October 24, 2012

SMASHING DEBUT: Princeton High girls’ tennis freshman star Christina Rosca smacks a forehand last week on the way to beating Hopewell Valley’s Natalie Kawalec 6-2, 6-2 last week in first singles in the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional finals. The Little Tigers posted a 4-1 win over the Bulldogs and went on to edge Moorestown 3-2 in the Group 3 semis before succumbing to Mendham 4-1 in the state championship match on Wednesday. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Christina Rosca may be just a freshman but she holds herself to a high standard.

After beating Hopewell Valley’s Natalie Kawalec 6-2, 6-2 last week in first singles in the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional finals to help the Princeton High girls’ tennis team to a 4-1 win over the Bulldogs, Little Tiger star Rosca saw room for improvement.

“I can’t say I was playing well but I think I played OK,” said Rosca. “Natalie played well; I think I could have played better. I think my serve was pretty good today.”

Rosca has been better than good in her freshman year, making the finals at the Mercer County Tournament in early October and then advancing to the semis in the state singles tournament later in the month.

Last Wednesday at Mercer County Park, Rosca posted two victories as PHS edged Moorestown 3-2 in the Group 3 semis before succumbing to Mendham 4-1 in the state championship match.

For Rosca, excelling at the high school level has involved some juggling. “It is difficult because even though I play high school tennis, I do my own training program,” said Rosca.

“Time management is something I have to cope with. For example, I had a team match last Monday and then practice from 6 to 9 p.m.”

In making the state semis in the singles tourney, Rosca had to cope with illness.

“I was actually sick right before the second weekend of play,” said Rosca, who was eliminated by eventual champion Lexi Borr of Westfield in the semis.

“I think I could have played better in the semis. I played well overall, getting to the semis is pretty good, especially for a freshman.”

PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert believes Rosca will keep getting better and better.

“I can’t say enough good things about her,” said Hibbert. “She plays a lot. She works really hard; you can always count on her to give 100 percent in her matches. She raises the level of play to whom she faces. She is very mature for a freshman and will be a great player for us in the future.”

Rosca, for her part, feels that she has raised the level of her game this season. “I think playing more matches really helps,” said Rosca.

“I especially like playing in the state tournament and the county tournament because I play very good people, especially in the later rounds. It has been a good experience. It has definitely been fun to be on this team.”

STRONG FINISH: Princeton High girls’ tennis player Maddie Cahill-Sanidas powers through on a shot last week in the Group 3 state tournament. Senior first doubles star Cahill-Sanidas helped PHS defeat Hopewell Valley 4-1 on October 16 to win its second straight Central Jersey Group 3 sectional title. A day later, the Little Tigers nipped Moorestown 3-2 in the Group 3 semis before falling 4-1 to Mendham in the state championship match. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Maddie Cahill-Sanidas feared that her senior campaign with the Princeton High girls’ tennis team was going to be a rough ride.

“Honestly, coming into the season, I wasn’t thinking we were going to have a good team,” said first doubles star and team captain Cahill-Sanidas, the only returning starter on the squad.

Instead, the Little Tigers developed into a very good team with the addition of some precocious newcomers and the improvement of some key veterans.

PHS defeated Hopewell Valley 4-1 on October 16 to win its second straight Central Jersey Group 3 sectional title and then nipped Moorestown 3-2 in the Group 3 state semis a day later before falling  4-1 to Mendham in the state title match.

“It is the best feeling ever, I couldn’t be happier right now,” said Cahill-Sanidas last week after PHS won the sectional final. “We have some crazy, amazing players. I love everyone on this team.”

Cahill-Sanidas certainly loved being teamed with sophomore Rory Lewis at first doubles this fall. In early October, the pair won their flight at the Mercer County Tournament and later advanced to the third round in the state doubles tourney.

“Winning the county was probably one of the best moments of my high school career in sports,” said Cahill-Sanidas, who also stars for the PHS girls’ basketball and softball programs. “That was the cherry on top of my senior year, it was wonderful.”

The Little Tigers have benefitted this fall from some wonderful team chemistry which can be traced to efforts by Cahill-Sanidas and fellow senior Lindsay Eberhart.

“Lindsay and I have really stressed team bonding,” said Cahill-Sanidas, noting that the team got even closer after losing second singles star Chenchen Wang to a season-ending knee injury days before the county tournament. “I know that tennis can be such an individual sport but the JV and varsity have become so close. We do so many bonding things. It comes from my other sports; getting everyone psyched up for this is the best feeling.”

PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert recognizes that Cahill-Sanidas’s graduation will leave a void for the program.

“Maddie has been an amazing leader, getting all the new people excited and comfortable for the season,” said Hibbert.

“We will obviously really miss her next year; she has been a staple of our lineup.”

Punctuating her strokes with shouts of encouragement, Cahill-Sanidas shows her excitement when she is on the court.

“I really get intense in my matches; that is how I play better,” said Cahill-Sanidas, who was exhorting herself to the end last Wednesday as she and Lewis fell in three sets to the Mendham pair of Veronica Fojtu and Lauren Hernandez.

“I think my love for the sport has helped everyone get focused and ready for the matches.”

While that focus didn’t result in a state title, PHS’s fight to the end symbolized its memorable ride.

“The whole season has been a challenge with Chenchen getting injured,” said Cahill-Sanidas.

“We have faced matches that are hard; we know how to accomplish a win in sectionals. We know how to do this.”

GOLD STAR: Princeton High boys’ soccer star Jeremy Goldsmith dribbles the ball up the field in recent action. Last Friday, ­Goldsmith scored two goals as fourth-seeded PHS rolled to a 6-1 win over No. 13 Trenton Central in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament. The Little Tigers, who improved to 13-2 with the victory, were slated to host No. 5 Pennington in the MCT quarterfinals on October 23 with the winner advancing to the semis on October 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 2011, Jeremy Goldsmith rode the bench as the Princeton High boys’ soccer team won the Mercer County Tournament.

Last Friday, senior midfielder Goldsmith starred as fourth-seeded PHS rolled to a 6-1 win over No. 13 Trenton Central in the opening round of this year’s MCT. Goldsmith scored the first goal of the contest and then banged home the final tally of the day as PHS won its 12th straight game to improve to 13-2.

On his first score, Goldsmith used hustle to find the back of the net. “I saw Kevin Halliday taking the ball down the line and I knew I had to be on the back post,” recalled Goldsmith.

“He took a shot and the goalie got a touch on it but luckily I was right there to put it away.”

Goldsmith’s second tally of the day demonstrated his growth into a dependable finisher.

“When John Blair was making the run in the middle I knew that I was open so I was screaming for the ball,” said Goldsmith. “I got it and the defender caught up but I was pretty confident I could get around him and then I took the shot. It was a lot of fun.”

It took Goldsmith a while to develop a comfort level with his move from benchwarmer to starter this fall. “I was nervous in my first game starting,” said Goldsmith. “Once we got our lineup pretty much set after the injuries at the beginning of the year, I found my role at outside mid.”

Classmates Zach Halliday and Aidan Passannante have played a key role in helping with Goldsmith’s transition.

“Zach and Aidan have told me that I can come out and play with these guys and that I am good enough to stick around and not be a player on the side,” said Goldsmith.

“It feels good to know that it is true; I have been playing well and proving it.”

PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe liked the way his team started well against Trenton, jumping off to a 3-0 lead by halftime. “It was a good start in that regard, any time you get three in the first half and build on that, it is great,” said Sutcliffe, who got two goals from sophomore transfer Chase Ealy in the win over Trenton with Kevin Halliday and Colin Lamb also finding the back of the net.

Sutcliffe is excited with the great progress Goldsmith has made in his final year with the program. “It’s his first start in the county tournament and he’s all over,” said Sutcliffe.

“He had a great game; he has come a long way through his hard work and his determination. It is great to see.”

Tenacious midfielder Ealy has proven to be a great addition for the Little Tigers.

“Chase is having a nice season; he is finding his way in the lineup,” said Sutcliffe.

“He has made a good impact as a young player; he’s learning from the older guys. Chase is a tough kid; he has the mentality that you hope to see in all 11 players you put out there.”

Junior star Kevin Halliday has shown toughness around the net, having tallied a team-high 18 goals.

“Kevin has had a great run; he is all over the place,” said Sutcliffe. “His mobility and his finishing in the penalty area have been fantastic. It is a credit to Kevin.”

Sutcliffe believes his squad is poised for a big finish. “We have won some big games late in the season by big margins and we are really starting to play our best soccer of the season,” said Sutcliffe, whose team was slated to host No. 5 Pennington in the MCT quarterfinals on October 23 with the winner advancing to the semis on October 25. “But our best soccer is in front of us, there is no doubt about it.”

Goldsmith, for his part, believes PHS is headed in the right direction. “I think we are peaking at the right time,” said Goldsmith.

“We always take it one game at a time so you don’t want to look too far ahead. We knew that Trenton would be a tough one; we wanted to make sure that we got the win and played well.”

SWEET LOU: Princeton High girls’ cross country runner Lou Mialhe strides to the finish line in recent action. Freshman Mialhe has produced a superb debut season for PHS, placing 26th in helping the Little Tigers take third at the Varsity A race at the Fall Classic on October 13 at Thompson Park. PHS is next in action when it competes in the Mercer County Championships on October 26 at Washington Crossing State Park.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into this fall, Jim Smirk knew that he needed some young runners to come through in order for his Princeton High girls’ cross country team to maintain its winning tradition.

“We graduated the majority of our leaders and the two top runners in Elyssa [Gensib] and Jenna [Cody],” said PHS head coach Smirk.

“We have been figuring out how this team is going to be successful; everyone had to find a way to do it.”

With such young runners as sophomore Julie Bond and Mary Sutton together with freshman Lou Miahle stepping up, PHS has been enjoying plenty of success this season.

The Little Tigers took third in the Varsity A race at the Fall Classic on October 13 at Thompson Park, building on fourth place finish at the Shore Coaches Invitational, and taking third in the Passaic Coaches Invitational.

Sophomore Bond has emerged as a frontrunner for the Little Tigers taking 14th at the Fall Classic and 10th at the Passaic meet.

“Julie has been great,” said Smirk, noting that his JV team produced a great performance at the Fall Classic in winning its division with seven runners in the top 14.

“She is still figuring out the consistency piece but when the moment has been there, she has seized it. She is not just running better times; she is better in all facets. She is approaching each practice with focus, she is taking care of academic stuff, she is getting her rest. Last year, she fell in behind the top two but now she finds herself in the limelight.”

Bond’s classmate, Sutton, is also showing a special focus. “Day in, day out, Mary grinds it out,” said Smirk of Sutton who took 29th at the Fall Classic. “She is going to be good at it and she is going to keep at it. She is the consummate worker.”

The Little Tigers have been getting some superb work from precocious freshman Lou Mialhe.

“Lou is a fantastic athlete, she could have hopped into any sport and been a starter,” said Smirk of Mialhe, who came in 26th at the Fall Classic.

“It is a testament to the quality of our program and the culture we have built over the years, that she joined us. She has seen that the girls have done some good things over the years. She started out raw. She is a neophyte but she is making moves in races and the veterans are saying, hey that was a good idea. She is getting them to take more risks.”

While the young runners have made key contributions, Smirk knows that his team wouldn’t be on a winning track without several star veterans, starting with senior Amelia Whaley.

“We call her the voice of truth; she doesn’t say much but when she does, everyone listens,” said Smirk of Whaley, the team’s top finisher at the Fall Classic as she placed 13th.

“She is an honest racer; she gives you what she has got. She gets stronger, the deeper she goes into the season. She learns lessons as she goes along.”

Junior Belinda Liu has learned some valuable lessons in leadership as she has learned to contribute even though injury has kept her from being at the front of the pack.

