September 18, 2013
CHARLIE COMPANY: Princeton High football head coach Charlie Gallagher prowls the sideline during a recent practice. Last Friday, PHS fell 35-0 at Northern Burlington in the season opener and Gallagher’s debut at the helm of the program. The Little Tigers will look to get on the winning track when they host Hightstown on September 21 in their first game on the school’s new turf field.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CHARLIE COMPANY: Princeton High football head coach Charlie Gallagher prowls the sideline during a recent practice. Last Friday, PHS fell 35-0 at Northern Burlington in the season opener and Gallagher’s debut at the helm of the program. The Little Tigers will look to get on the winning track when they play at Hightstown on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Opening its season at Northern Burlington last Thursday, the Princeton High football team got off to a rough start, falling behind 7-0 on first play from scrimmage.

But thunderstorms hit the area and the game was suspended until Friday afternoon when it was picked up in progress in the first quarter.

Unfortunately, PHS was struck by lightning on Friday, this time in the form of Northern Burlington running back Kenyatta Green, who rushed for 163 yards on 10 carries and scored four touchdowns as the Greyhounds jumped out to a 35-0 halftime lead.

“He is obviously a quality running back,” said Gallagher of Green. “We didn’t play him last year but we had heard things about him. You need all 11 hats on him. He is a violent runner, he was slinging people all over.”

Facing such a large deficit, Gallagher decided to mix things up a little bit in the second half.

“At half, we decided to try some different people,” said Gallagher.

“We wanted to get a couple of scores but it was an opportunity to find more ball players. We wanted them to keep their heads up and stay positive.”

While the score ended up 35-0, Gallagher saw some positives over the last 24 minutes of the contest as he made his debut at the helm of the program.

“On defense, we had some guys who played really well,” said Gallagher, a former assistant coach for PHS who was elevated to take over for Joe Gargione.

“Colin Buckley did well at end. We moved Liam Helstrom to middle linebacker and he did well. We moved Chris Harisiades from linebacker to defense end and he made some plays there. Sam Smallzman took some big hits at quarterback but he delivered some big hits at linebacker.”

Gallagher acknowledged that his offense needs to deliver some more production.

“Both quarterbacks (Smallzman and Dave Beamer) went 3-for-11 passing; we need to have a better completion rate,” said Gallagher.

“We need to run the ball more. I think we only had 11 attempts. We couldn’t get anything going. We had a lot of three and outs. We had the ball on their 50 a couple of times but we didn’t get any deeper than the 15-yard line.”

PHS is determined to have a better day when it plays at Hightstown on September 20.

“We didn’t look pretty against Northern Burlington and it wasn’t pretty for Hightstown against Nottingham (a 48-7 loss), the defending Central Jersey Group III champions,” said Gallagher. “We are looking at film of Hightstown and we will try to figure them out. We need to get on the board a few times and try to hold them and make it a low scoring game.”

Coming into the fall, the Hun School girls’ tennis team faced a major obstacle before it even played a match.

The school’s tennis courts are being ripped up to make way for a new school building and a reconfiguration of the tennis facility on campus. As a result, the team is practicing and playing across town at the Community Park tennis courts.

Hun head coach Joan Nuse acknowledged that the arrangement has required some flexibility.

“It is a challenge to go off campus everyday,” said Nuse, whose team opens regular season play with a match at Stuart Country Day on September 21.

“We take a bus over to the Community Park. At least it is close and the courts are fine.”

As Nuse assesses her squad, she believes she has some fine singles players in junior Steph Taylor, sophomore Caroline Wilkinson, and freshman Paige Braithwaite.

While Nuse hasn’t sorted out who will be in each of the three singles slots in the lineup, she is confident each player can excel.

“We are working on it; they are really close in tennis ability,” said Nuse.

“They are all strong players. Caroline is a real surprise; I didn’t know she was going to play. Paige was on the middle school team so I knew her from that. Steph keeps improving. She got contact lenses and is actually seeing the ball. She is an all-around player.”

The doubles lineup features a veteran in junior Olivia Hartman together with three newcomers, sophomore Olivia Kotler, sophomore Rachel Heller, and freshman Tali Prozementer.

“We are young, it is nice to have a team like that,” said Nuse. “We have some solid talent. They have nice singles games and we are trying to incorporate their singles skills into doubles.”

With the Mercer County Tournament starting on September 23 at Mercer County Park, Hun is looking for a solid effort at the competition.

“We are just going to go in and see how people do,” said Nuse. “We hope we can win some matches and get some experience.”

Nuse is confident that her young squad can get some wins to go with the experience as the fall unfolds. “I think we can continue to grow and improve as we get to the end of the season on November 9,” said Nuse.

In Nuse’s view, the players have shown a desire to get better as a group.

“They have a good attitude; it is nice that they all get along,” said Nuse.

“Steph is a leader and is going to be a captain. She gives good leadership and helps keep them on the right path. They have actually asked to do more conditioning. They want to be in better condition so they can perform at their best.”

HERE COMES THE SUN: Princeton Day School girls’ tennis star Renee Karchere-Sun hits a backhand in a match last season. Sophomore Karchere-Sun has moved up to first singles for PDS this fall and has helped the Panthers get off to a 2-1 start. PDS has matches at the George School (Pa.) on September 18 and at the Hill School (Pa.) on September 20 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament on September 23 at Mercer County Park.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HERE COMES THE SUN: Princeton Day School girls’ tennis star Renee Karchere-Sun hits a backhand in a match last season. Sophomore Karchere-Sun has moved up to first singles for PDS this fall and has helped the Panthers get off to a 2-1 start. PDS has matches at the George School (Pa.) on September 18 and at the Hill School (Pa.) on September 20 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament on September 23 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Experiencing mixed results in its first full week of regular season play, the Princeton Day School girls’ team fell 5-0 to public school power Haddonfield before topping Prep B rival Rutgers Prep 5-0.

For PDS head coach Ed Tseng, his team’s performance in defeat was more heartening than in the easy win.

“I like having them in the beginning, playing a tough match in the beginning makes other matches seem easier,” said Tseng, reflecting on the matchup against Haddonfield.

“Also, getting beat is a wake-up call. Even though we lost, I look at the effort, they didn’t give up, that is a plus. Rutgers Prep was about a 180-degree difference in skills; it was a hot day and we stayed focused.”

Sophomore Renee Karchere-Sun has shown increased focus as she has taken over the first singles spot for graduated star Samantha Asch, a four-time Mercer County Tournament singles champion who is now playing at Wake Forest.

“Renee is still a sophomore and she is definitely getting used to the No. 1 spot,” said Tseng.

“She will face a lot of tough matches; the key is how she responds. She is being more of a leader, maybe because it is because she is No. 1 and more comfortable with the team.”

The PDS team was happy to welcome Lawrenceville junior transfer Maria Martinovic, who has slotted in at second singles.

“Maria is a nice addition,” said Tseng. “She is a great girl and a great player. She is a steady player and she is fit, those are her main strengths.”

At third singles, the Panthers feature junior Emily Dyckman, one of the program’s steadiest players over the years.

“Emily played quite a bit this summer which is always good,” said Tseng. “She is a great team player and has a great attitude. She is one of the veterans.”

The pair of junior Charlotte Zaininger and sophomore Devika Kumar at first doubles form a good mix of playing styles.

“Charlotte is like a wall, she is so consistent,” said Tseng. “Charlotte likes to play doubles and is a nice doubles player. Devika is an athlete; she also plays basketball. She is great at the net.”

The second doubles team of junior Hope Boozan and freshman Touria Salvati is showing some great potential.

“Hope has been playing on the team the last few years,” said Tseng. “Touria has good playing experience and got injured and is just coming back. They were more similar to each other than the first doubles team. They play well together.”

Tseng is confident that his team will play well at the upcoming Mercer County Tournament (MCT), which is slated to take place on September 23 and 25 at Mercer County Park.

“Two years ago we won the MCT and last year we won the Prep B,” said Tseng, whose team will tune up for the MCT with matches at the George School (Pa.) on September 18 and at the Hill School (Pa.) on September 20.

“Every year, I think we have a chance. It is sports so there are no guarantees. South [WW/P-S] looks like the team to beat but if we can get through the first round and the other teams beat each other up, who knows? It depends on matchups. I think we are deeper than we were last year.”

No matter what happens at the MCT, Tseng believes his team is going to have a positive fall.

“I am very happy with the way they are working,” said Tseng. “They are enjoying themselves and are having fun.”

In the view of Stuart Country Day School tennis coach Katherine Stoltenberg, her team’s win over Pennington last week marked the harbinger of things to come.

“We played well, it was great to win,” said second-year head coach Stoltenberg reflecting on the Tartans’ 4-1 victory last Wednesday. “It was the first win for the girls; it was a good starting point.”

Building on that triumph, Stuart topped George School (Pa.) 3-2 last Thursday and then edged Country Day School of the Sacred Heart 3-2 on Saturday. “We are on a pretty good roll,” said Stoltenberg, whose team ended the week with a 3-1 record.

Junior co-captain Maya Kuang has been on a roll this year as she has taken over the first singles spot.

“Maya played first doubles last year so she has made a big jump this year,” said Stoltenberg. “She has learned more about singles strategy. It is a lot different than doubles; you don’t have a partner to bounce ideas off or rely on. She doesn’t come to the net as much. Her groundstrokes are better and she has a nice slice. Her serve has improved a lot.”

At second singles, Julia Rourke has proven to be one of Stuart’s most reliable performers.

“Julia is our other junior and co-captain,” said Stoltenberg. “This is her third year at second singles so she has great experience at that spot.”

Freshman Caitlyn Delaney is showing great potential at third singles. “Caitlyn did real well in the preseason to get that spot,” said Stoltenberg.

“She has three wins in a row. She is a fighter; she will play long games to win a set.”

It is a family affair at doubles for the Tartans as the four McGowen sisters, sophomore triplets Pam, Natalie, and Juliet, together with freshman Ally comprise the two pairs.

“They are a great group of girls; they help the whole team’s morale because they get along so well,” said Stoltenberg.

“Of course, they know each other really well and they are getting to know each other on the court better.”

In sorting out the doubles teams, the sisters had to work through some sibling rivalry.

“It was the first time they had to challenge each other,” noted Stoltenberg, who has Pam and Natalie at first doubles with Juliet and Ally at second doubles.

“They have taken the opportunity well; the pairs are working out well. It was the way the ladder worked out; it came down to how they did in the challenge matches. The first pair, Pam and Natalie, have a good strong game. They are both good baseline players but they know when to come to the net. Juliet and Ally like to come to the net a lot, that is good to see in doubles.”

Stoltenberg is confident she will see some good things from her players next week when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament (MCT) at Mercer County Park starting on September 23.

“We will play some big public schools that we don’t usually get to see,” said Stoltenberg, whose team will play at the Ranney School on September 20 and host Hun on September 21 before starting action in the MCT.

“My girls are always ready to fight. They also have a good time and support each other. They have fun.”

Based on the team’s promising start, it looks like the Tartans are going to  have a lot of fun this fall.

“We don’t have any seniors and we have only two juniors and only one of them went back to her old spot,” said Stoltenberg.

“We have a lot of players at new positions. We will get experience and exposure this season. All of them are returning, it looks good for us further down the road. It is a good mix of girls. They really support each other. They stay and cheer for each other.”

