January 23, 2013
PIONEER SPIRIT: Megan Ofner controls the puck in action last winter for the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team. After enjoying a stellar career at PDS, Ofner is making strides at the next level in her freshman season for the Division I women’s hockey program at Sacred Heart. Ofner has picked up two assists in her 20 appearances so far this winter for the Pioneers.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

PIONEER SPIRIT: Megan Ofner controls the puck in action last winter for the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team. After enjoying a stellar career at PDS, Ofner is making strides at the next level in her freshman season for the Division I women’s hockey program at Sacred Heart. Ofner has picked up two assists in her 20 appearances so far this winter for the Pioneers. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Megan Ofner was constantly on the go during her years with the PDS girls’ hockey team.

Ofner emerged as a pivotal player from the moment she hit the ice for PDS as a freshman in 2008, ending up her Panther career with 124 points, including 32 points in her senior season on 19 goals and 13 assists.

At the same time, Ofner was playing travel hockey for such high-powered programs as the New Jersey Rockets in northern Jersey and the Quakers in West Chester, Pa.

Ofner still made time to distinguish herself in the classroom and serve as one the school’s Athletic Association Co-Heads.

During the summers, Ofner’s schedule was just as hectic as she played in camps and took part in college showcases such as the RinkSport program.

For Ofner, her frenetic activity was directed at a single goal. “I started thinking about playing hockey in college when I was accepted at PDS,” said Ofner.

“Playing Division I was the dream. In women’s hockey, there is no professional league. D-I is the highest level you can achieve.”

After looking at a variety of college programs, Ofner achieved that aim as she found a home with the D-I women’s hockey program at Sacred Heart.

The realization that Ofner accomplished her dream hit home as she stood on the ice before Sacred Heart’s season opener against RIT this past October.

“The first game was one of the most amazing days,” recalled Ofner. “I was one of the few freshmen to dress for the game. It was great to hear the national anthem and hear the names of players announced over the loudspeaker. I am so grateful and thankful to have this opportunity.”

Ofner acknowledged that she had to go through some ups and downs to get to the opener.

“We started off-ice with the coach on the second week of school,” said Ofner.

“The first day of practice on the ice was intimidating, as it would be for anybody. I saw that I could keep up with the seniors and the other upperclassmen. I was learning so much from them and I felt like I belong.”

Going through that learning curve has involved some adjustment physically. “The speed and size is the biggest difference between college and high school,” explained the 5’8 Ofner.

“In high school, I was an 18-year-old playing against 14- and 15-year-olds. Here, I am 18-year-old playing against 22-year-olds.”

While Ofner played forward for PDS, she is playing defenseman for the Pioneers.

“I played defense all the way through in travel,” said Ofner, who has tallied two assists in 20 appearances so far this season for the Pioneers. “I will play anywhere the team needs me.”

Sacred Heart head coach Tom O’Malley likes the way Ofner has fulfilled the team’s needs on the blue line.

“We were loaded with forwards and we are graduating two impact players on May,” said O’Malley.

“We thought we would get Megan accustomed to playing defense. We thought it would be a way for her to move up the ladder and become an impact player. Megan is doing a nice job; she has been thrown into the fire on occasion and she has stepped up.”

O’Malley attributes Ofner’s smooth transition to her diligence. “She is one of the hardest workers on the team, hands down,” asserted O’Malley.

“She comes in hard and works everyday in practice. She takes it seriously; she wants to become the best hockey player she can be. She will approach me in practice and say ‘coach, what can I do to get better.’”

In addition, Ofner has been a good fit with the team and on campus, prompting O’Malley to suggest that she join the school’s Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), an organization which serves to bridge communication between student-athletes and administration.

“On the ice, in the bus, and at team meals, the kids gravitate to her,” added O’Malley.

“Because of who Megan is, I asked her if she wanted to get involved in the SAAC. She strikes me as a mature person and I wanted her to get involved on the ground floor. She is a genuine person, she is not fake. She works hard in school and is doing really well academically.”

Ofner, for her part, has already developed deep bonds with her teammates.

“In a way, we are forced to be friends but it is great,” said Ofner. “We all have the same goals and the love for the game.”

With the Pioneers having posted a 4-3-1 record in January to improve to 11-11-2 overall, Ofner’s goal is to help the team build on its promising start to 2013.

“After holiday break, things have been clicking,” asserted Ofner. “We know each other’s skills better and we are complementing each other better on the ice. I have great hopes for the team. I want to do what I can to help the team do well and get more wins.”

EAGLE EYE: Matt Kuhlik shows his intensity in a team photo for the Emory University men’s swimming program. Kuhlik, a former Princeton High standout who helped the Little Tigers to an undefeated season and its first state title during his senior campaign in 2011-12, is making an impact for the Eagles in his freshman season. He placed second in his first 200 freestyle race of his college career and last weekend he helped Emory to a win in the 200 free relay last weekend as the Eagles topped the Savannah College of Art and Design. (Photo Courtesy of Emory University Athletics)

EAGLE EYE: Matt Kuhlik shows his intensity in a team photo for the Emory University men’s swimming program. Kuhlik, a former Princeton High standout who helped the Little Tigers to an undefeated season and its first state title during his senior campaign in 2011-12, is making an impact for the Eagles in his freshman season. He placed second in his first 200 freestyle race of his college career and last weekend he helped Emory to a win in the 200 free relay last weekend as the Eagles topped the Savannah College of Art and Design.
(Photo Courtesy of Emory University Athletics)

Matt Kuhlik didn’t see himself heading south as he considered which college swimming program to join.

“I was looking at small schools in the north like Amherst, Williams, and Dartmouth,” said Kuhlik, a sprint star for the Princeton High boys’ swim team who helped the Little Tigers to an undefeated season and its first state title during his senior campaign in 2011-12.

“I was also looking at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins and I thought I was going to one of them.”

But then Kuhlik took a trip to Atlanta and Emory University that changed the course of his swimming career.

“I didn’t want to visit Emory but my mom dragged me down there,” recalled Kuhlik.

“I talked to the coach and I really liked him. I went down on a recruiting trip and I really liked the team. I committed before I left.”

It looks like Kuhlik made the right choice as he has fit in well with the squad, quickly establishing himself as a valuable sprinter for the Eagles.

Kuhlik didn’t waste any time showing his prowess, taking second in the 200 freestyle in the season-opening meet against North Carolina-Wilmington.

“It was parents’ weekend and there was a lot of people there,” said Kuhlik, who clocked a time of 1:43.87 in finishing second by 0.12 of a second.

“I had a really good race and I just got touched out at the end. The team atmosphere in college helps you go faster, there is a lot of support.”

Kuhlik likes the support he has gotten from his teammates in adjusting to college swimming.

“Every class bonds,” said Kuhlik, noting that he has grown close to his fellow freshmen. “We also hang out with the older guys and they show us the ropes.”

While Kuhlik believes that swimming for PHS and the Princeton Piranhas club program prepared him well for the next level, he has dealt with a different training emphasis in college.

“It is not as much yardage as we did in club training but there is more weight lifting,” said Kuhlik.

“We lift weights in the morning and we do heavy lifting. With the Piranhas, the weight lifting was more maintaining strength. We were also running circuits in the fall. We have nine practices a week so it takes about 20 hours. We did a lot of yardage in club, around 8,000 yards a session. Sometimes we approach 8,000 yards here but there are other workouts that are around 6,000 or 5,000. I was used to being one of the fastest kids; now I am last in the lane sometimes. I think the new training helps, things are more specialized.”

Kuhlik is looking to put that training to good use at the University Athletic Association (UAA) championship meet next month at the University of Chicago.

“We have the conference meet coming up at the end of February and everyone is going for times there,” said Kuhlik, who swam the anchor leg to help Emory to a win in the 200 free relay last weekend as the Eagles topped Savannah College of Art and Design 146-105.

“It would be amazing to make nationals but the time cutoffs are really tough. I am going to try to make it on a relay but I would have to be one of the four fastest swimmers.”

For Kuhlik, the sprint events bring out the best in him. “I think I am really competitive,” said Kuhlik. “In the sprint races, you go all out and try to beat the person next to you. In the longer distance races, you swim in a group and try to pull away.”

With the experience Kuhlik has picked up this winter, he is ready to pull away from the competition over the long haul.

“Now that I understand the training, I am going to come back in good shape,” said Kuhlik. “I am going to do more running and lift weights in addition to swimming.”

CHEEKY MOVE: Cheeky Herr heads up the ice in recent action for the Trinity College women’s hockey team. Herr, a Princeton native who played her high school hockey at at Choate Rosemary Hall (Conn.), has emerged as a key performer for Trinity in her freshman season. Herr has scored nine points on five goals and four assists in 15 games for the 7-4-4 Bantams.

CHEEKY MOVE: Cheeky Herr heads up the ice in recent action for the Trinity College women’s hockey team. Herr, a Princeton native who played her high school hockey at at Choate Rosemary Hall (Conn.), has emerged as a key performer for Trinity in her freshman season. Herr has scored nine points on five goals and four assists in 15 games for the 7-4-4 Bantams.

Cheeky Herr had some growing up to do when she arrived at Choate Rosemary Hall (Conn.) in the fall of 2008.

“It was definitely hard to be at boarding school,” said Herr, a Princeton native and ice hockey player who had starred in U-14 competition at the USA Hockey Development camp before heading off to school in New England.

“People don’t realize what it is like when you go away from home and you don’t have your mom and dad on you to do your homework. There is nobody to tell you what to do. If I wanted to be successful, I realized that maybe I couldn’t go to the commons to hang out and that I had to go to the library. I had a great group of teachers who helped me grow as a student and a person.”

Herr had to grow on the ice as well. “It definitely made it so I played against much tougher competition,” said Herr.

“In the class above me, all but one player went D-1 (Division I). It made me have to work harder in games and practice. The pace is so much different, it is so much faster. You have to be a faster skater, think faster, and be a faster shooter. I had to get up to speed with everybody else.”

Herr’s hard work paid dividends, and by her senior year she was one of Choate’s top players, leading the team in points, goals, and assists last winter.

Having made the grade at Choate, Herr was ready to move up to the college level, choosing to join the Trinity College women’s hockey program.

For her, making that decision marked the end of an arduous journey. “I saw a PU-Colgate women’s hockey game when I was six and I decided that I wanted to do that,” said Herr, whose older sister, Sarah, was a hockey star at Lawrenceville and went on to enjoy a superb career for the Williams College women’s program.

“It is a long process. Starting in seventh grade, I started going to camps and getting myself out there. It helped that I had an older sister who went on to play college hockey. The coaches knew the Herr name and that was a big help.”

Noting that her choice ultimately came down to D-I Colgate and D-III Trinity, she felt she would have more of an opportunity to shine at the latter.

“I love hockey more than I love breathing and I have only four more years to play so I wanted to go where I can play,” asserted Herr.

She also felt a comfort level off the ice at Trinity. “It seemed like an excellent group of people and a good fit,” said Herr, noting that family friend and former Trinity field hockey and ice hockey star Payson Sword helped make her official visit go smoothly.

“I was very happy on my visit there. I went by the broken leg test — if you broke your leg the first day you were there and you could never play hockey again, would you still want to be there. I knew I would be thrilled to be there.”

The 5’3 Herr came up big in her college debut, picking up an assist in the first minute of the season opener against Connecticut College in mid-November to make for a thrilling memory.

“I was standing on the goal line and I turned to one of the other freshmen and said how did we get there,” recalled Herr, who is playing center for the Bantams.

“I have been skating since I was three and I first put on hockey gear when I was three-and-a half. I have spent my entire life to get to this moment. It was incredible to get an assist in the game. The next day I was in the starting lineup and it was great to hear my name announced over the loudspeaker.”

Drawing on her Choate experience, Herr is adjusting to the busy life that comes with being a college hockey player.

“The biggest thing is the amount of time you put into it,” explained Herr. “There are team lifts, team meetings, game films, and chalk talk. There are all those things you do together as a team and then you have to balance that with your homework. It comes down to time management and doing the things you need to do to be a better hockey player and still get good grades. We are student athletes and the schoolwork comes first.”

Herr’s first goal was special as it helped the Bantams top Amherst College 4-2 in early December.

“At first I didn’t know it went in; I got a pass at the blue line and I got a shoot off, using the d-man as a screen,” said Herr.

“I came flying in for rebound and put it on net. I didn’t know it went in until I skated past and saw it lying there in the net. The best part was that my dad was there to see it. I stood there and really yelled like Mel Gibson in Braveheart. I clinched my fists, I was elated. We really came together as a team in that game; we were passing well and communicating on the ice. Everyone got to touch the puck and everyone got a shot.”

With the Bantams having gone 4-0-1 in their last five games to improve to 7-4-4 overall and 2-3-3 in New England Small College Athletic Association (NESCAC) play, Trinity appears to be coming together at the right time.

“We are a young team,” said Herr, noting that the Trinity roster includes eight freshmen and four sophomores.

“We have new lines that have to be created; we have to get used to each other.”

As Herr gets used to college hockey, she is looking to make a greater impact for the Bantams.

“I want to continue to up my scoring and assists,” said Herr, who recently had a hat trick against the University of New England and scored the winning goal in a 3-2 victory over Salve Regina on January 15 and now has nine points on five goals and four assists.

“I want to have more assists than goals. I need to get my shot off faster. I need to communicate better with my linemates. People don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings. It is how you say it and what you say. I am a center and I need to work on talking to my wings.”

Off the ice, Herr has thrown herself into her academic work. “I am taking classes that I am interested in; if you love what you are learning, it is easy to work hard,” said Herr. “I learned a hard lesson at Choate; I learned what hard work is.”

Based on the progress she has made in her freshman year at Trinity, it is clear that Herr took those lessons to heart.

January 16, 2013
SHOOTING STAR: Princeton University men’s basketball player T.J. Bray lofts a jump shot in recent action. Last Saturday, junior guard Bray scored a career-high 23 points to help Princeton top Penn 65-53 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. Bray was later named the Ivy Player of the Week for his performance which included 6-of-11 shooting from three-point range. Princeton, now 7-7 overall and 1-0 Ivy, is currently on hiatus for exams and is next in action when it hosts The College of New Jersey on January 27.(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

SHOOTING STAR: Princeton University men’s basketball player T.J. Bray lofts a jump shot in recent action. Last Saturday, junior guard Bray scored a career-high 23 points to help Princeton top Penn 65-53 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. Bray was later named the Ivy Player of the Week for his performance which included 6-of-11 shooting from three-point range. Princeton, now 7-7 overall and 1-0 Ivy, is currently on hiatus for exams and is next in action when it hosts The College of New Jersey on January 27. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

Penn-Princeton is one of the most storied rivalries in men’s college basketball but the Tigers have taken the drama out of the series in recent years.

Coming into last Saturday’s Ivy League opener against the Quakers, the Tigers had won six of the last seven meetings between the ancient rivals.

With a Jadwin Gym throng of 3,577 on hand, Princeton wasted little time taking the mystery out of the latest installment of the matchup, jumping out to an 11-4 lead and building a 31-22 advantage by halftime. The Tigers started the second half with an 11-0 run and never looked back on the way to a 65-53 win, improving to 7-7 overall and 1-0 in Ivy play.

Princeton senior star Ian Hummer said the Tigers’ upper hand in the series can be attributed, in large part, to intense preparation.

“I think that it just boils down to a good scout,” said Hummer, who tallied 13 points with six rebounds and five assists on the evening.

“We take a few days to go over the offense and how we are going to guard. I think any little trick that they throw at us, we are ready for it. We have got to give it up for our coaches and for our scout team just giving us a good look every day. It was tough guarding the offense at practice and it was even  tougher with the way they move and the players we had to guard.”

For Hummer, helping the Tigers go 4-0 against the Quakers at Jadwin Gym over his career is something to savor.

“Just knowing how hard the Ivy League is every year and how well each team knows each one, I would say so,” said Hummer, when asked to reflect on Princeton’s recent home court dominance in the series.

“I think Penn is very well-coached; they have great players every year. [Zack] Rosen was a handful over the last couple of years. [Miles] Cartwright is a handful himself. I think it is just that they are a very good team every year. I think coming home gives us a spark and we are able to play pretty well against them every year.”

The Tigers got a big spark last Saturday from junior guard T.J. Bray, who poured in a career-high 23 points, including 6-of-11 shooting from three-point range.

“It was just one of those day where shots were falling down,” said Bray, who was later named the Ivy League Player of the Week for his performance.

“They were coming in the flow of the offense which was big. Ian had a couple of nice passes to me and I was able to step in and shoot.”

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson enjoyed Bray’s big offensive effort.

“I thought he was just terrific tonight,” said Henderson in assessing Bray’s career night.

“Making shots is so important for the success of any good team. T.J. didn’t play all summer; he wasn’t available in the fall [due to a knee injury]. I think you are seeing a little bit more of what he is like now. He is having an opportunity to be on that leg playing competitively. Buffalo [the season opener] was the first time he suited up for us. He just seemed to be in on a lot of big plays. He is the brains of the operation now and often the brawn.”

The Tigers benefitted from the way they operated at the beginning of each half. “For us, it was so important to get off to a good start,” said Henderson.

“I was happy with that, especially the first half. I thought they were sharing the ball nicely because Penn was changing a lot of things defensively and I thought we adjusted nicely.”

One thing that hasn’t changed this season is Princeton’s proficiency from three-point range.

“I think with Mack [Darrow], T.J., Ian was 1 for 1, and Will [Barrett] has been shooting the ball so nicely; they are skilled guys,” said Henderson, reflecting on a game which saw Princeton going 11-of-22 on its three-point attempts.

“I don’t put any limitations on these guys. I think, given the time and score,  if they feel confident, I want them to shoot it.”

With Princeton winning four of its last five games before going on exam break, Henderson has gained confidence in his starting lineup with includes freshman Hans Brase and sophomore Denton Koon in addition to Hummer, Bray, and Barrett.

