October 19, 2022

COACHING THEM UP: Princeton High girls’ tennis head coach Sarah Hibbert, left, talks strategy with her first doubles team of Maya-Alexandra Todorov and Ashley Chen during a recent match. Last Friday, third-seeded PHS defeated second-seeded WW/P-North 4-1 in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA)Central Jersey Group 3 sectional semifinals, avenging a 3-2 loss to the Northern Knights in late September. The Tigers, now 10-1, were slated to play at top-seeded Red Bank Regional in the sectional final on October 18 with the victor advancing to the state Group 3 semis on October 20 at the Mercer County Park tennis complex. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In late September, the Princeton High girls’ tennis second doubles team of Ashna Bushan and Sophie Miller lost a tough three-setter to WW/P-North as the Tigers got edged 3-2 in the match.

When the foes met last Friday at the Mercer County Park tennis complex in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Central Jersey Group 3 sectional semifinals, the pair of freshman Bushan and senior Miller were primed to turn the tables on North’s Anusha Kumar and Odette Liu.

Bushan saw smarter play as a key in the rematch. “We tried to communicate better and focus more on getting the balls in rather than trying to hit harder,” said Bushan.

Miller was concentrating on bringing a positive mindset to round two.

“The coach (Sarah Hibbert) said not to get frustrated with our last match, and we didn’t do that,” said Miller. “We went in wanting to win and not just being frustrated that we lost last time.”

The PHS pair frustrated their foes, rolling a 6-1 win in the first set. more

NO ORDINARY JOE: Hun School boys’ soccer player Joey Bucchere, center, races upfield against Princeton Day School last week. Junior forward Bucchere tallied a goal and an assist as Hun edged PDS 2-1 in the October 11 contest. On Saturday, Bucchere contributed a goal and an assist as second-seeded Hun defeated seventh-seeded WW/P-South 6-1 in a Mercer County Tournament quarterfinal contest. The Raiders, who improved to 10-2-2 with the victory, were slated to play third-seeded Pennington in the MCT semis on October 18 with the winner advancing to the final on October 20 at Hopewell Valley High. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Joey Bucchere was determined to become a go-to player this fall for the Hun School boys’ soccer team.

“I just want to make an impact, I want to add something to the program,” said junior forward Bucchere. “I really wanted to win this year. Coach (Pat Quirk) put me up top this year and I have really been finding my flow.”

Last week, Bucchere made a huge impact for Hun as it played at Princeton Day School, scoring a goal and assisting on another as the Raiders pulled out a 2-1 win over a scrappy Panther squad.

With PDS packing nine players in front of its goal, Hun’s high-powered offense was bottled up for much of the contest.

“It is a battle every time we play them,” said Bucchere. “It was a great competition. They played a great game and came back. We just kept our heads in it and got the last goal that we needed.” more

KEEN EFFORT: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer player Joaquin Rodriguez, left, controls the ball in a game earlier this season. Last week, senior star midfielder Rodriguez scored a goal in a losing cause as PDS fell 2-1 to the Hun School. The Panthers, who lost 1-0 to Jackson Memorial last Monday in moving to 3-8-2, will be competing in the Prep B state tournament this week where they are seeded fifth and will be playing at top-seeded Gill St. Bernard’s on October 20 in a semifinal contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

On paper, it looked like a mismatch when the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team hosted a powerhouse Hun School squad last week.

PDS brought a 3-6-2 record into the October 11 contest while Hun stood at 8-2-1, including a 3-0 win over a Pennington team that had routed the Panthers 6-0 earlier in the season.

But PDS head coach Brian Thomsen had a plan to slow the Raiders, packing his team in with nine players patrolling the defensive end.

“They are dangerous off set pieces as we saw; they do a good job of counterattacking if you press them high,” said Thomsen. “We tried to minimize as much time as we could on the ball in dangerous spots. We didn’t want Connor [Frykholm] to get the ball in the center of the park. We were OK with Connor getting the ball outside on the wing. We were trying to minimize how much that was happening and it worked for the longest time.”

While Hun did get a goal 10 minutes into the game, the Panther defense held the fort for the rest of the half and the first 18 minutes of the second before it tied up the game on a goal by senior star Joaquin Rodriguez. more

SUPER SAVER: Stuart Country Day School field hockey goalie Emily Harlan guards the cage last Saturday as Stuart played at Princeton High in a Mercer County Tournament quarterfinal contest. Sophomore Harlan made 13 saves in a losing cause as the eighth-seeded Tartans fell 3-2 to top-seeded and undefeated PHS. Harlan passed 100 career saves in the process. Last Monday, Stuart defeated Northern Burlington 6-0 in a regular season game to improve to 8-5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team facing undefeated Princeton High last Saturday morning in a Mercer County Tournament quarterfinal contest, Missy Bruvik did some tinkering tactically.

