October 20, 2021

J-TRAIN: Princeton High football player Jaiden Johnson races upfield in a game earlier this fall. Last Friday night, senior star Johnson made three catches for 48 yards and kicked a 46-yard field goal in a losing cause as PHS fell 38-10 to Camden Catholic. The Tigers, now 1-6, host Cinnaminson (1-6) on October 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was Friday night lights time for the Princeton High football team as it hosted Camden Catholic for Homecoming.

An overflow, raucous crowd had packed the stands around the PHS turf field by the 7 p.m. kickoff last Friday on an unseasonably warm October evening with fans spilling into the hill overlooking the end zone.

As Tiger senior receiver/cornerback Jaiden Johnson took the field, he was pumped to give the fans something to cheer about.

“The atmosphere was amazing, I am glad to see everybody here,” said Johnson.

“Last year we didn’t have it because of COVID. I just love it; the support from the school.”

After Camden Catholic jumped out to an 8-0 lead, Johnson got the throng on hand buzzing, making a 40-yard reception down the sideline on a bomb from Jaxon Petrone and later kicking a 46-yard field goal as the Tigers cut the deficit to 8-3.

“We have been working on it every single day in practice,” said Johnson, recalling his spectacular catch.

“We have been getting better and it transitioned into the game. We want to keep doing that as much as possible.”

Johnson and fellow senior star receiver Everaldo Servil have developed a good connection this fall with senior quarterback Petrone.

“On the offseason, me, Everaldo [Servil] and him have just been working together,” said Johnson, who came into Friday averaging 15 yards per catch. more

WINNING PARTNERSHIP: Lucia Marckioni, left, and Sophia Kim celebrate the Princeton High girls’ tennis team’s run to the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional title. The pair of seniors Marckioni and Kim starred at first doubles as PHS earned its first sectional crown since 2018. PHS fell 3.5-1.5 to Tenafly in the state Group 3 semis last Thursday at Mercer County Park. Marckioni and Kim provided a highlight in the defeat with a straight-set win. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Lucia Marckioni and Sophia Kim have accomplished a lot over the years playing at first doubles for the Princeton High girls’ tennis team.

The pair of seniors won the first doubles title at the Mercer County Tournament in 2019 and 2021 and went undefeated in 2020 but didn’t have the chance to defend their MCT crown as the event was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

Despite all of their success, Marckioni and Kim hadn’t been part of a sectional team title winner.

Last week, they added that line to their resume, posting a 7-5, 7-5 win over Sabrina Chang and Kirthi Chigurupati to help PHS edge WW/P-N 3-2 in the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional final and earn a spot in the state Group 3 semis for the first time since 2018.

Last Thursday, PHS headed to Mercer County Park for the semis and battled hard before falling 3.5-1.5 to Tenafly.

Marckioni and Kim provided a highlight in the defeat as they came through with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Tenafly’s Zoe Han and Liliana La Pera.

For Marckioni, advancing to the state semis was particularly meaningful as a senior.

“We weren’t on varsity freshman year and sophomore and junior year the team lost in the semifinals,” said Marckioni.

“This year we were able to win the final and to come here. It is such a way to end.” more

MAKING HISTORY: Princeton Day School girls’ tennis player Neha Khandkar hits a forehand in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public A team final last Thursday at Mercer County Park. Junior star Khandkar fell at first singles as PDS lost 5-0 to Pingry. It marked the end of a superb debut as the Panthers had won the South Jersey Non-Public A sectional team final in their first-ever appearance in the competition. On Sunday, the Panthers started play in the state Prep B tourney and saw Amy Zhou advance to the final at third singles with Sophie Zhang and Jackie Baranski making it at first doubles. The Panthers, who sit second in the team standings behind Montclair Kimberley Academy, will wrap up play in the event on October 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Princeton Day School girls’ tennis first singles star Neha Khandkar knew she was facing a challenge when she played Pingry’s Anika Paul in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public A team final last Thursday at Mercer County Park.

A week earlier, Khandkar had lost 6-3, 6-3 to Paul when the teams met in a regular season match won by undefeated Pingry 5-0.

Coming into the rematch, Khandkar tweaked her strategy.

“My approach was to hit high to her backhand because it as the weaker stroke off her two groundstrokes; her forehand is really solid and aggressive,” said Khandkar.

“It was just to keep mixing up the pace and not let her get into a rhythm.”

