January 11, 2012

It looked like Princeton Day School girls’ hockey star Zeeza Cole might be down for the count last Sunday when she was sent sprawling to the ice in the second period as the Panthers hosted Shady Side Academy (Pa.).

The junior forward lay motionless on the ice for minutes before gingerly skating to the Panther bench.

At that point, Cole wasn’t sure if she would be back in the contest which saw PDS trailing 2-0 at the time.

“I have had a lot of concussions,” said Cole. “After the whistle, a girl fell on top of my head so it got hit a little bit. I was a little nauseous and my head started hurting.”

After spending some time with the trainer, Cole returned to the game and proceeded to inflict some pain on the Indians, scoring two power play goals to knot the game at 2-2 heading into the third period.

“We knew we had a 5-on-3 and we just wanted to get the goal,” said Cole. “We definitely did capitalize. In the first period we could see that the goalie was letting up tons of rebounds and we knew that we could get some off that. It was nice, getting back at them for roughing up some of our players, including myself. We have been working on a lot of rebound opportunities like that. It is good that we are working on that and could score on two rebounds.”

In the third period, though, PDS couldn’t convert any rebounds as it ended up falling 4-2.

“We came out strong in the third period; we have a really short bench,” said Cole.

“We are down two of our stars so it’s definitely hard. Everyone stepped up; we tried hard so it is not something to be ashamed about. We never gave up. We kept trying; we were in it until the end.”

PDS head coach Lorna Gifis Cook liked the way her team persevered as it fought to dig out of a hole after Shady Side scored two goals within a 10-second span early in the first period.

“Going 2-0 early definitely caught us off guard,” said Cook. “We came out pretty flat so we deserved to be down 2-0. The focus was not on what already happened but on how do we bounce back from this and how do we get them to regroup. I think that slowly it got a little better.”

Things were a lot better for the Panthers after weathering the early storm. “The second period was much stronger; we came out hard,” said Cook, whose team started the weekend by edging Holton Arms (Md.) 3-2 on Saturday.

“I thought we caught a break with the 5-on-3 and we were able to take advantage. That is what hockey is about, capitalizing on those opportunities.”

Cook was not surprised that Cole took advantage of the scoring opportunities.

“The girl jumped on Zeeza after the play; I thought it should have been a penalty,” said Cook. “She took a little bit of a break and she wanted to go back out there and make up for it. She knows how to finish.”

Unfortunately, the Panthers couldn’t finish things off in the third period.

“We spent too much time in the box; the girls fought really hard to not give up a power play goal there,” said Cook, reflecting on the loss which left PDS with a 5-3 record.

“It is just unfortunate that they were able to get a good bounce and get that third goal. After that, it just seemed like we didn’t get any breaks to go our way.”

While the Panthers didn’t get the breaks over the last 15 minutes of the contest, they showed a resolve that should help them over the rest of the winter.

“It was a positive that they were able to come back from going down early and not get too caught up in that,” added Cook, whose team plays at Summit High on January 13.

“We had a very short bench; the fact that they were able to kill off a lot of those penalties is a huge positive. Especially since we had players killing who don’t usually kill. It makes you feel a little better even coming off a loss to know that they were able to bounce back.”

In Cook’s view, the team learned a valuable lesson about focus. “You always need to make sure you treat it as though it is going to be your toughest game of the year and just go out hard,” said Cook.

“You can never take anything for granted. Typically, we have had pretty strong first periods and today the second period was much stronger.”

Cole, for her part, is confident that the Panthers can get tougher. “I think we need to just keep working as a team,” added Cole.

“Getting stronger and capitalizing on the other team’s mistakes and just coming out strong every period.”

Mike Wasson started the New Year with a bang for the Princeton High boys’ hockey team.

The sophomore forward opened 2012 action by notching four goals in a 9-5 win over Lawrence High on January 2 and then tallied three more two days later as PHS topped Steinert 7-1.

“I am actually feeling good out there,” said Wasson after the Steinert win. “I have been feeling better on my skates than in the beginning of the season.”

Wasson and his teammates weren’t feeling so good midway through the second period as they found themselves tied 1-1 with the Spartans.

“We started out well but they came back with one,” said Wasson. “We weren’t too frustrated; we knew the goals would come. We were putting shots on him; he was playing well.”

Over the last 15 minutes of the contest, Wasson helped the Little Tigers pull away as he notched two goals.

“In the third, we had a lot of confidence,” said Wasson. “We got our scoring back. We came out strong and kept putting the goals in.”

Wasson’s connection with junior forward and linemate Matt DiTosto gives him extra confidence.

“Matt and I are also on the same club team,” said Wasson, who is on the Mercer Chiefs club team.

“We have a real connection going. We are always in synch on the ice. We always know where each other is going to be.”

Wasson has put in extra time to become the best player he can be. “Over the summer, I got bigger, stronger, and faster,” said Wasson. “I gained a little bit more confidence. My speed has come along well; I have been working with my other coach. Staying on the ice all the time really helps. I improved my hands over the summer. I am always looking to get better.”

PHS head coach Tim Campbell feels that Wasson is getting better and better.

“Mike has got hands, he’s got presence, he is a student of the game,” asserted Campbell.

“He is a student of the game; he is just so smart. He puts himself between the defender and the puck. He knows where to be and he knows where to put the puck when his teammates are looking for it.”

The combination of Wasson and DiTosto on one line and senior captains Will Greenberg and Kirby Peck on the team’s other top line have triggered the PHS offense.

“He and Matt DiTosto are like peanut butter and jelly; they go together,” added Campbell.

“It is Will [Greenberg] and Kirby [Peck], Mike and Matt and the other forwards are picking up on it. John Reid is getting in the mix. Connor McCormick is getting in the mix which is really nice to see.”

It wasn’t nice for Campbell to see his team get lax in the defensive zone as the Little Tigers took control of the contest.

“Whenever we dominate on offense, we get lazy on defense,” said Campbell, whose team fell 5-4 to Paul VI last Friday to move to 6-3-2.

“We came in at intermission and made some adjustments. We can’t be a 30 or 35-minute team, we have got to be a 45-minute team. We have to keep our foot on the gas and just keep grinding for 45 minutes. We definitely need to tighten up when we get into closer games; good defense wins tight games. That’s where we really have to focus.”

In Campbell’s view, now is the time for his players to have a tight focus. “We are looking for a huge January,” said Campbell, whose team faces Hopewell Valley on January 16 at Mercer County Park. “We came out flat against Lawrence; we had better effort, better intensity tonight.”

Wasson, for his part, believes the team will be bringing plenty of intensity as it heads into the homestretch.

“We are looking at our schedule, saying we could get all the Ws from here on out,” said Wasson. “That is what we are looking for going into the postseason.”

For Brendan Connolly, the win by the Princeton University men’s basketball team over The College of New Jersey last Sunday wasn’t just the last tune-up before entering Ivy League play.

After struggling offensively all season long, junior center Connolly used the game against Division III TCNJ as a launching pad to gain some confidence in his scoring touch.

The 6’11, 255-pound native of Brentwood, Tenn. poured in a career-high 16 points in 17 minutes off the bench as the Tigers posted a 79-68 win over their local foes.

“It is nice to see the ball go through the basket; that was something that was lacking for most of the first part of the year,” said Connolly, who had been averaging 2.9 points a game this year with a season-best of just six.

“I would say the past few days in practice have been more so or just as much. I have been working a lot on it.”

Connolly is hoping that his performance will be a harbinger of things to come over the rest of the winter.

“As long as it keeps going in that direction for myself, it will be fine,” said Connolly, who added a game-high nine rebounds to go with his scoring output as the Tigers improved to 9-7 before a crowd of 2,246 at Jadwin Gym.

“It felt nice to have a breakthrough; I have just got to keep it going in the Ivy League season.”

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson will be looking for his team to play better defense when it starts the defense of its Ivy crown with games at Cornell (5-9) on January 13 and at Columbia (11-5) on January 14.

“Tonight, I thought we played a little like a team that was feeling good about itself,” said Henderson, whose team had trouble stopping former Princeton High star Skye Ettin as he led the Lions with 15 points, drawing cheers from his many fans on hand.

“Our defense has actually been pretty good in practice. We have identified and earmarked our defense as the thing that is going to help us win games. They had 35 points at the half which I think is way too many.”

The matchup with the D-III TCNJ afforded Henderson the opportunity to get a good look at his bench players.

“We wanted to play everybody if we could; I think everybody got a chance to play,” said Henderson.

“If anything, it identified some of the things we can get better at, that is what we are about. We come to work, that is what we do.”

In Henderson’s view, reserve guard Ben Hazel gave the Tigers some good work.

“I liked that we were able to get Ben Hazel some time today,” added Henderson of the sophomore who chipped in four rebounds, two assists, and two blocked shots in 15 minutes of action. “I thought he brought energy and talk. It was something we needed and he brought it.”

With the Tigers heading to New York this weekend to resume a road swing that will ultimately see them play 12 of 13 games away from Jadwin, Henderson is looking for his players to bring physical and mental energy.

“It has been hard but I think if you have a team like this, you can get through it,” said Henderson, reflecting on Princeton’s travels.

“You really need great leadership, not just from the staff but from the seniors because they know what it takes to win games on the road in the league. I like to look at it this way; we are certainly not looking ahead but if we can start off the right way, we finish up nicely at home.”

Connolly has the sense that the Tigers have been steeled by their time away from home.

“Going into those games, we are going to know what it is like to be on the road a lot,” said Connolly.

“It should be nothing new for us. We have had some success on the road in these past few games. We know what we need to do in order to get the wins.”

January 4, 2012

Competing in the Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis, Minn. last weekend, the Princeton University men’s hockey team drew a tough opening round assignment.

The Tigers were matched against Northeastern, who brought a six-game winning streak into the game with victories over No. 18 UMass Lowell, No. 2 Notre Dame, and No. 11 Michigan during that stretch. Moreover, the Huskies held a 25-13-3 edge in the all-time series with Princeton.

Tiger head coach Bob Prier realized his team had its hands full with Northeastern.

“It was a tough challenge; they have eight [NHL] draft picks,” noted Prier.

Building on some good practice sessions last week after returning from the holiday break, the Tigers proved to be up for the challenge.

Battling back from three one-goal deficits, Princeton knotted the game at 3-3 midway through the third period and forced overtime.

Neither team could find the back of the net in the extra session, necessitating a shootout to determine which team would advance to the championship game.

The shootout turned into an eight-round marathon with Northeastern prevailing after Princeton goalie Mike Condon had stymied its first seven shooters.

“It was extremely disappointing to lose the shootout,” said Prier, who also got goals from Jack Berger and Tyler Maugeri in the game with junior goalie Condon making 38 saves.

“It is a lousy way to end a hockey game but it had to happen. I thought we had the advantage going into the shootout because Condon was playing great. He was great in the shootout, we just couldn’t get one past their guy.”

While the ending left Prier with a lousy feeling, he thought his players did gain from the experience of battling the Huskies.

“It was the right test for the guys,” said Prier. “We need to compete against those type of teams; we got a lot out of it.”

A day later, the Tigers got a second tough test as they faced another hot team in Niagara, which had gone 3-0-3 in its six games prior to the Minneapolis trip.

This time, Princeton held two one-goal leads. The Tigers went up 2-1 early in the third period on a goal by senior captain Marc Hagel and gained a 3-2 advantage with 7:34 left in regulation as senior forward as Brody Zuk found the back of the net.

But taking a penalty in the waning moments, Princeton got burned as Niagara scored on a 6-on-4 situation with 54 seconds left in the third to force overtime. That was the last tally of the contest as the teams skated to a 3-3 tie.

Prier wasn’t pleased by his team’s second tie of the weekend. “We didn’t play as well as we did against Northeastern; at the same time, they are also one of the hotter teams,” said Prier, whose team moved to 4-9-4 with the tie.

“I feel like it was a loss, when you have a lead like that. Not to take anything away from them, we let that game get tied. You take a late penalty that gives them a 6-on-4; that is a pretty good advantage. I hope that we have learned from that.”

In Prier’s view, the Tigers can take some good lessons from the weekend. “We played two tough teams on the road and came out of it with two points,” said Prier. “We need to take that kind of play when we come back to the league.”

Princeton got some tough play from senior defenseman and assistant captain Derrick Pallis as he played through illness to notch a goal and an assist against Niagara.

“Pallis had a very good game against Niagara,” said Prier, whose team got 35 saves from sophomore goaltender Sean Bonar in the tie with Niagara.

“Certainly offensively with a multi-point game and he was really good on defense. He competed like we need him to. He was under the weather; he had a flu and I didn’t play him against Northeastern. He still looked like death; I think he lost 12 pounds. It is nice to see him do really well, maybe it was good for him to watch a game and see that he needs to really bring it when he is on the ice.”

With Princeton currently in 10th place in the ECAC Hockey standings sporting a 3-7-1 league mark, the Tigers will need to bring it if they are going to get points out of this weekend when they play at Brown (6-6-1 overall, 3-3 ECACH) on January 6 and at No. 20 Yale (7-5-1 overall, 4-2 ECACH) on January 7.

“Brown is a lot better than people think; Yale is going to be tough,” asserted Prier.

“We have to be spot-on the whole time to get a sweep on the road. We have got to have focus and prepare well. We have to be prepared to outwork them. We need to pay attention to detail and be in the right place.”

The Tigers are in a good place health-wise, so Prier has the depth to make things tough for Princeton’s foes.

“Health will do that; we are in good shape,” said Prier. “People have to compete to play and practices are elevated. You have to work harder if you want to be in it. We have the legs and speed to get in the grill of other teams and frustrate them. At this point, you have to do it all the time; you can’t do it on eight of 10 shifts.”

SUPER SAVER: Princeton University women’s goalie Rachel Weber stands tall in the crease in recent action. This past weekend in a pair of games at Ohio State, Weber came up big, making 38 saves in a 2-2 tie on Friday and then posting a career-high 44 stops a day later as the teams skated to a 1-1 draw. Princeton, now 6-9-3 overall and 5-6-1 in ECAC Hockey action, hosts Harvard (8-4 overall, 6-2 ECACH) on January 6 and Dartmouth (6-5-1 overall, 4-3-1 ECACH) the next day.

Although the Princeton University women’s hockey team didn’t pull out a victory in its two-game set last weekend at Ohio State, it showed a spirit that should help it post some wins down the homestretch of the ECAC Hockey season.

Getting outshot 86-46 over the weekend in Columbus, Ohio, the Tigers still rallied to pull out a 2-2 tie on Friday and a 1-1 stalemate the next day.

“The compete level was really good; we played hard 65 minutes two straight days,” said Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal, whose team moved to 6-9-3 overall with the two ties.

“We came from behind in both games; there was no letdown in the second game. It was a good sign.”

Coming into the trip to the midwest, Kampersal had a good feeling about his team’s mindset.

“We got back to practice on December 26,” said Kampersal. “It was a travel day so we were a little out of synch. The girls had gotten the rest they need but they have stayed in shape. We practiced hard on Tuesday and Wednesday. When they practice hard like that, they usually play well on the weekend.”

In the opener on Friday, the Tigers played well in spurts. After the Buckeyes scored in the second period to take a 1-0 lead, sophomore defenseman Gabie Figueroa notched her first goal of the season to knot the contest at 1-1. Ohio State scored early in the third period but sophomore forward Sally Butler scored with 3:19 left in regulation on a feed by classmate Rose Alleva to force overtime and the game ended at 2-2.

“The first three shifts on Friday were some of the best we have had in a while; we had Ohio State on their heels,” said Kampersal.

“Ohio State came back and had us on our heels; they have some firepower. We battled back, the kids played hard the whole time.”

It was encouraging for Princeton to see defensemen Figueroa and Alleva firing away.

“Figueroa started off slowly this season with her injury,” said Kampersal. “She and Rose had a really good weekend; they have been both been battling injury. They are starting to look like they did at the end of their freshman year.”

Butler continued to look good offensively the next day as she notched a second period goal that ended up giving Princeton a 1-1 draw.