“We knew we would have to add an extra defender back today,” said Stuart head coach Bruvik. “We did that and focused on trying to keep that ball out of the middle third of the field and work the sidelines. I think we were able to execute that pretty well against a very good team.”

For 30 minutes that strategy worked well as eighth-seeded Stuart battled top-seeded PHS to a 0-0 draw.

In the second half, though, the Tigers broke through with two straight goals in the third quarter. Stuart responded with a goal by Alex Mandzij to cut the PHS lead in half.

The Tigers took a 3-1 lead early in the fourth quarter but the Tartans kept fighting as senior star Emily Ix found the back of the cage with 47 seconds left in regulation. That tally turned out to be the final score of the contest as PHS held on for a 3-2 win and improved to 13-0.

“I am just proud of the way we were able to finish today and put the ball in,” said Bruvik. “We got our corner opportunities for sure. I just thought we played pretty relentlessly in good spurts that kept our momentum going. I feel like we gave a very good team a good battle.” more

By Bill Alden

This past Sunday was not a day of rest for the Princeton Day School girls’ tennis team.

With the Prep B state tournament condensed into a single-day event last Sunday at Thomas A. Edison Park in Edison, PDS hit the road at 7:30 a.m. for the 9 a.m. start and didn’t leave the court until 5:15 in the evening.

“We did it all in one day, it was a long day,” said Panther head coach Michael Augsberger. “It was like an 11-hour day.”

Battling hard in the marathon session of tennis, PDS won two flights of the competition as senior Amy Zhou prevailed at third singles and the first doubles pair of senior Josephine Baranski and junior Ashlyn Du also finished first. In the team standings, the Panthers took second with 10 points, two points behind champion Pennington.

Augsberger was thrilled to see Zhou come through. “Amy has been brilliant all year,” said Augsberger of Zhou who posted a 6-1, 6-1 win over Lauren Decker of Pennington in her final. “She plays third singles like first singles in the sense of the way she plays her points and her style of play. A lot of third singles matches take a long time. The semifinal match between her opponent and Rutgers Prep went four hours just because their style of play. Amy plays very aggressively. She has a gorgeous backhand and she deserves it. It is great for her to have a senior crowning moment.”

Baranski earned a crowning moment as she stepped in at first doubles at the last moment as sophomore Arya Kalra couldn’t make it to Edison because of illness. more

October 12, 2022

DOGGED PURSUIT: Princeton University men’s soccer player Daniel Diaz Bonilla, right, goes after the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior star forward and co-captain Diaz Bonilla made history, scoring the first goal for the men’s squad in the new Roberts Stadium as Princeton hosted Yale. The tally by Diaz Bonilla, though, was not enough as the Tigers fell 3-1 to the Bulldogs. Princeton, now 4-4-1 overall and 1-1 Ivy League, plays at Columbia on October 15 and at Virginia Tech on October 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Daniel Diaz Bonilla and his teammates on the Princeton University men’s soccer team were fired up last Saturday to finally play their first game at the new Roberts Stadium.

After their originally scheduled debut at the new venue against Monmouth on October 4 was postponed due to a rainstorm, Princeton hosted Yale four days later.

“It is a total privilege to play here,” said Princeton senior star forward and co-captain Diaz Bonilla. “It is a beautiful venue, it is probably the best venue in the Ivy League.”

But the debut turned ugly for the Tigers as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead by early in the second half and held off a late Princeton charge to earn a 3-1 win, snapping its eight-game winning streak in Ivy League play over the last two years.

“We are really disappointed that we couldn’t open up the stadium with a win,” said Diaz Bonilla, who ended the game on the sidelines with his left knee wrapped in ice after taking a knock late in the second half. “It is sad we couldn’t get a win on this beautiful field.” more

DOUBLE COVERAGE: Princeton High girls’ soccer players Rowan Gilmore, left, and Alysse Kiesewetter mark a Trenton High foe in a game earlier this season. PHS, which fell 2-1 to Robbinsville last Saturday to move to 8-3-2, starts play in the Mercer County Tournament this week. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Rowan Gilmore has been making some noise this fall along the back line for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team.

“I am definitely trying to be very vocal on the field, yelling a lot and communicating,” said PHS senior defender and co-captain Gilmore. “If people don’t know where they are supposed to be, I am letting them know. Encouragement is such a big thing and just letting everyone know that they are doing well.”

Last Saturday as PHS hosted Robbinsville, Gilmore got some encouragement from her teammates as the program held its annual Senior Day.

“It is definitely a very emotional day,” said Gilmore. “It is always a lot of fun getting to see how the juniors and everyone decorates for us. It is awesome. It is very emotional but a lot of fun too.”

