April 23, 2014
TAKING OFF: Hun School softball star Julia Blake runs the bases in a game earlier this spring. Junior shortstop Blake’s sizzling hitting and sharp fielding has helped Hun produce a 3-2 start. Last Thursday, Blake smacked a triple and proceeded to score the lone run in Hun’s 1-0 win over Delaware Valley. The Raiders are slated to host Lawrenceville on April 24, Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on April 26, WW/P-N on April 28, and Princeton Day School on April 29.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TAKING OFF: Hun School softball star Julia Blake runs the bases in a game earlier this spring. Junior shortstop Blake’s sizzling hitting and sharp fielding has helped Hun produce a 3-2 start. Last Thursday, Blake smacked a triple and proceeded to score the lone run in Hun’s 1-0 win over Delaware Valley. The Raiders are slated to host Lawrenceville on April 24, Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on April 26, WW/P-N on April 28, and Princeton Day School on April 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Julia Blake, staying in the present has helped her produce some big moments this spring for the Hun School softball team.

Last Thursday, with Hun locked in a 0-0 tie against visiting Delaware Valley in the bottom of the sixth inning, junior shortstop Blake wasn’t worried about the fact that she had struck out and popped up in her two previous at-bats.

“I take it pitch by pitch, it doesn’t matter what happened the pitch before or the at bat before,” said Blake.

“I just see the pitch and hit the ball. I just got up there and visualized myself hitting the ball, especially after two strikes, you can’t get down on yourself in that clutch position. I did my best.”

Blake proceeded to come up big, blasting a triple to the left field fence. “I think I was thinking run,” said Blake. “I think I knew I came through.”

Displaying her base-running skill, Blake came home on a sacrifice bunt by Vicki Leach to score the lone run in a 1-0 victory for Hun as the Raiders improved to 3-2.

“We work on that one with my club team; being smart on the bases and watching what the field players do,” said Blake, who plays for the Finch’s Aces club team. “I just had to watch what she did and I ran my hardest.”

Hun was looking to play smarter last Thursday in the wake of a disappointing 11-10 loss to Hill on April 14.

“Hill was a tough loss for us and we realized that we had to bounce back and I think that is definitely what we did today,” said Blake.

“We had to tighten up the defense, we had a better mindset at the plate, and I think it really paid off, especially on defense.”

Leading the infield at shortstop, Blake made several sparkling plays in the victory.

“I am focused on breaking it down step by step, seeing the ball in my glove,” said Blake, reflecting on her defensive approach.

The Hun players have also focused on adopting an upbeat mentality this spring.

“The one thing we have worked on this season is just staying up and being positive and having each other’s backs because that is what wins games,” added Blake.

Blake has also put a lot of work into her hitting and has produced all spring, coming up with several multi-hit performances.

“I came out really banging my freshman year; last year I struggled in some places offensively,” said Blake.

“I came back this year saying I am a leader and I am going to try my best. I am going to take it pitch by pitch and visualize myself hitting the ball and just believe and that has really helped me. The biggest thing is that I am having fun again.”

Hun head coach Kathy Quirk is having fun watching Blake blossom this spring.

“Julia is doing a nice job for us with her enthusiasm; her leadership as a junior is outstanding,” said Quirk.

“I told her that even though she is not a captain, she can still be a leader. She is doing a great job with the bat. I think she is a little more confident at the bat. She is a little bit more selective at what she is hitting and she just drives the ball.”

Quirk likes the outstanding work she is getting from junior Vicky Leach at second base.

“I am really pleased with her; she has stepped up,” said Quirk. “She should have been our catcher but we needed her at second base and she did what I asked her to do. She is doing a great job.”

Two other Hun veterans, Kristen Manochio and Kameran McNair, are giving the Raiders what they need.

“Kristen at third base has stepped it up; she has always been an outfielder for us so it has been a new experience for her,” added Quirk. “Kam McNair at first base has come in and done a nice job for us.”

Sophomore pitching ace Alexis Goeke sparkled in the win over Delaware Valley, yielding one hit and striking out four.

“The pitcher (Alexis Goeke) has been struggling and we have been working hard with her,” said Quirk. “She is doing what we are asking her to do and today she did that and it showed.”

With Hun headed into a busy week with home games against Lawrenceville on April 24, Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on April 26, WW/P-N on April 28, and Princeton Day School on April 29, Quirk is hoping her team can build on its performance last Thursday.

“I am very pleased; I am hoping we move on from here,” said Quirk. “We have Peddie next Tuesday (April 22) and I think this is something that has given them the confidence to move on. We had a good practice yesterday and I told them you can play with the best if you want and you have to have the confidence to do it.”

Blake, for her part, is confident that Hun can play with anyone. “Our big thing was defense today and it really stayed tough,” said Blake.

“If we can be that tough against Peddie and our other games next week I think we will be successful.”

MASER BEAM: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Julia Maser goes after the ball in recent action. Last week, sophomore star Maser tallied six goals and two assists in a 13-12 loss to Hun as the Tartans dropped to 3-3. Stuart plays at Nottingham on April 24.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MASER BEAM: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Julia Maser goes after the ball in recent action. Last week, sophomore star Maser tallied six goals and two assists in a 13-12 loss to Hun as the Tartans dropped to 3-3. Stuart plays at Nottingham on April 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When the Stuart Country Day School lacrosse team played the Hun School in 2012, it wasn’t much of a contest as the Tartans fell 17-6 to their crosstown rivals.

Things were a lot different when the local foes met last week at Stuart as the game, played in a downpour, turned into a nailbiter.

Stuart trailed 7-5 at halftime and was down 12-8 midway through the second half and then reeled off four unanswered goals to make it a 12-12 contest. Hun scored to make it 13-12 and then the Tartans had a last-gasp effort, missing a free position with 20 seconds left to fall just short.

“It was a good game,” said Stuart head coach Caitlin Grant, whose team dropped to 3-3 with the one-goal defeat.

“In the first part of the second half, they got up four goals and we really started working hard in the last part of the game. Tori [Hannah] had two goals, Julia [Maser] had two goals. Everyone came together. The defense had a sense of urgency; they realized that we needed the ball and they got it for us. Sometimes, they play off the offense but they were all over them. We stayed right in it, they had to work for that win.”

With the program coming off a 4-9 campaign last spring, Grant believes her team is headed in the right direction. “I am pretty happy with the way we are playing,” said Grant. “The games where we have won, we have looked great.”

The squad’s core of sophomores, Hannah and Maser along with Sam Servis, Harley Guzman, Armani King, Kim Rodas, and Rose Tetnowski have made great progress.

“They have a year under their belts,” said Grant. ”They have really improved and they are really leaders for us.”

Maser, for her part, has emerged as one of the leading scoring threats in the area. “Julia runs all over the field, she is a machine,” said Grant of Maser, who tallied six goals and two assists in the loss to Hun.

“She plays in an outside league. She is a threat this year and she knows it. Last year she would pass it to the older players sometimes.”

The Tartans are also getting some good play from this year’s crop of freshmen.

“They have stepped up,” said Grant. “Mary O’Boyle is one who just picked up the stick this year but you would never know. We needed a low attacker and she stepped into that role. She has taken it upon herself to get extra practice, she is playing a lot of wall ball. Isabelle Engel has been playing at low attack, she is pretty seasoned. She sees the field and understands the game, she knows where to cut.”

Senior star Amy Hallowell brings a lot of game to Stuart. “Amy is always all over the field, from one end to the other,” said Grant.

“I can rely on her to never slack. If there is a ground ball or missed shot, she is there going after it. She is one of the captains and she keeps the momentum of the team going. She will take it upon herself to call out the girls.”

Sophomore goalie Harlyn Bell’s superb play in the crease has given the team momentum.

“Harlyn played awesome against Hun,” said Grant of Bell, who had 16 saves in the loss. “She went to two camps last summer and she has really improved. I am really impressed with the way she is playing.”

In Grant’s view, the Tartans are ready to get over the hump in the close games.

“We are going to be the team that gets better and better,” said Grant, whose team plays at Nottingham on April 24.

“We are on the cusp. We have shown we can compete against the seasoned teams. We just need to do the little things and we’ll be winning some of these close games.”

YOUNG GUN: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player ­Connor Fletcher heads to goal in recent action. Last Monday, sophomore midfielder and Cornell-bound Fletcher tallied two goals and two assists as PDS defeated Pennington 14-1. In upcoming action, the Panthers, now 6-1, host Peddie on April 23 and play at Blair Academy on April 26.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

YOUNG GUN: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player ­Connor Fletcher heads to goal in recent action. Last Monday, sophomore midfielder and Cornell-bound Fletcher tallied two goals and two assists as PDS defeated Pennington 14-1. In upcoming action, the Panthers, now 6-1, host Peddie on April 23 and play at Blair Academy on April 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though he is just a sophomore, Connor Fletcher knew that he had to step up this spring for the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team.

With PDS losing eight seniors to graduation from a 2013 squad that went 11-6 and advanced to the state Prep B championship game and the Mercer County Tournament semifinals, midfielder Fletcher has emerged as a top scoring threat for the Panthers.

“I feel this year we had our work cut out for us with a big senior class leaving,” said Fletcher.

“I feel like the unity with our six guys out there this spring is really developing well. As a freshman, you are a little timid out there but getting more playing time, I am definitely more comfortable. I am getting the chance to hopefully form into a leader out there. I am just trying to help the younger guys learn like I did.”

Last Monday at Pennington, Fletcher took a lead role, tallying two goals and two assists as PDS rolled to a 14-1 win over the Red Raiders.

“Obviously whenever we get a chance to get out here to run the offense and give everyone some touches, it is always a good time,” said Fletcher.

“We don’t get a lot of practice so getting out here is always great for us. I feel like we are putting ourselves in a really great spot right now, getting towards the end of the season, getting towards championship season.”

In Fletcher’s view, PDS took a good step forward with its 10-7 win on April 10 over defending Prep B champions Rutgers Prep.

“That is definitely one we had circled on our calendar; we were ready from the start,” said Fletcher.

“It was great for us to take it to them, it was a real confidence booster. We are  excited to hopefully see them at the end of the season in the championship of Prep B again.”

Fletcher gained confidence from starring this winter for the PDS boys’ hockey team, helping the Panthers to a state Prep championship.

“A big thing for me is staying in shape, bulking up, and physically developing,” said Fletcher. “Playing hockey gives me a better look at offense and defense; it is bringing  me different looks playing on the lacrosse field.”

Having recently committed to play lacrosse at Cornell University, Fletcher is in great shape for the future.”

“My dad went there and I have wanted to go there ever since I was a little kid,” said Fletcher, reflecting on his college decision.

“It has been been my No. 1 spot. They gave me the offer so I took it right away, it is my dream school.”

With the Panther offense starting to click on all cylinders, PDS head coach Rob Tuckman is hoping for a dream finish this spring.

“They play well together; this is a team that is going to be made up of six guys and not one guy,” said Tuckman, referring to his offensive unit that includes Chris Azzarello, Jacob Shavel, Joey Levine, Jonah Tuckman, and Will Brossman in addition to Fletcher.

“We are  getting some productivity. If you look at my stat sheet right now, I have got goals being scored pretty consistently by six or seven guys. We are getting multiple points. We are real pleased and now it is about sustaining it. We are not deep. We are talented but we are thin. As long as we can stay healthy and play the game that we know how to play, I think we are going to have fun in the second half of the season.”

The Panther defensive unit is also having a lot of fun so far this spring. “The defense has been playing with confidence ever since Hilton Head,” said Tuckman.

