January 21, 2015
SCORING SURGE: Cheeky Herr (No. 20) heads to goal in a recent game for the Trinity College women’s hockey team. Princeton resident Herr has emerged as one of the top scorers in Division III women’s hockey. The junior forward has piled up 13 goals and 13 assists through Trinity’s first 13 games. She is the leading scorer in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and is fifth in the nation in total points among Division III players. Coming off a week which saw her score five goals and get six assists in three Trinity wins, Herr was named the NESCAC Player of the Week.(Photo Courtesy of Trinity Sports Communications)

SCORING SURGE: Cheeky Herr (No. 20) heads to goal in a recent game for the Trinity College women’s hockey team. Princeton resident Herr has emerged as one of the top scorers in Division III women’s hockey. The junior forward has piled up 13 goals and 13 assists through Trinity’s first 13 games. She is the leading scorer in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and is fifth in the nation in total points among Division III players. Coming off a week which saw her score five goals and get six assists in three Trinity wins, Herr was named the NESCAC Player of the Week. (Photo Courtesy of Trinity Sports Communications)

After tallying five goals as a freshman for the Trinity College (Conn.) women’s hockey team in the 2012-13 campaign, Cheeky Herr didn’t view herself as a go-to scorer.

But late last January, the Princeton native scored two goals in a 4-1 win over Colby and started to see things in a different light.

“Going in as a freshman, you are the new kid on the block and you don’t want to step on toes,” said Herr.

“A lot of it was having confidence in having your skills and ability to be a goal scorer. About halfway through the season in the Colby game, something started to click. I felt so confident. I told myself I am a good player, I can score goals. It was all mental.”

Things are clicking on all cylinders this winter for Herr as the junior forward has piled up 13 goals and 13 assists through Trinity’s first 13 games. She is the leading scorer in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and is fifth in the nation in total points among Division III players.

Coming off a week which saw her score five goals and get six assists in three Trinity wins, Herr was named the NESCAC Player of the Week.

In reflecting on her scoring surge, Herr credits a change in the lineup with helping to trigger things.

“We flipped lines,” said Herr, who is combining with senior Lucy Robinson and fellow junior Emma Tani.

“The three of us work well together, we mesh, there is a flow. We find each other on the ice. We were put together in the two games before Christmas. Lucy is assisting me and I am assisting her. Emma is like a nice cherry on top of a sundae. She has the speed and stick skills that we don’t have.”

The 5’3 Herr worked hard in the offseason to get into top shape for her junior campaign.

“I am a small player so I get knocked around a lot,” said Herr, who ended up with 10 goals and nines assists as a sophomore.

“I get bruised and battered and end the weekend sore. I didn’t want to lose steam halfway through. I wanted to have extra energy. I wanted to be stronger, fitter, and faster. I had an internship in Stamford. I had a trainer there who had worked with NHL players; that was great. I was sport focused and one-on-one.”

Seeing the end of her college hockey career on the horizon, Herr brought a sense of urgency into this winter.

“You are a junior and you have to step up.” said Herr. “I have a month or two plus a season left. I want to enjoy every ounce of it. I love the sport. I want to play the best I can.”

Enjoying a special team spirit, Trinity is having a superb season as it improved to 9-3-1 overall after posting two wins over Sacred Heart last weekend.

“We have got a great dynamic this year, we are all friends, whether freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior,” said Herr.

“We look out for each other. It is a smaller team than in the past and there is less drama. We are all friends. We love each other and we love the game.”

Herr and the Bantams raised their game against Sacred Heart, posting a 9-0 win on Friday and then prevailing 5-1 a day later. Herr had a goal and a career-high five assists in Friday’s game and then added two goals on Saturday.

“We are playing at a high level, everyone was talking and working together in a cohesive manner,” said Herr. “This weekend was a real confidence booster; it showed us that we can really put the puck in the net.”

Herr is looking to keep putting the puck in the net as Trinity enters into the thick of NESCAC play, sitting in the middle of the pack with a 2-3-1 league mark.

“I have moved to wing after playing center all of my life,” said Herr. “I need to be sharper on the breakout and work on getting open. We need to get more shots. You can’t put the puck in the net if you don’t shoot.

The work that Herr has put in on conditioning has her confident that she can produce a big finish.

“Usually at this point, I hit a wall, I am gassed and tired,” said Herr. “I have managed to find extra stuff in the tank at the end of shifts. I do the cardio year round.”

While Herr is excited by her development into a top scorer this year, she is quick to point out that it is a group effort.

“I have great teammates, great coaches, and the most supportive family ever,” said Herr, whose older sister, Sarah, starred for the Williams College women’s hockey program. “They have always been there. My dad has been telling me for years this is what I could do.”

January 14, 2015
GRAND SLAM: Princeton University women’s basketball player Blake Dietrick looks for an opening last Saturday as Princeton hosted Penn. Senior captain and star guard Dietrick scored a game-high 25 points to help the Tigers roll to an 83-54 victory in the Ivy League opener for both teams. Dietrick, who passed the 1,000-point mark in her career during the first half, was later named the Co-Ivy Player of the Week along with Cornell’s Nia Marshall. No. 19 Princeton, which improved to 17-0 overall and 1-0 Ivy with the victory, is currently on exam break and will return to action later this month when it heads north to play at Harvard on January 30, and Dartmouth on January 31.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GRAND SLAM: Princeton University women’s basketball player Blake Dietrick looks for an opening last Saturday as Princeton hosted Penn. Senior captain and star guard Dietrick scored a game-high 25 points to help the Tigers roll to an 83-54 victory in the Ivy League opener for both teams. Dietrick, who passed the 1,000-point mark in her career during the first half, was later named the Co-Ivy Player of the Week along with Cornell’s Nia Marshall. No. 19 Princeton, which improved to 17-0 overall and 1-0 Ivy with the victory, is currently on exam break and will return to action later this month when it heads north to play at Harvard on January 30, and Dartmouth on January 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While Blake Dietrick was thrilled to help the Princeton University women’s basketball team roll to an 83-54 win over Penn last Saturday in the Ivy League opener for both teams, the senior guard knows that the resounding victory doesn’t really prove anything.

“I think we definitely did make a statement but I think we take it with a grain of salt because of what happened last year,” said Dietrick, referring to the homestretch in 2013-14 which saw the Quakers defeat Princeton 80-64 in the regular season finale to win the Ivy title after the Tigers had posted an 84-53 win at Penn earlier in the season.

“We won by 30 at Penn, which arguably is a greater feat than what we did today. So I think we know that game in March is going to be just as important as this one. It is great to start out on a nice solid win.”

The Tigers used the loss to Penn last season to fuel its fire coming into the game on Saturday.

“We did bring it up in the locker room before we went out,” said Dietrick, who scored a game-high 25 points in the win Saturday which improved 19th-ranked Princeton to 17-0 overall and 1-0 Ivy.

“It was just — remember that feeling, remember what we have been working for this whole offseason and this preseason and don’t let one team stand in our way.”

Junior forward Annie Tarakchian, who grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds in the win over the Quakers, wasn’t about to let Penn stand in her way.

“We just talked about how it felt last year and how we wanted to avoid that 100 percent and prove that we are the tougher team,” said Tarakchian, whose left eye was black due to her tough play in a 75-63 win over Hampton on January 5. “I think we came out and really proved that today.”

While Tarakchian and her teammates savored the feeling of being 17-0, they are not getting ahead of themselves.

“I think our goal is just to win the next game every time,” said Tarakchian. “Being 17-0 is really cool but at the end of the day it is just focusing on the next game and getting the next one and getting to the NCAA tournament.”

Dietrick, for her part, enjoyed a cool moment in the first half as she passed the 1,000-point mark in her career, becoming the 22nd player in program history to hit that milestone

“I am just so grateful that I got to do it with this group of people,” said the 5’10 Dietrick, a native of Wellesley, Mass.

“My team is so amazing and they pick me up when I have bad games and they motivate me to be better. I am just so happy that it happened at home; I think that is a nice treat.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart was very happy with how the team performed against Penn.

“We were just really excited to start league play; there has been a lot of talk in preseason and non conference,” said Banghart.

“We felt like we have really developed into a pretty good team at both ends of the floor. It was an opportunity to showcase that in the league and play a really good Penn team. That is what Ivy League basketball is about, it was a great environment. I thought our kids were the better team today and I hope they continue to be.”

Banghart knows that she has a great kid in Dietrick, a first-team All-Ivy selection last year, who is leading Princeton with 15.8 points and 5.6 assists a game.

“I think Blake is a really special example of our program,” asserted Banghart.

“She came in and bleeds Princeton from the beginning and she just trusts the process. It wasn’t always easy playing behind Lauren Polansky. Blake hasn’t wasted a minute. She has used her off terms for academic pursuits but she never loses sight of the gym and the development she has needed. She is a better player than she was last year. Whenever your senior leader is a great representation of what the program is about, all the numbers and all of that is just the gravy. She has done things the right way and it is fun to watch her have so much success this season.”

It was fun for Banghart to see her team hold Penn’s star center Sydney Stipanovich to two points on 1-of-11 shooting.

“We challenged our post before the game and said how do you want to deal with the post game,” said Banghart.

“Do you want the guards to help out on it or do you want to do it on your own. Alex Wheatley said I want to guard her on my own, don’t send a guard. So as much credit as I would like to take, I can’t. Alex Wheatley really did a great job on her and everybody else that came in played with high hands. I think they were really dialed into the scout. We broke down how she could hurt us and I thought we took those things away. We felt like we let her do whatever she wanted in our gym last year and that is not what this program is about.”

While the 17-0 start says a lot about the Tiger program, Banghart sees her players as being more immersed in the process than the record.

“It is a really special thing and I don’t think the kids will understand that entirely until they have some perspective,” said Banghart.

“It is the idea that these kids are so focused on the process and the progress of our program. I am excited to be back in the gym with them. We are going to give them a few days off because they have some coursework but when we get back there on Wednesday, we will have a really hungry group. They will know that next up is Harvard/Dartmouth in that order. This isn’t a group that needs a pep talk, they need a scout. They need to understand what players do and understand what the team does and then they need to be rested because they practice so hard. It is more about managing more Xs and Os than pep talks with this group.”

With Princeton currently on exam break before it heads north for the games at Harvard on January 30 and Dartmouth on January 31, Banghart is determined to make sure that her players remain hungry to improve.

“It is recognizing that we have to be playing our best basketball in March, we just have to be,” said Banghart.

“I don’t want to limp in any way. We were kind of limping last year, losing to Brown and then to Penn. We lost two of our last four games. We want to be playing our best basketball in March so I have to figure out how to make sure that happens. We’ll make sure that the kids are truly better in March than they are now. I think they will be.”

Dietrick, for her part, believes Princeton has a good chance of running the table as long as it keeps its focus.

“The Ivy League process is a grueling schedule; it is back-to-back with some long travel, especially Harvard, Dartmouth, Cornell, that kind of thing,” said Dietrick.

“I think we have the mental toughness and the physical fitness to push through. We are really deep this year so I think that playing back to back isn’t going to be that much of a struggle but it is something we have to remember and be conscious of and not take anything for granted. We equate every game in the Ivy League schedule because each one is a stepping stone to get to the tournament. We have ingrained that already in our underclassmen. They understand that every day and every practice is one step towards our goal.”

OH HENRY: Princeton University men’s basketball player ­Henry Caruso drives to the hoop in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore Caruso came off the bench to score a game-high and career-best 23 points in 28 minutes as Princeton rallied from a 15-point second half deficit to top Penn 78-74 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. The Tigers, who improved to 7-9 overall and 1-0 with victory, are on exam break and will return to action when they host Rowan on January 25.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OH HENRY: Princeton University men’s basketball player ­Henry Caruso drives to the hoop in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore Caruso came off the bench to score a game-high and career-best 23 points in 28 minutes as Princeton rallied from a 15-point second half deficit to top Penn 78-74 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. The Tigers, who improved to 7-9 overall and 1-0 with victory, are on exam break and will return to action when they host Rowan on January 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

His coach likens him to a cartoon character but Princeton University men’s basketball player Henry Caruso certainly didn’t leave Penn laughing last Saturday.

When asked about sophomore Caruso in the wake of his career-best and game-high 23-point performance off the bench in Princeton’s come-from-behind 78-74 win over Penn before a crowd of 2,473 at Jadwin Gym, Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson quipped that the energetic Caruso reminded him of the Tasmanian Devil character.

“He played the same way in high school, I call him the whirling dervish,” said Henderson. “I am beginning to think if you opened him up you would see that his heart is a little bigger than most people. He is a 6’4 power forward.”

Penn coach Jerome Allen certainly took notice of the heart displayed by Caruso, who came into the evening averaging 3.7 points a game in 8.4 minutes.

“He played a 4, he played a 2, he defended at the top of 1-3-1, he defended a 5,” said Allen. “I give him all the credit in the world, I have nothing  but utmost respect for how he approached it because his game was pretty much that he was just tougher than everybody else on the floor.”

Princeton displayed a lot of mental toughness collectively as it battled back from a 58-43 deficit with 13:35 left in regulation to pull out the victory in the Ivy League opener for both teams.

“We were fortunate to get a win, I am proud of our guys for not going away and staying with the plan,” said Henderson, whose team improved to 7-9 overall and 1-0 Ivy League with the win.

“We tried about five different defenses; we could not stop (Darien) Nelson-Henry and then all of a sudden we got stops. The nice thing was that we continued to score and we were going to the free throw line which kept us in the game. We were about to get run out of the gym so I think this was a helluva win for us.”

Henderson credited Caruso with triggering the run as he ended up going 14-of-16 from the free throw line.

“Henry was terrific and for two games in a row; we have been missing Steve (Cook), he’s been under the weather,” said Henderson.

“It is nice to have someone coming off the bench that gives you the attacking the basket mentality, which is what this game called for all the way. We had to go inside; we had to be physical going to the rim because that is the way the game was going.”

Caruso, for his part, was ready to mix it up inside. “I think just being aggressive was the key and just going up strong,” said the 6’4, 190-pound Caruso, a native of San Mateo, Calif. who was later named Ivy Player of the week.

“Penn has got those big guys down low with Nelson-Henry and (Greg) Louis. I think my teammates were finding me really well and that was effective. By staying aggressive it allowed us to play tough and strong. I think that is what this game really needed.”

Senior Ben Hazel, who began the year as a starter but has been mired to the bench recently, showed good aggressiveness when he got a shot to play.

“Ben has a lot of reasons to be upset at the coach but I thought he handled himself like a senior and a true professional tonight,” said Henderson. “He made a huge three in front of our bench and then made his free throws and got some really big steals when we needed him.”

Hazel wasn’t thinking about his lack of playing time when he hit the court.

“You always have to be ready, that’s how it has been this year,” said Hazel, who contributed seven points and three steals in 16 minutes of action.

“Coach always says next man up. In the end, you are out there and it is basketball. It is us versus Penn, you have got to stop (Tony) Hicks and have got to do different things. That is pretty much all you think about when you are out on the court.”

Sophomore guard Spencer Weisz, who contributed 20 points, said that Hazel’s play changed the tone of the contest.

“To be honest, it was Ben, when he came in,” said Weisz. “Coach always mentions having a teeth to our defense and when Ben came in, he got one early steal and you could tell the momentum swung so heavy in our favor. They wanted no part of him and once that kind of gets going, it is contagious. We stuck with man throughout the whole game. When Ben came in the game it just swung in our favor.”

With his team going on exam break and not returning to action until hosting Rowan on January 25, Henderson believes the win over Penn was particularly important.

“We are going into a really long break,” said Henderson. “We have been on both ends of it, we have lost our first game. Going into this break, we are in a good position here, just being 1-0.”

Although his players will be preoccupied with their studies over the next two weeks, Henderson believes the team can sill make progress during the hiatus.

“The guys, after all, are going to a good school and they have got exams and those exams are important,” added Henderson, a 1998 Princeton alum and former Tiger men’s basketball star.

“The main thing is that when you are up there, you study and when you come down here, you make shots and get rebounds.”

Starting its final weekend before a 17-day exam hiatus, the Princeton University men’s hockey team came out fighting as it hosted defending national champion Union last Friday.

Princeton battled the Dutchmen tooth-and-nail as the ECAC Hockey rivals played to a scoreless stalemate in the first period.

“We were playing hard, our kind of hockey, 5-on-5 down low, two-man attack, getting shots, throwing everything we can to the net,” said Princeton senior forward Tucker Brockett.

“I think we came out strong and played well in our defensive zone, our first period was solid.”

But things went downhill in the second period as Union scored two unanswered goals.

Brockett acknowledged that he was partially at fault for the Tigers’ woes in the period.

“We started getting penalties,” said Brockett. “I was the leader of that, I got three penalties. It is just unacceptable. You put a team on the power play seven times in the first two periods, you are not going to win the game.”

After Union increased its lead to 4-0 with 13:53 left in the third period, Princeton showed more fight as it scored two straight goals to cut the Dutchmen lead in half.

“We are treating every game like it is our last now,” said Brockett. “We are never going to be out of the fight. We showed that putting two quick goals in, they ended up getting another one. I think it is something to build on for tomorrow.”

Brockett notched the second Tiger goal midway through the period, fighting hard in the crease to convert a feed from Aaron Ave.

“They made a mistake, they didn’t get it out of the zone,” recalled Brockett.

“Aaron Ave was coming in and he looked like he was going to shoot it. There was just one defenseman between me and him so I just sagged off a little bit to the side. He shot for my stick and I tipped it in.”

It was the first goal for Brockett in 41 games and he was happy to get back in the book.

“I got the monkey off my back finally,” said Brockett, a 5’8, 165-pound native of Shaker Heights, Ohio who now has 17 points in his Princeton career on three goals and 14 assists.

“It doesn’t matter who scores, we have to put more goals in. At the end of the day, we need to score one more goal than the other team.”

In assessing his role on the Tigers, Brockett focuses on intensity rather than statistics.

“It is just energy, trying to get the guys going,” said Brockett. “It doesn’t matter if it is scoring goals, killing penalties, or blocking shots, just anything we can do to win games.”

Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty liked the way his team got things going in the game against Union. “We started well; we were being smart,” said Fogarty.

The Tigers, though, didn’t keep it up as they suffered some critical lapses.

“We were mentally soft, they had two easy goals, right in the slot,” said Fogarty.

“Our guys didn’t pick up, there was a lot of circling and no sense of urgency from a handful of players tonight.”

While Fogarty liked the urgency Brockett displayed in finding the back of the net, he noted that some of his energy was misguided.

“He is a little banged up but it is good for Tucker to get to net,” said Fogarty. “On the flip side, Tucker can’t take three penalties. He scored a goal but it doesn’t matter because it is 4-0 and we are taking soft holding, hooking penalties. Those are non-physical penalties that show that you are chasing the game.”

While Princeton ended up dropping its last game before its exam break as it fell 5-2 to Rensselaer on Saturday to move to 2-14-1 overall and 1-11 ECACH, Brockett believes the team can do well when it matters most.

“Things are quickly winding down, I think we have 11 regular season games left here,” said Brockett, who will look to get the Tigers on the winning track when it resumes play by hosting Army on January 27.

“Everyone makes the playoffs so as long as we are playing well going into the end of the season that is all you can ask for.”

HEALTHY RETURN: Princeton University women’s hockey player Molly Contini battles a foe from Yale last Friday. Sophomore forward Contini scored a goal and an assist in the game as Princeton prevailed 4-1. A day later, Contini, who was sidelined last year due to a hip operation,  tallied two goals and an assist to help the Tigers defeat Brown 5-1. Princeton, 10-9-1 overall and 8-6 ECAC Hockey, is currently on exam break and will return to action on January 26 when it plays at No. 1 Boston College.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HEALTHY RETURN: Princeton University women’s hockey player Molly Contini battles a foe from Yale last Friday. Sophomore forward Contini scored a goal and an assist in the game as Princeton prevailed 4-1. A day later, Contini, who was sidelined last year due to a hip operation, tallied two goals and an assist to help the Tigers defeat Brown 5-1. Princeton, 10-9-1 overall and 8-6 ECAC Hockey, is currently on exam break and will return to action on January 26 when it plays at No. 1 Boston College. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Molly Contini had to scuttle her first attempt at playing her sophomore season for the Princeton University women’s hockey team.

Hampered by a hip injury, Contini withdrew from Princeton before the start of the school year in 2013 and underwent surgery that October.

Contini started rehab two weeks after the operation and was skating by last January. Steadily progressing and focusing on improving her skating, the 5’8 forward from Arthur, Ontario came back at full strength for the Tigers this winter.