While Khandkar battled hard, she never found her rhythm, falling 6-1, 6-1 to Paul as PDS lost 5-0 again to Pingry.

“It was sort of the same honestly,” said Khandkar reflecting on the setback.

“It could have gone a lot better but at least I had a strategy going in.”

It marked the end of a superb debut for the Panthers as they had won the South Jersey Non-Public A sectional team final in their first-ever appearance in the competition. more

By Bill Alden

This past spring, Abby O’Brien emerged as the go-to finisher for the Hun School girls’ lacrosse program, tallying a team-leading 70 goals.

But playing in her junior season for the Hun field hockey squad this fall, O’Brien has assumed a much different role, developing into a top defender for the Raiders.

“As the center back, I am the last line of defense there,” said O’Brien.

“I want to do absolutely everything I can to keep that ball out of the goal.”

Juggling the two sports helps O’Brien excel no matter what end of the field she is patrolling.

“I definitely enjoy having this role, it is a great balance to do both,” said O’Brien.

“There are a lot of the same technical things with spacing and things like that so it is really cool to be able to have one in the air and one on the ground.”

Playing at second-seeded Princeton High in the quarterfinals of the Mercer County Tournament last Friday, the 10th-seeded Raiders did a lot of good things as they held undefeated and second-seeded Princeton High to a scoreless stalemate in the first half.

“I think our defense played well, we did everything that we could to try to save those goals,” said O’Brien of Hun, who edged seventh-seeded Allentown 2-1 in the first round last Wednesday to earn a shot at the Tigers. more

QUICK LEARNER: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Emily Ix dribbles the ball in a game earlier this season. Junior Ix, who took up field hockey this year after playing tennis the last two falls, has emerged as a scoring threat for Stuart. Last Wednesday, Ix tallied two goals to help the sixth-seeded Tartans top 11th-seeded WW/P-S 4-1 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament. Stuart, which fell 3-2 to Princeton Day School in the MCT quarters last Friday to move to 10-3-2, will continue postseason play when it hosts a state Prep B semifinal contest on October 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Emily Ix spent her first two falls at Stuart Country Day School playing tennis.

This year, however, junior Ix decided to make a change and joined the Stuart field hockey program.

“I love tennis and I really love team sports,” said Ix, who stars for the Stuart lacrosse team in the spring, having scored a team-high 37 goals in the 2021 campaign.

“A lot of my friends play field hockey and I love Miss Bruvik [field hockey head coach Missy Bruvik]. I got a lot out of tennis and I feel like a lot of my game in tennis translates to my game in field hockey so that has been really helpful.”

It hasn’t taken Ix long to develop a comfort level in her new sport.

“When I first started playing, the rules were a little different,” said Ix.

“My dribbling and stick skills have improved a lot. Lacrosse is my main sport probably and a lot of the same girls play lacrosse so I was able to fit right in. It has been great with the team.” more

October 13, 2021

ROARING BACK: Princeton University football player Jacob Birmelin dives into the end zone in recent action. Last Saturday at Monmouth, senior star receiver Birmelin made nine catches for 109 yards to help Princeton rally from a 21-6 third quarter deficit to pull out a 31-28 victory over the Hawks. The Tigers, now 4-0, play at Brown (1-3) on October 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

The Princeton University football team’s hopes for an undefeated 2021 season nearly blew away last Saturday in the gusts swirling around Monmouth’s Kessler Stadium.

Bringing a 3-0 record into the clash with 25th-ranked Hawks, the No. 24 Tigers found themselves trailing Monmouth 14-6 at halftime on a day which saw 20 mph winds blowing across the field all game long.

“You obviously want to get off to a better start and you want to do better,” said Princeton head coach Bob Surace.

“You believe in your guys, you just keep playing. You make some adjustments and hope you can get back in it. We had a really good end of the half drive to cut it 14-6, it made it a one score game.”

Monmouth kept playing well in the third quarter, starting the half with a 16-play, 66-yard scoring march that culminated with a one-yard touchdown run by Juwon Farri as the Hawks increased their lead to 21-6. more

AMAZING GRACE: Princeton High field hockey player Grace Rebak, left, controls the ball last Friday against Lawrence High. Senior star defender Rebak helped spearhead the back line as PHS edged Lawrence 3-2 in showdown of powerhouses. The Tigers, who improved to 11-0 with the win, are next in action when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament. PHS is seeded second in the MCT and hosts No. 15 Hamilton West in an opening round contest on October 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In 2020, the Princeton High field hockey team brought an undefeated record into its clash with Lawrence High and came away with a stinging 7-1 defeat.

