November 3, 2021

BACK ON COURT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Jaelin Llewellyn looks to make a move in a 2020 game. Senior guard and tri-captain Llewellyn will be expected to lead the Tigers as they return to action after their 2020-21 campaign was canceled due to ongoing COVID concerns. Princeton tips off its season by hosting Rutgers-Camden on November 9. The Tigers will then head to the Asheville Championship where they will face South Carolina on November 12 in the opening round. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the Princeton University men’s basketball team last took the court on March 7, 2020 to wrap up regular season play, it was excited about its prospects in the upcoming Ivy League tournament.

But Princeton never got to compete in the Ivy tourney for a shot at making the NCAA tournament as the 2019-20 season was halted at that point due to the pandemic. Months later, its 2020-21 campaign was canceled due to ongoing COVID concerns.

So as his Tigers get ready to tip off its 2021-22 season by hosting Rutgers-Camden on November 9, Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson is excited just to get back in the court.

“It is so great, it is humbling; I am so appreciative of the opportunity,” said Henderson, who guided the Tigers to a 14-13 overall record and a 9-5  Ivy mark in 2019-20.  more

CHARLES IN CHARGE: Princeton University men’s soccer player Alex Charles clears the ball in recent action. Senior defender and co-captain Charles helped shore up the back line and picked up an assist as Princeton defeated Cornell 2-1 last Saturday in a clash of the two teams atop the Ivy League standings. The Tigers, now 10-5 overall and 5-0 Ivy, play at Penn on November 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Alex Charles knew that he had to be on his toes as the Princeton University men’s soccer team hosted Cornell last Saturday in a clash of the two teams atop the Ivy League standings.

“We had it circled on the calendar for a while; we knew going into the season that Cornell was going to be a fantastic team,” said Princeton senior defender and co-captain Charles who had helped the Tigers to a 9-5 overall and 4-0 Ivy start coming into Saturday with Cornell bringing a 10-2-1 overall and 3-1 Ivy record to the contest.

“Obviously they have a great record and have gotten some great results. Our mentality going into it was to make this our championship game. If we win this one, we just have to focus on the last two.”

On Saturday, the Tigers were focused on containing a high-powered Cornell attack which had scored 36 goals in its first 13 games.

“Their No. 14 (Emeka Eneli) up top is a great player, he has a really good hold up and they look to play it into his feet and lay it off and get runs through,” said Charles. more

NO JOKING AROUND: Princeton University football player Matthew Jester enjoys the moment in a game earlier this season. Last Friday night, junior linebacker Jester had three tackles and a forced fumble to help lead the defensive effort as Princeton defeated Cornell 34-16. The Tigers, now 7-0 overall and 4-0 Ivy League, play at Dartmouth (6-1 overall, 3-1 Ivy) on November 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Playing at Cornell last Friday night, the Princeton University football team could have found itself in a trap game.

It was a short week and a long trip for Princeton and it was greeted by some rough weather as a chilly rain pelted Schoellkopf Field in Ithaca, N.Y.,

With a clash at once-beaten Dartmouth looming, the undefeated Tigers could have taken a one-win Cornell squad lightly.

Instead, 15th-ranked Princeton kept its focus, jumping out to a 21-0 lead and helping off a feisty Big Red squad for 34-16 win as it improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 Ivy. It marked the third straight season that the Tigers have started 7-0, the first time the program has done that since 1901, 1902, and 1903.

“We talked about it early in the week, we always prepare for things,” said Princeton head coach Bob Surace.

“We knew there was a chance for bad weather so with our game plans and whatever you are going to wear on the field, you prepare for it. But is the same for both teams.”

In addition to being prepared, Princeton showed character in dealing with the adverse condition and overcoming an upset-minded foe.

“Every week we have shown it, whether it is Monmouth and we throw a pick-six on a bad call by me and come back and score,” said Surace, referring to a 31-28 win over the Hawks on October 9. more

PASSING LANE: Princeton High field hockey player Hannah Christopher sends the ball upfield last Thursday as fifth-seeded PHS hosted 12th-seeded Scotch Plains-Fanwood in the first round of the North Jersey Group 4 sectional. Junior forward Christopher picked up an assist on the game-winning goal by Mia Ramirez as the Tigers prevailed 3-2. PHS, who improved to 15-1 with the victory, was slated to play at fourth-seeded Montclair in the sectional quarterfinals on November 2 with the victor advancing to the semis on November 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton High field hockey team locked in a 2-2 tie with Scotch Plains-Fanwood last Thursday afternoon in the first round of the North Jersey Group 4 sectional, Hannah Christopher saw an opening.