Understandably, Contini is thrilled to finally be getting a chance at her second campaign of college hockey.

“It is really nice being back,” said Contini. “I missed hockey for sure but I really missed being with the team and being on campus. I am really just so happy to be going to school and playing and being around everyone. I think after taking a year off and coming back you definitely appreciate what we have here a little more, having been away from it for a season.”

Expressing that appreciation by going on a scoring tear, Contini is leading Princeton with 12 goals through 20 games.

Last Friday against visiting Yale, Contini’s offensive prowess helped the Tigers post a 4-1 win as she assisted on the game’s first goal and then notched the final tally of the contest on a late empty-netter.

“Slow starts have troubled us all year but especially against Quinnipiac we didn’t have a very good first period,” said Contini, referring to Princeton’s 3-1 loss to Quinnipiac on January 6.

“We wanted to make sure that we came out and had a good start today and we were able to do that and that makes a big difference. I think we were dialed in right from the get-go. As soon as we were here, the atmosphere was good. Everyone was just focusing on the game and was ready to go and that showed in our play for sure, especially in the first 10 minutes of the first period.”

Contini and linemates Jaimie McDonell and Hilary Lloyd got things going for the Tigers, combining on the first goal just 2:15 into the contest.

“Lloyd was awesome all during the game making plays in the corner so she chipped it back to me and Jaimie was wide open in front of the net so I hit her and she buried it and made a really nice shot,” said Contini. “It was good to get that first one.”

Contini’s empty net tally in the last minute of the game had special meaning for her.

“Lloyd actually made a really nice pass,” said Contini. “When I was a freshman, Yale put us out of the playoffs that last weekend. It was really nice to come back and beat them today.”

The trio of Contini, McDonell, and Lloyd has gotten off to a really nice start as Contini is the team’s top scorer with 21 points (12 goals, 9 assists) with junior McDonell third at 18 (7 goals, 11 assists) and sophomore Lloyd fourth at 14 (4 goals, 10 assists).

“We all complement each other,” said Contini, who tallied two goals and an assist to help the Tigers defeat Brown 5-1 on Saturday and improve to 10-9-1 overall and 8-6 ECAC Hockey. “I think Jaimie and Lloyd are so solid in their own end, they get to a lot of pucks. We will work hard and try to win pucks down low. I would say my spot is to put pucks in the net.”

Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal is thrilled with the production he is getting from his top line.

“They have been great all year,” asserted Kampersal, whose team is currently on exam break and will return to action on January 26 when it plays at No. 1 Boston College.

“Lloyd played gritty, Molly can finish, and Jaimie is a workhorse. Jaimie makes the whole thing go, she is probably one of the better two-way players in our whole league. She did a good job on our face-offs, she is a tough kid.”

Kampersal decided to tweak his team’s warm-up routine to get things going quicker.

“I usually never watch our warmups but when I was at Quinnipiac, the way the rink is set up, I had to watch their warmups through ours almost,” said Kampersal.

“I realized that one end looked a lot different than the other. Those kids were flying and our kids were like moseying around so we had to stitch that up. It is just a mindset and an attitude. We had them play it out with real scenarios, break a sweat so they are into it rather than just going through the motions. We want them to play the first period in warmups so we can start the first period as the second period almost, that is our mentality.”

In the win over Yale, Kampersal was happy to see some different players get into the scoring column as senior captain and defenseman Ali Pankowski and sophomore forward Cassidy Tucker each found the back of the net.

“It was good getting some of those other groups going, with even production by keeping the puck in the other end, wearing down teams, drawing penalties, they were able to do that,” added Kampersal.

The Tigers wore down Yale with some good defensive play. “It was great, they played really strong, the whole team,” said Kampersal, who got 31 saves from junior goalie Kimberly Newell in the victory.

“The core, the d-men played good but we had good block pressure and when we needed to block a shot at the point, we did that. We cleared out fairly well. Kim  was awesome so that helps. If we got scrambling, she helped us out. We did weather a couple of storms and when Kim is our best player we can beat pretty much anybody, I think.”

With Princeton heading into a 16-day exam break, Contini and her teammates were determined to scramble for as many points as possible last weekend.

“Yale was 4-4 in the league and we were 6-6 so this was a huge win for us today,” said Contini.

“We want to take it to Brown tomorrow to try and get as many points as we can because at this point these other teams are going to be playing and they are only going up and we are staying in the same spot. We really have to capitalize.”

January 7, 2015
LOCKED IN: Princeton University wrestler Brett Harner, right, battles a foe in a bout last season. Last week, sophomore Harner took eighth place at 184 pounds in the prestigious Midlands Championships at Northwestern. The Tigers have a pair of home matches on January 9 as they welcome Sacred Heart and Hofstra to Dillon Gym.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LOCKED IN: Princeton University wrestler Brett Harner, right, battles a foe in a bout last season. Last week, sophomore Harner took eighth place at 184 pounds in the prestigious Midlands Championships at Northwestern. The Tigers have a pair of home matches on January 9 as they welcome Sacred Heart and Hofstra to Dillon Gym. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Last season, the Princeton University wrestling team produced a remarkable reversal of fortune, posting an 11-4 record after going 2-13 a year before.

The team’s turnaround helped the Tigers rise to a tie with Penn for second in the Ivy League standings and gave the program its first campaign with both double-digit wins and fewer than five losses for the first time since the 1980-81 season.

While ninth-year head coach Chris Ayres was pleased with the team’s breakthrough season, he is not about to rest on last year’s laurels.

“We have totally built on last year,” said Ayres. “As a coach you want things to move quicker. People say you have to take baby steps but I want them to take big boy steps.”

Ayres, who went from a walk-on at Lehigh to an EIWA champion and a sixth-place finisher in the NCAA championships at 157 pounds during his college days, believes Princeton can be a national power.

“The progress has been there; what can be taken from where we are right now is that we can be one of the top programs in the country,” asserted Ayres.

“We are really young, this is the team for the next couple of years. We have been getting consistently stronger. We are getting good guys in and developing them into a program that wins.”

The Tigers have produced some strong efforts since returning from the break, taking 15th at prestigious Midlands Championships at Northwestern last week and then performing well at the F&M Open last Saturday.

“It was a great learning opportunity, we wrestled tight,” said Ayres, reflecting on his team’s performance at the Midlands event. “We didn’t open up. If we open up, we could do really well. At F&M, we took most of the guys who haven’t been starters. We got three guys onto the finals, that was pretty good.”

Junior star Abram Ayala, who took fifth at the Midlands at 197 pounds, is clearly one of Princeton’s top guys.

“Ayala is totally obsessed with being an All-American and national champion,” said Ayres. “He is thinking about it too much. His training plan is to get away from wrestling when he isn’t in the practice room.”

Sophomore Brett Harner, an eighth-place finisher at 184 pounds at Midlands, is good to have in the room.

“Brett is a great leader, he leads by example,” added Ayres. “He is also vocal for a sophomore. He backs it up with how hard he works. He just has a few things to work through to put himself in position to be competitive at the NCAAs.”

Senior Adam Krop (149 pounds), for his part, is working hard for a breakthrough. “He’s been really good, he hasn’t had that marquee match where he beats a first line wrestler,” said Ayres.  “When he beats someone like that, he will be capable of big things.”

Ayres believes that sophomore Jordan Laster is on the verge of big things at 141.

“Laster works so hard; he does the right things in terms of discipline and work ethic,” said Ayres. “He is not getting the results he deserves. He needs to find that system to be more consistent in competition.”

Freshman Jonathan Schleifer (165) has the ability to produce some special results.

“Schleifer is amazing; of all the people I have coached at Lehigh and here, he has the most potential of anyone,” said Ayres.

“It is hard here as a freshman in relation to school, there is a lot going on. He is making progress and doing well with it. He is under the radar, no one has an idea of how good he is.”

Another freshman, Francesco Fabozzi (157), has the potential to be really good.

“Fabozzi been doing well; he needs to be more consistent, it is easy to say, hard to do,” said Ayres.

“At Midlands, he wrestled one of the best matches I have had at Princeton and then he was flat the next day. He needs that consistency in competition. Once he figures that out, the sky is the limit.”

Assessing his squad collectively, Ayres believes there is no limit to what his wrestlers can accomplish.

“All of the guys are on the verge of getting to the next level,” said Ayres. “Ray O’Donnell (285), for example, is on the verge of making a breakthrough. Things move slowly and then something clicks and there is a big jump. I think that’s where he is.”

With Princeton hosting Sacred Heart and Hofstra on January 9 in its last action before a three-week hiatus for exams, Ayres is looking for things to click.

“What I would like to see is their reaction to the things they left at Midlands,” said Ayres.

“You want to see them improve from the next competition. I want to see how some of them react to what they were missing at Midlands.”

UNION JOB: Princeton University women’s hockey player Brianne Mahoney goes after the puck in recent action. Last Saturday, senior defenseman Mahoney helped Princeton top Union 3-0 as the Tigers improved to 8-8-1 overall and 6-5 ECAC Hockey. Princeton was slated to play at No. 5 Quinnipiac on January 6 before hosting Yale on January 9 and Brown on January 10.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

UNION JOB: Princeton University women’s hockey player Brianne Mahoney goes after the puck in recent action. Last Saturday, senior defenseman Mahoney helped Princeton top Union 3-0 as the Tigers improved to 8-8-1 overall and 6-5 ECAC Hockey. Princeton was slated to play at No. 5 Quinnipiac on January 6 before hosting Yale on January 9 and Brown on January 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming off the holiday break by playing at Rensselaer last Friday, it quickly became clear that the Princeton University women’s hockey team wasn’t up to speed.

“It was tough because they scored 20 seconds into the game,” said Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal, whose team fell behind 2-0 to the Engineers in the first 2:33 of the contest. “Our starts haven’t been the greatest and we dug that hole. We didn’t execute well in that game and they put our mistakes into the net.”

Sophomore forward Hilary Lloyd tallied two straight first period goals to make it a 2-2 game but Rensselaer tacked on a late tally to take a 3-2 lead into the second. Junior Molly Contini tallied for Princeton midway through the second to make it 3-3 but Rensselaer responded with a goal minutes later to forge ahead 4-3 and neither team scored after that.

Kampersal credited Lloyd with helping to turn the contest into a nailbiter. “Hilary was gritty; she is tough to play against,” added Kampersal. “She uses her body and gets position. She kept us in that game.”

A day later, the Tigers played a much better game as they topped Union 3-0.

“The pace and energy were so much better,” said Kampersal, whose team outshot Union 35-16 in the victory which improved Princeton to 8-8-1 overall and 6-5 ECAC Hockey. “We played really well.”

Freshman goalie Alysia DaSilva got a rare start and made the most of it, making 16 saves in earning her first college shutout.

“DaSilva played great, she wasn’t tested a ton but she stepped up and made the saves she needed to make,” said Kampersal.

The pair of star defenseman Brianne Mahoney and sophomore Kelsey Koelzer sparked the Tigers on the blue line. Koelzer assisted on Princeton’s first two goals in the win over Union while Mahoney was on the ice for all three goals.

“They made some good D-to-D passes,” said Kampersal, who got goals from Lloyd, Morgan Sly, and Fiona McKenna against the Dutchwomen. “They are good defenders but they also both like to get into the play. Kelsey is our leading scorer (18 points on 5 goals and 13 assists) so she has been doing well.”

While Kampersal is happy with the scoring he is getting from his top line, he is looking for a more balanced attack.

“The line of Jaimie (McDonnell), Molly (Contini), and Hilary (Lloyd) has been setting the tone,” asserted Kampersal.  “They are playing well but we need secondary scoring.”

The Tigers will need to play well this week as they were slated to play at No. 5 Quinnipiac on January 6 before hosting Yale on January 9 and Brown on January 10.

“We play at Quinnipiac on Tuesday,” said Kampersal. “That is a tough game, they don’t allow many shots or take many penalties. Yale is playing well and Brown is gritty.

With Princeton going on a 16-day hiatus for exams after the Brown game, the team needs to take as many points as possible to keep pace in ECACH action.

“We are ahead in games played right now,” said Kampersal. “We don’t want to fall two or three spots when we come back and everyone is even. We need to get points, losing two points at RPI was tough.”

OPENING BELL: Princeton University men’s basketball player Amir Bell brings the ball up the court in recent action. Last Wednesday, freshman guard Bell had 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists in a losing cause as Princeton fell 80-66 at Wake Forest to drop to 5-9. In upcoming action, the Tigers were slated to host Norfolk State on January 6 before hosting Penn (3-7) on January 10 in the Ivy League opener for both teams.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OPENING BELL: Princeton University men’s basketball player Amir Bell brings the ball up the court in recent action. Last Wednesday, freshman guard Bell had 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists in a losing cause as Princeton fell 80-66 at Wake Forest to drop to 5-9. In upcoming action, the Tigers were slated to host Norfolk State on January 6 before hosting Penn (3-7) on January 10 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Playing at Wake Forest on New Year’s Eve, the Princeton University men’s basketball team was looking to end 2014 on a high note.

The Tigers jumped out to a 14-11 lead against their ACC foe in the contest that was broadcast nationally on ESPN3. The Demon Deacons responded with a 19-4 run as they took a 32-20 lead into halftime.

In the second half, Princeton narrowed the gap to 63-56 on a Steven Cook lay-up with 7:06 remaining in regulation but never got closer as Wake Forest pulled away to an 80-66 victory.

In reflecting on the setback, which dropped the Tigers to 5-9, Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson acknowledged that his squad wasn’t at its sharpest.

“Boy were we rusty; Wake Forest had something to do with that,” said Henderson in his post-game interview video on the Princeton Athletics website.

“They were better than us today in a lot of different ways. Everything we did they had an answer. They made some huge shots. I thought both the kid (Cornelius) Hudson and (Mitchell) Wilbekin were answering very nicely what we were doing.”

With Princeton having posted wins over Lipscomb (77-55 on December 19) and Liberty (65-47 on December 22) coming into the game with Wake, Henderson was hoping that his team would continue that nice run.

“I have been pretty pleased with our group, we have been playing pretty well,” said Henderson who got 17 points from sophomore Cook in the defeat with junior Han Brase adding 13 and freshman Amir Bell chipping in 11. “I was a little surprised by us tonight.”

The Tigers will look to play better as they were slated to host Norfolk State on January 6 before hosting Penn (3-7) on January 10 in the Ivy League opener for both teams.

“It was a tough one for us,” said Henderson, whose team was outrebounded 45-27 by Wake and made just 6-of-12 free throws.

“We are moving on. We have got the league coming up soon so we have to get ready. It comes down to little things, we have got to be really good at those things and right now we are not.”

December 31, 2014
Ratcliffe

HAMMER TIME: Princeton University women’s track star Julia Ratcliffe is all smiles after winning the hammer throw this June at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. Ratcliffe’s victory marked the 43rd straight year that Princeton has produced at least one team or individual national champion. (Photo by Kristy McNeil Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Winds of Change Hit Local Sporting Scene in 2014, As New Faces, Surprising Teams Garnered Headlines

Winds of change swept across the local sporting landscape in 2014. As for Princeton University, a major change came at the top as Mollie Marcoux, a 1991 Princeton alum who starred in ice hockey and soccer for the Tigers, was named in April as the University’s new Ford Family Director of Athletics. She succeeded Gary Walters, who announced in the fall of 2013 that he would be stepping down after leading the athletics program at Princeton for 20 years. Marcoux is the first woman to hold the post.

There were a number of moves among the coaching ranks at Princeton. Bob Prier resigned as the men’s hockey coach and was replaced by Ron Fogarty, the architect of a successful Division 3 program at Adrian College. Longtime women’s soccer coach Julie Shackford announced in the summer that she would be retiring in the fall after 20 seasons at the helm of the program. Sean Wilkinson started his tenure as men’s squash coach, succeeding legendary Hall of Famer Bob Callahan.

Marcoux

HERE’S MOLLIE: Mollie Marcoux smiles during her press conference this April after being named as Princeton’s new Ford Family Director of Athletics. Marcoux, a 1991 Princeton alum who starred in ice hockey and soccer for the Tigers, is succeeding Gary Walters, who retired after 20 years at the helm. Marcoux is the fifth Director of Athletics in school history and the first female to hold the post. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

In terms of wins and losses, there were some surprising developments. The wrestling program had one of its best seasons in years, posting an 11-4 record after going 2-13 a year earlier. The men’s volleyball team went 16-10, tying a program record for second most wins in a season. Posting a 7-0 mark in Ivy play, the women’s tennis team topped Arizona State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, giving the program its first-ever win in that competition. Sophomore Julia Ratcliffe won the NCAA championship in the hammer throw, becoming the first Tiger women’s track athlete to win an individual national crown. The women’s basketball team saw its Ivy title streak end at four as it finished second to Penn. The Tigers, though, did bounce back to top Virginia Commonwealth in the WNIT to earn the program’s first triumph in postseason play.

On the high school scene, change was also a major theme. Longtime Princeton High swimming and girls’ soccer head coach Greg Hand retired from teaching and coaching. Carly Misiewicz took the helm of the swimming program while former PHS standout Val Rodriguez went from assistant to head coach for girls’ soccer. The Little Tiger girls’ tennis team produced a breakthrough as it won its first Mercer County Tournament team title since 1984. The PHS football team authored a dramatic reversal of fortune, going 8-2 and winning a division crown after going 0-10 in 2013.

Over at Hun, it was musical chairs for coaches. Cheryl Beal took the helm of girls tennis while Hun Hall of Famer Joan Nuse moved from the girls’ program to become the head coach of the boys’ team in place of Todd Loffredo. Haley Sanborn stepped down from guiding the girls’ lacrosse program and was replaced by longtime Princeton Day School assistant Liz Cook. Todd Smith became the new head football coach and led the Raiders to a 7-1 season and the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title. Two Hun programs produced landmark wins as the girls’ soccer team topped perennial power Pennington in the state Prep A title game, ending its 11-year championship reign, while the boys’ hockey team defeated Notre Dame to win the program’s second-ever county crown.

Across town at Princeton Day School, Rob Tuckman retired as the head coach of the boy’s lacrosse team. Tuckman went out in a blaze of glory, guiding the Panthers to a 10-8 win over Rutgers Prep in the state Prep B title game, giving the program its first state crown since 1996.

On the other side of Great Road at Stuart Country Day School, Justin Leith was named as the new director of athletics, replacing Kim Ciarrocca, who moved to Michigan where her husband coaches for the Western Michigan football team. Leith later took over the basketball program as head coach Dana Leary decided to not come back for a third season.

Winter Wobbles

Princeton women's tennis

PUMPED UP: Princeton University women’s tennis player ­Lindsay Graff enjoys herself on the court this spring. Junior standout Graff was named Ivy League Player of the Year in 2014, helping the Tigers go 7-0 in league action on the way to the team crown. She helped Princeton beat Arizona State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, giving the program its first-ever win in that competition. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Going after a fifth straight Ivy League title, the Princeton University women’s basketball team found itself locked in a tie for first with Penn and hosting the Quakers in the regular season finale. Digging an early hole in the title showdown, coach Courtney Banghart’s team tried to rally but fell short in an 80-64 defeat.

Showing its championship pride, Princeton bounced back by beating Virginia Commonwealth 94-76 in the first round of the WNIT, earning the first postseason win in program history. The Tigers ended the winter with a 21-9 record after they fell 75-74 to Seton Hall in the second round of the WNIT. Senior Kristen Helmstetter capped her career by earning second All-Ivy honors while junior guard Blake Dietrick was a first-team choice and sophomore Alex Wheatley earned honorable mention.

The men’s hoops team was essentially eliminated from Ivy title contention by starting 0-4 in league play. But with senior T.J. Bray putting together one of the better seasons in recent program history, the Tigers won eight of its last 10 games to earn a bid in the CBI. Guard Bray led Princeton in scoring (19.2 points per game), steals (21, 1.5 spg), assists (59, 4.2 apg) and rebounds (5.5 rpg) in earning first-team All-Ivy honors. He also passed the 1,000-point milestone in his career.

Coach Mitch Henderson’s squad posted a final record of 21-9 after falling 72-56 to Fresno State in the CBI quarterfinals.

Over at Baker Rink, the Princeton women’s hockey team returned to the ECAC Hockey playoffs after a one-year absence. Coach Jeff Kampersal’s team was led by a pair of senior forwards, Denna Laing and Sally Butler, who scored 27 and 23 points, respectively. The Tigers were swept by sixth-ranked Cornell in the ECACH best-of-3 quarterfinal series and ended the winter with
a 14-13-4 overall record.

