March 23, 2022

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Hun School softball player Lexi Kobryn gets ready to deliver a pitch in action last season. Sophomore standout Kobryn figures to help Hun this spring with both her arm and her bat. Hun opens its 2022 season by hosting Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on March 26 for a doubleheader. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although the Hun School softball team is young, it does boast a number of battle-tested players as it heads into the 2022 campaign.

In going 9-4 last season and advancing to the state Prep A semis, such underclassmen as Lexi Kobryn, Jamie Staub, Kat Xiong, and Sammy Kandel emerged as stars.

Away from school, a number of the Hun players are putting in extra time on the diamond to get better and gain experience.

“Out of our 14 girls, 10 of them play travel ball, that is a very, very high number for me,” said Hun head coach Kathy Quirk. “Two of the four that are not playing used to play. We have a pretty good group of kids that has been playing and practicing every Sunday.

The Raiders had a very good experience on a preseason season trip to Florida earlier this month.

“It went well, I saw a lot of good things,” said Quirk, whose team opens its 2022 season by hosting Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on March 26 for a doubleheader.

“We went to a new place in Florida this year, the Jackie Robinson training camp, the old Dodger training camp in Vero Beach. It was real nice for team unity and building. All of our meals were provided there, so we all ate together. We didn’t leave the compound too much.” more

March 16, 2022

RISING FORCE: Princeton High wrestler Blase Mele lifts a foe off his feet in a bout at 126 pounds this season. Earlier this month, Mele made the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Boys Wrestling State Championships, becoming the first freshman in program history to achieve that feat. Mele placed third at 126 at the Region 5 tournament to earn his spot at the state tournament. At the states, Mele lost two close bouts to end the season with a 17-4 record.

By Justin Feil

Blase Mele achieved his goal of reaching the state wrestling championships in Atlantic City, but it was how he got there that made it all the more notable.

Mele overcame a knee injury that required mid-season surgery to make history as the first freshman from Princeton High to reach the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Boys Wrestling State Championships earlier this month.

“It’s a great experience to get to the state tournament,” said Mele. “I’m very thankful because a lot of things had to happen even for me to get the opportunity to compete. This was really a 50-50 chance. There was no guarantee I’d be able to even wrestle at districts.”

Mele went 17-4 in his first season of high school wrestling. He was unbeaten at 126 pounds until reaching the finals of the District 17 tournament. His second-place finish qualified him for the Region 5 tournament in which he placed third to earn one of four spots for the state tournament.

“I think it’s tremendous,” said PHS head coach Jess Monzo. “From 2017, we’ve had at least one guy down there every year, so the fact that Princeton is continuously represented down there only goes to show in smaller areas, it doesn’t always have to be the big-time school, we’re generating a lot of popularity now in the school. We’re hoping to feed off it.” more

BROWN OUT: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Molly Brown looks to pass the ball in a game this season. Senior standout Brown helped PHS post a 10-11 record this winter and advance to the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was an up-and-down season this winter for the Princeton High girls’ basketball team but the future looks bright for the program.

“We did a pretty good job, our younger girls stepped up for us,” said PHS head coach Dave Kosa, whose squad posted a 10-11 record and advanced to the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals.

“I think we had some really good games. The games that we won, we played really, really well. We beat some teams by a lot. In the other games, it was a learning experience for us.”

For the Tigers topping crosstown rival Princeton Day School 44-23 in the last week of the season was a very positive experience.

“It was Senior Night so we came out really, really strong,” said Kosa, who got 16 points from sophomore guard Riley Devlin in the victory.

“Riley stepped up a lot during the season when she was healthy. She really improved and gave us an offensive spark. She did a good job for us.”

PHS faced some strong foes to end the winter, falling 48-40 to New Egypt in the regular season finale and then playing in the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional where the 13th-seeded Tigers lost 63-30 to fourth-seeded Middletown South in a first round contest.

“We hung tough with them, we were actually up one with a couple of minutes to go,” said Kosa, referring to the New Egypt contest.

“It was 33-32 and Nora Devine got her fourth foul and I had to sit her. They scored seven in a row. We actually came back and made it a two-point game and we had a foul and they pulled away. Middletown South is always strong, it is the Shore Conference. They were hitting shots and we didn’t play well.” more

TURNING THE PAIGE: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Paige Gardner lofts a pass in recent action. Junior guard Gardner’s play off the bench was a spark for PDS this winter as it went 5-13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team ended the season on a 10-game losing streak, there were some positive moments in the last week of the season.

“The West Windsor North game was probably the most fun we had as a team,” said PDS head coach Seraphine Hamilton, referring to a 30-28 overtime loss to WW/P-North on February 24.

“We played really well; we missed a couple of shots that we should have knocked down. It was a late night game. We had a team dinner and we had a lot of fun together. That was probably the best culmination of our season. We had everybody there, everybody was healthy. It was great in that sense. West Windsor is fun competition, we are really well matched.”