“Sally has a good nose for the net,” said Kampersal of the 5’9 forward from   Etobicoke, Ontario who has a team-leading nine goals on the season. “She knows where the puck is and is strong on the puck.”

The strength of the Tigers, though, continues to be the superb goaltending of senior Rachel Weber, who made 38 saves on Friday and then posted a career-high 44 stops a day later.

“Weber was really sharp, no question,” said Kampersal, referring to Weber who has started all 18 games this winter for Princeton, compiling a 2.11 goals against average and a .925 save percentage.

“She looked like she did during her shutout streak last year. She was even crisper on Friday than Saturday. They had a lot of breakaways and quality shots in that first game.”

With Princeton having gone 5-6-1 in ECACH play to tie St. Lawrence for fifth in the league standings, the Tigers will have to be crisp collectively as they host Harvard (8-4 overall, 6-2 ECACH) on Friday and Dartmouth (6-5-1 overall, 4-3-1 ECACH)  the next day.

“It was good for us to get going,” said Kampersal. “We need to pick up some points in the ECAC. There is not a better time than with Harvard and Dartmouth coming in. They have a great tradition. I think the girls always get fired up for the Ivy League games.”

When Ian Snyder broke his collarbone early in his freshman season with the Princeton High wrestling team in 2008, the setback could have soured him on the sport.

Instead, the injury helped spark Snyder’s commitment to become one of the best wrestlers in the area.

“That is when I decided to really dedicate myself to getting better,” said Snyder, who was a 90-pounder as a freshman competing at 103 pounds.

“I started working out that spring. I was going to RAW 241 Academy in south Jersey; coach [Rashone] Johnson was driving me an hour both ways. I started entering some high profile tournaments.”

Snyder’s hard work paid off as he emerged as a high profile performer for the Little Tigers the next year.

“I was very confident coming into my sophomore season,” said Snyder. “I had gained 20 pounds of muscle and I just had to lose a few pounds to make weight at 103. I took second in the districts and had 29 wins. I was still doing other tournaments before my junior year; I went to the Cornell camp. I went 25-5 as a junior and took third in the districts. I was disappointed with that.”

As Snyder gets his senior campaign underway, he is determined to not have any disappointments cloud the memories of his final season.

“I did a lot of work after my junior year, I was wrestling three or four times a week and lifting weights,” said Snyder, who is competing at 120 pounds this season.

“I am looking to make a statement in my senior year. I want to win a state championship. I have put in the work; I want to get to that podium.”

Snyder has put in years of work when it comes to wrestling, having taken up the sport when he was seven years old.

“I first started in 2002 when I was in second grade,” recalled Snyder, who also played soccer and lacrosse before deciding to specialize in wrestling as a PHS freshman.

“My dad wrestled in high school and I started with the PAWS program. It came naturally in the beginning; I enjoyed it.”

As Snyder reflects on his freshman season at PHS, he acknowledges that it wasn’t particularly enjoyable.

“It was a huge adjustment; I realized I just can’t do what everyone else is doing,” said Snyder. “I had done mostly PAWS to that point and I needed to work harder.”

Snyder set a tone in terms of work ethic for a program on the rise as it comes off a 9-7 season in 2010-11.

“The kids started working harder in the offseason, practicing at the high school,” said Snyder. “Coach Johnson was bringing in guys to wrestle with.”

Johnson has been a big help to Snyder as well. “He has been really supportive; he has motivated me,” said Snyder of Johnson. “He really, really wants us to be good.”

That influence helped Snyder land a spot on the wrestling team at Duke University as he recently committed to join the Blue Devils this coming fall.

“There was a point where I wasn’t sure if I wanted to wrestle in college,” said Snyder.

“I have been spending my whole life wrestling and I couldn’t see myself not doing it. Duke was always my first choice; my mom went to Duke undergraduate and my dad went to the business school there. The wrestling coaches told me in August that they would support my application and I took an official visit in September. I met all the guys; they are all really into the team.”

In the meantime, Snyder is into doing his best for PHS. “I like the way I am wrestling; I have more refined skills,” said Snyder, who improved to 4-0 this season after pinning Hamilton’s Matthew Dempsey last Friday as the Little Tigers fell 39-36 to the Hornets.

“My technique is sharper; I have gotten good on my feet. I truly believe I can win; if you don’t feel that way, you are not going to win.”

Based on the first two games of the season, it looked like the same old story for the Princeton High girls’ hockey team.

Coming off a winless campaign in 2010-11, PHS dropped its opener this winter 7-3 to Pingry and then fell 11-2 at Princeton Day School on December 15.

With the Little Tigers heading up to Summit High one day after the PDS defeat, PHS head coach Christian Herzog had a heart-to-heart chat with his players.

“We talked after the PDS game,” said Herzog. “I told them they could sit and let it fester or they could come out and be better players for it.”

The players clearly adopted the latter approach and authored a new script, pulling out a dramatic 4-3 win over Summit in finally returning to the win column.

In the victory over Summit, the Little Tigers came out hard. The game was knotted 1-1 after one period with freshman Lucy Herring tallying the PHS goal. Goals by senior standouts Abby Hunter and Keely Herring gave the Little Tigers a 3-2 lead over the Hilltoppers heading into the third period.

Herzog liked the way his players kept their focus as the Summit game unfolded.

“We talked about taking it period to period,” said Herzog. “When I talk to the girls, we set lofty goals but once the puck is dropped they lose sight of the goals. I told them to stick to the game plan. I tightened up the bench.”

In the third period, Summit tied the game up 3-3 and Herzog sensed that his players were having some feelings of deja vu.

“I know they were thinking here we go again,” recalled Herzog, whose team had gone 0-17-1 in its last 18 games with its last win coming against PDS in late February 2010 in the WIHLMA (Women’s Ice Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) playoffs. “I said ‘no heads down ladies, we are going to win this game.’”

Minutes later, freshman Campbell McDonald helped make Herzog’s words come to fruition as she notched what turned out to be the game winner.

“Abby blasted the puck and Campbell looked up and it bounced off her,” said Herzog.

The team had a blast on the ride home after the triumph. “It was interesting,” said Herzog. “There was a lot of singing and celebrating.”

Herzog sung the praises of senior goalie Tobi Afran, whose clutch play was a key factor in the win.

“Tobi had a big game; she had 30 saves exactly,” said Herzog. “She stepped up in the third period. They had a few odd-man rushes and some 1-on-0 situations.”

Senior defenseman and co-captain Vinita Su helped save the day for PHS, diving to stop a point blank shot by Summit late in the contest.

“Not too many kids would lay down and possibly take it on the chin,” said Herzog. “She stepped up and covered it up.”

The play of freshmen McDonald and Lucy Herring together with senior star Abby Hunter has helped the PHS offense take things up a notch this season.

“Campbell is aggressive; she is not afraid to mix it up,” said Herzog. “Lucy Herring has been getting a point a game for us. Abby has also progressed; she has more of a finishing attitude. She is always someone who has worked hard but she has more goals than Keely so far this season.”

In Herzog’s view, the breakthrough should lead to more wins this winter for PHS.

“I think so,” said Herzog. “We have a big weekend coming up. We have Shady Side and Holton Arms at PDS. We tied Shady Side last year.”

IRON LADY: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball star Molly ­Rubin looks to pass in a game last winter. With the PDS roster whittled down to six players due to a rash of injuries, senior Rubin has taken the Panthers on her shoulders. Last Thursday, she scored 10 points to help PDS top Nottingham 34-18. The Panthers, now 2-4, play at Rutgers Prep on January 5, at the Solebury School on January 7, and at Pennington on January 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The World War II drama, The Dirty Dozen, stands as one of the hit movies of 1967, turning a profit of more than $18 million in ending up as the top-grossing film that year.

After taking some big injury hits in the early going, the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team is rekindling the spirit of the soldiers portrayed in the film.

“We came up with a nickname, the ‘dirty half-dozen,’” said PDS head coach Mika Ryan, whose roster has been whittled down to six players. “I got them camo T-shirts. We are trying to turn negatives into positives.”

Ryan saw a lot of positives as her team split two games last week in its PDS Invitational, falling 51-38 to Allentown in the opening round of the tourney on December 28 before topping Nottingham 34-18 in the consolation game a day later.

In Ryan’s view, the score of the Allentown game was deceiving as the game was practically even through three quarters with PDS trailing 34-30 heading into the final eight minutes.

“We only had five players available,” said Ryan, whose team will bring a 2-4 record into 2012.

“I pressed too much in the third quarter and didn’t use timeouts. We got to the fourth quarter and we had nothing left in the tank. We played hard, smart, and executed well.”

While Ryan wasn’t overly pleased with her team’s overall performance in the win over Nottingham, she saw the game as a confidence builder for her short-handed squad.

“We didn’t play as well in the Nottingham game as we did in the Allentown loss,” said Ryan.

“In the third and fourth quarters against Nottingham, we were outstanding on defense, the girls imposed their will. We wouldn’t let them shoot.”

Senior Molly Rubin showed an iron will in the tournament, scoring 13 points in the loss to Allentown and 10 in the victory over Nottingham.

“Molly played an excellent game; she has done so much for the team,” asserted Ryan.

“She played the center position the whole tournament. I told her she is a point center. She guarded the best player on each of the teams and they happened to be centers. We are also asking her to handle the ball and score.”

Ryan is asking other players to take on a variety of roles, noting that she had Lauren Johnson running the PDS offense in the tournament.

“We used LJ at point guard last week,” added Ryan. “Not only are we dealing with injury, every game is an adventure as to what their role is going to be. To say two days before a tournament, that you are going to be the point guard is tough.”

Not having enough players to conduct a scrimmage, PDS has toughened itself up by playing against some of the boys’ teams at the school.

“I can’t tell you how much the boys have helped,” said Ryan. “Brian Dudeck, the freshman coach has been great, he has practiced with us a lot; he had his team in at 8 in the morning one day to practice with us. Rome [Campbell] has kept his 8th grade team late to practice with us. You can’t do anything at game speed unless you scrimmage. The freshman boys have been our scout team, duplicating what our opponents were doing. We would have been blown out in both of those games if we hadn’t had the chance to work with them.”

While Ryan thought about slowing the pace with her short rotation, she decided to maintain her up-tempo approach.

“We thought about playing more zone and being more passive and we talked about that,” said Ryan.

“But that is not who I am or how I coach and that’s not who they are. We decided that is not our style; we will push forward and keep the same philosophy. We just need to be more fit; I am giving this team more rest than I have given other teams.”

Ryan is confident that her players can emulate the character displayed by the misfit unit of the Dirty Dozen film as it courageously went about its mission.

“Underneath my southern accent, I am a streetfighter and I want the girls to be like that too,” said Ryan, whose team is playing at defending state Prep B champion Rutgers Prep on January 5, at the Solebury School on January 7, and at Pennington on January 10.

“They have been fighting and giving their all. They are giving a lot, showing resilience and resolve. They are working their way through this. High school sports isn’t all about wins and losses. I am hoping they will value this experience.”

December 28, 2011
sports1

MR. BIG SHOT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Douglas Davis heads to the basket in Princeton’s 59-57 loss to Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA tournament this past March. It was Davis’ buzzer beater in a 63-62 win over Harvard in the Ivy League championship playoff game that punched Princeton’s ticket to the Big Dance. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

In the local sports scene, 2011 was a year that saw senior leadership make a big difference for several championship teams at Princeton University while new faces and young players spiced up a number of area high school programs.

Over at Princeton University’s Jadwin Gym, senior stars Dan Mavraides and Kareem Maddox developed into star players and gritty leaders, sparking the Tigers to a 25-7 season and the Ivy League title. Guard Mavraides earned second-team All-Ivy recognition and passed the 1,000-point mark in his career while the 6‘8 forward Maddox controlled the paint on the way to being named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-Ivy choice.

Sharpshooting senior guard Addie Micir turned out to be the linchpin for the Tiger women’s hoops squad. The 6’0 Micir became the first player in program history to be named the Ivy Player of the Year as she led the Tigers to a second straight league title and 24-5 record.

Displaying her will and talent, senior distance star Ashley Higginson helped the Tiger women’s track team to both the Indoor and Outdoor Hep crowns. In the winter meet, the Colts Neck native won both the 3,000 and 5,000 runs. Outdoors, she won her third straight steeplechase title.

When spring rolled around, the Princeton baseball team displayed a renewed commitment to excellence as it looked to rebound from a dismal 2010 season that saw the Tigers set a program record for losses with a 12-30 record. Led by captains Matt Connor, Matt Grabowski, and David Palms, the team’s senior group was determined to rekindle the passion that has made the program a consistent winner. They succeeded as Princeton went 4-0 in its first Ivy weekend and never looked back in winning the Gehrig Division title. The Tigers went on to defeat Dartmouth 2-1 in the Ivy championship series to give the program its 17th league title but first since 2006.

A pair of seniors, attacker Lizzy Drumm and goalie Erin Tochihara, helped the Princeton women’s lacrosse team write its own turnaround story. Coming off a 6-10 season in 2010, the Tigers got hot late, winning the Ivy tourney and topping James Madison in the first round of the NCAA tournament on the way to a 12-7 season.

Sparked by a quartet of seniors, Ashton Brown, Emily Reynolds, Michaela Strand, and Lauren Wilkinson, the Princeton women’s open crew top varsity boat made history. The Tigers went undefeated in regular season regattas and then triumphed in both the Eastern Sprints and NCAA grand final.

With its four top players taking a leave of absence to train with the U.S. national program, it looked like it could be a rough fall for the Princeton field hockey team. Instead, a core of seniors, Rachel Neufeld, Alyssa Pyros, Erin Jennings, Allison Behringer, and former Princeton High standout May-Ying Medalia, held things together as the Tigers overcame a shaky start to win their seventh straight league title.

Senior Donn Cabral showed his toughness and talent as he braved a rare October snow storm and a spill to take third at the Ivy League Cross Country championships, helping the Tiger men’s squad to its second straight team title and fifth in the last six years.

At DeNunzio Pool, senior captain and center Mike Helou provided leadership and offensive production (25 goals and 15 assists) to help guide a young Princeton men’s water polo team to the NCAA Final 4 where it ended up finishing third.

For area high school teams, youth was served time and time again as new faces and underclassmen made key contributions for several programs.

In winter action, the Princeton High boys’ swimming team emerged as a dominant squad, breezing to the county title and missing a state crown by a few points. A key factor in the team’s rise was the arrival of a quartet of precocious freshmen, Will Stange, Matt Purdy, Peter Kalibat, and Colburn Yu.

The clutch play of sophomore forward Alex Nespor and sophomore goalie Connor Walker helped the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team win the state Prep title while freshmen Mike Wasson and Pat McCormick together with sophomore Matt DiTosto played an integral role in helping PHS take the county crown.

Once spring hit, Hun girls’ lacrosse sophomore attacker Kate Weeks renewed her assault on the program’s record book, tallying 61 goals on the season as she passed the 100-goal mark in her career. Sophomore pitcher Austin Goeke stepped into the role as the mound ace for the Hun baseball team, helping the squad win the state Prep A championship. Freshman Elizabeth Jacobs and sophomore Emilia Lopez-Ona made valuable contributions as the PHS girls’ lax team caught fire and won the Mercer County Tournament.

The Princeton Day School girls’ tennis team took the first county title of the fall season, as the freshman doubles team of Emily Dyckman and Hope Boozan piled up some key points in support of junior star Samantha Asch, the first singles champion.

The PDS girls’ soccer team featured five freshman starters, Kirsten Kuzmicz, Erin Hogan, Kylie Kieffer and the Soltesz twins, Alexa and Stefany, as it went went 10-7-1 while the Hun girls’ soccer squad saw two freshmen, Jess Sacco and Ashley Maziarz, play vital roles on the way to a 10-5-2 season.

A sophomore newcomer, Conor Donahue, became a frontrunner for a PHS boys’ cross country team that won its first sectional title in 25 years while three freshman starters, Julia DiTosto, Lucy Herring and Campbell McDonald, helped the Little Tiger field hockey team go 11-6.

