March 1, 2023

STONE AGE: Princeton University women’s basketball player Grace Stone puts up a shot in recent action. Last Friday, senior star Stone scored 13 points and had four rebounds to help Princeton rally from a 10-point halftime deficit to earn a 51-47 win over Harvard. The Tigers, now 20-5 overall and 11-2 Ivy League, play at Penn on March 3 in their regular season finale. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Grace Stone experienced some extra nerves to go with the emotions she was feeling as the Princeton University women’s basketball program held its annual Senior Night celebration last Friday when it hosted Harvard.

After each member of the team’s Class of 2023 was introduced, Tiger senior guard/forward Stone grabbed a mic and sang a duet of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” with her mother Karen Stone before the crowd of 1,744 at Jadwin Gym.

“I have never really sung in front of anybody before like that,” said Stone. “She really, really wanted me to sing with her; that song means a lot to us and our family. I know it meant a lot to her so I really wanted to do it. It felt special.” more

STICKING POINT: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Coulter Mackesy looks to elude a defender in a recent game. Last Saturday, sophomore attacker Mackesy tallied three goals but it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 11-5 to defending national champion Maryland. The Tigers, now 2-1, will look to get back in the winning track as they host Georgetown on March 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team, powerhouse Maryland proved to be its kryptonite last spring.

Last February, Princeton fell 15-10 to the Terps in a regular season contest. On Memorial Day weekend, the Tigers lost 13-8 to Maryland in the NCAA semis as the Terps went to win the national title to cap an undefeated campaign.

Last Saturday, when the foes met for an early season showdown at Class of 52 Stadium, the Tigers had last year’s setbacks in the rear view mirror.

“It is a very different team for us this year and for them too so there was not too much harping on those two last season,” said Princeton head coach Matt Madalon, whose squad came into the game ranked No. 3 nationally in the Inside Lacrosse media poll with Maryland at No. 9. “We were just trying to put our guys in a good position to win.” more

GETTING HER FILL: Princeton University women’s hockey player Sarah Fillier, right, goes after the puck in a game earlier this season. Last weekend, junior star Fillier totaled two goals and two assists as seventh-seeded Princeton lost a best-of-three ECAC Hockey quarterfinal series to second-seeded Colgate. The Tigers topped the Raiders 3-2 on Friday in the opener but then lost 4-3 on Saturday and fell 2-1 to Colgate in a decisive game three on Sunday. The defeat left the Tigers with a 15-15-1 overall record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It may have been blackboard material for the opponents of the Princeton University women’s hockey team, but Cara Morey was on to something.

On the last regular season home weekend of the season when Princeton clinched a spot in the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals, Tiger head coach Morey exuded confidence as she looked ahead to postseason action.

“Our hope is that we are really hot as we head into playoffs,” said Morey. “I think that people are generally scared of the Tigers in the playoffs and I think this year is going to be like the rest. Whoever we play and it is looking like it could be Quinnipiac or Colgate, I am sure they are wondering, shoot, I just don’t want to face the Tigers.”

Sure enough, Princeton ended up playing at Colgate last weekend in the ECACH quarters and the seventh-seeded Tigers put quite a scare into the second-seeded Raiders, who were ranked third nationally.  more

PERFECT ENDING: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Beatrice Cai displays her breaststroke form in a race this season. Last Saturday, senior star Cai placed third in the 200-yard individual medley and 100 butterfly to help third-seeded PHS defeat top-seeded Chatham 91-79 in New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group B state final. PHS ended the season with a 14-0 record as it earned the program’s first girls’ state title since 1993. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Things were quiet around the Princeton High girls’ swim team as it went on a bus ride last Saturday morning down to the Gloucester County Institute of Technology pool for a battle of unbeatens against Chatham in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group B state final.

“It was very early in the morning so it wasn’t that loud, a lot of people were still tired, getting up early,” said PHS senior star Beatrice Cai. “Our boys’ team had gone against Chatham last year in the state finals and they lost, so we kind of wanted to win this for the boys. We were all very nervous about that part.” more

BLASE OF GLORY: Princeton High wrestler Blase Mele gets ready to grapple in recent action. Last weekend, sophomore Mele took second at 132 pounds in the Region 5 tournament to earn a spot at the upcoming 2023 New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA)/Rothman Orthopaedic State Championships, beginning on March 2 in Atlantic City. He will be joined at the boys’ competition by another PHS wrestler, sophomore Cole Rose at 106. Rose’s sister, senior Ava, will also be in A.C. after qualifying at 114 for the girls’ state tournament final. (Photo provided by Daren Mele)

By Justin Feil

Blase Mele is returning to the boys state wrestling tournament a more confident wrestler than a year ago.

