January 19, 2022

RETURNING WITH BANG: Princeton University men’s basketball player Jaelin Llewellyn dribbles past a foe in recent action. Last Monday, senior guard Llewellyn returned from being sidelined for two games due to a leg injury and helped Princeton defeat Penn 74-64. Llewellyn contributed 11 points, five rebounds, and an assist as the Tigers improved to 14-3 overall and 4-0 Ivy League, extending their winning streak to nine games. Princeton is next in action when it plays at Dartmouth on January 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the Princeton University men’s basketball team got ready to take the court against archival Penn last Monday at Jadwin Gym, it got a lift before the contest even tipped off.

Princeton senior star point guard Jaelin Llewellyn, who had been sidelined the last two games due to a hamstring injury, was back in the starting lineup for the Tigers.

“I felt pretty good, I was just getting back into it pretty much,” said Llewellyn, reflecting on his return.

“I just wanted to go out there and do whatever I could. It is hard sitting and watching because I wanted to be out there with my guys. It is good to be back.”

With Llewellyn back at the controls of the offense, Princeton jumped out to a 34-28 halftime lead. In the second half, the Tigers held off a rally by the Quakers who drew to within 51-49 midway through the half and trailed 61-56 with 4:49 left. In crunch time, Llewellyn hit two jumpers and had an assist as Princeton stretched its lead to 68-58 and never looked back on the way to a 74-64 win.

The Tigers, who improved to 14-3 overall and 4-0 Ivy League with the victory, extended their winning streak to nine games. The triumph marked Princeton’s 13th win in its last 15 games against the Quakers and fifth in a row in the rivalry. more

WILD CARDS: Maddie Bacskai, left, and Clara Roth handle the ball in action this past fall for the Northwestern University field hockey team. The two former Princeton University standouts competed for the Wildcats as grad students utilizing their fourth year of eligibility and helped the program win its first-ever NCAA championship. (Photos provided courtesy ofNorthwestern Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Maddie Bacskai and Clara Roth felt they were part of a potential national championship field hockey team at Princeton University, but ultimately had to go elsewhere to win one.

The two Princeton graduates, who competed for Northwestern University as grad students utilizing their fourth year of eligibility, started all season and helped the Wildcats capture their first NCAA championship as they defeated Liberty 2-0 in the national final in November.

“It was huge,” said Roth, the second leading scorer for the Wildcats with 34 points on 13 goals and eight assists as the squad finished the fall with an 18-5 record.

“It was probably the biggest success I’ve had in field hockey. Having that in your final season is honestly that’s the way you want to do it.”

Roth and Bacskai had hoped to be playing for Princeton in 2020, one year after the Tigers came up short in the national championship game. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the NCAA called off the fall 2020 season and the Ivy League did not play in the reshuffled spring 2021 NCAA season.

Those developments meant a second straight year off for Bacskai, who had also missed the 2019 season after injuring her knee in the spring of 2019. Without any eligibility left at Princeton, but with a year of NCAA eligibility left, Bacskai and Roth found Northwestern, where both are working toward a master’s degree in management studies at the Kellogg School of Management.  more

GOING TO THE MATT: Princeton High wrestler Matt Ellsworth, top, controls a foe in recent action. Senior Ellsworth has gone 9-2 at 165 pounds this season, helping PHS produce a 7-0 start. In upcoming action, the Tigers have a match at Collingswood High on January 19 and a quad at Robbinsville on January 22 before hosting Allentown on January 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Matt Ellsworth has transformed himself into an outstanding wrestler and team leader for the Princeton High squad over his career.

Senior Ellsworth is off to his best start at 9-2 at 165 pounds. He wasn’t in the varsity lineup as a freshmen, then posted an 11-21 season in his first year in the lineup as a sophomore. In the COVID-19 pandemic shortened season last year, he was 4-6.

“I think I’ve been doing well,” said Ellsworth. “I think I’ve improved a lot from years previous. I’m happy how things are going.”

Ellsworth is even happier with the way things have gone for the team. He is one of four seniors setting the tone for the Tigers, who are unbeaten through seven matches. PHS swept Notre Dame (52-24), Hamilton (57-18), and Hopatcong (65-6) in a quad on Saturday.

“New guys have stepped up which has helped us fill up the whole lineup,” said Ellsworth, who went 2-1 on the day.

“Every single day everyone in the room is pushing each other hard and feeding off each other’s energy. You’ll see at all the matches our bench is very lively cheering for other people on the team when they’re wrestling. The team is built like a strong, tight-knit community. It allows us to push each other and that’s reflected on the mat when we’re wrestling.” more

GETTING AFTER IT: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Rosheen Nissangaratchie, right, goes after the puck last Wednesday against Bergen Catholic. Junior forward Nissangaratchie tallied a goal to help PDS tie the Crusaders 1-1. The Panthers, who defeated St. Joseph (Montvale) 2-0 last Thursday to move to 5-2-2, host Lawrenceville on January 19 and Seton Hall on January 22 before playing at St. Peter’s on January 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Rosheen Nissangaratchie is making up for lost time as he has finally hit the ice for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team after transferring from the Delbarton School.

