September 28, 2022

STANDING TALL: Princeton University quarterback Blake Stenstrom gets ready to fire a pass last Saturday against visiting Lehigh. Senior Stenstrom hit 25-of-34 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown as Princeton defeated Lehigh 29-17 in its home opener. The Tigers, now 2-0, open Ivy League action by playing at Columbia (2-0) on October 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last fall, Blake Stenstrom and Liam Johnson were part of the supporting cast as the Princeton University football team rolled to a share of the Ivy League title.

This season, senior quarterback Stenstrom and junior linebacker Johnson have earned leading roles for the Tigers and are emerging as stars.

Last Saturday as Princeton defeated visiting Lehigh 29-17 in its home opener to improve to 2-0, Stenstrom hit on 25-of-34 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown while Johnson made a team-high 10 tackles.

After a bit of a shaky start against the Mountain Hawks, Stenstrom got into a groove.

“There were some challenges that we faced and mistakes we made in the first half,” said Stenstrom who was the backup quarterback in 2021, appearing in five games, completing five passes for 44 yards along with 68 yards rushing and two touchdowns. “Some things didn’t go our way. In the end, we figured it out a little bit and came back with a stronger second half.”

Utilizing Princeton’s crew of skill players, Stenstrom spread the ball around. Senior receiver Andrei Iosivas made seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown while senior Dylan Classi had seven receptions for 110 yards, junior JoJo Hawkins made five catches for 34 yards, and senior tight end Carson Bobo had four receptions for 22 yards.

“We are blessed to have a lot of talent all over the field on this team,” said Stenstrom. “Whether it is tight ends, receivers or running backs, I don’t feel any doubt when I throw the ball to these guys. It is fantastic.” more

BRINGING IT HOME: Princeton University women’s soccer Kamryn Loustau, right, goes after the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, Loustau and the Tigers had a tough night in Connecticut as they fell 1-0 at Yale in the Ivy League opener for both teams. Princeton, now 5-4 overall and 0-1 Ivy, will be resuming league play on October 1 when it hosts Dartmouth in the first game to be held at the new Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

If Extreme Makeover: Stadium Edition existed, the Princeton University women’s soccer team would be the perfect subject.

The Tigers have been intentionally avoiding even looking toward Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium as Princeton completes a rebuild of the team’s new home that it will share with the men’s team.

“We’ll get on the bus and we’ll drive by it and everyone will look the opposite direction,” said Princeton head coach Sean Driscoll. “No one has actually really seen what it looks like to my knowledge and they’ve all been steadfast with that. I think come Wednesday or Thursday when we unveil it for our first session they’re going to be buzzing and that’s what I want. There are so few surprises in life, I want this to be something really memorable for the team.”

The Tigers will get the big reveal in their first practice at the new stadium this week. They are hoping they can jumpstart the second half of their season when they host Dartmouth on October 1 at 1 p.m. in their first game at the new venue.

“Not getting the result we wanted, I do think it’s perfect timing to find a new home, to establish a new identity potentially and take very seriously the opportunity to start brand new because the stadium has no results in it,” said Driscoll. “It has no wins, has no losses, has no draws, has nothing. That’s for us to create.”

Princeton dropped its Ivy League opener at Yale, 1-0, last Saturday to fall to 5-4 overall. The Tigers have lost four of their last six games going into Tuesday’s scheduled non-conference game at Bucknell as they face a short turnaround.  more

CAT FIGHT: Princeton University field hockey player Beth Yeager, left, battles for the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, sophomore star Yeager picked up an assist as the seventh-ranked Tigers fell 3-2 in overtime to Lafayette. The loss to the Leopards moved Princeton to 5-4 overall. The Tigers, who had started the weekend by edging Penn 2-1 on Friday in their Ivy League opener, play at Yale on September 30 and at Connecticut on October 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After it was over, the Lafayette College field hockey players bounded across Bedford Field to soak in the cheers of their supporters.

Meanwhile, the seventh-ranked Princeton University squad trudged back to their bench, heads down as they processed falling 3-2 in overtime to a Lafayette team that brought a 2-7 record into the contest.

While the weekend had started on a high note for the Tigers as they had edged Penn 2-1 on Friday in their Ivy League opener, Princeton head coach Carla Tagliente sensed trouble on the horizon.

“We had some carry over from Friday, we didn’t come out and play our best,” said Tagliente, whose club fell to 5-4 overall with the setback to the Leopards. “We weren’t connecting, there was little bit of low energy and not executing. I think that was a byproduct of Friday. We Band-Aided it up with a win. I think this was bound to happen at some point here.”

In the loss to Lafayette, the Tigers generated enough opportunities to win, outshooting the Leopards 21-7 in regulation. Princeton took a 1-0 lead late in the first quarter on a goal by Zoe Shepard and then forged ahead 2-1 with 2:47 left in regulation on a penalty stroke by Sam Davidson. Lafayette, though, responded, with a goal 15 seconds later to force overtime and got the game-winner 4:42 into the extra session.

