September 28, 2022

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

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

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

September 7, 2022

OPENING ROUND: Princeton University men’ soccer player Daniel Diaz-Bonilla, right, fights for the ball last Friday night against Rutgers in the season opener for the Tigers. Senior star Diaz-Bonilla scored a goal late in the contest as Princeton rallied to earn a 1-1 draw with the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway. The Tigers, who fell 2-0 to Vermont last Monday in their home opener to move to 0-1-1, play at Penn State (2-1-1) on September 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In 2021, the Princeton University men’s soccer team returned to action after the previous season was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns by falling 1-0 to Rutgers and 2-0 to the University of Vermont.

Over the Labor Day weekend, Princeton started its 2022 campaign by facing the same two foes, looking to turn the tables on them.

“They are two teams that beat us last year in two very even games,” said Barlow as he looked ahead to the season. “I think we felt as the season went on that we would love to have another shot at those two teams and now we get another shot at them.”

On Friday at Rutgers, Princeton seemed headed to the same result against the Scarlet Knights as it trailed 1-0 with 14 minutes remaining in regulation.

Tracking down a loose ball on a free kick, Tiger defender Issa Mudashiru got the ball to Harry Roberts who eluded a defender and slotted the ball to Daniel Diaz-Bonilla, who fired a shot that was saved. Undeterred, Diaz-Bonilla chased down the rebound and fired the ball into the back of the net.

That tally proved to be the final score of the contest as the local rivals played to a 1-1 draw, giving the Tigers some measure of payback.

On Labor Day, Princeton hosted Vermont in its home opener and, like in the opener, dug itself a hole.

The Catamounts took a 1-0 lead 10:19 into the contest on an own goal off a corner kick as a clear by the Tigers ricocheted off a defender into the net.

Minutes later, Vermont generated another corner kick and cashed in again as Yves Borie scored with 22:40 left in the first half to double the lead for the Catamounts. more

SMASH HIT: Princeton High field hockey player Delaney Keegan gets ready for a big hit last fall. Junior Keegan is the leading returning scorer for PHS, having tallied seven goals and 17 assists last fall. The Tigers are slated to open their 2022 season by playing at Lawrence High on September 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While the Princeton High field hockey team has plenty of talent on hand, the challenge for Heather Serverson is to mix and match those pieces into a cohesive unit.

“It is an overall positive feeling around the team; we did a lot of work over the summer and a lot of girls have committed to playing year round,” said PHS head coach Serverson, who led PHS to a 15-2 record last fall on the way to the Mercer County Tournament semifinal. “We are in our usual situation where we just need to figure out who we have, what our strengths are, and how they best fit together.”

One of the squad’s strengths figures to be the play of junior Delaney Keegan, the leading returning scorer for PHS, having tallied seven goals and 17 assists last fall to help trigger the Tiger attack.

“Delaney is playing well, she has been doing a great job defensively and offensively,” said Serverson, whose team is playing at Lawrence High on September 12 in its season opener.  “She really reads the play and the field well, I can’t say enough about her.”

Senior co-captains and sisters Hannah Christopher and Kayla Christopher along with junior Reva Doshi, sophomore Mia Ramirez, junior Leah Rose-Seiden, senior Anna Terry, and junior Erin Liggio have the ability to attack all over the field.

“I have Hannah at forward and Kayla is a midfielder,” said Serverson. “Reva also plays midfield; she plays a little bit higher so she can do great things offensively for us. Mia has good stickwork and some really good poise for her age, which really pays off for us in the circle. She is coming into her own right now. Leah has been playing at forward, we have been seeing some great stuff from her as well. She has a great shot on goal, she also has some good poise. Annie had to sit out part of the season last year because she was a transfer. We are looking forward to her getting a full season in. She has been a really good feisty player for us in the midfield, doing some great things. Erin is my filler, I know I can put her any place and she will get the job done.”

Senior tri-captain Gianna DiGioacchino is getting things done for PHS on the back line.

“Gianna has been doing a great job,” said Serverson. “She is really coming into her own this year, especially as a captain. She is vocal on the field. She anticipates the play well and gets our transition offense started.” more

GOLD RUSH: Princeton High running back Tyler Goldberg looks to elude a Lawrence High defender. Last Saturday, PHS fell 35-0 to Riverside in its home opener. The Tigers, now 0-2, play at Haddon Township on September 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After it was over, the players on the Princeton High football team gathered together in the end zone, hanging their heads in dejection.

Entering its home opener against Riverside last Saturday, PHS was determined to bounce back from a frustrating 35-12 loss to Lawrence on August 26 to start the 2022 campaign.

Instead, the Tigers shot themselves in the foot, making a number of miscues on the way to a 35-0 loss to the Rams.

PHS head coach Charlie Gallagher acknowledged that his squad wasn’t sharp.