Sitting out for the first 30 days of the season under New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) rules, Nissangaratchie made his debut for PDS on January 3 against Pope John and picked up an assist as the Panthers prevailed 4-1.

Last Thursday, Nissangaratchie notched his first goal for the Panthers as PDS skated to a hard-fought 1-1 tie against visiting Bergen Catholic.

“I was just practicing,” said Nissangaratchie. “It felt so good to finally play a game at Pope John and then today, my first home game.”

Nissangaratchie’s tally came late in the first period as he got loose on a 3-on-2 rush.

“Will Brown made a nice pass,” recalled Nissangaratchie. “He pulled both defensemen and slides it over and I put it short side.” more

HALL PASS: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Jaden Hall fires a pass in recent action. Last Saturday, junior guard Hall scored a team-high 12 points in a losing cause as PDS fell 54-42 to Hopewell Valley. The Panthers, now 1-5, are slated to host the Doane Academy on January 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Before Jaden Hall took the court for the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team against the Solebury School (Pa.) last week, he got some words of wisdom from his father.

“My dad told me to be aggressive and get your own shot,” said PDS junior guard Hall.

Following that advice, Hall tallied a career-high 18 points to provide a highlight as the Panthers fell 70-47 to Solebury in the January 11 contest.

After scoring four points in the first half, Hall tallied eight points in the third quarter and added six in the fourth.

“We were driving and kicking for threes,” said Hall, reflecting on his outburst. “We trusted our shooters and we trusted our ball handlers and started knocking down shots. I found my rhythm.”

Coming into this winter, Hall was looking to be more of a factor for the Panthers.

“Last year as a sophomore, I didn’t have that much of a role,” said Hall. “I have been working on my game to become a different type of player. Last year I was a catch and shoot type of guy so I am trying to focus on my ball-handling, being strong with the ball and cutting down on those turnovers. I started becoming more of a point guard type player.”

This past summer, Hall put in extra work to hone his skills.

“I played a lot of AAU ball,” said Hall. “I went to Baltimore to a MADE Hoops camp and got some good advice from a whole bunch of different coaches around Jersey and Pennsylvania. I started working out over the summer to get better as a player and help this team win.” more

STICKING WITH IT: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Natalie Celso controls the puck in game last season. Last Friday, senior defenseman Celso scored two goals to help PDS defeat Princeton High 11-1. The Panthers, who moved to 3-2 with the win, host the Portledge School (N.Y.) on January 19 and Morristown Beard on January 21 before playing at Trinity Hall on January 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Natalie Celso is looking to be more assertive this winter in her senior season for the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team.

“I have been used to being a pretty quiet person on the team, I am trying to fill this big role,” said defensemen Celso.

“It is my first year really being in a leadership role for any team I have played with and it is big shoes to fill. It is fun and I think it is really helping me build confidence in myself and my own skills.”

Last Friday evening, Celso displayed her skills, tallying two goals to help PDS defeat crosstown rival Princeton High 11-1 at the Ice Land Rink and improve to 3-2.

“I was just able to keep my head straight and hold on to it,” said Celso. “I am working on trying not to panic with the puck.”

Coming off a frustrating 2-1 defeat to Summit on January 11, the Panthers were focused on finding the back of the net against PHS.

“We really wanted to work on scoring more,” said Celso. “We got stuck on the last game or so; we just had trouble putting the puck in the net. We definitely worked better together today than we have in the past games. When there is not as much pressure, it is really easy to start working on the things we have been struggling with.” more

THORNY SITUATION: Hun School boys’ basketball player Toby Thornburg puts up a shot in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, senior forward Thornburg hit a three-pointer with 23.7 seconds left in the game to give Hun a 42-40 win over the Shipley School (Pa.) as it overcame a 40-34 deficit in the final minute of play. The Raiders, who defeated Trenton Catholic Prep 54-47 on Monday to improve to 7-6, host the Peddie School on January 19 and Germantown Academy (Pa.) on January 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Toby Thornburg struggled with his outside shooting as the Hun School boys’ basketball team hosted the Shipley School (Pa.) last Thursday evening.

Hun senior forward Thornburg was 0-for-6 from three-point range and had just a layup and a free throw as the contest headed into the final minute of regulation.

But with Hun trailing by 40-39 and 23.7 seconds left, Thornburg finally found the range, draining a three-pointer that proved to be the margin of victory as the Raiders pulled out a dramatic 42-40 win.