“There was a flukey play, they threw an overhead,” said Tagliente, referring to Lafayette’s second tally. “Overtime is a crapshoot with seven versus seven. You can have a lucky break, or one person’s individual skill can make the difference, it is what it is. You don’t want to put it to that point where you are rolling the dice.” more

DOUBLE WHAMMY: Princeton High girls’ tennis doubles star Ashley Chen reaches for a shot last week at the Mercer County Tournament as partner Maya-Alexandra Todorov looks on from the baseline. The pair of senior Chen and sophomore Todorov won the first doubles title at the MCT as PHS placed seventh in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Ashley Chen and Maya-Alexandra Todorov quickly sensed they would be a good pairing when they were teamed up at first doubles this season for the Princeton High girls’ tennis team.

Senior Chen liked the chemistry between the two from the outset.

“I don’t think we had really big issues,” said Chen. “We just played together well.”

Todorov, a sophomore, had a similar feeling. “We realized we had a good team,” said Todorov. “We have good communication. We are good friends, we set each other up really well.”

Their playing styles meshed as well. “Maya’s net game is really strong; if it is a short ball, she is right there,” said Chen. “I know I can always rely on her to get that. My groundstrokes are strong, and I hit them angled. She can put it away.”

The 6’0 Todorov thrives on dominating matches with her volleys.

“Playing at the net is what I bring, it is easier on my knees,” said Todorov, who was sidelined last season by injury. “Ashley is really consistent and sets up the ball good and I just put it away.”Last

Wednesday, Chen and Todorov displayed teamwork and skill as they rallied to put away Peddie’s Lakhi Raju and Catherine Zhang 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the first doubles final at the Mercer County Tournament.

The comeback was a product of the pair being more deliberate. more

SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE: Hun School boys’ soccer player Mass Verduci celebrates a goal last fall as Connor Frykholm looks on in the background. Junior star Frykholm had a lot to celebrate last Thursday, scoring three goals as Hun defeated Pennington 3-0. The Raiders, who defeated Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 4-2 last Saturday in improving to 5-2, play at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 28, host Life Center Academy on October 1, and then play at Steinert on October 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Hun School boys’ soccer team lost three times to the Pennington School last fall, Connor Frykholm believed that the squad was poised for a breakthrough against their powerhouse rival when the foes met last Wednesday.

“We were thinking on last year, it was the first time we played them when we lost 3-2 in overtime,” said Hun junior midfielder Frykholm. “We had that feeling coming into this game that we are just going to go in there and battle.”

Frykholm got things going for the Raiders as he converted a free kick in the first minute of the contest to give Hun a 1-0 lead.

“It starts coming from the back, win a great head ball, all pressure and all effort from there,” said Frykholm, reflecting on the tally. “We got a foul and I was able to tuck it in.”

With just under seven minutes left in the first half, Frykholm cooly slotted in a penalty kick to put Hun ahead 2-0 going into intermission.

“It is just step up and have confidence, I know what I have to do,” said Frykholm. “I have taken them before I had the confidence to do it.”

Displaying that confidence, Frykholm added a third goal with 9:39 left in regulation to put the finishing touch on a comprehensive 3-0 win for the Raiders. It marked Hun’s first win over Pennington since 2010 and sparked a raucous postgame celebration as the players sprinted across the field to hug goalie Diego Pena and posed for cell photos in the aftermath.

Despite the frustrating losses to Pennington last year, Frykholm never doubted that Hun would hold off the Red Hawks last Wednesday.

“With this new group of guys coming in, we have got the chemistry,” said Frykholm. “All of these guys are going to work for each other as well as people coming off the bench. Every single person played a part in today. We knew we were getting it done.” more

ENCORE PERFORMANCE: Hun School girls’ tennis player Amanda Francis displays her form last week at the Mercer County Tournament. Senior star Francis advanced to the first singles final at the MCT for the second straight year, helping Hun take ninth in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Amanda Francis had her game going as she started play for the Hun School girls’ tennis team in the final day of the Mercer County Tournament last Wednesday at the Mercer County Park tennis complex.

Looking for her second straight trip to the MCT first singles final, Hun senior star Francis topped Praslin Hayes of the Pennington School 6-4, 7-5 in a grueling semifinal match.

“Amanda is such a strong player, she has great intuition for tennis,” said Hun assistant coach Neal Spadafora. “During her semifinals match, which was a battle, it seemed like each point was won after 15 hits. She is very determined.”

But things ended on a down note for the gritty Francis as she retired after losing the first set 6-2 to Lawrenceville’s Aarushi Attray in the final.

“She was feeling unwell, she played as hard as she could,” said Spadafora, whose team ended up finishing ninth in the team standings of the event won by WW/P-South.

Another Hun senior, Sabrina Wang, made it to the semis, advancing at third singles, where she fell 6-1, 6-1 to Courtney Cane of Peddie. Wang went on to lose to WW/P-South’s Alyssa Yang in the third-place match.

