio and lifting, I build  a good sense of strength and and endurance going into the swimming season.”

Since Purdy is not a full-time swimmer, he has gravitated to the shorter events in the pool.

“True swimmers who swim all year long have much better endurance but for me with my overall athleticism and also strength with going to the weightroom, what works best for me is the sprinting,” said Purdy. “I have learned and trained my body to really give that hard emphasis of energy for that short 50 or 100 in a race.”

Purdy will be expending plenty of energy this fall as he heads off to Tufts University where he is hoping to compete in both swimming and lacrosse.

“I am technically recruited for swimming, for sprinting and freestyle,” said Purdy. “I have talked to the lacrosse coaches and they have guided me to use swimming. They know I want to be both a swimmer and a lacrosse player. I am going have to walk on for a spot on the lacrosse team because it is much more competitive. It is my dream to play both.”

Purdy liked the competitive fire that PHS showed when it beat previously undefeated Notre Dame 112-58 on January 10.

“We seldom have the chance to put a lineup together that can really show our talents so Notre Dame was a great meet just to show everyone how a meet is going to have to be run going forward,” said Purdy, who took second on both the 50 and 100 free in the win over the Irish.

“I would say that is a great foundation for what we have to do in sectionals, counties, and states. I think that meet, in particular, really set the tone for the overall atmosphere that we have to maintain for the rest of the year.”

Purdy and his fellow seniors have set the tone for the Little Tigers, as they have helped PHS win three straight county titles and advance to the state Public B final four each season, having won the state title in 2012.

“The great thing is that we have been very, very fortunate through our four years to really experience a winning team,” said Purdy, whose classmates include Will Stange, Peter Kalibat, Colburn Yu, Scott MacKenzie, Matthew Tam, Eric Zhang, and Avery Soong.

“I think ever since freshman year, we have learned to maintain a positive attitude and demeanor, even in races and meets that may not be the highest of emphasis. Just from our experiences we really do know what it takes and I think with last year’s meet against Summit [an 87-83 loss in the state Public B semifinals] we know and have a bitter taste of what has to be done. It really does show that every millisecond does matter.”

PHS head coach Hand knows that Purdy will give whatever it takes to help PHS win.

“Matt is such an honest athlete, you always get best effort from him,” said Hand.

“He is constructively self critical; he doesn’t get on his own case. He works on his technique from video of himself and substantial video study this year of other great freestylers. When we swim a set that is asking him to give everything he has got, he always gives it.”

Hand certainly liked the effort he got from his squad in the win over Notre Dame.

“Our objectives were to get a high power point total for state seeding and to see what kind of energy we could create on the deck,” said Hand noting that PHS got good efforts in the win from such up and coming performers as junior Matt Shanahan, sophomore Steven Kratzer,  sophomore Alex Bank, sophomore Christian Chiang,  sophomore Dave Cohen, and a trio of freshmen,  Gabriel Bar-Cohen, Will Kinney, and Alex Petruso.

Sure we wanted to compete with Notre Dame; I want us to have this  sense that wherever we go, regardless of the opponent, we understand the importance of  creating the right atmosphere for competing. We succeeded on both of those. The meet was fast, so we have done whatever we could to be top seed in our section and who knows what will be coming out of the other sections.”

The Little Tigers will be looking to do their best at the upcoming county meet as the boys’ program goes for a fourth straight title.

“We pretty much know what our lineup is at this point,” said Hand. “We always want to make sure that the kids who have swum with us the longest and spend the most time in the water and who are most committed to training get to look at it and comment on it and talk about it and get comfortable with it. We want them to feel like it was their lineup and it is their job to do their best when counties come. Over the next couple of days we will nail that down and hopefully get everybody focused.”

Purdy, for his part, is confident that PHS will show plenty of focus when it counts the most.

“With the veteran sense we have now it is like how the great athletes have learned from being in playoff situations all the time,” said Purdy.

“They have learned what it takes to be champions and not just to say I made it to this level. All of our seniors, and every other grade, seldom do any talking. What does our talking is our swimming.”

MAKING A SPLASH: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Taylor Chiang heads to victory in the 200 individual medley last week in a 123-47 win over Hightstown on January 14. Senior star Chiang also won the 100 breaststroke as PHS improved to 8-0. The Little Tigers are slated to swim at Nottingham on January 23 before competing in the Mercer County Championships from January 30 - February 1.                                (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING A SPLASH: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Taylor Chiang heads to victory in the 200 individual medley last week in a 123-47 win over Hightstown on January 14. Senior star Chiang also won the 100 breaststroke as PHS improved to 8-0. The Little Tigers are slated to swim at Nottingham on January 23 before competing in the Mercer County Championships from January 30 – February 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Greg Hand has been doing some mixing and matching this winter with his Princeton High girls’ swim squad.

“It is a team where we have done a lot of experimenting,” said longtime PHS head coach Hand.

“We are well aware that we never compete in a single gender format in our league so we are not used to what state meets are going to bring to us. We want to prepare for the challenges of that format but we also want to make sure that we have fought through the spacing because what we can do now we may not be able to do very effectively when there isn’t an intervening boys’ meet.”

So far, Hand has found the right formula as PHS has gotten off to an 8-0 start.

“We have balance across the middle lane but we also have substantial amount of support from the ‘B’ lane and often the ‘C’ lane in a number of events,” said Hand.

“We are getting good second relays this year. The sense of purpose is evident, the focus on the postseason and what we are trying to do is growing.”

In a 123-47 win over Hightstown on January 14, the Little Tigers showed good focus as their supporting cast got to shine.

“Tonight’s meet was really fun because we got to see all the kids who are normally training here and having them handle the meet themselves,” said Hand.

“We wanted our club kids, those kids who would have an opportunity to be training tonight because there are so many dual meets that training gets fouled up.”

It has been fun for Hand to see how some of his experienced swimmers have progressed.

“We have seen a lot of great stuff recently from all of the kids who are veteran PHS swimmers, kids like Crystal An, Hannah Ash, Jessica Bai,” said Hand.

“Taylor Chiang is swimming club and she is swimming a lot of high school this year as well. She has done a great job and has made a steady contribution here on deck. Lindsey Lim is having a terrific year, shedding time and really has a racing  mentality this year. Cara Persico had a personal record at Notre Dame and had good swims tonight. Charlotte Singer is coming on really well in the breaststroke and she swam the 500 today.”

The team’s big four of sophomore Madeleine Deardorff, sophomore Brianna Romaine, freshman Jamie Liu and senior Belinda Liu, have all been having terrific seasons.

“Among the four kids who are the fastest group on our team, which is Madeleine, Brianna, Jamie and Belinda, it is an interesting challenge to think about what is best for them and for the team,” said Hand.

“One of the fun exercises is to look at the eight individual events in the county and the dual meet events and just look at the different ways to divide the kids.”

For Hand, dealing with the challenge of dividing up his swimmers makes him realize his good fortune in having so much talent at his disposal.

“We are just lucky that we are that the kids are so heavily into all of this,” added Hand.

“We are very fortunate to have had, for as many years as we have, the quality of swimmers we have had.”

PHS will be striving to produce even higher quality swims as it competes in the county championships from January 30 – February 1, looking for a second straight team title.

“It has been a terrific phase, the girls have power pointed a little

bit higher than last year already,” said Hand, whose team also has a regular season meet at Nottingham on January 23.

“We are building and having some new kids and having to search for the ways to make up for the really fine swimmers who graduated.  The girls are doing well, they are up a notch from where they have been.”

FOUR SCORE: Princeton High girls’ hockey star Lucy Herring heads up the ice in action last season. Last Wednesday, junior forward Herring scored all four goals as PHS topped Academy of New Church (Pa.) 4-1 to earn its first win of the season. The Little Tigers, now 1-7, play at the Hill School (Pa.) on January 22 before hosting a rematch with ANC on January 24 at Baker Rink.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FOUR SCORE: Princeton High girls’ hockey star Lucy Herring heads up the ice in action last season. Last Wednesday, junior forward Herring scored all four goals as PHS topped Academy of New Church (Pa.) 4-1 to earn its first win of the season. The Little Tigers, now 1-7, play at the Hill School (Pa.) on January 22 before hosting a rematch with ANC on January 24 at Baker Rink. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Christian Herzog had the sense that his Princeton High girls’ hockey team was ready to take care of business as it played at Academy of New Church (Pa.) last Wednesday.

“I heard some chatter on the back of the bus with some of the players saying ‘girls we need to be serious with this,’” said Herzog, whose team entered the game with a 0-6 record.

“We had a close game with them last year, we pulled the goalie and they got a late goal.”

ANC, though, got an early goal to take a 1-0 lead on Wednesday, leaving Herzog with a bad feeling.

“When we fell behind, I was a little concerned,” said Herzog. “I was thinking are we going to let another one slip away.”

Instead, the sister act of Lucy and Maggie Herring triggered the offense as PHS seized the momentum and pulled away to a 4-1 victory. Junior star Lucy scored all four Little Tiger goals while freshman standout Maggie assisted on three of the tallies.

“The Herrings are really good about looking for each other,” said Herzog. “Lucy played incredibly; she has the skill set. I have been telling her to break more towards the center of the ice and she did that against ANC.”

The Herrings helped execute Herzog’s offensive strategy. “We were keeping it deep in their zone,” said Herzog, who got two assists from junior forward Isabelle Sohn in the victory with junior defenseman Julia DiTosto adding another helper as PHS outshot ANC 48-8.

“Once the Herrings realized one could go behind the net and they could play keep away, we really clicked.”

Herzog noted that sophomore forward Sophia Corrodi has been helping the PHS offense click.

“Corrodi is a figure skater and she is playing for Nassau,” said Herzog “She is getting the game, all credit to her. She is playing every other shift. While other girls are sucking wind, she is ready to go.”

Sophomore goalie Callie Urisko was ready for the challenge last Wednesday.

“Urisko played well, she has been coming out and playing the puck more,” said Herzog.

With PHS having not won a game against a varsity foe since December, 2011, the Little Tigers let loose with an outpouring of emotion when it was all over.

“After the game, the girls celebrated like they won the Stanley Cup,” said Herzog. “The gloves and sticks were flying.”

While PHS fell 9-1 to Summit on Friday, Herzog feels the breakthrough win will be a confidence builder for the Little Tigers.

“That’s the hope,” said Herzog. “The girls were so excited. We had a little bit of a letdown against Summit.”