“We are excited about some of the things that we are doing with our defense and continue to do with our defense. We have four sets that we run defensively and we run them through and it is both a response to and trying to get a hand up on offenses that we face.”

The Panthers face a tough second half of the season as they host Peddie on April 23 and play at Blair Academy on April 26 before starting play in the state Prep B tourney and the Mercer County Tournament.

“It was a good opportunity for us to get ourselves ready for the second half of the season,” said Tuckman, reflecting on the win over Pennington.

“We are gearing up for a pretty strong second half of the season. The prep seeds will come out tomorrow. If everything goes as it should, we will have the second seed and a bye. Morristown-Beard will get the first seed and then it will fall in from there.”

Fletcher, for his part, believes that PDS is primed for a strong finish. “We have Peddie coming up on Wednesday so that will be a big one,” said Fletcher.

“I feel like we are moving in the right direction. We definitely have a great group of guys and we are totally capable of putting up two banners at the end of the season. Everything is coming into full circle right now.”

April 16, 2014
RAISING CANE: Davon Reed dribbles upcourt in action this winter during his freshman campaign with the University of Miami men’ s basketball team. The former Princeton Day School standout averaged 6.5 points and 1.7 rebounds a game this winter in his debut season for the Hurricanes.

RAISING CANE: Davon Reed dribbles upcourt in action this winter during his freshman campaign with the University of Miami men’ s basketball team. The former Princeton Day School standout averaged 6.5 points and 1.7 rebounds a game this winter in his debut season for the Hurricanes.

At times, Davon Reed seemed to be a man among boys during his stellar career with the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team.

Starring from day one as a freshman in 2009, Reed led the team in scoring every year and totaled a program-record 2,102 points in leading the Panthers to three state Prep B title games.

Heading south to the University of Miami this winter to continue his basketball career Reed has been forced to man up in order to keep pace in the high-powered ACC.

“I have always played hard but here you have to play that much harder,” said Reed. “The players are more athletic and physical and they are much tougher.”

While going through the bumps in the road that inevitably come with a freshman season, Reed proved tough enough to thrive at the D-I level, starting 10 games for the Hurricanes and averaging 6.5 points and 1.7 rebounds a game.

For Reed, getting on the floor in the opener against St. Francis Brooklyn on November 8 was a special moment.

“It was exciting to play my first college game even though we didn’t get a win and I didn’t have the best game,” said Reed, who scored 3 points in 18 minutes of action as the Hurricanes fell 66-62. “It was something I was very grateful about.”

A week later, Reed had a breakthrough moment, scoring 11 points in an 84-69 win over Texas Southern.

“That was one of my first games with a higher scoring day,” said Reed, who shot 4-of-8 from the floor in the game. “As the season went on, I got more confidence even with the ups and downs.”

Playing at point guard rather than his natural shooting guard position ended up being a confidence builder for Reed.

“I just wanted to do what I could to get on the floor,” said Reed, who ended up with 37 assists on the season. “I am not a natural No. 1 but I have handled the ball my whole career. I enjoyed it and it really helped my ball-handling improve.”

Reed acknowledges that he hit a down stretch when Miami got into conference action.

“When ACC play started, I kind of struggled a little bit,” said Reed. “I wouldn’t say it was the intensity level. It was just a new set of teams and bigger games. Once I started playing freely, I had some good games.”

In reflecting on his debut campaign, Reed is proud to have produced some highlight games.

“I remember big scoring nights like against Arizona State (19 points) and Syracuse (16 points),” said Reed.

“I would like to say that one of my special ones was the Florida State game when I came in late and changed the way the game was going for us. That was a big win.”

While Miami didn’t get as many wins as it would have hoped, posting an overall record of 17-15, Reed is optimistic about the program’s future prospects.

“This year was definitely a rebuilding year,” said Reed. “Even though the W-L record didn’t show it, there were a lot of games that could have we could have won but we didn’t get the bounces. We still made a lot of progress.”

Over the course of the winter, Reed made plenty of progress individually. “I think as the season went on I continually became more confident,” said Reed.

“Even if there were some things I couldn’t do, I can work on those in the offseason. Some of my decision-making got better and the 3-ball was good for me.”

Reed is looking forward to putting his nose to the grindstone in the offseason.

“I want to get bigger, stronger, faster and handle the physical aspect,” said the 6’6, 208-pound Reed, who raised his bench press to 250 pounds from 175.

“I want to be more consistent with my jump shot and be a better ball-handler. Defense was one of my strong points and I want to continue that.”

Reed’s experience at PDS gave him a strong foundation for excelling off the court.

“I had a pretty good first semester and I am doing better this semester,” said Reed.

“I have had a good year academically, there has been lots of balancing between the basketball and the books. Going to a school like PDS has helped me with time management.”

All in all, Reed had the time of his life this winter as he achieved his goal playing big-time college basketball.

“I didn’t know what school I was going to go to but I wanted to play in the ACC where you go out every game and compete against the best of the best,” said Reed. “I thank God that I have the chance to play the game that I love at this level.”

NET BENEFIT: Princeton High boys’ tennis player Tyler Hack hits a volley in action last spring. Junior Hack has moved up to second singles from doubles this spring and is making a positive impact in his new spot in the lineup. The Little Tigers topped Hightstown 5-0 last Monday to improve to 5-0. PHS hosts Steinert on April 17 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, which is slated for April 22 and 24 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

NET BENEFIT: Princeton High boys’ tennis player Tyler Hack hits a volley in action last spring. Junior Hack has moved up to second singles from doubles this spring and is making a positive impact in his new spot in the lineup. The Little Tigers topped Hightstown 5-0 last Monday to improve to 5-0. PHS hosts Steinert on April 17 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament, which is slated for April 22 and 24 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton High boys’ tennis team, its match last Wednesday against Robbinsville proved to be a good early season wakeup call.

Getting pushed hard by the Ravens, PHS prevailed 3-2 and learned a valuable lesson in the process.

“It is the only big test we have had so far,” said PHS coach Christian Herzog, who is guiding the team this spring with veteran head coach Sarah Hibbert taking a backset role as she comes back from maternity leave.

“They went into Robbinsville thinking it was going to be easy and it turned out to be a 3-2 win. Their No. 1 and 2 singles guys are good. It was good to see Rishab (first singles player Rishab Tanga) take his guy down. It was the windiest day we have had since tryouts.”

In Herzog’s view, junior standout Tanga will be taking a lot of matches this spring.

“Rishab is looking good; he is calculating on the court,” said Herzog, whose team improved to 5-0 with a 5-0 win over Hightstown last Monday.

“He is calm, collected and knows how to pick apart his opponent. You don’t have to talk to him during matches.”

Junior Tyler Hack has moved up to second singles from doubles and is making his presence felt in his new spot.

“Tyler is a rock, he is a great kid,” asserted Herzog. “It is tough losing him at doubles, it was almost an automatic point. He is a lefty, he has that wicked shot down the line. He has a lot of topspin coming over. He has got an all around game.”

At third singles, junior Adib Zaidi brings some punch to the lineup. “He has a great first serve, he has a lot of power,” said Herzog. “He likes hot weather and he should get better and better as the weather warms up.”

Herzog has been tweaking the doubles lineup, now pairing senior Zach Hojelbane with sophomore Lucas Mitchell at first doubles.

“I am going to put Zach H. with Lucas Mitchell,” said Herzog. “Zach H. has experience and he is aggressive going for points. Lucas has improved his volley so much. He has worked a lot with Glenn Michibata (former head coach of the Princeton University men’s tennis team). He is a lot more consistent and has a lot more confidence.”

At second doubles, Herzog believes that senior Zack Kleiman and sophomore Andrew Wei will prove to be a winning combination.

“Zack K. is very easy going, he can play with anyone,” said Herzog.

“Andrew is coming up for the JV so I think that will be a good match.”

Herzog believes his squad can play with anyone as it heads into the Mercer County Tournament, which is slated for April 22 and 24 at Mercer County Park.

“For the guys, I just want them to be aggressive,” said Herzog, who is looking to see his team better its fourth place in the 2013 MCT.

“Every match counts and I want the guys going for every single point and chasing down every ball. There is a time and place for saving your energy but this is not it.”

CAMP FIRE: Princeton High softball infielder Jessica Campisi fires the ball to first last Friday as PHS hosted Hamilton. Senior tri-captain Campisi contributed 3 RBIs in the game but it wasn’t enough as PHS fell 16-11. The Little Tigers, now 2-4, are slated to host WW/P-S on April 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CAMP FIRE: Princeton High softball infielder Jessica Campisi fires the ball to first last Friday as PHS hosted Hamilton. Senior tri-captain Campisi contributed 3 RBIs in the game but it wasn’t enough as PHS fell 16-11. The Little Tigers, now 2-4, are slated to host WW/P-S on April 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton High softball team fell behind Hamilton 6-0 last Friday, Jessica Campisi was confident that PHS could get back into the game.

“Over the course of the next few innings we really got used to the pitcher,” said senior tri-captain and shortstop Campisi.

“We started putting together a rally of hitting, which we always do against this school.”

Sure enough, the Little Tigers scored unanswered six runs to knot the game at 6-6 with Campisi contributing an RBI.

But the Hornets responded with five straight runs to take an 11-6 lead. Once again the Little Tigers clawed back, rallying to tie the game at 11-11 heading into the last inning. Campisi delivered a big blow in the comeback, smacking a two-run double in the fifth inning as PHS cut into the deficit to 11-10 at that point.

“I was getting ready to bat and I was ready to let it go,” recalled Campisi.

“One of my teammates Genna [Garlock] was saying you can’t rely on superstition, you are a good hitter and I went out and hit the double.”

While PHS went on to lose 16-11, Campisi believes the Little Tigers are headed in the right direction.

“I think as we have more games, we are getting better,” said Campisi. “I think we are learning to adjust more to pitchers. Yesterday we had a moderate pitcher, today she was a little faster but we are pulling together.”

Campisi is assuming extra responsibility to bring PHS together as she is the lone senior captain, leading the team along with junior tri-captain Sarah Eisenach and sophomore tri-captain Kelli Swedish.

“I have been on the team the longest but we all sort of have different roles as captain,” said Campisi.

“I definitely feel I have a  strong role as a senior captain. I would hope to be a role model for them.”

Having played some stints in the outfield this season, Campisi was happy to be in the infield for the Hamilton game.

“Moving back to shortstop, I felt a little more comfortable,” said Campisi.

“I feel like I can help more with a leadership position, there is an issue with lack of talking in the infield.”

While PHS head coach Dave Boehm liked the way his team never stopped battling against Hamilton, he was disappointed with its defensive sloppiness in crunch time.

“We fought back but we gave them six outs in the last inning,” said Boehm. “We threw it back over the pitcher’s head, we did that twice. We have moved people around but we just had bad throws.”

Coming into the afternoon, Boehm was anticipating a topsy-turvy contest. “This is one of those games, it is a division game like Hightstown, you never know who is going to come out on top,” said Boehm, whose team fell 9-2 to Steinert on Saturday to drop to 2-4 and is slated to host WW/P-S on April 21. “It is not going to be a pretty game and it lived up to the billing today.”

Campisi, for her part, acknowledges that PHS needs to be sharper in the field.

“We had a team meeting after the Robbinsville game and one of the things I think is huge for us is to have more effective practices,” said Campisi.

“We need to be doing more drills during practice where we need to be cleaner and faster. We need to do more situations rather than hitting balls straight to us.”

