April 20, 2022

BIG MAC: Princeton High baseball player Connor McDowell takes a cut in recent action. Last week, senior McDowell went 3 for 4 with three RBIs to help PHS rally from a 4-0 deficit to edge Lawrenceville 8-7. The Tigers, who fell 13-1 to Notre Dame last Monday to move to 3-4, host Princeton Day School on April 20, WW/P-South on April 21, Ewing on April 23, and Allentown on April 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Before the Princeton High baseball team took the field to host Lawrenceville last week, it engaged in some soul-searching.

“We had a talk before the game about resilience and picking it up,” said PHS senior Connor McDowell.

“After that last game (a 2-0 loss to Robbinsville on April 11), we knew we had to perform. It was that or nothing.”

With McDowell picking up the offense by going 3 for 4 with three RBIs, PHS rallied from a 4-0 deficit to pull out an 8-7 walk-off win over the Big Red in the April 12 contest.

In the bottom of the second inning, McDowell helped get the Tigers back in the game, banging out a two-run single that narrowed the Lawrenceville lead to 4-3.

“I knew the pitcher was probably going to throw me a fastball,” said McDowell, recalling that at-bat. “I just needed to stay down and hit a line drive. I didn’t need to hit anything crazy, just hit through the ball and hit a single, that is all I need.” more

FINISHING TOUCH: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Kate Becker looks to unload the ball in a game earlier this spring. Last Wednesday, senior star Becker tallied five goals and an assist to help PHS defeat Notre Dame 9-6. On Monday, Becker scored nine goals as the Tigers defeated Hopewell Valley 14-8 to improve to 7-2. In upcoming action, PHS plays at Lawrence High on April 20, at Pingry School on April 23, and at WW/P-North on April 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Kate Becker knew that the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team faced a major challenge as it looked to break down a stingy Notre Dame defense last Wednesday.

“They are notorious for their defense, they play it so well,” said PHS senior star and co-captain Becker. “It is hard to simulate in practice. They just work for it, they are shifting, and they are incredibly well-coached.”

With PHS trailing 2-0, Becker got things working, finding the back of the net with 8:59 left in the first half.

“We wanted to take our time, it was really hot out and we wanted to pass it around and give the middies a break,” said Becker, who added two more goals in the half as the teams went into halftime tied at 3-3. “It just took us a second to look for their weaknesses, they don’t have a lot. We were just looking for that right pass. We said going in that we wanted to make passes that are going to be 100 percent going to be catches and just maintain our energy and keep our composure on offense.”

Keeping its composure in the second half, PHS pulled away to a 9-6 victory.

“They were just getting rowdy and we were saying play the game, let them foul, take the hits, and move it on offense,” said Becker. “We were really focusing on when their backer plays us out, beating one and then passing it or moving it. I think that is what we were able to do, even in our stall at the end.”

Displaying her focus, Becker ended up with five goals and an assist in the win. more

STRINGING IT TOGETHER: Princeton High boys’ tennis player Jonathan Gu hits a shot in action last spring. With junior Gu starring at first singles, PHS is off to a 5-0 start. In upcoming action, the Tigers host Notre Dame on April 21 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament on April 25 at the Mercer County Park tennis complex. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Sarah Hibbert has been doing some mixing and matching this spring with the Princeton High boys’ tennis team.

With last year’s second singles star Jack Ling deciding not to play this spring in his sophomore season so he can focus on junior tennis, PHS head coach Hibbert has been forced to shuffle things around.

“That is obviously a big gap in our singles lineup,” said Hibbert, referring to the loss of Ling. “Jonathan [Gu] returned to give us a lot of strength at first singles. Melvin [Huang] has been working really hard as well at second. All of the other guys have been working really hard to step into the starting varsity lineup.”

In the early stages that work has been paying off as PHS defeated WW/P-North 3-2 on April 11 and Robbinsville 3-2 on April 13 with makeshift lineups.

“We were able to get past North which was a nice win for us, especially considering that our second doubles played at one and we had Luke Bornstein filling in at second doubles,” said Hibbert, whose team defeated Allentown 5-0 last Monday to improved to 5-0.

“He really stepped up. He got called up in a big spot twice this week; he is usually right on the cusp there for third doubles. He moved in and won a match at second doubles for us against North and moved into first doubles for us against Robbinsville and were still able to pull off the win. We had JV doubles at second. It made it a lot more exciting than perhaps it needed to be.”