“I called for a cross, it is really important to communicate, it is something we did really well at the end,” said PHS junior forward Christopher.

“I got it across and to have Mia [Ramirez] finish that was really awesome. Mia had a great tip, it was perfect timing.”

The goal by Ramirez on the feed from Christopher proved to be the difference as fifth-seeded PHS prevailed 3-2 over the 12th-seeded Raiders, improving to 15-1 and advancing to the sectional quarters where they are slated to play at fourth-seeded Montclair on November 2.

“I think we really picked it up at the end,” said Christopher. “We really came together at the end.”

In the early stages of the contest, PHS struggled to get through the Scotch Plains back line.

“Their defense was definitely a challenge, they had a talented defensive line and their goalie (Emilia Saccento) was fantastic,” said Christopher.

“It was really impressive that she was able to stop some of Liv’s (Olivia Weir) balls.” more

SETTING UP: Princeton High girls’ volleyball player Lois Matsukawa hits the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, freshman Matsukawa starred as fifth-seeded PHS defeated 12th-seeded Montgomery 2-0 (27-25, 25-18) in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional. Matsukawa contributed four digs, 14 assists, and 11 service points in the win. The Tigers, now 15-6, play at fourth-seeded Brick Memorial in the sectional quarterfinals on November 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For the Princeton High girls’ volleyball team, hosting Montgomery last Friday in the first round of the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional was a chance for atonement.

In mid-October, PHS suffered a disappointing defeat to their neighbors from Somerset County, falling 2-0 (25-19, 25-19).

“The day before at practice, we were talking that this was a redemption match,” said Tiger head coach Patty Manhart.

“We were missing a starter the first time we played them. I made some rotation changes to fill in for that spot that didn’t work out.”

In the match on Friday, things weren’t working out for fifth-seeded PHS in the early stages as it faced an eight-point deficit midway through the first set against the 12th-seeded Cougars. The Tigers, though, got rolling and won the set 27-25 and then took the second set 25-18 to win the match. PHS improved to 15-6 with the win, and play at fourth-seeded Brick Memorial in the sectional quarterfinals on November 3.

“The swing that let us down was serve receive, just not being able to get out of one rotation against a tough server from Montgomery,” said Manhart.

“We were able to flip the tide and go on a service run on our own. Lois Mastukawa, our freshman setter, did a great job and that whole momentum going into the second game was helpful for us. You could tell Montgomery was taken out of it after they lost such a big lead. We were able to capitalize on that in set two.” more

UPLIFTING EXPERIENCE: Hun School football players David Siegel, right, and Jake Lezzer celebrate after a touchdown last Saturday at Peddie. Hun rolled to a 56-21 win over the Falcons to improve to 7-0. The Raiders will look to remain undefeated when they host St. Frances Academy (Md.) on November 6 as the program celebrates its Senior Day. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

David Siegel warmed up to his new Hun School football team quickly.

The postgraduate came down twice for workouts over the summer from his New Canaan, Conn., home. “Instantly I felt part of a family,” said Siegel. “That’s the easiest way to put it. I came down and I had fun with the guys.”

On one particularly memorable day, Hun head coach Todd Smith moved his team inside the gym to escape a downpour. They played knockout and Siegel was a finalist in one game.

“Everyone was chanting my name,” said Siegel. “And I was this new kid who just met everyone. It made me realize how special of a place Hun is.”

Even before he joined the team, Siegel was already a name to the Hun family. The right tackle’s father, Robert, was a 1988 graduate of Hun who was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010, one of the few occasions that brought David to the campus before he arrived this fall.

“My dad gave me free rein of the whole process,” said Siegel.

“Coach Smith did reach out. I knew my dad went there and I was choosing between a few schools. After I talked to Coach Smith a lot, I just felt the most comfortable there, but my dad never put any pressure on me to go to The Hun School. Obviously he was excited when I did go there and when I got there the only number available to me was his old number [71]. He was really happy that I did choose The Hun School.”

The current Hun No. 71 made his dad happy again as he helped the Raiders improve to 7-0 with a 56-21 win at Peddie on Saturday. Hun finishes first in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL), and avenged a loss to Peddie in 2019 as well as another one that was a bit more personal to Siegel. more

RISING SPEKTOR: Hun School girls’ soccer player Olivia Spektor boots the ball in recent action. Last Monday, Spektor helped Hun defeat Lawrenceville 2-1 to improve to 11-4-2. Top-seeded Hun hosts second-seeded Pennington (15-2-2) in the state Prep A title game on November 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In late September, the Hun School girls’ soccer team turned a lot of heads when it edged perennial power Pennington 1-0.