There were some sad emotions Saturday for the Tigers as they fell 2-1 to Robbinsville. PHS yielded a goal with 17:20 left in the first half and held the Ravens scoreless for the next 51 minutes. Robbinsville found the back of the net with 5:40 left in regulation but PHS kept battling and Alysse Kiesewetter buried a penalty kick with 2:54 remaining to make a 2-1 game. more

MAC ATTACK: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Ella McLaren, left, prepares to boot the ball in recent action. Last Thursday, freshman midfielder McLaren tallied a goal and an assist as fourth-seeded PDS defeated fifth-seeded Morristown-Beard 3-1 in a state Prep B quarterfinal contest. The Panthers, who defeated George School (Pa.) 1-0 last Saturday to improve to 8-3, will be hosting Pennington on October 13 and then starting play in the Mercer County Tournament. In addition, PDS will be playing at top-seeded Rutgers Prep in the state Prep B semis on October 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was Ella McLaren’s first tournament game for the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team and things didn’t get off to a good start.

With fourth-seeded PDS hosting fifth-seeded Morristown-Beard in a state Prep B quarterfinal contest last Thursday, the visiting Crimson tallied a goal in the first 30 seconds of the game.

“It was definitely a challenge; it is not great to fall behind but it didn’t bother us,” said PDS freshman midfielder McLaren. “It motivated us to work harder. It was a wake up we needed to play better and more together.”

That work paid off as PDS knotted the game at 1-1 when junior star Adriana Salzano converted a penalty kick with 2:24 left in the first half.

“That helped us with our mentality,” said McLaren. “It was alright we are tied, we don’t have to be rushed and panicked. Now we can settle down and play our game and not worry about playing theirs.”

McLaren broke the deadlock with 8:34 left in regulation, taking a corner kick from senior star Grace Romano and knocking it off her chest into the goal.  more

DANTE’S INFERNO: Hun School football player Dante Barone heads upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, senior star and Rutgers commit Barone had two touchdown catches to help Hun defeat Blair 48-7. The Raiders, now 5-0, host the Hill School (Pa.) on October 15. (Photo by Jamie McKee/The Hun School)

By Justin Feil

Dante Barone played tight end for his former team two years ago  but Hun football head coach Todd Smith saw more potential in him.

“He’s a real Swiss Army knife for us,” said Smith. “He’s probably the most versatile kid on the team.”

Barone indeed has developed into a two-way player that has helped the Raiders start 5-0 for the second straight season. The senior had a pair of touchdown catches and was part of a dominant defensive line in a 48-7 romp at Blair on Saturday as he continues to impress on both sides of the ball in his second year at Hun.

“It was definitely different compared to my old school because I was more of a traditional tight end at my old school,” said Barone, a Manalapan resident. “And playing at Hun, it’s kind of similar to the way Kyle Shanahan uses Kyle Juszczyk on the 49ers which I really like. I’m in the slot, I’m at fullback, I’m at wing, and also at tight end sometimes. I think it’s really cool to be able to be versatile. I like to run and I like to catch the ball and I like blocking. I do all those things. It’s really cool.”

Barone was just one weapon for the Raiders, who saw quarterback Marco Lainez III account for six of Hun’s seven touchdowns. Lainez ran in two of them and passed for four touchdowns with Logan Galletta catching a 35-yard strike and Liam Thorpe on the receiving end of the final passing touchdown. Kamar Archie ran in the Raiders’ other touchdown.

“We came out and took care of business,” said Smith. “We did a good job of spreading the ball around to a bunch of different guys. The kids really executed the game plan on both sides of the ball, and we came out on top.” more

DIOS MIO: Hun School field hockey player Ana Dios, left, controls the ball in recent action. Junior transfer Dios, a native of Spain, has been a catalyst in the modified for Hun as it has produced a 7-2 start. In upcoming action, the Raiders play at Stuart Country Day School on October 12 and host the Hill School (Pa.) on October 15. In addition, Hun will be starting play in the Mercer County Tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After winning its first seven games this season, the Hun School field hockey team tasted defeat twice last week.

While Hun head coach Tracey Arndt was disappointed to see her squad fall 1-0 to Pennington on October 3 and then lose 4-3 at the Blair Academy last Saturday, she believes the setbacks could be a positive in the long run for the Raiders.

“Sometimes losses early in a season prepare you for postseason,” said Arndt. “The Blair game and Pennington showed we can hang with these teams. Blair is good and they are aggressive and so was Pennington. We got bumped around and we held our ground and no matter what the score was, we kept battling. Those are all the things that are helpful as you prepare for playoffs.”

