December 18, 2013
FREQUENT OCCURRENCE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Brad Stern (No. 3) celebrates with Jon Bendorf (No. 21) and Bobby Wurster (No. 20) after a goal in recent action. Senior defenseman Stern and the Raiders have been torrid offensively in the early going this season, averaging 9.5 goals a game as they have produced a 3-1 start.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FREQUENT OCCURRENCE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Brad Stern (No. 3) celebrates with Jon Bendorf (No. 21) and Bobby Wurster (No. 20) after a goal in recent action. Senior defenseman Stern and the Raiders have been torrid offensively in the early going this season, averaging 9.5 goals a game as they have produced a 3-1 start. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When Brad Stern assisted on a second period tally to give the Hun School boys’ hockey team a 3-0 lead over visiting Calvert Hall last Friday, it looked like the Raiders had things under control.

But Calvert Hall responded by outscoring Hun 5-1 over the rest of the period to take a 5-4 lead into the last 15 minutes of regulation.

Stern acknowledged that the Raiders relaxed a bit after building the three-goal cushion.

“They had bus legs coming up from Maryland and we did let off a little bit,” said senior defenseman Stern.” We were very undisciplined, I would say, taking a lot of penalties.”

Coming into the third period, Hun was looking to tighten up. “The message after the second was lots of intensity, and lots of discipline,” recalled Stern. “We wanted controlled intensity.”

Displaying his intensity, Stern ripped a one-timer that classmate Spy Avgoustiniatos directed into the back of the net early in the third period to pull Hun even at 5-5.

“It was a good pass up from Alec Karanikolas and then I just shot it on,” said Stern.

“There was a good screen in front and it went right in. I did think we were going to win after that.”

Unfortunately, Hun took a string of penalties and yielded a goal with 2:17 left in regulation to fall 6-5 and taste defeat for the first time this season.

“It wears you down when you are shorthanded the whole game,” said Stern, who ended up with three assists on the game. “It is tough.”

With a roster containing four freshmen and five sophomores, Hun’s youth showed through in the defeat.

“We were flying a little high,” said Stern of the team’s 3-0 start which saw it outscore its foes 33-14. “It was like football games with us scoring 13 or 14 goals. We have a lot of young guys.”

Stern is looking to be a mentor to Hun’s group of newcomers. “It is a very, very different team so I have to lead by example and vocally on and off the ice,” said Stern. “I just keep up what Eric Szeker did last year when he was our captain.”

Hun head coach Ian McNally saw great leadership from Stern on the Calvert Hall game.

“Brad was awesome today; I told him that was one of the best games I have seen him play for us,” asserted McNally.

“It was not only the way he played but the way he led. Every time he was on the bench he was over talking to somebody in a positive way. He showed the most leadership I have seen from him. He had the on-ice game to back it up as well.”

In McNally’s view, his team can take some valuable lessons from the defeat to Calvert Hall.

“Unfortunately this is something that we needed,” said McNally, whose team plays at Gloucester Catholic on December 20 and then will be competing in the Purple Puck tournament from December 28-30 in Washington, D.C.

“We have been getting away with giving up eight goals and winning. It hasn’t bit us like this. Hopefully this is a wakeup call. We let them come back into the game and then in the third period we did turn it on. We were there, we were going to win the game and we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties that were consistently called the whole game. We need to be more disciplined. We are doing a lot of watching the puck. Every one of their goals was within five feet of the net and the guy who shot it was not contested at all.”

Hun’s group of freshmen, though, has scored plenty of goals right from the start.

“We have got Evan Barratt, who is an incredible, dynamic hockey player,” said McNally, who is also getting good play from two other newcomers, Blake Brown and Tanner Preston.

“He is very much a go-to guy on the team already. Jon Bendorf is lights out. Without those two guys, we would be in a much different situation in all of these games. We are pretty lucky to have those two.”

With a 3-1 start, Hun appears to be in a good situation going forward. “The energy is good,” said McNally. “The emotions are high but mostly in a good way. Everything is looking pretty good right now so we will keep hammering. The issues we have are easy to fix.

In Stern’s view, the Raiders are headed in the right direction. “We are jelling very well, we have good chemistry on the ice,” said Stern. “We are very optimistic. We just need to be grounded a little.”

LI WAY: Hun School boys’ basketball player Xin Li establishes inside position in recent action. Last Saturday, senior forward Li scored 13 points to help Hun top Princeton Day School 65-46 in a consolation contest at the Peddie School Invitational Tournament (PSIT). A day later, Li and the Raiders defeated Lawrenceville 73-45 to take fifth place at the PSIT and improve to 2-4.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LI WAY: Hun School boys’ basketball player Xin Li establishes inside position in recent action. Last Saturday, senior forward Li scored 13 points to help Hun top Princeton Day School 65-46 in a consolation contest at the Peddie School Invitational Tournament (PSIT). A day later, Li and the Raiders defeated Lawrenceville 73-45 to take fifth place at the PSIT and improve to 2-4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Xin Li couldn’t speak English when he came to the Hun School from Qingdao, China in the fall of 2010.