Unable to generate much offense, the Princeton men’s hockey team suffered through a long winter. The Tigers went 6-26 and coach Bob Prier stepped down in May after three seasons at the helm of the program. He was replaced by Ron Fogarty, who came from Adrian College where he guided the program to a 167-23-10 record in seven years and to the NCAA Division 3 championship game in the 2010-11 season.

The men’s squash team welcomed a new coach, Sean Wilkinson, the replacement for Hall of Fame coach Bob Callahan, who retired after 32 seasons at the helm and leading Princeton to 314 victories, 11 Ivy League titles, and national championships in 1982, 1993, and 2012. The Tigers took their lumps in the transition to the new coach, going 8-7 overall and 3-4 Ivy. Princeton did end the season on a high note as it won the Hoen Cup at the CSA competition for the teams seeded 9-16. Juniors Samuel Kang and Tyler Osborne earned first-team All-America honors while senior Dylan Ward was a second-team choice.

Freshman Maria Elena Ubina made an impact right from the start for the women’s squash team. She earned All-American honors and was named the Ivy Rookie of the Year, helping the Tigers go 11-5 overall and 4-3 Ivy. Coach Gail Ramsay’s team advanced to the quarterfinals of the Howe Cup national championships where it fell in a 5-4 thriller to Yale. Libby Eyre and Nicole Bunyan joined Ubina in earning All-American recognition.

Under the leadership of dynamic head coach Chris Ayres, the Princeton wrestling team continued its rise up the Ivy ladder. The Tigers tied for second in the league, posting an 11-4 record in dual match competition. The program had both double-digit wins and fewer than five losses for the first time since the 1980-81 season. Junior Adam Krop earned second-team All-Ivy League honors, while sophomores Abram Ayala and Kevin Moylan both earned Ivy League honorable mention. Ayala finished fifth at the EIWAs at 197 pounds and went on to the NCAA championships where he fell in the second round of consolation matches.

The Tiger fencing program had another big year, taking second at the NCAA championships. Coach Zoltan Dudas’ squad fell just short of defending their 2013 title as they came within three wins of national champion Penn State.

The men’s team featured three All-Americans, including freshman Pete Pak at saber, sophomore Michael Dodey at foil and sophomore Jack Hudson at epee. On the women’s side, sophomore Gracie Stone and senior Diamond Wheeler earned All-American honors at saber while junior Ambika Singh and junior Sharon Gao were All-Americans at foil. Susannah Scanlan earned her fourth All-American honor epee while junior Katherine Holmes got her third All-American honor in the weapon.

Senior Lisa Boyce ended her women’s swimming career on a high note, wining a ninth Ivy title with a victory in the 100 freestyle at the league championships. Boyce’s heroics weren’t enough as coach Susan Teeter’s team finished second to Harvard. Boyce went on to finish seventh at the NCAA championships in the 100 butterfly, earning her second All-American honor and becoming the first Tiger NCAA finalist since Alicia Aemisegger ‘10, who reached 10 NCAA championship finals.

Tiger men’s swimming saw its streak of five straight Ivy titles come to an end as it was edged by Harvard in the league championship meet. Coach Rob Orr’s squad got an Ivy title from sophomore Teo D’Allesandro in the 200 individual medley while sophomore En-wei Hu-Van Wright set a Princeton record in the 200 back, going 1:43.44 as he placed second in the league meet.

Coach Fred Samara guided the men’s track and field team to a second place finish at the Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championship. It marked the 21st year the Tigers have finished either first or second at the competition.

197 lbs. Abe Ayala, won his bout vs his RU opponent

UPLIFTING EXPERIENCE: Princeton University sophomore wrestler Abe Ayala gets his arm raised in triumph after winning a match last season. Ayala starred at 197 pounds, helping Princeton go 11-4. He capped his season by making the NCAA championships. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

All-Ivy performers for Princeton included sophomore Adam Bragg in the pole vault, senior Tom Hopkins in the 4×400, 500, and long jump, sophomore Jabari Johnson, in the 4×400,senior Daniel McCord, 4×400, freeman Ray Mennin in the 4×400, senior Damon McLean in the triple jump and long jump and junior Stephen Soerens in the heptathlon. McLean won his fourth straight triple jump, becoming just the second athlete in Heps history to sweep the event.

Samantha Anderson provided a highlight with a win in the pole vault as the Tiger women’s track team took fourth at the Indoor Heps. Coach Peter Farrell’s squad boasted six other All-Ivy performers besides senior Anderson including sophomore Inka Busack in the high jump, freshman Megan Curham in both the 3,000 and 5,000, freshman Allison Harris in the pole vault, senior Beth McKenna in the pentathlon, senior Imani Oliver in the triple jump, and sophomore Julia Ratcliffe in the weight throw.

The men’s volleyball enjoyed a thrilling season, knocking off national power Penn State 3-2 in a regular season match. The Tigers went on to make the EIVA title match where they fell to Penn State. Princeton concluded its season with an overall record of 16-10 under coach Sam Shweisky, tying for the second-most single-season wins in program history since the team earned varsity status in 1997. It was the fourth Tiger team to advance to the EIVA final and it was only the second Princeton team during that time period to defeat Penn State.

Spring Sensations 

22 Schrecker

TOM TERRIFIC: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Tom Schreiber heads upfield in a game this spring. Senior Schreiber was named as the winner of the Lt. j.g. Donald MacLaughlin Jr. Award given to the nation’s top midfielder. Four-time All-American Schreiber was the 2013 winner as well, making him just the sixth player — and second Tiger player after Josh Sims — to win it twice. Schreiber had 30 goals and 21 assists in 2014 and ended his career with 200 points on 106 goals and 94 assists. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Sophomore hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe captured headlines all spring long. The New Zealand native went undefeated in regular season meets. She then won the hammer throw title at both the Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Championships and culminated the college season by winning the NCAA title in her event with a throw of 219’5. Her victory extended Princeton’s streak to 43 consecutive years with at least one individual or team national championship. She placed second in the Commonwealth Games in July in Scotland, taking another key step in her drive to represent New Zealand in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Ratcliffe was hardly the only star for coach Peter Farrell and his women’s track team as the Tigers took fifth at the Heps. All-Ivy performers for Princeton besides Ratcliffe included senior Imani Oliver in the long jump and triple jump, senior Samantha Anderson in the pole vault, freshman Megan Curham in the 10,000, and senior Beth McKenna in the Heptathlon. Curham went on to take 11th in the 10,000 at the NCAA championships to earn second-team All-American honors.

The men’s track team fell just short of its fourth straight Heps Outdoor title, placing second to Cornell by less than seven points. Coach Fred Samara’s squad boasted a number of stellar performers. All-Ivy honorees for the team included senior Chris Bendsten in the 10,000, sophomore John Hill in the 100 and 4×100, senior Damon McLean in the triple jump, senior Tom Hopkins in the 400, 200, long jump and 4×100, sophomore Greg Caldwell in the 110 hurdles, junior Stephen Soerens in the decathlon, junior Daniel McCord in the 4×100 and 4×400, sophomore Dre Nelson in the 4×100, freshman Greg Leeper in the 4×400, and freshman Bryant Switzer in the 4×400.

Led by a trio of All-Americans, sophomore goalie Ashleigh Johnson, senior Katie Rigler, and senior Molly McBee, the women’s water polo team enjoyed a record-breaking campaign. Coach Luis Nicolao’s team went 31-2, setting the program mark for most wins and fewest losses. The season did end in disappointment, however, as the Tigers fell 11-10 to Indiana in the CWPA final, just missing out on a bid to the NCAA tournament.

The women’s lacrosse team made the NCAA tournament, earning an at-large bid after a superb regular season and advancing to the Ivy League title game. Coach Chris Sailer’s squad topped Penn State 16-13 in the opening round of the NCAAs as it made the program’s 22nd appearance in the national tournament. The Tiger’s NCAA run ended in the second round when they fell 13-11 to Virginia to end the season with a 12-7 record. The squad boasted four first-team All-Ivy performers in senior midfielder Sarah Lloyd, junior midfielder Erin Slifer, junior attacker Erin McMunn, and senior defender Colleen Smith while sophomore defender Liz Bannantine earned second-team honors.

Senior midfielder Tom Schreiber earned a slew of honors as he wrapped up one of the best careers in the history of the men’s lacrosse program. Schreiber won the Lt. j.g. Donald McLaughlin Jr. Award for the nation’s top midfielder for the second time, was USILA first-team All-America for the third straight year and a four-time first-team All-Ivy selection. He had 30 goals and 21 assists in 2014 and ended his career with 200 points on 106 goals and 94 assists.

Unfortunately, Schreiber’s heroics weren’t enough for coach Chris Bates’ squad to earn a bid in either the Ivy or NCAA tournament as the Tigers went 7-6 overall and 2-4 Ivy. Princeton lost three games by one goal and two others by two goals. Joining Schreiber on the All-Ivy team were sophomore attackman Ryan Ambler, junior attackman Mike MacDonald, and sophomore midfielder Jake Froccaro, who were second-team selections, while senior longstick midfielder Derick Raabe was named honorable mention.

The women’s open crew team won its second straight Ivy team championship, paced by the first varsity 8, which set an Ivy course record in defeating Brown and Harvard. The performance at the Ivy regatta clinched the program’s 18th straight trip to the NCAA championship regatta, making it one of just three programs along with Brown and Washington to compete in the event every year since is started in 1997.

Princeton, though had mixed results at the national regatta at Eagle Creek Park at Indianapolis, Ind. Coach Lori Dauphiny’s second varsity eight took second place while the first varsity just missed the final and ended up seventh. The team placed sixth overall in the team standings. Seniors Angie Gould and Kelsey Reelick joined junior Faith Richardson on the CRCA 2014 Pocock All-American Team.

Gaining some valuable experience, a young women’s lightweight varsity 8 took fifth in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) championship regatta. Coach Paul Rassam’s top boat had just two seniors, Maggie Stroebel and Emily Hill, so the future looks bright for the program. One of the returning rowers, junior co-captain Becky Kreutter, was named to the CRCA 2014 Pocock Lightweight All-American Team.

Continuing its climb back to championship level, the men’s open crew enjoyed a solid performance at the IRA championship regatta. Coach Greg Hughes’ varsity 8 placed fourth in the grand final, its best finish in the race since 2006. The second varsity 8 placed second while third varsity 8 took sixth.

Enjoying a superb season that saw them ranked at No. 2 nationally after the regular season, the men’s lightweight varsity 8 placed fifth in the grand final at the IRA national championship regatta. With every rower returning from the top two boats, coach Marty Crotty’s program should continue to be a national title contender.

It was a rough spring for the baseball team as it went 14-26 overall and 8-12 in Ivy play. Coach Scott Bradley’s squad got big years from senior pitcher Mike Fagan (4-2, 2.33 ERA) and senior infielder/outfielder Alec Keller (.327, 48 hits). Keller was named Ivy Player of the Year and first-team All Ivy while Fagan joined him as a first-team All-Ivy selection. Freshman first baseman Zack Belski was an All-Ivy honorable mention choice.

Senior star Kelly Shon ended her career women’s golf team in style, finishing second at the Ivy championship and getting named as the Ivy Player of the Year for the second straight year. Princeton finished second in the team standings at the Ivy event, 21 strokes behind champion Harvard. After the season, head coach Nicki Cutler stepped down after four years guiding the program and was replaced by Erika DeSanty, who spent the last five seasons leading the Williams College women’s golf program. Shon, for her part, achieved LPGA Tour status in December battling through three stages of qualifying.

Like Shon, Greg Jarmas ended his Tiger golf career on a high note. Firing a final round 69 at the Ivy men’s golf championship, Jarmas charged up the leaderboard to tie for ninth and earn second-team All-Ivy honors. Coach Will Green’s squad placed fourth in the Ivy team standings of the competition, which was won by Columbia. After graduation, Jarmas made his pro debut, competing on the eGolf Professional Tour.

Led by Ivy League Player of the Year, junior Lindsay Graff, the women’s tennis team rolled to the league title, going 7-0 in Ivy play. Coach Laura Granville’s squad made program history edging Arizona State in the first round of the NCAA tournament, earning Princeton’s first match win in the national tourney. The Tigers went on to fall 4-2 to Alabama in the second round to finish with a final record of 19-6.

Fighting through an uneven season, the men’s tennis team went 13-11 overall and 3-4 Ivy. Coach Billy Pate’s team featured two All-Ivy performers in junior Zack McCourt and freshman Tom Colautti.

Fall Fun

Fueled by the finishing skill of senior star Cameron Porter, the men’s soccer team enjoyed a terrific season. Coach Jim Barlow’s squad produced a late surge, going 8-0-1 in its last nine games to end the season at 11-3-3 overall and 5-1-1 Ivy. The Tigers shared the Ivy title with Dartmouth but the Big Green got the league’s automatic bid to the tournament by virtue of beating Princeton 2-1 in overtime in regular season play.

The Tigers didn’t receive an at-large bid to the national tourney but the honors kept pouring in for Porter, who was named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year. He was the NCAA leading points scorer with 2.00 points per game and .88 goals per game, and tied for first in total goals with 15 and second in total points with 34. Porter completed his career with 75 points on 31 goals and 13 assists in 67 games. He was also a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar All-America and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Offensive Player of the Year.

Another prolific scorer, sophomore Tyler Lussi, triggered the offense for the women’s soccer team. Lussi, the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, had 18 goals and three assists, tying for the second-most goals in a season in program history as the Tigers went 7-6-3 overall and 3-3-1 Ivy.

Senior Lauren Lazo helped Lussi up front, finishing the year with eight goals and 10 assists, the most assists in the Ivy League this season and the second-most assists in a season in program history behind the 12 from Esmeralda Negron ’05 in 2004. Lazo also finished with 26 career assists, tying her for the program record now shared with Diana Matheson ’08. Lazo finished her career with four All-Ivy League honors and her second first-team all-league recognition, making her the first Tiger since Matheson to earn All-Ivy recognition all four years.

It was the final season for longtime Tiger head coach Julie Shackford, who announced her retirement before the season began. She ended her 20-season tenure with a record of 203-115-29. Her legacy includes six Ivy League championships, eight NCAA tournament appearances (the most by an Ivy women’s soccer coach), a national Division I Coach of the Year Award, three regional Coach of the Year honors and the distinction of having won more games coaching soccer at Princeton than any coach with either the men’s or women’s program. She took her team to the 2004 NCAA College Cup Final Four, something unmatched in Ivy League women’s soccer history.

As for the football team, it was a defensive player, senior linebacker Mike Zeuli, who earned many of the headlines. Zeuli was named as the co-winner of the Bushnell Cup Ivy League defensive Player of the Year along with Harvard’s Zach Hodges and was a third-team All-American. A defensive back-turned-linebacker, Zeuli led the Ivy League with 16.5 tackles for loss, ranked second with 8.7 tackles per game and tied for fifth in sacks with four. He had 16 tackles in his final collegiate game, which moved him over the 200-tackle mark for his career.

Despite Zeuli’s exploits, Princeton ended up in the middle of the Ivy pack with a 5-5 overall record and a 4-3 league mark coming off a title campaign in 2013. Coach Bob Surace’s squad got great work offensively from two of Zeuli’s classmates as senior receivers Matt Costello and Conner Kelley capped their careers in style with big final campaigns. Costello finished his career third on Princeton’s all-time receptions list (154), and he finishes fourth on the all-time receiving yards list (1,721) while Kelley finished seventh in receptions (129) and 11th in receiving yards (1,392).

Working some younger players into the rotation, the field hockey team underwent a transition season. Coach Kristen Holmes-Winn’s club struggled to a 3-9 start but then caught fire down the stretch as it won four of its last five regular season games to earn the program’s 20th Ivy crown in the last 21 seasons. Princeton edged Monmouth 4-3 in an NCAA play-in game before falling 5-1 to Maryland in a first-round contest as it finished the season at 8-11 overall and 6-1 Ivy. Seniors Sydney Kirby and Allison Evans earned first-team All-Ivy recognition while sophomore Cat Caro, sophomore Annabeth Donovan, and junior Kate Ferrara were second-team selections and freshman Ryan McCarthy earned honorable mention. Kirby was also named as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Led by senior star and co-captain Drew Hoffenberg, the men’s water polo team enjoyed a superb campaign as it was ranked in the top 10 nationally most of the fall. Coach Luis Nicolao’s team won the Southern Division championship and brought a 23-3 record into the CWPA title game against Brown. With a berth to the NCAA tourney on the line, the Tigers fell 7-6 to the Bears. Hoffenberg was named the Southern Player of the Year and was joined on the all-league first team by teammates Vojislav Mitrovic and Thomas Nelson.

Coming up big when it counted most, junior Michael Sublette produced a second-place finish at the Ivy League Heptagonal Cross Country championships to help Princeton win the men’s team title. Senior Sam Pons followed in third place with seniors Eddie Owens and Matt McDonald sixth and seventh, respectively for coach Jason Vigilante’s squad.

Megan Curham set the pace all fall long for the women’s cross country team. She placed first individually at the Heps championships to help Peter Farrell’s squad take second in the team standings at the meet. Curham took 18th place at the NCAA championships to earn All-American honors.

Junior Kendall Peterkin produced 423 kills, eighth-most in program history, to help women’s volleyball take third place outright in the Ivy standings. Coach Sabrina King’s squad finished the season with a 14-10 overall record and a 9-5 league mark. Peterkin and senior Nicole Kincade earned first-team All-Ivy honors with sophomore Brittany Ptak earning honorable mention.

Hun

2 Maziarz

AMAZING JOURNEY: Hun School girls’ soccer player Ashley Maziarz dribbles a ball in a game this fall. Senior star and Lehigh-bound Maziarz helped Hun produce a historic triumph as the Raiders stunned perennial champion Pennington 2-0 in the state Prep A title game, ending its 11-year championship reign. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

A trio of freshman forwards, Evan Barratt, Jon Bendorf, and Blake Brown, helped transform the Hun School boys’ hockey team into a power. With the so-called Killer B’s line comprised of the three freshmen supplying much of the firepower, the Raiders won the program’s second Mercer County Tournament title and its second straight Independence Hockey League (IHL) crown.

Coach Ian McNally’s squad finished the winter with a 20-7 record. Each of the freshman phenoms tallied at least 60 points with Barratt scoring 61 points on 28 goals and 33 assists, Bendorf adding 66 on 36 goals and 30 assists and Brown contributing 60 on 32 goals and 28 assists.

It was a season of near misses for the Hun boys’ basketball team. Coach Jon Stone’s squad posted an 8-13 record, advancing to the semis of both the state Prep A and Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tourneys.

Going through some growing pains with a young lineup and getting hampered by an injury to senior star Johnnah Johnson that sidelined her for much of the season, the Hun girls’ hoops team took its lumps. Coach Bill Holup’s team went 10-11. Johnson did return late in the season and eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in her career.

Fueled by a blend of talented newcomers and some battle-tested veterans, the Hun boys’ lacrosse team enjoyed a terrific campaign. Coach MV Whitlow’s squad went 13-7 and advanced to the state Prep A title game where it fell to perennial power Lawrenceville. The squad’s attack was bolstered by transfers Drake Roy, Jon Levine and Cole West while veterans Tucker Stevenson, Brendan Black, and Owen Black provided production and leadership.

Senior star and Syracuse-bound Brianna Barratt produced a superb final campaign to provide a highlight in a rough spring for the Hun girls’ lax team. Coach Haley Sanborn’s team posted a 1-11 record. Sanborn stepped down after the season and was replaced by longtime Princeton Day School assistant coach Liz Cook.

Sparked by shortstop Julia Blake, the Hun softball team proved to be competitive. Coach Kathy Quirk’s team went 9-8 and advanced to the state Prep A semifinals.

It was an uneven spring for the Hun baseball team as coach Bill McQuade’s squad produced moments of brilliance but was inconsistent. The Raiders went 8-12 as the program underwent a youth movement.

Continuing its rebuilding efforts, the Hun boys’ tennis team placed 11th of 17 teams at the MCT under coach Todd Loffredo. After the season, Loffredo stepped aside and was replaced by Joan Nuse, a Hun Hall of Fame girls’ tennis coach.

Building on a late surge in the 2013 campaign, the Hun girls’ soccer team took things to the next level and made history. Coach Joanna Hallac’s team posted wins over such formidable foes as Princeton Day School, Pennington, East Brunswick, Hill School (Pa.) in regular season play.

Led by senior co-captains Ashley Maziarz and Jess Sacco, the Raiders saved their best for last, stunning perennial champion Pennington 2-0 in the state Prep A title game, ending its 11-year championship reign. Maziarz scored a first half goal on a brilliant free kick and freshman Kara Borden added a late tally to seal the historic win, which was witnessed by a throng of around 1,000 ringing the field. Hun ended the fall with a 14-4-1 record.

