October 12, 2022

CRUNCH TIME: Princeton University defensive lineman Nate Martey, left, helps knock a Lehigh ball carrier to the ground in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore Martey and the Princeton defense stifled Lafayette as the Tigers defeated the Leopards 23-2. Princeton, now 4-0 overall, 1-0 Ivy League, and ranked 23rd nationally, hosts Brown (2-2 overall, 0-1 Ivy) this Friday evening. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Despite getting off to a 3-0 start this fall, the Princeton University football team had been plagued by some choppy execution in the early going.

Princeton fell behind Stetson 14-7 in its season opener on September 17, was knotted in a 10-10 tie at halftime against Lehigh a week later, and then spent most of the first half of its Ivy League opener at Columbia on October 1 clinging to a 7-6 lead.

But last Saturday at Lafayette, the Tigers produced some sharp play from the opening whistle, going on scoring marches of nine plays, 54 yards, 12 plays, 62 yards and 10 plays, 63 yards in building a 20-2 halftime lead on the way to a 23-2 win over the Leopards before 3,303 at Fisher Stadium in Easton, Pa.

Princeton head coach Bob Surace liked what he saw from the Tigers as they improved to 4-0.

“We only had nine drives and we scored on four,” said Surace, whose team is now ranked 23rd nationally in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) FCS Coaches’ Poll. “We missed what should have been a high percentage field goal and we had a touchdown called back on a mistake in alignment. We were off the ball — we should have been on, so we ended up losing that drive. We drove it for the last nine minutes and we were putting backups in and we ended up getting stuck on the one-yard line.”

Tiger senior quarterback Blake Stenstrom capably led those scoring drives, continuing to show progress as he made his fourth career start.

“That was a really challenging defense and they have a terrific D-line,” said Surace of Stenstrom, who connected on 30-of-40 passes for 290 yards. “It doesn’t matter who they have played, they are going to put you under duress. He handled it extremely well. He was accurate, the numbers don’t even reflect how well he played. We had a 70-yard touchdown pass called back. We were really successful running it down in the tight red zone so he did not end up with any touchdown passes. He is playing at a really high level.” more

DOGGED PURSUIT: Princeton University men’s soccer player Daniel Diaz Bonilla, right, goes after the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, senior star forward and co-captain Diaz Bonilla made history, scoring the first goal for the men’s squad in the new Roberts Stadium as Princeton hosted Yale. The tally by Diaz Bonilla, though, was not enough as the Tigers fell 3-1 to the Bulldogs. Princeton, now 4-4-1 overall and 1-1 Ivy League, plays at Columbia on October 15 and at Virginia Tech on October 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Daniel Diaz Bonilla and his teammates on the Princeton University men’s soccer team were fired up last Saturday to finally play their first game at the new Roberts Stadium.

After their originally scheduled debut at the new venue against Monmouth on October 4 was postponed due to a rainstorm, Princeton hosted Yale four days later.

“It is a total privilege to play here,” said Princeton senior star forward and co-captain Diaz Bonilla. “It is a beautiful venue, it is probably the best venue in the Ivy League.”

But the debut turned ugly for the Tigers as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead by early in the second half and held off a late Princeton charge to earn a 3-1 win, snapping its eight-game winning streak in Ivy League play over the last two years.

“We are really disappointed that we couldn’t open up the stadium with a win,” said Diaz Bonilla, who ended the game on the sidelines with his left knee wrapped in ice after taking a knock late in the second half. “It is sad we couldn’t get a win on this beautiful field.” more

DOUBLE COVERAGE: Princeton High girls’ soccer players Rowan Gilmore, left, and Alysse Kiesewetter mark a Trenton High foe in a game earlier this season. PHS, which fell 2-1 to Robbinsville last Saturday to move to 8-3-2, starts play in the Mercer County Tournament this week. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Rowan Gilmore has been making some noise this fall along the back line for the Princeton High girls’ soccer team.