GOOD SERVIS: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Sam Servis heads upfield in action last fall. Last Thursday, sophomore Servis scored the game-winning goal in overtime as Stuart edged the George School (Pa.) 2-1. The Tartans, now 2-2, play at South Hunterdon on September 20 and at Pennington on September 24.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOOD SERVIS: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Sam Servis heads upfield in action last fall. Last Thursday, sophomore Servis scored the game-winning goal in overtime as Stuart edged the George School (Pa.) 2-1. The Tartans, now 2-2, play at South Hunterdon on September 20 and at Pennington on September 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In the wake of a one-sided loss to Princeton Day School last week, Sam Servis and her teammates on the Stuart Country Day School field hockey squad did some soul-searching.

“We had a talk after the PDS game and it was about getting our heads in the game,” said sophomore forward Servis.

Hosting the George School (Pa.) last Thursday, Stuart was on its game from the start, dominating possession and outshooting the Cougars 6-0 in the first half.

“We connected really well,” said Servis. “At the PDS game, we didn’t come out with intensity but this game we did.”

Despite keeping the ball in its offensive end for most of that half, Stuart found itself locked in a 0-0 tie at halftime. Some six minutes into the second half, George scored to take a 1-0 lead.

The Stuart players, though, didn’t lose their heads, tying the game at 1-1 two minutes later on a goal by Tori Hannah and then winning the game 2-1 in overtime on a breakaway goal by Servis.

“It was super frustrating but we kept going,” said Servis. “We knew we would get there eventually. We came together and we said we are a good team and we can do this and we can beat them and we did.”

As the teams headed into overtime, Servis felt some nerves. “I was concerned because we had played the full 60 minutes and we were really tired but they were tired too,” said Servis.

“We talked again and we just said, give it our all because this is the last 10 minutes of the game. We are good to go and we can rest our legs.”

As Servis raced into the circle with just over a minute left in overtime, she was determined to end the contest.

“I really needed to make this,” recalled Servis with a grin. “I did look up and I saw that the goalie was to the left a little more than she was to the right so I tried really hard to get it to the right so that is where I aimed for. I was lucky I had a teammate there to help. It was good.”

Since last season, Servis has tried hard to become a better player for the Tartans.

“I joined a club team and I worked all winter and spring,” said Servis, who plays for the Spirit Eagles club program. “I have definitely improved my skills a lot. I think that this year I am a lot better and I can help my team more.”

Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik saw a big improvement in her team from the PDS defeat.

“It is hard, early in the season; it is not just a physical game, it is also very mental,” said Bruvik, whose team fell 4-1 to WW/P-S last Monday to move to 2-2.

“You have to be mentally prepared so we worked on that yesterday. I think even more important in terms of being down there today was how we worked the ball up the field and how we worked it on our attack.”

Due to Stuart’s good work on attack, Bruvik wasn’t fazed when her team fell behind early in the second half.

“I felt that we still had enough control of that game that if we keep playing hard, we will finish,” said Bruvik.

“I didn’t think another 30 minutes was going to go by and we weren’t going to be able to out it in just because of our play in the circle.”

Bruvik was impressed by Servis’ finish on the game-winning tally. “Sam was knocking on the door and she is one of the most unselfish forwards,” said Bruvik. “I think there are multiple times she has the opportunity to take the shot and she looks to pass. I think when she knew she was the only one, she had to take it. She’s also out it in a space where a teammate was because that is the way she thinks.”

The Tartans also got some inspired play in the win over George from sophomores Hannah and Kate Walsh.

“Tori had much better control today, she was keeping the ball down, finding her teammates,” said Bruvik, who also cited the play of senior star Amy Hallowell. “Kate Walsh played center back for the first time and she stepped up beautifully. She stayed composed and made some good stops today.”

Bruvik is hoping her team will get more and more control of the game as the season goes on.

“We talked about Tuesday’s big defeat and what do we take from that,” said Bruvik, whose team plays at South Hunterdon on September 20 and at Pennington on September 24.

“I think we are still in a little bit of a rebuilding process and we have to take it one game at a time. We have to break it down and be patient with ourselves and patient with each other. Nobody should be frustrated.”

Servis, for her part, believes the team, led by its core of sophomores is working well with each other.

“I love the sophomores; I love the entire team,” said Servis. “We do hang out as a grade. We just have a connection that really helps us get the ball around. We know where we are; we know each other’s voices. It is great to know each other so well like we do.”

September 11, 2013
OPENING STATEMENT: Princeton University women’s soccer player Tyler Lussi controls the ball last weekend as she made her college debut. The freshman forward scored a goal in Princeton’s 2-0 win over Richmond last Friday in the season opener and then added two more tallies in a 3-0 victory over Army on Sunday. Lussi, who is believed to be the first Tiger freshman to score three goals in the first two games of the season since Linda DeBoer in 1982, was later named the Ivy League Player and Rookie of the Week honors for her big opening weekend. Princeton will look to keep rolling as it plays at Seton Hall on September 12 and at Rutgers on September 15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OPENING STATEMENT: Princeton University women’s soccer player Tyler Lussi controls the ball last weekend as she made her college debut. The freshman forward scored a goal in Princeton’s 2-0 win over Richmond last Friday in the season opener and then added two more tallies in a 3-0 victory over Army on Sunday. Lussi, who is believed to be the first Tiger freshman to score three goals in the first two games of the season since Linda DeBoer in 1982, was later named the Ivy League Player and Rookie of the Week honors for her big opening weekend. Princeton will look to keep rolling as it plays at Seton Hall on September 12 and at Rutgers on September 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It didn’t take long for freshman forward Tyler Lussi to make an impact for the Princeton University women’s soccer team.

Playing in the season opener last Friday night against visiting Richmond, Lussi came off the bench and scored the first goal in the contest early in the second half, sparking the Tigers as they went on to a 2-0 victory.

“To get the first goal in the beginning of the second half was really nice,” said Lussi, a native of Lutherville, Md.

“It set the pace for the rest of the game and then Lauren Lazo got the goal right after me. It just settled us down.”

The Lazo-Lussi combination paid dividends two days later as Princeton topped Army 3-0 with junior Lazo scoring the first Tiger goal and Lussi chipping in the other two.

“We are definitely playing off of each other and we know where each other are on the field and we are making good runs,” said Lussi. “We are getting it done.”

Reflecting on her debut, Lussi didn’t see herself emerging as the team’s top finishing threat.

“I think I came out wanting to win the game and came out playing strong and hard and wanting to take shots, getting into the goal area,” said Lussi, who is believed to be the first Tiger freshman to score three goals in the first two games of the season since Linda DeBoer in 1982.

“It was really good. I thought my teammates did a really good job, they got me the ball and we just put it away.”

Lussi was happy with the way she put away her goals in the win over Army as she scored on a blast to the low corner in the first half and then deftly volleyed the ball over the Army goalie early in the second period for her other tally.

“Lauren and I were both right there but I hit it nice and hard on the ground into the corner,” said Lussi, who won the Ivy League Player and Rookie of the Week honors for her big debut weekend.

“I wasn’t trying to go for power. I was going for pace and I put it away. On the second one, I was trying to lift it over nice and easy.”

For Lussi, sharp finishing is a staple of her game. “I have always had good accuracy on the ball,” said Lussi, who played for the Bethesda Soccer Club in Maryland in the Elite Clubs National League and entered Princeton ranked by Top Drawer Soccer as a four-star recruit and the No. 22 player in the Mid-Atlantic region. “When you are around the goal, just relaxing is always what I focus on.”

Princeton head coach Julie Shackford liked the way Lussi and Lazo worked together around the goal.

“They are both just dynamic,” said Shackford. “They are willing to take people on, they are also good at finishing. They  are very similar. They are both workers. They both know how to find space for themselves. They know how to take people on when they are dribbling. They are really confident and they are both gamers. To me, both of Taylor’s goals were upper class goals, they were great finishes.”

The Tigers displayed class all over the field in the win over Army. “We played really good soccer today,” asserted Shackford.

“We let the ball do the work and the speed of play was really good. I think you always worry about that second game, especially with Army having been in camp for so long. I think that we hung in there for two-thirds of the game with our fitness level and I think we got fresh legs in, you saw maybe a little drop in experience but I think they all hung in.”

Princeton’s experienced defense, spearheaded by senior co-captains Diane Metcalf-Leggette and Gabriella Guzman together with junior Gabrielle Ragazzo, played well all weekend.

“They did great; Diane is a good organizer back there,” said Shackford.

“I actually thought Gabby Ragazzo was the star of the game, she kept getting herself into the attack and we were able to switch the point of attack and get her out on the left side. The decision-making was great. You can’t put a price tag on what Guzman does for us. She is literally a rock.”

Junior goalie Darcy Hargadon was a rock for Princeton as she posted consecutive shutouts and stamped herself as first among equals in the four-way competition for the starting job.

“She did well,” said Shackford of Hargadon. “I give her a lot of credit; she organized well. She made saves when she had to. I know there weren’t a lot. I think for the most part she did really well.”

Heartened by her team’s play on opening weekend, Shackford believes that even better things are on the horizon.

“You never know what is going to happen; I am really pleased with our start,” said Shackford, whose team plays at Seton Hall on September 12 and at Rutgers on September 15.

“Going forward, we need more focus on the speed of play. I think our soccer can be really exciting this year, once we get fitter. We can move the ball quicker and create a little more around the box. Their soccer was good today, I was impressed.”

Lussi, for her part, is excited to build on her superb opening weekend.

“I am trying to figure out each player’s position and what their strengths are,” said Lussi.

“I think that is coming together a little more but it is definitely good. Two wins is big. Going into Thursday’s game, I think we are really confident and ready to get another win.”

ALL GOOD: Princeton University field hockey star Allison Evans looks for the ball last Friday against Duke. Junior striker Evans chipped in an assist as third-ranked and defending national champion Princeton topped No. 10 Duke 3-1 in its season opener. A day later, she contributed a goal as the Tigers edged Fairfield 4-3. In upcoming action. Princeton hosts Michigan State on September 13 and Penn State on September 15.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ALL GOOD: Princeton University field hockey star Allison Evans looks for the ball last Friday against Duke. Junior striker Evans chipped in an assist as third-ranked and defending national champion Princeton topped No. 10 Duke 3-1 in its season opener. A day later, she contributed a goal as the Tigers edged Fairfield 4-3. In upcoming action. Princeton hosts Michigan State on September 13 and Penn State on September 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Allison Evans and her teammates on the Princeton University field hockey team were frustrated heading into halftime last Saturday in their game against visiting Fairfield.

Even though third-ranked and defending national champion Princeton had outshot the Stags 12-0 over the first 35 minutes, the teams were knotted in a scoreless tie at intermission.

“I think it is just about mentality at that point,” said junior forward Evans. “We had a few balls that were just kind of sitting on the goal line and we couldn’t find a way to get them in. That’s more of a mental toughness and will to score than anything else because we definitely have the skill to. It was first weekend and less than a 24-hour turnaround from our first game (a 3-1 win over No. 10 Duke on Friday evening) so we definitely had to get the intensity up again.”

Falling behind 1-0 with 30:11 remaining in regulation, the Tigers picked up the intensity as they responded with three straight goals.

“Obviously going down first is always tough, you have to battle back and not only tie it but to go ahead,” said Evans, reflecting on the Princeton rally. “We got a corner and Teresa [Benvenuti] just nailed it at the top of the circle. I think pressure and being more aggressive is what opened up the goals for us.”

