February 25, 2015
HIGH FIVE: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Erin Slifer prepares to unload the ball last Saturday in Princeton’s 10-8 win over Loyola in the season opener. Senior midfielder Slifer scored a career-high five goals in the victory. The 11th-ranked Tigers host Drexel on February 25 before playing at Georgetown on February 28.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

HIGH FIVE: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Erin Slifer prepares to unload the ball last Saturday in Princeton’s 10-8 win over Loyola in the season opener. Senior midfielder Slifer scored a career-high five goals in the victory. The 11th-ranked Tigers host Drexel on February 25 before playing at Georgetown on February 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Erin Slifer didn’t find an offensive rhythm right away when the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team opened its season by hosting Loyola last Saturday.

“I think it took a couple of shots to get into it, there were a couple of high ones I missed,” said senior midfielder Slifer.

Slifer didn’t miss much the rest of the afternoon, scoring a career-five goals as No. 14 Princeton overcame a snowstorm and a second-half rally by No. 12 Loyola to pull out a 10-8 victory.

In the first half, Slifer notched three goals and an assist as Princeton built a 6-3 lead by intermission.

“We really wanted to come out as hard as we could,” said Slifer. “We weren’t going to let Loyola set the pace, we wanted to set the tone from the first draw.”

As the storm intensified in the second half with a layer of snow covering the field, the Tigers had to modify their offensive approach a bit.

“We have practiced a few times in snow but not this accumulation at all where it was affecting our footing,” said Slifer. “We just made sure that we had our feet under us and we were not taking too hard cuts.”

Loyola made things hard on the Tigers, taking leads of 7-6 and 8-7 but Princeton took control down the stretch, employing a deliberate offensive style in reeling off three unanswered goals over the last 13 minutes of the contest.

“We didn’t get those first couple of draws and they came down, capitalized, and scored,” said Slifer.

“The draw controls are the focus of our entire season so once we got back on that, we were able to control the ball for the rest of the game which was awesome.”

Slifer, a first-team All-Ivy league selection last year, is looking to produce an awesome senior campaign.

“This is it, this is the last year so I am giving it all I have got,” said Slifer, a 5’10 native of Mt. Airy, Md. who now has 114 points in her Tiger career on 62 goals and 52 assists.

“There is no time to hold back. I think this whole team knows that we can go really far this year and we have to push hard through every game.”

Princeton head coach Chris Sailer liked the way her team pushed hard throughout the contest.

“I think the game came down to draw controls and we were dominating those in the first half, which allowed our offense to really work and I thought we did a really nice job offensively being patient and looking for opportunities,” said Sailer.

“We don’t have a stat of possession time but we totally had possession time in that game, which was key to the win. I thought we did a really nice job offensively being patient and looking for opportunities, winning ground balls in our attack end, and getting second chance opportunities.”

A goalie switch midway through the second half from senior starter Annie Woehling to sophomore Ellie DeGarmo proved to be a key for the Tigers. “We made a decision to throw Ellie in the cage and it gave us a spark, which we hoped it would do,” said Sailer of DeGarmo, who had three saves and gave up just one goal in 18 minutes of action.

Slifer gave Princeton a spark all afternoon, taking draws as well as triggering the Tiger offense.

“Erin was just incredible today, the woman is just so powerful,” said Sailer. “She is really tough to stop. With her strength, her game sense, her shooting, and the draw control, she is a force.”

The Tigers got strong contributions from several players with junior Stephanie Paloscio and senior Erin McMunn both scoring two goals, sophomore Olivia Hompe chipping in two assists, sophomore Anna Doherty getting an assist, and freshmen Camille Sullivan tallying a goal and classmate Hayley Giraldi getting an assist. Junior defender Liz Bannantine spearheaded a unit that yielded just one goal over the last 17:39 of the contest.

“Paloscio was huge, she is a crafty little player and we have been able to find a role for her in the attack this year and she has done a lot of nice things for us,” said Sailer.

“Defensively, Liz Ballantine had a good game. Two of our freshmen, Camille Sullivan and Haley Giraldi, really played well. They played really poised as freshmen. Doherty did a nice job working really hard. Hompe and McMunn also did well. It is hard to pick people out because I thought it was really a full team effort.”

In Sailer’s view, the gritty win portends good things to come for her team. “We had the three-goal lead heading into halftime and we saw that evaporate and we really fought to get that back,” said Sailer, whose squad hosts Drexel on February 25 before playing at Georgetown on February 28.

“I think the conditions, when we got the lead and the draws, ended up working up being in our favor, no question. We had to play smart in that situation and we executed.”

Slifer, for her part, believes the Tigers are poised to build on the victory over Loyola.

“I think this is our first season opening win in the past three years so it is really awesome to start the season on a high note,” said Slifer.

“It gives us some positivity to build off of and we want to keep rolling through the year.”

FINAL APPROACH: Princeton University men’s hockey player Tom Kroshus heads up the ice in recent action. Last weekend, senior defenseman Kroshus and his classmates played their final weekend at Baker Rink. Unable to capitalize on the emotions of the last home games, Princeton fell 4-1 to Brown on Friday and 6-2 to Yale a day later. The Tigers, now 4-19-3 overall and 2-16-2 ECAC Hockey, will wrap up regular season play with games at Dartmouth on February 27 and at Harvard on February 28.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FINAL APPROACH: Princeton University men’s hockey player Tom Kroshus heads up the ice in recent action. Last weekend, senior defenseman Kroshus and his classmates played their final weekend at Baker Rink. Unable to capitalize on the emotions of the last home games, Princeton fell 4-1 to Brown on Friday and 6-2 to Yale a day later. The Tigers, now 4-19-3 overall and 2-16-2 ECAC Hockey, will wrap up regular season play with games at Dartmouth on February 27 and at Harvard on February 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into the final regular season home weekend of his career with the Princeton University men’s hockey team, Tom Kroshus was hoping for a quick start.

Instead, the Tigers fell behind 1-0 in the first period as they hosted Brown at Baker Rink last Friday night.

“We have been starting slowly,” said senior defenseman Kroshus. “We have got to really focus on coming out and playing with more jam and passion in the first period.”

After giving up three unanswered goals in the second period to fall behind 4-0, Princeton did show some passion in the third, scoring a goal and putting pressure on the Bears after pulling goalie Colton Phinney with around four minutes left in regulation.

“There was definitely more energy in the third,” said Kroshus. “But it shouldn’t take the goalie being pulled to have us step our game up like that. We have to play with that level of passion, energy and jam all 60 minutes.”

While Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty acknowledged that the Tigers showed more energy in the third, he was disappointed that his players didn’t show that intensity from the opening face-off.

“Our guys are protecting an inanimate object harder than they protect Colton Phinney and that is what is discouraging,” said Fogarty.

“They are embarrassed if someone gets an empty net goal, they should be embarrassed if someone gets a shot on Colton Phinney. We went five and a half minutes without a shot on goal. It doesn’t matter if you have six, guys should be jumping and guys should be competing. Unfortunately tonight we jumped and competed in front of an open net instead of Colton Phinney.”

In digging the 4-0 hole, the Tigers hurt themselves by some sloppy play.

“I felt the goals were a product of us being out of position,” said Fogarty. “They capitalized on the opportunities from our fault of being in the wrong position.”

With Princeton celebrating its senior class last weekend, Fogarty was hoping to see his team capitalize on those emotions.

“I am upset and disappointed that six groups of parents didn’t see a win tonight,” said Fogarty, who was happy to see junior forward Kevin Liss get his first career goal in the loss to Brown. “Hopefully we will rebound tomorrow and put our best foot forward.”

A day later, Princeton didn’t put its best foot forward, falling 6-2 to No. 13 Yale in dropping to 4-19-3 overall and 2-16-2 ECAC Hockey.

Despite the team’s struggles, Kroshus is leaving with a positive view of his Princeton hockey experience.

“There have definitely been a lot of ups and downs in my four years here but it has been a great ride with my class,” said Kroshus, whose fellow seniors on the squad are Aaron Ave, Ryan Benitez, Tucker Brockett, Aaron Kesselman, and Tyler Maugeri.

“I have gotten to be really good friends with them; the whole team has been great.”

Through it all, Kroshus has gotten better as a player. “Coming in, I lost my confidence and I wasn’t playing with too much poise,” said Kroshus, a 6’1, 190-pound native of Calgary, Alberta who has 17 points in his Princeton career on five goals and 12 assists.

“Especially with Ron coming in this year, he allows us to play our game. I think I have stepped up my game a little here this season.

In Kroshus’s view, there is a good foundation in place for Princeton to step up over the next few years.

“It is only going up from here, I am expecting great things,” said Kroshus. “When our freshmen are seniors, I am sure our program will be really good.”