PHS figures to get some exciting play all spring from junior Jonathan Gu at first singles. more

By Bill Alden

Over the course of this spring, the Princeton Day School boys’ tennis team is going to be tested early and often.

PDS is facing a gauntlet of tough foes in regular season action, featuring a schedule packed with formidable prep and public school opponents. As for postseason play, the Panthers will be competing in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) tournament for the first time in addition to their annual tradition of  taking part in the state Prep B tourney and the Mercer County Tournament (MCT).

For PDS head coach Michael Augsberger, facing challenges is the key to making progress.

“I tell them it is really important for me to be playing the best because it means that we are trying to become the best tennis players that we can be and not just win matches,” said Augsberger. “That is impotent but it is more important to improve and to test yourself and your mettle. The challenge with that is that you have to try to keep spirits up.”

The chance to test their mettle in the NJSIAA competition is a big motivation for the PDS players.

“The guys are really excited, I think part of it is the success, ending on a high note last year and getting excited about it,” said Augsberger, whose team topped Peddie 5-0 last week to improve to 2-3 and hosts Haddonfield on April 20 before starting play in the MCT on April 25.

“Also I think it is entering the states. They see in the fall what the girls could do (winning a sectional title) and they are really excited about it. We are really happy to be a part of it. They really understand that this is a neat opportunity that no one else in school history has had.”

At first singles, junior Joshua Chu is getting a boost this spring from having the opportunity to spend two weeks training in Spain prior to the season. more

BRING HER A-GAME: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player Ava Olender, right, runs upfield in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, sophomore star Olender tallied seven goals and an assist to help Hun defeat Moorestown Friends 16-4. The Raiders, now 3-3, play at the Hill School (Pa.) on April 20 and at the Princeton Day School on April 22 before hosting the Shipley School (Pa.) on April 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Kathleen Jaeger wasn’t fazed when her Hun School girls’ lacrosse team started the 2022 season by suffering two lopsided losses.

“We are a relatively young team so the beginning of the season is all about growth,” said Hun head coach Jaeger, whose team fell 15-7 to Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) in its season opener on March 26 and then lost 17-5 to Lawrenceville four days later.

“They were just improving on consistency and learning to manage the highs and lows of the game.”

The Raiders experienced a high when they topped Villa Joseph Marie (Pa.) 18-8 on April 2 to earn their first win of the season.

“It was definitely a good game for the girls to come together all across the field,” said Jaeger, who got six goals from Ava Olender in the victory with Abby O’Brien scoring four and Maggie Maffia and Olivia Kim chipping in three apiece. “We actually played that game on grass so it was an adjustment for them. In that game you saw a lot of different people stepping up. We saw scores from six different people and that was players looking for each other, getting their heads up on the field in transition and not being afraid to be a little more aggressive than they had been in recent games.”

A pair of sophomores, Kim and Olender, have provided a potent one-two offensive punch for Hun.

“Olivia plays more attack and Ava has been more in the midfield,” said Jaeger, whose team defeated Moorestown Friends 16-4 last Wednesday to improve to 3-3 with Olender tallying seven goals and an assist in the victory.

“They have done a very good job of creating space for themselves and finding that space and being aggressive towards the goal. It is fun to see them grow more confident on the field, they held back a little last year.” more

April 13, 2022

HE DID IT: Princeton High sophomore fencing star Larry He, center, flanked by PHS head coach Sam Blanchard, left, and volunteer assistant coach Jake Silverman enjoy the moment after He won the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) boys’ individual épée title last month. He’s triumph marked the first-ever state title for the PHS fencing program and highlighted an historic season for the Tigers.

By Bill Alden

Coming into the winter, Sam Blanchard wasn’t expecting his Princeton High fencing program to make history this season.

“We had a bunch of strong freshmen show up, that was a bit of a surprise,” said PHS head coach Blanchard. “I had no idea how strong they were going to be.”

It was a sophomore, Larry He, who produced the strongest performance, winning the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) individual boys’ épée title, the first state crown for the PHS fencing team.

“Larry is a solid fencer, he works really hard, he is fencing a lot of tournaments,” said Blanchard, who got a 25th place finish in the épée from junior Theodore Kopaliani.

“I think he started when he was about 11, 12, maybe as early as 10. Going into the day of the championships, if you were making book, he would not be your top pick for winning the event. He is a very good long day fencer and that made a big difference, he had a couple of fortunate coincidences that happened. It is all Larry and his preparation, he is very good.”

