October 4, 2023

STANDING TALL: Princeton High boys’ soccer coaches, from left, Ryan Walsh, Patrick Remboski, and Seb Ratzan show their support for Evan Gershkovich last week, wearing “#IStandWithEvan” T-shirts as PHS got ready to host Notre Dame. Gershkovich, a mainstay of the Tiger squad that won the 2009 Group 3 state championship, is a Wall Street Journal reporter who was arrested in Russia on March 30 on charges of espionage and is currently being held in the Lefortovo prison in Moscow. The PHS program and the Wall Street Journal organized the September 26 rally in support of Gershkovich, who has denied the allegations. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Wit. Intelligence. Persistence. Those are some of the qualities that stood out about Evan Gershkovich when he played for the Princeton High boys’ soccer program from 2006-2009.

“When he was here it didn’t take long to figure out how special he was,” said former PHS boys’ soccer head coach Wayne Sutcliffe in describing star midfielder Gershkovich, a mainstay of the Tiger squad that won the 2009 Group 3 state championship.  more

BEING SEEN: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer player Yaseen Mousa, right, dribbles the ball in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior star Mousa scored two goals as PDS tied Moorestown Friends 2-2. The Panthers, who fell 2-0 to Steinert last Monday to move to 0-8-1, host Trenton on October 6, play at Hopewell Valley on October 7, and host WW/P-South on October 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Despite getting off to a frustrating start this fall that saw it lose its first seven games and score only one goal in the process, the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team brought plenty of energy to the pitch as it hosted Moorestown Friends last Wednesday.

“It has been tough so we tried hyping up the boys to come out and get a win,” said PDS senior star Yaseen Mousa. more

September 27, 2023

RUNNING INTO TROUBLE: Princeton University running back John Volker races upfield in a 2021 game. Last Saturday against visiting Bryant, junior star Volker rushed for a career-high 149 yards, his first 100-yard game for the Tigers, and one touchdown, but it wasn’t enough as Princeton squandered a late lead in falling 16-13 to the Bulldogs in overtime. The Tigers, now 1-1, host Columbia (1-1) in their Ivy League opener on September 29 under the lights. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With John Volker rumbling through the rain and wind last Saturday afternoon, the Princeton University football team built a 13-3 lead early in the fourth quarter against Bryant in a soggy Princeton Stadium.

Junior running back Volker ran for a 49-yard touchdown in the second quarter and went over 100 yards rushing for the first time in his career as Princeton appeared on the verge of going 2-0.

“I saw Jalen Travis get a really good block there, I was just following him,” said Volker, reflecting on his TD jaunt late in the second quarter as the Tigers went ahead 6-0. “I made a good read off of his block and then just sprinted to the end zone.” more

NO ORDINARY JOE: Joe Dubuque, left, and Chris Ayres display their intensity during a Princeton University wrestling match. Dubuque, a longtime Princeton assistant coach, will be taking the helm of the program from previous head coach Ayres, who departed for Stanford earlier this month to guide the Cardinal wrestling team. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

The success of the Princeton University wrestling team has opened up opportunities for Joe Dubuque to head a Division I program.

The New Jersey native who chose to remain for 10 seasons as an assistant coach at Princeton, was named the new Tiger head coach on September 19 to replace previous coach Chris Ayres who departed for Stanford on September 11 after 17 years at the helm of the program.

“This is definitely my dream job to be able to work at the No. 1 academic institution in the country, while also doing it in my home state is something that’s very special to me,” said Dubuque, 41. “I think me being named head coach just validates everything I’ve been doing for the past 16 years of my career, which has led me to this point. Like anything, there were ups and downs in my career, but everything has put me into a position where I can continue to get better and then had the opportunity to be mentored by Chris. It validates everything that I’ve been doing and all the work and sacrifice that I’ve been making to get me to this point.” more

RISING STAR: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Pascale Carusone goes up for a header in recent action. Senior forward Carusone, who just joined the program this year, has emerged as a go-to finisher for PHS, tallying a team-high seven goals as the Tigers have gotten off to a 7-0 start. PHS plays at Nottingham on September 28 and at WW/P-South on September 30 before hosting Robbinsville on October 3. (Photo by Nicholas Niforatos)

By Bill Alden

During his first three years at Princeton High, Pasquale Carusone played a lot of soccer.

