December 14, 2022

Featuring more than 60 young artists and choreography by Risa Kaplowitz, “The Nutcracker” was presented by Princeton Youth Ballet at the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center in three performances last weekend. The production was adapted by Talin Kenar. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

COVID-19, flu, and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) are all on the rise, and with cold weather and holiday gatherings bringing people indoors together in large groups, the medical challenges of the weeks and months ahead are daunting.

The particular situations and risks are different for every individual and every family, but in Princeton and throughout the country, people will be living with the threat of these three viruses during the coming months.

Reported cases (unquestionably an undercount) of COVID-19 and COVID-related hospitalizations are up more than 25 percent in the past two weeks, and test positivity rates are rising quickly across the country, according to the December 13 New York Times. “The current surge is milder so far than at this point in previous winter waves, but its nationwide scope is concerning,” the Times reported.

In Mercer County, reported daily cases are up 66 percent over the past 14 days, but rates and hospitalization levels for COVID-19 in Mercer remain relatively low.

A December 7 New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) press release urged New Jerseyans to take precautions to protect themselves against a triple threat of respiratory illnesses “as flu season starts with a vengeance.” more

By Donald Gilpin

A Solidarity Vigil Against Hate and Bigotry will take place at Tiger Park in front of Palmer Square on Saturday, December 17 from 3 to 4 p.m. in response to a recent rise in hate crimes and violence.

Sponsored by the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA), along with the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice (BRCSJ), Not In Our Town Princeton, and the Princeton Community Democratic Organization, the rally will represent a stand against all acts of violence and hatred, online and in real life.

“There has been a huge surge in hate crimes and violence,” said CFPA Executive Director the Rev. Robert Moore. “It’s gotten worse and worse. Spreading these hateful messages is pernicious.”

Moore cited increasing numbers of attacks and threats against LGBTQ, African American, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, and other communities. “These are the people who are being targeted now,” he said. “We need to be proactive to prevent that, and the best way to be proactive is what we’re trying to do with the solidarity vigil on Saturday.”

He continued, “We don’t want these groups to feel that people of good will are just watching and saying, ‘Oh, that’s too bad, but what can I do about it?’ We need to be way more proactive. This event is trying to get ahead of the curve and say, ‘We’re not going to wait for the next hate crime to happen. We’re going to be expressing solidarity with all these victim communities and all people of good will standing together.”

ABC Eyewitness News reported last week that hate crimes were up 70 percent last month in New York City compared to the same month in 2021, with antisemitic attacks rising 125 percent. more

By Anne Levin

On the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday afternoon, President Biden held a ceremony in which he signed the Respect for Marriage Act, a bipartisan bill that protects same-sex and interracial marriages.

The legislation passed both chambers of Congress last Thursday with 12 Republican senators and 39 Republican members of the House siding with the Democrats to support the bill. In a statement, Biden said the legislation “will give peace of mind to millions of LGBTQ+ and interracial couples.”

Among them are Princeton residents Nick DiDomizio and Robby Pagels, who were married at their apartment four years ago by then-Mayor Liz Lempert. But this is not the time to sit back, said DiDomizio, who is the LGBTQ+ liaison to the municipality of Princeton, treasurer of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO), and secretary of the town’s Civil Rights Commission.

“Obviously I’m very appreciative of this added protection, but there is more to do,” he said this week. “We have to keep fighting.”

DiDomizio is project manager at Evotec, a drug discovery and development firm.  Pagels is the director of research and development at Optimeus, a chemical engineering company. The two met at the University of Delaware and moved to Princeton in 2015. They married after being together for eight years.