“Belinda is one of our captains along with Amelia and Helen Eisenach,” said Smirk.

“She has been dealing with a lower leg injury and to her credit, she said to me if I am not at 1-2-3, how can I help 5-6-7-8. She has really stepped up; she has been very vocal. She is helping us know what it takes to be great. She is good at motivating the people around her.”

Eisenach has displayed great discipline as she has fought through injury.

“Helen transformed herself,” added Smirk. “She has hip flexor problems from squatting so much from playing catcher in softball. She went to the weight room everyday before softball and did hip flexor exercises. That shows a lot of commitment with the season six months out. She took care of fundamentals.”

With the Mercer County Championships coming up this Friday at Washington Crossing State Park, Smirk is hoping that the team’s collective commitment will lead to a good performance.

“If we do what we have done at dual meets, it should be good,” said Smirk.

“It will be interesting to see what we can do. I am still figuring out who our top seven are going to be. It is an exciting opportunity.”

Smirk is excited by how his runners have worked together even as they have competed for spots in the lineup.

“The kids have not been worrying about themselves,” asserted Smirk. “It has been how do we get this group to do things to the best of its ability. Sometimes that means you step to the sideline to help the team. It is exciting to see a group of high school kids take that approach.”

TITLE CHASE: Princeton Day School field hockey player ­Emily Goldman chases down a foe in recent action. Last Friday, junior star Goldman scored three goals to help top-seeded PDS defeat No. 17 Nottingham 9-0 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament. The Panthers were slated to host No. 8 WW/P-N on October 23 in the MCT quarterfinals with the winner advancing to the semis on October 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Emily Goldman and her teammates on the Princeton Day School field hockey weren’t about to take Nottingham lightly when the two teams met last Friday in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament.

Even though PDS was seeded first in the MCT and the visiting Northstars were No. 17, the Panthers knew nothing was guaranteed.

Two days earlier, the Panthers had closed the regular season by losing to underdog Hun and learned a valuable lesson in the process.

“I think Hun brought us back to earth,” said junior star Goldman. “We had such a good streak going, only having one loss. I think it was the best thing for us even though I would like to beat them. It showed us that no matter what team we face, no matter what their ranking is, we need to work just as hard.”

As the Panthers hit the turf at Baker Field on Friday to face Nottingham, they were determined to work hard from the opening minute of the contest.

“I think we try to show each team that we are not here to mess around and this is our turf,” said Goldman. “We need to be victorious on our turf so we come out strong.”

Goldman led the charge on Friday scoring two goals in the first five minutes as the Panthers seized control on the way to a 9-0 rout and improving to 10-2-3.

“I think the rush of the playoffs kind of got me going,” said Goldman, who added a second-half tally to end the day with a hat trick. “I was really excited and adrenaline just made me finish.

In assessing the improvement in her finishing this year, Goldman credits her teammates.

“I think it is more about experience,” said Goldman. “We have basically had the same team for the last two years, only losing three players. I think the unity in general is a lot better and that makes everyone play at a higher level.”

The arrival of new head coach Tracey Arndt has helped to raise the level of the team’s game.

“Coach Arndt has definitely led us in the right direction,” said Goldman. “She was a breath of fresh air and I think she has brought us along quite well.”

Arndt, for her part, concurred with Goldman’s assessment of the impact of the Hun loss.

“Hun was a really good team and they certainly came out firing; they finished when they needed to,” said Arndt.

“We had some nice moments of plays but mentally a lot of things were not working out as well as we wanted. All in all, it could have been the best thing that could have happened to us. It helped us understand what we really needed to focus on and that the playoffs are a whole new season.”

In Arndt’s view, the thrust of that focus comes down to taking care of business around the goal at both ends of the field.

“For me right now, it is finishing in both circles,” said Arndt. “In the attack circle, we have to be putting away goals when we need to. We took a lot of shots today which was great but we need to get them on cage. Defensively, we are working on our marking and being tight and just having a tenacious attitude in there to not let it go in.”

Goldman’s tenacity in the circle helped set the tone for the Panthers in the win over Nottingham.

“It was really exciting to see Emily get her stick down and she did what she needed to do,” said Arndt, who also got a hat trick from Emma Quigley in the win over Nottingham. “She got in the right spots and finished hard and that’s exactly what we needed from her.”

Arndt is hoping that that there is plenty of excitement ahead for the Panthers as they play in the MCT and then compete in the state Prep B tourney.

“Hopefully, we have a lot of games ahead of us but we have got to focus on each one,” said Arndt, whose team was slated to host No. 8 WW/P-N on October 23 in the MCT quarterfinals with the winner advancing to the semis on October 25.

“We can’t focus on three or four games coming up because they may not come. We have to focus on each game and each half. We’ll go back to work on Monday and get some things accomplished.”

Goldman, for her part, is confident that the Panthers will maintain their winning focus.

“Rankings don’t matter for us at this point,” said Goldman. “We need to work hard, no matter if we are playing the last seed or the second seed.”

LAST LINE OF DEFENSE: Hun School field hockey goalie Reina Kern, center, controls the crease in recent action. Last Wednesday, sophomore star Kern made 14 saves as Hun edged Princeton Day School 1-0. In upcoming action, Hun, now 6-5, will be competing in the state Prep A tournament and has a regular season game at Peddie on October 27 before hosting Germantown Academy (Pa.) on October 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Over the years, the Hun School field hockey team has typically saved its best for last, displaying a penchant for playing well down the stretch.

Last Wednesday, as Hun played at Princeton Day School, Alex Kane and her Raider teammates had a late-season surprise in store for the once-beaten Panthers.

“They are seeded No. 1 [in the Mercer County Tournament] and we really wanted to upset them,” said junior defender Kane. “We were excited to play, I think that is the best way to put it.”

Hun proceeded to put it to PDS, holding the fort on defense and finding the back of the cage on a Vicky Leach goal with 3:26 left in the second half for the lone score of the game in a 1-0 win.

“The girls’ attitude was unbelievable; I think we really stepped up,” said Kane.

“We are a team that builds off of each other so when we do really well, it really raises the morale.”

In Kane’s view, the Hun defense raised the level of its game in the victory over PDS.

“I think we have had an issue staying calm and the main goal today was just to relax because they have aggressive girls on their line,” said Kane.

“I think our midfield was really strong today and they were able to keep the ball further up the field so we didn’t really get hurt and it wasn’t coming into us over and over.”

Kane feels a responsibility to help control the middle of the field for the Raiders.

“As a center back, I try to keep them out of that area and push them wide,” said Kane.

“I am able to help the offense; I can have some good give-and-goes with the midfield now that Carey [Million] is there. She looks back to us and that is really good.”

It also helped to have a really good goalie in sophomore star Reina Kern. “Reina is unbelievable,” asserted Kane.

“She knows the game and is able to tell us where to go. She is our control center.”

Kern, for her part, who made 14 saves in the win over PDS, maintained control throughout the contest.

“I just keep my eye on the ball; I know a bunch of girls on this team but I don’t worry about who is shooting what,” said Kern.

“You tell your players what to do and watch the ball. I played my game and I guess I did that pretty well.”

A starter from game one as a freshman last fall, Kern is feeling a greater comfort level this year in the cage.

“Last year, I was new to the team and I had to adjust,” said Kern. “This year, I really have made the full adjustment. We had a very young team last year. We only lost one senior so we feel this year was our year. We came out this season and we were ready to play.”

Hun head coach Kathy Quirk sees a growing maturity in Kern. “Reina has really progressed; she is a team player,” said Quirk, whose team was seeded 10th in the MCT and fell 3-1 to No. 7 Lawrenceville last Thursday in an opening round contest.

“She talks to the girls; she has them move where they are supposed to move.”

Quirk credited Kane with helping to spearhead a superior defensive effort. “I think my whole defense did a great job,” said Quirk.

“Alex stepped up in the middle a few times and caught them off guard and took the ball away. Sam Heyrich saved one behind Reina. The whole defense just worked together.”

Hun brought an underdog mentality into the PDS contest; catching the Panthers off guard with their intensity.

“We knew they were seeded No. 1 in Mercer County; we talked about that and said wouldn’t it be great to come out on top,” said Quirk, whose team, now 6-5, will be competing in the state Prep A tournament and has a regular season game at Peddie on October 27 before hosting Germantown Academy (Pa.) on October 29.

“It has always been a good crosstown rivalry. We played the game of our life today. If we played like that every game, we could have won games that we have lost.”

Kane, for her part, believes the Raiders can maintain that mindset down the stretch.

“I feel like we are going to build off of this,” said Kane. “We are all so excited and so happy; it is just a great feeling.”

October 17, 2012

NICK OF TIME: Princeton University women’s volleyball player Lydia Rudnick goes after a ball in recent action. Senior outside hitter Rudnick has played a major role in helping Princeton go 9-8 overall and 6-1 in Ivy League play, second in the league standings to Yale (11-5 overall, 7-0 Ivy). The two-time All-Ivy performer leads the team in kills (233) and is second in digs (148). The Tigers are next in action when they host Penn (9-9 overall, 4-3 Ivy) on October 19.

As her Princeton University women’s volleyball team got off to a 3-7 start this season with four of the defeats coming in five-setters, Sabrina King felt uneasy.

“There were lots of nerves in those losses; we were also figuring out who our starters are,” said second-year Princeton head coach King.

“It was making me concerned. Last year, the five-setters were falling our way. Some of it is luck but some teams have the mental strength to pull out five-setters. I was wondering if this might not be our year.”

In its Ivy League opener at Penn in late September, though, Princeton was on the right side of a five-set marathon, beating the Quakers 26-28, 25-22, 14-25, 25-23, 15-13.

In King’s view, that victory showed that the Tigers could be a strong team.

“That is always a really intense game; mentally it did a lot of things for us,” said King.

“To win a five-setter, to win on the road, and to start the Ivy League with a win was big. We had played a match earlier that week and three of our starters were out with injuries. We didn’t know what to expect.”

The win started the Tigers on a winning streak as they ended up producing a 5-0 start in Ivy play coming into a showdown at fellow league leader and defending champion Yale last Friday.

As Princeton looked forward to that challenge, it realized it had to play a complete game to topple the Bulldogs.

“Yale has few weaknesses; we knew we had to play really well to beat them,” said King.

Princeton started out well, winning the first set 25-22 but Yale showed its championship pedigree, responding by winning the next three sets 25-22, 25-19, and 25-22 to post a 3-1 victory.

“We won the first set and were ahead late in the second but I could feel the tide turning,” recalled King, a 2001 Princeton alumna and former All-Ivy star for the women’s volleyball program during her college days.

“Volleyball is a game of momentum; I called two timeouts but we just didn’t have the mental edge.”

In King’s view, the defeat to the Bulldogs reinforced some important themes. “We need to play consistently; we can’t have lulls against a good team like that,” said King. “We have to keep focus through the whole set; that is something we have been working on.”

A day later, the Tigers showed a laser-like focus as they posted an impressive 25-17, 25-20, 25-14 victory at Brown.

“It felt like a completely different game,” said King, whose team improved to 9-8 overall and 6-1 Ivy with the victory over the Bears.

“We didn’t have a lot of time to mourn our loss and we took care of business. Brown can be excellent defensively; the ball keeps coming back at you. We had to be patient.”

Princeton has been getting excellent play all season long from senior star Lydia Rudnick, who leads the team in kills (233) and is second in digs (148).

“Lydia is an outstanding player,” asserted King of the two-time All-Ivy outside hitter.

“She is really a gamer; she wants the ball all the time. She has evolved as a player; she is trying to do more and work on being more successful consistently.”

The team’s sophomore players have become more consistent as well. “There is a ton of athleticism with that class; I didn’t recruit them but started with them last year so we developed a bond,” said King, whose star sophomores include Nicole Kincade, Tiana Woolridge, Sarah Hanna, and Ginny Willis. “They are great people and great athletes.”

