March 17, 2021

YES SHI CAN: Princeton High girls’ volleyball player Amanda Shi delivers a serve during a 2019 game. Senior co-captain Shi will be looking to step up in her final campaign for PHS. The Tigers start their 2021 campaign by hosting WW/P-South on March 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the New Jersey high school girls’ volleyball season was moved from the fall to this March over the summer due to COVID-19 concerns, Patty Manhart wasn’t fazed.

“I was really optimistic that things could be improving; I know that the direction for teaching was starting off slow, starting off remote, moving to hybrid, and getting more kids in the building,” said Princeton High girls’ volleyball head coach Manhart, who guided the Tigers to a 19-8 record in 2019, winning the BCSL (Burlington County Scholastic League) tournament and advancing to the second round of the state Group 4 tournament along the way.

“So if that was the direction we were going for school, I was hoping that would keep up with sports and by that time we would have figured out the protocol and the safety. I felt good. I feel like everyone is more comfortable being in the building. We know that the safety procedures are in place.”

Upon arriving in the gym on March 1 for the start of preseason practice, the PHS players displayed a comfort level.

“A lot of my girls are in the all remote cohort so they haven’t been coming into school and they haven’t really been seeing their friends,” said Manhart.

“So it was just like this is totally different but we are just happy to be here. I have really enjoyed just seeing them and being back even though the season feels different. There are some things that are the same and being able to get back together to work and laugh again has been really nice.” more

UP AND RUNNING: Princeton High girls’ star distance runner Charlotte Gilmore rounds a curve last Wednesday in the 1,600-meter run ahead of teammates Robin Roth and Lucy Kreipke as PHS hosted Hopewell Valley. It was the first competition of the winter season for the Tigers. PHS is next in action when it competes against HoVal on March 20 at the Bennett Athletic Center in Toms River. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After having its season delayed for months, the Princeton High indoor track team was fired up to start practice on February 1 only to see the area pummeled by a snowstorm.

Undeterred, the squad pushed ahead and showed some creativity as it worked through the weather issues.

“After everything we have been through, a little snow is no big deal,” said PHS head coach Ben Samara.

“We used the parking lot once it was cleared and we did some sprint work on the sidewalks. We did a lot of strength and conditioning work. We have been doing body weight and med ball workouts.”

Just getting to be together on a daily basis has been a huge plus for the Tiger coaches and athletes.

“Our theme this year and for years to come is going to be treat every day like it could be the last one that you could get to compete or practice because we found out last spring that nothing is certain,” said Samara.

“We truly feel blessed to be out there every day, having fun. Through the stop and start of February, we still had to have some remote practices and stuff. Every day that we are able to be there in person is just a lot of fun. The kids really look forward to coming every day and putting the work in.”

Last Wednesday, PHS had a lot of fun as it hosted Hopewell Valley for a meet held outdoors on its track in sunny, 60 degree conditions.

“We were lucky because there are not a lot of opportunities for competition,” said Samara. more

GREAT SCOTT: Hun School boys’ basketball player Jack Scott dribbles upcourt in a game this season. Junior guard Scott’s solid all-around play helped Hun go 8-2 this winter. (Photo by Lexi Thomas)

By Bill Alden

Although the Hun School boys’ basketball team dropped a 64-62 nail-biter to the Patrick School in its season finale on March 2, that defeat didn’t put a damper on a positive campaign for the program.

“We just kept getting better, improving, and growing with confidence,” said Hun head coach Jon Stone, whose team ended the 2021 campaign with an 8-2 record.

“We were pretty disappointed with the last game and the result. We were right there, we had a lot of chances. We just couldn’t close the deal.”

The Raiders were excited to get a chance to play back-to-back games against Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) rival Peddie, posting a pair of wins, topping the Falcons 78-60 on February 27 and 58-52 on March 1.

“It was great to play a team in our league. We played Blair early on which was great,” said Stone.

“It doesn’t feel like a season if you don’t play some league games. We were super-excited to hear that they were cleared to play and then to play them back to back was great. It was great for us to get wins both times.”

Hun displayed offensive balance in the victories over Peddie, with four players (Jack Scott – 20 points, Dan Vessey – 15, Kelvin Smith – 14, and Toby Thornburg -11) scoring in double figures in the first meeting and three (Vessey – 18, Smith – 16, Isiaha Dickens – 14) hitting that mark in the second contest. more

END POINT: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Nia Melvin handles the ball in a game this winter. Senior star point guard Melvin capped her stellar career by scoring 12 points and grabbing four rebounds in a 71-55 loss to Saddle River Day on March 4 in the season finale. Stuart ended the season with a 7-6 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Justin Leith will tell you that the most important stats produced by his Stuart Country Day School basketball team this winter were 51, 13, and 0.

