April 22, 2015

Despite having 12 freshmen on its roster, the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team came roaring out of the gate this season.

The youthful Panthers rolled to wins in its first three games, topping Sewickley Academy (Pa.) 15-6, WW/P-S 14-2, and Shipley School (Pa.) 18-7.

But last week, PDS hit some roadblocks, gaining some hard-earned learning experiences.

Against visiting Hill School (Pa.) on Wednesday, the Panthers fell behind 10-3 by halftime in a driving rainstorm. Showing some grit, PDS outscored Hill 8-3 in the second half but the rally came up short in a 13-11 loss.

Two days later, the Panthers built on that strong finish against Hill, taking a 5-0 lead against visiting Hun and taking a 7-4 advantage into halftime. PDS extended its cushion to 9-5 but then faltered as Hun rallied to take a 12-10 lead.

The Panthers rebounded to score the last two goals in regulation to force overtime and then took a 13-12 lead only to surrender two goals in the last 37.9 seconds of OT to lose 14-13.

PDS head coach Jill Thomas acknowledged that her squad wasn’t sharp enough with the ball in the loss to Hun.

“We just had too many turnovers,” said Thomas. “We played hard but it comes down to who has got it at the end. Kudos to Hun, they came to play.”

The Panthers also showed their youth in squandering the lead against the Raiders.

“We are young and we are going to have growing pains,” said Thomas, who got three goals and one assist from freshman Madison Mundenar in the loss to Hun with sophomore Morgan Mills chipping in five goals and sophomore Hannah Bunce adding three. “Hopefully we learn from it and grow up a little bit and go from here.”

Thomas, for her part, believes the squad can grow into something special this spring.

“We just need to keep getting better,” said Thomas, whose team hosts Lawrenceville on April 17 before playing at Pennington on April 20. “I am always optimistic. We’ll be alright.”

Will Asch believes that tennis is on the upswing in the Mercer County area.

“There are a lot of good youth programs around like Nassau and PTC with some really good coaches,” said Asch, the head coach of the Princeton Day School boys’ tennis team. “There is a lot of interest in this area in tennis.”

In Asch’s view, his PDS squad should draw plenty of interest this spring.

“We all know we have a very good team, the boys are very confident in themselves,” said Asch, whose program has won two straight state Prep B titles.

“We have a very deep team, it is impressive for a school our size. It is one of the most talented teams I have seen here. We also know that there are a lot of other good teams in the area.”

PDS boasts an impressive player at first singles in sophomore Anupreeth Coramutla.

“He is very good, he is quite a bit better than last year,” said Asch of Coramutla. “He is stronger this year. He is a better athlete and he hits the ball harder.”

The Panthers should be strong throughout their singles lineup with freshman Alex Decker in the second spot and junior Scott Altmeyer returning at third singles.

“Alex Decker is at second singles; he is a very crafty player,” said Asch, whose team topped Pennington 4-1 last Monday to improve to 2-0.

“He is very intelligent. He is a good competitor and has excellent groundstrokes. He can do a lot of things on the court. Scott is back at third singles; he is very good.”

The first doubles team of battle-tested Josiah Meekins and newcomer Vivek Sharma figures to be very good.

“Josiah is a very strong player and he has a lot of experience which is important in doubles,” said Asch.

“Vivek Sharma, another freshman, is playing with him. He is very talented and has a nice serve. Josiah is an excellent net player; he has a good overhand. He is a great athlete and he covers the court well. He is very strong, he hits the ball hard.”

Experience is the strong suit of the second doubles pair, seniors Andy Erickson and Hariharan Rajagopolan.

“They were able to hold off the freshmen,” said Asch. “They have experience and know each other very well. They played at second doubles for us last year and they had some big wins.”

Asch is confident his team can come up with some big wins in the upcoming Mercer County Tournament, scheduled for April 20 and 22 at Mercer County Park.

“I hear WW/P-S and PHS have very good teams; it is always tough for us to compete against schools that size,” said Asch, whose squad placed third in the team standings at the 2014 MCT.

“I think we should be in the mix. We are a long shot but we can compete with anybody.”

There was a lot of buzz surrounding the clash last Saturday between the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team and local rival Lawrenceville.

Many in the lax community had the date circled on their calendar as the rematch of last year’s state Prep A championship game that featured an undefeated Hun squad looking for a breakthrough win against perennial champion Lawrenceville, who had defeated the Raiders 11-6 last spring in the title contest.

But Hun junior goalie Jon Levine wasn’t about to get caught up in the hoopla surrounding the game, which drew a large crowd to the Natale Field.

“We approach every game with the same mentality, every game is a big game for us,” said Levine.

“Lawrenceville is a great team, we have a lot of respect for them. We came out here and approached it like every other game.”

Hun didn’t waste any time showing its intent, jumping out to a 5-1 lead. “It was a big start, we came out strong,” said Levine. “Alex Semler did a great job on the face-offs, getting us possession. We were very happy with that. We came out and played our game.”

Hun was on its game all day long, cruising to an 18-9 victory over the Big Red and its first win over Lawrenceville in more than a decade.

The Raider defense was stifling all day long, repeatedly thwarting Lawrenceville’s high-powered attack.

“We have a lot of new defenders this year and we have come together well with coach (MV) Whitlow’s guidance,” said Levine.

“We are a strong group, a really close group. We are clicking right now, we are doing well. There are still areas we want to improve on as well.”

Levine was clicking himself, recording 17 saves in shutting the door on the Big Red.

“I felt good today,” said Levine, who has made a commitment to the admissions process to play Division I men’s lacrosse at Princeton University.

“I am only as good as my defense that plays in front of me. They had a great game today so I owe them.”

Hun never let Lawrenceville feel good, building a 10-4 halftime lead to a 17-7 advantage with 4:35 remaining in regulation.

“I think we just kept that mentality, coming out strong and relentless,” said Levine, reflecting on the teams’ second half performance. “I am really proud of the way our boys performed today.”

Levine and his teammates were proud to achieve the breakthrough win over their perennial nemesis, which has won 13 straight Prep A titles.

“Every win means something to us but this one is special,” said Levine. “Lawrenceville is a great team. It is the first time that Hun has beaten Lawrenceville lacrosse in a long, long time.”

For Hun head coach MV Whitlow, the triumph over the Big Red was a long time coming.

“It has been too long since we beat them,” said Whitlow. “They are a great program. They are right down the street and we would like to have a healthy, respectful rivalry with them. Our kids all know each other. My players have a lot of respect for the Lawrenceville players. I know that some of those Lawrenceville players have
respect for my guys too.”

Jumping out to the early lead on Saturday helped Hun to earn the respect of their rival.

“I do think it was important to start fast, we trust the kids to make good decisions,” said Whitlow, whose team featured a balanced attack with Chris Donovan scoring five goals, Cole West adding four tallies and Chris Aslanian contributing a goal and five assists. “It is team effort. We had 10 different guys who scored, that is huge.”

Whitlow credited Levine and the Hun defense with producing a huge effort. “Jon likes to see those 12-15 yarders out in the elbow,” said Whitlow. “When we slide the way we are supposed to slide and work together, systematically we are going to have those kind of saves. We did take care of business.”

The Raiders showed that they meant business long before the season started.

“I think we have more depth and they worked a lot harder in the offseason,” said Whitlow.

“Some of the 7-year Hun students have really come along. It is how you build a real program from the bottom up.”

While Whitlow was thrilled with the win, he thinks it is just a start for his talented team.

“It shows we can come through against a quality opponent, it is going to make us grow and that is what we talked about at the end of the game,” said Whitlow, whose squad topped WW/P-N 21-4 last Monday to improve to 7-0 and will host St. Augustine Prep on April 16. “We haven’t played our best lacrosse of the year. We have to stay sharp.”

Levine, for his part, believes Hun’s best lacrosse is to come. “It shows a lot about our development and how we have come together as a very close group and how we are a bunch of hardworking, good kids,” said Levine, reflecting on the win over Lawrenceville. “We are excited to see where we can take this.”

As a four-year starter for the Hun School girls’ lacrosse team, Erica Dwyer looks to be a steadying influence on the field for the squad.

“I calm everything down,” said star midfielder Dwyer. “Once I get the ball down low, I can settle things. Some of the younger players just want to get the ball and go, that is not my style. You need to settle it down and catch them off their guard.”

Last Friday, Dwyer’s experience and coolness under fire paid dividends as Hun rallied from a 9-5 second half deficit at Princeton Day School to pull out a thrilling 14-13 overtime victory.

Inspired by the fact that new coach Liz Cook was a longtime assistant at PDS, Dwyer and her teammates weren’t daunted by the second half deficit.

“We always have hope and faith in each other that we can pull it out and win the game,” said Dwyer. “I know that coach was here before, we were playing for her.”

Dwyer scored two goals in the rally, taking off from behind the net and using the athleticism that helped her star for the Hun girls’ basketball program.

“That little move, that crease roll behind the goal is my move, I am very comfortable with it,” said Dwyer, who also competed in soccer and cross country at Hun and is headed to Bryn Mawr College where she plans to play basketball and lacrosse.

“Actually a coach two years ago, Tim Pitts, who used to help us out, taught me that move. Definitely my basketball moves help.”

While Dwyer enjoyed finding the back of the net, she is more focused on getting her teammates involved in the scoring.

“I try to set up the plays,” said Dwyer, who ended the day with two goals and three assists.

“I am usually the feeder on all of our plays, getting the other people the goals. It is not really in my nature to just want goals, assists definitely make my game stronger.”

In reflecting on Hun’s dramatic comeback, Dwyer pointed to the team’s strong character and sense of urgency.

“We definitely have heart,” asserted Dwyer. “Our team motto is today, not tomorrow and we definitely focused on that. We wanted to win it today before we could move on to our next game.”

The Hun team showed a lot of heart under new head coach Cook. “She gives a lot of energy to the team,” said Dwyer. “She motivates us to play at our highest level. She makes it a family, really.”

Cook, for her part, liked the way her squad raised the level of its play after digging the 9-5 hole.

“I think we called a timeout and the kids had this fire in their eyes; they wanted it and I kept saying do you want it; they wanted it, they professed it to us. I think Lindsay Ruddy’s goal made them realize they could score and I think it just opened them up. They were ready to explode, they are such a talented group and they have the ability.”

Sophomore Kate Davis showed her ability in tallying the winning goal with 20 seconds remaining in overtime.

“She is probably the quickest kid on my team; she has excellent ability with the ball,” said Cook of Davis. “I just knew once she had it on her stick, she would run it down there. She can beat everybody on this field. When it was on her stick at the end, I knew we were going to win.”

Hun would not have won the game without the play of sophomore Maddie McNulty, who made 18 saves.

“She can make those saves under pressure, she is the ultimate goalie in that way,” said Cook. “She doesn’t feel it. I ask her what she is feeling when you are down there and she says I don’t feel nervous. She works hard.”

Cook feels good when Dwyer is triggering the Hun offense. “I feel really confident when the ball is on her stick,” said Cook of Dwyer, who chipped in two goals and two assists to help Hun defeat Stuart Country Day 15-11 last Monday and improve to 3-3.

“She will look to me to see if she can roll. She is just a really coachable kid. I knew when she could roll and when she couldn’t. She looked to me and she just went, I know she is very powerful on the roll, that worked for her many times today.”

In the win over PDS, freshman Nicole Apuzzi went on a roll, scoring a game-high five goals.

“She is an all around athlete, she is tough, she is competitive,” added Cook of Apuzzi, who helped the Hun girls’ soccer team win the state Prep A title last fall. “She has a great stick, she is quick and she also has the endurance from being a soccer player. She can run the whole field all day long.”

In Cook’s view, great togetherness is a key to her team’s promising 3-3 start. “We have such heart, I was just telling them they are the ultimate team,” said Cook, whose team defeated Stuart Country Day 15-11 last Monday to improve to 3-3 and will look to keep on the winning track when they play at Peddie on April 16 and then host
Hopewell Valley on April 17.