“I am definitely trying to be very vocal on the field, yelling a lot and communicating,” said PHS senior defender and co-captain Gilmore. “If people don’t know where they are supposed to be, I am letting them know. Encouragement is such a big thing and just letting everyone know that they are doing well.”

Last Saturday as PHS hosted Robbinsville, Gilmore got some encouragement from her teammates as the program held its annual Senior Day.

“It is definitely a very emotional day,” said Gilmore. “It is always a lot of fun getting to see how the juniors and everyone decorates for us. It is awesome. It is very emotional but a lot of fun too.”

There were some sad emotions Saturday for the Tigers as they fell 2-1 to Robbinsville. PHS yielded a goal with 17:20 left in the first half and held the Ravens scoreless for the next 51 minutes. Robbinsville found the back of the net with 5:40 left in regulation but PHS kept battling and Alysse Kiesewetter buried a penalty kick with 2:54 remaining to make a 2-1 game. more

MAC ATTACK: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Ella McLaren, left, prepares to boot the ball in recent action. Last Thursday, freshman midfielder McLaren tallied a goal and an assist as fourth-seeded PDS defeated fifth-seeded Morristown-Beard 3-1 in a state Prep B quarterfinal contest. The Panthers, who defeated George School (Pa.) 1-0 last Saturday to improve to 8-3, will be hosting Pennington on October 13 and then starting play in the Mercer County Tournament. In addition, PDS will be playing at top-seeded Rutgers Prep in the state Prep B semis on October 20. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was Ella McLaren’s first tournament game for the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team and things didn’t get off to a good start.

With fourth-seeded PDS hosting fifth-seeded Morristown-Beard in a state Prep B quarterfinal contest last Thursday, the visiting Crimson tallied a goal in the first 30 seconds of the game.

“It was definitely a challenge; it is not great to fall behind but it didn’t bother us,” said PDS freshman midfielder McLaren. “It motivated us to work harder. It was a wake up we needed to play better and more together.”

That work paid off as PDS knotted the game at 1-1 when junior star Adriana Salzano converted a penalty kick with 2:24 left in the first half.

“That helped us with our mentality,” said McLaren. “It was alright we are tied, we don’t have to be rushed and panicked. Now we can settle down and play our game and not worry about playing theirs.”

McLaren broke the deadlock with 8:34 left in regulation, taking a corner kick from senior star Grace Romano and knocking it off her chest into the goal.  more

DANTE’S INFERNO: Hun School football player Dante Barone heads upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, senior star and Rutgers commit Barone had two touchdown catches to help Hun defeat Blair 48-7. The Raiders, now 5-0, host the Hill School (Pa.) on October 15. (Photo by Jamie McKee/The Hun School)

By Justin Feil

Dante Barone played tight end for his former team two years ago  but Hun football head coach Todd Smith saw more potential in him.

“He’s a real Swiss Army knife for us,” said Smith. “He’s probably the most versatile kid on the team.”

Barone indeed has developed into a two-way player that has helped the Raiders start 5-0 for the second straight season. The senior had a pair of touchdown catches and was part of a dominant defensive line in a 48-7 romp at Blair on Saturday as he continues to impress on both sides of the ball in his second year at Hun.

“It was definitely different compared to my old school because I was more of a traditional tight end at my old school,” said Barone, a Manalapan resident. “And playing at Hun, it’s kind of similar to the way Kyle Shanahan uses Kyle Juszczyk on the 49ers which I really like. I’m in the slot, I’m at fullback, I’m at wing, and also at tight end sometimes. I think it’s really cool to be able to be versatile. I like to run and I like to catch the ball and I like blocking. I do all those things. It’s really cool.”

Barone was just one weapon for the Raiders, who saw quarterback Marco Lainez III account for six of Hun’s seven touchdowns. Lainez ran in two of them and passed for four touchdowns with Logan Galletta catching a 35-yard strike and Liam Thorpe on the receiving end of the final passing touchdown. Kamar Archie ran in the Raiders’ other touchdown.