“We had 51 practices and we were able to get in 13 games all in the midst of the pandemic and not one of our kids got a case,” said Stuart head coach Leith.

“There were exposures that took place but there was never a case where one of our kids tested positive. It is wonderful that we were able to pull this off. I am certainly proud of them. They were able to accomplish something, as did all of the kids did in the state and country that pulled this off, that no one ever has. They should be celebrated.”

Leith was proud of the way his squad competed in the last week of the season, losing two battles to Saddle River Day (75-61 on February 26 and 71-55 on March 4) to finish with a 7-6 record.

“It takes time to cultivate consistency, that is something we were able to do last year,” said Leith, noting that Stuart started 5-6 in 2019-20 before catching fire to end up 21-7, winning its third straight state Prep B title and making its first Mercer County Tournament final along the way.

“The last week of this season is where we had begun to cultivate the consistency of our work ethic. That is why we go up and down with Saddle River Day. They take the lead, we take the lead. We went up 10 at one point and they fought their way back. That is what happens when two very good teams are playing. It is a game of runs. I wasn’t worried about the win or the loss. I told the girls that we were really starting to come into our own where we are consistently working our butts off and there are no lulls. In those last two games of the season, we were getting to that place which usually takes place in December.”

Facing a gauntlet of tough foes helped Stuart raise the level of its game. more

March 10, 2021

GOODBYE HUG: Members of the Princeton University field hockey team celebrate after scoring a goal in a 2-1 win over Virginia in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA tournament. Players in the Class of 2021 who competed for the squad along with all other Ivy League senior student-athletes were recently granted a one-time waiver by the league to compete as grad students for the same college where they received their undergraduate degree. The excitement over the change in policy is tempered at Princeton, which has no known students who will take advantage of the provision. The Tiger field hockey team, for example, has seven seniors on its roster and six of them will play as graduate students next year at other schools while the other has a job lined up. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Displaying a flexibility prompted by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ivy League announced in mid-February that senior student-athletes would be eligible to compete in 2021-22 as graduate students at the same university from which they receive their undergraduate degree.

Any excitement over the drastic reversal in the longstanding Ivy policy that prevented graduate students from competing is tempered at Princeton University, which has no known students who will take advantage of the provision.

“We had a group text letting them know that this announcement was coming,” said Princeton field hockey head coach Carla Tagliente.

“I had some private conversations with some of them on the side about the possibility and what it meant. Most are committed to play their grad year somewhere else.”

The announcement came via email to senior students. The Ivy League Council of Presidents will allow the one-time waiver just for next year. Their message noted “this change is a direct result of the pandemic and will not be available in future years.”

The announcement came more than a month after Princeton admission to graduate programs closed. The latest graduate school admissions date was January 4 for the German and Architecture programs. Princeton student-athletes would already have had to apply – and be accepted – in order to be able to take advantage of the athletic policy change. Other Ivy institutions may have later graduate school deadlines.

“I think for one year if it helps a few students, I don’t know how many will do it, but great,” said Princeton football head coach Bob Surace. “I don’t think we’re in a time to nitpick about imbalances. If a student can do it and they can come back for a year, let’s do it.” more

By Bill Alden

It was a year ago this week that the sports world came to a skidding halt across the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a harbinger of things to come, the Ivy League canceled its men’s and women’s postseason basketball tournaments on March 10. While that decision was seen as too hasty by many, when Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus a day later that became the tipping point for the cancellation of athletic competition worldwide.

In the dark days of late March, there was no certainty when the games would resume and in what form. As masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing became staples of daily life, coaches and athletes adapted.

The Zoom platform for video conferences became ubiquitous, helping to keep players and coaches in contact. NFL teams learned that they could install offenses and defenses virtually instead of on the practice field.

Athletes developed home workout routines, converting garages and basements into gyms across the country. Some Princeton University athletes did squats using backpacks jammed with books and performed strength training the old-fashioned way via sit-ups and push-ups.

In May, South Korea’s top baseball league, the Korean Baseball Organization, briefly became the focus of the sports world as ESPN started broadcasting its games in the wee hours of the morning to fill the void with U.S. pro leagues still being in hold.