Herzog believes his team will be up for another big effort when the Little Tigers host a rematch with ANC on January 24 at Baker Rink on the campus of Princeton University.

“We have senior night on Friday,” said Herzog, whose team also has a road game at the Hill School (Pa.) on January 22. “The girls are hoping for our biggest crowd in years.”

TOUGH GOING: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Callahan O’Meara looks to pass the ball in recent action. Last Friday, senior co-captain O’Meara scored a team-high 12 points in a losing cause as PHS fell 62-47 at WW/P-N. The Little Tigers, who dropped to 2-7 with the defeat, play at Nottingham on January 23 and at Notre Dame on January 25 before hosting Hopewell Valley on January 28.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TOUGH GOING: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Callahan O’Meara looks to pass the ball in recent action. Last Friday, senior co-captain O’Meara scored a team-high 12 points in a losing cause as PHS fell 62-47 at WW/P-N. The Little Tigers, who dropped to 2-7 with the defeat, play at Nottingham on January 23 and at Notre Dame on January 25 before hosting Hopewell Valley on January 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It looked all too familiar for Princeton High boys’ basketball head coach Mark Shelley as the clock ticked toward zero last Friday night at WW/P-N.

Playing its sixth game in nine days, his squad kept it close for the first 20 minutes but wilted down the stretch in a 62-47 loss to the Knights.

Once again, it was the mental errors and lack of execution that kept the Little Tigers from earning a victory, according to Shelley.

“We didn’t follow our scouting report well enough,” said Shelley, now in his second year at the helm of the program.

“Their kid who scored 24 points (Juwan Harrison), we talked about how he always goes right and we weren’t funneling him to his left so you know those little things that we call mental errors, we’re not good enough to beat people if we make too many mistakes like that.”

Harrison penetrated into the teeth of the Little Tigers defense all evening, converting on nine field goals with every bucket coming in the paint.

“One person not being in the right defensive alignment breaks down everything and we’re not talented enough to do that so we must have a cohesive five player effort,” added Shelley, whose team dropped to 2-7 with the loss.

With starting point guard Paul Murray nursing a separated shoulder and backup Max Tarter still fighting sickness, junior point guard J.C. Silva was inserted into the starting lineup for a second straight game and continued to play well in an expanded role. Silva gave the Little Tigers an early boost, knocking down two three-pointers in the opening quarter and bringing defensive pressure as PHS battled to a two-point halftime deficit, trailing 25-23 at the break.

“He’s grown up a lot,” said Shelley of Silva who scored a season-high 11 points in a 69-55 win at Leap Academy last Wednesday. “He’s scoring better; we had not been getting many points from the point guard position so that was good, we need that.”

Harrison’s breakaway dunk midway through the third quarter had the WW/P-N student crowd in an uproar but the Little Tigers stayed under control and a Peter Mahotiere layup cut North’s lead to 33-31. But the Little Tigers seemed to run out of gas late in the period, particularly on the defensive end, as the Knights closed the quarter on a 10-2 run to extend their lead to 43-33 heading into the final stanza.

WW-PN carried the momentum into the fourth quarter and pulled away for the victory.

“We cooled off (offensively). I don’t think we ball-faked real well,” Shelley said. “We were trying to go short corner, mid-post and overload a side but a lot of times we weren’t patient enough and rushed a shot before we let the cutters come through. When we did reverse the ball, we got good looks.”

Senior forward Callahan O’Meara led PHS in scoring for the second straight contest, notching 12 points and hitting the defensive glass for the Little Tigers. Two days earlier, he led five PHS players in double figures with 17 points in the victory at Leap Academy, which snapped a six-game losing skid for the Little Tigers.

“I feel like we get in certain funks and stretches during the game where we’re not playing well and the other team is taking advantage of it,” said co-captain O’Meara. “It’s a lot of little things we aren’t doing right which all adds up in the end.”

O’Meara can often be seen vigorously communicating with his teammates on the court and his intensity was on display in the loss to the Knights.

“I took it upon myself to be someone who’s not afraid to lay into other kids on the team,” said O’Meara, who scored five points as PHS opened the week with a hard fought 54-47 home loss to WW/P-S on January 14. “I’m just trying to get everyone to work their hardest and give 100 percent every second they’re on the floor.”

Despite the 2-7 record, O’Meara believes PHS can still turn it around if it comes together and plays as a team at all times.

“We need to work on chemistry as a team on offense,” asserted O’Meara. “Most of the games have turned into one-on-one stuff and there’s no moving off the ball and there’s no setting screens off the ball so I think that’s what we need to emphasize the most on. I think we can make a push and definitely make a run; hopefully we’ll be able to qualify for the state playoffs.”

The Little Tigers must turn it around quickly with seven more games on the horizon over the next two weeks.

“My biggest job as a coach right now is one, fundamentals, correcting what we can correct, improving both individually and collectively, and the second issue is the mental approach,” said Shelley, whose team plays at Nottingham on January 23 and at Notre Dame on January 25 before hosting Hopewell Valley on January 28.

“After a while you lose a couple close games, games you feel like  you should have won and then their heads get down so our job is to work on the attitude and momentum, keeping their heads up.”

RED LETTER DAY: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Sean Timmons moves the puck in recent action. Last Wednesday, Timmons chipped in a goal and two assists as PDS defeated Lawrenceville 6-3. It was the Panthers’ first win over the Big Red since the 2000-01 season. PDS, now 7-3-1, hosts LaSalle Prep (Pa.) on January 22 and Chatham High on January 24 before playing at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RED LETTER DAY: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Sean Timmons moves the puck in recent action. Last Wednesday, Timmons chipped in a goal and two assists as PDS defeated Lawrenceville 6-3. It was the Panthers’ first win over the Big Red since the 2000-01 season. PDS, now 7-3-1, hosts LaSalle Prep (Pa.) on January 22 and Chatham High on January 24 before playing at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Sean Timmons is the top sniper for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team but he has been misfiring since the calendar turned to January.

“It has been a while since I have scored,” said senior forward and team captain Timmons.

“Bert [PDS head coach Scott Bertoli] puts a lot of pressure on our top six forwards to put the puck into the net.”

With PDS mired in a two-game losing streak and hosting Lawrenceville last Wednesday, the Panthers knew that they had to put a lot of pucks in the net if they were going to get their first win over the Big Red since the 2000-01 season.

Timmons helped PDS put the pressure on Lawrenceville as he assisted on a Gabe Castagna goal that gave the Panthers an early 1-0 lead and got the packed house at McGraw Rink roaring.

Early in the second period, Timmons helped set up a Kyle Weller goal as PDS extended its lead to 3-1. Minutes later, Timmons took matters into his own hands, flying down the ice and blasting a one-timer into the top corner of the net.

“I couldn’t have asked for better timing and a better chance,” said Timmons reflecting on his tally.

“I had the whole top of the net. My teammates have been giving me grief the past three weeks, saying I can’t hit the net. If I had missed the net, I would have skated off the ice.”

Instead, Timmons skated over to the jammed PDS student section and pounded the glass in celebration.

“We don’t play for ourselves, we play for the crest on our jersey,” said Timmons.

“They are our biggest supporters so we have to make it fun for them because we are playing for our school.”

Timmons’ tally turned out to be the game-winner as PDS pulled away to a sweet 6-3 triumph over the Big Red, improving to 7-3-1 on the season.

For Timmons and his teammates, it was critical to get that early lead over the Big Red.

“Before the game, Bert said that in the past two years, they had scored in the first five minutes of the game so we took that to heart and we knew that the first goal definitely had to be ours,” said Timmons, noting that PDS had tied Lawrenceville two seasons ago before losing by one goal last year on a tally in the waning seconds of the contest. “Once that first one went in for us, we weren’t letting up.”

Timmons acknowledged that last year’s loss to the Big Red provided further motivation for the Panthers.

“We are a totally different team from last year and we have got to play 100 percent different from what we did last year,” said Timmons.

“Everyone who was in the locker room that was on the team last year still had that in them. All the new guys were at the game or they saw it on YouTube. Everyone knew what had to be done and we had to play 100 percent to beat them.”

PDS helped ensure a different outcome as they blitzed Lawrenceville in the second period, outscoring the Big Red 4-1.

“We came out great but there was a little doubt, there were jitters going everywhere,” said Timmons.

“Going into the second period up 2-1, we said in the locker room that we know how to beat this team. We have to just keep going and everyone rallied for each other.”

For Timmons and his fellow veterans, there was the sense that PDS’s winless streak against Lawrenceville was finally going to end.

“We were talking yesterday and I said to Bert, the guys that have been here have played them twice already and we have tied them and lost to them so we better win this time,” said Timmons.

“It is destiny, you just knew it had to happen and Bert said ‘exactly right, it is your time.’ When the schedule comes out, everyone circles this game on the calendar. It is the biggest game of the year and it means so much to both schools. We are so honored to finally have the ‘W’ on our side.”

In the the view of PDS head coach Bertoli, the big win came down to his players staying in the moment.

“I think our approach was a little different this year,” said Bertoli. “We talked about not worrying about the result at the end of the game and not getting so caught up in the environment and the atmosphere. We are not supposed to win this game. The pressure isn’t on us, we are a small little day school that happens to have a pretty good hockey program. We were the better team last year and we didn’t win the game and I think it was because we got out of synch and we kept watching the scoreboard and we were down. I think it was huge for us to get the first goal and play in front.”

While the Panthers’ opportunistic finishing drew the applause on Wednesday, Bertoli credited some tough defensive work with paving the way to victory.

“Their top line is very, very good, the best line we are going to play against all year,” said Bertoli.

“I am proud of the way that Connor Fletcher, John Egner,  Lewie Blackburn, C.J. Young,  and Andrew Clayton played. Those five guys were given the tall order of shutting those guys down and they were great in the 5-on-5.”

Bertoli enjoyed his team’s great second period effort, which ended with the PDS students gleefully chanting “domination, domination.”

“I think part of that is having them getting frustrated,” said Bertoli, who got goals from Egner, Blackburn, and Fletcher in addition to the tallies by Timmons, Castagna and Weller with Clayton chipping in four assists.

“We made it hard on them and not everyone is willing to battle through and fight through adversity and we made it a point to make it hard on their top line. They unraveled a little bit and took penalties and our power play cashed in.”