The Princeton High sophomore earned his second trip to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA)/Rothman Orthopaedic State Championships Atlantic City by placing second at 132 pounds in the Region 5 tournament last Saturday at Franklin High. Mele reached states last year despite overcoming a mid-season injury to become the first PHS freshman qualifier in program history. He begins to compete for a medal in states on March 2 in Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City with the finals set for Sunday.

“Last year, the goal was really to make it to A.C., then I had some difficulties in the middle of the season that kind of messed up my season,” said Mele. “This year, I’m really looking to go out there and prove I can compete with the best. Last year did leave a sour taste in my mouth. I would be lying if I told you anything different because I’m a competitor. I like to compete and I train to win.” more

WILL TO WIN: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Will Brown streaks up the ice in a game earlier this season. Senior defenseman and assistant captain Brown tallied two goals and one assist as fifth-seeded PDS defeated 12th-seeded Morristown-Beard 5-2 last Wednesday in first round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public tournament. Last Monday, the Panthers fell 8-4 to fourth-seededGloucester Catholic in the Non-Public quarterfinals to end the season with a 7-11-3 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was Will Brown’s last game at McGraw Rink for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team and he wanted to make it a special evening.

“I was excited to play and just go out and put on a good show and get a win with the team,” said PDS senior defenseman Brown, reflecting on the matchup last Thursday which pitted fifth-seeded PDS against 12th-seeded Morristown Beard in the first round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public tournament.

“It is a great group of guys here and we just wanted to keep playing for one more. We didn’t want to have it end on our home ice.” more

TOURNAMENT RUN: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Emily McCann, right, goes after the puck in recent action. Last Thursday, junior forward McCann, who also stars in cross country and track, tallied a goal and an assist to help fourth-seeded PDS defeat 13th-seeded Newark East Side 8-1in the first round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) girls’ hockey state tournament. On Monday, PDS edged fifth-seeded Summit 1-0 in the state quarterfinals. The Panthers, now 7-5-3, face top-seeded Morristown-Beard in the state semis on March 2 with the victor advancing to the title game on March 6 at the Prudential Center in Newark. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Emily McCann got things rolling for the Princeton Day school girls’ hockey team as it started play in the NJSIAA girls’ hockey state tournament by hosting Newark East Side last Thursday afternoon.

Just over four minutes into the first period, junior forward McCann poked in a rebound to give fourth-seeded PDS a 1-0 lead over 13th-seeded Newark East Side in the opening round contest.

“I was just trying to get my rebound that was there,” said McCann. “I was just trying to get things moving, especially so the rest of the team could play.” more

February 22, 2023

ALEXANDER THE GREAT: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Alexander Vardaro races upfield last Saturday as Princeton hosted Monmouth in its season opener. Midfielder Vardaro started his senior campaign with a bang, tallying a career-high five goals along with two assists as Princeton defeated Monmouth 22-9. In upcoming action, the No. 3 Tigers were slated to host Manhattan on February 21 and defending national champion and No. 9 Maryland on February 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Alexander Vardaro, taking a gap year from Princeton University in 2020-21 resulted in some soul-searching and led him to change his perspective on things.

“It was pretty big for my mindset to understand what my priorities were in life and in lacrosse,” said Vardaro, a midfielder for the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team. “Going in that year after COVID, you think about how much time you really have here.”

The year away from school also allowed Vardaro to develop physically as he spent time in Park City, Utah with a group of teammates before they headed south to Texas.

“We were training every day, sometimes twice a day. I was in some of the best shape of my life there,” said Vardaro, reflecting on his experience in Utah where the players were working out in the mountains at an elevation of 6,890 feet. “We went down to Austin, Texas, after that. It was a different environment. We were basically on the college campus, so we got to see what that big rah-rah school is like compared to here, but I still do appreciate what Princeton has to offer.”

Returning to action for the 2022 season, Vardaro was a changed player for the Tigers as they advanced to the NCAA Final 4, tallying 26 goals and 15 assists after totaling 23 goals and seven assists in his first two college campaigns. more

GOING TO THE MATT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Matt Allocco looks to make a pass in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, junior guard Allocco scored 20 points and played lockdown defense on Brown star Kino Lilly as the Tigers topped the Bears 78-67. A night later against Yale, Allocco scored 13 points but it wasn’t enough as Princeton squandered a 19-point second half lead and fell 93-83 to the Bulldogs in overtime. The Tigers, now 17-8 overall and 8-4 Ivy League and in a three-way tie for first place in the league standings with Yale and Penn, play at Harvard on February 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Matt Allocco drew a tough assignment when the Princeton University men’s basketball team hosted Brown last Friday night.