He combined with Joseph Wong and Kopalianito help the épée team finish seventh in the State Squad final.

Another young PHS fencer, freshman Noah Zeng, also excelled at states, taking 15th in the saber.

“Noah is a very strong fencer,” said Blanchard, whose boys’ saber team of Gary Dai, Chris Bao and Bence Molnar-Somogyari, and Daniel Zhang placed 18th in the State Squad final. “I think we will see him in the top rankings in the future years.”

Senior Oliver Cai led the boys’ foil squad. “My foil captain Oliver has been a very strong performer over his entire career with the team,” said Blanchard of Cai who placed 11th in the state individual competition. “He is an exceptional fencer.” more

IN THE HUNT: Princeton Day School baseball player Hunter Von Zelowitz takes a big cut in a game earlier this season. Senior infielder Von Zelowitz is primed to have a big final campaign for PDS this spring. The Panthers, who fell 6-5 to the Blair Academy last Monday to move to 0-3, plays at the Peddie School on April 14 and at the Lawrenceville School on April 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jeff Young is determined to make this a special spring for the seven seniors on his Princeton Day School baseball team.

“The good news is that we have a ton of seniors,” said PDS head coach Young, who guided the Panthers to a 2-13-1 record last spring in his first season at the helm of the program.

“The motto for them is just to make sure that they play the game in a way where they can look back at it and really enjoy their last year of high school baseball. I am going to promote an atmosphere where they can be as competitive as they want but I want them to realize that their love for being on the field and being with their teammates comes first this year.”

Heading into his second year coaching the squad, Young believes the Panthers are ahead of where they were last year in the early stages of the season.

“Once I knew I was the baseball coach, my job was to be prepared everyday on the baseball field and that is really the easy part,” said Young, whose squad opened its 2022 campaign by falling 18-1 to the Hill School (Pa.) on April 1, 11-7 to New Hope-Solebury (Pa.) on April 4 and 6-5 to the Blair Academy last Monday. more

COMEBACK KIDS: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Ali Surace heads to goal in recent action. Last Saturday, senior star and tri-captain Surace tallied two goals and two assists and scooped up six ground balls to help the Panthers rally from a 6-0 deficit to edge Hillsborough 12-11. PDS, which defeated the Pennington School 17-6 last Monday to improve to 3-2, plays at Haddonfield High on April 14 and at the Lawrenceville School on April 19. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team trailing Hillsborough 6-0 in the first half last Saturday morning, Ali Surace lost her cool.

“I started getting a little angry and thinking I am not going to let that girl get it,” said PDS senior standout and tri-captain Surace, referring to gathering up the ball on draw controls.

“It was definitely a mentality shift for me. I am not going to let this girl beat me right now. I was going to get every ball on the ground and every ball in the air.”

PDS outscored the Raiders 5-3 over the rest of the half to shift the momentum and narrow the Hillsborough lead to 9-5.

“I think we had the energy the whole time, we knew what we needed to do,” said Surace.

“Once we started catching the balls and cleaning it up, it started to come together. I feel like the momentum was definitely there. We were trying to clean it up, win every 50/50 ball and just fight for everything.”

With Surace leading the fight, scooping up a number of ground balls to give PDS possession, the Panthers started the second half with a 7-1 run and held on for a dramatic 12-11 victory. more

SIZZLING START: Hun School softball star Lexi Kobryn fires a pitch in a game last season. Sophomore Kobryn has gotten off to a sizzling start this spring, firing a perfect game with 19 strikeouts in a season-opening 6-0 win over the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on March 26 and followed that up with a no-hitter in a 6-0 victory over the Lawrenceville School on March 31. Last week, Kobryn recorded 17 strikeouts and yielded two hits in a 6-1 win over the Peddie School. The Raiders, who improved to 6-0 with a 10-0 win over Morristown-Beard last Monday, play at the Hill School (Pa.) on April 13 at Princeton Day School on April 14 and at the Pingry School on April 19. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Lexi Kobryn put in some extra work over the offseason to make herself a better pitcher for the Hun School softball team this spring.

“I have been in the gym all fall and winter and I have gotten a lot stronger,” said Hun sophomore Kobryn.

“I was also working with my pitching coach I have definitely gotten a lot faster, I am hitting 65.”

It didn’t take long for that work to yield dividends as Kobryn hurled a perfect game with 19 strikeouts in a season-opening 6-0 win over the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on March 26 and followed that up with a no-hitter in a 6-0 victory over the Lawrenceville School on March 31.