“They believe in each other and stand by each other, they have a gift in that way. There isn’t any drama on our team and they take care of each other. They knew when we were down, we could come back and they believed. They kept saying we believe and that was our motto, believe. Before we went to bed we had a group chat last night, we were saying goodnight, we believe, we believe.”

After a 15-year tenure coaching at PDS, Cook had mixed emotions after Friday’s game.

“I love those kids, it is really
hard for me,” said Cook, referring to her former PDS charges.

“This was a really tough day. It was hard for me to see the disappointment in their eyes but fun for me to see the competition out there and to see that my kids can compete with a top team in the area.”

Dwyer, for her part, is confident that Hun will keep competing hard.

“I think it is definitely going to give us momentum,” said Dwyer, reflecting on the win over PDS. “We really brought it today and I think we will continue to bring it.”

Julie Fassl and her teammates on the Hun School softball team weren’t about to give up even though they fell behind perennial nemesis Peddie 5-0 in the second inning last week.

“You have to think you are still in it and I think that we thought we were still in it,” said Hun sophomore catcher Fassl. “We tried our best.”

In the third inning of the April 7 contest with a runner on second, Fassl lashed a liner to center which was misplayed, resulting in a run for the Raiders.

“My first at bat was kind of lousy so I came in, it is OK, it is just one game, there are many,” said Fassl. “I just came in to swing the bat and hit it.”

Although Hun was trailing 9-1 coming into the bottom of the seventh and final inning, the Raiders kept swinging hard. Fassl produced a run-scoring single to key a two-run rally as Hun fell 9-3.

“You have to just keep going for it; I was more relaxed in that at bat,” recalled Fassl. “I had a better mindset, it was no triples or doubles, just singles.”

With a season of high school softball under her belt, Fassl has a calmer mindset on the field this spring.

“Last year, it was all nerves, being a freshman coming out here,” said Fassl. “Now I am more relaxed. I think of myself as more controlled this year.”

Fassl, who also stars in field hockey and basketball for Hun, brings an
athleticism to the diamond.

“It makes you more of an athlete, it makes you stronger all around,” said Fassl.

“Most of my family has played baseball. My dad played baseball, my brothers played baseball so it is in my blood. You learn to love it.”

With Hun rotating freshman Julia Revock and junior Kacey Abitz on the mound, Fassl has to stay on her toes behind the plate.

“I have caught many pitchers in travel, coming in and out, it is not a big deal,” said Fassl.

“You have to trust your pitchers and they have to trust me, that is what I have to show them. If they trust me, they can throw better.”

As a freshman, Fassl gained the trust of her teammates by not striking out once at the plate.

“I usually always make contact, you are going to strike out eventually,” said Fassl, an All-MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) and All-Prep selection in 2014. “I got lucky last year.”

With Hun off to a 3-1 start after posting a 7-2 win over Lawrenceville last Saturday, Fassl believes the Raiders are poised for a big year.

“It is a way different team than we were last year, it is like a whole new squad,” said Fassl.

“I think we click more, we play as a team, not as individuals. I think that is big for us. I felt like last year, we were more about stats. This year we are team stats, it is all about us.”

Hun head coach Kathy Quirk likes what Fassl brings to the team. “Julie is very consistent,” said Quirk. “I can count on her behind the plate and with her bat also.”

While Hun played inconsistently in the loss to Peddie, Quirk was proud of how her players battled to the final out.

“I think we are a team, we play for each other,” said Quirk. “There is no person out there that is going to win that game and everybody knows that. We all have to contribute. We were down 9-1 and we scored two runs in the bottom of the 7th, that shows that we were still in it.”

Quirk is confident that her team can win a lot of games as the spring unfolds. “It is early in the season, there are adjustments that we need to do,” said Quirk. “We’ll make the adjustments and we’ll move on from here.”

In Fassl’s view, the Raiders are determined to do whatever is needed to get on the right track.

“We just have to work from it, we learn from our mistakes,” said Fassl. “We’ll come back at practice tomorrow and start all over if we have to.”

For Joan Nuse, taking over the Hun School boys’ tennis program after coaching the girls’ team at the school for 26 years has proven to be a good fit.

“It has been interesting,” said Nuse, who was inducted into the Hun Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014 for her success with the girls’ program.

“The thing that has helped make it an easy transition is that I know a lot of them from having taught them, coaching them in middle school or in swimming this winter. They seem happy to have me.”

Nuse is happy with the way the team has played as it got off to a 2-2 start. “I think they have played pretty well,” said Nuse, whose team edged Hill 4-3 last Monday. “They were disappointed that they didn’t beat Pennington (a 3-2 loss on April 7) but they were happy with the win over Gill (a 4-1 victory on April 2). That was a really tough match, there were three 3-setters. The kids were really resilient, that was good to see in the second match.”

Junior Adam Doynow has shown toughness at the first singles spot in the Hun lineup.

“He is working on becoming quite a powerful player,” said Nuse of Doynow. “He has good strokes, he has a good game plan. We are helping him stay focused in matches.”

At second singles, senior Foster Broad is focused on doing his best for the squad.

“Foster has been with team forever,” said Nuse. “It is his fourth year on varsity and I coached him in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. He has such a great attitude. In the past few years he has been dealing with injuries and I love the way he never gives up and does whatever he can.”

A newcomer, freshman Greg Baker, has shown he can do some good things on the court at third singles.

“Greg has a good repertoire of shots, he is adjusting to the varsity level,” said Nuse.

At first doubles, another freshman, Evan Goldsmith, has partnered with senior James Mogilever, to give the Raiders a promising pair in that spot.

“Evan has been a good pleasant surprise, he played lacrosse in middle school but he came out for tennis this year and has a nice game,” said Nuse.

“It is to nice to put a freshman with a senior. James has the experience and Evan brings that youthful enthusiasm. They get along really well on the court.”

Nuse is enthusiastic about the twosome of senior Charlie Ill and junior Ajay Vasisht at second doubles.

“Both are new to varsity, they played a lot of JV last year,” said Nuse. “They have stepped up to varsity this year, they have a good attitude. They are super coachable, they give their all on the court.”

Junior Ben Musoke-Lubega has given Hun some versatility. “Ben has played in our MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) matches,” added Nuse. “He can fill in wherever we need him, singles or doubles. He was at the top of the JV team last year; he is a hard worker.”

With the Mercer County Tournament slated for April 20 and 22 at Mercer County Park, Nuse is looking for her players to produce some good matches.

“We are hoping to go in and have a good experience and learn from it,” said Nuse, who guided the girls’ program to a number of county crowns.

“We have a couple of freshmen and a couple of players new to varsity so it can be a little scary for them.”

April 9, 2015

Instead of the usual preseason focus on fine-tuning her players’ games and setting a lineup, Sarah Hibbert has faced a different challenge as she has gotten her Princeton High boys’ tennis team ready for the upcoming season.

“The preseason was entertaining due to the weather conditions,” said Hibbert, who took last season off after having a child and was replaced on an interim basis by assistant Christian Herzog.

“We were just trying to find our courts under 6-8 inches of snow. We did do some indoor conditioning. We haven’t gotten to do quite as much as we wanted but once we get more court time, I think we will be fine.”

PHS appears to have found a rising star in freshman Noah Lilienthal, who has earned the first singles spot.

“Noah is a very consistent player,” said Hibbert. “He is a seasoned tournament player. He is mostly a baseliner but has a good all around game.”

The Little Tigers boast two seasoned performers at second and third singles in seniors Rishab Tanga and Tyler Hack, who helped PHS post a 14-3 record in 2014.

“Rishab and Tyler have moved to second and third singles from first and second,” said Hibbert.

“They have looked quite solid in the preseason. They are seniors with four years on the varsity. They know how things go at this point, both had solid seasons last year. I want Rishab and Tyler to go out with a great season.

PHS should be solid at first doubles with a pair of juniors, Andrew Wei and Andrew Lin.

“The two Andrews are at first doubles, they did wind up playing second doubles in the counties last year when another person couldn’t play at the last minute,” said Hibbert, whose team opened the season with a 5-0 win over Trenton last Thursday.

“Andrew Wei played second doubles for the season so he has the most experience. Andrew Lin has the second most experience. They complement each other nicely, they want to play with each other. It is always good when they match up well together and have chemistry. If they play well with each other but don’t enjoy playing with each other, it is not as much fun. If they play well and enjoying being on the court together it is more fun.”

At second doubles, Hibbert is looking at freshman Kevin Yang, sophomore Eric Lin, and senior Dare Lewis. “We are still figuring that out,” said Hibbert, who is confident that whatever pairing emerges will be solid.

With its core of talent, PHS figures to maintain the program’s winning tradition.

“I think a key will just be getting the doubles to settle, find chemistry, and get confidence in the pairings,” said Hibbert, whose team is slated to host Ewing on April 8 before playing at WW/P-S on April 10 and at Hamilton on April 13.

“I think we will have a solid year on singles. There are a lot of good teams out there. We will do as well as we can; we expect to be competitive with the top teams.”

As the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team looks to rebuild its attack, a seasoned defense has been the squad’s calling card.

In getting off to a promising 2-1 start, PHS has yielded just 5.3 goals a contest.

The skilled, versatile defensive unit, which features senior defensemen Jackson Andres, Colin Buckley, and Joe Hawes along with senior goalie Kenan Glasgold, has impacted things well beyond the crease area.

“Not only are they doing a good job of holding down the other teams, they are doing a good job of sparking transitions,” said PHS head coach Peter Stanton.

“All three of the senior defenders can get the offense started. Kenan is good on outlet passes, getting the ball up and down the field. They are the foundation of what we are trying to become.”

The Drexel-bound Andres, in particular, has emerged as a potent offensive weapon.

“If we like the matchup he has and we have cleared the ball, we will keep him on the offensive end,” noted Stanton, whose team topped Hightstown 9-7 last Wednesday to improve to 2-1.

In reflecting on the first week of the season, Stanton acknowledged that the PHS offense is a work in progress.

“We are still trying to figure out the best combinations,” said Stanton, who lost key scorers Kevin Halliday, Matt Corrado, and Matt Purdy to graduation from last year’s squad.

“We have a lot of kids who are going to get a chance. The guys have a lot of learning to do in terms of playing together as a team. We are seeing progress.”

Stanton saw progress in the win over Hightstown as a pair of sophomores, Luke Duarte and Eamonn McDonald, stepped up.

“It was nice to see a couple of other guys have nice games,” said Stanton.

“Luke Duarte scored his first varsity goal, he probably hasn’t been getting the playing time he should have been seeing. He had the first goal of the game; it was a clutch goal. They scored first; we got the next face-off and he got his first opportunity. He made a really nice shot that really got us started. We got on a nice roll after that, we got up 6-2 at halftime. McDonald got his first against South Brunswick (a 7-4 win on March 27) then got two in the Hightstown game. We are getting him started a little bit.”

Junior midfielder Rory Helstrom and sophomore attacker Johnny Lopez-Ona have started off well, displaying their experience at the offensive end.

“The first two games Rory was bothered by a groin injury and that limited him a little bit; he got untracked against Hightstown,” said Stanton. “Johnny had a good game against South Brunswick (4 goals, 2 assists). He is looking to distribute and get his teammates involved. He knows from playing with a veteran offense last year that it is best to have all six guys involved.”

In Stanton’s view, his team’s best lacrosse is ahead of it. “We are happy with this young group, there are a lot of guys getting their first chance to play on varsity,” said Stanton.

“We are pleased to have two wins and the one loss was a very competitive game against a good team. We need to get a little better at developing our offensive identity. We need to see who is going to be the guy that is going to goal and make plays. Our midfield is pretty deep, we are giving a lot of kids the chance to play and we are sorting out their roles.”

After serving as the backup goalie for the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team the last three years, Chris Markey started between the pipes as the Panthers opened the season by hosting Voorhees last week.

For Markey, moving up to the starring role was the reward after paying his dues.