With Brown having edged Princeton 72-70 on January 14 as Kino Lilly torched the Tigers with 26 points, junior guard Allocco was given the unenviable task of trying to contain Lilly in the rematch.

The wiry 6’4, 193-pound Allocco proved up to the challenge, sticking with Lilly all over the court and holding him to 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting as Princeton topped the Bears 78-67 before a crowd of 1,750 at Jadwin Gym.

“He is an unbelievable player. He is really good, but I know too that I am going to do my job and I am going to try my best,” said Allocco. “My team behind me was going to have my back. If you have that kind of support, you have got all of the confidence in yourself. Any time you guard a player like him, you have got to be super disciplined and more than anything else you have got to play really hard.”

Allocco also did very well offensively against Brown for a second straight game, tallying 20 points after having scored a career-high 21 points in the previous meeting with the Bears.

“It is in the flow of things, it is just how the game goes sometimes,” said Allocco, who went 6-of-11 from the floor and 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the win on Friday. “It is not missing an opportunity and just to make the right play, whatever it is.” more

PLAYOFF PUSH: Princeton University men’s hockey player Pito Walton controls the puck in a game earlier this season. Senior defenseman and captain Walton has starred as the Tigers have risen to seventh place in the ECAC Hockey standings, putting them in position to earn home ice for the first round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs. Princeton went 1-1 last weekend in its final regular season action at Hobey Baker Rink this season, edging Brown 3-2 on Friday before falling 4-0 to Yale a night later. The Tigers, now 12-15 overall and 8-12 ECACH, play at RPI on February 24 and at Union on February 25 to wrap up regular season action. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Pito Walton was determined to take an even-keeled approach as he took the ice at Hobey Baker Rink last Saturday night for his final regular season home game for the Princeton University men’s hockey team.

“I was trying to keep the emotions level throughout the game and stuff, obviously you can get caught up in it sometimes,” said Princeton senior defenseman and captain Walton. “I think ultimately it was not looking at it as the last game here, hoping that we can secure a couple of wins next weekend and be right back here for playoffs.”

The Tigers didn’t get the win against Yale in the finale, falling 4-0 despite outshooting the Bulldogs 40-25.

“It is just hockey, sometimes it just doesn’t go your way,” said Walton, a 6’2, 192-pound native of Peapack, who starred at the Lawrenceville School before coming up the road to Princeton. “We had a lot of good spurts out there but you have to put the puck in the back of the net to win games and unfortunately we didn’t do that tonight.”

Drawing on his experience, Walton wasn’t about to let the frustrating defeat get to him. more

ROUGH START: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Nina Montes looks to unload the ball as Princeton hosted Virginia last Saturday in its season opener. Sophomore attacker Montes tallied four goals and two assists in the contest, but it wasn’t nearly enough as No. 13 Virginia prevailed 20-11. No. 17 Princeton plays at Temple on February 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Nina Montes is confident that the Princeton University women’s lacrosse team will bounce back from its season-opening loss.

Despite a team-high six points from sophomore attacker Montes, including two goals to help stake the Tigers to a 4-0 lead in the first 4:01 of the game, Princeton could not hold off No. 13 Virginia in a 20-11 loss last Saturday at Class of 1952 Stadium.

“Moving forward we know what we need to work on,” said Montes reflecting on the contest which marked the first game for new Tiger head coach Jenn Cook. “And we’re going to really work hard in practice to make sure we can really execute next week and going forward. It’s our first game so we saw what we’re capable of, and we know that we’re capable of even more. It’s just looking forward to having a really good season.”

Princeton will play at Temple on February 25, then play at Rutgers on March 1 before opening Ivy League play against Yale on March 4, which was picked second in the media poll behind Princeton. The Tigers are hoping they can solidify their start in that stretch.