Last Friday in the rematch of powerhouses, PHS found itself in a similar position, coming into the matchup at 10-0 and having not allowed a goal all fall as it girded for the showdown with 11-1 Lawrence.

This time, though, PHS was determined to produce a different result.

“We were coming out very hungry from last year; we just wanted redemption, we talked about last year’s game all of the time,” said PHS star senior defender and co-captain Grace Rebak.

“We were just ready for this, we were ready for the competition in defense. I wanted to feel the pressure, I wanted to go up against a really good offense so I was super excited going into it. I think our entire squad was really excited going into it.” more

SECOND CHANCE: Princeton High girls’ tennis player Bella Lependorf hits a backhand last Thursday against Hightstown in the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional semifinals. Senior Lependorf posted a 6-0, 6-0 win over Diana Kalajdzic to help the third-seeded Tigers edge the second-seeded Rams 3-2.Lependorf had opened the season by losing a three-setter against the Rams as PHS dropped a 3-2 nail-biter to Hightstown. The Tigers, who improved to 7-1 with the victory, were slated to play at top-seeded WW/P-North in the sectional final on October 12 with the victor advancing to the state Group 3 semis on October 14 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Bella Lependorf was primed to make the difference as the Princeton High girls’ tennis team faced Hightstown in the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional semifinals last Thursday.

Senior star Lependorf opened the season by losing a three-setter at second singles to Diana Kalajdzic against the Rams as PHS dropped a 3-2 nail-biter to Hightstown on September 8.

As Lependorf hit the court, she was looking for redemption from the opening day loss.

“I think last time I kind of let my emotions get the best of me,” said Lependorf.

“I was a little nervous because it was our first match. This time I tried to stay calm because I know that kind of ruined it for me last time.”

Lependorf succeeded in turning the tables, posting a 6-0, 6-0 win over Kalajdzic as third-seeded PHS prevailed 3-2 over the second-seeded Rams and improved to 7-1, advancing to play at top-seeded WW/P-North in the sectional final on October 12. The victor of that match will play in the state Group 3 semis on October 14 at Mercer County Park.

“I tried to get my first serve percentage higher,” said Lependorf. “I was making a lot of serve errors last time so I wanted to make sure that I fix that this time. It definitely made the difference.”

For Lependorf, making the difference as PHS reached the sectional final in her senior campaign was extra special.

“I was really hoping that this would happen in my senior year because I have been working so hard the last three years. and we always make it to the semis,” said Lependorf. more

THE JAX SHOW: Princeton High football senior star Jaxon Petrone gets ready to throw a pass in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday against visiting Robbinsville, quarterback/safety Petrone had a busy day passing for 172 yards and making several crunching tackles in the secondary. Petrone’s efforts weren’t enough as PHS fell 30-7 to the Ravens. The Tigers, now 1-5, host Camden Catholic (4-2) on October 15 under the lights for Homecoming. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jaxon Petrone is ready to do whatever he can to help the Princeton High football team.

After PHS hosted Robbinsville last Saturday, Petrone kept contributing, picking up pylons in the end zone to clean up the field.

Earlier in the day, senior quarterback/safety Petrone was busy on the field, hitting on 15-of 25 passes for 172 yards and making several crunching tackles in the secondary.

Petrone’s efforts, though, weren’t enough as the Tigers fell 30-7 to Robbinsville and dropped to 1-5.

In the early stages, PHS hung tough against the Ravens, battling back from a 10-0 deficit, going on a 7-play, 65-yard scoring march late in the second quarter. A 42-yard pass from Petrone to Jaiden Johnson got the Tigers to the Robbinsville six-yard line and then two plays later Jason Ling scored on a 3-yard TD run as PHS narrowed the gap to 10-7 at intermission.

“The pass to Jaiden was great,” said Petrone. “We had a lot of momentum going in at halftime.” more

GOAL-ORIENTED: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Grace Romano goes after the ball in a 2020 game. Last Wednesday, junior striker Romano tallied two goals to help PDS defeat Pingry 3-1. A day later, Romano chipped in a goal to help the Panthers defeat Gill St. Bernard’s 3-1 in the opening round of the state Prep B tournament. PDS, now 7-2-2, plays at Newark Academy on October 16 and then hosts Hopewell Valley on October 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Grace Romano proved to be in the right place at the right time for the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team as it hosted the Pingry School last Wednesday.