“I think we are settled in, this is what we are going to be doing,” said Henderson, whose team is next in action when it hosts The College of New Jersey on January 27.

Hummer, for his part, did something a little different on Saturday, going with a modified Mohawk hair style.

“I was growing my hair out and I hadn’t gotten a haircut in a while,” said a grinning Hummer.

“Before I shave it all off I was thinking let’s try something new. I am getting mixed reviews. I had one guy telling me off TV that I looked like an idiot. Daniel Edwards [Tiger teammate] said he loved it so I am going to keep it for a little while.”

Princeton, though, is earning rave reviews from its supporters for its recent run of success against Penn.

TITLE DEFENSE: Princeton University women’s basketball player Michelle Miller displays her defensive form in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, freshman guard Miller scored eight points in her Ivy League debut as three-time league champion Princeton started its title defense with a 77-47 win over Penn. The Tigers, now 10-5 overall and 1-0 Ivy, are on hiatus for exams and will be back in action when they play at Cornell on February 1.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

TITLE DEFENSE: Princeton University women’s basketball player Michelle Miller displays her defensive form in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, freshman guard Miller scored eight points in her Ivy League debut as three-time league champion Princeton started its title defense with a 77-47 win over Penn. The Tigers, now 10-5 overall and 1-0 Ivy, are on hiatus for exams and will be back in action when they play at Cornell on February 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While the Princeton University women’s basketball team hit some bumps in the road as it prepared for Ivy League play, the Tigers quickly got into cruise control as they hosted Penn last Saturday in the league opener.

Princeton raced out to a 13-0 lead and built a 29-6 advantage with 8:40 left in the first half. The Tigers never looked back on the way to a 77-47 win over the Quakers at Jadwin Gym as they improved to 10-5 overall and 1-0 Ivy.

Even though it was her first Ivy League game, freshman guard Michelle Miller had a pretty good idea of the stakes involved as the rivals met.

“We were all definitely very excited,” said Miller, a native of Pasadena, Calif.

“We had a tough non-conference schedule. We thought that would prepare us well. We are all very excited to try to defend the Ivy League title and we know that we have to earn that on the court. We are eager to keep doing that. Our first five did a great job tonight with their defensive intensity and really establishing the tone for the rest of the game.”

Although the Tigers have gone 41-1 in Ivy play in winning three straight league crowns, they know they can’t let their intensity wane.

“We know that the winner of the Ivy League gets the NCAA tournament bid and that is obviously our goal,” said Miller.

“We want to just stay focused on each game and not on overlooking any opponent. We have to make sure we know the personnel and that we execute our game plan well.”

The 5’10 Miller executed well in the victory over Penn, scoring eight points with three rebounds off the bench in 14 minutes of action.

“I am starting to feel more comfortable with my role,” said Miller. “It really helps knowing that the team’s upperclassmen have trust in me to pass me the ball and let me shoot.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart trusts in Miller and her offensive ability.

“Michelle Miller didn’t come on the scene with such a dynamic presentation like Niveen Rasheed,” said Banghart.

“We knew how good she was; that kid was offered everywhere. She scored almost 4,000 points in high school. She is an offensive stud and as she continues to gain confidence, I think you’ll see that.”

Banghart liked what she saw from senior center Megan Bowen, who scored a team-high 14 points and chipped in five rebounds and a blocked shot.

“She was great on both ends, I think she was 7-for-10 which is great from the field,” said Banghart. “She is mobile and she is communicating well on the low block defensively.”

The team’s collective defensive intensity made the difference in the win over Penn.

“I thought the first five were key to start both halves,” asserted Banghart. “It is what you expect from a veteran group and what you would expect from people that are committed to our scout and the game plan. The way they came out in both halves was the key to the game.”

Banghart acknowledged that her team was hungry to get off to a big Ivy start.

“Our kids are juiced to play anybody; I was juiced because it was a chance to see these kids compete and I don’t get to do that again until February,” said Banghart, whose team is on a hiatus for exams and is not back in action until it plays at Cornell on February 1.

“The first Ivy game we kind of wanted to make a statement, more to ourselves, that our preseason schedule was worth it and that grind and that challenge got us better for right now. This is what matters. The NCAA bid is in the Ivy League’s hands and we are one step closer.”

Over the exam break, Banghart believes the team can take steps to be even sharper.

“I haven’t had to coach effort one day here at Princeton; they get up for every game and they will be up for practice,” said Banghart, noting the team will go against a scrimmage squad comprised of Princeton baseball, football, and men’s lacrosse players several times in the next few weeks to keep its competitive juices flowing.

“They are just really proud of their craft and I am happy to try to help them get better and I think they are getting better. We can practice during exams; it is good for you to get a workout in. I tell them that is always more fun than the library.”

Miller, for her part, is having fun as she works her way into the Tiger rotation.

“I just to try to come in and look for my shot as a three-point shooter,” said Miller. “I try to hold my own defensively and contribute offensively and have there not be any letdown when I come in the game.”

STICK UP: Princeton University men’s hockey player Tyler Maugeri, right, takes on a foe in recent action. Last Friday, sophomore Maugeri scored a goal in a losing cause as Princeton fell 3-2 to Union. A day later, Maugeri and the Tigers came through with a 4-1 win over Rensselaer in improving to 6-8-4 overall and 5-4-3 in ECAC Hockey action. Princeton is currently on an exam hiatus and is next in action when it hosts Sacred Heart on January 27.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

STICK UP: Princeton University men’s hockey player Tyler Maugeri, right, takes on a foe in recent action. Last Friday, sophomore Maugeri scored a goal in a losing cause as Princeton fell 3-2 to Union. A day later, Maugeri and the Tigers came through with a 4-1 win over Rensselaer in improving to 6-8-4 overall and 5-4-3 in ECAC Hockey action. Princeton is currently on an exam hiatus and is next in action when it hosts Sacred Heart on January 27.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Starting last weekend off with a bang, the Princeton University men’s hockey team scored on a Will MacDonald goal 25 seconds into their game against visiting Union last Friday.

But getting whistled for a slew of penalties, the Tigers quickly dug a 3-1 hole against the No. 16 Dutchmen.

While Princeton head coach Bob Prier enjoyed MacDonald’s goal, he wasn’t happy with the rest of the period.

“We didn’t start off the game well at all,” said Prier. “We just got a nice opportunity and capitalized on it. It was nice to see Willie Mac score. We had a lot of penalties. That is a good team; they had the puck a lot so we took a lot of penalties. They capitalized on their 5-on-3. We lost probably 80 percent of the stick battles in the first half of the game on our own rink and that is just something that is unacceptable.”

Princeton sophomore forward Tyler Maugeri acknowledged that the Tigers were on their heels as they took four penalties in the first period and found themselves on the wrong end of 5-on-3 situations twice in the first 20 minutes.

“We have a top penalty kill; I don’t want to say it wore us down but it definitely took some momentum out,” said Maugeri. “We definitely don’t want to be hemmed in our zone like that for that period of time.”

With under eight minutes left in the second period Maugeri got loose in the offensive zone and scored to make it a 3-2 game.

“I jumped on the ice and Michael Zajac was driving hard to the net and he kicked it out to me,” recalled Maugeri, who now has seven goals on the season, second-best on the Tigers. “I put a shot on net and it went through the goalie. He didn’t see it.”

While the game ended in a 3-2 win for Union, the Tigers pressed hard to the final whistle.

“The last 12 minutes, that is how we want to play,” asserted Maugeri. ”We were winning stick battles. We were winning all the little battles, stuff that we didn’t do in the first 48 minutes of the game.”

Against Rensselaer the next day, Princeton battled from the outset, taking a 2-0 lead in the first period. “I thought when we came out we had a pretty strong first period,” said Prier. “We needed that start.”

The Tigers sputtered a bit after that as the Engineers notched a power play goal in the second period to make it a 2-1 game going into the final 20 minutes of regulation.

“Certainly the rest of the game didn’t go as well as we had hoped,” said Prier.

“RPI was plying pretty desperate. They got a lot of opportunities in the second period on their power play. I thought we played well in the 5-on-5, we bottled them up and played smart.”

The Tigers did convert two empty net goals in the last 1:05 of the game to earn a 4-1 triumph.

“Those things are important, those goals were the result of some really hard work by those guys,” said Prier, who got a goal and three assists from junior star Andrew Calof with Mike Ambrosia, Tom Kroshus, and Andrew Ammon also finding the back of the net.

While the Tigers were disappointed to not achieve their second straight weekend sweep, Prier did like the way his stars stepped up.

“You look at the weekend,“ said Prier, whose team is 3-1 in its last four games and is now 6-8-4 overall and 5-4-3 in ECAC Hockey action.

“Calof was good, Michael Sdao had a good weekend, the goaltending was good [Sean Bonar had a career-high 42 saves against Union and Mike Condon recorded 24 saves in the win on Saturday.] The high profile players did well. When your team is not playing its best, it is important that the best players come through.”

With Princeton on an exam hiatus until a home game on January 27 against Sacred Heart, Prier is looking for his players to fine-tune things.

“We are going to have three or four high tempo practices, feeling good with the puck and working on fundamentals,” said Prier. “We can’t not get together for this long a period.”

In Prier’s view, the Tigers need to be more fundamentally sound all over the rink.

“No matter where you are on the ice, you are important,” said Prier. “You need to be engaged and working hard. We are hard working at the point of execution; we battle hard for the puck and we finish hits. Working hard away from the puck is extremely important, we need to skate hard in open space.”

In recent action, Princeton has displayed an ability to finish off foes. “They are understanding how to win and what it takes,” asserted Prier.

“We have won in a variety of ways which gives them more confidence. We are trying to build off of that.”

Currently sitting second in the ECACH standings behind front-running Quinnipiac, the Tigers are in good position to earn the top-four spot that would ensure them a bye into the league quarterfinals.

“We are pretty optimistic about the finish,” said Prier. “We know what it is that we have to do to get better. We are in a spot where we can control our destiny. We could get one of those top four spots which is worth two wins.”

ACTION FIGURE: Princeton University women’s hockey player Gabie Figueroa controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last weekend, junior defenseman Figueroa and the Tigers fought an uphill battle as they fell 3-0 at No. 2 Harvard on Friday and then lost 6-2 at Dartmouth a day later. The Tigers, now 6-12-2 overall and 2-10-2 in ECAC Hockey play, are currently on hiatus due to exams and not in action until a game at Penn State on January 29.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ACTION FIGURE: Princeton University women’s hockey player Gabie Figueroa controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Last weekend, junior defenseman Figueroa and the Tigers fought an uphill battle as they fell 3-0 at No. 2 Harvard on Friday and then lost 6-2 at Dartmouth a day later. The Tigers, now 6-12-2 overall and 2-10-2 in ECAC Hockey play, are currently on hiatus due to exams and not in action until a game at Penn State on January 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

As the Princeton University women’s hockey team headed to New England last weekend to face Harvard and Dartmouth, Jeff Kampersal was still basking in the glow of guiding the U.S. squad to a silver medal in the U-18 World Championships in Finland.

“We had a great staff and a great team,” said Princeton head coach Kampersal, whose U.S. team fell 2-1 to Canada in the gold medal game with Tiger freshman goalie Kimberly Newell starring for the victors. “The kids came together real quickly. We had a great run the whole time.”

While Princeton didn’t have a great time last weekend as it fell 3-0 at No. 2 Harvard on Friday and then lost 6-2 at Dartmouth a day later, Kampersal did see some good things from his Tiger team.

“The kids played with a lot of heart against Harvard,” said Kampersal.

“Harvard is a great team with great players; their skill and depth was too much for us. We played great in the first period against Dartmouth. It was one of the better first periods I have seen in a while. We took a couple of penalties in the second period and their power play is loaded. We fell behind 4-2 and we had to take too many chances.”

Kampersal tipped his hat to his crew of blue liners who have been forced to take extra shifts due to injury issues.

“The four defensemen, Gabie [Figueroa], Rosie [Alleva], [Ali] Pankowski and [Brianne] Mahoney, are really battling,” said Kampersal, whose team moved to 6-12-2 overall and 2-10-2 in ECAC Hockey play after its losses last weekend. “They may not be perfect but they always battle. They have been under duress.”

With Princeton currently on hiatus due to exams and not in action again until it plays at Penn State on January 29, the Tigers will get the chance to lick their wounds.

“This break probably comes at a decent time for us; we need to regroup and get ready for the stretch run,” said Kampersal.

“We need to stay consistent and get healthy. We have had most of our practices with one goalie and we have kids who aren’t practicing during the week and are just playing on the weekends.”

When the Tigers do return to the ice, they need to bottle some of the spirit that characterized their play against Harvard and Dartmouth.

“We need them to display the heart they had this weekend,” said Kampersal “They need to stick with the plan and not stray from what we are trying to do. They can’t get too emotional.”

Currently sitting in seventh place in the ECACH standings with only the top eight making the playoffs, Princeton needs some production to go with its heart.

“We have eight games to go in the league,” noted Kampersal. “We have five that are with teams that are close to us. We can control our own destiny. We need to get any points that we can.”

January 9, 2013
GOOD MOMENT: Princeton University men’s hockey player Jeremy Goodwin celebrates last Saturday after scoring the game-winning goal as Princeton edged No. 8 Dartmouth 2-1 before a record crowd of 2,711 at Baker Rink. The win improved Princeton to 5-7-4 overall and 4-3-3 in the ECAC Hockey standings, good for second place behind front-running Quinnipiac. The Tigers will look to keep on the winning track when they host No. 16 Union on January 11 and Rensselaer on January 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GOOD MOMENT: Princeton University men’s hockey player Jeremy Goodwin celebrates last Saturday after scoring the game-winning goal as Princeton edged No. 8 Dartmouth 2-1 before a record crowd of 2,711 at Baker Rink. The win improved Princeton to 5-7-4 overall and 4-3-3 in the ECAC Hockey standings, good for second place behind front-running Quinnipiac. The Tigers will look to keep on the winning track when they host No. 16 Union on January 11 and Rensselaer on January 12.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Coming into last Saturday’s game against visiting Dartmouth, Jeremy Goodwin hadn’t scored a goal for the Princeton University men’s hockey team since tallying against Sacred Heart on January 25, 2011.

The junior defenseman picked a good time to find the back of the net again, scoring the game-winning goal as Princeton edged the eighth-ranked Big Green 2-1 before a record crowd of 2,711 at Baker Rink.

For Goodwin, the goal was the reward for some hard work. “I got the puck on the boards there and I just kept my feet moving,” recalled the 6’5, 230-pound Goodwin, a native of Hamilton, Ontario.

“I blew past the defenseman and brought it out front and got a couple of rebounds and I got lucky to get the second or third rebound and get it in. It has been a while.”

For Princeton, which topped Harvard 3-2 in overtime on Friday, it has been a while since it had such a good weekend. The Tigers ended 2012 by going 0-4-3 in their last seven games of the year.

“We really wanted the sweep here,” said Goodwin, reflecting on the win which improved Princeton to 5-7-4 overall and 4-3-3 in the ECAC Hockey standings, good for second place behind front-running Quinnipiac.

“This was a big opportunity for us to take out one of the top teams in the league and all we had to do was play our game and that’s how we win games.”

In the early going on Saturday, it looked like Princeton might be heading to a weekend split as it fell behind Dartmouth 1-0, getting outshot 11-3 in the first period.

“We had a bit of a slow start but halfway through the period I think we started moving our feet again and getting pucks deep and that is what we are all about, getting in there and playing our game down low,” said Goodwin.

“Dartmouth has trouble down low as defensemen and we took advantage of that in the second and third period.”

The Princeton defense, on the other hand, had no trouble containing the Big Green over the final two periods.

“We stressed all week staying on the defensive side of our checks and that’s what led to our success,” explained Goodwin.

“They didn’t really get anything in the slot or any good chances. They had a lot of outside shots and that’s what we were trying to do.”

The duo of Goodwin and senior star Michael Sdao, a 6’4, 220-pound bruiser who scored Princeton’s other goal in the win over Dartmouth, has helped keep Tiger foes out of the slot.

“I think we are probably the biggest defensive pairing in the league,” said Goodwin.

“We try to keep our game simple and we feed off each other. We are really good at moving the puck defense to defense and moving the puck up the ice.”

Goodwin put in some extra work before the season to help him move better on the ice.

“I worked really hard over the summer to improve my speed and footwork and that has really made me feel more comfortable skating instead of just moving around,” said Goodwin.

Princeton head coach Bob Prier was proud of the way Goodwin worked to get his big goal.

“That was really good to see, Jeremy has been playing pretty well here the last few games,” said Prier.

“He has earned it. He is a big guy in a big body and he has to continue to play that way. He is 6’5, 230 pounds and he has some silky smooth hands. There is nothing wrong with him taking it down the boards and taking it to the net. It is something he can do more frequently.”

Prier is pleased to see the pairing of Goodwin and Sdao take things to Princeton’s foes.

“I think it was playing with a ton of emotion and passion but not to the point of desperation where the guys started to think that they had to sway from their own responsibilities. I think that’s what really has gotten us in trouble as of late.”

Senior goalie Mike Condon kept Princeton out of trouble on Saturday, making 34 saves in the contest, including several in a last-minute Dartmouth flurry.

“Mike Condon had a great game but if you look at the shot chart and where the shots came from, he made some big saves but there was not anything, second or third opportunities right down the gut of the ice,” said Prier. “He was the MVP of the game, no doubt.”

It was a great day for the program as it celebrated the 90th anniversary of its first game in the Baker Rink.

“It is certainly a testament to our guys, the way that they carry themselves and treat people within the community and on campus,” said Prier, reflecting on the record crowd that packed the venerable arena.

“People really root for them. They go out of their way to be involved with local schools, they go out of their way to always put a smile on and have fun with things at Skate with the Tigers. I think that people think they are class acts and they come out and support them.”

Princeton will be looking to give its fans more to cheer about this weekend as it hosts No. 16 Union on January 11 and Rensselaer on January 12.