The Last Dance, a 10-part documentary chronicling Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls, became required viewing. Aired on ESPN in April and May, the show drew millions of viewers from sports-starved fans.

A charity golf match pitting Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in late May provided a form of live competition. Brady holing out from more than 100 yards out on the seventh hole after struggling early in proved to be a highlight. But the best moment of the rainy day in Florida came after the match when it was revealed that the competition raised $20 million for COVID-19-related organizations. more

FINAL DRIVE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Brynne Hennessy drives to the hoop in recent action. Senior guard Hennessy ended her career on a high note, helping PHS to a 39-29 win over Princeton Day School last Thursday on her Senior Day and a 39-29 victory over New Egypt last Saturday in the season finale. The Tigers ended the 2021 campaign with a 7-3 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Brynne Hennessy traveled a circuitous route to her Senior Day for the Princeton High girls’ basketball team.

Having played on the junior varsity team for the first two years of her PHS career, Hennessy got promoted to the varsity last year only to miss nine games due to injury.

This winter, Hennessy wasn’t sure if she should play due to COVID-19 concerns.

“I was even a little bit apprehensive to come out this season with everything that is going on right now,” said Hennessy.

But there was Hennessy smiling with her parents and her older brother at one end of the PHS gym as the lone senior standing for the ceremony last Thursday as the Tigers hosted Princeton Day School.

“It has been an interesting four years to say the least,” said Hennessy, who served as a captain of PHS in both of her varsity campaigns.

“I love to play with these girls, this year was very special to me. We have a lot of freshmen who are really great and bring a lot of energy. We all get along really well. I know they are going to be great without me. I am excited to see where they go.”

While Hennessy went scoreless in the contest, she was excited to see PHS pull out a 39-29 win over the Panthers, a day after the Tigers had fallen 30-29 to their crosstown rivals. more

DAME TIME: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Dameon Samuels looks to pass the ball last week as PDS hosted Princeton High in its season finale. Senior hard Samuels went out with a bang, tallying 10 points with six assists, six rebounds, and four steals to help the Panthers defeat PHS 78-50. The victory left PDS with a final record of 7-3 for the 2021 campaign. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With 3:19 left in the fourth quarter last Friday and the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team rolling to a lopsided win over Princeton High, Dameon Samuels left the court for the last time in his career, prompting a flood of emotions.

The PDS senior guard embraced his coaches and started sobbing as he exited the contest. He later buried his head in his hands, watching the final minutes of the Panthers’ 78-50 win over their crosstown rivals.

“It was this is playing basketball all of your career, you don’t really want to see that last game,” said a red-eyed Samuels, reflecting on his curtain call.

“You want to keep playing and playing. When I came out, I thought of all the moments at PDS from freshman year to now and all of that coming to the end.”

Samuels was feeling emotional long before the Senior Day ceremony that took place before the game.

“All day, I have just been thinking about my career,” said Samuels.

“I try to play hard every single game. It is tough knowing that this is my last game here. These are all my brothers. I just love it, I just love basketball.”

Battling hard against crosstown rival, Samuels contributed 10 points, six assists, six rebounds, and four steals to help the Panthers cruise to the victory and end the winter at 7-3. more

TOP MOMENT: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Caroline Topping surveys the situation last Wednesday as PDS hosted Princeton High and held its annual Senior Day ceremony. Senior guard Topping enjoyed a memorable home finale for the Panthers in the contest, sinking the game-winning shot as PDS edged the Tigers 30-29. A day later, the Panthers fell 39-29 at PHS in the rematch of locals to end the season with a 1-7 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Caroline Topping sensed that the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team was primed for a breakthrough as the program held its annual Senior Day celebration last Wednesday afternoon.

Even though PDS brought a winless record into the game against crosstown rival Princeton High, who was at 5-2, senior guard Topping was confident that the Panthers would be competitive.

“There was a lot of extra emotion, I have been waiting for this moment since I was a freshman,” said Topping.

“I have been so excited. We all just had good energy today. We had a psych, we all wore bucket hats. It was a lot of fun.”

In the second quarter, Topping had a lot of fun, tallying seven points as PDS outscored the Tigers 12-5 to build a 23-13 lead at halftime.

“We had the momentum, we had the right energy,” said Topping.

“We weren’t panicking. We had control of everything. I did feel in a groove, especially hitting that three. I am not usually a three-point shooter; it just really gave me the confidence. The speech earlier and the celebration gave me confidence and made me feel good about myself.”