Winter Winds

When sophomore star Niveen Rasheed went down with a season-ending knee injury in mid-December, it looked like it might be a long winter for the Princeton University women’s basketball team. But with senior guard Addie Micir showing leadership and raising the level of her game, the Tigers continued their domination of the Ivy League.

Princeton went 13-1 in Ivy play under the guidance of head coach Courtney Banghart on the way to a second straight Ivy title. The Tigers ended up falling in the first round of the NCAA tournament to a Big East foe for the second season in a row as they lost 65-49 to Georgetown a year after losing to St. John’s in the first round of the 2010 tourney.

The loss, though, couldn’t dim the luster of Micir’s final campaign as she was named the Ivy League Player of the Year, the first member of the program to attain that honor. Point guard Lauren Polansky was named the Ivy Defensive Player of the Year with Lauren Edwards and Devona Allgood achieving All-Ivy recognition as the Tigers went 24-5.

The men’s hoops team rose to the top of the Ivy League but it had company as it battled Harvard in a two-horse race for the title. The rivals ended up tied at the wire and had to meet in a one-game playoff to decide the winner.

In what became the signature moment for Princeton sports in 2011, guard Douglas Davis, a former Hun School standout, hit a buzzer beater to give the Tiger the title and a trip to the NCAAs. The win was particularly sweet for senior stars Dan Mavraides and Kareem Maddox, who went from afterthoughts earlier in their career to stars.

Head coach Sydney Johnson’s club produced a riveting effort in the NCAA tournament as it took traditional power and eventual Final 4 team Kentucky down to the wire, falling 59-57 and ending the winter at 25-7.

Afterward, Johnson shed tears of disappointment at the post-game press conference in reflecting on his team’s heroic effort. Weeks later, there were tears in Tiger nation as former Princeton standout Johnson unexpectedly left his alma mater to take over the Fairfield University program.

In April, one of Johnson’s former Princeton teammates, Mitch Henderson ’98, took over the program, returning to his alma mater after a decade as an assistant coach at Northwestern.

Over at Baker Rink, the men’s hockey team looked like it could be headed for some postseason heroics. Displaying the freewheeling style instilled by head coach Guy Gadowsky, the Tigers produced a 14-6-1 start and were ranked No. 19 in the country heading into February.

Princeton, though, struggled down the stretch, going 3-7-1 the rest of the way. The season ended with a thud as 6th-seeded Princeton fell to No. 11 St. Lawrence in the first round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs. Princeton’s Class of 2011 ended their careers as the winningest class in program history with 72 triumphs. One of the leaders of that class, senior defenseman Taylor Fedun, was a first-team All ECACH and All-Ivy pick. Freshman forward Andrew Calof was a third-team All-ECACH choice and the Ivy Co-Rookie of the Year.

In late April, the Tigers suffered a huge loss as the dynamic Gadowsky left to become the first head coach of the Penn State men’s hockey program after seven years at Princeton that included ECAC and Ivy League championships, and two NCAA tournament appearances. One of the architect’s of Princeton’s loss in the ECACH playoffs, St. Lawrence assistant coach, Bob Prier, was tabbed to take over for Gadowsky.

For the women’s hockey team and head coach Jeff Kampersal, things looked bleak by early December as the Tigers started 3-10-1. But with junior goalie Rachel Weber emerging as a star, Princeton caught fire. The 5’9 native of Hudson Wisc. got so hot that she ended up setting an ECACH record with a shutout streak of more than 289 minutes.

Sparked by Weber’s brilliance, Princeton went 13-3 over its last 16 regular season games to climb to fourth in the ECACH standings and earn home ice for the quarterfinals. The Tigers’ late surge ended in disappointment as Quinnipiac won two tight games to eliminate Princeton in the best-of-three series. Weber and senior defenseman Sasha Sherry earned second-team All-ECACH honors.

Princeton also suffered a loss on the coaching front as longtime top assistant Amy Bourbeau left the program to become the head coach of the Brown women’s hockey team. She was ultimately replaced by Cara Morey, a former Brown hockey and field hockey standout.

The men’s swimming team saved its best for last, producing a dramatic finish as it held off the host Harvard by a mere 5.5 points to win the 2011 Ivy League title for its third straight championship. Head coach Rob Orr’s squad was led by junior Jon Christensen, a first-team All-Ivy performer in two individual events and three relays and classmate Colin Cordes, who made first-team All-Ivy in one individual event and three relays.

No such drama took place as the women’s swimming team cruised to the Ivy title, with Princeton winning 12 of the 21 events and four of the five relays to score 1,562 points with Harvard finishing second at 1,496. It was the 10th Ivy title in the last 12 years for Tiger head coach Susan Teeter. Princeton was led by senior Megan Waters, a first-team All-Ivy performer in three individual events and four relays, and freshman Lisa Boyce, who made first-team All-Ivy in one individual event and four relays.

Junior distance star Donn Cabral led the way as men’s track breezed to its second straight Indoor Ivy League Heptagonal, piling up the most points in meet history. Cabral won the 3,000 and 5,000 in getting named as the Male Outstanding Performer of the meet to help the Tigers accumulate 215 points, 43 more than runner up Harvard. Coach Fred Samara’s team boasted two other double first-team honorees in Austin Hollimon and Mike Eddy who won the 400 and 500, respectively, and were also members of the winning 4×400 relay quartet.

Distance running stars set the pace as women’s track won its second straight Indoor Heps crown and third in the last four years. Head coach Peter Farrell’s squad was led by Ashley Higginson, the winner in the 3,000 and 5,000, sophomore Alexis Mikaelian, the first place finisher in the mile and a member of the winning 4×800 relay, and junior Alex Banfich, who took second in both the 3,000 and 5,000.

Sophomore Todd Harrity captured the attention of the college squash world, winning the College Squash Association (CSA) national individual championship in dominant fashion, posting 3-0 sweeps in every match of the competition. Harrity became the first American-born player to win the title in 21 years. Head coach Bob Callahan’s squad finished third in the CSA team championships.

The women’s squash team matched the men’s finish as they also took third in the team standings in the Howe Cup national championships. Head coach Gail Ramsay’s squad was led by sophomore Julie Cerullo, who ended up advancing to the CSA individual semifinals.

Sophomore Garrett Frey was the standout for the wrestling team, making it to his second straight NCAA championship meet at 125 pounds. Head coach Chris Ayres squad went 5-12 in dual match competition, highlighted by a 21-16 win over Brown.

Spring Surges

The baseball team had nowhere to go but up this spring after enduring a dismal 2010 season that saw the Tigers go 12-30, setting a program record for single-season losses. Led by a group of determined seniors who instilled a renewed commitment to winning and a bevy of talented younger stars, the Tigers started Ivy play with a 4-0 weekend and never looked back.

Head coach Scott Bradley’s team went 15-5 in Gehrig Division play and faced Dartmouth in the best-of-three Ivy League Championship Series. With Sam Mulroy triggering the offense, the Tigers won the decisive third game of the series 8-5 and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.

The Tigers fell 5-3 to Texas and 3-1 to Texas State to end their campaign at 23-24. Junior catcher-outfielder Mulroy was named as a first-team All-Ivy selection while freshman pitcher-first baseman Mike Ford, a former Hun standout, was the league’s Rookie of the Year.

The women’s lacrosse team also produced a reversal of fortune. After going 6-10 in 2010, Hall of Fame head coach Chris Sailer guided the Tigers to the championship in the Ivy tournament. Princeton knocked off top-seeded Penn 10-8 in the semis and then edged Harvard 12-10 in the title game.

Advancing to the NCAA tournament, Princeton kept rolling as it nipped James Madison 11-10 in the first round. The Tigers fell to Maryland in the NCAA quarters to end with a 12-7 record. Junior defender Lindsey deButts earned All-American and first-team All-Ivy status while senior Lizzy Drumm joined her as a first team All-Ivy performer with junior midfielder Cassie Pyle being named to the second team, while honorable mention accolades were given to senior goalie Erin Tochihara and sophomore attacker Jaci Gassaway.

At the beginning of the spring, the women’s open crew first varsity boat was ranked No. 2 in the country. By the end of the season, head coach Lori Dauphiny’s crew was unquestionably the top boat in the country, going undefeated in regular season regattas before rolling to the Eastern Sprints title and winning the NCAA grand final, edging Ivy rival Brown for the title.

A quartet of seniors Ashton Brown, Emily Reynolds, Michaela Strand, and Lauren Wilkinson together with junior coxswain Lila Flavin were recognized as Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) first-team All-America selections while Dauphiny was named as the Coach of the Year.

Nearly matching the feats of their open counterparts, the women’s lightweight first varsity produced a breakthrough season. Under head coach Paul Rassam, the Tigers went undefeated in regular season regattas and topped perennial nemesis Wisconsin to win the Eastern Sprints.

In the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) grand final, Princeton missed a perfect season as they fell to Stanford with the Cardinal clocking a time of 6:32.39 over the 2,000-meter course at Cooper River in Cherry Hill, N.J. with the Tigers second in 6:33.07. The top boat was led by seniors Yuna Sakuma, Michaela Glaeser, Emma Bedard, Lauren Sykora, Caroline Clark, and Elena Martinez.

Under the tutelage of head coach Greg Hughes, the men’s heavyweight crew continued its progress. The Tigers placed second at the Eastern Sprints and sixth in the IRA grand final. Princeton was led by a stellar group of seniors including coxswain James Connolly, Ian Silveira, Jack Lindeman, Blake Parsons, Philip Thalheim, Michael Protesto, and Carl Thunman.

Heading into late April, the Tiger men’s lightweight boat appeared to be on track for a three-peat of its Eastern Sprints and IRA crowns. Head coach Mary Crotty’s top boat was undefeated and ranked No. 1 nationally coming into its annual Harvard-Yale-Princeton regatta. The Tigers finished second that day and never regained their form.

The first varsity took fourth at the Eastern Sprints and faded to fifth at the IRAs. Those results were a disappointing finale for the boat’s senior stars, cox Mike Perl, Nick Donald, Christian Klein, and Robin Prendes, but they left Princeton with a special legacy including their back-to-back Eastern and IRA titles together with a Temple Challenge Cup win at the Royal Henley Regatta.

It turned into a painful spring for the men’s lacrosse team as it saw five players suffer season-ending injuries and a total of 15 get hurt. The injury bug derailed things for head coach Chris Bates as the Tigers ended up 4-9 overall and 2-4 in Ivy action. Princeton did receive some high-level play from those who made it through the season as goalie Tyler Fiorito, defenseman Chad Wiedmaier, and midfielder Tom Schreiber earned third-team All-American honors.

Tragedy struck before the season started for the softball team as freshman infielder Khristin Kyllo died of natural causes in January. A cloud seemed to follow head coach Trina Salcido’s team through the spring as the Tigers went 16-26 overall and 7-13 in Ivy play. Juniors Kelsey VandeBergh and Nicole Ontiveros and sophomores Lizzy Pierce and Alex Peyton provided some highlights as they earned All-Ivy League recognition.

The men’s track team accomplished a rare feat, winning the Outdoor Heps to give the program three Ivy titles in the school year as the Tigers won the 2011 Indoor Heps and the 2010 Cross Country Heps. Distance star Donn Cabral stood out for head coach Fred Samara’s squad, being named the outstanding male performer of the meet after winning the steeplechase and the 10,000.

In addition to Cabral, the Tigers boasted a bevy of first-team All-Ivy performers including freshman Tom Hopkins in the long jump and the 4×400, senior Mark Amirault the 1,500 and the 5,000, junior Austin Hollimon in the 400 and in the 4×400, seniors Mike Eddy and Ricky Kearns as part of the 4×400 and Craig Peace in the hammer throw.

Cabral went on to take second in the steeplechase and eighth in the 5,000 at the NCAA championship meet with Amirault taking 12th in the 5000.

Showing balance and depth, the women’s track team matched the achievement of their male counterparts, winning the Outdoor Heps to get their triple crown. Head coach Peter Farrell’s team featured several first-team All-Ivy performers, as junior Eileen Moran took home double first-team honors in the 100 and 4×100, sophomore Alexis Mikaelian in the 4×800, sophomore Tory Worthen in the pole vault, senior Ashley Higginson in the steeplechase, freshman Kristin Smoot, freshman Molly Higgins, and sophomore Greta Feldman in the 4×800, sophomore Abidemi Adenikinju, sophomore Erin Guty, and freshman Lily Miller in the 4×100.

Higginson went on to take fifth at the steeplechase at the NCAA championships while junior Alex Banfich finished 20th in the 5,000.

The women’s water polo team produced a solid season, going 18-11 and finishing fifth at the Eastern Championships. Head coach Luis Nicolao’s team was led by freshman Katie Rigler and sophomore Brittany Zwirner, who each received CWPA Southern first-team honors, while junior Kristen Ward and freshman Molly McBee were named as second-teamers.

Led by junior Hilary Bartlett, the women’s tennis team went 12-9 overall and 5-2 in Ivy action, giving it eight straight winning seasons in league play. Bartlett was a standout performer for head coach Megan Bradley’s squad, making first All-Ivy League in singles and doubles along with Taylor Marable.

Junior Rachel Saiontz received second-team singles honors for the third straight year and second-team doubles honors for the second straight year after receiving honorable mention in doubles in 2009. Sophomore Monica Chow, Saiontz’s doubles teammate throughout the league season, also received second-team All-Ivy doubles honors.

Sophomore Matija Pecotic sparked the men’s tennis team to a superb season that saw the Tigers go 13-7 overall and 6-1 in Ivy play. With an undefeated Ivy League record atop Princeton’s singles ladder, Pecotic was unanimously chosen as the Ivy Player of the Year, the fourth Princeton player to earn that honor since the award began in 1987.

Head coach Glenn Michibata’s team also got excellent play from freshman Augie Bloom, who earned second-team All-Ivy League singles honors, compiling a 6-1 record while playing six of the seven Ivy League matches at third singles.

The men’s golf team took fifth at the Ivy League Championship, as head coach Will Green’s team had three players in the top 20. Senior Eric Salazar was 14th while junior Evan Harmeling was T18 and sophomore Bernie D’Amato was T20.

Senior Rachel Blum ended her career with the women’s golf team on a high note, tying for third overall as the Tigers placed third in the Ivy championships. Freshman Kelly Shon emerged as a star to watch for head coach Nicki Cutler’s squad, finishing T5 at the Ivy tourney and then going on to compete in both the U.S. Amateur Public Links Tournament and the U.S. Women’s Open over the summer.

Undergoing a rebuilding campaign, the men’s volleyball team went 3-19 overall. Head coach Sam Shweisky’s squad figures to be stronger in the future as it only lost senior Vincent Tuminelli to graduation.

Fall Fates

With four of its top players, Kathleen Sharkey, Michelle Cesan, and the Reinprecht sisters, Julia and Katie, taking a leave of absence to train for the U.S. national program, it looked like the field hockey team’s domination of the Ivy League might come to an end. Head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn, though, welcomed the situation as a coaching challenge.

Things got very challenging for the Tigers as they lost their Ivy opener to Dartmouth and a seventh straight league title looked unlikely. Led by seniors Rachel Neufeld, Alyssa Pyros, Erin Jennings, Allison Behringer, and former Princeton High standout May-Ying Medalia, Princeton regrouped and went on to win the Ivy crown, its 17th league title in the last 18 seasons.

Princeton fell 3-2 to No. 4 Connecticut in the opening round of the NCAA tournament to end 10-8 but the disappointment of that loss couldn’t take away from what the team accomplished this fall. Seven Tigers earned All-Ivy recognition with freshman Allison Evans, sophomore Amanda Bird, junior Charlotte Krause, and Pyros getting first-team recognition with Jennings, and freshman Sydney Kirby being chosen as second-team selections and junior Amy Donovan getting honorable mention. Evans, the team’s leading goal scorer, was the league’s Rookie of the Year.

There was a buzz around DeNunzio Pool regarding the talented freshman class that joined the men’s water polo team this fall. Skillfully blending those freshman standouts with a core of battle-tested veterans, head coach Luis Nicolao’s wasted no time showing its skill, producing a 10-1 start.

