September 8, 2021

KEY MAN: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Richard Wegman dribbles the ball in a contest last fall. Junior Wegman should be a key offensive threat this fall for PHS. The Tigers start their 2021 season by hosting Robbinsville on September 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over the years, the Princeton High boys’ soccer team has proven that it is one of those programs that doesn’t rebuild, it reloads.

After losing 14 seniors from a squad that went 9-3-1 last year and advanced to the Central West Group 4 sectional final, the cupboard is far from bare as PHS opens its 2021 season by hosting Robbinsville on September 8.

“We have a really good nucleus of senior players, five of whom have been on the team a while; this is their third year,” said PHS head coach Wayne Sutcliffe, who is in his 25th season at the helm of the program and guided the Tigers to 2009 and 2012 Group 3 state titles in addition to several sectional and county crowns and passing the 300-win milestone in 2016.

“The preseason has been great. There is a sense of excitement at the prospect of some normalcy here.”

PHS tested itself in the preseason, scrimmaging such formidable foes as Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Christian Brothers Academy, and Gill St Bernard’s, among others.

“We just kept getting better at everything which is encouraging,” said Sutcliffe. more

SO READY: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Sophia Lis boots the ball in a game last fall. Senior star forward Lis, who has committed to attend Lehigh University and play for its women’s soccer team, is primed for a big final campaign for PHS. The Tigers start the 2021 season by playing at Robbinsville on September 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Dave Kosa has been exposed to a lot of outstanding high school girls’ soccer squads over the years.

Growing up, Kosa sent a lot of time in the stands as his late father, Louis Kosa, enjoyed a legendary career coaching the East Brunswick High girls’ soccer team, guiding the program to a 527-63-22 record, capturing eight state championships, and a No. 1 ranking in the nation in 1992. 

Over the last six years, Kosa has served as an assistant coach for the successful Princeton High girls’ soccer program, also leading the JV squad in five of those seasons.

This fall, Kosa will look to help PHS continue its winning ways, taking the helm of the program, succeeding Val Rodriguez, who stepped down last fall after coaching the Tigers to a 9-3-1 record in 2020.

“I am really excited and happy to continue the tradition of the girls’ soccer program that Greg [Hand] had and passed on to Val,” said Kosa, who also serves as the head coach of the PHS girls’ basketball team.

“It is a really good bunch. They are really good kids and good people; that is the most important thing. They have taken to working hard and just trying to get better. We want to play the best soccer at the end of the season. We have a lot of great talent. It is my job to mesh then and work them hard. We are really looking forward to that.” more

WEIR ON A TEAR: Princeton High field hockey player Olivia Weir, right, brings the ball up the field in a game last year. Senior star Weir, who has committed to attend Rutgers University and play for its field hockey program, has emerged as the go-to finisher for PHS. The Tigers begin their 2021 season by playing at Allentown on September 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

The players on the Princeton High field hockey team started laying the groundwork for a big 2021 season well before they hit the field for preseason practices in mid-August.

“We have been playing all summer, we really never stopped so this is just another part of our season,” said PHS head coach Heather Serverson, noting that her players have played pickup at school two days a week and have also played pickup at Centercourt Sports in Lawrence and competed for various club programs.

“They are such a close-knit group and we only graduated three people. It is kind of just like getting the band back together. One of the biggest plusses about this team is that they are all extremely familiar with playing with one another.”

There will be plenty of familiar faces on the field for the Tigers as the squad boasts a stellar senior group.

“We have seven seniors and they have been doing a great job, trying to set the standards in practices and at games,” said Serverson, whose team went 8-2 last year and begins its 2021 season by playing at Allentown on September 9.

“They are great leaders in general, they really make an effort to reach out to the younger girls. They make sure that everyone feels included and welcome. It is great environment.”

The forward line features a great player in senior Olivia Weir, who has committed to attend Rutgers University and play for its field hockey program.