“It has been a lot of hard work,” said Markey, who trained extensively with PDS head coach Rich D’Andrea, a former star goalie at Peddie and Georgetown.

“I worked a lot in the off season. I was on the field four or five days a week taking shots. Whenever I could find someone who wanted to shoot, I would come out here.”

Markey’s hard work paid off as he made 12 saves to help PDS top Voorhees 10-3 in the March 31 contest.

“I think as a whole I was being motivated by the rest of my team because they were all pushing me to do better,” said Markey.

The PDS team utilized talk and hustle to push past Voorhees. “Communication was a big part of it, letting people know where they were,” said Markey. “It was a lot of hard work making sure we got as many ground balls as we could.”

The Panthers have enjoyed getting to work under new head coach D’Andrea, a former assistant for the program, who succeeded Rob Tuckman after he stepped down last spring.

“He is awesome; it is great,” said Markey. “He is real informational so we are learning a lot of stuff and having fun.”

Markey has had a lot of fun with fellow seniors Jacob Shavel, Christian Vik, Chris Azzarello, and Kevin Towle.

“There is a lot of hard work in the senior class, putting in as much time as we can in the weight room and on the field most of the offseason,” said Markey.

All five PDS seniors have committed to play for college lacrosse programs with Marker headed to Muhlenberg.

“I am looking forward to it so much, all of the seniors are,” said Markey. “We are really happy about it.”

PDS coach D’Andrea was happy about the way his team jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the first quarter. against Voorhees

“The boys did a nice job controlling the pace of the game,” said D’Andrea. “I think that the last three years we have played Voorhees, it has been a one, two, or three goal game. It is typically a pretty tight game; it is one of those gritty cold games. The team that wins the most ground balls catches a couple of breaks and ends up winning so it was nice to jump out to that lead.”

Senior star Shavel led PDS with four goals and got after ground balls all game long. “Jacob did a great job,” said D’Andrea of the RPI-bound attacker/midfielder.

“We stressed ground balls and that was the one statistic that I was really pushing with the boys today and Jacob won our ball hawk award. He had six ground balls to lead the team so that was great senior leadership there. He is a kid who cares. One of Jacob’s most valuable attributes is his ability to get after the ball on rebounds, riding, and attack.”

Junior midfielder and Cornell-bound Connor Fletcher displayed his ability, tallying three goals and two assists.

“He is just a physical presence, he has a good sense of drawing a guy and getting rid of the ball to the next guy,” said Markey.

“He is a really unselfish player. I think above all offensively, we stress players being unselfish, and I think that is when we are at our best, when guys are willing to make the extra pass or two.”

Markey has shown that he was willing to keep his nose to the grindstone to earn his chance to start in goal.

“Chris has worked really, really hard, he is one of those success stories where he had a guy in front of him in Culver Duquette, who worked exceptionally hard,” said D’Andrea.

“He is a kid who has the respect of his teammates. He is a technical goalie in all ways. Part of the game plan today was if we did concede shots to give up the time and space shots and Chris just had a good bead on it today. He was ready to go and track the ball and control rebounds. For the most part, he made good decisions clearing the ball. He has really worked hard to develop a presence out of the net. That is one of the areas that he has been uncomfortable with; he has worked hard to develop that skill set and he did a nice job with it.”

The PDS defense showed some skill, spearheaded by senior Towle and junior Amir Melvin.

“We stayed in man defense the entire time today, there was some great inside support,” said D’Andrea, whose team fell 11-5 to Germantown Academy (Pa.) last Thursday and plays at Peddie on April 11 and Hopewell Valley on April 14.

“Kevin is a guy who works really hard on the wing, and he has been a utility guy for us for years. Kenyon is lucky to have him next year. He and Amir Melvin really anchored the defense today. They really communicated with some of the younger guys to just get them reps.”

All in all, D’Andrea was happy with his squad’s hard effort in the opener. “I think in a lot of ways it shows courage and heart for them to come out and play the way they did,” said D’Andrea.

“We talk about the difference between a good team and a great team. I think Voorhees played really hard and we were a good team today. I don’t think we were great, I don’t think we are nearly as polished as we need to be. But for your first game in late March here and the weather being cold and everything else, the energy was there as it had to be. Now we have to correct the mistakes.”

Markey, for his part, believes that PDS can do some great things this spring.

“We have a lot of hard workers on the team like last year and a lot of motivators on the team,” said Markey.

“So I think we are going to be in the same place as last year or maybe even better.”

Cole McManimon is looking to make up for lost time this spring in his senior season with the Princeton Day School baseball team.

The Lehigh-bound pitching ace missed most of his junior campaign due to a broken hand suffered in PDS’s opener. While McManimon did return last spring, he wasn’t 100 percent.

At full strength by June, McManimon pitched through the fall for his Gallagher AAU team and began his preparation for the 2015 season by starting to throw after Christmas.

Displaying his considerable gifts on the mound, the 6’7, 225-pound righty mowed down the Hill School (Pa.) last Wednesday in the Panthers’ home opener, striking out a career-high 15 and giving up one hit in six innings as PDS rolled to an 8-0 win.

“I thought my fastball was working well; going into the game I didn’t think I would have the velocity that I had in Florida because it was warmer there and it was in the 50s last Wednesday,” said McManimon, who started the season by getting the win on the mound in an 8-1 victory over John Burroughs School (Mo.) in PDS’s opening game, which was played on its Florida trip.

“I had my cold weather stuff on but I think I was throwing as well as I did in Florida. I started off the game going to a 3-1 count on first batter and then I struck him out. I started picking up speed after that. By the fourth and fifth inning, my velocity had slowed but I was still hitting spots. I felt good in all of my pitches.”

McManimon is also looking to make an impact this spring with his hitting and he succeeded against Hill, going 3-for-4 with a double and 4 RBIs.

“I really missed it last year; I wish I had been out there, pitching and hitting and helping the team,” said McManimon. “I think I can contribute in the fourth spot with the intimidation factor, if nothing else, being 6’7, 225 pounds, teams won’t want to walk JP (Radvany) to face me.”

PDS head coach Ray O’Brien believes McManimon can be an intimidator this spring for the Panthers.

“Cole can make any manager or team look good, it was the McManimon show today,” said O’Brien.

“His command has never been a problem, he has three or four pitches. His velocity has gone up. He’s a man; he is a monster out there. He is sitting around the mid-80s on his fastball. He was in the 84-85 range against Hill.”

In O’Brien’s view, his mound staff should be very good, with seniors JP Radvany, Jake Alu, and Sean Flahive and a pair of sophomores, Ryan Sparks, and Chase Fleming.

“JP has been throwing the ball well, he will get plenty of innings,” said O’Brien of the Villanova-bound Radvany.

“Ryan Sparks and Chase Fleming are the two sophomore left-handers. Senior Sean Flahive will also get innings.  Jake Alu will be the closer. I can run kids out there and feel comfortable. We will use everybody, we will take it game by game and see how the weather shakes out.”

O’Brien is also comfortable with his batting order. “It is Jake at leadoff and Dom Gasparro at two, he has been hitting well and playing a dynamite third base,” said O’Brien. The middle of the order is JP, Cole, Sparks, and Paul Franzoni. We are off to a good start.”

Winning its first four games in 2015 after going 5-10 last spring, PDS is certainly off to a promising start.

“If the pitching holds up with the tough schedule that we are playing and we put some runs up, we’ll be OK,” said O’Brien, whose team improved to 4-0 with a 2-1 win over Delran last Monday and will look to keep on the winning track when it plays at Robbinsville on April 9, hosts Lawrenceville on April 10, and plays at Hamilton on April 14.

“The three seniors (McManimon, Radvany, and Boston College-bound Alu) have been through the wars with travel teams and their first three years here. I know what I am going to get from those guys, a lot depends on how quickly the young guys step up. I am really looking forward to the season, I think it is going to be a fun ride.”

McManimon, for his part, believes the Panthers could have a lot of fun as the season unfolds.

“I think we are a team that could shock people this spring,” said McManimon, noting that the Panthers outscored their foes 29-4 in the first three games.

“We do have a nice mix of players. We have three seniors up top and some of the younger guys are really contributing like Dom Gasparro and Paul Franzoni. I have been very happy with their approach, jumping on first pitch fastballs, they are very aggressive.”

Everything clicked for the Hun School baseball team in its season opener at Academy of New Church (Pa.).

Hun rolled to a 19-1 victory in the March 30 contest, pounding out 15 hits in the process. Starting pitcher Jason Applegate looked sharp, striking out five and giving up a hit in two innings of shutout work.

Three days later against visiting Lawrenceville, things didn’t go so well for the Raiders as they fell 10-0 in six innings. Hun got only two hits and starting pitcher Robby Huselid never got into a groove despite getting five strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings of work.

“We made some good swings, not as many as we could have,” lamented Hun head coach Bill McQuade.

“We put some pressure on them early, I thought. We couldn’t score that one inning (in the second when Applegate was thrown out at home plate). If we had gotten one or two that inning, it would have picked us up. We had guys on there. We needed that one big hit or even a little flair, just something.”

Junior hurler Huselid showed flashes but wasn’t as good as he can be. “Huse didn’t get in a rhythm; he never got in the flow of the game,” said McQuade, who brought in junior George Revock to relieve Huselid  with two out in the top of the fourth inning.

“He had some great things with location and then it looked like he would lose it in between. Now in defense of him, we had all of this time off, working out in the gym. Our pitchers didn’t log many innings on our trip to Florida because we were trying to find out who could throw for us.”

McQuade acknowledged that it wasn’t a great effort all around for his squad.

“Those are all excuses, the bottom line is that we didn’t execute as well as we could have,” said McQuade. “Lawrenceville put the bat on the ball clearly better than we did. We hit into three double plays.”

Hun’s lack of execution perplexed McQuade, considering that the team has looked sharp so far this spring.

“We played well against ANC and in Florida we played against teams of Lawrenceville’s caliber and did really well there,” said McQuade.

In the wake of the setback, it is back to the drawing board for the Raiders.

“When you have four days off you get a few more practices outdoors, which we need to get them going,” said McQuade.

“Now a couple of heads are hanging, they are down a little bit. We need a couple of good practices where everything is upbeat again.”

True to character, the ebullient McQuade, now in his 45th season at the helm of the program, is upbeat about his Hun’s prospects.

“We’ll get better, we have got to get our pitchers more innings, without a doubt,” said McQuade, whose team plays at the Hill School (Pa.) on April 8 before hosting Peddie on April 10 and Steinert on April 11.

“I know that our big three has to get more. George hasn’t been on the mound much, he can be that way, effectively wild, but you have got to be able to locate the ball. Ap (Applegate) is doing a real good job. Huse needs to be a little more consistent.”

ON TARGET: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player Shannon Dudeck possesses the ball in recent action. Last week, sophomore standout Dudeck scored two goals to help Hun defeat Rutgers Prep 12-9 to earn its first win of the season. The Raiders, now 1-2, host Lawrenceville on April 8, play at Princeton Day School on April 10, and then host Stuart Country Day on April 13.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ON TARGET: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player Shannon Dudeck possesses the ball in recent action. Last week, sophomore standout Dudeck scored two goals to help Hun defeat Rutgers Prep 12-9 to earn its first win of the season. The Raiders, now 1-2, host Lawrenceville on April 8, play at Princeton Day School on April 10, and then host Stuart Country Day on April 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As the Hun School girls’ lacrosse team prepared for its game against Rutgers Prep last week, it was primed to break into the win column.

“We were confident with our preparation for Rutgers Prep,” said Hun first-year head coach Liz Cook. “We had a productive practice the Saturday before, and we played with our game plan in mind.”

The Raiders played well from the start in the March 30 contest against Rutgers Prep, jumping out to an 8-3 lead at halftime on the way to a 12-9 triumph.

“Our team was definitely clicking, communicating and playing as a team,” said Cook, reflecting on the triumph.