“Sabrina played against another strong player and lost in two sets,” said Spadafora, referring to the third-place match. “She is playing well, her serve is very powerful. She is just a very well-rounded player. This was a good tournament for her, and it showed how she has developed as a player.” more

STRINGING IT OUT: Princeton Day School girls’ tennis star Kristina Wang hits a backhand as she competed in the Mercer Country Tournament last week at the Mercer County Park tennis complex. Junior star Wang placed fourth in second singles to help the Panthers finish in a tie for 11th place with Hopewell Valley in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Bringing high hopes into the Mercer Country Tournament last week, the Princeton Day School girls’ tennis team got derailed in the opening day of the competition by illness as it had to default in two of the five flights of the event.

While PDS head coach Michael Augsberger was disappointed to see players unable to finish their matches in September 19 action, he liked the way the team dealt with the situation.

“We thought we could do certain damage in the places where we did enter,” said Augsberger, whose team finished in a tie for 11th place with Hopewell Valley in the team standings in the event won by WW/P-South. “It is good to see that even with the illness happening, we still had a good showing. They had spirits up and you play good competition at counties. This is my second time here with the girls. It was the most schools involved, and we are seeing even more great players.”

Junior Kristina Wang did some damage, advancing to the semifinals at second singles last Wednesday where she fell 6-2, 6-1 to Polaris Hayes of Pennington. more

September 21, 2022

OPEN THROTTLE: Princeton University football player John Volker races upfield in a 2021 game. Last Saturday, sophomore running back Volker rushed for 32 yards and a touchdown as Princeton defeated Stetson 39-14 in its season opener. Princeton is hosting Lehigh (1-2) on September 24 in its home opener. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It is a tried-and-true principle of football that a team makes its biggest improvement from game one to game two.

As the Princeton University football team opened its 2022 season at Stetson last Saturday in DeLand, Fla., it sped up the process, displaying improvement within the contest.

After a sloppy start which saw the Tigers fall behind 14-7 on a rain-soaked field at Spec Martin Municipal Stadium, the Tigers tightened up on defense and the offense got rolling as they pulled away to a 39-14 win.

Princeton head coach Bob Surace acknowledged that his squad struggled at the outset with the damp conditions.

“It was pouring, there were so many mishandled balls on both sides where they made an error,” said Surace.

“It is Florida, you have to be prepared. They had towels for the balls and you rotate four balls in the first half. By the second half, you are catching medicine balls.”

The emotions of opening day led to some jumpy play by the Tigers with some false starts.  more

BEN THERE, DONE THAT: Princeton University men’s soccer player Ben Bograd controls the ball in recent action. Senior Bograd has helped anchor the backline for the Tigers this fall as they have gotten off to a 1-2-1 start. Princeton, which fell 3-1 at Fairfield last Saturday, hosts Rider on September 23 before playing at St. John’s on September 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

All the analytics said that the Princeton University men’s soccer team had the upper hand on Fairfield last Saturday evening.

The scoreboard said otherwise. The Tigers suffered a 3-1 loss at Fairfield to follow up an incredible team effort that led to a 2-1 win at Penn State the week earlier.

“I think we’ve been pretty inconsistent through the first four games,” said Princeton head coach Jim Barlow after falling to 1-2-1 heading into Tuesday’s scheduled game against Loyola.

“There are certain parts of our game that haven’t progressed enough, especially defending the restarts.”

The first two goals by Fairfield came off restarts and their third came on a counterattack after a Princeton corner kick, one of numerous scoring chances that the Tigers created. Princeton has gotten better through the early season at creating chances, and is hoping to finish more of them in the upcoming stretch. Princeton fired seven more shots than did Fairfield and held a 9-1 edge in corner kicks.

“When you look at the stats of the Fairfield game, it was arguably our best game in terms of time of possession in their end and chances created,” said Barlow.

“When you look at the data analytics from that game, the expected goals were two goals more than Fairfield, but we still ended up losing. From that standpoint, it’s been a little bit frustrating.”

Princeton opened the season with a 1-1 tie against Rutgers, then fell to Vermont, 2-0, despite outshooting the Catamounts, 16-8.

“In both of our losses, we outshot our opponent pretty significantly and conceded goals that we felt like you just can’t concede if you expect to win a college soccer game,” said Barlow.  more

GOOD RUN: Princeton High field hockey player Delaney Keegan, right, marks a player in a game last season. Last Wednesday, junior midfielder Keegan had a goal and two assists to help PHS defeat Allentown 4-0. The Tigers, who improved to 4-0 with a 6-0 win over Ewing last Monday, play at WW/P-South on September 21, host Robbinsville on September 23, and play at Steinert on September27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Delaney Keegan was a bit frustrated as the Princeton High field hockey team dominated possession in the early going against Allentown last Wednesday but had nothing to show for it.

“At the beginning, everyone was playing a little bit off,” said junior standout Keegan. “At the start of the game we are just trying to get into the mood.”

Keegan helped break the ice, setting up Hannah Christopher as she scored with 1:18 left in the first quarter to give PHS a 1-0 lead.

“Once we got into it, I think it was using each other, effectively passing and communicating, not even with screaming,” said Keegan.