“We came out and took care of business,” said Smith. “We did a good job of spreading the ball around to a bunch of different guys. The kids really executed the game plan on both sides of the ball, and we came out on top.” more

DIOS MIO: Hun School field hockey player Ana Dios, left, controls the ball in recent action. Junior transfer Dios, a native of Spain, has been a catalyst in the modified for Hun as it has produced a 7-2 start. In upcoming action, the Raiders play at Stuart Country Day School on October 12 and host the Hill School (Pa.) on October 15. In addition, Hun will be starting play in the Mercer County Tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After winning its first seven games this season, the Hun School field hockey team tasted defeat twice last week.

While Hun head coach Tracey Arndt was disappointed to see her squad fall 1-0 to Pennington on October 3 and then lose 4-3 at the Blair Academy last Saturday, she believes the setbacks could be a positive in the long run for the Raiders.

“Sometimes losses early in a season prepare you for postseason,” said Arndt. “The Blair game and Pennington showed we can hang with these teams. Blair is good and they are aggressive and so was Pennington. We got bumped around and we held our ground and no matter what the score was, we kept battling. Those are all the things that are helpful as you prepare for playoffs.”

Hun gave undefeated Blair (9-0) a good battle, jumping out to a 1-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and trailing 2-1 at halftime. After the Buccaneers scored two unanswered goals in the third quarter, the Raiders responded with two straight goals in the fourth quarter.

“It was 2-1 at halftime, it was a competitive game; that was exactly what we needed,” said Arndt. “We really felt that we played hard. I really appreciated the grit and the perseverance that the girls showed. At the end, we just ran out of time. We scored with hardly any time left, who knows if we had five more minutes. Their team was very good.”

Junior Ava Che had a very good game for the Raiders against Blair, scoring both of the fourth quarter goals.

“Ava usually plays back for us, she has got nice skills has a great hit,” said Arndt. “Typically we don’t bring her up to the corners because she is a defender and I am always conscious of a transition ball. We had nothing to lose then so I put her on the first corner and the last corner. It paid dividends, she just ripped it.”

With Hun not losing in September on the way to a 7-0 start, the players gained a lot of self-belief.

“The girls had created several goals for themselves this year and one of them was to be undefeated in September so that was very cool to do that,” said Arndt. “Over the last few years, we really had to look at minor, little victories so I think that was a large victory for them. It gave them the confidence that they need. Our league is really strong and our county is really strong, setting that goal and achieving it was really great.” more

October 5, 2022

FOR PETE’S SAKE: Princeton University men’s basketball alums pose together last Friday at Jadwin Gym after a Celebration of Life held in honor of legendary Tiger head coach Pete Carril, who passed away in mid-August at the age of 92. The event drew hundreds of former Princeton players, opposing coaches, past and present Tigers coaches, and members of the community.

By Bill Alden

Pete Carril espoused a basic philosophy to his Princeton University men’s basketball players over his 29 years at the helm of the program — there was life and there was basketball but there was no life without basketball.

In the wake of Carril’s passing in mid-August at the age of 92, Princeton held a Celebration of Life in honor of the Hall of Fame coach last Friday morning at Jadwin Gym.

The event, which drew hundreds of former Princeton players, opposing coaches, past and present Tigers coaches, and members of the community, was filled with laughs and some tears.

The gym was transformed to a shrine to the coach with a montage of images of Carril on the video board and banners detailing his achievements hanging near the stage.

The program featured six speakers. It also included a video tribute of Carril’s career narrated by Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Tom McCarthy. It detailed some of the highlights of Carril’s Princeton tenure that ran from 1967 to 1996 and saw him lead the Tigers to a 514-261 record, 13 Ivy League championships, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, and the 1975 NIT title. He was a 1997 inductee to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

There was another short film with remembrances from such Princeton luminaries as Princeton President Emeritus Harold Shapiro, Princeton Athletic Director Emeritus Gary Walters, former Tiger hoops great Craig Robinson along with former Tiger players and coaches Armond Hill, John Thompson III, and Mike Brennan.