“That was really exciting, I tried not to think about it,” said Kobryn, reflecting on the perfect game.

“Anything could ruin it, we had a couple of grounders. Everything was on that day for me. We haven’t beaten Lawrenceville in four years, it was a great team effort. It was also exciting.”

Pitching against Peddie last week, Kobryn looked like she was on her way to another mound gem, striking out the first nine batters she faced.

“I was like mixing up the pitches and everything,” said Kobryn. more

GETTING UP TO SPEED: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Emily Ix races up the field in recent action. Junior star and team captain Ix tallied three goals in a losing cause as Stuart fell 12-10 to Lawrence High last Monday. The Tartans, now 0-4, play at the Pennington School on April 19. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Opening its 2022 campaign last week, the Stuart Country Day School lacrosse team hit the ground running with three games in five days.

While the Tartans ran into some tough foes, losing 17-7 to Princeton Day School on April 4, 12-6 to Peddie last Thursday, and then got edged 13-11 by South Brunswick a day later, Stuart junior star midfielder and co-captain Emily Ix saw plenty of positives

“It has been really fun, we have definitely had a lot of good competition,” said Ix, who has three goals and an assist in the loss to South Brunswick.

“It is helping us out. We are learning a lot, we are improving. I am really proud of our girls.”

The Tartans applied some of those lessons in the second half against South Brunswick, outscoring the Vikings 7-4 in the second half after trailing 9-4 at intermission.

“We came out after halftime and said we have to do this, we are capable,” said Ix.

“We went out there and gave it our all. We were hustling, that really changed it for us.”

In Ix’s view, Stuart showed progress in a number of areas over the course of opening week.

“Our team chemistry and working the ball up the field on transition has improved,” said Ix.

“Our defense, sliding, helping each other and communicating is better.” more

April 6, 2022

TAKING OFF: Princeton University men’s track star pole vaulter Sondre Guttormsen races down the runway on his way to a leap at the Division I Indoor NCAA Track and Field Championship last month. Junior Guttormsen won the event with a best mark of 5.75 meters (18’10¼). (Photo by Seth James Photography, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Justin Feil

It’s been a unique journey to the top for Sondre Guttormsen from California to Norway back to California and finally to Princeton University with a stop at the Tokyo Olympics along the way.

The Tiger junior standout won the men’s pole vault at the Division I Indoor NCAA Track and Field Championships on March 11 with a clearance of 5.75 meters (18’10¼).

“It was a long time coming, coming back to the NCAA,” said Guttormsen. “I really wanted to win it and I knew that I could. It was amazing coming out there and taking the win, especially representing Princeton.”

Guttormsen was a rare transfer accepted to Princeton two years ago after competing for UCLA in his first year of college. As a freshman for the Bruins, Guttormsen placed ninth in the 2019 NCAA Division I Outdoor NCAA Track and Field Championships when he jumped 18’4½”. He did not compete for the Tigers until this year after transferring and then waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic cancellations.  more

GOING TO GOAL: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Patrick Kenah heads to goal last Saturday morning against visiting North Hunterdon. Sophomore star Kenah tallied six goals and one assist to help PHS pull out a 10-7 win over the Lions. The Tigers, who improved to 2-0 with the victory, host WW/P-North on April 7 before playing at Mount Olive on April 9 and at Notre Dame on April 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Patrick Kenah and his teammates on the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team were primed for an early-season test as they hosted North Hunterdon last Saturday morning.

“Coming into this game we knew it was going to be our first real challenge,” said sophomore star attacker Kenah. “We definitely wanted to come out of here with a good result and really see how good we are as a team.”

After North Hunterdon got off to a good start with two unanswered goals, PHS reeled off four straight tallies to turn the tide of the contest.

“We knew we had to shift the momentum,” said Kenah. “[Will] Doran and me talked, we knew we had to get into our spots and get going and bury the ball. We had some shots early but the goalie made some good saves. We just had to make sure that we were finishing.”

Kenah displayed a superb finishing touch in the back-and-forth contest, tallying six goals and an assist as PHS pulled out a 10-7 win after the teams were tied at 6-6 late in the third quarter. more

NO BACKING DOWN: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Grace Rebak races up the field in a 2021 game. Last Wednesday, senior star Rebak chipped in four assists to help PHS defeat Hightstown 15-1 in its season opener. The Tigers, who topped WW/P-South 12-1 on Friday and then blanked Monroe 12-0 on Saturday to improve to 3-0, play at Lawrenceville on April 6, host Robbinsville on April 8, host Montgomery on April 9, and then plays at Hopewell Valley on April 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

A big question mark surrounding the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse coming into the season was how to pick up the playmaking slack left by the graduation of Shoshi Henderson, who dished for 75 assists last spring to spark the Tiger attack.