“Momentum is the key factor; every single game in this league is such a difficult game and it is a game of momentum.” said Prier.

“I think they understand that now with winning and progressing and continuing to win games. They understand that in the context of the game too, with the subtle turnover, the poor penalty. They understand the consequences and they understand how to get momentum too.”

Goodwin, for his part, is confident that Princeton can build on the momentum from the weekend sweep.

“For sure, it is nice to be at home again with the supporting crowd,” said Goodwin.

“We have a nice home weekend next week and we are going to feed off the momentum we got this weekend and have a good week in practice and hopefully get another couple of wins next weekend.”

GETTING THE POINT: Princeton University basketball player Blake Dietrick looks for an opening in recent action. On December 31, sophomore point guard Dietrick contributed five points,seven rebounds, a career-high five steals, and three assists to help Princeton top visiting Drexel 74-59. The Tigers, who improved to 8-5 with the victory, were slated to host Navy on January 8 before opening Ivy League play by hosting Penn on January 12.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

GETTING THE POINT: Princeton University basketball player Blake Dietrick looks for an opening in recent action. On December 31, sophomore point guard Dietrick contributed five points,seven rebounds, a career-high five steals, and three assists to help Princeton top visiting Drexel 74-59. The Tigers, who improved to 8-5 with the victory, were slated to host Navy on January 8 before opening Ivy League play by hosting Penn on January 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Blake Dietrick was a one-dimensional player last winter in her freshman season on the Princeton University women’s basketball team, focusing mainly on providing some production from the perimeter.

But with senior point guard Lauren Polansky having been slowed recently by a nagging foot injury, Dietrick has diversified her portfolio.

“I think last year I was primarily a three-point shooter; that was the role that was expected of me on the team,” said the 5’10 Dietrick, a native of Wellesley, Mass.

“This year, I have taken more of a point guard role, so I am getting my teammates involved and getting other people shots, doing things like that.”

In a 74-59 win over Drexel last week, Dietrick displayed her versatility, scoring five points with seven rebounds, a career-high five steals, and three assists in 31 minutes of action.

“I am trying to do more than just score points,” said Dietrick, who is averaging 6.7 points a game overall this season and 9.4 over the team’s last five contests.

“I am stepping into some very big shoes to fill with LP [Polansky] down. I am trying to step up as much as I can because she is really, really good defensively.”

With Dietrick having started four games in a row for the 8-5 Tigers, she is starting to feel more comfortable in that role.

“We mix up the teams in practice so I am playing with everybody,” said Dietrick, who has 30 assists on the season.

“I feel like the more confident I become, the more people trust me. At first, I felt like I was faking it a little bit, trying to be as confident as possible. I feel like I am getting a lot more confident, playing to my strengths in the offense.”

Dietrick acknowledges that she is a stronger athlete due to playing lacrosse in high school. She graduated as the all-time leading scorer at Wellesley High, male or female, with 436 points and twice earned All American honors.

“My dad played lacrosse in college and he thinks lacrosse is basketball with sticks,” said Dietrick.

“I think the cutting and the defense is definitely very similar. I am actually playing lacrosse this year for Princeton. I didn’t play last year so I am really excited to get back into it. I have been playing wall ball but I am focused on basketball right now obviously and when lacrosse comes, it comes. I am really excited to be back to both.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart is excited by the progress she is seeing in Dietrick.

“For Blake, last year when she didn’t shoot well, she didn’t play well,” said Banghart.

“I think now she realizes she is a more versatile player than that. She’s been really important to our continued progress. She is more confident; you need game minutes. She is surrounded by people who believe in her and she has also gotten better. She doesn’t take a play off. She is better off the dribble, she is better settling into our offense, she is better against pressure. She is also a year better than she was last season.”

The Tigers got better and better as the game went on against Drexel, going from an early 15-12 lead to a 35-21 halftime advantage.

“I didn’t think we played as well today as we could have but we are still better than we were two weeks ago,” said Banghart.

“If they can keep doing that, we will be pretty good by February. We are just going to keep our eyes on the prize and that is still progress. We are not going to worry about any one opponent yet. Right now it is getting better, it is getting healthy, it is individuals getting better.”

Senior star Niveen Rasheed certainly gave Drexel plenty to worry about, scoring a game-high 20 points in the victory with four rebounds, two assists, and two steals.

“Niveen was fantastic; she changes the game,” said Banghart of Rasheed, who was later named the Ivy League Co-Player of the Week along with Harvard’s Christine Clark.

“The way she rebounds, the way she defends, the way she pushes the pace, the way she is playing within rhythm offensively. She played fantastic and it does get lost in the shuffle because she is so selfless. She doesn’t care about her own numbers, she is more active on the bench than she is on the floor. I thought she played one of her better games, which is good. It is a new offense for her too.”

With Princeton starting Ivy League play by hosting Penn on January 12, Banghart believes her team is well positioned as it goes after its fourth straight league title.

“I like this group a lot,” asserted Banghart. “If you look at last year’s statistics compared to this year’s. we are scoring more this year and we are turning the ball over less. We have more assists so we are sharing the ball well. We have a lot of those key contributors who aren’t playing, whether it is via injury or graduation. So we have had people step up who are doing it for the first time. We are adding a lot of people at once into our lineup so given their lack of experience and given our new offense, I couldn’t be happier. They have a chance to be special.”

Dietrick, for her part, is ready to keep stepping up when the Tigers get into league action.

“I am just trying to be as aggressive as I can because that is the way LP plays and the team feeds off of that, especially from the point guard position,” said Dietrick.

“So I think if I can be able to do that, I can get the team really more into an aggressive mindset and that will help us down the road, especially in the Ivy League where I think we are a little more athletic than our opponents.”

January 2, 2013
JAM SESSION: Princeton University men’s basketball player Denton Koon jams the ball in Princeton’s 79-67 win over Bucknell on December 22. Sophomore guard Koon tallied a career-high 17 points in the victory.(Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

JAM SESSION: Princeton University men’s basketball player Denton Koon jams the ball in Princeton’s 79-67 win over Bucknell on December 22. Sophomore guard Koon tallied a career-high 17 points in the victory. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

After the Princeton University men’s basketball team fell to Fordham in mid-December, the Tiger players weren’t feeling much holiday cheer.

“I really feel like after the Fordham loss, there was a restlessness,” said Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson, reflecting on the 63-60 setback on December 15 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“The team was very surly on Monday. It helped us, it focused us to the point where what are you going to do about that.”

As Princeton hosted Bucknell on December 22 in its last action before Christmas, the Tigers showed very good focus as they pulled away to a 79-67 win over the Bisons before a crowd of 3,090 at Jadwin Gym.

Henderson managed a smile as he reflected on a game which saw five Tigers players hit double figures led by Ian Hummer and Denton Koon, who tallied 17 apiece, followed by Hans Brase with 14, T.J. Bray with 11, and Mack Darrow chipping in 10.

“I think the balance in scoring gives us something to be very happy about,” said Henderson, whose team shot 51 percent from the field (26-of-51), including 11-of-25 from 3-point range as it improved to 5-6.

“Teams are going to play us a certain way and I think we are getting comfortable with how that it is. It is a unique bunch, we are talented inside. Ian is a very good passer out of the post. Denton is becoming a very good passer out of the post. I think with Hans now, we have some more threats inside. So they really found each other and I think when the 3s started falling for us, it opened everything up and there was some confidence there, which was really good to see.”

It was good to see Princeton top a Bucknell team that brought a sparkling 11-1 record into the contest.

“This is a really good Bucknell team and we knew coming in that with one day of preparation how important it was going to be for us to establish some things,” said Henderson.

“Defensively I thought we did a pretty good job on [Mike] Muscala and I look down and he has 17 [points] and 11 [rebounds]. He is just a really difficult player to match up with and [Joe] Willman too. Those guys both really hurt us. I thought we withstood a pretty good punch by them and then delivered some of our own too.”

In delivering knockout blows to the Bisons, the Tigers finished strongly for a second game in a row, having pulled away from Rider in a 62-45 win two days earlier.

“We earned the tag of not being able to finish games unfortunately,” said Henderson.

“I just think we are moving in the right direction. I don’t think there has been any change made. We shot 85 percent from the free throw line. We made our free throws down the stretch. That is a good team, they know how to come back and how to be in there.”

Senior star Hummer saw the performance as a step in the right direction for the Tigers as they look to develop a killer instinct.

“I would say to beat a good Bucknell team, they are fantastic,” said Hummer.

“As coach said, they are probably going to win their league. They are favored I think. Coming off a string of losses we had, we didn’t get blown out in any of those games, we were right there. I think we led every first half and we were with them until the end when we kind of faltered a little bit. I think this was the first game where we put a full 40 minutes together.”

In Hummer’s view, Princeton’s depth made the difference in the win. “We got a good contribution from everybody; I think it is just the balance we have, scoring and rebounding,” said Hummer, who chipped in eight rebounds, two assists, and two blocked shots to go with his 17 points.

“I think guys can come off the bench. If we need defense, we have guys for that. If we need shooting, we have guys for that. We have a good, well-rounded team and I think it really showed tonight.”

Freshman Brase has shown a lot in his two starts, helping to take the load off  Hummer.

“I think it his ability to open up the floor a little bit,” said Hummer, reflecting on Brase’s impact.

“He knocked down a few shots today; he hit a few three pointers. His ability to cut to the rim really makes him a pretty dynamic player. Having Denton and Hans run around and having me able to pass the ball opens up a lot. It takes a little pressure off of me. Them being able to make a shot for themselves is really key to what happened tonight. I think they are playing very well.”

Henderson, for his part, is looking for the Tigers to keep playing well as they hit the road for games at Akron on December 30 and at Elon on January 5.

“I think we have been playing hard, I think they are focused,” said Henderson.

“They knew that this was a very difficult task. I was pleased with their confidence in what the plan was.”

December 26, 2012

BANNER YEAR: Princeton University field hockey star Katie Reinprecht prepares to hit the ball in action this fall. Senior midfielder Reinprecht helped Princeton win its first-ever NCAA title and was named the 2012 Longstreth/NFHCA Division I National Player of the Year after the season. This past summer, Reinprecht starred for the U.S. team at the London Olympics.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For local athletes, 2012 was a year that saw some breakthrough championships achieved by Princeton University programs while some traditional high school powers hit new heights.

In February, the Princeton men’s squash team drew national attention as it beat Trinity College 5-4 in the College Squash Association (CSA) team championship match to snap the Bantams’ 13-year national title streak.

Tiger senior distance star Donn Cabral made an impact on the national scene, winning the NCAA title in the steeplechase before going on to make the U.S. team for the Olympics and placing eighth in the event at the London Games.

Coming into the fall, the Princeton field hockey team welcomed back four stars who had taken a year away from school to train with the U.S. national program with two of them, the Reinprecht sisters, Katie and Julia, ending up playing for the U.S. squad in London. The presence of the Reinprechts together with Kat Sharkey and Michelle Cesan made the Tigers a surefire national title contender. Coach Kristen Holmes-Winn’s team lived up to those expectations, going 21-1 and edging North Carolina 3-2 in the NCAA championship game to win the program’s first-ever national crown.

Led by senior star Jen Hoy, the Tiger women’s soccer team went undefeated in Ivy League play and topped West Virginia 2-1 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament to win their first game in the national tourney since their run to the 2004 Final Four.

On the high school scene, the Princeton High boys’ swimming team proved to be a powerhouse for the ages. Coach Greg Hand’s squad went 17-0 and routed Scotch Plains-Fanwood 109-61 in the state Public B championship meet to earn the program’s first-ever state crown. The Little Tigers broke eight school records in that final meet.

Over at the Princeton Day School, star guard Davon Reed averaged 24.3 points a game to help the Panthers make their first state Prep B final since 2004. In the spring, the Panther boys’ lacrosse team made its first-ever appearance in the Mercer County Tournament title game.

Led by senior stars Bryell Wheeler and Elyssa Gensib, the PHS girls track team had a big spring. In early May, it won its first-ever outdoor Mercer County Championship. Weeks later, the Little Tigers prevailed at the Central Jersey Group III meet, earning their first sectional crown since PHS took the Central Jersey Group II title in 1989.

In first week of the fall season, it didn’t look like  the PHS boys’ soccer team was heading to any title as it dropped two of its first three games. Coach Wayne Sutcliffe’s team righted the ship and ended its season by tying Ramapo 1-1 in the state Group III title game to share the crown. It was the second title in four years for the program, which had taken the title in 2009. The Little Tigers girls’ soccer team nearly matched that feat, winning its first-ever sectional title before falling in the state semis.

History was made on the tennis court as PDS singles star Samantha Asch ended her brilliant career in style. The Wake-Forest bound Asch won the first singles title at the MCT, giving her four individual crowns at the competition. She wrapped up the fall by winning the first singles title at the state Prep B tournament, helping the Panthers to the team title.

The PHS girls’ tennis team produced a championship campaign as well. Led by freshman singles star Christina Rosca, the Little Tigers won the Central Jersey Group III sectional crown and topped Moorestown in the state semis to make the finals for the first time since 1999. PHS fell in the final to Mendham to suffer its only defeat of the fall.

Winter Wonders

Coming into the College Squash Association (CSA) men’s team championships this past February, Princeton head coach Bob Callahan thought that hosting the tournament gave his team a fighting chance of beating Trinity and making history as the Bantams brought a 13-year title streak into the weekend.

Although the Tigers had lost 7-2 to Trinity in the regular season, the matches were tight and Callahan believed that having a raucous crowd on hand at the Jadwin Squash Courts could make a difference.

After breezing past Dartmouth in the quarterfinals and Cornell in the semis, Princeton found Trinity waiting for it in the title match. The Bantams found themselves facing a Tiger team inspired by a standing-room only crowd packing the courts.

Hours later, the Princeton players and fans were enjoying a triumph for the ages, as the Tigers pulled off a 5-4 triumph with senior Kelly Shannon winning the match that clinched the title and ended Trinity’s amazing run.

The win gave Callahan’s squad a 15-1 record with a quintet of Tigers earning All-American honors- junior Todd Harrity, senior Chris Callis, freshman Tyler Osborne, freshman Samuel Kang, and Shannon.

Weeks after finally overcoming Trinity, head coach Callahan faced a new battle as he learned that he had a malignant brain tumor. He had surgery in March and was back on the courts in the fall although he took a day off in October to get inducted into the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame.

The women’s squash team made a good run of its own, advancing to the CSA Howe Cup national semifinals. Coach Gail Ramsay’s team ended up placing fourth, led by All Americans junior Julie Cerullo, sophomore Libby Eyre, and freshman Nicole Bunyan.

Upstairs in Jadwin Gym, the Princeton University women’s basketball team continued its domination of the Ivy League, going 24-5 overall and 14-0 in Ivy play on the way to its third straight league crown. The Tigers became the first Ivy women’s team to ever make the national Top 25, climbing to 24th in the final regular season poll.

Coach Courtney Banghart’s team came agonizingly close to posting the program’s first win in the NCAA tournament, falling 67-64 to Kansas State in the opening round of the tourney.

Princeton’s great season led to its players receiving many accolades. Junior star Niveen Rasheed bounced back from a season-ending ACL injury in her sophomore year to earn Ivy League Player of the Year honors. Classmate Lauren Polansky was named the Ivy Defensive Player of the Year for a second straight season. Senior stars Lauren Edwards and Devona Allgood were All-Ivy picks in their final campaign and each ended their career with more than 1,000 points. Former Princeton men’s hoops star Mitch Henderson ’98 took over the men’s hoops program, replacing former teammate Sydney Johnson, who left his alma mater to take over the Fairfield University program. Henderson, who had previously served as an assistant coach at Northwestern for 10 years under former Tiger head coach Bill Carmody, made a smooth transition, guiding Princeton to a solid Ivy campaign and some postseason success.

After finishing third in the Ivy standings with a 10-4 league record, the Tigers were selected to play in the College Basketball Invitational and topped Evansville in the first round before falling to Pitt in the quarterfinals to end the season at 20-12. Senior star and former Hun School standout Douglas Davis ended his stellar career in style, finishing with 1,550 points, second in program history to the legendary Bill Bradley. Junior Ian Hummer was a first-team All-Ivy pick and passed the 1,000-point mark in his career.

A new coach took over at Baker Rink as longtime St. Lawrence assistant Bob Prier assumed the reins of the Princeton men’s hockey team as Guy Gadowsky left the Tigers to be the head coach at Penn State for its new D-I program. Princeton took some lumps as the players and Prier worked to get on the same page. The team posted some encouraging performances down the stretch, tying No. 9 Cornell 3-3 and topping No. 12 Colgate 6-2.

In the opening round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs Princeton pushed Yale to a decisive third game before falling 7-3 to end the winter at 9-16-7. Junior defenseman Michael Sdao was a first-team All Ivy and second-team All-ECACH pick while junior forward Andrew Calof was a second-team All-Ivy selection.

In the early going, the women’s hockey team looked like it might be headed to a long season as it started out 6-9-1.  But with senior goalie Rachel Weber leading the way, coach Jeff Kampersal’s squad got on the right track, going 6-4-1 in its last 11 games. In the ECACH quarters, the Tigers put up a valiant fight at nationally–ranked Harvard but dropped two tight games to end the season with a 12-15-4 record. Star goalie Weber earned second-team All-ECACH accolades as she posted a 2.13 goals against average with a .926 save percentage.

At DeNunzio Pool, coach Rob Orr’s men’s swimming team remained at the top of the Ivy heap, winning its fourth straight league championship. A trio of senior captains, Jon Christensen, Colin Cordes and Mike Monovoukas, each of whom were multiple-time first-team All-Ivy League honorees, led the way for the Tigers. Christensen went on to make All-American honors by placing seventh in the 200 breaststroke in the NCAA championship meet.