The Rev. Christopher Thomforde ’69, a player in the early years of Carril’s tenure set the tone for the morning.

“There is a gap created in our lives when anyone of consequence dies,” said Thomforde. “We maintain the gap and let grief be real to each of us. Today we want to celebrate, tell stories, and give thanks for a very important person Pete Carril.” more

CLASS ACT: Princeton University senior receiver Dylan Classi heads upfield in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, Classi made six receptions for 133 yards to help Princeton defeat Columbia 24-6 in its Ivy League opener. The Tigers, now 3-0 overall, play at Lafayette (2-3) on October 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Bob Surace knew that his Princeton University football team was facing a bruising encounter when it played at Columbia last Saturday.

“I have played against Al now 12 times,” said Princeton head coach Surace, referring to Columbia head coach Al Bagnoli who previously guided the Penn program. “With every one of those games, you get on the bus if it is a road game, or you go back to the locker room and your body feels it. You have been hit and you have hit hard.”

It was Princeton, however, who delivered the hardest blows on Saturday as the Tigers whipped the Lions 24-6 in the Ivy League opener for both teams before a crowd of 4,071 at Robert K. Kraft Field.

Princeton’s triumph was highlighted by a rugged defensive effort which saw the Tigers hold Columbia to 235 yards total offense and make three interceptions.

“The best word is effort,” said Surace in assessing the defensive effort. “I watched the film when I got home last night and there are some plays on there — like where Liam Johnson deflects a screen pass, he was on a blitz, the ball goes to the receiver, but it is slower. He just runs and immediately joins in on the tackle. Will Perez had a couple of those too.”

The defensive pressure resulted in senior linebacker Perez snagging one interception and senior linebacker Joe Bonczek picking off two.

“The energy our guys were playing with was really, really high,” said Surace. “I think we were doing that for the course of 70 plays and eventually the ball comes to you. Both of Joe’s interceptions were just great reads. The throw was not perfect and usually they become incompletions. He made great plays.”

The Tigers got off to an energetic start offensively, taking the opening kickoff and marching 75 yards in eight plays with freshman running back Ryan Butler culminating the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.

“We got into a good rhythm,” said Surace. “Our thing has been, when we don’t have negative plays like a penalty or a dropped ball sack or whatever, we move the ball really well. Our efficiency rates are really high. I thought that first drive was an example of that.”

Clinging to a 7-6 lead late in the second quarter, Princeton went on another scoring drive, going 52 yards in seven plays, taking a 14-6 lead on a 13-yard TD pass from Blake Stenstrom to JoJo Hawkins.

“That was a big drive, we were scuffling a little bit,” said Surace. “Credit Columbia, they have a good defense. We had some negative plays. Our defense was playing lights out. I thought we really needed to get the points on the board at half and execute well as we did. We got such in a good rhythm there.”

Senior receiver and co-captain Dylan Classi found a good rhythm, making six receptions for 133 yards.

“Dylan is a really good player, he has been so consistent throughout his career,” said Surace. “I thought he did a great job not only on the deep throws, but he got yards after the catch.”

In the second half, Princeton got the job done, scoring 10 unanswered points and continuing to play stifling defense. While Surace was happy with effort, he acknowledged that Princeton has to clean up some things.

“We really played hard, we are overcoming some of the early season mistakes with effort,” said Surace. “I am hoping we can correct them. We are going to need to as you are looking around our league and the competitiveness. We are going to have to raise our game. I thought we played with a great deal of energy.”

With Princeton heading to Lafayette (2-3) on Saturday, the Tigers will look to raise their game as they tune up for the Ivy stretch drive.

“Their scores, except against Temple (30-14) and William and Mary (34-7), have been really close,” said Surace. “In the Temple game, Lafayette gave up three blocked punts. Take those away and that game is probably 17-14 but you can’t take that away. Offense and defense-wise, they are playing in these hard-fought contests. They have won a couple of them, they won one last week (24-14 over Bucknell last Saturday), and they have lost a couple of them.”