February 18, 2015
MONEY BALL: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Erin McMunn, center, squeezes between two defenders in a 2014 game. Senior attacker McMunn, the team’s leading scorer last spring with 57 points on a team-high 44 goals and 13 assists, is primed for a big final campaign. The 14th-ranked Tigers open their 2015 campaign by hosting No. 11 Loyola on February 21.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MONEY BALL: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Erin McMunn, center, squeezes between two defenders in a 2014 game. Senior attacker McMunn, the team’s leading scorer last spring with 57 points on a team-high 44 goals and 13 assists, is primed for a big final campaign. The 14th-ranked Tigers open their 2015 campaign by hosting No. 11 Loyola on February 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

The temperatures dipped into the teens last Friday but the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team wasn’t fazed by the prospect of another frigid training session.

“We have been outside every day this week, working hard and improving,” said Princeton head coach Chris Sailer.

While the Tigers showed a lot of improvement last year as they went 12-7 overall, winning the Ivy League regular season title and advancing to the Round of 16 in the NCAA tournament, Princeton is not resting on its laurels.

“We are always trying to raise the bar,” said Hall of Fame coach Sailer, who brings a 344-138 record into her 29th season at Princeton and has led the program to three NCAA titles.

“We had a good season last year. We are looking to play as well as we can and make some waves this year.”

Sailer is counting on her core of seniors to make the most of their final college campaign.

“There are some dynamic players and leaders in this year’s senior class and they are setting a great tone,” asserted Sailer, whose team is ranked 14th nationally and opens the season by hosting No. 11 Loyola on February 21.

One of Princeton’s most dynamic players is senior attacker Erin McMunn, the leading scorer for the Tigers in 2014 with 57 points on a team-high 44 goals and 13 assists.

“McMunn is a presence on the attack end; she came in and made a huge impact right away and she has gotten better and better,” said Sailer of the three-time All-Ivy League performer and two-time All-American.

“She will draw attention; she has learned to play against pressure and rise to the occasion. Her nickname is money because of her name but that is what she is for us on the field. She has incredible hands and has a sweet stick. Her shooting last year was exceptional (a .629 shooting percentage). She is an incredible finisher and she is also a playmaker.”

Another key playmaker for Princeton is sophomore attacker Olivia Hompe, who tallied 46 points last spring on 22 goals and 24 assists.

“Olivia Hompe had a great freshman year,” said Sailer. “She and Erin are a good 1-2 punch. Olivia is a dynamic player with vision. She is also a big assister for us; she understands the game. She is fast and is a good dodger.”

Sailer has some good options at attack besides McMunn and Hompe. “The other two spots are still up for grabs; we have a number of options,” said Sailer, noting that senior Erika Grabbi (3 goals in 2014), junior Anna Menke (4 goals), and junior Stephanie Paloscio (3 goals and 1 assist) along with a trio of freshmen, Haley Giraldi, Abby Finkelston, and Colby Chanenchuk are in the mix.

“The biggest issue in the preseason has been injuries. We have a number of kids out who would be in those spots.”

In the midfield, Princeton features a big weapon in senior Erin Slifer, who had 52 points last season on 28 goals and 24 assists.

“Slifer is a vocal leader on the field, she is a big, strong presence,” said Sailer.

“She runs both ends of the field for us. She is a powerful shooter and is a great playmaker up top, she tied for the team lead in assists last year and that is usually done by someone in the crease. She sees plays developing and has such vision.”

Sophomore Anna Doherty (24 goals, 3 assists) and junior Anya Gersoff (25 goals, 3 assists) give the Tigers additional firepower in the midfield.

“Doherty is the fastest kid in the team,” said Sailer, noting that sophomore Lauren Steidl and freshman Camille Sullivan will also see time at midfield.

“It would be easy for her to coast because she is one step ahead but she works so hard. She has really pushed herself to get to a new level. We have moved Anya to midfield, she works so hard. She is a field hockey goalie and comes into lacrosse in terrific condition. She digs out ground balls and is the example on hustle plays. She is really smart with the ball. I think she is going to be really good in the midfield.”

The Tiger defense boasts a smart and skilled performer in senior Liz Bannantine (1 assist, 25 ground balls).

“LB is our defensive leader,” asserted Sailer. “She is so smart, she sees everything. She communicates everything and she understands our system. She directs our defense. She is also so good on her slides and positioning. She is a playmaker on defense for us.”

Sophomore Maddie Rodriguez emerged as a pleasant surprise last spring in her debut campaign.

“Maddie Rodriguez (14 ground balls) was a walk-on as a freshman and picked up everything so quickly, she is so smart,” said Sailer. “She is not flashy but she gets the job done. She is the second most experienced player on our defense.”

The Tigers boast some other experienced players who should contribute on the back line.

“Maddy Lynch (3 ground balls) is a junior and I think she is going to have a breakout year,” said Sailer.

“She was a supporting player the last two years; she came off the bench late last year and played well in the NCAAs. She has stepped up, she brings a lot of speed. Amanda Leavell (4 ground balls) was used mostly on draws last year; she played a little bit of defense. I think you will see her more consistently on the defensive end this year. Jess Nelson has done a great job. She is so smart and vocal; she will get some time this year.”

At goalie, senior Annie Woehling (8.49 goals against average, .444 save percentage), sophomore Ellie DeGarmo (9.65 goals against average, .500 save percentage), and freshman Mary Kate McDonough are in the mix.

“It is an open competition; we haven’t decided who the starter is going to be,” said Sailer.

“Annie is the returning starter so we feel someone has to knock her off. Annie has done well, she gets tougher in the games. She played consistently last year and was good in the Ivy tournament. The other two goalies are looking to assert themselves. Ellie DeGarmo is playing well. Mary Kate McDonough is different from the other two; she steps out more and cuts off the angles. She has a different style and gives us another look.”

Sailer is looking for her team to value the ball more this year. “We need to control possession on the attack end and make good decisions,” said Sailer.

“The No. 1 thing always is draws and ground balls, the 50/50 balls. We haven’t asserted ourselves as much in the past in those areas so we are really emphasizing that. In our OT losses last year, we never had the ball.”

Princeton will need to be assertive all over the field if it is to beat a strong Loyola team in the season opener.

“It is a very good test, they had a great season last year and they are returning a lot of good players,” said Sailer.

“We have a couple of practices this week and next week. We are still putting things in; we will be ready. We are really excited about the season; it is a good group.”

MANHATTAN PROJECT: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Mike MacDonald, center, celebrates after a Tiger goal in 2014. Last Saturday, senior star MacDonald tallied two goals and three assists to help Princeton defeat Manhattan 14-4 in its season opener. In upcoming action, the Tigers host Hofstra (0-1) on February 20.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MANHATTAN PROJECT: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Mike MacDonald, center, celebrates after a Tiger goal in 2014. Last Saturday, senior star MacDonald tallied two goals and three assists to help Princeton defeat Manhattan 14-4 in its season opener. In upcoming action, the Tigers host Hofstra (0-1) on February 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Hailing from Canada, Zach Currier felt at home as snow fell throughout the second half when the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team opened its season by hosting Manhattan last Saturday.

Noting that Princeton had started its preseason with a practice at midnight on February 1 in 19 degree chill, Currier said the Tigers weren’t fazed by the wintry blast.

“We are used to playing in the snow,” said sophomore midfielder Currier, a native of Petersborough, Ontario. “A couple of days ago we had a blizzard in practice; we have played in worse before.”

Breaking into the starting lineup, Currier played well, scoring two goals as Princeton cruised to a 14-4 win over the Jaspers.

“It is always nice to get one off the bat and then just keep going on from there,” said Currier.

Looking to play a more deliberate offensive style this season, the Tigers got into a nice rhythm.

“We have put in a new offense this year and I feel like we executed it pretty well,” said Currier.

“We are trying to get the ball around a couple of times to get settled and get the defense moving more and set them up where we want them.”

In Currier’s view, Princeton executed well all over the field against the Jaspers.

“I don’t think we had any lapses,” said Currier. “They got a few goals off a few bad bounces but we played really well defensively. We faced off really well. I think we out ground-balled them and obviously we scored a bunch of goals.”

With a season of college lax under his belt, Currier believes he can become a consistent goal scorer for the Tigers.

“Confidence is definitely one of the biggest issues,” said the 6’0, 180-pound Currier, who had 10 points in 2014 on six goals and four assists.

“Coming in as a freshman and playing along (Tom) Schreiber, (Jeff) Froccaro and all those big guys who had already been starting obviously you are going to be a little timid. I eventually settled in with their help. By the end of the year, I just started playing my own game and it carried over into this season. I don’t think I scored a goal outside five yards last year. I am starting to go from 9-10 yards.”

The graduation of four-time All American midfielder Schreiber has led to a shift in the Princeton offensive approach.

“Obviously Tom was a huge part of our offense last year,” said Currier. “I think this year our main focus is more team oriented, getting everyone touches where last year we wanted the ball on his stick a lot because he could do special things.”