Gaining confidence from its first victory over its nemesis since 2014 when it topped Pennington 2-0 in the state Prep A title game, Hun emerged as one of the top sides in the area.

The Raiders advanced to the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals where they suffered a tough 1-0 loss in overtime to Princeton High on October 23. Four days later, Hun bounced back from that setback, defeating Kent Place 1-0 in the state Prep A semifinals.

As a result, top-seeded Hun earned a rematch with second-seeded Pennington and will host its rival in the Prep A final on November 3.

“We love the competitive challenge of playing the best teams,” said Hun head coach Jenn Barrett.

“Obviously they have improved over the season and they have done very, very well. We want to play them, we look forward to playing them, we want to prove that our win was solid, and we can do it again.”

Over the last 10 days, Hun has faced plenty of challenges, In addition to the games against PHS and Kent Place, the Raiders lost 1-0 to Delaware Valley on October 28, tied the Peddie School 2-2 last Saturday, and then edged the Lawrenceville School 2-1 last Monday. more

FORD TOUGH: Stuart Country Day School field hockey goalie Audrey Blandford kicks away a shot in a game this season. Last Wednesday, senior star Blandford made eight saves in a losing cause as top-seeded Stuart fell 1-0 to second-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy in the state Prep B title game. The Tartans finished the fall with a 11-4-2 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Audrey Blandford was under fire as the top-seeded Stuart Country Day School field hockey team hosted second-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy (MKA) in the state Prep B title game last Wednesday.

With MKA controlling possession in the first half and generating a number of scoring opportunities, Stuart senior goalie Blandford had to keep on her toes.

“They passed really well and really fast,” said Blandford. “They had their sticks down.”

After MKA broke through with a goal in the second quarter, Blandford and the Stuart defense held the fort from there, but the Tartans couldn’t find the back of the cage as they fell 1-0 and ended the  season with a final record of 11-4-2.

“We played so well today,” said Blandford, who made eight saves in the contest. “I was getting into a rhythm.”

In the second half, Stuart tried to get into a rhythm, getting plenty of possession in the third quarter. In the waning moments of the contest, the Tartans had MKA on its heels, generating two corners and nearly scoring.

“We really kept pushing the right sideline and we kept getting so close every time,” said Blandford. more

October 27, 2021

EXTRA SPECIAL: Princeton University football players Jeremiah Tyler, left, and Cole Aubrey celebrate after sacking Harvard quarterback Jake Smith last Saturday. Senior linebacker Tyler led the defensive charge with 12 tackles as Princeton outlasted visiting Harvard in a clash of undefeated teams, winning 18-16 in five overtimes. In the win over the Crimson, Tyler had 12 tackles, 10 solo, leading all tacklers. He also picked up two pass break ups and 1.5 tackles for loss. The Tigers, now 6-0 overall and 3-0 Ivy League, play at Cornell (1-5 overall, 0-3 Ivy) on October 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After the Princeton University football team outlasted Harvard 18-16 in a five-overtime thriller last Saturday, Jeremiah Tyler invoked a higher power.

“First of all I just want to thank God. He is good, he is good,” said Princeton senior star linebacker and co-captain Tyler.

The showdown of undefeated rivals before a throng of 10,033 at Princeton Stadium under gray skies turned into football marathon that tested the spirit of players and fans alike.

Over 60 minutes of regulation, the foes engaged in a rugged, take-no-prisoners defensive battle that saw them knotted in a 13-13 stalemate, requiring overtime to decide the matter.

The extra session turned into a roller coaster of emotions. The teams traded field goals in the first two possessions. Princeton, ranked No. 17 nationally, was poised to win when a Jeffery Sexton field goal was blocked. The overtime then went into alternating two-point conversion attempts and 16th-ranked Harvard appeared to secure the win when it converted after the Tigers had failed on their first two point attempt.