“Olivia is looking good, she is healthy, she is happy,” said Serverson. “She is a creative player too. She is a good team player and that is why she helps make us look good as well as herself. She would rather someone else would have the goal almost than herself.” more

HALE STORM: Princeton Day School field hockey player Haley Sullivan heads to goal in a game last fall. Senior star Sullivan figures to be a key weapon on the forward line for PDS this fall. The Panthers open their 2021 campaign by hosting WW/P-North on September 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After having an abbreviated season in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, the Princeton Day School field hockey team is looking forward to being busy this fall.

“There is a sense of excitement,” said PDS head coach Heather Farlow, who guided the Panthers to 5-4-1 record last season.

“We have joined the other state association (the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) so that means that we are averaging three games a week, which is a lot.”

PDS boasts some exciting performers in the forward line in senior Ally Antonacci, senior Haley Sullivan, sophomore Tessa Caputo, senior Kacey Fisher, and senior Gabriella Thomas.

“We have only had one scrimmage against Florence and we won 6-3,” said Farlow, whose team opens its 2021 campaign by hosting WW/P-North on September 8. “Ally, Haley, and Tessa have stood out, they are finishers.”

In the midfield, the Panthers will rely on a quartet of standouts in junior Jadyn Huff, senior Maggie Zarish-Yasunas, senior Franny Gallagher, and freshman Charlotte Mullen. more

By Bill Alden

With the Hun School boys’ soccer team boasting skill all over the field, its daily practice sessions have turned into a pitched battles.

“From top to bottom, it is one of the most talented teams that I have had,” said Hun head coach Pat Quirk, whose team went 1-5 last fall in a season abbreviated by COVID-19 concerns and will start its 2021 campaign by playing at the Germantown Academy (Pa.) on September 10.

“It is going to be tough, that is the culture that the kids want it to be. It needs to be competitive every day in practice, maybe even more competitive than when we get into games. If a kid is off one practice, we have kids who can fill the role.”

A quartet of forwards, junior Mass Verduci, sophomore Joey Bucchere, junior Will Zeng, and senior Hector Suriel, should provide the firepower to keep Hun competitive.

“Those are our main guys up top, we will mix and match them,” said Quirk.

“We scored 11 goals in a scrimmage against Nottingham and we scored three goals against Hopewell in a scrimmage. I think we are going to see some goals. Those guys are going to be finishing but they are going to be set up by the midfield.” more

September 1, 2021

AIRING IT OUT: Princeton High quarterback Jaxon Petrone fires a pass in a game last season. Senior star Petrone is primed for a big final campaign, turning heads with his passing prowess in preseason practices. PHS, which went 1-5 last fall, kicks off its 2021 season by playing at Overbrook High on September 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

The seniors on the Princeton High football team are going to get plenty of chances to shine this fall.

“I have eight seniors and every single one of those seniors will be on the field, they are not taking any plays off,” said PHS head coach Charlie Gallagher, who guided his team to a 1-5 record last fall in a season shortened by COVID-19 concerns.

“We have seniors at all of the right positions and the right spots. If you can balance it out with a couple of good juniors and two or three sophomores in the mix, then guess what, you have got a chance.”

Senior quarterback Jaxon Petrone is primed to produce a big season for PHS.

“It starts with Jaxon, he looks phenomenal and is doing a really stellar job,” said Gallagher, whose team kicks off its 2021 season by playing at Overbrook High on September 4.

“He is football savvy, he wants to win, and he is a competitor. It is a quarterback-driven sport. If you have a good quarterback, that is a good starting point so you can build around him.”

The Tigers boast two very good pieces to catch passes from Petrone in Everaldo Servil and Jaiden Johnson.

“We have two senior wide receivers which I am very happy about, you couldn’t ask for better wide receivers,” said Gallagher of Servil and Johnson.