With Kendall Peterkin (161 kills) and Sarah Daschbach (a team-high 226 digs) leading the way, Princeton’s group of freshmen have made an immediate impact.

“It is a talented class” asserted King. “They bring a lot to practices and games. They have a work hard attitude, there is no drama.”

With Princeton starting a critical five-game Ivy homestand, King doesn’t want to see too much drama.

“We have played really well at home; I hope it stays that way,” said King, whose team hosts Penn (9-9 overall, 4-3 Ivy) on October 19.

“We are talking about getting Yale at our place; I think we can do that. But we have to beat Penn, Harvard, Dartmouth, and Brown before we get to that. We can control our own destiny.”

In view of the pieces in place, Princeton’s destiny could be an Ivy championship.

“We do have a lot of good stuff,” said King. “This is a different type of team. It is an ensemble; it is not as distinct a lineup as last year. People are coming in off the bench and they are hungry to do well.”

D-ZONE: Princeton High field hockey star Julia DiTosto swats the ball in recent action. Sophomore defender DiTosto has been a key performer for PHS as it has produced an 11-2 record. The Little Tigers are seeded second in the Mercer County Tournament and are slated to play No. 15 Steinert on October 20 in an opening round contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After cruising to a 10-1 start this fall, the Princeton High field hockey team hit a speed bump when it played at the Princeton Day School last Thursday.

Generating 12 shots but unable to find the back of the cage, PHS fell 1-0 to their crosstown rivals.

While the Little Tiger players were hanging their heads after coming up on the short end of the nailbiter, PHS head coach Heather Serverson believes the setback could be a blessing in disguise for her squad.

“I thought we played well; we just weren’t finishing,” said Serverson. “They caught us off-guard; we are not used to that speed of play. It is a good thing that we lost to them because now we are ready for that. The girls honed in on that; they brought it up and I think we are going to focus on that tomorrow.”

While Serverson noted that some of her attacking players weren’t up to speed, she credited PDS with setting the tone in the midfield.

“Seventy-five percent of our forwards are ill right now; they are not their normal speedy selves but that’s no excuse,” said Serverson, whose team rebounded from the loss to the Panthers by beating Steinert 4-0 last Saturday as Sydney Watts, Emma Crain, Vivien Bazarko, and Jackie Chmiel all scored goals.

“I think the impact today was more in the midfield; I don’t think our midfield today was playing cohesively. We weren’t adjusting. They were very fast with the passing and we weren’t playing the good roll defense that we worked on all day yesterday.”

The Little Tigers had trouble breaking down the PDS defense even though they played with a heightened sense of urgency down the stretch of the game.

“We didn’t have the number of opportunities that we normally have,” said Serverson, whose team did generate four penalty corners in the last five minutes of the contest against the Panthers.

“I think percentage-wise it really stuck out because normally we get more opportunities so we put more on goal.”

In Serverson’s view, PHS has a great opportunity to do damage in postseason play.

“I think we just need to pick up the speed of the game; we need to play with intensity right from the start,” said Serverson, whose club, now 11-2, is seeded No. 2 in the Mercer County Tournament and is slated to play 15th-seeded Steinert on October 20 in an opening round contest.

“I think we are still gaining that confidence. They are not used to being a winning team so they are defensive at first. Once we put in a goal, then everyone starts to go and say oh yeah we are Princeton. We need to get the ball down there more often. We need to get more opportunities because once we start, we don’t stop.”

BACK-UP PLAN: Princeton High senior linebacker Carl Helstrom looks to make a hit in a game earlier this fall. Last Friday at Willingboro, PHS dug a 19-0 hole in the first quarter only to close the margin to six early in the second half after 13 unanswered points. The Little Tigers, though, couldn’t hold the fort as Willingboro pulled away to a 38-13 win. PHS, which has lost five straight to fall to 1-5, hosts Burlington High on October 20.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When the Princeton High football team fell behind 19-0 last Friday evening at Willingboro, the Little Tigers could’ve folded.

PHS entered the night mired in a four-game losing streak that had seen it outscored 140-16.

Showing some pluck, though, the Little Tigers stiffened up defensively in the second quarter and then forced a turnover late in the half when Willingboro fumbled a punt.

PHS cashed in on the miscue as senior quarterback Zack DiGregorio hit Liam Helstrom on a 17-yard touchdown pass to make it a 19-7 game at halftime.

Utilizing a little trickery, the Little Tigers started the second half with a perfectly executed onside kick to get possession. PHS converted that into a score as Javon Pannell ran five yards for a touchdown to narrow the gap to 19-13.

But that was as close as the Little Tigers would get as the Chimeras reeled off 19 unanswered points to post a 38-13 victory.

PHS head coach Joe Gargione saw improvement from his squad notwithstanding the final score.

“We were only six points back but they had so much speed compared to us,” said Gargione, whose team fell to 1-5 with the setback.

“We definitely showed more than the week before. We ended our streak of not scoring a touchdown. We had not scored a touchdown in three and a half games and we only had three points in a three-game homestand. It was definitely good to get some points.”

While Gargione knows his team can’t afford to dig a big hole like it did on Friday, he believes the pride his players displayed in fighting back could lead to success down the stretch.

“I told them at the end of the game that we can’t put ourselves in that kind of a hole,” said Gargione.

“I think the kids realize that even if you get down 19-0 to a good team, crazy things can happen. I said to them that I think we can get three more wins, 4-6 sounds a lot better than one and something.”

The Little Tigers are getting winning efforts from DiGregorio, Helstrom, and Pannell.

“Zack and Liam are two of our three captains,” said Gargione. “We are using Liam everywhere and Zack is dong a great job. Javon is a little guy but he keeps fighting. He hits the hole hard and has some great moves.”

Even though PHS faces a big challenge when it hosts Burlington this Saturday, Gargione thinks his club can make a move in the right direction.

“We are playing another tough team; it is our Senior Day and I want us to have a good showing,” said Gargione.

“I don’t want the seniors to leave with a bad taste in their mouths. We have so much to work on but scoring two touchdowns is a small improvement. I would like to see us score three or four next week and have the defense do better.”

RISK MANAGEMENT: Princeton Day School field hockey star Corinne Urisko clears a ball in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday against visiting Princeton High, senior tri-captain and sweeper Urisko contributed an assist and her usual stellar defensive play to help PDS edge PHS 1-0. The Panthers, who topped Northern Burlington 3-1 last Monday to improve to 9-1-3, host Hun on October 17 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament (MCT). PDS is seeded No. 1 in the MCT and will face the victor of the Nottingham-Hamilton play-in game in an opening round contest on October 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Senior star Corinne Urisko and her teammates on the Princeton Day School field hockey squad were disappointed in late August when they got outclassed in falling 3-0 to Princeton High in a preseason scrimmage.

As a result, there was a heightened level of intensity in the air last Thursday when PDS welcomed their crosstown rivals for their annual regular season meeting as Urisko and her classmates were honored in the program’s annual Senior Day.

“We were really fired up going into this,” said sweeper and tri-captain Urisko. “We wanted this more than anything.”

The Panthers didn’t wait long to show their desire to win as they jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 5:35 into the contest when Andrea Jenkins banged home a feed from Urisko. PDS was able to hold the fort the rest of the game, repelling several Little Tiger attacks as it held on for a 1-0 victory.

When the final buzzer surrounded, the Panthers mobbed each other on the field, riding an emotional high that had several players crying for joy.

“Having this on Senior Day made everything worth it,” asserted Urisko. “I have never been happier; we all pulled together and worked as a team.”

The Panthers worked really well together in the defensive end as they continually thwarted the high-powered PHS attack.

“We really worked on our communication and marking our players really tight,” said Urisko.

“We didn’t want any balls going into the circle. We have been working on our defense for a long time now in practice so it really helped.”

Urisko was happy to help offensively as she slotted a pass into the circle early in the game that Princeton-bound classmate Jenkins converted for the only score of the contest.

“I saw the opening and I passed it,” recalled Urisko. “I have a lot of confidence in Andrea. I knew she would get it in for us.”

The team’s group of seniors, which includes defenders Cami McNeely and Zeeza Cole and goalie Sarah Trigg, along with Urisko and Jenkins, is looking to write a special final chapter to their PDS career.

“We have been together for so long and some of us are going to play in college, this is really important to us,” said Urisko.

“We want to end this season well. We want to win the county tournament and hopefully the preps. Those are goals this season.”

In Urisko’s view, the influence of new head coach Tracey Arndt has helped give PDS a championship mentality.

“She fuels our fire; she gets us pumped up,” said Urisko. “She always knows what to say and she has been a great coach for us. We have come a long way since last year. She is very encouraging; she has helped us so much.”

Arndt, for her part, saw the win over PHS as exemplifying how far her team has come this season.

“We had played them in the preseason and they were really strong then,” said Arndt.

“I knew that we had so much improvement. I knew it would be a great game. I knew Senior Day would pick things up and the energy was high.”

After battling Montgomery to a 2-2 tie two days before the showdown with the Little Tigers, PDS had to fine-tune things.

“We played Montgomery on Tuesday and they were a very strong team,” said Arndt, whose team topped Northern Burlington 3-1 last Monday to improve to 9-1-3 and will wrap up regular season play by hosting Hun on October 17.

“We both gave each other a really close game but I thought there were parts of our game that had just a little bit of a mental breakdown. We worked on the things that we needed to work on, one of them being defensive corners. It was really good that we did; we had great defensive corners today. I give the Princeton attack credit for getting the corners.”

Arndt credited Urisko and her fellow senior defenders McNeely and Cole together with goalie Trigg for producing some great work in the win over PHS.

“They really came together; they had to be really strong and forceful together,” said Arndt.

“Cami came up with some great plays for us. Corinne had a great play on the goal. Trigg came out when she needed to. Zeeza plays simple and poised; you are not going to hear her ranting and raving. She is just going to do it simple and get it out. We really proud of what they have done.”

In Arndt’s view, her team can use the victory over the Little Tigers as a springboard heading into the postseason.

“We have the MCTs coming up and we have the state tournament coming up,” said Arndt, whose team is seeded No. 1 in the MCT and will host the victor of the Nottingham-Hamilton play-in game in an opening round contest on October 20.

“Mercer County is strong and any time you beat a public school, that is good. I think this just gives us momentum going into our last two games and the playoffs.”

Urisko, for her part, believes that the Panthers can make a strong playoff run.

“We need lots of communication and everyone has got to give it their all and 110 percent,” said Urisko.

“This year I feel like we really want it; we have a lot of drive. There is a high intensity out on the field and it is nice to see.”

TOUCH AND GO: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Kirsten Kuzmicz boots the ball in recent action. Sophomore midfielder Kuzmicz has provided the Panthers with offensive production and physical play this fall. PDS is going through a rough patch, having gone 0-5-1 in its last six games. The Panthers, now 3-7-3, will look to get on the winning track when they have a game at Abington Friends School (Pa.) on October 17 and then begin play in the Mercer County Tournament on October 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For much of its game against visiting Hill School (Pa.) last Wednesday, the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team controlled possession of the ball.

But letting its guard down for a five-minute stretch in the first half, PDS’s good work went for naught as it fell 5-2 to the Blues.

PDS head coach Pat Trombetta acknowledged that the Panthers wasted that possession, committing miscues at the wrong time.

“If you look at the possession, we possessed the ball most of the game,” said Trombetta, whose team trailed 4-0 at intermission, surrendering three goals in a decisive five-minute stretch midway through the first half.

“We made a lot of mistakes, we turned the ball over in the back. That hurt us today.”

PDS did fight back in the second half, displaying some sharper soccer. “We played better in the second half; we showed more composure in the second half and we put two away,” said Trombetta, who got goals from Kylie Kieffer and Britt Murray.