Less than 30 seconds into the contest, junior striker Romano converted a miscue by the Pingry goalie into a goal, swooping in on a bobble and slotting it into the back of the net.

Then with PDS clinging to a 2-1 lead in the waning minutes of the second half, Romano raced into the box and volleyed a ball over the head of the keeper to seal the deal as the Panthers prevailed 3-1.

“I think that really got our momentum started,” said Romano

“I thought she had it and then I turn around and see it rolling and I was, I have got to get to that.”

While the Panthers built a 2-0 lead at halftime as Abby Weed also found the back of the net, PDS wasn’t quite in synch.

“I think halftime really brought us back together,” said Romano. more

By Bill Alden

Making its debut in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public A sectional, the Princeton Day School girls’ tennis team is leaving quite a first impression.

Seeded fourth, PDS defeated fifth-seeded Red Bank Catholic 5-0 in the sectional quarters on October 5. Two days later, the Panthers upset top-seeded Donovan Catholic 4-1 in the semis.

With PDS having joined the NJSIAA starting with the 2021-22 school year, the squad was fired up to test itself in the sectional.

“It is a first for us,” said Panther head coach Michael Augsberger, whose team is slated to play at second-seeded Trinity Hall on October 12 in the sectional final with the victor advancing to state Group semis on October 14 at Mercer County Park. “We really were excited for it.”

Augsberger was excited by how his first singles player, junior Neha Khandkar, battled in her 7-6, 7-6 win over Peiyi Liu of Red Bank Catholic.

“The No. 1 match was the best tennis match I have ever seen ever coaching tennis in my career,” said Augsberger.

“It was incredibly cerebral tennis. They were asking really deep questions of each other with a lot of short angles, a lot of smart shots and thinking. I loved it. I sat there with the other coach so I could get a better angle to watch behind the baseline with their team. It was just a joy.” more

MAKING PROGRESS: Hun School quarterback Marco Lainez III rolls out in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, junior star Lainez completed 11-of-13 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown in a 21-7 win at Suffield Academy (Conn.). Hun, now 4-0, plays at the Hill School (Pa.) on October 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Marco Lainez III was focused on being a better decision maker and taking better care of the football for the Hun School team.

The junior quarterback has been better at both in his second season with the Raiders. Last Saturday, Lainez completed 11 of 13 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown in a 21-7 win at Suffield Academy (Conn.).

While Lainez was pleased with his performance, he was more excited that Hun improved to 4-0.

“It’s awesome,” said Lainez. “I think it’s a real testament to how hard we worked in the offseason and how much our guys have put in. We’ve really gelled together as a team. The linemen are our key to our success. Those guys up front, they’re sacrificing their bodies every game and they’re the reason we’re winning right now.”

Lainez posted a gaudy 150.3 quarterback rating against Suffield, spreading the ball to six different receivers.

“I definitely didn’t value the football as much as I would have liked to last year,” said Lainez, who lives in nearby Skillman.

“One thing I learned is the more we hang onto the football, the more we have the ball, the more we have the opportunity to give it to our playmakers.” more

HEADING THE DEPARTMENT: Evan Moorhead, center, poses with Ben Stentz, left, and Vikki Caines at the Community Park Pool. Moorhead has succeeded Stentz as the executive director of the Princeton Recreation Department, taking the helm this July when Stentz left to pursue other opportunities. Moorhead is well-prepared for his new role, having served as the assistant recreation director for the department since 2011 and in a variety of other part-time roles since the 1990s. (Photo provided by the Princeton Recreation Department)

By Bill Alden

When Evan Moorhead got his first job at the Community Park tennis courts working for the Princeton Recreation Department in 1990, he never envisioned that he would someday be running the department.

Over the years, Moorhead has worn many hats for the Rec Department, including managing the CP Pool, running the Summer Men’s Hoops League and the Dillon Hoops league, and coaching in the boys’ hoops league while working full-time at Bloomberg and then running Dillon Gym.

Moorhead, a former Princeton High boys’ hoops player, started working full-time for the Rec Department as an assistant director in 2011 when his close friend and former PHS teammate Ben Stentz became the executive director.

Earlier this year when Stentz announced he was stepping down to pursue other opportunities, Moorhead put his hat in the ring to succeed his friend and was chosen by the Recreation Commission as the new executive director, taking the helm in July.