“We only had one scrimmage this year, but we threw four into the end zone from outside of 30 yards. We made some big plays.” more

August 25, 2021

RETURN ENGAGEMENT: Princeton University women’s soccer player Lucy Rickerson controls the ball in a 2019 game. Senior defender Rickerson and the Tigers return to action after their 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns by hosting Loyola (Md.) on August 27 at Class of 1952 Stadium. The Tigers last played a game on November 9, 2019 when they posted a 1-0 win at Penn. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Sean Driscoll, seeing his Princeton University women’s soccer team take the pitch at Class of 1952 Stadium this Friday evening for its 2021 season opener will be a dream come true.

With the 2020 season having been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, Princeton head coach Driscoll has been looking forward to the opening day matchup against Loyola (Md.) for months.

“It has been 20 some odd months and I am just imagining what that is going to feel like when you haven’t had it in so long,” said Driscoll, whose team last played on November 9, 2019 when it posted a 1-0 win at Penn to finish that season with an 8-6-3 record.

“You take things for granted. You have a game, you have a national anthem and it is oh my gosh I missed it. I can’t wait to see what it feels like again — the nerves that go into it and the passion that is exuded as a result. I am ready for that, I am chomping at the bit to be on the sidelines with a team of kids I am really proud to coach and represent a university I am privileged to be a part of.” more

MAKING A TRI FOR GOLD: Blind athlete Brad Snyder, right, with guide Greg Billington, breaks the tape after winning the 2021 Americas Triathlon Para Championships in late June to book his spot on the U.S. paratriathlon team for the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics. Snyder, who is currently studying for a Ph.D. at Princeton University’s School of Public Policy and International Affairs, will be competing in Tokyo on July 27 (ET). Snyder, who was blinded when he was wounded in Afghanistan in September 2011 while serving as a Navy lieutenant, previously won gold medals in swimming at the 2102 London Paralympics and 2016 Rio Paralympics. (Photo provided by Sara Snyder)

By Bill Alden

As Navy lieutenant Brad Snyder writhed on the ground after being wounded in Afghanistan in September 2011, he realized he might never get up.

“I laid on the battlefield immediately after the blast, knowing that I had been blown up; I was rationalizing that to say there was no way I would have lived through that,” said Snyder.

“I had witnessed a number of other folks in similar situations, none of whom were in good shape afterwards. I thought well I didn’t make it, there is no way I did. So I laid there kind of reflecting on my life. In a way, I had kind of accepted that I was OK with my death, I was OK with dying. I was ready to pass on and do whatever you do after you die.”

Snyder survived and while he was left blind by the blast, he was grateful to be alive.

“My experience is a lot different than what people think,” said Snyder.

“When people, including my family, got the news they dialed right into the loss of vision. But my experience was not a loss of vision, it was the gaining of my life. I didn’t think that I was coming back period.” more

August 18, 2021

EXECUTIVE DECISION: Ben Stentz, center, enjoys the moment with Princeton Recreation Department colleagues Nicole Paulucci, left, and Vikki Caines after Paulucci received an award from the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association. Stentz recently stepped down as the Rec Department executive director after a 10-year tenure guiding the organization. (Photo provided by Ben Stentz)

By Bill Alden

Ben Stentz prides himself on his ability to build a team.

“I always refer back to my old basketball coaching days,” said Stentz, who coached for the Mercer County Community College and Clarion University men’s hoops programs.

“They used to joke that they could send me into a gym in the middle of nowhere and if there were 50 kids in there playing, I could find the one that we really wanted to recruit easily and quickly.”

When Stentz became executive director of the Princeton Recreation Department in 2011 after having worked for the department since 2000, he applied those team-building skills.

“When I got promoted, we were really short-staffed and I had to hire a number of people pretty quickly,” recalled Stentz, a baseball and basketball standout at Princeton High who returned to town after coaching at Clarion and worked at the YMCA before coming to the Rec Department as a program supervisor in 2000.

“I had to find the right people for the right positions at the right moment in time. I am proud of the team that I built and rebuilt a number of times.”