“We had a solid lead at halftime and knew we had to close down Rutgers Prep’s scoring opportunities. We needed possession off the draw and that’s what we fought for second half.”

Hun got a solid game from senior Erica Dwyer in the victory as she tallied three goals and an assist.

“Erica is calm, confident, and dangerous when attacking the net,” said Cook, who got two goals apiece from Maura Kelly, Kate Davis, Shannon Dudeck and Delia Lawver in the win with goalie Maddie McNulty recording 13 saves. “The team looks to her for leadership and we feel at ease when the ball is in her stick.”

For Cook, it was a special feeling to have the first win of her Hun tenure. “It felt great to get that first win,” said Cook, a longtime assistant coach at Princeton Day School.

“The team has put in the effort, time and bonding — they deserved it. I loved watching the players celebrate. The girls came away with a tremendous amount of confidence. They know that on any given day any team can prevail. They know they can play together and that’s how we will move forward.”

Two days later against Blair, Hun played well in jumping out to a 6-3 halftime lead only to fall 10-9.

“The draw was getting away from us in the second half, we couldn’t win possession,” said Cook, assessing the defeat which moved the Raiders to 1-2.

“Our shots were a little off, and we had trouble putting the ball in the net. Some credit as well goes to Blair’s goalie who played a great second half. We played well, the effort was there, however, we just couldn’t close out the second half.”

In Cook’s view, the Raiders can take some valuable lessons from the setback to the Buccaneers.

“We learned from the defeat that anything can happen, and our team had a lot of bright moments,” said Cook, who got two goals apiece in the loss from Dwyer, Lawver, and Kate Consoli with McNulty recording nine saves.

“We learned we can lead, we just need to put two solid halves together. We are sticking to our game plan, believing in our culture and in one another.”

Looking ahead, Cook believes there are a lot of good moments ahead for her squad.

“Overall, the team has come together, and I am pleased with how they have played,” asserted Cook, whose team hosts Lawrenceville on April 8, plays at Princeton Day School on April 10, and then hosts Stuart Country Day on April 13.

“They are having fun and have gotten better with each game. Teamwork is our biggest area of progress. Our defensive unit continues to make big plays while our attack has learned to adapt to a fast-paced game.”

April 2, 2015
IN THE FAST LANE: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Georgia McLean races upfield in 2014 action. Last Friday, sophomore midfielder McLean contributed two goals and an assist to help PHS top Hun 14-3, giving new head coach David Schlesinger the first victory in his tenure with the program. PHS, now 2-2,  hosts WW/P-N on April 1.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN THE FAST LANE: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Georgia McLean races upfield in 2014 action. Last Friday, sophomore midfielder McLean contributed two goals and an assist to help PHS top Hun 14-3, giving new head coach David Schlesinger the first victory in his tenure with the program. PHS, now 2-2, hosts WW/P-N on April 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Over the last few years, when one watched the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse  team, the No. 17 shirt was sure to catch the eye.

The player wearing that jersey, gritty midfielder Dana Smith, was a 5’1 whirling dervish, gobbling up ground balls and triggering the PHS offense.

Smith graduated last June and is now making an impact on the Lafayette College women’s team, starting 11 of the team’s first 12 games this spring.

Although Smith is gone, the No. 17 is still figuring into the action as it has been inherited by sophomore Georgia McLean.

“I want to emulate Dana because I love the way she plays; I took her number on purpose,” said McLean, who wore No. 5 last year in her freshman campaign.” I have also had this number when I was a little girl on PGLax.”

Last Friday, McLean performed a very good imitation of Smith, tracking down a number of grounds balls in the midfield and chipping in two goals and an assist as PHS topped Hun 14-3, bouncing back nicely from a 5-1 loss to Shore in its season opener two days earlier.

“I was trying to get really pumped up for the game,” said McLean. “I ate my carbs last night and I was really fired up. I really wanted to come back from the first game.”

In McLean’s view, the Little Tigers were firing on all cylinders in the win over Hun.

“I think that we worked on a lot of midfield transitions, that was a big part of the game,” said McLean.

“We had a new play to utilize our best shooters, Allie (Callaway) and Gabby (Gibbons), they are amazing. I think we were more in synch because we had more practice and I think the plays that we did were really effective today.”

McLean has put in a lot of practice to become a better player as a sophomore.

“I really try to work on my shot and stuff like that,” said McLean, who chipped in two goals to help PHS top Bishop Eustace 13-10 last Monday as it improved to 2-2. “As a sophomore, you feel more confident on the field.”

PHS’s first-year head coach David Schlesinger was thrilled with the work he is getting from McLean.

“Georgia is amazing, she probably had about 30 ground balls today,” said Schlesinger.

“She is a very quick, tough, feisty player and she is going to make tons and tons of plays this year. We are very fortunate to have a player of her ability.”

In Schlesinger’s view, PHS played a lot better against Hun than it did in the opening day loss.

“I thought we played a little bit calmer than we did on Wednesday,” said Schlesinger.

“They pressured us but they didn’t put quite the same pressure that Shore did. I think we turned the ball over less and we had a lot more opportunities so the whole game was different. We have got some very talented offensive players and once they start relaxing a little more instead of feeling like they have to go, go, all the time then our offense will really start to click.”

Things were also clicking at the defensive end for the Little Tigers against Hun.

“I thought we played very strong defense; we have the ultimate defender in Mira,” said Schlesinger, referring to senior goalie Mira Shane.

“I thought our defense played very well. The game was called very, very tight so it limited some of our aggressiveness defensively but we adjusted and pulled out a victory.”

For Schlesinger, getting his first victory at PHS was sweet. “It is better than a second loss, it is also the 50th win of my career,” said a smiling Schlesinger, who previously coached at Eastern High and Wissahickon High (Pa.).

“It is good, any time you are in a new program, this is the third time I have started at another high school, you have to build credibility and you have to build it very quickly. The best way to do that is to pile up some wins.”

In McLean’s view, Schlesinger has already built up a lot of credibility with his new charges.

“It has been awesome, he is a really great coach,” said Schlesinger. “He has really taught me a lot about shooting and attack. We do a lot of team building to bring the team together. I think the team has really jelled.”

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Princeton High baseball player Joaquin Hernandez-Burt fires the ball in action last spring. After going 5-4 with a 2.25 ERA in 2014, junior Hernandez-Burt has emerged as the team’s ace. PHS is slated to open its 2015 campaign by hosting Robbinsville on April 1.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Princeton High baseball player Joaquin Hernandez-Burt fires the ball in action last spring. After going 5-4 with a 2.25 ERA in 2014, junior Hernandez-Burt has emerged as the team’s ace. PHS is slated to open its 2015 campaign by hosting Robbinsville on April 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While the Princeton High baseball program doesn’t have strength in numbers, it boasts some talented players.

“We are limited in depth, we only have 29 kids in the whole program,” said PHS head coach Dave Roberts, who guided the Little Tigers to a 9-14 record in 2014.

“I am probably carrying 13 players on varsity. I am very happy with the quality of the starting players.”

PHS features a quality starting pitcher in junior Joaquin Hernandez-Burt, who led the Little Tigers in win (5) and innings pitched (49) last season, going 5-4 with a 2.25 ERA.

“Joaquin had a little arm trouble over the winter so we are working him back slowly,” said Roberts, whose team is slated to open its 2015 campaign by hosting Robbinsville on April 1.

“Physically, he’s grown a couple of inches. He is a little heavier, he is filling out. He works hard, we are expecting him to return to where he was last year.”

Roberts is expecting senior Ben Danis, senior Ben Grass, and junior Colin Taylor to round out his mound staff.

“Ben Danis will be used quite frequently, he had some good outings last year,” said Roberts.

“Ben Grass pitched for the Legion team and is joining us as a senior, he will get some innings. Colin Taylor will get some time on the mound.”

Taylor and fellow junior Hayden Reyes will be counted on to trigger the PHS offense.

“Colin and Hayden give us a good one-two punch at the top of the order,” asserted Roberts.

“Taylor is strong in the one hole and we are going to keep Hayden at No. 2. The key is getting those two guys on base. When we were most successful last year, they were able to steal bases and we were able to move them up and score on sacrifice flies.”

Senior John Reid and Hernandez-Burt provide punch in the middle of the lineup.

“I am looking at Reid in the four spot, he had a great year for us last season, he can get RBIs,” said Roberts. “Joaquin also offers a lot with the bat.”

Defensively, PHS looks strong in most spots with Hernandez-Burt and freshman Paul Cook at first base, junior Matt Lambert at second, Reyes at short, Taylor at third, sophomore Tim Frawley at catcher, and an outfield consisting of Reid, Danis, and Steve Majeski.

“I am totally confident in second base, shortstop and third base,” said Roberts.

“They are all good athletes and they look like infielders should. Reid has been in left field for three years. Danis was in centerfield last year and Majeski played well for the Legion team last summer.”

While Roberts is confident in his starters, he acknowledges that they are going to have to be iron men in order for PHS to have a good season.

“It is getting healthy and staying healthy,” said Roberts. “Stamina and endurance will be key. We have 24 games in the regular season and we will be playing four games a week. They need mental strength and focus.”

IN THE SWING: Princeton High softball player Emily DiLella takes a hard swing in a game last spring. Junior first baseman DiLella figures to be a key performer for the Little Tigers this spring as they look to improve on the 7-16 record they posted last season. PHS is slated to get its 2015 season underway by hosting Robbinsville on April 1.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

IN THE SWING: Princeton High softball player Emily DiLella takes a hard swing in a game last spring. Junior first baseman DiLella figures to be a key performer for the Little Tigers this spring as they look to improve on the 7-16 record they posted last season. PHS is slated to get its 2015 season underway by hosting Robbinsville on April 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Considering the obstacles the Princeton High softball team has faced dealing with this wintry preseason, it is a good thing that the team features a core of seasoned veterans.

“With three weeks in the gym, you are going crazy,” said PHS head coach Dave Boehm, who welcomes back eight returning starters for a team that went 7-16 in 2014.

“We have been hitting with machines in the cage and the pitchers have been throwing to the hitters. We were able to use our outfield the other day and get in a little bit of work outside.”

A trio of pitchers, sophomore Kayla Volante, senior Sarah Eisenach, and senior Nancy Gray will be sharing the pitching workload this spring.

“Kayla has picked up some speed and she has good movement on the ball,” said Boehm, whose team is slated to start the season by hosting Robbinsville on April 1.

“I think she is going to have a good year. Sarah will hold her own, she is a workhorse. She gets the job done when she is out there. She gives 100 percent all the time. Nancy might start some games, she has been looking pretty good in the gym. She has worked hard.”

Boehm believes he has a pretty good hitting attack, featuring a blend of table setters and some punch in the middle of the order. Freshman Bianca Guidi, Volante, and junior Kelli Swedish should be catalysts while junior Stephanie Wu, Eisenach, Gray, and junior Emily DiLella can knock runs in.

“Guidi will bat leadoff; she has decent size and is pretty fast,” said Boehm.

“She is going to be a player. I have Volante, Swedish, Eisenach, and Wu next followed by Gray and DiLella. Wu and Swedish led us in hitting last year. Eisenach has been a steady hitter. She has a big bat, just needs to make more contact.”

With the team’s lack of work outside, Boehm acknowledges that he is considering a number of defensive combinations. Sophomore Christina Cuomo will be at catcher with DiLella and Eisenach at first base and junior Jordan Petrone, sophomore Celia Gleason, and junior Natalie Campisi likely to see time at second. Gray and Wu will be getting looks at both shortstop and third. The outfield could include Volante, Guidi, Campisi, Swedish, and junior Genna Garlock.

Once the Little Tigers get in some time on the field, Boehm is confident that the squad can get into a groove.

“Overall, I think improving on our win total from last year is realistic, I think we can win double digits like we did two years ago,” said Boehm.

“They have to be convinced that they can do it. We have the potential. I think this is the most travel players I have ever had on the team. We need to be more consistent on the field and at the plate. They can’t get down if they have a bad inning. We are looking forward to getting it going, believe me.”