“We had a couple of golden opportunities that we didn’t cash in on in the first half. If you get on the board first, you have a little momentum and things can happen from there. Unfortunately we didn’t convert on the chances that we had and they cashed in on our mistakes.”

In Trombetta’s view, his club has been snakebitten in a recent stretch which has seen it go 0-5-1.

“I knew the schedule was competitive,” said Trombetta, whose team fell 2-1 in overtime to Lawrence High on Friday before tying Hopewell Valley 1-1 on Saturday.

“The Peddie game (a 1-0 loss on October 2) was an unbelievable game. It went to double overtime; we had chances and they converted on a corner kick. The Blair game (a 1-0 loss on September 29) was a tough game. The Lawrenceville game (a 4-2 loss on October 5) was really a 3-2 game. We gave up an easy goal at the end of the game when we were knocking on the door. I don’t look at it as being outplayed; I look at it as making mistakes. You can’t make mistakes at this level because good teams are going to convert on them and beat you.”

In order for the Panthers to get back on the right track, Trombetta believes his team needs to fine-tune things around the goal at both ends of the field.

“Our distribution in the back needs to improve,” said Trombetta, whose team entered this week with a 3-7-3 record.

“We have been speaking a lot about playing better defensively and offensively in the box. We are getting opportunities but we have been inconsistent. We put three on the board against Hun, we had two on the board against Lawrenceville so we are scoring against good teams. But then we come up with a couple of goose eggs against Blair and Peddie.”

Despite the team’s recent struggles, Trombetta is confident that his players can still produce a good postseason run.

“Today is not a good feeling but overall I have been very pleased,” said Trombetta, whose team plays at Abington Friends School (Pa.) in October 17 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament on October 20.

“Coming into today, this is one of the teams that probably had been the most consistent since I have been here. We fell flat today but we can definitely make noise come tournament time.”

MAKING HIS MARK: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer player Marco Pinheiro dribbles the ball in recent action. The skilled play of sophomore midfielder Pinheiro has been a bright spot for a PDS team that fell to 2-8-2 with a 7-0 loss to Pennington last Friday. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having won just twice in its first 11 games, the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer knew it faced an uphill battle last Friday when it hosted a powerful Pennington squad that has just two defeats in its first 13 games.

For the first 33 minutes at Baker Field, PDS held the fort as the teams played to a scoreless stalemate.

But after a disputed corner kick and penalty kick led to Pennington goals, the roof fell in on the Panthers. PDS gave up anther goal in the first half to fall behind 3-0 at intermission and then surrendered four unanswered goals in the first 17:03 of the second half on the way to a 7-0 defeat.

PDS head coach Malcolm Murphy acknowledged that the sequence late in the first half changed the tone of the contest.

“We had some good work in the beginning,” said Murphy, whose team moved to 2-8-2 with the loss.

“That changes the psychology; they took charge in that last seven or eight minutes and we just couldn’t recover from that. You can’t take it away from them, they are good players.”

In Murphy’s view, his players can gain a lot from going against such high level competition as Pennington.

“I was actually proud; the one thing I did like is that we did say that we were going to play soccer throughout the game rather than just whack it up the field,” said Murphy, citing the efforts of sophomore Marco Pinheiro, junior Culver Duquette, and senior Willy Cara.

“We can use this as a great experience because there are not that many teams around like Pennington.”

With the Panthers having lost five straight games since wins over the Solebury School and the Blair Academy, Murphy knows that his team’s resilience is being tested.

“You just have to recognize who can come through it psychologically tight,” said Murphy, whose team hosts the Hill School (Pa.) on October 17.

“I thought this was the best game of possession that four or five of these kids have played because when we have been playing teams below our level, we have dropped to their level. Today we actually came with a game plan and tried to push it through.”

Now, Murphy is hoping his team can make a good push in postseason play as it competes in the state Prep B tourney and the Mercer County Tournament (MCT).

“If we can manage to defend like that and learn how to break out of the back, we have a chance in the Prep Bs,” said Murphy, whose team is seeded 17th in the MCT and will face No. 16 Hun on October 18 in a play-in game with the winner facing top-seeded Allentown in the first round on October 20.

“We are also doing the counties. We are going in so we can give some of the players a better chance.”

STRIKING PRESENCE: Hun School girls’ soccer player Danielle Beal goes after a ball in recent action. Last Saturday, senior striker and tri-captain Beal scored Hun’s lone goal as it played to a 1-1 tie at the Hill School (Pa.). The Raiders, now 3-2-4, host the Blair Academy on October 17 and Lawrenceville on October 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The deluge that hit the area Monday afternoon led to the cancellation of a number of high school athletic events.

But the rain didn’t dampen the spirit of the Hun School girls’ soccer team as it headed out for practice.

“Sometimes when it is like that, it is let’s go in,” said Hun head coach Ken Stevenson.

“I asked them if they wanted to go out and they were like yeah, let’s play. They were into it.”

For the Hun players, cheerfully dealing with a downpour was in character for a squad that has been overcoming adversity throughout the 2012 campaign.

Before the season even started, senior captain and star midfielder Joey Crivelli suffered a season-ending knee injury. That started an injury bug that has plagued the Raiders all season long.

“One of the challenges we have had and to which they are responding well is that our string of injuries continues unabated,” said Stevenson.

“When I sat down on Friday to do my lineup for the Hill game the next day, I had only 11 players so I called up two JV players and said here is your chance.”

Hun was up to the challenge as it battled to a 1-1 tie with the Blues in its Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) opener.

“Getting a tie against someone in your league on the road after a long bus ride is a good result,” said Stevenson, whose team moved to 3-2-4 with the tie.

“Danielle Beal got the goal on a good feed from Paige McGuire, who is working her way back. Paloma Rodney and Anna Weinand got called up and they got in and played well. Courtney Arch was already called up; she was our JV goalie and she is playing in the field and doing a good job for us. It is like the NFL with the next man up. I can’t complain about the effort or commitment.”

In the draw with Hill, sophomore defender Jess Sacco exemplified the commitment that Stevenson has been getting from his players.

“Jess Sacco excelled when I put a lot of pressure on her in the Hill game,” said Stevenson.

“We lost both Maziarz sisters [Ashley and Ally] for that game and I changed the formation to deal with it. Hill had one very fast and dangerous forward and I told Sacco she would be marking her but that I also needed her to help the offense. She went out and played, by far, the best game of her high school career against Hill when we really needed it the most.”

While senior star Crivelli hasn’t been able to play, she has been giving the team some needed leadership.

“I give Joey a lot of credit; she loves soccer and is very passionate about the game,” said Stevenson.

“She knows how much she could contribute but is unable to. That is very hard for a senior. I talked to her about going from frustrated player to helpful assistant coach. Her encouragement and talking to the girls has been a big help. I am sure it has made a difference. She is relentlessly upbeat. She is critical but in the sense of I know you can do better.”

Although the Raiders will be shorthanded down the final stretch of the season, Stevenson is upbeat about his team’s prospects.

“The biggest challenge is that every game from here on out is huge; we have Blair, Lawrenceville, Peddie, and Mercersburg coming up, every game is going to be either a MAPL or a state Prep A game,” said Stevenson, whose team hosts Blair on October 17 and Lawrenceville on October 20.

“When we are on our game, we are really good. We tied East Brunswick and they are 13-1-2 or something like that. We tied Episcopal and they have beaten all the MAPL teams they have played. When we start well and stay in our system we are competitive. We are good at connecting and playing to feet. When we do that, I like our chances.”

—Bill Alden

October 10, 2012

KICKING IN: Princeton High boys’ soccer star Zach Halliday kicks the ball in a game earlier this season. Senior midfielder and co-captain Halliday came up big in wins over Ewing and WW/P-S last week, tallying a total of two goals and three assists as the Little Tigers posted a pair of 6-0 victories in the contests to extend their winning streak to eight. PHS, now 9-2, plays at WW/P-N on October 11 before hosting Notre Dame on October 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After rolling to a 6-0 win over visiting Ewing last week, a bunch of the players on the Princeton High boys’ soccer team made a beeline for a pile of homemade Rice Krispie snacks near its bench.

But before they could devour the treats, PHS senior star and co-captain Zach Halliday called them off, telling his teammates to do their post-game warm down jog before satisfying their appetites.

For Halliday, keeping his teammates focused on task is one of the hallmarks of his leadership style.

“Something I try to do as a leader is to be vocal; I try to make sure the team is always taking things seriously,” said Halliday, who served as a captain of the PHS boys’ lacrosse team last spring.

“I am always giving 100 percent effort and also just leading by example when I am out there trying to make the best of a play. I am not saying things to other people that I am not doing myself. I am trying to make them see how it is done and hopefully the younger kids look at me and see the work ethic and things like that.”

In the victory over Ewing, Halliday certainly set a shining example on the field, scoring a goal and picking up two assists.

“I like to see myself as a playmaker but it is really just doing what the team needs,” said Halliday.

“Whether it is scoring goals, whether it is having assists, whether it is playing defense, I am trying to help the team out and fill in where I am needed.”

For Halliday, scoring the goal against Ewing represented a breakthrough.

“That was my first goal of the year; I have been in some different positions this year and different situations,” said Halliday.

“Today was my first day playing my old position, attacking center mid. I played there freshman, sophomore, and junior year. It was my 1st game back and I got my first goal. It may have been the fifth goal of the game but it was still exciting for me. I was trying to get everyone to celebrate with me. I was like come on guys and they were like was that really your first goal.”

Halliday is excited with how PHS is playing lately as it has reeled off eight straight wins since a 1-2 start.

“We got off to a pretty rough start but we weren’t concerned at all,” said Halliday, who chipped in a goal and an assist as PHS topped WW/P-S 6-0 last Thursday to improve to 9-2.

“We knew our best soccer was ahead of us. Back then, it was just developing the cohesiveness and chemistry and working out the kinks here or there. We are heading in the right direction.”

The connection between Halliday and younger brother, Kevin, a junior star for the Little Tigers, has helped the squad’s chemistry.

“Kevin is a real talented player and it is always a treat to get to play with him in any sport. we play together in lacrosse too,” said Halliday.

“I think this year he has shouldered the goal scoring load. Today he scored his 10th goal of the season. I think he is the first double digit goals scorer on our team since Andrei Spirin in our state championship year (2009). Kevin is bringing a new name back to Princeton High soccer and he has been clinical with his finishing. He has been playing like a senior even though he is only a junior; I am proud of him and everything he has been able to accomplish.”

Halliday and classmate Aidan Passannante have accomplished a lot since they started playing together in junior high.

“Aidan and I have been playing together since we were on the Cranbury Middle School team together,” said Halliday.

“We went undefeated our eighth grade year and that was awesome and then we came to Princeton our freshman year and the success has continued. I know Aidan as a player and a person; he is one of my best friends and is one of the most talented players I have ever played with or had to chance to play with. He is a great guy to lean on; he is a great guy to have making plays in big games. I think the chemistry is there and the trust is there.”

PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe was thrilled to have senior star Halliday making plays against Ewing.

“Zach had a good game today; it was great to see him get on the score sheet,” said Sutcliffe.

“We were without him for about week and a half because he nicked his knee. He is back and he has reestablished his fitness, form and presence. You can’t really replace him in terms of leadership.”

In Sutcliffe’s view, the team’s performance in the victory over Ewing was a reflection of the sharp form it has been displaying over the last few weeks.

“I thought it was a good result obviously; there was some quality, especially in the second half,” said Sutcliffe.

“It is always good to get a game where you can see some good finishing and give the entire team some minutes too. I think it is just fine-tuning and hard work and knowing you are not at your best early on.”

In Sutcliffe’s view, Kevin Halliday has emerged as one of PHS’s best players

“I think Kevin has either scored or assisted in every game; he is our leading scorer,” asserted Sutcliffe.