The Panthers ended the season by competing in the South Jersey Non-Public A state tournament where 13th-seeded PDS fell 85-16 to fourth-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas on March 2.

“It was a different level from what we saw most of the season; it was great for them to see that level and play at that pace and be a part of that,” said Hamilton, whose team ended the winter with a 5-13 record.

“It was a great game in that. It was really obvious that we were trying to do as coaching staff was working. We talked a lot about making short-term measurable goals. In the last couple plays of the game, Ali Surace had some steals. For a few weeks we had been working on finishing lay-ups with pressure and she finished one.”

Reflecting on the season overall, Hamilton believes her players made progress in achieving goals along the way. more

GREAT SCOTT: Hun School boys’ basketball player Jack Scott drives to the basket in a game this season. Senior guard and Princeton University-bound Scott starred as Hun went 14-10, reaching the semifinals of the both Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tournament and the state Prep A tourney. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Winning eight of 10 games heading into postseason play, the Hun School boys’ basketball team was primed to vie for some titles.

But hampered by injuries to some key players, Hun fell short of a championship run, falling 65-54 to Hill (Pa.) in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) semis and then losing 72-52 to Blair Academy in the state Prep A semis.

In the loss to Hill, Hun didn’t have senior star guard Dan Vessey due to a previous injury and senior standout Jack Scott got hobbled during the contest.

“We competed, it was very physical; we played well enough to win but we didn’t,” said Hun head coach Jon Stone, whose team finished the winter with a 14-10 record.

“We missed Dan and Jack got hurt in that game and wasn’t exactly himself. He could play but he wasn’t his best self for sure.”

Against Blair, a shorthanded Hun squad fought valiantly before the Buccaneers pulled away.

“We knew we didn’t have Jack or Dan for the states but we recognized that we still had enough to win,” said Stone.

“We had time to put guys in different roles that they are not used to and work on that and practice that. We were prepared going into the game for sure. The guys showed that, we were winning at the half. We struggled in the second half, we kind of ran out of gas. A lot of our shots didn’t fall and we were much thinner on the bench than we normally are. They had their full complement of guys so they were shuffling them in and out. We got worn down a little bit.” more

RICH EXPERIENCE: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Lauren Richey looks to pass the ball in a game this season. Senior guard Richey’s sharpshooting on the perimeter helped Stuart go 8-8 this winter and advance to the state Prep B semis. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Stuart Country Day School basketball team featured a lineup with a number of new faces this winter, the squad developed a special chemistry.

“They got better during the course of the season,” said Stuart head coach Justin Leith, whose team posted a final record of 8-8 this winter and advanced to the state Prep B semis.

“They played with some grit. They had a lot of fun, they enjoyed each other off the court.”

Leith saw a shining example of how much his players enjoyed each other before a late season game.

“Right before Senior Day, I walked in and they were doing TikTok videos together and having fun,” said Leith. “I was fortunate enough to play professionally and fortunate enough to play in college and high school and I don’t remember one time up and down the court. What I do remember is the locker room and the bus rides. Watching them, they took advantage of that almost as if they had some foresight in understanding that they are going to make the most of the moment. I appreciate that about that team and I thanked them for that.”

Senior guard Gabby Velazquez took advantage of opportunity in her final season with the program.

“For the three years prior, she was playing at an extremely high level and for two of those years she was actually a contributor,” said Leith of Velazquez who ended her career with a bang, scoring 26 points with 11 assists and eight steals to help Stuart defeat the Academy for Urban Leadership Charter 75-18 in its season finale. more

March 9, 2022

TUNNEL VISION: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey Abby Ashman eyes the puck as she gets ready to make a glove save last Thursday as PDS hosted Summit in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) state semifinals. Junior Ashman made 20 saves in the contest to help the second-seeded Panthers edge third-seeded Summit 4-3 in overtime. On Monday, Ashman had 24 saves in a losing cause as PDS fell 7-0 to top-seeded Morristown-Beard in the state final. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Before the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team faced Summit in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) state semifinals last Thursday afternoon, Abby Ashman stood alone in a corner of McGraw Rink, staring intently at the ice and practicing her goalie moves.

“I am very serious about my play and I am very passionate about it,” said junior netminder Ashman, reflecting on her pregame routine. “I like to make sure that I am ready for every circumstance, any win or loss. I like to keep myself focused, tunnel vision as I call it.”

With second-seeded PDS having lost 2-1 to third-seeded Summit on January 11, Ashman was ready to turn the tables on the Hilltoppers.

“I am going to beat them,” said Ashman. “You may win once but you won’t win a second time. That is how it works with me.”

After yielding two goals in the first period, Ashman produced some very good work the rest of the way as PDS rallied for a 4-3 win in overtime. The victory earned the Panthers a trip to state girls’ title game at the Prudential Center in Newark for a clash on Monday with top-seeded Morristown-Beard.

“I love the intensity, I think that makes it more worthwhile,” said Ashman, who made 20 saves in the win.

“It is more fun to play when you don’t really know what is going to happen. You have to put more into it and the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. We got a very good outcome out of this.”