“Marriage equality had recently passed in New Jersey, and the decision at the Supreme Court was also recent,” said DiDomizio. “We just made this decision to have a civil wedding. We had reached out to Liz to see if she’d marry us in our apartment, and she was happy to do it. We had close friends attend, and it was a very special day. I was very appreciative of her coming to do the ceremony.” more

TURNING THE TIDE: Princeton Battlefield Park, where George Washington and his American troops defeated the British and helped to change the course of the American Revolution, will be receiving more than $2 million in state funding for preservation and renovations in the coming three years. The photo above is from last January’s reenactment of the Battle of Princeton; the next event will take place on January 8, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Princeton Battlefield Society)

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton Battlefield State Park, site of the battle that turned the tide for George Washington and his troops on January 3, 1777 in the American Revolution, will be receiving state funding of more than $2 million for restoration and preservation.

The work, focusing on the historic Thomas Clarke House and the Colonnade that stands on the western side of the Mercer Road battlefield, will be completed over the next three years in preparation for the country’s 2026 celebrations of 250 years of independence.

“New Jersey’s contributions to our nation’s independence is undeniable. From the battlefields where the tide of the American Revolution turned, to the many other sites where our nation’s identity was forged, New Jersey was arguably more deeply involved in the cause of independence than any other state,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in his November 29 announcement of an investment totaling $25 million in 10 Revolutionary War sites throughout the state, including Washington Crossing State Park, Trenton’s Old Barracks, the Battle Monument in Trenton, and Rockingham in Kingston, along with the Princeton Battlefield State Park.

“As we celebrate our nation’s 250th anniversary, it is important that our historic sites are prepared to welcome the hundreds of thousands of visitors that will undoubtedly travel from around the world to witness these sites in person on such a momentous occasion,” Murphy continued. “This investment will allow us to revitalize our historic sites and make sure we are prepared when they come.”

At Princeton Battlefield these preparations will take many forms, according to Todd Quackenbush, communications chair and trustee of the Princeton Battlefield Society (PBS). The Clarke House, the only structure on site dating from the battle, will see some much needed repair, and providing ADA-compliant access within the park and its buildings will be a priority.  more

By Anne Levin

A concept plan to upgrade the Dinky train line that runs between Princeton station and Princeton Junction, and enhance service on and around the line, has inspired more than 300 signatures on a petition urging NJ Transit, and the municipality, to go forward with the idea.

“The upgraded Dinky transitway will reduce car traffic. It will cut down commuting times to the Northeast Corridor. It will draw more visitors to our local stores and restaurants,” reads the petition, which is on the website “We believe in transit infrastructure that helps build community. So here’s our message to NJ Transit and local elected officials: let’s get this project on the fast track.”

NJ Transit’s recently released Princeton Transitway Study identifies four alternatives for upgrading the 2.7-mile rail line and developing new mobility opportunities in the corridor. Three involve building; the fourth option is “no build.” The study recommends the first alternative, which is for a “dedicated transit roadway with embedded light rail.”

This would involve electric light-rail cars running on a rail track between the two stations, much like the current Dinky; electric buses on rubber wheels that use both lanes of the corridor but can also leave it to go beyond the stations; on-board WiFi on the vehicles, all of which will be electric; and a bike-and-walk path along the corridor to allow safe crossing over U.S. 1 at the D&R Canal towpath and the Dinky Line trail.

This mixed-use option expands the line past the current terminus on the edge of the Princeton University campus into town; and could possibly extend, in the other direction, past Princeton Junction into West Windsor. Potential new stations would include six in town, and two in the transitway segment at Canal Pointe Boulevard and Roszel Road. more

By Anne Levin

Trash was the focus of the Monday, December 12 meeting of Princeton Council. The governing body discussed a new collection system for solid waste that gets underway February 1, once 64-gallon carts are delivered to every residential dwelling during the last two weeks of January.

As the town’s Land Use Engineer Jim Purcell said in his presentation, the goal for the evening was to agree on the maximum number of carts per household, and the annual cost for additional carts if people request them. After some discussion, Councilmembers agreed on staff’s recommendation of one 64-gallon cart per dwelling, and a fee of $300 a year for extra carts.