That confidence wavered somewhat as PHS rallied in the second half and knotted the game at 26-26 early in the fourth quarter.

“At that point, we had a lot of energy but it wasn’t controllable,” said Topping. more

BIG FINISH: Hun School girls’ basketball player Kennedy Jardine dribbles around a foe in recent action. Senior guard Jardine ended her Hun career on a high note, tallying 24 points to help the Raiders defeat Princeton Day School 59-26 on March 1 and then adding 19 points a day later as Hun edged Peddie 47-44. The Raiders posted wins in their last four games of the season to end with a final record of 5-3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Kennedy Jardine struggled a bit going through her pregame routine for the Hun School girls’ basketball team as it played at Princeton Day School last week.

“When we were warming up, I wasn’t making a lot of my shots,” said Hun senior guard Jardine, getting used to the surroundings in the new PDS Athletic Center. “We haven’t played here before.”

With Hun trailing 4-3 early in the first quarter, Jardine got fouled on a three-point attempt and sank three straight free throws and started to feel a comfort level.

“That really got me going; we were moving the ball, I was getting really good looks,” said Jardine.

“We were swinging the ball and getting the floor open. Also when I got the ball and I couldn’t shoot the ball, I was able to drive around my opponent and score.”

Jardine started scoring in bunches, tallying 15 points in the first half as Hun jumped out to a 37-18 lead and never looked back the way to a 59-26 win in the March 1 contest.

The Raiders focused on defense as they closed the deal against PDS.

“Our coach [Bill Holup] told us we were going to switch into man because we have a big game coming up against Peddie,” said Jardine, who ended up with 24 points in the win.

“We needed to get some work playing man so we tested that in the third quarter.” more

March 3, 2021

THUNDERSTRUCK: Former Princeton Day School boys’ hockey star Ross Colton enjoys the moment after scoring a goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning last Wednesday in his NHL debut. Forward Colton tallied 6:43 into the contest on a feed from Victor Hedman to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead as they went on to a 3-0 win. (Photo provided courtesy of Ross Colton)

By Bill Alden

It took place in Tampa Bay last Wednesday evening, but it left Ross Colton thinking of a Hollywood script.

Making his NHL debut for the Tampa Bay Lightning, former Princeton Day School standout Colton scored a goal on his second shift of the night, helping the Lightning to a 3-0 win.

“Two days afterwards, it still hadn’t really sunk in,” said Colton, 24, in a phone interview last Sunday.

“It felt like a movie or something. It was like ‘wow, that was awesome.’ That is what I kept telling myself, ‘that was awesome.’”

Colton’s awesome moment drew the attention of friends, former teammates, and coaches in the area as texts and tweets were buzzing around Central Jersey last Wednesday night.

“The thing that really sticks out is how many people reached out and were so supportive of me,” recalled Colton, a 6’0, 191-pound forward.

“After the game, my phone was pretty crazy. I had 200 or so texts and a bunch of Instagram posts and snap chats. It was almost overwhelming. I am doing my best to thank everyone. It is so awesome to see that many people follow me and support me. It was pretty cool, for sure.” more

MAKING HIS POINT: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Tim Evidente, left, goes in for a lay-up against Ewing last Friday. Senior point guard Evidente tallied 11 points to help PHS pull away to a 56-32 win over the Blue Devils. The Tigers, who dropped to 2-6 with an 82-47 loss at Nottingham last Saturday, are scheduled to play at Princeton Day School on March 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

There may have only been a handful of people in the gym last Friday as the Princeton High boys’ basketball team held its annual Senior Day celebration, but it was still an emotional moment for Tim Evidente.

“I never thought I would be here, time actually flew by; it is crazy,” said Evidente.

“Even though there was no crowd, it was just amazing for the team to be here with everyone.”

Having suffered a leg injury in the season opener that sidelined him for several games, Evidente was particularly appreciative to be on the court last Friday.

“When I initially rolled my ankle, I thought I was not going to play for the rest of the season because it was pretty bad,” recalled Evidente, who played with a brace on his left ankle. more

RUNAWAY TRAIN: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Colm Trainor, left, races up the ice last week against the Hamilton hockey co-op. Senior star forward and team captain Trainor tallied three goals and two assists to help PHS skate to an 11-1 win in the February 23 contest. The Tigers, who fell 8-2 to Princeton Day School last Wednesday to move to 3-1, face St. John Vianney on March 4 at the Jersey Shore Arena. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Having not played a game since February 3, Colm Trainor and his teammates on the Princeton High boys’ hockey team were chomping at the bit as they faced the Hamilton hockey co-op last week at the Mercer County Park rink.