“It was just with signals and looking up, that really, really helped us out.”

With the Tigers scoring a goal in each quarter and the defense holding the first, PHS earned a 4-0 win over the Redbirds. more

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Grace Romano controls the ball in a 2020 game. Senior standout Romano tallied a goal and an assist to help PDS defeat Mount St. Mary 4-2 last Saturday. The Panthers, who defeated Lenape 2-1 last Monday to improve to 4-1, play at Jonathan Dayton on September 22 and at the Blair Academy on September 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Grace Romano has evolved into a senior leader for the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team and is enjoying imparting her wisdom to her younger teammates.

“It has been really great, this is an awesome preparation for college,” said senior forward and co-captain Romano who has committed to attend Vassar College and play for its women’s soccer team.

“It is nice to sit back and give players a chance to see where they were when I was in their shoes. It is really building them up, it is great to be in a position to put them in success.”

Last Saturday, Romano set a good example for the squad’s young players, tallying a goal and an assist to help PDS rally from a 1-0 first half deficit against Mount St. Mary to pull away to a 4-2 victory.

“It was really just digging in and playing our game, just playing the whole game through,” said Romano, who scored a goal with 4:20 left in the first half on an assist from Adriana Salzano to knot the game at 1-1 heading into intermission.

“That is what we talked about at halftime. We just needed to be first to the ball, that was really an emphasis. I think you could see that in the second half. Every goal was a different player. We just really wanted to play for each other and I think we did that really well.” more

OVERDRIVE: Princeton Day School field hockey player Jadyn Huff, right, dribbles the ball in recent action. Last Friday, senior star Huff scored the winning goal as PDS edged Stuart Country Day 1-0 in overtime. The Panthers, who improved to 1-3 with the victory, host the Hun School on September 22 and Pennington on September 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jadyn Huff knew her assignment for the Princeton Day School field hockey team and she finished it with aplomb.

With PDS locked in a scoreless deadlock in overtime against Stuart Country Day School last Friday, the Panthers earned a penalty corner when Tessa Caputo was fouled on the way to goal.

After a shot went wide, the Panthers got another corner and the play was designed to go to senior star midfielder Huff at the top of the circle. Kelly Christie inserted the ball to Huff and she blasted it into the back of the cage to give the Panthers a 1-0 win.

“I remember what the coach said and kept my head down because on the last corner, I had my chest up and the ball went right over,” said Huff.

“I kept my head down and trusted my abilities and it went right in.”

Four-year starter and team co-captain Huff likes being under the gun in crunch time.

“I feel like the pressure sometimes allows me to execute the way the coach wants me to,” said Huff.

With PDS having started the season with three straight losses, Huff is hoping that the dramatic victory over Stuart will be a turning point.

“We started out hard; we had a lot of tough games in the beginning so we used this game as an opportunity to set us forward,” said Huff.

“We needed this. I feel like it is going to set us up for success later down the line.” more

STRONG START: Hun School field hockey Mia Chiodo, left, goes after the ball in a game last season. Last Thursday, senior star Chiodo scored a goal to help Hun defeat Hopewell Valley 4-0. The Raiders, who improved to 2-0 with the win, play at the Princeton Day School on September 22, at the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on September 24, and at Robbinsville on September 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Mia Chiodo got things off to a good start for the Hun School field hockey team as it hosted Hopewell Valley last Thursday.

In the first minute of the contest, senior co-captain and forward Chiodo stuck her nose into a traffic jam in the circle and poked the ball into the cage to give Hun a 1-0 lead.

Chiodo acknowledged that her tally wasn’t a thing of beauty.

“It was really busy in the goal and I just snuck in there,” said Chiodo with a smile.

The goal set the tone as Hun jumped out to a 3-0 lead 12 minutes into the contest and never looked back on the way to a 4-0 victory over the Bulldogs.

“We kind of clicked, we brought together our three forwards,” said Chiodo, who was playing on a forward line along with fellow senior Logan Frith and junior Alexa Cavalli.

“We have never really played together before, we are in a rotation. The three forwards that we have starting worked really well together so that is why she puts us first.”

Chiodo was encouraged to see the Raiders improve to 2-0 as they built on their 6-0 win over Morristown Friends in the season opener on September 12. more

By Bill Alden

Toni Olaleye had a busy day at the office last Monday as the Hun School girls’ soccer team hosted the Pingry School.

Imposing center back and senior captain Olaleye battled all over the field for Hun. She had a clearance off the line and made some end-to-end runs to goal while patrolling the Raider backfield.

Olaleye’s efforts weren’t enough as Pingry topped Hun 4-1 to drop the Raiders to 3-2.

“They had No. 5 (Casey Phair) up top who was really good,” said Olaleye of the Pingry freshman star who tallied three goals in the day.

“Gabi [Rollins] did a good job sticking on her, shutting her down. We did the best we could in the back.”

Trailing 2-0 at half, Hun looked to tighten things up down the stretch.

“It was just marking up better and playing better defense as a whole,” said Olaleye.