The intensity of the contest, which saw PDS overcome 2-1 and 3-2 deficits, brought out the best in Ashman. more

ROCK AND ROLL: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey players, from left, Lauren Chase, Lily Ryan, and Logan Harrison celebrate a goal last Thursday as second-seeded PDS edged third-seeded Summit 4-3 in overtime in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) state semis. The win earned the Panthers a trip to state girls’ title game at the Prudential Center in Newark for a clash on Monday with top-seeded Morristown-Beard. The afternoon at “The Rock” didn’t go as well for PDS as it fell 7-0 to the Crimson to finish the season at 14-6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last Monday, the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team ended the season exactly where it wanted to be.

After having won the state Prep title in early February, second-seeded PDS produced a second stirring tournament run, advancing to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) state girls’ title game at the Prudential Center in Newark for a clash on Monday with top-seeded Morristown-Beard.

The Panthers, who had edged Mo-Beard 3-2 in the Prep semis on the way to that title, dug an early 2-0 hole in the rematch with the Crimson.

Although PDS trailed 2-0 heading into the second period, Panther head coach John Ritchie wasn’t fazed.

“I thought the first period, we just played nervous,” said Ritchie, whose program was making its first appearance in the NJSIAA state tourney.

“Looking at the deficit after the first period, it was still very manageable. It was only a two-goal game.”

But Mo-Beard responded with three unanswered goals in the second period and never looked back on the way to a 7-0 win.

“The backbreaker for us was the shorthanded goals that we gave up in the second on the 5-on-3s that we had consecutively,” said Ritchie, whose team ended the season with a 14-6 record.

Crimson star Leah Stecker, who is headed to Penn State, ended up dominating the game, tallying four goals and an assist. more

GRACEFUL EXIT: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Grace Rebak controls the puck in a game this year. Senior star defenseman and team captain Rebak helped PHS go 2-5-1 this winter. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton High girls’ hockey team having lost 10-6 to Randolph in December, it looked like a case of déjà vu when the foes met for a rematch in late January.

PHS was trailing 4-1 entering the third period and seemed headed for defeat. Undeterred by the deficit, the Tigers fought back with four unanswered goals and pulled out a dramatic 5-4 victory.

“Coming off the ice, the parents were saying ‘coach, that was amazing,’” said PHS head coach Christian Herzog reflecting on the triumph which saw Cassie Speir score three goals and Cece Gibb add two.

“It was definite high point for the team, a highlight of the season for sure. They were whooping it up like they won the Cup.”

The Tigers brought a determined attitude into the contest.

“I said ladies, we have to play for what it is, you never know,” said Herzog. “A few bounces, they take us for granted and they make a bad move and we take advantage. That is pretty much what happened.”

Senior goalie Jadie Tome handled the bounces well against Randolph, making 31 saves in the victory and stepping up down the stretch of the game.

“That was the best eight minutes I have ever seen her play, she was getting peppered and peppered in the third period,” said Herzog.

“We killed one penalty with six-eight minutes left in the game. They pulled their goalie and we were having trouble getting it out of the zone.”

The victory over the Rams marked the second straight win for PHS as it had rolled to a 12-1 win over Westfield a week earlier.

“It is good to be on the other side for once,” said Herzog, who got four goals and one assist from Gibb in that victory with Speir and Grace Rebak both adding two goals and an assist and Carly Ruzich, Defne Arsoy, Maya Hagt, and Kayla Christopher each chipping in a goal. “It was nice to see some different players get goals.” more

March 2, 2022

STROKE OF BRILLIANCE: Princeton High boys’ swimmer David Xu displays his breaststroke form in a race this season. Last Saturday, freshman Xu took second in the 200 individual medley and third in the 100 butterfly as PHS fell 97-73 to Chatham in the NJSIAA Group B state championship meet at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology pool. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 14-1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Alex Shaw ended his career for the Princeton High boys’ swimming team last Saturday evening in a place he could never have imagined.

Senior star sprinter Shaw and his teammates headed to the Gloucester County Institute of Technology pool to face Chatham in the New Jersey Group B state championship meet.

“Starting off my freshman year, we would never have seen the light of making it this far,” said Shaw.

“It was just training and getting together, really pushing each other through practices and meets and hyping each other up to get this far.”

Hyping each other up before facing Chatham, the PHS squad roared out an ear-splitting pre-meet chant on the deck.

Once the meet started, though, powerhouse Chatham lived up to the hype, winning the 200-yard medley relay and going one-two in the 200 freestyle to jump out to an 18-12 lead and never looked back on the way to a 97-73 win. more

ROSE IN BLOOM: Princeton High wrestler Ava Rose displays the bracket showing her path to the 114-pound title at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Girls Wrestling State Championships on February 20. Junior Rose pinned Dayana Hoyos of North Brunswick in the quarterfinals and then topped Valerie Maldonado of Somerville 7-2 in the semis. In the final, Rose pinned Cedar Creek’s Riley Lerner in the first period.