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMMEDIATE IMPACT: Princeton High girls’ volleyball player Naomi Lygas leaps up for the ball in recent action. Freshman outside hitter Lygas has made an immediate impact for PHS as she has 75 kills, tied for team best with senior Sarah Villamil. PHS, which defeated WW/P-North 2-0 (25-11, 25-9) last Monday to improve to 10–0, hosts Northern Burlington on October 6 and Paul VI on October 8 before playing at Lawrenceville on October 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As a grade schooler, Naomi Lygas focused her energy on excelling in gymnastics.

But hitting a plateau, Lygas decided to go in another direction athletically.

“I was doing gymnastics for a while, I was pretty good, but I wasn’t very flexible,” said Lygas. “We were looking for something new to try so I tried volleyball.”

It didn’t take long for Lygas to feel at home in her new sport. “I started when I was 11,” said Lygas. “It was instant; I felt like my natural talent was there.”

Utilizing that natural talent, Lygas has emerged as a star this fall in her freshman season for the Princeton High girls’ volleyball team.

Last Wednesday, outside hitter Lygas had a team-high 11 kills to help PHS defeat Hopewell Valley 2-0 (25-21, 25-12).

“We didn’t start out as strong as we normally do,” said Lygas. “We didn’t start out fast, but we ended up finishing strong and that is all that matters.”

With PHS locked into a tight battle in the first set against HoVal, Lygas helped the Tigers pull it out with her strong play at the net. Building on that, PHS got into a rhythm as it produced a strong second set.

“I would like to say that my court vision is pretty good from experience,” said Lygas. “In the second set, we minimized our own errors, which is really what got us in the first set.”

Despite being a freshman, Lygas already has a lot of volleyball experience under her belt. more

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAKING STRIDES: Princeton High boys’ cross country star Marty Brophy competes in a 2021 race. Last Saturday, senior Brophy placed sixth overall at the Varsity B race at the Shore Coaches Invitational, clocking a time of 16:42 over the 5,000-meter course at Holmdel Park to lead the PHS boys to fifth place in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Absence did make Marty Brophy’s heart grow fonder.

Brophy played soccer in the fall of his freshman year at Princeton High, and after wrestling that winter, the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the spring track and field season. He faced a decision that next fall.

“I didn’t really know what to do because I loved running and I couldn’t wait a whole other year until I ran any competitive races again,” said Brophy. “I said, ‘I think I’m done with soccer.’”

Brophy took advantage of the limited chances to run in the modified fall cross country season that followed in 2020, and while remaining an accomplished wrestler in the winter, he also has developed into a top runner for the Tigers.

Now a senior, Brophy placed sixth overall at the Varsity B race at the Shore Coaches Invitational, clocking a time of 16:42 over the 5,000-meter course at Holmdel Park last Saturday to lead the PHS boys to fifth place in the team standings.

“It was definitely a tough race,” said Brophy. “It was a little bit of a shock to the system. We hadn’t run a course that hard this year. But we train hills a lot, so we knew we were ready. We didn’t have the best day, but we could see everything was there for us to improve upon.”

Fellow seniors Zach Deng (16:55) and Charles Howes (17:02) placed 13th and 16th to pace the top half of Princeton’s scoring runners. Junior Maxwell Dunlap ran 18:03 for 53rd and sophomore Cole Rose was just behind him in 18:10 for 55th. Felix Farrugia, a sophomore, and freshman Atticus Ayres also competed for PHS and placed 72nd and 82nd respectively. The Tigers were eight points behind fourth-place finisher St. Peter’s Prep though both teams averaged 17:22 per runner.  more

BEST FOOT FORWARD: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer player Todd Devin kicks the ball upfield in a game earlier this season. Sophomore Devin has been a standout in the midfield for the Panthers this fall. PDS, which fell 3-1 to Lawrence High last Monday to fall to 2-6-1, plays at Rutgers Prep on October 6 to open action in the state Prep B tournament and will then play at George School (Pa.) on October 8 and host Hun on October 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Falling behind local rival Lawrenceville 1-0 late in the first half last Saturday evening, the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team turned up the intensity.