But needing more than one 64-gallon cart is not likely, Purcell said, as Assistant Administrator and Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton demonstrated by stuffing seven Styrofoam-filled kitchen trash bags into a cart that had been brought in for the occasion. Purcell said the cart can handle up to 200 pounds of waste. Extra trash cannot be put out in bags, as it has been. Only the waste in carts will be collected.

Bulk waste collection, which includes things like furniture and rugs, will now be once a week, on Wednesdays. Residents will have to schedule the pickups, either by phone, email, the town’s website, or an online app. “A lot of change is happening,” said Councilwoman Eve Niedergang. “We need to educate people so they know what the changes are.”

Costs for trash collection have gone up significantly, and the new program is less expensive for Princeton. At this point, including organic waste would be too costly, but the idea has not been abandoned. “The bid that came in was too expensive, but we are working on a solution for that,” said Purcell.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

Twenty-one years ago today, W.G. Sebald was driving to Norwich, the city explored in his internationally acclaimed novel The Rings of Saturn. He had just pulled on to the A-146 when his car “failed to follow the curve and drove straight into the opposite lane.” According to the account in Carole Angier’s biography Speak, Silence (Bloomsbury 2021), the horoscope for December 14 “warned that an eclipse of the sun was taking place visible only in North America, but ‘challenging for everyone.’”

Angier’s account has the makings of a passage from Sebald’s first book, Vertigo (New Directions 1999, translated by Michael Hulse) — his failure to follow the curve, his drive straight into the opposite lane, the challenge of the eclipse. Alive and at work, Sebald would drive the moment straight into a prose continuum, another road, or an invisible trajectory, and before you know it you’re staring through a train window with him as he takes you directly into the Arena Chapel in Padua, and suddenly you find yourself in the presence of Giotto’s frescoes, “overwhelmed by the silent lament of the angels, who kept their station above our endless calamities.”

In the distance far below you see Sebald’s car, crushed on the driver’s side, turned “facing the other way” after  crashing head-on into the cab of a 38-ton truck. Not to worry, by now he’s safe in All’estero, the second chapter, flying on the wings of prose through “the roaring traffic to take the very next train to Verona” while meditating on the hint of vertigo in the “disconcerting” afternoon Franz Kafka spent on his way from Venice to Lake Garda in September 1913. Instead of getting off at Verona, he continues to the railway station at Desenzano, knowing his Czech soulmate had stopped there more than 60 years before, and after finding the WC, he stares into the mirror above the  heavy stoneware basin in a room “where scarcely a thing had been altered since the turn of the century,” wondering as he washed his hands if Kafka had gazed into the same mirror. He puts the possibility in play by pointing out nearby graffiti, Il Cacciatore, Italian for “the hunter,” which he reads as a reference to Kafka’s posthumously published story, “The Hunter Gracchus.” After drying his hands, he makes an anonymous contribution, adding the words nella selva nera (“in the snow forest”), his secret sharing of Kafka’s story of a hunter fated to wander all the lands of the earth forever. more

“A CHRISTMAS CAROL”: Performances are underway for “A Christmas Carol.” Adapted and directed by Lauren Keating, the new production runs through December 24 at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre. Above, from left, the Cratchits — Tiny Tim (Yoyo Huang), Margaret (Gisela Chípe), Belinda (Zuriaya Holliman-York), Peter (Desmond Elyseev), and Bob (Kenneth DeAbrew) — celebrate, as Scrooge (Dee Pelletier) watches. (Photo by Matt Pilsner)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

McCarter has resumed its annual tradition of presenting A Christmas Carol — with a new production adapted and directed by Lauren Keating. This version retains some conceptual and design elements that succeeded in past productions, while bringing a fresh viewpoint.

As Town Topics previously noted, “A woman, actor Dee Pelletier, plays Scrooge (as a male character) for the first time. Keating’s additional casting pays particularly close attention to diversity, based on research she has done on London’s population during Dickens’ time.”