The start Saturday was not the problem. Princeton took a 1-0 lead on freshman Jami MacDonald’s first collegiate shot one minute into play. Montes scored her first goal of the season 27 seconds later, and Kari Buonanno fired in her first goal two minutes later. When Montes scored with 10:59 left in the first quarter, Princeton looked to be in midseason form. more

OVERJOYED: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Ethan Garlock celebrates after scoring a goal last week in the Mercer County Tournament. Last Wednesday, senior forward and captain Garlock scored the winning goal in overtime as second-seeded PHS edged fourth-seeded Hopewell Valley 3-2 in the MCT title game. The Tigers, who improved to 14-6-1 as they earned the program’s first county crown since 2020, will start play in the state tournament this week. PHS is seeded 10th in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Public A state tourney and will play at seventh-seeded Passaic Tech in a first-round contest on February 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Ethan Garlock, helping the Princeton High boys’ hockey team win a Mercer County Tournament title has been a goal of his for years.

“For a lot of the seniors, we had older brothers and we would come to this game countless times as a kid in the stands,” said PHS senior forward and captain Garlock. “We knew that once we were seniors, we were going to play in the game and take control and come out on top. We worked for this moment all of our lives.”

Last Wednesday evening, Garlock and his teammates got that chances as second-seeded PHS faced fourth-seeded Hopewell Valley in the MCT title game before a packed house at the Mercer County Skating Center.

The Tigers brought some extra motivation into the contest, having lost 7-2 to Notre Dame in the MCT final last winter.

“We had that game on rewind today, we were getting psyched,” said Garlock. “We knew coming into this game there was no such thing as satisfaction; we would have to work until that final buzzer.” more

FINAL LAP: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Julian Velazquez displays his butterfly form in a meet this winter. Last Friday, senior star Velazquez placed first in the 100-yard freestyle to provide a highlight as PHS fell 90-80 to Chatham in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) North Jersey 2, Group B sectional final. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 13-1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last winter, the Princeton High boys’ swim team rolled to an undefeated regular season, winning the Mercer County championship meet and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Central Jersey, Group B sectional title on the way to facing powerhouse Chatham in the state final.

The Cougars proved to be a roadblock to a perfect campaign for PHS as they posted a 97-73 win over the Tigers.

This season, PHS went undefeated in regular season meets and won a
second straight county crown and found Chatham waiting for it last Friday night at the Raritan Bay YMCA in the NJSIAA North Jersey 2, Group B sectional final. 

The Tigers were primed for the rematch with the Cougars, who brought a 12-0 record into the showdown.

“We knew what they had depth-wise and what were up against based on last year,” said PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz. “The mindset was we can do anything we set our minds to. If anything, it was let’s learn from last year and figure out how we can be better and improve and just bring it to them from start to finish. We went in with such a great mentality and such a good headspace. We were ready to compete.”

While PHS improved from last year, winning six of the 11 events in the meet, it wasn’t quite enough as the Tigers fell 90-80.

Although the result stung, Misiewicz had no qualms about the effort she got from her swimmers. more

February 15, 2023

ON THE ATTACK: Princeton University women’s lacrosse player Kate Mulham heads upfield in a game last season. Senior attacker Mulham, who tallied 35 goals and 13 assists in 2022, figures to be a key offensive weapon for the Tigers this spring. Princeton, which will be guided by new head Jenn Cook, the successor to Chris Sailer, who retired last spring after guiding the program for 36 seasons, opens its 2023 season by hosting No. 13 Virginia on February 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

A new era kicks off at noon Saturday for the Princeton University women’s lacrosse program when it hosts Virginia in Class of 1952 Stadium.

It will be the first game at the helm for new head coach Jenn Cook, the successor to Chris Sailer, who retired after her 36th season with the Tigers concluded last spring. Cook brings familiarity to the program as a former assistant to Sailer, but also a different energy and approach in her first head coaching job. She, her staff and her players are ready to prove that Princeton is as good as ever.

“It’s been awesome,” said Cook, who is entering her 11th season with the program, having previously served as an assistant coach and associate head coach. “Our kids are tremendously motivated and hungry. They have come back ready to go.”

The Tigers are focused on who they have, not who they don’t have, after several marquee players moved on from both ends of the field. Kyla Sears, whose 100 points (70 goals, 30 assists) were 42 more points than anyone on the Princeton team a year ago, graduated as the unanimous Ivy League Attacker of the Year. At the defensive end, four-year starting goalie Sam Fish graduated after earning Ivy Goaltender of the Year. So did defensive stalwarts Marge Donovan (the unanimous 2022 Ivy Defender of the Year who is finishing her college eligibility at Maryland), Mary Murphy and Olivia Pugh.