The Crimson players streamed on the field to celebrate, but the score was negated after an official review concluded that Princeton head coach Bob Surace had called timeout prior to the snap. With another chance, Harvard again appeared to score, but an offensive pass interference call wiped that out and Princeton held on the next try. more

FIRING AWAY: Princeton University field hockey player Gabby Andretta fires the ball upfield in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, junior defender Andretta spearheaded a strong performance in a lost cause as 14th-ranked Princeton fell 2-1 to 12th-ranked Harvard in a game decided on penalty strokes after the teams tied 1-1 through 60 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime. The Tigers, who moved to 8-6 overall and 4-1 Ivy League, play at Brown on October 30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Knotted in a 1-1 tie at Harvard in an Ivy League showdown last Saturday, the Princeton University field hockey team made adjustments in the fourth quarter and threw everything it could into overtime.

But the 14th-ranked Tigers could not score a game-winner before ultimately falling 2-1 to the 12th-ranked Crimson on penalty strokes.

Harvard converted its first three strokes while Princeton’s first three strokes were all stopped.

“We’re not particularly strong at them,” said Tiger head coach Carla Tagliente.

“It’s not like we haven’t trained them. We have, but what I’ve seen out of us at practice, we haven’t shown that we’re really good. I wasn’t really confident going into it. We were pushing everything we could going into overtime to try to get the result before that happened.”

It is the first time in six years under Tagliente that a game has gone to a shootout following two scoreless overtimes. Princeton’s loss in a battle of Ivy League unbeatens makes the postseason a long shot. Princeton saw its five-game winning streak snapped as Harvard improved to 13-1 overall and 5-0 in the Ivies while the Tigers slipped to 8-6 overall, 4-1 in Ivy play. more

SHARPSHOOTER: Princeton University women’s hockey player Maggie Connors fires a shot in a 2019 game. Junior forward Connors figures to be the go-to-goal scorer for Princeton as it gets back in action after its 2020-21 campaign was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. The Tigers will head north to start the season, playing at Yale on October 29 and at Brown on October 30.   (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the Princeton University women’s hockey team was last in action in March 2020, it rode a high-powered offense for its first ECAC Hockey championship and was poised for a big run in the NCAA tournament.

Princeton averaged 3.7 goals a game that winter and set a program record for wins as it went 26-6-1, only to see the season abruptly halted due to the pandemic. Subsequently, the 2020-21 campaign was canceled due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

With the Tigers returning to the ice this weekend with games at Yale (2-0) on October 29 and at Brown (0-1-1) on October 30, it will bringing a gritty mindset.

“It is a very different team and we have to have a different personality; we are going to have a little bit of a different style of play,” said Princeton head coach Cara Morey. more

ON POINT: Princeton University men’s hockey player Christian O’Neill heads up the ice in a 2019 game. Senior forward and alternate captain O’Neill is looking for a big final season with the Tigers. Princeton, which had its 2020-21 season was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, returns to action by playing at Army West Point in its season opener on October 30.  (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the Princeton University men’s hockey team has hit the ice to get back in action after the 2020-21 season was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, Ron Fogarty is seeing a heightened intensity from his players.

“The enthusiasm and the appreciation is evident with our guys, just how they are at the rink and how the practices are,” said Princeton head coach Fogarty, who guided the Tigers to a 6-20-5 record in 2019-20 and a sweep of Dartmouth in a best-of-the ECAC Hockey opening round playoff series before the season was halted due to the pandemic. “They are full of emotion. It has been great.”

With Princeton playing at Army West Point (1-5-1) in its season opener on October 30, the Tiger players will be looking to translate that emotion into success on the ice.

“Everyone is working so hard because they understand this is one of the biggest years,” said Fogarty.

“You have an opportunity to step in and play a different role or gain a scoring role or goaltending or defense.”

With senior defenseman Matthew Thom (three goals and six assists in 2019-20) serving as team captain and senior forwards Luke Keenan  (seven goals, 11 assists) and Christian O’Neill (five goals, five assists) assuming the alternate captain roles, Fogarty likes how the team is coming together.

“We have 10 seniors, it is a big group; Thom, Keenan, and McNeill have done a tremendous job of bringing two classes together to be part of the team,” said Fogarty. more

ROCKING ROBIN: Princeton High girls’ cross country junior star Robin Roth heads to the finish line at the Mercer County championship meet last Friday at Washington Crossing Park. Roth placed second individually in the girls’ varsity race to help PHS take the team title. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Robin Roth didn’t feel particularly confident as she got ready to compete for the Princeton High girls’ cross country team at the Mercer County championship meet last Friday at Washington Crossing Park.

“Coming into today, it was ‘hopefully I don’t cry.’ It has not been my week,” said PHS junior star Roth.