Princeton head coach Chris Bates was pleased with how his offense handled things in the win over Manhattan.

“I thought we played within ourselves and executed,” said Bates. “We knew they were going to come and try to slow it down with a zone and control the pace. I thought we played under control. We were patient, we didn’t try to force plays, which I was happy with.”

Bates was particularly happy with the play of his 1-2 punch of junior Ryan Amber and senior Mike MacDonald as Ambler scored four goals while MacDonald chipped in two goals and three assists.

“Those two have such good lacrosse IQs that they see an entire defense,” said Bates.

“You watch them dodge, they are not worried about their man. They are  worried about a defensive rotation and just see through defense so well. They both have such great vision. Those two play so well together, it is fun to watch.”

It has been fun for Bates to watch Currier’s progress. “He picks up ground balls on the wing, he does some things that nobody teaches,” said Bates.

“He is so crafty. We are asking a lot of him, he is playing some defense, he is on the wings. He complements those other guys very well. If you put a shortstick on him in space, he is a very tough matchup. We knew coming in that he had talent and going out at the end of his freshman year, we started to see it more and more. Our guys know he is a playmaker. He can be a big-time guy.”

The Princeton defense made some big plays on Saturday as it held the Jaspers to two goals through the first 57:51 minutes of the contest.

“They didn’t create a whole lot of opportunities, we got the ball off the ground,” said Bates. “It was a good one for those guys to get their feet under them and communicate.”

It was good for Princeton to work through some opening day kinks. “We just got one under our belt,” added Bates. “With a two-week preseason, we knew it was going to be a little sloppy. We wanted to focus on us and play through it the best we can. We did a good job.”

On Friday, Princeton faces a good test as it hosts a perennially tough Hofstra team.

“I think the group knows because of the focus we put on the day to day preparation, we have still got to think about us,” said Bates.

“Hofstra is a well coached team, it is always a big game for them. At the end of the day, it is a good next step for us. We have got to take next steps and execute. I like this group. It is a group that is pretty dialed in, there is a good feeling with their work rate and leadership.”

Currier believes the Tigers are dialed in as they look ahead to the clash against Hofstra.

“We are going to play our game,” said Currier. “Hopefully we will get our shots and execute our game plan.”

DOGFIGHT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Henry Caruso dribbles around a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore forward Caruso scored a career-high 25 points but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 81-73 to Yale. The Tigers trailed the Bulldogs 39-28 at half but responded with a 26-7 run to take a 54-46 lead. Yale, though, closed out the contest by outscoring Princeton 35-19 over the last 10:20 to pull out the win. The Tigers, now 11-12 overall and 4-3 Ivy League, play at Dartmouth on February 20 and at Harvard on February 21.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

DOGFIGHT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Henry Caruso dribbles around a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore forward Caruso scored a career-high 25 points but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 81-73 to Yale. The Tigers trailed the Bulldogs 39-28 at half but responded with a 26-7 run to take a 54-46 lead. Yale, though, closed out the contest by outscoring Princeton 35-19 over the last 10:20 to pull out the win. The Tigers, now 11-12 overall and 4-3 Ivy League, play at Dartmouth on February 20 and at Harvard on February 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Hosting Ivy League co-leader Yale last Saturday, the Princeton University men’s basketball team knew it needed a win to make it a three-horse race for the league title at the halfway point.

Entering the evening, Princeton stood at 4-2 in Ivy action while Yale and Harvard were tied atop the league at 6-1.

In the first 20 minutes of the contest, however, Princeton looked like an also ran, falling behind 11-0 and trailing 39-28 at halftime.

Addressing his team at intermission, Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson wasn’t looking for anything fancy.

“The message was really quite simple, there is no 11-point play,” said Henderson, whose team trailed 33-17 at one point in the first half.

“Let’s get it to eight at the 16-minute mark. We were trying to make some adjustments defensively. We said, look are they that much faster than us, what’s the deal here.”

Responding like champions, the Tigers started the half on a 26-7 run to take a 54-46 lead with 10:35 remaining in regulation.

“I am really proud of the way that we came back,” said Henderson. “I thought the start of the second half was great. I thought we were going to have to chip away and then all of a sudden we are tied at the 16 minute mark.”

In the view of Princeton sophomore forward Steven Cook, the rally came down to being tougher.

“We got off to a slow start, some shots didn’t fall and we weren’t playing great defense with them scoring 39 points in the first half,” said Cook.

“We talked about a lot of different things at halftime, we needed to maintain aggressiveness and toughness inside. The 1-3-1 (zone) definitely helped us with staying aggressive on defense. We just attacked on offense.”

But Princeton couldn’t maintain the lead as Yale responded with a 35-19 run over the last 10:20 of the contest to pull out an 81-73 victory.

“I think we are disappointed with that,” said Henderson, reflecting on the setback which left Princeton at 11-12 overall and 4-3 Ivy.

“College basketball is great because you are either going one way or another. We seem to be on a track where we are on the upswing and then we fall down. We are hurting a little bit but nobody is crying for us. We have three weeks and we have an opportunity to get better every day.”

Yale junior forward Justin Sears, a Plainfield, N.J. product, hurt Princeton all night, tallying 25 points and nine rebounds, including a huge sequence with just under 10 minutes left when he blocked a Hans Brase shot and scooped up the ball and went in for a layup and then hit a free throw after getting fouled on the drive.

“He is a really good player; in our league, he is so different,” said Henderson of Sears.

“He is long but fast; the way he got out on Hans’ shot and blocked it, that was a gigantic play. It was a six-point game and all of a sudden. it is three. He gets the and one.”

Princeton got a gigantic effort from junior forward Henry Caruso as he scored a career-high 25 points in a losing effort.

“I like our fight, I love that,” asserted Henderson who got 13 points from freshman guard Amir Bell with Cook adding 12. ”Henry has brought to our team what I want, which is don’t back down from the best players and guard them and play hard. That’s what he is through and through.”

Caruso, for his part, was frustrated that the team’s fighting spirit didn’t result in a victory.

“We just started with our defense, we started to get stops and really causing pressure on Yale,” said Caruso. “As the game went on we got a little bit flat, that was disappointing. We have to get ready for Dartmouth next Friday.”

In Henderson’s view, Princeton can still be a factor on the Ivy title race.

“Over the course of an 80-minute weekend, I think we are playing a lot of good minutes,” said Henderson, whose team plays at Dartmouth on February 20 and at Harvard a day later.

“We can’t have an 11-0 start, we can’t give up a 13-point lead at the end of games. (referring to a 68-60 loss at Cornell on February 7) We can score and we can defend. We show these things in stretches, the pieces are there. We just have to keep our heads up and keep working.”

FORWARD PROGRESS: Princeton University men’s hockey player Kyle Rankin unloads the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, junior forward Rankin had an assist as Princeton tied St. Lawrence 1-1. A day earlier, Rankin and the Tigers rallied for a 2-1 win over Clarkson. Princeton, now 4-17-3 overall and 2-14-2 ECAC Hockey, hosts Brown on February 20 and Yale on February 21.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

FORWARD PROGRESS: Princeton University men’s hockey player Kyle Rankin unloads the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, junior forward Rankin had an assist as Princeton tied St. Lawrence 1-1. A day earlier, Rankin and the Tigers rallied for a 2-1 win over Clarkson. Princeton, now 4-17-3 overall and 2-14-2 ECAC Hockey, hosts Brown on February 20 and Yale on February 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Although the Princeton University men’s hockey team started February by losing 2-0 at Colgate and 4-2 at Cornell, Colton Phinney saw the weekend as a step in the right direction.

“Both games could have gone either way; we had a great second and third period against Cornell,” said sophomore goalie Phinney.

“I think since Christmas we have been playing really well. Goals are starting to come. I think we are definitely turning around and starting to play better.”

Hosting Clarkson last Friday, the Tigers dug an early 1-0 hole but came on after that to pull out a 2-1 win.

“We weren’t playing our best in the first,” said Phinney. “We knew we could play better and we had a great second period and a great third. It is believing in ourselves and knowing that we can improve. In the first period, we were giving them too much time and space. We weren’t really playing them like we were supposed to and how we practiced and we switched in the second and third.”

Phinney experienced a harrowing final minute on Friday as Clarkson went to an extra attacker and pressed hard in a bid to tie the game.

“The time seemed to go really, really slow; I looked and saw 20 seconds left and then looked up again and there was still a second left,” recalled Phinney, who ended up with 28 saves in the win.

“I knew we were going to block some shots and I knew they were going to throw everything they could at the net. I just try to make the saves and believe in our team blocking it, which they did.”

The Princeton defense showed its growing self belief a night later as the Tigers tied St. Lawrence 1-1, moving to 4-17-3 overall and 2-14-2 ECAC Hockey.