So far this fall, Hun has faced a gauntlet of high-powered opponents including Episcopal Academy (Pa.) and the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.)

“We thrive off of playing tougher teams,” said Olaleye. “It is what we want to do. It is how we get better, we love it.”

Olaleye thrives in being a take-charge player for the Raiders. “I played a leadership role last year as well,” said Olaleye. “It is not that big of a change, it is just a title really.”

Hun head coach Jenn Barrett credits Olaleye with assuming a huge role this fall.

“Tooni is absolutely amazing; what I love about Tooni is that she leaves everything on the field and she gives 100 percent every single second,” said Barrett. more

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Mia Zebrauskas, right, controls the ball last Friday as Stuart hosted Princeton Day School. Senior Zebrauskas helped key a strong defensive effort for Stuart as it fell 1-0 in overtime to PDS. The Tartans, now 3-1, play at the Baldwin School (Pa.) on September 21 before hosting Delaware Valley in September 24 and South Hunterdon on September 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jumping out to a 3-0 start this season, the Stuart Country Day School field hockey realized it faced a stern test when it hosted Great Road rival Princeton Day School last Friday afternoon.

“We knew it would be a tough one, we knew it would be a game,” said Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik, noting that even though PDS brought a 0-3 record into the contest meant nothing.

“We said this game is going to be about who capitalizes on those opportunities. We are getting our sticks on the ball and we want to keep the momentum going with it.”

Displaying the intensity that characterizes this matchup on an annual basis, the local foes fought to a scoreless draw through regulation. In overtime, it was PDS that capitalized as Jadyn Huff found the back of the cage to give the Panthers a 1-0 victory.

While disappointed with the result, Bruvik believes that getting the first taste of OT, where the teams are reduced to six field players from 10, will benefit Stuart in the long run

“This is our first overtime and it takes experience,” said Bruvik.

“It is who are you going to put out there; everybody had a good game but you have to figure it out and that is good. We will work on that, hopefully it will pay off for us.” more

September 14, 2022

POINTING AHEAD: Princeton University football head coach Bob Surace directs things in a game last fall. Surace guided Princeton to 9-1 overall record and 6-1 Ivy League last fall to tie Dartmouth for the league title and earn its fourth Ivy crown in the last eight seasons. The Tigers kick off their 2022 campaign by playing at Stetson (2-0) on September 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

The analytics from practice tells Bob Surace that his Princeton University football team is getting up to speed as it prepares for the 2022 campaign.

“We are doing a lot of measurements, we wear these straps that show our speed and distances,” said Princeton head coach Surace, whose team kicks off the season by heading south to play at Stetson (2-0) on September 17. “When I look at numbers and data, it is whoa, we have this many guys running over 20 miles per hour. We have had some really good teams, but we have not been that athletic that way which is good.”

Along with that speed, the Tigers are bringing intensity to their preseason camp.

“Our running to the ball, our pursuit, our effort, they are doing a great job with that and that is a good sign,” said Surace, whose team went 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy League last fall to tie Dartmouth for the league title and earn its fourth Ivy crown in the last eight seasons.

“We are putting more plays in as we are doing more scheme. The fact that their effort level is there and they are doing a good job sticking together with things is really nice. I think we are coming around really well. We had a true spring ball this year, we missed it last year. Both of our skill groups are really running well. We are deep on the lines, the competitiveness on the lines has been really good.”

While there is plenty to be optimistic about, Surace acknowledges that there are areas of concern. more

HAWAIIAN PUNCH: Andrei Iosivas displays his form as a multi-event star for the Princeton University track team, left, and as a standout wide receiver for the Tiger football squad. Senior Iosivas, a 6’3, 200-pound native of Honolulu, Hawaii, is looking to get his final college campaign on the gridiron off to a good start as the Tigers play at Stetson on September 17 in their season opener. (Track photo provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics, football photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Joining the Princeton University football team in 2018, wide receiver Andrei Iosivas soaked up lessons from such veteran stars as Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson.

“When I was a freshmen, those were the guys I looked up to a lot,” said Iosivas, a 6’3, 200-pound native of Honolulu, Hawaii.

Following in their footsteps, Iosivas has emerged as a go-to receiver for the Tigers. After playing on the junior varsity on 2018 as a freshman, Iosivas moved up to the varsity the next year and made 18 receptions for 263 yards and four touchdowns. Iosivas took a gap year when the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID concerns. Last fall, Iosivas produced a breakout season, making 41 catches for 703 yards and five touchdowns, earning second-team All-Ivy League honors as the Tigers went 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy, tying Dartmouth for the league title.

With Princeton opening its 2022 season by playing at Stetson on September 17, Iosivas has assumed a leadership role similar to what he experienced with Horsted and Carlson.

“Those guys have made me want to be who I am today,” said Iosivas, who is one of seven team captains for the Tigers this fall along with Carson Bobo, Henry Byrd, Dylan Classi, Matthew Jester, Uche Ndukwe, and Michael Ruttlen Jr.

