October 5, 2022

GRAND OPENING: Princeton University women’s soccer player Pietra Tordin races to goal last Sunday as Princeton hosted Dartmouth in the first game played at the new Roberts Stadium. Freshman forward Tordin made history, scoring the first-ever goal in the stadium with a first half tally. Tordin added an assist in the second half as Princeton prevailed 2-0. The Tigers, now 7-4 overall and 1-1 Ivy League, host Brown on October 8. (Photo by Shelley Szwast, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

A windswept downpour pounded the pitch last Sunday as the Princeton University women’s soccer team hosted Dartmouth in the first-ever game played in the new Roberts Stadium.

The inclement weather, though, didn’t dampen the spirits of the Princeton players as they looked to break in their new home.

“It was our first game here, so we were all really hyped for it,” said Tiger freshman forward Pietra Tordin. “We just wanted to give it all we have got and that is what we did.”

Tordin was hyped to make history, tallying the first-ever goal in the new venue, finding the back of the net 6:14 into the contest as the Tigers jumped out to a 1-0 lead.

“I saw an opportunity to break through, take the defender and finish it,” said the drenched yet smiling Tordin, a native of Doral, Fla. “It means so much. Coming in as a freshman, it is just insane.”

Later in the game, Tordin seized opportunity again, setting up a goal by Heather MacNab with 2:12 left in regulation for the final tally of the day as Princeton won 2-0, improving to 7-4 overall and 1-1 Ivy League.

“I saw the turn and I saw Lily [Bryant] running through and slipped it in and it went through to Heather [MacNab],” said Tordin.

With the Tigers having lost 1-0 to Yale on September 24 in its Ivy opener, getting the win over the Big Green was critical. more

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

IN FORM: Princeton High field hockey player Erin Liggio controls the ball in a game earlier this fall. Last Friday, junior standout Liggio tallied two goals and an assist as PHS defeated Hightstown 8-1. The Tigers, who defeated Hopewell Valley 2-0 last Monday to improve to 10-0, plays at Nottingham on October 7 and at Notre Dame on October 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Erin Liggio prides herself on bringing versatility to the Princeton High field hockey team.

“Last year I was mainly at mid but this year, I stepped up and am playing at forward,” said junior standout Liggio. “I like forward but I also love mid; I am interchangeable.”

Liggio stepped up last Thursday, tallying two goals and an assist as PHS defeated Hamilton West 8-0.

Coming into the contest, Liggio and her teammates were focused on getting into an offensive flow.

“Going into game it was a later start, so we were really preparing on the upper field before the game,” said Liggio. “We were focused on trying to get connected passes and really moving the ball well from the defense to the mid and to the forward and working on transfers through the backfield and up in the other side to the midfield.”

Liggio helped get things moving in the contest, scoring a goal with 5:31 left in the first quarter to put PHS up 2-0.

“I was standing in the right spot at the right time,” said Liggio, recalling the tally. “I was just standing at stroke, stick down facing towards the ball and tipped it in.”

In the waning moments of the second quarter, Liggio picked up an assist as she set up a goal by Hannah Christopher which gave the Tigers a 4-0 lead at halftime.

“I ran the baseline and then I looked up and saw Hannah for the goal and sent the ball off to her to tip into the goal,” said Liggio. 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

STANDING TALL: Princeton University quarterback Blake Stenstrom gets ready to fire a pass last Saturday against visiting Lehigh. Senior Stenstrom hit 25-of-34 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown as Princeton defeated Lehigh 29-17 in its home opener. The Tigers, now 2-0, open Ivy League action by playing at Columbia (2-0) on October 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last fall, Blake Stenstrom and Liam Johnson were part of the supporting cast as the Princeton University football team rolled to a share of the Ivy League title.

This season, senior quarterback Stenstrom and junior linebacker Johnson have earned leading roles for the Tigers and are emerging as stars.

Last Saturday as Princeton defeated visiting Lehigh 29-17 in its home opener to improve to 2-0, Stenstrom hit on 25-of-34 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown while Johnson made a team-high 10 tackles.

After a bit of a shaky start against the Mountain Hawks, Stenstrom got into a groove.

“There were some challenges that we faced and mistakes we made in the first half,” said Stenstrom who was the backup quarterback in 2021, appearing in five games, completing five passes for 44 yards along with 68 yards rushing and two touchdowns. “Some things didn’t go our way. In the end, we figured it out a little bit and came back with a stronger second half.”