“We have definitely gotten better on defense,” asserted Phinney, who made 34 saves against the Saints.

“Cornell was a really good effort too, especially in the second and third periods. We built off of it today in the second and third periods; we didn’t give them much at all.”

Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty liked the effort he got from his players against Clarkson as they picked up their intensity over the last two periods of the contest.

“We were supporting the puck and attacking with speed,” said Fogarty. “We were not looking for the puck over our shoulder, we were attacking with the puck and had some time to get it in deep and get some pressure. We know who we are and the longer the games are 0-0 or 1-0, the more that our guys are fine with it and the other teams aren’t.”

The game winner was the product of an attacking play by junior forward Jonathan Liau as he flew down the ice to cut off a puck that was headed for the red line and then flipped it back to senior Tucker Brockett, who found the back of the net with 12:54 remaining in the third period.

“It was a lot of hustle there from Jon Liau to negate the icing; that was a great play by No. 10.” said Fogarty.

In pulling out the win, the Tigers showed toughness to go with their hustle. “It was a great team win, guys were banged up, there were a lot of ice bags in there,” said Fogarty.

“That is what it takes to win, winning is difficult. If it was easy, everybody would be winning. It takes 28 of our guys to be committed Monday through Thursday and then the guys in the games have to play to their potential every shift.”

Fogarty believes Princeton is starting to play up to its potential. “We tied Brown (2-2 on January 31) and now we beat Clarkson so we are getting points,” said Fogarty, whose team hosts Brown on February 20 and Yale on February 21.

“That is what our goal was, to play our best hockey down the stretch and I thought we played a very good game tonight.”

Phinney for his part, believes that the comeback win over Clarkson is a very good sign for the Tigers.

“I think this is the first one we came from behind so it was definitely good,” said Phinney.

“We are starting to get wins at the end of the season. We are showing that we are relentless and not giving up after they score first. At the beginning of the year, we would probably have given up and lost this game 3-0, or 4-0. We almost built off of giving up a goal and used it as momentum and went from there.”

February 11, 2015
OPENING ACT: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Kip Orban eludes a defender in a game last year. This spring, senior captain and star midfielder Orban figures to again be one of Princeton’s top weapons, having scored a goal in 26 straight games, the longest active streak in Division I. The Tigers open the season by hosting Manhattan on February 14, looking to improve on the 7-6 record it posted in 2014.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

OPENING ACT: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Kip Orban eludes a defender in a game last year. This spring, senior captain and star midfielder Orban figures to again be one of Princeton’s top weapons, having scored a goal in 26 straight games, the longest active streak in Division I. The Tigers open the season by hosting Manhattan on February 14, looking to improve on the 7-6 record it posted in 2014. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming off a disappointing 7-6 season last spring with five of those losses coming by a total of seven goals, the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team is getting back to basics.

“The focus is more on fundamentals; we have kept it simple and I think that will pay off,” said Princeton head coach Chris Bates, who brings a record of 42-30 into his sixth year guiding the Tiger program.

“There were some things that we assumed in the past. We have put fundamentals under the microscope. It is important that they understand every nuance. We are giving them a clear explanation for everything we are doing.”

Bates likes the response he is getting from his players to the new approach. “It is a pleasure to be around this team,” said Bates, whose team opens the season by hosting Manhattan on February 14. “There is a sense of purpose in this group. It started this summer with them taking the next steps.”

Senior midfield star, Kip Orban, the team’s lone captain, is setting a good tone for the group.

“It is Kip’s team in a lot of ways, he has broad shoulders and has handled it well,” said Bates of Orban, who tallied 21 goals and eight assists last season and has scored a goal in 26 straight games, the longest active streak in Division I.

“I like the leadership we are getting from top to bottom. The senior class has grown up and evolved in terms of discipline, they have made real progress. The junior class is a class in waiting; there is a lot of talent there. The sophomores and freshmen have fallen in line.”

While the Tigers have a void to fill with the graduation of All-American midfielder Tom Schreiber, the team’s leading scorer each of the last four years, Bates thinks Princeton will be more balanced.

“We miss Tom, both in terms of his competitiveness and talent,” said Bates.

“We have to redefine ourselves. We will be more dispersed, which I think will be good.”

Princeton features a good one-two punch on attack in senior Mike MacDonald (19 goals and 22 assists in 2014) and junior Ryan Ambler (24 goals, 19 assists).

“Mike and Ryan are our two stalwarts, they are two tried and true guys; I know what I am going to get from them,” said Bates.

“Mike had double hip surgery, that speaks to his commitment. It was a long summer and fall of rehab. He committed to doing everything possible to be better. I expect him to score like he did as a sophomore. Ryan has taken the next step. He has matured and really understands our system. We have told him to own this thing and to be a true quarterback. He has added layers to his game.”

Providing depth on attack will be sophomores Adam Hardej, Gavin McBride and Sean Connors along with freshmen Riley Thompson and Greg Merrill.

“The big guy, Adam Hardej (6’6, 225 pounds), is getting the first look at attack,” said Bates.

“It is a new position for him but he has such gifts and athleticism. We have great depth. Gavin McBride and Sean Connors are next in line. We have two freshman bookend smurfs. Riley Thompson is 5’5 140. He is as tough as they come and knows the game. Greg Merrill (5’8, 160) has great burst and is tough as well.”

Junior Jake Froccaro (27 goals, 14 assists) should provide toughness and production in the midfield.

“Jake is being relied on to face-off,” said Bates. “He will be playing a more defensive midfield and be more of a two-way player. He will play half field after timeouts or in critical situations. We are going to spot him.”

Orban along with sophomore Zach Currier (6 goals, 4 assists), seniors Will Rotatori (5 goals, 1 assist) and Will Himler (1 goal) will be counted on for scoring in the midfield.

“Kip will draw the pole, he is athletic and has prepared so well,” said Bates of the 6’2, 200-pound Orban.

“Zach Currier is going to make an impact. He was coming on at the end of last season. He did well in the fall and has been stellar. Rotatori and Himler are two seniors, they have experience playing in the system. We are going to mix and match with midfield and attack.”

As shortstick midfield, junior Austin deButts could emerge as a standout.

“He has been very good, he played behind three seniors last year but did well whenever he got on the field,” said Bates, who will also look at a trio of freshmen: Austin Sims, Sam Bonafede, and J.T. Caputo in that spot.

“He is not the biggest or fastest but has a good lax brain. Sims is a heralded, athletic kid, he will log minutes. Bonafede and Caputo are both athletic and tough.”

In Bates’ view, the addition of new assistant coach Dylan Sheridan, who worked with former Princeton head coach Bill Tierney in Denver, should help the Tiger defense be tougher.

“Dylan is a very good teacher of defense, this is the third defensive coordinator in three years but upperclassmen understand the system,” said Bates.

“It is the tried and true Coach Tierney Princeton defense. The older guys know the basic tenets. The guys have adapted well. It is a more experienced team. Last year we had a first year defensive coordinator with a lot of inexperienced guys and that was tough.”

The Tigers are more battle-tested at the defensive end, as key performers sophomore Will Reynolds, sophomore Sam Gravitte, junior Mark Strabo, and sophomore Bear Goldstein all saw plenty of time last spring.

“Will Reynolds will be at longstick midfielder,” said Bates. “Dylan suggested that; we think he will blossom there with his stickwork and athleticism. He is a prime time athlete. Sam Gravitte will back him up, he played well last year. Mark Strabo is back on close defense, he is a good on-ball defender. He and Bear Goldstein are bookends and both tough cover guys. The third spot is up for grabs.”

At goalie, the Tigers will be going with senior Eric Sanschagrin (10.47 goals against, .533 save percentage in 2014) as the starter at the outset.

“It is Eric’s job and he will get every opportunity to keep it,” asserted Bates.

“We think he is well suited to play 60 minutes. Matt O’Connor (10.91 goals against, .464 save percentage) has experience. The freshman (Tyler Blaisdell) is good and is nipping at their heels. Everyone has settled into their roles. The team is comfortable with Eric back there.”

The Tigers are comfortable coming into the season under the radar, not being ranked in the preseason Top 20.

“The vibe and chemistry feel good,” said Bates. “We have evolved, it is a good group that is definitely hungry. They look around and see the publicity that everybody has gotten and they are OK with that. There is a ton of work to do. At Princeton, we set a compass of Ivy playoffs and beyond.”

In Bates’ view, his team must work smarter at the offensive end of the field to have a big season.

“We need to manage the game offensively, we have shifted how we play,” said Bates. “We need to grind it out more. We have to realize on the offensive end that we are also playing for defense and the whole team. We could pressure you immediately on a possession but that became counterproductive at times.”

Looking ahead to the opener this Saturday against Manhattan (0-1), Bates is anxious to see how the shift in focus plays out.