34 Zeuli

IRON MIKE: Princeton University linebacker Mike Zeuli heads up the field in a game this fall. Senior star Zeuli was named as the co-winner of the Bushnell Cup Ivy League defensive Player of the Year along with Harvard’s Zach Hodges and was a third-team All-American. A defensive back-turned-linebacker, Zeuli led the Ivy League with 16.5 tackles for loss, ranked second with 8.7 tackles per game and tied for fifth in sacks with four. He had 16 tackles in his final collegiate game, which moved him over the 200-tackle mark for his career. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The arrival of new head coach Todd Smith gave the Hun football program a major shot in the arm. Led by running back Chris Sharp and quarterback Simon Vadas, the Raiders offense became a juggernaut, averaging more than 46 points a game on the way to a 7-1 record and an undefeated MAPL campaign. The Hun defense, which was sparked by Kyle Horihan, Cameren Kitchen, and Jordan McGriff, stymied the opposition as the Raiders only gave up 121 points all fall.

A trio of stellar seniors, goalie Reina Kern, midfielder Julia Blake and forward Vicki Leach, led the way as the Hun field hockey team enjoyed a solid season. Coach Kathy Quirk’s squad posted an 8-11 record and advanced to the state Prep A semis and the MCT quarters.

Cheryl Beal took the helm of the girls’ tennis team and guided the Raiders to sixth place of 18 schools in the team standings at the MCT. The second doubles team of Olivia Hartman and Nina Yao took fourth in their flight to lead the way at the county tournament.

PDS

Led by a group of overachieving seniors, the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team won the state Prep title. Coach Scott Bertoli’s squad edged Morristown-Beard 4-3 in the championship game as seniors Sean Timmons, Lewie Blackburn, John Egner, and Connor Bitterman rose to the occasion. The Panthers also produced another major highlight, topping Lawrenceville 6-3 in January to post their first win over the Big Red since the 2000-01 season. The Panthers finished the winter with a 14-7-2 record.

Lifted by its quintet of seniors, Robin Linzmayer, Mary Travers, Mimi Mathews, Colby Triolo, and Abby Sharer the girls’ hockey team placed in the top 4 of the WIHLMA standings, earning a spot in the league ‘A’ bracket for the playoffs. Coach Lorna Cook’s team fell in the semis and ended the season with a record of 11-8-1.

Seniors Langston Glaude, Deante Cole, Chris Okorodudu, and Ford Schneider each averaged in double figures in scoring as the boys’ hoops program underwent a transition season. Coach Paris McLean’s team posted an 8-14 record, leaving the seniors with 58 wins in their career after they helped the program posts 15, 16, and 19 victories in their first three campaigns.

Kamau Bailey took the helm of the girls’ basketball team and helped a young squad gain valuable experience as it went 2-11.

7 Fletcher

DOUBLE THREAT: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Connor Fletcher heads up the field in a game this spring. Fletcher helped both the PDS boys’ lacrosse and hockey teams win state Prep crowns. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It was coach Rob Tuckman’s last year guiding the boys’ lacrosse team and he went out in a blaze of glory as the Panthers topped perennial champion and nemesis Rutgers Prep 10-8 in the championship game. PDS was sparked by Connor Fletcher, Jonah Tuckman, Chris Azzarello, Ben Levine and Culver Duquette as it ended the spring with a record of 13-3. Tuckman will be succeeded by assistant Rich D’Andrea.

Hope Anhut, Lucy Linville and Morgan Foster starred for the girls’ lacrosse team. Coach Jill Thomas’s squad went 6-5 on the spring.

Hurt by an early season injury to junior pitching ace Cole McManimon, the baseball team struggled. Fellow juniors J.P. Radvany and Jake Alu had big years to keep the Panthers competitive as they posted a record of 4-12 for coach Ray O’Brien.

Senior Neeraj Devulapalli and sophomore Scott Altmeyer won state Prep B titles at second and third singles, respectively to help the boys’ tennis team win the team title for the second straight year. Coach Will Asch’s squad won nine of 10 matches on the first day of the Prep B tourney to clinch the title before the finals were even played.

After winning the county title in 2013, the girls’ soccer team added another championship as it won the state Prep B crown. Coach Pat Trombetta’s team edged Morristown-Beard 1-0 in the title game to end the season at 12-4-3. The team’s senior class of Erin Hogan, Kirsten Kuzmicz, Erin Murray, Kelly Tarcza, Jamie Thomas, and the Soltesz twins, Alexa and Stef, is leaving a championship legacy. Boasting such returning stars as Allison Klei, Abby Atkeson, Madison Coyne, Hannah Bunce, and Grace Barbara, the program should continue to be a title contender.

With seniors Maria Martinovich and Emily Dyckman winning titles at second singles and third singles, respectively, the girls tennis team won the Prep B title for the third year in a row. Coach Ed Tseng’s squad also had strong showing at the MCT, taking fourth of 18 schools in the team standings.

Bouncing back from a 3-11-3 record in 2013, seniors Marco Pinheiro and Oscar Vik led the way as the Panthers went 11-6-2. Coach Malcolm Murphy’s team advanced to the state prep B semis and MCT quarterfinals. Pinheiro and Vik were both named as first-team All-Prep B performers.

With a roster stocked with freshmen and sophomores, the field hockey team underwent a rebuilding season. Coach Tracey Arndt’s squad went 2-15 as senior goalie Katie Alden held down the fort. Alden was named a first-team All-Prep B performer with junior star Rowan Schomburg getting honorable mention notice.

The trio of John Gudgel, Kevin Sun, and Peter Klein helped the boys’ cross country team place fifth at the state Prep B meet. Junior Gudgel placed 27th for coach Merrell Noden’s squad with sophomore Sun and junior Klein right behind, finishing 28th and 29th, respectively. As for the PDS girls’ team, junior Emma Sharer was the top finisher at the Prep meet, taking 22nd. The boys’ team was hurt by injuries to sophomore star Ian Moini while girls’ standout Morgan Mills was also hampered by injury after setting the pace in the early going.

PHS

PHS rejoice after their win

BACK ON TOP: Members of the Princeton High boys’ soccer team celebrate after they beat Allentown in the Mercer County Tournament championship game in November. PHS went on to win the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional title and advance to the state championship game where they fell 4-3 to South Plainfield. The Little Tigers ended the fall at 18-3-2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For most of the winter, the Princeton High boys’ swimming team looked unbeatable. Led by a stellar group of seniors in Will Stange, Peter Kalibat, Colburn Yu, Matt Purdy, Avery Soong, and Scott MacKenzie, the Little Tigers roared through the regular season without a loss. They went on to win their fourth straight county title and a sixth straight Public B Central Jersey sectional title. Advancing to the Public B state championship meet, coach Greg Hand’s squad met its match in Moorestown, falling 87-83 to finish with a final record of 13-1.

Paced by a pair of standout juniors, Maddie Deardorff and Brianna Romaine, the girls’ swimming team also proved to be dominant. The squad went undefeated in regular season meets, won its second straight country title, and then defeated Lawrence to win the Public B Central Jersey sectional title. Coach Hand’s team finally tasted defeat when it lost 96-74 to Ocean City in the Public B state semis.

The squad finished the season with a 12-1 record.

Coach Hand

GUIDING HAND: Greg Hand enjoying the moment at a Princeton High swim meet this past winter. Hand, the longtime head coach of the PHS boys’ and girls’ swimming teams and the girls’ soccer program, announced in June that he was retiring from teaching and coaching. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After the season, the program suffered a major loss as longtime mentor Hand retired from teaching and coaching, leaving a special legacy as his boys’ squad has gone 202-46-3 with seven county crowns, 12 sectional titles, five appearances in the state finals, and a New Jersey Public B championship in 2012 while the Little Tiger girls’ team has posted a record of 152-63-2 with two county crowns, seven sectional titles, and four appearances in the Public B championship meet. He was succeeded by assistant coach Carly Misiewicz, a former Rider University swimming star.

A new head coach, Terence Miller, kept the boys’ hockey team on the winning track. Miller guided the Little Tigers to a 14-6-2 record as the team advanced to the county semis and the second round of the state Public B tourney. Senior star defenseman Patrick McCormick provided leadership and production to help lead PHS to the superb campaign.

The one-two punch of the Herring sisters, junior Lucy and freshman Maggie, helped the girls’ hockey team make progress. Coach Christian Herzog’s squad went 2-11 as the Herrings provided much of the offense.

The girls’ hoops program started a new era as Dan Van Hise took the helm as head coach. Guards Mary Sutton and Julia Ryan starred as the team struggled early but improved as the season went on, finishing with a 3-16 record.

A pair of guards, Matt Hart and Kevin Kane, had good seasons but the boys’ basketball team took its lumps, dropping a number of close games. Coach Mark Shelley’s team went 5-16 and did end the winter on a high note by beating PDS in a county tournament consolation game in its season finale.

Boasting more depth than in recent years, the wrestling team enjoyed one of its best seasons in years, going 11-9 in dual match competition. Coach Rashone Johnson’s squad got solid performances from Patrick Sockler, Tom Miers, Victor Bell, James Verbeyst, and Noah Ziegler.

Senior stars Kevin Halliday and Matt Purdy triggered the attack while junior Jackson Andres spearheaded the defense as the boys’ lacrosse team produced another championship campaign. Coach Peter Stanton’s team won the county title in an 11-10 overtime thriller against Allentown and then advanced to the sectional semis where it fell 10-8 to top-seeded Shawnee. The squad finished the spring at 16-4.

The girls’ lacrosse team also had a big season, riding the offensive prowess of senior stars Emilia Lopez-Ona and Liz Jacobs along with junior Gabby Gibbons. Coach Kelsey O’Gorman’s squad made it to the finals of both the county tournament and the sectional tourney as it went 17-4.

Sophomores Hayden Reyes and Colin Taylor along with junior John Reid starred for the baseball team. Coach Dave Roberts’ team posted a final record of 9-14.

With a number of younger players assuming prominent roles, the softball team also found the going tough as it lost 12 of its first 15 games. Coach Dave Boehm’s squad went 4-4 down the stretch to finish 7-16 and welcomes back such stars as Kayla Volante, Sarah Eisenach, Stephanie Wu, Kelli Swedish, and Nancy Gray.

A girl, senior star Laura Burke, was top player for the PHS boys’ golf team. Burke placed in the boys’ country tourney was consistently the low scorer for coach Sheryl Severance’s team.

3 Hellstrom

ROARING AGAIN: Princeton High football player Rory Helstrom breaks through the defense in a game this fall. Junior running back Helstrom rushed for more than 1,000 yards as PHS produced one of the top turnarounds of 2014, going 8-2 after posting a 0-10 record in 2013. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Conor Donahue and Joe Gray starred for the boys’ track. Gray placed third in the 400 at the sectional meet while Donahue took second in the 800 and fourth in the 1,600. The 4×400 relay placed second. Coach Rashone Johnson’s squad ended up 10th of 18 schools in the team standings at the sectionals.

Senior throwing star Michelle Bazile produced one of the finest campaigns in the history of the girls’ track program. She won both the discus and the shot put at the sectional meet as coach Jim Smirk’s PHS placed 10th of 20 schools in the team standings. The Brown-bound Bazile went on to win the shot put at the Meet of Champions, producing a school-record heave of 43’6.25 in taking the title.

It was a banner fall for PHS athletics. One of the school’s most storied programs, the boys’ soccer team, regained its championship form. Coach Wayne Sutcliffe’s team won division, county, and sectional titles. It advanced to its third Group 3 state title game in the last six seasons, dropping a 4-3 heartbreaker to South Plainfield in the finales. Senior Chase Ealy triggered the attack for the Little Tigers while junior defender Chris Harla and senior goalie Laurenz Reimitz solidified the defense as PHS ended the fall at 18-3-2.

Led by junior superstar Christina Rosca and senior standouts, Rory Lewis, Zhenia Dementyeva, and Katelyn Hojeibane, the girls’ tennis team had another big season. Coach Sarah Hibbert’s team won the county title for the first time since 1984 and then won the sectional title. The team advanced to its second straight state final, where it fell to perennial power Millburn. It ended the fall with a 19-3 record.

The girls’ cross country team placed second in the county, won the sectional meet, and then took second in the state Group 3 meet to earn a spot in the prestigious Meet of Champions for the first time since 2010. Espousing a pack mentality, coach Jim Smirk’s team saw seniors Mary Sutton, Julie Bond and Paige Metzheiser along with juniors Lou Mialhe and Emma Eikelberner stick together among the leaders in most races.

Producing the most remarkable turnaround of the fall, the football team went from a dismal 0-10 campaign in 2013 to a remarkable 8-2 season. Coach Charlie Gallagher’s team was led by senior stars Sam Smallzman, Colin Buckley and Joe Hawes along with juniors Rory Helstrom and David Beamer. The Little Tigers won the West Jersey Football League’s Valley Division title and made the state tournament for the first time since 2009.

A core of battle-tested veterans, Julia DiTosto, Lucy Herring, Campbell McDonald and Trish Reilly, set the tone as the field hockey team solidified its place among the elite teams in the area. Coach Heather Serverson’s squad won a division title, placed second in the MCT, and advanced to the sectional quarterfinals and ended the fall with an 18-4 record.

A season-ending leg injury to senior star striker Shannon Pawlak hampered the girls’ soccer team. But with Pawlak’s twin sister, senior defender Emily, having a big year, the Little Tigers remained competitive under first year head coach Val Rodriguez. The squad finished with a 9-7-2 record and advanced to the second round of the state tournament.

The boys’ cross country team was also slowed by injury as two of its top performers, senior Jacob Rist and sophomore Alex Roth, were sidelined for much of the fall. With some younger runners stepping up, coach Mark Shelley’s team placed fifth in the county meet, second in the sectionals, and 13th in the Group 3 state meets.

Stuart

2 Hannah

HITTING HER STRIDE: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Tori Hannah dribbles the ball upfield this fall. Junior ­Hannah, a first-team All Prep B performer along with classmate Sam Servis, helped Stuart make strides this fall. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Quadrupling its win total, the Stuart Country Day School basketball team posted an 8-8 record after going 2-13 in the 2012-13 campaign. Coach Dana Leary’s squad featured a potent inside-out attack with Kate Walsh and Nneka Onukwugha providing punch in the paint with guards Harlyn Bell and Harley Guzman starring on the perimeter. Leary left the program after the season and was succeeded by the school’s new athletics director, Justin Leith.

With an attack paced by senior Amy Hallowell and sophomore stars Sam Servis, Julia Maser, and Tori Hannah along with rock-solid goalie play from Harlyn Bell, the lacrosse team enjoyed a solid campaign. Coach Caitlin Grant’s team won its last four games to end the spring at 8-6, the program’s first winning season in seven years.

The pair of Servis and Hannah triggered the offense for the field hockey team as they both earned first-team All-Prep B honors. Coach Missy Bruvik’s squad showed progress, going 2-2-1 down the stretch to post a 6-14-1 record.

Casey Nelson set the pace as Stuart placed fifth in the state Prep B championship. Sophomore Nelson placed 12th individually while junior Lindsay Craig finished 16th and senior Emily Morgan took 19th for coach Len Klepack’s squad.

Senior co-captain Maya Huang and Julia Rourke provided solid leadership and play as the tennis team went 4-6 in dual match action. Coach Katherine Stoltenberg’s squad finished 10th of 18 teams at the Mercer County Tournament.

 

Princeton track Sam Howell Invitational

ROAD TO OXFORD: Princeton University runner Rachel ­Skokowski heads around the track in a race for the Tigers. In addition to competing for the Princeton cross country and track teams, Skokowski has set quite a pace in the classroom. A member of Phi Beta Kappa who has won a slew of academic honors, Skokowski was named as a 2015 Rhodes Scholarship winner last month. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

It has always been hard to keep up with Rachel Skokowski.

Before she could even walk, she was known for doing laps around tables on her knees.

As a grade schooler, Skokowski took up running and later starred for the cross country and track teams at the Castilleja School in Palo Alto, Calif.

Skokowski came across the country to Princeton University in 2011 and made the Tiger cross country and track teams as a walk-on.

She has set quite a pace in the classroom as well, making Phi Beta Kappa and earning the R. Percy Alden Memorial Prize in French her junior year and the Haarlow Prize, awarded by the Council of the Humanities, as a sophomore. She also served as a member of the Council’s Behrman Undergraduate Society of Fellows.

Last month, Skokowski received the ultimate college accolade, being named as a 2015 Rhodes Scholarship winner.

For Skokowski, a big part of the joy of winning the Rhodes derives from how it reflects on the Tiger cross country and track programs.

“My teammates were so excited,” recalled Skokowski. “One of the first people I told was coach (Peter Farrell). He said he had a few other Rhodes Scholars in the program. It is great to add to the legacy of the program.”

A great part of Skokowski’s Princeton experience has been the daily interaction with her teammates.

“We have a really big team with people from different parts of country and different backgrounds,” said Skokowski.

“It feels like a family, you come down and see these people everyday. As coach says, you leave everything behind at school and focus on putting one foot in front of the other. It is taking a couple of hours away from the pressure of school. While there is stress in competing, it is a refreshing break that helps you concentrate when you get back to your studies.”

Skokowski did experience some stress in becoming a part of the Tiger running program as she had to earn a spot through walking on.

“I won everything I could in my league but my times weren’t as fast as the recruited athletes,” said Skokowski, whose father is a masters runner and encouraged her to take up the sport.

“I was between Division 1 and Division 3 and I really wanted to get on a D-1 program. Princeton was the most welcoming to walk-ons. I loved meeting with coach Farrell.”

Skokowski’s love of the sport helped her become a solid contributor. “My best season in cross country was freshman year,” said Skokowski.

“I wanted so badly to prove myself. I trained so hard over the summer and improved a lot. I made the Heps team; it was great. After freshman year, I switched to the 800. I train with cross country but only ran one race.”

Farrell, for his part, sensed early on that Skokowski would be a good fit for his program.

“When I met in my office with Rachel and her mother, she said she wanted to run if she got into to Princeton,” recalled Farrell.

“Her times were on the fringe but I was impressed with her as a person. It is good to have people like that in your program. I like taking walk-ons, they ask for nothing, they are appreciative and grateful for the opportunity. She is terrific.”

While Skokowski hasn’t been a star for the Tigers, she brings something special on a daily basis.

“She keeps that positive attitude; she keeps everyone upbeat,” added Farrell. “She keeps spirits up. I have never seen her have a bad day or a bad moment.”

Skokowski’s Rhodes Scholarship is a huge positive for the Tiger track program.

“The women’s track team had been around since 1977 and Rachel is our fourth Rhodes Scholar, that is a good number,” said Farrell.

“It speaks volumes about the culture of the program that we have people like this on the team. We have true scholar athletes. She is a role model who comes down every day and is a part of it and has achieved so much in other areas.”

Skokowski’s scholarly pursuits headed in a new direction when she was exposed to art history at Princeton.

“I tried a painting class but that wasn’t for me,” said Skokowski. “I became interested in art history and working in museums. Italian Renaissance painting was my first art history course.”

Combining her blossoming love for art with French helped Skokowski put together a program that accommodated her many interests.

“I never thought I would be majoring in French; my high school had a wonderful languages program so I was able to jump into literature and philosophy,” said Skokowski, who is majoring in French and Italian with a focus on French and art history.

“I found that the French department was a good place to do interdisciplinary research, combining literature and art, philosophy and art; there are so many different courses.”

During her junior year, Skokowski started the course that resulted in the Rhodes Scholarship.

“I have always been interested to going to the U.K. to study after college,” said Skokowski, noting that both of her parents studied at Oxford.

“I went to an informations session with the fellowship office as a junior and I saw it was a possibility. I started working on the application in June and I worked on it all summer.”

In the fall, Skokowski finalized her application, getting support from Princeton.

“You have to be endorsed by your school so I submitted the application to Princeton at the end of August,” said Skokowski, noting that she was in contact all summer with Deirdre Moloney, the Princeton director of fellowship advising, often via Skype due to studying in Europe.

“Once I was endorsed by Princeton, I entered the national competition in September. I found out that I got an interview in November.”

As an applicant from the California-North district, Skokowski headed out to San Francisco on the weekend before Thanksgiving for the final step of the Rhodes process, an interview before a panel of judges deciding who would get the coveted scholarships.

“It was challenging; I have had interviews for fellowships but they were one-on-one or two-on-one,” noted Skokowski.

“This is a panel of six-to-10 people who are former Rhodes Scholars and very intelligent people. The fellowship department gave us a mock interview with previous Princeton Rhodes scholars and professors. One of the questions they asked was the same as one I was asked in the actual interview.”

