May 6, 2015
BLACK MAGIC: Hun School boys’ lacrosse player Owen Black, left, celebrates with older brother Brendan, after scoring a fourth quarter goal in Hun’s 12-10 win over Montgomery last Wednesday. Junior Black’s tally was set up by a pass from his senior star brother. Last Monday, the younger Black added two goals as top-seeded Hun defeated fourth-seeded Peddie 19-4 in the state Prep A semifinals to improve to 14-0. The Raiders will host second-seeded Lawrenceville in the Prep A title game on May 19. In addition, the Raiders will play at the Hill School (Pa.) on May 6 and at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on May 9 before starting action in the Inter-AC Invitational on May 11.(Photo by John Dowers)

BLACK MAGIC: Hun School boys’ lacrosse player Owen Black, left, celebrates with older brother Brendan, after scoring a fourth quarter goal in Hun’s 12-10 win over Montgomery last Wednesday. Junior Black’s tally was set up by a pass from his senior star brother. Last Monday, the younger Black added two goals as top-seeded Hun defeated fourth-seeded Peddie 19-4 in the state Prep A semifinals to improve to 14-0. The Raiders will host second-seeded Lawrenceville in the Prep A title game on May 19. In addition, the Raiders will play at the Hill School (Pa.) on May 6 and at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on May 9 before starting action in the Inter-Ac Challenge on May 11. (Photo by John Dowers)

When Owen Black scored a dazzling over-the-shoulder goal early in the fourth quarter to help the Hun School boys’ lacrosse pull out a 12-10 win over Montgomery last Thursday, it appeared to be a superior individual effort.

But in actuality, the eye-catching tally was a family affair, years in the making.

“It was just a great look from my brother,” said the junior midfielder, referring to older brother, senior Brendan Black.

“I know he is always looking for me out there, all I really had to do was throw it behind my back and it went in.”

The Blacks have been looking for each other on the field for nearly a decade and the family connection will continue beyond Hun as they have both committed to go to Villanova University and play for its men’s lacrosse team.

“We have been playing together since second grade; I was in second grade and he was in third,” said Black, noting that he and his brother committed to Villanova on the same day last year.

“I am pumped that we get to play together after high school and in college. I know he has always got my back out on the field, no matter what team we are on. We play together pretty well.”

In the victory over Montgomery, Hun played very well in jumping out to an 8-2 halftime lead over the Cougars.

“We had everyone crossing the finish line to start out the game; we really focused on coming out hot and we did,” said Black.

In the third quarter, though, Montgomery came out hot, outscoring Hun 6-2 in the period. Sparked by Black’s highlight reel goal, Hun was able to weather the storm and earn the 12-10 triumph.

“Montgomery is a great team, they are very well coached and have a couple of great players,” said Black, who tallied three goals and an assist in the victory.

“They just came out firing in the third quarter and we didn’t. But we stayed together and we came out with the win.”

Hun is establishing itself as a great team, improving to 14-0 this season by beating Peddie 19-4 in the state Prep A semifinals last Monday. As a result of its gaudy record and wins over such powers as IMG Academy, St. Augustine Prep, Episcopal Academy (Pa.), Shawnee High, and Lawrenceville, Hun is nationally ranked, making huge strides in Black’s time with the program.

“It has definitely been a crazy ride, especially for the guys who have been here for a while,” said Black.

“Tucker Stevenson, my brother, and I have been here since middle school playing together. Watching this program grow and being part of the team has been something special to me.”

With the Inter-Ac Challenge and a Prep A title clash against Lawrenceville on the horizon in the next two weeks, Hun is looking to do some special things.

“We never look ahead, just take it one game at a time and stay smart,” said Black.

“I think if we all play together and just focus on the team aspect we can do anything we put our heads to.”

FOR PETE’S SAKE: Hun School baseball player Pete Schintzler follows through on a swing earlier this spring. Last Wednesday, senior second baseman Schintzler drove in the winning run in a seventh-inning rally as Hun edged the Hill School (Pa.) 4-3. Last Monday, Schintzler went 2-for-4 with three runs to help eighth-seeded Hun edge ninth-seeded WW/P-S 7-6 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament. The Raiders, who improved to 10-5 with the victory, will face top-seeded Steinert in an MCT quarterfinal contest on May 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FOR PETE’S SAKE: Hun School baseball player Pete Schintzler follows through on a swing earlier this spring. Last Wednesday, senior second baseman Schintzler drove in the winning run in a seventh-inning rally as Hun edged the Hill School (Pa.) 4-3. Last Monday, Schintzler went 2-for-4 with three runs to help eighth-seeded Hun edge ninth-seeded WW/P-S 7-6 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament. The Raiders, who improved to 10-5 with the victory, will face top-seeded Steinert in an MCT quarterfinal contest on May 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Hun School baseball team locked in a 3-3 tie against the Hill School (Pa.) with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning last Wednesday, Pete Schintzler had the game in his hands as he came to the plate.

The Hun senior second baseman, though, felt right at home in the pressure situation.

“We have played close games all season, we really haven’t blown teams out,” said Schintzler. “Everything has been close, that is what we are used to. He had been throwing a fastball and then a curveball every at bat. I had a fastball and a curve ball so I just figured, especially with the sun being tough, I might as well put something out there and hope for the best and that is what ended up happening.”

Schintzler lofted a ball to left field which dropped in as the Hill outfielder struggled with the sun, knocking in Evan Barratt to give Hun a 4-3 win.

“The way he came off the ball and dropped to his knee, you could tell that either he was going to get lucky and catch it or I was going to get lucky and it was going to drop,” said Schintzler, recalling the game-winning hit. “That wasn’t my best swing.”

In Schintzler’s view, Hun’s resilience has shown through this spring as it has come back from some disappointing setbacks.

“Coming off the tough loss to Steinert (14-12 on April 11) and working through that was big,” said Schintzler.

“It showed that we could come back from a big loss and then coming off the Nottingham loss (7-4 on April 18), we have been playing well too. We are a good bounce-back team.”

The team’s good character has helped Hun battle through the ups and downs it has experienced.

“We are not the most talented team individually but we work and there is chemistry,” said Schintzler.

“Even the guys that aren’t getting in, they are working on the bench every day, every game. They are screaming their butts off, that gets everybody going.”

As a fixture on the top of the Hun batting order, Schintzler looks to get the Raiders going offensively.

“I have been in the two hole every game,” said Schintzler,  who went 2-for-4 with three runs last Monday to help eighth-seeded Hun edge ninth-seeded WW/P-S 7-6 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament.

“Most of my hits this season have been line drives to center or left. So if someone gets on, it is easy to move them over like that.”

Hun head coach Bill McQuade likes the upbeat mentality he has been seeing from his players all season.

“We have had a couple of letdowns this year but normally they are enthusiastic,” said McQuade.

“They yell and scream, like a little league team. They have been doing that from day one on our Florida trip so that is the personality of the team.”