Over the last 18 minutes of the contest, the Panthers weathered a storm in holding off a desperate Big Red squad.

“Third periods have kind of been our achilles heels of late,” said Bertoli, who got 30 saves from freshman goalie Logan Kramsky. “We knew they were going to come out and score a goal and make a push and we responded. I thought we did a good job of matching that.”

After surviving the third period, the Panthers players mobbed each other on the ice as the student fans roared their approval.

“You can tell how excited those guys are, it was fun,” said Bertoli. “For these guys, it was about enjoying the moment and playing the game the right way and being responsible defensively and we did that.”

In Bertoli’s view, the breakthrough against Lawrenceville should give the Panthers some extra momentum as they head down the home stretch of their schedule.

“We are a good hockey team when we have everyone in the lineup,” asserted Bertoli, whose team hosts LaSalle Prep (Pa.) on January 22 and Chatham High on January 24 before playing at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 27.

“We have been  missing some key pieces for a while now. It is the first time we have had everyone back for six weeks. If we play like this, we are going to have a successful year.”

Timmons, for his part, echoed Bertoli’s analysis. “Going forward, Bert said this is the best team we are going to play,” said Timmons. “If we play like that every game, the sky is the limit honestly.”

KILLER BEES: Hun School boys’ hockey player Evan Barratt controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, freshman forward Barratt contributed three assists as Hun pulled out a 4-3 win over St. Joe’s (Pa.). Barratt’s linemates and fellow freshmen, Jon Bendorf and Blake Brown, each scored two goals in the win with Brown getting the game-winner in the last minute of the contest. Hun, now 11-5, plays at Germantown Academy (Pa.) on January 22 and at St. Augustine Prep on January 24 before facing Pennington on January 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

KILLER BEES: Hun School boys’ hockey player Evan Barratt controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, freshman forward Barratt contributed three assists as Hun pulled out a 4-3 win over St. Joe’s (Pa.). Barratt’s linemates and fellow freshmen, Jon Bendorf and Blake Brown, each scored two goals in the win with Brown getting the game-winner in the last minute of the contest. Hun, now 11-5, plays at Germantown Academy (Pa.) on January 22 and at St. Augustine Prep on January 24 before facing Pennington on January 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It didn’t take long for freshmen Jon Bendorf and Evan Barratt to feel at home as they joined the Hun School boys’ hockey team this winter.

“They welcomed us right away,” said Bendorf, referring to the squad’s veteran players.

“I knew a couple of kids before coming in and they introduced me and Evan to everyone else on the team and we just bonded right away.”

On the ice, Bendorf, Barratt, and fellow freshman Blake Brown have bonded as they were put together on the same line in the preseason.

“It has been a lot of fun going to the Hun School and playing with Jon and Blake,” said Barratt,

“We were clicking right away; it was awesome. We have definitely brought the scoring.”

Last Friday, the trio of freshmen certainly brought the scoring as Hun pulled out a 4-3 win over St. Joe’s (Pa.).

Brown scored Hun’s first goal as the Raiders tied the game at 1-1 early in the second period. In the waning moments of the period, Bendorf tallied two shorthanded goals, the second assisted by Barratt, as Hun took a 3-1 lead into the final period.

In the third, St. Joe’s rallied to knot the game at 3-3 but with less than a minute left in regulation, Bendorf found Brown in the crease and the latter banged home the feed with 50 seconds left to give the Raiders a dramatic victory.

In Barratt’s view, Brown’s second period tally changed the tone of the contest.

“That was a huge goal for us, we weren’t getting very much in the first period,” said Barratt. “He puts it in and all the momentum goes toward us.”

Bendorf helped Hun build on that momentum as he turned a late penalty kill into his personal showcase. He scored with 2:34 left in the period when he stole the puck from the St. Joe’s goalie and calmly maneuvered his way into the crease and dumped the puck into the empty net.

“I was trying to cut off the angle for the goalie to pass the puck and he ended up putting it right on my tape and I got it in the net,” recalled Bendorf.

On the second shorthanded goal 30 seconds later, Bendorf deftly buried a feed from Barratt.

“I just saw Jon going hard to the net and I was trying to make the d-men make a move first and just slide it over and he put it in,” said Barratt.

On the game-winning goal, Bendorf became the playmaker, setting up Brown in the crease.

“It was a great pass by Evan to find me over there and then I just saw Blake coming around the net,” said Bendorf.

“I tried to get it over there and I knew he was going to finish right when I got it over to him.”

In Bendorf’s view, the dramatic finish could be a turning point for the Raiders.

“We have had some tough times with the tougher opponents that we have played against so that was a big win,” said Bendorf. “Hopefully it sparks something and we can roll a couple of wins here.”

Hun head coach Ian McNally knew his team was in for a tough test against St. Joe’s as the squads had met over the holiday season in the semifinals of the Purple Puck tournament in Washington D.C. with the Raiders prevailing in a shootout.

“We are pretty evenly matched I think, both games were very physical and a little mean-spirited,” said McNally, whose team improved to 11-5 with the victory in the rematch.

“Both teams were referencing the last game throughout this game so there was a carryover. We expected that. We were missing a couple of kids at the Purple Puck and I think they were too so this was a better, faster hockey game.”

The Raiders produced one of their better stretches of the season when Bendorf scored the two shorthanded goals within a 30-second span.

“We were kind of frustrated because that was our third penalty in a row and just to have a momentum blitz like that was great,” said McNally. “That penalty kill obviously changed the whole game.”

Adding the trio of Bendorf, Barratt, and Brown has changed things for the Raiders.

“In week two we put those three together and we have tinkered here or there with other ones but those three are here for good,” said McNally.

“They just move the puck very well and they knew each other and have played together before. They all just went to an all-star game together for their bantam league.”

While the freshmen may have been the offensive stars of the win, McNally tipped his hat to senior goalie Devin Cheifetz and senior defenseman Brad Stern.

“I think Devin played really well today; I think his best two games so far have been these guys in the tournament and then here today,” asserted McNally.

“It was good for him to show up in a big way. We have all of this dynamic offensive talent; it is going to come in spurts so what we need is for him to be able to hold the fort for 10 minutes. When he does that people feed off of it and we get going a little bit. I thought Brad Stern played really solid back there. He was a little more physical than he usually is. He helped save a couple of goals in the d-zone so that was good.”

In McNally’s view, the victory was a good preview for next month when the Raiders will be competing in three tournaments, the Independence Hockey League playoffs, the Mercer County Tournament, and the state Prep tourney.

“We talked about the difference today between learning how to lose and learning how to win,” said McNally, whose team plays at Germantown Academy (Pa.) on January 22 and at St. Augustine Prep on January 24 before facing Pennington on January 27.

“Any time we have been challenged, we have lost by a goal and that starts to become your mentality after a while so today was exactly what we were talking about. If we get in that situation and inevitably we did and we were able to actually learn how to win. Any time we are in a situation like this, we are practicing for February. We were in trouble and we were able to go through adversity.”

Bendorf, for his part, believes the Raiders could cause their foes a lot of trouble come tourney time.

“It is definitely going to be challenging,” said Bendorf. “I feel like we are getting better and by the time we get to the playoffs, we are going to be a really tough team to beat.”

January 15, 2014
PASSING LANE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Mary ­Sutton looks to pass the ball last Saturday in PHS’s 58-23 loss to visiting Ewing. The Little Tigers, now 0-6, host WW/P-N on January 17 before playing at Lawrence on January 21.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

PASSING LANE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Mary ­Sutton looks to pass the ball last Saturday in PHS’s 58-23 loss to visiting Ewing. The Little Tigers, now 0-6, host WW/P-N on January 17 before playing at Lawrence on January 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Princeton High girls’ basketball team suffered a lopsided defeat to Ewing last Saturday to remain winless on the season, Dan Van Hise believes his squad is headed in the right direction.

“I don’t think the girls realize how far they have come in the last few weeks,” said first-year PHS head coach Van Hise, whose team lost 41-35 to Hamilton on January 7 and fell 49-32 to Steinert on Thursday before its 58-23 defeat to the Blue Devils on Saturday.

“We haven’t taken the hardest step. The chemistry is great and the effort is great. They are really buying in but they have to do the little things.”

In Van Hise’s view, PHS has to step up things on the boards and on the defensive end.

“We need to rebound better; we could have beaten Hamilton but they killed us on the boards,” said Van Hise, whose team fell to 0-6 with its loss to Ewing.

“We can practice boxing out all the time but it is a want thing. We need to have better defensive communication. When we go back on defense we need to know who is guarding who. It is deflating when you get it down to six or eight and the other team comes down and scores because you didn’t know who you were guarding.”

A bright spot for the Little Tigers has been the play of the squad’s starting guards, sophomore Julia Ryan and junior Mary Sutton.

“Julia was feeling a lot of pressure in the first few games; she knows she has to be one of two or three main players and that is hard as a sophomore,” said Van Hise.

“She had a good game against Robbinsville, scoring 12 points and that led into the Hamilton game where she had 16. She and Mary feel most comfortable staying outside on the perimeter. We are getting zones thrown at us so they have to start going to the basket. We are pushing them to do that. The guards are the strength of our team.”

Van Hise is looking for stronger play from his frontcourt, starting with senior Liz Jacobs and junior Bryanna Blue.

“Liz is coming on a little bit; she is starting to be calm in the post and is learning the game,” said Van Hise of Jacobs, who had a team-high seven points in the loss to Ewing.

“We need her to rebound better. She is aggressive on the offensive end when she has the ball but she doesn’t look to do that when she doesn’t have the ball or she is on the defensive end. Bryanna Blue is one of the other girls off the bench. We are going to start playing her and Liz more together. We are going to try some high post/low post stuff. Bryanna has a world of potential. She has a nice soft touch, she just needs to catch the ball better.”

In Van Hise’s view, getting a victory will help PHS get more out of its potential.

“They are starting to play good enough basketball to win against most of the teams that we play,” said Van Hise, whose team is slated to host WW/P-N
on January 17 before playing at Lawrence on January 21.

“They are holding their heads up. They don’t know how to win or how it feels. It will happen and I think it will make a big difference.”