While PHS senior star Grace Rebak has been known more for her defensive prowess over the years, she may have provided part of the answer to that question last Wednesday, passing for four assists as the Tigers cruised to a 15-1 win over Hightstown in their season opener.

Rebak, a Williams College commit who will be playing both field hockey and lacrosse at the next level, is enjoying playing a greater role in the Tiger offense.

“I played midfield last year and I am going to play it again,” said Rebak. “I love seeing both sides of the field.”

After scoring just one goal in the first 8:47 of the opener, PHS exploded for seven unanswered tallies in the next 7:33 to build an 8-1 lead and never looked back.

“Our offense has been doing super well,” said Rebak, who had a goal and an assist in a 12-0 win over WW/P-South last Friday and then chipped in a goal and two assists in a 12-1 victory over Monroe a day later.  more

HANDS-ON LEARNING: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Sebastian Rzeczycki, left, battles to get past a Shawnee High defender last Thursday in its season opener. Sophomore attackman Rzeczycki tallied two goals in the contest as PDS fell 11-4. On Saturday, Rzeczycki scored three goals as the Panthers lost 15-4 to Clearview. In upcoming action, PDS is slated to play at Hillsborough on April 9 and at Blair Academy on April 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Joe Moore knew that his Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team faced a big challenge as it hosted Shawnee High in its season opener last Thursday.

“We are young and I think we have a long way to go from a leadership perspective so we are still finding ourselves in that area,” said PDS head coach Moore. “They returned a lot of players, which we knew. They were familiar with us.”

Showing its youth, PDS fell behind 4-1 by halftime and trailed 10-1 early in the fourth quarter on the way to an 11-4 defeat.

“The good thing is that the future is bright but now there are going to be growing pains,” said Moore, who got two goals from sophomore Sebastian Rzeczycki in the setback. “These guys are competitive, they know the opportunities that they have in front of them. We played a lot of freshmen and sophomores today. They are trying to find that confidence on the field.”

Moore has confidence that Rzeczycki along with sophomore Charlie Hogshire, sophomore Logan Hermann, and junior Oliver Hall can provide some scoring punch for the Panthers this spring. more

BECK AND CALL: Hun School boys’ lacrosse player Andrew Heubeck, right, looks to unload the ball in a game last season. This past Friday, senior star and Colgate-bound Heubeck tallied two goals and three assists to help Hun defeat Pennsbury High (Pa.) 16-6. In upcoming action, the Raiders, now 2-1, host Lawrenceville on April 6, play at the Blair Academy on April 9, and then host the Peddie School on April 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Andrew Heubeck has emerged as a jack-of-all trades for the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team this spring.

The Colgate-bound senior star attackman has added taking face-offs to his normal duties of playmaking and scoring.

Last Friday, Heubeck displayed his versatility, tallying two goals and three assists in addition to his work in the face-off X as Hun rolled to a 16-6 win over Pennsbury High (Pa.).

Heubeck is enjoying his increased responsibilities.

“It is my first time trying face-offs, it has been a challenge but I like it so far,” said Heubeck. “On offense, it is a little bit of dodging and trying to get my teammates goals too.”

Jumping out to a 9-2 halftime lead over Pennsbury, Hun displayed a potent offense.

“We had lots of energy and we were moving the ball around,” said Heubeck. “We were ready to take over.”

Moving the ball to freshman star attackman Jack Moran helped trigger the Raider attack.

“He is always open, I think he scored five or six goals,” said Heubeck of the connection with Moran, who ended up with six goals and two assists in the win. more

WAY BETTER: Hun School baseball player Carson Wehner makes a play at third base in 2021 action. Last Saturday, senior star Wehner produced a stellar mound effort, yielding three hits and striking out nine in a 4-1 win over Poly Prep Country Day School (N.Y.). The Raiders, who improved to 4-0 with the victory, host St. Augustine on April 7 before playing at the Blair Academy on April 9 and the Pennington School on April 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Carson Wehner was determined to close the deal as he took the mound for the Hun School baseball team to pitch the seventh inning against Poly Prep Country Day School (N.Y.) last Saturday.