“It was bittersweet for me, I was completely excited and thrilled to be given the opportunity,” said the easy-going, affable Moorhead, 47, who lives in town with his wife, Dana Hughes Moorhead, a third-generation Princetonian, and their daughter, Eme Moorhead, age 9.

“But at the same time it meant I would no longer be working day to day with a colleague I really respected and a friend who I have known since I was 10 years old. I felt ready but there is a little bit of nerves. It is a big job. Ben left very big shoes to fill here at PRD, as did Don Barr and Jack Roberts prior to that. I’m following in the footsteps of three New Jersey Parks and Recreation legends.” more

October 6, 2021

FINISHING STRONG: Princeton University running back Collin Eaddy heads upfield in a 2019 game. Last Saturday, senior co-captain Eaddy rushed for 103 yards and two fourth quarter touchdowns as Princeton pulled away to a 24-7 win over visiting Columbia in the Ivy League opener for both teams. The Tigers, now 3-0 overall and 1-0 Ivy, play at Monmouth (3-2) on October 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After rolling to a pair of lopsided victories in its first two games this fall, the Princeton University football team found itself in a battle last Saturday against visiting Columbia.

Heading into the fourth quarter at a sun-splashed Princeton Stadium, Princeton was clinging to a 10-7 lead over the 2-0 Lions in the Ivy League opener for both teams.

“We didn’t panic, we knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Princeton head coach Bob Surace.

“We had some opportunities in the first half to maybe extend the lead. We really struggled in some areas and when I say we struggled, they were really good. I want to give them credit. It wasn’t just us falling on our faces, they have got really good players.”

With Princeton’s really good running back, senior co-captain Collin Eaddy, rushing for two fourth quarter touchdowns, the Tigers pulled away to a 24-7 win.

Eaddy’s first TD came on a two-yard plunge with 8:50 left in regulation.  more

MEMORABLE DEBUT: Princeton University men’s soccer player Malik Pinto controls the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, sophomore midfielder Pinto made a sensational Ivy League debut, tallying two goals, including the game-winner, as Princeton edged Dartmouth 3-2 in overtime in the Ivy opener for both teams. The Tigers, now 4-4 overall and 1-0 Ivy, play at Temple on October 6 and at Brown on October 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In recent years, the Princeton University men’s soccer team has struggled in its rivalry with Dartmouth.

Coming into the clash last Saturday against the Big Green, the Ivy League opener for both teams, Princeton was mired in a six-game winless skid in the series.

Even though Dartmouth entered the game with a 0-6 record, Princeton head coach Jim Barlow knew that his team was in for a battle.

“We have really struggled against Dartmouth over the last several seasons,” said Barlow.

“It was a little different because they struggled to get results early. It was misleading because they had played all six of their games away and they had played four teams in the top 25.”

Princeton came out firing early against the Big Green, jumping out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Walker Gillespie 9:32 into the contest. The Tigers doubled the lead early in the second half on a goal by sophomore midfielder Malik Pinto. more

ON THE BALL: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Richard Wegmann, center, dribbles the ball around a defender in recent action. Last Thursday, junior striker Wegmann tallied two goals to help PHS defeat Hamilton West 6-0. The Tigers, who fell 5-2 to Pingry School last Saturday to move to 6-1-1, play at Lawrence High on October 7 before hosting Notre Dame on October 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Princeton High boys’ soccer team led Hamilton West 2-0 at halftime last week, Richard Wegmann realized that a win wasn’t guaranteed.

“We knew that 2-0, the game is not done yet,” said PHS junior striker Wegmann. “We came out and we were ready to put it away.”

Wegmann helped put the game away for the Tigers, scoring two goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half as PHS pulled away to a 6-0 triumph in the September 28 contest and improved to 5-0-1.

His first tally came 2:33 into the half on a feed from senior star Nico Carusone.

“It was great pass from Nico, my striking partner,” said Wegmann.

“It is a real pleasure to play with him, he is great. He gave me a great ball and I just had to put it in.”

Wegmann found the back of the net eight minutes later, slotting in a feed from Cooper Ealy.

“It was another good through ball, we have been working on that connection with the midfield and it came through there,” said Wegmann.