By Justin Feil

Ava Rose won a state wrestling title in less than two minutes on the mat, but the Princeton High junior’s journey to the top took time, hard work, and overcoming obstacles.

“It felt really nice,” said Rose. “I had put a lot of work in to get there. Achieving my goal is a big relief and I was really proud of myself for getting there.”

Rose had only one match go the entire distance to claim the 114-pound title at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Girls Wrestling State Championships on February 20. The top seed in her weight class, Rose pinned Dayana Hoyos of North Brunswick in the first period, stopped Valerie Maldonado of Somerville, 7-2, in the semifinal, and then pinned Riley Lerner of Cedar Creek School in 1:52 for her first state gold medal.

“The only person who felt more confident than myself was Ava,” said PHS head coach Jess Monzo.  “Getting that win against the girls was good for her. We didn’t get a chance to wrestle girls all year just because snow and COVID canceled a couple of our outings. We had three girls’ tournaments on our schedule this year for that reason alone — so she could get acclimated to the girls. It just didn’t happen for us.”

Rose, the only girl who competed all year in the PHS varsity wrestling lineup, finally got to display her ability against girls in the South Region tournament. She was even more dominant in her title run there to qualify for states. She rolled through a trio of opponents in 40, 39, and 109 seconds before pinning Lerner in 18 seconds for that championship.

“It gave me a view of the competition because I hadn’t really wrestled any girls earlier in the season,” said Rose.  more

PLAN B: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Anthony Stewart heads to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, senior forward Stewart had 10 points and four rebounds in a losing cause as sixth-seeded PDS fell 69-59 to top-seeded Doane Academy in the state Prep B title game. The Panthers, now 5-12, start play in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) South Jersey Non-Public B tourney where they are seeded 13th and playing at fourth-seeded Holy Spirit on March 2 in a first-round contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team struggling as it headed into the state Prep B tournament, Eugene Burroughs presented his players with a to-do list.

“I gave them a list of about 20 things that will impact winning and they had nothing to do with scoring,” said PDS head coach Burroughs, whose team brought a 1-9 record into the Prep B tourney where it was seeded sixth of six teams.

“I think our team bought into that — rebounding, blocking out, competing, playing hard, being unselfish, making extra effort plays — all of those little things add up and lead to just better basketball and we started sharing the ball more.”

Showing that effort, the Panthers went on a stirring run in the tournament, rallying to edge third-seeded Newark Academy 65-61 in the first round and then topping second-seeded Wardlaw-Hartridge 61-54 to earn a spot in the title game at top-seeded Doane Academy last Thursday.

With PDS having lost 53-47 to Doane on January 21, Burroughs was excited for the tournament rematch.

“I watched the film, we are a lot better basketball team now than we were then,” said Burroughs. “We went in, just wanting to be confident and believing in our ability.”

In the first half, though, Doane was the better basketball team as it jumped out to a 35-20 lead by intermission.  more

HARD KNOX: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Eibhleann Knox, right, chases down the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Monday, freshman forward Knox scored two goals to help second-seeded PDS defeat seventh-seeded Kent Place 6-0 in the quarterfinals of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) state girls’ tournament. The Panthers, now 13-5, host third-seeded Summit in the semis on March 3 with the victor advancing to the title game on March 7 at the Prudential Center in Newark. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It took a little while for Eibhleann Knox to develop a comfort level as she joined the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey program this winter.

“It was stressful in the beginning of the year,” said PDS freshman forward Knox. “I knew no one being new; I had to get to know everyone and the coaches.”

Emerging as a key offensive performer for the Panthers, Knox has fit in nicely.

“I think my confidence has gotten better, especially in my passing,” said Knox. “I really try to look up. I don’t like being selfish so I try to move the puck.”

Last Monday, displayed her confidence, scoring two goals to help second-seeded PDS defeat seventh-seeded Kent Place 6-0 in the quarterfinals of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) state girls’ tournament.

“They were both breakaways, both were off good passes,” said Knox, reflecting on her two second period tallies. “I know I did exactly the same thing for both, I shot in the same place.”

The Panthers are in a good place collectively, having won nine of their last 10 games, including a 3-2 victory over Morristown-Beard in the state Prep title game on February 3, to improve to 13-5.

“The first Trinity Hall game (a 3-2 win on January 25) was when we started to play better,” said Knox. “We kept playing well, so we set the expectations high for ourselves. So now if we don’t meet them, it is bad.” more

By RILED UP: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Riley Schmidt brings the puck up the ice in recent action. Last Wednesday, sophomore Schmidt scored a goal in a losing cause as seventh-seeded PDS fell 3-2 to 10th-seeded St. John Vianney in the first round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public tournament. The defeat left the Panthers with a final record of 6-7-6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Making its debut in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public tournament when it hosted St. John Vianney last Wednesday, the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team got off to a flying start.