Having surrendered just three hits over the first six innings as Hun built a 4-1 lead, senior righty Wehner proceeded to retire the Blue Devils 1-2-3 to put the finishing touches on a superb mound effort.

“That is how I pitch; I like to get stronger as the game goes on, I have always been that way,” said Wehner, who had nine strikeouts in his complete game performance. “All of my pitchers were on, I felt it before the game in the bullpen. They were all working for me well today.”

Facing the New York powerhouse, Wehner brought a battling mentality to the mound.

“I just wanted to attack the guys, I wasn’t quite familiar with them because they are from New York,” said Wehner. “It was just throw strikes. I knew my fielders were going to do the job, I love the guys behind me.”

Wehner helped himself with an RBI groundout in the second inning to make it a 1-1 game and a bunt single in the sixth that loaded the bases and help set the table for a three-run rally by the Raiders.

“I saw coach (Tom Monfiletto) call it, I had a few bunts for hit last year,” said Wehner. “He called it and I was like, ‘all right, why not.’ The pitch was a little up, I honestly don’t know how I got a good bunt down. It was huge to get the bases loaded for us and the offense took off from there.”
Pulling out the win was uplifting for the Raiders. “It was a huge confidence builder, we were all up in the dugout and we said we need to score and we did and came out on top,” said Wehner. “I think we are going to do great things this year.”

March 30, 2022

ON THE BALL: Princeton High baseball player Jaxon Petrone takes a pickoff throw at first base in action last spring. Senior star Petrone will be filling a lot of roles this spring for the Tigers as a pitcher, hitter, and infielder. PHS opens the 2022 campaign by hosting Steinert on April 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With his Princeton High baseball team featuring a group of 14 seniors, Dom Capuano is going to face a major challenge in figuring out to deploy the resources at his disposal.

“This is definitely the deepest team I have had to date, it is just seeing who emerges,” said PHS head coach Capuano, who guided PHS to an 11-9 record in 2021 and its first victory in the state tournament in years.

“The theme of the year is to compete. We have to compete with ourselves to push each other in a positive way to get the best team overall out there.”

To that end, Capuano is driving his players to compete on a daily basis.

“Every day, we start practice with a different competition,” said Capuano, whose team opens the 2022 campaign by hosting Steinert on April 1.

“Part of our practice is competing in everything we do. It is getting them to understand that competing with each other is OK. It is OK to compete with each other as long as you understand that competition is for the end goal of the team being successful.”

After the success the squad experienced last spring, Capuano is looking for his players to take things to the next level.

“It is a mission, it is understanding of how to continue to elevate themselves and the program,” said Capuano. “It is a destination that they strive to get to. We just have to keep preparing to get there.” more

GOAL-ORIENTED: Princeton High girls’ lacrosse player Kate Becker gets ready to unload the ball in a 2021 game. Senior star Becker, who scored a team-high 77 goals last year, will be counted on to be the go-to finisher again this year for the Tigers. PHS opens the season by hosting Hightstown on March 30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Katie Federico is confident that the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse program won’t miss a beat this spring as she guides the team in the absence of head coach Meg Dunleavy who is out on maternity leave.

“We are such good friends, it is going to be very similar; we have been talking a lot,” said Federico, who has been an assistant coach with the squad for the last six years and helped PHS go 9-6 in 2021 and advance to the South Jersey Group 4 sectional semifinals.

“She is going to take the program over next year, it is 100 percent clear. I am just filling in for this season.”

The team’s strong group of seniors will make Federico’s job easier this spring.

“It was a very easy transition because of them knowing me so well and we have seven seniors,” said Federico of the program’s Class of 2022, which includes Kate Becker, Jane Biggs, Sarah Glenn, Cartee O’Brien, Gigi Peloso, Grace Rebak, and Sarah White.

“Five of the seven have been on varsity since freshman year. I refer to them like the core four from the Yankees. They have played together since they were in elementary school. They are such a great group.”

Becker, who tallied a team-high 77 goals in 2021, provides leadership to go along with her production.

“Kate is pretty much the anchor of the team; she has always been a leader but I feel she has stepped up even more this year,” said Federico. “She is helping the underclassmen see things on both defense and offense. She is the one that gets it going and she is such a great teacher of the younger players.”