But he did know how to play basketball and the powerfully built 6’5, 245-pound forward has grown into a key contributor for the Hun boys’ hoops team.

Early in his career, Li’s game was raw but his muscle and hustle made him a crowd favorite. This winter, Li has refined his game, developing a nice shooting touch to augment his physical play.

Last Saturday in a 65-46 win over Princeton Day School in a consolation contest at the Peddie School Invitational Tournament (PSIT), Li displayed his versatility.

Li scored 13 points, hitting some long range jump shots to go along with some good work down low as the Raiders pulled away from their crosstown rival.

With Hun having lost its first four games of the season coming into the contest, Li and his teammates were looking to make a statement.

“We just wanted to prove that we are a good team,” said Li, who grabbed five rebounds in the victory.

Li has put in extra effort to make himself a good player. “At high school, we have a good coach [Jon Stone] and he has always taught me to work hard every day and push myself,” said Li. “I can’t change my teammates but I can change myself.”

Combining with 6’8 senior forward Josh McGilvray and 6’7 post-graduate Remi Janicot, Li has helped give Hun a formidable inside game. “We have three big guys and we can shoot, dribble, and move faster than the defense,” said Li.

Hun head coach Jon Stone was glad to see his team move into the win column on Saturday.

“It is nice to get your first one,” said Stone. “It is definitely good to win. Hopefully we can come together a little bit as a team and continue to improve every game, that is our goal.”

Stone saw progress at both ends of the court in the victory over PDS. “I think some of our offensive execution was pretty good,” said Stone, whose team executed well on Sunday when it beat Lawrenceville 73-45 in the PSIT fifth place game to improve to 2-4 and will look to keep on the winning track as it competes in the Tip-Off Classic from December 21-22.

“We did a really good job of getting the ball inside. We did a pretty good job of sharing the ball as well offensively. The press was pretty good at times, especially in the second half. It worked well for us.”

Hun is getting some good work from Li. “He has the ability to score in different ways, he can do a lot of different things as well,” said Stone in assessing Li’s progress.

“He can really rebound. He is a big presence out there. From the time he first got here, he has improved so much. He is going to be a really good college player.”

Li, for his part, is looking to be an even bigger presence for the Raiders.

“I have to keep improving everyday,” said Li. “I need to open my mouth on defense.”

December 11, 2013
BOARD MEETING: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Spencer Reynolds, left, battles for the puck along the boards in action last week. Senior forward Reynolds has helped PHS get off to a 3-0 start under new head coach Terence Miller. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers play WW/P-S on December 11, WW/P-N on December 12, and Hopewell Valley on December 16 with all three games to take place at the Mercer County Park rink.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BOARD MEETING: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Spencer Reynolds, left, battles for the puck along the boards in action last week. Senior forward Reynolds has helped PHS get off to a 3-0 start under new head coach Terence Miller. In upcoming action, the Little Tigers play WW/P-S on December 11, WW/P-N on December 12, and Hopewell Valley on December 16 with all three games to take place at the Mercer County Park rink. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton High boys’ hockey team mustered only one goal on 15 shots against Hightstown in the first period last Thursday, Spencer Reynolds wasn’t concerned.

“We knew going in that they had a short bench so it was just a matter of wearing them down,” said PHS senior star Reynolds. “I think everything was clicking; we were getting shots on net.”

In the second period, Reynolds got some shots in the back of the net, tallying twice in a span of 3:18 as PHS jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back on the way to a 7-0 win.

“I definitely think that gave us some momentum,” said Reynolds, reflecting on his two tallies. “It got everyone fired up.”

A night later, the Little Tigers kept rolling as they topped Lawrence 5-2 to improve to 3-0.

In Reynolds’ view, getting three wins in the first week of the season has helped get PHS get into a rhythm.

“We can get a feel for each other and get some energy going,” said Reynolds, who scored a goal in the victory over Lawrence. “It is a lot easier coming back to practice when you are winning games. It is pretty tough when you are losing them.”

Reynolds is looking to give the Little Tigers a jolt in his senior year with the program.

“My role is bringing speed and energy,” said Reynolds. “I like to play physical but I like to keep myself in control. This is a last chance to make things happen.”

First-year PHS head coach Terence Miller likes the way Reynolds has been making things happen so far this season.

“Spencer has been skating well for us and has been moving his feet well,” said Miller.

“He was originally a defenseman but we moved him to forward. He has got really good speed and he is a great skater so we try to use his speed and that stuff on the forecheck and let him loose on the wing.”

In reflecting on the win over Hightstown, Miller had a feeling his team would eventually break loose from the Rams.