While coach Susan Teeter’s women’s swimming team fell just short of matching its male counterparts as they placed second to Harvard in the Ivy championship meet, sophomore Lisa Boyce solidified her status as a rising star. Boyce won three races at the Ivy championships and went on to finish in the top 40 in the NCAA meet in two events and compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials in the summer.

Showing its depth and talent, the men’s track team edged Cornell to win the Ivy League Indoor Track Heptagonal Championships for the third straight year. Coach Fred Samara’s team got individual wins from senior Donn Cabral in the 5,000, junior Peter Callahan in the 800, junior Russell Dinkins in the 500, sophomore Tom Hopkins in the 400, sophomore Conor McCullough in the weight throw, sophomore Damon McLean in the triple jump, and junior Trevor Van Ackeren in the 1,000.

The women’s track team finished sixth in the indoor Heps. The 4×800 relay team of Greta Feldman, Alexis Mikaelian, and Kacie O’Neil and Kristen Smoot placed first as did junior pole vaulter Tory Worthen to provide the highlights for coach Peter Farrell’s squad at the meet.

Senior Daniel Kolodzik had a big year for the wrestling team, making first-team All-Ivy at 157 pounds. Princeton hosted the 2012 EIWA Championships and head coach Chris Ayre’s team provided the home fans with some memorable moments. Junior Garret Frey took second at 125 while Kolodzik was fourth at 157.

Kolodzik, Frey, and sophomore Adam Krop went on to compete at the NCAA Championships.

Spring Shifts

Coming off a 2011 season that was derailed due to a rash of injuries, the men’s lacrosse team rebounded with a memorable campaign. Coach Chris Bates led his team a 6-0 Ivy League campaign and the league’s regular season title. Although the Tigers fell to Yale in the title game at the Ivy tournament, Princeton did make the NCAA tournament through an at-large bid.

Playing at defending national champion Virginia, the Tigers put up a valiant fight before losing 6-5 to end their season at 11-5 overall, a marked improvement on the 4-8 mark posted in the nightmare 2011 campaign. A trio of seniors, defenseman Chad Wiedmaier, goalie Tyler Fiorito, and longstick midfielder John Cunningham earned All-American recognition along with emerging sophomore star Tom Schreiber. After tallying 60 points on 32 goals and 28 assists, good for ninth-place on Princeton’s single-season list, Schreiber figures to be Princeton’s go-to player in the future.

The women’s lacrosse team posted a winning record but narrowly missed out on postseason play. Coach Chris Sailer’s squad went 8-7 with Jaci Gassaway, Cassie Pyle and Lindsey deButts earning first-team All-Ivy League recognition. Freshman Erin McMunn was an honorable mention choice and the Ivy Rookie of the Year.

Over at Clarke Field, the baseball team came agonizingly close to making the Ivy Championship Series, going 20-19 overall and 13-7 in league play, falling one win short of the Gehrig Division title. Coach Scott Bradley’s team got a superb season from junior pitcher Zak Hermans, who was named Ivy League Pitcher of the Year and led the Tigers in wins (6), ERA (3.00), strikeouts (60), opposing batting average (.241) and innings pitched (63.0). Senior Sam Mulroy and junior Alec Keller joined Hermans as first-team All Ivy picks.

It was a tough year for the softball team as it went 14-32 overall and 8-12 in Ivy play. After the season, Trina Salcido stepped down as the head coach, ending a five-year tenure that saw her guide the Tigers to the 2008 league crown. She was replaced in June by Lisa Sweeney, a former star pitcher at Lehigh and an assistant coach with Penn.

With the NCAA championship regatta being held at nearby Mercer Lake, the women’s open crew team gave the home fans something to cheer about. Coach Lori Dauphiny’s varsity eight took fourth in the grand final and the Tigers placed fourth overall in the team standings at the competition. Earlier, Princeton won the team points title at the inaugural Ivy League Sprints. Senior Kelly Pierce and junior Heidi Robbins earned first-team All-American recognition.

The women’s lightweight crew took fifth at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) grand final. Coach Paul Rassam credited his two senior stars, Emily Clonts and Kathryn O’Connell, with providing the leadership that kept the top boat on course.

After taking fourth at the Eastern Sprints, the men’s heavyweight varsity eight placed seventh in the IRA regatta. The future looks bright for coach Greg Hughes program as the top boat included only one senior, Ian Silveira.

The men’s lightweight top boat made the top six at both the eastern Sprints and the IRAs, taking third in the former and sixth in the latter. Coach Marty Crotty and the program said goodbye to a decorated group of seniors that included Steven Cutler, Gianthomas Volpe, Alex Rubert, Derek Porter and Connor Edel.

Over at DeNunzio Pool, the women’s water polo team produced a breakthrough season, winning the Eastern title on the way to making its first-ever trip to the NCAA championships. Coach Luis Nicolao’s team went 29-6 and placed sixth in the NCAA tourney.

Sophomore Katie Rigler was named the CWPA Southern Division Player of the Year and earned first-team All-Southern honors along with classmate Molly McBee. Senior goalie Kristen Ward and senior center defender Audrey Zak earned second-team All-Southern recognition.

The men’s volleyball team made progress, going 13-10 and making the EIVA semifinals. Coach Sam Schweisky’s team got superb play from Cody Kessel, who  was named both the 2012 EIVA Newcomer of the Year and a member of the All-EIVA First Team. Junior middle Michael Dye also earned first team honors while senior captain and three-year setter Scott Liljestrom was named to the second team.

Men’s golf placed fifth in the Ivy Championship with senior Evan Hermeling and sophomore Greg Jarmas earning All-Ivy honors for coach Will Green’s squad.

Sophomore Kelly Shon added to her already impressive resume for the women’s golf team. She placed seventh in the Ivy Championship as coach Nicki Cutler’s team placed seventh in the team standings. Shon went on to compete in the NCAA East Regional, the U.S. Women’s Open, and the USGA Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship.

Senior distance star Donn Cabral produced a milestone outdoor season for the men’s track team. The Glastonbury, Conn. native won the NCAA championship in the steeplechase, becoming the first Princeton track athlete to win an NCAA title since Tora Harris won the high jump in 2002.

Earlier in the season, Cabral helped coach Fred Samara’s team win the Ivy League Heptagonal outdoor championship, marking the program’s second straight triple crown emblematic of sweeping the Heps cross country, indoor, and outdoor titles. Cabral placed first in the steeplechase and the 10,000. Other individual victors for Princeton included Tom Hopkins in the 400, Conor McCullough in the hammer throw, Damon McLean in the triple jump, and Joe Stilin in the 5,000.

Junior Greta Feldman had a breakout year for the women’s track team, taking fifth in the 1,500 at the NCAA championships. Coach Peter Farrell’s women’s squad took second at the Outdoor Hep behind Cornell. Feldman won the 800 at the meet and helped the 4×800 relay to victory while senior Eileen Moran placed first in the 100 and 200 and helped 4×100 relay to victory. Junior Tory Worthen won the pole vault.

Junior Matija Pecotic solidified his status as one of the top players ever for the men’s tennis program, getting named the Ivy League Player of the Year for a second straight year. The Tigers went 12-12 overall and 3-4 in Ivy play and longtime head coach Glenn Michibata resigned after the season. He was replaced in late May by Billy Pate, the head coach at the University of Alabama for the previous 10 years.

The doubles pair of freshman Lindsay Graff and senior Hilary Bartlett  earned first-team All-Ivy honors as the women’s tennis team went 12-10 overall and 5-2 in Ivy play. After the season, head coach Megan Bradley-Rose left the program to pursue opportunities in her home state of Florida. She was replaced in June by former women’s pro tennis star Laura Granville.

Olympian Efforts

A number of current and former Princeton athletes competed at the London Summer Olympics in August, producing some memorable performances.

Tiger athletes ended the London Olympics with seven medals, piling up a gold (Caroline Lind ’06- U.S. women’s 8), two silvers (Adreanne Morin ’06 and Lauren Wilkinson ’11 – Canada women’s 8), and a bronze (Glenn Ochal ’08- men’s four) in rowing, a bronze in women’s soccer (Diana Matheson ’05- Canada), and two bronzes in fencing (Maya Lawrence ’02 and Susie Scanlan ’14 – U.S. team epee).

In rowing, other Tigers performed well as Sarah Hendershot ’10 and partner Sarah Zalenka took fourth in  the women’s pairs while Sam Loch ‘06 helped the Australian men’s 8 take sixth, Gevvie Stone placed seventh in the women’s single sculls, and Robin Prendes ’11 helped the U.S. men’s lightweight finish eighth in their competition.

Fencing star Soren Thompson ’05 made his return to the Olympic epee competition after taking seventh at the 2004 Olympics. In London, Thompson was eliminated in the round of 32.

Recently graduated Donn Cabral ’12 became the first Princeton track and field athlete since high jumper Tora Harris to earn a spot in the Olympics as he made the U.S. team in the steeplechase. Cabral finished a solid eighth as he clocked a time of 8:25.91 for the 3,000-meter race, less than eight seconds behind the winner, Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya.

The Reinprecht sisters, Katie ’13 and Julia ’14, were key performers for the U.S. field hockey team that took 12th place, highlighted by a win over eventual silver medalist Argentina.

Another Princeton alum, David Blatt ’81, earned a medal in a coaching capacity as he guided Russia to an 81-77 victory over Argentina in the bronze medal game. It was the highest Olympic finish in men’s basketball for Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union prior to the 1992 Games.

Fall Focus

With four players, Kat Sharkey, Michelle Cesan, Katie Reinprecht, and Julia Reinprecht, returning to the field hockey team after taking a year off to train with the national team, the Tigers were seen as a surefire contender for the program’s first NCAA title.

Coach Kristen Holmes-Winn’s squad proved to be a powerhouse, losing just once in the regular season and dominating Ivy League play by outscoring foes 45-1 in going 7-0 in league play.

Taking a No. 2 seed into the NCAA tournament, the Tigers cruised past Lafayette, Drexel, and Virginia to advance to the Final Four. In the semis, the Tigers survived a nailbiter, edging defending national champion Maryland 3-2 in overtime. In the title game, Princeton fought back from two deficits to nip North Carolina 3-2 to fulfill its destiny.

The Tigers finished the season with a 21-1 record and the honors rolled in. Holmes-Winn was named as the national coach of the year while senior midfielder Katie Reinprecht was selected as the national player of the year. Sharkey ended her career as the all-time leading scorer in program history and earned All-American honors along with the Reinprecht sisters, Cesan and junior goalie Christina Maida.

Led by a group of eight seniors, the women’s soccer team produced a memorable campaign. Coach Julie Shackford’s squad went undefeated in Ivy League play, a marked improvement from a frustrating 6-10-1 season in 2011.

The Tigers went on to top West Virginia 2-1 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, posting the program’s first win in the national tournament since its 2004 run to the Final Four. Princeton fell 3-1 to Marquette in the second round of the NCAAs to finish with a 14-4-1 record. Senior star Jen Hoy was named the Ivy Player of the Year after scoring 18 goals, the second best single season total in program history. Hoy was joined on the All-Ivy first-team by classmates Allison Nabatoff and Rachel Sheehy together with junior Gabriella Guzman and sophomore Lauren Lazo.

The men’s soccer team fell just short of an Ivy crown, going 4-1-2 in league play. Coach Jim Barlow’s squad was led by senior co-captains Mark Linnville and Matt Sanner, who both earned first-team All-Ivy recognition. Sanner’s younger brother, freshman forward Thomas, was an honorable mention All-Ivy pick and the league’s Rookie of the Year.

Coming off back-to-back 1-9 campaigns, the football team chose the word “believe” as its mantra as it looked to produce a turnaround season. After dropping its first two games, Princeton looked to be heading down the same path. But coach Bob Surace’s team caught fire, winning four straight games to put itself atop the Ivy race. Included among those wins was an amazing comeback victory over defending champion Harvard that saw the Tigers rally from a 34-10 fourth quarter deficit to pull out a 39-34 win.

While Princeton lost three of its last four games, the team still ended up at 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the Ivy, the program’s best one-season turnaround in more than two decades. A special highlight came after the Dartmouth game when the campus held the traditional bonfire celebration, emblematic of beating Harvard and Yale in the same season.

Senior defensive lineman Mike Catapano won the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy Defensive Player of the Year. Catapano was joined on the All-Ivy first team by classmate and fellow defensive lineman Caraun Reid and freshman Anthony Gaffney, who was honored as both a defensive back and a return specialist.

Juniors Chris Bendtsen and Alejandro Arroyo Yamin placed first and second for  the men’s cross country team as the Tigers won the Heps. It was sixth Heps crown in the last seven years for the program and first for new head coach Jason Vigilante.

The women’s cross country team fell just short of matching their male counterparts, taking second at the Heps. Junior Greta Feldman finished eighth to lead the way for coach Peter Farrell’s squad.

The men’s water polo team was ranked in the top 20 all season long but ended up short of making a return trip to the NCAAs as it took third at the Eastern Championships. Coach Luis Nicolao’s team was led by sophomore Drew Hoffenberg and senior Tim Wenzlau, who were both named to the CWPA All-Southern Team.

Senior Lydia Rudnick ended her career on the women’s volleyball in style, leading the Ivy League in both kills (370) and points (415) on the way to a being a unanimous first-team All-Ivy League honoree. She was joined on the All-Ivy first team by freshman Kendall Peterkin as the Tigers went 12-12 overall and 9-5 in league play for coach Sabrina King to tie Columbia for second in the Ivies.


Under new head coach Ian McNally, the Hun School boys’ hockey team showed progress. Led by the trio of goalie Devin Cheifetz, forward Alex Vukasin, and defenseman Brad Stern, the Raiders advanced to the championship game of the Independence Hockey League (IHL) and finished with a 10-9-1 record.

The Hun girls’ basketball team also made it to a championship game as it played in the state Prep A title contest where the Raiders fell to Blair. Coach Bill Holup’s squad went 15-12 as it was paced by seniors guards Ashley Ravelli and Jackie Mullen. Holup notched the 250th win of his coaching career with a 50-48 victory over Lawrenceville in the Prep A semis.

Hosting the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament, the boys’ hoops team pulled some upsets on the way to the title game. Coach Jon Stone’s team fell to Blair in the championship contest and then lost to the Buccaneers days later in the Prep A semis to end the winter at 14-12.

Junior Kate Weeks provided the offensive punch for the Hun girls’ lacrosse team. The Boston College-bound Weeks had a number of multiple-goal games as coach Beth Loffredo’s team went 5-6.

Welcoming new head coach Don Green, the Hun boys’ lax team experienced some ups and downs as it went 7-11. Senior Iain Alexandridis provided scoring and leadership as the Raiders worked a number of young players into their lineup.

Senior star David Dudeck provided plenty of offense for the Hun baseball team, hitting .418 with three homers and 20 RBIs. But hurt by some injuries and inconsistent pitching, head coach Bill McQuade’s team finished at 9-14.

The battery of pitcher Danielle Beal and power-hitting catcher Carey Million starred for the Hun softball team. Coach Kathy Quirk’s team overcame a slow start to go 9-7 and reach the state Prep A semifinals.

Senior first singles star Chris Seitz placed third at the Mercer County Tournament as coach Todd Loffredo’s squad tied for seventh in the team standing. Seitz, who had played in the previous three MCT first singles title matches, is continuing his tennis career at Villanova.

Francesca Bello triggered the offense and Alex Kane spearheaded the defense as the Hun field hockey team showed flashes of brilliance. Coach Kathy Quirk’s team went 6-8, producing one of its best performances of the season in a 2-1 loss in the Prep A semis to eventual champion Lawrenceville.

Quarterback Blake Searfoss provided some aerial heroics while Hunter Knighton anchored things in the trenches as the Hun football team went 3-3. Coach Dave Dudeck’s team enjoyed it’s shining moment against Lawrenceville in late October when it overcame a 21-0 halftime deficit to post a 35-21 victory over the Big Red.

Sparked by dazzling midfielder Angelica Tabares, the Hun girls’ soccer team produced some high-quality performances. Coach Ken Stevenson’s team finished the fall at 4-5-4.

Goalie Chris Meinert and midfielder Nick Revano were bright spots for the Hun boys’ soccer team. Coach Pat Quirk’s squad went 4-13.

Longtime coach Joan Nuse welcomed a number of new faces to her program and guided the Raiders to a 12th place finish at the Mercer County Tournament.


Led by junior star Davon Reed, the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team made a memorable run to the state Prep B championship game. Coach Paris McLean’s team fell to a battle-tested Rutgers Prep squad in the title contest to end the winter at 16-11. The 6’6 Reed averaged 24.3 points a game as he passed the 1,000-point mark in his career.

Dealing with a series of injuries, the PDS girls’ hoops team went with just six players for most of the winter. Utilizing her basketball savvy, coach Mika Ryan guided the team to a 9-13 record, including an uplifting run to the Mercer County Tournament semifinals which saw the Panthers upset WW/P-S and Ewing along the way. Senior star Molly Rubin and junior Lauren Johnson helped to hold PDS together.

The addition of the Colton brothers, freshman Ross and junior Rob, helped the PDS boys’ hockey team enjoy a superb season. Coach Scott Bertoli’s team went 18-5-1, winning its invitational tournament and posting wins over such teams as Moses Brown (R.I.), Notre Dame, Hill School (Pa.), and the Portledge School (N.Y.)

Senior star Megan Ofner ended her PDS girls’ hockey career in style, scoring 32 points to end up with a final total of 124. Ofner’s heroics helped coach Lorna Cook’s team go 10-7 and win the Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic (WIHLMA) ‘B’ title.

Senior Garret Jensen and junior Cody Triolo provided production and leadership as the PDS boys’ lacrosse team solidified its status as one of the top programs in the area. Coach Rob Tuckman’s team advanced to the Mercer County Tournament championship game and ended the spring with a 10-7 record.

The girls’ lax team was hampered early by injury but came on strong, overcoming a 0-5 start to end at 9-9. Coach Jill Thomas’ squad was led by junior Hannah Levy, who tallied 94 points on 69 goals and 25 assists.