“It is a week early for us, we just started preseason on February 1 so there are only two weeks to prepare,” said Bates. “The focus is on us and playing our own game. We have to figure ourselves out. We have questions about our rotation and we have to figure out who we are.”

Reserve forward Taylor Williams looks to shake things up when she enters the game for the Princeton University women’s basketball team.

“I am a fighter, I am scrappy,” said Williams, a 6’3 junior from Warren, Ohio. “So when I come in, a lot of my role, even in practice, is to bring energy, to fight, to get everyone motivated, and keep everyone going.”

Last Saturday against visiting Cornell, Williams provided energy and a lot more in 21 minutes of action off the bench as the Tigers cruised to a 75-47 win over the Big Red before a Jadwin Gym crowd of 1,399. Producing a dominant effort in the paint, Williams contributed 10 points, four rebounds, four blocked shots, and two assists, helping Princeton improve to 21-0 overall and 5-0 Ivy League.

“I think as a team, we were revved up,” said Williams. “We knew this was a big game. It was kind of like the butterflies in the stomach, the energy thing. It was a lot of fun to come out and play.”

Williams had fun on defense against the Big Red, picking up a steal to go with her blocked shots and helping to hold Cornell stars Mia Marshall and Nicholle Aston to 14 and 12 points, respectively, as they both shot 6-of-16.

“I don’t try to block shots but something I personally strive for is defense,” said Williams.

“Defense to me is fun so when I can stop girls from having successful games, especially when it is Nia Marshall or Nicholle Aston, who have both been having very successful seasons. For me, it is a personal challenge as well as a team challenge.”

Although Princeton misfired early, scoring only two points in the first four minutes of the contest, Williams and her teammates kept pressing on.

“Sometimes you start off hot and sometimes you don’t,” said Williams. “You just have to come out and play. Some games you win ugly, some you win pretty. You just have to fight through as a team through each one of them.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart thought her team was ready to fight as it faced a Cornell team that came into the evening at 13-6 overall and 4-1 Ivy.

“This is what we live for, the opportunity to play against another really good team, who has shown in the course of the season that they play well together,” said Banghart.

“We knew it was going to be a battle, they are feisty, they have a good inside game, and playmaking guards. It was obviously a fun game and a great crowd tonight.”

Banghart had fun watching Williams displaying her inside game. “Taylor might have been a scratch this weekend, she has had some soreness,” said Banghart.

“She looked me in the eye on Friday and said please let me play coach and we did. She gave us a lot all weekend. We have this mentality on our team that it is next man up. To be as good as we need to be, we need a little bit from everybody. We are getting that.”

Princeton also showed its tough defensive mentality, stifling the Big Red from the opening tip.

“I said this is what we have been waiting for, a good team to come into Jadwin and really defend them well,” said Banghart, whose team held Cornell to 34.9 percent shooting (22-of-63) on the evening.

“This team has been solid defensively all year long and we saw that tonight when offense wasn’t as easy early on as it usually is. Over the course of a 40-minute game we always find our legs. I thought it was a defensive battle with a really talented offensive team. It was a great win.”

With the wins piling up for Princeton, now the only undefeated team in Division I women’s hoops, Banghart is confident her players won’t lose the focus that has gotten them to this point.

“If you had told me a while back that we would be undefeated, I would not have believed you first of all and second of all, I would have assumed that it would been distracting,” said Banghart, whose squad plays at Brown on February 13 and at Yale on February 14.

“This group is so purpose-driven. We focus Monday on ourselves and I just talked to them in the locker room after the game and said these are the areas we focused on and you got better in those areas. I really don’t think it is a team that is focused on the record. They are focused on the Ivy League right now and getting an NCAA tournament bid, which is really a coach’s dream. This could be a distraction and it is really not.”

Williams, for her part, believes that the hoopla surrounding the undefeated record won’t distract the team from its goals.

“It is not extra pressure, after every game, we write what our record is,” said Williams. “That is a motivational thing but now we no longer write 21-0, we write 5-0. We still have to face them a second time. It is one step towards our goal but we know how much more we have to accomplish.”

SENIOR MANAGEMENT: Princeton University women’s hockey player Brianne Mahoney controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last weekend, senior defenseman Mahoney came up big in the final two regular season home games of her Princeton career. On Friday, she contributed two assists as Princeton defeated Colgate 4-1. A day later, she helped key a strong defensive effort as the Tigers edged No. 9 Cornell 3-2. Princeton, now 13-10-2 overall and 11-6-1 ECAC Hockey, plays at Clarkson on February 13 and at St. Lawrence on February 14.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

SENIOR MANAGEMENT: Princeton University women’s hockey player Brianne Mahoney controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last weekend, senior defenseman Mahoney came up big in the final two regular season home games of her Princeton career. On Friday, she contributed two assists as Princeton defeated Colgate 4-1. A day later, she helped key a strong defensive effort as the Tigers edged No. 9 Cornell 3-2. Princeton, now 13-10-2 overall and 11-6-1 ECAC Hockey, plays at Clarkson on February 13 and at St. Lawrence on February 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For Brianne Mahoney, playing last weekend in the final regular season home games of her career with the Princeton University women’s hockey team sparked a desire for a return engagement.

“It is kind of exciting and also sad,” said senior defenseman Mahoney. “I think it is a motivation in order to get home ice for the playoffs so we can play here again.”

Mahoney has felt at home with classmates Ashley Holt, Brianna Leahy, and Ali Pankowski over the last four years.

“We are a small class so we are pretty close,” said Mahoney. “I am lucky to have all of them as teammates. It is really fun playing this weekend with them.”

Having been paired on defense with Pankowski since freshman year has been a fun experience for Mahoney.

“We have been d-partners since day one,” said Mahoney. “We always know what each other is thinking. It is pretty easy to play off of each other, we have a similar style.”

The Tiger seniors went out in style in their final Baker Rink regular season weekend as Princeton topped Colgate 4-1 on Friday and then edged No. 9 Cornell 3-2 a day later.

Against Colgate, Mahoney helped Princeton get started on the right foot, assisting on a Molly Contini goal midway through the first period as the Tigers took a 1-0 lead.

“I took a shot from the point,” recalled Mahoney. “I definitely don’t have an Ali Pankowski shot but whenever you see Molly Contini in front of the net, you just shoot towards her and hope that she can get some part of her body or stick on the puck and it usually goes in. I had my head up and once I saw Molly, I hit her.”

After taking a 2-0 lead early in the second period, Princeton hit a lull as Colgate fought back to make it a 2-1 game heading into the third period. Tiger head coach Jeff Kampersal had a stern message for his players at the second intermission.

“Jeff wasn’t too happy, he said don’t think that you are better than you are,” recalled Mahoney. “Play like you did against Harvard (a 1-0 win on on January 31) and play your game. That’s what we did, we play well when we do that.”

Mahoney got her offensive game going in the third period, getting another assist as she helped to set up a goal by sophomore Morgan Sly with 14:34 remaining in regulation.

“The goalie was giving up rebounds,” said Mahoney. “It popped out so I thought I might as well slap shot this one again and it worked.”

Princeton added an empty net goal by Jaimie McDonell to make the final margin 4-1.

While it wasn’t Princeton’s sharpest performance, the bottom line was getting the win.

“Any two points is a good two points, even if they are a little scrappy,” said Mahoney.

“Colgate is scrappy so you have to be scrappy to play against them. The games are winding down so each one is more important than the next.”

With the season winding down, Mahoney is savoring her Princeton hockey experience.

“Everyone says it but it has been really fast,” said Mahoney a 5’7 native of Clarendon Hills, Ill., who now has eight assists this season and 19 points in her career on three goals and 16 assists.

“I have been lucky to have the program I am with, the coaches and the teammates. I am very fortunate, it has been a blessing.”

Princeton head coach Kampersal feels fortunate to have has Mahoney and her classmates in the program.

“They have all stepped up this year in different roles,” said Kampersal.

“Ashley Holt doesn’t get to play as much but she is a good behind the scenes person, sort of like a team mom, taking care of issues and anything that pops up. The two defensemen (Mahoney and Pankowski) play a lot and they play under duress a lot. They do a good job breaking the puck out. Leahy has been a solid performer all year with her goals so we hope that she has a couple left in the tank as we head into the last couple of games here.”

Acknowledging that he was upset by his team’s lull in the second period, he liked the way the Tigers closed the deal.

“I ripped the kids after the second period because I thought we were playing for the scoresheet and not playing a good team game,” said Kampersal.

“In the third period, we just played a good team game so that was way better.”

A day later, Princeton played another good game, rallying from a 2-1 deficit early in the third period to pull out a 3-2 win over Cornell as sophomore Hilary Lloyd scored the game-winning goal with 1:19 left in regulation.

The win improved Princeton to 13-10-2 overall and 11-6-1 ECAC Hockey, leaving it sixth in the league standing, three points away from fourth place and home ice in the playoffs. It also put the Tigers in the thick of the race for the Ivy League title as they are 6-1-1 in Ivy games while Harvard is 7-2.