The Raiders’ seventh-inning rally against Hill had the players screaming for joy. Nick Perez led off the frame with a walk and later scored on a single by sophomore Barratt, who advanced to second on an error. That set the stage for Schintzler’s heroics.

“Schintz is having a great season so far; he is getting his bat on the ball,” said McQuade. “He battles that way. Barratt is just an athlete, he is a winner. You saw it in hockey, he brings that same mentality here.”

On the mound, senior and Villanova-bound Jason Applegate is bringing a battling spirit. He went the distance in the win over Hill, giving up four hits and striking out nine.

“Other than probably just three, four, or five sloppy pitches, it was his best game of the year in terms of location and mixing pitches,” said McQuade of Applegate, who starred with his bat in Hun’s win over WW/P-S in the MCT opener, going 4-for-4 with three RBIs  “He has really turned it on as a leader and he is the ace of the staff by far. That is probably his sixth win already.”

Hun’s win over Hill kept the Raiders alive in the race for the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) crown.

“We could actually win the title, which would be an unbelievable season,” said McQuade, whose team is now 10-5 and will continue its quest for another title as it faces top-seeded Steinert in an MCT quarterfinal contest on May 6. “If we could play like we did in the last week then we are going to be OK. Some of the other guys have to go and step up for us.”

Schintzler, for his part, is primed to keep going as long as possible this spring.

“I am playing legion ball this summer; this is my last year with these guys and my last year playing competitive ball,” said Schintzler. “I want to get everything out of it that I can.”

April 29, 2015
NO PROBLEM: Princeton High boys’ tennis star Noah Lilienthal displays his forehand form last week in action at the Mercer County Tournament. Freshman Lilienthal won the first singles title, helping PHS finish second to champion WW/P-S in the team standings.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

NO PROBLEM: Princeton High boys’ tennis star Noah Lilienthal displays his forehand form last week in action at the Mercer County Tournament. Freshman Lilienthal won the first singles title, helping PHS finish second to champion WW/P-S in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Noah Lilienthal looked like a freshman in over his head as he played in the first singles semifinal at the Mercer County Tournament last Thursday.

The Princeton High freshman dropped the first set 6-2 to defending champion Jerry Jiang of Pennington.

Coming into the match, the third-seeded Lilienthal knew that he faced a big challenge in top-seeded Jiang.

“I train with him at the Marc Hill Tennis Academy, I think of him as the big kid and I am the kid at a lower level,” said Lilienthal. “In the first set, he really blew me away the way I expected.”

But Lilienthal raised the level of his game after that, winning the next two sets 6-1, 6-3 to pull out the match and earn a spot in the finals.

“The second set, I hung in there,” said Lilienthal. “I knew I could win if I really kept the pressure on him. I was able to force him to make errors.”

Building his rally in the semifinals, third-seeded Lilienthal went on to beat second-seeded Kabir Sarita of WW/P-S 6-3, 6-4 in the finals to earn the first single crown.

His heroics helped PHS place a strong second in the team standings as it finished just 1.5 points behind champion WW/P-S, 21.5-20. The first doubles team of Andrew Lin and Andrew Wei won their flight while second doubles team of Eric Lin and Kevin Yang was second and Tyler Hack took second at third singles.

For Lilienthal, winning the final over Sarita came down to clutch play on the big points.

“Kabir is my best buddy, he is almost part of my family,” said Lilienthal. “We play matches almost every Sunday and some I win, some I lose. I come in with the same strategy every time, just to play my best and hope he won’t play as good as I can. When I play Kabir, it is just about a few points.”

With Sarita pushing hard in the second set to even the match, Lilienthal showed his maturity. “I have had a history of losing matches when I have been up,” said Lilienthal, who recently competed in the prestigious Easter Bowl tournament in California. “I have learned from those experiences and now I don’t do that.”

In reflecting on his triumph, Lilienthal said it was a product of a lot of hours on the court.

“It was really exciting,” said Lilienthal. “At first I couldn’t believe it, and that was the same with the last match. It is a win that will give me confidence, but I am the same player I was yesterday and the same player I was the day before that. It just shows that I have been putting in the hard work and hopefully I can continue.”

PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert was excited by Lilienthal’s championship performance in his first MCT.

“Noah is great, everyone today got to see his quality of tennis on display, his shotmaking, his feet, his footwork, his movement, all of that,” said Hibbert.

“The presence as a freshman to be able to take out last year’s champion in the semi and then take out another highly experienced, solid player in the finals back to back — he had an amazing day.”

In Hibbert’s view, Lilienthal’s comeback win over Jiang in the semis spoke volumes about his amazing composure.

“Jerry played lights out in the first set, he was just on fire,” said Hibbert. “I told Noah to just wait it out, don’t give up, stay tough, fight through everything and see what happens. He did a great job of coming back, playing a really strong second set and then the third set got really close but he was able to play the big points well. All those tournament matches really helped him.”

Juniors Andrew Wei and Andrew Lin did a great job at first doubles as they outlasted Chiru Kolloth and Kai Zheng of WW/P-S, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to earn the title.

“They worked really hard, they dropped a real close one in the first set,” recalled Hibbert.

“They were up in the second set and then it got really close … and then they closed out a tight one and it got close again. In the third set, it came down to that really long deuce game at 4-all, that was the difference there. I am really proud of them, the way they were able to come back and fight through that last game and close it out.”

The second doubles team of Kevin Yang and Eric Lin showed plenty of fight, advancing to the finals where they fell 7-5,6-2 to Martin Malik and Rahul Ramanathan of WW/P-S.

“Kevin is a freshman, Eric is a sophomore, it is their first time in the county tournament,” said Hibbert. “They had a good showing, hopefully they can improve their partnership.”

Senior Tyler Hack made a good showing in his final MCT as he placed second at third singles, losing 6-0, 6-1 to Scott Altmeyer of Princeton Day School in the championship match.

“Tyler had a great semifinal match, he played quite well,” said Hibbert, referring to Hack’s 6-0, 6-0 win over Dan Goldstein of Robbinsville.

“He ran into a very tough opponent in the finals. Scott played a really strong match.”

Hibbert believes that her team’s strong performance at the MCT will be a plus going forward with the state tournament on the horizon.

“I think it will definitely help us going into states, any time you have good competition, it helps,” said Hibbert.

“There are a lot of strong teams in the county. There are a lot of good players, a lot of strong, young players. It was a good competitive day.”

Lilienthal, for his part, won’t soon forget his big day last Thursday.

“I actually didn’t really know that much about the tournament, I just came in and played,” said Lilienthal. “Looking back at it now, it is a pretty good accomplishment. It is a big deal.”