Utilizing the endurance from her running background, Skokowski made it through the grueling final days of the process.

“You have a reception Friday night which is not an interview but it is, you don’t want to make a faux pas,” said Skokowski.

“The interviews are only 25 minutes, there are slots from 8:30 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. Once interviews are over they make the applicants wait in a room while the judges deliberate. It was about four and a half hours. They bring us all in and announce the winners. They announced my name second so that added to the drama. I was so, so excited; it didn’t hit me until my parents hugged me.”

At Oxford, Skokowski will be studying in its European Enlightenment Program, working toward a MPhil in Modern Languages.

“It will be similar to what I have been doing at Princeton, it is a masters in modern languages in an interdisciplinary program,” said Skokowski.

“I get to work with the curator of the Wallace Collection in London, which has the biggest collection of French enlightenment art.”

Skokowski’s career aspirations center on pushing the boundaries of art curation.

“I want to help art outreach, getting people to see the value of art through exciting exhibits and interdisciplinary programs,” asserted Skokowski, who has curated or interned at the Morgan Library and Museum, the Princeton Art Museum, and for the Santa Fe Arts Commission. “Art museums need to be more tech savvy, with more use of interactive and digital platforms.”

While Skokowski will undoubtedly be busy with her studies in England, she plans to keep up with her running.

“I do expect to compete,” said Skokowski. “Oxford is a good place to run. Grad students can compete for the team, there are all sorts of levels. I look forward to running for fun, without the competitive pressure over here.”

 

sports3

HOLDING THE FORT: Princeton University men’s hockey goalie Colton Phinney guards the net in a game last winter. Over the weekend, sophomore Phinney starred in a losing cause as Princeton lost 2-0 to Quinnipiac on Saturday and then fell 1-0 to the Bobcats a day later in a two-game set between the ECAC Hockey rivals. The Tigers, now 2-12-1 overall and 1-9 ECACH, host the Russian Red Stars on January 3 in an exhibition contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Colton Phinney has been a busy man for the Princeton University men’s hockey team so far this winter,

The sophomore goalie averaged more than 35 saves a game in his first 12 appearances this season.

While Phinney has definitely been under the gun much of the time, he likes being in the middle of the action.

“It has been tiring at times, for sure, but I prefer that,” said Phinney, a 6’1, 175-pound native of Chatham, N.J.

“Those are the easiest games to play. When they are shooting pucks at you the whole game, you get a chance to feel it. I would rather have that than seeing 15 shots a game. It is tough if you give up a goal in that type of game. Now if I give up a goal, I still have some some saves and we can get back into it and feel better.”

Last weekend, Phinney was sharp but not harried as the Tigers faced ECAC Hockey foe and 14th-ranked Quinnipiac in a two-game set. On Saturday, Phinney made 22 saves as the Tigers fell 2-0 at Quinnipiac. A day later, he recorded 24 saves in a 1-0 defeat to the Bobcats at Baker Rink.

“It was the easiest weekend I have had,” said Phinney. “We didn’t give up many chances. I can’t think of any Grade A chances that we gave up where I had to come up with a really big save. We were definitely better in the d-zone. We created a lot of chances. At the end of the second period we almost had a goal. Yesterday we had a couple go through his legs and hit the post.”

In Sunday’s game, a sequence early in the third period when Princeton got whistled for a 5-minute penalty while Quinnipiac received a 2-minute penalty after a scuffle proved decisive as the Bobcats cashed in with the game’s lone goal on their power play.

“I thought it was a tough call,” said Phinney. “We came away with a five and they came away with a two. I thought it was going to be even up but they end up scoring on the power play. It was tough but we definitely bounced back.”

The Tigers kept fighting, generating a number of chances, including a David Hallisey shot that hit the post in the waning moments of the contest.

“We played well,” said Phinney. “We were resilient tonight, we played 60 minutes of hockey and one power play goal won it. They have an unbelievable power play. It was definitely a building  weekend. I think this is our best weekend overall, other than maybe Michigan State, but I think these were better games.”

In reflecting on his sophomore campaign, Phinney noted that he is working on building his game.

“I have had some good games but I have also struggled a bit at times,” said Phinney, who currently has a 3.20 goals against average and .916 save percentage.

“I guess that is going to happen. It is pretty easy for me, there have been a lot of outside shots so I don’t have to make too many big saves. It goes to the coaches having guys in front so I can just worry about the first shot.”

With a season under his belt, Phinney is feeling a greater comfort level on the ice.

“I have seen every single team in the league now so that helps,” said Phinney. “Last year I didn’t see Dartmouth or Cornell and now I have seen them. It helps knowing who these guys are and what their systems are. I had a good idea about Quinnipiac’s power play and who their top guns were. I think that is probably the biggest thing, just knowing the league better and feeling more comfortable each night.”

Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty sees Phinney as a top goalie. “He is our most valuable player; we just need him to continue what he is doing,” said Fogarty, whose team moved to 2-12-1 overall and 1-9 ECACH with the defeat on Sunday.

In Fogarty’s view, the Tigers are doing better and better on defense as the season has gone on.

“I am not seeing as much time in our defensive zone as last month, that is a great stride,” said Fogarty.

“We are not expending a lot of energy chasing the puck. We are jumping quicker to stop any cycles. We only gave up 49 shots in two games this weekend. Earlier this season, we had given up 49 shots in some games. That shows that a structure is in place.”

In the wake of Sunday’s loss, Fogarty acknowledged that emotions were raw after coming so close to the win.

“It is so disheartening, you want the team and the guys to win,” said Fogarty. “They worked that hard, you want to see the tangible results. I feel really bad for the guys after that effort, they are working so hard. I want them to enjoy a night after that type of work.”

Fogarty, though, is heartened by his team’s work rate and believes it will start paying dividends.

“You saw 60 minutes of focus,” said Fogarty, whose squad is next in action when it hosts the Russian Red Stars on January 3 in an exhibition contest.

“Hallisey hits the pipe with the goalie pulled at the end, we have had a lot of work on that part of the game. Our guys have been very attentive and detail-oriented. I thought our guys played well throughout the game. You want to get the first goal. We had the chance with seconds to go on the second period, it bounces over (Ben) Foster’s stick. You just have to keep mining. We are bringing up coal right now and we will start bringing up that gold very soon.”

Phinney, for his part, sees some golden moments on the horizon. “We can turn things around,” asserted Phinney.

“You give up three goals this weekend against a team like this, you can definitely win games. Today was a game that could have gone either way. If we play like this every weekend, we can do some damage.”

 

December 24, 2014
BENCHMARK: Princeton University men’s basketball player Clay Wilson dribbles the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior guard Wilson tallied a career-high 19 points off the bench to help Princeton top Lipscomb 77-55. On Monday, he hit a three-pointer as the Tigers topped Liberty 65-47 to improve to 5-8 and won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Princeton is next in action when it plays at Wake Forest on December 31.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

BENCHMARK: Princeton University men’s basketball player Clay Wilson dribbles the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior guard Wilson tallied a career-high 19 points off the bench to help Princeton top Lipscomb 77-55. On Monday, he hit a three-pointer as the Tigers topped Liberty 65-47 to improve to 5-8 and won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Princeton is next in action when it plays at Wake Forest on December 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having squandered a 10-point lead in a loss to California earlier this month, the Princeton University men’s basketball team wasn’t taking anything for granted when it jumped out to a 44-27 halftime advantage over visiting Lipscomb last Friday.

“We were up at halftime against Cal too,” said Princeton senior guard Clay Wilson. “We really talked about coming out strong in the second half, that it was a 0-0 game and trying to get 20 more minutes and putting it together.”

With Wilson putting on a career-best display of sharpshooting, Princeton pulled away to 77-55 win over Lipscomb.

“It was huge; that was probably the first game where we put a full 40 minutes together,” said Wilson, who scored a career-high 19 points, making 5-of-6 three-pointers along the way in 26 minutes of action off the bench. “That is something we have been really focusing on as a team and it was good to come away with the win.”

Coming off the bench five minutes into the game with Princeton trailing 8-4, Wilson was looking to give the Tigers a spark. “Tonight I felt there wasn’t much energy at the beginning,” said Wilson. “It is Christmas break, there wasn’t too many people there. We were kind of sluggish to start so I felt like I needed to bring the energy tonight. I took a charge at the beginning.”

Wilson put a charge into the crowd with his shooting. “I am pretty confident in my shot and whenever I get the chance coach tells me to shoot it,” said Wilson, who is now 23-of-50 from three-point range this season. “The team believes in me; they were putting me in the right situations tonight.”

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson was happy with the way Wilson came through in some key situations in the win over Lipscomb.

“I thought Clay was really good today,” said Henderson. “His first three really made a big difference for us. Then he made a huge one to make it maybe 17 (at 67-50 with 5:02 remaining in regulation), it was a big three for us down the stretch.”

The 6’3, 170-pound Wilson, a native of Tulsa, Okla., figures to keep getting big minutes in his reserve role for the Tigers.

“It is so nice to bring someone off the bench who knows what they are doing and makes shots,” said Henderson.

“I have talked to Clay; I want him to continue to work on his defense because he is in there. He is going to be in there. He has to keep concentrating on it because he just does so many things for us. It is the calmness which makes a difference with this group.”

In Henderson’s view, the win over Lipscomb was a good step forward for his group.

“I am really happy for this one; we have been on the road and it has been a rough schedule for us,” said Henderson, whose team made it two wins in a row for the first time this season with a 65-47 win over Liberty last Monday in improving to 5-8 before the holiday break.

“We finally defended and held a team to less than 40 percent (36.2%) from the field. That is something we have really been talking about and trying to concentrate on.”

Sophomore Spencer Weisz showed concentration at both ends of the court against Lipscomb, scoring 13 points and contributing four rebounds, two assists, and two steals.

“I don’t think that Spencer has a particularly pretty game in general,” said Henderson. “He ripped the ball right out of 52’s (Malcolm Smith) hands under the basket. He had that and 1 (to make it 30-19) when we really needed something, he made that big a pass to Hans (Brase) for a 3 (as Princeton went up 60-42). I see all of those things everyday and I think our guys do too.”

Henderson wants his guys to communicate
better on the court. “The main thing is that these guys have to continue to talk to each other in the right way,” said Henderson.

“Clay is a big part of that; Spencer is a big part of that. As long as we understand that we have just got to be about work, we are going to be fine.”

Freshman guard Amir Bell gave Princeton some good work in the win over Lipscomb, scoring 11 points with six rebounds and five assists.

“I thought Amir was really good tonight,” said Henderson. “We really need that. I thought he was aggressive at the right times. He tied up two people there at the end defensively. He had six rebounds. I certainly think this is a reflection of what he is going to be like as a Princeton basketball player because he was very good tonight.”

With Princeton’s Ivy League opener against Penn on January 10 looming on the horizon, Henderson believes the Tigers are on the right track.

“In literally every practice something good happens and it is like another step forward for this group,” said Henderson, whose team is next in action when it plays at Wake Forest on December 31.

“I am not counting down the days, we will get there when we get there. I have seen all of the good signs that I need to see and now it is learning how to put it together. The nice thing is that we get a chance to be at home here a little bit for a stretch of a month.”

Wilson, for his part, is looking to keep up his good work off the bench.

“I am just trying to do what the team needs,” said Wilson. “We need some scoring coming off the bench and that is what coach put my role as. I do whatever I can to help the team. Winning is the best part and we need to try to keep that going.”

DOUBLE TAKE: Princeton University women’s basketball player Annie Tarakchian dribbles upcourt in recent action. Junior forward Tarakchian posted two double-doubles over the weekend, scored 16 points with 11 rebounds in a 104-33 win over Portland State on Friday and then contributing 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds last Sunday in an 84-53 victory at Monmouth. She was later named the Ivy League Co-Player of the Week along with Cornell’s Nia Marshall. The Tigers, now 13-0, are next in action when they take part in the Fordham Holiday Classic on December 29-30.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DOUBLE TAKE: Princeton University women’s basketball player Annie Tarakchian dribbles upcourt in recent action. Junior forward Tarakchian posted two double-doubles over the weekend, scored 16 points with 11 rebounds in a 104-33 win over Portland State on Friday and then contributing 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds last Sunday in an 84-53 victory at Monmouth. She was later named the Ivy League Co-Player of the Week along with Cornell’s Nia Marshall. The Tigers, now 13-0, are next in action when they take part in the Fordham Holiday Classic on December 29-30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Princeton University women’s basketball team was never challenged as it routed Portland State 104-33 last Friday night, Annie Tarakchian still got a lot out of the contest.

“Everyone is out there, trying to get better each and every day and playing for each other,” said Princeton junior forward Tarakchian, who scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds in the victory.

“That is what we really pride ourselves on, we play hard for our teammates  and our coaches. Obviously, we always look to get the W. In games like this I think we focus on what we need to progress on, looking further down the line when we play league and postseason games.”

The Tigers did achieve a milestone in the lopsided win as they hit the 100-point mark for the first time in program history.

“I think our freshman year we got to 99,” said Tarakchian, a 6’0 native of West Hills, Calif. “It is always fun to see triple digits up there.”

Tarakchian is having a lot of fun this winter, having nearly doubling her scoring and rebounding averages from last year, getting 11.0 points and 9.1 rebounds a game this season after averaging 6.1 points and 4.7 rebounds as a sophomore.

“I can’t really put a finger on it, I am playing the game that I love to play,” said Tarakchian, who scored 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds last Sunday in an 84-53 win at Monmouth as the Tigers improved to 13-0. “Whether I score three points a game or 15, it doesn’t really matter to me as long as we get the W.”

Tarakchian’s increased scoring production this winter is the product of some hard work over the offseason.

“I did train a lot this summer working on my shot, diversifying my shot because I play both post and guard,” said Tarakchian, who was later named the Ivy League Co-Player of the Week along with Cornell’s Nia Marshall. “I am just glad to see the ball go in and I hope it continues.”

In reflecting on her rebounding prowess, Tarakchian does what comes naturally.

“I just crash the boards every time and try to see where the ball goes,” said Tarakchian. “I get after it and a lot of times it comes to me, I don’t know why.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart knows that she is getting some major production from Tarakchian.

“Annie is playing with a lot of confidence on the offensive end, she is having a lot of fun out there,” said Banghart.

“I still want more from her defensively. I don’t think she played her best game defensively today and we need her on both sides of the ball as we go into our run here. She is doing what we recruited her to do and that is to play fearlessly on offense, to rebound the ball, and to grow defensively. She is actually doing all of those three things really well.”

Banghart liked the way her team handled things as it surpassed the 100-point mark.

“I was pleased; it was pretty much a landslide most of the game and I thought our kids stayed pretty engaged,” said Banghart.

“It is not easy to do when you are up by 60. We were engaged, we had good energy on the defensive end. That is the sign of a good team.”

The win over Portland also marked a personal landmark for Banghart as it was the 150th win of her Princeton tenure.

“I was just saying I had no idea, I would have dressed up a little nicer,” said a grinning Banghart, whose record improved to 151-66 with the win over Monmouth.

“I didn’t know but as I think about it, it means that I am getting old. I probably remember the losses more.”

When asked whether her team was trying to make a statement to national pollsters with the margin of victory over Portland State, Banghart said that wasn’t part of her thinking.

“These are college kids, what they are supposed to be doing is playing for each other and the program and getting better,” said Banghart, whose squad is unranked nationally but is receiving votes in the AP poll.

“All I care about is did we get better every game. Delaware (an 87-59 win on December 16) was a challenging environment and without (Alex) Wheatley, we had to get deeper so we are getting better. When we play against a team in Portland that doesn’t give us any energy back, we have to dictate the tempo. We showed that we could tonight so I just like the growth that this young team is having.”

Tarakchian, for her part, feels that Princeton could grow into something very special this winter.

“The team goes out to fight every night,” said Tarakchian. “We are looking to grow offensively and defensively, individually and collectively. We have a really good group and it is a lot of fun to play with them and I am excited to see what comes.”

December 17, 2014
FULL SPEED AHEAD: Princeton University women’s basketball player Mariah Smith heads to the hoop in a game earlier in her career. Getting back up to speed after being sidelined for much of last season with a stress fracture in her leg, senior Smith tallied a career-high 11 points last Saturday as Princeton rolled to a 96-58 win over visiting Binghamton. The Tigers, who improved to 10-0 with the victory, giving them the best start in the history of Princeton basketball, men’s or women’s, were slated to play at Delaware on December 16 before hosting Portland State on December 19.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FULL SPEED AHEAD: Princeton University women’s basketball player Mariah Smith heads to the hoop in a game earlier in her career. Getting back up to speed after being sidelined for much of last season with a stress fracture in her leg, senior Smith tallied a career-high 11 points last Saturday as Princeton rolled to a 96-58 win over visiting Binghamton. The Tigers, who improved to 10-0 with the victory, giving them the best start in the history of Princeton basketball, men’s or women’s, were slated to play at Delaware on December 16 before hosting Portland State on December 19. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After missing most of her junior season on the Princeton University women’s basketball team with a stress fracture in her right leg, Mariah Smith is just getting up to speed this winter,

“I am just now really healing up in my leg,” said Smith, a 6’0 native of Peoria Ill. who played in just seven games last winter. “Now it is maintaining and making sure the muscles are relaxed in my legs.”

Last Saturday against visiting Binghamton, senior forward Smith looked relaxed with the ball in her hands, scoring a career-high 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting with four rebounds and two assists as the Tigers cruised to a 96-58 win and improved to 10-0.

“I was posting up hard, we focused on that a lot this week and just feeling good,” said Smith. “I was getting in the groove with everything and playing with energy and playing with the flow of the game and what our game plan was.”

The Tigers certainly got into the offensive flow last Saturday as they produced a 29-4 run in the first half to break the game open.

“At the beginning of the year, we focused a lot on defense,” said Smith, who is averaging 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds a game this season.

“After last year, it was redemption time. We have been focusing so much on that, so we had to start focusing on offense. We have so many offensive weapons so after we adjusted we can get into our offense and start having some real fun, playing to everybody’s strengths.”

As one of the four seniors on the squad, along with Blake Dietrick, Jess Shivers, and Alex Rodgers, Smith is looking to provide some strong leadership in her final college campaign.

“It is fun being a leader on this team, seeing how we helped recruit everyone on this team and with coach (Courtney Banghart) forming this team,” said Smith.

“Our leadership really shows in the team’s attitude so I am really happy with the way all of us seniors have been leading. I think our personalities are really coming through on the court and off the court as well.”

The Tigers showed a one-for-all, all-for-one attitude in the win over Binghamton as all 13 Princeton players who played in the game scored, with the reserves getting cheers from the bench when they came through.

“It is a great opportunity for us to celebrate each other and you see our bench  goes wild on every play,” said Smith.

“That is us thinking of each other as a family. That is a character of how we are off the court and you see that coming through on the court in those circumstances.”

With Princeton producing the best start in the history of Ivy League women’s hoops and in school history, men’s or women’s hoops, Smith likes the way the team has been coming through.

“We looked at the schedule and we saw the big games,” said Smith.

“Wake was our first real big game and we came out and hammered them and that was a sign to ourselves that we have got something really good here. We went to Michigan on the last week of classes for all of us. We were focusing and thinking we might as well leave on a Monday and play on the Tuesday in the middle of school and hammer them if we were going to give up that school time and go.”

Princeton head coach Banghart liked the focus her squad displayed in routing Binghamton.

“It is about energy; when we play with solid energy, I think it translates to all parts of the game,” said Banghart, who got 19 points apiece from Dietrick and junior star Michelle Miller on Saturday.

“This team can score and they have also showed that they can defend. We decided that offensively now it is time to be playing more fearlessly. We had 23 assists and nine turnovers, that is just good. These guys are doing a good job.”

Banghart is happy to see Smith doing a good job in her final season.

“She is healthyish, she is certainly not at full health,” said Banghart. “I think being a senior on this team she realizes that her role is an important one. She is experienced, she is physical, she is tough, and she is versatile. I think she is playing like you would hope your seniors would play.”

In the victory on Saturday, the Tigers showed their versatility collectively as each player who got in made a contribution.

“We mix them up in practice all the time and we always tell them that you practice against good players every single day so just because they are wearing a different uniform doesn’t mean that they are better,” said Banghart.

“I hope we are continuing to bring along our younger kids because as you can see they are good players as well.”

Reflecting on her team’s 10-0 start, Banghart acknowledged that she is savoring the team’s progress.

“I am enjoying this one through the journey a little bit because back when Niveen (Rasheed) was here we had a star and we really could defend,” said Banghart.