Seventh-seeded PDS jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the 10th-seeded Lancers in the first 3:33 of the first round contest as Oliver Hall and Riley Schmidt both found the back of the net.

But Panther head coach Scott Bertoli sensed that the fast start was a bit of fool’s gold.

“We didn’t deserve to be up 2-0, that is what I said on the bench,” said Bertoli. “We score two goals and they probably had four quality chances to the two goals we scored.”

Sure enough, the Lancers responded by reeling off three unanswered goals to go ahead 3-2.

“They continued what they were doing,” said Bertoli. “Give them credit, they didn’t get away from what was working for them. They didn’t chase the scoreboard.”

PDS fought back by carrying play for much of the next two periods and generated several scoring opportunities, but couldn’t break through in a 3-2 loss as it ended the winter with a 6-7-6 record.

 more

February 23, 2022

SENIOR MOMENT: Princeton University women’s hockey player Shannon Griffin, left, battles a Yale player on the boards last Saturday as the rivals met at Hobey Baker Rink in the regular season finale. Senior forward and team captain Griffin and the Tigers played hard in a losing cause as they fell 3-0 to the Bulldogs. In upcoming action, Princeton, now 11-13-5 overall and 9-10-3 ECAC Hockey, will be competing in the league quarterfinals where they are seeded eighth and will play at top-seeded Harvard in a best-of three series starting on February 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After the Princeton University women’s hockey team fell 3-0 to Yale last Saturday in its regular season finale, Shannon Griffin was in no hurry to leave the ice.

It was the final game at Hobey Baker Rink for Tiger senior forward Griffin and long after other players had gone to the locker room, she and classmate, goalie Rachel McQuigge, hugged and chatted near the Princeton bench.

“We were both shedding a couple of tears there, it is a very emotional day for all of us,” said Griffin.

“We have been through the ups and downs helping to build this program. It is continuing to grow and women’s hockey is continuing to grow. She has been one of my best friends since freshman year so it is going to be weird not seeing her every day.”

Griffin was looking to make the most of every moment last weekend as Princeton tied Brown 2-2 on Friday before the game with Yale.

“There are so many emotions going on; it is hard knowing that this is my last weekend playing at Hobey Baker Rink,” said Griffin, a 5’4 native of Arlington, Mass. who had tallied seven points this season on four goals and three assists and now has 17 goals and 19 assists in her career.

“I have been here for five years now with the COVID year. It had been a long time coming but it flew by. I just hope that the younger girls take it all in. I am so grateful that I have gotten a chance to play here in this amazing arena and be a part of PWIH and the amazing culture that the team has.”

The emotions of the finale helped fuel the Tigers in their effort against Yale as they matched the Bulldogs in shots on goal as both teams had 23.  more

MAKING A SPLASH: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Daniel Baytin displays his freestyle form in a meet earlier this season. Last Thursday, junior standout Baytin won the 50-yard freestyle, took second in the 100 free and helped both the 200 medley relay and 400 free relays to victories as top-seeded PHS defeated second-seeded WW/P-North 105-65 in the Central Jersey Group B sectional final. The Tigers, who improved to 13-0 with the win, were slated to face Tenafly in the state Group B semis on February 22 with the victor advancing to the state final on February 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Daniel Baytin was calm as he stood in the blocks waiting to swim the anchor leg in the 400-yard freestyle relay for the Princeton High boys’ swim team to put the finishing touch on its win over WW/P-North in the Central Jersey Group B sectional final last Thursday.

“Normally I am really nervous because on the anchor it is all down to me but in this case I am really thankful that my teammates won it for me,” said PHS junior star Baytin. “I wasn’t that nervous.”

A relaxed Baytin cruised through his leg, touching the wall first as PHS won the relay to pile up the final points in 105-65 win over the Northern Knights at the Neptune Aquatic Center. Baytin helped his teammates as well, winning the 50 freestyle, taking second in the 100 free and helping the 200 medley relay win in addition to the 400 free relay.

“Both teams did an amazing job today,” said Baytin. “I am thankful that I was able to compete at this level.”

It was an amazing feeling for PHS to turn the tables on North as the Northern Knights had defeated the Tigers in the 2020 sectional final.

“This is an exact repeat of what we had freshman year, it was also the final and we got knocked out by North at this pool,” noted Baytin, reflecting on the program’s first sectional crown since 2014 as PHS improved to 13-0 and was slated to face Tenafly in the state Group B semis on February 22 with the victor advancing to the state final on February 26.

“As a whole team, we definitely feel really rewarded by the fact that we beat North in the same spot, in the same position that we were two years ago.” more

IRISH STEW: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Cooper Zullo skates past Notre Dame goalie Cole Werthman on his way to scoring a third period goal last Friday in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. Zullo’s heroics weren’t enough as top-seeded PHS fell 7-2 to the third-seeded Irish. The Tigers, now 16-4-3, are next in action when they start action in the state Public B tournament. PHS is seeded ninth and was slated to play at eighth-seeded Randolph in a first round contest on February 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In its run to the 2022 Mercer County Tournament championship game, the Princeton High boys’ hockey team displayed a penchant for rallying to victory.

