October 28, 2015

While the Princeton Day School boys’ and girls’ squads finished well out of the running at the Mercer County Cross Country Championships last Friday, they gained a lot from the experience.

The PDS boys took 16th of 18 teams with junior Kevin Sun leading the way, taking 81st individually as he posted a time of 18:57.55 over the 5-kilometer course at Thompson Park in Jamesburg.

“This race for them is very, very fast because there are so many good teams,” said PDS head coach John Woodside.

“Competitively they get swept up. Their first miles were really, really good but I think it was the price and they fell apart. They fell apart more than we expected.”

MAKING STRIDES: Princeton High boys’ cross country runner Alex Roth heads to the finish line last Friday at the Mercer County Cross Country Championships. Junior star Roth took third individually to help PHS finish a strong second, just three points (74-77) behind champion Robbinsville. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 2014, Alex Roth couldn’t run in the Mercer County Cross Country Championships due to injury.

Last Friday, Princeton High boys’ junior star Roth was thrilled to toe the starting line at this year’s county meet.

“It is a great environment,” said Roth. “It was super cool to run with all of these competitive teams and competitive guys. It was great experience.”

Roth proved to be one of the top competitors on the course at Thompson Park in Jamesburg, taking third individually to help PHS finish a strong second, just three points (74-77) behind champion Robbinsville.

Coming into the race, Roth was focused on going after WW/P-S senior star Tim Bason, who ended up taking first.

“I wasn’t really worrying about time; I was trying to get in the mix to get a top position,” said Roth, who covered the course in 15:59.61. “I basically went out and just tried to hang with Tim Bason and just tried to go with it after that in the second half.”

Roth hung with Bason for about half of the race before getting edged  by 1.40 for second place by Zach Michon of Robbinsville down the final straightaway.

“I thought it was a good race; I felt confident,” said Roth. “The Robbinsville guy got me at the end but I felt like I ran the race I was looking for.”

While PHS entered the day looking for the team title, Roth saw the second-place finish as a positive.

HOLY MOSES: Princeton High running back Moses Mahiri heads upfield against WW/P-S last Friday. Sophomore Mahiri had a breakout game against the Pirates, rushing for 116 yards and a touchdown on three carries to help PHS to a 34-7 win. The Little Tigers, now 3-4, host Robbinsville on October 31. (Photo by John Dowers)

Moses Mahiri was pumped up as the Princeton High football team got ready to play at WW/P-S last Friday evening.

“I was hyped before the game,” said PHS sophomore running back Mahiri.

“The whole team together was trying to get up our energy because coach (Charlie Gallagher) has always been talking about getting your energy up before the game, during games and after games and keep it going.”

Mahiri ended up providing plenty of energy at tailback, rushing for 116 yards and a touchdown on three carries as PHS posted a convincing 34-7 win over the Pirates in moving to 3-4 and snapping a two-game losing streak.

With PHS clinging to a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter, Mahiri got things going, taking off on a 44-yard run to the WW/P-S 9-yard line. On the next play, senior star Rory Helstrom bolted nine yards for a touchdown as PHS increased its lead to 14-0.

SHOWING HEART: Princeton High girls’ soccer goalie Rachel Eberhart goes after the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, senior Eberhart made six saves to help sixth-seeded PHS edge No. 11 WW/P-N 1-0 in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament. Two days later, Eberhart made seven saves but it wasn’t enough as the Little Tigers fell 2-1 to third-seeded Allentown in the MCT quarterfinals. PHS, now 9-4-1, will start play in the state tournament next week. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Rachel Eberhart sensed that it was going to be a pressure cooker when the Princeton High girls’ soccer team hosted WW/P-N last Wednesday in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament.

With the rivals having played to a scoreless draw through two overtimes on October 8 in a regular season meeting, sixth-seeded PHS expected a tough battle from the 11th-seeded Northern Knights.

“We remembered the last game, we knew it was going to be a tough one,” said Eberhart.

“We knew they were going to put the pressure on us. We had to keep the ball on our feet and play our possession game and not get frantic and let them disrupt it and push us into doing long balls because that is not our game.”

In the rematch, the teams were still scoreless nearly 70 minutes into the contest and Eberhart had several big stops.

“I would say the game was very even and I definitely had a couple of shots to handle,” said Eberhart. “We had a couple of shots. It was a back and forth game.”