“This year’s team is defending and playing offense. I realize how special it is to have an offensive team that has really bought into the defensive teamwork. I think they are getting the results that they want.”

Smith, for her part, believes the Tigers are in position to get some special results this winter.

“Every day we are getting better and we are seeing that, so it is pretty exciting,” said Smith.

“What we are focusing on is us and getting better every day because when we go into Ivy play it is going to be a little different. We have to find our own level and play to our level.”

SUPER SAVER: Princeton University men’s hockey goalie Colton Phinney gloves a save in recent action. Sophomore goalie Phinney has been a bright spot for the Tigers this season, posting a 3.48 goals against average and making 422 saves in 12 appearances. The Tigers, who moved to 2-10-1with a 5-0 loss at No. 3 Minnesota State last Friday, are on holiday break and return to action when they play at No. 14 Quinnipiac on December 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SUPER SAVER: Princeton University men’s hockey goalie Colton Phinney gloves a save in recent action. Sophomore goalie Phinney has been a bright spot for the Tigers this season, posting a 3.48 goals against average and making 422 saves in 12 appearances. The Tigers, who moved to 2-10-1with a 5-0 loss at No. 3 Minnesota State last Friday, are on holiday break and return to action when they play at No. 14 Quinnipiac on December 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Playing at third-ranked Minnesota State last Friday night in Mankato, the Princeton University men’s hockey team came out flying.

“The first period against Mankato was everything we have asked them to do,” said Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty.

“We were controlling the puck, we were up 8-1 in shots. I don’t think we have had that all year. That was by far our best period. We executed well with the puck.”

“There is a psychological point; you play so well and you are still down 2-0, that is deflating,” said Fogarty, whose team dropped to 2-10-1 overall with the defeat.

“We had three power plays in the second period and we didn’t cash them in, if we could have gotten to within a goal, that would have helped.”

The Tigers didn’t get a second chance at the Mavericks in the two-game set as the hosts were laid low by flu spreading through the team and Saturday’s game was cancelled.

“I have never been involved in anything like that, it was frustrating,” said Fogarty.

“They told us what was going on, that they had a whole bunch of guys with the flu. The well being of the student athlete is the most important thing. I didn’t want any of our guys to get it and have it spread through our team.”

Although Fogarty would have liked to see the Tigers bring a better record into the holiday break, he believes the team is making progress in his debut season at the helm.

“We have made some great strides from the beginning of the season to now,” said Fogarty.

“The big thing going forward is consistency. We can’t have just one good period. We have to get better on execution of plays and getting to spots quicker.”

In order to start getting more wins, the Tigers need to execute better when they are a man up.

“The biggest thing is the power play,” said Fogarty, whose team is 7-for-56 in power play situations for an anemic .125 percentage and has been outscored 48-18 overall through 13 games. “When you are not scoring a lot and you get those odd-man situations, you have to cash them in.”

Sophomore goalie Colton Phinney has excelled for the Tigers in just about every situation this season.

“Colton has been great, he has been working hard every period,” said Fogarty of the 6’1, 175-pound native of Chatham, N.J. who has posted a 3.48 goals against average and made 422 saves in 12 appearances.

“He has been carrying a heavy load. We need to take better care of the puck in front of him and not make turnovers.”

A trio of freshmen, defenseman Joe Grabowski and forwards David Hallisey and Eric Robinson, have given Princeton some good work.

“Grabowski and Hallisey have done a good job of transitioning from juniors to D-1, Eric Robinson has done some good things, we need him to be more consistent.”

Junior Kyle Rankin has been a consistently good player for the Tigers this season, tallying a goal and four assists in nine games.

“Rankin has done a great job, he played a lot of defense last year and he is back on offense,” added Fogarty.

“He had an injury that knocked him out for four games but he is a leading scorer.”

Looking ahead to the second half of the campaign, Fogarty is confident that the Tigers will do a better job at both ends of the ice.

“Over the first part of the season, it has been making sure they know the systems and what is expected of the entire team,” said Fogarty, whose team is next in action when it plays at 14th-ranked Quinnipiac on December 27.

“We have tweaked the systems a bit and now we can focus more on where the individual skills fit in. We need to have better control of home ice. We need to be getting as many points as possible at home and splitting on the road.”

December 10, 2014
INSIDE PRESENCE: Princeton University women’s basketball player Alex Wheatley, center, fights for inside position in a recent game. Last Saturday, junior forward Wheatley scored 17 points and had eight rebounds and three assists to help Princeton top Georgetown 83-54. The Tigers improved to 8-0 with the victory, the best start in the history of Ivy League women‘s basketball. In upcoming action, Princeton was slated to play at Michigan on December 9 before hosting Binghamton on December 13.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

INSIDE PRESENCE: Princeton University women’s basketball player Alex Wheatley, center, fights for inside position in a recent game. Last Saturday, junior forward Wheatley scored 17 points and had eight rebounds and three assists to help Princeton top Georgetown 83-54. The Tigers improved to 8-0 with the victory, the best start in the history of Ivy League women‘s basketball. In upcoming action, Princeton was slated to play at Michigan on December 9 before hosting Binghamton on December 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Alex Wheatley and her teammates on the Princeton University women’s basketball squad brought a little extra fire into their game against visiting Georgetown last Saturday.

“I think it was losing to Georgetown last year at the buzzer that fueled it today,” said junior forward Alex Wheatley, referring to Princeton’s 66-64 loss to the Hoyas a year ago.

On Saturday, Wheatley fueled Princeton in the first half, matching her season-high of 15 points by intermission, hitting 7-of-8 shots in the first 20 minutes of the contest.

“I think we came out with a lot of energy,” said Wheatley, a 6’2 native of Upper Holland, Pa. “The guards did a great job of looking into the post so I was able to get some easy finishes at the start of the game which I really think set a good tone.”

Leading by only 40-35 at halftime, the Tigers looked to change the tone defensively over the last 20 minutes of the contest.

“The message was defense, we really had to step up our defense,” said Wheatley.

“That was literally all we talked about at halftime and we came out in the second half and our defense was so much better and it made a big difference.”

Outscoring the Hoyas 18-9 over the first eight minutes of the second half, Princeton pulled away to an 83-54 win.

“I think we got more into our rhythm, we set the pace,” said Wheatley, who ended the game with 17 points, eight rebounds, and three assists.

“We wanted to get stops into scores and get back into transition points. I think once we were able to dictate the pace a little bit and get stops, the game came a little easier.”

The Tigers have been in rhythm all season long as they improved to 8-0 with the victory over Georgetown, the best start in the history of Ivy League women‘s basketball.

“I think we took it one game at a time; we weren’t really looking to see where we would be at this point but 8-0 is a good start,” said Wheatley.

“I hear it was the best ever in Ivy so it is a great start. We are looking to keep going one game at a time and try to win.”

In Wheatley’s view, a focus on defense has keyed Princeton’s sizzling start.

“Our defense is vastly improved from last year and that is really what we are hanging our hats on this year,” said Wheatley. “As our opponents get tougher and tougher and as the season goes on, we really need to keep our defensive intensity.”

Coming into her junior campaign, Wheatley set her sights on improving her offensive and leadership skills.

“I have worked on being more confident with the ball in the post and trying to step up my leadership on and off the floor,” said Wheatley, who is averaging 11.1 points and 5.3 rebounds a game this season.

“I think as a class, the juniors, having a little bit more experience and being more comfortable has helped the team dynamic.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart liked Wheatley’s dynamic play in the early stages of the contest against Georgetown.

“In the first half, she was huge,” said Banghart. “Wheatley is a gentle kid we are asking to be physical. She is a work in progress. As she continues to get more and more physical, we will continue to get better.”

In the wake of last year’s disappointing buzzer-beater defeat to Georgetown, Princeton was determined to give a better effort in the rematch between the foes.

“It is a loss that still hurts to this day because  we just got out-toughed, that doesn’t happen a lot to Princeton teams,” said Banghart. “It was that game where we really shifted to you have to hate losing more than you like winning. You have to play with that edge and we are doing that.”

Senior point guard and co-captain Blake Dietrick played with an edge against the Hoyas, leading the Tigers with 26 points and six assists.

“Blake cares about winning, that’s it,” said Banghart of Dietrick, who was later named the Ivy League Co-Player of the Week along with Dartmouth’s Fanni Szabo.

“She cares about winning every drill, every practice, every possession, and she is bringing along the team as a result.”

While Banghart is happy with her team’s winning ways in its historic 8-0 start, she is more focused on process than result.

“We don’t schedule to win, we schedule to compete,” said Banghart, whose team was slated to play at Michigan on December 9 before hosting Binghamton on December 13.

“We have gotten better defensively this year. We have played a variety of opponents and have done it well. I look at it like we have won eight times. It is hard to win so I am proud of them.”

In Wheatley’s view, the Tigers have what it takes to produce a lot of wins this winter.

“I think we are finding each other’s talents,” said Wheatley. “If we keep finding that out as the season goes on, we could do something special.”

TOMMY GUN: Princeton University men’s hockey player Tommy Davis controls the puck in recent action. Last Friday, sophomore defenseman Davis notched the first goal of his college career but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 4-3 to No. 9 Harvard. The Tigers, who went on to lose 4-2 to Dartmouth a day later to move to 2-9-1 overall and 1-7 ECAC Hockey, play a two-game set at No. 3 Minnesota State (12-4) on December 12 and 13.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TOMMY GUN: Princeton University men’s hockey player Tommy Davis controls the puck in recent action. Last Friday, sophomore defenseman Davis notched the first goal of his college career but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 4-3 to No. 9 Harvard. The Tigers, who went on to lose 4-2 to Dartmouth a day later to move to 2-9-1 overall and 1-7 ECAC Hockey, play a two-game set at No. 3 Minnesota State (12-4) on December 12 and 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Tommy Davis, his freshman season on the Princeton University men’s hockey team last winter turned into a lost year.

Hampered by a concussion, the highly-touted defenseman only played in seven games, tallying two assists.

Back at full speed this winter, Davis is making up for lost time. “It is kind of like my repeat freshman year so I am still getting used to playing all of the teams,” said Davis, a 6’2, 185-pound native of Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J. “I think now in my 17th game, I am fully adapted. I feel comfortable.”

Last Friday, Davis showed his increased comfort level, notching his first career goal as the Tigers hosted No. 9 Harvard.

“I was playing the right point on the power play and Aaron Ave made a great play where he just froze everybody,” said Davis, recalling his tally.

“It sucked everybody, including the goalie, to his side and it moved over to me and I knew just to put it on the low blocker right away.

While Davis was thrilled to finally find the back of the net, he was disappointed that it didn’t lead to victory as the Tigers fought back from deficits of 2-0 and 4-2 only to lose 4-3.

“I think it is special but at the same time, a win is more important, especially as the game went on,” said Davis. “When we tied the game at 2-2, I thought it was ours. It was kind of disappointing to have a slow start in the third like that.”

Davis was not disappointed by the Tigers’ pluck as his goal and freshman Joe Grabowski’s first career tally made it a 2-2 game going into the third period. After Harvard scored two goals in the first 6:39 of the third period, the Tigers battled back with an Aaron Kesselman goal but couldn’t get the equalizer.

“We are a very resilient team,” said Davis.” I think we just need to focus for 60 minutes. It is just little lulls and that can’t happen in college hockey, especially against a team that is as good as Harvard. They are so offensively gifted, you just can’t have those mental lapses.”

In Davis’s view, working harder in practice will help Princeton be stronger mentally in crucial situations.

“We are young and we are going to grind it out,” said Davis, who has two assists this season to go with his goal.

“I think we have just got to work on it in practice. If our practices are 100 percent all the time and focused, I think the games will follow suit. You practice how you play. We had a bad practice on Tuesday but Wednesday and Thursday were great and that was kind of how our game was, a couple of bad shifts but for the most part pretty good. But the margin of error is too slight in the NCAA so we have to shore that up.”

Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty concurs, asserting that the Tigers have to pay more attention to detail.

“That is a very good hockey team and quick so we just have to keep doing the little things well,” said Fogarty.

“We can’t complicate our small lapses or some of the mistakes that compound and result in goals against or penalties. We have to make sure that if we do make a mistake that we minimize.”

Fogarty, though, liked the way his team fought to the final horn. “The resiliency, you are down by two and you come back and tie it up and then down by two again and we had a chance to win,” said Fogarty. “That’s the team. The team dictates that effort to come back after being down by two. I applauded the leadership in the dressing room.”

The play of sophomore goalie Colton Phinney has drawn a lot of applause this winter.

“He is a very good goaltender and regardless of what team he is on, he would be the most valuable player,” said Fogarty of Phinney, who made a career-high 51 saves in the loss to Harvard.

“He is doing a great job. We are asking a lot of him and he is delivering. We have to rely on him a bit too much, he gives us an opportunity to counter. They had had a few more quality scoring chances, more than our previous four games. We have to make sure that we do a better job. They had a lot of team speed and they are a very good hockey team, they are 9th in the country for a reason.”

Fogarty was happy to see Davis capitalize on his scoring chance in the second period. “He’s very offensive minded and he is starting to realize how to pick his spots,” said Fogarty, whose team fell 4-2 to Dartmouth on Saturday to move to 2-9-1 overall and 1-7 ECAC Hockey.

“In the first couple of games, he was a little rambunctious and trying to  force plays. Now he is sitting back and letting those plays occur and not trying to manufacture things that aren’t there. He’s an asset to our team and it is good to see him get his first goal by not trying to be overzealous.”

Although Fogarty is not happy with his team’s record so far in his debut season at the helm of the program, he is confident that good things are around the corner.

“It is a step forward but again you want the results to come quicker than they sometimes occur,” said Fogarty of his squad, which plays a two-game set at No. 3 Minnesota State (12-4) on December 12 and 13.

“As a coach, you have to remain focused and keep doing the better things. Our mission was around Christmas time to see what our team brings to the table and I am already excited about what they are doing ahead of schedule.”

Davis, for his part, is excited to be playing college hockey in his home state.

“I didn’t really realize that I would have an opportunity to play college hockey until about high school and then Princeton was definitely at the top of my list,” said Davis, a star for the powerful Delbarton School program who went on to play junior hockey for Youngstown in the USHL.

“I am fortunate enough to have a train station right in my town, all of my friends and family get to come down here. It is really nice. I usually have around 8-10 people in the stands for every home game. It is pretty awesome. I don’t think a lot of college kids get to do that.”

December 3, 2014
PULLING RANK: Princeton University men’s hockey player Kyle Rankin goes after the puck in recent action. Last weekend, junior forward Rankin came up big in a two-game set against visiting Michigan State. On Friday, he had an assist in Princeton’s 3-1 win over the Spartans. A day later, he contributed a goal as the Tigers fought back from a 3-0 deficit before falling 4-2. Princeton, now 2-7-1 overall, hosts Harvard on December 5 and Dartmouth on December 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

PULLING RANK: Princeton University men’s hockey player Kyle Rankin goes after the puck in recent action. Last weekend, junior forward Rankin came up big in a two-game set against visiting Michigan State. On Friday, he had an assist in Princeton’s 3-1 win over the Spartans. A day later, he contributed a goal as the Tigers fought back from a 3-0 deficit before falling 4-2. Princeton, now 2-7-1 overall, hosts Harvard on December 5 and Dartmouth on December 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After being sidelined over the previous two weekends, Kyle Rankin returned  to the ice with a bang for the Princeton University men’s hockey team as it hosted Michigan State last Friday in the opener of a two-game set.

The junior forward assisted on a second period goal by Jonathan Liau, getting the Tigers rolling as they pulled away to 3-1 win over the Spartans. David Hallisey and Ben Foster also tallied as Princeton snapped a five-game losing streak.

A day later in the finale of the set with the Spartans, Rankin tallied a third period goal as the Tigers fought back from a 3-0 deficit to make it a 3-2 contest before falling 4-2 and dropping to 2-7-1 overall.

With Princeton having been outscored 16-2 in the two previous weekends, including being held without a goal by both St. Lawrence and Clarkson coming into the games against Michigan State, Rankin viewed the performance against the Spartans as major progress.

“Looking at the product we put out this weekend, for at least five periods of hockey, I am really excited,” said Rankin, a 6’1, 200-pound native of Kanata, Ontario.

“It is definitely a step in the right direction. I think we are in a good position going back into ECAC play because we are a completely different team than we were last weekend.”

Finding the back of the net made a huge difference for Princeton. “The big thing is scoring goals, we are working on that and a lot of guys are putting in time at practice, working on finishing off plays,” said Rankin

“We are seeing it coming. We had five goals this weekend and we had two in about eight minutes here in the third. It is starting to come. Once you get one, it starts to roll a little. I think that is big because Colton Phinney between the pipes gives us a chance to win every single night. It is up to us to capitalize on our opportunities and get our power play going when we get chances. That will be big going forward.”

While Rankin was happy with Princeton’s improved play, he acknowledged that the Tigers should not have dug the 3-0 hole against Michigan State.

“We strayed away from the things that we need to do to be successful,” added Rankin.

“We were going outside our system and looking for a couple of Hail Mary passes, that it is not the way we play. We are a puck support team and we work as a unit and I think a couple of times we strayed from that. That being said, we responded really nicely in the third and started playing the hockey that is going to be our identity going forward.”

Rankin got things going in the third as he tallied just over a minute into the period.

“That was my linemates; Jonathan Liau just flew down the wing there and fought off two guys down low and Mike Ambrosia did a great job supporting him,” said Rankin, who now has three points this season on a goal and two assists.

“Mike made an unbelievable pass on the stick to me and I was just in the right place in the right time and I was able to tap it in.”

Playing on the same line with classmate Ambrosia has sparked Rankin.

“I love playing with Mike, we were playing a lot together at preseason and unfortunately he had his injury,” said Rankin.

“It is great to have him back. It has been fun playing with Mike this weekend. We created a lot of offense and, at the same time, it is just the beginning.”

Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty had fun watching the Tigers show some punch over the weekend.

“We are getting a little depth back and we are scoring more,” said Fogarty, who also got a goal from Ryan Siiro in the loss on Saturday.

“We put up five goals in two games. When we stay with the program and move away from bad habits, we are going to give ourselves opportunities to win game in, game out.”

While Princeton didn’t win on Saturday, Fogarty was heartened by the team’s third period rally.

“We wanted to make a story, we just fell a chapter short,” said Fogarty. “We stayed with it in the third period, we stayed with how we can play hockey. We wanted to get one goal by the 10-minute mark so we are ahead of schedule at that point. You want to throw pucks at the net and crash the net and that occurred with both of our goals.”

Fogarty acknowledged that his team can’t afford lapses. “It is very valuable experience but we dug ourselves a hole in the second period for straying from what is going to make us successful,” said Fogarty.

“We said don’t try to create shortcuts, stay strong on our sticks and stay strong with what is getting us better. You start to stray from that and then our whole foundation is going to deteriorate. We stuck with it, especially in the third period. We gave ourselves a chance to tie the game up.”

In Fogarty’s view, Princeton has the chance to do some good things going forward.

“It is not fun losing, I am not happy with it but I thoroughly enjoy coaching these 28 guys,” said Fogarty, who will look for more progress this weekend when Princeton hosts Harvard on December 5 and Dartmouth on December 6.

“I see positive results here into December and throughout the rest of the season.”

Rankin, for his part, believes that the players are buying into Fogarty’s approach and see it as a recipe for success.

“It certainly takes time with a new coaching staff but, that being said, they have been, from a player’s standpoint, everything we could want them to be,” said Rankin.

“They have been very, very successful in conveying their message to us. They are patient with the players. They know we have a lot of freshmen and that we have had some injuries. They haven’t strayed from the process. We are lucky to have them as a staff and I look forward to what we can do under Ron, Dex [Ron Dexter] and Stavs [Stavros Paskaris].”

CREASE CONTROL: Princeton University women’s goalie ­Kimberly Newell guards the crease in a game earlier this season. Last weekend in a two-game set against No. 2 Minnesota at Baker Rink, junior Newell starred in a losing cause, making 42 saves on Saturday in a 2-1 loss to the Golden Gophers and then recording 47 stops in a 5-2 defeat the next day. The Tigers, now 6-6-1 overall, play at Harvard on December 5 and at Dartmouth in December 6.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CREASE CONTROL: Princeton University women’s goalie ­Kimberly Newell guards the crease in a game earlier this season. Last weekend in a two-game set against No. 2 Minnesota at Baker Rink, junior Newell starred in a losing cause, making 42 saves on Saturday in a 2-1 loss to the Golden Gophers and then recording 47 stops in a 5-2 defeat the next day. The Tigers, now 6-6-1 overall, play at Harvard on December 5 and at Dartmouth in December 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kimberly Newell takes a business-like approach to playing goalie for the Princeton University women’s hockey team.