“I had a little bit of space and I had to stick it towards goal and one of the touches was going to put it in.” more

SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Megan Rougas, center, celebrates after a goal. Senior striker Rougas is having a big final campaign as PHS has gotten off to a 7-0 start. The Tigers, who have scored 35 goals and given up just one in their first seven games, will look to keep rolling when they host Lawrence on October 7 and Ewing on October 8 before playing at Notre Dame on October 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Megan Rougas sensed early on this fall that the Princeton High girls’ soccer team could enjoy a special season.

“We have a really great team; this is my senior year and I want to go out as strong as I came in,” said Rougas.

“I am really, really happy to have this team. We just work so well together. We have been doing a lot of team bonding and chemistry. I think that has definitely helped us on the field.”

Last Thursday, PHS looked like a dominant team as it defeated Hightstown 6-0, jumping out to a 4-0 lead midway through the first half and never looking back as it improved to 6-0.

“We came into it with such a positive mindset,” said Rougas.

“Having so many shutouts and working so well as a team had really pushed us and motivated us. You would think that we’d plateau but we didn’t. We just keep going.”

Rougas got the rout going, tallying the first goal of the day five minutes into the contest on an assist from classmate and close friend Sophia Lis.

“It was all Sophia, I have to say,” said Rougas. “She really took it up the field, I just tapped it in. It was a team effort.”

The bond between Rougas and the Lehigh-bound Lis has helped fuel the hot start by the Tigers as they outscored foes 33-0 through their first six games. more

VALUE ADDED: Princeton High boys’ cross country star Addison Motto heads to the finish line in a race last fall. Last Saturday, senior Motto placed 30th in the Boys Varsity B division in the New Balance Shore Coaches Invitational at Holmdel Park. Motto helped PHS finish third of 25 squads in the Boys Varsity B team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Andrew Kenny didn’t need a race to know how much he had improved.

The Princeton High School junior runner knew from practice that his training since last fall had made him much faster.

“It was me sticking up with my teammates in the workouts,” said Kenny.

“Last year, I’d be straggling behind and I wouldn’t be with that top crew. With summer training and the start of the season, I’ve been with the top crew or exceeding the top crew in training.”

Kenny was out front again as the third finisher overall in the Boys Varsity B race at the New Balance Shore Coaches Invitational at Holmdel Park on Saturday. Kenny covered the famed 5-kilometer course in a personal record of 16:28 to lead the Tiger boys team to third of 25 squads in the division’s team standings.

“I was really hurting through the first mile,” said Kenny. “Those roller coasters kill you and there’s not much traction with your spikes. I cruised through the next half mile to the one-and-a-half mile mark. I worked the hill decent. I know I’m a good downhill runner. Once I got to The Bowl, I put on the gas and just went.”

Kenny and the Tigers didn’t get to compete in the big invitationals last year due to a COVID-19 pandemic adjusted schedule, but he ran 18:30 as a freshman at Shore Coaches and last year clocked a 18:40 at a CVC dual meet around the same time. He’s been making up for lost time. more

COMING THROUGH: Princeton Day School field hockey player Tessa Caputo, right, goes after the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, sophomore standout Caputo tallied the winning goal as PDS overcame a 1-0 deficit to defeat Notre Dame 2-1. The Panthers, who fell 3-2 to Blair Academy last Saturday to move to 7-3, host Morristown-Beard on October 5 and Springside-Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on October 8 before playing at Hopewell Valley on October 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Tessa Caputo felt lost at times last fall in her freshman season for the Princeton Day School field hockey team.

“Last year was my second year playing field hockey, lacrosse is my main sport,” said Caputo, who led the PDS girls’ lax team in goals (42) and points (59) this past spring. “I honestly had no idea what I was doing last year.”

Caputo utilized some of her lax skills to develop a comfort level in field hockey.

“It is definitely hard to balance lacrosse and field hockey,” said Caputo.

“I really can see myself transferring some skills from lacrosse onto the field.”

Last Wednesday, Caputo displayed her finishing skill in scoring the winning goal early in the fourth quarter as PDS rallied from a 1-0 deficit against Notre Dame to pull out a 2-1 win.

“It is stressful being in that situation, it is kind of scary,” said Caputo, who got loose in the circle and was one-on-one with the Irish goalie as she fired her clutch shot. more

HEADS UP PLAY: Hun School girls’ soccer player Kiki Mauer, right, heads the ball in recent action. Senior standout Mauer has shored up the back line, having big games at center back last week as the Raiders topped Pennington 1-0 on September 28 and then blanked Germantown Academy (Pa.) 1-0 last Friday. Hun, which improved to 6-1-1 with the win over Germantown, is slated to host Villa Joseph Marie High (Pa.) on October 7 and Blair Academy on October 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Kiki Mauer is naturally an attacking midfielder but she has moved to the back line for the Hun School girls’ soccer team this season by necessity.