“He has 10 goals; he is a real threat around the goal. He works hard; he has  been thinking the game and he has been finding the right spots at the right time and and you have to credit him for that.”

The trio of senior Pablo Arroyo, senior Jeremy Goldsmith, and junior John Blair have been giving the Little Tigers the right stuff during the winning streak.

“Pablo Arroyo has been a really great presence; a great leader for us,” added Sutcliffe.

“I would say of late, Jeremy Goldsmith and John Blair have established themselves. I think they have earned everything they have gotten. Hopefully over the next few weeks, they are going to get even better.”

PHS is aiming to remain sizzling as it starts play in the Mercer County Tournament (MCT) on October 20 as it shoots for its fifth county crown in the last six years.

“We are looking forward to it,” said Sutcliffe, whose team plays at WW/P-N on October 11 before hosting Notre Dame on October 16.

“It has been our goal since last spring to work toward being at our best in the opening round of the counties. There is no doubt we are on the track with the mentality of the group.”

Halliday, for his part, believes the Little Tigers are on track for another big MCT run.

“The county tournament is always a magical time,” said Halliday. “It is something that really excites us.”

DOUBLING THEIR FUN: The Princeton High girls’ tennis second doubles team of Allison Hubert, left, and Lindsay Eberhart celebrate after winning a point during their marathon 3-set victory over WW/P-N last Wednesday in the semifinals of the Mercer County Tournament. The pair of Hubert and Eberhart went on to lose in three sets to the Peddie team of Rebecca Seman and Hannah Spears in the finals. PHS finished third in the team standings at the MCT with the first doubles pair of Maddie Cahill-Sanidas and Rory Lewis winning their flight and first singles star Christina Rosca taking second. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In late September, the Princeton High girls’ tennis team marked itself as surefire contenders for the Mercer County Tournament (MCT) championship, beating perennial power WW/P-S 4-1 in a dual match.

But in its final outing before the start of the MCT, PHS lost second singles star, Chenchen Wang, to a season-ending knee injury.

Having to juggle its singles lineup as it started play in the county tourney last week at Mercer County Park, the Little Tigers were behind the eight ball.

While PHS fought valiantly, the loss of Wang dashed its title dreams with PHS having to settle for third with WW/P-S taking first and WW/P-N placing second.

Little Tiger head coach Sarah Hibbert lauded her players’ effort but she rued what might have been.

“Overall I think everyone played as well as they could based on the situation that some of them were put in,” said Hibbert, who moved third singles player Katelyn Hojelbane into the No. 2 spot and brought Zehia Dementyev into the lineup at third singles.

“I am proud of the effort that they put forth and that we were still competitive considering that we didn’t have our No. 2 singles player. I really think we could have won it this year and other coaches told me the same thing.”

PHS did get a nice win at the MCT as the first doubles team of senior Maddie Cahill-Sanidas and sophomore Rory Lewis took the title in their flight, topping Sanjana Ravi and Angela Li of WW/P-S, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the championship match.

“They just have to play their game and not get thrown off by the other team,” said Hibbert, reflecting on her first doubles pair.

“Maddie is a senior this year; she has really worked hard and she is such a good doubles player. When she gets fired up, she plays better. Some people when they get too aggressive start to down spiral. She needs to be psyched up and believe to win. I know how much they wanted this.”

The PHS second doubles team of senior Lindsay Eberhart and junior Allison Hubert showed fight as they battled to a three-set win over Ranjitha Vasa and Nanese Koike of WW/P-N in the semis before falling to the Peddie pair of Rebecca Seman and Hannah Spears in the championship match in another three-setter.

“That semifinal match was incredible; they started out playing really well and then they got very nervous in the second set and most of the third set but they were able to regroup at the right time,” said Hibbert recalling the team’s 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5) semifinal marathon victory.

“They knew they had a good record in tiebreaks and I just kept telling them that and they kept telling each other we can do this; we can make it to a tiebreaker and we can win this. They just hung really tough when it counted and that was great for team points and for them as well. It is their first year on varsity and it is really nice for them that they were contenders in the tournament and made the final. They work really well together.”

Freshman first singles star Christina Rosca, who made it to the final where she lost 6-1, 6-2 to Samantha Asch of Princeton Day School, gave PHS some great work in her first county tourney.

“Chris made an amazing debut; we knew she was good but it was nice for her to make it to the final and give Sam probably the toughest match she has had in the county tournament,” said Hibbert.

“Chris went through to the final without losing a set. She had a good semis match with Sneha [Rangu of Hightstown] in the morning. I was proud of the way she regrouped after getting down 0-3 in the first set to take it 7-5. She really fought hard against Sam in the final. They were having a great match, you wouldn’t know who was winning from watching it. For Sam to be a senior who has won it three years in a row and for Chris to be a freshman, she put up an amazing fight.”

In Hibbert’s view, Rosca has an amazing future ahead of her. “She has a willingness to work very hard; she trains a lot and she is always out trying to improve her game,” said Hibbert.

“She has the complete repertoire, the serve and volley and great ground strokes. She is a very smart player. She really thinks a lot on court and knows how to find her opponent’s weaknesses. I think she can just keep improving.”

Hibbert hopes her team will keep improving as it deals with the loss of Wang.

“We still have states coming up so we we will see,” said Hibbert, whose team was seeded first in the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional and topped No. 16 Middletown North 5-0 last Friday in opening round action with the quarters slated for October 9 and the semis scheduled for October 11.

“Obviously this presents some new challenges, having to see how we are going to move forward from here. We have had a good start to the season and we are going to do the best we can as a team to come through.”

GOING FOURTH: Princeton Day School girls’ tennis senior star Samantha Asch pauses last Wednesday during the championship match at first singles at the Mercer County Tournament (MCT). Asch went on to defeat Christina Rosca of Princeton High 6-1, 6-2 to win the title. It was the fourth straight MCT individual crown for the Wake Forest-bound Asch, who won second singles as a freshman and first singles the last three years. Asch’s heroics helped PDS take fifth in the MCT team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Samantha Asch possessed firsthand knowledge of the challenge she faced when she played Christina Rosca last Wednesday in the first singles final at the Mercer County Tournament (MCT).

Princeton Day School senior star Asch has spent a lot of time on the court with Princeton High freshman standout Rosca.

“For years we have been hitting with Marc [Hill of Nassau Racquet Club],” said Asch, who was going for her fourth straight MCT title, having won second singles as a freshman and first singles the last two years.

“This was the first time we ever played a match officially. We did have a scrimmage earlier in the year. She is a really good player; there was no way she was going to hand that to me.”

Asch had to summon her skill and experience to get the upper hand on Rosca in posting a 6-1, 6-2 victory. “I had to concentrate and play hard to beat her,” said Asch.

“I dipped at the beginning of the second set; I had a little bit of a mental lapse. She had a couple of good serving games.”

While Asch was proud to join the select club of players who have won four MCT individual crowns, she was disappointed to see PDS fall short of repeating its team title as it placed fifth with WW/P-S taking first overall.

“I don’t think I could ask for more,” said Asch, reflecting on her MCT achievement.

“I am a little disappointed that we didn’t get the team title because I feel like our team was even better going into this year. That is the way it goes but I am still really happy about it.”

Asch is happy about the improvements she has made in her game over the last year.

“I think I have gotten a lot stronger since last year and I have more power,” said Asch. “I have gotten bigger and my serve has gotten a lot better.”

Now Asch feels ready for a bigger challenge as she has committed to Wake Forest and will be joining the school’s women’s tennis program.  Asch, who is graduating this December from PDS, is excited about getting her college career underway in a few months.

“First of all, I couldn’t ask for better tennis competition than the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference),” said Asch.

“I loved the school. I love the coach and the girls and the atmosphere in general. There is also great academic support for the athletes. I am going to have to play on a high level really consistently.”

PDS head coach Ed Tseng admires Asch’s consistent excellence. “That is very special,” said Tseng, reflecting on Asch’s four-peat.

“We are very proud to have her on our team and she is a great person too. Even as good as she is, she improved her game in the offseason. She improved her serve and her forehand.”

Asch’s battle-tested game made the difference in the win over Rosca. “It was no joke today; Samantha’s experience really came through,” added Tseng.

“Without knowing the score, you would say they are pretty even from watching them. I think Samantha’s experience helped her play the big points better and stay focused on her game plan.”

While PDS had hoped to repeat as MCT team champions, Tseng was happy by how his players performed at the county competition in taking fifth.

“I am proud of how everyone performed,” asserted Tseng. “We just focus on giving our best and have fun. You need a little luck as well. We set the goal to win it again but we also knew it is sports and anything can happen. It is a little disappointing but not that much; nobody is going to win every match in every tournament.”

Some bad luck befell second singles player Renee Karchere-Sun as she was hampered by a sore wrist in taking third in her flight.

“She took last week off because of her wrist so her timing was a little off,” said Tseng.

“That last match she played was fantastic, she is a great player. It is just unfortunate in her semifinal match she wasn’t on her game. If she had been on her game, it would have been a different result. She is a freshman and she is strong.”

The Panthers boast another strong young player at third singles in sophomore Emily Dyckman, who placed fourth in her division.

“Emily is a nice surprise because she played doubles last year,” said Tseng.

“She won a challenge match in the preseason and earned a third singles spot. I am very pleased that she got to this point. She is another great girl who leaves everything on the court. She is such a great athlete.”

In Tseng’s view, his squad can use their effort at the MCT to be better prepared for the upcoming state Prep B tournament.

“It is funny because last year we won the counties but we didn’t do great in the preps,” said Tseng, whose team hosts Notre Dame on October 11 and Moorestown on October 12 before playing at Pennington on October 16.

“So it might be a nice ending to the season to win that. It is possible, we’ll see. I think if we stay healthy, we have a chance. Because this is later in the season now, it could benefit us. We had some good competitive matches now rather than in the beginning of the season. Who knows, maybe that could give us a little momentum.”

Asch, for her part, believes the Panthers will be bringing some extra motivation in the Prep B tourney in the wake of last week’s competition.

“We are going to be hungry for it for sure,” maintained
Asch. “Last year, we weren’t as excited about it because we had already won the county title. I think this year, we are going to come looking for revenge so I think it is going to be exciting. We had a lot of good matches here, everyone played well.”

GRIESE FIRE: Hun School boys’ soccer player Alex Griese controls the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, senior midfielder Griese scored the lone goal as Hun edged visiting Blair 1-0. The Raiders, now 3-7, play at perennial power St. Benedict’s on October 10 and at Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) foe Hill School (Pa.) on October 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When the Hun School boys’ soccer team lost its first four games this fall, it could have suffered from an uncomfortable sense of deja vu.

In 2011, Hun started 0-10 on the way to a disappointing 4-12 campaign.

This year’s Raider squad, though, has avoided a similar tailspin, having regrouped to win three of its next five games.

Hun head coach Pat Quirk noted that his players never got discouraged despite the rocky start.

“They haven’t stopped working,” said Quirk. “They have really buckled down.”

Last Saturday, the Raiders buckled down when it counted as they edged the Blair Academy 1-0.

“It was a good win,” said Quirk. “We may not have played the best soccer but it was good to start the MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) season with a win.”

Hun is getting some of its best play from junior goalie Chris Meinert, who recorded eight saves in the victory.

“Meinert made some great saves,” said Quirk of his keeper who earned his second straight shutout as Hun had blanked the Princeton Day School 2-0 last Wednesday.

“There was a flurry of shots at one point, five or six and he stayed on his line. I think he is getting into a rhythm. We want him to be more vocal and be bigger in the box and he is coming around.”

In the win over the Buccaneers, Hun got a big goal from senior Alex Griese.

“We put Griese on the outside and he is getting more space,” said Quirk. “He is a creative player.”