“Riverside played well and we had so many self-inflicted wounds — interceptions, missed tackles, fumbles, and bad penalties, you name it,” said Gallagher. “It was a big step backwards, that is disappointing. I take responsibility.”

The tide turned in Riverside’s favor when it got a safety late in the first quarter to go up 2-0 and then scored a touchdown on the next possession to extend the lead to 8-0.

“They ran the ball all over us, they run a tricky offense,” said Gallagher of the Rams, who got 175 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Ivan Ramos with John Boston running for 135 yards and a pair of scores. “Our people weren’t doing what they are supposed to do; there are places that defensive players need to look.” more

KICKING OFF: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer player Joaquin Rodriguez sends the ball upfield in a 2021 game. Senior midfielder and co-captain Rodriguez is primed to trigger the PDS offense this season. The Panthers start their 2022 campaign by playing at Burlington Township High on September 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team made its debut in the Non-Public B tournament last fall, it didn’t appear to be a title contender as it brought an 8-11 record into the competition.

But seventh-seeded PDS produced a stirring run, winning the South Jersey sectional title before falling 3-1 to Gill St. Bernard’s in the Non-Public B state final.

Heading into the 2022 season, Panther head coach Brian Thomsen believes the tournament run had proven to be a confidence builder for his returning players.

“The guys got a little bit of belief in them now that we have been through a year of playing in the South Jersey Non-Public B,” said Thomsen, who guided PDS to a 12-12 record in his debut season at the helm of the program. “They feel a little bit more confident that they can have some success in the postseason.”

Thomsen believes that his squad is primed for a successful fall.

“We have a good group of guys on the field to go to battle,” said Thomsen, whose team plays at Burlington Township High on September 8 in its season opener.”

Senior midfielder and team tri-captain Joaquin Rodriguez figures to be a key guy for the Panthers.

“Joaquin is an awesome kid; he is defining what it is to be a PDS student, everybody looks forward to dealing with him,” said Thomsen. “He been such a great ambassador for the program. He is definitely excited about the year. He is excited to be a leader and not in the shadows of the guys that have been here in the past couple of years. He has really embraced the entire mantra that we might not be the best soccer team out there but we are definitely somebody who is going to work our tails off. We are a group that is going to defend really well and play together which is really important.”

PDS should get some good work in the midfield from senior Michael Zebrowski and sophomore Todd Devin. more

RUF AND TOUGH: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Kirsten Ruf, left, battles a Hun player for the ball in action last season. Senior defender Ruf figures to be a pillar of the PDS defense this fall. The Panthers kick off their 2022 season by hosting Peddie on September 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As Chris Pettit heads into his second season at the helm of the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team, he believes that increased familiarity will breed success.

“I think personality-wise, there is a greater understanding on both sides and playing-wise as well,” said Pettit, who guided PDS to an 8-8-1 record last fall in his debut campaign. “There is a greater kind of awareness and understanding of how we are going to play this year. It has made it easier because it is more integrated, having them appreciate and understand what we are doing. My hope is that this year we can pick up more or less where we left off.”

Pettit will be depending on his returning players to help integrate a large group of newcomers into the program.

“We have 12 freshmen so none of those players have been through it before; that probably makes up 50 percent of our squad,” said Pettit, whose team kicks off its 2022 season by hosting Peddie on September 8. “We are pretty young and inexperienced so it has definitely been some of the usual learning curves. They just haven’t done anything this intensive before. Club is every other couple of days where this preseason is every day.”

Senior star forward Grace Romano brings experience and skill to the table for the squad, having led PDS in scoring last season with 15 goals and four assists.

“Grace is good, she has stepped up as a senior leader,” said Pettit, noting that junior Abby Weed (3 goals, 2 assists in 2021) will also be seeing time at forward. “She chipped in with quite a few goals last year and will hopefully be a real weapon for us in terms of goals. I would like to see her improve her assists. Going north on both of those numbers would obviously be good for her and the leadership part.”

Another player who figures to pile up some numbers this fall is junior Adriana Salzano (13 goals, 2 assists). more

OFF AND RUNNING: Hun School quarterback Marco Lainez III races upfield in a 2021 game. Last Saturday, senior star and Iowa commit Lainez connected on 8 of 10 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns as Hun rolled to a 48-13 win over Mastery Charter in its season opener. The Raiders will look to keep on the winning track when they host Royal Imperial Collegiate of Canada on September 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Logan Howland may have caught his last pass last year unless the Hun School football team uses a tackle-eligible play this fall.

With an eye on the future, the Raider senior will spend his final scholastic season at offensive tackle after playing tight end throughout his prior high school years.