After a 10-year run as the helm, Stentz decided that it was time to leave the team and stepped down effective July 1. more

IN GOOD FORM: Daniel Baytin displays his freestyle form in a race this season for the Princeton High boys’ swimming team. This summer, Baytin starred for the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings, taking first in the 50 breaststroke and second in the 100 individual medley at the Cicada Classic meet which culminated action this summer in the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA). (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Becca Adlai-Gail has risen through the ranks during her time with the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings.

Some 19 years ago, Adlai-Gail started competing for the swim team as a 4-year-old and joined the club’s diving team as well three years later.

She was a stalwart for both programs through elementary, middle school, and high school, also starring for the WW/P-North swim team and going to compete at the college level for Bryn Mawr.

Diversifying her involvement with the club in college, Adlai-Gail started serving as an assistant coach for the Lemmings. In 2020, she took the helm of the program but the team had no meets due to the pandemic, although it was able to have five weeks of practice.

This summer, Adlai-Gail was excited to guide the team through a Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA)  dual meet campaign and the season-ending Cicada Classic held at the Community Park pool.

“I definitely look forward to it every summer, I have always thought of Nassau as my second home,” said Adlai-Gail. more

MIDDLE OF THE ACTION: Infielder Kenny Schiavone waits for the ball in action this summer for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team. Middle infielder/pitcher Schiavone was a stalwart this summer for Post 218 as it went 4-14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In one sense, it was a disappointing season for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team as it went 4-14 this summer.

“That is the nature of the American Legion season once you run into a stretch of eight or nine games in a row, it takes a lot of mental discipline to keep doing well,” said Post 218 manager Benito Gonzalez, who was in his first summer at the helm of the program after the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic. 

“I think this is where I get a little competitive with myself thinking about it. The record really wasn’t what we wanted in the end at all which was frustrating.”

On the other hand, Gonzalez saw a lot of positives despite the record.

“But then if I look at it in another way, too, there was only one game where were truly outclassed,” said Gonzalez, whose squad won three out of four games after a 1-6 start but faded down the stretch with seven straight defeats. more

August 11, 2021

RICHLY DESERVED: Rich D’Andrea makes a save during his career as a standout goalie for the Georgetown University men’s lacrosse team from 2003-6. D’Andrea, who also starred at the Peddie School and coached the Princeton Day School boy’s lax program to three Mercer County Tournament titles and two state Prep B crowns, was recently inducted into the New Jersey Lacrosse Hall of Fame. (Photo provided by Rich D’Andrea)

By Bill Alden

Although Rich D’Andrea played in the midfield when he took up lacrosse as a grade schooler in the early 1990s, it didn’t take him long to find a home at goalie.

“I always liked the idea of being on the field the whole game; there was something appealing about that,” said D’Andrea, who hails from Montgomery and was first exposed to the game when he visited his brother at a Princeton University lax camp.

“There just seemed to be an importance behind the position that I always appreciated. For me, I felt it was a way to make the team better; that is why I did it.”

Over the years, D’Andrea has made a lot of teams better. He starred for the Peddie School boys’ lax team where he helped the Falcons to a pair of state Prep A Titles, earned All-American honors and was twice named the New Jersey Goalie of the Year (2000, 2001). On the college level, D’Andrea was a three-year starter at Georgetown University, earning all-league honors and serving as a team captain. In 2014, he became the boys’ lax head coach at Princeton Day School and guided the Panthers to three Mercer County Tournament titles and two state Prep B crowns.

 more

SENSE OF COMMUNITY: Elise Ambra, 7, right, and her teammates get ready to compete in a meet this summer for the Community Park Bluefish swim team. The Bluefish program, which has become a venerable summer tradition in town, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. (Photo by Samein Prieste, provided courtesy of CP Bluefish)

By Bill Alden

For Nina Rossi, joining the Community Park Bluefish swim team as an 11-year-old ended up changing the course of her life in and out of the pool.

In the water, Rossi went on to become one of the greatest swimmers in Princeton High history, getting named as the outstanding girl performer at the Mercer County championship meet all four years of her career. As a senior in 2006, Rossi set the state record in the 100 butterfly and held school records in the 200 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 100 free, 100 fly, and 200 medley relay. She continued her swimming career at the University of Maryland, excelling in ACC competition.