GUT CHECK: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Chris Azzarello takes a stick in the stomach last week as PDS hosted the Hun School. Junior attacker Azzarello scored three goals in a losing cause as the Panthers fell 8-7 to Hun in the April 8 contest. Two days later, Azzarello tallied four goals to lead PDS to an 11-6 win over defending Prep B champion Rutgers Prep. The Panthers, now 3-1, play at Phillipsburg on April 16, host Warren Hills Regional on April 17, and then play at Pennington on April 21.  (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GUT CHECK: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Chris Azzarello takes a stick in the stomach last week as PDS hosted the Hun School. Junior attacker Azzarello scored three goals in a losing cause as the Panthers fell 8-7 to Hun in the April 8 contest. Two days later, Azzarello tallied four goals to lead PDS to an 11-6 win over defending Prep B champion Rutgers Prep. The Panthers, now 3-1, play at Phillipsburg on April 16, host Warren Hills Regional on April 17, and then play at Pennington on April 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In recent years, the annual boys’ lacrosse clash between Princeton Day School and the Hun School squads has produced a series of nailbiters.

When the foes met last week for the latest installment of the crosstown rivalry, it looked like Hun may flip the script as it jumped out to a 4-1 lead after one quarter.

But with PDS settling down and taking advantage of some man-up opportunities, the April 8 contest developed into a cliffhanger befitting a matchup of teams who both advanced to state Prep title games (PDS in Prep B and Hun in Prep A) last spring.

With junior Chris Azzarello and sophomore Jonah Tuckman finding the back of the net, the Panthers narrowed the gap to 5-3 at halftime. Another Azzarello tally plus goals from sophomore Connor Fletcher and senior Zack Banks knotted the game at 6-6 late in the third quarter.

Hun forged ahead 8-6 early in the fourth but Azzarello answered to make it 8-7 with 5:05 remaining in regulation. The Panthers did have two possessions with a chance to tie but couldn’t come up with another tally as they fell 8-7.

Afterward, PDS head coach Rob Tuckman tipped his hat to both of the combatants.

“It was a good battle, we started out a little flat but credit to this team, we chipped away and got out of that hole,” said Tuckman.

“You got a Division I goalie in there (Hun’s Jon Levine, a Princeton University recruit) and we hit him every which way. He’s outstanding and he played an outstanding game. They beat us because they were just a little bit better than we were today.”

Tuckman did see some flashes of outstanding play from his offensive unit, with Fletcher scoring two goals and Azzarello ending up with three tallies on the afternoon.

“What Connor does is that he draws attention, he is a strong, fast kid,” said Tuckman, whose team turned heads on Thursday as it posted an 11-6 win over defending Prep B champion Rutgers Prep with Azzarello leading the way with four goals and an assist and Fletcher chipping in a goal and four assists.

“We are a six-man offense this year. Connor played really well but his support staff was there doing some great stuff too. We had some great finishes today. Chris had a great game. Zack Banks had that great finish. Jonah had that one from up top. Jacob Shavel played a strong game. We have to remember that these guys are being defensed up by some solid guys.”

PDS’ last line of defense, senior goalie Culver Duquette, came up big with 14 saves, several of them on point blank shots.

“I think Culver came out and he needed that first save to get his wits about him and then he was able to settle in and he made some outstanding saves,” added Tuckman. “Today was a great defensive and goalie exhibition. There was some good physical play.”

In Tuckman’s view, the game could have gone either way. “I think the positives are that we don’t roll over and die regardless of the score,” said Tuckman

“Lacrosse is a game of runs. We kept in it; we had our chances. We had a couple of mistakes at the end that could have gone differently and had it gone differently, you never know.”

Based on last week’s efforts, it looks like PDS, now 3-1, has a chance to produce a special spring.

“Moving forward we take from it that we are going to make a mark this year,” said Tuckman, whose squad plays at Phillipsburg on April 16, hosts Warren Hills Regional on April 17, and then plays at Pennington on April 21.

“It is a great team. We are young and we are getting better and better every game and that’s what you hope for. We have some work to do and we’ll get that work done and I think we’ll have some fun come May.”

JUSTIN TIME: Hun School baseball player Justin Pontrella takes a swing last Wednesday as Hun hosted the Hill School (Pa.). With junior first baseman Pontrella contributing three hits in the contest, including a pair of bases-clearing doubles, Hun cruised to a 13-3 win. In upcoming action, Hun, now 4-2, plays at Princeton Day School on April 16 and at Pennington on April 17 before hosting Rutgers Prep on April 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

JUSTIN TIME: Hun School baseball player Justin Pontrella takes a swing last Wednesday as Hun hosted the Hill School (Pa.). With junior first baseman Pontrella contributing three hits in the contest, including a pair of bases-clearing doubles, Hun cruised to a 13-3 win. In upcoming action, Hun, now 4-2, plays at Princeton Day School on April 16 and at Pennington on April 17 before hosting Rutgers Prep on April 22.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After playing on the Hun School’s junior varsity baseball team in 2013, Justin Pontrella struggled in the early going this spring as he made the move up to the varsity.

With Hun hosting the Hill School (Pa.) last Wednesday, Pontrella decided he needed some extra work.

“Coming into this game, I wasn’t hitting well,” said junior first baseman Pontrella.

“I got down the field real early today and did a lot of easy swings. I got back into the groove and started feeling my hands again.”

In the bottom of the third inning, Pontrella’s work paid dividends as he drilled a liner through the infield.

“I got a base hit single and that was a confidence booster,” said Pontrella. “I started letting it fly.”

Pontrella flew high the rest of the day, belting bases-clearing doubles in the fourth and fifth innings.

While his first double was a hard grounder past the third baseman, the second was a towering shot to the left field fence. “I feel like I got a hold of it and I was on second base as soon as I got out of the batter’s box,” said Pontrella, reflecting on the fifth inning blast.

After getting the spring off to a disappointing start with a 7-6 loss at the Blair Academy in a Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) contest, the Raiders have caught fire, winning three of four games, including a 9-5 win over Lawrenceville on April 8 and a 10-0 victory over Peddie last Friday.

“Our first game was against Blair and we lost that; we kind of used that as motivation,” said Pontrella.

“In the next two MAPL games, we were pretty fired up and we got two wins.”

In Pontrella’s view, Hun’s team unity has helped the squad come together quickly.

“It has the best chemistry out of any team I have played on because it has young talent,” said Pontrella.

“We have got a lot of guys who really want to be here. No one feels like they are better than anyone. We are all here to do it together.”

Hun head coach Bill McQuade senses a one-for-all, all-for-one spirit on the team.

“The interesting thing that I have seen so far is that they pull for each other; it is not cliquey,” said McQuade.

“We don’t have those kids right now who are going big-time D-I or anything like that. We have good ballplayers. I like to say that we have good high school players that can play at the next level, some of them can play D-III. Those kids win if they put it all together. Teams win; individuals rarely ever win.”

McQuade likes the way Pontrella has put things together in his debut campaign for the varsity.

“He hit the ball well on the JVs; he has power which he shows,” said McQuade.

“He takes as much extra batting practice as anyone. He bats on the weekends, he comes down here on the weekends and steals my baseballs out of the cage and hits all weekend. He loves the game. He has got some of the softest hands at first base of any first baseman I have ever had. He has saved our infield of I don’t how many errors already and we have only played three or four games.”

In the win over Hill, senior pitcher Patrick Donahue gave the Raiders some good work.

“Donahue hung in there,” said McQuade of the senior hurler who gave up three runs in five innings of work to earn the win.

“He tends to throw a lot of pitches. I think he got frustrated with a couple of calls and then he overthrew. I told him we need you to go 6 and 7 innings, not 5 innings which means that you can’t turn around and throw the ball as hard as you want to, you have to locate it. He’s tough inside, he has a great attitude.”

Hun could end up with a tough pitching rotation, based on how junior ace Jason Applegate and a pair of sophomores, George Revock and James Werosta, have performed so far.

“If App rounds into form, it will be good,” said McQuade. “He walked two in the first inning against Lawrenceville and didn’t walk anyone the rest of the game, that is huge for us. George Revock throws strikes. Jimmy Werosta in only a sophomore but he just comes in and throws strikes. He did a great job against Episcopal his first time out, doing the same thing. He shows no emotion.”

The Raiders did a great job of running itself into rallies against Hill, utilizing stolen bases to get players into scoring position all day long.

“We don’t have last year’s speed but we have a couple of kids who are good base runners so they get decent jumps,” said McQuade.

“If we think we have a good matchup with their pitcher’s time release and the catcher’s time release, we will run all day and that’s what it was here. That entered into the game and the final score because that put them on the defense. Virtually every time we got to first, we were on second.”

McQuade is having a good time this spring , noting that his young squad has been making solid progress.

“We had that Blair game, it was 6-4 in our favor going into the last inning and we had made six errors already up to there and they made one or two,” said McQuade.

“To come back the way we did right after that, we played Episcopal

and won (5-2), we played Lawrenceville and won and now we have played another good team and we won that.”

Pontrella, for his part, isn’t surprised by the resilience Hun has displayed so far. “As far as talent, we are not the best team,” said Pontrella. “But the way we play together, come together and work hard, we battle better than anyone.”

STICKING TOGETHER: Members of the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team celebrate after scoring a goal last week against Princeton Day School. Hun edged crosstown rival PDS 8-7 in the April 8 contest. The Raiders, now 4-4,  host Blair Academy on April 16 and Voorhees on April 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STICKING TOGETHER: Members of the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team celebrate after scoring a goal last week against Princeton Day School. Hun edged crosstown rival PDS 8-7 in the April 8 contest. The Raiders, now 4-4, host Blair Academy on April 16 and Voorhees on April 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As a longstick midfielder, Tucker Stevenson knows that playing strong defense is his primary responsibility for the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team.

But the versatile junior star likes to employ his athleticism to get involved in the Hun attack.

“It is not always my position to be a two-way player but I just like to get up and down the field,” said Stevenson.

“Playing soccer and dabbling in basketball, I have decent stamina so I can get up and down a little bit. It just gives us another dimension. Sometimes when another team has to sub I just stay out on and get up there so it works out well.”

Last week, Stevenson provided that added dimension for the Raiders as they played at Princeton Day School. Stevenson scored a first quarter goal and then assisted on a fourth quarter tally by Corey Reynolds that proved to be the game-winner in an 8-7 victory for Hun.

Stevenson’s goal resulted from his athleticism. “It was a nice reward,” said Stevenson. “They were just locking off and I had a little speed on the kid.”

The assist on the game-winner was the product of a joint effort.

“It was a great face-off by Liam Fitzgerald and they were putting a lot of pressure on my back but I was able turn out of it,” recalled Stevenson.

“Corey was open and I gave it to him, he did all the work. People were moving, giving him space. It was good play all around.”

Showing his all around game, Stevenson assumed responsibility for locking down PDS star midfield Connor Fletcher, holding him without a goal in the fourth quarter.

“He was torturing us, they ran some good sets for him,” said Stevenson. “At the end of the game we decided to  shut him off and make it easier. He is good kid, he is going to be good for a long time.”

The win was a good step forward for Hun as it began the spring by dropping two-one goal contests on the way to a 0-3 start.

“We have been on the other end of a couple on one-goal losses already,” said Stevenson.

“We were able to stick together as a team. No one really stood out, it was a team win at the end.”

Hun head coach MV Whitlow was relieved to see his team pull out the victory.

“We expected a one-goal game and that is what we got,” said Whitlow. “We started off our season with a pretty tough schedule and we had some hiccups with some one-goal losses. With the weather and those one-goal losses,  I think we are not quite where we want to be offensively. Today our offense did step up for us and our defense wasn’t quite what is has been the last couple of weeks but that is what a team victory is all about so we were happy about that.”