In Quirk’s view, getting more balls in the back of the net has made the difference for the Raiders.

“We are scoring goals,” said Quirk, whose team’s initial win came when it beat Academy of New Church (Pa.) 4-0 on September 27.

“We got two goals in a loss to Pennington. I thought we played pretty well; they got some goals on defensive mix-ups. It was good to see us score a bunch of goals against ANC, we haven’t done that in a while.”

The Raiders have been getting some nice contributions from such experienced players as senior Peter Stoddard, junior Bailey Hammer, senior Robert Hedberg, junior Andres Gonzalez, and senior Nick Revano.

“Stoddard and Bailey have been playing well; Robert Hedberg is new to the team and he has been playing well,” said Quirk.

“The back line has been good. Andres and Revano have been good in the middle of the field.”

Quirk has been happy with the contributions he has been getting from some of his younger players.

“All the freshmen have been playing well; they have been getting quality minutes,” said Quirk, whose freshmen include defenders MJ Cobb, Devin Ducharme, and Alex Semler.

After battling high-quality foe Trenton Catholic hard in a 2-1 loss on Monday, the Raiders play at perennial power St. Benedict’s on October 10 and at MAPL foe Hill School (Pa.) on October 13.

“They are two of the best teams in the area and the state,” said Quirk, whose team is now 3-7 after the loss to TCA which saw Revano find the back of the net for the Raiders.

“Hill has a really good record so far. We need to put together some good soccer and not get down on ourselves if things don’t go well. It is a fast-paced game and we have to be ready for that. This is going to help us.”

WELL PLAYED: Stuart Country Day field hockey star Amy Hallowell sprints to the ball on a penalty corner in recent action. Junior midfielder Hallowell’s relentless play has been a bright spot for the Tartans this fall. Stuart, which moved to 3-8-1 with a 1-1 tie against Steinert last Friday, plays at the Blair Academy on October 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Over her first two years with the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team, Amy Hallowell helped anchor the Tartan backline.

This fall, junior Hallowell has moved up to the midfield and is taking a greater role in the Stuart attack.

“I am more offense-minded this year,” said Hallowell. “I like putting the ball off to both sides and getting it to people. Whenever I can help get them get it up the field, I like to do that.”

With Hallowell making plays all over the field, Stuart battled Steinert to a 1-1 overtime tie last Friday to move to 3-8-1 on the season.

While Stuart came excruciatingly close to a win as it held a 1-0 lead until the Spartans scored with 20.3 seconds left in regulation, Hallowell was pleased with the brand of hockey displayed by the Tartans.

“I think we let up a little at the end but we worked hard throughout the entire game,” said Hallowell.

“It was a good game and we played with a lot of intensity. Both the defense and offense played really well. We worked well together today so that was good.”

Hallowell likes the work Stuart is getting from its crew of freshmen as it has gone 2-3-1 in its last six games.

“The freshmen are working hard at practice and everyone is working hard to better themselves,” asserted Hallowell. “The entire team has improved so much.”

Utilizing the experience she has gained by starting since her freshman year, Hallowell has given the younger players some reinforcement on the field.

“I just give them tips on positioning,” said Hallowell. “If I see something that may help them out with their individual skills I will point it out. Usually they keep learning and practicing things.”

Over the years, Hallowell learned a lot from her older sisters, Kristi and Ani, who both starred for the Tartans.

“I think over the years they guided me into the right positions,” said Hallowell.

“I am so used to them telling me to back up or to go here and mark this person. I learned from them and I always try to do it like they did with a positive attitude.”

Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik saw a lot of positives in her team’s performance against Steinert.

“We did a great job putting the ball from the back to the middies; we transitioned beautifully against a big, strong team,” said Bruvik, whose team took a 1-0 lead on a goal by freshman Elena Bernewitz with 28:20 left in regulation.

“They always have good athletes and I thought we did a good job of controlling the ball and giving our attack an opportunity to put it in during the first half. As long as we continued to do that, we would make something happen in the second half.”

The Stuart defense also did a good job, looking coolheaded for most of the afternoon.

“The backs really held their own today and that is something that we worked on yesterday, not panicking, knowing where to go and marking tighter,” said Bruvik, noting that the Spartan goal came off a well-placed long ball. “Near the circle, you’ve got to mark, you can’t just contain.

Hallowell certainly made her mark for the Tartans. “Amy is relentless,” said Bruvik. “She was absolutely exhausted at some points of this game; she gave her whole heart.”

Stuart’s group of freshmen have been showing a lot of heart as they have adjusted quickly to the varsity level.

“They are players; they just go out and play,” said Bruvik, whose corps of newcomers includes Catherine Donahue, Tori Hannah, Julia Maser, and Sam Servis in addition to Bernewitz.

“They are learning through the drills but also they are playing against tough competition. They are learning how to fight back and be more aggressive. In these types of games, they play through it.”

With its steep learning curve, Stuart is hoping it can be a sleeper come tournament time.

“We keep playing good solid, competition; teams in this area that I know are doing well,” said Bruvik, whose team plays at the Blair Academy on October 10.

“The players know what is right and what is not right and they know how hard they need to work. They have been so dedicated, all of them.”

Hallowell, for her part, is confident about the team’s prospects, both in the short term and long term.

“I think if we put our minds to it we can definitely do some damage in the tournaments; it will all depend on how everyone works together everyday,” said Hallowell. “I think both the rest of this season and next year are going to be great.”

October 3, 2012

MOORE SUPPORT: UMass men’s hockey fans hold up placards with images of Kevin Moore as he made his sole appearance during his final campaign as the fourth-string goalie for the Minutemen this March on the program’s senior night. Moore, who started playing the game with Princeton Youth Hockey Association (PYHA) as a five-year-old, is looking to continue his hockey career on the pro level as he tries out for the Danbury Whalers of the Federal Hockey League later this month.

It only lasted 1:34 on senior night for the University of Massachusetts men’s ice hockey team but it made years of toil and perseverance worthwhile for Kevin Moore.

For Moore, who first hit the ice with the Princeton Youth Hockey Association (PYHA) as a youngster, that stint was his sole appearance during his final campaign as the fourth-string goalie for the Minutemen.

While Moore would have liked to seen a lot more action last winter, he will never forget that evening at the Mullins Center.

“Looking back, it is the best day of my life,” said Moore, reflecting on getting into the UMass’s 5-1 win over Merrimack on March 2.

“I am getting a big smile on my face just talking about it now. All that behind the scenes work has paid off; I was cheered by people who didn’t even know me. It shows that a little guy can be recognized; a team is about everybody.”

The appearance was also the culmination of a Twitter campaign, #FreeMoore, started by Moore’s roommates and some stalwart UMass fans, to get Moore on the ice for senior night. It ended up drawing hundreds of Tweets, including some from NHL players intrigued by Moore’s underdog tale.

“My friends and family picked up on it and then my teammates started tweeting,” said Moore, who was cheered wildly by the crowd of 5,219 on hand, many of whom had been waving placards with huge images of Moore.

“It just blew up; celebrities and pro athletes got involved. There were tweets from NHL guys like James Van Riemsdyk, and Derek Stepan and John Buccigross of ESPN. Some guys were calling me the ‘Rudy’ of hockey (referring to the movie about Rudy Ruettinger, a walk-on who made it on the field for the Notre Dame football team).”

Later this month, Moore, 24, will be looking to produce another Rudy-like tale as he tries out for the Danbury Whalers of the Federal Hockey League.

“I love being part of a team and 25 guys coming together for one goal,” said the 6‘1, 180-pound Moore.

“I am still shooting for the NHL. I know it is a longshot. I don’t want to give up my goals. You saw what happened to guys like Kurt Warner and Tim Thomas. I look at their examples. I am going to work as hard as I can. I don’t want to be old and regretting that I didn’t give it my best.”

Moore took a circuitous route to become a member of the UMass team, starting his high school career at Montgomery High before playing two years at Williston-Northhampton (Mass.).

After trying out for several junior teams, he hooked on with the Phoenix Polar Bears of the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) where he went 16-4 with a goals against average of 1.98 in the 2008-09 season. He then got the chance to walk-on to UMass when one of its goalies decided to focus on baseball.

It didn’t take long for Moore to develop a passion for the game “I started playing hockey with the PYHA when I was five,” recalled Moore.

“I was playing soccer and I said to my parents that I wanted to play hockey and they said I had to make a choice and I chose hockey. I wanted to be on the ice all the time so I eventually switched to goalie.”

After Moore made the switch to goalie, he honed his skills by going to summer goalie camps run by former Princeton University netminder Craig Fiander.

“I started with Craig when I was about 10,” said Moore. “It was great to have goalie attention over the summer; you couldn’t get that anywhere else. Craig and the counselors were Princeton University goalies. Before that, I basically learned from watching goalies on TV. It made it easier to learn from having things explained to you by goalies who had played at a high level.”

Fiander, for his part, had the sense that Moore was going to develop into something special.

“I remember Kevin as a raw kid; he was just picking up the position and he was a lefty,” said Fiander, who held his 15th Annual Textbook Goaltending Summer School this past July at the Ice Land Skating Center.

“There was something about him. He was a great kid. He was a good student. He listened, he asked good questions, he wanted to learn.”

In Fiander’s view, Moore’s story exemplifies some of the key life lessons he strives to impart to his goalie students.

“He has worked his butt off,” added Fiander. “He has dealt with adversity. His perseverance is the key thing for me. I remember that he sent me a video when he was trying to get a spot in junior hockey. He has always worked so hard at trying to get an opportunity.”

For Moore, getting the opportunity to play early in his career at Montgomery High helped build his confidence.

“The highlight was winning Jim Dowd Cup, Southern White Division, as freshman,” said Moore, reflecting on his MHS career.

“I became a starter halfway through the season. Montgomery had no tradition of winning at that point. No one expected us to win; it was a big Cinderella run.”

Realizing that he needed more seasoning in order to play at the college level, Moore headed to The Williston Northampton School in western Massachusetts.

“I got a lot out of it, more than I expected,” said Moore, who played two years at Williston and was the MVP of the hockey team in his junior year.

“It was great how much the teachers cared about you. From a hockey standpoint, I was playing against guys who were stars of their high school. I was on my own for the first time, a year earlier than my peers. I felt like I had a head start.”

After graduating from Williston, Moore hooked on with the Phoenix Polar Bears of the WSHL, a Junior A Tier III hockey league.

“I went to five or six junior league tryouts: I was coming back from last tryout in Chicago with my dad and he said we are running out of cash for more tryouts and that it might be time to be looking for colleges,” said Moore.

“I convinced him to let me go to one more tryout. I had done the east so I went out to Phoenix. I killed the tryout; I don’t think I let in a goal in two day. I made it so they had to take me. It was a really strong team; it was a great situation.”

Looking for a good college situation, Moore found a spot with UMass in January 2009 when one of the team’s back-up goalies, Matt Gedman, son of former Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman, switched to baseball full-time.

“I got there with no expectations; I was a real walk-on,” said Moore of the program which was headed by former Princeton head coach Don Cahoon.

“They told me I would be on the team for the rest of freshman year and the next year and then we’ll see what happens.”

Not seeing any game action as a freshman or sophomore, Moore found ways to stay sharp.

“I created my own game situations,” said Moore. “If someone was scratched or looking for more playing time, I would have them come in and work on stuff and I would see a ton of pucks.”

In his junior year, Moore did see some ice time when he got into an exhibition game against the Under-20 Swedish National team and a late season game against Merrimack.

“Getting into the Merrimack game was a thrill; I felt I had made it,” said Moore.

“I had achieved my goal of playing D-1 hockey; I had been going through a lot of downs over the past few years. We were down 11-2 when I got in so I couldn’t smile like I wanted on the way home. I was telling my friends I was now statistically relevant.”