But Carusone honed his skills for MLS Next of the Players Development Academy (PDA) and didn’t compete at all for PHS.

This fall, Carusone, who has committed to play at the college level for the University of Rochester, decided it was finally time to play for the Tigers.

“It is my senior year, I definitely have to play for my high school,” said Carusone. “A lot of kids were giving me stuff for it and saying we could go super far with you this year.” more

DOUBLE PLAY: Princeton High girls’ tennis first doubles player Ashna Bushan makes a volley last week at the Mercer County Tournament as partner Maya-Alexandra Todorov looks on. The pair won the MCT first doubles title, topping Sienna Kulynych and Grace Weekes of the Lawrenceville School 6-0, 6-1 in the final last Wednesday at the Mercer County Park Tennis Facility. Their triumph helped PHS take fourth in the team standings at the event. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When it was all over last Wednesday afternoon, Maya-Alexandra Todorov and Ashna Bushan hugged each other on court 8 at the Mercer County Park Tennis Facility.

The pair were celebrating having just won the first doubles final at the Mercer County Tournament. Living up to their ranking, the top-seeded team of Todorov and Bushan rolled through the competition, winning each match in straight sets.

In the final, they topped Sienna Kulynych and Grace Weekes of the Lawrenceville School 6-0, 6-1, dominating the match with their combination of superb net play and solid groundstrokes. more

OH YES: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Tochi Owunna marks an opponent in a game earlier this season. Senior star defender Owunnahas helped shore up the back line as PDS has gotten off to a 5-0-1 start. The Panthers host the Hun School on September 28 and Notre Dame on October 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Tochi Owunna and her teammates on the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team found themselves on their heels in the early going when they hosted Allentown last Friday afternoon in a battle of unbeatens.

“We were definitely a little discombobulated in our warmup,” said senior defender Owunna. “In the first half, we were a little intimidated by them.”

But with Owunna and Ella McLaren working together to stymie Allentown star Bella Conti, the teams were locked in a scoreless tie at halftime. more

By Bill Alden

Finishing 11th of 20 schools in the Mercer County Tournament last week, the Princeton Day School girls’ tennis squad fell well short of contending for a team title.

But PDS head coach Michael Augsberger doesn’t view the team finish as telling the whole story of his team’s performance at the event.

“You can look at the standings board and feel that it is a disappointment,” said Augsberger. “But you have to understand the maturity comes from understanding that it is not as simple as what the results say because so much goes into who do you play, when do you play them. You can go into the tournament feeling we are a strong team, everyone is performing really well, and you can let it be a heartbreaking experience. Or you can say there are all of these reasons why the scoreline looked this way, and we are actually really on a good track. It is matter of maintaining that toughness.”

The team’s second doubles team of freshman Zarna Kalra and junior Kavita Amin showed toughness as they advanced the farthest for the Panthers, making the quarterfinals in their flight. more

PIPING UP: Hun School field hockey player Piper Morey controls the ball in recent action. Last Wednesday, freshman forward Morey tallied two goals to help Hun defeat Pennington 3-1. The Raiders, now 3-2, play at Stuart County Day School on September 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Joining the Hun School field hockey program this fall as a freshmen, Piper Morey has faced some major adjustments in making the transition to the high school game.

“Being one of the youngest on the team is the biggest challenge,” said Morey.