Out of the water, her experience as a Bluefish coach helped lead her into education, as she became an elementary school teacher in Lanham, Md., and now serves as a testing coordinator in the Prince George’s County school system.

“It gave me something to do in the summer that was fun and relaxing,” said Rossi, 33, reflecting on her years with the Bluefish.

 more

MAKING A SPLASH: Ella Caddeau displays her form in a meet this season for the Princeton High girls’ swim team. Over the summer, Caddeau starred for the Community Park Bluefish swim team. In the season-ending Cicada Classic in late July, Middlebury College-bound Caddeau placed first in the women 15 and over 50-yard backstroke and 50 butterfly and helped the 200 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay both place first. The Bluefish finished first of seven teams in the overall standings at the meet, piling up 3,603.50 points with Country Pool Club Swim Team taking second at 1,761.50. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After the 2020 season for the Community Park Bluefish swim team was canceled due to the pandemic, Mike Uchrin was apprehensive as the program returned to action this summer.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect after a year off where we had no league, no meets, or anything like that,” said Bluefish head coach Uchrin.

“It is a little bit of a mystery what is it going to look like as far as practices as far as who is going to be there and the number of kids. I was very anxious about it at the start of the season.”

Uchrin’s anxiety turned to joy as the Bluefish enjoyed a banner summer.

 more

August 4, 2021

MAKING THEIR MARK: Former Princeton University men’s heavyweight rowing star Fred Vystavel ’16, coach Jens Vilhelmsen, and Joachim Sutton have plenty to smile about as Vystavel and Sutton earned bronze for the Denmark men’s pair last Wednesday (Eastern Time) at the Tokyo Olympics. The Danish duo clocked a time of 6:19.88 over the 2,000-meter course at the Sea Forest Waterway in taking third, with Croatia earning gold in 6:15.29 and Romania getting the silver at 6:16.58. (Photo by Copenhagenloadstar Photography, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

Fred Vystavel became the first Princeton University athlete to earn a medal at the Tokyo Olympics as he combined with Joachim Sutton to earn bronze last Wednesday (Eastern Time) in the men’s pair for Denmark.

Vystavel ’16 and Sutton clocked a time of 6:19.88 over the 2,000-meter course at the Sea Forest Waterway in taking third with Croatia earning gold in 6:15.29 and Romania getting the silver at 6:16.58.

“Watching Fred on the awards dock receiving his bronze medal brought me to tears,” said Princeton men’s heavyweight crew head coach Greg Hughes, reflecting on Vystavel’s achievement.

“It has been such a long, hard stretch of training over these last four years for him to arrive at this point. Through it all, he stayed true to his goals and never faltered. And, in typical Fred fashion, he’s done it with such an incredible attitude and grace. He’s been an inspiration to all of us and I am so proud to see him win that medal.”

Vystavel’s bronze gave Princeton athletes 60 medals at the Olympics with Ashleigh Johnson ’17 being the last Tiger to earn a medal when she helped the U.S women’s water polo team take gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

A day later, Princeton added a 61st medal to its storied Olympic history as former Tiger men’s heavyweight rowing star Tom George ’18 collected a bronze medal for Great Britain in the men’s 8. more

REMAINING LOYAL: Davon Black passes the ball for LoyalTees during the playoffs in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Former Princeton High star Black helped LoyalTees defeat Majeski Foundation 57-45 last Wednesday in the second game of the league’s best-of-three championship series to earn a sweep and win its third straight crown. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Lior Levy and Davon Black developed a connection on the basketball court years ago playing for the Princeton High boys’ hoops program.

The two formed an inside-out punch for PHS with the 6’8 Levy starring in the paint and the 5’11 Black getting it done on the perimeter.

“It is the best playing with Davon,” said Levy, a 2013 PHS alum who went on to play at Franklin and Marshall, serving as a team captain in his senior season in 2016-17.