It is worth mentioning that a female actor has played Scrooge in other recent productions. Sally Nystuen Vahle played the role for Dallas Theatre Center, and in 2021 Adrienne Sweeney starred in a production by Minnesota’s Commonweal Theatre. However, Pelletier is the first female actor to fill the role for McCarter.

Although Scrooge is still depicted as male in Keating’s version (the young adult version of the character is portrayed, with suitably intense brusqueness, by male actor Matt Monaco), a few other characters have been “re-gendered.”

The crooked Old Joe, to whom Scrooge’s housekeeper Mrs. Dilber (Polly Lee) sells his belongings (Keating develops this sequence, establishing a rapport between the characters much earlier in the story than Dickens does) is refashioned as the more kindly, wholesome Old Jo (Vilma Silva). The solicitors for charity, who usually are depicted as male, here are named Cate (Julie Ann Earls) and Mary (Legna Cedillo). more

MUSIC AND ANIMATION: The Queen’s Cartoonists perform in front of a live screen where classic cartoons are projected at State Theatre New Jersey on December 23. (Photo by Jamie Jung)

State Theatre New Jersey presents the musical ensemble The Queen’s Cartoonists in “Holiday Hurrah: Yule Love It!” on Friday, December 23 at 8 p.m. The jazz sextet’s show is for audiences of all ages, combining musicianship, multi-instrumentals, comedy, and cartoons.

The Queen’s Cartoonists (TQC) perform live in front of a screen, where cartoons from the golden age of animation, cult cartoon classics, and modern animated films are projected. The band either re-creates a cartoon’s soundtrack note-for-note — performing works from jazz composers like Carl Stalling, Raymond Scott, and Duke Ellington alongside classical giants like Mozart, Rossini, and R. Strauss — or writes their own fresh compositions to accompany the on-screen action. Tying everything together are TQC’s anecdotes about the cartoons and their composers, humor, and elements of a musical circus.  more

“NUTCRACKER,” FAMILY STYLE: The New Jersey Dance Connection presents its version, geared to all ages, of “The Nutcracker Ballet” December 16-18 at Kelsey Theatre. (Photo courtesy of The Dance Connection)

Theatregoers of all ages are the target audience for The Dance Connection’s family version of The Nutcracker Ballet December 16-18 at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) Kelsey Theatre, 1200 Old Trenton Road in West Windsor.

This one-hour long ballet is set in 19th century Europe to the score by Tchaikovsky. Fully narrated and abridged, the ballet features dolls and sweets coming to life, mice, toy soldiers, and snowflakes.  more

Westminster Choir College of Rider University marked the 30th Anniversary of An Evening of Readings and Carols with performances on December 9 and 10 at Princeton University Chapel. The program is the students’ culminating performance for the fall semester, with performances by Westminster Chapel Choir, Westminster Symphonic Choir, Westminster Jubilee Singers, Westminster Concert Bell Choir, Westminster Choir, and Westminster Alumni Choir.

“LOCUST #10”: This work by Dor Guez, part of a series made in response to photographs of the 1915 locust plague, is featured in “Colony / Dor Guez,” on view through February 12 at the Princeton University Art Museum’s galleries at Art@Bainbridge on Nassau Street.

Jaffa-based artist Dor Guez’s penetrating transformations of early 20th-century photographs of Jerusalem are the subject of a thought-provoking exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum’s galleries at Art@Bainbridge. The exhibition, titled “Colony / Dor Guez,” will be on view through February 12.

“Colony / Dor Guez” brings together photography, film, and installation works the artist created from five years of research in the archives of the American Colony, a charitable Christian community of Americans, and later Swedes, established in Jerusalem in 1881. In the first decades of the 20th century, the artists of the American Colony created hundreds of photographic views of Jerusalem and its surroundings that they disseminated to an international audience eager to see the sites that, described in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim texts, came to be known as the Holy Land. Guez transforms these historical photographs, exploring the ways that photography was employed to construct an image of the region.