“It was a little hectic; Dan [Vessey] got a real good steal, somebody got a real good offensive rebound and it ended up with me,” said Thornburg.

“I was open so I was able to take it and make it. I don’t shoot it if I don’t feel like it is in.”

Thornburg’s shot culminated a frantic rally as Hun trailed 40-34 with 1:11 left in regulation and narrowed the gap as Dan Vessey made a put back after his steal and then Jack Scott hit a three-pointer to make it 40-39.

With Hun having rallied to beat Academy of New Church (Pa.) 89-88 on December 16 as Scott hit a buzzer beater, the Raiders weren’t fazed by the late deficit. more

January 12, 2022

BIRTHDAY PARTY: Princeton University men’s basketball player Matt Allocco, left, lofts the three-pointer that beat Cornell 72-70 at the buzzer last Saturday evening. At right, his teammates mob Allocco after the shot which came on his 21st birthday as he made his first college start. The Tigers, now 12-3 overall and 2-0 Ivy League, host Brown on January 15 and Penn on January 17. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

By Bill Alden

Trailing Cornell 39-25 at halftime last Saturday, players on the Princeton University men’s basketball team trudged disconsolately across the court to their locker room with head coach Mitch Henderson walking behind shaking his head in frustration.

But about an hour later, the Princeton players were jumping for joy and mobbing Matt Allocco on the court after he drained a long buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Tigers an improbable 72-70 win after they trailed by 18 points early in the second half.

It was Allocco’s 21st birthday and his first college start as he stepped in the lineup to replace senior star guard and Princeton’s leading scorer Jaelin Llewellyn, who was sidelined after injuring his leg in an 84-69 win over Columbia the day before.

“It felt good coming off, it was straight,” said Allocco, recalling the buzzer-beater.

“I don’t know how to react in those situations. It went in and I just put my arm up. It was a crazy moment. I did a buzzer beater when I was younger maybe but in this situation in conference play, against a really good team, it was really special.”

It was a crazy finish as Princeton trailed 60-51 with 6:30 left in regulation and then went on an 18-9 run to take a 69-68 lead with 23 seconds left in regulation. Cornell got a layup from Dean Noll to go up 70-69 and Princeton took the ball with six seconds remaining, setting up Allocco’s fantastic finish. more

SPLIT DECISION: Princeton University women’s hockey goalie Rachel McQuigge does a split to thwart a Clarkson player last Friday. Senior star McQuigge made 37 saves in a losing cause as a short-handed Princeton squad fell 3-1 to No. 9 Clarkson. The contest was a family affair as McQuigge battled her younger sisters, Clarkson forwards junior Brooke and sophomore Kristyn. The Tigers, now 7-6-3 overall and 5-3-1 ECAC Hockey, are slated to play at Union on January 14 and at RPI on January 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It turned out to be a fierce ECAC Hockey battle when the Princeton University women’s hockey team hosted No. 9 Clarkson at Hobey Baker Rink last Saturday afternoon.

The contest was spiced up by a sibling rivalry as Princeton senior goalie Rachel McQuigge battled her younger sisters, Clarkson forwards junior Brooke and sophomore Kristyn.

“That is always really exciting; I played with Brooke growing up a bit in the summer and when I played juniors,” said netminder  McQuigge, a 5’7 native of Bowmanville, Ontario.

“Her freshman year was the first time we ever played against each other. Both of my sisters are very talented. It added an extra level of compete to the game, there is definitely a little trash talk.”

While McQuigge competed hard between the pipes, making 37 saves, it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 3-1 to the Golden Knights to move to 7-6-3 overall and 5-3-1 ECAC Hockey. more

NO BACKING DOWN: Princeton High girls’ swimming star Beatrice Cai displayed her backstroke form in a 200 individual medley race earlier this season. Last Thursday, junior Cai placed first in the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke as PHS defeated WW/P-South 125-45 to improve to 7-0. The team has now won 19 straight dual meets since losing in the Central Jersey Group B sectional semifinals in 2020. In upcoming action, the Tigers host Trenton on January 13 and Nottingham on January 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After going through a season last winter where it could only compete virtually, swimming separately at its pool and then sharing times with foes to calculate meet scores, the Princeton High girls’ swim team was excited for a face-to-face battle at WW/P-South last Thursday.

With both squads bringing undefeated records into the clash of rivals at the WW/P-S bubble, there was plenty of emotion on the deck.

“The energy is totally different when we are all cheering, we get more motivated and faster compared to last year when it was just us,” said PHS junior star Beatrice Cai.

“It felt like we were racing against each other instead of another school. Sometimes you wouldn’t even know which school you were going against.”