The Tigers went on to take second in the Southern Championships to Navy and then avenge the defeat to the Midshipmen by pulling out a 10-7 win over their rivals in the Eastern Championships title game. That triumph earned Princeton a spot in the NCAA Final Four for the second time in three years. Princeton ended up taking third, edging UC San Diego 10-7 in the third place game to finish the season at 22-10.

Freshmen Drew Hoffenberg, Matt Weber, Kayj Shannon, and Thomas Nelson have made an immediate impact for Nicolao’s squad while such veterans as junior Tim Wenzlau, senior Mike Helou, senior Chris Cottrell, junior Tommy Donahue, and sophomore Kurt Buchbinder provided stability.

Battling through a rare October snowstorm, the men’s cross country team won its second straight Heps crown and fifth in the last six years. Senior star Donn Cabral set the pace for head coach Steve Dolan’s team, placing third in the individual standings. Senior Peter Maag was fifth while sophomore Tyler Udland was seventh and sophomore Chris Bendtsen took 10th in the race which was run at Princeton’s West Windsor Fields course. Cabral went on to finish 19th at the NCAA championship meet to lead the Tigers to 19th place in the team standings.

The women’s runners couldn’t overcome the snow and the competition at the Heps as they saw their five-year winning streak at the event come to an end. Head coach Peter Farrell’s team took third with senior Alex Banfich placing third in the individual standings. Banfich later placed fifth at the NCAA Championships, the highest finish at that meet in program history.

Coming off a magic 2010 season that saw it go undefeated in Ivy play, the men’s soccer team saw the bounces go against it this fall. Suffering some key injuries and developing a penchant for losing close games, head coach Jim Barlow’s team went 5-10-2 overall and 1-5-1 in league play with eight 1-goal losses along the way.

Senior Antoine Hoppenot, a former Princeton Day School standout, and juniors Mark Linnville and Matt Sanner were named first-team All-Ivy performers while freshman Julian Griggs earned honorable mention. Hoppenot, the 2010 Ivy League Player of the Year, was a three-time first team All-Ivy choice and tallied 26 goals and 15 assists in his stellar career.

The women’s soccer team suffered a similar fate to their male counterparts as they had five 1-goal defeats on the way to a 6-10-1 overall record and a 2-5 Ivy mark. Head coach Julie Shackford’s squad did show some promise for the future as her junior-laden team went 5-2 in its last seven games.

Senior Sara Chehrehsa and junior Jen Hoy were first-team All-Ivy selections while freshman Lauren Lazo and senior Kim Menafra earned honorable mention.

The arrival of former Tiger star and assistant Sabrina King as head coach gave the women’s volleyball program a jolt of energy. Under the guidance of King, Princeton went 18-8 overall and 11-3 in Ivy play.

Senior Cathryn Quinn and junior Lydia Rudnick were named as first-team All-Ivy performers while freshman Ginny Willis got second-team honors and senior Hillary Ford was an honorable mention pick.

The rebuilding process continued for the football team as it went 1-9 for the second straight season. Head coach Bob Surace’s squad featured several young performers who give hope for the future.

Freshman running back Chuck DiBilio made the biggest impression, producing a record-breaking campaign which saw him rush for 1,068 yards, the most ever by a true freshman in Ivy history. DiBilio was named the league’s Rookie of the Year and was a first-team All-Ivy choice.

Junior defensive lineman Caraun Reid also garnered first-team All-Ivy League recognition while senior offensive lineman Matt Allen, senior defensive lineman Mike Catapano, junior punter Joe Cloud, senior linebacker Steven Cody senior kicker Patrick Jacob, and junior Andrew Starks each earned second-team All-Ivy League honors.

Hun School

Led by a core of seniors, the Hun School boys’ basketball team showed some flashes of brilliance as it posted big wins over Hill, Rutgers Prep, and St. Benedict’s. But head coach Jon Stone’s team couldn’t get over the hump in postseason action as it went 12-15.

While the team’s group of seniors, Dylan Sherwood, Doug Macrone, Jared Cotton, Lou Adesida, Will Wise, Grant Fiorentinos, and Dylan Setzekorn, had hoped for a better ending to their Hun careers, most of them will be playing at the next level.

Longtime Hun girls’ hoops head coach Bill Holup faced a different situation with his team as he welcomed eight new faces. The team jelled early as it started 8-0 but hit some bumps down the stretch. Still, the Raiders ended with a 13-12 record, an improvement in the 9-14 mark posted the season before. With such returning starters as Ashley Ravelli, Jackie Mullen, Johnnah Johnson, and Carey Million, Hun appears to be headed in the right direction.

Led by seniors Terry Ryan, Matt Johnson, Will Sweetland, Greg Seelagy, and Nick Pierce, the Hun boys’ hockey team was competitive as it went 8-10-2.

Head coach Francois Bourbeau left the program over the summer when his wife, Amy, became the head coach of Brown University women’s hockey team. Former Princeton University player Ian McNally took the helm of the program as it looked to build on the progress of last winter.

The Hun baseball team gained momentum as the spring unfolded, climaxing with an 11-2 win over Peddie in the state Prep A championship game. Dave Dudeck, Stevie Wells, and Gavin Stupiensky triggered the offense for head coach Bill McQuade while sophomore Austin Goeke became the ace of the pitching staff as the Raiders went 12-7 in winning their first Prep A title since 2008.

A pair of senior stars, pitcher Meghan Hayes and first baseman MacKenzie Pyne, provided inspired play and leadership as the Hun softball team enjoyed another winning season. Head coach Kathy Quirk’s team went 10-6 and advanced to the state Prep A semifinals. With such returners as Emily Kuchar, Carey Million, Kristen Manochio, Stefanie Fox, Joey Crivelli, and Danielle Beal, Hun looks poised to maintain its winning tradition.

With new head coach Beth Loffredo taking the helm, the Raider girls’ lacrosse team went through a transition season. Hurt by a series of injuries, Hun went 4-9. Sophomore Kate Weeks solidified her status as one of the top players in the area, scoring 61 goals to give her more than 100 in her career.

With a quartet of seniors, Will Sweetland, Scott Munley, defenseman Brian Patriarca, and goalie Mike Buckbinder, setting a positive tone, the Hun boys’ lax team went 9-8. Head coach Tom Kelso stepped down over the summer and was replaced by Steven Bristol.

Junior Chris Seitz added to his impressive resume, placing second at first singles in the Mercer County Tournament and then winning the event in the Prep A tournament. Head coach Todd Loffredo’s squad placed sixth in the MCT team standings and fourth in the Prep A.

Entering the fall, Hun football head coach Dave Dudeck liked the talent he had on hand but he wasn’t sure how the pieces would mesh. But as Hun stoically juggled its preseason training around after the school’s fields were damaged by hurricane Irene, Dudeck sensed a special resilience around his team.

The team’s character was displayed as the Raiders pulled out a 20-13 win at Episcopal in its opener and went on to prevail in several tight battles over the course of the fall. The passing combination of quarterback John Loughery and wide receiver David Dudeck, the coach’s son, provided points to go with the resilience as Hun went 7-1 and won the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title.

Led by a trio of senior standouts, defender-midfielder Nicole Campellone, goalie Lexi Golestani, and striker Holly Hargreaves, the Hun girls’ soccer team was a force to be reckoned with.

Head coach Ken Stevenson’s squad got off to an 8-1-2 start with wins over Lawrenceville and PDS and a dramatic 0-0 draw with perennial state Prep A champion Pennington. The Raiders ended up advancing to the semifinals of both the Mercer County Tournament and the state Prep A tourney and finished with a 10-5-2 record.

Welcoming a bevy of new faces, the Hun boys’ soccer team struggled in the early going, losing its first 10 games. But with head coach Pat Quirk providing steady leadership, the Raiders made some nice progress. Jared Golestani and Peter Stoddard provided some inspired play down the stretch as Hun ended the fall at 4-13.

Younger players also sparked the Hun field hockey team. Sophomore Francesca Bello and junior Carey Million provided offensive punch while junior Lauren Apuzzi, sophomore Alex Kane, and freshman goalie Reina Kern spearheaded the defense. Head coach Kathy Quirk’s team posted a 7-8-1 record and has the pieces in place for greater success in 2012.

The second doubles team of junior Cansu Cabeci and senior Lexi Gray advanced to the Prep A finals to provide a major highlight for the Hun girls’ tennis team. Head coach Joan Nuse’s squad showed progress all around, doubling its win total from 2010 with senior Katie Seitz providing stability at first singles.

PDS

A pair of senior captains, Skye Samse and Peter Blackburn, set a serious tone for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team as they went after a state Prep title that had eluded them during their careers.

Their determination combined with the clutch play of sophomore forward Alex Nespor and sophomore goalie Connor Walker helped the Panthers achieve that goal in dramatic fashion.

Hosting defending state champion Pingry in the prep title game, head coach Scott Bertoli’s team pulled out a 4-2 win. PDS, which also advanced to the Mercer County Tournament semifinals, finished the winter at 16-9-1.

The one-two punch of senior center Tiffany Patterson and junior guard Janie Smukler made the PDS girls’ basketball team one of the best in the area. Under new head coach Mika Ryan, the Panthers advanced to the state Prep B final for a second straight year and made it to the county semis.

The Long Island University-bound Patterson ended her career with over 1,000 points while Smukler passed that mark in December as the Panthers posted a final mark of 16-9.

With sophomore guard Davon Reed emerging as a star and attracting the attention of major college programs, the PDS boys’ hoops team had a promising season. Head coach Paris McLean’s team went 15-11 and made it to the county quarters.

The arrival of freshman forwards Mary Travers and Mimi Matthews, freshman defenseman Robin Linzmayer together with sophomore transfer Daisy Mase at goalie gave the PDS girls’ hockey team a lift.

That influx of talent combined with such veterans as junior forward Megan Ofner and sophomore Zeeza Cole helped head coach Kat Smithson’s team prosper. The Panthers went 11-5-5 and won the ‘B’ bracket tournament at the WIHLMA (Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) playoffs.

In the spring, the combination of seniors stars Carly O’Brien, Katie Gibson, Jacqui Stevens, and Jess Frieder helped the PDS girls’ lax team enjoy another solid campaign. Head coach Jill Thomas’ squad went 11-5 and advanced to the county semifinals and state Prep A semis.

Led by seniors Aaron Shavel, Peter Blackburn, Dan Reynolds, and Will Kearney, the PDS boys’ lacrosse team made strides. Head coach Rob Tuckman’s team went 10-5. With such returning players as Garret Jensen, Tyler Olsson, Mike Davila, and Cody Triolo, the Panthers are poised to continue their ascension.

It was a rebuilding year for the PDS baseball program as it dealt with the loss of nine players to graduation from a squad that won the state Prep B title in 2010. Head coach Ray O’Brien’s squad posted a record of 4-14 with seniors Skye Samse, Jon Walker, and Kevin Francfort having big years to end their careers in style.

The softball program nearly had to take the year off as it started the season with eight players. With Stuart Country Day School’s Margo Schmiederer joining the team, PDS was able to field a team. Head coach Heather Pino-Beattie’s team went 1-7 but showed promise as freshmen Dina Alter and Jess Toltzis had solid debut seasons.

The loss of star Neil Karandikar to graduation left a major void for the PDS boys’ tennis program. New head coach Will Asch focused on developing his young players as the Panthers placed 10th at the MCT.

In the fall, Asch’s daughter, junior star Samantha Asch, played a pivotal role as the PDS girls’ tennis team won its first county team title since 1986. Asch cruised to her second straight title at first singles, not losing a set.

First-year head coach Ed Tseng’s team got good performances from Nicole Keim at second singles and Mary Atkeson at third singles together with the freshman pair of Emily Dyckman and Hope Boozan at first doubles as it edged Princeton High 17.5-16.5 to pull out the team crown. Asch went on to win the state Prep B title at first singles as PDS placed fifth in the team standings in that event.

A core of senior stars, Rui Pinheiro, Paul Zetterberg, Connor Gibson, and Jacob Eisenberg, helped the PDS boys’ soccer team remain competitive despite heavy graduation losses from a 2010 squad that won both the Prep B and county titles.

Head coach Malcolm Murphy guided the Panthers to a second straight trip to the Prep B title game where it fell 3-0 at top-seeded Montclair Kimberley to end the fall at 9-7-2.

The PDS girls’ soccer team only had one senior in Janie Smukler but her tenacity and finishing skills alone were enough to keep the Panthers in most games. The combination of Smukler and five talented freshman starters, Kirsten Kuzmicz, Erin Hogan, Kylie Kieffer, and the Soltesz twins, Alexa and Stefany, helped head coach Pat Trombetta’s squad get off to an 8-2 start.

A series of injuries derailed the Panthers down the stretch but the team still managed to finish with a 10-7-1 mark. Smukler was the team’s leading scorer for a fourth straight season, tallying 25 goals on the fall to give her 73 in her stellar career.

A pair of juniors, goalie Sarah Trigg and attacker Andrea Jenkins, provided some major highlights for the PDS field hockey team. Head coach M.C. Heller’s squad struggled in midseason as the team was hit with some key injuries. PDS played some of its best hockey down the stretch, advancing to the state Prep B semis and finishing with a record of 7-8-1.

The PDS cross country program said goodbye to legendary coach Eamon Downey and welcomed Merrill Noden to the helm. Noden presided over a youth movement as the Panthers underwent a rebuilding campaign.

PHS

Sparked by a talented corps of juniors and the addition of some precocious freshmen, the Princeton High boys’ swimming team became a dominant force.

Head coach Greg Hand’s team cruised to the county title and the Public B Central Jersey sectional championship.

After beating Haddonfield in the Public B state semis, PHS suffered its only defeat of the winter as it narrowly lost to Scotch Plains Fanwood in the championship meet.

The group of juniors featured Victor Honore, Matt Kuhlik, Addison Hebert, Harun Filipovic, and Derek Colaizzo while the freshmen standouts were Will Stange, Matt Purdy, Peter Kalibat, and Colburn Yu. With all of that talent returning, the Little Tigers will have their sights set on taking one more step in the 2012 state tourney.

While the PHS girls’ team didn’t have the depth of its male counterparts, it produced a stirring run in the state tournament. Sparked by sophomore stars Serena Deardorff, Marisa Giglio, and Jen Enos, the Little Tigers won the sectional title.

Coach Hand’s squad fell to Chatham in the state semifinals but that loss couldn’t dim what the team achieved over the course of the winter.

The leadership and skills of senior co-captains Fraser Graham and Dean DiTosto helped the PHS boys’ hockey team skate to the county crown. Head coach Tim Campbell’s team topped WW/P-N and Hopewell Valley on the way to the finals and then defeated Notre Dame 4-1 in the championship contest.

Junior goalie Josh Berger was the MVP of the tournament as PHS enjoyed it first MCT title since 2005. The Little Tigers then produced some more drama as they made their first appearance in the state tournament since the 2006-07 season. The Little Tigers rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat Bernards 4-3 in overtime in the opening round and then fell 5-2 to Middletown South in the next round to finish 18-5.

Senior star Eamon Cuddy provided inside punch and junior guard Davon Holliday-Black guided the backcourt as the PHS boys’ hoops team returned to the state tournament for a fourth straight season. Head coach Jason Carter’s team edged Hopewell Valley 51-47 in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group III sectional before falling to Colts Neck in the quarters to finish with a 12-13 record.

Senior guard Molly Barber provided a major highlight for the PHS girls’ basketball team, hitting the 1,000-point mark in her career. Head coach Steffanie Shoop’s team struggled with injuries as it finished 7-14.

Focusing on developing skills and camaraderie, the PHS girls’ hockey team went 0-14-1. Head coach Christian Herzog’s squad featured some fine individual performances by junior stars Keely Herring and Abby Hunter.

The PHS wrestling team also got some fine individual performances as it posted a 9-7 record in dual matches. Head coach Rashone Johnson’s team showed improved depth as Ian Snyder, Tim Miranda, Frank Bozich, Jeff Barsamian, and Nick Gillette had superb seasons.