PRESSURE POINT: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Ford Schneider, right, puts on the defensive pressure. Last Friday, senior star Schneider scored 12 points in a losing cause as PDS fell 49-45 to Timothy Christian. The Panthers, now 1-7, play at Rutgers Prep on January 16 before hosting Steinert on January 18.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

PRESSURE POINT: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Ford Schneider, right, puts on the defensive pressure. Last Friday, senior star Schneider scored 12 points in a losing cause as PDS fell 49-45 to Timothy Christian. The Panthers, now 1-7, play at Rutgers Prep on January 16 before hosting Steinert on January 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ford Schneider is looking to bring more to the table this winter in his senior season with the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team.

“I worked a lot in the off season on just getting stronger and finishing at the rim,” said 6’3 senior forward Schneider.

“My shot has always been a strength of mine so I knew that was going to be there. It was just about rounding out my game as a whole. It is our last year and for some of us it is our last year playing ball so it seems like it is the time for me to step up and show what I can do.”

With PDS trailing Timothy Christian 45-36 early in the fourth quarter last Friday, Schneider stepped up, hitting a three-pointer to start a rally that saw the Panthers whittle the lead down to 46-45 with 37.5 seconds remaining in regulation. PDS, though, didn’t score again falling 49-45 as it dropped to 1-7.

Schneider acknowledged that it took awhile for the Panthers to find their rhythm in the contest.

“I think we came out almost a little too hyped,” said Schneider, reflecting on a night which saw PDS fall behind 20-14 by the end of the first quarter. “We were all excited to get out there and play and we were just out of sorts on both sides of the floor.”

In the second quarter, PDS got in a groove as it outscored Timothy Christian 15-7 to take a 29-27 lead into halftime. Schneider scored seven points in the quarter, including a three-pointer in the waning seconds which put the Panthers up going into intermission.

“That’s just about getting into the flow of the game and we just settled down a little bit,” said Schneider, who ended up with 12 points on the night.

“Our shots started to fall and we started to get some steals. I missed a few in the first quarter. My teammates and my coaches always tell me to keep shooting; it started to fall for me.”

In Schneider’s view, PDS lost the game on the offensive end. “We had one of the worst shooting nights,” said Schneider.

“Our defense really wasn’t that bad. Obviously we have to finish at the rim a lot better. If we hit our layups we win tonight by 15 or 20 points because we missed at least 10.”

Despite misfiring, the Panthers battled to the final whistle. “We are not a team that ever gives up, we have been in bigger holes than that and we keep battling,” said Schneider. “The one thing I know about our team is that we are always going to battle.”

The team will need to utilize that spirit as it looks to get on the winning track.

“Frustration always sets in if you are 1-7; I think that we are all fed up with losing,” said Schneider. “I think that is more motivation.”

PDS head coach Paris McLean was frustrated to see his team come up short as it looked to build on its 62-25 win over Moorestown Friends earlier in the week.

“It has got to come down to consistency and balance, we just talked about that,” said McLean.

They scored 20 points on us in the first and the next three quarters, it was 7,13,7. We played great defensively for three quarters. We didn’t shoot well tonight. We got to the basket a lot but just missed layups. We made some silly fouls down the stretch. We didn’t show composure under pressure.”

PDS, though, hasn’t shied away from the pressure despite having such key players as senior guards Langston Glaude and Deante Cole sidelined at various points of the season due to injury.

“This team has battled night in, night out, every single game,” asserted McLean.

“If you don’t think we are coming to play and coming to battle, you are wrong. We just keep fighting and scrapping. It is just tough to string together some victories right now.”

In McLean’s view, the team has what it takes to start coming up with some victories.

“We won the game Monday, there were a lot of bright spots today,” said McLean.

“Individual defense looked good, team defense looked good. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well. We had some individual highlights. I thought Chris [Okorodudu] played well tonight. Ford has consistently been playing well. There has been plenty of individual highlights.”

Despite the disappointing record, the Panthers haven’t been hanging their heads.

“Spirits are high, guys are working hard,” said McLean, whose team plays at Rutgers Prep on January 16 before hosting Steinert on January 18.

“Guys are showing up to practice and that’s what you get from having nine or 10 seniors. They have been around so there is that commitment from them and all the guys on the team.”

Schneider, for his part, believes the Panthers have shown a deeper commitment as the season has gone on.

“I think the biggest thing that I see is the energy,” said Schneider. “We are playing with a renewed sense of determination.”

TALL ORDER: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player ­Isabel Meyercord dribbles upcourt last Friday against Stuart Country Day. Sophomore center Meyercord chipped in seven points as PDS lost 33-28 to the Tartans. The Panthers, now 0-5, play at Villa Victoria Academy on January 17.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TALL ORDER: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player ­Isabel Meyercord dribbles upcourt last Friday against Stuart Country Day. Sophomore center Meyercord chipped in seven points as PDS lost 33-28 to the Tartans. The Panthers, now 0-5, play at Villa Victoria Academy on January 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In mid-December, the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team opened its season by losing 48-21 at Stuart Country Day School.

Last Friday, the local rivals met in a rematch and round two turned out to be much different as PDS showed how much it has improved in a matter of a few weeks.

Trailing by just 19-15 at halftime, the Panthers narrowed the margin to one point twice in the waning moments of the contest before succumbing 33-28.

Although his team remained winless with the setback, first-year PDS head coach Kamau Bailey grinned broadly as assessed his players’ performance.

“I am just really impressed and really proud of my girls today,” said Bailey. “Every game we are getting better. We have been playing a lot in practice and doing player development stuff. All the girls are getting better and I think today was a testament to the work they have been putting in.”

In narrowing the gap with the Tartans, Bailey had his players speed things up.

“I wanted to push the tempo,” said Bailey. “The last time we played, we let them control the tempo. This time out, I wanted to control the tempo and I think we did that. They weren’t allowed to set up and get into their stuff very well.”

PDS utilized pressure defense to disrupt Stuart. “I implemented this press that I used to run in high school and it caused them problems,” explained Bailey.

“In the first game that we played we tried to run the press but everyone was in the wrong place and everyone was trying to figure out where to be so it wasn’t effective. We did it everyday in practice and it’s starting to work now. We are going to continue to use that and get better at it.”

As a result, PDS nearly pulled out the game, drawing to within 27-26 and 29-28 in the last four minutes of regulation.

“We just couldn’t get over the hump, we missed some easy baskets that we probably should have made,” said Bailey, reflecting on his team’s play down the stretch.

“I think they were a little fatigued at the end and that is probably why we missed some of those buckets. They fight hard, we had a shot to win it.”

Sophomore center Isabel Meyercord fought hard in the paint for the Panthers.

“She is tall, she gets in everyone’s face and puts up her hands a lot,” said Bailey of the 6’1 Meyercord, who had seven points and was a disruptive force inside.

“She is really athletic and agile. She can get up and down the court pretty fast which is helpful to us and she causes a lot of problems for big girls.”

Meyercord’s classmate, guard/forward Hope Anhut caused problems for Stuart with her scrappy play, chipping in six points.

“Hope is someone who didn’t play a lot in the first game because she was just coming off an injury,” said Bailey, whose tam fell 56-18 to Pennington last Monday to drop to 0-5.

“She has stepped up a lot in the last week. She made some clutch plays, a lot of steals, she was aggressive on the ball.”

Freshman guard Shayla Stevenson has been stepping up for the Panthers.

“She is getting over some nerves,” said Bailey of Stevenson, who tallied seven points in the loss to the Tartans. “I had to tell her that the weight of the team was not on her shoulders. She is a freshman and I just want to bring her along the right way.”

In Bailey’s view, time is on the side of his youthful squad. “The thing is we are not as good as I want us to be but we are young,” said Bailey, whose team is at Villa Victoria Academy on January 17.

“The girls are all freshmen and sophomores by next year and the next couple years coming, I like our chances. I am happy, this is good stuff that is happening here at this school.”

FORWARD MOVEMENT: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Mimi Matthews controls the puck in a game last winter. Senior star Matthews has been a key contributor for the Panthers this winter as she has moved back to forward after playing at defenseman as a junior. PDS, now 7-3-1, hosts the Hill School (Pa.) on January 15 and Rye Country Day (N.Y.) on January 17 before playing at Upland Country Day (Pa.) on January 21.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FORWARD MOVEMENT: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Mimi Matthews controls the puck in a game last winter. Senior star Matthews has been a key contributor for the Panthers this winter as she has moved back to forward after playing at defenseman as a junior. PDS, now 7-3-1, hosts the Hill School (Pa.) on January 15 and Rye Country Day (N.Y.) on January 17 before playing at Upland Country Day (Pa.) on January 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last winter, Mimi Matthews made the best of the situation as she was moved to defense from her natural forward position in her junior season with the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team.

“I think when I was on defense it was definitely a learning experience and it was really good for me,” said Matthews.

“I know how to skate backwards really well and I think that is one of my stronger suits because I used to figure skate and that is where that came from.”

This year, Matthews has come back to forward as a senior and is feeling at home.

“I feel a lot more comfortable knowing where I am and just in general playing the game,” said Matthews.

Last Wednesday against visiting Morristown-Beard, Matthews showed her comfort level at forward, tallying a third period goal on a top-shelf blast to bring PDS within 2-1.

“I have really been working hard in practice on just seeing the net and not so much shooting at the goalie because that is something that I have struggled with,” said Matthews.

“As a freshman and a sophomore, I would give the puck away and pass it to someone for a shot. Now I am learning that I can take the shot. I can probably score because I do have a pretty good shot.”

While PDS couldn’t close the deal against the Crimson as it fell 3-1, Matthews saw the game as a step in the right direction for the Panthers.

“Our team was really fired up; obviously we didn’t come out as strong as we could have in the first period,” said Matthews.

“I think by the middle of the second period, we definitely got something going. It’s always a hard game against Mo-Beard. This is the closest we have been so I am really proud of them.”

In Matthews’ view, the PDS players have developed a closeness that is a major asset for the team.

“Everybody at the beginning of the year was so fired up to work with each other,” said Matthews.

“Right after the first few practices, everyone was really psyched up to just be on the team and be with each other. I am really, really excited to be playing with every one of these girls.”

PDS head coach Lorna Gifis Cook is excited by the effort she is getting from Matthews and linemates Abby Sharer and Emma Stillwaggon.

“Mimi’s whole line battles really hard,” said Cook. “I think it starts with the wingers, Emma and Abby, who are smaller players but are really aggressive. Mimi just feeds off of that and she is the one who is going to have more of a knack of taking it to the net and putting pucks in the net. It is funny, I talked to her at practice yesterday because she has been doing really well all week putting pucks in corners and I told her I am expecting one out of you tomorrow and there you go, she is one that scored.”