“I haven’t played with this level of skill before, going from middle school field hockey to high school is a big challenge.” more

September 20, 2023

TOUGHING IT OUT: Princeton University running back John Volker battles for some extra yardage in a 2022 game. Last Saturday, senior Volker rushed for a game-high 91 yards and a touchdown as Princeton defeated the University of San Diego 23-12 in its season opener. The Tigers are hosting Bryant (1-2) on September 23 in their home opener. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

By some metrics, it would appear that the Princeton University football team endured a long afternoon when it opened its 2023 season by playing at the University of San Diego last Saturday afternoon.

“If I check with the analytics people, we lost the turnover battle 2-0, we lost the penalty battle, I think we had 40 more yards in penalties, and we didn’t finish drives,” said Princeton head coach Bob Surace. “All of those are things the analytics people say you have got to focus on. They would have said we lost the game by 20 points.”

But playing with intensity and executing when it counted, Princeton was able to grind out a 23-12 win over the Toreros before  a crowd of 1,191 at Torero Stadium.

“I was just saying to Mike Willis (Tiger offensive coordinator), ‘If you watch the film, most of the plays were really good,’” said Surace. “That is very encouraging. You watch it play to play and there are so many good things that you would have thought you have won by 20 points.”

Heading to California last week, the Tigers were chomping at the bit to get started after going through an arduous fall camp. more

MAC ATTACK: Princeton University women’s soccer player Heather MacNab gets ready to toss the ball into play in recent action. Last Sunday, junior forward MacNab tallied a goal and an assist to help Princeton defeat Quinnipiac 4-2. The Tigers, now 5-1-1, host Cornell on September 23 in their Ivy League opener before playing at Lafayette on September 26. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Justin Feil

Heather MacNab did not want to rest on the high of the biggest win of the season for the Princeton University women’s soccer team.

With Princeton coming off a 3-2 win over No. 10 Georgetown last Thursday evening, junior forward MacNab scored her first goal of the season and added an assist to help the Tigers post a 4-2 win over Quinnipiac last Sunday.

McNab was one of four different goal scorers for Princeton, who improved to 5-1-1 heading into the Ivy League portion of the schedule which starts when Princeton hosts Cornell on September 23.

“We have a lot of momentum going forward,” said MacNab. “We do have a big chip on our shoulder. I think we had a lot to give last season that we didn’t fully give so I think we have a lot to prove to ourselves just in terms of being able to compete in such a competitive league. We know we’re really good and able to compete with the best in the nation so it’s very important that we remain locked in and ready to fight and compete and dominate the Ivy League.” more

FLASH POINT: Princeton High quarterback Travis Petrone fires a pass last Saturday as PHS hosted Florence High. Junior Petrone passed for 143 yards and two touchdowns and had a 29-yard TD run in a losing cause as PHS fell 28-23 to the Flashes. The Tigers, now 2-2, play at Bishop Eustace on September 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton High football team trying to rally against undefeated Florence in the fourth quarter last Saturday, Travis Petrone threw an interception and it looked like the Tigers were going to go away quietly as they trailed 28-16.

Instead, forcing a punt, PHS got the ball with 2:39 left in regulation and went on a march.

“It was just play fast, play hard,” said junior quarterback Petrone. “Coach (Charlie Gallagher) kept saying, ‘get out of the huddle, run to the ball, play fast, play fast, play fast,’ and that is what we did.”

Petrone capped the 56-yard drive with a dazzling jaunt down the sideline for a TD as the Tigers narrowed the gap to 28-23 with 1:39 remaining in regulation.

“I didn’t know I had that in me,” said Petrone, reflecting on his 29-yard touchdown run. “I see a big opening — I was thinking about getting out of bounds, but then I saw one of our wide receivers, Ben Walden, make a huge block. I thought OK, I have got to try to get in. I made a move on one or two guys and got into the end zone.” more

HOWE ABOUT THAT: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Holly Howes is all smiles after scoring the lone goal for PHS in a 1-0 win over Hightstown last Thursday. The Tigers, who lost 2-1 to Haddonfield last Saturday to move to 3-2, host Lawrence High on September 21 before playing at Princeton Day School on September 23 and at Notre Dame on September 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Holly Howes made a number of runs to goal early on for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team as it hosted Hightstown last Thursday, but to no avail as the foes were knotted in a scoreless stalemate.