Against WW/P-S, the Tigers showed plenty of energy, winning all eight individual races and the three relays in posting a 125-45 win and improving to 7-0.

“We were really pumped up for South,” said Cai, who placed first in the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke against the Pirates.

“We have been hyping up this meet for a little bit and we did really well. All our teammates tried our best, we did great. The team spirit was really great as well.” more

FREE AND CLEAR: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Julian Velazquez powers to victory in a 200 freestyle race this season. Last week, junior standout Velazquez helped PHS defeat Notre Dame 115-55 on January 4 and then post a 111-69 win over WW/P-S last Thursday. The Tigers have won 20 straight dual meets since losing in the Central Jersey Group B sectional final in 2020. PHS, now 8-0, hosts Trenton on January 13 and Nottingham on January 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was rivalry week for the Princeton High boys’ swimming team as it faced two of its historically toughest foes, Notre Dame and WW/P-South, in a three-day period.

Displaying its depth and talent, PHS passed both tests with flying colors, routing Notre Dame 115-55 on January 4 and then rolling to an impressive 111-69 win over WW/P-S last Thursday as it improved to 8-0.

Tiger sophomore star Alvin Tien and his teammates were fired up for the big week.

“We were very anxious against Notre Dame because they were known for being really good,” said Tien.

“When we faced them, everybody put in all their effort to push through and win. It was the same thing with South. These are the hardest meets and our whole team put in the effort and beat them.”

Against South, Tien took first in the 50 freestyle in 23.68 and the 100 backstroke in 1:00.00.

“It goes quickly, I felt I could have done better,” said Tien in assessing the 50 free race. more

SHOOTING STAR: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Jaxon Petrone puts up a shot against WW/P-North last week. Senior guard Petrine scored a team-high 17 points in the January 4 game as PHS pulled out a 48-45 win. Last Friday, Petrone scored 20 points in a losing cause as the Tigers fell 67-61 to Nottingham to move to 1-2. In upcoming action, PHS hosts Hopewell Valley on January 14 and then plays at North Brunswick on January 15 and at Robbinsville on January 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jaxon Petrone and his teammates on the Princeton High boys’ basketball team were pumped to be hitting the court at WW/P-North last week to finally play their second game of the season after a two-week layoff.

PHS had its season opener at Hightstown on December 17 postponed, fell 54-33 to Hamilton on December 21, and then had another game postponed and a holiday tournament canceled.

“We were very excited to get out here, it stunk being at home,” said senior guard Petrone. “There were some nerves out there.”

Trailing 26-22 at intermission, PHS discussed blocking out the nerves and staying in the moment.

“We had a good talk out in the hallway at halftime,’ said Petrone. “It was, ‘we have just got to play, keep your head, no turnovers, get the ball, put it up and get it in the hoop.’”

Responding to that talk, the Tigers outscored WW/P-North 18-9 in the third quarter.

“We came out and hit a couple of shots and got hot,” recalled Petrone. “We settled in during the third quarter.”

Things got dicey down the stretch for PHS as it built a 44-35 lead only to see the Northern Knights respond with a 10-0 run. more

ON THE STICK: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Cooper Zullo, left, controls the puck in recent action. Junior forward Zullo scored three goals to help PHS defeat Lawrence 10-0 last Wednesday. The Tigers, who improved to 9-1-1 with the win, are scheduled to face the WWP Co-op on January 14 and the Hamilton Co-op on January 17 with both games to take place at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Cooper Zullo wasn’t expecting to be installed as the captain of the Princeton High boys’ hockey team this winter as a junior.

“I was talking to Dave (PHS head coach Dave Hansen) at the beginning of the year and he said he wanted me to have the captaincy,” said star forward Zullo.

“I am just trying to do as much as I can for the boys to be a leader. I have next year too, so I am pretty excited about that.”

Zullo’s leadership came in handy last week as PHS skated to a pair of victories, rallying from a 2-0 second period deficit to defeat Robbinsville-Allentown 5-4 on January 3 and then rolling to a 10-0 win over Lawrence last Wednesday.

In Zullo’s view, PHS showed its skill and character as it overcame a slow start to edge Robbinsville-Allentown.

“It was our first game after winter break so there was definitely a little bit of rust on our part. Coach [Dan] Bergan does a good job with them and they are a good team,” said Zullo, who scored a goal in the win.

“I think they wanted it more than we did but we came out in the end. It was definitely a good game by the boys and Johnny [O’Donnell] had the big goal at the end. It was definitely a good game to get back in the swing of things for 2022.”

In the Lawrence game, Zullo got things going for the Tigers, scoring a goal 42 seconds into the contest and then assisting on two others as PHS built a 3-0 first period lead and cruised from there.