“As soon as we got on the ice, everybody got ready,” said senior forward and team captain Trainor.

“They had all of their stuff on, we came in here in the right mind. We were mentally prepared.”

The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the February 23 contest as two forwards on the team’s second line, sophomore Ethan Garlock and junior John O’Donnell, each found the back of the net early in the first period.

“They are a great group; when I am gone, I know they are going to help out everybody,” said Trainor.

“They are going to be part of the first and the second lines; they are already putting up points. When they are seniors, they are going to be doing great.”

In the second period, Trainor scored the third goal of the game. Combining with his colleagues on the team’s top line, junior John Zammit and sophomore Cooper Zullo, PHS kept rolling from there, increasing its advantage to 5-0 on the way to an 11-1 triumph. more

MAKING A SPLASH: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Annie Zhao displays her breaststroke form in a recent meet. Sophomore Zhao has helped PHS get off to a 3-0 start in virtual meet competition. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While the Princeton High girls’ swimming team won’t have the chance to compete in the county championship meet or the state sectionals, Carly Misiewicz believes that her squad can still do some big things in 2021.

“The girls look pretty good this year,” said PHS head coach Misiewicz, whose squad defeated WW/P-North 121-49 in a virtual meet last week to improve to 3-0.

“We have got a pretty full team. We have got 21 or 22 girls so that is good.”

The Tigers have got two very good sophomores in Beatrice Cai and Annie Zhao.

“Beatrice is one who can do a variety of events, whether it is the individual medley or the 200 freestyle or the 100 butterfly or the 500 free,” said Misiewicz.

“At our first meet, she swam the 200 free and 100 fly for us. She mentioned possibly wanting to do the backstroke and she may be in fly a little more. Annie is an IMer and breaststroker. She came in and impressed us as she always does, clocking 1:11 or 1:12 in the first meet in the breaststroke.”

A trio of impressive juniors, Abby Walden, Tracey Liu, and Laura Liu, also give the Tigers good versatility. more

STEPPING UP: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Aleah James brings the ball up court in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, senior guard James scored 14 points in a losing cause as Stuart fell 55-51 to visiting Manasquan. Two days later, James posted a triple-double in a 75-61 loss to Saddle River Day, tallying 22 points with 11 rebounds and 10 assists. The Tartans, who moved to 6-5 with that defeat, have a rematch at Saddle River on March 4 and will then host St. Dominic Academy on March 5 and Ewing on March 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Aleah James shouldered extra responsibility as the Stuart Country Day School basketball team hosted powerhouse Manasquan High last Wednesday.

With fellow senior guard Nia Melvin unavailable to play, James had the Stuart offense in her hands.

“I feel like I really had to pull through when it came to ball-handling because they were double-teaming me a lot,” said James.

“I just had to get through for my team and try to get to the other side of the court and make a play.”

With an athletic and aggressive Manasquan putting a full-court press on James, she battled to get the ball up the court, keeping Stuart in the game as the teams were knotted in a 24-24 tie at halftime.

After trailing the Big Blue Warriors 40-30 late in the third quarter, Stuart rallied down the stretch, narrowing the gap to one twice in the last three minutes of regulation before succumbing 55-51. more

February 24, 2021

CAT FIGHT: Princeton University women’s hockey player Maggie Connors, right, gets pushed into the boards by a Quinnipiac defender last February during a best-of-three ECAC Hockey quarterfinal series. The Tigers survived a grueling weekend against the Bobcats, cruising in game one, losing game two in overtime, and then prevailing in the decisive final game in a double overtime thriller. Buoyed by that hard-earned triumph, Princeton went on to defeat Clarkson 5-1 in the league semis and then rally for a 3-2 overtime win at top-ranked Cornell in the final to earn the program’s first-ever ECACH crown. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

A year ago, the final weekend of February turned out to be both a marathon and a springboard to history for the Princeton University women’s hockey team.

Rising to No. 6 in the national polls, Princeton was hosting Quinnipiac for a best-of-three ECAC Hockey quarterfinal series starting on February 28 at venerable Hobey Baker Rink.

The Tigers were rolling, having gone 11-1-1 in their last 13 regal season games and they had swept Quinnipiac in two previous meetings in the 2019-20 campaign.

Opening the series, Princeton continued to sizzle, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the first period on the way to a lopsided 5-1 victory in game one.