ROARING BACK: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Rory ­Helstrom unloads the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, junior star Helstrom contributed two goals and two assists to help PHS defeat WW/P-S 9-4 as it won its second straight game after being mired in a five-game losing streak. The Little Tigers, who fell 6-5 to Rumson Fair Haven on Monday in dropping to 4-7, hosts WW/P-N on April 30.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ROARING BACK: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Rory ­Helstrom unloads the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, junior star Helstrom contributed two goals and two assists to help PHS defeat WW/P-S 9-4 as it won its second straight game after being mired in a five-game losing streak. The Little Tigers, who fell 6-5 to Rumson Fair Haven on Monday in dropping to 4-7, hosts WW/P-N on April 30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team played at WW/P-S last Saturday, the PHS players periodically chanted “run, Rory, run” from the sidelines.

The squad’s junior star midfielder, Rory Helstrom, responded to his teammates’ pleas, tallying two goals and two assists to help the Little Tigers pull away to a 9-4 victory.

With PHS trailing 2-0 midway through the first quarter, Helstrom used his fast feet and stick skills to draw the Little Tigers level at 2-2, assisting on one goal and scoring another in a 24-second span.

“I think just getting us some motivation really helped get us back on track,” said Helstrom, reflecting on the two-goal spurt.

“We knew coming into this game that they were better than their scores. We knew we couldn’t play down to them.”

The PHS coaches gave the players some extra motivation with their halftime message.

“At halftime, they talked to us and said you guys have to play to your ability and talked about this stuff that we weren’t doing,” recalled Helstrom. “We just sucked it up.”

The Little Tigers did a lot of good things at both ends of the field in the second half as they outscored WW/P-S 5-0.

“We started off slow but we picked it up towards the end,” said Helstrom, who had a goal and an assist in the second half.

With PHS losing some key offensive performers from last year’s squad to graduation, Helstrom knew that he had to pick it up this spring.

“I have got to make more plays myself,” said Helstrom, who is a star running back for the PHS football team. “I think this year it is more me controlling things than last year. I have got to start getting the offense going and making things happen for myself and the other players.”

With PHS having struggled through a five-game losing streak earlier this month as it lost to such powers as Lawrenceville, Summit, and North Hunterdon, Helstrom believes the team is on the right track.

“I think North Hunterdon was the lowest point of our season,” said Helstrom, who was slowed by a groin injury earlier this spring but is back at full speed. “We couldn’t go down since then, we could only go up.”

PHS head coach Peter Stanton likes the way his players have picked things up as the win over WW/P-S came two days after the Little Tigers had beaten Robbinsville 7-3 to snap the losing streak.

“The thing about learning is that people don’t get it until they have figured it out themselves,” said Stanton.

“You can tell somebody something five times but when they finally get it and it clicks in, it is so satisfying and so rewarding.”

Things were clicking for PHS all over the field against WW/P-S as the team showed good offensive balance.

“I think the fact that we were deeper than them showed,” said Stanton, who got two goals apiece from Nick Halliday and Johnny Lopez-Ona in addition to Helstrom with Chris Diver, Eamonn McDonald, and Stephen Clark chipping in one apiece.

“We had some really key contributions from some guys who don’t necessarily show up in the box score. Justin Marciano made an incredible play at the end of the game. Oliver Hamit was scrapping it out at the face-off X. Nick Halliday has had two games in a row where he has been really good.”

Helstrom was really good as he triggered the PHS offense with his athleticism and determination.

“He is an X factor,” added Stanton. “He is such a good athlete, he can do things on just will.”

Reflecting on the team’s recent skid, Stanton believes that playing such high powered foes as Lawrenceville and Summit will help sharpen his players’ will to compete.

“What those games teach you is grit, they teach you that you can go out and battle your hardest even being overmatched but if you have given your all and you have learned, you can be proud of that,” said Stanton.

“We didn’t do that for four quarters in either of those games but in each of those games we had our moments where it is like here is what we are capable of if we can do these things against some of the best players in the state. Our schedule is a bit more difficult this year and we are younger than usual. It is easy when things aren’t going your way to give up and when things are going really well, everybody wants to work hard. So the fact that we can continue to work hard when things weren’t going well showed by getting these last two wins. It is something we can  be proud of.”

Stanton believes the Little Tigers can get some more big wins over the next few weeks.

“We are happy that we are improving, we never know what anyone’s limits or potential are,” said Stanton, whose team fell 6-5 to Rumson-Fair Haven last Monday to move to 4-7 and hosts WW/P-N on April 30.

“We always push our kids to go beyond what maybe they think they are capable of. So absolutely we are happy that we have a team that is willing to work hard, improve, and has a chance to win.”

Helstrom, for his part, is confident that PHS will keep pushing to improve.

“We started off the season really slow, losing to some in-conference teams,” said Helstrom. “I think in the second half of the season we can really turn it on.”

GREAT SCOTT: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis player Scott Altmeyer follows through on a shot last week at the Mercer County Tournament. Junior Altmeyer won the third singles crown at the MCT, helping PDS take fourth of 16 schools in the team standings.

GREAT SCOTT: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis player Scott Altmeyer follows through on a shot last week at the Mercer County Tournament. Junior Altmeyer won the third singles crown at the MCT, helping PDS take fourth of 16 schools in the team standings.

The wind was swirling around Mercer County Park last Thursday as the temperature hovered in the low 40s but the chill didn’t bother Scott Altmeyer.

Competing in the third singles final at the Mercer County Tournament, Princeton Day School boys’ tennis junior star Altmeyer was sizzling.

Playing in his shirtsleeves without any extra layers unlike many bundled up in winter clothes around the tennis complex, Altmeyer rolled to a 6-0, 6-1 win over Tyler Hack of Princeton High for the title.

“I thought I played very well by my standards,” said Altmeyer. “I was hitting a lot of shots that I usually don’t hit and I was getting a lot of balls back that I usually don’t get back. I felt I was playing some of the best tennis I have played this season so far.”

Altmeyer’s big day helped PDS take fourth of 16 schools in the team standings at the event. Freshman Lex Decker finished third in second singles to provide another big highlight for the Panthers.

For Altmeyer, winning the title was a confidence booster. “I am very happy about it,” said Altmeyer, noting that he had lost to Kabir Sarita of WW/P-S in the third singles final at the 2014 MCT.

“I hope I can use this to jumpstart the rest of the season. My game just feels all around better, I am playing a little more outside of school.

In Altmeyer’s view, playing at the MCT also benefits the team, bringing the players closer together.

“It is so much fun, it is the most camaraderie with your teammates, cheering everybody on,” said Altmeyer. “It is one of the tournaments I look forward to.”

After taking a hiatus from the game during middle school, Altmeyer is savoring being on the court with his teammates.

“I got burned out and just took some time off for myself,” said Altmeyer, noting that he had five stress fractures in his left foot.

“I didn’t feel like playing any more. The reason I am back is because I am loving to play the sport again and I am having a lot of fun with it.”

PDS head coach Will Asch loved watching Altmeyer roll to the third singles title.

“This is the best tennis that he has played all year, he was hitting the ball hard and mentally he was very tough,” asserted Asch. “It didn’t seem like anybody could beat him today, it was one of those days.”