“Ever since high school we know exactly where each other are going to be on the court. We have always found each other.”

Black, a 2012 PHS grad, reached out to Levy, who was teaching English in southern Israel and playing in the country’s Third Division pro hoops league, to ask him to play the LoyalTees squad this season in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

“Lior is one of my favorite teammates,” said Black, in reflecting on getting Levy to join the squad. more

FROM A TO Z: Zahrion Blue of LoyalTees drives to the hoop during the playoffs in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Former Princeton High and current Lincoln University hoops star Blue was named as the Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP after leading LoyalTees to a sweep of the Majeski Foundation in the league’s best-of-three championship series. Blue scored 21 points and had six rebounds and two assists in the title clincher last Wednesday at the Community Park courts as LoyalTees won 57-45 in game two to earn its third straight league title. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When Zahrion Blue joined the LoyalTees team in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League a few years ago, he was one of the young guns for the battle-tested squad.

This summer, though, the former Princeton High and current Lincoln University hoops star Blue has emerged as the top gun for LoyalTees. The 6’4, 200-pound guard was the league’s leading scorer this summer, tallying 24.2 points a game, and was named as a first-team All-League performer and regular season MVP.

Last Wednesday evening before an overflow crowd at the Community Park courts, Blue helped trigger LoyalTees to a third straight league title as it defeated the Majeski Foundation 57-45 to earn a sweep of the league’s best-of-three championship series and the team’s third straight title.

“We just wanted to win, we wanted a three-peat,” said Blue, who scored 21 points and had six rebounds and two assists in the victory and was later named the Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP as LoyalTees went 10-1 this summer.

“We came out here and you can’t take them lightly. We got up a little lead and we wanted to keep pushing it and making it greater.”

With star forward Nick Davidson sidelined for game two due to a leg injury, Blue assumed more responsibility.

“I don’t even know Nick was hurt,” said Blue. “When they said we didn’t have Nick, I knew I had to do more on the rebounding and score more because he is a rebounding type of guy and a scoring type of guy.”

With Blue scoring 14 points in the first half, LoyalTees built a 31-25 lead at intermission. more

July 28, 2021

CENTRAL ROLE: Devon Lis controls the ball in action this summer for Real Central New Jersey during its inaugural season in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL). Lis, a former Princeton High girls’ soccer standout and a member of the Georgetown University women’s program, helped Real Central NJ make the WPSL Metropolitan South Division title game. (Photo by Jeremy Ryan, provided courtesy of Real Central New Jersey)

By Bill Alden

After her junior season for the Georgetown University women’s soccer team was moved to this spring from last fall due to COVID-19 concerns, Devon Lis has been making up for lost time.

Lis, a former Princeton High girls’ soccer standout, helped Georgetown thrive despite the delay as the Hoyas went 12-0-2, winning the Big East tournament and advancing to the Round of 16 in the NCAA tourney where they fell to TCU in early May on penalty kicks after the foes had tied at 1-1 through 90 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime.

Weeks later, defensive midfielder Lis was back on the pitch, competing locally for Real Central New Jersey as it kicked off its inaugural season in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL).

“It is great to be able to go right from being in the NCAA tournament to already being able to practice at a local place with high quality level players,” said Lis. “I haven’t had to transition that much.”

Playing this spring did require a transition for Lis. “It was definitely different because we started out with it being so cold out in January and February; normally our season we start out going back in August and it is super-hot in the summer time,” said Lis. more

NICK OF TIME: Nick Davidson unloads the ball in recent action for LoyalTees in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Monday night, Davidson scored 18 points to help LoyalTees edge Majeski Foundation 45-42 in the first game of the league’s best-of-three championship series. Game two is scheduled for Wednesday night at the Community Park courts with game three, if necessary, set for Friday at the same site. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Nick Davidson took it easy last week as he went on a family vacation to Massachusetts.