Whitlow has been happy with the play he has been getting from Stevenson.

“Tucker has been a real bright spot all season,” asserted Whitlow. “We knew coming into the season that he was going to be a spark for us. He is a playmaker, he is an energy guy, he is a skill guy. He has a great feel for the game and that was a big game for him today to create the offense that he did in the midfield but then to clamp Connor down in the fourth quarter.”

Goalie Jon Levin showed his skill and resolve in closing the door on the Panthers down the stretch.

“Jon Levin is a Princeton commit; he is a high caliber young man and he is a great ball stopper,” said Whitlow.

“He has a day like today where he let a couple in but he is not going to let it faze him, he is going to work through it and make the next save.”

The Raiders got some good work on the offensive end from Julian Williams and Reynolds.

“Julian’s skills are coming along; I have said to Julian all year that I am really looking forward to seeing him play in May,” said Whitlow of Williams who tallied two goals in the contest.

“He just picked up the stick again, his teammates love him. He is a great  teammate and he is obviously a great athlete. I thought Corey Reynolds had a good game, he made some good decisions.”

For Hun, beating PDS was a critical triumph as the team is running a gauntlet of tough foes this spring.

“We wanted to increase the level of our schedule and I think we did that,” said Whitlow, whose squad defeated defending state Prep B champion Rutgers Prep 11-7 last Saturday to improve to 4-4 and will host Blair Academy on April 16 and Voorhees on April 22.

“Any time you lose two one-goal games in 24 hours, it rattles you a little bit. We have a young team, we got a little rattled but we worked through it. Winning  three in a row is big.”

Stevenson, for his part, believes that Hun has the ability to earn a lot of big wins this spring.

“We have a lot of good individual talent but we haven’t been able to put it together; we are starting to to do that,” said Stevenson. “We have to get tougher and play as a team.”

While the Hun School boys’ tennis dropped all three of its matches last week, Todd Loffredo wasn’t discouraged.

“We have had a busy week; we had illnesses and absences so we had to use different lineups,” said Hun head coach Loffredo, whose team fell 3-2 to Pennington on April 8, 4-1 to Princeton Day School last wednesday, and 3-2 to Rutgers Prep on Friday. “We definitely had some improvement; each player got to feel good.”

Loffredo is feeling good about the play he is getting from junior Foster Broad at first singles.

“I can’t tell you how much he has improved from last year,” said Loffredo, noting that Broad picked up a solid straight-set win in the Rutgers Prep match

“He plays tennis two or three times a week now. He is a total athlete; he can play any sport. He is doing well not just because he is an athlete but because he is a tennis player.”

At second singles, sophomore Adam Doynow has made a big jump this spring in terms of tennis savvy.

“Adam’s maturity is the biggest difference,” said Loffredo. “He has always been a strong tennis player. I see a difference on the court, he is much more cool, calm, and collected.”

Senior Rohit Malhotra is making a difference for the Raiders at third singles.

“Rohit had a good win against Pennington,” added Loffredo.

“If he can stay healthy, he is going to be good. He has a tennis elbow thing. He is a senior and he is doing a good job leading the team.”

The pair of juniors James Mogilever and Max Kislyansky is giving Hun good work at first doubles.

“Max is Russian and James’ parents are Russians so they speak Russian to each other,” said Loffredo.

“I think it gives them a connection. They complement each other on the court. They are always talking to each positively and they always have their heads in the game.”

Senior Maxime Vounatsos has been the constant at second doubles so far, playing with some different partners.

“Maxime was on the JV last year and as a senior he has brought us leadership and reliability,” asserted Loffredo. “He is always fighting to win, he always has a smile on his face.

Loffredo wants his players to show some fight when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament next week.

“We are looking to improve on last year; we had our worst finish at the county tournament since I have been here,” said Loffredo, whose squad tied for 12th in the 2013 MCT team standings

“If our guys are playing well, they can beat most people. I want them to believe in themselves. I know the odds are against us. It is fun to be there around all the other teams and I want them to enjoy that.”

April 9, 2014
FINISHING STRONG: Gabby Vukasin looks for the puck during a game this winter in her senior season for the Williams College women’s hockey team. Former Princeton High standout Vukasin served as the team’s co-captain and helped Williams win its first NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) title. Vukasin, who joined the program as a walk-on, tallied nine goals and nine assists this winter and 61 points in her career of 34 goals and 27 assists.(Photo Courtesy of Williams College Sports Information Department)

FINISHING STRONG: Gabby Vukasin looks for the puck during a game this winter in her senior season for the Williams College women’s hockey team. Former Princeton High standout Vukasin served as the team’s co-captain and helped Williams win its first NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) title. Vukasin, who joined the program as a walk-on, tallied nine goals and nine assists this winter and 61 points in her career of 34 goals and 27 assists. (Photo Courtesy of Williams College Sports Information Department)

Gabby Vukasin could see the end of her college hockey career approaching like a freight train and she wasn’t about to go out quietly.

With her Williams College women’s hockey team trailing Trinity 1-0 heading into the third period of the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) quarterfinals in early March, the senior forward and former Princeton High star spoke up.

“We just weren’t playing our game,” said Vukasin, one of the squad’s co-captains. “Between the second and third period, I pulled the girls aside and said we had a chance to keep playing or end the season and it was up to us.”

Vukasin took matters into her hands assisting on the game-tying goal early in the third period, igniting a Williams’ rally which saw the Ephs pull out a 3-2 win. Williams went on to beat Connecticut College 2-0 in the semis and then top Bowdoin 4-1 in the championship game.

After the title game, Vukasin savored the moment as her career was extended into the NCAA Division III tourney by virtue of the win.

“We didn’t leave the ice for 45 minutes; we were taking pictures,” recalled Vukasin.

“We were more focused on being champions, because we had never done that before, than going to the NCAAs. Random people were coming up to me and saying great game.”

Days later, Vukasin did play her final college game as Williams fell 4-1 to Plattsburgh State in the opening round of the NCAAs. Vukasin scored a goal in the first minute of the contest but the Ephs couldn’t build on that.

“To be honest, I don’t remember that goal,” said Vukasin. “There was so much going on, it was a scramble in the crease and I don’t even remember hitting the puck.”

The finality of the loss left Vukasin with a sad memory. “That was pretty horrible,” said Vukasin. “I felt like we had such a great season and the chemistry was so great and I was never going to have that chance again.”

Earning a spot on the Ephs as a walk-on as a freshman, Vukasin made the most out of her chance to play college hockey. After getting four points in her debut campaign, the 5’6 Vukasin tallied 57 points on 32 goals and 25 assists over her last three years.

She rose through the ranks as a leader, being named one of the team’s co-captains this winter along with classmate Cristina Bravi.

“I wasn’t sure if I would be named captain; it felt good knowing that my teammates had confidence in my leadership abilities,” said Vukasin.

“I had a leadership role on the team as a junior being one of the older players. I had to learn to be a bad guy, holding them accountable.”

Coming off a disappointing 9-15-1 season in 2012-13, the Ephs were confident that they could be a force this winter.

“We definitely wanted to do much better than we had in the past,” said Vukasin. “We were definitely a little closer as a team than we had been in the past years, everyone was willing to work hard.”

Bringing a pedestrian 3-5 record into January, Williams got rolling with a sweep of Trinity to begin the 2014 portion of their schedule.

“We knew they were going to come out hard because they thought they were going to beat us,” said Vukasin.

“We knew we had the skills to beat them. I think some of the freshmen and sophomores really came into their own; having one year really helped them. Overall we had a lot of skill, we had three really strong lines and a lot of depth.”

Vukasin, for her part, showed her skill set, tallying 9 goals and 9 assists this winter and starring on the power play.

“I guess it was a function of my line; I was going in the corners more rather than playing in front of the net,” said Vukasin.

“I have been in the same power play position for three years and I was just using that experience.”

Playing the NESCAC final four at home and getting the title was an experience that Vukasin won’t soon forget.

“It was a lot of fun with friends and family there over the weekend,” said Vukasin.

“We had a rivalry with Bowdoin. In the past few years we had lost two or three close games to them that we thought we should have won. This year we swept them and some thought we were going to be a little cocky. It was pretty emotional for me; it was pretty awesome.”

With Williams having gone from 4-17 in 2010-11 to 15-10-3 this winter, Vukasin gives a lot of credit to head coach Megan Gillis, who took the helm three years ago.

“With Gillis, each year she is getting better and adding to her coaching repertoire,” added Vukasin. “The coaches are there all the time for us, players would go in for extra training.”

Gillis, for her part, appreciated Vukasin’s improvement over her career.

“We are updating school records this summer and I would be shocked if she is not in the top five in power play goals,” said Gillis.

“She was very good on special teams. She worked very hard on that. She was so tough in front of the net, she set a standard.”

In Gillis’ view, Vukasin also set a standard off the ice. “She is an extremely bright person, so intellectual,” said Gillis of Vukasin, an astrophysics and math major who has been accepted to graduate engineering programs.

“To excel in the classroom at a place like Williams speaks volumes and it gained the respect of her teammates.”

Having earned that respect gave Vukasin the latitude to call out her teammates when necessary.

“She showed up every day and worked hard,” said Gillis. “When you have a captain who leads by her actions like that, she can also hold others accountable by saying I am working this hard and you should too.”

Gillis believes that Vukasin is leaving a special legacy. “I am definitely going to miss Gabby and her leadership,” added Gillis.

“She and her co-captain showed up every day and worked and helped change the culture of the program. As a coach, you need players like that, they were the heart and soul of the team. To go from walk-on to a captain on a championship team, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

In the final analysis, Vukasin came to believe that she was competing for something bigger than herself as her college career unfolded.

“I played with more heart,” said Vukasin, who was named to the 2014 NESCAC Winter All-Sportsmanship team, which recognizes student-athletes from each varsity sport who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to sportsmanship.

“I was not playing for myself, I was playing for my teammates. I feel this season showed how much hard work and heart could make a difference.”

ATTACK FORCE: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Matt Corrado heads upfield in recent action. Senior star Corrado moved to attack from midfield this year and has caught fire recently with three goals and an assist in a 9-6 win over Allentown last week and three assists in a 10-6 victory over Rancocas Valley last Monday. PHS, now 5-0, plays at Northern Burlington on April 9 and at perennial prep power Lawrenceville on April 14.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ATTACK FORCE: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Matt Corrado heads upfield in recent action. Senior star Corrado moved to attack from midfield this year and has caught fire recently with three goals and an assist in a 9-6 win over Allentown last week and three assists in a 10-6 victory over Rancocas Valley last Monday. PHS, now 5-0, plays at Northern Burlington on April 9 and at perennial prep power Lawrenceville on April 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After emerging as a star midfielder for the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team over the last three years, Matt Corrado has moved up to attack for his senior campaign.

Despite his on-field experience and offensive skills, Corrado initially struggled to find a comfort level in his new spot.

“So far it has been a little difficult but I think I have my head on my shoulders now,” said Corrado.

“I am used to dodging against guys with shortsticks so the long poles kind of scare me.”

Last week, Corrado showed that he will be someone to fear on attack, tallying three goals and an assist as PHS topped Allentown 9-6.

In reflecting on his performance, Corrado said it was a product of the team’s offensive balance.

“We have been playing together for a long time and we haven been working on the offense against some really good teams in spring break,” said Corrado.

“I think we are really prepared for this season. We have guys that can go either way, left or right and just the chemistry that has been there for the past couple of years has kept growing.”

Having topped Allentown last May in the Mercer County Tournament championship game, the Little Tigers knew they were in for a battle last week.