Noting that Altmeyer was hampered by illness earlier this spring, Asch believes that his junior star is peaking.

“He was playing great last year,” said Asch. “He came back from India after spring break and he wasn’t feeling well. I feel now that he is not only playing as well as last year but probably even a little bit better. In four weeks, his tennis has come a long way.”

Freshman Lex Decker came a long way at the MCT, rallying to pull out a three-set win over Rohan Yadav of Hightstown in the third-place match at second singles.

“I think it was a character win for Lex, it is tough for a freshman to beat an older kid at the Mercer County,” said Asch of Decker, who prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.

“You know it is going to be hard when a freshman has adversity and he has to learn how to overcome it. I think what made the difference is that he won the last three games of the second set. He had a battle with himself in the first set and a half. He had some bad luck in the beginning and he got a little down. Then … he persevered … and started to outplay him in the second set. In the third set, he just believed; he just knew that he could do it. There wasn’t any doubt and he just went out and took care of business.”

Asch is confident that his team can take care of business as it goes for a third straight state Prep B title in mid-May.

“I like our team; I like our chances,” said Asch. “We have won it the last two years. I think our team is probably a little bit stronger this year than last year. We lost Neeraj (Devulapalli) but now we have Lex. Scott is playing a lot better. I think we are incredibly strong in that second and third singles. Anupreeth (Coramutla) is a very good player at first singles; he won last year.”

Altmeyer, for his part, believes that PDS can produce a strong finish. “We have a good group; I have a lot of good friends in there,” said Altmeyer. “I am very confident in what we can do.”

FINAL PUSH: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Morgan Foster, left, goes after the ball in a game earlier this spring. Last Monday, senior star and Hamilton College-bound Foster scored four goals to help first-seeded PDS defeat eighth-seeded Morristown-Beard 18-9 in the state Prep B quarterfinals. The Panthers will host the winner of the Stuart Country Day School/Ranney first round contest in the Prep B semis on May 4. In addition, PDS is competing in the Mercer County Tournament where it is seeded ninth and will play at No. 8 Hightstown in an opening round contest.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FINAL PUSH: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Morgan Foster, left, goes after the ball in a game earlier this spring. Last Monday, senior star and Hamilton College-bound Foster scored four goals to help first-seeded PDS defeat eighth-seeded Morristown-Beard 18-9 in the state Prep B quarterfinals. The Panthers will host the winner of the Stuart Country Day School/Ranney first round contest in the Prep B semis on May 4. In addition, PDS is competing in the Mercer County Tournament where it is seeded ninth and will play at No. 8 Hightstown in an opening round contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When Morgan Foster fired in a shot off a free position play for the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team to give it a 6-6 tie against Hopewell Valley last Saturday, it looked like the contest was destined to be a nailbiter.

But HoVal responded with a 5-1 run to take an 11-7 halftime lead and never looked back on the way to a 19-9 win.

While senior star attacker Foster was disappointed with the result, she was proud of how the Panthers fought to the end.

“We were in it; I think that sometimes we need to realize that a full lacrosse game is 50 minutes,” said Foster, who tallied two goals in the defeat.

“We want to be a two-half team. I think everyone was working their hardest. The chips didn’t fall our way today. We have some things that we need to clean up.”

On Monday, things did go PDS’s way as the first-seeded Panthers topped No. 8 Morristown-Beard 18-9 in the state Prep B quarterfinals with Foster chipping in four goals.

“I think our goal right now is to make sure that we extend our season as long as possible,” said Foster, who is heading to Hamilton College where she will be playing for its women’s lacrosse program. “We definitely have May 11 (the Prep B final) circled on the calendar.”

Foster and classmate, star goalie Kirsten Kuzmicz, the only seniors on the squad, are looking to set a positive tone for their younger teammates.

“At this point, I am playing for Kirsten and I hope that Kirsten is playing for me,” asserted Foster.

“I think that part of getting everybody excited for the game is to make sure that everyone knows that they are playing for each other and that there is somebody out there working harder than you are. You want to work hard for the person next to you. That is a big thing that we try to implement so that everybody is working for somebody else.”

Foster enjoyed a big moment when she scored her 100th career goal in a 14-11 loss to Blair on April 22.

“That was so exciting, that was something I didn’t know was coming up,” said Foster.

“I knew that the game beforehand that I was close but I wasn’t counting on it. It was really nice but unfortunately we lost that game to Blair. There was a bit of a silver lining.”

PDS head coach Jill Thomas saw a silver lining in the way the Panthers battled in the loss to HoVal.

“We played some very good lacrosse at times today from the start,” said Thomas.

“We limited the number of unforced turnovers, I still think that we had too many. We didn’t get the ground balls on dropped balls, we made bad decisions with the ball, things like that. It is little stuff, fixable stuff and that is a good team that we played.”

Thomas likes the way that Foster has developed into a very good leader for PDS.

“Morgan has really taken her leadership skills and put them into offensive sets and plays,” said Thomas. “She settles them and makes the extra pass. She has had some really good assists, she is a much more complete player.

Heading into the final weeks of the season, Thomas is looking for the Panthers to play a more complete game collectively.

“We just need to clean up those little things and bring our best to the field every day and take them one at a time,” said Thomas, whose team will host a Prep B semifinal game on May 4 and is also competing in the Mercer County Tournament where it is seeded ninth and will play at No. 8 Hightstown in an opening round contest.

Foster, for her part, is determined to bring her best as she wraps up her PDS career.

“I am getting more sad that this year is coming to a close,” said Foster. “I have never won a tournament here at Princeton Day School. I really have my sights set on the Prep Bs right now, that is something I am really looking forward to.”

KACEY AT THE BAT: Hun School softball player Kacey Abitz takes a big swing in recent action. Last Saturday, junior ­Abitz helped Hun sweep a doubleheader at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) as the Raiders prevailed 11-0 and 8-6. In game two, Abitz went 4-for-4 with a double and was the winning pitcher. The Raiders, who improved to 4-6 with the wins, are scheduled to host Hill School (Pa.) on April 29 and play at WW/P-N on May 1 before hosting Blair Academy on May 2 and Immaculata High on May 4.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

KACEY AT THE BAT: Hun School softball player Kacey Abitz takes a big swing in recent action. Last Saturday, junior ­Abitz helped Hun sweep a doubleheader at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) as the Raiders prevailed 11-0 and 8-6. In game two, Abitz went 4-for-4 with a double and was the winning pitcher. The Raiders, who improved to 4-6 with the wins, are scheduled to host Hill School (Pa.) on April 29 and play at WW/P-N on May 1 before hosting Blair Academy on May 2 and Immaculata High on May 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After suffering a lopsided loss at Lawrenceville last Thursday, the Hun School softball team found itself at a crossroad.

The 16-4 defeat to the Big Red was the fifth straight loss for Hun since it had topped Lawrenceville 7-2 on April 11 in the rivals’ first meeting of the season.