Freshman goalie Annika Asplundh did really well to keep PDS in the Mo-Beard game as the Panther were outshot 48-6 on the evening.

“She was always in position for their shots,” said Cook. “Some of their shots weren’t great but she was still right there and to control those rebounds was another huge thing. It is putting them in the corners and making sure that they don’t get extra chances. She certainly kept us in the game, no question. We knew going in that she would have to do that a little bit for us. I was hoping it was not going to be so much.”

In Cook’s view, the defeat to Mo-Beard showed that PDS has to generate more scoring chances.

“I am disappointed that we didn’t win but I think I am more disappointed that we only got six shots,” said Cook.

“It is one of those where we are still moving forward. It is a stepping stone for sure. We are going to look at it as a chance to get better.”

Over the weekend, PDS did play better, going 1-1-1 in three games at the Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, Pa. The Panthers had a 3-3 tie and a 4-0 loss in games with the hosts on Saturday before winning 6-3 on Sunday against Holton Arms (Md.) to move to 7-3-1.

Matthews, for her part, is looking forward to the rest of the season. “I just want to enjoy it while I can; I am definitely going to be sad when I am not at PDS next year,” said Matthews, who is heading to Middlebury College in the fall.

“I am just trying to make the most out of this year and this season because we have a good chance at a lot of different big games. I think this team can go places. It has just really been fun, hockey practice is the highlight of my day, just being on the ice.”

MASTER CLASS: Hun School girls’ basketball player Erica Brown, left, looks to get around a foe in a recent game. Last Thursday, senior guard Brown scored 12 points to help Hun top Mastery Charter (Pa.) 56-39. The Raiders, now 4-5, host Blair Academy on January 15 before playing at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on January 18 and at Life Center Academy on January 21.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MASTER CLASS: Hun School girls’ basketball player Erica Brown, left, looks to get around a foe in a recent game. Last Thursday, senior guard Brown scored 12 points to help Hun top Mastery Charter (Pa.) 56-39. The Raiders, now 4-5, host Blair Academy on January 15 before playing at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on January 18 and at Life Center Academy on January 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Erica Brown and her teammates on the Hun School girls’ basketball team, their lopsided loss to Lawrenceville last Wednesday prompted some soul-searching as they prepared to host Mastery Charter (Pa.) a day later.

“We had a tough loss last night,” said senior forward Brown reflecting on the 54-29 defeat to the Big Red.

“Even in school, off the court, we were in ourselves. We just wanted to go out there and play hard and play the best that we can. Our main goal was to go out there and play hard and be ourselves. We weren’t hitting many shots yesterday. We really wanted to put the ball in the basket today.”

With Brown setting the tone with her aggressive play, Hun put up a lot of baskets against Mastery, jumping out to a 31-17 halftime lead on the way to a 56-39 victory.

“We were moving the ball well today,” said Brown, who scored 12 points to lead Hun along with freshman center Clare Maloney.

“Yesterday we weren’t hitting shots so we couldn’t rely on one person. Today we all went out there and we all had to play hard and do it for the team. We couldn’t play for ourselves.”

Hun has been forced to come together even more as a team in the wake of a knee injury to star center Johnnah Johnson, who is sidelined indefinitely.

“Once Johnnah got hurt, we really had to buckle down and our inside game had to be strong,” said Brown.

“Clare really had to be strong and she is doing well, filling some big shoes. She has to play hard and be strong inside.”

Brown, for her part, is looking to buckle down at both ends of the floor. “I really have to help get the rebounds on defense and make sure that we can push the ball,” said Brown.

“We have to play hard on the defensive end. Offensively we have to see the court. I like pushing the ball; the fast break is one of my strong suits, I like getting the ball up the court but I can settle down and run a play if we need to. Usually I just tell the girls to run and I will get the ball out to you. I grab the rebound and I will push it; that is our transition game.”

In Brown’s view, closing the deal against Mastery bodes well for the Raiders.

“We had some really close losses and our main thing was we have been up a lot at halftime and we want to make sure that we didn’t lose that lead,” said Brown.

“Sometimes we get a little lackadaisical when we are up by a lot and today at halftime, it was we are up and we need to stay up. There is nothing guaranteeing our win.”

Hun head coach Bill Holup sees the win over Mastery as a step forward for his squad.

“It is definitely important and with Johnnah out we don’t have overall depth so the other girls have to step up,” said Holup.

“Like today, for example,  Maura Kelly did a terrific job, she grabbed some rebounds and was active defensively. Everybody is going to be called upon at some point and they have to always be ready and focused.”

Holup liked the focus that Brown displayed in the win over Mastery Charter.

“Erica has ability,” said Holup. “She is a physical player, she can rebound, and she can also handle the ball. Yesterday, in our halftime talk she may have taken that to heart. She really stepped up her game from halftime yesterday throughout this entire game.”

Junior guard Erica Dwyer also stepped up, chipping in five points and calmly running the Hun offense.

“I think Erica Dwyer did the same thing; yesterday she didn’t play all that well and she knew it,” said Holup.

“Today she played much better and was more patient and let the game come to her instead of forcing it. Ultimately as a team, that was what we did today.”

The Raiders also got good games from junior Janelle Mullen and senior Anajha Burnett.

“Mullen has been a little bit off with her shot in the last couple of games,” said Holup, whose team topped Hill 57-30 on Saturday before falling 61-38 to Marianapolis Prep (Conn.) in the New Year’s Resolution Showcase at Peterson to move to 4-5.

“I think that has been bothering her a little bit, it can be psychological at times, you are thinking too much. She came alive today late in the game but we will need her right from the start. Anajha had a nice game, she asserted herself instead of just settling for outside shots.

Even without Johnson, Holup believes his club can produce a nice season.

“There is enough talent on this team that we should be able to compete with most of the teams on our schedule,” said Holup, whose team hosts Blair Academy on January 15 before playing at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on January 18 and at Life Center Academy on January 21. “We just have to be ready to play every time.”

Brown, for her part, is ready to go out with a bang. “We need to make sure that we are a family on and off the court so that is our main thing,” said Brown, who is planning to play at the college level.

“In senior year, you want to leave it on the court. I am trying to enjoy the rest of the season and see where it takes me.”

TURNING THE CORNER: Stuart Country Day School basketball star Harley Guzman dribbles around a foe in recent action. Last Friday, sophomore guard Guzman scored eight points to help Stuart edge Princeton Day School 33-28. The Tartans, who improved to 5-2 with the win, host Bound Brook on January 17 before playing at Solebury School (Pa.) on January 21.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TURNING THE CORNER: Stuart Country Day School basketball star Harley Guzman dribbles around a foe in recent action. Last Friday, sophomore guard Guzman scored eight points to help Stuart edge Princeton Day School 33-28. The Tartans, who improved to 5-2 with the win, host Bound Brook on January 17 before playing at Solebury School (Pa.) on January 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In starting the season with a 4-2 record, the Stuart Country Day School basketball team cruised in each of its wins, posting an average margin of victory of 26.2 points in those four triumphs.

When Stuart played at Princeton Day School last Friday, the Tartans found themselves in a tight contest despite having beaten PDS 48-21 in December.

Stuart led 19-15 at halftime and took a 25-21 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Second-year Tartan head coach Dana Leary, for her part, wasn’t surprised that the rematch had a different feel than the initial meeting between the local foes.

“I expected a different game from the first time and the girls knew that as well,” said Leary.

“We were going to their place and they were going to be a much improved team.”

One factor that made the second encounter closer was Stuart’s failure to calmly handle PDS’s defensive pressure.

“We were panicking the entire game; the press was hurting us,” said Leary. “As much as we have been working on it, it was like they were seeing it for the first time. I kept stressing that you have to work hard defensively and on the offensive end you have to get it out. When you catch it, you have to be poised.”

The Tartans, though, showed poise down the stretch, outscoring the Panthers 4-0 in the last minute to pull out a 33-28 win.

“They pulled it together when it counted,” said Leary. “They calmed down by the end; it took the whole game. I am very proud of them for working hard and playing right to the end. That is all you can ask for.”

Some fine work inside by sophomore Kate Walsh and Nneka Onukwugha helped Stuart prevail as Walsh scored a game-high nine points while Onukwugha added eight.

“Kate has been having a great year so far; tonight she came through for us at the end with two big putbacks,” said Leary.

“Nneka has been showing up every single game, going and doing exactly what is expected of her. Tonight I saw she was hungry for it. She was going after the ball. She was out there to work; she didn’t want to get outworked tonight. You could definitely see that in her game.”

In Leary’s view, winning a game like last Friday’s contest should help the Tartans down the road.

“They haven’t been in a close one yet so now they have that experience and they can be confident in themselves at the end of the game,” said Leary, whose team hosts Bound Brook on January 17 before playing at Solebury School (Pa.) on January 21.

“They know they are capable of having the lead, holding onto it, and then coming out with the win.”

January 8, 2014
RECORD KEEPER: Lauren Ullmann takes a breather during her career with the Princeton High girls’ soccer team. This past fall, star goalkeeper Ullmann enjoyed a superb freshman season with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology women’s soccer team. She allowed just six goals in 21 appearances, tying an MIT record for fewest goals allowed in a season. Ullmann’s goals against average ended up at 0.38 and she posted a .933 save percentage. She currently stands first in the MIT record book in save percentage and second in goals against.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RECORD KEEPER: Lauren Ullmann takes a breather during her career with the Princeton High girls’ soccer team. This past fall, star goalkeeper Ullmann enjoyed a superb freshman season with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology women’s soccer team. She allowed just six goals in 21 appearances, tying an MIT record for fewest goals allowed in a season. Ullmann’s goals against average ended up at 0.38 and she posted a .933 save percentage. She currently stands first in the MIT record book in save percentage and second in goals against. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Lauren Ullmann gave up a score in the first 21 minutes of her career with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology women’s soccer team but the former Princeton High standout goalkeeper wasn’t fazed.

“We were playing Brandeis, they were ranked 8th in preseason,” said Ullmann.

“It was very exciting. That was a fantastic goal. I had made a couple of good saves right before and I made a couple right after so I didn’t have time to dwell on it. It was a very intense game, they put a lot of pressure on us.”