“We were a little nervous coming into this game since beating them in the county title game last year,” said Corrado.

“I think the nerves were there and we knew they were gunning for us. We worked a lot in practice trying to make sure that we got all those jitters out and just played our game.”

PHS has also benefited from working on team unity this spring. “Going to Florida this year was definitely beneficial; it is clearly seen on the field,” asserted Corrado.

“Honestly everyone has just been very supportive of each other so far. We had a lot of team bonding with going to and from Florida and hanging out in the airport with each other can build a lot.”

As one of the team’s four captains, along with classmates Matt Purdy, Kevin Halliday, and Patrick McCormick, Corrado has assumed more responsibility on the field.

“I think just vocal communication,” said Corrado. “The four of us have been on the field a long time so we know each other. Everybody knows how to play off of us. It has definitely been difficult how to learn how to be vocal, these first games have been very telling for me just in how difficult it can be.”

Little Tiger head coach Peter Stanton thought Corrado’s performance in the win over Allentown was telling. “We are so thrilled for Matt today,” asserted Stanton.

“Matt is a guy who is extremely dedicated in the offseason. He attended so many workouts; he worked so hard to get his stick skills. He hasn’t played as well as he is capable of playing. Today when we were struggling and we had some good opportunities, he was the guy that stepped up and buried them. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Stanton was happy with the way his team controlled the tempo offensively.

“We know that they are a team that is very good in transition and we wanted to shorten the game a little bit,” said Stanton, who got two goals apiece from Kevin Halliday and Johnny Lopez-Ona in the win over Allentown with Matt Purdy and Chris Diver chipping in one each.

“If we could hold the ball and attack the goal wisely that gives them less opportunities to get running. We got a lot of guys involved. Guys being involved isn’t necessarily guys scoring goals or getting assists but having all six guys active and part of the offense and spreading the field.”

Freshman Lopez-Ona hasn’t wasted any time getting involved in the PHS attack.

“He is a crafty little guy,” said Stanton of the wiry Lopez-Ona. “We put him in situations where we are not going to ask him to do too much. We keep it simple and basic with him and he is effective. Physically he is playing above his pay grade right now because he is playing against bigger, stronger, faster kids. His experience and skill make him effective for us and we are patching him around guys that can play.”

Stanton saw the contest with Allentown as a big early test for his guys. “We had two battles with this squad last year and we felt like we won the more important one,” said Stanton.

“We know that they are a program that has championship aspirations and expectations and we know they are going to try to play at that level so we were excited for the challenge.”

With the Little Tigers having produced a hot start, Stanton is excited about his team’s ability to be in the mix for championships.

“We feel like we have got a lot left in the tank and that is early and there is room for growth,” said Stanton, whose team topped Rancocas Valley 10-6 on Monday to improve to 5-0 and will look to keep on the winning track as it plays at Northern Burlington on April 9 and at perennial prep power Lawrenceville on April 14.

“Our boys want to work hard; they are not settling for the easy accomplishment.”

Corrado, for his part, believes the Little Tigers can accomplish a lot this spring.

“We have a couple of tough games coming up; we are really looking forward to Lawrenceville and this year we have the pleasure of playing Summit so that is a big one,” said Corrado.

“That will definitely prepare us for the county championship but a lot of these guys have been there before. I think it is just working out the jitters and trying to find the guys who didn’t get as much playing time last year and getting them acclimated to our system and then just hammering it home when the county tournament comes.”

CREASE CONTROL: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse goalie Mira Shane guards the crease in a recent game. Last Monday, junior standout Shane made 11 saves to help PHS top Princeton Day School 15-6. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers, now 3-2, host South Hunterdon on April 10 and Eastern High on April 14.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CREASE CONTROL: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse goalie Mira Shane guards the crease in a recent game. Last Monday, junior standout Shane made 11 saves to help PHS top Princeton Day School 15-6. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers, now 3-2, host South Hunterdon on April 10 and Eastern High on April 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

An overcast afternoon turned into a chilly downpour as the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team played at Princeton Day School last Monday.

But while players on the sidelines shivered and huddled under umbrellas, PHS goalie Mira Shane felt a warmth on the field as the Little Tigers looked to get on the right track after recent defeats to WW/P-N and Notre Dame.

“Those two losses for us, North and Notre Dame, were rough; I wanted a different energy to differentiate from those previous games,” said Shane.

“Our defense was looking to change things. I told my defense at halftime, hey guys I am feeling the electricity today.”

A charged up PHS squad built a 7-2 lead by half and never looked back on the way to a 15-6 triumph as it improved its record to 3-2.

Shane stood tall in the cage, making several good saves as PHS put the clamps on a Panther squad that was averaging 12.5 goals a game coming into Monday.

“In the first half, it felt better,” said Shane, who totaled 11 saves on the afternoon. “I owed it to the defense; when there aren’t point blank shots in front of you, it is much easier to make a save.”

Having started for PHS since day one as a freshman, Shane looks to verbally direct the defense.

“I would say I am more mentally tough now as an upperclassmen,” said Shane.

“I am a little bit more confident to talk to my defense. Before I had to lay back, now I have to take a bigger role to tell them what I need out of them. I think that is one of the big differences and you can see it in our defense. Now we are really getting those connections.”

Shane’s diligence has made a difference in her skill level. “I have a private coach, I started with him when I was a freshman and then with recruiting and stuff I want to propel and take it to the next level,” said Shane, who plays for the Ultimate New Jersey club team and is looking at D-I and D-III college programs.

“I am actually working with a tennis ball machine now with constant repetition, 100 stops high corner, 100 stops low corner.”

PHS head coach Kelsey O’Gorman believes that Shane has taken her game to the next level.

“Mira is just phenomenal,” asserted O’Gorman. “You saw the power she has on her clears. She is really leading the whole defense. She is loud and in charge. You can hear her from one end of the field to the other and even in the rain, she does not stop and everyone feeds off of her.”

Shane, for her part, is hoping that PHS can feed off the win over PDS to get on a roll.

“I am hoping this will definitely pick up some momentum for us to take into the later season,” said Shane, who will look to keep PHS on the winning track as it hosts South Hunterdon on April 10 and Eastern High on April 14. “We have a harder schedule this year so I am hoping we will really carry that positive energy over.”

SERVING NOTICE: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis player Neeraj Devullapalli blasts a serve in action last spring. Senior standout Devullapalli is playing at second singles this spring for PDS as it looks to build on a 2013 campaign that saw it earn a three-way tie for the state Prep B title. The Panthers started the season with a 4-1 win over Pennington last Thursday and are slated to host Hun on April 9 before playing at the Blair Academy on April 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SERVING NOTICE: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis player Neeraj Devullapalli blasts a serve in action last spring. Senior standout Devullapalli is playing at second singles this spring for PDS as it looks to build on a 2013 campaign that saw it earn a three-way tie for the state Prep B title. The Panthers started the season with a 4-1 win over Pennington last Thursday and are slated to host Hun on April 9 before playing at the Blair Academy on April 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While the Princeton Day School boys’ tennis team hasn’t been on the court much so far this spring, Will Asch is cautiously optimistic.

“I think we are going to be pretty good,” said PDS head coach Asch, whose team started the season with a 4-1 win over Pennington last Thursday.

“We were supposed to have four matches last week and we had only one. We got some indoors time over the vacation. We got nothing out of the first two weeks because the courts were unplayable.”

Asch knows he has a special player at first singles in freshman Anupreeth Coramutla.

“Anupreeth is a very good athlete and he is very fast,” said Asch. “He is a highly-ranked Middle States player. He has got a lot of potential. He likes to compete and he seems mentally tough.”

The presence of senior star Neeraj Devullapalli at second singles helps make the Panthers tough to beat.

“It is a pretty nice luxury having Neeraj at second singles,” said Asch. “He is playing well. It is nice to have a senior in the lineup. He is a very nice person, the boys all like him.”

At third singles, the Panthers have a nice option in sophomore Scott Altmeyer.

“He was very good last year and I think he will be very good this year,” said Asch of Altmeyer. “He has grown a lot and is a lot stronger. I think he will have more success this year.”

A key to the team’s success will be the play of the first doubles pair of junior Josiah Meekins and senior D.J. Modzelewski.

“Josiah is one of the better doubles players we have had in the last few years,” said Asch. “I think of D.J. as more of a singles player; his game has improved and he has gotten better at the net. They like each other.”

Asch likes what he is seeing from his second doubles team of seniors Hari Rajagopalan and Andy Erickson.

“They are experienced, they played together with the JV for a few years,” noted Asch.

“They are both athletic and they play well as a team. We will see how well they compete against kids who have played in tournaments. I think they will win a lot of matches.”

With its depth, PDS hopes to be in the running to win some titles. “We certainly have a good shot at Prep B; we had a three-way tie last year and Pennington was in the 3-way tie,” said Asch, whose team hosts Hun on April 9 before playing at the Blair Academy on April 11.

“To win the Mercer County Tournament, we will need a lot of luck. It is very tough for a school like us. I think we will be one of the teams in the mix. We could be one of the better teams in the area but I don’t know a lot about the other teams yet.”

April 2, 2014
CATCHING ON: Princeton High baseball player Colin Frawley pauses during an at-bat last spring. Senior catcher Frawley is primed to put together a big final campaign as PHS aims to improve on the 9-13 record it posted in 2013. The Little Tigers start regular season action by hosting Hopewell Valley on April 1 and then playing at Princeton Day School on April 2, at Hights­town on April 4, and at Allentown on April 5 before hosting Trenton Central on April 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CATCHING ON: Princeton High baseball player Colin Frawley pauses during an at-bat last spring. Senior catcher Frawley is primed to put together a big final campaign as PHS aims to improve on the 9-13 record it posted in 2013. The Little Tigers start regular season action by hosting Hopewell Valley on April 1 and then playing at Princeton Day School on April 2, at Hights­town on April 4, and at Allentown on April 5 before hosting Trenton Central on April 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton High baseball team, winning eight of its last 11 games last year has given its returning players a lift coming into this spring.

“I think all the varsity guys who got playing experience last year are very confident,” said PHS head coach Dave Roberts, who guided the Little Tigers to a 9-13 record in 2013.

Roberts is confident that senior Ben Gross will have a big year on the mound.

“Ben is no doubt our No. 1 pitcher,” said Roberts. “He threw 50 innings last year and we are looking to get the same or more this spring. We need to get him to finish games.”

Noting that the Little Tigers lost a lot of pitching from the 2013 squad to graduation, Roberts is looking for senior Jeff Gleason, sophomore Joaquin Hernandez-Burt, senior Austin Taylor, and junior Ben Danis to fill that void.

“We have 80 innings to replace,” said Roberts. “Jeff Gleason was out last year but had a nice first scrimmage. Joaquin also had a nice first scrimmage. He is a sophomore but he is big and he has some velocity. Austin Taylor will be in the back end, he can go one or two innings. He knows his role. Ben Danis should get some innings. The focus is on location and not walking people.”

The Little Tigers will be focusing on fundamentals. “We are a pitching and defense team,” said Roberts, whose defensive alignment will include senior Colin Frawley at catcher, senior Austin Taylor at first base, senior Gleason at second, sophomore Hayden Reyes at shortstop, and sophomore Colin Taylor at third with junior John Reid in left field and Danis, sophomore Micah Daly-Harris, senior John Lebeau and senior Jack Buyski in the mix for the other outfield spots. “We need to bunt, hit and run, and steal bases.”