“There is a lot of stress with this because Lawrenceville is so good. Freshman year we were supposed to win, it was supposed be really close between us and Allentown and we got fourth and that was a big thing for us. We had a lot of pressure in the county meet.”

Overcoming those doubts, Roth ended up having a great day, placing second individually in a time of 19:10.89 over the 5,000-meter course. Roth’s heroics helped PHS win the team title as it posted a score of 57 with Lawrenceville placing second at 85. She was followed closely by junior teammate Lucy Kreipke, who posted a time of 19:26.86, with Tiger sophomore Kyleigh Tangen coming in sixth in 19:30.54.

“I felt so good, I was in the back woods and I was wow, I am doing this,” said Roth.

“I feel good, I am running fast. This course plays to my strength because there is that downhill in the middle. I usually get engaged in the middle when I put my head down and I am jogging but with the downhill and all of the people, I feel pressure to still run.” more

PHOTO FINISH: Princeton High boys’ cross county star Andrew Kenny, right, edges Shaurya Srivastava of WW/P-South at the Mercer County cross country championship meet last Friday at Washington Crossing Park. Kenny finished fifth individually to lead the way for PHS as it placed second in the team standings, one point behind champion WW/P-North. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Andrew Kenny came to the starting line of the boys’ varsity race at the Mercer County cross country championship meet last Friday afternoon with his right calf wrapped in pink tape.

While Princeton High junior star Kenny had tweaked his calf just days before the meet, that didn’t keep him from assuming his frontrunner role for the Tigers.

Kenny clocked a time of 15:54.47 over the 5,000-meter course at Washington Crossing Park to take fifth individually.

“Even though my calf was burning for almost the whole time, I pushed through,” said Kenny. “I still raced amazing, it was a PR.”

Even though the PHS squad pushed hard collectively, it fell just short of winning the team title, losing by one point to WW/P-North, 52-53. Junior Zachary Deng was the next finisher for the Tigers, taking eighth in 16:28.47. Senior Kento Nakaya placed 12th in 16:35.14 with junior Marty Brophy finishing 13th in 16:41.95.

In reflecting on his race, Kenny said the course was suited to him.

“My start and my downhills I am really strong at so I really worked those two downhills,” said Kenny. more

FINISHING TOUCH: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Sophia Lis displays some fancy footwork last Monday as third-seeded PHS played second-seeded Hopewell Valley in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals. Senior star and Lehigh-bound Lis scored a goal but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell 3-1. PHS, now 15-2, is next in action when it starts play next week in the state tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Sophia Lis is determined to make the most out her final postseason run with the Princeton High girls’ soccer team.

“I want to stay on this team for as long as possible,” said senior star and Lehigh-bound Lis. “It has been so great, it has been such a fun year.”

Last Thursday, Lis had a lot of fun, tallying two goals and four assists as third-seeded PHS defeated 14th-seeded Ewing 7-0 in the first round of the Mercer County Tournament.

“We have been looking forward to the MCTs starting and the states,” said Lis. “It is great to be here and already off to a good start.”

The Tigers showed great balance in the win as Casey Serxner tallied two goals and two assist with Holly Howes scoring two goals and Megan Rougas chipping in one goal and an assist.

“We have really been working in practices a lot,” said Lis. “I feel like we have the chemistry off the field, that is really showing on the field. We have done so many dinners, we just went to Conte’s and a whole group dinner there. Everyone is such great friends, we all want each other to score.”

Lis displayed her connection with sophomore Serxner, assisting on her two goals as PHS jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

“We know each other well from playing together last year,” said Lis. “I am really glad that is showing off this year.”

After assisting on the first three goals of the game, Lis found the back of the net with 22:11 left in the first half. In the second half, she got her second goal of the contest with 30:00 left in regulation. more

THRILLING FINALE: Princeton Day School field hockey player Ally Antonacci, right, battles a Lawrence High player for the ball in the Mercer County Tournament championship game last Thursday night. Senior star Antonacci tallied a goal and an assist in the contest as third-seeded PDS fell 5-4 in overtime to fourth-seeded Lawrence. The Panthers, who fell to 13-4 with the defeat, are next in action when they compete in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public North sectional where they are seeded fourth and will host fifth-seeded Montclair Kimberley Academy in quarterfinal contest on November 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the Princeton Day School field hockey team played at Lawrence High in late September, it turned out to be one of the most dramatic games of the fall.

Playing under the lights, a scrappy PDS squad upset previously undefeated Lawrence 4-3 on a fourth quarter goal by Lily Ryan in the September 24 contest.