“Now that I see me where they were, it is nice to see how some of the younger guys look at me and what I do. They ask me questions and it is nice to see that I am in that role. Me and Dylan are in that role; we always try to help out the younger guys.”

A key step in his development came when Iosivas spent much of his year away from Princeton concentrating on honing the fine points of playing wide receiver. more

POPPING OFF: Princeton University field hockey player Sammy Popper celebrates after a goal last Sunday as the Tigers posted a 4-1 win over Rutgers. Senior star Popper tallied a goal and an assist in the victory as the Tigers improved to 2-2. In upcoming action, No. 17 Princeton hosts Delaware (1-5) on September 16, defending national champion and top-ranked Northwestern (6-0) on September 18, and No. 3 Maryland (6-0) on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Sammy Popper made a pretty good case for staying up on the Princeton University field hockey’s attack.

After playing defense for the Tigers’ 0-2 Labor Day weekend against North Carolina and Louisville to open the season, Popper scored the first goal in each of back-to-back wins for Princeton this weekend. Senior tri-captain Popper was one of five different scorers as 17th-ranked Princeton beat No. 7 and previously unbeaten Syracuse 5-1 last Friday in its home opener. Two days later, Popper started the scoring for the Tigers in a 4-1 win over last year’s NCAA tournament top seed, Rutgers, on Sunday.

“When you do have a loss, it’s bounce back and win the next one and learn what you can from it and not dwell on it,” said Popper, a 5’5 native of Blue Bell, Pa. “I think that’s what we did this weekend.”

Popper’s move forward helped at the offensive end. She was pleased to be able to contribute up top, although says she valued her time on defense through last spring and the first weekend of the year.

“It was definitely good for me,” said Popper. “Because I’m a natural attack player, it was good for me to be back there and it helped me be more disciplined defensively. I can’t complain. I think it did teach me something. But I am happy to be back playing forward.”

Popper hasn’t actually played her natural forward position much since arriving at Princeton. The Ivy League Rookie of the Year played midfield as a freshman and again last year. And when defender Gabby Andretta was hurt last spring, Popper accepted the team-first approach to sliding back to defense until Andretta returned. Andretta was cleared just before the opening weekend.

“We kept Sammy back there because we had been working on it since the spring,” said Princeton head coach Carla Tagliente. “She can be a bit of a threat out of the back with her ability to hit the long ball. We figured it’s probably best to keep her up front because she is very dangerous in front of the goal. If she gets a little bit loose and gets the ball, she’s probably one of the most dangerous players in the country in the circle. I think you saw that with the first goal last game and first goal this game. Then we have some other players we’re breaking in in some other positions. It’s still going to take more time, but definitely it’s a big improvement from last week.”

After a pair of one-goal losses to Top-5 teams UNC (4-3 on September 2) and Louisville (2-1 on September 4), Princeton was able to bounce back strong in their second weekend. The Tigers weren’t satisfied with a moral victory by giving two top teams a scare, and they took it to Syracuse which came in as the nation’s leading scoring team.

“I think for us it really showed how good of team we are, how strong of a team we are when we just do everything right and bring our energy,” said Popper. “In the Louisville game we felt a little disorganized and didn’t have our best energy and didn’t have our best game. That’s normal to have in your first weekend of the season. It showed what we can achieve and how great we are. It felt great to have that. It instilled a lot of confidence in everyone, especially the younger players who haven’t been there before. It was really awesome for that.” more

STEPPING UP: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Holly Howes controls the ball last Thursday against Trenton High in the season opener. Junior forward Howes tallied a goal and two assists to help PHS prevail 7-0. Two days later, Howes added a goal as the Tigers topped WW/P-North 2-0. In upcoming action, PHS plays at Ewing on September 15, hosts Hamilton West on September 17, and plays at Hightstown on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It is a tough act to follow but Holly Howes and her teammates on the Princeton High girls’ soccer team are embracing the challenge.

With PHS coming off an historic fall that saw it go 21-3 and advance to the Group 3 state championship game for the first time in program history, the 2022 squad could be feeling pressure to match such heroics

Instead, the Tigers are using last year’s success as a blueprint.

“The word of the season is ‘repeat,’” said PHS junior forward Howes. “We are doing everything to repeat the season we had last year with our communication, our playing style.”

Howes, for her part, is looking to follow in the footsteps of Sophia Lis, who tallied 38 goals for the Tigers last fall and is now starting for the Lehigh University women’s soccer team.

“My biggest influence was Sophia, she would always take chances,” said Howes, who tallied 14 goals and 10 assists last season. “She would always be working the hardest on the field, she was always finding open space. Because of her, I have become more confident in my play to take chances, to take shots.”

Last Thursday, Howes took advantage of her shots, scoring a goal and adding two assists as PHS topped Trenton High 7-0 in the season opener for both teams.

“It is definitely nice to start out the season with a goal,” said Howes. “I first shot it and then someone else got the rebound. She saved it again and then I shot it in.”

With a number of new faces in the PHS starting lineup, Howes knows she has to play a key role up top. more

By Bill Alden

It was the first varsity home game for Brian Donis on the Princeton High boys’ soccer team and he made quite an initial impression.