Coming into his senior year, Moore thought he was going to pile up some more stats but was disappointed to learn that the coaches had something else in mind for him.

“My confidence was high; I thought I was going to see time,” said Moore. “The two freshmen goalies had been hurt leading up to the first game. I ended up having a meeting with the coaches. They told me they wanted me to be a mentor to the two freshmen and sophomore goalies and help coach them when the goalie coach wasn’t there. They had predetermined my role based on recruiting the kids and the fact that they had scholarships.”

Characteristically, Moore decided to make the most of his role. “I could have folded and enjoyed my senior year,” said Moore, who was named as an “executive officer” by Cahoon to help the team’s captains.

“Instead, I made a commitment to be ready in case we had injuries. I was the first one on the ice and the last one off. I was a rink rat; I would be doing extra stretching or conditioning when teammates were at home doing video games.”

As Moore looks to catch on in the pro ranks, he will be bringing the sense of commitment he displayed during his UMass career.

“The biggest thing is to never give up; I never gave up or threw in the towel,” said Moore, a journalism major who earned Hockey East All-Academic honors during his years with the Minutemen.

“I had a goal to be D-1 goalie and I gave everything to that goal. I may not have been a starter but I was the hardest worker in college hockey the last four years. You can achieve something good even if you don’t get the ultimate goal.”

SWEEPING UP: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Dana Smith heads up the field in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday in a 3-1 victory over Hamilton, junior Smith showed her versatility, playing sweeper for much of the game and then moving up front and scoring the winning goal. PHS, which handed Steinert its first loss of the season when it beat the Spartans 2-0 last Saturday, is now 6-2 and hosts WW/P-S on October 4 before playing at WW/P-N on October 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Dana Smith played sweeper along the back line for much of the game as the Princeton High girls’ soccer team hosted Hamilton last Thursday.

But when Hamilton scored a goal early in the second half to knot the game at 1-1, the speedy Smith moved up into the PHS attack.

Giving the team a lift, Smith put the Hornet defense on its heels as she made some penetrating runs at the Hamilton goal.

With just over seven minutes left in regulation, Smith’s pace and persistence paid off as she blasted a shot into the lower corner of the goal to give PHS a 2-1 lead. The Little Tigers added an insurance goal by Shannon Pawlak in the waning seconds of the game to post a hard-earned 3-1 victory.

In reflecting on her game-winning tally, junior Smith said it came down to being composed when she got her chance.

“We were really trying to fight back and get the go-ahead goal,” said Smith. “That ball was just bouncing around in the box and it landed at my feet and I took the time. On my first couple of shots I was rushing them, so I looked up and found that side of the net. It was what we had to do to put the game away.”

Smith, who also stars for the PHS girls’ lacrosse team, is more than happy to provide versatility for the Little Tigers.

“I like playing both ways,” said Smith. “I like getting a chance to go forward and make things happen but I also know that I have to play in the back and make sure to keep balls away from Lauren [goalie Lauren Ullmann] and support the team that way. Right now because we are missing Emily Pawlak and we need the defense to be together so I want to be there to help out my team and do whatever I need to do.”

In Smith’s view, PHS has been coming together well. “We have really been making sure that we connect and find feet and play together as a whole team,” said Smith.

“We have great depth on our bench and we have been making sure that everyone finds a way to help the team. We all get forward together and we all get back together. We don’t let things like giving up a goal slow us down; we need to rise up and keep powering through.”

As a battle-tested junior, Smith is looking to help the team through utilizing her experience.

“Now I have more of a leadership role, we have three freshmen playing really good minutes so I am helping them out,” said Smith.

“Especially with Haley Bodden in the back with me; it is her first time playing that position so I like being able to help her. It is also setting an example for the other girls in practice, games, and off the field too.”

PHS head coach Greg Hand knows that Smith can help his squad in a number of ways.

“Dana is a creator; she makes things happen,” asserted Hand. “Whether it is winning the ball or settling something that is pretty ugly and getting it down to the ground again. She is always moving quickly and is a quick decision maker. She is dynamic.”

In Hand’s view, his team made some good decisions with the ball as it overcame Hamilton.

“We have been focusing since the beginning of the year on how to play within the system that we have,” said Hand, whose team topped Steinert 2-0 last Saturday in improving to 6-2.

“It is one thing to establish a 4-4-2, it is another thing to do what that system needs you to do. I felt we had very good supporting play throughout the first half and in big chunks of the second half too. And in the second half, when we might have been rushing too much, I thought we still managed to stay composed and keep supporting. We were relaxed enough when we received the ball to find feet rather than just play too quickly. It created situations where we had great final passes and terrific finishing.”

The Little Tigers also showed some character as they battled back after the Hamilton tally.

“The goal was dismaying; I don’t think they created it particularly well, they just got the goal,” said Hand.

“So our team was a little disappointed but we did seem to bounce back and we certainly played with a lot of heart needing a goal. I think we had great composure given that sense of pressure.”

After a disappointing 1-0 loss to Hopewell in the season opener, PHS has shown more creativity on the offensive end of the field.

“It all seems like part of the same progression; the Robbinsville loss looks like a step back but I think we have learned from every game,” said Hand, who will be looking for his squad to keep progressing as it hosts WW/P-S on October 4 before playing at WW/P-N on October 9.

“We are just a better team than we were 10 days ago. After the loss to Hopewell in the opener, there was no question of how hard we worked, the question was how are we are going to score and we have kept trying to answer that question.”

Smith, for her part, feels that the team’s daily focus has helped it find the right answers.

“We are not thinking about what is happening next week and the weeks after that,” said Smith.

“We are not thinking about any tournaments, counties and states, that are coming up. We have to keep working hard everyday in practice and not getting complacent with our wins.”

DAT’S FINE: Princeton High boys’ cross country star Kevin ­Vahdat heads to the finish line in a meet earlier this season. Last Saturday at the Passaic County Coaches Invitational, junior Vahdat finished sixth individually to help PHS win the team title in the Group 3 division. Vahdat covered the the 3.1 mile course at Garret Mountain Reservation in Woodland Park in a time of 16:49. PHS is next in action when it runs against Lawrence, Steinert, and WW/P-N on October 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With senior star Luke Bozich sidelined by an ankle injury, the Princeton High boys’ cross country team faced an uphill battle as they competed in the Passaic County Coaches Invitational last Saturday.

But showing depth and resolve, PHS ended up at the front of the pack in the Group 3 division, edging Middletown North by four points.

For Little Tiger head coach John Woodside, the victory reflected his squad’s character as much as its talent.

“It is always good to be the winning team,” said Woodside. “It is nice to look a little deeper, the indications are real nice. Stuff happens and you adjust. Guys fill in and other guys do well. Cross country is absolutely a team sport; the individual is secondary.”

Woodside was happy with the individual effort he is getting from junior Kevin Vahdat, who finished sixth on Saturday, covering the 3.1 mile course at Garret Mountain Reservation in Woodland Park in a time of 16:49.

“I am really proud of him; he is starting to do the things we know he is capable of,” said Woodside.

“He has had a series of leg injuries. He is growing and maturing; his stride has changed a lot. He has adjusted to it. He is running pain free and it is nice to see.”

PHS got some nice performances from two veterans, junior Conor Donahue and senior Matt Wong, at the Passaic meet, as they placed 11th and 12th, respectively.

“Conor has had leg pain; he is dealing with a problem in his quads,” said Woodside.

“He has to hold back a little bit; he finished well on Saturday. Matt Wong had a great race. He was tired Tuesday and disappointed by how he did. He came back today.”

Two members of the team’s supporting cast, junior Anders Berg and sophomore Jacob Rist, came through in a big way on Saturday.

“Anders Berg and Jacob Rist are two guys that are pulling closer to the front of the pack,” said Woodside.

“At four and five, they did a fantastic job; they really won the race for the team. Middletown North had three guys in the top 8 but Anders and Jacob were ahead of their 4th place runner. I am really proud of how they did.”

Woodside expect Bozich to do some fantastic things when he returns to action.

“There are multiple indications that he is our top runner,” said Woodside. “He has been quite a way out front in training runs. He is taking that step that runners sometimes take. He is stepping into role of leader; he is not afraid and always runs hard.”

In Woodside’s view, PHS has the ability to make a good run in the upcoming county and state meets.

“The guys are feeling good about where they are going,” said Woodside, noting that program got some good performances from its younger runners as Simon Gabriel won the JV race to help PHS take second in the team standings in that event and that the freshman team placed first in their race.

“They are happy with the way things have gone and focused on where we are going in another month. The kids are really excited; they are coming together. We have hit our stride in training and we are getting ready for the big meets.”

GOAL HAPPY: Princeton Day School field hockey player Emma Quigley celebrates after a goal in recent action. Last Saturday, junior forward Quigley scored two goals as PDS topped Blair 5-0. The Panthers, now 5-1-2, host Solebury School (Pa.) on October 3 and Morrisville High (Pa.) on October 5 before playing at Montgomery on October 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After losing to Lawrenceville last Thursday to suffer their first defeat of the season, Emma Quigley and her teammates on the Princeton Day School field hockey squad knew they had to play more as a unit.

“That was not one of our best games; we didn’t start off on a good note,” said junior forward Quigley, reflecting on the 4-2 loss to the Big Red. “Coach [Tracey] Arndt wanted us to pass more and let the ball do the work.”

As the Panthers hosted Blair Academy last Saturday, it didn’t take long for them to regain their offensive rhythm. With Quigley and senior star Andrea Jenkins finding the back of the cage, PDS jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead over the Buccaneers.

Just over 10 minutes into the second half, Quigley scored again and minutes later Jenkins tallied and the rout was on as PDS cruised to a 5-0 victory and improved to 5-1-2.

In Quigley’s view, bouncing back with the victory over Blair should get the Panthers back in the right track.

“I think this game has really pumped up our spirits for the next couple of weeks,” asserted Quigley.

“We have Montgomery and Princeton High, which are going to be really tough games. It can only get better from here. We are climbing up the mountain of success.”

For Quigley, who has been scoring a goal a game this fall, her success has come, in part, from the work she has put in with the Total Dutch Field Hockey club.

“I have played club non-stop since last season and that has improved my game so much,” said Quigley.

“I practiced for the festival [USA Field Hockey’s National Hockey Festival] I practiced for the Disney [Showcase] and then I did indoor and my spring team all summer. I am practicing for festival now. I have improved so much from that.”

The arrival of new head coach Arndt, a former All-American at Penn State and national team member, has helped PDS improve collectively.

“She has really created and made our team a unit; we are so close on and off the field,” asserted Quigley.

“In practice everyday we do stuff that really helps us improve in the games; we do specific stuff that we didn’t do in the game before so we do that in the next game. I think our team as a whole has gotten so much better; it helps the forwards in general to get the ball and get it in the goal.”

PDS head coach Arndt saw improvement from her team in the win over Blair.

“During the game, when we had our moments of really good play it was when we were looking to pass it more than dribble,” said Arndt.

“We have some players on the team who the other teams know they have the skill and they are sending two or three girls at them so we need to pass quickly. That’s what we were focusing on as well as our Finishing. To get five goals in any game is hard and I am glad that we were able to do that.”

The Panthers did learn some lessons from the Lawrenceville defeat. “Lawrenceville was a great game because it showed us our weaknesses,” said Arndt.

“I think Lawrenceville was a very good team; they were solid, they were fluid and quite frankly they beat us to every ball and that was hard to recover from. So that was something we really worked on yesterday. We have got big games coming up. We have to be thankful that we were able to pull out a win today but know that we still have to come in on Monday and work hard.”

Quigley has certainly been giving PDS some good work. “Emma has got a lot of speed up front which is good,” said Arndt.