“The powerful work by Dor Guez is a potent and visually arresting rejoinder to the idea that histories are ever settled,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, Director of the Princeton University Art Museum. more

WINTER ART PARTY: Ornament and greeting card making, art projects, open studios, and more are among the activities this Saturday, December 17 from 12-4 p.m. at Princeton Makes in the Princeton Shopping Center. (Ornaments by Adriana Groza)

Princeton Makes, the Princeton-based artist cooperative, will host its Winter Art Party on Saturday, December 17 from 12 to 4 p.m. at its artist studios and art market in the Princeton Shopping Center. 

Activities at the Winter Art Party include ornament making, greeting card making for kids (and adults), art projects, open studios so visitors can talk with the artists, live music, and a chance to shop in the art market. The event is free,  open to the public, and fun for all ages.

Princeton Makes is a cooperative comprised of 32 local artists who work across a range of artistic genres, including painting, drawing, stained glass, sculpture, textiles, and jewelry. Customers will be able to support local artists by shopping for a wide variety of art, including large paintings, prints, custom-made greeting cards, stained glass lamps and window hangings, jewelry in a variety of designs and patterns, and more. 

For more information, visit

“SCULPTOR PHILIP GRAUSMAN”: Photographer Ricardo Barros will present a slide talk on his work, including the photo above, on December 14 at 7 p.m. at The Watershed Institute in Pennington. The event is hosted by the Princeton Photography Club.

Photographer Ricardo Barros will present “Growing a Unicorn Habitat” at The Watershed Institute in Pennington on December 14 at 7 p.m., hosted by the Princeton Photography Club. Barros is an internationally recognized photographer with works in 11 museums, including Smithsonian American Art Museum and Museu de arte de São Paulo. The occasion of this talk is Barros’ current show at Princeton University, “An Entanglement of Time and Space,” but this presentation takes a larger view. Barros advocates centering oneself in the present moment, especially when undertaking creative work.

“We all know that unicorns do not exist,” Barros said. “They reside in a world of imagination, so we don’t bother looking for them. But consider the possibility that our vision is narrowed by what we think we know. It is as if we are wearing blinders. There are real things out there, just waiting to be imagined. When we discover one, it seems so special as to be magical. I call these things unicorns. I think it important that we make room in our work so unicorns can wander in.” more

DARUMA WORKSHOP: The Arts Council of Princeton and Miya Table & Home will present the Princeton Daruma Workshop on Tuesday, December 27 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Led by local artist Minako Ota, attendees will decorate this symbol of perseverance, achievement, and good fortune in anticipation of the new year.

With the new year approaching, the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) has partnered with Miya Table & Home on a community project to refresh, restart, and recommit to our goals, hopes, and dreams. After a sold out debut in 2021, the Princeton Daruma Workshop is back.

The Daruma is a traditional symbol of perseverance, achievement, and good fortune — an iconic symbol found all over Japan in businesses, schools, and homes. The Daruma is most popular around the new year, made with two white circles for eyes. Once a goal is set or a wish is made, the owner colors in one eye. The other eye is colored in only after the goal is achieved or the wish comes true. more

SONGS OF THE SEASON: Led by Princeton Boychoir Director Fred Meads, Westrick Music Academy’s Princeton Boychoir performed their “Holiday Harmonies” special concert at All Saints’ Chapel in Princeton this past Sunday.

By Jean Stratton

“It’s like the sun and the moon and the stars — it is everything. It opened up worlds for me.”

This is what music has meant to one performer of choral music, whose career started in Princeton.

And the joy of music is not limited to the performer. It is a shared experience with the listeners, creating a moment that can be inspirational.

How special it is when these experiences can be brought to young children.