Last Thursday night, the foes met again on the same field in the Mercer County Tournament final and they outdid themselves, producing a championship game for the ages.

The third-seeded Panthers jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the fourth-seeded Cardinals on goals by Jadyn Huff and Tessa Caputo. After Lawrence responded with a goal from Princeton University-bound superstar Talia Schenck, who recently set the state record for goals in a season as she passed the 100 mark, the Panthers took to a 3-1 lead at halftime on a second goal by Caputo with eight seconds left in the second quarter.

“It was a good start,” said Farlow. “It was come out aggressive, play possession and play our game, that is the whole game plan.”

In the third quarter, Schenck scored two goals to even the game at 3-3. With 21 seconds left in the fourth, Schenck found the back of the cage to make it 4-3, seemingly closing the deal. more

ON THE BALL: Princeton Day School field hockey player Jadyn Huff hits the ball in action last week in the Mercer County Tournament. Junior star Huff contributed an assist as third-seeded PDS upset previously undefeated and second-seeded Princeton High 2-0 in the MCT semifinals on October 19. Two days later, Huff contributed a goal as the Panthers fell 5-4 to fourth-seeded Lawrence in overtime in the county final. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jadyn Huff and her teammates on the Princeton Day School field hockey team weren’t intimidated as they faced undefeated Princeton High in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals last week.

“We came with same mentality that we had at Lawrence because they had also been undefeated for a long time,” said PDS junior star Huff, referring to the Panthers’ 4-3 win over Lawrence on September 24.

“We just really pushed and we really wanted to take them out just as we did Lawrence. It is just living in that moment.”

Huff provided a big moment with 6:32 left in the first quarter, firing a blast off a penalty corner that was tipped into the goal by Ally Antonacci to give PDS a 1-0 lead.

“We practice a lot with our corners and I know she will be there and she could just touch it,” said Huff.

“That is exactly what happened, our chemistry is on the next level.” more

MAKING STRIDES: Princeton Day School girls’ cross country sophomore star Emily McCann heads to the finish line at the Mercer County championship meet last Friday at Washington Crossing Park. McCann placed eighth individually in the girls’ varsity race, clocking a time of 19:42.36 over the 5,000-meter course. PDS finished 11th in the girls’ team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After going undefeated last fall in her freshman season for the Princeton Day School girls’ cross country team in a campaign abbreviated by COVID-19 concerns, Emily McCann has enjoyed testing herself against tougher competition in 2021.

“Last year, there were not many big races, the first few invitationals this year got me in the mindset,” said McCann.

“This is insane. It was overwhelming how many people there were. I am used to it now.”

Utilizing that experience, McCann placed eighth in the girls’ varsity race at the Mercer County Championships last Friday at Washington Crossing Park. McCann clocked a time of 19:42.36 over the 5,000-meter course, helping PDS finish 11th in the girls’ team standings.

“I knew the first mile was going to be really fast,” said McCann reflecting on the race.

“It is all downhill and the field is really good. I was ready to have it be a sub 6-minute mile. I didn’t want there to be much strain but that is exactly what I did. The first mile felt really good. I think I was 10th there. I stayed with them the whole time.” more

STARK REALITY: Hun School boys’ soccer player Tyler Stark controls the ball in a game earlier this fall. Junior defender Stark has shored up the back line for Hun, helping it advance to the state Prep A semis and the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. The Raiders, who fell 5-0 to Pennington last Saturday in the MCT quarters to move to 9-5, play at Steinert on October 27 and at Peddie on October 30 before getting a rematch against Pennington in the Prep A semis on November 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Pat Quirk liked the way his Hun School boys’ soccer team was playing as it approached tournament time.

“We were stating to click and play really well together,” said Hun head coach Quirk.

“It is really selfless soccer, we emphasize making the extra pass in the box and the guys have been buying into that.”

The Raiders clicked in state Prep A opener, posting a 4-2 win over Blair on October 19.

“We got off to a pretty good start against them. We knew that if we could play soccer we could put a bunch of pressure on them, which is what we like to do,” said Quirk who got two goals from Mass Verduci in the win with Osman Bayazitoglu and Adhityan Tamilselvan adding one apiece.