Tragedy turned to triumph for the PHS girls’ lax team as it wrote one of the more inspiring stories in recent years. Getting off to an uneven start, the squad was shocked by the passing of senior player Emma Brunskill in April.

Head coach Christie Cooper’s team came together in the face of its grief, going on a hot streak that culminated with the team winning the program’s first-ever county title. Senior Taylor Blair, a close friend of the late Brunskill, scored eight goals in the title game as the Little Tigers topped WW/P-N 11-8. PHS advanced to the second round of the state tournament where it fell to West Morris to finish with an 11-5 record.

Featuring a battle-tested defense, the PHS boys’ lax team nearly won its first county title. Senior defenders Robby Dowers, Michael Irving, and Dean DiTosto together with goalie Griffin Peck shut the door on the opposition as PHS advanced to a championship showdown against Notre Dame.

Head coach Peter Stanton’s squad fell behind the Fighting Irish 6-3 heading into the fourth quarter. The Little Tigers outscored the Fighting Irish 4-1 in the quarter to force overtime but ended up falling 8-7. Rebounding from that setback, PHS advanced to the Group III state quarterfinals where they fell 10-5 at Ridge to end the spring at 14-5-1.

Led by senior distance star Zaid Smart and junior sprinter/jumper, the PHS boys track team had a solid season. Head coach John Woodside’s team placed ninth in the county meet and 14th at the Central Jersey Group III sectional meet.

The combination of distance runners Elyssa Gensib, Amelia Whaley, and Jenna Cody together with jumping standout Rebekka Vuojolainen helped the PHS girls’ track team enjoy another strong campaign. Head coach Jim Smirk’s team placed fifth in the county meet and fifth in the sectionals.

Senior star Fraser Graham solidified his place as one of the greatest players in PHS boys’ golf history, winning his second straight county crown and taking the Central/South Sectional title. The heroics of the Delaware-bound Graham helped head coach Sheryl Severance’s squad take fourth in the county team standings.

The PHS boys’ tennis team maintained the program’s winning tradition, going 15-3-1. Head coach Sarah Hibbert’s team advanced to the Central Jersey Group III semifinals and with singles players Robert Zhao, Eddie Percarpio, and Julian Edgren slated to return, the future looks bright for the Little Tigers.

With sophomore Marisa Gonzalez establishing herself as one of the top players in the area, the PHS softball team continued to make progress. Head coach Craig Haywood’s team finished 8-14 and made a second straight trip to the state tournament.

It was another frustrating spring for the PHS baseball team as it finished with a 5-19 record. Head coach Dave Roberts is optimistic going forward with such young players as Nico Mercuro, Ellis Bloom, Matt Farinick, Clay Alter and Mike Dunlap making strides in 2011.

Featuring the stingy defense that has become the hallmark of the program, the PHS boys’ soccer team posted a third straight undefeated regular season. Head coach Wayne Sutcliffe’s team went on to win the MCT title and the Central Jersey Group III sectional crown. It was PHS’s fourth county championship in the last five years and its fourth sectional title in the last eight years.

Going for a second state title in the last three years, PHS fell short as it outshot Timber Creek in the Group III semis but ended up losing 2-0. While Sutcliffe and his players were disappointed over falling short of their ultimate goal, the plusses surely outweighed the minuses in a 20-1-2 campaign. Afterward, Sutcliffe lauded his group of seniors, Ben Davis and Kyle Ehrenworth, George Kusserow, Bruce Robertson, Ajami Gikandi, and Kellen Kenny, for what they contributed to the program in helping PHS go 53-3-7 over the last three years.

With sophomore Conor Donahue hitting his stride, the PHS boys’ cross country team broke a long drought as it won its first sectional crown since 1986.

Donahue finished sixth in the meet with Will Flemer taking eighth and Sage Healy placing ninth. For head coach John Woodside, a member of a PHS team that won the sectional title in 1973, that breakthrough made it one of the more memorable seasons in recent years.

Led by a core of six seniors, the PHS girls’ tennis team produced a breakthrough of their own as they won the sectional title, the program’s first crown in the competition since 1999. The team’s Class of 2012 featured Sarah Cen, Keely Herring and Alyssa Taylor at singles with Helena Ord, Lena Sun, and Vinita Su playing doubles.

Head coach Sarah Hibbert’s squad ended the season by dropping a 3-2 nailbiter to Montville in the Group III state semis. Hibbert was proud to see her seniors get that far and credited them with leaving a legacy of achievement and class.

Senior Jenna Cody also ended her career on a high note, winning the individual title at the Central Jersey Group III sectional meet. Cody went on to place seventh at the Group III state meet, helping head coach Jim Smirk’s team place 11th in the team standings.

A pair of senior defenders, Mia Haughton and Katie Reilly, combined with junior goalie Lauren Ullmann to give the PHS girls’ soccer team one of the stingiest defenses in the area. While head coach Greg Hand’s team had trouble scoring goals, the Little Tigers rode that defense to the MCT quarterfinals and the sectional quarterfinals. PHS ended the season at 10-4-4, yielding only eight goals all fall.

The arrival of three promising freshmen, Julia DiTosto, Lucy Herring, and Campbell McDonald, gave a lift to the PHS field hockey team. The combination of that trio and veteran standouts Sydney Watts, Vivien Bazarko, Tobi Afran, and Emilia Lopez-Ona transformed the Little Tigers into one of the more dangerous teams in the area. Head coach Heather Serverson’s team went 11-6 as it advanced to the MCT quarterfinals and made the state tournament.

The PHS football team didn’t wait long to snap the 11-game losing streak it brought into 2011, edging Northern Burlington 20-14 in the season opener. Head coach Joe Gargione’s squad continued to progress through the fall, going 3-7. Senior receiver Eric Shorter produced one of the best seasons in program history, making 49 catches for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Stuart

Battling through injury, senior guards Amber Bowman and Jasmine Smarr, gave their all in their final campaign with the Stuart Country Day School basketball team. Head coach Tony Bowman’s squad ended up 6-11 as it dealt with the lineup juggling necessitated due to the injuries. With such returning players as Paris Branker, Angela Gallagher, and Jen Diaz, the Tartans will be looking to regain their winning ways in the 2011-12 season.

Undergoing a youth movement, the Stuart lacrosse team predictably took some lumps. Head coach Sara Wagner’s team went 2-10 as it focused on developing skills.

Wagner credited her group of seniors, Kristi Hallowell, Katie Keith, Whitney Charbonneau, and Kate Neubert, with holding things together and setting a good example. Such young players as Meghan Shannon, Christine Zeppfield, Emily Tindall, Cat Reilly, and Isabel Soto made progress and laid the foundation for future success.

In the fall, the Tartan field hockey team also featured a bevy of new faces as it went through a transition year. Head coach Julie Martelli guided the squad to a 5-7-1 mark with the team showing progress down the stretch by beating Hun 1-0 in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament and topping Blair 3-2 in regular season contest. The team’s seniors, Colleen Baker, Ani Hallowell, Susan Knox, Angela Gallagher, Kassidy McNair, and Margo Schmiederer, set a positive tone which aided the development of the younger players.

The Stuart tennis team made strides as it finished 12th at the Mercer County Tournament. Head coach Dede Webster saw juniors Mariah Guarnaccia and Kanika Sharma place first at second doubles in the MCT backdraw consolation bracket while Kyra Bradley advanced to the semis of the backdraw at third singles. First singles player Katherine Hagestad advanced to the second round of the main draw.

With new athletic director Kim Ciarrocca taking the helm, Stuart started a club soccer program. Under the direction of head coach Megan Lipski, the Tartans played against mainly JV teams and posted three wins. Senior stars Lexus Rodriguez and Amethyst Carey were key factors in the team’s progress. The success enjoyed this fall in terms of number of players and on-field competitiveness has the program on track to reaching varsity status in the next few years.


sports3

GREEN WAVE: Princeton High boys’ hockey star Will Greenberg heads up the ice in recent action. Last Thursday, senior co-captain Greenberg tallied two goals to help PHS top WW/P-N 6-4. The Little Tigers, now 4-2-2, return from the holiday break when they play Lawrence on January 2 at Mercer County Park.

Will Greenberg hadn’t shown his normal finishing touch for the Princeton High boys’ hockey team so far this season but he had the sense that things were about to change last Thursday as the Little Tigers played
WW/P-N.

“I have kind of started slowly this year; I haven’t scored that much but I have been passing a lot,” said senior forward Greenberg. “Today I felt really good. In warmups, I knew I was back on track.”

The co-captain started quickly against the Northern Knights, scoring a first period goal as PHS jumped into a 1-0 lead. Late in the contest, Greenberg tallied an insurance goal to foil a WW/P-N rally as the Little Tigers pulled out a 6-4 victory.

In Greenberg’s view, the win should be a confidence builder for PHS, which had tied its last two games coming into the WW/P-N contest.

“We haven’t been playing that well; everyone knows that we have a lot more potential than we have been showing,” said Greenberg.

“Today we didn’t really play that well but we were able to show our potential at the end of the game and come out with a big win.”

Greenberg came through near the end of the game as he notched his second goal on a breakaway to give PHS the final margin of victory.

“The puck was kind of scrambling in our zone so I just went up ice and Kirby [Peck] found me,” recalled Greenberg.

“I thought I was just going to beat the guy but he caught up to me so I just did a little toe drag kind of thing; I just fired it and it went in.”

Greenberg and Peck work together on and off the ice to guide the team in their roles as co-captains.

“Kirby and I know how to lead,” asserted Greenberg. “Being a captain is much more important than scoring. We need to teach guys how to play and get them in the game.”

PHS head coach Tim Campbell certainly liked the scoring punch he got from Greenberg in the win over the Northern Knights.

“That is what Will does; he has good games like that,” said Campbell, who also got two goals from Connor McCormick in the victory with Matt DiTosto and John Reid adding one apiece.

“In order for us to be successful, that is the type of game he has got to have and I have no doubt that he will.”

Campbell acknowledged that PHS has to show more game than it did against WW/P-N if it is going to experience a lot of success this winter.

“We didn’t play that well tonight,” said Campbell, whose team lost 2-0 to Glen Rock the next night to bring a 4-2-2 record into 2012. “I am not happy about it at all but we found a way to pull it off.”

While Campbell was pleased that his team found the back of the net frequently against WW/P-N, he knows that the Little Tiger defense needs to tighten up.

“Obviously you are happy with scoring six goals but giving up four goals is too many with the type of defense we normally have,” said Campbell.

“Good defense wins these tight games; that’s where we need to focus our efforts right now. We are getting beat to the puck, we are getting beat to the net.”

In Campbell’s view, PHS has the potential to beat a lot of teams when it gets into the meat of its schedule after the holiday break.

“We are taking some momentum into the holidays and coming back for a big January,” said Campbell, whose team resumes action when it plays Lawrence on January 2 at Mercer County Park. “I am looking forward to it.”

Greenberg, for his part, believes PHS has the chemistry to come up big down the stretch.

“We are just a bunch of guys who know how to work together,” said Greenberg.

“The thing is we don’t have to rely on one guy to score big goals; anybody can score at any time, nobody is going to care who it is. As long as we are scoring, we are happy. I think we will get the ball rolling and start winning more games.”

Lior Levy has experienced a star-crossed career with the Princeton High boys’ basketball team.

As a freshman, Levy made the varsity but saw his progress curtailed by a bout with mono.

Last season, Levy cracked the starting lineup but suffered a season-ending knee injury early in the winter.

Due to the injury, Levy didn’t get to do as much work this summer as he wanted heading into his junior campaign.

“I couldn’t really do too much conditioning on account of my knee; I was able to get a bunch of shots,” said the 6’7 Levy.

Levy acknowledged that he is not yet at full speed. “I have been fighting the knee injury,” said Levy. “I am close but I am not there yet. I am limiting myself a little bit.”

Last Thursday against visiting Hopewell Valley, Levy felt more like himself, scoring 12 points in a losing cause as the Tigers fell 54-48.

“In the first couple of games, I wasn’t playing that well so I wanted to come out strong today,” said Levy, in assessing his effort against the Bulldogs. “I think I definitely got my confidence up. Tonight, it felt good.’

It didn’t feel good for Levy and his teammates to lose to the Bulldogs. PHS led 25-22 at halftime and 43-40 after three quarters but went cold down the stretch, getting outscored 14-5 in the fourth as it dropped to 1-3 on the season.

In reflecting on the loss, Levy admitted it was a frustrating evening for the Little Tigers.

“They stepped up their defense in the fourth quarter and we just couldn’t hit our shots,” said Levy.

Levy, whose father, Howard Levy, played and coached for the Princeton University men’s basketball team and now is the head coach for the Mercer County Community College program, showed his hoops acumen with some deft passes and blocked shots.

“I don’t really work on that; it just kind of comes.” said Levy, referring to his sophisticated floor game.

PHS head coach Jason Carter was disappointed by his team’s work in crunch time against the Bulldogs.

“I think our shot selection was poor; we just have to make basketball plays,” lamented Carter, who got a game-high 19 points from senior Davon Holliday-Black in the loss with junior Ellis Bloom adding nine and junior Scott Bechler chipping in eight.

“We have got to make foul shots; we have to take some charges and grab some rebounds. We have to make good decisions and be able to make pressure shots and finish on the offensive end.”

The Little Tigers were under some extra pressure before the game even started due to some health issues.

“We played without a starter; Jordan [Phelps] was sick; Lior was a little banged up so we had to reserve his minutes,” said Carter.

“Davon had hurt his back a little bit in the Notre Dame game so we were banged up. We have got some young guys stepping up and we are going through some growing pains.”

In Carter’s view, PHS can grow into something special this winter. “The team is young; the attitude is outstanding and the guys are dedicated,” said Carter, whose team are slated to compete in the Cougar Holiday Classic at Montgomery High on December 27 and 29 before playing at Allentown High on January 3.

“The practice sessions have been great; we just aren’t winning games. Everything else is outstanding; I really enjoy coaching this team. We laugh in the locker room, the guys are close, they make jokes. I thoroughly enjoy coming to practice everyday and I think those guys enjoy coming to practice. We have got to figure some things out.”

Levy, for his part, is confident the Little Tigers can figure things out as the season goes on.

“We are a really young team right now; we have a bunch of new players on the varsity,” noted Levy.

“It will take a little bit of time but I think we have the talent to do well. I have been on varsity for three years now and this is the best listening team; coach tells us what to do and we will do it.”

Devona Allgood is known among her teammates on the Princeton University women’s basketball team to be a person of few words.

While the quiet Allgood settled into the background upon joining the Tigers in the 2008-09 season, it didn’t take long for her to make some noise on the court. After coming off the bench in Princeton’s first 13 games that winter, Allgood broke into the starting lineup against Rider on January 6, 2009 and never left.

The 6’3 native of Huntersville, N.C. scored 12 points that day and went on to make the Ivy League All-Rookie team as she ended up averaging 8.0 points and 6.9 rebounds a game.

As a sophomore, Allgood was a second-team All Ivy choice, averaging 10.8 points and 7.8 rebounds as the Tigers went undefeated in league play on the way to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.

Last winter, Allgood scored 11.9 points a game with 7.2 rebounds to make All-Ivy first team honors and help the Tigers win a second straight league title.

Coming into this week, Allgood is on the verge of a career milestone, standing at 987 points with Princeton slated to play at Hofstra on December 29 and at Drexel on December 31.

For Allgood, the most important milestone for her may have come before the season when she was named as a co-captain of the Tigers along with classmate Lauren Edwards.

While Allgood was typically understated as she reflected on earning the leadership role in an early-season interview, it is clear that it deeply touched her.

“It is an honor considering this is the team’s decision and the coaches’ decision.” said Allgood, who is averaging 8.8 points 6.3 rebounds a game this season for the 8-4 Tigers.

“They have their reasons for choosing us and I think it is going to be really exciting to work with Lauren side-by-side and having the influence of the other senior, Laura Johnson. It is going to be great working closer with them and making decisions on the team’s behalf.”