“As I told their coach, their goalie was lights out in the first period; he really stood on his head there and kept them in it,” said Miller. “We just had to keep pressing and stick to our guns. We weren’t trying to change anything. We just had to keep it simple. I told the guys we just had to get traffic in front of the net and keep firing away.”

Senior star defenseman Patrick McCormick got PHS fired up as he tallied the fourth goal in the win over Hightstown, skating end-to-end through the Rams and then flying through the air after his shot, a la Bobby Orr.

“Patrick brings that to the table,” said Miller. “He is always a threat to attack from the back end. That was a nice goal to help separate us from them there and build up that lead.”

A trio of freshmen, Tooker Callaway, Brendan McCormick, and Eamon McDonald, have gotten off to a nice start for the Little Tigers

“Tooker has done well; he is a big, strong kid,” said Miller. “He is a good skater; he has really helped solidify us on the back end there along the blue line. I think young Brendan McCormick has done well. Eamon McDonald at defenseman is another guy I have been happy with early on here.”

While it is very early in the season, Miller is happy with how PHS is looking. “We have to keep plugging along,” said Miller, whose team is slated to play WW/P-S on December 11, WW/P-N on December 12, and Hopewell Valley on December 16 with all three games to take place at the Mercer County Park rink.

“It is going to get tougher and tougher as we go along. We are going to have keep improving and stick to our guns; keeping it simple and playing hard. We have gotten our feet under us in the first two games. It is going to take some more time. We are off to a good start and we are just looking to keep it rolling.”

Reynolds, for his part, believes that the Little Tigers are going to have a good time this winter.

“I think we have just a few minor kinks that we have to work out and we will be able to build up some speed and make some more progress,” said Reynolds.

SISTERLY BOND: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Lucy Herring heads up the ice last winter. Junior star Herring and younger sister, freshman Maggie, should form a potent one-two punch for PHS this season. The Little Tigers open their 2013-14 campaign by playing at perennial WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) power Morristown-Beard on December 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SISTERLY BOND: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Lucy Herring heads up the ice last winter. Junior star Herring and younger sister, freshman Maggie, should form a potent one-two punch for PHS this season. The Little Tigers open their 2013-14 campaign by playing at perennial WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) power Morristown-Beard on December 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Christian Herzog doesn’t wait to put his Princeton High girls’ hockey team under pressure.

“I like to start with Mo-Beard,” said PHS head coach Herzog, whose team will get its 2013-14 campaign underway by playing at perennial WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) power Morristown-Beard on December 11.

“They are at the top of the league and I want the girls to see the best so they know how hard they have to work.”

Herzog is expecting some good work this winter from his top forward line, which includes the Herring sisters, junior Lucy and freshman Maggie, along with sophomore Isabelle Sohn.

“The Herrings are dynamite together; they work well with each other,”said Herzog. “Lucy is looking really strong. I think Maggie is farther along as a freshman than Lucy was at the same point. I have Isabelle Sohn on the first line with them. I like that she is aggressive.”

PHS will need some aggressive play from its other forwards, which include senior Merritt Peck, senior Molly O’Brien, and junior Erin Forden.

“I will have Merritt Peck and Molly O’Brien on the second line, they are both hard workers,” said Herzog. “Erin Forden is also in the mix. I am looking at some others. We need somebody to be a finisher on that line.”

On defense, the Little Tigers can count on aggressive play from senior captain Kate Sohn and junior Julia DiTosto, who is returning to the ice after being sidelined last year due to injury.

“Kate is great for us as a leader,” asserted Herzog. “She gets everyone on the same page. She is very specific on instructions. Julia is looking good; it looks like she never missed a beat. She is a tough player.”

The PHS defensive corps should also include junior Britney Coniglione, sophomore Sophia Corrodi, and junior Marian Hancock-Cerutti.

“Coniglione will be another defenseman,” added Herzog, whose team will hold its home opener on December 13 at Baker Rink against the Portledge School (N.Y.).

“Corrodi plays with Nassau, she can skate. Hancock-Cerutti played some shifts in defense; I am thinking about using her there this year.”

As its last line of defense, PHS will be using sophomore Callie Urisko and senior Breanna Hegarty-Thorne at goalie.

“The goaltenders have both gotten better,” asserted Herzog. “Callie is getting into the butterfly style and she is good on angles. Breanna is aggressive, she will come out and make a run at you.”

Although PHS is coming off a winless campaign, Herzog believes the team can have a good run this winter.

“I don’t use the record to judge the season, the girls are very excited to play,” said Herzog. “I am looking forward to the season. The girls need to keep working hard, we need to keep pushing the envelope. We can’t let in early goals; that hurt us last year.”

While the Princeton High girls’ swimming team wasn’t pushed as it rolled to a 112-58 win over Robbinsville in its season opener last week, Greg Hand still saw the meet as an important test.

“Regardless of the opponent, I will always be looking for a certain few qualities in the team,” said longtime PHS head coach Hand, reflecting on the December 3 contest.