CLOSE SHAVE: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Jacob Shavel races past a foe in a game last season. PDS will depend on senior star Shavel to provide production from the midfield this spring. The Panthers were slated to open their season by hosting Voorhees on March 31 before playing at Germantown Academy (Pa.) on April 2 and at Hun on April 7 as they welcome new head coach Rich D’Andrea.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CLOSE SHAVE: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Jacob Shavel races past a foe in a game last season. PDS will depend on senior star Shavel to provide production from the midfield this spring. The Panthers were slated to open their season by hosting Voorhees on March 31 before playing at Germantown Academy (Pa.) on April 2 and at Hun on April 7 as they welcome new head coach Rich D’Andrea. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After serving as the assistant coach for the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team for the last three years, Rich D’Andrea doesn’t have to make drastic changes as he assumes the reins from Rob Tuckman.

With Tuckman having guided the Panthers to a state Prep B title and a 13-3 record last spring in his swan song after previously announcing in the fall that he was stepping down, the program is in good shape.

“Rob did such a good job of transition, so a lot of the systems are in place, the base packages, clears, and rides,” said D’Andrea, a former star goalie at Peddie and Georgetown who served as the head coach at WW/P-N for a year before coming to PDS.

“He really built the program up. It is a hardworking group and they understand the values of pushing each other and policing each other.”

The Panthers got in a lot of hard work in late March on their annual spring training trip to Hilton Head, S.C.

“The trip worked out well, the boys worked really hard,” said D’Andrea. “They looked good. We played some good teams. It was really nice down in Sea Pines, the best part was probably the off field stuff. I think the dynamic of each team is different.”

PDS features a dynamic attack unit in the trio of senior Chris Azzarello, junior Joey Levine, and freshman Elon Tuckman.

“Chris is returning, he had good numbers last year, he is a good finisher,” said D’Andrea of the Ohio-Wesleyan-bound Azzarello.

“We are expecting him to have a big year. Joey Levine also had a nice year last season. He had been developing nicely in the offseason. He shoots the ball very well, I think he will have a good year. Elon Tuckman had a really, really nice preseason. He was putting the ball into the net, he is our lefty finisher.”

One of the team’s top finishers, Cornell-bound junior Connor Fletcher, figures to spearhead the midfield.

“Fletch is Fletch, he is a monster,” said D’Andrea. “He has worked really, really hard on the finer points of the game. One of the big things this year is that we are looking to stay balanced. Going to one or two guys works for a few games but you end up becoming one-dimensional.”

The midfield should be multi-dimensional with the likes of junior Jonah Tuckman, sophomore Nick Day, sophomore Will Brossman, and senior and RPI-bound Jacob Shavel.

“Jonah Tuckman had a fantastic year last season, he was a utility player, doing face-offs, man-down, man-up,” said D’Andrea.

“Nick Day, a sophomore who came over from WW/P-N, is a face-off specialist so Jonah won’t have to do that. Jonah is the type of kid who will do anything for the team you ask of him. He is a coach’s son and a student of the game. Will Brossman scored three goals against Rutgers Prep in Prep B title game; he had a great offseason. Jacob gives us a good wrinkle there in the midfield. He has been an attacker the last three years, we have him at midfield in terms of adding some depth where we need it.”

There is depth on the Panther defense as that unit features seniors Christian Vik and Kevin Towle along with juniors Amir Melvin and James Fragale and sophomore Coby Gibson.

“Vik and Towle are both big and physical, they communicate really well,” said D’Andrea of Vik, who is headed to Swarthmore, and the Kenyon-bound Towle.

“They can be calming to a defense. They are strong and good at clearing, they get the ball up and down the field. Amir Melvin is a  big, rangy athletic guy and has a good stick. He could see some time at longstick midfielder. James Fragale is another defender with a good stick. Coby Gibson had a great preseason.”

D’Andrea is hoping the senior goalie and Muhlenberg College recruit Chris Markey will have a great season as he moves into the starting role after the graduation of Culver Duquette.

“Chris is really technical in everything he does, watches a lot of tape, working on positioning, hand placement, and stepping into the ball,” said D’Andrea, who will be using freshman Eugene Yoon as his backup goalie.

“As a leader he is stepping up, really directing the defense really well in Hilton Head.”

With a tough schedule that now includes some Pennsylvania prep powers along with games against formidable foes such as Hun, Peddie, and Hopewell Valley, PDS will need to step up collectively on a daily basis.

“They need to be ready to compete hard day in, day out,” said D’Andrea, whose squad was slated to open the season by hosting Voorhees on March 31 before playing at Germantown Academy (Pa.) on April 2 and at Hun on April 7.

“I think our balance on offense is a strength; we have six, seven, or eight guys who are comfortable finishing. The defense plays well as a group, working together inside, not as individuals.”

In D’Andrea’s view, the team’s biggest strength could well be the diligence the group has displayed all year long.

“It is the hardest working group of guys I have been around,” said D’Andrea, noting that all five seniors on the team are committed to play lacrosse for college programs.

“They were on the field a lot shooting in the offseason and they got together in the weight room two days a week.”

AS NEEDED: Hun School boys’ lacrosse player Chris Aslanian heads upfield last Monday in Hun’s 14-13 win over the IMG Academy (Fla.) in overtime. Postgraduate Aslanian tallied four goals and three assists in the victory to help the Raiders improve to 3-0. Hun plays at Blair in April 1 before hosting PDS on April 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

AS NEEDED: Hun School boys’ lacrosse player Chris Aslanian heads upfield last Monday in Hun’s 14-13 win over the IMG Academy (Fla.) in overtime. Postgraduate Aslanian tallied four goals and three assists in the victory to help the Raiders improve to 3-0. Hun plays at Blair in April 1 before hosting PDS on April 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Chris Aslanian and the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team didn’t show any opening day jitters as they started their season by hosting Don Bosco last Wednesday.

With post graduate Aslanian chipping in a goal and an assist, Hun jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the first quarter.

“I think it is just a total team effort, just coming out there, we wanted to have a fast start,” said Aslanian.

“We have a lot of talent on our offense. Our coach really harps on playing team offense, working together, using each other and playing unselfish.”

Hun kept it together the rest of the afternoon, cruising to a 16-5 win over the Ironmen. Aslanian ended up with three goals and four assists, repeatedly connecting with fellow post-grads Chris Donovan and Brendan Rooney.

“We are also boarders at the school; we live here and we have been playing together for a while,” said Aslanian.

“We definitely have a chemistry. I think our whole offense is really great. We really understand the whole idea behind it, just working together as a team. Everyone does their own part.”

In reflecting on his big debut, Aslanian spread the credit around. “I think any guy can do that, I was in the right spot at the right time,” said Aslanian, who had another big day last Monday, scoring four goals as Hun edged IMG Academy (Fla.) 14-13 in overtime to improve to 3-0.

“We have a lot of talent around here and I just happened to be the beneficiary of all the hard work.”

Aslanian, a former standout at Westfield High who has committed to attend Hobart College and play for its men’s lax program, is finding Hun to be a good spot for him.

“It has been a great experience, the guys have been awesome,” asserted Aslanian. “It has been a really smooth transition. The coaching staff is amazing, I love it here.”

Earning the respect of the guys, Aslanian was voted by the players to be one of the team captains this spring.

“I was truly honored to have my teammates vote for me; I think it has been great so far,” said Aslanian.

“I have only been here a year. We have a lot of captains who have been here for a while and they kind of run the show and I just try to do my little part.”

Hun head coach MV Whitlow likes how Aslanian is getting it done. “Chris is a really dynamic player, he is always looking for his teammates,” said Whitlow. “He is very talented, he can shoot the ball really well but he also has great vision.”

The Raiders’ dynamic performance against Don Bosco was heartening to Whitlow. “We wanted to start fast and I think we did start fast,” said Whitlow.

“We wanted to play uptempo and I thought we did play uptempo. We want to push our opportunities and share the ball and when that happens a lot of guys are going to get good looks and today they went in.”

Junior midfielder Alex Semler’s good work on face-offs helped get Hun rolling.

“We were happy because we were winning face-offs, Alex Semler is pretty tough at the X,” said Whitlow.

“He has really been working hard. He is a team guy and he wants to get the ball for us. When we have the ball that much, we are going to have success as long as the guys share the ball, trust each other, and play unselfishly.”

Hun played well at the defensive end of the field, stifling the Ironmen. “Tucker Stevenson anchors things back there on the defense; having Jon Levine behind him in goal really helps,” said Whitlow.

“Robert Kuhn is a great defensive midfielder. Chris Fake and the addition of Kyle Horihan are big back there.”

With its talent and work ethic, Hun appears poised to have a big spring.

“I think the players having worked so hard, really trust the coaching staff,” said Whitlow, whose team plays at Blair on April 1 before hosting PDS on April 7.

“The flip side of that is that the coaches really trust the players to make plays on the field and we empower them to do that, to be free thinkers and creators. They trust each other, that is the most important thing.”

In Aslanian’s view, maintaining that trust could result in the Raiders becoming a true powerhouse.

“I think if we just stay the course and keep working together and playing unselfishly and really work on that, we can do a lot of big things,” said Aslanian.

JUST FINE: Hun School baseball player Justin Pontrella takes a swing in 2014 action. Last Monday, senior first baseman Pontrella contributed two RBIs as Hun topped Academy of New Church (Pa.) 19-1 in its season opener. In upcoming action, the Raiders play at Blair on April 1 before hosting Lawrenceville on April 2.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

JUST FINE: Hun School baseball player Justin Pontrella takes a swing in 2014 action. Last Monday, senior first baseman Pontrella contributed two RBIs as Hun topped Academy of New Church (Pa.) 19-1 in its season opener. In upcoming action, the Raiders play at Blair on April 1 before hosting Lawrenceville on April 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Bill McQuade enters his 45th season guiding the Hun School baseball team, that wealth of experience should come in handy as he looks to utilize the ample supply of talent at his disposal.

“It has been a long, long time since we have had this kind of depth,” said Hun head coach McQuade, who guided the Raiders to an 8-12 record in 2014.

“We have a lot of good players and there is not much difference between them. We need to move the pieces around. We have so many pieces and they all have to buy into it. It is next man in; they have to perform as well as they can so we can move the pieces.”

McQuade has lots of good options when it comes to his mound corps. “We have six, seven, or eight guys who can pitch one, two, or three innings, they can throw strikes and change speeds,” said McQuade.

Senior Jason Applegate, junior Rob Huselid, and junior George Revock figure to be the front line hurlers.

“The starters are Applegate, Huselid, and Revock; we think they can go three, four, five, or six innings,” said McQuade, whose team topped Academy of New Church (Pa.) 19-1 last Monday in its season opener with Applegate getting the win on the mound.

“Jason is looking good; he has got the arm. He is going to Villanova so he can just relax and play the game. He is one of our captains and a 4-year player. He will play outfield when he is not pitching, he is a very good hitter. Robby Huselid has improved so much. He threw sidearm last year and had a good curve. He is 6’6, I suggested that he change his arm slot. He worked hard in the weight room, gained 30 pounds and is coming with a three-quarter delivery and his curve is breaking down hard. He is going to be something now, nothing fazes him, he doesn’t get uptight on the mound. If something bad happens, he just goes on to the next batter. Revock did really well last year.”

The trio of Revock, junior Jordyn Smith, and senior Justin Pontrella will be alternating between first base, pitcher,  and designated hitter.

“Jordyn Smith got bigger and stronger, he can pitch and play first,” said McQuade. “George is left-handed so I like having him at first. Some of the plays there are easier for him. His bat has to be in the lineup. He is thinking about playing in college and he knows it will have to be with his hitting. Pontrella is in the mix. He can pitch, he throws strikes.”

Others in the pitching mix include junior James Werosta, senior Matt Kooker, sophomore Blake Brown, senior Kyle O’Sullivan, and senior Nick Perez.