PDS came out flying after halftime, drawing a red card and then proceeding to generate a number of scoring opportunities as it dominated possession. Unfortunately, the Panther shots went just a bit wide, high, and on one sequence, the Lawrenceville goalie stuck out his leg in desperation to deflect a potential goal.

In the end, PDS fell 1-0 but Panther head coach Brian Thomsen liked what he saw notwithstanding the final result.

“Things happen and we tried to get back into the game,” said Thomsen. “Obviously it wasn’t for lack of trying, it was just not putting the ball in the back of the net. That is OK, it happens.”

In Thomsen’s view, the Panthers showed progress.

“I think tonight was a good step in the right direction from a work ethic perspective and just trying to see if we can get something going,” said Thomsen. “We use today as a learning experience. The game could have gone either way, it is one of those things.” more

CENTURY CLUB: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Lily Harlan dribbles upfield in a game earlier this fall. Last Friday, senior star and Boston University commit Harlan tallied two goals and an assist as Stuart defeated Peddie 3-0. Harlan, who recently passed the 100-point mark in her Stuart career, now has 13 goals and nine assists this season, both team-highs, for the 6-2 Tartans. In upcoming action, Stuart hosts Burlington City High on October 5 and the Pennington School on October 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming off a rough 9-2 loss to the Blair Academy last Wednesday, Lily Harlan and her teammates on the Stuart Country Day field hockey team believed that the setback could benefit them as they played at Peddie two days later.

“It wasn’t our best game, but I think those types of games are what a team needs to get better,” said Stuart senior star forward and co-captain Harlan. “In the past for the tournaments, like the Prep Bs and the MCT, playing those harder teams is what prepared us. Our team is very hardworking, very fast, and I really think we can hold our ground against any team after seeing the Blair game. There were many things we could have done differently; you need to lose to learn.”

Last Friday, Harlan applied some lessons against Peddie, weaving through the Falcon defense to score a goal with 9:23 left in the first quarter as the Tartans forged ahead 1-0.

“For me that is how it starts, I score early and that usually gets me going,” said Harlan. “It is so exciting. The team is so nice, they always celebrate. It is very motivating when you have such a good team and coaches because you are not just doing it for yourself.”

Harlan kept doing it, chipping in a goal and an assist in the second half as Stuart pulled away to a 3-0 win over Peddie.

“We just needed to care more, we needed to sprint to every ball because Peddie came in with greater energy,” said Harlan. “They were running all the time. They made it hard, they cared so much the whole time. We just needed to step it up — we were playing sloppy. Once we started making strong block tackles, looking upfield for our teammates and not just passing it nowhere, dodging opponents, making smart moves, that was really the difference. That is how we had so much possession.”

With Stuart improving to 6-2 in the wake of the win, Harlan believes the Tartans can make a strong stretch run. more

September 28, 2022

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Justin Feil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

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

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

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

DOUBLE WHAMMY: Princeton High girls’ tennis doubles star Ashley Chen reaches for a shot last week at the Mercer County Tournament as partner Maya-Alexandra Todorov looks on from the baseline. The pair of senior Chen and sophomore Todorov won the first doubles title at the MCT as PHS placed seventh in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Ashley Chen and Maya-Alexandra Todorov quickly sensed they would be a good pairing when they were teamed up at first doubles this season for the Princeton High girls’ tennis team.

Senior Chen liked the chemistry between the two from the outset.

“I don’t think we had really big issues,” said Chen. “We just played together well.”

Todorov, a sophomore, had a similar feeling. “We realized we had a good team,” said Todorov. “We have good communication. We are good friends, we set each other up really well.”