LEANING IN: Princeton University men’s basketball player Xaivian Lee curls around a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, freshman guard Lee tallied a career-high 12 points with four rebounds, two steals, and an assist in 25 minutes off the bench to help Princeton rout Monmouth 91-54. The Tigers, who improved to 8-2 with the win as they posted their eight straight win, were slated to face Iona on December 13 and then host Delaware on December 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Xaivian Lee may weigh around 160 pounds soaking wet, but he is starting to make a big impact for the Princeton University men’s basketball team.

Last Saturday night, wiry 6’3 freshman guard Lee tallied a career-high 12 points with four rebounds, two steals, and an assist in 25 minutes off the bench to help Princeton rout Monmouth 91-54 before 1,372 at Jadwin Gym as it improved to 8-2 and posted its eighth straight victory.

“I feel like in the past couple of practices, I have really been focused on trying to take care of the ball and not turn it over,” said Lee, a native of Toronto, Canada, who had no turnovers against the Hawks. “I have been trying to still make plays and play fearless while still taking care of that. I feel that has been good, getting to the rim and finding my teammates. I feel like building my confidence, I did really good tonight with that, especially in the second half.”

Lee’s play has benefited from coaching he has been getting at the college level.

“I feel like being here and being coached everyday has forced me to get a lot better, especially defensively,” said Lee. “I have been trying to make the biggest improvements like locking into the scouts. Compared to high school, every game has a different scout, different personnel, and it is locking into that. I feel that has been my biggest improvement.” more

STANDING TALL: Princeton University women’s basketball player Ellie Mitchell, right, pressures a foe in recent action. Last Sunday, junior forward Mitchell tallied 10 points with nine rebounds and five assists to help Princeton defeat Delaware 62-47. The Tigers, now 6-3, play at Rutgers on December 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last Thursday night, Ellie Mitchell helped the Princeton University women’s basketball team put a scare into perennial national power Connecticut.

Playing at UConn’s Gampel Pavilion before a crowd of 8,731, Princeton forced 27 turnovers and went on a late 21-8 run to cut the Huskies’ lead to 66-64 before succumbing 69-64.

“That was super cool; we gave them a great game, obviously it didn’t end up the way we wanted but we had it down the wire,” said junior forward Mitchell, who had three points, nine rebounds, four steals, and two assists in the defeat. “I think they were nervous, we came up with some great plays. We played a great game. We didn’t shoot super well but we fought the entire time. It was an incredible atmosphere. Obviously we wanted to win, but we are proud of the effort. We almost had them.”

Back at home in Jadwin Gym three days later to host Delaware, Princeton had it going as it topped the Blue Hens 62-47, improving to 6-3.

“We wanted to redeem ourselves, losing always stinks, no matter who you are playing,” said Mitchell, a 6’1 native of Chevy Chase, Md.  more

BURNING COLES: Princeton University wrestler Danny Coles, right, controls a foe in a match last season. This past Sunday, sophomore Coles edged No. 8 Sammy Alvarez 4-3 at 141 pounds as Princeton battled Rutgers. The teams were tied 16-16 after the 10 bouts with each winning five and none of the matches being decided by falls, forfeits, defaults or disqualifications. That sent the match to the third criteria, total points scored, and Rutgers had a 42-39 edge to win 17-16 on the criteria point. Coles was later named the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Wrestler of the Week, standing out as the only unranked wrestler to top a ranked foe in the matchup. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Chris Ayres has different parts to his job as head coach of the Princeton University wrestling team, but one thing stands out for him.

It’s the chance to help a wrestler develop to reach another level.

“It’s every day what I live for,” said Ayres. “I do a lot of stuff in my job — like fundraising and recruiting — but my favorite thing is trying to push those buttons to figure out how a guy makes a breakthrough. I think it’s all of our coaches’ favorite thing. Our guys were all the best kids in high school, and it’s trying to figure out how to unlock them and make them be the best they can be in college. And it’s not like a linear gradual gain, it’s a big jump. You have a mental shift where you’re like here’s where I am.”