“The one thing you need to be a scorer is the want to score and she does. She scraps those balls and she is able to get in good spots and she puts it away. She can see the goal and see where the holes are so that’s been good.”

The Panther backline has very few holes with the trio of senior defenders Corinne Urisko, Cami McNeely, and Zeeza Cole together with senior goalie Sarah Trigg.

“The three that we have back there and Sarah Trigg in goal have been really solid for us,” said Arndt.

“They have really listened to what we have asked them to do and have executed. Our marking still needs to improve and that’s something we are continuing to work on. That is a team thing.”

The play of juniors Sarah Brennan and Mary Travers in the midfield has helped hold the team together.

“Sarah and Mary in the center are nice; they are double threats in that they have their attacking skills and they have their defending skills as well,” added Arndt.

While the Panthers have displayed plenty of skill in their first eight games, Arndt wants to see the team to be more cohesive on the field.

“To have only lost one game is good,” said Arndt, whose team hosts Solebury School (Pa.) on October 3 and Morrisville High (Pa.) on October 5 before playing at Montgomery on October 9.

“We had done some really good things in the beginning that we have been losing a little bit recently in terms of our basic skills so I think our focus for the next week is the fundamentals and to really start to play as a team. The more we play fluidly and as a team the more we can rely on everybody and not just one person.

Quigley, for her part, believes that PDS can do some really good things as the fall unfolds.

“We have really high hopes; we have some great team goals,” said Quigley. “We really hope that we can get up there and give it our all and make this a great year.”

CARR CRASH: Hun School girls’ soccer player Olivia Breander-Carr runs into a foe going after a ball. Last week, junior midfielder/defender Breander-Carr scored goals in two straight games as Hun tied Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 2-2 on September 25 and tied East Brunswick 1-1 to move to 2-1-3. In upcoming action, the Raiders play at Springside Academy (Pa.) on October 4 before hosting Blair Academy on October 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Olivia Breander-Carr wasn’t quite at full speed last fall for the Hun School girls’ soccer team after suffering an ACL injury in 2010.

This season, though, the junior midfielder/defender is feeling 100 percent and she gave ample evidence of that last week as Hun battled Episcopal Academy (Pa.) to a 2-2 tie.

Alternating between midfield and defense, Breander-Carr was all over the field, getting loose balls and displaying her sharp ball skills. Breander-Carr’s hustle paid off as she scored midway through the first half to give Hun a 2-1 lead in the September 25 contest.

While the tally wasn’t one for the highlight reel as Breander-Carr bounced in her own rebound, she was proud of her effort.

“That was probably the ugliest goal I have ever scored,” said Breander-Carr with a grin. “I worked really hard for that; it wasn’t pretty but I will take it.”

Breander-Carr enjoys working from different spots on the field. “I like playing everywhere; I do play defense for my club team,” said Breander-Carr. “I can play anywhere coach needs me to play; anywhere to help the team.”

In Breander-Carr’s view, the Raiders played well as a team in the tie with Episcopal which saw Hun rally from an early 1-0 deficit and then controlled possession after the Churchmen tied the game 10 minutes into the second half.

“I thought we played pretty well; we are getting a lot better with getting the intensity up toward the game when we really need it,” said Breander-Carr, who scored another goal last Thursday as the Raiders tied East Brunswick 1-1 to move to 2-1-3 on the season.

“I thought we were swinging around the back pretty well and we were connecting in the middle of the field.”

Hun head coach Ken Stevenson liked the way his team showed intensity after falling behind early against Episcopal.

“We have been talking about playing as a team from day one of preseason; maintaining possession and stringing passes together,” said Stevenson.

“When we do that, we play at a pretty high level. When we get frustrated and we get away from it, things fall apart. They are a very strong team. It was nice to see us respond after we gave up a goal early and to come back in pretty short order and get one.”

Having Breander-Carr at full strength is nice for Hun. “It was good to finally see her have a really complete game where she got forward and back,” asserted Stevenson.

“She won loose balls. She followed up on her own shot to score that goal. That pressure has been building and building and so for her to really have a complete game at a time when we are against a good opponent was great timing on her part.”

Sophomore Erica Dwyer also had a good game for the Raiders, scoring their first goal and playing some tough defense.

“Dwyer can cross the ball nicely and she is a tenacious defender,” added Stevenson.

“She moves her feet well; she understands positioning. She understands where to be on the field. She has been one of the most pleasant upsides of the team this year.”

Another upside for Hun has been the consistent effort it has been getting up front from senior forwards and co-captains Angelica “Bama” Tabares and Danielle Beal.

“It is frustrating for Bama because I have asked her to take on some defensive responsibilities which we need and it limits her touches,” said Stevenson.

“So it adds the pressure when she does get those touches to follow through and convert them. She can make the ball dance and then hit it with both feet. She takes our set pieces. Beal is fast and she creates those opportunities where she plays the ball into space and then runs onto it. There are those times when we really need to get numbers forward. Her playing as a target forward has worked reasonably well so far.”

Stevenson is proud of the way his squad has come back from a 5-0 opening day defeat at Montgomery as it beat George 2-0, tied Princeton Day School 3-3, and then edged Germantown Academy 2-1 before facing Episcopal.

“It would have been very easy for panic and frustration to set in after we lost to Montgomery,” said Stevenson, whose team plays at Springside Academy (Pa.) on October 4 before hosting Blair Academy on October 6.

“George was a good win. PDS was, as it always is, a hard fought battle. To have a nice win against Germantown; that was a game that we started to prove to ourselves that we can play this at a high level against some really quality teams. To play well against these guys is equally satisfying. That game could have gone either way at the end. It was a good battle.”

Breander-Carr, for her part, believes that the Raiders have raised the level of their game.

“We are definitely moving in the right direction,” maintained Breander-Carr. “We started off a little slow in preseason; we had a lot of injuries. I think we are coming back out from that now. I think we are getting our groove together. We are meshing and we are starting to feel how each other play a little more.”

CITIZEN KANE: Hun School field hockey player Alex Kane pushes the ball up the field in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, junior defender Kane scored a goal and played well on the back line as Hun topped Pennington 4-1. The Raiders, now 3-1, host Stuart Country Day on October 3 and Blair Academy on October 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When the Hun School field hockey team started the season with a 1-0 loss to WW/P-S, it looked like its defense was ahead of the offense.

But the Raider attack seems to have found a rhythm as Hun has bounced back with three straight wins, outscoring its foes 9-1 in that stretch.

Last Friday, the Raiders were clicking on all cylinders as they topped Pennington 4-1.

“We did take a step forward, we moved the ball well,” said Hun head coach Kathy Quirk, reflecting on the win over Pennington that moved the Raiders to 3-1. “We did a good job in the circle defensively, we limited their short corners.”

Quirk likes the good work she is seeing on the offensive end. “We have a nice transition between the defense and the offense,” said Quirk, who got goals from Francesca Bello, Courtney Faulkner, Alex Kane, and Carey Million in the Pennington game. “The midfielders are moving into the circle and getting opportunities.”

The Hun midfield is being sparked by the trio of Olivia Albanese, Julia Blake, and Taylor Havard.

“Olivia Albanese is doing a nice job for us in the midfield,” said Quirk of the senior, who also chipped in an assist last Friday.

“She is the inserter on our short corners. Julia Blake and Taylor Havard are also doing well for us in the midfield.”

Along the forward line, the one-two punch of junior Bello and senior Million is benefitting from the good transition play.

“Bello and Million are doing a good job on the line; they are able to move the ball well and capitalize on opportunities,” asserted Quirk.

“The other girls, Courtney Faulkner, Vicky Leach, Bri Cifelli, and Juliet Kapanjie, are coming in and going to the post well.”

Junior Alex Kane has been coming up big defensively for the Raiders. “Kane is really strong for us on defense,” said Quirk, noting that Liz Mydlowski stepped up at back against Pennington.

“She moves the ball side-to-side and can break up plays. She scored on a penalty stroke against Pennington; it was a good hit.”

Quirk is encouraged by her team’s good start. “I am pleased with how we are playing,” said Quirk, whose team hosts Stuart Country Day on October 3 and Blair Academy on October 6.

“We have some tough games coming up; I hope the girls keep showing the same hunger and intensity.”

September 26, 2012

SAVING GRACE: Princeton University field hockey goalie Christina Maida goes after the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday against second-ranked Syracuse, junior standout Maida made some dazzling stops in an 8-save effort but it wasn’t enough as No. 3 Princeton fell 2-0 to the Orange. The Tigers, now 7-1 overall and 2-0 Ivy League, play at Columbia (6-2 overall, 2-0 Ivy) on September 28 before hosting fourth-ranked Maryland (7-1) on October 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While Kristen Holmes-Winn is never happy when her Princeton University field hockey team loses a game, she saw plenty of positives when the third-ranked Tigers fell 2-0 to No. 2 Syracuse last Sunday.

“By design we had a game yesterday and a game today,” said Tiger head coach Holmes-Winn, whose club had dismantled Yale 8-0 on Saturday to improve to 2-0 in Ivy League play.

“We wanted to play back-to-back to physiologically have that experience. I think we held up physically quite well. I thought our first half today was really good just in terms of how we moved the ball. The finishing stuff will come. There were a lot of really good things from this match that we will take away.”

The skilled teams gave the fans on hand at Bedford Field a demonstration of superb ball movement as the teams generated end-to end-rushes all afternoon. The game was knotted 0-0 at half. Syracuse broke through with a tally on a penalty corner 20 minutes into the second half and then added an insurance goal on a fast break with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.

“We knew that Syracuse is a great defensive team and really good on the counterattack and that is exactly what got us,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team fell to 7-1 overall with the loss while Syracuse improved to 9-0.

“They have the ability to really double the ball well and they broke out of their situations and were very effective.”

In the view of Holmes-Winn, it was the Orange’s defensive prowess that made the difference in the contest.

“Their ability to get numbers around the ball inside our attacking third and not foul was really the difference,” said Holmes-Winn.

“It is one thing  to defend but to be able to defend and not give anything away is a challenge and they did that really, really well.”

Tasting defeat for the first time of the season stung but Holmes-Winn viewed the result in the context of the bigger picture.

“I don’t really care a whole lot about that,” said Holmes-Winn, referring to Tigers losing their chance for a perfect season.

“We just have to keep tacking away at the areas where we are deficient. That is part of playing great teams, they will challenge your structure and your concentration. They show you individually where the weaknesses are and Syracuse did a great job of that.”

The Tigers showed some fight as senior star Kat Sharkey fired blasts on two consecutive penalty corners 25 minutes into the second half with the Tigers trailing 1-0 at that point.

“That’s how this game is, the opportunities are there,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team held a 6-5 edge in penalty corners while getting outshot 16-10.

“The stats weren’t really far off. We were really pushing there at the end so we were exposed. We were playing pretty aggressively which was a result of that second goal and us stretching out our shape a little bit.”

For Holmes-Winn, the main lessons to draw from the defeat center on being more aggressive on finishing and stretching out opposing defenses.

“The passing combinations through our midfield was just awesome; once we got into the final third, they did a great job of getting players around the ball,” said Holmes-Winn, citing the play of the Reinprecht sisters, senior Katie and junior Julia.

“It was never a situation where we were one-on-one. We need to look a little bit where those numbers are coming from and figure how to stretch those zones out of it.”

With Princeton on track for its eighth straight Ivy League title and 18th in the last 19 years, Holmes-Winn is hoping that the experience gained from battling Syracuse will help the Tigers as they pursue their goal of a first national title.

“You have to be perfect in the league, there is no doubt about that, but when it comes to these non-conference games, the point is to be challenged,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team plays at Columbia (6-2 overall, 2-0 Ivy) on September 28 before hosting fourth-ranked Maryland (7-1) on October 2.

“It is always great to win but it is not my main concern right now. If we win and play bad hockey, I am not going to be happy either.”