Hun gave undefeated Blair (9-0) a good battle, jumping out to a 1-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and trailing 2-1 at halftime. After the Buccaneers scored two unanswered goals in the third quarter, the Raiders responded with two straight goals in the fourth quarter.

“It was 2-1 at halftime, it was a competitive game; that was exactly what we needed,” said Arndt. “We really felt that we played hard. I really appreciated the grit and the perseverance that the girls showed. At the end, we just ran out of time. We scored with hardly any time left, who knows if we had five more minutes. Their team was very good.”

Junior Ava Che had a very good game for the Raiders against Blair, scoring both of the fourth quarter goals.

“Ava usually plays back for us, she has got nice skills has a great hit,” said Arndt. “Typically we don’t bring her up to the corners because she is a defender and I am always conscious of a transition ball. We had nothing to lose then so I put her on the first corner and the last corner. It paid dividends, she just ripped it.”

With Hun not losing in September on the way to a 7-0 start, the players gained a lot of self-belief.

“The girls had created several goals for themselves this year and one of them was to be undefeated in September so that was very cool to do that,” said Arndt. “Over the last few years, we really had to look at minor, little victories so I think that was a large victory for them. It gave them the confidence that they need. Our league is really strong and our county is really strong, setting that goal and achieving it was really great.” more

October 5, 2022

IMMEDIATE IMPACT: Princeton High girls’ volleyball player Naomi Lygas leaps up for the ball in recent action. Freshman outside hitter Lygas has made an immediate impact for PHS as she has 75 kills, tied for team best with senior Sarah Villamil. PHS, which defeated WW/P-North 2-0 (25-11, 25-9) last Monday to improve to 10–0, hosts Northern Burlington on October 6 and Paul VI on October 8 before playing at Lawrenceville on October 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As a grade schooler, Naomi Lygas focused her energy on excelling in gymnastics.

But hitting a plateau, Lygas decided to go in another direction athletically.

“I was doing gymnastics for a while, I was pretty good, but I wasn’t very flexible,” said Lygas. “We were looking for something new to try so I tried volleyball.”

It didn’t take long for Lygas to feel at home in her new sport. “I started when I was 11,” said Lygas. “It was instant; I felt like my natural talent was there.”

Utilizing that natural talent, Lygas has emerged as a star this fall in her freshman season for the Princeton High girls’ volleyball team.

Last Wednesday, outside hitter Lygas had a team-high 11 kills to help PHS defeat Hopewell Valley 2-0 (25-21, 25-12).

“We didn’t start out as strong as we normally do,” said Lygas. “We didn’t start out fast, but we ended up finishing strong and that is all that matters.”

With PHS locked into a tight battle in the first set against HoVal, Lygas helped the Tigers pull it out with her strong play at the net. Building on that, PHS got into a rhythm as it produced a strong second set.

“I would like to say that my court vision is pretty good from experience,” said Lygas. “In the second set, we minimized our own errors, which is really what got us in the first set.”

Despite being a freshman, Lygas already has a lot of volleyball experience under her belt. more

MAKING STRIDES: Princeton High boys’ cross country star Marty Brophy competes in a 2021 race. Last Saturday, senior Brophy placed sixth overall at the Varsity B race at the Shore Coaches Invitational, clocking a time of 16:42 over the 5,000-meter course at Holmdel Park to lead the PHS boys to fifth place in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Absence did make Marty Brophy’s heart grow fonder.

Brophy played soccer in the fall of his freshman year at Princeton High, and after wrestling that winter, the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the spring track and field season. He faced a decision that next fall.

“I didn’t really know what to do because I loved running and I couldn’t wait a whole other year until I ran any competitive races again,” said Brophy. “I said, ‘I think I’m done with soccer.’”

Brophy took advantage of the limited chances to run in the modified fall cross country season that followed in 2020, and while remaining an accomplished wrestler in the winter, he also has developed into a top runner for the Tigers.

Now a senior, Brophy placed sixth overall at the Varsity B race at the Shore Coaches Invitational, clocking a time of 16:42 over the 5,000-meter course at Holmdel Park last Saturday to lead the PHS boys to fifth place in the team standings.

“It was definitely a tough race,” said Brophy. “It was a little bit of a shock to the system. We hadn’t run a course that hard this year. But we train hills a lot, so we knew we were ready. We didn’t have the best day, but we could see everything was there for us to improve upon.”