“I think for us it’s about confidence and focusing on us and right now and being where our feet are, and not necessarily what we’re losing but we have,” said Cook. “It’s really about being in the moment — playing our best and really showing how hungry we are and capable of stepping up in big moments.” more

COMING THROUGH: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Alex Slusher fights to get past a Cornell defender in action last season. Star attacker Slusher scored 46 goals in 2022 in his junior season to help the Tigers advance to the NCAA Final 4 for the first time since 2004. Princeton opens its 2023 season by hosting Monmouth on February 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After advancing to the NCAA Final 4 last spring for the first time since 2004, the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team is hoping that the stirring postseason run will be a harbinger of things to come.

“Hopefully, it will pay dividends in experience if we are fortunate enough to earn that opportunity again,” said Princeton head coach Matt Madalon, who guided the Tigers to an 11-5 overall record in 2022. “I think the more you get back there, the more comfortable you feel in those settings.”

The squad developed a deeper comfort level after going on a fall trip to Spain and Andorra.

“It absolutely helped, any time you can get your team away from the normal routine of Princeton, academically and athletically, is good,” said Madalon. “To be able to get them out of the country and eat all of your meals together and see the coaches in a different light, it is all very wonderful.”

Princeton didn’t have much time to get up and running for the 2023 campaign as it had a whirlwind preseason.

“Preseason was 10 practices, two scrimmages, and two days off,” said Madalon, whose team is ranked fourth in this week’s Inside Lacrosse Media Poll and hosts Monmouth on February 18 in its 2023 season opener. “It was good, I think we stayed relatively healthy. We are still just trying to build off of last year and teach the new guys some things.”

Madalon is expecting great things from his top attack group of senior Alex Slusher (46 goals, 10 assists in 2022), sophomore Coulter Mackesy (28 goals, 15 assists), and sophomore Braedon Saris (1 assist).

“Alex has gotten better every year, he is a leader down there,” said Madalon, who will also be using sophomore Jack Ringhofer, senior Jack Crockett, and freshman Chad Palumbo on attack. “He is showing the poise and dealing with the pressure that gets put on that unit so he is wonderful. Coulter stepped up big time last year, we have got really high hopes for that young guy. Playing to their right will be Braedon, he is a Canadian guy, he is skilled with a high IQ. He is very complementary to the other guys.” more

SENIOR SURGE: Princeton University women’s hockey player Maggie Connors looks for the puck in a game earlier this season. Senior star forward Connors enjoyed a big final regular season weekend at Hobey Baker Rink, tallying two assists in a 3-2 overtime win over Union on Friday to help Princeton clinch a spot in the upcoming ECAC Hockey quarterfinals, and contributing an assist as the Tigers topped Rensselaer 4-3 in overtime a day later. Princeton, which has now posted five straight wins to improve to 14-11-1 overall and 10-10 ECACH, plays at Clarkson on February 17 and at St. Lawrence on February 18 to wrap up regular season play. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Maggie Connors, taking the ice last weekend for her final regular season action at Hobey Baker Rink with the Princeton University women’s hockey team was a long time coming.

“I took a gap year, I feel like it was never going to arrive,” said Princeton senior forward Connors, a 5’6 native of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Labrador, Canada.

“The fact that I came here in 2018, it feels like I have been here forever. That doesn’t make me want to leave in any way. It definitely feels like I have gone through it for a while.”

As Princeton started the Senior Weekend by hosting Union Friday evening, it looked like the Tigers were never going to score as they trailed 1-0 after two periods despite outshooting the Dutchwomen 29-7.

“Credit to their goalie [Sophie Matsoukas], she played well and we peppered her,” said Connors who generated eight shots on goal in the first two periods and pounded her stick against her helmet in frustration at one point when one of her shots was turned away. “I think we could have had some better quality chances. We talked about getting in front of her more, they were getting all of the rebounds.”

Early in the third period, Connors helped Princeton cash in on a chance, picking up an assist on a power play goal by fellow senior Kayla Fillier.

“On that power play, I shot for the far pad on a one timer,” said Connors. “I thought Annie [Kuehl] was going to put it in and then Kayla was able to do it.”

Minutes later, Connors picked up a second assist on a 2-on-1 rush as she slotted the puck to Fillier, who banged it home for her second goal of the contest. more

RISING UP: Princeton University women’s basketball player Kaitlyn Chen heads to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, junior guard Chen tallied a game-high 16 points with four assists and three rebounds to help Princeton defeat Dartmouth 64-47. The Tigers, now 17-5 overall and 8-2 Ivy League, play at Brown on February 17 and at Yale on February 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton University women’s basketball team clinging to a 31-25 lead against visiting Dartmouth early in the third quarter last Saturday, the Tigers rode a unconventional one-two punch to break the game open.