“It was the same old, same old, we didn’t know much about them,” said Zullo, who ended up with three goals in the victory. “We tried to move the puck as much as we could.” more

January 5, 2022

RISING STAR: Princeton University women’s basketball player Kaitlyn Chen heads to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, sophomore guard Chen made a superb Ivy League debut, tallying a career-high 15 points as Princeton defeated Harvard 68-50 in the league opener for both teams. The Tigers, now 8-4 overall and 1-0 Ivy, play at Columbia on January 7 and at Cornell on January 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the Princeton University women’s basketball team hosted Harvard last Sunday afternoon, it marked its first Ivy League game in 667 days.

The game also marked the Ivy debut for Princeton sophomore guard Kaitlyn Chen and she was pumped.

“It was a lot of fun, just coming out and playing with my team,” said Chen, a 5’9 native of San Marino, Calif., who didn’t get the chance to play last winter as the Ivy League canceled the season due to COVID-19 concerns.

“We have missed these games, this season has been so much fun. We have been waiting for this.”

Chen had a lot of fun in her first taste of Ivy action, making an immediate impact, scoring a career-high 15 points to help Princeton win 68-50 as it improved to 8-4 overall and 1-0 Ivy.

“I was just looking to be more aggressive and getting into gaps and finding my teammates,” said Chen, who chipped in three assists, three steals, and two rebounds in the win over the Crimson.

Making her third career start after recently having been inserted into the starting five, Chen is developing a comfort level with her new role.  more

STATE OF GRACE: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Grace Rebak controls the puck in a game last season. Senior captain and star defender Rebak is providing athleticism and leadership for PHS. The Tigers, now 0-2-1, return to action after the holiday break by playing the Lawrenceville JV on January 12 at their Loucks Ice Center and then hosting Princeton Day School on January 14 at Ice Land Rink. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It hasn’t taken long for a pair of freshmen, Cece Gibb and Cassie Speir, to form a potent one-two punch this winter for the Princeton High girls’ hockey team.

In a 10-6 loss to Randolph on December 14 in its final action before the holiday break, PHS got three goals apiece from Gibb and Speir.

Tiger head coach Christian Herzog knows he is lucky to have Gibb and Speir join the program.

“Cece is a Tier 1 Colonials player, it is a great pickup for us,” said Herzog, whose team started 0-2-1 before going on holiday break.

“She has the speed, she can shoot. We put her on defense and she has the green light any time she feels like it to make a play. She is a smaller player but she has speed like no other, she has amazing skating. Cassie is big for a freshman, she plays travel too with the Tiger Lilies. She is strong on the puck, she is aggressive and is not afraid. She has a great shot. Those two players are pretty much leaned on all the way.”

A third newcomer, Maya Hagt, is also making an impact in the early going.

“Maya is another freshman who plays for the Tiger Lilies,” added Herzog. “She moves well with the puck.” more

SPEED SKATING: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Ryan Vandal races up the ice in a recent game. Last Monday, junior forward Vandal scored a goal to help PDS defeat Pope John 4-1. The Panthers, now 4-2-1, host Bergen Catholic on January 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team has made its debut this season in the highly-competitive Gordon Conference, it has been a bit of bumpy ride.

PDS has posted a 3-2-1 record in Gordon play in going 4-2-1 overall.

“The nice thing about being part of this conference is that every one of our games is a meaningful game,” said PDS head coach Scott Bertoli, whose team topped Pope John 4-1 last Monday in a conference game to avenge a 3-2 defeat to the Lions in the season opener.

“I am excited to come off the break, hopefully the kids are refreshed. I think club hockey has slowed down a little bit.”

Bertoli acknowledges that the season could be slowed by postponements due to the COVID surge resulting from the Omicron variant.

“That is going to be everyone’s reality over the course of the next few weeks; we talked about it today at practice,” said Bertoli.

“I just said we have to plan to play. We will prepare and have ourselves ready until someone tells us otherwise. That is the focus.”

In their last action before the holiday break, the Panthers lacked their usual focus as they fell 7-1 to the Christian Brothers Academy. more

COMING THROUGH: Hun School girls’ basketball player Erin Maguire drives between two foes in recent action. Post-graduate Maguire, a native of Ireland, is leading Hun in points (133), assists (27), rebounds (52), and steals (32) as the Raiders have gotten off to a 3-5 start. In upcoming action, Hun is slated to host Friere Charter School (Pa.) on January 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although the Hun School girls’ basketball team suffered defeats in its last two contests before going on holiday break, Bill Holup wasn’t discouraged.

“I thought our defense in both games before the break was good,” said Hun head coach Holup, whose team fell 43-31 to Friends Central (Pa.) on December 16 and 32-23 to Germantown Friends (Pa.) on December 14 and is bringing a 3-5 record into 2022.