“My goalie coach [John Zdunkiewicz] calls it going to work,” said Newell. “We talk a lot about what I need to work on and we make sure that the drills we do are tailored specifically to what I need to work on for the next game.”

Last Saturday in the first game of a two- game set against No. 2 Minnesota, Newell had a very good day at the office, making 42 saves in a losing cause as the Tigers fought the powerful Golden Gophers tooth-and-nail before falling 2-1.

Hitting the ice, Newell and her teammates were fired up to face Minnesota.

“I just came into the game thinking I am going to do the best that I can,” said Newell, a 5’9 native of Vancouver, British Columbia.

“I think our team was ready, we practiced hard this week. We came off a couple of losses that were close. We were in the game and I think we are feeling pretty confident.”

Newell displayed plenty of confidence in the first period as she turned away all 19 shots fired by Minnesota.

“All you are thinking about is the next shot, you are not thinking about, oh my gosh, they are getting so many shots,” said Newell.

“You are focused on doing your best, making sure that you are in position, that you are seeing the puck and that you are making the stops that you need to make.”

Newell made 13 saves in the second period as the teams were deadlocked in a scoreless stalemate heading in the third. Minnesota broke through with two goals early in the third period as the Tigers made a costly turnover and Newell was handcuffed when a teammate’s stick got caught in her pads.

Princeton, though, kept fighting and got on the board with a Brianna Leahy goal with 4:42 left in regulation.

“I am proud of the team that they didn’t give up,” said Newell. “Even though we were down two goals, we came back. We put one in and I think we battled hard right to the end.”

Although the Tigers are battling through a tough stretch, Newell believes the team is gaining some valuable experience.

“I think our team has come out hard in each one of them,” said Newell, who made 47 saves on Sunday as Princeton fell 5-2 to Minnesota in dropping to 6-6-1 overall on the season and losing its fifth straight contest.

“The fact we have only been losing by one or two goals is giving our team confidence, knowing that we can play with anyone in the nation, not just our league.”

Newell has worked hard to play better between the pipes. “It is a continuous process to get better, just focusing on off-ice strength, working on doing some juggling, working on some balls and working on tracking the puck,” said Newell, who has also been helped by competing in Team Canada camps.

“I work a lot with my goalie coach, he helps me out a lot. We have a lot of dialog, a lot of one-on-one conversation. We take some video and we call it goalie world.”

Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal credited Newell with making a strong effort against Minnesota.

“She was outstanding, she gave us a chance to win,” said Kampersal of Newell, who currently has a goals against average of 2.50 and a save percentage of .920. “That is what we need out of her every single day. When we break down, she needs to be our best player.”

Kampersal acknowledged that some breakdowns doomed the Tigers against Minnesota, negating the team’s good work.

“They competed hard, it was a solid effort but it wasn’t solid enough,” said Kampersal.

“Minnesota is obviously awesome, they are really talented and they come at you with different flurries. But as it was, we gave them both of their goals with a bad pass on the first one and then we had a player dive into our goalie. We have to let our goalies make saves and the players need to defend.”

With Princeton having come up just short throughout the losing streak, Kampersal is looking for his players to show more of a killer instinct.

“I love our kids because they fight until the buzzer blows and the refs tell them they can’t play any more,” said Kampersal.

“I really appreciate that about them and I respect them for that. Sometimes we play not to lose instead of playing to win. At times in the third period, we played to win and that’s how we have to do it.”

Playing top teams tight will benefit the Tigers down the road, according to Kampersal.

“I think it creates a resolve, it is a bummer because of the result,” said Kampersal, whose team plays at Harvard on December 5 and at Dartmouth in December 6. “We have one more weekend and then we have breaks; I wish it could stay continuous.”

Newell, for her part, believes the Tigers have made a continuous effort so far this season.

“I think our team is really coming together this year; I think we have good leadership,” said Newell.

“Our team is really buying into the systems. We are really putting in 100 percent effort. We are just raring to go for each game; knowing that we can come out and take it to the other team every single time.”

SHARP AND QUICK: Hun School senior running back Chris Sharp sprints up the field in a game this fall. The University of Virginia bound Sharp rushed for 1,085 yards and totaled 23 touchdowns, sparking Hun to a 7-1 record and the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SHARP AND QUICK: Hun School senior running back Chris Sharp sprints up the field in a game this fall. The University of Virginia bound Sharp rushed for 1,085 yards and totaled 23 touchdowns, sparking Hun to a 7-1 record and the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Christina Rosca wasn’t sure if she had enough time to play for the Princeton High girls’ tennis team this fall.

Rising up to the mid-20s in the national 18-and-under rankings, Rosca was spending her weekends playing in tournaments all over the country. In the classroom, she was shouldering a heavy load with five AP courses.

But enjoying a special bond with her PHS teammates, Rosca made time to compete for the Little Tigers.

“They are all really good players and they are all really good people,” said junior star Rosca.

“I really enjoy being with them. It is really enjoyable to be in a team environment compared to playing as an individual all the time.”

Rosca’s teammates enjoyed having her around to head up the lineup. Playing at first singles, Rosca won the individual crown in her flight at the Mercer County tournament for the second straight year, topping Brianna Shvets of Hopewell Valley 6-2, 6-1 in the final as she cruised to the title without losing a set. Her brilliance helped PHS win the county team title for the first time since 1984.

“I was really pleased with the way Chris stepped up and took control early and was able to put the pressure on Brianna,” said PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert, reflecting on Rosca’s county triumph. “From there she was able to stay tough and close it out.”

While Rosca was happy to successfully defend her first singles crown, she was thrilled to see the Little Tigers prevail as team champion as they edged runner-up and perennial power WW/P-S with WW/P-N taking third.

“It means a lot,” said Rosca. “We have been really close the last two years and some unfortunate things have happened, some injuries and stuff like that.”

Good things kept happening for PHS as they won the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional crown and then edged Northern Highlands 3-2 in the Group 3 state semifinals before falling to powerful Millburn in the finals.

“This is a really great group of girls, they have won the sectional title four years in a row and made it to the group final the last three so that was really exciting,” said Hibbert.

“To add the county tournament title this year as well was icing on the cake, especially for our three seniors.”

For Rosca, whose only loss for PHS this fall came against Millburn, her court savvy helped her remain a force on the court.

“No matter who I play, I always try to be really aggressive and come into the net as much as possible but off of the right balls, not just any ball,” said Rosca, who was too busy to defend the NJSIAA girls’ singles championship she won in 2013.

In the view of PHS doubles star, Zhenia Dementyeva, Rosca was not just any teammate.

“That one, Chris Rosca, is the most humble person, she is really talented and she is amazing at school at the same time,” said Dementyeva.

“She doesn’t let it get to her head, she is extremely grounded and everybody loves Chris.”

For sticking with the PHS squad and making more history in the process, Rosca is the pick as the Town Topics’ top female performer this fall.

Top Male Performer

When Todd Smith took the reins of the Hun School football team this fall, he knew he had to deploy senior star Chris Sharp by land and air.

“Sharp is our workhorse,” said Smith. “He is playing at wide receiver as much as running back.”

With Hun coming off a 2-6 season in 2013, the University of Virginia-bound Sharp set the tone early, rushing for 149 yards and two touchdowns and catching a 43-yard touchdown pass as Hun routed Wyoming Seminary 56-14 in its season opener.

That was just the beginning for the 6’2, 205-pound Sharp, an unstoppable combination of power and speed.

He ended up rushing for 1,085 yards on 81 attempts for an eye-popping average of 13.4 yards a carry and 19 touchdowns. Sharp made nine receptions for 281 yards and four more touchdowns.

Sharp ended his career on a high note, rushing for 212 yards as Hun routed Mercersburg Academy 64-16 in its season finale to earn the outright Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title, finishing the fall at 7-1 overall and 5-0 in league play. Sharp’s final run in a Hun uniform, a 96-yard scoring gallop down the sideline to start the third quarter, put him over the 1,000-yard rushing mark this fall.

Even before the season started, Sharp had the sense that it was going to be a big fall for the Raiders.

“We saw that we had something special in August and we just wanted to finish,” said Sharp.

“We wanted to go undefeated in the MAPL and that’s what we did. With the kids that came in, we knew it was going to be a different feel. It was just like fresh and new things were brewing up with the Hun football team. It is exciting to see the fruition and what grew out of it.”

The humble Sharp spread the credit around as he reflected on hitting the 1,000-yard plateau.

“It was a very special moment to share with my teammates and family, especially on senior day,” said Sharp.

“The first thing I did was to thank all of the linemen, the fullback, and the quarterback. I can’t do it all by myself.”

Even Sharp himself was taken aback by his glittering statistics. “I love running the ball and being able to catch the ball out of the receiver position is a blessing as well,” said Sharp, who also starred at linebacker for the Raiders. “It is just amazing to see the growth that I have gone through.”

Smith, for his part, enjoyed taking part in that growth process. “Chris is just a fantastic kid, it is a shame we only had seven games with him,” said Smith, whose team had one win on a forfeit by Peddie.

“He got 1,000 yards and a boatload of touchdowns to go with it. He has gotten so much better as the year went on. I am just really excited about his future, I think he is going to be a great football player at the next level.”

Sharp’s greatness this fall and the impact it had on Hun’s championship season makes him the pick as the top male performer this fall.

Top Newcomers

It didn’t take long for Grace Barbara to make an impression in her freshman season as goalie on the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team.

“Grace Barbara is starting in goal, she is a dynamite keeper,” said PDS head coach Pat Trombetta, when assessing his squad prior to the start of the season.

“She is very talented. She can play balls with her feet and gives us a lot of options. She is playing beyond her years, she is yelling out there and is in control.”

Trombetta’s analysis proved to be spot on as Barbara emerged as one of the top keepers in the area, anchoring a stingy PDS defense.

Even in a 2-0 defeat to perennial power and eventual county champion Pennington, Barbara demonstrated her brilliance, making 10 saves as she stymied the Red Raiders for most of the contest.

“They are a skilled team so I can learn a lot, especially from the goals,” said Barbara.

“I can work on sets and high balls coming from long and the short balls pegged down in the corners. I can definitely work on that in practice. There are some very strong players on some of these opponents. Since I am a freshman it has been a little bit difficult with these very skilled players.”

Barbara kept working hard and her skill helped PDS end the season on a high note as the Panthers edged Morristown-Beard 1-0 in the state Prep B championship game.

“Grace played out of her mind,” said Trombetta of Barbara, who made 12 saves in earning the shutout. “She made some elite saves, three times she leaped and punched balls out over the bar.”

Due to her brilliance and grace under fire, Barbara is the choice as the top female newcomer this fall.

After spending three years as a back-up for the Princeton High boys’ soccer team, Joe Hawes saw that he was destined to be riding the pine this fall for the squad.

Looking for some action, Hawes decided to make the move to football. “I hadn’t tried football; my parents never really wanted me to,” said Hawes.

“This year, they were like you can’t do anything else why don’t you try football. I wasn’t getting playing time in soccer so I was why not.”

Starring at lacrosse helped Hawes pick up his new sport. “The footwork and the physical play of lacrosse was a help,” said Hawes. “Knowing that you have a set play and doing what you have to do.”

Hawes got the sense early that he could make a mark on the football field.

“I think it was the Ewing game, our homecoming,” added Hawes, who made an 80-yard TD reception in the PHS’s opening day win over Hamilton. “I was just super confident. I knew in my mind what I had to do and I got it done.”

PHS head coach Charlie Gallagher appreciated the way Hawes got things done this fall.

“Joe is doing well, we would like to call his number more often,” said Gallagher.

“What is great about the squad right now is that we have a lot of playmakers, whether it be Rory Helstrom or Sam Smallzman or Joe Hawes or Colin Buckley or Dave Beamer or the special teams.”

Emerging as the team’s deep threat, Hawes put up some good numbers, making 20 catches for 434 yards and eight touchdowns in regular season action, helping PHS enjoy a remarkable reversal of fortune as it went from 0-10 in 2013 to an 8-2 record this fall.

Reflecting on his move to football, Hawes knew that he made the right choice.

“This has been the best; I think the thing is that we just all want it,” said Hawes, who also starred at defensive back and handled the punting duties. We are making history here, bringing football back into Princeton. We are all working for the same goal and we want it in our hearts.”

For taking up football and proving to be such a key performer in a renaissance season for PHS, Hawes is the top male newcomer of the fall season.

Top Coaches

In the fall of 2013, Joanna Hallac’s tenure as the head coach of the Hun School girls’ soccer team got off to a rough start.

Hampered by injury and with the players getting used to their new leader, Hun lost its first seven games.

But as the fall went on and the team got healthier, it produced a late-season surge which saw Hun advance to the state Prep A championship game where it lost 2-0 to perennial power Pennington.

Coming into this fall, Hallac believed the team’s strong finish could have a carry-over effect.

“The mood is good, even from when the season ended last year knowing that we were losing only two players,” said Hallac, who guided Hun to a 7-12-1 record in 2013. “They were feeling good about the direction of the program.”

The upward direction continued this fall as Hun posted a number of impressive victories, topping Princeton Day School, East Brunswick, Peddie, Robbinsville, and Hill along the way.

But it was the 2-0 win over Pennington on September 30 that signaled how far Hun had come.

“They went out there and played their hearts out,” said Hallac, assessing the triumph.

“I was really proud of the way they performed. It finally convinced them of what they could do. I think they were starting to believe it last year but they walked into that game believing that they could truly play with anyone and they proved it.”

Bouncing back from a disappointing loss to Allentown in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals, Hun proved its quality in historic fashion, topping Pennington 2-0 in the state Prep A final, thrilling a home throng of around 1,000 and ending Pennington’s 11-year title streak.

In reflecting on the triumph, Hallac said it was a group effort. “It was huge, the girls deserve all of the credit, they show up and they work hard every day,” said Hallac, whose team ended the fall with a 14-4-1 record.

“Even when we have setbacks, they learn from it and we move forward. It means so much to the school. The whole school came out here and the whole day was scheduled around this. I have never seen anything like it, I think it meant a lot to the community and that is what we are about here. I think it is really great for Hun.”

Providing a blend of steadiness and competitiveness to help Hun reach such heights, Hallac is the choice as one of the top coaches of a female team this fall.

With the graduation of stars Jenna Cody and Elyssa Gensib in 2012, the Princeton High girls’ cross country team entered a transition phase that fall.

As a result, PHS head coach Jim Smirk had to groom some new talent and rework his immediate goals.

“When Elyssa and Jenna graduated, we lost two top-end runners and there was a void in the program,” said Smirk.

“We had to re-imagine ourselves. Julie Bond and Mary Sutton were sophomores and Paige Metzheiser was a JV runner. “

Without an infusion of top talent, Smirk adopted a pack mentality approach with his runners.

“I think that has been a hallmark of our team for a long time,” said Smirk. “We talk about the ability to hold each other’s hands across the line, which we know would actually be a disqualification but that is our goal. We want to look like one finishing.”

The team gradually worked itself up the ladder as its sum was greater than its parts. “We were a decent team, we would make states. Every season we got better, not just in cross country.”

This fall, however, the Little Tigers emerged as a team to be reckoned with, placing third of seven teams in the Girls’ Adidas Invitational race at the Shore Coaches Invitational and then taking second at the Mercer County championship meet.

PHS followed that up by placing first in the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional meet and taking second in the state Group 3 meet. The team’s second-place finish at the Group meet booked PHS a trip to the Meet of Champions (MOC), the program’s first appearance at the prestigious event since 2010.

In Smirk’s view, making the MOC was the fruition of the program’s pack mentality.

“This is what the program is built on, they had to be ready to do the work to make the MOC,” said Smirk, whose team took 10th at the MOC. “It was not going to happen overnight. The pack raised the level of each runner.”

For raising PHS back to elite status in the state cross country circles, Smirk is the co-coach of the fall among female programs.

On paper, it appeared that the Princeton High football team could be headed for another rough campaign.

Coming off a 0-10 campaign in 2013, the Little Tigers were looking to replace some key seniors and had a roster of just over 30 players.

But second year head coach Charlie Gallagher was optimistic as he looked ahead to the fall.

“We have a good core of guys coming back, there is a sense of urgency,” said Gallagher. “The schedule is different and they see opportunities for wins.”

Opening the season by beating Hamilton 28-7 for the program’s first victory since 2012, the wins started piling up.

Turning heads with a potent offense led by running back Rory Helstrom and quarterback Dave Beamer together with a punishing defense spearheaded by Sam Smallzman and Colin Buckley, PHS produced a 5-0 start, knocking off Ewing, Hightstown, Lawrence, and Steinert.

In the wake of the 28-14 win over Steinert, Gallagher described the special feeling around the team.

“They have jelled from the very beginning,” asserted Gallagher. “It is great team chemistry and we are just happy to be coaching them up.”

After stubbing its toe in a loss at Winslow, PHS resumed its winning ways by routing WW/P-S, Robbinsville and WW/P-N by a combined score of 140-21. The 47-21 victory over North gave PHS an 8-1 regular season record and clinched the West Jersey Football League’s Valley Division title for the Little Tigers.

While PHS fell 48-12 to Brick Township in its first playoff appearance since 2009, the loss couldn’t dim what they team accomplished in its remarkable turnaround.

“We talked about how proud we were of the team,” said Gallagher, recalling his postgame message after the Brick defeat.

“The seniors had a great run, they put so much into it. Going 8-2 was a remarkable turnaround. Most guys picked us at the bottom of the division in the beginning of the season. We had no number of wins in mind, we just wanted to compete. We competed at a high level and got eight wins, the guys should be very proud.”

For getting the Little Tigers to compete at such a high level that they went from last to first in their division earns Gallagher the nod as one of the top coaches of a male program this fall.

Although the 10-6-2 record it posted in 2013 would be satisfying for a lot of teams, it was a downer for the proud Princeton High boys’ soccer program.

Used to contending for county and state titles, PHS was knocked out of the Mercer County Tournament in the first round and exited in the sectional semis at the state level.

Looking ahead to the 2014 season, longtime PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe had the sense that his team possessed the mentality to again be a postseason force.

“The goal of this group is to achieve something,” said Sutcliffe. “They are aware that if you take it one training session at a time and one game at a time, big things can happen.”

With senior striker Chase Ealy and senior goalie Laurenz Reimitz stepping up along with a battle-tested group of juniors, PHS did some big things as it regained its championship form.

The Little Tigers won penalty kick shootout thrillers over Steinert in the MCT semis and Allentown in the final to earn the county title.

“It has been rare that I have had a team that was as close as this team,” said Sutcliffe, reflecting on the MCT crown.

“There is a great spirit. We have had some great teams. This team, on the field and off the field, is a closer knit group and that has transcended to our quality and our spirit and our vitality. All of which helped us tonight and in the semi. And helped us close out the Colonial Division of the CVC.”

Seemingly improving game to game, PHS rolled through the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional, topping Red Bank Regional 4-1 in the title game.

After edging Ocean City 1-0 in the Group 3 semis, PHS advanced to its third state title game in six seasons, having won crowns in 2009 and 2012.

While the Little Tigers came up short in the championship game, falling 4-3 to South Plainfield, Sutcliffe was thrilled with what his squad accomplished.

“They are just fantastic; we are a such a young team,” said Sutcliffe, who guided the Little Tigers to a final record of 18-3-2.

“I am so proud of the senior class that fought through a lot of adversity for four years. Three championships is fantastic. The success of the team was beyond some people’s expectations.”

Sutcliffe’s role in restoring PHS to its championship form makes him the pick as the co-coach of the fall among male programs.

November 26, 2014
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Princeton University women’s basketball players, Annie Tarakchian (No. 15) and Taylor Williams (No. 22) turn up the defensive pressure on a Drexel player last Wednesday at Jadwin Gym. The Tigers topped Drexel 59-43 in their home opener. Last Sunday, junior forward Tarakchian came up big for the Tigers, posting the team’s first double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds in a 63-56 win at American University. Princeton, now 4-0, will head to Mexico this week to compete in the 2014 Cancun Challenge.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Princeton University women’s basketball players, Annie Tarakchian (No. 15) and Taylor Williams (No. 22) turn up the defensive pressure on a Drexel player last Wednesday at Jadwin Gym. The Tigers topped Drexel 59-43 in their home opener. Last Sunday, junior forward Tarakchian came up big for the Tigers, posting the team’s first double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds in a 63-56 win at American University. Princeton, now 4-0, will head to Mexico this week to compete in the 2014 Cancun Challenge. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Looking at the Princeton University women’s basketball schedule, its game at American University last Sunday didn’t appear to be anything special.