Evans showed her aggressiveness, scoring the third goal of that run as Princeton held on for a 4-3 victory over the scrappy Stags.

“My teammate Hailey [Reeves] had the ball on the left side on the baseline and she crossed and I laid my stick out and tipped it into the goalie and it bounced off and I lifted it over,” said Evans, reflecting on her goal. “You have got to get that rebound in.”

With all-time leading scorer Kat Sharkey having graduated after scoring 107 goals in her Tiger career, Evans is looking to pick up the scoring slack.

“I think all the strikers feel this way; it is our job to be effective in the circle,” said Evans, a native of Macungie, Pa. who scored a total of 23 goals in her first two seasons at Princeton.

“It is our job to score; it is our job to get corners. It is spread out among everyone; it is not just me.”

Evans liked the way the Tigers got the job done over opening weekend. “At the end of it, we are 2-0 and I think we are going to learn a lot after the coaches debrief us and look over the film,” said Evans, who picked up an assist in the win over Duke.

“Final results are great but we have a lot to learn and we can only get better from here. We definitely can’t complain about the two wins.”

Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn was definitely proud of the way her team fought back after falling behind.

“I think we started attacking; when that happens, things start to open up,” said Holmes-Winn, reflecting on the second half rally.

“We have to be smart and be able to know when that penetrative moment is and make sure that we take it. I think that the team was really good at that. Teresa in the back was really good at playing those moments. I certainly give Fairfield a lot of credit for grinding the game out; it takes a lot of discipline to do that and I applaud them for being able to bring that for a majority of the game.”

Holmes-Winn acknowledged that her team struggled to close the game out as it surrendered two goals over the last 17 minutes of the contest.

“It is just about game management and that is something just being so early in the season we haven’t been able to focus on that as much,” said Holmes-Winn, who got two goals on the day from Benvenuti with Sydney Kirby and Evans adding the other tallies.

“I think the disorganization at the end is the product of just not being able to get everything in during preseason. We’ll be really slick as we move forward with closing out games and everyone understanding their role. We are not quite there yet. We are definitely shifting players around and we are trying to find ideal spots for lots of different players so it is a work in progress.”

A number of players stepped up in the win over Fairfield. “I thought our back three who kind of rotated in there were really steady; Kelsey Byrne, Cassidy Arner, Kate Ferrara, and Teresa were just really, really steady,” asserted Holmes-Winn.

“Allison has been really good. Sydney Kirby’s work rate and Julia Reinprecht’s work rate were just phenomenal. They did so much just clearing space and being available, making space important. They really did a good job with that. Sydney has really been great this season.”

Surviving two tough challenges in the opening weekend was also a great step for Tigers, who have a bull’s eye on their backs after the NCAA championship campaign last fall.

“We felt in control of the Duke game which is a great feeling so early in the season against a quality opponent,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team hosts Michigan State on September 13 and Penn State on September 15.

“I think in this game, for the most part, we felt in control. We just have to get returns. There are going to be games where you just have to persist. It is good to have these games. You have to perform every time you step on the field. I told the girls just now that is one of the great benefits of finishing the previous season as No. 1, you get everyone’s best. That is better than we could ever hope for because it will make us that much better so if we get that kind of effort from every opponent by the time we get to the end of the season we will be battle-tested.”

Evans, for her part, saw the victory over Duke as a harbinger of good things to come this season.

“I think the Duke game was great yesterday for our first game,” said Evans.

“We finally came together as a team, we improved our structure and spacing. We were working together. I think we are connecting pretty well, that will only get better.”

Jim Barlow knew that his Princeton University men’s soccer team faced a stern test when it opened its season at Fairleigh Dickinson last Friday night.

FDU brought a 2-0 record into the clash along with the confidence of having advanced to the Round of 16 in the 2012 NCAA tournament.

Showing some opening night jitters, Princeton fell behind 2-0 some 40 minutes into the contest.

Tiger head coach Barlow acknowledged that digging an early hole was not the formula for success against the Knights.

“You need to get the first goal against a team like that,” said Barlow, reflecting on the early deficit. “We couldn’t find an answer for their center halfbacks, they were both 6’4 or 6’5, good in the air and athletic.”

While Princeton fought gamely the rest of the way, it ended up falling 3-0.

“We didn’t play poorly,” said Barlow. “We were able to get the ball moving and keep them in their end. When we fell behind, we picked up the tempo and got the ball in their end more, creating some half-chances.”

Barlow noted that sophomores Nico Hurtado and Jack Hilger did create some positive energy for the Tigers.

“Nico and Jack came off the bench and helped us be more dynamic,” said Barlow, noting that Princeton lost stars Cameron Porter and Myles McGinley to leg injuries during the game. “Hilger was good at pressing up on the ball, he took a step forward.”

The Tigers did take a step back in one critical area of the game. “I think the big thing is we conceded two goals on the re-starts,” said Barlow.

“The first goal was on a corner, the ball was kicked high in the air and we didn’t have good communication. On the second goal, one of their center halves headed it in right off the corner.”

With the Tigers playing four games in a nine-day stretch starting with a game at Rutgers on September 13, Barlow hopes to get his squad headed in the right direction.

“We need to keep figuring things out,” added Barlow, whose team will host Seton Hall on September 15 in its home opener.

“We have a bunch of games in a row against some very good teams. We will get better and we would like to get some wins while we are improving. We need to be less naive on restarts and be better around the goal. We will have Thomas Sanner back so that should solidify us up front.”

The Tigers will need to get better quickly in order to hold their own in the clash with the Scarlet Knights, who are 1-2-1 and are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to No. 5 Akron.

“Last year’s game with Rutgers is on our minds; I thought we played poorly,” said Barlow, reflecting on the 2-0 loss in the 2012 meeting between the local rivals.

“They came in here and really beat us up. This is a good opportunity to play against a good team and take a step forward.”

RAISED HOPES: Members of the Princeton High football team gather together during a recent practice session. Coming off a 2-8 season, PHS is primed to get back on the winning track under new head coach Charlie Gallagher. The Little Tigers kick off their 2013 season by playing at Northern Burlington on September 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RAISED HOPES: Members of the Princeton High football team gather together during a recent practice session. Coming off a 2-8 season, PHS is primed to get back on the winning track under new head coach Charlie Gallagher. The Little Tigers kick off their 2013 season by playing at Northern Burlington on September 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Things have been hectic for Charlie Gallagher as he has taken the helm of the Princeton High football program.

“I tried to prepare as much as I could over the summer to be ready for the practices and to have the playbook completed,” said Gallagher, an assistant with the program for five years before moving up to replace previous head coach Joe Gargione.

“We only had three coaches coming back from last year’s staff, including me. We have five new coaches, we are putting in a new offense and a new defensive scheme and we are trying to get on the same page.”

Based on the team’s play in the preseason, it appears that coaches and players have been getting on the same page.

“I think we have done a nice job of preparing the kids; I think we have gotten better in each scrimmage,” asserted Gallagher, who is taking over a squad that posted a 2-8 record in 2012.

“The South Hunterdon scrimmage was average but it was good to hit someone else. North (WW/P-N) was a great scrimmage; we didn’t put as many points on the board as we wanted but the defense played well. Against Robbinsville, we were on top after three quarters. The offense did a nice job, putting 19 points on the board. I think the kids have responded well.”

Junior Sam Smallzman has responded well as he has taken over as starting quarterback spot for graduated star Zack DiGregorio.

“We have a really fantastic quarterback in Sam Smallzman; he is a great leader,” said Gallagher, whose team opens the 2013 campaign with a game at Northern Burlington on September 12.

“He is a phenomenal football player. There are not many guys that play quarterback and middle linebacker. He worked real hard in the offseason. He wanted to lift with the team this spring and he also went out for the track team to learn how to sprint. He has worked on his passing game; that is much improved. First and foremost, he is a great leader for the kids.

PHS will feature a leading offensive threat at receiver in senior star Liam Helstrom.

“When everyone sees Liam, they are going to double team him,” said Gallagher.

“He is 6’2, 195 and he bench presses 285 pounds. He had a great year at tight end for us last year and he is going to be one of the strongest wide receivers around. We need to make sure to get others the ball; the rest of the offense has to be involved.”

Gallagher will be looking to get the ball to junior Colin Buckley, senior Will Harrison, and sophomore Rory Helstrom in the running game.

“Buckley has moved from guard to fullback,” said Gallagher. “He is a good lacrosse player; he has endurance and speed. Will is a scatback; he is a tough kid. Rory will also be at running back.”

PHS has some tough young kids at offensive line in sophomore Noah Ziegler, junior Omar Moustafa, sophomore Matt Poplin, junior Brian Lemus-Camey, junior Tom Moore, and senior Jo-Jo Kuranche.

“On the line, we are young, we have two sophomores, two or three juniors, and a senior,” said Gallagher.

“Ziegler is at left tackle, Moustafa is at left guard, Poplin is at center, Lemus-Carney is at right guard, and Moore is at right tackle. Jo-Jo can play anywhere.”

Gallagher is confident that his defense will play well. “We are running a 50 front,” said Gallagher.

“Our No. 1 goal is to stop the run. We need to make teams pass because when teams pass, three things can happen and two of them are bad. The odds are in our favor if we can stop the run.”

In preseason play, the Little Tigers have done a good job of stopping foes.

“I think the defense usually clicks sooner than the offense,” asserted Gallagher.

“Buckley and Jo-Jo are at tackle, Harrison is at strong safety, Mike Chonka is at free safety, and Rory will also be at defensive back. Sam is a player. Liam and Buckley can really get after the quarterback, we have seen that in scrimmages.”

In Gallagher’s view, the Little Tigers are ready to get after it collectively.

“I think we can be OK; we want to win football games this year,” said Gallagher.

“We want the games to be competitive and go down to the wire. We want it to matter at the end.”

In order to be more competitive, PHS will need some luck and execution. “The No. 1 thing is to stay healthy; we only have 48 or 49 kids and 15 of them are freshmen,” said Gallagher.

“Will Harrison is a really big component for us. He has the ability to be a great football player; we need to get him holes. We need 75-80 yards from him a game. We also need to win the turnover battle. We have done a good job of that in the scrimmages.”

PHS is facing a battle in its opener against Northern Burlington. “We are excited for that game,” said Gallagher.

“We have beaten them two years in a row and they have been in the state semis. We know they are a good ball team and they are going to pull out all their stops to beat us.”

SURE SHOT: Princeton High girls’ tennis star Christina Rosca hits a forehand in action last fall. Sophomore Rosca is back at first singles for PHS as the Little Tigers look to pick up where they left off in 2012 when they went 20-1 and advanced to the Group III state championship match. The Little Tigers are 2-0 so far this fall and hope to keep on the winning track as they host Robbinsville on September 12 before playing at Hamilton on September 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SURE SHOT: Princeton High girls’ tennis star Christina Rosca hits a forehand in action last fall. Sophomore Rosca is back at first singles for PHS as the Little Tigers look to pick up where they left off in 2012 when they went 20-1 and advanced to the Group III state championship match. The Little Tigers are 2-0 so far this fall and hope to keep on the winning track as they host Robbinsville on September 12 before playing at Hamilton on September 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Surpassing expectations last fall, the Princeton High girls’ tennis team produced a season to remember as it went 20-1 and advanced to the Group III state championship match.

Picking up where it left off, PHS opened its 2013 campaign by breezing past Allentown 5-0 last Friday, winning all five matches in straight sets and losing only four games in the process.