“They were very low scoring games. We had couple of girls who were out and that hurt a bit. Offensively we have been struggling a bit in the last couple of games. We just haven’t been able to find the bottom of the net. Our defense has actually kept us competitive.”

In Holup’s view, facing competitive foes will steel his squad for the challenges ahead.  

“My emphasis to the girls after our last game against Friends Central is that this is going to prepare us for the MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) games when we see Lawrenceville, Peddie, Hill, Mercersburg, and Blair,” said Holup. “It is good to play tough competition and hopefully we will be ready for our league games. You never like to have a losing record but the schedule that we have played with the Peddie tournament and playing these Friends schools will certainly prepare us.” more

GIFT OF GAB: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Gaby Velazquez brings the ball up the court in a recent game. Senior guard Velazquez has helped Stuart get off to a 2-2 start. In upcoming action, the Tartans Lawrenceville on January 6, St. Benedict’s on January 7, and Life Center Academy on January 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

The “next man up” mentality, whereby a starting player can be replaced smoothly by a substitute, has become prevalent throughout the sporting world.

This winter, Justin Leith is employing a next girl up philosophy for his Stuart Country Day School basketball team in the wake of losing six seniors to graduation.

Getting off to a 2-2 start before the holiday break, the new-look Tartans are growing into their roles.

“We are relying a whole new group of people to be contributors,” said Stuart head coach Leith.

“They are forced to because there is nobody else and they have so it is cool.”

Sticking to the staples of the program has helped the revamped lineup come together.

“I am really happy that the culture has been consistent with essentially a new team,” said Leith.

“All of the small things that, when you start a new program, you forget. It takes time for your expectations to be met. It is small things, like making sure that the bench is alive during games at all times, that they are sprinting to the locker room at halftime and after the game and when they are substituting, making sure they are high-fiving the replacement. There were a few reminders early on but the girls embraced it. I think that is the reason we have won the two games that we have. It is the attention to detail and those small things go a long way.” more

December 29, 2021

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE: Princeton University women’s soccer goalie Grace Barbara whips the ball upfield in a game this fall. Senior star and former Princeton Day School standout Barbara helped Princeton go 15-3-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy League as the Tigers advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After the Ivy League canceled competition for the 2020 fall season and the 2020-21 winter campaign due to COVID-19 concerns, Princeton University athletes got some limited opportunities to get back in action this spring.

Princeton rowers were thrilled to get the chance to row in a regatta against boats from Temple and Drexel in Philadelphia on April 25, their first racing since spring of 2019 and the first competition for Tiger athletics in 407 days. The women’s lightweight varsity 8 went on to make history, winning the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) grand final, its first national title since 2003. On the track, star thrower Obi Amaechi punctuated her stellar career by finishing 13th in the discus in the NCAA championships, earning second-team All-American honors.

It was full speed ahead in the fall for Princeton athletes and several teams produced memorable campaigns. Tiger football went 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy to share the league crown with Dartmouth. Overcoming a shaky start, men’s soccer caught fire down the stretch, going 7-0 in Ivy play to win the league crown. Led by Australian Olympian steeplechaser Ed Trippas, men’s cross country won the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships and went on to place first at the NCCA Mid-Atlantic regional. Men’s water polo won the Northeast Water Polo Conference (NWPC) tournament and topped Fordham 17-8 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Although women’s soccer didn’t win the Ivy title, it went 15-3-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy, earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Princeton posted a 2-0 win over visiting Vermont in the first round of the NCAAs before falling 3-2 in overtime to TCU in the round of 32.

While local high school teams did have a winter season, it was abbreviated and split into segments by sport. That limited campaign, though, didn’t prevent some highlight moments. Princeton High senior Chloe Ayres made history, earning her third straight state title, prevailing at 114 pounds at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) girls’ state wrestling championships.

Both the PHS boys’ and girls’ swimming teams went 12-0, competing in a virtual meet format. The Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team also went undefeated, going 5-0-1 while the Panther boys’ hockey team nearly matched that feat, posting a 4-1-1 record. The Hun School boys’ basketball team made the most out of its shortened season, going 8-2.

There was an increased sense of normalcy when the spring rolled around as postseason play resumed. The Hun baseball team rolled to a 19-2 record, winning its fifth straight state Prep A title in the process. The PHS boys’ tennis team also produced a dominant campaign, going 17-1 and winning both the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional and the CVC conference titles. Making coach Sheryl Severance’s 28th and final season coaching the boys’ golf program one to remember, Princeton High had a 15-0 record in dual match play, winning the first-ever CVC Match Play Tournament and taking second in the Central/South Jersey sectional. The Princeton Day School boys’ tennis team placed third in the state Prep B tournament, earning two individual titles as Aaron Phogat and Oliver Silverio won the first doubles flight while the pair of Will Sedgley and Mark Santamaria prevailed at second doubles.