As MIT’s season unfolded, Ullmann thrived under the pressure that comes with starting as a freshman. She allowed just six goals in 21 starts, tying an MIT record for fewest goals allowed in a season. Ullmann’s goals against average ended up at 0.38 and she posted a .933 save percentage. She currently stands first in the MIT record book in save percentage and second in goals against.

Upon arriving at MIT for preseason training last August, Ullmann had to battle to earn the starting job, a process that helped pave the way for her outstanding campaign.

“That definitely pushed me to be at my best; I would not have had the season I ended up having if I hadn’t been pushed like that,” said Ullmann.

“I felt like I was at the right level. One of the things that drew me to MIT was that I had a good chance to get playing time right away.”

In taking advantage of the chance to play, Ullmann faced challenges both internally and externally.

“The two captains were two of the four defenders,” said Ullmann.

“I am very vocal on the field. It was hard to be commanding with such experienced players and not being established but I realized it was part of playing the game. I was going against players who could all hit the ball very well and make some very tough shots.”

Ullmann displayed her toughness when she didn’t let an injury to her right wrist keep her from starring in postseason play. She hurt her wrist in the final regular season game and originally thought it was sprained only to have x-rays later reveal a fracture.

“We taped it up and I rested it early in the week,” said Ullmann, who helped the Engineers blank Babson and Springfield in 0-0 games decided on penalty kicks to win the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament.

“I wanted to be out there for the tournament games. Being in the games, the adrenaline took over. It is instinct on saves. I am going to react the same way. I wasn’t able to throw the ball and I wasn’t able to roll the ball. I had to kick it at times, it was a little unusual.”

While MIT’s season ended with a 0-0 loss on penalty kicks to the Rochester Institute of Technology in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament, Ullmann is excited about what the squad achieved in its 13-2-6 campaign.

“We fought hard the whole way, I was proud of how we played good soccer, it speaks well for the future,” said Ullmann.

“I think we did better than expected because of the number  of seniors from 2013 that we lost. We made it back to the NCAA tournament for a third time and we hosted the conference tournament. We beat Tufts, it was the first win for an MIT women’s team against a NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) team.”

Ullmann’s play exceeded her expectations. “Every step of the way helped me realize that I could accomplish the kind of things that I did in high school,” said Ullmann.

“I was very happy by how the season went. It was exciting to give up so few goals as a freshman. It makes me want to push myself to do even better over the next three years.”

Not resting on her laurels, Ullmann plans to keep showing the kind of work ethic that has helped her excel at every step of her career.

“I want to keep working hard; I want to keep putting in the effort to get better individually and to help the team go further and further,” said Ullmann.

“I am working on building my body strength. I want to have better decision-making and improve the way I read the game.”

ACTION JACKSON: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Jackson Andres controls the puck in recent action. Last Sunday, junior forward Andres picked up an assist on the game-tying goal as PHS rallied from a 5-1 deficit to tie Wall High 5-5. The Little Tigers, now 6-1-2, play Paul VI at the Skate Zone at Voorhees on January 10 before facing powerful Notre Dame on January 13 at Mercer County Park.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ACTION JACKSON: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Jackson Andres controls the puck in recent action. Last Sunday, junior forward Andres picked up an assist on the game-tying goal as PHS rallied from a 5-1 deficit to tie Wall High 5-5. The Little Tigers, now 6-1-2, play Paul VI at the Skate Zone at Voorhees on January 10 before facing powerful Notre Dame on January 13 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Terence Miller was disappointed on several levels when the Princeton High boys’ hockey team had to postpone its game against Steinert last Friday due to the snowstorm that hit the area.

First, the Little Tigers missed the chance to play at historic Baker Rink on the Princeton University campus, a treat for PHS and its guests alike.

More importantly, PHS head coach Miller wanted to see his team make a fresh start in the new year after ending the 2013 portion of its schedule with a lackluster 4-2 win over Pennington on December 19 and a 4-1 defeat to Cranford a day later.

“I am really eager to get going again,” said Miller, noting that his team had only two practices over the holiday break.

“We didn’t have our foot on the throttle against Pennington but we still managed to get the win. It was the same thing the next night and we laid an egg; it left a bad taste in our mouths before the holiday.

Miller tipped his hat to Cranford for taking advantage of its opportunities. “It was our first loss, we outshot them but they played a good road game,” said Miller.

“They scored on an early power play and then we had a bad turnover in the back and they scored again. We dug ourselves a hole and then we did get it back to to 2-1. Going into the third period, we were down 3-1. I feel that the guys were tired in the third; their goalie made some big saves.”

In reflecting on his squad’s overall play so far this season, Miller believes the pluses outweigh the minuses.

“I am happy with the effort,” said Miller, whose team put in quite an effort at Wall High last Sunday evening, rallying from a 5-1 third period deficit to pull out a 5-5 tie and move to 6-1-2.

“I like how our goalies are playing. We have a senior (Robert Quinn) and freshman (Sawyer Peck) and they are rotating well. We can’t dwell on ourselves and get ahead of ourselves. Things are going to get tougher in January.

Miller is looking for his team to be tougher mentally and physically as it gets into a more challenging part of its schedule.

“We need more consistency of effort from top to bottom,” said Miller, whose team plays Paul VI at the Skate Zone at Voorhees on January 10 before facing powerful Notre Dame on January 13 at Mercer County Park.

“The biggest thing is to stay consistent. They can’t take their foot off the throttle. So far, so good. I am happy but not satisfied.”

MARKING PERIOD: Princeton High boys’ basketball coach Mark Shelley makes a point in a game last season. Last Saturday, Shelley was frustrated as PHS fell 67-41 at Robbinsville to drop to 1-2. The Little Tigers will look to get on the winning track as they host Steinert on January 9, play at Ewing on January 11, and then host WW/P-S on January 14.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MARKING PERIOD: Princeton High boys’ basketball coach Mark Shelley makes a point in a game last season. Last Saturday, Shelley was frustrated as PHS fell 67-41 at Robbinsville to drop to 1-2. The Little Tigers will look to get on the winning track as they host Steinert on January 9, play at Ewing on January 11, and then host WW/P-S on January 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Mark Shelley experienced an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu as his Princeton High boys’ basketball team played at Robbinsville last Saturday.

After ending 2013 with a 65-41 defeat at Morristown, PHS started the New Year by losing 67-41 to the Ravens.

“I thought the Morristown game would be a wakeup call defensively,” said second-year PHS head coach Shelley.

“Every game we play is winnable but it is also losable. This is an example of not playing our best and another team plays well and we get it handed to us.”

The Little Tigers started slowly, trailing 18-8 after the first quarter and finding themselves down 37-21 at halftime.

“It was frustrating,” said Shelley. “I thought they executed well, they shot the ball extremely well. We had a lot of shots we normally make that didn’t go in. We were just sluggish, that is the word we talked about.”

At halftime, Shelley focused on getting his players to pick up intensity. “The message was that we were going to come out and try to pressure,” said Shelley.

“We talked about when you are down that much, all you can think about is winning the third quarter and that was the goal. We played a lot of people, trying to find a defensive spark.”

In the second half, PHS showed some spark as it outscored the Ravens 7-6 in one stretch.

“I thought we found a group late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter and we had a nice little run,” said Shelley, who got 13 points from junior guard Kevin Kane in the loss with senior forward Peter Mahiotiere chipping 12 points and nine rebounds. “We were trapping and rotating.”

Going forward, the Little Tigers are going to work on running a better defense.

“I think the biggest thing we talked a lot about at halftime and after the game was trusting your teammates,” said Shelley, whose team dropped to 1-2 with the setback.

“If I am not willing to go out and guard the ball with a lot of pressure that means I am not trusting that my teammates behind me are going to help. A lot of Monday’s focus is going to be on basic defensive principles, like ball pressure and helping. It was an execution and intensity thing on the defensive end today.”

With a busy stretch of the season coming up, Shelley believes his team will sharpen its execution.

“We have got four three-game weeks in a row so there are a lot of opportunities to put together some good performances but at the same time, our practice time is going to be limited,” said Shelley, whose team hosts Steinert on January 9, plays at Ewing on January 11, and then hosts WW/P-S on January 14. “We just couldn’t generate any energy today; we’ll tighten up some stuff.”

WINNING BID: Hun School boys’ hockey player Alex Bidwell, right, races up the ice in recent action. Last week, senior forward Bidwell starred as Hun took second at the Purple Puck Tournament in Washington, D.C. The Raiders, now 7-4, start the 2014 portion of their schedule by hosting Academy of New Church (Pa.) on January 8, Haverford School (Pa.) on January 10, and Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on January 14.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

WINNING BID: Hun School boys’ hockey player Alex Bidwell, right, races up the ice in recent action. Last week, senior forward Bidwell starred as Hun took second at the Purple Puck Tournament in Washington, D.C. The Raiders, now 7-4, start the 2014 portion of their schedule by hosting Academy of New Church (Pa.) on January 8, Haverford School (Pa.) on January 10, and Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on January 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Hun School boys’ hockey team, its trip last week to the Purple Puck Tournament in Washington, D.C. could put it on the road to big things later this winter.

Hun ended up taking second in the tourney that was hosted by Gonzaga College High (D.C) and included several skilled private school teams.

“It was a great event, they do it up,” said Hun head coach Ian McNally, reflecting on his team’s first visit to the event.

“You weren’t playing games between public skates like in other tournaments. This was done very well; they had a great announcer, music playing, and good crowds. Getting on the road together is great. We went to Pittsburgh last year and that was a notable bonding trip for the team.”

Coming into the Purple Puck tourney, McNally was apprehensive about his team’s prospects.

“Nobody knew what to expect,” said McNally. “We had a few players who couldn’t come because of their club tournaments so we were playing with two lines and some spare parts. We played really well, kids stepped up.”

Showing resilience, Hun exceeded expectations, topping Bullis (Md.) 10-2 and DeMatha (Md.) 4-1 while losing 5-3 to Gonzaga in round-robin play. The Raiders then edged St. Joseph’s (Pa.) 3-2 in the semifinal before falling to host Gonzaga 6-0 in the championship game.

In advancing to the finals, Hun was sparked by the one-two scoring punch of freshman Jon Bendorf and senior Alex Bidwell.

“It was Bendorf’s show all of a sudden,” said McNally, noting that freshman standout Evan Barratt and junior Bobby Wurster weren’t available to the team due to club team commitments.