James Sanderson and Josiah Meekins provided a major highlight as boys’ tennis took second of eight teams in the state Prep B tournament. Sanderson and Meekins won the title at second doubles for head coach Will Asch while the pair of Jason Hirsch and Moose Kilbourne took second at first doubles.

Freshman first baseman James “J.P.” Radvany established himself as one of the top power hitters in the area, leading the baseball team in batting average (,484), hits (30), RBIs (32), and slugging percentage (.806). Radvany’s production helped Ray O’Brien’s squad post a 12-9 record.

With a roster containing only nine players, the softball team became known as the ‘Iron 9.” Coach Paul Lano’s team managed to win two games, paced by the battery of pitcher Dina Alter and catcher Jess Toltzis.

Senior girls’ tennis star Samantha Asch punctuated her brilliant career with  championship performances. The Wake Forest-bound Asch won the first singles title at the Mercer County Tournament, giving her four individual crowns at the competition. She ended the fall by winning the first singles crown in the state Prep B tournament, leading coach Ed Tseng’s squad to the team title.

Former national team player Tracey Arndt took the helm of the field hockey program and guided the Panthers to a memorable fall. Led by a quintet of senior stars in Sarah Trigg, Zeeza Cole, Cami McNeely, Corinne Urisko, and Andrea Jenkins, the Panthers advanced to the state Prep B title game and ended the fall at 11-4-3.

The combination of Britt Murray and Steph Soltesz spearheaded the defense for the PDS girls’ soccer team and kept the squad competitive. Coach Pat Trombetta’s team went 4-9-4, losing a number of nailbiters.

Welcoming a number of young players into the lineup, the boys’ soccer team underwent a rebuilding campaign. Coach Malcolm Murphy’s side posted a 3-11-2 record with sophomore midfielder Marco Pinheiro emerging as a key performer.


Having advanced to the 2011 Public B championship meet and returning a special group of seniors, the PHS boys’ swimming team figured to be a powerhouse. Coach Greg Hand’s team lived up to expectations and more. The Little Tigers dominated their foes, going undefeated and winning the county crown and culminating their season by routing Scotch Plains-Fanwood 109-61 in the Public B championship meet to win the program’s first stat title.

The team’s senior stars, Victor Honore, Derek Colaizzo, Addison Hebert, Matt Kuhlik, Jacques Bazile, and Harun Filipovic, together with a trio of sophomore standouts in Will Stange, Colburn Yu, and Peter Kalibat led the way as the Little Tigers went 17-0. In the state championship meet, PHS swimmers won nine of 11 events and set eight school records.

Juniors Serena Deardorff and Marisa Giglio starred as the girls’ swimming team enjoyed a superb campaign. Coach Greg Hand’s squad went 13-2 and advanced to the Public B Central Jersey sectional championship meet.

With Mike Wasson, Will Greenberg, Matt DiTosto and Kirby Peck triggering the offense and goalie Josh Berger anchoring the defense, the boys’ hockey team advanced to its third straight Mercer County Tournament title game. Coach Tim Campbell’s team fell to Notre Dame in the championship contest but went on to advance to the second round of the state tournament and finish with a 15-7- 2 record.

Seniors Keely Herring and Abby Hunter provided offense and intensity for the girls’ hockey team. Coach Christina Herzog’s team broke a long losing streak with a win over Summit and ended the winter at 1-11.

Senior guards Davon Black and Matt Hoffman led the way as the boys basketball team made it to the second round of the state tournament. Coach Jason Carter’s team went 12-13, losing a 50-47 nailbiter to a powerful Ocean team in the state tourney to end the season.

Going with a youth movement, the girls’ hoops team experienced some growing pains. Coach Stef Shoop’s squad went 1-18 but the future looks bright as such young players as Mary Sutton, Mira Shane, and Catherine Curran-Groome got plenty of experience in their freshman season.

Seniors Tim Miranda, Nick Gillette, and Jeff Barsamian were standouts for the PHS wrestling team. The trio all did well in the Region V tournament for coach Rashone Johnson.

Led by the high-scoring trio of Mia Haughton, Emilia Lopez-Ona, and Liz Jacobs, the girls’ lacrosse team enjoyed a superb season. Coach Christie Cooper’s team  went 14-4 and made it to the sectional semis.

Seniors Kirby Peck and Alex Rifkin led the way as the PHS boys’ lacrosse team produced another winning campaign. Coach Peter Stanton’s team posted a 10-9 final record.

The PHS baseball team struggled again, posting a 4-19 record. Senior stars Will Greenberg and Matt Hoffman played hard to the end for coach Dave Roberts’ squad.

Sparked by the heroics of junior star Marisa Gonzalez who batted over .500 with 38 hits and 42 RBIs, the softball team made strides. Coach Dave Boehm’s squad went 9-14 and edged Lawrence High 3-2 in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament, its first triumph in county play in recent memory, if ever.

Led by some gutsy play from senior singles star Eddie Percarpio, the boys’ tennis team advanced to the Central Jersey Group III semifinals. Coach Sarah Hibbert’s team finished the spring with a 14-4 record.

Brilliant performances by senior sprinter/jumper Bryell Wheeler and senior distance star Elyssa Gensib helped the girls’ track team enjoy a breakthrough campaign. Coach Jim Smirk’s squad won its first-ever outdoor Mercer County Championship. Weeks later, the Little Tigers prevailed at the Central Jersey Group III meet, earning their first sectional crown since PHS took the Central Jersey Group II title in 1989.

Junior throwing star Tim Brennan had a big spring for the boys’ track team. He won both the shot put and the javelin to help coach John Woodside’s team take fourth at the Central Jersey Group III sectional meet.

After not losing a regular season game from 2009-11, the PHS boys’ soccer team dropped two of its first three games this fall. Coach Wayne Sutcliffe’s team. though, righted the ship and produced a memorable campaign. With junior Kevin Halliday emerging as one of the top scorers in the area and senior Pablo Arroyo anchoring the defense, the Little Tigers caught fire. PHS won a series of one-goal games on the way to its second straight Central Jersey Group III title. PHS then topped Moorestown 2-0 in the state semis and tied powerhouse Ramapo 1-1 in the group final to share the state crown and end the fall at 18-3-1.

Welcoming 11 new faces to its roster, it looked like it might be a rebuilding season for the PHS girls’ soccer team. But with a determined senior group of Kate Kerr, Meghan Brennan, Vanessa Guzman, Madison Luther, and star goalie Lauren Ullmann leading the way, the Little Tigers exceeded expectations.

Coach Greg Hand’s side advanced to the semis of the Mercer County Tournament and then won the Central Jersey Group III title, the first sectional crown in program history. While PHS’ stunning run ended with a 2-0 loss to Moorestown in the state semis, nobody was hanging their heads in the wake of the memorable 16-3-1 campaign.

Led by freshman singles star Christina Rosca, the girls’ tennis team went one step further than their girls’ soccer counterparts. Coach Sarah Hibbert’s squad won the Central Jersey Group III sectional crown and then topped Moorestown in the state semis to make the finals for the first time since 1999. PHS fell in the final to Mendham to suffer its only defeat of the fall.

With senior star Luke Bozich setting the pace, the PHS boys’ cross country team had a big fall. Coach John Woodside’s squad took second in the county meet and then won the Central Jersey Group III sectional meet for a second straight year. PHS ended the season with  a fifth place finish in the Group III state meet as Kevin Vahdat Sage Healy, Jacob Rist, and Conor Donahue all ran well behind Bozich.

The one-two punch of sophomore Julie Bond and senior Amelia Whaley helped the girls’ cross country team produce another solid campaign. Coach Jim Smirk’s team finished third at both the county and sectional meets.

With senior Sydney Watts spearheading the defense and junior Emilia Lopez-Ona triggering the offense, the field hockey team continued to make progress. Coach Heather Serverson’s squad went 14-5-1, advancing to the MCT quarterfinals and winning their first state tournament game in years.

The PHS football team started and ended the season in style, topping Northern Burlington in the opener and beating New Brunswick in the finale. In between, the Little Tigers lost eight games as they posted a 2-8 record. Quarterback Zack DiGregorio, running back Javon Pannell and tight end Liam Helstrom provided some highlights even as the losses piled up for coach Joe Gargione’s squad. After the season, Gargione stepped down, ending his three-year-tenure with a 5-25 record.


A trio of seniors, Parris Branker, Angela Gallagher, and Jen Dias, provided leadership as the Stuart Country Day School basketball team suffered through a tough winter. Coach Tony Bowman’s team went 0-15 and he resigned after the season. Former Caldwell College star Dana Leary replaced Bowman and ushered in a youth movement as the program looks to revive its fortunes.

Senior standout Ani Hallowell triggered the offense and freshman goalie Harlyn Bell developed into a star as the Stuart lacrosse team showed growth. First-year head coach Caitlin Grant guided the Tartans to a 4-11 record, highlighted by a 16-5 win over Nottingham in its finale.

The return of legendary coach Missy Bruvik sparked excitement around the field hockey program. Bruvik led Stuart to several county and prep titles in guiding the Tartans for 21 years through the 2006 season before stepping down to follow daughter Kelly’s Bucknell field hockey career. Employing a number of promising freshmen, Bruvik led the Tartans to a 3-14-1 record and was encouraged as the team improved by leaps and bounds over the season.

The tennis program also saw a coaching change as former Montgomery High star Katherine Stoltenberg took the helm. With senior first singles player Katherine Hagestad providing leadership and some high-quality tennis, the Tartans tied for 12th in the Mercer County Tournament team standings.

SUDDEN IMPACT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Hans Brase heads to the basket last Thursday night against Rider. Making his first-ever college start, freshman center Brase scored a team-high 17 points to help the Tigers pull away to a 62-45 win over the Broncs. The win improved Princeton to 4-6 and snapped a two-game losing streak. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Hans Brase kept an even keel as he looked forward to making his first start for the Princeton University men’s basketball team when it hosted Rider last Thursday.

“It was just a normal game; I just happened to be out there at the tip,” said Brase, a 6’8, 231-pound freshman from Clover, S.C., who starred at the Hill School (Pa.).

“I have been playing basketball for a while. It is just like any other game. The goal is 10 feet, the court is the same size. It is just basketball really.”

Brase proceeded to show a lot of game, scoring a team-high 17 points as the Tigers pulled away to a 62-45 victory before 1,570 at Jadwin Gym.

Establishing an immediate connection with Tiger senior star Ian Hummer helped Brase knife through the Rider defense.

“When I got on the block, he would cut and there were wide open lanes,” said Brase, reflecting on his work with Hummer.

“When he got out, I would cut and he would find me so it was just really fun to play with him.”

It was fun for Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson to see Brase make an immediate impact.

“Hans is just a player; he is capable of doing a lot of things,” said Henderson, whose team snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 4-6 with the victory.

“I thought Hans gave us a real nice lift today in scoring. He has to just keep working because there is a lot there. He really helped us today.”

In addition to scoring, Brase helped Princeton handle the Broncs’ defensive pressure.

“He sees and he is another person who can open the floor,” added Henderson, whose team wraps up the 2012 portion of its schedule with a game at Akron on December 30.

“We are big and sometimes slow. It helps to have somebody who can really pass because Denton [Koon] and Ian are probably our fastest guys. He is learning and having a quick learning curve is the key for us.”

Another key for Princeton was being aggressive in driving to the basket.

“I think they were just looking for each other better,” said Henderson, who got 15 points apiece from Hummer and Koon.

“We are 10-of-19 from 2 in the first half and we are 26-of-48 for the game. I thought they really understood to establish what was important which was continuing to get the ball inside and looking to go to the rim.”

Brase, for his part, is looking to continue to make an impact inside for the Tigers.

“I just try to do whatever the team needs,” said Brase. “If the team needs me to play center, I’ll play center.”

December 19, 2012

NEW WORLD: Princeton University women’s hockey goalie ­Kimberly Newell tracks the puck in recent action. Freshman star Newell, who has posted a 3.26 goals against average and .906 save percentage in her debut campaign for the Tigers, will be playing for Canada at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship, which will be held from December 29 to January 5 in Finland.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

While being a hockey goalie necessarily puts one in high pressure situations, Kimberly Newell faced additional strain as she learned the position.

Growing up in British Columbia, Newell had to play in boys’ leagues in order to become skilled between the pipes.

Needless to say in the rough and tumble world of Canadian youth hockey, the boys didn’t roll out the welcome mat for Newell.

“Since I am usually the only girl, it is always a challenge,” said Newell, a Vancouver native who starred for the Kootenay Ice Midget AAA boys’ team in 2011-12.

“They are looking to replace you with a boy goalie. It helps you become mentally tough, you always have to be better. You need to compete and play well everyday; being consistent is important. Every game matters.”

Developing toughness and skill, Newell emerged as one of the top female goalies in Canada, playing for the British Columbia teams in the 2010 and 2011 National Women’s 18-and-Under Championship before making the Canada Under-18 National Team last summer.

Newell’s exploits caught the eye of Ivy League programs and she joined the Princeton University women’s team this winter.

Now halfway through her freshman season with the Tigers, Newell will be playing for Canada at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship, which is taking place from December 29 to January 5 in Heinola and Vierumäki, Finland.

For Newell, playing in the the world competition represents the latest challenge for her in the game.

“I am excited,” said Newell, reflecting on heading to Finland. “I don’t get nervous, I am let’s go, I can’t wait to get started. I have never been to Europe. I think everything is going to be a new experience for me.”

Newell started playing goalie at age 10 and it didn’t take her long to take to the demands of the position. “I liked it immediately,” recalled Newell. “I think part of it was that it is high pressure. I like having everyone depend on me.”

Embracing the pressure, Newell moved up the ranks of female Canadian goaltenders, getting invited to the Hockey Canada Under-18 women’s selection camp in 2011. Although Newell eventually got cut from the team that year, she took a lot from training on the national level.

“I feel like everyone there loves hockey and really wants to play the game,” said Newell, reflecting on her 2011 experience.

“There is a different compete level; everyone wants to play and get better. There are all kinds of coaches there, strength and conditioning, skating. They encourage you to compete and to get better. There is a different atmosphere.

As Newell completed high school, she decided that she would benefit from the atmosphere of U.S. college hockey.

“I am not going to be playing hockey the rest of my life so I need to think about my future,” said Newell.

“I was looking to get the best education possible while still playing hockey and I thought the Ivy League schools would be the best way for me to do that. I liked Princeton. I liked the fact that they had a goalie coach. I went to one of the goalie sessions and I was impressed. I went on an official visit last November. I hung out with the teams, stayed at a dorm and went to class. Everything factored into the situation.”

Once Newell started at Princeton this past September, she encountered a different situation than anything she had previously experienced.

“I felt the biggest thing was that I had more work than I was used to and I was still playing hockey,” said Newell.

“When I had less work, I would get myself excited to play. Playing sports is 90 percent mental and you want to get into that zone where you are focused. I used to pump myself up to get into that mindset. Now I have to calm myself down because I am doing so much. I need to have a clear mind.”

As Newell makes the transition to college competition, she is bringing a new clarity to the ice.

“I feel the danger in college hockey is not in the first shot but in the second with rebounds and backdoor plays,” explained Newell.

“The college players aren’t much better shooters but they are better at making good plays. They are not always shooting to score, sometimes they are shooting to get the rebound. You have to really concentrate on that. I feel like I am adjusting well.”

Having started every game for Princeton, which took a 5-9-2 overall record into the holiday break, has helped speed up the adjustment process.

“It was a bit of a change to be playing full-time, I had split time before,” added Newell, who has posted a 3.26 goals against average in her 16 starts with a .906 save percentage. “It is just the way it is, I am used to it. It is an opportunity and something I enjoy.”

Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal acknowledges that Newell has hit some bumps in the road over the first half of the season.

“She has had a lot on her shoulders; she has been a little up and down,” said Kampersal.

“She has been fairly consistent the last month; there are times when we haven’t given her much help. She is learning to fight and compete.”

In Kampersal’s view, the 5’9 Newell possesses the attributes to compete well at the world competition.

“Her quickness stands out, she covers a lot of ground,” asserted Kampersal, who will also be in Finland as the head coach of the U.S. U-18 squad.

“She is good on the butterfly, it is hard to get anything past her low. She gets out well and is a tall goalie. She can handle the puck. If she goes out there and has a big tournament, it should give her experience and presence.”

Newell, for her part, is looking to build on the experience she got from playing in a U.S.-Canada three-game exhibition last August.

“I played in the three-game series last summer; I played games one and three,” recalled Newell.

“It was good to see what that level of hockey was like and to play with the team in front of me.”

Ultimately, Newell would like to play at the highest level of international competition.

“My dream is to play in the Olympics,” said Newell. “But the best thing I can do for myself is to take it one step at a time. If you focus on the big goal, you forget about what you need to do to get there. I am going to the tournament to do my best and see what happens after that.”

AT THE HELM: Princeton University women’s basketball player Kristen Helmstetter drives past a foe in a game earlier this season. Junior forward Helmstetter has been averaging 13.0 points a game since entering the starting lineup to replace the injured Nicole Hung in late November. Last Wednesday, Helmstetter, a Bridgewater, N.J. native, scored 11 points in a losing cause as Princeton fell 61-54 at Villanova. The Tigers, now 6-4, hit the road to play at Illinois State (6-3) on December 19 and DePaul (8-3) on December 21 before heading into the holiday break. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When the Princeton University women’s basketball team played at Villanova last Wednesday, the Tigers didn’t show their usual zip in the early going.

Digging an early 15-8 hole, the Tigers trailed the Wildcats 26-18 at halftime. In the second half, Princeton fell behind by 14 before making a late rally that narrowed the Villanova lead to 47-43 with 5:43 left in regulation. But that was as close as the Tigers got in falling 61-54.

While Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart was disappointed that her team didn’t complete the rally, she liked the resolve her players displayed in bouncing back from the subpar first half.