“Any time you get the first win of the season it is good,” said PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert, whose team improved to 2-0 with a 5-0 win over Hightstown last Monday. “The girls want to duplicate or exceed last year’s success.”

A major factor in PHS’s success is the play of sophomore Christina Rosca at first singles.

“Chris is looking strong,” said Hibbert. “She does everything well. I think she has a year of experience of high school under her belt and another year of tournaments. She has played a lot of tough matches. She enjoys being part of the team, tennis is such an individual sport. Our goal this year is to put together a strong lineup to supplement her.

In Hibbert’s view, junior Rory Lewis gives the team a strong performer at second singles.

“Rory has worked hard every year,” said Hibbert. “As a freshman, she was close to being in the lineup but we had six seniors that year so it was tough. Last year, she was a little nervous in her challenge matches. As soon as the year got started, she clicked with Maddie [Cahill-Sanidas] at first doubles. Playing with Maddie helped her game and gave her confidence. If you would go by the courts in the offseason, there was a good chance that she was out there playing. She has worked really hard on her game and she is ready to play.”

Junior Katelyn Hojelbane is ready for a another season at third singles. “Katelyn played there last year,” noted Hibbert. “She gives a lot of strength to our singles lineup. She has a year of experience in that spot and hopefully that will help.”

As the season gets underway, Hibbert is still searching to find her strongest options at doubles.

“Our doubles is a work in progress; we have four players I am going to start with and I have others nipping at their heels who have strengths and weaknesses,” said Hibbert, noting that senior Allison Hubert, sophomore Chenchen Wang, junior Zhenia Dementyev, sophomore Nikhita Salgame, freshman Elise Gerdes, freshman Brina Suppiah, and sophomore Gillian Samios are all in the mix.

“I have an idea of how we are going to start the season. There is always a possibility of changing the lineup. We are hoping to get the doubles pairings that will complement singles. Our strength has typically been our depth. We have a lot of good players.”

In Hibbert’s view, getting the doubles pairings right will go a long way in determining whether PHS can make another deep run in the state tourney.

“The doubles is the key to our success,” said Hibbert, whose team hosts Robbinsville on September 12 before playing at Hamilton on September 16.

“It is easy to come up against a team with one or two strong players. We have that point at the top of the lineup. The doubles coming together is a key; it is important to be consistent. I feel our second and third singles can do well but it is important to have depth at doubles.”

MORE TO COME: Princeton Day School field hockey player Morgan Foster heads upfield in PDS’s 5-1 loss to Germantown Academy (Pa.) last Friday in its season opener. Junior defender Foster notched her first career goal in the setback as she accounted for the Panthers’ only tally. In upcoming action, PDS is scheduled to host Northern Burlington on September 12 before playing at Peddie on September 16.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MORE TO COME: Princeton Day School field hockey player Morgan Foster heads upfield in PDS’s 5-1 loss to Germantown Academy (Pa.) last Friday in its season opener. Junior defender Foster notched her first career goal in the setback as she accounted for the Panthers’ only tally. In upcoming action, PDS is scheduled to host Northern Burlington on September 12 before playing at Peddie on September 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Tracey Arndt possesses extensive experience with Pennsylvania field hockey, having starred at Pennsbury High and then going on to Penn State where she earned All-American honors.

Last week, Arndt’s Princeton Day School field hockey team got a double dose of the Keystone State, topping Penn Charter 5-2 in a scrimmage on September 10 before falling to Germantown Academy 5-1 last Friday in the regular season opener.

“Any of the private schools or public schools in that Pennsylvania area are very good and I am actually glad that we got to play them,” said Arndt, who is in her second season as the PDS head coach.

“We played a great game against Penn Charter, which is another private school over there the other day. They are great competition for us. I think we are going to see teams just as strong. It really got us going. To me, you have to play some of the best teams to know where you are standing.”

Against Germantown, the Panthers were trailing 2-1 at half but couldn’t find a rhythm in the second half.

“I think we did really well the other day, so build on the strengths that we had in the other game and come out firing,” said Arndt.

“I think we had so many opportunities; our finishing wasn’t there. The first shot was going but the second and third shots weren’t going. They were pretty tenacious defensively and their goalie certainly stepped up to make some saves.”

With PDS trailing 4-1 with 15:28 remaining, Arndt took a timeout to urge her team to battle to the final whistle.

“I told them at the timeout that it was a gut check; it doesn’t matter if the score is 1-0 or 7-0, you have to pretend it’s a tie game or you are down one and keep fighting and don’t get down on yourself,” said Arndt, who got a goal from junior Morgan Foster in the game as she notched the first goal of her PDS field hockey career.

“I thought this was a great lead-up for the rest of the season. The result is not what we wanted but we have tough games the whole season and with such a low number of players, we have to rely on every single person. We have two sophomores and they need to step up just as much as the seniors are stepping up. It is a hard lesson to learn but hopefully they are competitors and will step up and be motivated by this.”

Arndt believes that her players will benefit from the lessons learned against Germantown.

“As we got tired, we got too individual,” said Arndt. “The more tired we are, the more we have to rely on each other instead of just relying on one person. We have to put the same effort into the game, no matter what the score is. They came out after halftime with a really great fire under them. They knew that was their time to shine but they needed to do that the whole time. In college, I always played tough teams in the beginning and I think it is a great lesson, helping us know what we need to build on, what we need to do tactically, and as a team.”

With PDS slated to host Northern Burlington on September 12 before playing at Peddie on September 16, Arndt wants her team to focus on sticking together at both ends of the field.

“I think we need to work on our communication, our finishing skills as a team, and our recovery defense as a team,” asserted Arndt.

“To me, it is all a team thing. We have some great individual players but that means nothing if you don’t play as a team.”

KICK START: Hun School girls’ soccer player Jess Sacco kicks the ball in a 2012 game. Junior tri-captain Sacco should provide plenty of punch in the midfield this fall for the Raiders, who are welcoming new head coach ­Joanna Hallec. Hun opens regular season play by hosting East Brunswick High on September 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

KICK START: Hun School girls’ soccer player Jess Sacco kicks the ball in a 2012 game. Junior tri-captain Sacco should provide plenty of punch in the midfield this fall for the Raiders, who are welcoming new head coach ­Joanna Hallac. Hun opens regular season play by hosting East Brunswick High on September 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

 

During her four-year tenure coaching the Weston High (Conn.) girls’ soccer team, Joanna Hallac had to be creative.

“We were a smaller school in a good league but we were able to do well,” said Hallac. “We had to do more with less.”

As Hallac replaces Ken Stevenson as the head coach of the Hun School girls’ soccer program, she is bringing that open-minded mentality.

“In terms of a system, I like to see the personnel and what works best,” said Hallac, who will also be teaching upper school history at Hun as she returns to education after a three-year hiatus that saw her earn a masters degrees in legislative affairs from George Washington.

“I am flexible in my approach. I thing we are going to start with 3-5-2 but we could change.”

Hallac’s approach also includes a heavy emphasis on character. “I am really big on sportsmanship,” said Hallac, who played college soccer at Lafayette.

“I also see this as a chance for the players to learn life lessons as well as soccer lessons. They learn the benefits of working hard and working together and that can help them through their life.”

The Hun players have been working hard for Hallac in preseason training. “I think they have been great; I am teaching them new things and challenging them in soccer and conditioning,” said Hallac, crediting team captains Olivia Breander-Carr, Jess Sacco, and Ashley Maziarz with easing her transition.

“They have really been positive: I couldn’t be happier. The commitment is there. They have all bought in; they have put the work in. We have a good core of talent.”

Hallac believes she has some fine talent she can deploy on the offensive end of the field.

“I have Abby Gray at forward; she has shown promise,” said Hallac.

“She scored the winning goal in our scrimmage with WW/P-S. Palomo Rodney is a sophomore. She has improved by all accounts. She is a defender by trade. She worked hard this summer and I have been trying to get her to play up front. I would also like to play Olivia up front at times. I have a lot of players who can be options.”

The Raiders also boast some good options in the midfield as they look to improve on the 4-5-4 record posted in 2012. “Jess Johnson is unbelievable on defense but has skills and I would like to get her into the midfield. Ashley Maziarz is good on the corner kicks; she is great in the air. Jess Sacco is a threat in the midfield; I have a lot of players who can be options.”

As for the defense, Hallac is going with a mix of experience and youth.

“I have Olivia, Ashley and a freshman, Julia Salerno, on defense,” said Hallac. “Jess Johnson is alternating between defense and midfield.”

Sophomore Courtney Arch will be taking over at goalie. “Courtney is working hard and has been playing well,” said Hallac.

“She has the ability to make big saves. We are working on communication and concentration. We need her to stay focused for the full 80 minutes. We want to get her to be confident so she is 100 percent there. She has been really good and the girls are comfortable with her back there.”

With Hun opening the 2013 season by hosting East Brunswick High on September 12, Hallac is looking for her players to show an intense focus.

“I am making sure that everybody is working together for the full 80 minutes, offensively and defensively,” said Hallac.

“If someone takes a minute off, offensively or defensively, that is when the other team could score. We need to take advantage of the mistakes made by the other teams. We need to capitalize on opportunities. We don’t have a natural goal scorer so we are going to have to work hard to score goals.”

SUPER SAVER: Hun School boys’ soccer goalie Chris Meinert makes a save in action last fall. Senior star Meinert will be a key performer for Hun as it looks to improve on the 5-13 record it posted last season. The Raiders play at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 13 in their 2013 season opener. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SUPER SAVER: Hun School boys’ soccer goalie Chris Meinert makes a save in action last fall. Senior star Meinert will be a key performer for Hun as it looks to improve on the 5-13 record it posted last season. The Raiders play at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 13 in their 2013 season opener.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Hun School boys’ soccer team coming off a disappointing 5-13 season last fall, the squad’s veterans are determined to lead a reversal of fortune.

“I think the seniors are extremely ready to go at it,” said Hun head coach Pat Quirk. “They have been working extremely hard.”

Hun is looking for some good work from junior Tucker Stevenson up front.

“Tucker is probably one of our strongest players,” said Quirk of Stevenson, who is back on the pitch after studying abroad last fall. “He can hold defenders off and he is good at shooting on the run.”

In the midfield, the Raiders will be depending on three of its senior stalwarts, Bailey Hammer, Felix Dalstein, and Andres Gonzalez, to lead the way.

“Bailey Hammer has been with us for four years; he has always been a hard worker,” asserted Quirk, whose team plays at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 13 in its season opener.

“He has played on defense in the past and is playing in the middle now. I am expecting Felix and Andres to be extremely dangerous. Patrick Nally is a freshman; he has been looking pretty good.”

The Hun defense will feature a trio of sophomores along with some veteran assistance.

“We are going with M.J. Cobb, Alex Semler, and David Ducharme in the back; they played last year as freshmen,” said Quirk. “We will put Andres back there at times.”

Senior star goalie Chris Meinert figures to pull a lot of weight for the Raiders.

“Chris has been phenomenal; I can’t believe some of the saves that he makes,” said Quirk. “He has been starting since he has been a sophomore. He has gotten better at directing the defense.”

In order for Hun to play better this fall, it will come down to the seniors going out with a bang.

“I am expecting the three guys in the middle to lead by example,” said Quirk. “They are working hard and I know what they are capable of doing. We need to play more together as a team.”