“He scored nine goals in five games; he was very much the catalyst for us. He went to another level I hadn’t seen from him so that was great. Bidwell was on the all-tournament team last year even though we didn’t make it out of the round robin. He is a tournament player. He put up a ton of points. The power play was clicking very well.”

Senior goalie Devin Cheifetz made a ton of big stops for the Raiders, highlighted by a 44-save performance in the semifinal win that was decided by a shootout after the teams played to a 2-2 tie through regulation.

“The semis was the best Devin has played all year,” asserted McNally. “The game was two 25-minute halves. We were up 2-0; we were playing pretty strong. They were desperate and in the last 10 minutes tied it at 2-2. They were 0-for-4 in the shootout and we scored two with Bendorf and Blake Brown each getting one.”

Hun also got good play from freshman Tanner Preston and classmate Brown over the weekend.

“Preston jumped out, he hadn’t scored all year, he had some hard luck,” said McNally.

“He scored in back-to-back games. On the first one, he was pumped; he had that relieved feeling. In the next game, he scored on a power play. He was very strong. Blake was in on a lot of the Bendorf and Bidwell goals. We needed a spark in the first game. We got off the bus and we started slowly. He got the team started with his energy and everybody carried on from there.”

In the title game, the Raiders ran out of energy. “It was our fifth game and we were playing with a short bench,” noted McNally.

“It was 2-0 early and it was a pretty good game. When they scored to go ahead 3-0, that took the wind out of our sails. We ran out of gas at that point.”

In McNally’s view, the main point of the weekend, however, was to sharpen Hun for the challenges to come.

“We got what we came for, we had wins over DeMatha and St Joe’s; they are good teams, as good as we are,” said McNally, whose team is now 7-4 and hosts Academy of New Church (Pa.) on January 8, Haverford School (Pa.) on January 10, and Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on January 14.

“We were able to win regardless of who was playing. Even though we lost 6-0 in final, the guys were feeling pretty good about themselves. Getting on the road and doing that will carry us into February when we are in IHL (Independence Hockey League), prep, and county tournaments.”

January 2, 2014
CALL OF DUTY: Princeton High boys’ basketball player ­Callahan O’Meara dribbles around a foe in action last season. Senior forward O’Meara has helped PHS get off to a 1-1 start this winter. The Little Tigers return from the holiday break by hosting Trenton Central on January 2 and then playing at Robbinsville on January 4.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CALL OF DUTY: Princeton High boys’ basketball player ­Callahan O’Meara dribbles around a foe in action last season. Senior forward O’Meara has helped PHS get off to a 1-1 start this winter. The Little Tigers return from the holiday break by hosting Trenton Central on January 2 and then playing at Robbinsville on January 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last winter, the Princeton High boys’ basketball team opened the season by dropping an overtime nailbiter at Hopewell Valley.

As PHS tipped off its 2013-14 campaign at Allentown, it found itself facing a similar scenario, trailing the Redbirds 21-16 at halftime.

“We weren’t playing with energy and confidence,” said second-year PHS head coach Mark Shelley, reflecting on his team’s first half performance in the opener on December 20.

“Their length was bothering us, they are very tall. We were standing around a little bit and not challenging them on defense at times.”

This year, the Little Tigers were up to the opening night challenge as they rallied for a 44-38 victory.

“We scored the first six or seven points of the second half to take the lead and then they came back to take the lead,” said Shelley, who got 20 points from junior guard Kevin Kane in the win with senior Peter Mahotiere adding nine points and senior Callahan O’Meara chipping in seven.

“We came right back and got six points in a row; I like how we responded. It was a good showing for us on the road in an opener. Last year, we opened at HoVal and we got a late lead but we missed our free throws and made some turnovers. This year we got a three-point lead and extended it.”

Unfortunately, PHS couldn’t build on that performance as they fell 65-41 at Morristown High three days later. The team dug a 48-16 hole at halftime, prompting the normally affable Shelley to read his players the riot act.

“That was about as frustrated as I have been in 10 years of coaching,” recalled Shelley.

“It is a total credit to Morristown, they are a very good basketball team. To score 16 points in a half is bad and to give up 48 points in a half is bad but to do both in the same half is really bad.” In the second half, the Little Tigers settled down as they outscored Morristown 25-17.

“We were just trying to win the third and fourth quarters, that is all you can do at that point,” said Shelley, who got 13 points from Kane in the defeat with Mahotiere adding 11.

“We played our zones and traps and did a better job. We drove to the basket instead of just settling for jumpers. We stopped them better in transition. We learned that we have to play all four quarters. We can compete with anyone but we are not good enough to just show up and win.”

Junior guard Kane has shown major improvement this winter. “We put Kevin on the varsity as a sophomore, knowing that he was not going to play very much; it is paying off now,” asserted Shelley.

“He got to practice against Ellis [Bloom] and Scotty [Bechler] all year and I think that is really helping him this year. He has always had the ability to shoot; he may be the purest shooter I have ever coached. He is playing defense much better; he knows what he is doing out there. He is also not forcing shots. He is putting the ball on the floor and he is going to the line and getting points that way. Teams will have to respect that.”

Shelley believes his front line players are going to be earning the respect of PHS’s foes this season.

“I am happy with our starting five, they are starting to separate themselves,” said Shelley, who has been going with Kane, Mahotiere, and O’Meara, along with sophomore Matt Hart and senior Paul Murray.

“Cal has shown that he is versatile. He hasn’t been scoring but he has played point guard and he can rebound. Matt does so many things that don’t show up in the box score. I have real confidence in the starting five.”

With PHS starting 2014 action by hosting Trenton Central on January 2 and then playing at Robbinsville on January 4, Shelley knows that his team needs to tighten things up to be successful.

“We need to work on improving collectively and individually,” said Shelley. “Most of our systems are in and we have to work on our fundamentals to get ready for Trenton and Robbinsville. We have plenty of room for improvement. It is a resilient group.”

SHARP LOOK: Princeton High wrestling head coach Rashone Johnson surveys the action in a match last season. Johnson has seen a good fighting spirit in his wrestlers as they took ninth in their season-opening Garden State Classic on December 21 and then placed fifth of ten teams in the Patriot Tournament at Secaucus High last Friday. PHS starts 2014 action on January 4 when it heads to Voorhees High to face Hopewell Valley,  Lawrence, and the host Vikings.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SHARP LOOK: Princeton High wrestling head coach Rashone Johnson surveys the action in a match last season. Johnson has seen a good fighting spirit in his wrestlers as they took ninth in their season-opening Garden State Classic on December 21 and then placed fifth of ten teams in the Patriot Tournament at Secaucus High last Friday. PHS starts 2014 action on January 4 when it heads to Voorhees High to face Hopewell Valley, Lawrence, and the host Vikings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As the sole captain of the Princeton High wrestling team, James Gates is looking to set a good example for his younger teammates.

“Wrestling is just all about putting in more work and being tougher than the other guys,” said senior star Gates. “I just have got to work hard and then hopefully they (his teammates) work hard.”

Gates displayed his toughness by taking third at 170 pounds as PHS started its season by hosting its annual Garden State Classic in late December.

“We had some good wrestling,” said Gates, reflecting on the 10-team tournament.

“Our varsity guys went and wrestled well. It was a really tough competition this year. There are a lot of good teams, all the teams here were pretty good. This is probably some of the hardest wrestling we’re going to see for a while.”

As he heads down the homestretch of his high school career, Gates is determined to produce a very big season.

“I want to win all my matches,” asserted Gates. “My big goal would be to place in districts, make it to regions, and hopefully make it to states. I want to just have a strong season and represent the school well.”

In representing PHS, Gates draws inspiration from Little Tiger head coach Rashone Johnson.

“Our coaching staff is great,” said Gates. “Coach Johnson is crazy. His pre-match speeches get you really pumped and ready to wrestle. You go out there like an animal after you hear Johnson.”

Johnson, for his part, is expecting Gates to provide stability this winter for the Little Tigers.

“I want him to just be consistent,” said Johnson, when asked about Gates. “He took third today so that’s definitely an improvement from last year.”

In addition to Gates taking third, Johnson got several other good efforts from his wrestlers at the Garden State Classic. Junior Patrick Sockler took third at 126, while classmate Tommy Miers garnered two wins at 132, helping the Little Tigers hold their own at the top of the lineup.

While Johnson had hoped to see his team do better overall at the season-opening event than the ninth place finish it earned, he saw some intangibles from his wrestlers that bode well for the rest of the season.

“One thing that you can’t coach is toughness and I saw all the guys fight today, which I thought was really good,” said Johnson, who is in his 14th season at the helm of the PHS program and has added former PHS wrestler Marc Santiago ’09 and John Darling, a former Division III All-American wrestler at The College of New Jersey, to his staff.

“If you don’t have fight, I can’t really give that to you, but if your technique is messed up I can fix that. I saw a lot of stuff that I can fix today.”

In fixing things, Johnson is focused on instilling confidence into his team and getting his wrestlers to take an aggressive approach during their bouts.

“Getting the guys more confidence during their matches and to score,” said Johnson, reflecting on his coaching goals this season.

“Be more sure of yourself when you go out there. Guys were doing that today but got some tough draws out there and we didn’t quite push through. The guys actually didn’t wrestle badly today, we just didn’t wrestle good enough to win in some of those matches.”

Looking forward, Johnson sees his team steadily improving with more match experience as the season unfolds.

“We still have young guys; we only had two seniors in that lineup today,” said Johnson. “The future is looking promising and these guys are going to get a lot better as the season goes on.”

Aside from Gates, Johnson is hoping for big things from a trio of juniors.

“You got Victor Bell in there, you got Thomas Miers, and Patrick Sockler,” noted Johnson, whose squad took fifth of 10 teams in the Patriot Tournament at Secaucus High last Friday with James Verbyst taking first at 113 pounds, Sockler at 126, and Miers at 132.

“Those guys all have experience from last year coming back on varsity and they did some work over the summer. I’m looking for those guys to show me something.”

Johnson is excited to see which of his younger wrestlers will seize the opportunity to make a name for themselves as the season progresses.

“I’m looking for everybody to step up, that’s the beauty about wrestling and a team sport that’s also an individual sport,” added Johnson, whose younger wrestlers include freshmen Verbyst and Dylan Demerest together with sophomores Alex Freda, Dave Beamer, and Noah Ziegler.