Fellow seniors Zach Deng (16:55) and Charles Howes (17:02) placed 13th and 16th to pace the top half of Princeton’s scoring runners. Junior Maxwell Dunlap ran 18:03 for 53rd and sophomore Cole Rose was just behind him in 18:10 for 55th. Felix Farrugia, a sophomore, and freshman Atticus Ayres also competed for PHS and placed 72nd and 82nd respectively. The Tigers were eight points behind fourth-place finisher St. Peter’s Prep though both teams averaged 17:22 per runner.  more

BEST FOOT FORWARD: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer player Todd Devin kicks the ball upfield in a game earlier this season. Sophomore Devin has been a standout in the midfield for the Panthers this fall. PDS, which fell 3-1 to Lawrence High last Monday to fall to 2-6-1, plays at Rutgers Prep on October 6 to open action in the state Prep B tournament and will then play at George School (Pa.) on October 8 and host Hun on October 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Falling behind local rival Lawrenceville 1-0 late in the first half last Saturday evening, the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team turned up the intensity.

PDS came out flying after halftime, drawing a red card and then proceeding to generate a number of scoring opportunities as it dominated possession. Unfortunately, the Panther shots went just a bit wide, high, and on one sequence, the Lawrenceville goalie stuck out his leg in desperation to deflect a potential goal.

In the end, PDS fell 1-0 but Panther head coach Brian Thomsen liked what he saw notwithstanding the final result.

“Things happen and we tried to get back into the game,” said Thomsen. “Obviously it wasn’t for lack of trying, it was just not putting the ball in the back of the net. That is OK, it happens.”

In Thomsen’s view, the Panthers showed progress.

“I think tonight was a good step in the right direction from a work ethic perspective and just trying to see if we can get something going,” said Thomsen. “We use today as a learning experience. The game could have gone either way, it is one of those things.” more

CENTURY CLUB: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Lily Harlan dribbles upfield in a game earlier this fall. Last Friday, senior star and Boston University commit Harlan tallied two goals and an assist as Stuart defeated Peddie 3-0. Harlan, who recently passed the 100-point mark in her Stuart career, now has 13 goals and nine assists this season, both team-highs, for the 6-2 Tartans. In upcoming action, Stuart hosts Burlington City High on October 5 and the Pennington School on October 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming off a rough 9-2 loss to the Blair Academy last Wednesday, Lily Harlan and her teammates on the Stuart Country Day field hockey team believed that the setback could benefit them as they played at Peddie two days later.

“It wasn’t our best game, but I think those types of games are what a team needs to get better,” said Stuart senior star forward and co-captain Harlan. “In the past for the tournaments, like the Prep Bs and the MCT, playing those harder teams is what prepared us. Our team is very hardworking, very fast, and I really think we can hold our ground against any team after seeing the Blair game. There were many things we could have done differently; you need to lose to learn.”

Last Friday, Harlan applied some lessons against Peddie, weaving through the Falcon defense to score a goal with 9:23 left in the first quarter as the Tartans forged ahead 1-0.

“For me that is how it starts, I score early and that usually gets me going,” said Harlan. “It is so exciting. The team is so nice, they always celebrate. It is very motivating when you have such a good team and coaches because you are not just doing it for yourself.”

Harlan kept doing it, chipping in a goal and an assist in the second half as Stuart pulled away to a 3-0 win over Peddie.

“We just needed to care more, we needed to sprint to every ball because Peddie came in with greater energy,” said Harlan. “They were running all the time. They made it hard, they cared so much the whole time. We just needed to step it up — we were playing sloppy. Once we started making strong block tackles, looking upfield for our teammates and not just passing it nowhere, dodging opponents, making smart moves, that was really the difference. That is how we had so much possession.”

With Stuart improving to 6-2 in the wake of the win, Harlan believes the Tartans can make a strong stretch run. more

September 28, 2022

DOUBLE WHAMMY: Princeton High girls’ tennis doubles star Ashley Chen reaches for a shot last week at the Mercer County Tournament as partner Maya-Alexandra Todorov looks on from the baseline. The pair of senior Chen and sophomore Todorov won the first doubles title at the MCT as PHS placed seventh in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Ashley Chen and Maya-Alexandra Todorov quickly sensed they would be a good pairing when they were teamed up at first doubles this season for the Princeton High girls’ tennis team.

Senior Chen liked the chemistry between the two from the outset.

“I don’t think we had really big issues,” said Chen. “We just played together well.”

Todorov, a sophomore, had a similar feeling. “We realized we had a good team,” said Todorov. “We have good communication. We are good friends, we set each other up really well.”

Their playing styles meshed as well. “Maya’s net game is really strong; if it is a short ball, she is right there,” said Chen. “I know I can always rely on her to get that. My groundstrokes are strong, and I hit them angled. She can put it away.”

The 6’0 Todorov thrives on dominating matches with her volleys.

“Playing at the net is what I bring, it is easier on my knees,” said Todorov, who was sidelined last season by injury. “Ashley is really consistent and sets up the ball good and I just put it away.”Last

Wednesday, Chen and Todorov displayed teamwork and skill as they rallied to put away Peddie’s Lakhi Raju and Catherine Zhang 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the first doubles final at the Mercer County Tournament.