Acknowledging that she is not a vocal leader, Allgood believes she and Edwards bring other qualities to the table.

“I think there is going to be a lot of complimenting going on,” said Allgood. “We are going to take out own personalities and see how that goes. We are not like the captains two years ago, Tani [Brown] and Cheryl [Stevens] who were extremely outgoing and yelled all the time. We are not like Addie [Micir] who was a great floor leader or Krystal [Hill] who led by example. We have some attributes and we will put those together.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart realizes the pair of Allgood and Edwards isn’t high volume. “We can’t have the same captains every year,” said Banghart.

“I always say the team plays to the personalities of its leaders and I am excited to see how this team plays under its new leadership. Lauren has gone for every rebound on every possession in every practice since she was a freshman. Devona couldn’t shoot a left-handed layup when she got there, now she has legitimate three-point range. They have led by example one day at a time.”

While Allgood is proud of her progress, she isn’t going to let up in her efforts to hone her game.

“I am much more comfortable with the offense and my expectations,” said Allgood. “I am going to do my best; I will be working hard on the offensive and defensive end.”

The Tigers gained a deeper comfort level with each other last year through their 8-day jaunt to France and Senegal in early September.

“The summer trip was amazing; it was team building on and off the court,” said Allgood.

“We were spending a lot of time together off the court like we always do but in a completely different setting. On the court, we were playing against those foreign teams so that was basketball that we are not used to typically seeing. We were having to make adjustments right when we were out there because it is not like we scouted them.”

With Princeton having done some amazing things the last two years in going 50-8 overall and 27-1 in Ivy play, Allgood and her teammates are looking for even more success

“I wouldn’t say there is added pressure; we always hold ourselves to a pretty high standard,” said Allgood, noting that the Tigers harbor lingering disappointment from suffering one-sided losses in their two NCAA first round games.

“If we feel like a 3-peat is something we can attain that is what we are going to hold ourselves to. We don’t make our goals based on the thoughts of others; it is completely based on what we feel we can accomplish so I don’t think there is really any added pressure. We want to be able to grow from what we learned in those tournament games.”

In Allgood’s view, the Tigers possess the right mindset to achieve their goals.

“We all have to be on the same page which I think we are,” asserted Allgood.

“We all have to be willing to do what it takes in practice and outside of practice. I really think our team has the heart to do as much as we set for ourselves. Our key is to be a team and play together.”

December 22, 2011
"Acasio Pinheiro"

SILVER STAR: Acasio Pinheiro displays the silver medal he earned earlier this month for finishing second at the AAU Cross Country National Championship meet in Orlando, Fla. Pinheiro, 10, a fifth grader at the Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart, covered the 3k course in 10:59.81.

Acasio Pinheiro has only been running for the last four years but he has already come a long way in the sport.
Earlier this month, the 10-year-old Princeton resident placed second in the AAU Cross Country Nationals Championship meet in Orlando, Fla. A year earlier, Pinheiro had placed third in the AAU national event.
For Pinheiro, a fifth grader at the Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart, taking up the sport was a way to continue a family tradition.
“I started running when I was six,” said Pinheiro, who placed first in the New Jersey AAU race to qualify for the national competition. “My dad was a runner when he was young and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
Pinheiro’s dad, Angelo, imparted some of his knowledge to Acasio after he showed an interest in running.
“My dad made me train before I raced,” said Pinheiro. “I run with the Sport Newark club now. I run 3.2 miles a day, six days a week.”
The active Pinheiro, who also wrestles and plays baseball, sees running as a way to channel his energy.
“Running helps calm me down,” said Pinheiro, whose cousins, Rui and Marco, are soccer stars at the Princeton Day School. “I like passing people; it is just having fun.”
While Pinheiro enjoyed himself at the AAU race, he had mixed emotions about the result.
“I was proud but I was also sad because I wanted to win,” said Pinheiro, who covered the 3k course in 10:59.81 with the winner, Lucas Bourgoyne clocking a time of 10:48.97. “I will be trying to win next year.”
Pinheiro is planning to win a lot of races over the next 10 years or so.
“I want to run in high school, college, and all the way to the Olympics,” said Pinheiro.

December 21, 2011

Fergus Duke had the hot hand for the Hun School boys’ basketball team in early stages of the fourth quarter last Saturday as it faced WW/P-S in the Tip-Off Classic.

Junior guard Duke reeled off seven points as the Raiders edged ahead of WW/P-S 47-46 in the game played at Rider University.

“I felt good; my shot was feeling good so I just kept shooting the ball,” said Duke.

Hun, though, didn’t hit enough shots down the stretch as it fell 56-54 to the Pirates.

In reflecting on the loss, Duke said Hun’s impatience helped doom it to defeat.

“We took too many quick shots and it turned into easy layups for them,” said Duke, who ended up with 15 points in the contest.

“It didn’t put us in a good situation at the end of the game; we should have worked harder on offense and been more patient for open shots. We also should have done a much better job defending.”

Duke and backcourt mate, senior Bo McKinley, are trying to do a better job of running the Hun offense.

“Going back to last year, we didn’t play as much and we got used to the system,” said Duke.

“This year we have stepped into more of a leadership role so we are hoping that we develop as the season goes on.”

In Duke’s view, the disappointment of the loss to WW/P-S could help Hun develop into a stronger team.

We needed a wake-up call; that was a humbling experience for all of us,” said Duke. “We need to come out stronger and we need to come harder.”

A perturbed Hun head coach Jon Stone hopes his team learns from the setback. “The lesson is that we have got to show up to play every night,” said Stone with a clenched jaw.

“We didn’t show up to play today. They outworked us; they outplayed us, and they deserved to win 100 percent.”

In Stone’s view, his team has struggled to find a rhythm. “We have had close games go our way too but we are just not consistent,” added Stone, whose team bounced back Sunday with a 58-41 win over Paramus Catholic as McKinley scored 16 points with Rashid Epps adding 11 and Will Kelly chipping in 10 as the Raiders improved to 4-5. “We have no consistency.”

Duke, for his part, believes Hun can work through its inconsistency. “We are still learning and getting more comfortable with it,” said Duke. “I am sure that we will get things under control and figure it out.”

After warming the bench last winter for the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball teams, Deante Cole put his nose to the grindstone this summer.

“I had to work mainly on my shot,” said sophomore point guard Cole. “I stepped into the weight room, I had to work on my strength a lot.”

Cole also spent a lot of time with his teammates as they worked collectively on becoming a stronger unit.

“We lost seven seniors so coming into this year it was pretty much a whole new team,” said Cole.

“We started early. We played in summer leagues, we played together in the fall. We just all got really comfortable with each other and we started jelling. By the time we got into the season, we were ready to play even though we were starting as a whole new team.”

The fruits of that labor were on display last Wednesday as PDS hosted the American History School from Newark. The Panthers jumped out to a 20-8 lead after one quarter and took a 49-19 advantage into halftime.

PDS never looked back on the way to a 79-46 triumph as it moved to 5-0 on the season.

“Today we started out really well, we came out strong and we had about a 30-point halftime lead,” said Cole, who contributed 16 points and some slick assists.

“We wanted to come out after halftime and start the first four minutes fast and well. We wanted to hold the lead and not let American History come back. We wanted to stay on our game.”

Cole and PDS junior star Davon Reed have developed a partnership that really helps PDS’s game.

“Davon and me have been playing together since were eight years old,” said Cole.

“We know how to play with each other. Playing with Davon is a really big up. I know where he is and he knows where I am all the time.”

PDS head coach Paris McLean had the sense that his team would come together this season even though it was featuring a lot of new faces in the starting lineup.

“We only had Davon and Matt Cook coming back with a lot of varsity playing time so we had to blend early,” said McLean.

“The boys’ commitment to stepping up in the offseason, whether it is in the weight room or open gym is paying off with a 5-0 start. We look like we are in great shape; I think we could run for days.”

McLean likes the way Cole is running the PDS offense from his point guard spot.

“I always knew he was going to be a great player,” said McLean, who got five points from Cole last Monday as PDS topped George School 74-50 to improve to 6-0 with Reed scoring 32 points and passing the 1,000-point mark in his career.

“For a young kid being a freshman and coming into a varsity role it is the speed of the game. Now he has adjusted to that and he feels comfortable. He is crafty; he shoots the ball well. He does a lot of things well. He is a great point guard and he can score.”

Junior guard Langston Glaude is another young kid who is playing well for the Panthers.

“Langston is such a cerebral player; he understands the game well,” said McLean.

“He thinks like a basketball player so it is nice to see him get in on the scoring as well because he can score. We have multiple weapons.”

While Reed, who has been rated as one of the top 100 juniors in the country by several hoops rating services, is the team’s top weapon, the Panthers know they can’t rely on the 6’5 star to do everything.

“One of this team’s mottos is ‘hurt the help;’ if someone comes out to help on Davon, whoever is open has to hurt the help and make them pay,” said McLean.

“So the help will be a little less next time and Davon will be open.”

PDS is dedicated to working together. “The team made another motto –‘everybody eats,’” said McLean, whose team plays at Conwell-Egan on December 21 before competing in the Delran Tournament on December 27 and 29.

“Everybody eats in this family and that means everybody gets a touch on the ball and everybody gets shots when they are open. You don’t see guys pointing fingers saying why did you take that shot or why did you do this because we are comfortable with each other.”

Cole, for his part, believes PDS can make its foes uncomfortable throughout the season.

“I think we are going to surprise a lot of people; we came out strong this year,” said Cole.

“I think we just came in with a chip on our shoulder; we just wanted to prove to everybody that PDS can beat anybody any time. We have the attitude that we can beat anybody who steps on the floor with us.”

Serena Deardorff is not waiting until her senior year to take a major leadership role for the Princeton High girls’ swimming team.

“Every junior is more of a role model for the team, not just the seniors,” said junior star Deardorff.

“We have to be there and show them what they should be doing rather than just sitting there; we should be out there for the team.”

Last week, the Little Tigers were pressed to show their stuff as they edged a tough Robbinsville team 90-80.

“It was a pretty tough challenge, it was a good way to start our third meet of the season,” said Deardorff of the matchup with the Raven squad which is a combined team including some top-flight swimmers from Allentown.

“Everyone’s adrenaline was going; we got everyone cheering for our teammates and it was really exciting, we have all the spirit we need and it really does help in the water.”

Deardorff produced a spirited performance, placing a tight second in the 200 individual medley before coming back to win the 100 butterfly.

“It was a really good race; I loved racing Taylor [Johnson],” said Deardorff, reflecting on the 200 IM race.

“I don’t think getting second had any effect on me; it was just fun. We are both really exhausted because we had a big club meet this weekend. We went all out and that is all that really matters. In the 100, I felt better. I didn’t have Taylor to race there but it doesn’t really matter who I am racing. I am just trying to swim hard.”

PHS head coach Greg Hand saw Deardorff as exemplifying the solid effort he got from his swimmers.

“I thought Serena was a good example of somebody who gave 100 percent today and she’s got so much experience racing. She knows full well that she can’t influence anything except what is going on in her lane.”

Hand, though, acknowledges that Deardorff is having an influence on the team beyond her excellence in the pool.

“As she is getting older, she is just becoming a more confident person and is someone who seems to have a really good sense of herself and is genuinely friendly towards everyone on the team,” said Hand.

“She is injecting a lot of energy on the deck and into the team so that’s sort of automatically happening which is great. She is also conscious that she can have a really big impact because she is somebody who is automatically going to be a role model for the kids on the team. It is nice to see her realizing that there is something that she can do and ought to do and she is doing exactly that.”

In the win over Robbinsville, the Little Tigers followed Deardorff’s lead with their focus on the job at hand.

“I had this sense that the kids seemed to be excited; they were concerned with their own races,” said Hand, who got a win from Christie Samios in the 100 backstroke with Marisa Giglio taking second in both 100 and 200 freestyle races.

“They didn’t seem too worried about the score. I wasn’t getting a lot of questions about the score, which in my opinion is always a good sign. If the kids know that the only thing they can do is perform their best in their own lane, then that will be a scrappy meet. If they are worried about externals then they are really underperforming. I was happy that the kids were really trying to do their best and supporting each other.”

Hand sees that support permeating the team, both on race days and in training.

“We have a big infusion of swimmers across a whole spectrum of experience and ability but the common factor is that they seem to enjoy each other,” said Hand.

“They seem to be buying into the idea that one of the ways to assess how we are doing is how it feels when we are out there training together and how it feels during meets. I really enjoy the team. Having fun is not near the top of my priority list but when we are having fun in the right way, we know we are training better.”

Deardorff, for her part, is confident that the team is headed in the right direction.

“I think we are going to have a great season despite our loss of seniors,” said Deardorff.

“I think we really can surprise some people. Going into this meet, we thought it was going to be a really big challenge and it was. I had this gut instinct that we could pull through. I know there are some meets where we know we are not going to win but I don’t think that should matter. We should go in just trying to improve individually and that will help the team in the end if everyone can do their best and drop their times.”

There were welts on her right arm, her hair was tousled, and her dark brown eyes were blazing as Niveen Rasheed emerged from the Jadwin Gym locker room.

While Rasheed wasn’t happy that the Princeton University women’s basketball team had just lost 78-67 to No. 20 DePaul, her postgame appearance spoke volumes about how the Tigers scrapped on the evening.

“We just knew we had to play hard; we had to bounce back from our Navy game [a 65-52 loss],” said junior forward Rasheed.

“We had to play with intensity. It’s a tough loss but I am proud of everyone. We just made some little mistakes that cost us but we stuck with it and fought to the final buzzer.”

Rasheed didn’t make many mistakes in the December 13 contest that saw her score 23 points and grab a career-high 18 rebounds.

“I just needed to take ownership,” said the 6’0 Rasheed, reflecting on her effort.

“We have to go after every loose ball. It is our gym and we don’t want 50/50 balls to go to them. I just wanted to win, whatever that meant and today it meant me diving on the floor to go for loose balls and rebounds. I fed off my teammates’ energy and they fed off my energy.”

Rasheed and the Tigers have been looking to break through with a win against a top 20 team but have fallen short in an 81-70 loss to Delaware on December 1 and the defeat to DePaul.

“The first half of the Delaware game was not us,” said Rasheed. “In the second half, you saw more of us. The Navy game was all around no effort, we only played in spurts. This game was a tough loss but we played for the full 40 minutes.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart acknowledged that the loss to Navy turned into a wake-up call for her squad.

“We had an important conversation, the upperclassmen and I, about who we are,” said Banghart.

“We asked for a tough schedule and that means we are going to find out where our holes are and we can’t be babies about it. We have got to regroup and hold ourselves accountable. Tonight was a group of Tigers holding themselves accountable.”

Last Saturday, the Tigers gave a good account of themselves, battling valiantly in an 85-66 loss at No. 4 Stanford.

“Defensively, I thought we did a really good job,” said Banghart, in assessing the Tigers’ effort in the setback to the Cardinal as quoted on the Princeton sports website. “Offensively we never stopped attacking. We never quit.”

In the loss to DePaul, Rasheed certainly never quit. “Niveen is a great example of holding herself accountable; I think the way she competes needs to be contagious,” asserted Banghart.

“But it also has to be disciplined; sometimes her desire to win takes over for her ability to stay within a disciplined system defensively and offensively. Tonight, I thought she was very composed and when she does that, she is very effective. To have 23 points and 18 rebounds against a Big East team; that is a pretty super performance by a superstar.”

In Banghart’s view, her team’s performance against DePaul bodes well for the future.

“It is a step forward,” said Banghart. “If this is not only the type of effort but also the discipline and accountability that we have, the sky is this group’s limit. We showed that against a very, very good team.”

Like Banghart, Rasheed believes that playing against very good opposition should help Princeton down the road.

“The last few years we have been yearning to play teams like this,” said Rasheed, a native of Danville, Calif. who had a special homecoming last Monday, tallying 20 points, six rebounds, and five assists as the Tigers won 77-61 at Santa Clara to improve to 8-4.

“A Big East team coming to our gym is great. We are challenging ourselves and that is making us a better team. Hopefully it plays off in the long run.”