Despite misfiring wide and having one point blank shot saved by the Rams goalie, Howes was undeterred.

“You could definitely see that the momentum was in our direction,” said senior forward and co-captain Howes. “When you have a miss that you probably think you should have scored. The best thing you can do is forget about it and move on to the next play.”

With 23:39 left in the first half, Howes didn’t miss as she slotted the ball into the back of the net to give PHS a 1-0 lead. more

LILY OF THE FIELD: Princeton Day School field hockey player Lily Ryan controls the ball in a game earlier season. Last Friday, senior star Ryan scored two goals to help PDS defeat Stuart County Day School 5-0. The Panthers, who topped Robbinsville 5-2 last Monday to improve to 3-0-1, play at Hamilton West on September 20 before hosting Allentown on September 22 and Steinert on September 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Lily Ryan is determined to go out with a bang this fall in her final season with the Princeton Day School field hockey team.

“It is a sense of urgency,” said senior forward/midfielder Ryan. “It is senior year and you want to make it the best that you can. Everyone on the team is friends, which makes the energy for every game much better.”

Displaying that urgency last Friday against visiting Stuart Country Day, Ryan tallied two goals to help the Panthers pull away to a 5-0 victory.

After jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the first minute of the contest on a goal by Tessa Caputo, PDS did hit a lull as it controlled possession but didn’t push across another goal for more than 28 minutes. more

RISING SPEKTOR: Hun School girls’ soccer player Olivia Spektor goes after the ball in a 2021 game. Senior Spektor figures to be a key offensive threat for Hun this fall. The Raiders, who are being guided by new head coach Krista Sahrbeck, fell 6-1 to Seneca last Thursday to move to 0-3. Hun plays at Westfield High on September 21 before hosting Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on September 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Krista Sahrbeck has a lot on her plate as the dean of students at the Hun School.

Despite a hectic schedule packed with meetings, phone calls, and administrative work, Sahrbeck has carved out several hours a day to follow her sporting passion, taking the helm as the head coach of the Hun girls’ soccer team.

For Sahrbeck, balancing all of her responsibilities has proven to be a challenge. more

BE STRONG: Hun School field hockey player Phoebe Thielmann, right, dribbles the ball in recent action. Last Monday, junior midfielder Thielmann scored two goals to help Hun defeat the Academy of New Church 5-0. The Raiders, now 2-1, will host Pennington on September 20 and then compete in the 2023 Max Field Hockey National High School Invitational in Conshohocken, Pa., from September 22-23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Tracey Arndt wants her Hun School field hockey team to adopt a run-and-gun approach to the game this fall.

“I keep talking to them, saying that field hockey has to have a mindset more like basketball than any other sport, meaning that if the other team scores that doesn’t matter,” said Arndt, who guided the Raiders to a 9-8 record in 2022. “I have my perfectionists. It is who scores more at the end and just keep that idea. It is working through playing the whole 60 minutes and not worrying about the score until the whistle blows.”

Arndt believes that she will get some scoring punch from her forward line which features senior Alexa Cavalli, sophomore Addi McNally, and freshman Piper Morey. more

FULL SPEED AHEAD: A player races to the end zone in action last fall in the Princeton Junior Football League (PJFL). The popular flag football league, which is in its 11th year, will be kicking off its 2023 campaign this Sunday at the Princeton High turf field. (Photo provided courtesy of PJFL)

By Bill Alden

For the Navy Seals, the term “Full Benefit” stands for a philosophy that implores one to get the most out of any situation, good or bad.

That Full Benefit mindset is being employed by the Princeton Junior Football League (PJFL) as it kicks off its 2023 campaign this Sunday at the Princeton High turf field.