The comeback was a product of the pair being more deliberate. more

SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE: Hun School boys’ soccer player Mass Verduci celebrates a goal last fall as Connor Frykholm looks on in the background. Junior star Frykholm had a lot to celebrate last Thursday, scoring three goals as Hun defeated Pennington 3-0. The Raiders, who defeated Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 4-2 last Saturday in improving to 5-2, play at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 28, host Life Center Academy on October 1, and then play at Steinert on October 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Hun School boys’ soccer team lost three times to the Pennington School last fall, Connor Frykholm believed that the squad was poised for a breakthrough against their powerhouse rival when the foes met last Wednesday.

“We were thinking on last year, it was the first time we played them when we lost 3-2 in overtime,” said Hun junior midfielder Frykholm. “We had that feeling coming into this game that we are just going to go in there and battle.”

Frykholm got things going for the Raiders as he converted a free kick in the first minute of the contest to give Hun a 1-0 lead.

“It starts coming from the back, win a great head ball, all pressure and all effort from there,” said Frykholm, reflecting on the tally. “We got a foul and I was able to tuck it in.”

With just under seven minutes left in the first half, Frykholm cooly slotted in a penalty kick to put Hun ahead 2-0 going into intermission.

“It is just step up and have confidence, I know what I have to do,” said Frykholm. “I have taken them before I had the confidence to do it.”

Displaying that confidence, Frykholm added a third goal with 9:39 left in regulation to put the finishing touch on a comprehensive 3-0 win for the Raiders. It marked Hun’s first win over Pennington since 2010 and sparked a raucous postgame celebration as the players sprinted across the field to hug goalie Diego Pena and posed for cell photos in the aftermath.

Despite the frustrating losses to Pennington last year, Frykholm never doubted that Hun would hold off the Red Hawks last Wednesday.

“With this new group of guys coming in, we have got the chemistry,” said Frykholm. “All of these guys are going to work for each other as well as people coming off the bench. Every single person played a part in today. We knew we were getting it done.” more

HEADS UP PLAY: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Leo George, center, heads the ball in recent action. Last Thursday, senior center back George scored a goal in a losing cause as PHS fell 2-1 at Hopewell Valley. The Tigers, who defeated Lawrence High 2-0 last Saturday to improve to 7-1, host Nottingham on September 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As one of just three senior starters on the Princeton High boys’ soccer team this year, Leo George has assumed extra responsibility on the field.

“I have definitely stepped up as a leader,” said center back George. “We lost a lot of seniors coming in so I know I had to step up. We are a young team.”

Last Thursday as PHS played at Hopewell Valley, George stepped up early in the first half, blasting in a goal off a feed from Patrick Kenah on a set piece.

“I was feeling very opportunistic,” said George. “I saw a loose ball, so I just took a knock at goal. It was on my left foot, I decided why not. It went into the top, it felt great. I also knew it was only about 10 minutes in and anything can happen.”

Lifted by that tally, PHS carried play for much of the first half as it had a lot of possession and took a 1-0 lead into intermission.

“We were playing great soccer,” said George. “I would say we had the first half in our hands.”

But HoVal wore down PHS as the game unfolded, scoring a pair of goals in the last 15 minutes of regulation to pull out a 2-1 win and hand the Tigers their first loss of the fall.

“They came out strong in the second half,” said George. “They are much bigger, much stronger than us. Their first goal was by No. 6 (Austin Warren); he towered over all of us and put it in. The second goal was unfortunate, we lost our man. In the future, we have to do better on those.”


ENCORE PERFORMANCE: Hun School girls’ tennis player Amanda Francis displays her form last week at the Mercer County Tournament. Senior star Francis advanced to the first singles final at the MCT for the second straight year, helping Hun take ninth in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Amanda Francis had her game going as she started play for the Hun School girls’ tennis team in the final day of the Mercer County Tournament last Wednesday at the Mercer County Park tennis complex.

Looking for her second straight trip to the MCT first singles final, Hun senior star Francis topped Praslin Hayes of the Pennington School 6-4, 7-5 in a grueling semifinal match.

“Amanda is such a strong player, she has great intuition for tennis,” said Hun assistant coach Neal Spadafora. “During her semifinals match, which was a battle, it seemed like each point was won after 15 hits. She is very determined.”

But things ended on a down note for the gritty Francis as she retired after losing the first set 6-2 to Lawrenceville’s Aarushi Attray in the final.

“She was feeling unwell, she played as hard as she could,” said Spadafora, whose team ended up finishing ninth in the team standings of the event won by WW/P-South.