“That was the first time we came out slowly this year,” said Banghart, whose team dropped to 6-4 with the loss.

“We have been ahead by 10 in most of our games, even at UCLA [a 65-52 loss on November 25], we were up 12-2. It was good to see us come back after a 10 or 15 minute break at halftime and play much better. It means that we could be playing poorly before the first television timeout later this season and then adjust quickly after that.”

Health issues have forced Princeton to adjust as the squad recently lost starter Nicole Hung to a season-ending knee injury with other players such as Lauren Polansky, Annie Tarakchian, Alex Wheatley, and Mariah Smith each having dealt with nagging problems.

“We have really been hit by the injury bug,” said Banghart. “We have a lot of people banged up and people missing practice. We barely have enough for 5-on-5 at practice. It bodes well for the Ivy season, the freshmen and sophomores are getting experience.”

The injury issues have given such members of the supporting cast as junior forward Kristen Helmstetter and sophomore Blake Dietrich the chance to shine.

“Kristen is really a great example for the program,” said Banghart of the 6’0 Helmstetter, who has been averaging 13.0 points a game since replacing Hung in the starting lineup.

“We recruit talented, versatile players and they get better while they play for us. She has built her skill set. Dietrich is getting a lot better. It was good for her to have the week to work on her game.”

The team’s veterans have been key in helping the younger players get better. “We have a lot of maturity in the group,” added Banghart.

“They knew we were pretty depleted and going with a lot of inexperience. They appreciated that situation. They are bummed out over the off-court injuries.”

The Tigers will be looking to get some good experience this week as they hit the road to play at Illinois State (6-3) on December 19 and DePaul (8-3) on December 21 before heading into the holiday break.

“We are playing two very good teams and that is what we want,” said Banghart. “No matter what the results are, this is the schedule that they wanted. We just need to be really good by the end of January.”

In Banghart’s view, having been forced to juggle the lineup in the early going should help Princeton achieve that goal.

“I can honestly say that we are a better team than last year,” maintained Banghart, whose 2011-12 team went 24-5 overall and 14-0 in Ivy League play on the way to its third straight league crown.

“We have more weapons, we have more depth. The freshmen and sophomores aren’t just getting in when we are ahead by 30. They are getting in close games. There is no way that doesn’t help us down the road.”

December 12, 2012

CAT FIGHT: Princeton University men’s hockey player Jack Berger battles for the puck in a game earlier this season. Last weekend, junior forward and captain Berger and the Tigers fought hard but came up short twice against No. 9 Quinnipiac. Princeton dropped a 3-1 decision to the Bobcats at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn. on Friday evening before losing 3-0 to Quinnipiac the next day at Baker Rink. The Tigers, now 3-6-3 overall and 2-3-3 in ECAC Hockey action, are on winter break and will return to action when they compete in the Catamount Cup from December 29-30 at the University of Vermont. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Jack Berger and his teammates on the Princeton University men’s hockey squad got an up close and personal view last weekend of what is making Quinnipiac one of the hottest teams in the country.

Playing a home-and-home set against the Bobcats, the Tigers dropped a 3-1 decision at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn. on Friday evening before losing 3-0 to Quinnipiac the next day at Baker Rink. The wins extended the Bobcat’s unbeaten streak to 10 as they have risen to No. 9 in the national polls.

Although junior forward and captain Berger had hoped to lead Princeton to a pair of victories over the weekend, he believes the Tigers still gained something valuable from the experience of battling the Bobcats (12-3-2 overall, 8-0 ECACH).

“We wanted to get more points than zero, we wanted to win both games,” said Berger, reflecting on a weekend which left Princeton at 3-6-3 overall and 2-3-3 in ECAC Hockey action.

“We have a lot of positives, that is the hottest team in the league, maybe in the country, right now, and we definitely hung with them and we know that is a team that when we are playing our game, we can take it to them so we get a little confidence out of that.”

Berger liked the way Princeton started the game Saturday as it looked to rebound from the defeat on Friday.

Our first period was definitely better than the first periods we had last year,” said Berger, assessing a period which saw the Tigers get outshot by a slim 12-10 margin.

“That is something we have been trying to focus on and it has been coming out a little better. It wasn’t our best period but it was good. We were happy to be in the game like that and we felt good going into the second.”

While things went awry for the Tigers in the second period as they surrendered two unanswered goals, Berger didn’t think there was a wide gulf between the teams.

“I think we felt pretty good, there were a couple of details we weren’t taking care of,” said Berger. “I think we were in the game, it could have gone either way but we didn’t get the bounces.”

With Princeton headed to winter break, Berger thinks the hiatus will do the team some good.

“I think we are optimistic, we have a really good group of guys this year, asserted Berger.

“We get a lot of guys back after Christmas. We are doing a lot of good things. It will be nice to have some home games coming up and I think we are going to keep staying committed to our game and I am confident it is going to work out for us.”

In Berger’s view, the Tigers could be a force when they get back into action later this month by playing in the Catamount Cup from December 29-30 at the University of Vermont.

“I think we are really close to being a pretty good team,” said Berger. “I think the guys believe in what we are doing this year and they are going to work for it and keep plugging away.”

Princeton head coach Bob Prier concurred with Berger’s analysis. “It is not like we have to go back to the drawing board or anything,” maintained Prier.

“We just have got to improve on the way we play and the systems. The guys are doing pretty darn well at this point. It is just more of those individual turnovers at lines that we have really got to sharpen up and making sure we are staying inside our checks defensively. It is fundamental things.”

Prier had no qualms with the effort he got from his team in the game on Saturday.

“I thought that was as physical as we have played all year,” said Prier. “When you have a guy like Andrew Ammon out who is your energy guy, a tough kid, other guys stepped up and I think they did a really good job against one of the top three or four teams in the country right now. I thought we played much better than we did last night so it was a big improvement. I think we were more physical, we played with more emotion, we played with more energy so it was good to see.”

While Princeton would like to have a better record going into the break, Prier is optimistic about the team’s prospects going forward.

“We are scoring a lot of goals in the first half and we have to learn how to keep them out of our net,” added Prier.

“We have had a decent first half and there is a lot to build on once we get a little depth. We have a lot of guys that are going to come back, we will be getting guys like Ammon back, [Mike] Ambrosia back, [Will] Ford back, and [Tucker] Brockett back. We are not as good as Quinnipiac right now but I tell you what, we are going to be awfully damn close or as good in the second half with the depth that we are going to have in the lineup.”

Berger, for his part, is determined to provide good leadership to help the Tigers get on the winning track.

“You want to just try to be as committed to the things that the coach stresses as much as you can,” said Berger.

“You try to lead by example. You just have to keep guys on the right track. You have to keep them upbeat and confident because I think everyone here really does believe that we have a good team. We just have to play like that every night.”

LAYER OF CLAY: Princeton University men’s basketball player Clay Wilson turns up the defensive heat in recent action. Last Saturday against visiting Drexel, sophomore guard Wilson scored 12 points but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell 64-57 to the Dragons. Princeton, now 3-5, plays Fordham on December 15 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Boasting a roster with 10 players 6’7 or taller, the Princeton University men’s basketball team believes it should be an inside force this winter.

But the Tigers have been held to a standstill on the boards in starting 3-4, getting outrebounded 222-216 by their foes.

Last Saturday against visiting Drexel University, some lackadaisical work on the glass helped doom Princeton as it squandered an early 30-17 lead on the way to a disappointing 64-57 setback before 1,970 at Jadwin Gym,

The Tigers outrebounded the Dragons 16-13 in the first half but got beaten to the punch in the paint in the second half as Drexel won the war of the boards 19-4 over the last 20 minutes of the contest.

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson was disappointed by his team’s failure to use its size advantage in the second half.

“I thought we could be a very good rebounding team but we just didn’t have any rebounding presence to finish the game which ended up really hurting us,” lamented Henderson, whose team had previously blown early leads in losses to Northeastern, Rutgers, and Wagner.

“There were a couple times where we were boxing out nicely and we had a couple of those calls called against us. I think that they just turned up the heat defensively. I think when your two centers have two rebounds, we have to do more in that situation.”

Tiger senior star Ian Hummer, who had a game-high 19 points and seven rebounds, expressed his frustration with the team’s failure to get the ball inside.

“I think there has to be an understanding of the team regarding when and where our strengths are,” said Hummer, who was later named the Ivy League Player of the Week for his performance.

“I thought, as coach said, we are strong inside. We are not shooting the ball well so we are going to have to look at it and understand the game. Where does the ball need to be at what point in time. I think we are learning but we are not there yet. We need to be there ASAP.”

Henderson also saw a lack of offensive execution. “Who is going to make that one extra pass that makes that one possession offensively that much more valuable; let’s make them guard a little bit,” said Henderson, reflecting on a game which saw the Tigers shoot 5-of-19 from three-point range and 8-of-13 from the foul line.

“We couldn’t get anything going and then we missed our free throws. You had to make your free throws in that game to withstand another long run.”

While the Tigers made a nice late run to knot the game at 57-57 with 2:32 remaining in regulation, they were outscored 7-0 the rest of the way.

“We were down 55-50 and came back; I like the way we executed there and the way we defended,” said Henderson, whose team plays Fordham on December 15 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

We left [Damion] Lee on a wide-open 3 at the top of the key; it was a defensive mistake and he makes a 3. We executed offensively again and got a nice look and it didn’t go in. Clay Wilson, one of our better shooters, had a nice look from the corner. No excuses, that’s a nice win for Drexel.”

COLD STREAK: Princeton University women’s hockey player Brianna Leahy goes after the puck in recent action. Last Friday, sophomore forward Leahy scored a goal in a losing cause as Princeton fell 3-2 to Quinnipiac. A day later, the Tigers fell 4-0 to the Bobcats in the second game of a home-and-home set as they suffered their third straight loss. Princeton, now 5-9-2 overall and 2-8-2 in ECAC Hockey action, is currently on winter break and will resume action when it plays a two-game set at the University of Connecticut on January 2 and 3.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton University women’s hockey team, the holiday break couldn’t come at a better time.

The Tigers stumbled as they ended the 2012 portion of their schedule, dropping three straight games to fall to 5-9-2 overall and 2-8-2 in ECAC Hockey action.

Last weekend, Princeton got pushed around by Quinnipiac, coming up short in both ends of home-and-home set with the Bobcats, falling 3-2 at Baker Rink on Friday and then losing 4-0 a day later at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn.

Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal acknowledged that his squad has been struggling against Quinnipiac recently.

“Quinnipiac is a really solid team, they have a good goalie and a dominant scorer,” noted Kampersal, who got goals from Kelly Cooke and Brianna Leahy on Friday as the Tigers valiantly fought back from an early 3-0 deficit.

“They are a tough team to play against and it has been a tough matchup for us the last few years. I think we are like what Terry Francona said about the Red Sox in his last season there, we are leaking oil. We are finding new ways to lose. We showed up ready to play on Friday and then we give up three goals. Quinnipiac always works hard but we put them on a platter for them. We did make a rally but we can’t dig out of that kind of hole. The next day we didn’t have enough gas in the tank.”

With Princeton not slated to return to action until it plays a two-game set at the University of Connecticut on January 2 and 3, Kampersal is hoping that the break will be utilized for some soul searching.

“We need to coach better and we need to play better,” said Kampersal, who won’t be back behind the Tiger bench until later in January as he will be coaching the U.S. women’s team at the U18 World Championships in Finland as 2013 rolls around.

“We need to use the break as time to reflect on what we need to do and putting in the time and effort to get better.”

Kampersal thought the Tigers were getting better when they fought hard in a 2-1 overtime loss to No. 3 Clarkson on November 17 and then won two of their next three games.

“We had a middle stretch where I thought we were figuring things out but we haven’t played well the last two weekends,” said Kampersal, whose team is currently seventh of 12 teams in the ECACH standings.

“The kids definitely need a break; we have small numbers and tough practices. It has been a grind.”

Princeton has shown a penchant in recent seasons to grind out wins after the break and Kampersal is hopeful that history can repeat itself.

“The good news is that in the past few years, we have come back stronger after the break,” said Kampersal. “We’ll see if this group has what it takes to do that.”

December 5, 2012

KNIGHT MOVE: Princeton University women’s basketball player Lauren Polansky wards off a Rutgers defender last Thursday. Senior point guard Polansky contributed game-highs in rebounds (9), assists (7), and steals (3) to help Princeton win 71-55 and snap a 14-game losing streak to the Scarlet Knights. The Tigers, now 5-2, host Hofstra on December 5 before playing at Delaware on December 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Lauren Polansky knew what she was getting into as the Princeton University women’s basketball team prepared to play Rutgers while Kristen Helmstetter had no idea that she was destined to emerge as a star of the contest.

For senior point guard Polansky, facing Rutgers meant dealing with its trademark stifling, in-your-face defense.

“Rutgers has a great press; that is how they get going in their offense; getting things going fast with tons of turnovers,” said Polansky.

“That’s what ignites them; we knew that going in. We have been working on playing five versus six in practice so I think that really helped us. Personally, I knew that I would have the ball in my hands and as a point guard, I would be taking the brunt of that pressure.”

Helmstetter, a junior forward who had zero career starts coming into the clash last Thursday night, was thrust into the limelight in the wake of an injury to classmate Nicole Hung.

“I found out late last night that I was getting the start,” said Helmstetter. “It was unfortunate that Nicole got hurt but we got together as a team and really wanted to get this win for her and the whole team in general.”

Princeton made it clear from the opening tip-off at Jadwin Gym that it was intent on winning and breaking its 14-game losing streak in the battle of local rivals. The Tigers raced out to a 30-11 lead, putting the proud Scarlet Knights on their heels.

The 6’0 Helmstetter played a key role in the early surge, scoring six points and grabbing two rebounds in the first half.

“Today was my day,” said Helmstetter, reflecting on an evening which saw the Tigers unveil the banner for winning the Ivy League crown last year, the third straight for the program.

“Everyone has their on days and their off days and we just have to work as a team and capitalize on who is on that day.”

In the second half, the Scarlet Knights turned up the pressure, cutting a 25-point lead to 12 but it wasn’t enough as Princeton posted a 71-55 triumph before a crowd of 1,036.

Polansky acknowledged that the Tigers had to weather a storm in the second half.

“Good teams are going to go on runs, they are not going to lay down and die,” said Polansky, who scored only one point but ended the evening with game-highs in rebounds (9), assists (7), and steals (3).

“After the first half, we knew they were going to make adjustments and we had to adjust to that. When they went on their run, luckily we were able to stop them and go on a run of our own.”

It was sweet for the Tigers to break their losing streak in the series. “It is a long-standing rivalry for us,” said the 5’8 Polansky, a native of Mill Valley, Calif. who is the two-time Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.

“Having them in our home gym with a good crowd with our seniors from last year coming back for the banner unveiling. It was really special for us. I think just all around, it was a great environment for us to play in.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart applauded the great effort she got from her players.

“I thought all night we had more energy than them,” asserted Banghart, who got 17 points from precocious freshman Alex Wheatley in the win with senior star Niveen Rasheed chipping in 15 points and seven rebounds.

“I thought we attacked their pressure versus breaking it before we had the clock on our side and that was huge.”

It was huge for Banghart and Princeton to have Polansky on their side. “LP came out and took care of the ball and set the tone with our offense,” said Banghart.

“She is just as tough as they come. She rebounded for her position. She stuck to the game plan, she held her teammates accountable. If there was a game ball, I would give it to LP.”

Banghart wasn’t surprised that Helmstetter proved that she has game. “Kristen can take care of the ball,” said Banghart.

“She has to play angles well and read the game well and she did both of the things masterfully tonight.”

Although Princeton hasn’t beaten Rutgers since 1976, the Tiger players didn’t get overly emotional in their post-game celebration.

“This is a business as usual group,” said Banghart, who earned the 100th win of her six-season Princeton tenure last Sunday as the Tigers routed UMBC 93-46 to improve to 5-2.

“They know that until January we have to figure out who we are. I hope they enjoy this one. The have a day off tomorrow so maybe they are more excited about that.”

Helmstetter, a former star at Bridgewater-Raritan High, certainly enjoyed playing a key role in beating Rutgers.

“It feels good; I am 10 minutes away from Rutgers so they are a team I have grown up watching,” said Helmstetter.

“It is just great to get that win against them. I know a lot of people on their team as does Kate Miller and Amanda Berntsen (both New Jersey natives). We have grown up with those players and then played against them in high school. It is good to see them and play against them.”

Polansky believes the win is a sign of good things to come for the Tigers, who came into the evening still smarting from a 65-52 loss at No. 19 UCLA on November 25.

“This is a really great win for us, especially after last week,” said Polansky, who will look to keep the Tigers on the winning track as they host Hofstra on December 5 before playing at Delaware on December 9.

“We have a tough preseason schedule which I think is wonderful. It gets us ready for our league and post-season play, if we are lucky. I think that is just a great step forward, proving that we are getting better everyday. It shows that all of our hard work in practice is paying off.”

MUCH BETTER: Princeton University women’s hockey player Olivia Mucha glides up the ice in recent action. On the mend from shoulder surgery that sidelined her much of last season, Mucha broke out last Friday with two goals in a 3-0 win over Union. The Tigers, now 5-7-2 overall and 2-6-2 ECACH, have a two-game set with Quinnipiac (!0-7-2 overall, 6-3-1 ECACH) this weekend, hosting the Bobcats on December 7 before playing them at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn. on December 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After leading the Princeton University women’s hockey team in scoring as a freshman in the 2010-11 season, Olivia Mucha’s second college season didn’t go as well.

The 5’5 forward played only 12 games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury that required surgery.

Mucha didn’t get back on the ice until this August as she skated at the Ice Line rink in her hometown of West Chester, Pa.

“I got to train with a lot of college age and junior boys at home so the physicality wasn’t much of a problem and being comfortable with my shoulder from my surgery,” said Mucha.

But Mucha suffered a setback once she arrived at Princeton for her junior year.