“If we can pull it off we are in a really good position to win the Ivy League,” said Kampersal, looking ahead to the Cornell game.

“There is a lot riding on it and that includes the home ice. I definitely would like to play here rather than travel.”

In Mahoney’s view, Princeton is poised for a good ride to the finish.

“The Ivy League is on our minds, the ECAC is on our minds as well,” said Mahoney.

“The Ivy League is tops right now. We have never been in this position since I have been here. We have always had to have another team lose. We have it in our hands so if we win, we are in a very good spot. We have been rolling since we got done with finals.”

February 4, 2015
GOOD MOVE: Princeton University women’s hockey player Kelsey Koelzer controls the puck in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore star Koelzer chipped in an assist to help Princeton edge No. 4 Harvard 1-0. Having been moved to defense this year, Koelzer has emerged as a star for the Tigers and is currently tied with Molly Contini for the team lead in points at 24. The Tigers, now 11-10-1 overall and 9-6-1 ECAC Hockey, host Colgate (7-19-1 overall, 4-10-1 ECACH) on February 6 and Cornell (12-7-3 overall, 10-3-2 ECACH) on February 7.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOOD MOVE: Princeton University women’s hockey player Kelsey Koelzer controls the puck in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore star Koelzer chipped in an assist to help Princeton edge No. 4 Harvard 1-0. Having been moved to defense this year, Koelzer has emerged as a star for the Tigers and is currently tied with Molly Contini for the team lead in points at 24. The Tigers, now 11-10-1 overall and 9-6-1 ECAC Hockey, host Colgate (7-19-1 overall, 4-10-1 ECACH) on February 6 and Cornell (12-7-3 overall, 10-3-2 ECACH) on February 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Kelsey Koelzer established herself as a solid offensive player last winter for the Princeton University women’s hockey team.

The 5’9 native of Horsham, Pa, scored 10 points in six goals and four assists in her debut campaign, highlighted by 3-point performances in wins over UConn and Brown.

But with Princeton a little thin along the blue line coming into this season, Koelzer was moved to defenseman.

“Wherever they feel I am going to help the team, that is where I am going to go,” said Koelzer, noting that she previously played defenseman through the age of 12 or 13. “If that is what it takes, I am going to go with it.”

It has taken a little extra effort for Koelzer to get used to her new spot on the ice.

“One of the main challenges for me is the one-on-one battles,” said Koelzer. “Cara (PU assistant coach Cara Morey) has really taken me under her wing and helped me work on that. The transitions and the things like that that are slightly  different. They have really helped me and worked on it with me. I think now I am confident to go in there and make plays all the time.”

Last Saturday against visiting Harvard, Koelzer made big plays at both ends of the ice, assisting on a Princeton first period goal and then helping to spearhead a stifling defensive effort as the Tigers edged the No. 4 Crimson 1-0.

Coming off a 2-2 tie with Dartmouth on Friday which saw Princeton rally from an early 2-0 deficit, Koelzer and her teammates were ready to battle nemesis Harvard.

“It was physical, it was fast, we came out hard,” said Koelzer. “Last night was a very fast game so we were expecting just as fast of a game today. We battled and we stuck with them. We capitalized on our opportunities. We limited their opportunities and that was huge.”

Koelzer had a huge role in the lone goal of the contest, setting up sophomore star Molly Contini for the tally.

“Molly Contini started the play, she chipped the puck to the middle to Hilary (Lloyd),” said Koelzer.

“Hilary battled her way to the middle and took three players with her and then, lucky enough, I recognized we could have the opportunity if I stepped up. She dropped the puck and I had people in front of me so I didn’t just want to take a shot. I just dished it off to the side and luckily Molly was there and ready to shoot and she ripped it.”

Koelzer’s offensive background has helped her recognize scoring opportunities when she comes up from the blue line.

“I think that using my previous knowledge at forward helps a little bit in making the right decision to jump into the play,” explained Koelzer. “Making the right decision once you are up there is key.”

Currently tied with Contini for the team lead in points at 24, Koelzer is clearly making a lot of good decisions in the offensive zone.

“I am surprised although this is something I expect from myself all the time,” said Koelzer, who now has seven goals and 17 assists this season.

“As long as you are making the right plays and keeping strong on your defense, that’s first and foremost for me. You have to play good defense and then if you are working hard and making smart decisions, the points are going to come.”

It was good defense that made the difference in the win over Harvard. “It was huge, ultimately we have to give it to Kimberly,” said Koelzer, referring to junior goalie Kimberly Newell, who made 32 saves in earning the shutout.

“There were saves that I could never imagine making that she made that were extremely timely and kept us in it emotionally, morally, and physically. We were battling in the corners. We were trying to make our pins. We were trying to move the puck up as soon as possible. It was just our hard work to get it over the red and get it deep when we needed to. It was great.”

Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal credited his players with giving great work across the board against Harvard.

“Everybody had a good solid effort and did the little things to help us win,” said Kampersal. “The Hilary Lloyd block late in the game was humongous, that just pumps up the bench and gets us going. Those are the little things that help you win.”

The Tigers did a lot of good things defensively in stifling a Crimson team that came into the day averaging 3.7 goals a game. “The defense was great, they kept Harvard to the outside for the most part,” said Kampersal.

“The team defense did a great job, the defensemen did a great job, Kimberly was awesome.”

Koelzer has proven to be an awesome addition to the Tiger defensive corps.

“She moved back to defense this year and she has been an absolute stud from day one,” asserted Kampersal. “She pretty much averages a point a game.”

As Princeton heads into the homestretch of regular season play, Kampersal wants his players to keep showing the fire they brought to Saturday’s game.

“Our last six regular season games will all be tough and I just hope our approach is the same,” said Kampersal, whose team hosts Colgate (7-19-1 overall, 4-10-1 ECACH) on February 6 and Cornell (12-7-3 overall, 10-3-2 ECACH) on February 7.

“I know they are going to get up for Harvard but they better get up for the other teams. It is weird, we had a 3-2 loss to Clarkson, 2-1 to Minnesota, close losses to Boston College, and Quinnipiac. They played solid of most of it and we let down for 10 minutes. There was no letdown today, they played great.”

Koelzer, for her part, believes the Tigers can build on their great effort against Harvard.

“This was absolutely huge, the last five games for us have been pretty big,” said Koelzer, noting that Princeton swept Yale and Brown before going on exam break in early January and then returned with a big effort in a 4-2 loss to top-ranked Boston College on January 26.

“For us to come in here and play two really good teams this weekend, especially Ivy League teams, and battle and get as many points as we could, that was huge.”

CLASS ACT: Bob Callahan, far right, celebrates with his Princeton University men’s squad in February 2012 after it beat Trinity to win the Collegiate Squash Association (CSA) national championship and snap the Bantams’ 13-year title streak. Last week, long-time Princeton head coach Callahan passed away at age 59, leaving a legacy of success, class, and dignity.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

CLASS ACT: Bob Callahan, far right, celebrates with his Princeton University men’s squad in February 2012 after it beat Trinity to win the Collegiate Squash Association (CSA) national championship and snap the Bantams’ 13-year title streak. Last week, long-time Princeton head coach Callahan passed away at age 59, leaving a legacy of success, class, and dignity. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

The squash complex on the ‘C’ level of Princeton University’s Jadwin Gym has a subterranean feel, located two floors below Carril Court.

But for 32 years, a special light emanated from the underground warren of courts, offices, and the fencing room with the genial Bob Callahan holding court as the Princeton men’s squash head coach.

Last week, a darkness and sadness descended on that area and well beyond as Callahan passed away at age 59 after a courageous three-year battle with glioblastoma, a highly malignant, rapidly growing tumor that arises from glial cells in the brain.

Callahan leaves an indelible legacy on Tiger squash in terms of success and length of service. A 1977 Princeton alum, he was a two-time squash All-American and played on three national championship squads, including his senior year when he captained the Tigers to an undefeated season.

After a four-year stint at IBM, he became the head coach of the Princeton squash team in 1982, being offered the position while serving on the search committee for the coaching vacancy. Over the next 32 years, he guided the Tigers to 314 victories, 11 Ivy League titles, and national championships in 1982, 1993, and 2012. He also coached the individual national champion 10 times. He was inducted into the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame in 2012.

Those achievements, as impressive and legendary as they are, only tell a part of the Callahan story.

For squash standout Todd Harrity, a 2013 Princeton alum and the last player to win an individual national title under Callahan, the lessons learned from his coach went well beyond the fine points of the game.

“I came to Princeton partly because of him; he had this aura,” said Harrity, a Philadelphia native who graduated from Episcopal Academy, Callahan’s high school alma mater.