“We had a talk after the Lawrenceville game and did a lot of soul searching,” said Hun head coach Kathy Quirk. “We talked about looking yourself in the mirror and do you want to be here.”

While the Raiders hadn’t been looking all that bad in the losing streak, Quirk acknowledged that her players weren’t closing the deal.

“It is not that we haven’t been hitting but we were leaving people on base,” said Quirk. “We were not supporting our pitchers.”

Playing a doubleheader at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) last Saturday, Hun cleared the bases repeatedly, prevailing 11-0 and 8-6.

“Julia Revock pitched a two-hitter in the opener, she did well,” said Quirk. “We had a great hitting performance by everybody. Vicki Leach was 2-for-2 and Alexis Goeke was 2-for-3. We got two runs in the first and five in the second. They had a slow pitcher and sometimes that throws us off.”

In the nightcap, it was the Kacey Abitz show as the junior starred at the plate and was the winning pitcher.

“They got three runs in the top of the first and then Abitz came in to pitch,” said Quirk, whose team improved to 4-6 with the sweep.

“Julia Blake hit a 3-run homer in the bottom of the first to tie it up and we got three more and didn’t look back. We fell apart a little in the seventh but we were able to hold on. Abitz pitched well and went 4-for-4 with a double.”

Quirk is hoping that the big day at Mercersburg will get her team on the right track as it heads down the homestretch of the season.

“Our goal is to be at .500 after Wednesday then take it from there,” said Quirk, whose team was slated to play at Princeton Day School on April 28, host Hill School (Pa.) on April 29, and play at WW/P-N on May 1 before hosting Blair Academy on May 2 and Immaculata High on May 4.

“I want to see them play with confidence and believe in themselves. We need to do things in games that we do every day in practice. They need to communicate and talk to each other in the field. They have to know what they are going to do if the ball is hit to them.”

There were about 30 seconds left in the game and the Stuart Country Day School lacrosse team was trailing Mount St. Mary Academy 18-9 last week.

Even though it was clear that the Tartans were going down to defeat, Stuart junior midfielder Julia Maser was still hustling, scooping up a ground ball, sprinting to the net and firing a shot.

While Maser’s shot missed the mark and the game ended with a final score of 18-9, her effort exemplified the team’s never-say-die mindset.

“It could be 20-1 and we would still be trying to get that last point in,” said Maser. “We always fight for the last goal, no matter how far we are down.”

In reflecting on the defeat which saw Stuart fall behind 12-4 at halftime before narrowing the gap to 14-8 with 7:53 remaining, Maser acknowledged that the team needs to get off to better starts.

“Starting the season we have kind of been a second-half team and I think we need to come out with equal intensity,” said Maser.

“Whenever we seem to get down by halftime, we always come out with fire in the second half. We need that to start the game.”

In Maser’s view, the team is starting to get on the same page as the season unfolds.

“The few of us juniors have grown up playing together so we are a pretty strong group, we try to bring that intensity to our entire team and lend that bond,” said Maser.

“We have grown and started to work together. I think it is just knowing that our teammates have our back.”

As one of the team’s more battle-tested players, Maser is speaking up more on the field this season.

“This year I would have to say I try to be more vocal and keep our team’s heads up,” said Maser.

“If we drop behind, it is not about us hanging our heads, it is about fighting back.”

The Tartans are fighting for a new leader this year as Kelsey O’Gorman has taken the helm of the program.

“That is an adjustment, it is definitely new,” added Maser, who had two goals as Stuart fell 17-7 to Princeton Day School last Thursday to move to 3-5 on the season.

“It is just like new plays, you have got to get used to our new coach’s style. She is all about us learning plays and working on consistency. We are definitely more in a routine and it is going to start looking up for us.”

With Stuart starting action in both the state Prep B tourney and Mercer County Tournament this week, Maser believes the Tartans are up for the challenge of postseason play. Stuart is seeded fourth in the Prep B competition and will host fifth-seeded Ranney School on April 29. In the MCT, the Tartans are seeded 12th and will play at No. 5 Princeton High in a first round contest.

“The focus going forward I would have to say is to have complete team unity from defense to offense,” said Maser.

“We need to work on our transition plays and once we get that down, we will be unstoppable.”

April 22, 2015
HANGING WITH HENDERSON: Princeton High baseball player Marcus Henderson chats with a teammate during a recent game. Last Wednesday, senior Henderson pitched superbly in a losing cause, giving up just six hits in a 1-0 loss to powerful Steinert. Building on its effort in that game, PHS went on to defeat WW/P-N 6-0 last Friday and then beat South Hunterdon 4-1 a day later. PHS, now 2-4, is scheduled to play at Notre Dame on April 22, at WW/P-N on April 24, at Lakewood on April 25 and at New Brunswick on April 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HANGING WITH HENDERSON: Princeton High baseball player Marcus Henderson chats with a teammate during a recent game. Last Wednesday, senior Henderson pitched superbly in a losing cause, giving up just six hits in a 1-0 loss to powerful Steinert. Building on its effort in that game, PHS went on to defeat WW/P-N 6-0 last Friday and then beat South Hunterdon 4-1 a day later. PHS, now 2-4, is scheduled to play at Notre Dame on April 22, at WW/P-N on April 24, at Lakewood on April 25 and at New Brunswick on April 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Marcus Henderson had some butterflies bouncing around his stomach as he took the mound for the Princeton High baseball team last Wednesday against perennial power Steinert.

“I am not going to lie, I was nervous to be pitching against Steinert, a very good offensive team,” said senior Henderson, who was a JV player until this spring.

Henderson believed that he could negate Steinert’s offensive prowess by keeping it off balance.

“I know I am not an overpowering pitcher,” said Henderson. “I heard that they aren’t great at hitting off-speed pitches so that was helpful to me. I just had to keep it down and away and throw strikes.”

Overcoming his nerves, Henderson calmly executed his game plan, holding the Spartans to six hits in a tough 1-0 loss. “I had to have my teammates come through, I needed some of the great plays to keep me in this game,” said Henderson.

“I made some mistakes throwing, the ball was up and they made some great plays backing me up out there.”

For Henderson, the mound effort against Steinert was a great confidence builder.

“It really makes me want to go out there and throw again, knowing that I have a solid defense behind me that can make plays when I need them to,” said Henderson.

Moving up to varsity as a senior has been a good way for Henderson to culminate his PHS career.

“It is a great feeling, the whole atmosphere is different, down to the basics and the way the defense plays,” said Henderson.

PHS head coach Dave Roberts lauded Henderson for stepping up against Steinert.

“We have been looking for the pitchers to come out and throw strikes and that is what Marcus did,” said Roberts.

“He kept them off balance. He had a good two-seam fastball today, mixing with a couple of breaking balls. Mostly it was two-seam fastballs and location, it was a great job against a fantastic baseball team. This was his second start, he went the distance and gave up one run against clearly one of the best teams in the county, who could be a state title contender.”