A day later, the Tigers went up 1-0 in the first period and seemed to be on track for a sweep of the underdog Bobcats.

But things turned dicey after that as Quinnipiac responded with two unanswered goals in the second period. The Tigers knotted the game at 2-2 late in the third period on a goal by senior star Carly Bullock. On the verge of being eliminated, the Bobcats pulled out a 3-2 win with a goal at 1:45 of the first overtime to force a decisive third game.

In the finale, Princeton scored twice to build a 2-0 advantage but Tiger sophomore star Sarah Filler sensed that the series was far from over.

“We knew we were going to get their best game, they are ranked 10 in the country,” said Fillier.

“I think arguably we play in the best league in the nation so we knew it was going to be a battle and we were excited to play this one.”

Sure enough, Quinnipiac refused to die, scoring two goals to force a second straight OT game.

In the first overtime, Princeton looked to finish off Quinnipiac, outshooting the Bobcats 16-6 but to no avail as the teams remained stalemated at 2-2.

In the break after the first extra period, Princeton team managers raided the refrigerator in the rink kitchen to microwave snacks to refuel the exhausted Tigers. more

DAN THE MAN: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Daniel Baytin churns to victory in the 200 freestyle last Wednesday as PHS opened its 2021 season with a 134-36 win over Hamilton West in a coed meet. The Tigers have a virtual meet against Ewing scheduled for the week of March 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though its season has started late and there are COVID-19 protocols to follow at the pool, there is still plenty of spirit on deck for the Princeton High swimming program.

“First and foremost, I am glad and very fortunate that we even have a season,” said PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz, noting that the team is following strict protocols at practice with limits on how many swimmers can be in the pool at one time and athletes masking whenever they are not in the water.

“That is the biggest thing, they are all enjoying just being together. Yes, it is not the same but you are away from a computer screen, you are getting to be around your friends. Swimming has brought more of a sense of normalcy, it is that aspect of having that physical interaction with other people. They are really happy that they are still getting to be with their friends.”

The swimmers are certainly happy to get the chance to train and compete.

“They are still getting to race,” said Misiewicz. “A lot of club teams are strapped for time and pool availability as well too, so, the fact that we are consistently swimming every day after school and Saturday mornings has been good.”

Last Wednesday, PHS excelled in its first race of the year, topping Hamilton 134-36 in a coed meet. It marked the program’s first virtual meet which entailed each team swimming separately at their pool and then sharing times to calculate the score. more

ON TARGET: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Maisie Henderson controls the puck in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior forward Henderson tallied two goals to help PDS top Westfield 4-0 and improve to 5-0. In upcoming action, the Panthers are scheduled to host Trinity Hall on February 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Maisie Henderson grinned through her Bauer gray face mask after the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team defeated Westfield High 4-0 last Wednesday.

With PDS having last played an official game when it defeated Chatham 7-3 on January 28, senior forward Henderson and her teammates were excited to welcome Westfield to McGraw Rink.

“It is awesome having the opportunity to be able to play, especially as a senior,” said Henderson, who scored a pair of goals in the victory as the Panthers improved to 5-0.

“It is really cool. Although there are definitely some restrictions and we can’t play a full schedule. It is definitely nice to have the opportunity to play one last year.”

It has been particularly cool for Henderson to get a chance this winter to play one last season for PDS since she had moved to New England for her junior year.

“I lived in Nantucket Massachusetts last year; last year was the first time they had a girls’ varsity hockey team,” said Henderson.

“It was a nice thing to be part of and help start that program. We didn’t really know until May that I was coming back for sure. I am really happy that I was able to come back to have a senior season here.” more

SENIOR MOMENT: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Trevor Kunkle celebrates last week after scoring his first career goal against St. Augustine. Senior forward Kunkle’s tally was a highlight in the February 16 contest which saw a late PDS rally fall short in a 3-2 defeat. The Panthers, now 1-1-1, host Princeton High on February 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It was a highlight years in the making for Trevor Kunkle.

After working his way up through the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey program, playing junior varsity for two years and then getting called up to the varsity last winter, senior forward Kunkle finally found the back of the net last week for the Panthers as they hosted St. Augustine.

Five minutes into the February 16 contest, Kunkle battled in the crease and slotted the puck home to give PDS a 1-0 lead.

“It was the first varsity goal for me so it felt great,” said Kunkle. “It was good, it lifted the boys up. I was on JV my first two high school years and then last year I got the call up. I didn’t get much playing time. I was a big bench energy guy. This year I am getting a lot of playing time. I have never played travel hockey. I am just happy that I got it out of the way. I got that pressure off my back.”