“I liked his coaching style and how he treated his players. The team was so strong, I knew I would be pushed outside of my limits and would discover how good I could be. He really helped my game but the most important thing was how he kept things in proper perspective. He was always competitive, he wanted to win but at the same time he put as much emphasis on how you carried yourself and your demeanor on the court. If someone even dropped their racquet on the court during the match, you knew he would be having a talk with them.”

Callahan set the standard in terms of how to carry oneself in competition. “I never saw him lose his temper,” said Harrity, now a pro squash player ranked in the top 70 in the world. “I played on the team for four years, there were a lot of good wins but there were also some bad losses and he was always even-keeled. I was very impressed by that.”

Harrity is equally impressed by the universal affection felt for Callahan across the generations of the Princeton players that he coached.

“It is incredible how long he was here and seeing that everyone feels the same way about him, no matter when they were at Princeton,” said Harrity “There is so much respect for Bob.”

Princeton Director of Athletics Emeritus Gary Walters ’67 believes that Callahan leaves an incredible legacy on several levels.

“Bob’s life obviously ended too quickly but my goodness did he live such a fulfilling life,” asserted Walters, who guided PU’s athletics department from 1994 to 2014.

“Not only as it relates to the quality of the squash program that he created both in terms of performance and culture but in the very best fulfillments of our department’s overriding philosophy, which is education through athletics. Bob’s performance, both in terms of his experience as an undergraduate at Princeton and his ability to pass it forward to the Princeton student-athletes who played squash, was remarkable.”

In Walter’s view, Callahan’s was an even more remarkable parent than squash coach.

“For me, there are two exclamation points in his life, most obviously professionally is 2012 shortly before he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, when he and the team won the national title ending the Trinity era,” said Walters, referring to the famous 5-4 win over the Bantams that snapped their 13-year national title streak.

“The second exclamation point, even more robust than Bob’s role as a coach, was the role that he and his wife, Kristen, played as parents of the five Callahan sons. (Greg, Scott, Tim, Peter, and Matt, who all attended Princeton and played squash for their father.) They are all such fine young men, to all have the ability to attend Princeton and contribute in every conceivable way, athletically, in the classroom, and even musically. It was like the Cleaver family.”

For Walters, Callahan’s family spirit wasn’t just felt by his wife and sons.

“Bob was a family man in every sense, both to his nuclear family and his Princeton squash family,” added Walters.

“That is why there is such a genuine, universal expression of appreciation for all that he did. There is a real love and affection. His parenting, coaching, and teaching represents his immortality. We have to carry on but we are fortunate to have the foundation that he has already established.”

Harrity, for his part, was fortunate to keep in contact with Callahan after graduation and to the very end of his coach’s life.

“He would call me to get the scoop on how I was playing; he followed my results and when I had a good win, he would send me an e-mail,” said Harrity.

“I came up to visit him on January 12. He had called me because I got a wild card to the Tournament of Champions and I was playing the No 1 player in the world. I was really glad I got to see him. He shook my hand. Kristen lifted his hand into mine and he told me my hands were cold. I just talked about everything I had been doing and mentioned names in the squash world that I knew he would know. The most striking thing to me was even when he was sick and dying, how much he cared about squash, the team, the players, and Princeton. It was his passion.”

This reporter was lucky enough to see Callahan on many occasions when the Princeton men’s basketball team used the conference room across from his office as its media center. Having gotten to know Callahan through covering his teams and his sons during their playing days for the Princeton High boys’ soccer program, I made it a point to swing by before heading upstairs to the basketball games.

Sitting at the desk with a view of a squash court over his shoulder, he would greet me with a smile and a twinkle in his eye, always asking first how I was doing before we would chat about a gamut of subjects, whether it be the game that night, the fortunes of PHS soccer, or how his team and sons were doing. One of his players would invariably drift in the office with the perpetually open door and that would prompt an extended introduction and some good-natured ribbing.

The last time I sat down with him in the office was in the fall of 2012 to interview him for a feature on his induction into the squash Hall of Fame.

His parting words to me that day serve as a fitting epitaph. “My life is definitely not going to be as long as it was which is OK,” said Callahan.

“I am going to do my best to beat the thing but a very small percentage of people make it five years. Everyone is going to die at some point. It is not how old you are, it is what you do while you are here.”

There can be no question that Callahan did a multitude of very good things in his 59 years.

MAKING AN IMPACT: Princeton University men’s soccer player Cameron Porter controls the ball in a game this past fall. Senior forward Porter, who earned a slew of awards last season when he helped Princeton tie for the Ivy League title, was recently chosen by the Montreal in the third round of the Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft. The 6’1, 175-pound Porter, a native of Centerville, Ohio who tied for first in the NCAA in 2014 for total goals with 15, is currently trying to make the Impact’s roster.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

MAKING AN IMPACT: Princeton University men’s soccer player Cameron Porter controls the ball in a game this past fall. Senior forward Porter, who earned a slew of awards last season when he helped Princeton tie for the Ivy League title, was recently chosen by the Montreal in the third round of the Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft. The 6’1, 175-pound Porter, a native of Centerville, Ohio who tied for first in the NCAA in 2014 for total goals with 15, is currently trying to make the Impact’s roster. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Cameron Porter has proven he can excel at both soccer and his studies.

Joining the Princeton University men’s soccer team in 2011, Porter has enjoyed success on the pitch and in the classroom.

Last fall, he culminated his soccer career by leading the NCAA in points with 2.00 points per game and .88 goals per game, while tying for first in total goals with 15 and second in total points with 34 as Princeton shared the Ivy crown with Dartmouth.

The 6’1, 175-pound native of Centerville, Ohio ranks fourth all-time in points at Princeton with 75 in 67 games, is fourth in goals with 31, and is 12th in assists with 13. He was named the Ivy Offensive Player of the Year, the ECAC Player of the Year and earned All-Region honors.

Porter’s prowess in the classroom earned him Academic All-Ivy honors in 2013 and 2014. After this fall, the Computer Science major was named National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar All-America and earned second team Academic All-America honors.

In reflecting on all of his honors, Porter acknowledged that he was proudest of being recognized for his excellence in the classroom.

“All the awards meant a lot but I think the Scholar All-American award meant the most,” said Porter. “I have always taken pride in balancing academics with athletics.”

In Porter’s view, the lessons he learned on the soccer field over the last four years have a special meaning.

“The biggest thing is the coaches, mentors, and players I have been around, it could not have been better,” said Porter. “I have learned so much from them and I know I will apply that as I go on.”

Now Porter will get the chance to apply that knowledge at the pro level, getting selected by the Montreal Impact as the 45th overall pick in the Major League Soccer (MLS) Super Draft in late January.

“I want to see what my potential is if I solely focus on soccer,” said Porter, who is currently training with the Impact.

“All my life I have been balancing academics and soccer. Now it is all soccer. I think the biggest thing is to keep working hard and learn as much as I can from the older players and figure out where I can fit in and best help the team.”

Looking back on his final season at Princeton, Porter was determined to do everything possible to help the Tigers succeed.

“I think the biggest thing about the senior year is to make an impact and do the best you can for the team,” said Porter. “I internalized that and I think I did that.”

With Porter making a major impact, Princeton enjoyed a superb campaign, going 11-3-3 overall and 5-1-1 Ivy to share the league title with Dartmouth(11-4-2 overall, 5-1-1 Ivy).

“It meant a lot to the seniors,” said Porter, who helped the Tigers end the year with an 8-0-1 undefeated streak. “The year before we came in, the program went 7-0. Ten seniors graduated and we went 1-5-1 as freshmen. It was great to help the program turn things around, it was awesome to recapture that.”

In Porter’s view, his class has left the program in good shape to continue its winning ways.

“We helped establish a culture that will carry on,” said Porter. “It was being a cohesive team on and off the field, being a team in all aspects.”

As the fall unfolded, Porter discussed the possibility of taking a shot at pro soccer with Tiger assistant coach Jessie Marsch, a former MLS standout who was recently named as the head coach of the New York Red Bulls.

“After the end of the season, I kept running and going to the gym,” said Porter. “It was hard to find people to kick with.”

In early January, Porter’s work paid off as he took part in the MLS Player Combine held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“The combine went well, the MLS collects the seniors and younger international players that they want to see play again,” said Porter. “It is five days, three of the days are full games, the players are divided into four teams. Before the first game, we had vertical jump and agility tests and a 30-yard sprint. We also had interviews with the teams. I felt like I was playing well; the teams kept the info to themselves.”

While Porter wasn’t chosen in the first day of the MLS draft, he was snapped up early on round three.

“Of course I hoped to be picked in the first two rounds but I wasn’t disappointed,” said Porter.

“I was very excited to be chosen. I found out like everybody else — on the web. The team called me later. I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening.”

As Porter looks to make it with the Impact, he will draw on the foundation of his college experience.

“I really appreciate the support of the Princeton soccer community,” said Porter.