In the fall season, a number of programs made history. Bouncing back from a 0-4-1 season in 2020, the Hun School girls’ soccer team posted a 12-5-2 record, edging Pennington 4-3 in overtime in a thrilling state Prep A final and also winning the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title. The Hun football team was a juggernaut, going 9-0 and outscoring foes 374-63 this fall. With Princeton Day School joining the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), two Panther teams earned the initial sectional titles in school history as the girls’ tennis team won the South Jersey Non-Public A championship and boys’ soccer prevailed in the South Jersey Non-Public B sectional.

Led by high-scoring striker Sophia Lis, the Princeton High girls’ soccer team produced a season for the ages, going 21-3, winning the CVC title, the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional championship, and making the program’s first-ever trip to the state Group 3 final along the way. The PHS girls’ tennis team added to its championship tradition, winning the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional crown. The Tiger cross country teams also excelled as the girls’ squad placed first at the Mercer County championship meet while the boys’ team prevailed at the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional meet. more

MAX EFFORT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Max Johns guards a foe in a game earlier this season. Last week, senior guard Johns scored a career-high 13 points in 13 minutes off the bench to help Princeton defeat Kean University 100-59. The Tigers, who improved to 10-3 with the win in the December 21 contest, are slated to play at Harvard on January 2 to start Ivy League action. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After finishing fall semester exams last week, the Princeton University men’s basketball team passed its final test before starting Ivy League play with flying colors.

Hosting Division III foe Kean University on December 21, Princeton rolled to a 100-59 win at Jadwin Gym as it improved to 10-3.

“It is an important game for us to play coming out of exams,” said Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson, whose team hit the 100-point mark for the first time in a game that ended in regulation since its 108-46 victory over Rowan College on November 25, 2016.

“I think Kean is a really well coached team. I am pleased that we are 10-3 wrapping it up. We know exactly where we need to focus. We have got a really tough test coming out of break when we play at Harvard.”

With Princeton slated to play at Harvard on January 2 to start Ivy action, Henderson is expecting some tough challenges in league play.

“The league is good,” said Henderson. “We are watching everyone very closely. I think it is going to be a rock fight.”

Senior guard Max Johns, who scored a career-high 13 points in 13 minutes off the bench against Kean, saw the game as good tune up for the Ivy opener.

“It was good to play someone else and show off what we are good at,” said Johns, a 6’4, 205-pound native of Hugh Point, N.C., who is averaging 3.5 points and 1.5 rebounds in 13 appearances this season off the bench.

“I think it is also good to identify what we need to work on and that game was good for that. Defensively, me personally but the team in general probably needs to do a better job of being in position early and not fouling.”

In the view of sophomore guard Matt Allocco, the Tigers are making progress. more

TEXAS TWO STEP: Princeton University women’s basketball player Abby Meyers heads to the hoop last Wednesday against Texas. Senior star Meyers scored a game-high 21 points, but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 70-53 to the Longhorns. The Tigers, now 7-4, are slated to host Harvard on January 2 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Hosting 12th-ranked Texas last Wednesday afternoon, the Princeton University women’s basketball team needed some early heroics by Abby Meyers to stay in the game.

With the Longhorns applying its trademark swarming defense, Meyers was the only player on Princeton who scored in the first quarter as Texas built a 15-8 lead. 

“That is an NCAA tournament type game for us, we know we need to make our shots,” said 6’0 senior guard Meyers.

“We have to be ready on our home court to knock them down, but then again, it was their defense. They got up into us and maybe that contributed to the poor shots or misses.”

While Meyers kept hitting shots, drawing Princeton to within 35-31 midway through the third quarter on a layup, the Longhorns wore down the Tigers as they pulled away to a 70-53 victory.

“The game is about runs, it depends on who has the hot hand and give it to them,” said Meyers, who ended up with a game-high 21 points in the defeat and is now averaging a team-high 17.7 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. more

December 22, 2021

BOUND FOR GLORY: Princeton University wrestler Patrick Glory ties up a foe from Lehigh in a 2019 bout. Earlier this month, junior star Glory won the 125-pound title at the prestigious Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas. In upcoming action, the Princeton wrestlers are slated to compete in the 58th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships at Hoffman Estates, Ill. from December 29-30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Patrick Glory felt like an underdog when he arrived at Princeton University in 2018 out of the Delbarton School, but quickly established himself as one of the best in the nation in his first two seasons with the Tigers.

A year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic did nothing to interrupt his status. The start of his junior season has Glory on track to be the very best.

“Going into this year, I know what it takes and what needs to happen for me to win a national championship,” said Glory.

“With two years to go, I think the sky’s the limit with what can be accomplished, not only for myself but for the team.”