“I think we have made a lot of progress since training began, pulling ourselves together and understanding how we do things. We competed; we were really there for each other.”

Freshman Melinda Tang made a nice debut in the win, earning victories in both 200-yard individual medley and the 500 freestyle. Other victors for PHS in the meet included Jamie Liu in the 200 free, Madeleine Deardorff in the 100 butterfly, Brianna Romaine in the 100 free, and Belinda Liu in the 100 backstroke.

In Hand’s view, his core of senior swimmers will be there for the team all winter.

“We have a great crew of seniors who really understand what we want it to feel like and try to make that happen,” said Hand, whose Class of 2014 includes Belinda Liu, Taylor Chang, Lizzy Till, Kelsey Schwimmer, and Melanie Williams with Chiang, Liu, and Schwimmer serving as team captains for the program which went 13-1 last winter and won its first-ever county title.

“Those kids have been here since the beginning; they get it. It is not that you walk on the deck and say it is a Princeton practice, it is that within the team we know what we are doing better and better everyday we train and in every meet. So in this meet, we did stuff right. There were a lot of kids getting their first chance at high school swimming, regardless of their ability level.”

PHS boasts a solid group of freshman swimmers who are taking advantage of their chance to compete at the high school level.

“We have a really nice freshman class; there is quite a bit of depth,” said Hand, citing newcomers Tang, Jamie Liu, Maddie Troilo, and Maddie Whaley as swimmers who make an impact right away for the Little Tigers.

“Some kids have been club swimming for quite a while now and other kids have been swimming year-round, maybe a little younger in the sport and some kids who are high school only. They seem to be very hard workers and it was nice to see how excited they were about racing. That whole crowd seems really enthusiastic. In a couple of years, that will be the real center of gravity for the team. It is exciting to have that level of enthusiasm.”

It is exciting for PHS to have two sophomore stars in Deardorff and Romaine.

“They are just great competitors,” asserted Hand, whose team topped Lawrence 102-68 last Thursday and will face Hopewell Valley on December 12 in a meet taking place at the Pennington School pool.

“As committed as they are to becoming their best, they really maintain composure. Their nervousness is a positive nervousness. I think the other kids understand, whether they are older or younger, that these are two athletes to whom they can look to learn from on how to approach the sport.”

And based on how PHS approached its opener, the squad appears headed to another positive season.

MAKING WAVES: Princeton High boys’ swimming star Peter Kalibat powers to victory in a race last season. Senior Kalibat and a stellar group of classmates are looking to end their PHS careers with a bang. The Little Tigers, who have won three straight county crowns and five consecutive Public B Central Jersey titles, opened their 2013-14 season with a 131-39 win over Robbinsville last week.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING WAVES: Princeton High boys’ swimming star Peter Kalibat powers to victory in a race last season. Senior Kalibat and a stellar group of classmates are looking to end their PHS careers with a bang. The Little Tigers, who have won three straight county crowns and five consecutive Public B Central Jersey titles, opened their 2013-14 season with a 131-39 win over Robbinsville last week. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 2012, a stellar group of seniors helped the Princeton High boys’ swimming team make history as it went undefeated and won the program’s first-ever state title.

That group of seniors, which included such standouts as Matt Kuhlik, Jacques Bazile, Harun Filipovic, Derek Colaizzo, Addison Hebert, and Victor Honore, ended their careers with a bang, setting eight team records in 11 events as they routed Scotch Plains-Fanwood 109-61 in the state Public B championship meet.

This winter, PHS boasts another group of seniors who have the potential to make some history of their own.

The team’s Class of 2014 which includes such stalwarts as Peter Kalibat, Scott MacKenzie, Matt Purdy, Will Stange, Matt Tam, and Colburn Yu, went 15-1 last year, winning the program’s third straight county crown and fifth consecutive Public B Central Jersey title.

While PHS head coach Greg Hand isn’t forecasting another state title, he acknowledges that his veterans could do some special things.

“This year is going to test them,” said Hand. “As good as they are, this will be their chance, just as the seniors a couple of years ago had their chance, not to win the championship, I don’t mean the external, that would be great, but to become a kind of team that really produced their very best effort when we needed it.”

Opening its season against Robbinsville last week, PHS produced an outstanding effort as it posted a 131-39 win. The seniors helped lead the way for the Little Tigers as Stange won the 200 individual medley, Purdy placed first in the 500 freestyle, and Tam won the 100 breaststroke. Other victors for PHS included Alex Bank in the 200 free, Alex Petruso in the 50 free, Gabriel Bar-Cohen in the 100 butterfly, and Matthew Shanahan in the 100 backstroke.