Utilizing Princeton’s crew of skill players, Stenstrom spread the ball around. Senior receiver Andrei Iosivas made seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown while senior Dylan Classi had seven receptions for 110 yards, junior JoJo Hawkins made five catches for 34 yards, and senior tight end Carson Bobo had four receptions for 22 yards.

“We are blessed to have a lot of talent all over the field on this team,” said Stenstrom. “Whether it is tight ends, receivers or running backs, I don’t feel any doubt when I throw the ball to these guys. It is fantastic.” more

BRINGING IT HOME: Princeton University women’s soccer Kamryn Loustau, right, goes after the ball in recent action. Last Saturday, Loustau and the Tigers had a tough night in Connecticut as they fell 1-0 at Yale in the Ivy League opener for both teams. Princeton, now 5-4 overall and 0-1 Ivy, will be resuming league play on October 1 when it hosts Dartmouth in the first game to be held at the new Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

If Extreme Makeover: Stadium Edition existed, the Princeton University women’s soccer team would be the perfect subject.

The Tigers have been intentionally avoiding even looking toward Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium as Princeton completes a rebuild of the team’s new home that it will share with the men’s team.

“We’ll get on the bus and we’ll drive by it and everyone will look the opposite direction,” said Princeton head coach Sean Driscoll. “No one has actually really seen what it looks like to my knowledge and they’ve all been steadfast with that. I think come Wednesday or Thursday when we unveil it for our first session they’re going to be buzzing and that’s what I want. There are so few surprises in life, I want this to be something really memorable for the team.”

The Tigers will get the big reveal in their first practice at the new stadium this week. They are hoping they can jumpstart the second half of their season when they host Dartmouth on October 1 at 1 p.m. in their first game at the new venue.

“Not getting the result we wanted, I do think it’s perfect timing to find a new home, to establish a new identity potentially and take very seriously the opportunity to start brand new because the stadium has no results in it,” said Driscoll. “It has no wins, has no losses, has no draws, has nothing. That’s for us to create.”

Princeton dropped its Ivy League opener at Yale, 1-0, last Saturday to fall to 5-4 overall. The Tigers have lost four of their last six games going into Tuesday’s scheduled non-conference game at Bucknell as they face a short turnaround.  more

CAT FIGHT: Princeton University field hockey player Beth Yeager, left, battles for the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, sophomore star Yeager picked up an assist as the seventh-ranked Tigers fell 3-2 in overtime to Lafayette. The loss to the Leopards moved Princeton to 5-4 overall. The Tigers, who had started the weekend by edging Penn 2-1 on Friday in their Ivy League opener, play at Yale on September 30 and at Connecticut on October 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After it was over, the Lafayette College field hockey players bounded across Bedford Field to soak in the cheers of their supporters.

Meanwhile, the seventh-ranked Princeton University squad trudged back to their bench, heads down as they processed falling 3-2 in overtime to a Lafayette team that brought a 2-7 record into the contest.

While the weekend had started on a high note for the Tigers as they had edged Penn 2-1 on Friday in their Ivy League opener, Princeton head coach Carla Tagliente sensed trouble on the horizon.

“We had some carry over from Friday, we didn’t come out and play our best,” said Tagliente, whose club fell to 5-4 overall with the setback to the Leopards. “We weren’t connecting, there was little bit of low energy and not executing. I think that was a byproduct of Friday. We Band-Aided it up with a win. I think this was bound to happen at some point here.”

In the loss to Lafayette, the Tigers generated enough opportunities to win, outshooting the Leopards 21-7 in regulation. Princeton took a 1-0 lead late in the first quarter on a goal by Zoe Shepard and then forged ahead 2-1 with 2:47 left in regulation on a penalty stroke by Sam Davidson. Lafayette, though, responded, with a goal 15 seconds later to force overtime and got the game-winner 4:42 into the extra session.

“There was a flukey play, they threw an overhead,” said Tagliente, referring to Lafayette’s second tally. “Overtime is a crapshoot with seven versus seven. You can have a lucky break, or one person’s individual skill can make the difference, it is what it is. You don’t want to put it to that point where you are rolling the dice.” more

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.”

 more

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

OPEN THROTTLE: Princeton University football player John Volker races upfield in a 2021 game. Last Saturday, sophomore running back Volker rushed for 32 yards and a touchdown as Princeton defeated Stetson 39-14 in its season opener. Princeton is hosting Lehigh (1-2) on September 24 in its home opener. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It is a tried-and-true principle of football that a team makes its biggest improvement from game one to game two.