With PHS hosting WW/P-North last Saturday morning, sophomore forward Donis tallied two goals in the first half to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead at halftime. Early in the second half, Donis found the back of the net again to put PHS up 3-0 and it never looked back on the way to a 5-0 victory.

Afterward, a smiling Donis was taken aback by his memorable home debut.

“It is amazing, I can’t even believe it myself,” said Donis, reflecting on his hat trick. “It was because of the team’s work that we got the win, that is very important. I am just very happy for the team.”

Donis credited his teammates with setting up his two first half goals. “It was a beautiful pass from Felipe [Matar Grande], luckily I got to the end of it. The keeper kept it out at first but as long as it goes in,” said Donis, reflecting on his first goal. “The finish on the second one, I just tried and and it went in. It was a beautiful play by Felipe and Jamie [Reynolds].”

As for the third goal, Donis got loose on the end line and cleverly dribbled past a defender before firing the ball into the back of the net.

“It was a good finish but it was a beautiful pass by Archie [Smith],” said Donis.

PHS tacked on goals by Nick Matese and Matar Grande to make it a 5-0 final score.

“We all worked hard, we deserved it,” said Donis. “Overall we keep getting better. They are a good team, they have really good players. I think we did really well.”

In assessing his transition to varsity, Donis acknowledged that it has been challenging.

“It has been a bit difficult,” said Donis. “The first game against Trenton (a 1-0 win last Thursday) was very eye-opening; it just showed me to wake up and just play faster.” more

SECOND WIND: Princeton High girls’ tennis play Lada Labas lofts a backhand in a match last year. Sophomore Labas has moved up to the second singles spot this fall after playing at third in 2021. PHS, which improved to 3-0 with a 5-0 win over Hopewell Valley last Monday, hosts Hightstown on September 14 and Hamilton West on September 16 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament on September 19 at the Mercer County Park tennis complex. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Featuring a totally revamped lineup, the Princeton High girls’ tennis team is bound to go through some growing pains this fall.

“We have got five new faces in the lineup and seven people in different positions from last year,” said PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert, who guided the Tigers to a 13-3 record in 2021 and a spot to the Central Jersey Group 3 semifinals. “It will be a bit of a year for learning and growth.”

Despite all of these changes, Hibbert believes the program can maintain its winning tradition.

“I am really pleased with the new players and the talent we did have come in,” said Hibbert. “It is a new group but they are working hard. They are excited to be where they are.”

The Tigers have produced an exciting start the season, going 3-0 in the early going.

“With five new players on varsity and nobody in the same spot, it is definitely nice to have a couple of comfortable wins to open the season,” said Hibbert, whose team posted 5-0 wins over Ewing, Steinert, and Hopewell Valley in the first week of the season.

One of new faces on the squad is junior Johanna Roggenkamp, who came to PHS this year from Germany and has earned the first singles spot.

“Johanna has a nice all-around game,” said Hibbert. “She has the ability to mix up the spin on the balls and move around the court well. It is nice to have her join us.”

Sophomore Lada Labas has moved up to second singles after playing third last fall. more

STROKE OF BRILLIANCE: Princeton Day School girls’ tennis player Neha Khandkar smacks a forehand in a match last season. Senior Khandkar will playing at first singles again this fall for PDS. The Panthers, who started the season with 3-2 losses to Peddie School and Haddonfield last week before topping Mount St. Mary 5-0 last Monday, play at the Stuart Country Day School on September 16, compete in the Newark Academy Invitational on September 17, and then start play in the Mercer County Tournament on September 19 at the Mercer County Park tennis complex. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While seeing his Princeton Day School girls’ tennis team start the season with a pair of narrow losses last week stung a little, Michael Augsberger is hoping his players gain some lessons from the setbacks.

“I think the biggest takeaway is patience and realize that we are not quite decided on everything yet so there is a lot of juggling with the lineup to come,” said Augsberger, whose team fell 3-2 to Peddie last Thursday in its season opener and then lost 3-2 to Haddonfield a day later before beating Mount St. Mary 5-0 last Monday.

“It is also patience in terms of not getting your head down when you are losing early in a match or whether you lose the first couple matches in a season. The match is long and the season is long. There is lot of tweaking to be done and they are only going to improve. They will realize that. Once they are in better form and their reactions are a little bit stronger with the volleys, they are going to win these points that are going the other way.”

At first singles, senior Neha Khandkar gives the Panthers a very strong player at the top of its lineup.

“Neha is one of the best around, she is really mentally strong,” said Augsberger. “We love her mentality and the way that she leads the team, the way that she never gives up and thinks her way through situations. She has improved a lot. Her slice is a little better, she is playing angles a little bit differently. A lot of it is in her decision-making. Her consistency is a little bit stronger. She is a bit fitter and able to last a little longer with that year of maturity.”