“I had a strep throat starting from the first day I got back and I had to get my tonsil and adenoids taken out,” said Mucha.

Coming into last Friday night’s game against visiting Union, Mucha was struggling to find her form, having scored two goals as she played in seven of Princeton’s first 12 games.

Over a 15-minute span in the second and third periods, Mucha started clicking, scoring two goals as Princeton skated to a 3-0 win.

With the Tigers knotted in a scoreless tie entering the second period, Mucha could feel the team pick things up.

“I think we honestly fed off each other’s energy, whether it is the line or the other teammates,” said Mucha, recalling a period which saw the Tigers score two goals to seize control of the contest.

“The defensemen were stepping up and getting the puck up. That is exciting for the forwards because we get to do our job, opening up things and it all started from there.”

It was exciting for Mucha to notch her first goal, a power play tally which gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead with 5:38 left in the period.

“I just remember that we were able to establish our power play,” said Mucha.

“We saw if we shot the puck and moved it quick, they were off angle. Gaby [Figueroa] was looking to the left and seeing it closed and then shooting it to get an opportunity, I just tried to screen the goalie.”

On her second goal, which came 8:49 into the final period, Mucha used her trademark grit.

“It was just Gaby getting a strong, hard shot on net,” said Mucha. “I don’t remember too much, I just remember it hitting my stick. Mostly, it was a scramble.”

For Mucha, her performance and the team’s solid win were heartening. “It was definitely a good step,” asserted Mucha.

“I think it has been tough for our team to establish what type of team we are from our graduation loss and mixing around players with some injuries. It has been an amazing feeling that our team, even so small, can be so dynamic.”

Having missed so much time due to injury, Mucha has dedicated herself to do whatever she can for the team whenever she is on the ice.

“No matter how great shape you are in, you are going to get tired, you are going to get frustrated,” said Mucha.

“I think everyone on the team hits that stage. Having these injuries, I know how much I get jealous when I watch. Even if I can’t get a goal, I am going to go out there and try to get the puck deep, do something smart.”

As Mucha gets up to full speed, she knows the Tigers have her back. “I am close to 100 percent; it’s all relative because it has been a struggle since I have been here,” said Mucha.

“I feel confident. I need to remember that if I am not 100 percent I have a team that will play with me. It doesn’t matter how one individual is.”

Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal acknowledged that his team struggled in the early going on Friday.

“We were definitely sluggish, we still battled but we weren’t really executing well,” said Kampersal.

“We were just a little bit sloppy in catching passes. Then in between the periods, those are the things that we talked about. This is almost like a de facto playoff weekend and we need all the points we can get now because we have more games than a lot of people so we need to accumulate them because people will catch up with us when we are in exams in January.”

Kampersal was glad to see Mucha accumulate some points in the win over Union.

“Mucha is still banged up,” said Kampersal. “She is just a heart and soul kid. Her freshman year, she was one of our top scorers and her sophomore year she was our top scorer for most of our season after only playing 12 games. She can provide the offense for us.”

The team’s three seniors, Kelly Cooke, Corey Stearns, and Alex Kinney, have been providing a spark for the Tigers.

“They stepped up, the seniors have been doing a good job all year, no question,” said Kampersal, who got three goals from Cooke and three assists from Stearns on Saturday in a losing cause as Princeton fell 4-3 to Rensselaer to move to 5-7-2 overall and 2-6-2 in ECAC Hockey play. “Cookie gets the first goal tonight; she has had a phenomenal year.”

Princeton got one of its best defensive efforts of the year in the win over Union as freshman goalie Kimberly Newell earned her first college shutout with 19 saves and defenseman Figueroa and Alleva each got two assists in addition to their strong play along the blue line.

“It was awesome; I thought Bri Mahoney was unreal, just in control,” said Kampersal.

“All of them were really good. Once again, if those four or five kids control it, we are in good shape.”

Although Princeton stubbed its toe against Renssalear, Kampersal believes his team is in a good place.

“I thought starting with the Clarkson game, it feels right on the bench, it feels right on the shift changes and it’s a good brand of hockey,” said Kampersal, whose team has a two-game set with Quinnipiac this weekend, hosting the Bobcats on December 7 before playing them at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn. on December 8.

“Now we are just trying to be a little more disciplined in terms of getting the puck and doing what we have to, controlling the blue lines and controlling the neutral zones.”

Mucha, for her part, realizes that the Tigers need a little more discipline. “We are able to communicate amongst each other and between the coaches and the players about what our weaknesses are,” said Mucha.

“It seems that we recognize that not all of us are going to be perfect but we have to realize that we have our weaknesses and work on those and just listen to what the coaches are saying instead of being stubborn.”

November 28, 2012

ALEX THE GREAT: Princeton University women’s hockey player Alex Kinney glides up the ice last weekend against Ohio State. On Saturday, senior forward Kinney scored on a long-range slap shot to help spark a Princeton rally as the Tigers pulled out a 2-1 win over the eighth-ranked Buckeyes. Princeton, now 4-6-2 overall, hosts Union on November 30 and Rensselaer on December 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Alex Kinney likes to hone her long range shooting on a daily basis, sometimes to the amusement of her teammates on the Princeton University women’s hockey team.

“I do that in practice a lot and everyone makes fun of me,” said Princeton senior forward Kinney. “I take a lot of slappers.”

Last Saturday against visiting Ohio State, Kinney’s teammates were smiling and cheering after she blasted a one-timer into the top of the net from the point to pull Princeton into a 1-1 tie early in the third period.

“I was just trying to get the puck to the net,” said Kinney, reflecting on her moment of brilliance.

“It was definitely good to get it in, right at the beginning of the period. It kind of gave us momentum for the rest of the period. I felt like we kind of hemmed them in after that.”

Building on the momentum from Kinney’s tally, Princeton pulled out a 2-1 win over the eighth-ranked Buckeyes as a late goal from sophomore Brianna Leahy proved to be the margin of victory.

Kinney was not surprised that sophomore Leahy found the back of the net.

“Leahy does a really good job of crashing the net always so that was definitely a good effort on her part,” said Kinney, reflecting on the win that improved Princeton to 4-6-2. “She did that yesterday too.”

Kinney and classmates Kelly Cooke and Corey Stearns are putting in big efforts as they go through their final campaign with the Tigers.

“It is definitely a different perspective being here for four years,” said the 5’9 Kinney, a native of Lake Forest, Ill. who now has 28 points in her Princeton career on 10 goals and 18 assists.

“You realize this is the last of the last of everything. I think as seniors, that sentiment is shared between all three of us so everybody is trying to make that go from the top to the bottom through the team. I think we had a team meeting the other day and we are starting to get it. It is good.”

The Princeton team has worked through some rough patches this season. “I think the beginning of the season is tough, not everyone knows the systems,” said Kinney, who had an assist on Friday as Princeton took a 2-0 lead into the third period against the Buckeyes only to fall 4-2 in the opener of the two-game set.

“You have to get used to the game format and showing up every period and every shift. Every single shift counts, definitely the freshmen are getting used to the pace of college hockey versus high school hockey, which is a lot different. I think everyone is getting on the same page, so hopefully that continues.”

Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal believes his team is getting on the same page.

“It has been a tough season so far but the kids have worked hard,” said Kampersal.

“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves by any stretch but we have had some tough luck definitely. I thought the Clarkson game [a 2-1 loss in overtime on November 17] was the first game we put together a really solid, smart tough hockey game. Maybe that was the turning point of our season.”

In the loss Friday, Princeton produced two power play goals to take take a 2-0 lead but then got overwhelmed in the third period as Ohio State outshot the Tigers 20-8 on the way to four unanswered goals.

“Last night, we played well but in the second period they took it to us pretty good and Kim [freshman goalie Kim Newell] bailed us out,” said Kampersal.

“You knew the dam was leaking and hopefully it wouldn’t break. Once they got that first goal, they had total momentum and we took some bad penalties.”

In preparing for the final game of the set, the Tigers focused on staying out of the box.

“We talked about that today,” said Kampersal. “We played smart all weekend, they played hard. We weren’t as disciplined last night as they we were today and that was the difference.”

In Kampersal’s view, Kinney’s tally made a big difference for Princeton “That was great, seconds into the period,” said Kampersal. “That was huge, that was an emotional lift. The seniors in general have had a good run so far.”

Kampersal noted that senior assistant captain Cooke has been giving the Tigers a lift all season long.

“Cookie had a great shorthanded goal against Robert Morris and had a penalty shot goal against Clarkson and then another breakaway here,” said Kampersal, whose team is 1-5-2 in ECAC Hockey action, good for seventh place in the league standings.

“Cookie has been playing phenomenal. She played great this week. She was unreal last week against St Lawrence/Clarkson. She has been doing a good job for sure.”

Freshman goalie Newell has been doing a good job for the Tigers, posting a 3.41 goals against average and a save percentage of .906 in starting all 12 games this season.

“She has been a little up and down, having more games and being young,” said Kampersal.

“She was a brick wall for two days this weekend. The goaltending position is an incredibly hard one and all I ever ask from the goalies is to give the team a chance to win and she battled. At big, key times, she made big, key saves.”

Kampersal is hoping that the team’s solid play against Ohio State last weekend can be a big boost going forward.

“Last year we had two ties with Ohio State that felt like wins and that seemed to get us rolling,” said Kampersal, whose team hosts Union (3-6-2 overall, 0-2-2 ECACH) on November 30 and Rensselaer (2-10-2, 0-4 ECACH) on December 1. “I am hoping that can happen again.”

Kinney, for her part, believes that Princeton can build on its play this weekend and get on a roll.

“I think we are on the right track, this weekend should be a turnaround,” said Kinney. “We are pumped up, we kind of forgot what it was like to win.”

STANDING TALL: Princeton University women’s basketball player Megan Bowen surveys the court in a game last season. Senior center Bowen has moved into the starting lineup for the Tigers this year and is averaging 7.8 points and 3.0 rebounds a game. Princeton, now 3-2, hosts Rutgers on November 29 and UMBC on December 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

After falling to Marist on November 17 to suffer their first defeat of the season, Megan Bowen and her teammates on the Princeton University women’s basketball team were determined to bounce back as they hit the Jadwin Gym floor three days later to host Rider.

“I think what we learned from Marist is that we are not where we want to be yet but each day we are getting better,” said senior center Bowen.

“So as coach [Courtney Banghart] said, yesterday we got better in practice from Saturday. Then today, we got better in this game than we were yesterday. Each day is a day to build and work together and become the team we want to be when it comes to the point in the season when we want to be strong with all 15.”

The Tigers were certainly better against the Broncs, jumping out to a 41-23 halftime lead on the way to a 88-42 rout before a crowd of 616 in their home opener.

In pulling away to the win, Princeton displayed its depth as 12 out of the 13 players who got in the game scored and each Tiger got at least one rebound.

“We have depth in all five positions; all five of us are looking to score and all five of us are looking to rebound,” said Bowen.

“I think coach said that in the box score tonight every single person had a rebound. That just shows you that we are a deep team so the more time the girls get in the game, the more it is going to prepare them for when we need all 15. Right now, we have 13 healthy. I think we are getting better each game.”

The 6’3 Bowen, a native of Bath, Pa., has certainly gotten better over her career, going from a little-used reserve as a freshman to the starting five this winter.

“It was definitely exciting; I have been working hard for three years to get to this point,” said Bowen, who is averaging 7.8 points and 3.0 rebounds a game this season.

“I wouldn’t say it was too much of an adjustment. You start out those first minutes in the game where Devona [Allgood] used to be. At no point was it anything that I had to be nervous about. Look at the four girls I am surrounded by, if I mess up, I have four very good players who have my back.”

Bowen acknowledges that she has big shoes to fill in following Allgood, who ended her Princeton career with 1,177 points and 802 rebounds.

“There is definitely pressure there but it is not a negative pressure by any means,” said Bowen, who scored 12 points in the win over Rider.

“I just have got to step up, take my time, make my moves, and work hard on defense. At the same time, I know I have Alex Wheatley, most often, coming for me, or even Mariah [Smith] or Kristin [Helmstetter]. I have full trust in all three of them so at no point do I feel like if I am having a terrible night that I don’t have anyone that can come in for me. That’s what I tried to provide for Devona last year. It is nice to have those people behind you.”

In order to help make up for the loss of Allgood’s offensive production, Bowen has spent a lot of time honing her shooting stroke.

“I definitely have worked a lot on my outside shot; I feel comfortable taking the shot within the three-point line although tonight my outside shot was not exactly falling,” said Bowen.

“I am not going to try and hog the post the whole time when we have these other girls. Niveen [Rasheed] is often stronger and taller than the girl she is guarding so she can get in there and post up. It is nice if my girl doubles, then I have an outside shot.”

Princeton head coach Banghart thought Princeton showed some nice progress on the offensive end in the win over Rider.

“We found out a lot of things in that [Marist] game which is why you schedule a game like that,” said Banghart.

“I thought that the steps that we made were important. For example, making the extra pass, 23 assists, tonight, which we did not do against Marist was important. Also, I thought being way more physical on the low block was important and we did those things. The things we asked them to do they did, definitely.”

Banghart likes the play she is getting from Bowen down low. “That kid has embraced her role and that is to now be a starter and a low post threat,” said Banghart.

“She’ll have some ups and downs but she is giving us exactly what I was hoping for. I am really proud of her because she is a great kid.”

While Banghart knows her team is going to go through some ups and downs as it works new players into its rotation, she is relishing the challenges ahead.

“That is the beauty of coaching, every year is different. With this particular team, we are not bringing back one kid who averaged double figures at Princeton in her life except Niveen,” said Banghart.

“We have great depth but it doesn’t matter because you only play 5-on-5 so we need to have the five that are in giving us something different than the next five that are in. So it is a fun team to coach because they all have their own strengths but the problem is they all have their own weaknesses too so we have to figure out how to limit those. It is a totally different team.”

One thing, though, that hasn’t changed is the team’s intensity. “I guess people take for granted how hard we play; I keep hearing in the handshakes before the game that you guys play so hard,” said Banghart.

“It is awesome, year after year, our kids play so hard. I think  we need a little more growth on the offensive end, like tonight with 23 assists. We need a little more growth and understanding how and taking pride in setting up your teammate and moving the ball better. That comes with a brand new offense and a lot of kids. It is just going to take time. We are going to try to play hard enough to stay in games until we can sharpen up the offense again.”

Last weekend, the Tigers headed to Southern California where they topped UC Riverside 72-68 on Friday before falling 65-52 at UCLA on Sunday to move to 3-2. For Banghart, the value of the trip wasn’t dependent on wins or losses.

“I think traveling with such a new group; you learn a lot about each other and I think that is an important part of it too,” added Banghart, whose team hosts Rutgers on November 29 and UMBC on December 2.

“This is the time in the season to get your California kids home and help your recruiting base a little bit. We do a lot of recruiting out there. With this team, it is about more than competing. This team competes. They are going to compete against Riverside and they are going to compete against UCLA; we have to be able to execute.”

Bowen, for her part, looked forward to the California swing as good preparation for a journey that the Tigers hope will land them in the NCAA tournament for a fourth straight season.

“It is trip where we want to have fun, it is a holiday,” said Bowen. “We want to go out there and have a good time, winning definitely does a lot more than losing in that respect. We will prepare for them, there are adjustments you have to make along the way so we are going to have time difference, we are traveling and we are flying six hours but no excuses. You never know where you are going to end up if you make it to the tournament.”

CAREER NIGHT: Princeton University men’s hockey player ­Andrew Ammon heads up the ice in recent action. Last Friday at Sacred Heart, Ammon had a career night as he scored all four Tiger goals in a 4-3 victory for Princeton. The Tigers fell 3-1 to UMass-Lowell the next day to move to 3-4-1 overall. In upcoming action, Princeton heads to New York to play at Rensselaer on November 30 and at No. 8 Union on December 1.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Even though the Princeton University men’s hockey team has only played eight games this season, the Tigers have proven they can fight back from a deficit.

In a win over No. 4 Cornell on November 9, the Tigers were down 3-2 in the third period but then reeled off three unanswered goals to post a 5-3 win. A week later, Princeton trailed 2-1 at No. 16 St. Lawrence but fought back to earn a 3-3 tie.

Last Friday at Sacred Heart, the Tigers forged another comeback, rallying from a 3-1 deficit to pull out a 4-3 victory.

While Princeton head coach Bob Prier admires his team’s pluck, he would prefer to see it start playing from ahead.

“We have done OK with uphill battles but we need to start playing better early in each game,” said Prier.

“We have to get off to better starts. We need to be ready to tear the door down and be ready to play every night.”

In assessing the win over Sacred Heart, Prier acknowledged that his team didn’t play all that well.

“A win is something we needed to get back on track as a team,” said Prier, whose team had lost 7-2 at Clarkson in its last outing before Friday.

“We didn’t play particularly well. They threw everything at us. It was good to see us battle back and get the win.”

It was good for Princeton to see junior forward Andrew Ammon break out with a career night in the victory over the Pioneers as he notched all four goals for the Tigers.

“Andrew was rewarded for a good week of practice,” said Prier of Ammon who came into the game with one goal on the season.

“His play away from the puck was great. He played physically and was the best player on the ice for us.”

The trio of Ammon, Tyler Maugeri, and Andrew Calof has provided the best production so far for the Tigers.

“That line has been great; they are one of the best lines in the league,” said Prier of the line who rank 1-2-3 in scoring on the Tigers with Maugeri leading the way at 11 points, Calof at 10, and Ammon having notched nine.

“It is a good line but we can’t go far with just one good line. Right now it is that line and Eric Meland doing the scoring. Eight games into this, I would have thought that we would be showing more scoring depth.”

Princeton’s lack of scoring balance and some sloppy play doomed it a day later as it fell 3-1 at UMass-Lowell in moving to 3-4-1 overall.

“I thought it was one of our best games of the year as far as playing systems and controlling the puck and the play,” said Prier of the game which was deadlocked at 0-0 until UMass-Lowell scored three goals in the last two minutes of the second period. “We had a bad turnover late in the second period that changed the momentum.”