“The kids stuck to game plan well. Hector [Suriel] was hurt so we didn’t play him. Mass kind of stepped in and played the role. He put two in the back of the net, it was nice for him. It was a good confidence builder. He can create stuff for himself, he has gotten pretty strong on the ball. It is just getting him to put it on the frame — he has a very powerful shot.” more

October 20, 2021

AIR SHOW: Princeton University football quarterback Cole Smith fires a pass in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior Smith passed a career-high 476 yards and four touchdowns as Princeton defeated Brown 56-42. Smith was later named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week. The No. 17 Tigers, now 5-0 overall and 2-0 Ivy, host No. 16 Harvard (5-0 overall, 2-0 Ivy) on October 23.

By Bill Alden

After the Princeton University football team overcame Brown 56-42 last Saturday, Bob Surace tipped his hat to Bear quarterback E.J. Perry.

“We have gone against some really good offensive players in my 12 years and even the four years that I played; E.J. is the best opponent I have gone against in this league at quarterback,” said Princeton head coach Surace of Perry, who passed for 331 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 82 yards in a losing cause.

“He had a great game. I told him after the game, it is not just his performance, it is the leadership, and the competitiveness.”

Fortunately for Surace, his quarterback, senior Cole Smith, produced a career performance in guiding the Tigers to victory, hitting on 25 of 27 passes for a career-high 476 yards and four TDs to help Princeton improve to 5-0 overall and 2-0 Ivy League. He was later named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week.

“It was just like with them; it was a really, really good job by our coaches scheme-wise and then a great job by the players executing,” said Surace of Smith, whose passing yards total in the game was the second most in Princeton history behind the 501 piled up by Bob Holly against Yale in 1981.

“Cole did the same thing, there were some real small windows on some of those throws and the receivers did a great job getting them. I was doing the proud dad thing because my son A.J. was 14 for 16 [for Notre Dame High] and he only played a half. I said to him I was hoping you would be near A.J.’s stats but you put him to shame.”

In the early stages of the contest, it looked like the proud Princeton defense, that had given up only seven points in the first three games, was going to contain Perry as the Tigers led 14-0 going into the second quarter. more

TO THE HILT: Princeton University women’s soccer player Lexi Hiltunen, left, battles a foe in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday evening, sophomore Hiltunen scored the game winning goal in double overtime as Princeton edged Columbia 1-0. The Tigers, who improved to 10-2-1 overall and 3-1 Ivy League with the win, play at Harvard (9-1-1 overall, 3-1 Ivy) on October 23. (Photo by Greg Carroccio, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Lexi Hiltunen’s chip shot in double overtime last Saturday against Columbia kept the Princeton University women’s soccer team in the Ivy League championship hunt.

It also earned the Princeton sophomore forward a spot at the bottom of a dogpile of her teammates following the dramatic 1-0 win over the Lions on Saturday night at a wet and cold Class of 1952 Stadium.

“The pain of the dogpile was taken away by the fact that I was warmed up,” said Hiltunen. “It was a little comforting.”

Hiltunen makes it no secret she does not like the cold. While other teammates got in their first semester on campus last spring, she remained in West Palm Beach, Fla., and took classes online in part because of the warmer weather at home. She has already broken out a winter coat to get around campus.

A steady rain made the cold more miserable Saturday and made controlling the ball on the slick field difficult for all. Hiltunen was glad to end the game when she took a long pass over the top from freshman Lily Bryant and sent it over the charging goalie for the lone goal of the game. more

RISING TO THE OCCASION: Princeton University men’s soccer player Kevin O’Toole goes after the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior star O’Toole scored two goals to help Princeton defeat Columbia 3-0. O’Toole, the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year in 2018, has three goals and three assists in three Ivy contests this fall. The Tigers, who improved to 6-5 overall and 3-0 Ivy with the win, return to league action when they play at Harvard (4-4-3 overall, 0-2-1 Ivy) on October 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Kevin O’Toole has demonstrated a knack for rising to the occasion for the Princeton University men’s soccer team in the heat of Ivy League competition.

The senior forward had tallied a goal and two assists in Princeton’s first two Ivy contests this season as the Tigers defeated Dartmouth 3-2 and Brown 3-1.

Last Saturday against visiting Columbia, O’Toole took things to a higher level, scoring two goals to help Princeton pull away to a 3-0 win over the Lions as it improved to 6-5 overall and 3-0 Ivy.

O’Toole and his teammates brought a sense of urgency into the clash with the Lions.