Another big positive for PHS in the defeat was the job it did on defense, playing error-free baseball and cutting down
several Steinert base runners.

“It was the best defensive effort we have put together all year,” asserted Roberts. “John Reid was throwing people out from the outfield and Tim Frawley was throwing out guys from behind the plate. The infield shored it up finally for us.”

While the PHS offense didn’t produce any runs on the day, it generated some rallies, including in the bottom of the seventh when junior star Joaquin Herndandez-Burt led off the frame by belting a long double.

“That was a huge hit by Joaquin, we battled,” said Roberts. “Look, the pitcher (Kyle Muller) we faced today is going to Rutgers. I told the guys he is going to throw strikes so come up looking fastball. Once you get behind, he has a good curve and a bust change, he throws them all. Hayden Reyes had tremendous approaches, he had two hits today.”

PHS’s overall approach against Steinert encouraged Roberts. “I just told them if they play that game today, they are going to walk away with their first win on Friday,” said Roberts. “If we go back to the games we were playing earlier in the season, it is not going to come together for us.”

Roberts proved prescient as PHS topped WW/P-N 6-0 last Friday behind a superb pitching effort for senior Ben Grass and then beat South Hunterdon 4-1 a day later as senior Ben Danis pitched five solid innings and contributed a hit and a run.

“I tell them if we make two or less errors and three or less walks in a game, we are going to be good,” said Roberts, whose team is now 2-4 and plays at Notre Dame on April 22, at WW/P-N on April 24, at Lakewood on April 25, and at New Brunswick on April 27  “It proves true.”

Henderson, for his part, believes that PHS proved something to themselves with the loss to Steinert.

“A lot of guys on the team were nervous coming up against Steinert and then we just came to play today,” said Henderson.

“It is something that I think really helped the team, we will bring that into the next games.”

SWINGING AWAY: Princeton Day School baseball player Jake Alu follows through on a swing. Senior star shortstop and Boston College-bound Alu has starred for the Panthers this spring, helping PDS produce a 5-4 start. In upcoming action, the Panthers are slated to host Lawerenceville on April 22, play at Gill-St. Bernard’s on April 23, host Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on April 25, play at Peddie on April 27, and at Steinert on April 28.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SWINGING AWAY: Princeton Day School baseball player Jake Alu follows through on a swing. Senior star shortstop and Boston College-bound Alu has starred for the Panthers this spring, helping PDS produce a 5-4 start. In upcoming action, the Panthers are slated to host Lawerenceville on April 22, play at Gill-St. Bernard’s on April 23, host Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on April 25, play at Peddie on April 27, and at Steinert on April 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It looked like it was going to be one of the memorable comebacks of the season for the Princeton Day School baseball team.

Trailing Hamilton 4-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh and final inning, Zach Dudeck and Jake Alu hit back-to-back singles to give PDS life. Dom Gasparro then hit a fly to center to score Dudeck. After a pop-out by JP Radvany, Cole McManimon lined the ball over the left field fence to apparently make it a 4-4 tie.

But the rally turned into one of the most bizarre endings seen in recent years as the umpire ruled that McManimon didn’t touch home plate and he was called out, giving Hamilton a 4-3 win, prompting howls of protest from the PDS players, coaches, and parents.

After expressing his disbelief over the call, senior shortstop Alu rued what might have been. “This game would be over by now, we had the momentum,” said Alu.

Taking a broader perspective, Alu focused on what the rally said about this year’s PDS squad.

“We keep fighting but we don’t give up, even if we are down 9-0,” said Alu.  “We were down against Pennington the other day and I still saw a little bit of fire in the last inning. I see that we battle every inning, not just the important ones. I think we are going to keep dragging that into it each game and when the playoffs come.”

Alu showed that battling spirit in his final at-bat against Hamilton, working the count before lining a single up the middle.

“I knew that I just needed to get on base,” recalled Alu. “Nothing special, just any way I could get on, walk, hit, hit by a pitch, anything you can do to get on base.”

With PDS off to a 5-4 start after having gone 4-12 in 2014, Alu believes that veteran play has made the difference.

“We only had one senior last year and this year we have six seniors,” said Alu, whose classmates on the team include Sean Flahive, Cody Meagher, Davin Bialow in addition to Radvany and McManimon. “I think that we have a lot of experience.”

The team’s so-called Big 3 of Alu, Lehigh-bound McManimon, and Villanova-bound Radvany have experienced a lot over the last four years, starting for PDS from day one and serving as team tri-captains for a second straight season.

“We are always hanging out in school, messing with each other,” said Alu. “It is a bond. We all have the same aspirations and I think that really helps us motivate each other to keep getting better each day.”

Alu is looking to motivate his teammates to get better.

“I want to be a leader out there, when someone makes a bad play, you don’t get on them,” said Alu. “You have got to motivate, step up and make a play the next inning.”

On defense, Alu is making the plays at shortstop, teaming with junior second baseman Sam Guarino to give the Panthers strength up the middle in the infield.

“I think our defense is better than ever, Sam and I have been playing there for three years,” said Alu. “We have a good bond together; we know what each other is going to do.”

Looking ahead to college, Alu is confident he will develop bonds with his future Boston College teammates.

“It was between Maryland, Boston College, and Pitt; I was looking at their schools,” said Alu.

“I really liked BC. I feel like I fit in with the players. I feel like I could go right in there and act like I knew the guys for years.”

PDS head coach Ray O’Brien hated to see his guys get denied the chance to beat Hamilton.

“We just got to say something on the kids’ behalf,” said O’Brien with his voice rising in anger.

“An umpire that hears something, not from the other side but the crowd; somebody said something. There is a mountain of kids that are twice his size standing in front of him, letting our kid touch home plate. He’s telling us that he saw all through those bodies that our kid didn’t touch home plate. He is looking for something that just wasn’t there. To have an umpire make that call is beyond comprehension to me.”

O’Brien likes the spirit he is seeing from his players. “I love these guys, they battle back,” said O’Brien.

“We hung in this game. Ryan Sparks pitched a great game. The pitching is coming around. I can’t say enough about Sparks, he pitched in the strike zone, he threw a complete game, he kept his pitch count down. We made the plays behind him.”

In O’Brien’s view, the team’s Big 3 have been setting the tone with their playmaking.

“I can’t say enough about how the Big 3 has been playing great,” asserted O’Brien, whose team moved to 5-4 with a 7-2 loss to Blair last Friday and faces a busy week ahead, hosting Lawerenceville on April 22, playing at Gill-St. Bernard’s on April 23, hosting Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on April 25, playing at Peddie on April 27 and at Steinert on April 28.

“The other guys are coming along, just how we hoped. We have a lot of kids doing a lot of good things.”

There could be good things on the horizon for the Panthers if they build on their strong start.

“If everything stays in place, if we keep healthy, keep progressing, and we keep working hard, I think by the end of the season we are going to be a tough out,” said O’Brien.

Alu, for his part, is looking forward to the stretch drive. “I think we can compete with any team,” said Alu.