“This meet showed some understanding of what the team wants to be about,” said Hand. “Regardless of the opponent, it is a question of do we understand what kind of team we are going to have to be if we have even a shot, even a glimmer of a possibility of being a county champion or a sectional champion, let alone a state champion. So it is really important that these guys show each other that they understand if we get too far ahead of ourselves, we’ll be finished early. I like what I saw today, there was a lot of good positive team spirit.”

PHS is expecting some positive contributions from a crop of promising freshman swimmers.

“Alex Petruso, Will Kinney, Gabriel Bar-Cohen are three kids who are serious club swimmers,” said Hand. “Jaime Schettini has been in club for a little while now. Club says a lot, it shows how much you love the sport and how committed you are to taking the time necessary. If you come to the high school environment, valuing the team, which all of these guys are doing, then good things are going to happen.”

The committed group of seniors is determined to do big things in their final campaign.

“We couldn’t have a better set of role models than the experienced guys,” asserted Hand, whose team topped Lawrence 117-53 last Thursday and will face Hopewell Valley on December 12 in a meet taking place at the Pennington School pool.

“The thing about the seniors is that everybody has improved, everybody has been working hard, and I mean for the last nine months. We have four captains in Stange, Kalibat, Purdy, and Tam. Matt Tam is such a contributor to this team, he swam a PR in the breaststroke tonight. There are meets in which that wouldn’t necessarily score but he won it tonight. What he brings is an absolutely indomitable spirit, a positive approach to things, and a willingness to be enthusiastic when other people might be a little bit timid about it. It is a huge ingredient in our success I think.”

Featuring those seniors along with some precocious newcomers, PHS should enjoy huge success this winter.

TRIPLE CROWN: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Andrew Clayton looks for an opening in action last weekend at the program’s Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational at Lisa McGraw Rink. Senior defenseman and assistant captain Clayton came up big as PDS topped Moses Brown School (R.I.) 4-0 in the title game. It was the third straight title for the Panthers at the event.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TRIPLE CROWN: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Andrew Clayton looks for an opening in action last weekend at the program’s Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational at Lisa McGraw Rink. Senior defenseman and assistant captain Clayton came up big as PDS topped Moses Brown School (R.I.) 4-0 in the title game. It was the third straight title for the Panthers at the event. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team posted a 6-4 win over Rye Country Day (N.Y.) last Friday in the opening round of its Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational at Lisa McGraw Rink, the Panthers weren’t pleased with their performance.

“Coach [Scott Bertoli] gave it to us a little after yesterday’s game, saying that we are not playing to our potential at all right now,” said PDS star senior defenseman and assistant captain Andrew Clayton.

“When we play better teams we play up. The opposite is true as well; I think we played down to the other team a little bit yesterday. When you play less competitive teams, you get away from the simple things and you try to do too much which ends up hurting you a lot.”

A day later, the Panthers displayed plenty of competitive fire as they defeated Moses Brown School (R.I.) 4-0 to earn their third straight title at the event, which is in its 44th year.

“It was so much different, we played with energy and passion,” said Clayton, reflecting on the team’s performance which saw it outshoot Moses Brown 43-18 and break the game open with three goals in the second period.

“Yesterday, we were just flat, we played terrible in our defensive zone. Today was much better. When you are playing for a championship, there is extra motivation. We were just better all the way around.”

PDS brought special motivation into the title game as they wanted to please the legendary Rulon-Miller, a former Panther coach and rink manager, who was a constant presence at the tourney all weekend long.

“We always seem to not play too great in the first game and then we come back,” said Clayton.

“We want to win for Harry, he is great for the school and he does everything for us. It means a lot for us to win.”

Clayton wants to perpetuate the program’s storied tradition.

“I have been on this team for a while now; we have been so successful so you want to keep that going,” said Clayton.

“No matter who we have out there, we know we can compete with anyone and win games. When you see kids from last year, they really do still care. They come back and they text us after every game, asking us how we are doing. It’s not just for us, it’s for the alumni who have played in the past.”

Clayton has raised the level of his game. “I think I am just more confident with the puck,” said Clayton, who had two goals in the win over Rye and added an assist in the title game.

“The coaches have faith in me and that always helps. I am better with the tempo and being able to skate with the puck.”

PDS head coach Bertoli liked the tempo he saw from his players in the title game.

“I was pretty critical of the performance yesterday and this was a complete 180, I couldn’t be more proud of the way they played,” said Bertoli, who got two goals apiece from senior Lewie Blackburn and junior Will Wright in the victory over Moses Brown.

“You are always happy with a result that ends up in your favor but I think the way we went about our business, the way we played, the way we competed to play at that level this early is exciting. Hopefully, it bodes well.”

The Panthers played better as a unit against Moses Brown. “I thought that we got a little selfish yesterday,” said Bertoli.

“We tried to do too many things individually and played one-on-one. I thought we made a conscious effort today of just simplifying it and supporting one another and playing hard hockey; winning 50/50 battles.”

Bertoli was proud of the effort he got from unsung heroes Wright and Blackburn.