While American, a member of the Patriot League, went 22-10 last winter on the way to the WNIT, the matchup didn’t generate the buzz of taking on a Top-25 foe.

Yet, courtesy of Tiger freshman forward Leslie Robinson, the niece of first lady and Princeton alumna Michelle Obama (nee Robinson) ’85, the trip to Washington D.C. turned into a weekend to remember.

With Robinson’s special family ties, the Tigers got red carpet treatment. “We headed down on Saturday; we had a private tour of the White House,” said Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart. “We got to go on the White House court and played a pick up game.”

Mrs. Obama and daughters, Malia and Sasha, were on hand Sunday evening as the Tigers took on the Eagles.

“It was a great college environment, around 2,000 were there with the presence of the Obamas,” said Banghart.

With Princeton up 36-26 at halftime, the Tigers got a special message at intermission.

“Michelle came in at halftime, telling us how much she was enjoying the team and how she and her daughters were having a good time,” said Banghart, whose team posed for photos with the Obamas in the locker room.

Banghart enjoyed seeing her team come out in the second half and pull out a 63-56 win over American. “They were attentive to the game plan,” said Banghart, who got 19 points from senior guard Blake Dietrick with Michelle Miller chipping in 15.

“When a team is down by 10 in the second half like American, they play with reckless abandon and take chances. You can’t prepare for that. We weathered that OK. We didn’t make all the free throws but we got some big offensive rebounds.”

The Tigers are off to a big start this season as the victory improved their record to 4-0.

“I am happy that they are committed to the right things defensively, talk is just talk but they are showing it in their play,” said Banghart, whose team was at its stifling best when it topped Drexel 59-43 last Wednesday in its home opener and is only giving up 51.0 points a game and holding foes to a .345 field goal percentage.

“We haven’t hit our stride offensively. We have played teams from four different conferences with three of the games on the road.”

Star point guard Dietrick has hit her stride in the early going, averaging 13.3 points and 5.0 assists per game.

“Blake has started off the year strongly; she is the lead guard and has done a good job of handling the ball and getting everyone involved,” said Banghart of Dietrick, who was named the Ivy League Co-Player of the Week along with Penn’s Sydney Stipanovich. “She knows how important her role is and that she also needs to make shots.”

Two juniors, Annie Tarakchian and Amanda Berntsen, have been making important contributions this season. Tarakchian posted the team’s first double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds in the win over American while Berntsen had a career-high five steals in the win over Drexel.

“Annie is a great rebounder and is committed to that part of the game; she is a work in progress on defense and the offensive end, she is improving in those areas,” said Banghart.

“Amanda gives us a ton of energy, extreme focus, and is a relentless competitor. Her role is usually to shut down the other team’s best player.”

Banghart is looking to see other players step up. “We need to continue to build depth; we have a solid eight,” added Banghart, whose squad is averaging 65.0 points a game with seven players averaging 5.0 or more points led by Miller at 14.0 points per contest.

“Robinson has been a positive addition, bringing energy at both ends of the court. Vanessa Smith is attacking better than she did last year.”

The Tigers will be hoping to enjoy another positive experience on the road as they head to Mexico this week to take part in the 2014 Cancun Challenge. Princeton is slated to play Wake Forest on Thursday, Montana on Friday, and UNC-Charlotte on Saturday.

“Wake is tough, I think I would rather play them at their own gym than in this situation,” said Banghart.

“Charlotte and Montana are two very solid teams. They will be three tough games in a row. It will be more adversity. We are finding solutions in discomfort. Our goal is to make them uncomfortable in the preseason.”

GREEN WAVE: Princeton University running back Joe Rhattigan fends off a tackler in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore Rhattigan scored a touchdown but it wasn’t nearly enough as Princeton fell 41-10 to Dartmouth in the season finale. The Big Green has now won five straight games in the rivalry. The defeat left Princeton with a final record of 5-5 overall and 4-3 Ivy League.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GREEN WAVE: Princeton University running back Joe Rhattigan fends off a tackler in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore Rhattigan scored a touchdown but it wasn’t nearly enough as Princeton fell 41-10 to Dartmouth in the season finale. The Big Green has now won five straight games in the rivalry. The defeat left Princeton with a final record of 5-5 overall and 4-3 Ivy League. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into its season finale last Saturday against visiting Dartmouth, the Princeton University football team was looking to play the spoiler role.

Entering the final weekend, Dartmouth was in second place in the Ivy League standings behind undefeated Harvard and needed to beat Princeton and have Yale upend the Crimson to get a share of the league title.

Instead, Dartmouth spoiled Princeton’s Senior Day, rolling to a 41-10 win over the Tigers before a crowd of 6,663 at Princeton Stadium.

Dartmouth, though, didn’t get a piece of the title as Harvard pulled out a 31-24 win over Yale to cap a perfect campaign.

In the view of Princeton head coach Bob Surace, Dartmouth did produce a championship-caliber performance.

“The bottom line is that we lost at the line of scrimmage today, that is very disappointing and disheartening,” lamented Surace, whose team finished the year at 5-5 overall and 4-3 Ivy while Dartmouth ended up at 8-2 overall, 6-1 Ivy. “I knew they were really good coming in to it and thought they were the equal of Harvard.”

The loss stung as the Class of 2015 went out on a down note, one year after they had helped Princeton earn a share of the Ivy crown with Harvard.

“It is emotional because of guys like Mike Zeuli, Quinn Epperly, Connor Michelsen, Connor Kelley, Will Powers, you can go on and on,” said Surace, whose Class of 2015 included 27 players and posted wins over every Ivy foe except Dartmouth in their careers.

“They have just given their all to the program, the disappointment mostly is for them. I just didn’t do a good enough job of getting the rest of the guys to be as exact as we needed to be. I thought we played two teams that were super this year in Dartmouth and Harvard and another really, really good team in Yale.”

Princeton faced a super player Saturday in Dartmouth junior quarterback Dalyn Williams, who hit 30-of-35 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns against the Tigers.

“He is such a good athlete; when we first played him a couple of years ago, he had that improvisational skill,” said Surace.

“I told Buddy (Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens) before the game that he has done a really good job with him, learning to pick his moments and spots. It is one of those darned if you do, darned if you don’t things; you want to stop him from running and he has become such an accurate passer, he beats you that way.”

Williams struck early on Saturday, hitting Bo Patterson for a 58-yard touchdown pass on the fourth play from scrimmage as the Big Green jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

The Tigers answered back with an 11-play, 44-yard march that culminated with a Nolan Bieck field goal as they narrowed the gap to 7-3.

“We kicked a field goal and the score was relatively within reach for a long time in the first half,” said Surace. “I didn’t think we were winning the line of scrimmage which was disappointing; that’s a hard thing to flip.”

Dartmouth’s strength in the trenches started to take a toll as it marched 80 yards midway through the second quarter and went ahead 14-3 on a 4-yard TD pass from Williams to Ryan McManus. The Big Green tacked on a field goal with six seconds left in the quarter to take a 17-3 halftime lead.

In the second half, Dartmouth dominated, reeling off 24 unanswered points before the Tigers scored on a 1-yard touchdown run by Joe Rhattigan with 9:34 left in the fourth quarter to make it 41-10 and end the scoring for the day.

Sophomore Rhattigan acknowledged that the Tigers were stifled all day by the Big Green.

“The Dartmouth defense played well; you can see it in the stats, you could see it on the field,” said Rhattigan, reflecting on a day that saw Princeton get outgained 518 yards to 228.

“There are things on our side of the ball that we could definitely have improved on. I think they played well. From what I saw, they were very gap conscious. They were filling gaps, they were shedding blocks well. They were just giving us a hard time up front.”

The Tigers hit the field Saturday looking to play well and break a four-game losing streak in the series with Dartmouth.

“Every game is the same, you play the game to win,” said Rhattigan. “Ivy League title or not, you want to win the game so we definitely had a lot to play for. There was 20-something seniors playing their last game. We owed it to them to give it our best.”

Surace, though, conceded that Princeton’s best wasn’t good enough this season.

“Last week, when we were eliminated, I was reminded of a story,” said Surace.

“We had a mediocre year when I was a player here and Pete Carril (Hall of Fame Princeton men’s basketball coach) said to us first place or no place, there is nothing in between and that’s the bottom line. One team celebrates and the other seven of us didn’t get done what we needed to accomplish. We are a 5-5 team and that’s what we are. We are a fourth place team in a really good league and we  have to improve on a number of things.”

Rhattigan, for his part, believes the returning players can take some lessons from the departing seniors in the quest to return to the top of the Ivies.

“They teach you the way of Princeton football and how you have to be to win,” said Rhattigan.

“They were part of that championship team last year. They were part of this team this year. You learn from them, they obviously have the experience.”

NET VALUE: Princeton University men’s water polo goalie Vojislav Mitrovic guards the net in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, freshman star Mitrovic made 15 saves in a losing cause as Princeton fell 7-6 to Brown in the CWPA championship game. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 23-4.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

NET VALUE: Princeton University men’s water polo goalie Vojislav Mitrovic guards the net in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, freshman star Mitrovic made 15 saves in a losing cause as Princeton fell 7-6 to Brown in the CWPA championship game. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 23-4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After suffering an 11-9 loss to St. Francis in the 2013 CWPA (Collegiate Water Polo Association) championship game, the Princeton University men’s water polo team seemed poised to take the next step this fall.

Coming into this year’s CWPA tourney last weekend at Navy, Princeton was 21-3, ranked No. 8 in the country, and riding a ten-game winning streak.

“I thought we had momentum,” said Princeton head coach Luis Nicolao. “It was the first weekend all year where we were all healthy and had a full squad. We were confident but we knew it was going to be tough.”

Princeton played with confidence and showed toughness as it topped Johns Hopkins 18-5 in the quarterfinals.

“It was a great start, we played well in all facets of the game,” said Nicolao, who got four goals from junior Thomas Nelson in the win with freshman Jordan Colina adding three. “We got the attack going and we had a great defensive effort. We showed we were ready and prepared.”

The Tigers produced another great effort as they edged host Navy 6-3 in the semis.

“It was the typical Princeton-Navy game; it was really intense and very physical,” said Nicolao, a Navy water polo star in his college days.

“We got up early and we were able to hold on with some good defense. It was a great game, it was a great environment.”

In the championship game against Brown, the Tigers fell down early and couldn’t get over the hump as they dropped a 7-6 nailbiter to fall just short of earning a bid to the NCAA tournament.

“We knew they were really good; they had a great game plan and they played really well,” said Nicolao.

“We didn’t play well, we didn’t execute. We made mistakes and fell behind 3-0. We had to grind it the whole game. We got it to 5-5 but we never got the lead. We just weren’t able to capitalize on opportunities. Things didn’t click, balls weren’t falling for us. We still had a chance to win but we didn’t find the back of the net. Brown played a great game, I was impressed by them.”

While the season-ending loss stung, Nicolao was impressed by what his players achieved this fall as they went 23-4.

“We really had a great year; we lost only four games and we were ranked in the top 10 most of the year,” said Nicolao.

“In our sport, it comes down to one game and we didn’t win. It is hard to think about it right now but in time, the players will realize we had a great season.”

The team’s group of seniors made a great impact on the program. “They are going to be missed,” said Nicolao, whose Class of 2015 includes Drew Hoffenberg, Sam Butler, Kayj Shannon, and Kevin Zhang.

“We went to three CWPA championship games in their four years. I will take that from every class. They fought hard, they gave us their all, and they made us relevant.”

In Nicolao’s view, the Tigers will continue to be relevant on the national scene.

“We have a great returning group, we have a lot of good pieces,” said Nicolao, who will welcome back such stars as junior Jamie Kuprenas, sophomore Jovan Jeremic, freshman Connor McGoldrick, freshman Vojislav Mitrovic, in addition to Nelson and Colina.

“I hope we have a chip on our shoulder. We are the first Princeton team to lose two CWPA championship games back-to-back. I hope that gives them a little extra motivation. It is a matter of us doing what we have to do, working hard in the offseason and coming back in great shape. The goal is always to get to the CWPA finals and see what happens. It takes some luck and we didn’t have that yesterday.”

PRESSURE COOKER: Princeton University men’s basketball player Steven Cook fights through two University of Incarnate Word defenders last Saturday at Jadwin Gym. Sophomore Cook scored 14 points in 33 minutes off the bench but it wasn’t enough as Princeton lost 79-68 to the Cardinals. The Tigers, now 1-3, head to California this week where they will compete in the Wooden Legacy, an eight-team event Thursday through Sunday in Fullerton and Anaheim. Princeton starts play in the competition by facing UTEP on November 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

PRESSURE COOKER: Princeton University men’s basketball player Steven Cook fights through two University of Incarnate Word defenders last Saturday at Jadwin Gym. Sophomore Cook scored 14 points in 33 minutes off the bench but it wasn’t enough as Princeton lost 79-68 to the Cardinals. The Tigers, now 1-3, head to California this week where they will compete in the Wooden Legacy, an eight-team event Thursday through Sunday in Fullerton and Anaheim. Princeton starts play in the competition by facing UTEP on November 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

With the Princeton University men’s basketball team hosting the little-known University of Incarnate Word last Saturday morning at 11 a.m., things were a little quiet at Jadwin Gym.

With the crowd of 1,554 on hand growing listless, Princeton sleepwalked through the first 12 minutes of the contest, finding themselves down 29-12 to the school from San Antonio, Texas, which is in its second year of Division I play.

Waking up a little bit, the Tigers went on a 15-2 run to narrow the gap to 31-27 at halftime.

Princeton forged ahead 43-40 in the early stages of the second half before the Cardinals responded with a 16-8 run of their own.

Then Princeton sophomore forward Steven Cook put a charge into the crowd, flying in for a thunderous dunk from the baseline. Adding a free throw on the play to make the UIW lead to 56-54, it seemed like the Tigers had seized the momentum.

Instead, Princeton squandered that advantage as the Cardinals fought back and regained control of the contest.

“I really thought the play that stood out was when Steve had a nice baseline drive with the and one finish and they come right back and come down with 6 minutes left and get their own and one, which was a huge swing play,” said Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson. “Then we come down the floor and miss a layup; we are just not understanding what it is going to take.

The Tigers never got closer than three the rest of the game as they went on to lose 79-68 and drop to 1-3.

Afterward, Henderson didn’t mince words in assessing the setback. “It was a disappointing loss for us,” said Henderson, who got a career-high 22 points from sophomore Spencer Weisz in the defeat.

“I don’t want to make light of us at all because I think we have got a long way to go but we seem to manage to allow teams to do what they do really well. We are a work in progress with more work than I would like us to be needing, especially going into a really difficult weekend ahead.”

Cook, for his part, shared Henderson’s frustration. “I thought a lot of improvements could be made across the board as a team,” said Cook, who scored 14 points and had seven rebounds and three assists in 33 minutes of work off the bench in the loss.

“Defensively I don’t think we did a great job. Individually, I think about improvements I could be making. We are always about work. It is a long season and we are just four games in.”

Henderson is seeing improved play from Cook. “He is terrific, I don’t think he is going to come off the bench any more,” said Henderson. “We have got to get him in there because he has been very good. I think Steve has done what we have asked him to do. He is aggressive going to the rim.”

Cook acknowledged that he has benefitted from having a year of college ball under his belt.

“I am personally feeling more comfortable,” said Cook, a 6’5, 185-pound native of Winnetka, Ill.

“We are a young team in general but that is no excuse. We need to step up, we have a lot of experience, even among the young guys, and we need to play that way. We need to play with poise.”

In Henderson’s view, the Tigers also need to do some soul searching. “I hope they learn that it has got to sting and it has got to hurt,” said Henderson, whose team heads to California this week where it will compete in the Wooden Legacy, an eight-team event Thursday through Sunday in Fullerton and Anaheim.

“They have to look themselves in the mirror a little bit and say OK what are you afraid of here? Are you afraid to be great, are you afraid to work really hard in practice, are you giving it everything you have got at all times?”

Cook, for his part, believes the Tigers are ready to give their all. “We don’t let ourselves be disappointed for too long; this program has always been about work,” asserted Cook.

“We have to stay focused on what we need to do, individually and as a team. We are going to have a big practice on Monday and we are going to work from there.”

LATE SPARK: Princeton University field hockey player Teresa ­Benvenuti makes a hit in action this fall. Junior star Benvenuti, who was sidelined for six games due to injury this season, returned to the lineup down the stretch and helped the Tigers win the Ivy League title and top Monmouth 4-3 in an NCAA play-in game. Princeton fell to Maryland 5-1 in the first round of the NCAA tournament to end with a final record of 8-11.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LATE SPARK: Princeton University field hockey player Teresa ­Benvenuti makes a hit in action this fall. Junior star Benvenuti, who was sidelined for six games due to injury this season, returned to the lineup down the stretch and helped the Tigers win the Ivy League title and top Monmouth 4-3 in an NCAA play-in game. Princeton fell to Maryland 5-1 in the first round of the NCAA tournament to end with a final record of 8-11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having gone 35-6 overall and 14-0 Ivy League with an NCAA title in its previous two seasons coming into 2014, the Princeton University field hockey team found itself in an unfamiliar position by mid-October.

After losing 8-1 to Maryland on October 15, Princeton stood at 3-9 overall and 2-1 Ivy.

Having won nine straight Ivy crowns, the Tigers had reason to believe it wasn’t their year.

Instead, Princeton maintained its customary intensity. “They could have thrown in the towel; it is not easy to lose but they stuck together and kept working hard,” said Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn.

“I give them a lot of credit, that is not easy to do. It was validating in that we were able to keep players interested and focused. The kids were coming out before practices after losses and wins.”

Catching fire down the stretch, Princeton won four straight Ivy games to earn its 10th straight league title and a date at Monmouth for an NCAA play-in game.

The Tigers edged Monmouth 4-3 in that contest to earn another shot at Maryland in the first round of the national tourney.

“It was a random game, no team had control of the game at any point,” said Holmes-Winn. “Monmouth fought hard and so did we. I was proud of the girls who stuck through that, it wasn’t pretty.”

Holmes-Winn got some beautiful play in the victory from senior Allison Evans, who scored two goals in the win to pass the 100-point plateau in her Princeton career.

“I am really happy that it happened,” said Holmes-Winn. “It was really nice for her to have that achievement. She has come up so big for us on many occasions. She has been a constant presence for us on the front line over the last four years.”

Junior star Teresa Benvenuti tallied two goals and an assist in the victory, continuing a late surge after being sidelined in the middle of the season with a nose injury.

“Typically Teresa is a back/midfielder, but with her coming back from injury it just made sense for us to put her in the front,” said Holmes-Winn. “We needed some firepower and energy and she gave us both.”

In the rematch with Maryland, Princeton showed plenty of energy but it wasn’t enough as the Terps prevailed 5-1.

“Maryland is difficult to control because they have power and control over the ball,” explained Holmes-Winn, whose team ended the fall with an 8-11 record.

“We were trying to keep the numbers even all over the field. They have a ton of pace and can pick you apart. When someone is eliminated from the play, they are able to come at you with numbers.”

While the numbers weren’t as sparkling overall for Princeton as in past years, Holmes-Winn was proud of the character displayed by her players in the face of adversity.

“I am proud that we performed as well as we did in the back end of the season,” said Holmes-Winn, whose team dropped 4-3 regular season decisions to national champion Connecticut and national runner-up Syracuse.

“Being a winner is not only about getting the ‘W,’ it is how you live your life, how you treat others, what kind of teammate you are and how you approach schoolwork, and they are winners.”

Holmes-Winn credited her group of seniors with setting a winning tone.

“They are an inclusive group,” said Holmes-Winn, whose Class of 2015 includes Cassidy Arner, Colleen Boyce, Julia Boyle, Sydney Kirby, and Stephanie Goldberg in addition to Evans. “They really helped out with the transition for the freshmen, on and off the field. The team dynamic was really good.”

In looking ahead to 2015, Holmes-Winn believes her returning players must focus on being in really good condition.

“They need to do more in terms of fitness in the offseason,” said Holmes-Winn.

“You have to be super fit coming into the season. We are two games behind our opponents in the first month. We just have to hit the ground running. We play tough teams in the beginning by design. I think our lack of fitness hurt us in some of those early games. We can’t have fitness as a barrier.”

Princeton also needs to hone its mental toughness in order to remain among the elite of college field hockey.

“We have to have athletes who care about being great players and doing the work necessary,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We have had great American athletes who want to play for the national team. If not they will just be scraping by in the Ivy League and they won’t be playing for national championships.”