“Werosta pitched a lot last year; Kooker got some innings,” added McQuade. “They both play in the infield. Blake Brown can play all nine positions. O’Sullivan has been playing with us for four years. He may have been our most effective pitcher on our Florida trip, we threw him after some faster pitchers. He throws strikes and changes speeds. Nick Perez is a shortstop and another team captain. He could be a pitcher, too; he might be our closer. He throws hard and has a good curve.”

Perez will help trigger what figures to be a very good offense. “Brown, Kooker, and Peter Schintzler are at top of order,” said McQuade.

“Perez may be in second or third hole. He was driving the ball in Florida, going gap to gap. Alex Mumme, a junior transfer from Montgomery, was our most consistent hitter in Florida. He played center field and will be in the middle of the order. Revock, Pontrella, and Jordy Smith are also in the middle of the order. Gideon Friedberg will be in there. He hit well in Florida. He is solid, he is going to Franklin & Marshall. He is going to be a key to the team. He has to stay healthy and come up big. We have a lot of youth behind him at catcher.”

McQuade had lots of flexibility in terms of his defense with Smith, Pontrella, and Revock as options at first base, the speedy Schintzler at second, Perez at short, and either Kooker or Werosta at third, and Friedberg holding down the catcher spot. In the outfield, McQuade is looking at Brown, Kooker, Mumme, Applegate, and Evan Barratt.

In order to have a big spring, the Raiders need to take care of the basics.

“The pitchers have to do a good job of throwing strikes and keeping guys off the bases,” said McQuade, whose team plays at Blair on April 1 before hosting Lawrenceville on April 2.

“We need to catch the ball in the field. I think we will hit the ball, we don’t have power hitters but we have a lot of guys who make contact. We have talent.”

SUPER SAVER: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse goalie Harlyn Bell makes a save in a game last spring. Senior goalie Bell will be counted on to lead the Stuart defense this spring. The Tartans started the season with a 17-6 win over the Country Day School of the Sacred Heart (Pa.) last Monday, giving new head coach Kelsey O’Gorman a win in her debut. Stuart plays at the George School (Pa.) on April 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SUPER SAVER: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse goalie Harlyn Bell makes a save in a game last spring. Senior goalie Bell will be counted on to lead the Stuart defense this spring. The Tartans started the season with a 17-6 win over the Country Day School of the Sacred Heart (Pa.) last Monday, giving new head coach Kelsey O’Gorman a win in her debut. Stuart plays at the George School (Pa.) on April 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Kelsey O’Gorman, it has been an easy move, literally and figuratively, to take the helm of the Stuart Country Day School lacrosse program.

O’Gorman, the former head coach of the Princeton High girls’ team and a physical education teacher at the school, has enjoyed coming across town to lead the Tartans.

“I thought it was a great opening; I saw a good opportunity,” said O’Gorman, who guided PHS to a 17-4 record last spring and trips to the finals of both the Mercer County Tournament and Group III South sectional.

“I was taking over for coach (Caitlin) Grant, I knew her from college (TCNJ) and she said it was a great group of girls. It has been exciting to see how everything works at Stuart and bring to some of my experiences to the program.”

Stuart features a trio of exciting playmakers in junior stars, Tori Hannah, Sam Servis, and Julia Maser.

“Those three juniors bring a lot to the field, from draws to passing to scoring,” said O’Gorman, who is taking over a team that went 8-6 in 2014.

“I think the draw is the hot spot for us, we get so much possession. It is nice because that is something you normally have to work on a lot at the beginning. I have a lot of faith in our draw unit.”

Senior Nneka Onukwugha, junior Harley Guzman, and freshman Ali Hannah will also see work in the offensive end.

“Harley and Nneka will help the attack,” added O’Gorman, whose team was on the attack in its opener as it posted a 17-6 win over the Country Day School of the Sacred Heart (Pa.) last Monday. “Tori’s younger sister, Ali Hannah, will be helping us on attack.”

On defense, junior Rose Tetnowski should be a big help to a young group.

“Rose is one of our most experienced defenders; she is great at clearing the ball,” said O’Gorman.

“She is a smart player and a good all-around athlete. We are still working with some younger players on defense. We have a lot of talent there but we are looking for veterans to lead the way.”

Senior goalie Harlyn Bell figures to be a key leader for the Tartans this spring.

“Harlyn has a lot of spunk, she knows how to lead a team,” asserted O’Gorman. “She brings things together on defense and is verbal in the crease.

She has great footwork, she is a great player.”

In O’Gorman’s view, things are coming together as the players get used to their new coach.

“We just need to grow as a team and learn from each game,” said O’Gorman, whose team will look to keep on the winning track when it plays at the George School (Pa.) on April 7.

“They are definitely coachable girls. When they are at practice, they are ready to learn. They have to be versatile players because we will be asking them to step into roles that are best for the team. They go with the flow.”

O’Gorman believes the team can go far this spring. “I am looking to take Stuart lacrosse up a notch and compete at a whole new level,” said O’Gorman. “We had practice today at 6 a.m. It is intense.”

March 25, 2015
SAILING ALONG: Princeton University women’s lacrosse head coach Chris Sailer surveys the action during a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, Hall of Famer Sailer earned the 350th win of her 29-year tenure at Princeton as the Tigers topped Harvard 17-12. No. 13 Princeton, now 6-1 overall and 2-0 Ivy League, hosts California on March 25 and Delaware on March 28.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SAILING ALONG: Princeton University women’s lacrosse head coach Chris Sailer surveys the action during a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, Hall of Famer Sailer earned the 350th win of her 29-year tenure at Princeton as the Tigers topped Harvard 17-12. No. 13 Princeton, now 6-1 overall and 2-0 Ivy League, hosts California on March 25 and Delaware on March 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After winning its first four games of the season, the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team hit a roadblock on a trip to Virginia earlier this month.

Playing a powerful University of Virginia squad, Princeton fell behind 12-4 on the way to an 18-11 loss to the Cavaliers in the March 14 contest.

While the loss stung, Princeton head coach Chris Sailer believes it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

“I think we really needed that; of course you want to win but we had some wins where we hadn’t played our best,” said Sailer.

“We needed to make some changes and adjustments. We needed to play with a different energy and effort. We needed to focus the girls. We had to keep fighting when things weren’t going our way. We got a lot of goals in the second half so that was good to see.”

A week of spring break followed the Virginia game and that gave the Tigers a chance to recharge in time for home games against Penn State last Wednesday and Harvard on Saturday.

“We did some fun things; we did bowling at Colonial Lanes and we did laser tag,” said Sailer. “After a tough loss, we needed to just have some fun together and I think that put us in a good frame of mind for Penn State.”

The 13th-ranked Tigers had fun in the clash with Penn State, overcoming an early 4-2 deficit to pull out a 12-11 win.

“I think they were ranked 11th when we played them,” said Sailer, who got four goals from senior Erin Slifer in the win with senior Erin McMunn contributing three goals and an assist and junior Stephanie Paloscio adding two goals and two assists. “It was our seventh win in the last eight games against them. It is always a competitive game.”

On Saturday, Princeton faced a competitive foe in an improved Harvard team.

“It is a really good team, they have a lot of athletic kids,” said Sailer, a 1981 Harvard alum who starred in field hockey and lacrosse for the Crimson. “It is the most physical game we have played this year; they have a very physical defense.”

In the clash against the Crimson, the Tigers jumped out to a 5-3 lead only to give up three straight goals. Princeton added a tally by senior Erika Grabbi in the last minute of the half to take a 6-5 lead at intermission. The rivals were knotted at 8-8 early in the second half before the Tigers went on a 5-0 run to gain control of the contest, never looking back on the way to a 17-12 triumph.

“They had their runs but I think the momentum changed early in the second half when we had that 5-goal run, that seemed to break their back,” said Sailer, whose team improved to 6-1 overall and 2-0 Ivy League by virtue of the victory.

The Tigers showed some resilience as they regrouped after McMunn left the Harvard game in the first half due to an injury.

“Initially when she went out we struggled,” said Sailer. “We were figuring it out and it was great to see other girls come through.”

Grabbi ended up with two goals off the bench while Hompe contributed five goals, Paloscio added three goals and three assists, and star midfielder Slifer chipped in four goals and two assists. Slifer was later named the Ivy league Player of the Week.

“Erica had played at UVa and did well; she played within herself against Harvard,” said Sailer.

“She was smart with her decisions, calm and collected. Hompe had a great game, we are feeding off of her energy. It is great to see Stephanie consistently getting goals and assists. She had two goals and an assist against Penn State. She is very crafty, very smart, very alert. She is tough to mark because she is really small. She is playing well.”

The win also marked a milestone as it was Sailer’s 350th career victory. “I didn’t think it was something that people would celebrate; I knew I got my 300th win a while ago,” said Sailer, a Hall of Fame coach who now has a 350-139 record in 29 years guiding Princeton.

“It just represents a lot of great kids and assistant coaches that I have had. I am so fortunate to coach at a place like Princeton with the kids and staff that I have had. It makes me think about how the kids have earned all of those wins.”

With Princeton hosting California on March 25 and Delaware on March 28, Sailer is looking to add to that win total.

“The focus is to continue to get better; we were not taking enough risks on defense,” said Sailer.

“Against Penn State, Amanda Leavell had a great game with stick checks and ground balls. Liz Bannantine made a clutch play at the end of the game, getting a ground ball when they were pressing forward. We have to stretch ourselves and do more on the field, we could see that in the loss at Virginia. We want to have better defensive intensity and execute all over the field. The focus is on ourselves; we need to keep our house in order.”

HERE COMES MR. BROWN: Hun School boys’ hockey player Blake Brown controls the puck in a game this winter. Sophomore forward Brown emerged as Hun’s top scorer with 52 points on 22 goals and 30 assists, helping the Raiders to post a record of 22-3-3 and win the state Prep title and a second straight Mercer County Tournament crown.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HERE COMES MR. BROWN: Hun School boys’ hockey player Blake Brown controls the puck in a game this winter. Sophomore forward Brown emerged as Hun’s top scorer with 52 points on 22 goals and 30 assists, helping the Raiders to post a record of 22-3-3 and win the state Prep title and a second straight Mercer County Tournament crown. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Standing at 5’8 and weighing 140 pounds, Blake Brown doesn’t immediately catch the eye as the Hun School boys’ hockey team takes the ice.

But when the puck is around the net, sophomore forward Brown looms large as his speed, scrappiness, and finishing skill make him a threat to score at any time.

Hun head coach Ian McNally appreciates Brown’s nose for the goal.

“Blake can move the puck with Jon (Bendorf) and Evan (Barratt) but he can also wait until they find their shot and bang in the rebound,” said McNally.

“He is the workhorse. He is the dog that goes into the corner to get it and then goes to the front of the net and it eventually comes back to him.”

With Barratt sidelined most of the season with a knee injury, Brown lifted his game, becoming Hun’s top scorer as it rolled to one of the best seasons in program history. Combining with classmate Bendorf, the Raiders showed early on that they were going to be a force.

In a critical test in December against perennial nemesis Princeton Day School, Brown tallied two goals and an assist while Bendorf scored a dazzling end-to-end first period goal that gave Hun a 1-0 lead, jumpstarting the Raiders to a 6-1 triumph as they improved to 6-0-1.

“Coach read us alumni messages about this game and how we were never able to beat these guys in past years,” said Brown. “It is sweet to be finally able to do it.”

Hun ended 2014 on a high note as it won the Purple Puck tournament, topping host Gonzaga in a shootout in the title game after the teams battled to a 4-4 stalemate through regulation time. Brown chipped in a goal and an assist in the title game.

Brown produced some of his best work this winter in the state Prep tournament, tallying four goals to help top-seeded Hun defeat fourth-seeded Montclair Kimberley 7-3 in the semifinals and then adding two goals as the Raiders edged No. 2 Morristown-Beard 5-3 in the title game, earning the program’s first Prep crown since 1996.