The relaxation came to an end last Monday as Davidson returned to the area to play for LoyalTees when it faced Majeski Foundation in the first game of the best-of-three championship series of the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

Davidson knew that the two-time defending champion LoyalTees would have its hands full in the match-up with Majeski, which is comprised of players on The College of New Jersey men’s hoops team.

“They are all in shape, they have a great chemistry,” said Davidson.

“They do a lot of things well on the court, they move without the ball. You just have to be really disciplined with them. They are all searching for the that three-ball, they can all shoot.”

In order to deal with Majeski, LoyalTees was emphasizing perimeter defense. more

July 21, 2021

CUP CELEBRATION: Ross Colton, left, and Steven Stamkos celebrate in the locker room after the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated Montreal 1-0 on July 7 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final to win the series 4-1 and earn the franchise’s second straight NHL title. Former Princeton Day School boys’ hockey standout Colton scored the lone goal in the finale to clinch the title. (Photo provided by Ross Colton)

By Bill Alden

The last five months have been a whirlwind for Ross Colton.

In February, the former Princeton Day School boys’ hockey standout started his third pro season by playing for Syracuse of the AHL. Weeks later, Colton, 24, had been called up to the Tampa Bay Lightning and scored a goal on the second shift of his NHL debut.

Carving out a niche on the squad by tallying nine goals and three assists in 30 regular season games, Colton, a 6’0, 202-pound forward, raised the level of his game as Tampa Bay entered the playoffs looking for its second straight Stanley Cup.

Starting on the fourth line and seeing time on second and third lines, Colton helped the Lightning top Florida 4-2 in a bruising first round series, top Carolina 4-1 in the second round and then edge New York Islanders 4-3 in a thrilling seven-game series to make it to the Stanley Cup Final against Montreal.

After Tampa Bay built a 3-1 lead in the Finals, Colton closed the deal on July 7, tallying a goal for the ages, notching the lone score in Game 5 as Tampa prevailed 1-0 to win the series 4-1 and win its second straight title.

Last Friday morning, the Stanley Cup was delivered to Colton’s home in Robbinsville. Over the next 24 hours, Colton took the Cup around to some of his Garden State stomping grounds, starting at the Ice Land Rink where he learned the game and played for the Mercer Chiefs, going to a park in his hometown for the celebration of “Ross Colton Day,” and then ending the day with a rooftop dinner at the Hotel LBI in Ship Bottom. more

TITLE DRIVE: Terrance Bailey, left, drives to the hoop for LoyalTees in a recent game in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Monday, Bailey scored a game-high 22 points to help top-seeded and two-time defending champion LoyalTees defeat eighth-seeded The Basketball Team (TBT) 71-64 in the league quarterfinals. LoyalTees will now face fifth-seeded Planet Fitness in the semis on July 23 after it edged fourth-seeded SpeedPro 44-42 in the other quarterfinal contest on Monday. The quarterfinals will be concluded on Wednesday when second-seeded Majeski Foundation faces seventh-seeded NJ Path and third-seeded Caesar’s Bagels and Deli takes on sixth-seeded Princeton Supply. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As top-seeded LoyalTees faced eighth-seeded The Basketball Team (TBT) last Monday night to tip off the quarterfinals of the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League, the two-time defending champs were shorthanded.

LoyalTees was missing top inside threat Nick Davidson and the squad’s leading scorer, former Princeton High standout Zahrion Blue, was en route to the Community Park courts.

But that didn’t stop Terrance Bailey and his teammates from showing their championship pedigree as they jumped out to a 46-30 lead at halftime before an overflow crowd at the courts. Making up for the late-arriving Blue, sharp-shooting Bailey led the way, tallying 19 points, draining three 3-pointers along the way.

“It is playoff time,” said Bailey. “With us being back-to-back champs, we have to set the tone early. We came out swinging out of the gate. Zahrion is a leading candidate for MVP and definitely the leading scorer on our team so with him being a little late we had to pick it up.”