The Tigers staff saw one such jump Sunday. Despite a loss to InterMat No. 17 Rutgers on tie-breaking criteria points after Princeton tied them with five match wins apiece, the Tigers had something to build on with a win at 141 pounds from Danny Coles [The teams were tied 16-16 after the 10 bouts with none of the matches being decided by falls, forfeits, defaults, or disqualifications. That sent the match to the third criteria, total points scored, and Rutgers had a 42-39 edge to win 17-16 on the criteria point.] Princeton’s InterMat-ranked trio of Patrick Glory, Quincy Monday, and Luke Stout all won as expected along with Blaine Bergey at 165 pounds, but Coles had the most significant win of the day.

The teams were tied 16-16 after the 10 bouts with each winning five and none of the matches being decided by falls, forfeits, defaults, or disqualifications. That sent the match to the third criteria, total points scored, and Rutgers had a 42-39 edge to win 17-16 on the criteria point.

The Canadian native was the only wrestler on either team to upset an InterMat-ranked opponent. Coles scored a first-period takedown and a last-period escape in a 4-3 win over eighth-ranked Sammy Alvarez at 141 pounds.  more

ON A ROLL: Princeton University men’s hockey player Pito Walton goes after the puck in recent action. Last Saturday, senior defenseman and team captain Walton picked up three assists to help Princeton edge RPI 6-5. Walton was later named as the ECAC Hockey Defender of the Week for his performance over the weekend which also included a strong effort on Friday as the Tigers blanked Union 2-0. Princeton, now 6-7 overall and 5-6 ECACH, is on break until it plays a two-game set at Colorado College on December 30 and 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In losing six of its eight first games this season, the Princeton University men’s hockey team played its foes tight but had trouble getting over the hump in close games.

While the defeats stung, Princeton head coach Ron Fogarty wasn’t discouraged by the early stumbles.

“I was happy with where our team was moving towards in our style of play,” said Fogarty. “The loss against Colgate in overtime (3-2 on November 5) was tough but we were playing well. We just didn’t get the results.”

But starting with a 5-1 win over No. 20 RIT on November 26, Princeton has been getting the results since Thanksgiving. Putting together its best weekend of the season, Princeton defeated Union 2-0 last Friday and then edged RPI 6-5 a night later.

“It is very difficult to sweep in our conference, no matter who you are,” said Fogarty. more

SURE SHOT: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Rachel Luo puts up a shot in a game last winter. Coming off a superb junior season, senior guard Luo figures to be a key performer for PHS this winter. The Tigers tip off their 2022-23 season by playing at Princeton Day School on December 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Boasting a blend of newcomers and some battle-tested veterans, there is a sense of optimism around the Princeton High girls’ basketball team heading into the 2022-23 season.

“We have a lot of new faces,” said PHS head coach Dave Kosa, who guided PHS to a 10-11 record last winter. “They are really jelling with one another, we are excited. There are a couple of freshmen that are going to play a lot of minutes, I think they are ready for it. They are pretty talented. It is good that we are going to be young and hungry.”

It is also good for Kosa to have senior Rachel Luo, junior Riley Devlin, and junior Ava Caruso returning in the backcourt.

“We thrust Rachel into the point guard role last year and she wasn’t really ready for it,” said Kosa. “I think this year we are going to do it more by committee. Riley can play it, Rachel can play it, and Ava can play it. Those are the three guards that will be handling the ball for us.”

Two new faces, freshman Sephora Romain and sophomore transfer Gianna Grippo, should see action at guard.

“Sephora is super athletic, she is going to add a lot of quickness,” said Kosa. “She might be in the mix as the season wears on. Gianna transferred from Bridgewater — she might see some minutes as well. It provides us with depth.”

Junior forward Gabby Bannett provides experience and versatility. more

PAIGE ONE: Princeton Day School girls’ basektball player Paige Gardner fires a pass in a game last season. Senior guard Gardner, who also stars in lacrosse, brings athleticism to the backcourt for PDS. The Panthers will be tipping off their 2021-22 campaign by hosting crosstown rival Princeton High on December 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team has hit the court for the preseason, Seraphine Hamilton likes the mindset and versatility she is seeing from her players.