With starting point guard Kaitlyn Chen scoring eight points and reserve forward Paige Morton contributing four points, Princeton produced a 21-8 surge and never looked back on the way to a 64-47 victory, improving to 17-5 overall and 8-2 Ivy League.

Chen, for her part, attributed the third quarter run to some intense defense.

“It was just to do what we always do, lock it down on defense,” said Chen “Our defense translates to our offense.”

Junior star Chen translated those stops into several end-to-end drives as she sliced through Dartmouth players on the way to the hoop.

“Coach (Carla Berube) just mentioned slowing myself down,” said Chen, who tallied a game-high 16 points with four assists and three rebounds in the win. “I felt like once I slowed myself down I was able to see things open up more.”

Sophomore forward Morton enjoyed a second strong effort against the Big Green as she tallied 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting in a 79-59 win over Dartmouth on January 21. more

TITLE CHASE: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Cooper Zullo, right, chases after the puck last Monday as second-seeded PHS faced sixth-seeded Paul VI-Camden Catholic in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals. Senior star forward and captain Zullo tallied three goals in the contest as the Tigers prevailed 7-4 and improved to 13-6-1. PHS will face fourth-seeded Hopewell Valley in the MCT final on February 15 at the Mercer County Skating Center. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Two weeks ago, the Princeton High boys’ hockey team fell behind Paul VI-Camden Catholic 4-0 in the second period before rallying to pull out a dramatic 6-5 victory.

When the foes met last Monday in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals, Cooper Zullo and his PHS teammates were determined to get off to a better start in the rematch.

“I don’t think we played a very good first two periods against them the first time and it showed,” said Tiger senior star forward and captain Zullo.

“That was definitely a point of emphasis. We said coming into this game they are not going to give it to us. We have to work for it, especially against a team like that. They are a team that works hard, they are very well coached. They have come a long way over the four years that I have been here.”

Late in the first period with second-seeded PHS and sixth-seeded Paul VI locked in a scoreless tie, Zullo took matters into his own hands. Looking to clear the puck on a penalty kill, Zullo flipped it from the red line and watched in amazement as it bounced past the Paul VI goalie into the back of the net with 2:00 left in the period.

“I was just trying to get the puck deep,” said a smiling Zullo. “I think this ice has a history of doing its own thing, it has a mind of its own. That was the goal there to put it on net and see what happens. That is my curve ball.”

Zullo’s tally triggered an outburst for the Tigers as T.T. Zhao scored 15 seconds later and Ethan Garlock scored with 40 seconds left in the period and then added a second goal 2:38 into the second period as PHS built a 4-0 lead.  more

STICKING TOGETHER: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Mia Hartman, right, listens in as PDS head coach Seraphine Hamilton instructs the squad during a timeout in recent action. Last Saturday, junior star Hartman scored 10 points as the Panthers fell 48-32 to Princeton High in the quarterfinals of the Mercer County Invitational. PDS, now 3-18, is next in action when it competes in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public A South Jersey sectional tournament, where it is seeded 14th and will play at third-seeded Trinity Hall in a first round contest on February 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Determined to get the most out of her junior season for the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team, Mia Hartman has spent a lot of time honing her game.

“I play nine out of the 12 months, I am definitely playing a lot,” said Hartman, who competes for the AUF Lady Hawks on the AAU circuit. “I am definitely working on my craft and having a lot of confidence in myself. Last year, it was hard figuring out my role but this year I definitely figured it out.”

That work has paid off as Hartman has solidified her role as the squad’s top scorer, tallying more than twice as many points as anyone else on PDS.

“I feel my team gives me the momentum to score, they pass it to me,” said Hartman. “I am close to reaching 500 points. It is definitely a huge part of my role and I feel like it gets us going. My progress has been really good this year. Playing AAU over the summer and my training and a lot of gym work that I put in this summer has definitely helped me around the basket.”

Last Wednesday, Hartman displayed her skills around the hoop, scoring eight points in the first half as the Panthers trailed WW/P-South 19-12 at halftime.

“When we start to score, the bench starts to get into it and we start to get into it,” said Hartman, reflecting on a second quarter which saw PDS outscore the Pirates 8-6. “It definitely helps the momentum. If we started that from the beginning, I think it would have been a different game.”