Bringing an undefeated record into its game at Lawrenceville last Saturday, the Hun School football team didn’t look like a juggernaut in the early stages of the contest.

The rivals were tied at 0-0 after the first quarter with the Raiders squandering some opportunities through some sloppy play.

Hun post-graduate running back/linebacker Imamu Mayfield acknowledged that the Raiders got off to a sluggish start.

“We started off flat, we can attribute that to having a pretty bad week of practice leading into this game,” said Mayfield.

“Our coaches have been telling us play like you practice and that is why we started out pretty slow.”

Early in the second quarter, a 68-yard touchdown pass from Simon Vadas to Josh Henderson got the Raiders up to speed.

October 22, 2015


GETTING DEFENSIVE: Princeton High field hockey player Julia Snyder heads up the field on a penalty corner in recent action. Senior defender and co-captain Snyder has helped solidify things on the back line for PHS as it has enjoyed another winning season. The Little Tigers improved to 11-4-2 and posted their fifth straight shutout with a 5-0 win over Ewing last Saturday in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament. Fifth-seeded PHS was slated to play at No. 4 Pennington in the MCT quarterfinals on October 20 with winner advancing to the semifinals on October 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Julia Snyder, the Senior Day ceremony for the Princeton High field hockey team last Wednesday helped put in perspective how far she has come during her career. more

October 21, 2015

Coming into the fall, Jim Smirk sensed that people had doubts as to whether his Princeton High girls’ cross country team could regain its standing as a perennial power.

“We have been working all season on trying to put together our identity; we had a lot of seniors last year and they were a good group of seniors,” said PHS head coach Smirk.

“There were a lot of question marks, more so from other people than ourselves, about how good we could be. A lot of people were floating around that it is a rebuilding year; there was this idea that it was OK if we weren’t very good.” more


TITLE RACE: Princeton High boys’ soccer star Chris Harla, right, races after the ball last week against Notre Dame. Senior co-captain and star defender Harla helped key a tough defense and scored the lone goal as PHS prevailed 1-0 over the Irish in the October 13 contest.  The Little Tigers improved to 12-0-3 with a 1-0 win over Hightstown last Monday. PHS will start action in the Mercer County Tournament this week where the Little Tigers are seeded first and slated to host 17th-seeded Nottingham on October 21 in a first-round contest. (Photo by John Dowers)

Chris Harla has been a defensive stalwart for the Princeton High boys’ soccer team over the last few years, bringing skill and physicality to the back line. more



GREEN LIGHT: Princeton High football player Jakob Green lines up at wide receiver in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore standout Green was a one-man show for PHS making two interceptions, making a 69-yard touchdown reception, and kicking three extra points in a 46-21 loss to Winslow. The Little Tigers, now 2-4, play at WW/P-S on October 23. (Photo by John Dowers)

With the Princeton High football team trailing Winslow 12-0 early in the second quarter last Saturday, Jakob Green put on a one-man show to get the Little Tigers back in the game. more

The Senior Day ceremony for the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team took place last Thursday before it hosted perennial power Pennington and it didn’t last long as Izzy Meyercord was the only member of the Class of 2016 on the squad.

But for defender and co-captain Meyercord, it was a long, hard road to that day, having suffered broken legs that sidelined her as a sophomore and junior.

That injury history had Meyercord concerned as she entered the 2015 campaign. more













SPECIAL CAY: Hun School field hockey player Mariesa Cay goes after the ball in recent action. Senior star Cay has provided energy and production in the midfield for Hun this fall as it has gone 6-6-1. In upcoming action, the Raiders will host Ewing on October 21 in a Mercer County Tournament consolation game before playing at Lawrenceville School on October 24, at Moorestown Friends on October 26 and then starting action in the state Prep A tourney. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into its Mercer County Tournament opening round contest against visiting Hightstown last Friday, the Hun School field hockey team was mired in a three-game losing streak. more

October 14, 2015

Mark Shelley is dealing with a problem this fall that would be the envy of most cross country coaches.

“We are so deep this year, we have been trying to give all of our quicker guys a chance to run a varsity meet,” said Princeton High boys’ cross country head coach Shelley.