The Tigers, true to form, didn’t fold after falling behind but could only manage one goal over the last 20 minutes of the contest.

“We recovered and had a great third period; Kesselman got a good goal, Willie MacDonald made a great pass,” said Prier.

“Against a team of that caliber in their building, you have to eliminate things like turnovers and playing with one hand on the stick. These are things that we have harped on and they are costing us.”

Prier knows that his team needs to play sharper if it is going to come up with wins this weekend when it heads to New York to play at Rensselaer (3-5-2 overall, 0-4 ECAC Hockey) on November 30 and at No. 8 Union (8-2-1 overall, 3-1 ECACH) on December 1.

“RPI is coming off two wins this weekend and they are a pretty good team in their building,” said Prier, whose club is 2-1-1 in ECACH action, good for a tie for fifth in the league standings.

“They have lost twice to Union and once to Harvard so their record is not indicative. Union is a great team that plays a solid team game. They rarely make a mistake. They are committed to doing the right things and doing them properly.”

In Prier’s view, his team needs to be committed to bringing it from the opening face-off.

“We need to take the initiative, and not be reactive,” asserted Prier. “It’s going to be a nice challenge. We can’t be making the same mistakes; we have to get off to a good start.”

November 21, 2012

TITLE CELEBRATION: Members of the Princeton University field hockey team celebrate after they rallied to beat North Carolina 3-2 in the NCAA Championship game. The Tigers finished the fall at 21-1 as they earned the program’s first-ever national crown.
(Photo by Rick Voight, Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

Katie Reinprecht felt awful last Sunday morning just hours before the Princeton University field hockey team was slated to face the University of North Carolina in the NCAA Championship game.

“I woke up around 4 a.m. and at first I thought it was nerves; I was having stomach issues, going back and forth to the bathroom,” said Tiger senior midfielder and tri-captain Reinprecht.

“I met with one of the trainers right before breakfast and they thought it was food poisoning. They gave me medication and I was trying to get liquids. I knew I was going to play but I thought I might be running to a trash can during the game.”

As game time approached, Reinprecht was ready to take the field in Norfolk, Va. “The medication settled my stomach and I had two bottles of Gatorade right before the game,” said Reinprecht. “I had so much adrenaline, I had plenty of energy.”

By Sunday afternoon, Reinprecht was experiencing something she had never felt before as she helped second-seeded Princeton rally to a 3-2 win over the top-seeded Tar Heels and earn the program’s first-ever national championship.

“I was still thinking about hitting the ball but I saw Jules [younger sister and Tiger star defender Julia Reinprecht] collapse behind me so I knew it was over,” said Reinprecht, reflecting on the moment when the clock hit 0:00.

“It was an incredible feeling. It was such a team accomplishment. I knew this end was possible if we gave 100 percent.”

For much of the contest, it didn’t look like Princeton was heading to a happy ending.

The Tar Heels had the better of the play in the early going and jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Charlotte Craddock goal at the 11:26 mark.

“In the first 10 minutes, we were being outplayed,” said Reinprecht.  “The goal went in and we looked at each other and there was no sense of fear. We stepped it up from there and showed how badly we wanted it.”

Less than six minutes later, Reinprecht stepped up as she fed classmate and fellow captain Kat Sharkey on a penalty corner and the latter slammed in the tying goal.

The teams went into the locker room knotted at 1-1 at intermission and then 11 minutes into the second half Princeton found itself trailing again as Katie Plyler found the back of the cage for the Tar Heels.

Princeton, though, was unfazed. “No one likes to go down in a game like that but we had been in those situations before,” said Reinprecht. “I thought we had the momentum and I didn’t doubt that we could score.”

Reinprecht’s faith proved justified as Allison Evans notched the tying goal at 56:44 and then Amanda Bird tallied three minutes later on a penalty stroke to give Princeton its first lead of the contest.

The Bird tally set up a stomach-turning finale as Princeton held off a dangerous and desperate North Carolina team.

“It was the longest eight minutes; a timeout helped,” said Reinprecht. “We had a defensive priority, even Kat Sharkey was in the defensive circle. We didn’t want to let this slip away, we said we can’t let them tie this up. We had confidence and trust.”

That trust was critical as Princeton lost freshman star Teresa Benvenuti to a hamstring injury in warmup and then senior stalwart Molly Goodman went down with a knee injury 10 minutes into the contest.

“That was one of the most powerful things about the title game, everyone contributed in that game,” asserted Reinprecht. “People had to step up who weren’t used to that role and they rose to the occasion.”

As Reinprecht returned to Princeton this past August after spending a year away from school training with the U.S. national field hockey program and playing in the London Olympics, she was determined to step into a positive leadership role.

“When I came back from the national team, I knew what it was like to play with a talented team but that winning doesn’t correlate unless you put it all out there,” said Reinprecht, who was joined in her year with the national program by her sister along with teammates Michelle Cesan and Sharkey.

“I didn’t want the four of us to be unapproachable; we needed to fit in with the family. Everyone on the team had to be equal.”

Princeton head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn points to team unity as the key factor in Princeton’s title run.

“Of course we have talent but it is much more important to have chemistry; I have been around talented teams that didn’t do as well as they should,” said Holmes-Winn, whose squad went 21-1 this fall, setting a program record for most wins in a season.

“I told them before the Duke game [the season opener on August 31] that you will become a family and you will love each other. It is not how talented you are but how hard you are willing to fight for each other. They looked each other in the eyes before the Maryland game [a 3-2 win in the NCAA semis on Friday] and they were ready to play for each other.”

The Tigers were ready for a stiff challenge as they prepared for the clash with the 23-1 Tar Heels, whose roster included former Stuart Country Day standout Jackie Gaudioso-Radvany.

“They are strong at every position,” said Holmes-Winn, noting that Tar Heel forward Craddock and midfielder Kelsey Kolojejchick caused Princeton particular concern.

“We needed to lock down their game changers. We had to limit Craddock’s touches so we put a center mid to overlap in her zone. We told the midfield to run with Kolojejchick but don’t tackle her. We needed to stay in the play. I am proud that we showed the discipline to do that for all the game.”

That task was made harder by the injuries to Benvenuti and Goodman. “To beat North Carolina full‐strength is a huge challenge, but to do it accessing the depth on the bench the way we did is a product of our team’s hard work and preparation,” said Holmes-Winn.

For Holmes-Winn, seeing her players produce a national title evoked a deep sense of pride.

“To win at a place like Princeton is a colossal achievement; we don’t give scholarships,” said Holmes-Winn.

“They are students first and foremost. To be able to do everything they do in the classroom and also be the best in a sport is special. They are so inspiring to be around. As coaches, we can look in the mirror and feel so good about how we do it. They have a wonderful experience as students and athletes.”

As Princeton headed to the University of Virginia for the opening rounds of the tournament two weekends ago, Holmes-Winn had the sense that something wonderful was going to happen.

“I will remember how we went into turbo tournament mode,” said Holmes-Winn.

“We won the league and that was great. We dominated the play-in game [a 6-0 win at Lafayette] and you could feel the energy going into the tournament. Getting on the bus to Charlottesville, I was so excited. I knew we were going on a special journey and I could feel the belief and talent.”

Reinprecht, for her part, won’t soon forget the road she travelled to the national title.

“I am a very, very lucky girl to end my career like this,” said Reinprecht, who was named the 2012 Longstreth/NFHCA Division I Mid-Atlantic Region Player of the Year and totaled 156 points and 50 assists in her four seasons, good for fourth and second in program history, respectively, in those categories.

“It has been an incredible year and an incredible journey. It is fantastic to share it with this group of girls and coaches, they are such high quality people.”

OUT OF REACH: Princeton University defensive lineman Caraun Reid tries to corral Dartmouth quarterback Dalyn Williams last Saturday. Reid and the Tigers faltered down the stretch, squandering an early 14-0 lead in falling 35-21 to the Big Green. The loss combined with Penn’s 35-28 win over Cornell knocked Princeton out of contention for a share of the Ivy League title. Still, the Tigers finished at 5-5 overall and 4-3 Ivy, a marked improvement for a program that had suffered through successive 1-9 campaigns. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

At about 2 last Saturday afternoon, things were falling into place for the Princeton University football team.

The Tigers had jumped out to a 14-0 lead over visiting Dartmouth and Penn was trailing Cornell 13-7.

A Princeton victory combined with a Penn defeat would secure a share of the Ivy League title for the Tigers and the final chapter in their heartening worst-to-first campaign.

But by 3:30, things had fallen apart as Dartmouth had jumped out to a 35-14 lead and Penn had pulled out a dramatic 35-28 win to clinch outright the Ivy crown.

The afternoon ended with Princeton dropping a 35-21 decision to Dartmouth as a crowd of 8,327 left a Princeton Stadium covered in shadows with night approaching.

While Princeton head coach Bob Surace was disappointed with how things turned out, he was able to see the silver lining in a season that saw Princeton end up 5-5 overall and 4-3 in Ivy play, a marked improvement after two successive 1-9 campaigns.

“I told the guys in the locker room how proud I am of them and what they accomplished and getting us to play a meaningful game at the end of the year,” said Surace.

“We had distractions and  things we had to overcome from what happened in January with Chuck [Dibilio] to Khamal [Brown] to all the different things that go on this week. They just remained focused and practiced hard. We just ran out of gas. You lose your right-handed quarterback [Connor Michelson] in the game before and he is not able to throw. Your lefty [Quinn Epperly] gets hurt the third play of the game and we just couldn’t overcome some of the things.”

With Princeton’s lead down to 14-7 at halftime, Surace sensed trouble on the horizon.

“We needed to have a bigger lead going into halftime,” said Surace. “We have had our foot on the pedal all year and we just couldn’t continue to get anything momentum-wise and give credit to them and their quarterback [Dalyn Williams]. I don’t know how many times that we had him in our grasp and had a shot at him. He found a way out of it and made plays and executed so it was a really good job by him.”

The game got away from Princeton in a four minute stretch of the third quarter which saw Dartmouth reel off 21 unanswered points.

Princeton senior co-captain and star linebacker Andrew Starks believed that the Tigers could weather the storm.

“Obviously when things happen like that, that’s us making mistakes,” said Starks, who had a team-high 16 tackles on the day.

“Not taking anything away from Dartmouth, they played a tremendous game and made a lot of great plays. When you are playing a team that has some athletes like they do, you can’t make mistakes like that. With that being said, I wouldn’t say we were unraveling. We made mistakes but I think at that point we still thought we were going to win the game. The offense would get going and the defense would stiffen up. We would make some plays and eventually turn things around. Unfortunately it just didn’t happen that way today.”

In the view of senior co-captain and defensive line standout Mike Catapano, the way Princeton turned things around this fall was reflected by its fighting spirit to the end on Saturday.

“We made some dramatic improvements and I am really proud of the guys,” said Catapano.

“We had some setbacks and some injuries with Khamal and things of that nature. This team never quit. Everybody thought we were going to be last in the league and this team really rallied together as a family and as a brotherhood. We fought every play of every game and that is what I am most proud of. We are going out that way too.”

In the early going on Saturday, it was Princeton that was making the big plays. After a scoreless first quarter, the Tigers got on the board first as they scored on a four-yard touchdown run by Epperly to take a 7-0 lead.

Minutes later, Princeton doubled its lead on a big play by special teams as John Hill scooped up a punt blocked by Seth DeValve and raced 23 yards for a touchdown as the Tigers went up 14-0.

Williams, though, struck for the first of his three touchdown passes of the afternoon, hitting Justin Foley for a seven-yard scoring strike to make it a 14-7 game.

Princeton responded by marching 73 yards to the Dartmouth two-yard-line. The drive stalled and the Tigers attempted a field goal but the snap sailed high and Princeton came up with nothing as its lead remained at 14-7 at halftime.

The third quarter quickly turned into a nightmare for the Tigers. The Big Green took the opening kickoff and tied the game at 14-14 on a 54-yard option pass from receiver Ryan McManus to Bo Patterson.

Princeton’s first possession of the half ended with a lost fumble and Dartmouth quickly capitalized. Williams hit McManus for a 37-yard pass and then found Mitch Aprahamian in the end zone for a four-yard touchdown pass as Dartmouth forged ahead 21-14.

The Tigers took the ensuing kickoff and fumbled the ball away. Once again, the Big Green cashed in as Williams scored on a two-yard touchdown run, extending the Dartmouth lead to 28-14. All told, the Big Green scored 21 points in a span of 4:03 as it broke the contest open.

Dartmouth added some insurance early in the fourth quarter as Williams hit Michael Reilly with a 37-yard scoring pass to go up 35-14. The freshman quarterback ended the day hitting on 20-of-35 passes for 284 yards.

Princeton did score the final points of the afternoon as freshman quarterback Kedric Bostic, seeing action with Michelson and Epperly ailing, scampered for a nine-yard touchdown run to make the final margin 35-21.

While losing the finale was disappointing, Catapano was proud of the excitement the Tigers generated around campus this fall as they made their unlikely bid for a league title.

“That was the goal of the seniors, that was the goal of our whole team — to bring pride back to this university and this football program” asserted Catapano.

“These guys work so hard 365. It is not just a fall sport, we go so hard in the summer time, so hard in the spring. A lot of people don’t see that but I think they got a much greater appreciation for what we did this year and trying to lay a foundation for something even better to come. That is what I am most proud of; that is what the seniors are most proud of.”

As a result, the Tiger seniors were determined to put on a brave face later that evening as they celebrated the bonfire they earned with wins over Harvard and Yale.

“To mope through an event that is so difficult to acquire would just be wrong and wouldn’t be the way to finish out the four years the senior class has had,” said Starks, who gave an impassioned speech at the
bonfire celebration on Cannon Green.

“Obviously this loss hurts right now. You never want to lose, especially when it is your last one. I think you have to have a quick bounce back period and go out there and have a good time with guys one last time.”

Surace, for his part, had a good time working with his Class of 2013.

“When they were building some of the buildings over there, I used to take pictures of the guys with hard hats and lunch pails going to work,” said Surace.

“I thought it was really neat; here you are at Princeton and when we go to work out at 6:30 in the morning, you have got these guys that are going to work with their hard hats and lunch pails. That’s what the group was. Whether we made mistakes, we played hard. Even today, I thought we played extremely hard.”

That tenacity helped spark this fall’s turnaround and should pay dividends as the Princeton program looks to keep progressing.

“We move forward; the reality is when I dismiss the seniors from our 3:15 meeting and it is just underclassmen, we have got to get going again,” said Surace.

“The reason we got to this point is guys like Cat, Andrew, and the other seniors just took the approach the correct way. I am confident we have built something where guys will continue to do that.”

WILL POWER: Princeton University men’s basketball player Will Barrett drives to the basket last Friday against visiting Rutgers. Junior forward Barrett scored a team-high 13 points but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 58-52 to the Scarlet Knights. The Tigers, now 1-2, play at No. 6 Syracuse on November 21 and at Lafayette on November 24. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

For the Princeton University men’s basketball team, its non-conference schedule is designed to be a minefield, providing an array of challenges to sharpen the squad for Ivy League play.

Last week, the Tigers saw things blow up on them twice at Jadwin Gym as they worked out some early-season kinks.

On November 13, Princeton blew an 18-point lead on the way to a 67-66 loss to Northeastern. Three days later against Rutgers, the Tigers jumped out to an early 12-3 advantage only to end up falling 58-52 to their local rivals.

“Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel for us,” said Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson, invoking the Batman catchphrase in expressing his disappointment after the Rutgers game.

“Once again, I feel like Rutgers deserves a lot of credit and we have to be able to execute a little better on the offensive end. I thought our defense was improved from the last time we went out. We made some mistakes that I think are correctable.”

Trailing Rutgers 33-27 as the second half started, Princeton displayed some better intensity as it went on a 9-4 run to narrow the gap to 37-36. The Tigers got it to 43-40 and 50-46 but could never get over the hump against the Scarlet Knights.

“We just couldn’t buy a hoop; we got it to 50-46 with four minutes left and we missed a couple of easy shots that would have really helped,” said Henderson whose team shot 7-of-22 from the field in the second half as it fell to 1-2.

“Our backcourt is struggling a little bit. T.J. [Bray] was a 40 percent shooter from 3 last year and I have confidence that we’ll turn this thing around.”

Henderson was dismayed by how his team struggled on the boards, getting outrebounded 42-24 by an aggressive Rutgers squad.

“It is concerning, especially since I think that is what we want to hang our hat on this year,” said Henderson.

“They had six offensive in the first half; it was just like patty cake up against the glass. I thought that was a major point and I thought transition hoops in the first half made a difference.”

Tiger senior star Ian Hummer acknowledged that the Tigers were outfought on the glass.

“It was an overall team effort by Rutgers, they really destroyed us, they really pushed us around,” said Hummer, who ended the evening with 10 points and four rebounds.

“I think we have to push back. We can definitely hit the boards as well, if not better, than they can. It just didn’t happen today and we just have to learn from it. We have got to go hard in practice and we’ll board up next time.”

Like Henderson, Hummer was disappointed by Princeton’s failure to execute when it was on the verge of regaining the lead.

“Rutgers is a very good team, but to be perfectly honest we didn’t play very well when we were only two or three points down,” said Hummer, who had played a major role in helping Princeton win the last two games in the series.

“To know that was the case and not being able to cross that threshold was kind of frustrating. Every time we cut it to two or three, they ended up getting a board and putting it back. It definitely takes the wind out of your sails. It just builds character. We are going to be in tough games throughout the season. I think we can really learn from this and we can play a lot better.”

Henderson, for his part, knows the Tigers will have to be tougher as they play at No. 6 Syracuse on November 21 and at Lafayette on November 24.

“We have hit some droughts but I think that we need to have the ability to adjust in those different changing defensive segments,” said Henderson.

“That’s why we like playing these games. They really help us and it shows us what we need to work on.”