“We really wanted that theme this year because we are getting the full benefit with more kids and more divisions,” said PJFL president Matt Bellace, noting that the Princeton police will be co-sponsoring opening day with plans to provide refreshments and stage an exhibition game.

“You know what, whether you are having a great game or the worst game of your life, this is how you get full benefit. It became a motivational theme. We made T-shirts that we gave out to the kids with PJFL on the front and Full Benefit on the back.” more

September 13, 2023

CALIFORNIA DREAMING: Princeton University quarterback Blake Stenstrom fires a pass in action last fall. Senior star Stenstrom, a second-team All-Ivy League selection in 2022 after passing for 2,742 yards and 16 touchdowns, will be looking to get his final campaign off to a good start when Princeton plays at the University of San Diego on September 16 in its season opener. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After roaring out to an 8-0 start last fall, the Princeton University football team faltered down the stretch, losing nail biters to Yale and Penn in its final two games to see its Ivy League title hopes dashed.

Looking ahead to the 2023 campaign which starts when the Tigers play at the University of San Diego on September 16, Princeton head coach Bob Surace doesn’t see any hangover from that staggering finish. more

FINISHING TOUCH: Princeton University field hockey player Liz Agatucci controls the ball in a game last year. Last Sunday, senior midfielder Agatucci scored the lone goal for No. 15 Princeton as it fell 2-1 to No. 12 Rutgers in overtime. The Tigers, now 1-3, play at Maryland on September 14 before hosting Connecticut on September 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Liz Agatucci has done a bit of everything for the Princeton University field hockey program.

After her class lost its freshman year to the COVID-19 pandemic, Agatucci began her career on defense for the Tigers. Last year, she moved to forward, and this year she has established herself in the midfield while also taking on a new leadership role as a senior starter.

“We joke about it all the time,” said Agatucci. “I’ve been everywhere.”

Her versatility and growth are helping the rebuilt Tigers sort out their strengths. No. 15 Princeton fell to 1-3 on the young season with a 2-1 loss to No. 12 Rutgers in double overtime Sunday in the Tigers’ home opener. It was Agatucci who provided the lone goal for Princeton to force overtime following a long delay to tend to injured goalie and reigning Defensive Player of the Week Robyn Thompson who was hurt in a collision with a Rutgers player. Freshman star Ottilie Sykes drove the penalty corner toward the goal and Agatucci dove to get her stick on it and redirect the ball to tie the game. more

GOAL-ORIENTED: Princeton High field hockey player Erin Liggio dribbles the ball in a game last season. Liggio sparked the PHS forward line in 2022 as she scored a team-high 30 goals. The Tigers will be hosting Ewing in September 13 and WW/P-South on September 18 to get their 2023 campaign underway. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton High field hockey team lacking strength in numbers, Heather Serverson will need a strong effort across the board from her squad.

“I have a lot of spots to fill, we graduated a big group and we have a small junior class,” said PHS head coach Serverson, who guided the Tigers to a 14-3 record in 2022 as they advanced to the Mercer County Tournament semis and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Central Jersey Group 4 sectional quarterfinals. “We are kind of low on numbers right now. We really need a lot of bang for our buck from every player on the field.”

Senior Erin Liggio, a Dickinson College commit, should give the Tigers plenty of bang for the buck on the forward line. more

POWER HITTER: Princeton High girls’ tennis player Lada Labas warms up before a match last fall. Junior Labas is back at second singles for PHS this season. The Tigers, who improved to 2-0 with a 5-0 win over Hightstown last Monday, play at Hamilton West on September 13 and at WW/P-North on September 15 before starting play in the Mercer County Tournament on September 18 at Mercer County Park Tennis Complex. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Working five new players into its lineup last fall, the Princeton High girls’ tennis team appeared to be heading into a transition season.

Exceeding expectations, PHS caught fire down the stretch, winning the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Central Jersey Group 3 sectional title and advancing to the Group 3 state championship match on the way to a 15-3 season.