Sophomore standout Riley Devlin, who had 16 goals and three assists last spring in her debut season, will be depended on to get things going on offense along with Becker. more

STICKING WITH IT: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player John O’Donnell looks for an opening in a game last season. Senior standout O’Donnell figures to be a key offensive performer this spring for the Tigers. PHS gets its 2022 campaign underway this week by playing at Lawrence High on March 31 and then hosting North Hunterdon on April 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Making impressive strides last spring, the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team went 9-5, getting into the state tournament for the first time since 2017 and posting a first round win over Morris Knolls before falling to Scotch Plains-Fanwood in the sectional quarterfinals.

While PHS head coach Chip Casto was proud of what the squad accomplished last year, nobody around the program is resting on their laurels.

“The year started with a lot of energy and excitement,” said Casto, whose team gets its 2022 campaign underway this week by playing at Lawrence High on March 31 and then hosting North Hunterdon on April 2.

“No one has mentioned last year except Will Doran, who basically said, ‘that was last year, we need to start all over again and work to get back to the level of play we were at last year.’”

Williams College-bound Doran, who led the Tigers with 91 points on 51 goals and 40 assists last spring, brings high-level play to the PHS attack.

“Will looks great — he is an even better leader,” said Casto. “He has aspirations to make an impact at Williams next year and so has continued his work ethic and focus.” more

SURE SHOT: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Ali Surace heads to goal in a game last season. Senior tri-captain and Columbia University-bound Surace is coming off a superb 2021 season that saw her tally 25 goals and 17 assists. The Panthers get their 2022 campaign underway by playing at Clearview on April 2 and then hosting Stuart Country Day on April 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

This spring marks the swan song for Jill Thomas after a quarter century at the helm of the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse program and she is confident her squad will hit some high notes in her finale.

PDS head coach Thomas, who was inducted into the New Jersey Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2018 and previously announced that she is retiring after 34 years at the school, is going to savor this spring.

“I think it is bittersweet, this is a great group of people,” said Thomas, citing her coaching staff of Tracy Young and Cait Flynn along with strength and conditioning coach Darius Young. “This group of seniors is pretty special. Since 2019, we haven’t had a full season so I think it is going to be great. It is really about them, not me.”

The Panthers got off to a good start with a preseason jaunt to Florida earlier this month as it prepares to open its 2022 campaign by playing at Clearview on April 2 and then hosting Stuart Country Day on April 4. more

ON THE MOVE: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Lily Harlan brings the ball up the field in game last season. Junior Harlan will help spearhead the Stuart defense this spring. The Tartans start their 2022 season by hosting South Brunswick on March 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming off a 1-12 season in 2021 which saw it lose several close games, the Stuart Country Day School lacrosse team is determined to get over the hump this spring.

“As the saying goes, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on a couple of occasions last year,” said Stuart head coach Mark Maser, whose team starts its 2022 season by hosting South Brunswick on March 31.

“The mood is very positive, we have a good turnout of numbers this year. We have at least 20 with about a dozen returning players.”

The key returning player for Stuart is junior star and co-captain Emily Ix, who had team-high 42 points on 37 goals and five assists last season.

“Emily is looking good, she is going to be playing midfield,” said Maser. “She brings an inspiration and an optimism. She has got good skills, she is a solid player.”

The Tartans boast two other solid players in the midfield with freshman Alison Lee and senior co-captain Kaitlyn Magnani.

“Allison has been playing the game for a while, she plays club,” said Maser. “She is a smaller kid as a freshmen but she can do everything — right hand, left hand, pass, and catch. She is really, really good. Kaitlyn missed most of the season last year with injury. She is a two-way player. Between Kaitlyn, Emily, and Anna Landis, they are doing a very good job of taking it upon themselves to tutor the new kids a little bit before and after practice. It is a collaborative experience.” more

March 23, 2022

DAN THE MAN: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Daniel Baytin helped PHS go 14-1 as it won the Mercer County Championships, won the Central Jersey Group B sectional, and made the state Group B final along the way. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming into this winter, Daniel Baytin was determined to make a bigger impact for the Princeton High boys’ swimming team in and out of the water.

“I have definitely improved not only just in the pool but with my team,” said junior star Baytin. “These people are looking up to me. I am one of the old guys now, I have to set an example. I have been working my hardest for them.”

Baytin did a lot of good work this winter. After helping PHS post an undefeated regular reason with an 11-0 mark, Baytin starred as the Tigers won the team title at the Mercer County Championships. He placed first in both the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle races at the meet as PHS rolled to the title, winning 265-225 over runner-up and host West Windsor-Plainsboro North.

A week later, Baytin had another big day as PHS defeated WW/P-North 105-65 in the Central Jersey Group B sectional final.