Their playing styles meshed as well. “Maya’s net game is really strong; if it is a short ball, she is right there,” said Chen. “I know I can always rely on her to get that. My groundstrokes are strong, and I hit them angled. She can put it away.”

The 6’0 Todorov thrives on dominating matches with her volleys.

“Playing at the net is what I bring, it is easier on my knees,” said Todorov, who was sidelined last season by injury. “Ashley is really consistent and sets up the ball good and I just put it away.”Last

Wednesday, Chen and Todorov displayed teamwork and skill as they rallied to put away Peddie’s Lakhi Raju and Catherine Zhang 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the first doubles final at the Mercer County Tournament.

The comeback was a product of the pair being more deliberate. more

SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE: Hun School boys’ soccer player Mass Verduci celebrates a goal last fall as Connor Frykholm looks on in the background. Junior star Frykholm had a lot to celebrate last Thursday, scoring three goals as Hun defeated Pennington 3-0. The Raiders, who defeated Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 4-2 last Saturday in improving to 5-2, play at Episcopal Academy (Pa.) on September 28, host Life Center Academy on October 1, and then play at Steinert on October 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Hun School boys’ soccer team lost three times to the Pennington School last fall, Connor Frykholm believed that the squad was poised for a breakthrough against their powerhouse rival when the foes met last Wednesday.

“We were thinking on last year, it was the first time we played them when we lost 3-2 in overtime,” said Hun junior midfielder Frykholm. “We had that feeling coming into this game that we are just going to go in there and battle.”

Frykholm got things going for the Raiders as he converted a free kick in the first minute of the contest to give Hun a 1-0 lead.

“It starts coming from the back, win a great head ball, all pressure and all effort from there,” said Frykholm, reflecting on the tally. “We got a foul and I was able to tuck it in.”

With just under seven minutes left in the first half, Frykholm cooly slotted in a penalty kick to put Hun ahead 2-0 going into intermission.

“It is just step up and have confidence, I know what I have to do,” said Frykholm. “I have taken them before I had the confidence to do it.”

Displaying that confidence, Frykholm added a third goal with 9:39 left in regulation to put the finishing touch on a comprehensive 3-0 win for the Raiders. It marked Hun’s first win over Pennington since 2010 and sparked a raucous postgame celebration as the players sprinted across the field to hug goalie Diego Pena and posed for cell photos in the aftermath.

Despite the frustrating losses to Pennington last year, Frykholm never doubted that Hun would hold off the Red Hawks last Wednesday.

“With this new group of guys coming in, we have got the chemistry,” said Frykholm. “All of these guys are going to work for each other as well as people coming off the bench. Every single person played a part in today. We knew we were getting it done.” more

HEADS UP PLAY: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Leo George, center, heads the ball in recent action. Last Thursday, senior center back George scored a goal in a losing cause as PHS fell 2-1 at Hopewell Valley. The Tigers, who defeated Lawrence High 2-0 last Saturday to improve to 7-1, host Nottingham on September 29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As one of just three senior starters on the Princeton High boys’ soccer team this year, Leo George has assumed extra responsibility on the field.

“I have definitely stepped up as a leader,” said center back George. “We lost a lot of seniors coming in so I know I had to step up. We are a young team.”

Last Thursday as PHS played at Hopewell Valley, George stepped up early in the first half, blasting in a goal off a feed from Patrick Kenah on a set piece.

“I was feeling very opportunistic,” said George. “I saw a loose ball, so I just took a knock at goal. It was on my left foot, I decided why not. It went into the top, it felt great. I also knew it was only about 10 minutes in and anything can happen.”

Lifted by that tally, PHS carried play for much of the first half as it had a lot of possession and took a 1-0 lead into intermission.

“We were playing great soccer,” said George. “I would say we had the first half in our hands.”

But HoVal wore down PHS as the game unfolded, scoring a pair of goals in the last 15 minutes of regulation to pull out a 2-1 win and hand the Tigers their first loss of the fall.