“Some guys stepped up and scored goals who hadn’t scored goals before,” noted Bertoli.

“Will Wright scored two goals and those are his first two high school goals. He is usually on third line. Today with Kyle Weller not here, he steps in and plays on the top line and they really don’t miss a beat. Lewie has also stepped up, I think those were his first two goals of the year. His line has been great. Connor Fletcher, Johnny Egner, and Lewie play the way they need to play. They grind it out, they get involved in the cycle down low. They are all talented enough to score goals. It was nice to see them get rewarded like that.”

The Panthers got nice defensive play from its defensive unit, led by Clayton and classmate C.J. Young.

“The defense was getting way too involved in the offense and today I think  they simplified and supported each other,” said Bertoli.

“Our breakouts and defense-to-defense play, the way we made decisions leaving the zone was completely different from yesterday. It allows our forwards to handle pucks in the middle of the rink and create offensive opportunities. Andrew and C.J. are the two guys that we count on to lead the way, they were good today as were the other four guys.”

Freshman goalie Logan Kramsky handled himself well between the pipes in the title game, making 18 saves to earn the shutout.

“The kid in net makes timely saves when he needs to,” said Bertoli of Kramsky.

“He didn’t get tested a lot but there were points in the game and in every game where you rely on those guys to make critical saves and keep momentum going in your favor. He did that again today. He’s good. He plays a high level of travel hockey. You can tell that he has been well coached. Fundamentally, the kid is flawless. He competes like heck and he wants to be in there.”

Drawing inspiration from Rulon-Miller, the Panthers displayed the brand of hockey that could make them a force in the newly-formed Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) which includes Lawrenceville, Hill School (Pa.), Portledge School (N.Y.), LaSalle College High (Pa.), and Wyoming Seminary (Pa.).

“Harry is a fixture around here; he means everything to this hockey program and this school and we were proud to not only win but to play the way we did today,” said Bertoli, whose team improved to 3-0 and hosts Morristown High on December 12 and Bishop Eustace School on December 17.

“It’s not that I don’t care about the result but I am more concerned about the process and how we played at the end of the day. Playing the important games in our league and the tournaments that we have ahead of us, we need to elevate the level of our play to compete against these top schools. I was happy to see, not only that we won and got a piece of hardware, but we played the right way.”

Clayton, for his part, knows that the Panthers will have to compete hard every game in order get more hardware.

“Our schedule is about to ramp up and get a lot tougher,” said Clayton. “We know how we played today and we know how we need to play to be successful. We just need to do that a little more consistently and not every other game or  every third game. We need to bring that energy to every game.”

ROCKING ROBIN: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Robin Linzmayer controls the puck in action last weekend in the program’s annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational at PDS’s Lisa McGraw Rink. On Sunday, senior defenseman and team captain Linzmayer scored two goals as PDS defeated the Princeton Tiger Lilies 5-1 to win the tournament. The Panthers, now 3-0, will look to keep on the winning track when they host Pingry on December 11 and play at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on December 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ROCKING ROBIN: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Robin Linzmayer controls the puck in action last weekend in the program’s annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational at PDS’s Lisa McGraw Rink. On Sunday, senior defenseman and team captain Linzmayer scored two goals as PDS defeated the Princeton Tiger Lilies 5-1 to win the tournament. The Panthers, now 3-0, will look to keep on the winning track when they host Pingry on December 11 and play at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on December 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into last weekend, the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team hadn’t won its annual Harry Rulon-Miller ’51 Invitational since 2002, a drought that Robin Linzmayer and her senior classmates were determined to end.

“I have been on this team for four years and every year all of the seniors say we are going to win this year because we haven’t won it for so long,” said star defenseman and team captain Linzmayer.

“We are the seniors this year so we were the ones that were — OK we are winning. This is our last chance.”

After defeating the Quarry Cats 4-0 in the opening round on Saturday, PDS had its chance for the title as it faced the Princeton Tiger Lilies in the championship game on Sunday morning at PDS’s Lisa McGraw Rink.

But with the elusive crown in sight, the Panthers fell behind 1-0 in the second period. But picking up its game, PDS responded with goals by Carly King and Linzmayer to take a 2-1 lead into the third period.

“You could tell as a group that we really wanted to win, especially between the second and third period when we came into the locker room,” said Linzmayer, whose fellow seniors include Mary Travers, Abby Sharer, Mimi Matthews, and Colby Triolo.

“We all went around talking about what we thought we could improve on in the game. You could definitely see the shift in the way the girls skated faster, went harder to the puck, and just put in that extra bit of effort to make it happen.”

The Panthers made things happen in the third period, scoring three unanswered goals to pull away to a 5-1 triumph.

The breakthrough prompted a raucous post-game celebration as the PDS players hugged on the ice and posed for multiple team pictures in front of their goal with their hard earned trophy.