“Cole has been throwing great, I think whenever he is on the mound, we can beat anybody. James (Radvany), Chase (Fleming) and Ryan (Sparks) have been stepping up each game. I think we are going to have a really good year.”

ATTACKING MENTALITY: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Joey Levine heads to goal in a game this spring. Last Thursday, junior attacker Levine tallied three goals and an assist to help PDS defeat Pennington 15-2. The Panthers, now 3-4, play at Shipley School (Pa.) on April 23 before hosting Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on April 25.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ATTACKING MENTALITY: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Joey Levine heads to goal in a game this spring. Last Thursday, junior attacker Levine tallied three goals and an assist to help PDS defeat Pennington 15-2. The Panthers, now 3-4, play at Shipley School (Pa.) on April 23 before hosting Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on April 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into his junior season with the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team, Joey Levine was looking to be more of a playmaker.

“I worked pretty hard this summer to get my spot behind the net and start dodging so I definitely think that is something that has changed up,” said star attacker Levine.

“Last year I was pretty much inside, we had Chris Azzarello and Jacob Shavel behind so this year I am trying to work with Chris behind and trying to create as much as I am being created for.”

Last Thursday, Levine created a lot of offense for PDS as it cruised to a 15-2 win over Pennington, tallying three goals and an assist.

Coming off a disappointing 11-10 loss at Hopewell Valley two days earlier, Levine and his teammates were primed to get back on the winning track.

“That was a tough one against Hopewell, they are always a very good program,” said Levine.

“We were happy to get back at it with a pretty nice win against Pennington. We got some guys in who usually aren’t in there so getting them the chance to play was good.

In Levine’s view, offensive balance has made PDS tougher to defend this spring.

“This year we have got six or seven guys that are able to create on offense and move the ball,” said Levine “We are always doing things together offensively. One thing we definitely try to work on is to keep the ball moving.”

In reflecting on his four-point outburst against Pennington, Levine maintained that the team’s ball movement made that possible.

“I definitely credit that all to my teammates, they made it happen for me,” said Levine.

“I was able to be at the goal at the right time and have space and put a couple in the back of the net.”

PDS head coach Rich D’Andrea wasn’t surprised to see Levine find the back of the net.

“He is rounding into form, Joey has worked really hard on his feet in the offseason, he has worked to develop his stick,” said D’Andrea. “He is a great low finisher for us. He brings a dynamic dodging game.”

Sophomore midfielder Will Brossman is emerging as a dynamic performer, chipping in three goals and two assists in the win over Pennington.

“Last year he scored three goals in that Rutgers Prep championship game and I think he had ten on the year,” said D’Andrea, referring to PDS’s 10-8 win over Rutgers Prep in the 2014 state Prep B title game.

“He has worked really, really hard and his confidence has grown and grown. The kid can dodge, he can shoot, he finishes inside, he plays defense, and he is great on ground balls.”

D’Andrea has a lot of confidence in the PDS defensive unit. “They have gotten stronger and stronger, we had some injuries at the beginning of the year,” said D’Andrea.

“Christian Vik had a torn labrum, a partial tear, and he is back up to speed now. Amir Melvin has been a total beast. Kevin Towles is running the hole right now and Chris Markey is between the pipes. The defense is looking really, really strong.”

Playing a stronger schedule, by design, is hardening the Panthers for the challenges to come in the postseason.

“We knew this was going to be a season of ups and downs,” said D’Andrea, whose team fell 14-8 to Chatham last Monday to drop to 3-4 and will play at Shipley School (Pa.) on April 23 before hosting Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on April 25.

“Part of the challenge in beefing up the schedule like this is that you add another three, four hard games in the course of a season, not only does it spread you thin, more importantly, it just builds character.”

D’Andrea thinks that his players have built some tight bonds, dealing with the challenges they have faced this season.

“I think that lacrosse is not only a great outlet but a great focal point for these boys,” said D’Andrea.

“They have their eye on the end of the season right now and we are trying to build and prepare and get better for those events. We are trying to build character, see what we do well and we don’t do well.”

Levine, for his part, believes that the Panthers are prepared to do well come tournament time.

“These games are giving us a lot better competition; they are improving us and making us a much better team for the postseason,” said Levine.

“On offense we just have to keep moving as a unit. We need to keep doing that one more pass. Defensively, I think our slide packages are getting a lot better. We have James Fragale, Kevin Towle, Amir Melvin, and Christian Vik, who are four great defenders, and Cody Gibson is coming on.”

MASER VISION: Stuart Country Day School girls’ lacrosse player Julia Maser races past a foe in recent action. Last Monday, junior star Maser tallied four goals and an assist to help Stuart defeat Nottingham 22-1. The Tartans, who moved to 3-3 with the win, host Princeton Day School on April 23 before playing at Hamilton on April 25 and at the Solebury School (Pa.) on April 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MASER VISION: Stuart Country Day School girls’ lacrosse player Julia Maser races past a foe in recent action. Last Monday, junior star Maser tallied four goals and an assist to help Stuart defeat Nottingham 22-1. The Tartans, who moved to 3-3 with the win, host Princeton Day School on April 23 before playing at Hamilton on April 25 and at the Solebury School (Pa.) on April 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It didn’t take long for the Stuart Country Day School lacrosse team to develop a comfort level with new head coach Kelsey O’Gorman.

The Tartans opened the season by posting two double-digit victories, beating Country Day School of the Sacred Heart (Pa.) 17-6 and George School (Pa.) 16-6 and have gotten on the same page with their new leader.

“It really was a good confidence booster, it was  winning home and away,” said O’Gorman, reflecting the 2-0 start.

“We have been doing a lot of team bonding, it has been great building relationships and getting to know the team. It is a great group of girls, I have really been happy to work with them.”

While Stuart hit some bumps in the road, falling 12-11 to WW/P-S on April 9, 14-13 to Pennington on April 10 and 15-11 to Hun on April 13, O’Gorman believes those setbacks will help the squad in the long run.

“We lost two tight games, it was unfortunate,” said O’Gorman. “I think the team matured a lot from that. We know we need to work together and be a two-half team.”

O’Gorman likes the way her players are working together on the offensive end.

“I think the biggest positive is that we are starting to click, just getting to play with each other,” said O’Gorman, whose team rolled to a 22-1 win over Nottingham last Monday with junior Izzy Engel, junior Julia Maser, junior Tori Hannah, and her younger sister, freshman Ali Hannah, each scoring four goals.

“Julia Maser is just exceptional and Tori Hannah has really been stepping up. Izzy Engel and Nneka Onukwugha have been getting goals. Harley Guzman has been a good leader for us.”

Senior goalie Harlyn Bell has led the way on the defensive end. “Harlyn is outstanding in goal,” asserted O’Gorman. “She makes a ton of saves, she has composure, and is a great leader for us.”

In O’Gorman’s view, her team is primed to do some great things down the stretch.