DEFENSIVE ACTION: Hun School field hockey star Alex Kane leads the defense in a game last season. Senior back Kane will be a key player for Hun as it looks to improve on the 6-8 record it posted in 2012. The Raiders open their 2013 campaign by playing at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on September 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DEFENSIVE ACTION: Hun School field hockey star Alex Kane leads the defense in a game last season. Senior back Kane will be a key player for Hun as it looks to improve on the 6-8 record it posted in 2012. The Raiders open their 2013 campaign by playing at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on September 12.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kathy Quirk acknowledges that her Hun School field hockey team hasn’t been looking like a powerhouse in preseason play.

But with the program having established a penchant for strong finishes over the years, longtime Hun head coach Quirk isn’t overly concerned.

“We typically start out slow,” said Quirk. “We have to play as a team and build on each other.”

In Quirk’s view, her squad has a good foundation to build at forward with the trio of senior Francesca Bello, junior Vicki Leach, and senior Courtney Faulkner.

“I think Francesca should be moving up and down the field; she should be our go-to scorer,” said Quirk, who guided the Raiders to a 6-8 record last fall. “Vicki plays on the line; she is scrappy in front of the cage. Courtney Faulkner is also up there.”

The pair of senior Bri Barrett and junior Julia Blake will be heading up the Raider midfield.

“Bri Barrett and Julia Blake are our two leaders there,” said Quirk, whose team opens the 2013 campaign by playing at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on September 12.

“They both have good speed and hunger to score goals; they play a lot at the top of the circle.

On defense, Davidson-bound senior star Alex Kane is one of Hun’s top performers.

“Kane brings a lot, she has a great knowledge of the game,” said Quirk, whose defense will also include senior Hanna Bettner, senior Liz Mydlowski, junior Taylor Nehlig, sophomore Alexis Goeke, and sophomore Charlotte Stout, with freshman Sophis Albanese seeing time either as a middie or a backfielder.

“She runs the show back there. We have changed up our defense. We are trying to pick the defense up the field and she helps the continuity between defense and offense.”

Junior standout goalie Reina Kern figures to be the backbone of the Hun defense.

“Reina plays all summer and comes back in good shape,” said Quirk. “We are looking for big things from her this season. She can control things in the back; she does a great job of directing the defense.”

Quirk believes the Raiders can do some big things this fall collectively if they give extra effort all over the field.

“We have good players in each unit but we need everyone to step up,” said Quirk.

September 4, 2013
EYEING A REPEAT: Michelle Cesan focuses on the ball in action for the Princeton University field hockey team last fall as she helped the program to its first-ever NCAA title. The Tigers are looking for a big year from senior star and second-team All-American Cesan as they defend their crown. Third-ranked Princeton begins regular season play this weekend by hosting No. 10 Duke on September 6 and Fairfield on September 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

EYEING A REPEAT: Michelle Cesan focuses on the ball in action for the Princeton University field hockey team last fall as she helped the program to its first-ever NCAA title. The Tigers are looking for a big year from senior star and second-team All-American Cesan as they defend their crown. Third-ranked Princeton begins regular season play this weekend by hosting No. 10 Duke on September 6 and Fairfield on September 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 2011, the Princeton University field hockey team dealt with the absence of four key players who spent the year away from school training with the U.S. national program.

Despite not having the services of Kat Sharkey, Michelle Cesan, Katie Reinprecht, and Julia Reinprecht, a gritty Princeton team got the most out of what it had and won the Ivy League title that season.

Last fall, the program won its first-ever national championship and as the 2013 season approaches, the Tigers need to fill in some big holes left by graduation.

In assessing this year’s squad, Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn sees a parallel to the situation two falls ago.

“The 2011 season was really an interesting thing to go through, the girls had to dig deep within themselves to find their roles and provide leadership,” said Holmes-Winn, who guided the Tigers to a 21-1 record last fall in its run to the NCAA crown. “We definitely are likening that experience to this year.”

The squad’s experienced players have shown Holmes-Winn that they are not about to rest on their laurels.

“I have been very pleased with the team’s temperament,” asserted Holmes-Winn, whose squad is ranked No. 3 in the Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I Preseason Poll and opens its title defense by hosting No. 10 Duke on September 6.

“What we saw in the spring is that the players worked very hard and that carried over into the summer. Complacency is not part of our culture. These girls go to Princeton; they are overachievers in every way.”

The squad’s corps of seniors, Julia Reinprecht, Amanda Bird, Kelsey Byrnes, Christina Maida, and Allegra Mango, are setting the tone in terms of work ethic.

“The juniors from last year are stepping into the shoes of last year’s seniors,” said Holmes-Winn.

“They are leading by example and making sure that the players keep up to the standards that have been set in the program.”

It is going to be tough for the Tigers to match the standard set by the one-two punch of the graduated Katie Reinprecht and Kat Sharkey. Reinpreccht, the 2012 Longstreth/NFHCA Player of the Year, had 19 assists last season while Sharkey ended her career as the most prolific scorer in Princeton history as she totaled 107 goals in her career.

“We are going to miss what Katie was able to do in the midfield,” said Holmes-Winn. “She could draw defenders, escape defenders and put attackers in position to score easy goals. Kat Sharkey could create offense by herself.”

Senior standout Julia Reinprecht, an All-American and a member of the U.S. national team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, should create opportunities for the Tigers this fall.

“Julia can go forward and split the defense,” said Holmes-Winn of the younger Reinprecht, who had 10 goals and six assists last fall.

“She has a high hockey IQ. She is a critical piece to both sides of the field. She played deep defense for us and we will move her higher up to midfield.”

The Tigers boast plenty of interchangeable pieces on the offensive end of the field.

“We are looking at Allison Evans (12 goals and five assists in 2012), Allegra Mango (1 assist) and Sydney Kirby (9 goals, 3 assists) to create chances on their own,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We have a system where the midfielders are expected to overlap. I am not sure where we are going to play Michelle Cesan (8 goals, 8 assists), probably at center mid or reset striker spot. We will have Kate Ferrara (1 assist) and Kelsey Byrne (3 assists) on wing. Julia Reinprecht along with freshmen Cat Caro and Annabeth Donovan will be in a holding role.

On the backline, the Tigers feature a trio of battle-tested performers. “The defense will be Cassidy Arner, Amanda Bird, and Teresa Benvenuti,” said Holmes-Winn.

“Teresa played center half for the U.S. this summer in the Junior World Cup and we will have her in the same place for us.”

While Princeton has a senior All-American goalie in place with senior Christina Maida, Holmes-Winn indicated that junior Julia Boyle and sophomore Anya Gersoff are in the mix to see action.

“We are really fortunate that we have three really good goalies; they push each other,” said Holmes-Winn.

“I don’t know who is going to start; it could depend on our opponent. Julia was right there last year and Anya competed to start some weeks. What separates them is not much, both Julia and Anya have a lot to offer. There will be a battle but the good thing is that I know they will support each other.”

The Tigers will be in for a battle when they face Duke (2-0) this Friday in the opener.

“Duke has a very talented collection of players,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team will also play Fairfield on September 7 in the opening weekend of the season.

“When they put it together, they can be dangerous. They will be a top team by the end of the season. I am looking forward to see how we do against them.”

Holmes-Winn, for her part, believes that Princeton can again emerge as one of the top teams by tournament time.

“It is always hard to say; we are going to work really hard,” said Holmes-Winn.

“I think we will be a really dynamic team on offense once everyone understands their role. That is going to take some time. I think we will be a good defensive team. A cornerstone of last year’s team was ability to stay in play and squeeze space. I think we can use numbers to our advantage.”

 

MYLES TO GO: Princeton University men’s soccer star Myles McGinley dribbles the ball in a game last season. Junior midfielder McGinley figures to be a key performer for the Tigers this fall. Princeton kicks off its 2013 campaign with a game at Fairleigh Dickinson on September 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MYLES TO GO: Princeton University men’s soccer star Myles McGinley dribbles the ball in a game last season. Junior midfielder McGinley figures to be a key performer for the Tigers this fall. Princeton kicks off its 2013 campaign with a game at Fairleigh Dickinson on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The Catalonia region of northeastern Spain is a soccer hotbed, boasting FC Barcelona, one of the top pro clubs in the world, and its legendary superstar Lionel Messi.

This past March, the Princeton University men’s soccer team spent nine days in the area and was fired up to go 3-1 in four friendly matches against Barcelona-area teams.

In the view of longtime Princeton head coach Jim Barlow, the journey should help the Tigers in several respects.

“It has been a long time since we went abroad, our last trip was 2003,” said Barlow.

“We decided to stay in the Barcelona area and that worked out well. We got settled and we got to see the sights. We toured during the day and had games at night. We got to see FC Barcelona play and Espanyol train. It was a great week of culture and sightseeing. It brought the team together. We were able to do more on the field. I think we are further along in the spring than usual.”

Barlow is hoping his team can go further this year than it did last fall when it went 8-6-2 overall and 4-1-2 in Ivy League action, taking third in the league and not getting invited to the NCAA tournament.

“Any time you go through the Ivy League with one loss, you expect to either win the league or be in the tournament,” said Barlow, a 1991 Princeton alum who is in his 18th season guiding the Tigers and has produced a 127-121-44 record with three Ivy crowns.

“We had an opportunity to do a little better in non-league games. In the league, we had nice wins over Dartmouth and Harvard but we let the Cornell game get away from us. The guys are hungry; the league is wide open.”

The Tigers feature a nice one-two punch at forward in junior Cameron Porter (2 goals and 4 assists in 2012) and sophomore Thomas Sanner (4 goals, 6 assists).

“Porter has so many athletic gifts that sometimes he tries to do too much,” said Barlow, noting that sophomore Nico Hurtado, senior Dylan Bowman and junior Julian Griggs should see time at forward.

“He goes fast and gets out of control. He needs to be on the same page with the midfield. He has had two good seasons and is a real scoring threat. Sanner has matured. He makes good runs and he is a good finisher. He is strong and physical.”

Barlow believes the midfield will be a strong unit for the Tigers. “We have a bunch of guys in the mix,” said Barlow, noting that junior Joe Saitta, freshman Brian Costa, freshman Bryan Windsor, freshman Vikram Pothuri,  sophomore Jack Hilger, sophomore Andrew Doar, junior Alex Wetterman, and junior Myles McGinley have been playing in middle of the field. “We have a lot of depth; separating the eight midfielders is going to be hard.”

McGinley has emerged as first among equals, according to Barlow. “Myles has established himself as the guy who we can depend on day in, day out in the central midfield,” asserted Barlow.

Princeton boasts a trio of three dependable seniors on defense in Chris Benedict, Patrick O’Neil, and Billy McGuinness.

“It will be O’Neil and Benedict out wide with McGuinness providing a good presence centrally,” added Barlow.

“I am not sure who is going to be playing with McGuinness in the center. Andrew Mills and Josh Miller are vying for that spot. Losing Mark Linnville [a 4-time first-team All-Ivy performer] is tough; he did so much organizing and communicating. We need the guys to step up leadership-wise with their communication.”

Senior goalie Seth MacMillan has been stepping up for the Tigers during the preseason.

“Seth has been great so far, he has been our most consistent and reliable player,” said Barlow,

“Ben Hummel has pushed himself athletically and he is getting to balls he didn’t get to in the past. Freshman Josh Haberman has looked good. I am happy with our depth there. Seth is No. 1 right now.”