PHS is looking to Reyes to be an offensive catalyst, coming off a freshman campaign when he emerged as a .300 hitter. “Reyes is staying at the No. 2 spot again; he’ll get plenty of at-bats,” said Roberts, whose squad was slated to start the 2014 season by hosting Hopewell Valley on April 1 and then playing at Princeton Day School on April 2, at Hightstown on April 4, and at Allentown on April 5 before hosting Trenton Central on April 7.

“That can be a big RBI spot when the lineup turns over. He will have to come up big. He will be seeing situations with runners on and two outs. Colin Taylor did well at leadoff in our scrimmage, he is an aggressive batter and can steal some bases. Gross will be in the 4-spot like he was last year. Reid, Frawley, Austin Taylor, and Danis are in the mix for the other spots.”

In Roberts’ view, PHS can build on last year’s success. “I think as a group we are looking for no drop-off in terms of the win total,” said Roberts.

“We would be disappointed if we had less than nine wins. We will emphasize pitching and defense, looking for no errors and no walks. We can control those aspects.”

BRINGING THE HEAT: Princeton High softball pitcher Sarah Eisenach fires a pitch in action last season. Junior ace ­Eisenach will be carrying the pitching load this spring for PHS as it looks to build on its 11-12 campaign in 2013, the program’s first-ever double-digit win season. The Little Tigers get regular season play underway this week as they were scheduled to host Hopewell Valley on April 1 and then play at Allentown on April 3 and host Trenton Central on April 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BRINGING THE HEAT: Princeton High softball pitcher Sarah Eisenach fires a pitch in action last season. Junior ace ­Eisenach will be carrying the pitching load this spring for PHS as it looks to build on its 11-12 campaign in 2013, the program’s first-ever double-digit win season. The Little Tigers get regular season play underway this week as they were scheduled to host Hopewell Valley on April 1 and then play at Allentown on April 3 and host Trenton Central on April 7.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having lost six seniors from a 2013 team that posted the program’s first-ever double-digit win season, the Princeton High softball team is going to have a different look this spring.

But PHS head coach Dave Boehm believes this year’s squad can pick up where things left off from the breakthrough 11-12 campaign last spring.

“We have six newcomers to the lineup so they have to gain confidence,” said Boehm.

“I told the girls at the beginning of the season that I think they can be in double-digits in wins.”

Boehm is expecting junior pitcher Sarah Eisenach to pile up a lot of wins this spring.

“Sarah will see most of the action in the circle,” said Boehm, whose team was slated to open the 2014 season by hosting Hopewell Valley on April 1 and then playing at Allentown on April 3 and hosting Trenton Central on April 7.

“She has gotten a little faster and a little stronger. I think she has gotten a little tougher.”

PHS may also get some innings from a pair of freshmen, Kayla Volante and Nancy Gray.

“If needed, Kayla and Nancy are both capable of handling the job,” added Boehm.

“Volante has good movement on her pitches. She is a younger kid so she will have to get used to the varsity level.”

The talented Volante will be counted on to get the PHS offense moving. “Kayla will be leading off,” said Boehm.

“We will need senior captain Jess Campisi to have a better year than she did last year. We will be looking for Sarah to step up. Sarah, Kelli Swedish, and Nancy Gray will be in the middle of the lineup. Rounding out the lineup will be speedy Stephanie Wu, Katie Kanter, and Lucia Matteo. Hopefully we won’t have to play station-to-station offense. We may need to play some small ball to go from first to third.”

The Little Tigers will need to play good ball on defense. “The fielding has been very good in two of our three scrimmages,” said Boehm, who has sophomore Matteo at catcher, sophomore Emily DiLella at first, Campisi at second or shortstop with Gray also seeing time at short, sophomore Wu at third, sophomore Swedish in left field, Volante in center field and senior Kanter in right.

“I think we have gotten a little quicker in the infield. I am happy with how this young team has responded.”

Boehm, for his part, is confident that the Little Tigers will keep responding as the spring unfolds.

“I’m optimistic that we will be competitive throughout the season,” said Boehm. “We may struggle against some of the powerhouses but we’ll show up and battle tough.”

TRIGGER MAN: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse attackman Jacob Shavel heads upfield in a game last season. Junior standout Shavel will be triggering the PDS offense this spring. The Panthers are scheduled to open regular season action with a game at Voorhees on April 1 before playing at Delaware Valley High on April 4 and hosting the Hun School on April 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TRIGGER MAN: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse attackman Jacob Shavel heads upfield in a game last season. Junior standout Shavel will be triggering the PDS offense this spring. The Panthers are scheduled to open regular season action with a game at Voorhees on April 1 before playing at Delaware Valley High on April 4 and hosting the Hun School on April 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team didn’t get the  chance to get outside much before its spring trip to South Carolina, the players looked sharp once they arrived in Hilton Head.

PDS head coach Rob Tuckman, for one, was not surprised by the high level of play he saw down south.

“We are really happy,” said Tuckman, who coached the Panthers to an 11-6 record in 2013 and appearances in the state Prep B championship game and the Mercer County Tournament semifinals.

“It is a credit to the senior classes, most recently last year’s; what we are seeing is a seriousness and a commitment to the sport. The kids are not waiting until March to pick up a stick. The kids are getting prepared and they are getting physically stronger.”

The Panthers have a strong attack group, led by junior Jacob Shavel, junior Chris Azzarello, and sophomore Joey Levine.

“They are working well as a unit; one of the key components is that we are getting production from everyone,” said Tuckman, whose team was scheduled to open regular season action with a game at Voorhees on April 1 before playing at Delaware Valley High on April 4 and hosting the Hun School on April 7.

“Jacob is looking great. One of his areas of progress is recognizing that he has five players behind him. He is captaining the ship with that perspective. Chris is establishing himself as a leader on attack. Joey is filling in that third spot.”

In the midfield, sophomores Jonah Tuckman (the coach’s son) and Connor Fletcher are bringing a mature perspective.

“Jonah is our face-off middie, we are looking for him to do well,” said Tuckman, whose midfield unit will also include seniors Connor Bitterman and tri-captain Lewie Blackburn together with freshman Will Brossman and sophomore Chris Chai.

“Connor is a big, strong body out there. Their real strength is that they play beyond their years. Jonah is a coach’s son and Connor is going to be playing D-I lacrosse.”

In Tuckman’s view, the Panther defense may be its biggest asset, featuring senior tri-captain Ben Levine together with juniors Kevin Towle and Christian Vik. “Our defense is probably the strongest part of our team,” asserted Tuckman.

“Towle was a longstick midfielder last year and he has gained 15 pounds of muscle. Both Levine and Vik are leaders out there, between the two of them, they have established something special.”

The Panthers have two good options at goalie in senior tri-captain Culver Duquette and junior Chris Markey.

“Both are committed to the position, they have worked with Rich in the midseason,” said Tuckman, referring to assistant coach Rich D’Andrea, a former star goalie at Georgetown.

“They are both looking excellent. I am not sure what we are going to do there, they could split time. It is a good problem to have, we are just trying to figure it out.”

If PDS can figure things out, it has the potential to enjoy a banner spring. “If we stay healthy, we can make runs,” asserted Tuckman.

“We want to hang banners. We are going for the state Prep B title and the county championship. I am looking forward to seeing us in games in New Jersey. We have a tough schedule by design. We are playing a brand of lacrosse we haven’t played in a while. We have strength in all areas of the field and we have confidence in all areas of the field.”

ON THE BALL: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Lucy Linville tracks a ball in 2013 action. Senior attacker and Lafayette-bound Linville figures to be a key offensive weapon this spring for the Panthers. PDS gets the 2014 regular season underway this week as it was slated to host Stuart Country Day on April 1 before playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on April 4 and hosting Princeton High on April 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON THE BALL: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Lucy Linville tracks a ball in 2013 action. Senior attacker and Lafayette-bound Linville figures to be a key offensive weapon this spring for the Panthers. PDS gets the 2014 regular season underway this week as it was slated to host Stuart Country Day on April 1 before playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on April 4 and hosting Princeton High on April 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The ingredients are in place for the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team to produce some fireworks this spring.

“We have speed, we have athletes, and we have good players in the skill positions,” said longtime PDS head coach Jill Thomas, who guided the Panthers to an 8-9 record last spring.

“We will do what we can to get out and run. We will run with a purpose, we will gun with a purpose.”

The Panthers’ top guns on attack figure to be junior Morgan Foster, Lafayette-bound senior Lucy Linville, and sophomore Hope Anhut.

“Foster is a real leader; she has great athleticism and stick skills,” said Thomas, who will also be using the Soltesz twins, juniors Alexa and Stef, on attack.

“She is the quarterback of our offense. Lucy has been working all year on her game. She is fit and we are expecting good things from her. Hope made a lot of progress last year and she is doing well this spring.”

In the midfield, PDS is expecting good things from such veterans as junior Kirsten Kuzmicz and seniors Allison Mascioli and Mary Travers.

“Kirsten can go up and down the field,” said Thomas, noting the seniors Sarah Brennan and Mimi Matthews are in the mix at midfield.

“Allison is back; she played as a freshman and then had double ACLs. Mary is working to get her stick skills after playing two other sports. She’s an athlete and will be a presence.”

The Panther defensive unit features plenty of athleticism in junior Erin Hogan and sophomores Tess Gecha and Rowan Schomburg along with Mascioli, Travers, and Matthews.

“Erin Hogan is an athlete and should help us on defense,” said Thomas, whose squad gets the 2014 regular season underway this week as it was slated to host Stuart Country Day on April 1 before playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on April 4 and hosting Princeton High on April 7.

“Allison, Mary, and Mimi can play there. The experience that Tess and Rowan got last year is serving as a good foundation for them.”

Thomas is confident that junior Sara Dwyer will provide a good last line of defense as she steps into the starting goalie spot.

“Sara is in goal for us, she is an athlete and she is doing well,” said Thomas.

“She has played JV for two years and she knows what she is doing.”

PDS has three freshmen, Abby Atkeson, Hannah Bunce, and Morgan Mills, on the squad and they know what they are doing.

“The three freshmen are good,” said Thomas. “I wouldn’t bring them up to varsity if I didn’t think they could help us.”

While the Panthers have talent, they need to develop the right mindset.

“I think we have a lot of potential and potential is a terrible thing to waste,” said Thomas. “A lot of it is up to them in terms of developing a team chemistry, having a goal, and believing.”

In Thomas’ view, the players took some major strides in that direction during their preseason trip to Florida.

“It has been a really great trip,” asserted Thomas. “We have been getting really good senior leadership, we have 11 new players on the varsity with people moving up and freshmen coming in. It is great to be outside and doing full field practices. I think they are coming together. Seeing your teammates 24/7 is different than seeing them in the hall at school. You are living together.”

If PDS can come together on the field, it could produce a great spring.

“We will look to move in transition and play tough defense all over the field,” said Thomas.

“We have high expectations. We are expecting these athletes to step up. We want to get back to where we have been. I am looking forward to the season.”

THE RIGHT STUFF: Princeton Day School baseball player Jake Alu delivers a pitch in a game last spring. Junior pitcher/shortstop and Boston College-bound Alu should help PDS on the mound and at the plate. The Panthers, who opened the 2014 season with a 5-4 win over Centennial High (Ill.) last Friday in a game played in Florida, will look to keep on the winning track as they host Princeton High on April 2 and the Hill School (Pa.) on April 4 before playing at Northern Burlington on April 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

THE RIGHT STUFF: Princeton Day School baseball player Jake Alu delivers a pitch in a game last spring. Junior pitcher/shortstop and Boston College-bound Alu should help PDS on the mound and at the plate. The Panthers, who opened the 2014 season with a 5-4 win over Centennial High (Ill.) last Friday in a game played in Florida, will look to keep on the winning track as they host Princeton High on April 2 and the Hill School (Pa.) on April 4 before playing at Northern Burlington on April 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

A central theme this spring for the Princeton Day School baseball team will be all hands on deck.