“We know every game is incredibly hard in the Ivy League, you can’t take any game for granted,” said O’Toole, a 5’10, 165-pound native of Montclair, and the Ivy Offensive Player of the Year in 2018. more

DIGGING IN: Members of the DiGregorio family, from left, Aaron, Nadia, Derek, Steve, and Zack, share a laugh with legendary coaches, from left, John Thompson III, Jason Garrett, and Pete Carril at a 2015 event at Conte’s Pizza to raise money to fight ataxia-telangiectasia, known as A-T. Beloved football coach Steve DiGregorio, known as “Digger” to his players and many friends, passed away last week at age 60 after a valiant battle with cancer, sparking sadness and fond memories from the countless people he touched on and off the gridiron. (Photo by John Dowers)

By Bill Alden

Be kind. Fight for justice, especially for those who can’t fight for themselves. Whatever you are doing, do it to the best of your ability. Do the right thing every day.

Those were the core principles that guided Steve DiGregorio and are just some of his qualities that family and friends are reflecting on in the wake of DiGregorio’s death on October 12 at age 60 after a valiant fight against cancer.

DiGregorio, known to all as “Digger,” was a big-hearted, good-natured, and tough-minded football coach whose influence was felt by a number of programs.

He served 13 years as an assistant coach for the Princeton University football team, several years as an assistant at Princeton High, and was a star player and later award-winning head coach for his alma mater, Nutley High.

DiGregorio also had coaching stints at Hobart College, Allegheny College, and Paramus Catholic. Before starting his coaching career, DiGregorio starred for Muhlenberg College and has been inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

His influence extended far beyond the gridiron as he helped create the “Derek’s Dreams” charity after his middle son, Derek, was diagnosed with a rare neuro-muscular disease, ataxia-telangiectasia, or A-T. The cause of fighting for a cure to that disease hit at the heart of his existence as it involved his beloved family, wife Nadia, and their sons, Zack, 26, Derek, 24, and Aaron, 22.  more

BIG HIT: Princeton High field hockey player Delaney Keegan hits the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore forward Keegan tallied a goal and an assist as second-seeded PHS defeated 10th-seeded Hun 3-0 in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals. The Tigers, now 13-0, were slated to face third-seeded Princeton Day School (12-3) in the MCT semis in October 19 with the victory advancing to the final on October 21 at Lawrence High. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Delaney Keegan and her teammates on the undefeated and second-seeded Princeton High field hockey team knew they were in for a battle when they hosted 10th-seeded Hun in the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals last Friday.

“I do think they wanted to come for us,” said PHS sophomore forward Keegan of the clash against the upset-minded crosstown rival. “They definitely were hungry for a really competitive game.”

Things were very competitive in the first half as the foes played to a scoreless stalemate.

“They were tough to break down,” said Keegan. “They put up a great fight.”

At halftime, the Tigers focused on playing more as a unit. “Our forward line and midline were not connecting so we talked about it,” said Keegan.

“In the end it was just a matter of playing as a team and playing as one together.”

PHS got things together as senior star and Rutgers-bound Weir scored to put the Tigers up 1-0 with 9:52 left in the third quarter.

Minutes later, Keegan took a feed from Weir and banged it home. Returning the favor, Keegan set up Weir for the third and final goal of the contest with 1:14 left in the third as the Tigers never looked back, prevailing 3-0 and improving to 13-0. more

COMEBACK KID: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Owen Deming boots the ball in recent action. Last week, senior midfielder Deming scored the tying goal and winning tally as PHS edged Notre Dame 4-3 in overtime, coming back from a late 3-2 deficit. The Tigers, who defeated WW/P-South 1-0 last Saturday to move to 8-2-2, start action in the Mercer County Tournament this week. PHS is seeded third and will host a first round contest on October 21 between the winner of the play-in game between the Princeton Day School and Ewing. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Owen Deming brought some extra emotion to the field for the Princeton High boys’ soccer team as it hosted undefeated Notre Dame last week.

“It was a huge senior day, we are playing against Notre Dame and they are a really tough opponent,” said senior midfielder Deming, reflecting on the October 12 contest.

“I haven’t beaten them in my high school career so when I came out here, I really wanted to beat them.”

In early stages of the clash, Deming focused on his defensive responsibilities.

“Defensively we were just trying to lock down their center midfielders and their attacker Denny Bensch,” said Deming. “We did really well, we were up 2-0 in the first 15 minutes.”

PHS kept that 2-0 lead heading into the second half but the Irish rallied, scoring three unanswered goals in a 13-minute stretch of the second half to forge ahead 3-2 with 4:52 left in regulation.

“We kind of dropped in and let them keep pinging balls in,” said Deming. “When we got down 3-2, I was pretty mad.” more