The Tigers will get pushed hard in their season opener as they play at Fairleigh Dickinson on September 6.

“They went deep into the NCAAs last year, I think they lost to North Carolina in overtime in the Sweet 16,” said Barlow, reflecting on the 2-0 Knights.

“It is always an even, hard game when we play them. We beat them 1-0 in the second game of the Princeton Invitational last year. This is going to be a different atmosphere at their place on a Friday night. We are excited. They beat Drexel in their opener so they are off to a good start.

Barlow believes that his team can produce another exciting season. “I would like to think that we can do really well in the league,” said Barlow.

“We always go into the season feeling that way. We have to continue to improve everyday in training. We need to develop good chemistry and play well together.  How we handle plays in front of both goals will be critical. Last year, we had trouble scoring and the year before we had trouble stopping people. We are concerned right now about where the goals are going to come from for us. We are cautiously optimistic.”

 

GIFT OF GAB: Princeton University women’s soccer star ­Gabriella Guzman controls the ball in action last season. Princeton is depending on senior co-captain Guzman to be a force in the midfield as it looks to defend its Ivy League title. The Tigers open the season this weekend by hosting Richmond on September 6 and Army on September 8.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GIFT OF GAB: Princeton University women’s soccer star ­Gabriella Guzman controls the ball in action last season. Princeton is depending on senior co-captain Guzman to be a force in the midfield as it looks to defend its Ivy League title. The Tigers open the season this weekend by hosting Richmond on September 6 and Army on September 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into the 2012 season, Julie Shackford was comforted by the fact that her Princeton University women’s soccer team included eight seniors.

Asserting that teams who excel typically have a strong core of seniors, the Tigers added credence to Shackford’s notion, going 14-4-1 overall, 7-0 in Ivy League play, and advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

In assessing the upcoming campaign, Shackford acknowledges that the departure of last year’s seniors has left a huge void.

“It is a hard class to replace on so many levels,” said Shackford of the group which had five players earn All-Ivy recognition last fall, led by Jen Hoy, the league’s Player of the Year.

The Tigers do possess some high-level skills at the forward position, starting with junior Lauren Lazo, a first-team All-Ivy pick last fall after tallying 11 goals and five assists.

“We need Lazo to pick up Jen’s slack; we are looking for a breakout season from her,” said Shackford, who is entering her 19th season guiding the program and  has a record of 189-103-22 with six Ivy titles and 8 NCAA appearances.

“She was a legitimate threat in the latter half of last season; she scored a lot of goals. We have two other players who are coming back from ACL injuries and are playing phenomenally. Melissa Downey is a junior who is looking really good. Erika Hoglund was just starting to come around last year as a junior and got injured in the Yale game. She has been a leader in preseason. The three of them are a nice combination. Liana Cornaccio is back; she is good on throw-ins and is a presence. We have a freshman, Tyler Lussi, who is slight but strong and fast. We have some good options up top.”

Princeton has some nice options in the midfield, featuring senior co-captain Gabriella Guzman, together with sophomore Jessica Lee, junior Jessica Haley and a pair of promising freshmen, Nicole Loncar and Jess McDonough.

“Gabby Guzman holds the ball really well and wins every 50/50 ball,” said Shackford.

“She is so strong and is a good leader. She is really hard-nosed in those tough Ivy League games. Jess Lee played well last year, she sprained her ankle so she isn’t training right now. We have a player who has been on the U-17 and U-20 teams for Canada, Nicole Loncar, and she will play in the center. Jess McDonough is a shore kid who played for the Wildcats and she will be in the mix. We have Jess Haley back, the Ivy League assist leader last year and she can play in the midfield or up top.”

On defense, the Tigers welcome back a trio of battle-tested veterans. “We have Diane Metcalf-Leggette, Kacie Kergides, and Gabby Ragazzo back,” said Shackford, noting that senior co-captain Metcalf-Leggette, an honorable mention All-Ivy choice in 2012, is a vocal leader along the backline.

“The frontrunner to play in the other spot is Fiona McKenna, who also plays hockey. She is a phenomenal athlete and is tough as nails.”

Shackford acknowledges that the graduation of second-team All-Ivy goalie Claire Pinciaro has left a big hole.

“The big question mark is in goal, we have four players and there is no clear-cut starter yet,” said Shackford, who is looking at senior Cecilia DiCaprio, junior Darcy Hargadon, junior MicKenzie Roberts-Lahti, and freshman Hannah Winner. “We may have to do a rotation with two of them.”

In Shackford’s view, the Tigers can work around the uncertainty at goalie. “If we can defend really well as a team, I think we have enough firepower to outscore teams,” said Shackford.

“This group has potential; I expect us to contend for a title. We have seen some good things in the scrimmages so far but we are not as well oiled as last year when he had all those veterans and everyone knew their spot.”

As the Tigers open the season this weekend by hosting Richmond on September 6 and Army on September 8, the team will be in a tough spot.

“Army has been training since July 1; Richmond has had some mixed results so far but historically they always have some good forwards,” said Shackford.

“Every first game is going to be a challenge for us. I am happy to be at home; it is easier to work out the kinks when you are not worrying about traveling.”

 

TRAINING EXERCISE: Members of the Princeton High boys’ soccer team go through a drill in a recent training session. PHS produced a season to remember in 2012 as the Little Tigers went 18-3-1 on the way to tying Ramapo 1-1 in the NJSIAA Group III state title game. Despite some heavy graduation losses, PHS is confident it can again be a championship contender. The Little Tigers open the  2013 season at Allentown on September 6 in a rematch of last year’s Group III Central Jersey sectional final won 4-3 by PHS.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TRAINING EXERCISE: Members of the Princeton High boys’ soccer team go through a drill in a recent training session. PHS produced a season to remember in 2012 as the Little Tigers went 18-3-1 on the way to tying Ramapo 1-1 in the NJSIAA Group III state title game. Despite some heavy graduation losses, PHS is confident it can again be a championship contender. The Little Tigers open the 2013 season at Allentown on September 6 in a rematch of last year’s Group III Central Jersey sectional final won 4-3 by PHS. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last fall, a group of 12 seniors helped the Princeton High boys’ soccer team enjoy a season to remember as the Little Tigers went 18-3-1 on the way to tying Ramapo 1-1 in the NJSIAA Group III state title game.

With all of that firepower having departed, it would appear that PHS is facing a rebuilding job this fall.

But longtime head coach Wayne Sutcliffe is confident that Little Tigers have the talent on hand to maintain the program’s winning tradition.

“Pretty much every guy on the team is a full time soccer player,” said Sutcliffe.

“We have seven sophomores coming off an undefeated freshmen season; they are working hard and improving. You never know until you are in the thick of it but based on our scrimmages so far, we are really encouraged.”

It is encouraging for PHS to have senior star Kevin Halliday back at striker.

“Kevin scored two goals against North Brunswick in a scrimmage the other day and they were both beautiful goals,” asserted Sutcliffe.

“We are a different team when he is on the field. He had 23 goals last year and 10 of them were game winners. He is a very savvy player. He is playing attacking center midfield.”

The Little Tigers feature two other attacking threats in junior Chase Ealy and senior Mike Papakonstantinos.

“Chase and Mike will also be up front,” added Sutcliffe, whose team opens the season at Allentown on September 6 in a rematch of last year’s Group III Central Jersey sectional final won 4-3 by the Little Tigers.

“Chase is looking fantastic, he is continuing to refine his game. Getting all of the experience last year in the sectional and state final as a sophomore was great for him. He is a junior but experience-wise he is like a senior. Mike has given us a nice spark, he can be an attacking player in the box.”

Senior John Blair should give PHS a spark in the midfield. “John has had a good preseason camp,” said Sutcliffe.

“With all of his experience on our run last year, he is ahead of the curve. He needs to keep working hard and he can do some big things. Zeno Mazzaocato, Cole Snyder, Nick Halliday, and Renaud Miahle will also be in the midfield. They are all talented.”

The defense will be a work in progress, as the Little Tigers is replacing four key seniors from last year in Pablo Arroyo, Scott Bechler, Juan Polanco, and Adam Klein. Sutcliffe has three seniors, Andrew Braverman, Dalton Sekelsky, and Alex Torske working on the backline along with three sophomores, Chris Harla, Dwight Donis, and Edgar Morales.

“We have a lot of size there; they are finding their way to the same page,” said Sutcliffe.

“They need to get their communication going and work well with Laurenz. [goalie Laurenz Reimitz]”

PHS needs junior Reimitz to provide some good work at keeper. “Laurenz is having a good preseason,” said Sutcliffe.

“He had a shutout in our scrimmage with North Brunswick; that was his first clean sheet of the preseason so that was encouraging. Having all that experience last year really helped him as well. We are hoping that by midseason, he will be in great form.”

Sutcliffe believes that his team can find winning form collectively as the fall unfolds.

“The season goes in phases; we are confident going in,” said Sutcliffe. “We have a lot of work to do. The team has the potential to achieve whatever it wants to achieve in the CVC and beyond. We have to make small strides in training everyday and work on the little things.”

 

STRONG ALLY: Princeton High girls’ soccer standout Ally ­Rogers controls the ball in a recent practice. PHS will be relying on senior forward Rogers to provide a finishing touch this fall as the squad looks to build on a historic 2012 season that saw the Little Tigers go 16-3-1 on the way to winning the program’s first-ever Central Jersey Group III sectional crown. PHS opens the 2013 season by hosting Hamilton on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STRONG ALLY: Princeton High girls’ soccer standout Ally ­Rogers controls the ball in a recent practice. PHS will be relying on senior forward Rogers to provide a finishing touch this fall as the squad looks to build on a historic 2012 season that saw the Little Tigers go 16-3-1 on the way to winning the program’s first-ever Central Jersey Group III sectional crown. PHS opens the 2013 season by hosting Hamilton on September 6.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Making history in 2012, the Princeton High School girls’ soccer team went 14-1-1 over its last 16 games on the way to winning the program’s first-ever Central Jersey Group III sectional crown.

As the squad started its preseason training in mid-August, longtime PHS head coach Greg Hand believes his returning players have picked up where they left off.

“They are bringing back a lot of confidence,” said Hand, who guided the Little Tigers to 16-3-1 record last fall and is in his 23rd season guiding the program.

“We have a large number of returners who have been playing a lot since the end of the last high school season. I am seeing a lot of fitness across the board along with both tactical and technical improvement. We have had a productive start. We are healthy and having good hard training.”

Hand is expecting a productive fall from his pair of star forwards, senior Ally Rogers and junior Shannon Pawlak.

“Ally is a good athlete,” said Hand, who will also use senior Jordan Provorny at forward. “

“She doesn’t play soccer after the end of the high school season but she always gives us 100 percent. Shannon Pawlak is a very committed, year-round soccer player and has her heart set on playing at the next level. She had some very good coaching on the outside. She is sharper than she has ever been and is technically very sound.”

Despite losing stars Kate Kerr and Meghan Brennan to graduation, the PHS midfield should be sound this fall, spearheaded by the pair of senior co-captains Dana Smith and Eva Reyes together with sophomore Haley Bodden.

“In the central part of the midfield will be Dana Smith who has done so much for us at different spots on the field,” said Hand, whose team kicks off the season by hosting Hamilton on September 6.