Kunkle is happy to be on the ice in a season limited by COVID-19 concerns.

“None of the games are guaranteed, you just have to make the best of it,” said Kunkle.

“We are lucky to have a couple of games on the schedule. It was looking pretty grim, that we weren’t going to get any games this season. We had a lot of guys out with COVID. We are just happy to get a game. It was the first game in a while; it felt good, definitely.” more

APPLYING PRESSURE: Hun School boys’ basketball player Kelvin Smith, right, pressures a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, senior guard/forward Smith contributed 13 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal to help Hun post a 58-41 win over Princeton Day School. The Raiders, who improved to 4-1 with the victory, are scheduled to host Pennington on February 25, Peddie School on February 27, and the Patrick School on March 2. (Photo by Lexi Thomas)

By Bill Alden

Kelvin Smith’s explosiveness and physicality helped him emerge as a star wide receiver and linebacker for the Hun School football team.

This winter, Smith is applying those gridiron qualities to the basketball court, excelling for the Hun boys’ hoops team.

“Football has definitely helped my cutting in basketball,” said senior guard/forward Smith, a powerfully-built 6’4, 220-pounder.

“When I cut now, I am really good at faking out defenders and not letting them know which way I am going. It feels like running a route. Physical-wise, I feel like nobody on the court is too big to stop me. After playing football, the aggressiveness and tenacity I have is very different from everybody else. It helps me get to the basket easier. It definitely helps me in grabbing rebounds over people and getting loose balls.”

Last Saturday in a 58-41 win over the Princeton Day School, Smith displayed his aggressiveness, tallying 13 points with four rebounds, two assists, and one steal.

“I thought the team performed really well overall; I thought it was a good game,” said Smith, reflecting on the victory which was the third straight for the Raiders as they improved to 4-1.

“This past week, COVID was throwing our schedule off a little bit. We wanted to see if we could get back in that rhythm and we did. I think everybody played well.”

Despite dealing with stops and starts due to COVID and weather issues, Hun is finding a groove.

“I feel like we are playing with confidence right now,” said Smith. more

February 17, 2021

COFFEY BREWING: Tyler Coffey, left, controls the puck in action this winter in his freshman season for the Colorado College men’s hockey team. Former Princeton Day School standout forward Coffey has an assist in 10 appearances for the Tigers so far in his debut campaign. (Photo provided courtesy of Colorado College Athletics Communications)

By Bill Alden

Tyler Coffey is living out a dream this winter as he starts his career for the Colorado College men’s hockey team. The former Princeton Day School star decided years ago that he would like to play college hockey someday.

“In the eighth grade, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue,” said Coffey, reflecting on his goal to play at the next level. “My parents were always big on me getting an education and being able to play hockey at the same time.”

In addition to thriving on the ice for the Panthers, Coffey appreciated the education he got at PDS.

“I felt PDS was the best option right there, I was there through my junior year,” said Coffey. “The three years I did have at PDS really prepared me for Colorado College.”

After starring for PDS over three seasons, Coffey moved on to juniors to help increase his chances of playing at the next level, playing for the New Jersey Hitmen of the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL). He was named the USPHL Forward of the Year in 2017 after leading the league in goals (37) and points (60). A year later, Coffey tallied 46 points on 27 goals and 19 assists for the Hitmen.

Coffey then headed west to play for Tri-City Storm (Neb.) and Sioux Falls Stampede (S.D.) of the United States Hockey League (USHL). He was sidelined by injury with Tri-City and then scored 12 points on six goals and six assists in 18 games for  Sioux Falls during the 2019-20 campaign.

For Coffey, playing juniors proved to be a key stepping stone in his transition to Division I college hockey. more

MIGHTY CASEY: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Casey Serxner drives past a Hopewell Valley player last week. Freshman guard Serxner has helped spark PHS to a promising 3-1 start. In upcoming action, the Tigers are slated to play at Steinert on February 17 and at Trenton Central on February 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming off a disappointing 5-20 campaign in 2019-20, the Princeton High girls’ basketball team didn’t waste any time serving notice that things are going to be different this winter.

In its season opener against Hamilton West on January 29, PHS rolled to a 43-19 win over the Hornets. Six days later, the Tigers routed Nottingham 58-17.

“We are much better this year, it is just a totally different vibe,” said PHS head coach Dave Kosa.

“Actually it is a totally different philosophy; we are uptempo this year, we are pressing.”