The Panthers rallied to draw within 28-21 early in the fourth quarter but could get no closer as they fell 34-23. more

DRIVE TIME: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Mason McQueen drives to the hoop in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior guard McQueen scored a team-high 10 points as a short-handed PDS squad fell 59-30 to Hillsborough. The Panthers, who lost 71-60 to Doane Academy in the Prep B state semis on Friday and then lost 59-27 to Trenton Central in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals a day later to move to 8-14, are next in action when they compete in New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public B South Jersey sectional where they are seeded 11th and will play at sixth-seeded Gloucester Catholic in a first round contest on February 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Mason McQueen knew he was going to draw a lot of attention as the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team hosted Hillsborough last Wednesday.

With backcourt stars and leading scorers Jaden Hall and Jaden Dublin sidelined by injury for the contest, senior guard McQueen took control of the PDS offense.

“It was different because they are two big parts of our offense and without them, they are able to focus on me and Bram [Silva] more,” said McQueen. “They are able to put the focal points on us.”

Missing Hall and Dublin, the Panthers struggled as they fell behind 32-15 by halftime.

McQueen scored five points in the early moments of the third quarter as PDS tried to rally against the Raiders.

“I don’t like losing and the team doesn’t like losing,” said McQueen. “We had to step up.” more

SUPER SAVER: Hun School boys’ hockey goalie Stephen Chen turns away a shot in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior standout Chen made 37 saves to help Hun edge Malvern Prep (Pa.) 2-1 as it improved to 9-12. In addition to starring for the Raiders, Chen recently competed for the China squad in Division II, Group B of the 2023 Ice Hockey U20 World Championship in Iceland. In upcoming action, Hun plays at Princeton Day School on February 16 and then hosts Academie Saint-Louis (Canada) on February 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Emotions were running high as the Hun School boys’ hockey team hosted Malvern Prep (Pa.) last Wednesday at the Ice Land Skating Center.

Hun was holding its annual Senior Day ceremony and was hoping to use the occasion to snap a three-game losing streak.

“It was great because it was senior night. We have a huge crew — we have 11 kids between varsity and JV,” said Hun head coach Ian McNally. “It was, ‘wait a minute, we are on a little skid here, let’s fix it today.’”

Hun went on to fix things, pulling out a hard-earned 2-1 victory as it improved to 9-12.

“It was timely, they played really well,” said McNally, who got goals from Brendan Marino and Charles Guida in the victory with senior goalie Stephen Chen making 37 saves.

Star goalie Chen, who recently starred for the China squad in Division II, Group B of the 2023 Ice Hockey U20 World Championship in Iceland, has been a key performer this winter for the Raiders.

“He has been playing great; he is strong and he is one of the more influential players that we will have on any game that we play this year,” said McNally of Chen. “When he is on, we are pretty darn good.”

The Raiders boast two other influential seniors in high-scoring forward Elian Estulin and standout defenseman Mark Gall.

“If Elian doesn’t have a point every game, I would be surprised,” said McNally of Estulin, who has tallied 32 points this season on 16 goals and 16 assists. “He is a catalyst for our offense for sure. We promoted Mark to defense this season. I think he has scored more goals (7 goals, 6 assists) playing defense than he did at forward.”

The trio of Chen, Estulin, and Gall has provided leadership as well as production. more

February 8, 2023

GETTING IN RHYTHM: Princeton University men’s basketball player Deven Austin dribbles upcourt last Saturday against Columbia. Freshman guard Austin scored 10 points to help Princeton defeat the Lions 88-66. A night earlier, Austin scored 13 points and had eight rebounds as Princeton rallied to edge Cornell 89-82 and give head coach Mitch Henderson his 200th career victory. Princeton, now 16-6 overall and 7-2 Ivy League, plays at Dartmouth on February 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

History was both celebrated and made as the Princeton University men’s basketball team hosted Cornell last Friday night.

Before the contest, which matched teams tied atop the Ivy League standings, Princeton held a ceremony honoring the 25th anniversary of the storied 1996-1998 Tiger teams that posted a 73-13 overall record and a 40-2 league mark.

A large contingent of players and coaches from those squads was on hand and introduced to the cheers of the Jadwin Gym crowd. The last two players recognized were the head coaches facing off in the Ivy showdown, Princeton’s Mitch Henderson ’98 and Cornell’s Brian Earl ’99.

“We were so lucky to be influenced by such great mentors and such great coaches,” said Henderson, noting that former coaches Bill Carmody, John Thomson III, and Howard Levy were all present for the event.