Top-seeded PHS found itself trailing ninth-seeded West Windsor Plainsboro 3-2 entering the third period of their MCT quarterfinal clash on February 11 and then reeled off four unanswered goals to win 6-3.

Facing fourth-seeded Paul VI in the semis last Wednesday, the Tigers were down 2-1 after the first period and then exploded for five goals in the second on the way to a 10-3 triumph.

Last Friday as PHS faced third-seeded Norte Dame in the title game before a standing-room only crowd packing the Mercer County Park rink, the Tigers dug a 3-0 hole early in the second period.

But true to form, PHS fought back as Tiger star defenseman Ethan Garlock scored a power play late in the period to narrow the gap to 3-1. Minutes into the final period with Notre Dame on a power play, PHS captain and standout forward Cooper Zullo swooped in on a loose puck and raced up the ice and slotted the puck into the back of the net to make it a one-goal contest.

“We were shorthanded, their goalie (Cole Werthman) is really good,” said Zullo. “I just tried to do something to get around him and it worked out.”

Things, however, didn’t work out for the Tigers as the Irish responded with a power play goal and then with PHS on a 5-on-3 power play came up with a short-handed goal of their own and never looked back on the way to a 7-2 win. more

FORD TOUGH: Princeton High wrestler Aaron Munford, top, controls a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, senior star Munford won the 150-pound title at the District 17 meet at Franklin High. Munford’s heroics helped PHS take fourth in the team standings at the competition, which was won by St. John Vianney. Munford improved to 31-0 this season and advanced to the Region 5 tournament at Hunterdon Central this Friday. He will be joined by three PHS teammates who also qualified via top-three finishes in their weight class as Blasé Mele placed second at 126, Martin Brophy placed third at 132, and Cole Rose was third at 106. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Aaron Munford captured his first district boys’ wrestling championship in his final opportunity.

The Princeton High senior won the 150-pound title at the District 17 meet at Franklin High on Saturday by medical forfeit over top-seeded Nick Canonica of Hunterdon Central.

“It’s definitely a good feeling,” said Munford. “Not having districts last year left me hungrier than I maybe otherwise would have been. Having only wrestled in districts sophomore year, and not placing, it’s definitely a big change, but not something that was unexpected.”

Munford improved to 31-0 this season and advanced to the Region 5 tournament at Hunterdon Central this Friday. He will be joined by three PHS teammates who also qualified via top-three finishes in their weight class. Blasé Mele placed second at 126, Martin Brophy placed third at 132, and Cole Rose was third at 106. Two other Tiger wrestlers just missed out on a trip to the Region tourney as Tyler Ehee took fourth at 120 and Matt Ellsworth placed fourth at 165.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” said PHS head coach Jess Monzo, whose team took fourth in the team standings at the competition which was won by St. John Vianney.

“Going into it, we knew District 17 was one of the harder districts in the state with St. John Vianney, with Hunterdon Central, with Hillsborough, Manville. We knew if we were getting out, we had to be on our game.” more

LIFE OF RILEY: Princeton High girls’basketball player Riley Devlin dribbles past a WW/P-North player last week as the teams met in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament. Sophomore guard Devlin scored a game-high 16 points as eighth-seeded PHS defeated ninth-seeded WW/P-North 41-30. The Tigers, who fell 68-28 to top-seeded Ewing in the MCT quarterfinals last Friday in moving to 9-9, are starting play in the state tournament next week. PHS is seeded 13th in the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional and is slated to play at fourth-seeded Middletown South in a first round contest on February 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last winter, Riley Devlin soaked in some valuable lessons in her freshman season with the Princeton High girls’ basketball team.

“Brynne [Hennessy] was a really good shooter last year,” said Devlin of the squad’s lone senior last season. “She really helped me and guided me.”

Over the last few weeks, sophomore guard Devlin has been applying those lessons, emerging as a scoring threat for the Tigers.

“I think I have found my shot,” said Devlin. “I am just gaining confidence in the team that they can kick it to me and let me shoot that and I will make it. It is the same for them. I can penetrate and kick it to them and I believe they will make it too.”

Last Wednesday, Devlin hit a lot of shots, scoring a game-high 16 points as eighth-seeded PHS defeated ninth-seeded WW/P-North 41-30 in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament.

With the Tigers having previously defeated the Northern Knights 45-23 on January 4 in a regular season contest, Devlin and her teammates were fired up for the rematch in the MCT.

“We were super excited, we were super hyped for the game,” said Devlin. “Coming in, we had a clear mind. We didn’t let anything get to us. In the hallway we were just talking about playing hard and getting back on defense and playing as a team.” more

MOVING FORWARD: Hun School girls’ basketball player Sasha Moise, middle, looks for an opening in a game earlier this season. Last week, junior forward Moise scored 13 points with four rebounds and three steals to help third-seeded Hun defeat sixth-seeded Peddie 54-33 in the opening round of the state Prep A tournament. The Raiders, now 14-10, play at second-seeded Pingry on February 23 in the Prep A semis. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Hosting longtime rival Peddie in the opening round of the state Prep A tournament last week, the Hun School girls’ basketball team wasn’t messing around.