“Blake had six goals in two games and they were all within two feet,” said McNally, noting that Brown’s final tally against Mo-Beard marked the 100th point of his Hun career. “He was in the right spot.”

Brown helped Hun take a second straight MCT title, tallying three goals and five assists in three games as Hun outscored its foes 21-0 in breezing to the championship.

“This brings the school together; we don’t get a lot of championships at Hun,” said Brown, reflecting on the team’s postseason success. “Hopefully we will bring a new chapter to Hun and start winning a lot of championships.”

Brown ended up as Hun’s top scorer with 52 points on 22 goals and 30 assists as the Raiders posted a final record of 22-3-3.

“Blake works hard for all of his points, he is not flashy and you might not realize how many points he scored,” said McNally.

For stepping up and emerging as Hun’s top scorer in a championship campaign, Brown is the choice as the Town Topics’ top male performer of the high school winter sports season.

Top Female Performer

It didn’t take long for Abbey Berloco to start turning heads in her freshman campaign with the Princeton High girls’ swimming team.

Making her high school debut against Hopewell Valley in early December, precocious freshman Berloco set a program record in the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.58, bettering the previous mark by 0.11.

For Berloco, getting records was secondary to simply getting better in her first season at the high school level. “I am just hoping for some more personal bests and having a really good season,” said Berloco, who puts in five or six two-hour training sessions a week with her Hamilton Aquatics club team. “My goals are I just want to improve and I want to keep enjoying the sport.”

Berloco ended up having a very, very good season. After helping PHS go undefeated in regular season competition, she won both the 50 and 100 freestyle races at the Mercer County Swimming Championships in early February as the Little Tigers won their third straight county crown. Berloco set a meet record in both races and was named the meet’s Most Valuable Swimmer (MVS) on the girls’ side.

Getting the MVS wasn’t a goal for Berloco as she wasn’t even aware the award existed until she won it.

“I didn’t even know that there was a MVS, everyone said we have to go up for awards,” recalled Berloco. “I was like OK. I was really shocked when I heard my name called.”

While Berloco was thrilled to earn the individual award, she was more excited about the team’s superb performance.

“Everyone did such an amazing job,” said Berloco. “It is great to be part of that; it was really fun to win counties.”

With Berloco dominating the sprint events, PHS kept winning, as it took the Public B Central Jersey sectional title and then topped Ocean City in state semis to advance to the Public B state final, where it fell 100-70 to Scotch Plains-Fanwood to suffer its only loss in a 15-1 season.

Berloco ended the winter in style, combining with sophomore Melinda Tang, junior Madeleine Deardorff, and junior Brianna Romaine to take first in the 400 free relay at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions. Individually, Berloco placed fifth in the 50 free.

In reflecting on Berloco’s exploits, PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz pointed to the freshman’s love of competition.

“She is a stellar athlete without a doubt,” said Misiewicz. “She gets in there and swims her heart out no matter what. If she is a body length ahead or a lap ahead of everybody, she puts her heart and soul into it. That is all you can ask for and that is what makes her the kind of swimmer that she is. She puts in 200 percent effort all of the time.”

Berloco’s excellence from the first race of her freshman season to the last makes her the pick as the top female performer this winter.

Top Newcomers

Entering the winter, Princeton High boys’ basketball head coach Mark Shelley believed that sophomore Zahrion Blue would make an impact in his first varsity season.

“Blue is going to be really good; he can play the wing, he can play inside,” said Shelley. “He has grown, he is about 6’2. He is versatile.”

The athletic Blue grew into a star for the Little Tigers, providing some punch in the paint along with sharpshooting on the perimeter. He ended up averaging 10 points and three rebounds a game as PHS produced a late surge to end up with a 10-12 record after a 4-10 start.

Blue, for his part, felt at home in his move up to varsity. “I have to play hard,” said Blue. “I think I should be on varsity; it is my level.”

For proving that he could thrive at a higher level, Blue gets the nod as the top male newcomer of the winter season.

Malia Leveson was asked to do a lot for the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team this winter.

Although a natural forward, she was moved back to defense to bolster the team’s blue line unit.

“I think it has been good for me,” said Leveson, reflecting on the move. “I play forward for my club team. It was good playing defense at the beginning of the year, it helps me see the ice better and understand all the positions.”

Later in the season, Leveson was shifted back to offense and she responded by tying junior Ashley Cavuto for the team lead with 21 points, scoring a team-high 11 goals with 10 assists as the Panthers posted a 9-12-2 record and advanced to the semis of the ‘A’ bracket at the WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) tournament.

Leveson earned All-WIHLMA honorable mention for her heroics, enjoying having the responsibility of being the team’s go-to scorer, letting her production speak for itself.

“I definitely like that a lot,” said Leveson of her role as a top scorer. “I am more of a leader on the ice rather than in the locker room.”

For making an impact at both ends of the ice in her debut season, Leveson is the choice as the top female newcomer.

Top Coaches

Before the season even started for the Hun School boys’ hockey team, head coach Ian McNally faced a major challenge.

The team’s offensive catalyst, gifted sophomore forward Evan Barratt, broke his knee in the fall and was sidelined indefinitely.

“We are missing Barratt and that is a big roadblock for us so we had to rise to it,” said McNally.

Responding to McNally’s leadership, the Raiders rose to the occasion, getting off to a 10-1-1 start in 2014 and closing the year by winning its first title at the Purple Puck Tournament in the Washington, D.C. area.

“We have the skill but we also have chemistry and work ethic and you don’t always get that with the skill,” said McNally. “If you have those three things, you can do well in any league.”

The Raiders kept doing well as the winter unfolded, winning the state Prep title for the first time since 1996 and then rolling to its second straight Mercer County Tournament championship.

In reflecting in Hun’s dream season, McNally noted that it was a total team effort.

“The story of us is depth, regardless of who is here we still play the exact same way,” said McNally, whose team ended the season with a 22-3-3 record.

“Sometimes when you don’t have guys, you have to change the strategy and things like that. Going into every big game, we had to change the lines and whoever it was got it done. Sometimes it was the defense, sometimes it was the big guns and sometimes it was the third line.”

For holding things together as Hun produced one of the best campaigns in program history, McNally is pick as the top coach of a male team this winter.

When Greg Hand retired from teaching and coaching at PHS last June, he left quite a legacy when it came to the school’s swimming program.

Guiding the PHS boys’ and girls’ swimming teams since 1996-97, Hand molded the Little Tigers into a powerhouse. In his tenure, the boys’ squad has gone 202-46-3 with seven county crowns, 12 sectional titles, five appearances in the state finals, and a New Jersey Public B championship in 2012. During that stretch, the Little Tiger girls’ team has posted a record of 152-63-2 with two county crowns, seven sectional titles, and four appearances in the Public B championship meet.

Hand’s replacement, Carly Misiewicz, was in elementary school when he started coaching and had big shoes to fill.

The 2013 Rider University alum and former swim star for the Broncs, who had assisted Hand in his final season at the helm, drew on his experience as she took over.

“He has been great, if I have any questions, he helps me,” said Misiewicz, referring to Hand’s influence.

“He has given me practices that he has done before, saying here is a schedule, do what you want to do but here is this as well if you want it. He gave me all of his resources and he is still such a great mentor. I look up to him so much and I can only hope to be the coach that he is some day.”

With her recent experience of competing at the Division I level, Misiewicz incorporated some new wrinkles into the PHS training regimen.

“We have changed our dryland a little bit, stepping it up a notch,” said Misiewicz, who started swimming at age 4 and was competing year-round by age 8.

“We are doing medicine balls, we are using the combat ropes, the big, thick ropes. We do abs, weighted lunges, weighted squats for just a half-hour or 45 minutes, before or after practice.”

Junior star Brianna Romaine credited Misiewicz with injecting a fresh approach.

“Now with Coach Miz taking a head coach role, it changed the dynamic in a good way,” said Romaine. “It is all positive. Our team is really behind each other and I think overall that is what made us so good.”

Under Misiewicz’s spirited leadership, PHS went on to produce a dynamic campaign, winning its third county title in a row and a second straight Public B Central Jersey sectional title. Advancing one step further than it did in 2014, PHS topped Ocean City in the Public B state semis to set up a championship showdown against Scotch Plains-Fanwood.

While the Little Tigers fell 100-70 to the Raiders, Misiewicz was all smiles as she reflected on the final effort in her team’s superb campaign.

“Why I love being a part of this team so much is that every person is so classy,” said Misiewicz, whose team posted a final record of 15-1.

“They are not going to bad mouth the other team because we lost, no one is a sore loser. Every person on the team knows that we did everything that we could, they swam faster. You can’t swim faster than you are capable of swimming.”

Displaying class and enthusiasm as she guided the Little Tigers to a winter to remember, Misiewicz is the choice as the top coach of a female team.

AGE OF JACKSON: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Jackson Andres heads up the field in a game last spring. Senior standout and Drexel-bound Andres figures to be a catalyst again for PHS in 2015 with his blend of physicality and skill. The Little Tigers open regular season play this spring by hosting the Christian Brothers Academy on March 25.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

AGE OF JACKSON: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Jackson Andres heads up the field in a game last spring. Senior standout and Drexel-bound Andres figures to be a catalyst again for PHS in 2015 with his blend of physicality and skill. The Little Tigers open regular season play this spring by hosting the Christian Brothers Academy on March 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The seemingly interminable winter hitting the area has had a chilling effect on the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team as it prepares for the upcoming season.

“It has been a challenge,” said PHS head coach Peter Stanton, noting that the team’s two scheduled preseason scrimmages were cancelled.

“There has been a lot of gym work. We have had the turf field a number of times but that has normally been with the girls’ team on one half and us on the other, with baseball on the side. We have been trying to make the most out of our time.”

But Stanton, recently inducted into the New Jersey Lacrosse Hall of Fame, believes his team will warm up as spring unfolds as has been its custom over the years.

“We want to be that team you don’t want to play in May,” said Stanton, whose team opens regular season play by hosting the Christian Brothers Academy on March 25. “We pride ourselves on being the team that improves the most during the season.”

Stanton is seeing improvement in sophomore Johnny Lopez-Ona and believes he will emerge as a go-to player.

“Johnny started last year as a freshman and he’s going to be a leader there for us this season,” said Stanton, who guided PHS to a 16-4 record last spring and the program’s second straight Mercer County Tournament title.

“He is a little quicker and better at stick protection and dodging. Last year,  Matt Corrado, Matt Purdy, and Kevin Halliday could create with dodging and Johnny was more of a backside player, being in position to finish or make assists. This year he will be creating more.”

PHS boasts some other players who should bolster the attack. “Chris Diver played in midfield last year and we moved him down to attack,” said Stanton of the senior stalwart.

“He played on our man-up unit last year. He is a very savvy player and has good field sense. Besides that we have a host of players in attack including sophomore Eamonn McDonald, sophomore Brendon McCormick, and senior Chris Munoz.”

In the midfield, junior Rory Helstrom, a star running back for the 8-2 PHS football team last fall, figures to carry a heavy load.

“It all starts with Rory, he is very explosive,” said Stanton. “If he can get by a player in football, he can certainly do it in lacrosse. He is a gifted athlete and he has worked hard in the weight room.”

A pair of talented junior athletes, Nick Halliday and Luis Lazo, will give Helstrom some support in the midfield.

“Nick Halliday and Luis Lazo got shifts last year on defense so they got a little bit of experience,” said Stanton of the pair who starred for the PHS boys’ soccer team this fall as it won the county crown and advanced to the Group 3 state title game. “More importantly, they were with the team and saw how the older kids did things.”

The PHS midfield also include a number of new faces. “We have a lot of new guys,” added Stanton. “Mark and Luke Duarte are sophomore twins. Oliver Hamit, a sophomore, is returning from shoulder surgery. Justin Marciano is another sophomore in the midfield along with Patrick Jacobs, a freshman.”

Three of the team’s best guys, senior Jackson Andres, senior Colin Buckley, and senior Joe Hawes, will spearhead the defensive unit.