He set the tone with a blazing breaststroke leg as PHS opened the meet by winning the 200-yard medley relay.

“I try my best every race but it became very apparent just how much ground we gained when I finished,” said Baytin. “During the race you really can’t tell how much you have won.”

Baytin then took first in the 50 free and second in the 100 free, and then ended the meet by swimming the anchor leg as the Tigers won the 400 free relay. more

FINAL SKATE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Riley Frost controls the puck in a game this season. Senior star forward and co-captain Frost helped Hun go 9-11 this season and reach the semis of both the Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference (APAC) and Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) tournaments. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While the Hun School boys’ hockey team didn’t post a winning record this winter, Ian McNally still views the season in a positive light.

“When you say we were 9-11, it sounds surprising because it seems like we had a successful year and we had a good team,” said Hun head coach McNally. “There hasn’t been too many sub-500 seasons over the years.”

The Raiders did achieve one of the main goals of their season as they played in the semis of both the Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference (APAC) and Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) tournaments.

“We back-doored into the MAHL playoffs but that is the point of having them,” said McNally, whose team didn’t qualify initially for the tournament but got a berth when the Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) backed out.

“There has to be something on the line to finish your season. For a while, it was the Independence League and then it was the Mercer County Tournament for us. This is the thing you can try to play for at the end.”

While McNally would have liked to see his team post more wins this season, he enjoyed coming to the rink every day to coach the group.

“The chemistry, camaraderie and all of that, the feel good part of doing the hockey season, was there in a big way so that was great,” said McNally. “We had an older group than usual, they were all friends with each other. There was less of the age gap where maybe there are little cliques in the team. It was an enjoyable group to be around.” more

ENDGAME: Hun School girls’ basketball head coach Bill Holup makes a point in a game last season. This winter, Holup led Hun to the finals of both Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament and state Prep A tourney in what turned out to be his final season at the helm as he has decided to step down. The Raiders went 15-11 this winter and Holup picked up the 300th win in his 23-year tenure at the school when Hun edged the Pingry School 56-53 in the state Prep A semifinal. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the Hun School girls’ basketball team edged the Pingry School 56-53 in the state Prep A semifinal, it was a significant win on many levels for the program.

First, Hun avenged a 68-59 regular season defeat to the Big Blue in early February. In addition, the triumph in the February 23 contest meant that Hun advanced to a second championship game this season as it had previously reached the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) final.

The victory also marked the 300th win for Hun head coach Bill Holup in his 23 years guiding the Raiders.

And with Hun going on to fall 87-41 to Blair in the Prep A title game to end the winter with a 15-11 record, it marked the final win for Holup, as he had decided to step down.

“I really thought about it, I had been wavering a little bit here and there over the past couple of years,” said Holup, reflecting on his decision to leave the program. “In December, I thought it was time. I have a 3-year-old son and in basketball season with late practices, I wasn’t getting home until after 8 p.m. We play games that aren’t just local with the MAPL. I had 23 years as the head coach at Hun and prior to that, six years at Stuart. That is 29 years, that is a lifetime.”

Making the title games was a fitting finale for Holup. “For us, beating Pingry to get to the final and beating Lawrenceville in the MAPL semis, those were really important games for us to win,” said Holup, whose team also fell to Blair in the MAPL title game. “To get to both of those championship games was really important for us.” more

THE JACK SHOW: Hun School baseball player Jackson Kraemer takes a swing in a game last spring. Senior outfielder/pitcher Kraemer will be looking to have a big final campaign for Raiders. Hun gets its 2022 season underway by playing at the Lawrenceville School on March 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Hun School baseball team is coming off a dominant 2021 season that saw it go 19-2 and win its fifth straight state Prep A title, it is not taking anything for granted heading into this spring.

“Everybody understands how challenging our schedule is so they are definitely not overconfident,” said Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto, whose team gets its 2022 season underway by playing at the Lawrenceville School on March 24.

“They are for sure confident in their abilities and our abilities as a team but also understand that we respect every opponent.”

Coming off a productive preseason trip to Florida in early March, Monfiletto is confident that he has a strong mound corps at his disposal, led by a quintet of seniors in Carson Applegate, Ryan DiMaggio, Carson Wehner, Brody Pasieka and Jackson Kraemer.

“We have five extremely solid starting pitchers that we are very, very happy about in Applegate, DiMaggio, Wehner, Pasieka, and Kraemer,” said Monfiletto. more