“She may be a recruited lacrosse player [Lafayette] but it never feels like soccer is her second sport. She has great leadership abilities. She can be an attacking midfielder or play in a holding role. Reyes played on the outside last year; she will now be playing in a central role. Haley Bodden played on defense last year and we are moving her into midfield. She has played a lot of soccer in addition to being a very tough player. She has improved her soccer skills.”

A trio of promising sophomores, Gabby Deitch, Sasha Ryder, and Taylor Lis, gives the Little Tigers some firepower on the wing.

“Gabby Deitch, Sasha Ryder, and Taylor Lis will be on the outside,” added Hand. “Between the end of high school season and now, they have been building their game.”

Due to the abundance of talent in the middle of the field, PHS will be changing its look tactically.

“We will be playing a 3-5-2 formation at times; we feel we can have an attacking midfield,” said Hand.

“They should give us loads of service and they have better mastery of the ball.”

With junior Emily Pawlak and senior Kaitlyn Carduner patrolling the backline, Hand feels good about his defense.

“Emily Pawlak will be in the central defender role,” said Hand. “She is a natural and strong defender. Kaitlyn is one of our most tenacious and responsible defenders. She is aggressive and so fast. She is hard to get around.”

The Little Tigers boast some depth among their corps of defenders with freshman Zoe Tesone, sophomore Maya Sarafin, senior Krysta Holman, and senior Emily Costa.

“Zoe Tesone is a strong defender, she is a great addition,” said Hand. “Maya Sarafin will be getting more time than before. Krysta Holman is looking very good. Emily Costa is a player in the back who is going to get important minutes.”

PHS will need sophomore goalie Rachel Eberhart to look good as she follows graduated star goalie Lauren Ullmann, who is now playing at MIT.

“Rachel is definitely a better keeper through her training year round,” said Hand.

“She is very quick. As a younger player, she needs to communicate better and direct the other players.”

In assessing his team’s potential this fall, Hand is more concerned with daily progress than wins and losses.

“I have no specific goals; we just need to keep improving on the most basic elements of soccer,” said Hand. “We understand the concepts of support but we need to support all of our possessions, not 80 percent but 100 percent. The second thing we need to work on, especially when we play harder teams, is the most simple things, like first touches because the quality of first touches can always get better.”

While it will be tough to PHS to match last year’s finish, Hand is confident that he will get a quality effort from his players this fall.

“I like the attitude of this team as much as any girls’ soccer team I have coached,” said Hand.

“They are so dedicated and there is a sense of working together. They are serious about what they are trying to do but they are having a blast doing it.”

 

MOVING UP: Princeton High field hockey star Julia DiTosto sends the ball upfield in action last fall. Junior DiTosto has moved to midfield from defense for the Little Tigers and figures to be a key catalyst for PHS this fall. The Little Tigers start their 2013 season by playing at Hamilton on September 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MOVING UP: Princeton High field hockey star Julia DiTosto sends the ball upfield in action last fall. Junior DiTosto has moved to midfield from defense for the Little Tigers and figures to be a key catalyst for PHS this fall. The Little Tigers start their 2013 season by playing at Hamilton on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

On one hand, the graduation of Sydney Watts has left a gaping void for the Princeton High field hockey team.

The skilled Watts, who is now playing at Amherst College, triggered the Little Tigers from the midfield last fall and provided superb leadership.

“At first, we were missing Sydney, we relied on her a lot last year,” said PHS head coach Heather Serverson.

But Serverson believes that Watts’ departure will ultimately help PHS be a better-rounded squad in the long run.

“I think that will be an advantage because we have strong players all over the field,” said Serverson, who guided PHS to a 14-5-1 record last year as the team advanced to the quarterfinals of both the Mercer County Tournament and the NJSIAA Group III North 2 sectional. “We won’t have to rely on one go-to player.”

PHS does boast a very strong player in senior star Emilia Lopez-Ona. “I have Emilia at sweeper,” said Serverson of Lopez-Ona, who also stars in lacrosse and has committed to join the Penn women’s lax program.

“She is the energy of the team. When she is up, the team is up. She communicates well. She is an all-around player.”

Another all-around talent for the Little Tigers is junior standout Julia DiTosto.

“We were able to move Julia up to center mid from defense,” said Serverson. “She is very good at getting the ball on defense and then transitioning quickly to offense.”

The PHS defensive set up will also include sophomore Julia Snyder, senior Merritt Peck, junior Emily Kinney, sophomore Allison Spann, and freshman Kennedy Corrado along with returning senior goalie Breanna Hegerty-Thorne.

On offense, Serverson believes she has several scoring options. “Two of our forwards, Lucy Herring and Elisa Kostenbader have really stepped up,” said Serverson, who will also be using junior Campbell McDonald at forward.

“Kostenbader has about half of our goals in our scrimmages so far. Avery Peterson is new to forward. She has played a lot of midfield and is adjusting to the position.”

The PHS midfield features a mix of youth and experience, led by sophomore Trish Reilly.

“Trish was solid for us last year and we are looking for more of the same this year,” said Serverson.

“Two freshmen, Jordyn Cane and Georgia McLean, will be in the midfield. Bea Greenberg is also in the mix.”

Based on its play in preseason scrimmages so far, PHS has reason for confidence. “I think we are passing very well,” asserted Serverson. “We are composed. We know what we want to do with the ball before it leaves our sticks.”

In Serverson’s view, the players will need to stick together to produce another big season.

“I think we can do as well as we did last year; we need to come together and operate as a group,” said Serverson.

“I think one of the things that works well for us is being a unit on and off the field. They need to come together in everything they do as a group. We need to stay healthy and push ourselves in practice.”

 

GOLD RUSH: Princeton Day School field hockey star Emily ­Goldman heads upfield in a preseason practice. Senior Goldman figures to be a key offensive threat for the Panthers this fall. PDS was slated to host Penn Charter (Pa.) on September 3 in its opener and then host Germantown Academy on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOLD RUSH: Princeton Day School field hockey star Emily ­Goldman heads upfield in a preseason practice. Senior Goldman figures to be a key offensive threat for the Panthers this fall. PDS was slated to host Penn Charter (Pa.) on September 3 in its opener and then host Germantown Academy on September 6.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As Tracey Arndt heads into her second year at the helm of the Princeton Day School field hockey program, she believes the team is ahead of where it was at this point last year technically.

“Our core base of skills is better this year,” said Arndt, who guided the Panthers to an 11-4-3 mark and a spot in the state Prep B finals last fall in her debut season.

“I am able to work on second level skills and ideas that I didn’t think about last year. The girls know what I stand for and what I expect.”

Arndt expects her four seniors, Emma Quigley, Emily Goldman, Mary Travers, and Sarah Brennan, to provide a high level of leadership this fall.

“I talked to them last year and said this is going to be you guys next year,” said Arndt, noting that her 2012 seniors set a positive tone. “They have taken that to heart. They have worked hard on and off the field.”

PDS is expecting some good work from Quigley and Goldman at the offensive end of the field.

“Emma was one of our leading scorers last year,” said Arndt, who will also be using junior Bian Maloney and sophomore Rowan Schaumburg at forward.

“I am looking for her to use her attacking skills. She is a great finisher and a fierce competitor. She is just as fast with the ball on her stick as a lot of players are without the ball. Emily has really improved. We are looking for her leadership up front, especially since we may put Emma in the midfield depending on the situation.”

The Panther midfield will be driven by the combination of Travers and Brennan.

“I talk about Mary and Sarah as pistons working together; their roles as individuals are important but how they work together is even more important,” said Arndt, whose midfield unit will also include juniors Nikki van Manen and Dana Poltorak.

“We are looking for them to lead the younger girls in the midfield. They have abilities and skills but we also need them to communicate and show poise.”

Poise will be a key goal for the Panther backline, which lost three seniors to graduation (Cami McNeely, Zeeza Cole, and Corinne Urisko), and will be featuring junior Morgan Foster, sophomore Tess Gecha, and junior Sophie Jensen.

“Morgan is a terrific athlete; I think you could give her any piece of athletic equipment and with a little guidance she could be good,” said Arndt.

“I told her she might have to take on a new role and she accepted it. She said whatever you need coach, as I knew she would. She has great vision and sees the field well. Tess is playing the right back position. When you are playing forwards who are fast, you need to be just as fast. She has the speed and she has stepped up. Sophie is at left back; we are talking to her about supporting and positioning.”

At goalie, junior Katie Alden (this reporter’s daughter) is stepping into some big shoes as she takes over for graduated three-year starter Sarah Trigg.

“Katie had a good example to look up to last year in Sarah,” said Arndt. “She was put into a lot of situations in our first scrimmage. We needed her to communicate to the other players and she did that. She has been making some nice saves.”

Noting that her squad is facing a tough situation as it lacks depth with hardly any reserves, Arndt believes her players will come together in response to adversity.

“We can’t rely on a few players; we have to work as a team all over the field,” said Arndt, whose team was slated to host Penn Charter (Pa.) on September 3 in its opener and then host Germantown Academy on September 6.

“The wins are important but the growth is more important. Staying healthy is the first thing. We also need to be efficient in how we move the ball and play on attack. We have to be fighters. We need to fight together, whether we are winning by five goals or losing by five goals.”

 

MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer head coach Malcolm Murphy makes a point in a preseason practice. PDS opens regular season play when it hosts New Hope Solebury High (Pa.) on September 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer head coach Malcolm Murphy makes a point in a preseason practice. PDS opens regular season play when it hosts New Hope Solebury High (Pa.) on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Malcolm Murphy has a sense of deja vu as he assesses the state of his Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team.

“It is the same as last year,” said longtime PDS head coach Murphy, whose squad posted a 3-11-2 record in 2012.

“In a week of preseason it was already out there that we were going to be a team that was going to try to play attractive soccer and play from the back and everybody came to pressure us. We just weren’t established enough as an older group to have that experience under our belt.”

Murphy is looking for junior Marco Pinheiro and sophomore Chris Chai to provide an attractive brand of soccer.

“Marco and Chris are in the midfield,” said Murphy. “We have played the one scrimmage and a number of sessions here. Marco and Chris play excellently together. They play off of each other. We build out of the back through them. Both are midfield and defensive and can translate into going to the offensive.”

The Panthers are searching for answers on offense. “We do not have an out-and-out forward,” said Murphy, whose team opens regular season action by hosting New Hope Solebury High (Pa.) on September 6.

“We have tried David Cedeno up top; he is more of a playmaker than a finisher. He is a player that can play in so he will play a #10, a player who can play behind them. We have played Gabe Vasquez there as well.”

PDS is hoping that junior Oscar Vik and sophomore Amir Melvin can provide some punch from the midfield.

“Oscar Vik is an offensive middie,” said Murphy. “I would have preferred to play him higher but he is more of a link-up, combination player. Amir Melvin is also seeing time there.”

The defense will be led by senior Culver Duquette, who has moved from forward to bring his skills to the backline.

“Culver Duquette was going to be one of the guys up front but he is going to be in the back because we are looking to complement that spot and see if we can move him back up,” said Murphy.

“Dominic Gasparro is more of a defensive defender. Kevin Hagan is in there because he is good technically with the ball. He gives us the ability to play out of the back. He is a good technical player. A guy who came back to soccer is Jacob Shavel; he is playing on the right flank.”

At goalie, the Panthers will be going with a rotation. “Tom Hagan and Christian Vik will be at goalie,” said Murphy. “When Christian is going half a game at goalie, we will certainly use him to play the field.”

The Panthers are trying to make the best use of their training time as they get ready for the season.