“I started out very offensive but then the team needed me so I stepped in at center back,” said senior co-captain Mauer.

“I have never played it. I play offensive midfield for my club team [YMS-Yardley Makefield Soccer].”

Mauer has formed a connection with junior Tooni Olaleye as they have both adjusted to assuming key defensive roles.

“We have a great, phenomenal partnership back there,” said Mauer.

“Working with Tooni, she makes it so easy for me. We make it easy for each other. We are learning it together because Tooni has never played center back either.”

The pair displayed how well they have learned those lessons, spearheading a 1-0 breakthrough win over perennial powerhouse Pennington on September 28.

“We came out strong and we came out with confidence,” said Mauer, reflecting on the victory which was Hun’s first win over the Red Raiders since topping them in the 2014 Prep A state title game. “We knew we could do it and we did it.” more

By Justin Feil

Eric Scully is motivated to become one of the best runners in Hun School history, and he’s well on his way.

The junior, who is in his second year at the school and first cross country season, was the top finisher for the Raiders at the New Balance Shore Coaches Invitational last Saturday at Holmdel Park. He covered the challenging 5,000-meter course in 17:35 to place sixth in the Boys Varsity G race.

“Going into it, I was scared of the hills at Holmdel,” said Scully, who had run 18:42 at the storied lay-out as a freshman.

“I haven’t run it since freshman year. Going into it I was thinking I was going to burn out early and then I was going to get outkicked at the line because the last three meets that I did, I was outkicked in the last 400 so I did not want that to happen. So I took it out slower. That ended up hurting my time a little bit, but I ended up kicking at the line which was a very big success for me. I have not been able to kick all season so to have a really big kick at the end of a race gives me a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season.”

Scully has kicked off the second half of his season on a promising note. He has been looking to lower his times after missing out on the chance to run last year. After transferring from Steinert High after his freshman year, Scully did not get a sophomore cross country season while coming back from iron deficiency anemia. Missing that season helped make him hungrier for this year and his first chance to help the Raiders team.

“He has a huge upside,” said Hun head coach Kurt Wayton, whose squad placed third of 24 schools in the Boys Varsity G team standings at the Shore Coaches meet.  more

September 29, 2021

COLE POWERED: Princeton University quarterback Cole Smith heads upfield against visiting Stetson last Saturday. Senior Smith hit on 15-of-24 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 24 yards and two TDs on five carries as the Tigers rolled to a 63-0 win over the Hatters in their home opener. No. 23 Princeton, now 2-0, will start Ivy League play by hosting Columbia (2-0) on October 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Cole Smith realizes that he is shouldering a lot of responsibility stepping into the starting quarterback spot for the Princeton University football team.

“I have pressure upon myself,” said senior Smith. “But we are going to go out here and, just the way we prepare from the coach down during the week, it lifts it off our shoulders.”

In dealing with that pressure, Smith has gotten a lift from his predecessors.

“It is getting into a rhythm of how to prepare with school going on,” said Smith.

“Everybody deals with that, it is a different mindset. I have had previous quarterbacks — John Lovett, Chad Kanoff, Kevin Davidson, and Zach Keller — reaching out to me and just being as helpful as they possibly could. That is just the Princeton brotherhood, it is unbelievable.”

Smith is proving to be a worthy successor to those former Tiger QBs, passing for 412 yards and three touchdowns in a 32-0 win over Lehigh in the opener on September 18 and following that up with another superb performance last Saturday against Stetson in Princeton’s home opener. Smith hit on 15-of-24 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 24 yards and two TDs on five carries as the Tigers rolled to a 63-0 win over the Hatters before 4,449 at Princeton Stadium.

Against Stetson, Smith used his legs to get the Tigers in the lead, running for a nine-yard touchdown as Princeton jumped ahead 7-0. After two field goals from Jeffrey Sexton, Smith ran for another score as the Tigers built a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter and the rout was on.