“We had 11 guys go sub-18:00 at Holmdel at the Shore Coaches meet. It is a positive competition. They like each other, it pushes them. At the end of the season it is going to be hard to make those final spot determinations.” more


FRESH APPROACH: Princeton Day School field hockey player Val Radvany fires the ball up the field in recent action. Last Thursday, freshman star Radvany tallied a goal and an assist to help PDS top Northern Burlington 2-0. On Monday, Radvany chipped in an assist as the Panthers edged South Hunterdon 2-1 to move to 3-10. PDS hosts Hopewell Valley on October 14 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having lost nine straight games, the Princeton Day School field hockey team was determined to end that victory drought as it hosted Northern Burlington last Thursday. more

UMBC Cross Country at Mt. St. Mary's U.

ON PACE: Mary Sutton competes in a race this fall in her freshman season with the Loyola University women’s cross country team. Former Princeton High star Sutton is making an immediate impact for Loyola, emerging as a top runner for the squad. This Saturday, Sutton will enjoy a homecoming as she competes in the Princeton Invitational. (Photo Courtesy of Loyola’s Office of Athletic Communications)

During her Princeton High running career, Mary Sutton honed her speed at the West Windsor Fields course. more


ON THE BALL: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer player Kevin Hagan goes after the ball in a recent game. Last Friday, senior forward Hagan contributed two goals and an assist as PDS topped Morrisville High (Pa.) 6-0. The Panthers improved to 8-4 with the win as they posted their fifth straight victory. PDS was slated to host Hun on October 13 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament and the state Prep B tourney. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Kevin Hagan and his teammates on the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team, defeating Lawrenceville 1-0 earlier this month was a watershed moment. more

October 7, 2015

PHS 1st doubles high five afer a point.

HAND IN HAND: Princeton High girls’ tennis first double players, Rachel Kleiman, left, and Nikhita Salgame celebrate a point during their 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 win over Stephanie Ji and Kim Wong of WW/P-S in the finals of the Mercer County Tournament (MCT) last Wednesday. The win by Kleiman and Salgame at first doubles was a highlight as PHS finished second in the team standings to champion WW/P-S. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In mid-September, the Princeton High girls’ tennis first doubles team of seniors Nikhita Salgame and Rachel Kleiman fell in straight sets to the WW/PS pair of Stephanie Ji and Kim Wong in a regular season match. more


TAKING CONTROL: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer star Hannah Bunce controls the ball in recent action. Last Monday, junior midfielder Bunce chipped in an assist as PDS defeated Lawrence High 2-0 to improve to 9-0-1 and record its eighth straight shutout. The Panthers will look to keep on the winning track when they play at Hill School (Pa.) on October 7 and at Morristown on October 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team having gone undefeated in its first eight games coming into its clash against visiting Lawrenceville last Saturday, the squad’s calling card has been an even distribution of talent. more

PDS 1st singles player

SHINING SUN: Princeton Day School girls’ tennis player Renee Karchere-Sun hits a backhand last Wednesday in the first singles final at the Mercer County Tournament. Senior Karchere-Sun fell to WW/P-S’s Claudia Siniakowicz in three sets in the title match. PDS ended up taking fifth in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Princeton Day School girls’ tennis squad was out of the running for the team title at the Mercer County Tournament, by the time the singles finals started, Renee Karchere-Sun was primed to produce a championship performance. more

Last November, Ashley Maziarz blasted in a free kick from about 30 yards out in the first half to give the Hun School girls’ soccer team a 1-0 lead over Pennington in the state Prep A title game.

Maziarz’s thunderbolt helped spark Hun to a 2-0 victory over Pennington, snapping its 11-year title streak.

When the rivals met last week for the first time since that historic contest, Kendall Dandridge did her best Maziarz imitation. more


COLD SHOULDER: Hun School boys’ soccer player Chris Andrews, center, thwarts a foe as Elijah Smarr, left, backs up the play. Last Saturday, Hun got two goals from Michael Campbell as it edged the George School (Pa.) 2-1 to improve to 4-2. In upcoming action, the Raiders play at the Blair Academy on October 10 and at Princeton Day School on October 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

At first glance, it doesn’t appear that freshman defender Elijah Smarr is likely to have a major impact when he comes off the bench for the Hun School boys’ soccer team. more