Another Hun senior, Sabrina Wang, made it to the semis, advancing at third singles, where she fell 6-1, 6-1 to Courtney Cane of Peddie. Wang went on to lose to WW/P-South’s Alyssa Yang in the third-place match.

“Sabrina played against another strong player and lost in two sets,” said Spadafora, referring to the third-place match. “She is playing well, her serve is very powerful. She is just a very well-rounded player. This was a good tournament for her, and it showed how she has developed as a player.” more

STRINGING IT OUT: Princeton Day School girls’ tennis star Kristina Wang hits a backhand as she competed in the Mercer Country Tournament last week at the Mercer County Park tennis complex. Junior star Wang placed fourth in second singles to help the Panthers finish in a tie for 11th place with Hopewell Valley in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Bringing high hopes into the Mercer Country Tournament last week, the Princeton Day School girls’ tennis team got derailed in the opening day of the competition by illness as it had to default in two of the five flights of the event.

While PDS head coach Michael Augsberger was disappointed to see players unable to finish their matches in September 19 action, he liked the way the team dealt with the situation.

“We thought we could do certain damage in the places where we did enter,” said Augsberger, whose team finished in a tie for 11th place with Hopewell Valley in the team standings in the event won by WW/P-South. “It is good to see that even with the illness happening, we still had a good showing. They had spirits up and you play good competition at counties. This is my second time here with the girls. It was the most schools involved, and we are seeing even more great players.”

Junior Kristina Wang did some damage, advancing to the semifinals at second singles last Wednesday where she fell 6-2, 6-1 to Polaris Hayes of Pennington. more

September 21, 2022

GOOD RUN: Princeton High field hockey player Delaney Keegan, right, marks a player in a game last season. Last Wednesday, junior midfielder Keegan had a goal and two assists to help PHS defeat Allentown 4-0. The Tigers, who improved to 4-0 with a 6-0 win over Ewing last Monday, play at WW/P-South on September 21, host Robbinsville on September 23, and play at Steinert on September27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Delaney Keegan was a bit frustrated as the Princeton High field hockey team dominated possession in the early going against Allentown last Wednesday but had nothing to show for it.

“At the beginning, everyone was playing a little bit off,” said junior standout Keegan. “At the start of the game we are just trying to get into the mood.”

Keegan helped break the ice, setting up Hannah Christopher as she scored with 1:18 left in the first quarter to give PHS a 1-0 lead.

“Once we got into it, I think it was using each other, effectively passing and communicating, not even with screaming,” said Keegan.

“It was just with signals and looking up, that really, really helped us out.”

With the Tigers scoring a goal in each quarter and the defense holding the first, PHS earned a 4-0 win over the Redbirds. more

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Grace Romano controls the ball in a 2020 game. Senior standout Romano tallied a goal and an assist to help PDS defeat Mount St. Mary 4-2 last Saturday. The Panthers, who defeated Lenape 2-1 last Monday to improve to 4-1, play at Jonathan Dayton on September 22 and at the Blair Academy on September 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Grace Romano has evolved into a senior leader for the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team and is enjoying imparting her wisdom to her younger teammates.

“It has been really great, this is an awesome preparation for college,” said senior forward and co-captain Romano who has committed to attend Vassar College and play for its women’s soccer team.

“It is nice to sit back and give players a chance to see where they were when I was in their shoes. It is really building them up, it is great to be in a position to put them in success.”

Last Saturday, Romano set a good example for the squad’s young players, tallying a goal and an assist to help PDS rally from a 1-0 first half deficit against Mount St. Mary to pull away to a 4-2 victory.

“It was really just digging in and playing our game, just playing the whole game through,” said Romano, who scored a goal with 4:20 left in the first half on an assist from Adriana Salzano to knot the game at 1-1 heading into intermission.

“That is what we talked about at halftime. We just needed to be first to the ball, that was really an emphasis. I think you could see that in the second half. Every goal was a different player. We just really wanted to play for each other and I think we did that really well.” more

OVERDRIVE: Princeton Day School field hockey player Jadyn Huff, right, dribbles the ball in recent action. Last Friday, senior star Huff scored the winning goal as PDS edged Stuart Country Day 1-0 in overtime. The Panthers, who improved to 1-3 with the victory, host the Hun School on September 22 and Pennington on September 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jadyn Huff knew her assignment for the Princeton Day School field hockey team and she finished it with aplomb.

With PDS locked in a scoreless deadlock in overtime against Stuart Country Day School last Friday, the Panthers earned a penalty corner when Tessa Caputo was fouled on the way to goal.

After a shot went wide, the Panthers got another corner and the play was designed to go to senior star midfielder Huff at the top of the circle. Kelly Christie inserted the ball to Huff and she blasted it into the back of the cage to give the Panthers a 1-0 win.