“We have only been back for a week,” said Murphy. “We are trying to establish that fitness level in the game. It is going to be that quick progression between the tactics, technique, and the fitness level.”

The freshmen in the program have been making a quick transition. “I have actually been very impressed with the group of freshman we have brought in,” said Murphy.

“We have played four or five scrimmage games between all of the players and we have had a very good standard of games. Everybody is looking to play the same style of play and it’s across the board. In the past, the freshmen had their idea of playing and it has been harder for them to come into our philosophy and concept. We have not had a problem with these guys.”

While Murphy is happy with his team’s style of play, he acknowledges that it runs into problems when it is hit with rough stuff by its foes.

“People know us, they know how we are going to play,” said Murphy. “We want to play an attractive style of soccer but you have to bring a bit of physicality with it as well.”

 

CENTER STAGE: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer star Kirsten Kuzmicz patrols the field in action last fall. The Panthers are depending on junior center midfielder Kuzmicz to have a big season as they look to rebound from a 4-9-4 campaign in 2012. PDS opens its 2013 campaign by playing at Wardlaw Hartridge on September 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CENTER STAGE: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer star Kirsten Kuzmicz patrols the field in action last fall. The Panthers are depending on junior center midfielder Kuzmicz to have a big season as they look to rebound from a 4-9-4 campaign in 2012. PDS opens its 2013 campaign by playing at Wardlaw Hartridge on September 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After a superb four-year stretch that saw the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team go 49-23-3 with two state Prep B titles, the program hit some hard times last fall.

Dealing with key injuries and struggling to find a rhythm, the Panthers slipped to a 4-9-4 record in 2012.

As the squad looks ahead to the 2013 campaign, there is a hunger to resume its winning ways.

“The girls are definitely anxious to come back,” said PDS head coach Pat Trombetta, who is entering his sixth season at the helm of the program.

“The record was not a good indication of how we played. We were in every game; there were a lot of one-goal games. We want to turn those games around. I expect us to improve.”

The partnership of junior stars Kirsten Kuzmicz and Erin Hogan in the midfield could be a key to triggering a PDS revival.

“Kirsten and Erin have been playing really well in the central midfield,” asserted Trombetta, whose team opens regular season play with a game at Wardlaw Hartridge on September 7.

“Kuzmicz has matured; she has gone to a lot of college camps. She is our most passionate player about playing at the next level. Erin has definitely improved, she is ready to roll.”

The PDS midfield will also feature a pair of veterans in Eloise Stanton and Lilly Razzaghi along with promising freshman Allison Klei.

“The two seniors, Stanton and Razzaghi, will be the outside mids,” added Trombetta. “They had some good moments last year. Klei should give us a lot of good minutes.”

Trombetta is hoping that the combination of juniors Alexa Soltesz and Erin Murray will be productive at forward.

“We will be turning to Alexa for scoring,” said Trombetta. “We have to find a second forward to complement Alexa. Erin Murray will get the first shot to be the second forward, she has improved a lot.”

On defense, the Panthers will be relying on senior star Britt Murray and junior standout Stef Soltesz to stifle the opposition.

“Britt will have a different role,” said Trombetta. “We are going to move her to outside back; we want to get her involved more in the attack. Stef is unbelievable, the amount of ground she covers is amazing. She could play anywhere on the field.”

At goalie, the Panthers feature battle-tested senior Rory Finnegan. “Rory is still developing; it is her third year as a starter,” said Trombetta. “She is a mature player. She knows that game; she has started to become more vocal on the field.”

In the team’s opening preseason scrimmage against Nottingham, Trombetta was pleased with the game displayed by his players.

“I liked the way we moved the ball around,” said Trombetta. “We switched fields and got everyone involved. The girls off the bench played well; we are deeper than last year.”

In Trombetta’s view, how well his squad does this fall could come down to having everyone on the same page.

“It is very positive; the chemistry early on is a lot better than it was last year,” said Trombetta.

“We have a very strong junior class, they tried to carry the team last year and they are more mature this year as upperclassmen.”

 

KICKING OFF: Stuart Country Day School senior goalie ­Margaret LaNasa makes a kick save in a training session last week. ­LaNasa’s progress in the cage should help Stuart improve on the 3-14-1 record it posted last fall. The Tartans open regular season play with a game at the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on September 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

KICKING OFF: Stuart Country Day School senior goalie ­Margaret LaNasa makes a kick save in a training session last week. ­LaNasa’s progress in the cage should help Stuart improve on the 3-14-1 record it posted last fall. The Tartans open regular season play with a game at the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team won only three games last fall, the players didn’t get discouraged.

“Granted we went 3-14-1 but the girls didn’t come off the field feeling defeated very often,” said Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik. “There were a lot of close games. We had a lot of improvement.”

As Bruvik gets ready for the second year of her return engagement guiding the Tartans, she is depending on a group of stellar sophomores to continue the improvement made last fall.

“I think there are seven of them; they make up half of the varsity roster,” said Bruvik, who led the program to several county and prep titles in her first tenure which lasted 21 years and ended in 2006.

“Some of them played club and went to camps; they look like they have that one more year of experience. They are bigger, faster, and smarter on the ball. They are getting to know each other better. They know coming into preseason what I am expecting in terms of conditioning and ball control.

Bruvik will be relying on four of those sophomores to trigger the Tartan offense.

“We have Sarah Barkley, Elena Bernewitz, Catherine Donahue, and Sam Servis on attack,” said Bruvik of the quartet of 10th graders. “Sam’s stick skills have really improved.”

Two veterans, juniors Nneka Onukwugha and Madison Kirton, are looking more skilled at forward.

“Nneka has really improved,” added Bruvik. “Madison Kirton is in her second year and she is better.”

Senior star Amy Hallowell figures to be one of the better players in the county this fall.

“We are going to have Amy at center back,” said Bruvik. “We want her to control the ball all over the field, on transition, and on corners. We also need her to be good on defensive corners. We are really looking at her to distribute the ball.”

Stuart is looking for sophomore standouts Tori Hannah and Julia Maser to be scoring threats.

“Tori and Julia will be in midfield,” said Bruvik. “Julia has incredible endurance and is a smart player. I expect her to do a good job this year. Tori is looking good, we could also use her on attack. She has a knack for finishing.”

The quartet of senior Meghan Shannon, junior Asha Mohandes, junior Faye Plambeck, and sophomore Kate Walsh, will be leading the backline.

“Meghan, Asha and Faye are on defense,” said Bruvik. “Kate Walsh is very versatile; she can play in the backfield or at mid.”

Senior goalie Margaret LaNasa has been playing well in the preseason. “Margaret is looking good, she looks so much more comfortable this year,” said Bruvik, noting that LaNasa just started playing goalie as a junior.

“She has her routine with Gia [assistant coach and former Princeton University goalie Gia Fruscione], who has really helped her.”

Bruvik believes that the Tartans can do some good things this fall. “We have got to finish,” said Bruvik, whose team starts the season by playing at the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on September 6.

“Last year it was not for lack of effort, we worked hard to get the ball into the circle. We need to be stronger at keeping the ball on our sticks in the circle. We have a good combination of speed and aggressiveness. We need to try to build on that.”

 

August 28, 2013
STICKING CLOSE: Andrea Jenkins, left, goes after the ball in a game last fall during her senior season with the Princeton Day School field hockey team. Last Friday, Jenkins hit the field for the Princeton University field hockey squad for the first time as the defending NCAA champion Tigers started preseason practice.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STICKING CLOSE: Andrea Jenkins, left, goes after the ball in a game last fall during her senior season with the Princeton Day School field hockey team. Last Friday, Jenkins hit the field for the Princeton University field hockey squad for the first time as the defending NCAA champion Tigers started preseason practice. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 2009, Mariel Jenkins headed to Harvard to join the school’s women’s lacrosse team after a stellar career at Princeton Day School.

Two years later, her younger sister, Sydney, followed in her footsteps, becoming a member of the Crimson field hockey team in the wake of her brilliant play for PDS.

So when the youngest of the three Jenkins sisters, Andrea, emerged as a standout for the Panther field hockey squad, her college path seemed clear.

But while the two older Jenkins girls thrived at Harvard with Mariel making second-team All-Ivy this spring in her senior season and Sydney appearing in all 16 games last fall, tallying a goal and an assist, they weren’t pushy when their baby sister started looking at colleges.

“My sisters didn’t pressure me about Harvard,” said the youngest Jenkins, known as A.J. during her PDS career.

“They wanted me to go where I was happy and they said they would be supportive of wherever that was.”

Jenkins didn’t have to go far to find a school that would make her happy as she committed to join the Princeton University field hockey team last fall.

“I was open to any school, I was grateful to have schools interested in me,” said Jenkins, a four-time All-Prep performer at PDS who served as a team captain and earned MVP honors as a senior when the Panther advanced to the state Prep B championship game.

“In Princeton, I had a school where I loved the campus, the coach, and the team. I was exposed to the program through summer camps. I did an official visit; I wanted to see what it was like to spend a night in the dorm and go to some classes. It balances an engaging academic experience and highly competitive athletics. The girls on the team are great, they are so nice.”

Last Friday, Jenkins hit the field with the Princeton girls for the first time as the defending NCAA champion Tigers started preseason practice.

While her older sisters were supportive of Jenkins’ choice to buck the Harvard trend, she acknowledges that her decision to join Princeton has sparked a family rivalry.

“My sisters were so excited, they were happy for me,” said Jenkins. “We do have some trash talking. I do have my mom [Princeton alum Lisa Gillespie Jenkins] on my side but she cheers for everybody.”

Since the end of her senior season at PDS season, Jenkins has been working hard to get ready for her Princeton debut.

“I have been playing for the Jersey Intensity; I was involved in club championships in July in Virginia Beach,” said Jenkins, who has played with the Jersey Intensity club program the last five years, helping the squad win gold at the National Festival in 2009 and 2012, while medaling at the Disney tournaments from 2009-12.

“I am also doing the Princeton conditioning program each week to build up stamina and strength.”

With the powerful Tigers boasting such All-American performers as Julia Reinprecht, Michelle Cesan, and Christina Maida along with last Year’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year Teresa Benvenuti, Jenkins knows that she will have to raise the level of her game.

“I am ready to be coached by the best and play with some of the greatest players in college field hockey,” said Jenkins, whose speed and stick skills should see her play in the midfield and at striker. “When you play with players of that high level, you get better.”

Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn has had plenty of exposure to Jenkins’ high-level play over the years as she noted in comments on the Princeton sports website welcoming the team’s freshman class.

“Andrea lives down the road so I’ve had the pleasure of admiring her abilities up close for many years,” said Holmes-Winn, who is entering her 11th season at the helm of the Tigers, boasting a 131-57 record and an NCAA Final 4 appearance and nine Ivy titles to go along with last year’s national title, the first in program history.

“She is a fluid attacker with pace, field sense, and the ability to eliminate. Andrea comes from a family of athletes; her dad played football at Duke and her sisters, Sydney and Mariel play field hockey and lacrosse, respectively at Harvard. Her mom is also a Princetonian.”

As Jenkins looks forward to Princeton’s season opener against visiting Duke on September 6, she is ready to keep her nose to the grindstone and contribute in any way needed.

“Honestly, I am excited to be part of the team,” said Jenkins. “I will work as hard as I can in the preseason and see what happens from there. Coach Arndt [PDS field hockey coach Tracey Arndt] said you always want to be the hardest worker as a freshman.”