STORMING THROUGH: Princeton High running back Rory Helstrom runs to daylight in recent action. Last Saturday, senior star Helstrom rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown to help PHS top Lawrence 20-6. The Little Tigers, now 2-2, play at Steinert (2-1) on October 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Rory Helstrom sensed that the ground game would be critical as the Princeton High football team played at Lawrence High last Saturday. more

September 30, 2015


LOCKING HORNS: Princeton High star lineman Noah Ziegler, left, battles a Hightstown blocker last Friday night. Senior tri-captain Ziegler starred at defensive end and offensive tackle in a losing cause as PHS fell 35-21 to the visiting Rams under the lights at Harris Field. The Little Tigers, now 1-2, play at Lawrence on October 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As a three-year starter for the Princeton High football team, senior lineman Noah Ziegler strives to set a daily tone for the squad. more

Avery Peterson is only a junior but she sees herself filling the big sister role for the Princeton High field hockey team.

“Last year, two captains, Lucy Herring and Campbell McDonald, were on my line and I was the underclassman,” said Peterson.

“Now as an upperclassman, I take it as my role to help the other forwards. I hope to improve Maggie Lynch, who is a senior, and Mariana Lopez-Ona. I look at them as little sisters this year. I feel that I really need to step up and be the one the team can rely on.”

Last Saturday morning against visiting Ewing, Peterson stepped up early tallying a goal four minutes into the contest, setting the tone as PHS cruised to a 6-0 win over the Blue Devils.

“This was our homecoming game so we wanted to come out with a strong mentality,” said Peterson. “That goal was more of a scrum on the goal line and I pushed it in. I had a lot of help from Mariana Lopez-Ona and Jordyn Cane.”

In Peterson’s view, PHS is coming on strong, having learned lessons from early-season defeats to Lawrenceville, Allentown, and Peddie.

“We started with some really tough games; it helped our mentality and fired us up,” said Peterson, who added two more goals last Monday as PHS edged Hopewell Valley 3-2 to win its third straight game and improve to 5-3-1.

“We took those losses as learning opportunities and we continued to expand on things that we learned from each game. It has really helped us that we had strong challenges in the beginning.”

PHS head coach Heather Serverson is pleased with the way Peterson has expanded her role on the team.

“I think that being the only returning forward, she has a lot of weight on her shoulders and she is starting to relax a bit,” said Serverson.

“She has been on lately, she is getting a lot of tips. Basically the other forwards are all brand new and she is trying to help them all along while trying to  perform well herself. It is a lot of work that she has to do. She is doing very well.”

In reflecting on the win over Ewing, Serverson saw it as a positive step for her squad.

“In general, they did improve on some things we have been working on from the losses we have already had,” said Serverson.

“It is the passing game and not dribbling so much and really making sure you look up and are aware of the next pass before you have the ball. Those things were good today and I think we executed some corners well.”

Senior midfielder and Lehigh-bound Trish Reilly has been executing particularly well for PHS.

“Trish is our anchor in the middle, she is kind of like the quarterback who plays halfway up in the group,” explained Serverson of Reilly, who tallied two goals and an assist in the win over Ewing and then contributed a goal in the victory over HoVal.

“She is able to keep everyone calm, she is a great communicator. She has a good mind-set for someone who needs to make others look good, she understands that and she isn’t always trying to score the goals.”

Another player who has been looking good for the Little Tigers is versatile junior Jordyn Cane, who had two goals against Ewing and an assist against HoVal.

“We have been moving Jordyn around a little bit; she is the kind of player who can do that so she has been a good person to have on the team,” added Serverson.

“She is willing to do whatever I need her to do and she always steps up to the plate. I am happy with the way she is playing.”

Overall, Serverson is happy with her team’s progress. “I think we are starting to find our new normal, which is what we have been working on this season,” said Serverson, whose team hosts WW/P-N on September 30 before playing at WW/P-S on October 2, and at Hun on October 5.

“We lost key players and that is hard. I think they relied on them a lot more than I thought they did. I think the key piece of that is that they played together so long. It is more than losing the players, we lost their tightness on the field.”

Peterson, for her part, feels that PHS is developing into a tight unit. “It is a newer team, almost half the team is new girls,” said Peterson. “I think we are really coming together now especially with those hard losses in the beginning.”