“I think it was kind of inevitable,” said Howland. “When Coach (Todd) Smith reached out to me my junior year at Westfield he asked me if anyone was talking to me about playing offensive line. He’s seen that college coaches would see me as the new prototypical skinny guy that they can turn into an athletic offensive lineman. I think it was only a matter of time after the season to turn me into an offensive lineman. It was December or November he told me, you’re moving to the line and this is what’s going to get you paid a lot of money in college and hopefully in the NFL.”

Last Saturday, Howland and the Raider offensive line cleared the way and the defense was opportunistic as Hun rolled to a 48-13 opening day win over Mastery Charter. Hun led 27-0 after the first quarter on the way to the decisive victory.

“It was good to see a lot of guys on the field that didn’t get a lot of playing time last year,” said Howland, who will be headed to the University of Oklahoma next season to continue his football career. “We have to work on a lot of things and hopefully we’ll be a lot better next week.”

Hun will look to keep on the winning track when it hosts Royal Imperial Collegiate of Canada on September 10. The Raiders will be looking for the rebuilt offensive line to continue to come together while finding ways to utilize a bevy of new talent at the skill spots.

“We have a lot of kids and there’s only one football to go around, but we’re going to do our best to spread it around,” said Hun head coach Smith. “We had a lot of people contribute today so that’s exciting. It’s going to keep making us better and harder to defend as the year progresses.”

Iowa commit Marco Lainez III completed 8 of 10 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns, JT Goodman rushed for a pair of touchdowns while Kamar Archie scored on a 60-yard run. Six different Raiders had catches with Liam Thorpe and Logan Galletta receiving touchdown tosses. more

RILED UP: Hun School girls’ soccer player Riley Hayes controls the ball in a game last season. Senior midfielder and tri-captain Hayes, the team’s leading scorer last year with 11 goals and three assists as the Raiders won the state Prep A title, figures to be the offensive catalyst again this season for Hun. The Raiders open their 2022 campaign by playing the Hill School (Pa.) on September 9 in the Varsity Soccer Jamboree hosted by Hill. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming off a winless season in a 2020 campaign abbreviated due to COVID concerns, the Hun School girls’ soccer team snuck up on its foes last year.

Catching fire down the stretch, Hun produced a stirring run in the state Prep A tournament, culminating with a 4-3 overtime win against perennial power Pennington in the final to give the program its first Prep title since 2014.

As the Raiders head into the 2022 campaign, they know they have a bull’s eye on their backs.

“We are using that as motivation, we were the underdogs last year and now we have to defend that Prep title,” said Hun head coach Jenn Barrett, who guided the Raiders to 12-5-2 record last fall after they went 0-4-1 the year before. “We know people are going to bring their competitive greatness to us. We are working every practice and every opportunity that we have to push it so that we are prepared for those moments.”

Based on how preseason training has gone, the Hun players seem prepared for that challenge.

“Things have been going super well, we have a really good group of girls,” said Barrett, whose team is opening its 2022 campaign by playing the Hill School (Pa.) on September 9 in the Varsity Soccer Jamboree hosted by Hill. “The girls are really excited and definitely confident in themselves, their ability and the opportunities.” more

August 31, 2022

POP STAR: Princeton University field hockey player Sammy Popper controls the ball in a game last season. Senior tri-captain Popper will be looking to shore up the Princeton backline this fall as she is moving to the center back spot. The 13th-ranked Tigers open their 2022 campaign by playing at second-ranked North Carolina on September 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Carla Tagliente has seen a different confidence about her Princeton University field hockey team through its preseason.

Much of it stems from having everyone back from a Tiger squad that had no seniors last year plus adding a freshman class that bring necessary depth as they prepare to open at second-ranked North Carolina on September 2.

“You wouldn’t think on paper it would make much of a difference because they’re the same people, but in terms of experience it’s a huge difference,” said Tagliente, who is starting her sixth season as Princeton head coach. “You look at it last year and we had missed the year as well and it kind of resets things back in terms of where we’re at and what we need to go over. The recency of things is not there because they haven’t played in so long. It’s a way different feel this preseason than last year in terms of the confidence across the board.”

Princeton went 10-7 overall and 6-1 Ivy League a year ago after Ivy teams did not compete in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tigers lost a heartbreaker in overtime to Harvard to finish second in the league standings and had a couple narrow losses cost them a bid to the NCAA tournament. That season may not have ended the way Princeton wanted it to, but the experience has value as the Tigers prepare to start this season.

“That’s the big difference between this year and last year with so many back,” said Tagliente, whose team is ranked 13th nationally. “The sophomores hadn’t really played a game so we had 10-11 players that were having their first experience with it and we’re going over such basic things. Whereas this year, it’s just the six freshmen that we’re having to bring on board and the older players, they’ve checked those boxes and they’re not taking steps backwards. So I’m really happy in that regard, that we’re not taking a step back collectively and having to go over certain things. I really feel like we can lean on these returners to come back and perform and lead the way.” more