Freshman point guard Casey Serxner has emerged as a catalyst for the squad, speeding things up on both ends of the court for the Tigers.

“Casey has been doing a great job as far as leading us on the break,” said Kosa of Serxner, who also stars at soccer for PHS.

“She also pressures the other team’s point guard so it really spearheads our offense and defense. She never tires, she is always on the go. That is the type of person she is, always working no matter what sport she is playing. She has a lot on her plate. We are asking her to run the offense, we are asking her be the half court girl at our press. She is looking to be the anticipator and get some steals which she has done.”

Last week, Serxner helped PHS pass a big early season test, tallying 11 points with three assists and two rebounds as the Tigers edged Hopewell Valley 40-37 on February 9.

“They were undefeated and they have one of the better point guards in the league in Franki Gomez,” said Kosa. more

HARD DRIVING: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Ethan Guy, right, drives to the hoop in recent action. Last Monday, senior forward Guy tallied 16 points in a losing cause as PHS fell 50-40 to Lawrence High. The Tigers, now 0-4, are slated to host Steinert on February 17 and Trenton Central on February 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As a three-year starter for the Princeton High boys’ basketball team, Ethan Guy is looking to give his teammates the benefit of his experience.

“It is being that leader to keep this program running and build up a lot of these juniors and sophomores,” said senior forward Guy. “I am trying to be a leader and let them experience the varsity level.”

Last Monday, Guy set a good example for the squad’s younger players, tallying 16 points in a losing cause as PHS fell 50-40 to Lawrence High, dropping to 0-4. While a late Tiger rally fell short, the squad did show some offensive cohesion, particularly in the second quarter when they outscored the Cardinals 13-9.

“I felt that we were comfortable, we had three practices this week,” said Guy. “We implemented some more and added on to that offense a little bit. It is nice to just get comfortable.” more

INSIDE PRESENCE: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Ethan Garita puts up a shot in the paint over a Pennington School defender last week. Senior center Garita scored 14 points in the February 9 contest to help PDS prevail 50-49. The Panthers, who fell 62-51 at the Hun School last Thursday to move to 2-1, are slated to host Hun in a rematch on February 18 before playing at Pennington on February 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Ethan Garita struggled in the first half as the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team hosted the Pennington School last week.

PDS senior center Garita managed just two points in the first half as the Panthers found themselves trailing archrival Pennington 24-23 at halftime in the February 9 contest.

“In the first half I was kind of getting frustrated, I wasn’t getting the calls from the refs,” said Garita. “You have to just keep fighting it out and keep working and it will come to you.”

At the break, PDS head coach Eugene Burroughs urged the Panthers to fight harder in the second half.

“He told us to keep working; we just wanted to be more aggressive, grab rebounds, and talk on the floor,” recalled Garita. “We had a lot of times where we were kind of selfish and we weren’t passing the ball and running our plays.” more

February 10, 2021

CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT: Members of the Princeton University football team celebrate with the Ivy League championship trophy after beating Penn 42-14 in the 2018 season finale to cap a perfect 10-0 season. While the Ivy League football season this past fall was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of former Ivy products enjoyed a banner season in the NFL. A quartet of Princeton alums, Stephen Carlson ’19, John Lovett ’19, Seth DeValve ’16, and Caraun Reid ’14, saw action this fall for NFL teams. On Sunday, Harvard alum Cameron Brate and former Penn standout Justin Watson helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV.  (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last Sunday evening, tight end Cameron Brate made three receptions for 26 yards to help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prevail in Super Bowl LV.

While Brate’s output will stand as a mere footnote in Tampa Bay’s 31-9 rout of the Kansas City Chiefs and the hoopla surrounding legendary quarterback Tom Brady earning his seventh Super Bowl title, the Harvard alum’s performance culminated a banner season for a number of Ivy League products competing and coaching in the NFL.

Although COVID-19 concerns resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 Ivy sports season, players and coaches with ties to the league gave its fans plenty of highlights to savor.

Stephen Carlson ’19 led the Princeton NFL contingent, seeing action in 18 games at tight end and on special teams for the Cleveland Browns as they made the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2002. Carlson made two key clutch plays down the stretch, recovering an onside kick in the waning moments of a 24-22 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers which clinched the playoff berth and then gathering in an onside kick to end a Pittsburgh rally when the teams met a week later in an AFC Wild Card contest. Over the course of the season, Carlson made one reception for 11 yards and had seven tackles on special teams. more