“Every time a senior graduates, it’s always fun to see the next year what opportunity is going to come through. Don’t look at it as an obstacle, look at it as an opportunity to wrestle varsity and get my name on the wall, put my team on the wall, and get on a banner. How are you going to be remembered?”

Gates, for his part, knows the team has to keep its nose to the grindstone to make some special memories.

“We got a lot to work on, a lot of running to do,” said Gates, who looks to get off to a good start in 2014 action on January 4 when PHS heads to Voorhees High to face Hopewell Valley, Lawrence, and the host Vikings. “It’s going to take a lot of work.”

IN CONTACT: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Connor Fletcher chases after a puck in recent action. Sophomore forward Fletcher helped PDS go 2-1 at the Barber Tournament in Massachusetts in late December. The Panthers, now 6-1-1, return to action when they play Notre Dame on January 3 at Lawrenceville and then play at Don Bosco on January 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN CONTACT: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Connor Fletcher chases after a puck in recent action. Sophomore forward Fletcher helped PDS go 2-1 at the Barber Tournament in Massachusetts in late December. The Panthers, now 6-1-1, return to action when they play Notre Dame on January 3 at Lawrenceville and then play at Don Bosco on January 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Stepping up in class, the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team got off to a rough start last month as it competed in the Barber Tournament in Massachusetts, trailing Middlesex School (Mass.) 3-0 after two periods in an opening round contest.

“The biggest thing, like last year, is that they are physically bigger and stronger and older; it takes time for our kids to adjust to that,” said PDS head coach Scott Bertoli, reflecting on his team’s return trip to the annual event.

“We challenged the kids after the second period. We told them they could roll over and get ready for Saturday or they could come out and put their best foot forward.”

Choosing the latter option, the Panthers battled Middlesex to the final whistle, narrowing the gap to 3-2 and 4-3 before surrendering an empty net goal in the waning seconds of the contest to lose 5-3. In action the next day, PDS defeated the Portledge School (N.Y.) 4-2 before topping the Worcester Academy (Mass.) 5-4 in overtime.

The Panthers showed resilience to go with their skill, overcoming deficits to earn those victories on the final day of the competition.

“We dominated the game against Portledge and we also played well against Worcester,” said Bertoli.

“We kept pressing and pressing. We trailed most of both games; they got goals on counters. Against Portledge, it was 2-2 going into the third period. We scored early in the period and then got one midway through the period. To me, the game was never in doubt; it was just a matter of time. We outshot Worcester 35-14. It was very one-sided but we were still down going into the third period.”

In coming through over the weekend and improving its overall record to 6-1-1, the team’s front line players led the way.

“The six top guys, Sean Timmons, Connor Fletcher, Lewie Blackburn, Connor Bitterman, Andrew Clayton, and Will Garrymore were all great,” asserted Bertoli. “They did 90 percent of our scoring and they played in all types of situations.”

But even more heartening, some of the squad’s supporting cast came through some critical situations.

“The role players also did well, guys like Hap Ammidon, Gabe Castagna, and Will Wright,” added Bertoli.

“Hap got the OT goal against Worcester and played well on defense. Gabe got a couple of goals. The weekend in Massachusetts gave us the chance to give other guys opportunities to play and produce. They built confidence in themselves and got a better understanding of what we want them to do. It gave the coaches confidence to see the kids play in lots of situations and perform well. They not only created some offense but they played good defense.”

The goalie trio of freshman Logan Kramsky, sophomore Mark Anarumo, and sophomore Colin Burgess, is giving PDS the chance to win in just about every game.

“Losing Connor [Walker] in net would concern any coach,” said Bertoli, referring to the graduated Walker, who was a three-year starter and one of the top players in the state at his position.

“Having gone through two weeks of tryouts and scrimmages it is good knowing that the kids are confident in any one of them. Logan has stood out, the group is most confident in him. He started the first two games over the weekend and the other two split the last game.”

With PDS starting the 2014 portion of its schedule by playing Notre Dame on January 3 at Lawrenceville and then playing at Don Bosco on January 6, Bertoli is hoping his team can build on the superb effort in New England.

“If we play near the level that we did last weekend with that urgency and competing hard for pucks, finishing every hit, and being ready to be hit on every play, we could do very well,” said Bertoli.

“The January schedule is brutal; we play four or five tough teams right in a row.”

STILL BATTLING: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Emma Stillwaggon controls the puck in recent action. Sophomore forward Stillwaggon tallied two goals and an assist as PDS defeated Princeton High 8-0 on December 18 in its last game before the holiday break. The Panthers, now 6-1, return to action by hosting the Lady Patriots club team on January 6 in a scrimmage and then hosting Morristown-Beard on January 8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STILL BATTLING: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Emma Stillwaggon controls the puck in recent action. Sophomore forward Stillwaggon tallied two goals and an assist as PDS defeated Princeton High 8-0 on December 18 in its last game before the holiday break. The Panthers, now 6-1, return to action by hosting the Lady Patriots club team on January 6 in a scrimmage and then hosting Morristown-Beard on January 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Lorna Gifis Cook was confident that her Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team would eventually develop a potent offensive attack this season.

But with the Panthers having produced a 6-1 start heading into the holiday break, outscoring foes 35-8, Cook is pleasantly surprised by her team’s output.

“I thought we had the potential to score goals but I didn’t think we would be scoring like this so early in the season,” said Cook.

“Just the fact that we have been scoring so many goals is giving us confidence. There was a question of who was going to score but a lot of girls have been getting involved.”

While senior stars Robin Linzmayer and Mary Travers have expectedly shouldered much of the scoring load, the Panthers have been getting valuable contributions from senior Mimi Matthews, sophomore Emma Stillwaggon, and a trio of freshmen, Kristi Serafin, Ashley Cavuto, and Daphne Stanton.

“Moving Mimi up to forward has helped,” said Cook. “Emma has been really good, she was more of a grinder last year but she is showing a better drive to score. Kristi has made a difference. Ashley is going to surprise you and is very consistent. Daphne has great positional instincts; that really helps her as a center.”

In PDS’s 8-0 win over Princeton High on December 18 in its last action before the holiday break, the Panthers displayed their offensive balance as Stillwaggon and Travers each tallied two goals and an assist with Matthews, Linzmayer, Sophie Ward, and Abby Sharer chipping in a goal apiece.

“We tried to get everybody involved so that was good and that gave us momentum,” said Cook, reflecting on the win over PHS.

Even in the team’s sole loss, a 2-0 defeat at the Portledge School (N.Y.), the Panthers gave a good effort.

“I was as happy with that game as I could be with a loss,” maintained Cook.

“We played hard all game, there were just a couple of defensive lapses. We had our chances, we just didn’t capitalize. If we had scored on one of those early, it might have been a different game. We had eight power plays.”

PDS has been playing solid play fundamentally at both ends of the ice. “Our puck protection has been good,” said Cook, who has been getting good work from her goalie tandem of junior Katie Alden [this reporter’s daughter] and freshman Annika Asplundh.

“We have been working on being more responsible and having fewer turnovers. The key in the Portledge game was getting pucks deep.”

Looking ahead to 2014, Cook wants her team to fine-tune things. “The battling has been really good,” said Cook, whose team returns to action by hosting the Lady Patriots club team on January 6 in a scrimmage and then hosting Morristown-Beard on January 8.

“I would say everyone has been playing up to their potential. We need to work on our breakouts. Our power play needs work; we need to get everybody on the ice at the same time to work on that.”

STANDING TALL: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Kate Walsh heads to the basket in action last season. Sophomore forward Walsh’s inside play has helped the Tartans get off to a 3-2 start in 2013-14, already exceeding last year’s win total when the Tartans went 2-13. Walsh scored 12 points as Stuart closed out the 2013 portion of its schedule with a 62-19 win over Noor-ul-Iman School on December 19. Stuart is next in action when it plays at the King’s Christian School on January 8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STANDING TALL: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Kate Walsh heads to the basket in action last season. Sophomore forward Walsh’s inside play has helped the Tartans get off to a 3-2 start in 2013-14, already exceeding last year’s win total when the Tartans went 2-13. Walsh scored 12 points as Stuart closed out the 2013 portion of its schedule with a 62-19 win over Noor-ul-Iman School on December 19. Stuart is next in action when it plays at the King’s Christian School on January 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last winter, the Stuart Country Day School basketball team won two games the whole season.

By this Christmas, Stuart had already exceeded that win total, taking a 3-2 record into the holiday break.

The Tartans didn’t waste any time showing that things were going to be different in 2013-14, opening the season with a 27-17 win over Villa Victoria on December 11.

“The girls came out and played a great first half,” said second-year Stuart head coach Dana Leary.

“We did a great job of rebounding the ball at both the offensive and defensive end.”

After losing 40-30 in its second game to Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, Stuart came back with a great performance in a 48-21 victory over Princeton Day School.

“We played good defense,” said Leary, reflecting on the PDS win.

“We have been trying to play a couple of different defenses and we matched up well with them. We did a good job in the man-to-man.”

Junior forward Nneka Onukwugha did a great job for Stuart in the win over the Panthers, producing a career game with 20 points and 19 rebounds.

“It was Nneka’s first double-double of the season,” said Leary. “She stepped up really big for us. She just comes to play. She is very calm, she just goes out and does her job and takes care of business.”

In their last outing before the break, the Tartans took care of business as they routed Noor-ul-Iman School 62-19 on December 19, rebounding from a 48-14 defeat to Pennington a day earlier.

“We had a tough loss to Pennington and I told the girls we have to learn from that,” said Leary who got 15 points from Onukwugha in the win with sophomore Kate Walsh chipping in 12.

“You are going to lose games and there are going to be bumps in the road, you have to take each game and learn from it and move on. The girls came out and just bounced back. We played well offensively. It was a nice win, all the girls played and everyone scored.”

Stuart’s nice start has the players feeling good about themselves heading into 2014.

“I think the girls are just more confident; they are starting to believe in themselves,” said Leary, whose team returns from the holiday break by playing at the King’s Christian School on January 8.

“We are communicating well on the court, I think they have better court sense. They are crashing the boards and securing the rebounds. They were talking that they were already past last year’s record.”

In order to add more wins to that record when it resumes play in the new year, Stuart will focus on being a little sharper at both ends of the court.

“We will be working on taking better care of the ball,” said Leary. “Defense-wise, we need to work more on on man-to-man and talking through screens.”