“The coaches, Jim (Barlow), Steve (Totten), and Jesse, have all helped me grow as a player. I learned to be a part of a team. I had an individualistic style of play when I came to Princeton, I hadn’t been on the strongest teams. They molded me to fit in with the team.”

RESERVE STRENGTH: Princeton University men’s basketball player Ben Hazel brings the ball up the floor in recent action. Last weekend, senior guard Hazel provided Princeton with a spark off the bench, scoring 15 points in 30 minutes on Friday in a 75-72 loss to Harvard and then chipping in 14 points in a reserve role as the Tigers topped Dartmouth 64-53 on Saturday. Princeton, now 9-10 overall and 2-1 Ivy League, plays at Columbia (10-8 overall, 2-2 Ivy) on February 6 and at Cornell (10-10 overall, 2-2 Ivy) a day later.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

RESERVE STRENGTH: Princeton University men’s basketball player Ben Hazel brings the ball up the floor in recent action. Last weekend, senior guard Hazel provided Princeton with a spark off the bench, scoring 15 points in 30 minutes on Friday in a 75-72 loss to Harvard and then chipping in 14 points in a reserve role as the Tigers topped Dartmouth 64-53 on Saturday. Princeton, now 9-10 overall and 2-1 Ivy League, plays at Columbia (10-8 overall, 2-2 Ivy) on February 6 and at Cornell (10-10 overall, 2-2 Ivy) a day later. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ben Hazel knows he can’t waste any time when he comes off the bench for the Princeton University men’s basketball team.

“Coach (Mitch Henderson) just preaches being aggressive from the jump, right when you come on the court,” said the senior guard, a 6’5, 191-pound native of Bowie, Md.

Last Saturday against visiting Harvard, Hazel followed Henderson’s instructions, scoring 15 points in 30 minutes of action.

“I was just kind of getting into the flow and trying to take advantage of what the defense was giving us,” said Hazel, reflecting on his performance.

“Coming off the bench you are able to see what is open and what we need to do and pick up when you come into the game. It is just trying to execute within our offense and taking what the defense gives you.”

Hazel’s spark off the bench helped keep the Tigers in the game with Harvard but it wasn’t enough as a late Princeton rally fell short and the Crimson prevailed 75-72.

“One thing I will say about the guys in that locker room is that there is no quit in that team,” said Hazel.

“We just weren’t able to string enough plays together. You have got to string a few positive plays together to get you back and get the ball rolling towards your side. We weren’t able to put it all together for a long enough period of time to get over that hump.”

While Princeton head coach Henderson credited Harvard for the win, he lamented his team’s failure to come up with some big plays down the stretch.

“First off, hats off to Harvard, they were the better team tonight,” said Henderson.

“Sometimes shots don’t fall and that has been a big thing for us. I thought the turnovers hurt us and (Corbin) Miller really hurt us. It was a big focus of ours throughout the week; it is a little disappointing for our group because we put a lot of time into that.”

The Princeton group strengthened by the return of sophomore Steven Cook, who had been sidelined due to illness.

“I thought Steve was not afraid, he played very aggressively and made some huge plays,” said Henderson of Cook, who scored a game-high 21 points and had four assists and three steals against Harvard. “We have missed him, just not having him around in practice even. He is capable of doing so many things for us.”

In Henderson’s view, his team is capable of doing some good things this winter.

“I like the group a lot; I feel like we can win games,” said Henderson. “We have yet to play a game this season where all of the pieces look good, we just haven’t. These guys have to keep figuring out a way.”

In the wake of the loss to the Crimson, Henderson was happy to have a game the next day against Dartmouth.

“I just told the guys it is over, we got one more, a real big one tomorrow,” said Henderson.

“You take them one at a time. I do think it is a really strong league, all of them are good. There is not an easy game on the schedule and I think Harvard with their loss to Dartmouth had an edge. We need to have an edge.”

A night later, Princeton played with an edge, topping Dartmouth 64-53 as Spencer Weisz led the way with 16 points and Hazel had another strong game off the bench, tallying 14 points in 30 minutes.

For Hazel, the game against Dartmouth was a chance for Princeton to display some intensity and urgency.

“That is the beauty of the league, you can’t really worry abut these things,” said Hazel, who hit 4-of-8 three-pointers in the victory over the Big Green and will look to help Princeton put together some more wins as it plays at Columbia (10-8 overall, 2-2 Ivy) on February 6 and at Cornell (10-10 overall, 2-2 Ivy) a day later.

“You worry about the small things that can help big things positioning-wise. For the most part the scouting report will be a little different but the motto is the same — be aggressive from the jump. Now with the loss on our record, these games become that much more important.”

January 28, 2015
INSIDE STUFF: Princeton University men’s basketball player Hans Brase goes up for a dunk last Sunday against visiting Rowan University. Junior forward Brase scored 13 points to help Princeton defeat Division III Rowan 96-48. The Tigers, now 8-9 overall, head into the thick of Ivy League play this weekend as they host Harvard on January 30 and Dartmouth on January 31.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

INSIDE STUFF: Princeton University men’s basketball player Hans Brase goes up for a dunk last Sunday against visiting Rowan University. Junior forward Brase scored 13 points to help Princeton defeat Division III Rowan 96-48. The Tigers, now 8-9 overall, head into the thick of Ivy League play this weekend as they host Harvard on January 30 and Dartmouth on January 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Returning to action last Sunday after a 15-day exam break, the Princeton University men’s basketball team saw its game against visiting Rowan University as good prep for the Ivy League tests ahead.

“I feel like we had a really nice set of practices before we headed back into  the game,” said Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson, whose team last played on January 10 when it rallied to beat Penn 78-74 in its Ivy opener.

“It is just can we carry over what happened in the last few minutes against  Penn. That has been a big thing for us, our defense. We are glad to be back on the floor with an important week coming up.”

In cruising past the Profs on Sunday, Princeton displayed some stifling defense, going on a 26-4 run after Division III Rowan had taken an early 10-8 lead. The Tigers never looked back, cruising to a 96-48 win before a crowd of 1,774 at Jadwin Gym as they improved to 8-9 overall.

“I thought the group that came in and defended between the 14-minute mark and the five-minute mark did well, they were stuck at 10 for a little while and that is our defense,” said Henderson. “It is nice to get a win.”

Henderson got a nice offensive effort from freshman Aaron Young, who scored a career-high 15 points, going 5-of-6 from three-point range.

“Aaron is a very good shooter; I think we have a terrific shooting team and Aaron is right up there with the rest of them,” said Henderson, whose team hit on 16-of-35 three-pointers against Rowan.

“Between Clay (Wilson), Aaron, Khyan (Rayner) and Ben (Hazel), those guys are always competing for the top slot. I want Aaron to fill up the rest of the stat sheet because I think he can really shoot and now it is about doing the other things well too.”

Young, for his part, said his outburst was the product of being in the right place at the right time.

“My teammates did a great job of finding me when I was open,” said Young, a 6’0, 180-pound native of Falls Church, Va., who was the Ivy Rookie of the Week for the last week of December.

“Coach always encourages us to step in and shoot the ball with confidence and that is what I tried to do.”

Like Henderson, Young saw the game against Rowan as a good opportunity to build confidence going into Ivy play.

“Any chance we get to come out and compete against somebody else is awesome for us and we love to take advantage of it,” said Young, whose previous career high was nine points.

Junior forward Hans Brase liked the way Tigers took care of business against the Profs.

“We try to treat every game the same,” said Brase, who tallied 13 points in the victory.

“For us, it is not a league game but it is another non-conference game that we get up for. We want to win every game.”

As Princeton, 1-0 Ivy, looks ahead to hosting defending league champ Harvard (11-5 overall, 1-1 Ivy) on Friday and improving Dartmouth (8-8 overall, 1-1 Ivy) a day later, Brase knows it is crucial to get the league campaign off on a winning note.

“One of the big things is that you can’t dig a hole early,” said Brase.  “Last year we started out 0-4 and it really just killed us for the whole Ivy season. Starting off with a win against Penn this year was great but now we have to keep going into Harvard and Dartmouth and just take it one game at time and we will be alright.”

Young, for his part, believes Princeton will be on its game. “I am very excited to get the league season going,” said Young. “I know it is a grind like all of the older guys have said. I think we are ready and I am looking forward to it.”

Noting that Dartmouth upset Harvard last Saturday, Henderson realizes that Princeton is looking at two big challenges in the Big Green and Crimson.

“It is a really tough weekend,” said Henderson. “Dartmouth had a huge win there yesterday. I told our guys, they are good and don’t think for a second that Harvard isn’t really good because they are. It is an important week but I think we have been making some big strides everyday in practice. This is a sum of the parts team. These guys have been getting tired of me saying it but they have to be so focused on each other’s success. As long as we keep doing that, we have a chance.”

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.”