Finding a groove in the passing game after some early misfires, Smith ended the half with a pair of TD passes hitting Jacob Birmelin for a 30-yard scoring strike and then finding Andrei Iosivas for a 41-yard score as Tigers led 35-0 by halftime. more

MAKING STRIDES: Princeton University field hockey player Ali McCarthy, right, races after the ball in a game earlier this fall. Last Friday, junior star McCarthy tallied two goals as Princeton defeated Penn 5-1 in the Ivy League opener for both squads. Two days later, McCarthy had an assist in a losing cause as the 17th-ranked Tigers fell 3-1 to No. 10 Rutgers. Princeton, now 3-5 overall and 1-0 Ivy, hosts Yale on October 1 and No. 6 UConn on October 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After starting 0-3 this fall in its first action since 2019 with last season having been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, the Princeton University field hockey team started clicking in recent weeks.

Princeton edged Delaware 3-2 on September 17 for its first win and then routed Boston University 7-0 two days later. The 17th-ranked Tigers started last week by falling 4-3 in overtime at No. 9 Maryland and then started their Ivy League campaign in style by posting a 5-1 win at Penn last Friday.

“I definitely think we have seen it come together as we have moved on,” said Princeton head coach Carla Tagliente. “We are much, much better than the first couple of weekends.”

Last Sunday, things didn’t come together for the Tigers as they hosted No. 10 Rutgers. Princeton jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a goal by freshman star Beth Yeager off a penalty corner 2:10 into the contest but the Scarlet Knights responded with three unanswered goals over the rest of the game to prevail 3-1.

“I like the way we started; from that point we had a lot of great attack transition but we just kept running into tackles,” said Tagliente, whose team dropped to 3-5 overall with the setback.

“It was like a double turnover coming back at us the other way. I knew we couldn’t sustain that and that is what really broke us in the second half.” more

ENCORE PERFORMANCE: The Princeton High girls’ tennis first doubles team of Lucia Marckioni, left, and Sophia Kim enjoy the moment in a 2020 match. Last Wednesday, seniors Marckioni and Kim won the first doubles title at the Mercer County Tournament for the second time. Their heroics helped PHS place fourth in the team standings at the event. In upcoming action, the Tigers have a home match with Notre Dame on September 30 before starting play in the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional where they are seeded third and host sixth-seeded Colts Neck in the quarterfinals on October 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Lucia Marckioni and Sophia Kim have forged a historic partnership at doubles for the Princeton High girls’ tennis program.

The pair were teamed together as freshmen in 2018 to play doubles for the PHS JV squad.

A year later, they moved up to varsity and earned the first doubles spot. Wasting no time proving how formidable they were, Marckioni and Kim won the title in their event at the Mercer County Tournament.

Last fall, they stayed together and went undefeated but were unable to defend their MCT crown as the event was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

Competing in the county tourney last week at the Mercer County Park tennis complex, Marckioni and Kim finally got the chance to win another MCT title and they came through in dominant fashion. They posted four straight-set wins on the way to the crown, including a 6-3, 6-3 win over Sabrina Chang and Kirthi Chigurupati of WW/P-North in the final.

In the view of Marckioni, getting the second MCT title was worth the wait.

“It feels amazing, we feel like it is well deserved,” said Marckioni of the title which helped PHS place fourth in the team standings at the event won by WW/P-South.

“It was unfortunate last year we couldn’t have it to win. This year just means that much more.” more

SUDDEN IMPACT: Princeton High girls’ volleyball player Sarah Villamil returns the ball last Thursday against Notre Dame. With junior transfer Villamil coming up with a match-high nine kills, PHS defeated Notre Dame 2-0 (27-25, 25-20). The Tigers, who defeated WW/P-South 2-0 (25-23, 25-15) last Monday to improve to 6-3, host Lawrenceville School on September 30, play at Florence on October 2 and then host Hopewell Valley on October 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Moving north from Florida, Sarah Villamil has found a home with the Princeton High girls’ volleyball team.

“We are all about having a positive mindset,” said PHS junior Villamil, who came to the Princeton area from Broward County in South Florida.

“It is about being ready and having the mindset that you are going to win and fighting for and getting it.”

Last Thursday, Villamil and PHS had a fight on their hands as they hosted Notre Dame. The Tigers jumped out to a 20-13 lead in the first set only to see the Irish battle back to make it 25-25.

“You can’t waste the energy that you have on being concerned,” said Villamil, reflecting on the Notre Dame rally.

“You have to waste it on getting the point and getting the win.”

Villamil ended up getting the winning point on a kill as PHS pulled out a 27-25 win.

“It just kind of happened,” said Villamil. “Once it happened, it was a crazy feeling, knowing that you did it.” more