“I remember what the coach said and kept my head down because on the last corner, I had my chest up and the ball went right over,” said Huff.

“I kept my head down and trusted my abilities and it went right in.”

Four-year starter and team co-captain Huff likes being under the gun in crunch time.

“I feel like the pressure sometimes allows me to execute the way the coach wants me to,” said Huff.

With PDS having started the season with three straight losses, Huff is hoping that the dramatic victory over Stuart will be a turning point.

“We started out hard; we had a lot of tough games in the beginning so we used this game as an opportunity to set us forward,” said Huff.

“We needed this. I feel like it is going to set us up for success later down the line.” more

STRONG START: Hun School field hockey Mia Chiodo, left, goes after the ball in a game last season. Last Thursday, senior star Chiodo scored a goal to help Hun defeat Hopewell Valley 4-0. The Raiders, who improved to 2-0 with the win, play at the Princeton Day School on September 22, at the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on September 24, and at Robbinsville on September 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Mia Chiodo got things off to a good start for the Hun School field hockey team as it hosted Hopewell Valley last Thursday.

In the first minute of the contest, senior co-captain and forward Chiodo stuck her nose into a traffic jam in the circle and poked the ball into the cage to give Hun a 1-0 lead.

Chiodo acknowledged that her tally wasn’t a thing of beauty.

“It was really busy in the goal and I just snuck in there,” said Chiodo with a smile.

The goal set the tone as Hun jumped out to a 3-0 lead 12 minutes into the contest and never looked back on the way to a 4-0 victory over the Bulldogs.

“We kind of clicked, we brought together our three forwards,” said Chiodo, who was playing on a forward line along with fellow senior Logan Frith and junior Alexa Cavalli.

“We have never really played together before, we are in a rotation. The three forwards that we have starting worked really well together so that is why she puts us first.”

Chiodo was encouraged to see the Raiders improve to 2-0 as they built on their 6-0 win over Morristown Friends in the season opener on September 12. more

By Bill Alden

Toni Olaleye had a busy day at the office last Monday as the Hun School girls’ soccer team hosted the Pingry School.

Imposing center back and senior captain Olaleye battled all over the field for Hun. She had a clearance off the line and made some end-to-end runs to goal while patrolling the Raider backfield.

Olaleye’s efforts weren’t enough as Pingry topped Hun 4-1 to drop the Raiders to 3-2.

“They had No. 5 (Casey Phair) up top who was really good,” said Olaleye of the Pingry freshman star who tallied three goals in the day.

“Gabi [Rollins] did a good job sticking on her, shutting her down. We did the best we could in the back.”

Trailing 2-0 at half, Hun looked to tighten things up down the stretch.

“It was just marking up better and playing better defense as a whole,” said Olaleye.

So far this fall, Hun has faced a gauntlet of high-powered opponents including Episcopal Academy (Pa.) and the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.)

“We thrive off of playing tougher teams,” said Olaleye. “It is what we want to do. It is how we get better, we love it.”

Olaleye thrives in being a take-charge player for the Raiders. “I played a leadership role last year as well,” said Olaleye. “It is not that big of a change, it is just a title really.”

Hun head coach Jenn Barrett credits Olaleye with assuming a huge role this fall.

“Tooni is absolutely amazing; what I love about Tooni is that she leaves everything on the field and she gives 100 percent every single second,” said Barrett. more

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Mia Zebrauskas, right, controls the ball last Friday as Stuart hosted Princeton Day School. Senior Zebrauskas helped key a strong defensive effort for Stuart as it fell 1-0 in overtime to PDS. The Tartans, now 3-1, play at the Baldwin School (Pa.) on September 21 before hosting Delaware Valley in September 24 and South Hunterdon on September 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jumping out to a 3-0 start this season, the Stuart Country Day School field hockey realized it faced a stern test when it hosted Great Road rival Princeton Day School last Friday afternoon.

“We knew it would be a tough one, we knew it would be a game,” said Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik, noting that even though PDS brought a 0-3 record into the contest meant nothing.

“We said this game is going to be about who capitalizes on those opportunities. We are getting our sticks on the ball and we want to keep the momentum going with it.”

Displaying the intensity that characterizes this matchup on an annual basis, the local foes fought to a scoreless draw through regulation. In overtime, it was PDS that capitalized as Jadyn Huff found the back of the cage to give the Panthers a 1-0 victory.

While disappointed with the result, Bruvik believes that getting the first taste of OT, where the teams are reduced to six field players from 10, will benefit Stuart in the long run

“This is our first overtime and it takes experience,” said Bruvik.

“It is who are you going to put out there; everybody had a good game but you have to figure it out and that is good. We will work on that, hopefully it will pay off for us.” more