After Blue showed up and got into the action, Bailey assumed a playmaking role as LoyalTees held off a late charge from TBT, which is comprised of recent Princeton High boys’ hoops players, to prevail 71-64. more

July 14, 2021

REACHING NEW TERRITORY: Coby Auslander races upfield this spring for the Christopher Newport University men’s lacrosse team. Former Princeton Day School standout Auslander helped CNU reach the NCAA Division III Final 4 for the first time in program history. Midfielder Auslander scored 34 points on 16 goals and 18 assists in helping the Captains go 13-6. (Photo provided courtesy of Christopher Newport Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

Coby Auslander wasn’t sure if he was going to get the chance to take this field this spring for his sophomore season with the Christopher Newport University men’s lacrosse team.

After abbreviated fall ball practice sessions with players training in pods due to COVID-19 concerns, there was no certainty that CNU would able to have a regular season this spring.

But with the school putting together a COVID-19 testing protocol, the squad was cleared to go ahead with its 2021 campaign.

“It was a big relief because we have all had this urge to play because we haven’t played in a while,” said Auslander.

“We knew that we had the kids that could do something really cool this season. We were just hoping that it would happen so that we could show everyone that was have a very good team.”

Auslander and his teammates ended up doing some really cool things, advancing to the NCAA Division III Final 4 for the first time in program history as they went 13-6. more

By Bill Alden

Zachary Okoye had a busy day for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team as it battled Hopewell Post 339 last Friday evening.

Okoye smacked a double off the left field fence in the first inning. In the second, he moved from his third base spot to take the mound and ended up pitching 5 1/3 innings, yielding just one run, to finish off the game in an 8-2 loss for Post 218.

With his uniform caked with dirt and soaked with sweat, a tired but upbeat Okoye enjoyed contributing with the bat and his arm.

“I just went up there and I decided to take in the nerves that I had and take in the confidence that I had and use both to rip one up the gap,” said Okoye, reflecting on his double.

“I wanted to pitch. I was whispering to myself put me in coach. I haven’t pitched since tryouts, it went well. I hadn’t gotten a chance to pitch, so my approach was to go out there and prove it and go out and pitch.” more

PITCHING IN: Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball player Zachary Okoye fires a pitch last Friday evening as Princeton played at Hopewell Post 339. Okoye pitched five and one-third innings in relief in his first appearance of the summer, giving up just one run, and also hit a double as Post 218 fell 8-2. Princeton, which lost 10-6 to Allentown last Sunday to move to 4-12, was slated to play at Lawrence Post 414 on July 13 in its regular season finale. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Trevor Covey and his teammates on the Majeski Foundation found themselves in a battle when they faced The Basketball Team (TBT) last Monday night in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

With the game being moved inside the Princeton High gym from the Community Park courts due to storms in the area, TBT, which features former PHS boys’ hoops players, was primed to defend its home court.

Even though Majeski, which is comprised of players from The College of New Jersey men’s basketball squad, had the edge in experience and size, it couldn’t pull away from a fired-up TBT team and was clinging to a 31-27 lead at halftime. more

By Bill Alden

Ross Colton demonstrated a knack for scoring goals during his two seasons playing for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team from 2011-13.

The prolific forward tallied 45 goals in 49 games for PDS before going on to the Taft School (Conn.), Cedar Rapids of the USHL, and the University of Vermont.

Colton had 25 goals in one season for Taft, 53 goals in two campaigns for Cedar Rapids, and 28 goals in two seasons at Vermont.

The Robbinsville native was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning and ended up playing two full seasons for the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL, scoring 25 goals in 128 games.

Colton was called up to the Lightning this February and scored a goal in the second shift of his NHL debut on February 24.

But last Wednesday, Colton, 24, scored the most memorable goal of his career, tallying the only score as Tampa Bay defeated the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in game five of the Stanley Cup Finals to win the series 4-1 and earn the franchise’s second straight NHL title.

True to form, Colton’s goal resulted from him being in the right place at the right time around the goal. Hovering in the crease, he slotted home a feed from David Savard past Montreal goalie Carey Price with 6:33 left in the second period. He was named the second star of the contest. more