“They came out strong in the second half,” said George. “They are much bigger, much stronger than us. Their first goal was by No. 6 (Austin Warren); he towered over all of us and put it in. The second goal was unfortunate, we lost our man. In the future, we have to do better on those.”


ENCORE PERFORMANCE: Hun School girls’ tennis player Amanda Francis displays her form last week at the Mercer County Tournament. Senior star Francis advanced to the first singles final at the MCT for the second straight year, helping Hun take ninth in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Amanda Francis had her game going as she started play for the Hun School girls’ tennis team in the final day of the Mercer County Tournament last Wednesday at the Mercer County Park tennis complex.

Looking for her second straight trip to the MCT first singles final, Hun senior star Francis topped Praslin Hayes of the Pennington School 6-4, 7-5 in a grueling semifinal match.

“Amanda is such a strong player, she has great intuition for tennis,” said Hun assistant coach Neal Spadafora. “During her semifinals match, which was a battle, it seemed like each point was won after 15 hits. She is very determined.”

But things ended on a down note for the gritty Francis as she retired after losing the first set 6-2 to Lawrenceville’s Aarushi Attray in the final.

“She was feeling unwell, she played as hard as she could,” said Spadafora, whose team ended up finishing ninth in the team standings of the event won by WW/P-South.

Another Hun senior, Sabrina Wang, made it to the semis, advancing at third singles, where she fell 6-1, 6-1 to Courtney Cane of Peddie. Wang went on to lose to WW/P-South’s Alyssa Yang in the third-place match.

“Sabrina played against another strong player and lost in two sets,” said Spadafora, referring to the third-place match. “She is playing well, her serve is very powerful. She is just a very well-rounded player. This was a good tournament for her, and it showed how she has developed as a player.” more

STRINGING IT OUT: Princeton Day School girls’ tennis star Kristina Wang hits a backhand as she competed in the Mercer Country Tournament last week at the Mercer County Park tennis complex. Junior star Wang placed fourth in second singles to help the Panthers finish in a tie for 11th place with Hopewell Valley in the team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Bringing high hopes into the Mercer Country Tournament last week, the Princeton Day School girls’ tennis team got derailed in the opening day of the competition by illness as it had to default in two of the five flights of the event.

While PDS head coach Michael Augsberger was disappointed to see players unable to finish their matches in September 19 action, he liked the way the team dealt with the situation.

“We thought we could do certain damage in the places where we did enter,” said Augsberger, whose team finished in a tie for 11th place with Hopewell Valley in the team standings in the event won by WW/P-South. “It is good to see that even with the illness happening, we still had a good showing. They had spirits up and you play good competition at counties. This is my second time here with the girls. It was the most schools involved, and we are seeing even more great players.”

Junior Kristina Wang did some damage, advancing to the semifinals at second singles last Wednesday where she fell 6-2, 6-1 to Polaris Hayes of Pennington. more

September 21, 2022

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

By Bill Alden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Justin Feil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOOD RUN: Princeton High field hockey player Delaney Keegan, right, marks a player in a game last season. Last Wednesday, junior midfielder Keegan had a goal and two assists to help PHS defeat Allentown 4-0. The Tigers, who improved to 4-0 with a 6-0 win over Ewing last Monday, play at WW/P-South on September 21, host Robbinsville on September 23, and play at Steinert on September27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Delaney Keegan was a bit frustrated as the Princeton High field hockey team dominated possession in the early going against Allentown last Wednesday but had nothing to show for it.

“At the beginning, everyone was playing a little bit off,” said junior standout Keegan. “At the start of the game we are just trying to get into the mood.”

Keegan helped break the ice, setting up Hannah Christopher as she scored with 1:18 left in the first quarter to give PHS a 1-0 lead.

“Once we got into it, I think it was using each other, effectively passing and communicating, not even with screaming,” said Keegan.

“It was just with signals and looking up, that really, really helped us out.”

With the Tigers scoring a goal in each quarter and the defense holding the first, PHS earned a 4-0 win over the Redbirds. more