“I am really excited,” said a grinning Linzmayer “It took the team 11, 12 years and it took us three but I am glad we ended it on this note. I hope the underclassmen can keep it up and maybe it will be we haven’t lost in 10 years.”

Linzmayer strives to keep the team’s intensity up when she is on the ice.

“As a defenseman I am looking to be positive,” explained Linzmayer. “If I keep my feet moving, others will do the same. How I see it working in sports is that there is a lot of momentum shift from player to player. So if I can set the standard and get kids going, that is awesome because that is exactly what I am looking to do.”

PDS head coach Lorna Gifis Cook knows exactly what she is going to get from Linzmayer on a daily basis.

“Robin is consistent, she always comes and plays hard,” said Cook. “We have been working to get all the forwards helping out with our defense so the defenseman can be more aggressive in the offensive zone. I thought we did a good job of that today, which allowed Robin to take more control.”

Cook acknowledged that it took a while for the Panthers to take control of the title contest against a gritty Tiger Lilies squad.

“We were fortunate that we escaped the first period still scoreless,” said Cook.

“I think we came out flat. The girls were so excited that it took a little while to get things cooking. Carly picking up that first goal was huge, just to get one past her and get that momentum going and then getting the power play goal after that. The flurry of goals in the third period was great to see. Once they felt more comfortable working the puck around the offensive zone, they created more chances and got more shots.”

PDS got some great contributions across the board in the victory. “I thought Kristi [Serafin] did a better job towards the end of the game moving the puck on the rush,” said Cook, who got good goalie play from freshman Annika Asplundh along with junior Katie Alden, the PDS recipient of the Christopher Reeve Sportsmanship Award for the tournament

“Colby [Triolo] and Mary [Travers] did a good job as wingers getting up the ice. Daphne [Stanton] is always impressive, she is always so positionally sound. Emma [Stillwaggon] is dealing with an injury and took a stick to the neck. She is always beat up because of the way she plays; she is smaller and she plays tough. She battles hard and she did a really good job covering for our defense. She had a goal, that was a big one.”

It was big for the Panthers to finally achieve their breakthrough at the invitational. “It is great; the boys winning last year and this year puts some extra pressure on us,” said Cook, whose team improved to 3-0 with the win on Sunday.

“It is really nice to come away with a win. I thought the past two years, they have played really well in the tournament so it has been close. It is really nice to finally seal the deal today.”

In assessing her team’s hot start, Cook sees progress on and off the ice.

“Aside from the first period and a half today, they have looked really good,” said Cook, whose team hosts Pingry on December 11 before playing at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on December 16.

“They have created a lot of chances; they have moved the puck well. They are a really close team and you can see that in practices and games. We have really high expectations for this group. It is a lot of pressure but it is a lot of fun.”

Linzmayer, for her part, is looking forward to having a lot more fun this winter. “We get along really well; I am sure we are going to grow closer as the season goes along,” said Linzmayer.

“The seniors and the upperclassmen in general are all doing a great job bringing the team together. We have a lot of talent on the team, we have got a lot of work ethic. It looks like we are going to have a good season.”

FORD FOCUS: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Ford Schneider dribbles upcourt in a game last winter. Shooting guard Schneider is one of nine seniors on the PDS squad who will be looking to end their careers with a bang. The Panthers, who opened their season with a 65-46 loss to Pennington on Monday, are next in action when they compete in the Peddie School Invitational Tournament from December 13-15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FORD FOCUS: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Ford Schneider dribbles upcourt in a game last winter. Shooting guard Schneider is one of nine seniors on the PDS squad who will be looking to end their careers with a bang. The Panthers, who opened their season with a 65-46 loss to Pennington on Monday, are next in action when they compete in the Peddie School Invitational Tournament from December 13-15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having ended his Princeton Day School boys’ basketball career last winter with a program record 2,102 points, Davon Reed can’t be replaced.

But while superstar guard Reed, who is currently starring at the University of Miami, will be sorely missed by the Panthers, he has left a legacy of success that PDS plans to build on this winter.

“Obviously when you lose a player like Davon, there is going to be a void to fill,” said PDS head coach Paris McLean of Reed, who helped the Panthers go 19-8 last winter and make their second straight appearance in the state Prep B title game.

“The players returning have played two or three years of varsity ball, they are ready for their moment and they deserve their moment. Davon will tell you and the returners will tell you that our program is not one player.”

The Panthers boast two talented and battle-tested players at guard in seniors Langston Glaude and Deante Cole.

“Langston and Deante both came in bigger, stronger, and faster; they had great summers and are really showing good leadership,” said McLean, whose team started the 2013-14 season by losing 65-46 to Pennington last Monday. “They have been looking as great as a two guard combination. Langston has a mid-range game and can attack the rim. Deante has really improved as a facilitator and handling game management.”

The Panthers have some other veterans in the backcourt who can handle themselves in a trio of seniors, Ford Schneider, Zach Banks, and Brandon Glover along with junior Josiah Meekins.