Clicking at both ends of the court, third-seeded Hun built a 21-5 lead over the sixth-seeded Falcons by the end of the first quarter of the February 15 contest.

“We really wanted to win this game because, we want to keep going in states,” said Hun junior forward and co-captain Sasha Moise. “I think our mindset was really aggressive, we were ready to win.”

Displaying her aggressiveness, Moise tallied 13 points with four rebounds and three steals as the Raiders cruised to a 54-33 win over Peddie, setting up a Prep A semifinal matchup at second-seeded Pingry on February 23.

“I think I have just gotten more confident with driving,” said Moise, reflecting on her performance. “I have always been a post. Catching the ball on the perimeter and driving is something I have been more confident about.”

Over the year, Moise developed a connection with post-graduate star Erin Maguire, who had 21 points and eight assists against Peddie. more

February 16, 2022

NICK OF TIME: Princeton University men’s hockey player Nick Seitz chases down the puck in recent action. Last week, sophomore forward Seitz scored the game-winning goal as Princeton edged Yale 2-1. The Tigers, who fell 7-3 to Dartmouth last Monday to move to 8-14-2 overall and 7-9-1 ECAC Hockey, play at Harvard on February 18 and at Dartmouth on February 19. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Princeton University men’s hockey team had its 2020-21 season canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, Nick Seitz was still able to hone his skills.

Taking a gap year, Seitz played for the NJ Titans of the NAHL, tallying 47 points in 43 games on 19 goals and 28 assists. 

But returning to the ice for the Tigers required a transition for  Princeton sophomore forward Seitz.

“It is always an adjustment to play college hockey again, the speed and physicality,” said Seitz, a 6’1, 190-pound native of New York City.

“It is such a short season, it takes couple game of adjustments. You have to get your feet under you right away because the season is over before you know it.”

Last week, Seitz produced a highlight of the season for Princeton, scoring the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Yale on February 8.

“It was a nice play, a D-to-D pass,” said Seitz, reflecting on the second period tally. “I just tried to get to the net and put it low. The rebound popped out and I was lucky enough to put it in.”

The Tigers held off a late charge from the Bulldogs in securing the win.

“We have gotten a lot better at that, hanging on in close games and just finding a way to gut it out, to chip pucks out and be smart in the d-zone,” said Seitz. “I think we did a good job of that, shutting it down.” more

COURTING SUCCESS: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Courtney Weber displays her breaststroke form in a meet earlier this season. Last Thursday, sophomore star Weber placed first in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 breaststroke as fourth-seeded PHS defeated fifth-seeded Middletown South 94-76 in the North 2 Group B sectional quarterfinals. On Monday, PHS fell 92-78 to top-seeded Summit in the sectional semifinals to end the season with an 11-1 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Courtney Weber and her teammates on the Princeton High girls’ swim team were fired up for a battle of unbeatens as they hosted Middletown South in the North 2 Group B sectional quarterfinals last Thursday.

“We were really excited, we haven’t swam against a team this fast in a while,” said PHS sophomore star Weber, who had helped the Tigers come into the day at 10-0 with the Eagles boasting an 8-0 mark.

“Since counties, we really haven’t had competition. It really brings a team’s spirit when we have to swim against fast people.”

Displaying her speed in the meet, Weber placed first in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 breaststroke as fourth-seeded PHS defeated fifth-seeded Middletown South 94-76.

Weber helped PHS start the meet with a bang, doing the breaststroke leg as the 200 medley relay posted a win with the Tigers also taking second in the event to jump out to a 12-2 lead.

“That fully set the tone, that made us believe that we could win and could take it by a lot,” said Weber.

In the IM race, Weber clocked a winning time of 2:11.71 to edge junior teammate Beatrice Cai by 2.10 seconds. more

BREAKING THROUGH: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Logan Harrison flies up the ice in recent action. Last week, sophomore star forward Harrison scored a goal to help fourth-seeded PDS defeat second-seeded Oak Knoll 5-0 in the state Prep championship game. It marked the program’s first Prep title since 2002. PDS, which defeated Madison High 6-2 last Friday to improve to 11-4, will be playing in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) girls’ state tournament later this month. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Despite losing 3-1 to Oak Knoll in mid-December, the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team saw a clear path to victory when the teams met for a rematch in the state Prep final last week.

“For us going into the game, we knew a couple of their better players and in order to kind of stop them, we thought we had to use our size and our strength to our advantage,” said PDS head coach John Ritchie. “They are a younger team like us but I think we were a little bit bigger. For us to be successful, we knew that on transition play back into our zone, we had to make sure that we had defensemen back.”

Playing well at both the offense and defensive zones, fourth-seeded PDS produced a strong effort, pulling away to a 5-0 victory over the Royals at Twin Oaks Rink in Morristown.