“We have a more competitive group and a lot of talent,” said PDS head coach Hamilton, who guided PDS to a 5-13 record last winter. “We are pretty fluid, everybody plays everything.”

The Panthers are getting an infusion of talent with the arrival of four freshmen — Ella McLaren, Jules Hartman, Makayla Rondinelli, and Sophie Barber.

“Ella and Jules bring a lot of the similar things to the basketball court that they bring on the soccer field,” said Hamilton, whose team will host Princeton High on December 15 in its season opener. “Jules is really composed and makes great decisions under pressure. Ella is attack-oriented and athletic. Mikayla and Sophia come fresh off of their AAU season — they are ballers. That is a good addition.”

The return of senior guard Paige Gardner, who stars in lacrosse and has committed to attend Fairfield University and play for its women’s lacrosse program, brings athleticism to the Panther backcourt.

“I have coached her all four years in basketball; she was a little peanut when she was a freshman and now she is an athletic presence,” said Hamilton. “She has grown; she is a D-I athlete on the court and she knows how to cut across the court from lacrosse. Our offense lends itself to the way that she can play.” more

BOUNCE IN HIS STEP: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Mason McQueen dribbles the ball in a game last winter. Senior guard McQueen’s energy helped spark PDS to the Prep B state final last season. The Panthers start their 2022-23 campaign by hosting WW/P-North on December 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As Eugene Burroughs looks ahead to the upcoming season for his Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team, he believes two tournament losses last winter have positively impacted his returning players.

While PDS fell to Trenton Catholic Academy 50-43 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament and then lost 69-59 to Doane Academy in the Prep B state final, Burroughs saw those performances as a turning point.

“I think our game at TCA was a moment where I felt our team realized how hard we have to play,” said PDS head coach Burroughs, whose team went 5-13 in 2021-22. “We really competed with a lot of energy; I told them after that game this is the standard of how we have to play. The Doane game was another game where I felt like we played as a team at a high level. It was a physical game, we competed. Having returning kids who have experienced that is a great carryover for them this year. I feel that those guys all have improved their skill set as players. When you have that with the chemistry that our returning guys have, I think you are heading in the right direction.”

As his team has gone through preseason practices, Burroughs is seeing a carryover of intensity.

“Our energy has been great in the preseason, the best it has been since I have been here,” said Burroughs, who is in his third year guiding the program. “I feel my returning players have really just turned the corner on my expectations of them as players with our ability to move the ball on offense and rotate on defense.” more

SWOOPING IN: Hun School boys’ hockey player Elian Estulin, left, tracks down a puck in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior star and team captain Estulin picked up two assists in a losing cause as Hun fell 7-3 to Holy Ghost Prep (Pa.). In upcoming action, the Raiders, now 5-4, play at LaSalle College High (Pa.) on December 14 and get a rematch at Holy Ghost Prep (Pa.) on December 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Riding a three-game winning streak, outscoring its foes 25-0 in that stretch, the Hun School boys’ hockey team was rolling as it hosted Holy Ghost Prep (Pa.) last Friday evening at the Ice Land Skating Center.

Midway through the second period, it looked like the good times were going to keep coming as Hun took 3-1 lead on Justin Laplante’s second goal of the contest.

Hun head coach Ian McNally liked where his team’s mentality was as it had overcome an early 1-0 deficit against Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference (APAC) rival Holy Ghost with two straight goals in a 50 second span late in the first period to take a 2-1 lead.

“Things were going good so I think the mindset coming into this was more like things are good right now rather than we are playing Ghost,” said McNally. “We didn’t start that well but we responded by scoring goals.”

Unfortunately for the Raiders, Holy Ghost responded with four unanswered goals in the last eight minutes of the second period and never looked back on the way to a 7-3 win. more