“Jackson is phenomenal, he is so disruptive to other teams,” said Stanton, adding that sophomore Norman “Tooker” Callaway, senior Christian Sandford, and freshman Ian Jacobs should also see time on defense.

“He can take over the game and will score some goals for us. The same is true for Joe Hawes, we can put him against our opponent’s best attackman and he can neutralize that guy, giving Jackson and Colin more favorable matchups. Colin is physical, he has a lot of experience.”

Senior goalie Kenan Glasgold is better for the experience he got last spring in his first season as a starter.

“Kenan had a very good year last season,” said Stanton. “He is looking a lot better right now than he looked at this time last year.”

While it might take a few weeks for PHS to get in synch this spring, Stanton is confident it can have a very good season.

“We are combining inexperience with expectations of competing for a county title and being in the mix for a Group 3 title; we need to have patience and have a tolerance for mistakes that we are going to make as we grow,” said Stanton, noting that assistant coach Chip Casto is focusing on coming up with the offensive scheme that will get the most out of the team’s potential.

“We do have senior leadership with some outstanding players who really want to win. We need to focus on long term goals and how we are going to end up in May.”

LEADING THE WAY: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Allie Callaway heads to goal in a game last season. Junior attacker and George Mason — bound Callaway brings a strong finishing touch to the PHS offense. The Little Tigers, who are welcoming a new head coach, David Schlesinger, open the 2015 season by playing at Shore on March 25 before hosting Hun on March 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LEADING THE WAY: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Allie Callaway heads to goal in a game last season. Junior attacker and George Mason — bound Callaway brings a strong finishing touch to the PHS offense. The Little Tigers, who are welcoming a new head coach, David Schlesinger, open the 2015 season by playing at Shore on March 25 before hosting Hun on March 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In taking the helm of the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse program, David Schlesinger knows that he walked into a good situation.

“The preseason has been great, the girls are wonderful,” said head coach Schlesinger, the replacement for Kelsey O’Gorman, who is now guiding the Stuart Country Day School lax program after leading PHS to a 17-4 season in 2014 and an appearance in the Group III South sectional final. “They are incredibly coachable and eager to learn.”

Schlesinger has plenty of lacrosse knowledge to pass on to his new charges, having played three seasons for the Colgate University men’s team in the late 1970s before coaching the Moorestown girls’ youth programs and then guiding Eastern High and Wissahickon High (Pa,) girls’ programs. He has also coached for the Ultimate Goal lacrosse club headed by former Princeton University women’s lax assistant coach Michele DeJuliis.

With that wealth of experience, Schlesinger brings a detailed approach to his new assignment.

“We will be a very disciplined, aggressive team that tries to make the small plays like draw controls and ground balls,” said Schlesinger, whose team opens the 2015 season by playing at Shore on March 25 before hosting Hun on March 27.

“We want to have a smooth transition from offense to defense and defense to offense. We want to be very disciplined on offense, organized and aggressive on defense. We really start from the goal out. If you prevent goals, you have a much better chance to win.”

PHS boasts one of the top goalies in the area in four-year starter and Michigan-bound Mira Shane.

“I am incredibly fortunate to inherit a goalie like Mira Shane,” said Schlesinger.

“As great a goaltender as she is, she is a better person. She is one of our tri-captains.”

With a defensive unit featuring senior Oona Ryle, junior Gabrielle Deitch, junior Trish Reilly, senior Campbell McDonald, and sophomore Gwen Koehler, the Little Tigers should be able to hold foes at bay.

“Oona Ryle is one of our captains and will be a leader on defense,” said Schlesinger.

“Gabby Deitch is very fast. Trish Reilly is going to Lehigh to play field hockey. We moved Campbell McDonald to defense to take advantage of her speed and physicality. Gwen Koehler is a terrific young player. We have speed, smarts, and good lateral movement on defense.”

The PHS midfield includes a number of terrific athletes. “I have an embarrassment of riches in the midfield,” asserted Schlesinger.

“Starting with Julia Ryan, who has committed to Holy Cross, and Taylor Lis; they are both tall, strong, really fast with strong stick skills. Jordyn Cane is very fast, highly skilled; she is coming into her own. Freshman Abaigael Ryan was a real standout in our play day. She will be pushing other girls for playing time, I can play her all over the field. She will be a good utility player as a freshman.”

On attack, the Little Tigers have plenty of firepower in senior Gabrielle Gibbons, junior Allie Callaway, junior Sydney Reynolds, and sophomore Georgia McLean.

“Gabby is a very decorated player, she is our third captain,” added Schlesinger.

“She is heading to VCU; she is a good finisher. Allie Callaway is going to George Mason; she is a big strong player. She is highly skilled with an incredible shot. Sydney Reynolds is a very crafty, highly skilled player. Georgia McLean is one of the most aggressive, quick players I have ever coached.”

While PHS has the skill to have another big season, Schlesinger believes its success will depend on being cool under fire.

“We need discipline when we are facing the better teams,” said Schlesinger, noting that PHS is playing such formidable teams as Shore, Bishop Eustace, Clearview, Rumson-Fair Haven, Lawrenceville, Notre Dame, and WW/P-N.

“Sometimes when you get pushed, there are breakdowns. We will have some early setbacks and we will need to bounce back from that. There is no one I need to hide. It frees us up as coaches to do neat things with the team.”

STANDING TALL: Hun School boys’ lacrosse goalie Jon Levine guards the net in a game last season. Junior star and Princeton-bound Levine will be a key performer for Hun this spring as it looks to improve on the 13-7 record it posted last year. The Raiders get their 2015 campaign underway this week by hosting Don Bosco on March 25, playing at Somerville on March 28, and then hosting the IMG Academy on March 30.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STANDING TALL: Hun School boys’ lacrosse goalie Jon Levine guards the net in a game last season. Junior star and Princeton-bound Levine will be a key performer for Hun this spring as it looks to improve on the 13-7 record it posted last year. The Raiders get their 2015 campaign underway this week by hosting Don Bosco on March 25, playing at Somerville on March 28, and then hosting the IMG Academy on March 30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The watchword around the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team this spring is trust.

“We need to focus on team building more than ever and developing trust,” said Hun head coach MV Whitlow, who guided the Raiders to a 13-7 record last year and a second straight appearance in the state Prep A championship game.

“We need to exhibit a level of character and we need to to trust in each other, trust in the process, trust in the coaches, and trust in the players.”

To help develop that trust, Hun traveled back to Arizona this month for its annual preseason trip.

“It was a great trip, we had a lot of time on the field to practice and did a lot of things together off the field,” said Whitlow.

“We did horseback riding on the Verde river and climbed Camelback Mountain again. We are emphasizing being the best version of ourselves in everything that we do.”

Whitlow will be looking to some key veterans to help Hun be at its best in the midfield as senior Brendan Black, junior Owen Black, senior Cole West, senior Julian Williams, junior Chris Andrews, and junior Patrick Brake give the Raiders a lot of firepower in that unit.

“We have two main midfield units that we are running,” said Whitlow, whose team opens the season by hosting Don Bosco on March 25.

“Brendan and Owen Black are on one line, they are looking very, very good. Cole West and Julian Williams are together on another. Chris Andrews and Pat Brake are on another line, they put up points last year. We have increased depth.”

On the defensive end of the field, Hun boasts some battled-tested performers in senior Tucker Stevenson, sophomore Chris Fake, and senior goalie Jon Levine.

“Tucker is one of our captains; he is a dynamic player,” asserted Whitlow. “We will play him up top and down low. We can play him all over the field. He’s a seven-year guy at Hun, he came in together with Brendan Black. Chris Fake is a sophomore, he is real talented. Another captain, Jon Levine, is back in goal. He is looking real strong.”

If the Raiders can get on the same page, they should be a very strong team this spring.

“We need to come together as a team,” said Whitlow, noting that offensive coordinator Jeff Snow has implemented a new offensive scheme that should result in a more up-tempo attack.

“I think the guys are very committed to the team success and not individual stuff. We have high character guys who care a lot for each other. A theme we have shared is to focus on the process, consistent winning comes from the process; not focusing on the outcome. We have ramped up the schedule and the guys are hungry and ready to take the next step.”

QUICK LEARNER: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player Julia Salerno heads up the field in a game last spring. Sophomore Salerno figures to be a top defender for the Raiders this spring, who will be guided by new head coach Liz Cook.  Hun opens its 2015 season by playing at Princeton High on March 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

QUICK LEARNER: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player Julia Salerno heads up the field in a game last spring. Sophomore Salerno figures to be a top defender for the Raiders this spring, who will be guided by new head coach Liz Cook. Hun opens its 2015 season by playing at Princeton High on March 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By the end of last spring, Liz Cook was ready to take a hiatus from coaching high school lacrosse.

“I was a Princeton Day School varsity coach, I was coaching at Princeton Lacrosse Club and Garden State Elite,” said Cook, who had been coaching at PDS for 15 years.

“I was really busy, there was not enough time for my kids. I wanted to take a break from high school lax and still coach the club teams. After the end of the PDS season, I told them what I was planning.”

But then Cook got an offer she couldn’t refuse as the Hun School reached out to her to see if she would take over a girls’ lacrosse program that had struggled to a 1-11 record in 2014.

“Hun is very much like PDS, there are a lot of similarities between the kids at both schools,” said Cook, a former three-sport star at PDS who went on to play field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse at Brown University.

“I knew some of the players from Garden State Elite. I knew they were struggling; it was a chance to really make a difference. It was a good fit.”

So far, Cook appears to be a good fit for the Hun program, heartened by how her players have responded to the coaching change.

“They have been great, they have taken me in with open arms,” asserted Cook, who is succeeding Haley Sanborn.

“They have bought into my philosophy. We all have a vision, we are all on the bus and they each have a ticket.”

The team’s recent preseason trip to South Carolina helped forge the bond between Cook and her new charges.

“We went to Hilton Head and had a ball,” asserted Cook. “We played a lot of lacrosse and did a lot of team building things. They feel like my kids already.”

A major goal for Cook this spring is to build up her team’s confidence as Hun looks to get back on the winning track.

“My philosophy for this year is to make everything positive,” said Cook.

“We have a team motto, “TNT”, meaning today, not tomorrow; do it now. Each girl picked a word that is special to them and they will focus on that in addition to the team.”

Cook is focusing on putting together a potent attack, noting that she is still working on figuring out the best way to deploy such talented players as juniors Emma Consoli and Katie Consoli, junior Mariesa Cay, sophomore Delia Lawver, junior Lindsay Ruddy, junior Maura Kelly, sophomore Shannon Dudeck, and sophomore Sophia Albanese.

“We have a lot of talent, the Consoli girls are great in the midfield, they really see the field,” said Cook.

“Cay is playing attack right now, she is really strong. Lawver is also good. They all have so much skill and lacrosse IQ. They are looking to me to put it together. It is hard for me to know right now where everyone is going to be. I may be moving people to positions they haven’t played in the past because I can see that they have the talent for that role.”

Things are more settled for the Raiders on defense. “We have a good defensive unit,” said Cook. “We have a lot of seniors, Amanda Barbour, Shannon Graham, Taylor Nehlig, and Reina Kern, along with sophomore Julia Salerno. The defensive unit is pretty much set.”

Cook is expecting sophomore goalie Maddie McNulty to have a good year.

“Maddie has made huge strides, she has worked hard,” said Cook. “She went to a lot of camps and has a personal coach. She has really come along.”

As Cook begins the rebuilding process, she is looking for the players to trust her approach.

“They have to stay with the plan; they might come against adversity and think it is not going to work,” said Cook.

“They need to stay with  the vision, no matter what happens. They have some fresh wounds from a season that was not what they wanted record-wise.”

Although it is early, the Raiders appear to have the chemistry to stick together through thick and thin.

“I have never had a team like this, they are all really good friends,” said Cook. “There is no drama; I never heard any of them say a negative word about anyone else. They really support each other.”