GIFT OF GAB: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Gabrielle Deitch, right, chases after a ball in a 2014 game. Last Saturday against visiting Ewing, senior midfielder and tri-captain Deitch scored a goal but it wasn’t enough as PHS fell 3-2 to the Blue Devils. PHS, which dropped to 3-1 with the setback, was slated to play at Lawrence on October 1 before hosting Steinert on October 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Hosting Ewing last Saturday, the Princeton High girls’ soccer team got an early wake-up call as it yielded two unanswered goals in the first five minutes of the contest. more

For John Woodside, taking the helm of the Princeton Day School cross country program this fall was a matter of coming through for a good friend.

When previous PDS head coach Merrell Noden realized last year that he might be losing his valiant battle with cancer, he reached out to Woodside, a running buddy and former Princeton High boys’ cross country and track coach.

“Last winter I would officiate at some of the Lawrenceville meets and Merrell came to watch (his son) Sam run,” recalled Woodside, who first met Noden, a former Lawrenceville and Princeton University running star, in the 1970s, striking up a friendship through racing against him and running together through the years.

“He said to me, ‘John, look the truth is, I don’t really know if I am going to be able to coach next year because physically I am not able to so if I can’t coach, I really want you to take over.’”

While Woodside didn’t want things to come to that, by late April, Noden formally stepped down from his coaching duties. PDS contacted Woodside and he was quickly hired to guide the Panther boys’ and girls’ cross country programs.

Initially, Woodside believed that Noden would be available to assist him.

“I had expected him to be around and I was really looking forward to it because the kids would really like it and it would have been great for him,” said Woodside, who stopped coaching at PHS after the 2012 cross country season.

“We planned on having the team meeting the last week of school. Merrell had said it would be nice if we all could meet and he could introduce me as the new coach but that didn’t happen.”

Noden died in late May, leaving a huge void in the PDS and local running community.

Woodside acknowledges that the transition was a bit rocky as he succeeded the beloved Noden.

“I am a very different coach; Merrell and I were good friends but we coach differently,” said Woodside.

“I have to coach them the way I coach them. I have a way of coaching that is different so there is an adjustment but I think that is coming along now. They are getting used to what I expect of them. We are working with a good group of kids, the kids that really want to run and to compete are there.”

In Woodside’s view, that work is starting to pay dividends. “You understand the situation and you just work with what you have and we did,” said Woodside, noting that he had runners joining the team at different times, starting with the first day of preseason in late August through the first week of school.

“We have some kids who can run and they are learning my system. They are taking to it. I feel like it is finally kicking into gear.”

As for the PDS boys’ squad, junior Kevin Sun is hitting a higher gear at the head of the pack, followed by junior Russell Kirczow and sophomore Nicholas McLean.

“Kevin is our top runner; he is a true distance runner,” said Woodside. “He truly loves running long distances. We are trying to work on getting his 5k faster. He is adjusting to that. He is very, very dedicated to cross country. He is running well and I think he is going to run even better. Russell was one who came out when school started. He is a good runner. He is a good baseball player so this is his second sport. He is getting in shape. He really wants to get in there and compete. He has been making strides. Nick McLean has been running very well, he is going to be even better.”

On the girls’ side, junior Morgan Mills has been running very well for the Panthers, along with sophomore Bridget Kane and senior Emma Sharer.

“Morgan is solidly our top girl,” asserted Woodside. “She is very competitive, she plays lacrosse as well. She has really taken to the new style and the more competitive focus. She loves it, she really wants to do well. She really wants to improve herself and she is making strides. I am hoping that as we get into October here, her times will come down further. Emma Sharer and Bridget Kane are running similar times, they have been improving. They plateaued a little and now they are getting better.”

With PDS hosting Lawrenceville for a dual meet on October 3, Woodside believes his runners will be primed to compete.

“We are going to run hard and be ready to run what I consider our first real race,” said Woodside, whose team has previously taken part in the George School (Pa.) Invitational and the Newark Academy Invitational along with a dual meet against Rutgers Prep.

“The races we did already were just training. We had so much work to do we couldn’t stop training just to do races. We trained through the races; they weren’t really race ready.”

Woodside is confident that PDS will be ready to peak when it ends the fall with the Prep B championship meet on October 28 at Blair Academy.

“There is no question that the Prep B is the focus of our season,” said Woodside, who is also looking for a good effort in the county meet which takes place five days before. “That meet is the culmination; that is the holy grail.”