“I think we are ready to bounce back from those losses and get the ball rolling here,” said O’Gorman, whose team improved to 3-3 with the win over Nottingham and hosts Princeton Day School on April 23 before playing at Hamilton on April 25 and at the Solebury School (Pa.) on April 27.

“We need to step up our aggression and be more composed. I am excited for the rest of the season.”

“I am more confident than I have been in the past,” said midfielder Lis.

“I think last year I might have gone in to draw the defense and pulled and look for someone else to take the final shot. This year I feel like I can do that on my own and go the goal hard, which is something I have been working on throughout the summer and over the year. I think as an upperclassman and a leader on the team, I need to be the one to go in to take the shot.”

Lis has gained additional confidence from starring on the soccer field for PHS in the fall.

“Soccer keeps me in great shape up until lacrosse season,” said Lis. “In lacrosse, we work different kinds of muscles. But for overall body fitness, I love playing two sports. I love how they do totally different things. In lacrosse, you are all with your hands. In soccer, you are all with your feet.”

Last Saturday, Lis demonstrated her fitness early in the game, racing past the Clearview defense to score PHS’s first tally of the contest and knot the game at 1-1.

“I saw my opportunity and I thought I will test out this goalie early,” said Lis.

“I saw my lane and I took it. I wanted to test out how their defense was in terms of crashing and sliding. Whenever you have an opportunity like that, you have to go for it, especially in a tight game like this.”

The contest, a rematch of a 2014 sectional semifinal matchup won by PHS, remained tight throughout. The Little Tigers led 4-3 at halftime and the teams were tied at 5-5, 6-6 and 7-7 in the second half
before Clearview edged ahead 9-7. The Little Tigers got a goal with 1:12 remaining in regulation but neither team scored after that as the Pioneers hung on for a 9-8 win.

“I think we had periods where we were up and we were in control of the ball and then we had periods where they were in control and we were frantically going after it,” said Lis, who ended up with two goals and five ground balls on the afternoon.

“The ending play was so close, it was so disappointing that we came up with the loss there.”

While the setback was disappointing, Lis believes that PHS will be a better team for the experience.

“We were definitely happy with the effort, we identified things that we have to work on but overall a lot of people stepped up today that we don’t usually have,” said Lis.

“Two of our sophomores who are usually starters, Georgia McLean and Jordyn Cane were out, that was a tough adjustment with only realizing this morning that we wouldn’t have either of them. So the first half was a test for all of those new girls coming in, they definitely did well and lived up to our expectations for them today.”

PHS head coach David Schlesinger was happy with how his team battled to the final whistle.

“I thought we showed the most heart that we have shown all season,” asserted Schlesinger.

“I am very proud of my girls. We are missing three starters today so we had girls step up and play different positions as well. It was a disappointing result but a great effort.”

As usual, PHS got a great effort from Michigan-bound senior goalie Mira Shane, who made 12 saves on the day.

“Mira has been great all season, I thought our defense did a good job, they forced shots from the
outside and Mira is very, very strong on those shots,” said Schlesinger. “We only gave up nine goals to Clearview, which I think is pretty good.”

In Schlesinger’s view, Lis was very good for PHS. “Taylor has been playing great, she is doing more and more for us,” said  Schlesinger of Lis, who had three goals and three assists as PHS defeated Robbinsville 18-78 last Monday in improving to 5-4.

“She has always been great defensively, running the midfield but now she has become our top draw control specialist. She is becoming critical to our offense.”

“Playing teams like this and playing against Agnes Irwin, that defeat hurt (a 17-2 loss last Thursday), really makes us better,” added Schlesinger.

“It makes us realize how much further we have to go. I find when you schedule easy games, the girls start to rest on their laurels and that intensity in practice drops a little bit. We schedule these games intentionally, these are really good games and they are going to battle-test us for our league games and our county tournament.”

In assessing his team’s play, Schlesinger believes it has to battle more when it has the ball.

“The biggest thing we have to work on is how to deal with pressure and how to take advantage when the other team is pressuring us,” said Schlesinger, whose squad plays at Hunterdon Central on April 18 before hosting Notre Dame on April 20. “That is where we are falling short.”

Lis, for her part, is confident that the hard work the Little Tigers put in against Clearview will pay dividends.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game coming out, we came out strong and played 100 percent all the way through, which is definitely one of our goals,” said Lis.

“One of the biggest things we took away from that is that we have a unit of girls who can really step up when they need to.”

Nancy Gray is just a sophomore but she has already proven to be a jack of all trades for the Princeton High softball team.

After starting at catcher in her freshman season, she moved to third base this spring.

Last Thursday, Gray showed another facet of her game, handling the pitching duties against the Princeton Day School.

The righty looked like a veteran in the circle, striking out seven and giving up just one hit as PHS cruised to a 16-1 victory over the Panthers in three innings.

“I was excited to pitch, it is my first time pitching this season,” said Gray. “It was a good first trial at my pitching for my high school career. I would say my curve and fastball were working.”

Having been around the game since grade school, Gray is happy to work anywhere on the field.

“I played catcher last year; I was going to play shortstop but I like third,” said Gray.

“I have been playing softball my whole life, since I was 6. I am OK with any position, really.”

Gray is also contributing at the bat, hitting a homer and scoring two runs in the PDS game.

“Last year I wasn’t really making contact but this year over the winter, I did some training,” said Gray. “I think my bat has woken up and I have gotten better.”

In Gray’s view, the win over PDS should help the Little Tigers feel better about themselves.

“It is a morale booster, we can come off this with a little confidence,” said Gray.

PHS head coach Dave Boehm liked how Gray came through against the Panthers.

“She did well,” said Boehm. “She caught all the time for us last year so I didn’t see her pitch at all. She is 100 percent better at her hitting.”

Boehm is hoping that his team can find a rhythm after spending most of the preseason training indoors due to the wintry spring.

“We are playing better, not having any scrimmages really hurt us; the first two games were kind of like our first two scrimmages,” said Boehm, referring to his team’s 10-0 loss to Robbinsville on April 1 and 5-2 defeat to Hamilton on April 7.

“We have a catcher that is now a third baseman (Gray), the third baseman (junior Stephanie Wu) is playing shortstop, we have a new center fielder (freshman Bianca Guidi). It is four
different positions that kids have never played. They are getting it narrowed down, they are getting used to it. Once they get squared away, we’ll be OK.”

In Beohm’s view, PHS is headed in the right direction. “I am happy with all of them, even in the Hamilton West game, I was happy with the way we played,” said Boehm, whose team lost 12-0 to Notre Dame last Monday to move to 1-3 and is slated to host Steinert on April 15, WW/P-N on April 17, and Nottingham on April 20.

“We made a couple of errors but that is bound to happen when you are not going to be on a field. We are finally getting on the field and we are doing OK.”

Gray, for her part, is confident that that things will go OK this spring.

“We have to work on the small things,” said Gray. “We are just going game by game, looking at what we should do.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 9, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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