With a roster of just 14 players, the Panthers will get ample chances to do some multi-tasking.

“Everybody has to be versatile and play different positions,” said PDS head coach Ray O’Brien, who guided PDS to a 10-12 record last spring. “Everybody has to pitch. In numbers, we are a small team. We have a lot of young guys who are going to play.”

The team got to play a lot last week on its annual Florida trip. “The temperatures were great; we did have rain on and off,” said O’Brien. “We got in everything we scheduled. We played three scrimmages. We played an official game last Friday night against Centennial High from Champaign, Ill., we won 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh.”

O’Brien is counting on four veterans, junior tri-captains, Jake Alu, James Radvany, and Cole McManimon along with senior captain Ford Schneider, to set the tone.

“At the top of the team are the three juniors, Jake, J.P., and Cole,” said O’Brien, noting that Alu has already committed to play baseball at Boston College while Radvany is heading to the Villanova University baseball program.

“Ford is the senior captain; he brings that leadership and the intangibles. He has played baseball four years and he’s done a little bit of everything for us. He is helping with the younger guys; he plays the game the right way. We have him in center field this year and he will be doing some pitching.”

McManimon is the Panthers’ top pitcher. “Cole got six wins last year and he has grown some more; he is 6’6, 220-pounds,” said O’Brien of McManimon, who is currently sidelined with an injury. “He pitched very well in Florida. We are looking at him as our No. 1.”

O’Brien has several other arms at his disposal. “J.P. stepped up last year on the mound, he will be our No. 2 starter,” added O’Brien, whose team will look to keep on the winning track as it hosts Princeton High on April 2 and the Hill School (Pa.) on April 4 before playing at Northern Burlington on April 7.

“Jake will be the closer. Ford will pitch. Freshmen Chase Fleming and Ryan Sparks are both left-handers and they will pitch. Sparks came in and pitched four solid innings in our opener; he was looking good in Florida. He will have a spot in the rotation. Junior Sean Flahive may see some innings.”

O’Brien believes that PDS should be good defensively with a lineup featuring freshman Paul Franzoni at catcher, Radvany at first base, sophomore Sam Guarino at second, Alu at shortstop, sophomore Dom Gasparro at third, Schneider in center field, and Sparks in right, with freshmen Zach Dudeck, sophomore Ryan Augustus, sophomore Kevin Hagan, and junior Davin Bialow in the outfield mix.

Alu figures to get the offense going at the top of the batting order along with Gasparro.

“Jake will be leading off, he led us in a lot of offensive categories last year,” said O’Brien. “Dom hit in the 9 hole last year and did well and we left him there. We have moved him up to No. 2.”

O’Brien is counting on Radvany to provide some punch. “J.P. is in the middle of the order, he hit OK last year after a great freshman year,” said O’Brien. “He is coming off a solid Florida trip. Ryan and Ford will be in the middle half.”

While the Panthers may lack quantity in terms of its roster, O’Brien believes that his squad possesses the quality to compete well this spring.

“If we are healthy and fresh, we are capable of beating anybody,” said O’Brien.

“When we are playing three or four games a week, our depth is going to be an issue. The season is going to be determined by how the younger guys mesh with the older guys.”

GOING TO THE WELL: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Amy Hallowell heads to goal in action last spring. Senior star Hallowell will be a catalyst this spring for the Tartans as they look to improve on the 4-10 record they posted last spring. Stuart is slated to start the 2014 season by playing at Princeton Day School on April 1 and at Pennington on April 3 before hosting the George School (Pa.) on April 5.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOING TO THE WELL: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Amy Hallowell heads to goal in action last spring. Senior star Hallowell will be a catalyst this spring for the Tartans as they look to improve on the 4-10 record they posted last spring. Stuart is slated to start the 2014 season by playing at Princeton Day School on April 1 and at Pennington on April 3 before hosting the George School (Pa.) on April 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Stuart Country Day School lacrosse team is stocked with freshmen and sophomores, Caitlin Grant is seeing an advanced skill level this spring.

“Two years ago we had a lot of beginners,” said Stuart head coach Caitlin Grant, who guided Stuart to a 4-10 record in 2013.

“We have a lot of young players but they all know the game, we have only two true beginners. I don’t have to teach the game.”

It is a senior star, Amy Hallowell, who brings the most game to the table for the Tartans.

“Amy is such a team player,” said Grant of Hallowell who is headed to Johns Hopkins where she will be playing field hockey.

“The best thing about her is that she is a really hard worker; she will go all over the field to get the ball from defense to offense and end to end. She will never give up. She never has an attitude, she is always positive.”

The trio of sophomores Julia Maser, Tori Hannah, and Sam Servis should help the Tartans all over the field.

“The sophomores do a lot of outside field hockey stuff so they are always playing together,” said Grant, noting that Maser and Hannah will be offensive midfielders while Servis will be a defensive wing.

“They are used to each other and they trust each other. They have a good sense of each other and where they are going to be on the field.”

Grant believes that sophomore Harley Guzman, junior Nneka Onukwugha, and freshman Isabelle Engel are also going to be threats.

“Harley should be a good one for us on attack,” said Grant, whose team was slated to start the 2014 season by playing at Princeton Day School on April 1 and at Pennington on April 3 before hosting the George School (Pa.) on April 5.

“Nneka has a tremendous shot; she has one of the hardest shots I have seen in high school. She can score when she gets the ball. Izzy Engel will play some midfield.”

On defense, Stuart will be depending on senior Meghan Shannon along with sophomores Rose Tetnowski and Servis to hold the fort.

“Meghan is a solid defender,” said Grant. “She will also be the voice of the defense. I will count on her to communicate and tell people where to go. Sam Servis is a great defender; she really understands the game. Rose is also on low defense.”

Sophomore goalie Harlyn Bell is being counted on to be a standout. “Harlyn has played a lot of outside lacrosse, she has really stepped up her game,” said Grant.

“She looks great in goal, I am excited to see her in games. The goalie is the one player who can see the field; I am hoping she will be loud out there.”

Grant believes the Tartans can make some noise  both this spring and beyond. “I think this group has a ton of potential,” asserted Grant.

“We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores so I think we are a team that will get better as the year goes on. I am excited about this spring and future seasons.”

March 26, 2014
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BELLOWING SMOKE: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player ­Francesca Bello fires the ball in a 2013 game. Senior star Bello figures to be a key player this spring for the Raiders as they look to build on last year’s progress. Hun opens the 2014 season by hosting Princeton High on March 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Hun School girls’ lacrosse team, heading south to Florida earlier this month proved beneficial on several levels.

“The weather was great,” said Hun second-year head coach Haley Sanborn, who guided the Raiders to a 6-9 record last spring in her debut season.

“We had 24 kids come on the trip; the majority were varsity but there were some JV players so it was a mixed group. We had long days on the field. As for the varsity, the girls jelled quickly. They are on the same page for what they expect this season and what they want to do.”

Sanborn credits her trio of seniors, Francesca Bello, Brianna Barratt, and Hanna Bettner with getting everyone on the same page.

“Fresca, Bri, and Hanna were setting the tone for the rest of the season,” said Sanborn, whose team gets regular season play underway by hosting Princeton High on March 29.

“They took the younger players under their wing, letting them know the expectations and that they are going to get pushed.”

Bello and Barratt will be pushing things on the offensive end this spring. “Fresca is a powerhouse, she is a versatile player,” said Sanborn of Bello, who is heading to Villanova to play field hockey.

“I can put her anywhere and she will do well. She is to going to get her 100th goal this season. Bri Barratt is also looking good, she did well last season.”

The Raiders boast other weapons in sophomore Lindsay Ruddy and the Consoli twins, sophomores Emma and Katie.

“Lindsay will probably play at center; she did a lot of work in the off-season and it is showing,” said Sanborn.

“Both of the Consolis have a great work ethic, I don’t know how a coach gets so lucky to have two of them. They are thriving in this environment. Katie will be on high attack. Emma will help us in transition.”

Across the midfield, Hun will feature athletic talent, if not vast lax experience in freshmen Sophia Albanese, Delia Lavwer, Julie Salerno, Marleigh Nociti, together with junior Erica Dwyer.

“Sophia, Delia, and Julie are raw athletes; they will be helpful,” said Sanborn.

“Marleigh Nociti is also a soccer player. She has incredible speed. She hasn’t played lacrosse since middle school but that is good because she doesn’t have bad habits to break. She is picking things up quickly. Erica Dwyer will also be in the midfield, she is an all-around athlete.”

The defense does have some battle-tested performers in Hanna Bettner, Shannon Graham, Taylor Nehlig, and Amanda Barbour.

“I am psyched to have Hanna back; she is a workhorse,” said Sanborn of Bettner, who was on the squad as a freshman and sophomore and then spent a year at public school before returning to Hun.

“Shannon Graham is injury free; she may step up to attack but she has such good defensive instincts and I feel comfortable with her back there. Taylor Nehlig and Amanda Barbour played there last year. They know each other.”

At goalie, the Raiders are looking at sophomore Tatiana Swain and freshman Madison McNulty.

“Tatiana and Maddie are new to the position; both are learning quickly,” said Sanborn.

“You have got to give them credit for stepping up and giving it a whirl. I applaud both of them. Right now they are pretty even. If they progress at the same rate, we may alternate them.”

Sanborn, for her part, is confident that Hun can make a lot of progress collectively this spring.

“It is going to be about chemistry and trust; they need to trust each other and know where each other is going to go before they do it,” said Sanborn.

“We have a great group of kids, they have strong character. They want to be out there, they want to work hard. I am excited; I am confident we can pick up where we ended last year and continue the upward momentum.”

—Bill Alden

 
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CORE STRENGTH: Hun School boys’ lacrosse player Corey Reynolds heads up the field in a game last season. Senior midfielder and UMBC-bound Reynolds should be a key weapon for the Raiders this spring. Hun starts the season by playing at Don Bosco on March 26 followed by a game at Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on March 27 and a home contest against the IMG Academy (Fla.) on March 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Camelback Mountain towers some 2,700 feet over the Phoenix area but it was no obstacle for the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team as the players climbed it twice on their recent preseason trip to Arizona.

Later this spring, the Raiders hope to reach another summit as they look to make a return trip to the state Prep A championship game.

“The expectations are higher,” said Hun second-year head coach MV Whitlow, who guided the Raiders to an 11-6 record and a trip to the Prep A title game where they fell to perennial champion Lawrenceville.

“With higher expectations comes higher scrutiny. We should be slightly improved. It is not what you do today, it is what you do in May.”

Whitlow likes how his team has been doing things, having developed a familiarity with his coaching approach.

“The second year is less of a transition, the boys are used to the systems we have in place,” noted Whitlow, whose team is scheduled to start the season by playing at Don Bosco on March 26 followed by a game at Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on March 27 and a home contest against the IMG Academy (Fla.) on March 31. “There is less implementing. They are used to the expectations.”

Hun is expecting some big things on offense from the one-two punch of juniors Brendan Black and Matthew Favalaro.

“On attack we have junior captain Brendan Black, he’s a leader on the field and he is a Villanova commit,” said Whitlow. “Matthew Favalaro has good vision and good off-ball play.”

The Raider midfield features a good trio in sophomore Owen Black, senior Corey Reynolds, and sophomore Alex Semler.