It marked the first state Prep title for the program since 2002 and snapped a string of titles by Morristown-Beard who had taken the crown in all three seasons from 2018-20.

Clinging to a 1-0 lead heading into the second period, the Panthers exploded for four goals and never looked back on the way to the triumph. Senior Ally Antonacci tallied two goals and an assist in the win with junior defenseman Lauren Chase chipping in a goal and an assist and sophomore stars Logan Harrison and Emily McCann chipping in a goal apiece.

“Ally showed up big time, she was great,” said Ritchie. “We have a lot of field hockey girls and they had high expectations. I know they made it pretty far in their season but they fell a little bit short. In the back of my mind I was hoping that, for their sake, they would get a championship.”

The team’s young guns of Harrison and McCann, along with freshman Eibhleann Knox and sophomore Lily Ryan, have been living up to expectations. more

TOP FLIGHT: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Connor Topping puts up a jump shot in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior star Topping tallied 16 points to help 16th-seeded PDS defeat 17th-seeded WW/P-North 51-37 in a Mercer County Tournament play-in game. On Sunday, Topping scored 22 points to help sixth-seeded PDS edge second-seeded Wardlaw-Hartridge 61-54 in the state Prep B semis. The Panthers, now 4-10, will play at top-seeded Trenton Catholic Prep in an MCT first round contest on February 16. They are slated to play at top-seeded Doane Academy in the Prep B final on February 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming into the winter, Connor Topping realized that he needed to be a jack-of-all-trades for the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team.

“I am just trying to do everything, last year I was really the fourth or fifth option on offense with guys like Ethan [Garita], Dameon [Samuels], and Hampton [Sanders],” said Topping.

“This year I am definitely tasked with scoring the ball more but also I can’t just score. I have to play defense, I have got to rebound, I have got to pass, and I have got to be a leader.”

Last Friday, Topping did a lot of good things, tallying a game-high 16 points to help 16th-seeded PDS defeat 17th-seeded WW/P-North 51-37 in a Mercer County Tournament play-in game.

Having lost to the Northern Knights 43-38 in mid-December, PDS was fired up for the rematch.

“In the first game, it was early in the season and we were trying to figure out how to play with each other,” said Topping.

“We got a little flustered, we were speeding ourselves up. Today, we just played calm, we played poised. We just trust ourselves, we trust our stuff.”

The Panthers, who will now play at top-seeded Trenton Catholic Prep on February 16 in an MCT first round contest, will be looking to build on the win over WW/P-N.

“We looked good early and they went on a little run,” said Topping. “We know that this team is not better than us. We just have to come out and just play hard and give effort the entire game, not just select moments.”

On Sunday, Topping had another big game, scoring 22 points to help sixth-seeded PDS edge second-seeded Wardlaw-Hartridge 61-54 in the state Prep B semis as the Panthers improved to 4-10. PDS will play at top-seeded Doane Academy on February 24 in the Prep B final.

Having started 1-9, PDS is finding a rhythm down the stretch. more

RESERVE STRENGTH: Hun School boys’ basketball player Anthony Loscalzo dribbles upcourt in a game. Last Friday, junior guard Loscalzo came off the bench and scored a season-best 21 points to help Hun defeat Mercersburg Academy 118-81. A day later, Loscalzo contributed 10 points and a steal as the Raiders topped Friends Select (Pa.) 73-53. Hun, who improved to 13-8 with the win on Saturday, was slated to host Pennington in the opening round of the Prep A tournament on February 15 and then head to the Blair Academy to compete in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) tourney from February 18-20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Anthony Loscalzo prides himself on providing a spark for the Hun School boys’ basketball team when he comes off the bench.

But as Hun hosted Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) last Friday evening, junior guard Loscalzo was on fire from the moment he stepped on the court.

Entering the game early in the first half, Loscalzo proceeded to immediately drain a three-pointer. That proved to be a harbinger of things to come as Loscalzo tallied 14 points in the half as Hun jumped out to a 64-39 lead by intermission.

“My mindset tonight is the same as it always is, just bring energy to the team and keep boosting my teammates and just to help the team win,” said Loscalzo. “I just got it going, that is really it.”

Hun kept going, rolling to a 118-81 victory over the Blue Storm. Loscalzo ended the night with a season-best 21 points, leading the offensive explosion as 12 players scored for the Raiders.

“I love seeing the bench guys get in and score, I love those guys,” said the 6’1, 180-pound Loscalzo, who also had seven rebounds and five assists in the win. “It is perfect right before the postseason to get started.”

Transferring to Hun this year from Monsignor Farrell in Staten Island, Loscalzo has found a perfect fit.

“Since COVID happened, we didn’t have a full year so I came here to have a full year,” said Loscalzo, who contributed 10 points and a steal as the Raiders topped Friends Select (Pa.) 73-53 last Saturday in improving to 13-8. “I am living here, It has been amazing, I love it here.” more