As the Princeton University football team opened its 2022 season at Stetson last Saturday in DeLand, Fla., it sped up the process, displaying improvement within the contest.

After a sloppy start which saw the Tigers fall behind 14-7 on a rain-soaked field at Spec Martin Municipal Stadium, the Tigers tightened up on defense and the offense got rolling as they pulled away to a 39-14 win.

Princeton head coach Bob Surace acknowledged that his squad struggled at the outset with the damp conditions.

“It was pouring, there were so many mishandled balls on both sides where they made an error,” said Surace.

“It is Florida, you have to be prepared. They had towels for the balls and you rotate four balls in the first half. By the second half, you are catching medicine balls.”

The emotions of opening day led to some jumpy play by the Tigers with some false starts.  more

BEN THERE, DONE THAT: Princeton University men’s soccer player Ben Bograd controls the ball in recent action. Senior Bograd has helped anchor the backline for the Tigers this fall as they have gotten off to a 1-2-1 start. Princeton, which fell 3-1 at Fairfield last Saturday, hosts Rider on September 23 before playing at St. John’s on September 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

All the analytics said that the Princeton University men’s soccer team had the upper hand on Fairfield last Saturday evening.

The scoreboard said otherwise. The Tigers suffered a 3-1 loss at Fairfield to follow up an incredible team effort that led to a 2-1 win at Penn State the week earlier.

“I think we’ve been pretty inconsistent through the first four games,” said Princeton head coach Jim Barlow after falling to 1-2-1 heading into Tuesday’s scheduled game against Loyola.

“There are certain parts of our game that haven’t progressed enough, especially defending the restarts.”

The first two goals by Fairfield came off restarts and their third came on a counterattack after a Princeton corner kick, one of numerous scoring chances that the Tigers created. Princeton has gotten better through the early season at creating chances, and is hoping to finish more of them in the upcoming stretch. Princeton fired seven more shots than did Fairfield and held a 9-1 edge in corner kicks.

“When you look at the stats of the Fairfield game, it was arguably our best game in terms of time of possession in their end and chances created,” said Barlow.

“When you look at the data analytics from that game, the expected goals were two goals more than Fairfield, but we still ended up losing. From that standpoint, it’s been a little bit frustrating.”

Princeton opened the season with a 1-1 tie against Rutgers, then fell to Vermont, 2-0, despite outshooting the Catamounts, 16-8.

“In both of our losses, we outshot our opponent pretty significantly and conceded goals that we felt like you just can’t concede if you expect to win a college soccer game,” said Barlow.  more

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

September 14, 2022

POINTING AHEAD: Princeton University football head coach Bob Surace directs things in a game last fall. Surace guided Princeton to 9-1 overall record and 6-1 Ivy League last fall to tie Dartmouth for the league title and earn its fourth Ivy crown in the last eight seasons. The Tigers kick off their 2022 campaign by playing at Stetson (2-0) on September 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

The analytics from practice tells Bob Surace that his Princeton University football team is getting up to speed as it prepares for the 2022 campaign.

“We are doing a lot of measurements, we wear these straps that show our speed and distances,” said Princeton head coach Surace, whose team kicks off the season by heading south to play at Stetson (2-0) on September 17. “When I look at numbers and data, it is whoa, we have this many guys running over 20 miles per hour. We have had some really good teams, but we have not been that athletic that way which is good.”

Along with that speed, the Tigers are bringing intensity to their preseason camp.

“Our running to the ball, our pursuit, our effort, they are doing a great job with that and that is a good sign,” said Surace, whose team went 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy League last fall to tie Dartmouth for the league title and earn its fourth Ivy crown in the last eight seasons.

“We are putting more plays in as we are doing more scheme. The fact that their effort level is there and they are doing a good job sticking together with things is really nice. I think we are coming around really well. We had a true spring ball this year, we missed it last year. Both of our skill groups are really running well. We are deep on the lines, the competitiveness on the lines has been really good.”

While there is plenty to be optimistic about, Surace acknowledges that there are areas of concern. more

HAWAIIAN PUNCH: Andrei Iosivas displays his form as a multi-event star for the Princeton University track team, left, and as a standout wide receiver for the Tiger football squad. Senior Iosivas, a 6’3, 200-pound native of Honolulu, Hawaii, is looking to get his final college campaign on the gridiron off to a good start as the Tigers play at Stetson on September 17 in their season opener. (Track photo provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics, football photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Joining the Princeton University football team in 2018, wide receiver Andrei Iosivas soaked up lessons from such veteran stars as Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson.