Kyle Wente

Kyle Wente

About 10 years ago, Kyle Wente emerged as an indispensable player for the Princeton University basketball team.

The 6’4 Wente, though, didn’t dazzle you with a silky smooth jump shot or flashy moves to the hoop.

Instead, the understated guard gave the Tigers steadiness and filled up the stat sheet by doing a little bit of everything. As a senior in 2002-03, he averaged 5.9 points, 3.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.9 steals a game.

This year’s Tiger squad appears to have found its version of Wente in 6’5 sophomore guard T.J. Bray.

As the season has gone on, the Tigers have been relying more and more on Bray to provide stability and be a jack-of-all-trades.

Last Wednesday evening at Rider University, Bray showed his worth to the Tigers, scoring 11 points with eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals as Princeton rallied for a thrilling 72-71 overtime victory over the Broncs before 1650 at Alumni Gymnasium.

Significantly, Bray didn’t leave the court for a second of the 45-minute contest.

Afterward, Bray acknowledged that he is developing a comfort level in his first season as a starter.

“My teammates have a lot of confidence in me to do good things,” said Bray, a native of New Berlin, Wisc. who was named the state and conference player of the year as a senior at Catholic Memorial High.

“When my teammates have confidence, it makes my job so much easier. We have shooters everywhere; it just makes life easier when you have good players around you.”

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson said that Bray is making his life easier, asserting that he plans to keep the sophomore on the court as much as possible.

“He’s not coming out,” said Henderson. “We need balance and T.J. is a good part of the balance because he is making all the passes too. He’s making guys better; that is a big key for Princeton players.”

In Henderson’s view, Bray’s style is reminiscent of Wente. “He’s got a mind for the game; any limits that he has physically; he makes up for with brains for the game,” said Henderson, who got another strong game from Bray last Sunday as he scored 12 points with three assists and two steals as Princeton topped Northeastern 71-62 to improve to 6-6 and post its fifth win in its last six games.

“The Kyle Wente comparison is right on. Kyle got his hand on more passes as a Princeton player. He was always in the right spot; he stole more 2-on-1s when he was the one guy back. That is a T.J. Bray thing. The numbers really favor T.J. when we are doing well; he seems to be filling up the stat sheet.”

The numbers didn’t favor Princeton early in the Rider game as the Tigers found themselves trailing 36-20 with just under five minutes left in the half. Stepping up its defensive effort, Princeton went on a 13-2 run to narrow the gap to 38-33 at the half.

“I thought that was a huge key to the game for us,” said Henderson, reflecting on that stretch to end the half. “They didn’t score. and we started playing the way we want to play. We can’t come out the way we did tonight and win many games.

Bray acknowledged that Princeton came out flat. “We got down big early because we didn’t come to play and then coach said ‘hey guys you are not playing defense’ and to be honest we weren’t,” recalled Bray.

“We were not helping each other out. Once we started helping each other out, that’s when things started clicking on offense and that’s when we started to make a run.”

In the second half, both teams made furious runs in the topsy-turvy contest. The Tigers went on a late 19-8 run to go ahead 65-61 with 34 seconds left in regulation but the Broncs responded by scoring four unanswered points to force overtime.

In the extra session, Rider took a 71-69 lead with 20 seconds left and then missed two free throws that could have put the game out of reach. Princeton got the ball with eight seconds left and pulled out the game in dramatic fashion as Douglas Davis kicked the ball out to Mack Darrow who drained a three-pointer at the buzzer.

Henderson recognized that the Tigers were lucky to escape up Route 206 with a victory.

“We were very fortunate tonight,” said Henderson, whose team is next in action when it plays at Siena on December 22. “I thought Rider played very well and we just happened to have the ball in our hands when time ran out and Mack made a huge shot.”

Darrow knew he was fortunate to end up as the star of the evening. “I was kind of expecting Doug to be the hero like always,” said Darrow, who missed his three previous shots in the game.

“I just kind of stood still and let him rub off my screen and I figured I would let him do his thing. I walked in to get a better look at his buzzer beater and it turns out I found one. It was a little bit crazy; that is a good feeling.”

For Bray, it is a good feeling to see his hard work paying off. “Coach has had me coming do for shots; I am getting  more shots up just about every day, “ said Bray. “Confidence comes with that, just working hard and putting the extra time in.”

December 15, 2011

(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski) ROAD TEST: Princeton University men’s basketball payer Ian Hummer makes an inside move in recent action. Last Wednesday, Hummer banged in a last-second lay-up to provide the margin of victory as Princeton nipped Rutgers 59-57. Three days later, the Tigers fell 64-60 at Drexel as Hummer scored a team-high 18 points. Princeton, now 4-6, will continue an extended road swing when it plays at Rider on December 14 and at Northeastern on December 18. Over a two-month span between December 7 and February 4, the Tigers will play 12 of 13 games away from home.

It was the first stop on an extended road swing for the Princeton University men’s basketball team and it exemplified the pitfalls of playing in an unfriendly environment.

Playing at Rutgers last Wednesday in the Louis Brown Athletic Center, commonly known as the RAC, Princeton quieted the normally raucous crowd as it jumped out to a 49-32 lead with 7:38 left in regulation.

But with Rutgers turning up the defensive heat, things started to unravel for the Tigers and the gym was transformed into a caldron of noise as the Scarlet Knight supporters tried to yell their team into the lead.

Amazingly, Princeton found itself trailing 56-55 with 47 seconds left and tied 57-57 seconds later. Junior star forward Ian Hummer saved the day for Princeton, rattling in a lay-up at the buzzer to give the Tigers a thrilling 59-57 win.

Afterward, Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson made no effort to hide his relief at escaping with the narrow victory.

“It was a crazy game but we are really happy to be on this side of it,” said Henderson. “That is a good Rutgers team so we are happy to come here and get a win.”

Henderson acknowledged that his team nearly succumbed to the pressure exerted by the Scarlet Knights. “They were playing as hard as you possibly can and it really affected us,” said Henderson, whose team was outscored 20-3 over a 5:25 stretch as Rutgers clawed back into the contest.

“We were stuck at 52 for what seemed like the whole night but Ian made two free throws down the stretch and we said we wanted to get the ball to him in the post on that last play. Everybody committed to that; we got the ball to him and he made a heck of a play to win us the game.”

In Henderson’s view, it was critical to get off to a good start on a journey that will see Princeton play 12 of 13 games away from Jadwin Gym.

“This is huge because we are starting a pretty brutal road trip and we needed this in a bad way,” said Henderson, whose team had a bad time on the road last Saturday as it lost 64-60 at Drexel to move to 4-6.

“I am very happy for the guys that we had success on what was really 30 minutes played well and 10 minutes not played so well.”

There were some big guys on hand to support Henderson and his players as former Princeton head coaches Pete Carril and Bill Carmody were sitting behind the Tiger bench.

“I have won two games here with both of those guys as head coaches and one of them as an assistant,” said Henderson, who spent a decade as an assistant coach for Carmody at Northwestern.

“It was great to see both of them in the stands. I think Bill was wearing some orange so that was a good sign.”

It was a good sign for the Tigers to have senior guard Douglas Davis find the shooting range in the second half as he hit three 3-pointers on the way to 16 points.

“I really felt like he was a huge factor in us pulling away,” asserted Henderson.

“I think Doug was 2-for-8 in the first half and then 3-for-5 in the second. I was very happy with Doug. We need Doug to do a lot for us, not just score. I think tonight when we were making our leads, it was obvious that Doug was the guy that was pulling away for us.”

Like Henderson, Davis was happy to get out of the RAC with a win. “It is huge like coach said because we have a tough road trip coming up,” said Davis, a former Hun School standout who now has 1,238 points in his Princeton career.

“It was a good confidence builder but the most important thing is just getting a win period. We played hard and Rutgers did too. It is always good to get a win.”

In Hummer’s view, the win spoke volumes about the team’s resilience.

“It is hard, the pressure they were putting on the last five minutes of the game was the longest five minutes of my life,” said Hummer, who had a game-high 21 points and is leading the Tigers in scoring (17.5) and rebounding (7.8).

“We had a lot of turnovers but I think we stayed in there and that really shows the character of our team. No matter what happens we are going to keep doing our thing and running our offense. We got a good win out of it.”

Henderson saw some good things to build on from the win. “We made free throws down the stretch,” said Henderson, whose team plays at Rider on December 14 and at Northeastern on December 18.

“For the game, we were 12-of-17 on the line which still isn’t great but Ian made his two at the end when it really mattered and I think T.J. [Bray] went 3-for-4 down the stretch. I think you saw what we can be like defensively for 30 minutes. I knew that but we can really defend and this team likes that about themselves and I like it about them.”

PU Women’s Hockey

PANNING OUT: Princeton University women’s hockey defenseman Ali Pankowski, right, goes after the puck in a recent game. Freshman Pankowski has helped to shore up the defense for the Tigers, who are allowing 2.3 goals a game. Princeton, now 6-9-1 overall and 5-6-1 in ECAC Hockey play, is next in action when it plays a two-game set at Ohio State on December 30 and 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In last year’s ECAC Hockey quarterfinals, the Princeton University women’s hockey team battled Quinnipiac tooth and nail but couldn’t overcome the Bobcats.

The Tigers fell 2-1 and 2-0 to get swept in the best-of-three series. Princeton was tied at 1-1 heading into the last five seconds of game one and the second game was a 1-0 contest until the Bobcats scored with 16 seconds left in regulation.

Last weekend, Princeton got to spend another weekend with Quinnipiac as the teams played a home-and-home set in the last action before the upcoming holidays.

In an unfortunate case of deja vu, the Tigers dropped two tight contests, falling 1-0 at Baker Rink on Friday and 3-0 a day later in Hamden, Conn.

Reflecting on Friday’s loss, Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal acknowledged he could provide little solace to his disappointed players.

“Our kids played well for a majority of the game,” said Kampersal, whose team is now 6-9-1 overall and 5-6-1 in ECAC Hockey play.

“There is nothing I can really say to make them feel better. They played really hard. They played with a lot of heart. That is all we can really ask of them. We still need to execute better in front of the net.”

Kampersal will be depending on his senior line of Paula Romanchuk, Danielle DiCesare, and Heather Landry to help the Tigers find the back of the net.

“They had a lot of oomph tonight,” said Kampersal. “They have played together on and off here for the last four years. Down the stretch, we are going to rely on them.”

The Tiger defense has proven to be reliable. “The defense was solid, their goal was actually a deflection,” said Kampersal, whose team is giving up 2.3 goals a game.

Freshmen Brianne Mahoney and Ali Pankowski have certainly solidified things along the blue line for Princeton.

“Brianne has good vision and was really good last weekend,” added Kampersal.

“She has good vision; there was a play at the end where she fed it back door and our kid couldn’t corral it but it was a perfect play. Pankowski has a presence out there; she is a big, strong kid and she can deliver the puck to the open net pretty well.”

A big issue for the Tigers so far this season has been a propensity for landing in the penalty box.

“We have got a small bench and it does wear you down,” said Kampersal, whose team took five penalties on Friday and then got hit with four penalties the next day.

“You would really like your power play kids to be your power play kids and your killers to be your killers but sometimes we have our power play kids as our penalty killer kids and that doesn’t bode well.”

When the team returns to action after the holiday break, it will need to show a killer instinct in order to get back on the right track.

“It is a mental thing for us,” said Kampersal, whose team isn’t in action again until it plays a two-game set at Ohio State on December 30 and 31.

“We have to be mentally tough. Physically, we are fine. But we have to be mentally tough no matter what; whether we are up or we are down. We are fighting for all the points we can get, for sure.”

PHS Boys’ Hoops

BLACK MAGIC: Princeton High boys’ basketball star Davon Holliday-Black heads up the court in a game last winter. The Little Tigers will be looking for senior guard Holliday-Black to provide some magic in his final campaign. PHS tips off the 2011-12 season by playing at Nottingham on December 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Over the past few years, the Princeton High boys’ basketball team has utilized a run-and-gun approach to develop into a consistent winner.

With less depth in the frontcourt, PHS head coach Jason Carter acknowledges that he may have to slow down things a little bit this winter.

“We are going to count on the big guys to play a lot of minutes and we have got to keep them on the court,” said Carter, whose team went 12-13 last winter in making it to the sectional quarterfinals.

“We may not press as much; we will play more of a deliberate game. We will still fast break when we get 2-on-1 opportunities.”

Lanky 6’6 junior Lior Levy could emerge as the key big man for PHS if he can get up to full speed after being sidelined by a knee injury for much of last season.

“Physically he is getting there,” said Carter, whose team tips off the 2011-12 season by playing at Nottingham on December 16.

“He is working his way back to play more, we have modified things for him as to drills. Mentally, he is there with his basketball IQ and his skills. It is a marathon and we would rather have him at full speed in March than doing too much in December. He is dying to get out there.”

The Little Tigers will also be relying on juniors Jordan Phelps and Christian Giles to come up big in the frontcourt.

“Phelps is coming off a good soccer season; I am hoping he can bring his soccer savvy to the basketball court,” said Carter.

“He made some clutch plays this fall. He can finish. Christian Giles has shown some progress; he can really jump. He is really hungry. He was on the JV at the beginning of last year and he has improved dramatically.”

PHS features a trio of guards in seniors Davon Holliday-Black and Matt Hoffman together with junior Scott Bechler who have shown an ability to come through in the clutch.

“Davon can play in the backcourt and we can also post him up,” said Carter, who will also be using juniors Peter Schulman and Ellis Bloom at guard.

“Davon and Matt are seniors and have played in some big games. Matt shot the ball well at times last year. He also had a big fall; he ran well for a cross country team that won a sectional title. Scott made a lot of progress last year; he had a big win over HoVal in our win in the states. He is coming off a fantastic run in soccer where he was an outstanding contributor.”

In Carter’s view, PHS could have a good run if his veterans get on the same page.

“The five starting guys need to play together and step up at opportune moments,” said Carter. “If those guys can trust each other at crucial moments, we could be good.”

That trust will result if the team can develop a resilient nature. “Overall character is the key to the season,” asserted Carter.

“How hard do we work in practice?; can we hit clutch free throws?; can we hold onto the ball when we are up by two points?; can we come back when we are down by four?; and can we persevere through adversity?”

PDS Boys’ Hockey

PANTHER PRIDE: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey star Conrad Denise heads up the ice in a game earlier this season. Following in the footsteps of older brothers John Garret and Will, Denise helped the Panthers win the PDS Invitational hockey tournament. The junior forward tallied a goal and an assist as the Panthers topped Moses Brown (R.I.) 5-3 last Saturday in the title game to improve to 5-0. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As a grade schooler, Conrad Denise went all out as a fan at the Princeton Day School Invitational hockey tournament.

“My whole life, I remember these weekends,” said Denise, whose older brothers John Garret and Will were PDS standouts. “I painted my face blue and white; I spray-painted my hair.”

While Denise had the pleasure of seeing his brothers taste victory at the annual tourney, he suffered through painful losses in the finals the last two winters as he started his career at PDS.

Last weekend, the junior forward took matters into his own hands as PDS broke through for its first title at the invitational since 2007.

On Friday, Denise scored two goals as PDS topped DeMatha Catholic (Md.) 7-2 in the opening round and then contributed a goal and an assist a day later as the Panthers defeated defending champion Moses Brown (R.I.) 5-3 to win the title.

“It is definitely a big deal for me to win the tournament,” said a grinning Denise.

It was definitely sweet for PDS to turn the tables on Moses Brown. “We lost to them last year in the finals so it was a chip on our shoulder that we had,” said Denise, reflecting on the win which improved PDS to 5-0.

“There are some new guys in the room but they understood. We were happy to get the job done.”

Denise was happy to give the Panthers a lead in the championship game, scoring five minutes into the contest.

“We have been known in the first games for really getting off to good starts which is something that we haven’t always been able to do in the past,” said Denise.

“That is definitely something that helps us; getting off to an early lead and then just getting into a groove and taking control of the game.”