Senior Amy Zhou has been showing consistency at second singles. more

SAVING GRACE: Princeton Day School field hockey goalie Molly Hall tracks the ball last Saturday. Sophomore Hall made 21 saves in a losing cause as PDS fell 8-0. In upcoming action, the Panthers, who moved to 0-2 with the loss, play at the Stuart Country Day School on September 16 and at Peddie School on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the Princeton Day School field hockey team hosted Hillsborough last Saturday afternoon, Heather Farlow had a lot to say.

With a squad featuring a number of new faces including four freshmen and four sophomores, PDS head coach Farlow imparted a constant stream of tips to her players as the game unfolded.

Among other things, Farlow urged her players to move their feet, put two hands on their stick, look over their shoulder, push up the field, sprint back on defense, and anticipate the play.

Farlow’s instructions were designed to keep the Panthers focused as they fell behind the Raiders 2-0 in the first quarter on the way to a 8-0 setback.

“We are young, it is getting used to the speed of varsity play,” said Farlow, whose squad moved to 0-2 with the defeat. “We are getting better, we need to get used to the stamina and pushing through.”

Sophomore goalie Molly Hall was a bright spot in the defeat, making 21 saves.

“Molly did a lot of training this summer,” said Farlow. “She is working with Gianna Glatz (former Rutgers star goalie) who is coaching part-time with us for the goalies. It was a tough day for her to hang in, I am really proud of her.”

Other players who hung in there for the Panthers on Saturday included junior Katie Zarish-Yasunas, senior Jadyn Huff, junior Lily Ryan, and junior Tessa Caputo. more

OH WOW: Hun School field hockey player Ava Olender (No. 5) celebrates after a goal last season. The Raiders started their 2022 season with a bang, topping Morristown Friends 6-0 last Monday as Olender contributed a goal. Hun hosts Hopewell Valley on September 15 and then plays at Academy of New Church (Pa.) on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Tracy Arndt sensed something special about her Hun School field hockey team from day one of preseason practice this August.

“The girls came in and they did the extra work they needed to do over the summer,” said Hun head coach Arndt, who guided the Raiders to an 8-8-1 record and a spot in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. “Our base is a little bit stronger than in years past which is a good thing. We don’t have to start back at square one.”

The commitment displayed by her players allowed Arndt to focus on tactics rather than fundamentals.

“We have kids that want to do the work in the offseason, they are calling each other to work out in the summer,” added Arndt. “You just need a couple of those and you can spark a great energy in the group. When the kids are empowered and they help themselves and hold each other accountable, then the coach can focus playing hockey.”

Hun boasts an energetic forward line in senior Logan Frith (3 goals, 1 assist in 2021), senior Mia Chiodo (3 goals, 1 assist), junior Ali Ieva (1 goal), junior Alexa Cavalli, junior Avery Barrett, and freshman Addi McNally.

“We rotate almost six kids which has been nice; we have tried it during the preseason and it has worked,” said Arndt, whose team opened its 2022 campaign by defeating Moorestown Friends 6-0 last Monday as Ana Dios tallied three goals with Phoebe Thielmann, Ava Olender, and Frith scoring one apiece. more

STARK DIFFERENCE: Hun School boys’ soccer player Tyler Stark dribbles the ball in a game last fall. Senior defender Stark will be spearheading the Hun defense this fall. The Raiders, who moved to 1-1 with an 8-2 win over the Kiski School (Pa.) last Sunday, are hosting Scotland Chapel Academy (Pa.) on September 15 and then facing Malvern Prep (Pa.) on September 18 in the Mainline Jamboree at the United Sports Training Center in Downingtown, Pa. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last fall, the Hun School boys’ soccer team produced some important breakthroughs, getting wins in both the Mercer County Tournament and state Prep A tourney and earning a share of the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title.

Looking ahead to the 2022 campaign, Hun head coach Pat Quirk believes that success has energized his group of returners.

“With the 12 or 13 kids who are coming back, they all have great experience here,” said Hun head coach Quirk, who guided the Raiders to a 10-7 record last fall. “They all got into games last year at the varsity level. Winning a couple games and being close in some of the bigger games gives them more confidence but we know it is a whole new season.”

The trio of senior Massamiliano Verduci (5 goals, 1 assist in 2021), junior Joey Bucchere (2 goals, 3 assists), and junior Zachary Stark figure to give Hun some high level play at forward.

“Mass Verduci is going to be our point guy in the 4-3-3 with Joey and Zachary out on the wings,” said Quirk, who got three goals from Bucchere as Hun defeated the Kiski School (Pa.) 8-2 last Sunday to improve to 1-1.

“He has gotten a lot stronger, he was in the weight room a lot this summer. He is really good with the ball at his feet and he is getting his shot off quicker. He just wants to play. He said I could play in the back and I said no we need you to score goals. He scored some in the summer, he got voted to our captain’s council again this year. He is going to be a strong leader up front.”

Senior Will Zeng (6 goals, 1 assist) should also be a strong offensive threat for the Raiders.

“I do expect Will to score some goals, he may slide into the midfield a little bit to be more of a distributor,” said Quirk. “He sees the field really well. He is definitely a guy we can push out in the wing and get dangerous.” more