“Ford Schneider has been fantastic, he had some great games last year and he is building off of his junior year,” said McLean. “Zach has been great, he is going to have a role, we will need him to relieve Langston and Deante. He knows our system. Meekins and Glover are similar players but they have a different dynamic.”

Freshman Chase Lewis figures to be a dynamic newcomer this winter. “Chase Lewis is ready to step in and play,” said McLean. “He has a great outside shot and he can finish. He has a good confidence, he doesn’t get deterred like some young players do. He really wants to learn and has been taking the opportunity to learn from our senior leaders.”

McLean is looking for two seniors, Chris Okorodudu and Dan Lee, to be leaders in the frontcourt.

“We need Chris to step up,” said McLean. “He can shoot and finish at the rim. He is long on defense and can disrupt passing lanes. With some consistency, he can be a force. Dan Lee has looked good in the preseason. He is attacking the basket more. He is learning that less is more and to do straight drives. He can get on the glass.”

Two newcomers to the varsity team, junior J.P. Radvany and senior Ben Levine, should give the Panthers additional strength on the glass.

“J.P. Radvany is a great addition; he played his first year and then took sophomore year off to concentrate on baseball,” said McLean.

“He is around 6’4 and 200 pounds. He has the ability to get out and run in the open court. He is not afraid to mix it up. He will do the dirty work and the little things. Ben Levine has worked his way through the program, he will give us minutes off the bench. He is physical and will block people out.”

In McLean’s view, PDS has the ability to do some good things this winter.

“This is a group that can produce a lot,” said McLean, whose team is next in action when it competes in the Peddie School Invitational Tournament from December 13-15.

“We need to play a team-oriented game. We need to take better care of the ball on offense, we need to limit teams to one shot and control the defensive boards. I think we are going to surprise some people. We have nine seniors, this is their moment. They have worked hard to reach this point. It has been a great three years and they can end with a great fourth year. They want to finish what they have started.”

PASSING GAME: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Harlyn Bell passes the ball in action last winter. Junior guard Bell figures be a key performer for Stuart this winter as the Tartans look to improve on the 2-13 record they posted last season. Stuart tips off its 2013-14 campaign by playing at Villa Victoria on December 11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

PASSING GAME: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Harlyn Bell passes the ball in action last winter. Junior guard Bell figures be a key performer for Stuart this winter as the Tartans look to improve on the 2-13 record they posted last season. Stuart tips off its 2013-14 campaign by playing at Villa Victoria on December 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Dana Leary heads into her second season as the head coach of the Stuart Country Day School basketball team, she feels that the program is headed in the right direction.

“We are still in a period of rebuilding; we are starting further ahead than we were last year,” said Leary, who guided the Tartans to a 2-13 record last winter in her debut campaign.

“I have six returners; they understand my system and they understand the expectations. I am expecting more progress this year from us.”

Leary is expecting big things from her frontcourt trio of senior Maggie Walsh, junior Nneka Onukwugha, and sophomore Kate Walsh, Maggie’s younger sister.

“Maggie Walsh is a senior, she is a great leader and role model,” said Leary. “She is very fundamentally sound offensively and defensively. We are working with her to be more aggressive offensively. Nneka and Kate give us an inside presence. They provide great height and strong post play, Kate has showed a lot of growth and improvement. She is more aggressive offensively, she is looking to attack the basket.”

In the backcourt, sophomore Harley Guzman has shown a lot of growth at point guard.

“In the middle of last season she took over the role of point guard and did a good job,” said Leary, whose team opens the 2013-14 season by playing at Villa Victoria on December 11.

“She embraced it last year and stepped up. She is familiar with the position now and has improved offensively and defensively. She has developed into a point guard. She can handle the ball well and we have talked to her about improving her decision-making. She is more confident this year.”

Leary has confidence in two other veterans at guard, junior Harlyn Bell and sophomore Rose Tetnowski. “Harlyn Bell has emerged as a leader this year,” said Leary, who will also be using a quartet of freshmen Milan Kainer, Julia Kahn, Ally McGowen, and Vanessa Williams in the backcourt.

“She plays mostly as guard but she has the ability to give us depth in the post. She is a player who I think is really going to step up for us this year. Rose Tetnowski is versatile, she can play both guard positions. I want to see her more in the ‘2’ role this year.”

Stuart will look to play sharper this winter. “We emphasize developing the fundamentals and understanding of the game on a daily basis,” said Leary.

“We need to take better care of the ball on offense and we need to be more aggressive defensively. We played mainly zone last year, this year we want to have more options and give our opponents different looks.”

In Leary’s view, her players possess the mentality to apply those lessons. “It is a very coachable team, they have a desire to learn,” said Leary. “They have great team spirit; they are good teammates to one another.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kamau Bailey is a basketball lifer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Male Performer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Newcomers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Coaches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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