“When I was a freshmen, those were the guys I looked up to a lot,” said Iosivas, a 6’3, 200-pound native of Honolulu, Hawaii.

Following in their footsteps, Iosivas has emerged as a go-to receiver for the Tigers. After playing on the junior varsity on 2018 as a freshman, Iosivas moved up to the varsity the next year and made 18 receptions for 263 yards and four touchdowns. Iosivas took a gap year when the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID concerns. Last fall, Iosivas produced a breakout season, making 41 catches for 703 yards and five touchdowns, earning second-team All-Ivy League honors as the Tigers went 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy, tying Dartmouth for the league title.

With Princeton opening its 2022 season by playing at Stetson on September 17, Iosivas has assumed a leadership role similar to what he experienced with Horsted and Carlson.

“Those guys have made me want to be who I am today,” said Iosivas, who is one of seven team captains for the Tigers this fall along with Carson Bobo, Henry Byrd, Dylan Classi, Matthew Jester, Uche Ndukwe, and Michael Ruttlen Jr.

“Now that I see me where they were, it is nice to see how some of the younger guys look at me and what I do. They ask me questions and it is nice to see that I am in that role. Me and Dylan are in that role; we always try to help out the younger guys.”

A key step in his development came when Iosivas spent much of his year away from Princeton concentrating on honing the fine points of playing wide receiver. more

POPPING OFF: Princeton University field hockey player Sammy Popper celebrates after a goal last Sunday as the Tigers posted a 4-1 win over Rutgers. Senior star Popper tallied a goal and an assist in the victory as the Tigers improved to 2-2. In upcoming action, No. 17 Princeton hosts Delaware (1-5) on September 16, defending national champion and top-ranked Northwestern (6-0) on September 18, and No. 3 Maryland (6-0) on September 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Sammy Popper made a pretty good case for staying up on the Princeton University field hockey’s attack.

After playing defense for the Tigers’ 0-2 Labor Day weekend against North Carolina and Louisville to open the season, Popper scored the first goal in each of back-to-back wins for Princeton this weekend. Senior tri-captain Popper was one of five different scorers as 17th-ranked Princeton beat No. 7 and previously unbeaten Syracuse 5-1 last Friday in its home opener. Two days later, Popper started the scoring for the Tigers in a 4-1 win over last year’s NCAA tournament top seed, Rutgers, on Sunday.

“When you do have a loss, it’s bounce back and win the next one and learn what you can from it and not dwell on it,” said Popper, a 5’5 native of Blue Bell, Pa. “I think that’s what we did this weekend.”

Popper’s move forward helped at the offensive end. She was pleased to be able to contribute up top, although says she valued her time on defense through last spring and the first weekend of the year.

“It was definitely good for me,” said Popper. “Because I’m a natural attack player, it was good for me to be back there and it helped me be more disciplined defensively. I can’t complain. I think it did teach me something. But I am happy to be back playing forward.”

Popper hasn’t actually played her natural forward position much since arriving at Princeton. The Ivy League Rookie of the Year played midfield as a freshman and again last year. And when defender Gabby Andretta was hurt last spring, Popper accepted the team-first approach to sliding back to defense until Andretta returned. Andretta was cleared just before the opening weekend.

“We kept Sammy back there because we had been working on it since the spring,” said Princeton head coach Carla Tagliente. “She can be a bit of a threat out of the back with her ability to hit the long ball. We figured it’s probably best to keep her up front because she is very dangerous in front of the goal. If she gets a little bit loose and gets the ball, she’s probably one of the most dangerous players in the country in the circle. I think you saw that with the first goal last game and first goal this game. Then we have some other players we’re breaking in in some other positions. It’s still going to take more time, but definitely it’s a big improvement from last week.”

After a pair of one-goal losses to Top-5 teams UNC (4-3 on September 2) and Louisville (2-1 on September 4), Princeton was able to bounce back strong in their second weekend. The Tigers weren’t satisfied with a moral victory by giving two top teams a scare, and they took it to Syracuse which came in as the nation’s leading scoring team.

“I think for us it really showed how good of team we are, how strong of a team we are when we just do everything right and bring our energy,” said Popper. “In the Louisville game we felt a little disorganized and didn’t have our best energy and didn’t have our best game. That’s normal to have in your first weekend of the season. It showed what we can achieve and how great we are. It felt great to have that. It instilled a lot of confidence in everyone, especially the younger players who haven’t been there before. It was really awesome for that.” more