Glory ended the fall semester by winning the 125-pound title at the prestigious Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas on December 4. Glory scored a 13-0 major decision over Devin Schroder of Purdue in the final to close a dominant run.

“It’s still early in the season,” said Glory. “It was a good test to see where I’m at with some of the better guys in the weight class. At the end of the day, there’s one tournament that I really care about and that really matters. That one’s at the end of March.”

The competition that Glory has his sights on is the NCAA Championships in Detroit, Mich. from March 17-19. His anticipation has been magnified because the NCAAs were canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic in the 2019-20 season just before nationals began. Then the Ivy League canceled the 2020-21 season as well.

“It was tough to know there were people competing and we were kind of sitting there watching the whole time,” said Glory.

“People were forgetting about us and that excitement and kind of aura we built winning the Ivy title for the first time in 40 years. And having six or seven guys make it to the NCAA tournament, there’s a lot of mojo that goes into that and you kind of ride that.”

As Princeton has returned to the mat for the 2021-22 campaign, Glory has picked up where he left off. He has proven himself with early wins over top-10 foes and sits ranked second in the latest InterMat Division 1 rankings.  more

ACTION JAXON: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Jaxon Petrone looks to unload the ball in game last winter. PHS was slated to tip off its 2021-22 season last Friday at Hightstown but that game was canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Ram program. The Tigers are currently scheduled to play at Hightstown on December 23 and then compete in a holiday tournament at Livingston High on December 27 and 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over the last two years, the offense for the Princeton High boys’ basketball team ran through point guard Tim Evidente and forward Ethan Guy.

With the two stars having graduated, PHS will be adopting a more free form style this winter.

“We are going to go to a position-less offense,” said Tiger head coach Pat Noone, who guided PHS to a 2-7 record last winter in a season abbreviated by COVID-19 concerns. “I think everybody is very interchangeable this year and versatile.”

That approach resonated with the players as they went through the preseason.

“It has been going good, the guys are really working hard,” said Noone, whose team was slated to open its season by playing at Hightstown last Friday but the game was canceled due to COVID issues within the Rams program.

“They are having a good time and they are starting the click, jell and play better.”

PHS, which is currently scheduled to play at Hightstown on December 23 and then compete in a holiday tournament at Livingston High on December 27 and 29, will be looking for a good season from senior standout Jaxon Petrone. more

INSIDE PRESENCE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Nora Devine, right, goes up for a shot last Friday against Hightstown in the season opener for both teams. Senior standout forward Devine scored a team-high 14 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough as PHS fell 60-37 to the Rams. The Tigers were slated to host Hamilton West on December 21 before the holiday break and then return to action by hosting WW/P-North on January 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Becoming a serous rower has helped Nora Devine get better on the basketball court for the Princeton High girls’ hoops team.

“I rowed for the Mercer junior team in the fall and spring and I am actually doing both right now,” said Devine, who is headed to Syracuse University where she will compete for its Division I women’s rowing program.

“I got in super good shape. I am just happy to be back and play, I wasn’t able to row all fall because I was hurt. It has translated to the court. My speed and agility and overall athleticism has improved.”

Last Friday evening, Devine displayed some of that athleticism, scoring a team-high 14 points in a losing cause as PHS fell 60-37 to visiting Hightstown in the season opener for both teams.

“I got some great passes inside and I took advantage when their taller girl was out,” said Devine, reflecting on her performance.

“It was definitely fun to play against someone that tall, I don’t think I have ever played against anyone that tall, so it was a good experience. That is what I am here for, being aggressive inside.” more

FAST START: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Lucy Liu competes in a freestyle race last winter. Senior standout Liu has helped PHS produce a 5-0 start this season. The Tigers were slated to wrap up the 2021 portion of their schedule by hosting Hopewell Valley on December 21 and will return to action when they host Notre Dame on January 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After both the Princeton High boys’ and girls’ swimming teams went 12-0 last winter, the squads are picking up where they left off so far in the 2021-22 campaign.

Featuring talent and depth throughout their lineups, the teams have gotten off to 5-0 starts, looking dominant in the process.

“The biggest thing that is really cool for us is numbers, we have almost 30 or 35 on each team which is huge,” said PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz, who guides both squads.

“Last year for the girls was maybe 20 or 21 and for the boys, it was 13. It was amazing that we were able to do what we did last year. I think that is why we are even more excited for this year.”

With increased depth, Misiewicz is able to mix and match the talent at her disposal.

“I can get more people in different races, we can swim different things,” said Misiewicz.

“We have so much more flexibility this year. We don’t just have to specialize and say you are always swimming these two events. The beauty is that I am able to do this with both boys and girls. A lot of the people we have are very versatile. The other teams are never going to know what they are going to get. I have already done five totally different lineups this year.” more