“It is a really rare thing. What you want as a head coach for your team is to experience what we got to experience, which is a really special group of guys with great players and  great people. When you come here, you want to make your mark because there have been so many teams before you that have done so. It was just amazing to see so many people — 25 years is a long time ago.”

That experience has greatly impacted Henderson’s coaching approach.

“There are pieces of Brian, Sydney [Johnson], Steve Goodrich, Bill, Joe [Scott], John and Howie in what I do; almost everything I say is regurgitated from somebody else,” said Henderson, noting that Tiger coach Pete Carril, who passed away this past August, was also a huge influence on his coaching.

“Everything should be cited, and then you have put your own stamp on it. It has never been lost on me, how lucky you get to come here. I felt that today. It was very emotional after those teams walked off the floor. It really hit me hard.”

The clash against Cornell turned into an emotional contest as Princeton found itself trailing 45-35 at halftime before rallying for a hard-earned 89-82 win before a crown of 2,241.  more

HEAVY LIFTING: Princeton University wrestler Travis Stefanik, top, controls a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, senior Stefanik, ranked No. 33 at 285 pounds, earned a 5-3 sudden victory win over No. 18 Cory Day of Binghamton as the Tigers won the dual 28-10 over the Bearcats. Princeton, now 3-9 overall, has a dual at Penn on February 10 and then hosts Lehigh on February 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Chris Ayres went through slumps during his college wrestling career at Lehigh, and he’s expecting that his Princeton University team will come out of its slump soon.

The Tigers as individuals and as a team have shown their potential, it just hasn’t been as consistently displayed as they would like. Last weekend was more of the same as Princeton split its matches, losing 32-7 to No. 5 Cornell before topping Binghamton, 28-10.

“This year we’ve been in a little bit of a slump and I think it’s been reflected among some guys too,” said Princeton head coach Ayres. “For whatever reason, we are not finding the consistency we’ve had in the past.”

The Tigers have been steadily trending upwards as a program over the last 17 years with Ayres. Whether it’s been individuals making breakthroughs at the national level or the team competing better in the Ivy League or the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) tournament, Princeton has found something to build on each year. This year, the highlights may have to come at the end of the season when the tournaments are biggest. more

KILLER B: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Brendan Beatty looks for the puck in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, sophomore forward Beatty scored two goals to help PHS rally from a 4-0 deficit to edge Paul VI 6-5. The Tigers, who defeated Central Bucks South (Pa.) 7-5 last Friday to improve to 11-6-1, start play in the Mercer County Tournament this week. The Tigers are seeded sixth in the MCT and will face seventh-seeded WWP Hockey Co-op in a quarterfinal contest on February 8 at the Mercer County Skating Center. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Princeton High boys’ hockey team trailed Paul VI 4-0 late in the second period last Wednesday, Brendan Beatty and his PHS teammates weren’t fazed.

“We just had to play as one team,” said Tiger sophomore forward Beatty. “We just had to stay positive, nobody had their heads down.”

Beatty produced a positive moment for PHS, scoring a goal with 1:38 left in the second period to get the Tigers on the board.

“I just saw the shot and took the shot and TT Zhao was in front of the net screening the goalie,” said Beatty. “I just took the shot and the goalie didn’t see the puck.”

In the third period, the Tigers buried shots, putting together a furious rally which saw them outscore the Eagles 5-1 over the last 10 minutes of the contest.

“Gabe’s goal to make it 4-2, we got a little energy on the bench,” said Beatty referring to a tally by senior Gabe Silverstein which started the outburst. “We stated making some hits and we started making some plays. That is how we bounced back. We were passing the puck. We did not move the puck in the first and second period.” more

RILED UP: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Riley Devlin looks to pass the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, junior guard Devlin scored 14 points to help PHS defeat Spotswood 54-26 and improve to 10-9. The Tigers host Medford Tech on February 8 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming off a tough 36-28 defeat to Trenton Central last Friday, the Princeton High girls’ basketball team was determined to get back on the winning track when it hosted Spotswood a day later.

“We lost yesterday, it was tight,” said PHS junior guard Riley Devlin. “We really knew that this game was important.”

The Tigers had additional motivation when they hit the court as the program was holding its annual Senior Day celebration with the star guard Rachel Luo as the sole honoree for the varsity.

“We were so excited, all we wanted to do was to make sure that it was memorable for Rachel,” added Devlin. “We knew we had to play really tough for Rachel.”

The Tigers played tough from the opening tip-off, jumping out to a 28-12 halftime lead.

“We worked really hard,” said Devlin. “I think we played as a team and we shared the ball.” more