“We will be led by sophomore Owen Black, he is also a Villanova commit,” said Whitlow.

“He is working hard to be a more dynamic midfielder. He does bring a high lacrosse IQ. Corey Reynolds is a UMBC recruit, he is a strong shooter. Alex Semler is another guy who will help us in the midfield.”

A pair of senior stars, Cam Dudeck and Jimmy Jannicelli, figure to spearhead the Hun defense.

“We have Cam Dudeck; he is one of our captains and he is a Naval Academy commit,” said Whitlow.

“He has the work ethic and the desire to create victory. Jimmy Jannicelli is a senior and a Cornell commit. He is a real leader, he was voted as a captain and is a good teammate.”

The Raiders boast two other battle-tested defenders in junior Tucker Stevenson and senior Chase Goulburn.

“Tucker is a returning junior and it is good to have him back,” added Whitlow. “We also have Chase Goulburn, he has committed to Endicott. He brings experience and has gotten himself in great physical condition.”

At goalie, the Raiders will be utilizing sophomore John Levine as the starter.

“It is going to be Levine,” said Whitlow. “He is a very solid goalie, he is a great ballstopper.”

As Whitlow looks ahead to the season, he believes his squad possesses a great mentality.

“The key is that as they play together, the team seems to be coming together,” said Whitlow.

“We are going to be humble and hungry. I really like this group of guys; it is group of high character young men.”

—Bill Alden

 
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GOING FOR IT: Hun School softball pitcher Alexis Goeke fires the ball in action last season. Hun will need sophomore ace Goeke to come up big again this spring in order to make a second straight trip to the state Prep A title game. The Raiders are slated to get the 2014 regular season underway this week by playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on March 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kathy Quirk is welcoming back a lot of familiar faces to her Hun School softball team this spring but she is reshuffling the deck.

In the wake of losing catcher Carey Million, third baseman Danielle Beal, and second baseman Joey Crivelli to graduation with first baseman Caitlin Hoagland moving out of the area, some of the key returners will be changing places.

“We are struggling to fill some holes,” said longtime Hun head coach Quirk, who guided the Raiders to an 11-7 record last spring and an appearance in the state Prep A championship game where it fell to Peddie.

“We have moved Kristen Manochio from outfield to third and Vicki Leach to second. Kameron McNair is now at first.”

The Raiders were able make some strides earlier this month when they spent a week in Florida for their annual preseason trip.

“Florida was great, we got a lot of practice,” said Quirk, whose team is slated to get the regular season underway this week by playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on March 28. “We played six games and won five. It was nice to get some wins.”

Quirk is hoping for a nice season from sophomore pitcher Alexis Goeke, who emerged as one of the top hurlers in the area in 2013.

“If Goeke can pick up where she left off last year, she will be fine,” said Quirk. “She is a strong girl, she has great fundamentals and basics.”

Hun has the makings of a strong offense with the combination of junior Julia Blake, senior Alexa Fares, senior Leach, freshman Julie Fassl, senior Manochio, and Goeke.

“At top of the order, Blake is at leadoff and she is doing a great job,” said Quirk.

“She hit the ball well in Florida. Fares and Leach will be batting at two or six. Fassl is batting third, she has a great bat and eye, she is a coachable kid. Manochio and Goeke will be in the middle of the lineup.”

The defensive alignment will feature senior McNair at first base, Leach at second, Blake at shortstop, Manochio at third, Fassl at catcher, senior Lauren Moonan in left field, Fares in center field, and a possible platoon in right field.

In Quirk’s view, the team’s success this spring could hinge on how quickly the reconfigured defense gets in synch.

“Our key to the season is being fundamentally sound and knowing what to do with the ball when it comes to you,” said Quirk.

“We are not going to be a team that is going to go errorless and we, as coaches, have to keep that in mind. We will be doing a lot of drills.”

So far, the team is showing that it will respond well to drills. “We have a great bunch of kids, the trip to Florida was one of the best we have had,” said Quirk. “The kids worked hard and they have good chemistry.”

—Bill Alden

 
Coach talks w #3

SAGE ADVICE: Hun School baseball head coach Bill McQuade, right, advises a player in a game last year. McQuade is entering his 44th season at the helm of the Hun program and will be working in a number of new faces into his lineup as the Raiders lost 11 players to graduation from a 2013 squad that went 16-7. Hun opens its 2014 season by hosting Lawrenceville on March 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Bill McQuade brings a wealth of experience to the Hun School baseball team as he enters his 44th season at the helm of the program and that wisdom will come in handy this spring.

Hun has said goodbye to 11 players from a 2013 squad that went 16-7 and McQuade will be working in a bevy of new faces into his lineup.

“We lost so much individual talent from last year, we lost speed and power,” said McQuade, whose team spent a week in Florida earlier this month and is slated to open regular season play by hosting Lawrenceville on March 28.

“We are a completely younger team and a much different team. We brought up so many kids up from JV and they are going to learn under fire.”

The Raiders do return a fireballer on the mound in junior star pitcher Jason Applegate.

“Applegate is a workaholic, sometimes he is too hard on himself,” said McQuade.

“He has to step up and be a leader of the staff. He has talent. He knows this year he has to be a star. He is going to be our ace, for sure.”

McQuade believes that two sophomore hurlers, George Revock and Rob Huselid, could emerge as stars this spring.

“Revock did a really good job last year as a freshman,” said McQuade.

“He is a big, strong lefthander. He will also play first base and DH; he has some pop on his bat. Huselid also did a wonderful job last year. He is a submarine, sidearm style and he likes coming out of the bullpen. He should be our main reliever. He loves it and he has a rubber arm. We can pitch him almost every game.”

The Raiders have some other good arms in junior Justin Pontrella, junior Mike Andreas, junior Matt Kooker, and sophomore James Werosta.

“We got good innings in Florida from Justin Pontrella, Mike Andreas, Matt Kooker and James Werosta,” said McQuade.

“They may have been our most effective pitchers down there. They were pounding the strike zone, they were getting ahead of batters and changing speeds.”

The catching pair of senior Ryan Hayes and junior Gideon Friedberg should help the rotation.

“We have Ryan Hayes at catcher, he is looking good; he improved a lot from last year,” added McQuade.

“Gideon played catcher in Florida; he did a nice job behind the plate.

We could give Ryan some innings at pitcher, he has a good arm.”

Losing such hitting stars as Devan Birch, Shane Adams, Steve Wells, and Eddie Paparella to graduation, the Raiders are going to have to scratch out runs this spring.

“We are going to have to play small ball and have a good on-base percentage,” said McQuade.

At the top of the order, Hun will be looking at junior Nick Perez, senior Andy Douglas, and junior Donavon Harris to be tablesetters.

“Nicky Perez has to have a good year; he knows the game,” said McQuade.

“Andy Douglas is a scrappy player, he loves the game. Harris has potential, he is a such a good all around athlete. He is our one real speed guy.”

Senior co-captains Bailey Hammer and Alex Deutsch should provide punch to the lineup along with Pontrella.

“We are going to move Bailey back to infield; he was an all star outfielder,” said McQuade.

“He is a solid second baseman and he gives us some nice power. Alex Deutsch has some pop in his bat. Pontrella is like the old Yankee Steve Balboni; he has a lot of pop, always has a smile on his face.”

The defensive alignment will feature Hayes at catcher with Pontrella at first base, Hammer at second, Perez at shortstop, junior Peter Schintzler at third, Deutsch in center field, Douglas in right field, and Applegate in left when he isn’t pitching.

In McQuade’s view, pitching and defense hold the key to Hun having a big spring.

“We have to get the pitchers to throw strikes, it sounds easy but it isn’t,” said McQuade. “We have to pitch and play defense, it will be old school baseball.”

McQuade has found it easy to work with this year’s squad. “This is a fun team to coach,” said McQuade.

“This year coming out of the gate, we could struggle but I think we will get better as the year goes on. This team will work, they showed in Florida that they aren’t afraid to work.”

—Bill Alden

 
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FULL SPEED AHEAD: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse star Emilia Lopez-Ona races up the field in action last year. The Penn-bound senior Lopez-Ona will be a key weapon for PHS this spring as it looks to improve on last season’s 18-4 record. The Little Tigers get their 2014 campaign underway by hosting Lawrence on March 26 and then playing at Hun on March 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming off a superb 18-4 campaign that culminated with a run to the Central Jersey Group III sectional final, the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team has hit the ground running this spring.

“We are getting off to a great start, almost the whole team is returning from last year,” said second-year head coach Kelsey O’Gorman.

“The seniors have stepped up. This team has so many great athletes that play multiple sports. We didn’t have to start over, we didn’t have to go over the basics. We are ready to go.”

PHS is ready to put up some big numbers at the offensive end, led by the one-two punch of senior stars, Dartmouth-bound Liz Jacobs and Penn-bound Emilia Lopez-Ona.

“Liz and Emilia are looking strong,” said O’Gorman. “They are going to get double-teamed, they have both been starters since freshmen year so they are used to the pressure.”

The Little Tigers boast some other players who can put pressure on the opposition in seniors Krysta Holman and Taylor Chiang along with junior Gabby Gibbons and sophomore Allie Callaway.

“We have a solid unit, they have worked with each other for a long time,” said O’Gorman.

“There is a lot of energy. Krysta Holman and Taylor Chiang will also be on low attack. Gabby Gibbons is awesome for us. She is an all-around player. She is a mature player and is committed to the game. Allie Callaway has come and worked hard in offseason, I am proud of the progress she has made.”

In the midfield, senior standout and Lafayette-bound Dana Smith provides a lot of energy for PHS.

“The word ‘feisty’ describes Dana, she is a ground ball machine,” said O’Gorman.

“I am excited to see how she is going to do on the draw. She has so much fight. She has such an eye for the ball and reading the opponent. She is so aggressive. She is a team captain along with Emilia.”

There are some other exciting options for PHS in the midfield with a pair of sophomores, Julia Ryan and Taylor Lis, showing marked improvement.

“Julia Ryan is really strong; Taylor Lis started as freshmen,” said O’Gorman.

“It is great to see their progress, they learned a lot of lessons last year. Julia is a really good basketball player and Taylor plays soccer. They are two-sport athletes but they are becoming solid lax players. Taylor Chiang will also see time in the midfield. She is versatile, she can go anywhere on the field and do well.”

The Tiger defense will be spearheaded by seniors Kristi DeMilt and Stephanie Hauer along with junior Oona Ryle.

“Kristi DeMilt is our tall defender; you have to watch out for her stick,” said O’Gorman.

“She has long arms and gathers in anything she gets to. Steph Hauer has worked on her agility. She is a big communicator on defense and that is so key. Oona Ryle should also help us there.”

Junior goalie Mira Shane handles just about anything she gets to as well. “Mira is one of the top goalies in the area,” said O’Gorman.

“She is so serious about her lacrosse. She is a lax girl through and through. She is in lax mode and is ready to go. She has the drive and will to get better. She corrects any errors she makes. She coaches herself and is coachable.”

O’Gorman is looking forward to coaching the Little Tigers this spring. “I have really high expectations for this group; we learned a lot from last year,” said O’Gorman, whose team is slated to open the 2014 campaign by hosting Lawrence on March 26 and then playing at Hun on March 29.

“We proved that we are tough competitors; we were put in tough situations and fought through them. I was so proud of them last year and think I am going to be even more proud of them this year.”

In order to have another big year, the Little Tigers need to get on the same page.

“Everyone has to find their role,” said O’Gorman. “We have to put the puzzle pieces together and see who is our best feeder, who is best on the drive, who is best on the draw. This season holds so much potential.”

—Bill Alden