Heading into the 2023 campaign, the Tigers are again dealing with some roster turnover as it has lost a singles star and two doubles standouts from last fall but PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert is confident that the program will maintain its winning tradition.  more

MIDDLE OF THE ACTION: Princeton Day School field hockey player Kelly Christie, middle, goes after the ball last Saturday against Hopewell Valley in its season opener. PDS tied HoVal 0-0 in a game that ended in the third quarter due to the thunderstorms that rumbled through the area. The Panthers were scheduled to play at WW/P-North on September 12 before hosting Stuart Country Day on September 15 and Robbinsville High on September 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although the Princeton Day School field hockey team played to a 0-0 stalemate against Hopewell Valley last Saturday in a season opener that ended in the third quarter due to the thunderstorms that rumbled through the area, Heather Farlow liked what she saw from her club.

“We controlled possession most of the game, we were in our offensive end quite a bit,” said PDS head coach Farlow. “When it stopped we were in our offensive 25 and we had the ball. We had momentum.”

Bringing momentum from a late surge that saw the Panthers advance to the final in both the Mercer County Tournament and Prep B state tourney last fall, PDS is upbeat heading into 2023. more

By Bill Alden

Losing a trio of key seniors from last year’s squad to graduation, the Princeton Day School girls’ tennis team will be featuring some new faces in new places.

In addition to a revamped lineup, PDS will also be facing a new slate of foes as it’s playing a full Colonial Valley Conference schedule for the first time.

“As an independent school, the regular season matches you always want to win but they are more about maneuvering to get ready and seeded for tournaments,” said PDS head coach Michael Augsberger, whose program said goodbye to single stars Neha Khandkar and Amy Zhou along with doubles standout Josephine Baranski from a squad that went 9-6 in 2022 and advanced to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public state final last year. more

FANCY FOOTWORK: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Adriana Salzano controls the ball in game last season. Senior star Salzano, a Monmouth University commit, figures to be an offensive catalyst for the Panthers this fall. PDS, which defeated Lawrenceville 3-0 last Friday in its season opener as Ella McLaren, Makena Graham, and Salzano each scored goals, plays at Nottingham on September 13, hosts WW/P-North on September 14, and plays at Hightstown on September 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Heading into his third season at the helm of the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team, Chris Pettit believes the program is poised for a major breakthrough.

“We did OK the first year, last year we were much more successful and the aim this year is to be even more successful than last year,” said Pettit. “I have high hopes for this season, we have a lot of returning players. We have grown the program a little bit to go from 17 in my first year to 27 now. It is getting a little bit of a consistency there which I hope will improve because the way we play, the possession style, is not your typical high school style. It takes a little time to get some of those concepts across.”

The Panthers will need that strength in numbers as they are playing a full Colonial Valley Conference schedule for the first time. more

GOING PLACES: Hun School boys’ soccer goalie Diego Pena clears the ball in a game last season. Junior Pena emerged as a star last fall for Hun. The Raiders were slated to start their 2023 season by playing at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on September 12, host Delran High on September 15, and then face the Pingry School on September 17 in the Mainline Jamboree in Downingtown, Pa. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over the last two years, the Hun School boys’ soccer has been on an upward trajectory, going 10-7 in 2021 and improving to 12-4-2 last fall.

Welcoming back a battle-tested crew of seniors, Hun head coach Pat Quirk believes his squad can continue that trend.

“The senior class has been part of the program for the last two, three years when we did really well in the MAPL league (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) and have been able to have some big wins off some good programs,” said Quirk, whose team tied for the MAPL title last fall with a 4-0-1 league record. “It has definitely given them a lot of confidence.”

Quirk has confidence that his forward unit of junior Luciano Verduci, senior Zachary Stark, junior Toba Olaleye, sophomore Donovan Hayes, sophomore Christian Wolfe, and sophomore Noah Silvestri can produce around the goal. more