The Panthers lost some control as they were clinging to a 3-2 lead heading into the third period.

“The games are going to get chippy; it was going back and forth,” said Denise.

“The play was definitely picking up; we knew what we had to do. We were in the locker room and we were making sure that the young guys and the new guys knew what they had to do. We are just happy to pull out the win.”

PDS head coach Scott Bertoli likes the way Denise is getting it done. “Conrad is just a smart two-way hockey player; he is very passionate about hockey and PDS hockey,” said Bertoli.

“I know he has to make some sacrifices with his travel team to be here and play with us and we all appreciate that. We know what it means to him; the kid just bleeds blue and white. It is pretty evident today that this meant a lot to him.”

Bertoli appreciates the scoring punch he has at his disposal this season. “We have three very capable lines; we have 10 forwards who we play regularly and that can all score and contribute,” said Bertoli, who also got goals from Lewis Blackburn, Robert Colton, Dallas Derr, and Connor Bitterman in the title contest.

“We play good two-way hockey and when we do that, we control the tempo of the game. We are a quick team; we get to pucks. It is fun.”

The addition of the Colton brothers, junior Robert and freshman Ross, has helped PDS pick up the tempo.

“Robert gets it done at both ends of the rink; he adds a physical element that we really haven’t had in a while,” said Bertoli.

“He is not the biggest guy in the world, he like Garret Jensen [PDS senior captain] doesn’t back down from anyone. They are out there to initiate. I have him out there playing the point on the power point which he has never done before but he is doing a great job. And then Ross, he is arguably the most talented kid on the ice every time he suits up. He is just a dynamic offensive player. He is very adept at reading plays and creating scoring opportunities. All that being said from the offensive side, he kills penalties. He is very responsible defensively; he really has a good understanding of the game.”

PDS is also getting solid play at the defensive end. “The one other big thing that has evolved is the play of our defensemen; we possess the puck far more and with more confidence and with more efficiency than we have ever done,” asserted Bertoli, noting that the quartet of Tyler Olsson, Taran Auslander, Grahame Davis, and Ed Meyercord stepped up Saturday with Bump Lisk and C.J. Young not available.

“We do a lot of things on the breakout that we haven’t ben able to do before and it just has to do with the quality of our defensemen. They are willing to make plays. They are willing to get our forwards pucks on the rush and that makes a difference. As a forward, it is fun to play in transition and our defensemen are allowing us to do that.”

In Bertoli’s view, the team could have a fun winter if it plays with a little more discipline.

“I told these kids and it seems like every time I walk into that locker room, we talk about the first period and a half and say it is the best hockey I have seen,” said Bertoli, whose team will look to keep rolling this weekend when it competes at the Barber Tournament in Massachusetts.

“That was the same case today. In the first period and a half, we dominated play. We control the game and, for whatever reason, we get into penalty trouble. It gets us out of our rhythm. We are working through that. Once we resolve that issue, I like our chances in most games.”

Denise, for his part, believes the Panthers have found a good rhythm. “I am so proud of our organization and how much we have improved since my freshman year,” said Denise.

“It means a lot to me and it means a lot to my family. I am just really happy that the team is doing so well.”

PDS Girls’ Hockey

FORWARD LOOKING: Princeton Day School girls hockey star Megan Ofner tracks down the puck last weekend at the PDS Invitational. Senior captain and forward Ofner scored three goals to help PDS top Summit 5-0 last Saturday in the opening round of the event and then chipped in a goal the next day the Panthers fell 3-2 to Rye Country Day in the championship game. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into its annual invitational tournament, the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team had a clear point of emphasis.

“The big thing for the weekend was putting the puck in the net and getting rebounds,” said PDS head coach Lorna Gifis Cook.

Senior forward and co-captain Megan Ofner took that message to heart.

On Saturday, Ofner scored three goals to help PDS top Summit 5-0 in the opening round of the event. A day later against Rye Country Day, Ofner tallied on a second period power play goal but it wasn’t enough as the Panthers fell 3-2 to the Wildcats.

While Ofner was disappointed by the final result in the title game, she was proud of how PDS competed.

“Rye is always a big competitor; we always look forward to the game,” said Ofner, who now has 94 points in her PDS career.

“Sometimes, we come out on top and other times, like today, it is heartbreaking loss. We left it on a high note in the Summit game so continuing on that high note really helped us get pumped up to play our best today.”

As a two-time captain and leading scorer, Ofner knows that PDS needs her to give her best in every way.

“I am just happy to help the team; my job is to do anything and everything I can for the team,” said Ofner. “We have a short bench so I try to do anything I can do to help them and encourage everyone.”

It has helped PDS to put Ofner together on a top line with classmate and fellow captain Ashley Egner and junior Zeeza Cole.

“Ashley and I have waited three years to be finally able to play together,” said Ofner.

“It is definitely great chemistry out there with Ashley and Zeeza. We have known each other for a while so we know how each other plays and we know how to get it done.”

Ofner and her teammates will be looking to get it done this Thursday when they host Princeton High in the latest installment of the heated local rivalry.

“We are so excited for PHS; they have been our rival for the last four years,” said Ofner. “We are pumped up and ready for that game.”

Head coach Cook likes the way Ofner pumps up the Panthers. “She is definitely the leader on the ice,” asserted Cook. “She always has a lot of energy; she is just very driven.”

The Panthers showed plenty of drive in the clash against Rye as they jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Lexie Fairman and then rebounded from a 2-1 deficit to knot the game at 2-2 heading into the third period.

“It was a very competitive game,” said Cook, whose team outshot the Wildcats 34-32 in falling to 2-1.

“We had a lot of energy; we just have to get a little more confident with the puck.”

Cook is looking for her veteran line of Ofner, Egner, and Cole to provide the team with a lot of energy this winter.

“I think they still need to fit into their roles a little more and get comfortable playing with each other but they are definitely coming along,” said Cook, who saw Egner notch a goal in the win over Summit.

“They have got chemistry with each other off the ice; they just need to translate that on the ice.”

Sophomores Mary Travers and Mimi Matthews are developing a chemistry as they look to be a one-two scoring punch on the second line.

“I think when Mary and Mimi can get things going and get a little bit stronger on the puck, they are going to make things happen for us,” said Cook who got a goal from Travers in the win over Summit with both of the sophomores picking up assists in the defeat to Rye.

PDS got a strong effort over the weekend from junior goalie Daisy Mase who made 10 saves in earning the shutout Saturday and then had 29 stops in a losing cause against Rye.

“Yesterday’s game for her was really tough; to not face that many shots is really difficult for a goalie,” said Cook.

“Today’s game you could tell she knew she was going to get a lot of shots. She did and she was in it the whole time. She kept us in the game.”

In Cook’s view, PDS should benefit from facing the tough competition provided by Rye.

“I do think the team took a step forward; they needed a game that really challenged them,” added Cook.

“They played well but it gives them something to go into practices with the kind of mindset that we are going to play them again and we are going to get better.”

Ofner, for her part, sees the Panthers getting better and better as the season unfolds.

“We definitely know our strengths and weaknesses better than we did in the beginning of the season,” asserted Ofner. “We are ready to act on them and continue on with a great season.”

 

 

December 7, 2011
Princeton University Men's Hockey

GOING OFF: Princeton University men’s hockey star Andrew Calof, right, battles for the puck in a game last season. Over last weekend, Calof tallied two goals and an assist, helping Princeton beat Rensselaer 5-3 on Friday and tie No. 9 Union 3-3 a day later. The Tigers, now 4-7-2 overall and 3-5-1 in ECAC Hockey play, host Harvard on December 10 before playing at Quinnipiac on December 11.

After earning Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Year honors last winter, Princeton University men’s hockey star Andrew Calof experienced a bit of a sophomore slump in the early stages of this season.

Through the first 10 games of the 2011-12 campaign, Calof had no goals and five assists, a far cry from 9 goals and 24 assists he produced as a freshman in leading the Tigers in scoring.

In game 11 on November 26, Calof broke through with a goal to help Princeton top Providence 3-1 at the Denver Cup Classic.

Last Friday against visiting Rensselaer, Calof built on that performance, notching two goals, including the game-winner, as Princeton prevailed 5-3 over the Engineers before 1,616 at Baker Rink.

A relieved Calof basked in the glow of his two-goal outing. “It is really nice, it is being at the right place at the right time,” said the 5’10, 165-pound Calof, a native of Nepean, Ontario.

“I have been getting great passes and having great chances and it is definitely nice that they are starting to go in instead of missing them like I was doing in the previous bunch of games.”

It was definitely nice for Princeton to rally from an early 1-0 deficit in the win over the Engineers.

“It was pretty big because we have gotten down quite a bit in games this year,” said Calof.

“We are getting confidence that we can battle back. It is really good that we are starting to produce offensively because that has been our biggest shortfall this year. We have been getting a lot of chances but have not been getting them in.”

Calof knows that playing on the same line with junior Rob Kleebaum and sophomore Jack Berger has helped him become an assist leader for the Tigers.

“It is really not too hard when you are playing with the caliber of players that are on the team,” said Calof who now has 42 points in his Princeton career on 12 goals and 30 assists.

“I know that if I get the puck to Kleebaum or Berger in the slot, nine times out of 10, it is going to be in the back of the net. If they miss it, they are going to be mad and it will create a rebound and somebody else will put it in. We have been playing together for quite a bit now. We know where each other are and we are pretty comfortable with each other.”

In Calof’s view, the team gained a comfort level from its recent trip to Denver where it fell to 3-0 to the University of Denver before posting the win over Providence.

“When we played Denver, they were the 10th ranked team in the country and after playing them, we didn’t feel like they were that much of a better team than us,” asserted Calof.

“We felt we could compete with them on every aspect of the game so it gave us the confidence going into the next game.”

Princeton head coach Bob Prier is happy to see Calof playing with confidence.

“Andrew Calof had a couple of goals tonight; he has the monkey off his back,” said Prier, who got two goals and an assist in the win from sophomore forward Jack Berger.

“You see it a lot with a lot of second year guys; it is just a common thing. So now that he has gotten going, with a guy as talented as him, it is not going to stop.”

In the win over Rensselaer, the Tigers showed some grit to go with their talent.

“It was tough on the bench tonight because we were mixing and matching all over the place,” said Prier, whose team showed more toughness on Saturday afternoon when it overcame a 3-0 deficit to tie No. 9 Union 3-3 and improve to 4-7-2 overall and 3-5-1 in ECAC Hockey play.

“When you lose a guy that early in Jimmy Kerr, to a concussion, and you lose a couple of d-men that early to sickness, it was a big grind. The guys responded well. I think Derrick Pallis showed some leadership qualities tonight. He logged a lot of ice, particularly in the third period and he was gassed. He made some really good poised plays while he was in a state of exhaustion and those are plays that your seniors have to do because it settles everyone else down.”

Like Calof, Prier sees the Denver trip as a possible turning point for the Tigers.

“It was huge for us to do that and get some momentum coming back to Baker for three of the next four,” said Prier, whose team hosts Harvard on December 10 before playing at Quinnipiac on December 11.

“You play a team the caliber like Denver and you want to win those games, don’t get me wrong. But you can also take a lot from it and then to beat Providence on the road like that was great for us. Winning breeds winning and winning breeds confidence. You have to get the Ws. I think these guys are starting to learn what it takes little by little and that’s the most important thing.”

It took some time for the Tiger players to adjust to the new systems that first-year head coach Prier has installed.

“Obviously there is a bit of a learning curve but this is an extremely responsive group of young men, more so than any I ever worked with,” said Prier.

“I am pretty sure that they do understand it all, and, at the end of the day, it just comes down to their execution. You can install whatever systems you want with a team but you need all five guys on the ice to do them at the same time. There are no secrets to it; it is just making sure that they are playing together and communicating a lot and knowing what their job is at that time.”

In Calof’s view, everybody around the program is now on the same page.

“It was kind of off and on in games in the past; we weren’t completely buying into the system,” said Calof.

“The problem is that we were doing the systems right some of the time but not right all the time. We just have to focus on making sure that we commit to it all the time. Now that we have been buying into it, things have been going a lot better. We have been getting a lot more chances and we have been seeing the benefits.”

December 2, 2011
PDS Boys Ice Hockey

(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski) caption: LO RIDER: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Cody Triolo controls the puck in a game last winter. Junior forward Triolo will provide offensive depth for the Panthers. PDS, the defending state Prep champs, started its 2011-12 season this week. After playing St. Joseph’s Prep on November 29, PDS will host Pennington on December 1 and St. Augustine on December 6.

For Scott Bertoli and the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team, winning the state Prep title last winter was a breakthrough on several levels.

It was the program’s first Prep crown since Bertoli started coaching at PDS in the 2006-07 season and the Panthers beat two thorns in their side, Morristown-Beard and Pingry, on the way to the the championship.

With PDS starting its 2011-12 season this week, Bertoli believes the program can experience more breakthrough moments this winter.

“We have a lot confidence in this team; we think it is a good group,” said Bertoli, whose team was slated to host St. Joseph’s Prep on November 29, Pennington on December 1, and St. Augustine on December 6.

“It is reflected in the schedule; we are adding teams like Lawrenceville, Hill and Malvern Prep. We’re also still playing teams like LaSalle, Portledge, and St. Augustine.”

Bertoli believes this year’s team can more than hold its own with anyone on the schedule.

“We have three balanced lines with seven or eight guys who can score,” said Bertoli, who guided the Panthers to a 16-9-1 record last winter.

“We have five or six good defensemen and we have proven goaltending. We have been overmatched in the past man for man, now we have the talent and depth to play with those teams. We feel better going into those games this year.”

The addition of the Colton brothers, junior Robert and freshman Ross, should help make up for the offensive firepower lost by the graduation of Peter Blackburn and the transfer of Alex Nespor.

“Robert Colton as a junior is a pretty even trade-off for Alex Nespor,” said Bertoli.

“Alex has more dynamic offensive skills but Robert is a better 2-way player. Ross is a heck of a talent. He is a Tier 1 player and will step right in and help us as a freshman.”

The Panthers boast a good group of returning forwards in seniors Garrett Jensen and Dallas Derr, together with juniors Conrad Denise and Cody Triolo, and sophomores John Egner and Louis Blackburn.

“We are depending on Conrad big-time; he is playing for the Team Comcast 16U team,” said Bertoli.

“Sean had a really good freshman year. John Egner has improved more than anybody. I am still juggling lines, I’d like to create a chemistry.”

PDS also has plenty of good pieces to juggle on defense in seniors Tyler Olsson and Taran Auslander, juniors Bump Lisk, Grahame Davis, and Eddie Meyercord, together with sophomore newcomer C.J. Young.

“C.J. is a big, strong kid,” said Bertoli, whose major loss along the blue line was the graduation of Skye Samse.

“He may not be as tall as Skye but he is more stable on the ice. He is a very strong defender. Bump’s game has gone to another level. We expect big things from him, particularly in big games when he is going against Tier 1 players.”

Senior Walker Ward and junior Connor Walker give the Panthers a strong goaltending tandem.

“Those two guys are going to compete; that will help them both get better,” said Bertoli.

“Connor did separate himself down the stretch, he started six of the eight games in the winning streak. Both are capable and the guys have confidence in both. Ward is a calming influence; he has a bigger body than Connor but he is not as athletic. Connor won some big games for us, he stole games for us that we should not have won.”

In order for the Panthers to win a lot of big games this winter, the team will need to display a constant effort.

“I think the key is consistency,” said Bertoli. “We had that when we won eight straight games near the end and played well in the Barber Tournament but we didn’t have that in other games. We lost some games we should have won. We need to win against teams we should beat and then be competitive and win some of the games against the big teams on our schedule. It is one thing to schedule them and say you have played them; it is another thing to win.”

In Bertoli’s view, taking care of the small things on a daily basis is the key to accomplishing the team’s big goals.

“The kids are excited about the year but I don’t want them to get ahead of themselves,” said Bertoli.

“We are going to focus on process and getting better everyday. I want them to stay in the moment and go out and win the hockey game they are playing today. The focus is today; we are living by that motto.”