PRINCETON: Boys’ soccer teams appear primed for success


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By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
The Princeton High School boys’ soccer program has reached a point where high expectations are the norm each season.
The Little Tigers are annual contenders for conference, county and state sectional championships, and this season should not be any different.
“Once you have a achieved some nice things in the game, that becomes the standard,” said Princeton coach Wayne Sutcliffe, whose team was scheduled to open the season on Thursday against Steinert. “That presents a challenge to the new players each year. There is a reputation and a standard. We have six guys playing in college right now and that says a lot. We are very proud of that. That is part of what our program is about, to try to develop players and have a good environment.”
Princeton returns a solid nucleus from the team that went 17-1-2 and shared the Mercer County Tournament title with Pennington a year ago.
Patrick Jacobs is back in goal, while the defense returns Ian Jacobs, Jun Hasegawa and Jasper Scott. In the midfield, Josh Nieman, Sebastian Ratzan, Galil Cohen, Harry Malady, Noah Middlekauf and Drew Beamer all return to the varsity. The returning forwards are Dean Patel, Noam Davidov and Quentin Pompliano.
“We bring back a nice core of players,” Sutcliffe said. “We put a lot of work in a year ago and we had a good season. Yet I think the players are still knowing that they can do better and they are not satisfied.”
Newcomers to the varsity for Princeton include goalkeeper Joshua Pletcher, defenders Alec Korsah and Thomas Reid, midfielders Zach Yazdani, Michael Gajian, Remy Hebert, Grant Luther and Atticus Lynch, as well as forward Van Ven.
At Montgomery, the Cougars are coming off an 11-7 season and are just two years removed from a berth in the Somerset County Tournament final, where they played Pingry to a draw.
“We scrimmaged three talented teams, Hightstown, Allentown and Hopewell Valley,” Montgomery coach Rickey Steeb said. “We are returning five starters along with 11 others that have varsity experience. The boys have been working extremely hard. One of our goals is to have a successful season and to get better every day.”
The Cougars solid nucleus of returning players includes senior captains Charlie Rodgers and Trent Kettelkamp. Rodgers is the top returning player up front, while Kettelkamp leads the unit in back. The other returning seniors are forwards Troy Vicente Bailon and Sebastian Tamayo, midfielders Marko Elez and Vincent Malgrange, and back Kevin Cresti.
The returning juniors are goalkeepers Nick Millett, Omar Hassanin and Lance DeSantis, backs Mark Tattoli, alex Marna, Justin Zhao, and Justin Hirsch, and midfielder Jack Callan, Sophomore forward Jace Orvos also returns. The newcomers to the varsity include senior backs Harry Fang, Migual Tan, Jacob Curtiss and Isaac Brukham, as well as senior midfielder Ryan Gallagher, junior forward Jordan Grunfeld and sophomore forward Jonny Spiegler.
The freshmen on the varsity are midfielders Ben Choi and Zach Oliu, as well as forward Jason Edelstein.
“I expect our captains and upperclassmen to lead on and off the field,” said Steeb, whose team was scheduled to open the season against North Hunterdon on Thursday.
Princeton Day School is coming off a season in which it went 12-5-3 and captured the state Prep B title.
“We are excited for a strong season in 2017,” said PDS coach Ollie Hilliker, whose team opened the season with a 5-0 vicrory over Wardlaw-Hartridge on Tuesday. “While losing some significant players from 2016, a graduating class of only five players, allows us to bring back a core group that won the Prep B state championship last season.
“This group will be more experienced and educated than last season and we have set our sights high. Our first goal is to reach the Prep B final and challenge to win again. The second, and larger goal, is to have a strong run and progress further in the Mercer County Tournament.”
The Panthers have a wealth of experience returning, led by seniors CJ Uche (midfielder), Manas Sood (goalkeeper), Justin Herrup (defense), James Henderson (midfield), Diego Garcia (midfielder), Donovan Davis (defense). The returning juniors are  William Scarlett (defense), Ricardo Martinez (forward), Wesley Leggett (forward), Coby Auslander (defense), Jake Harris (midfield), and Parker Christian (defense).
Newcomers to the varsity include senior forwards Luke Franzoni and Inyama Iheanyichi, junior defender Jared McDonald, junior goalkeeper Sal Rego, sophomores Nasim Amer (midfield) and Eyal Yakoby (defender), and freshman midfielder William Sedgley.
Franzoni scored a pair of goals in the opening victory, while Henderson, Hughes and Leggett each added a single goal.
At the Hun School, a solid group of returning players will be added to a mix of strong newcomers as the Raiders look to improve on last year’s 5-13 season.
The returning seniors are forward Michael Campbell and midfielders Dylan Smith and Spencer Ducharme. The returning juniors are midfielders Elijah Smarr and James Muldowney, while the group of returning sophomores includes defenders Brian Spencer and Gibson Campbell, along with midfielder Tishe Olaleye.
The newcomers are led by senior forward Alex Peeters, senior goalkeeper Chris Pontrella, senior defender Ryan Torres, and senior midfielder Daniel Hubert. Other newcomers are junior forward Sebastian Lawrence, junior defender Andre Balian, junior defender Joey Licitra, junior goalkeeper Coleman Chiurco, and sophomore midfielder Chris Antar.
“Offensively, I am expecting good things from returners Michael Campbell, Dylan Smith and James Muldowney with help of newcomer Alex Peeters,” said Hun coach Patrick Quirk, whose team will open the season on Saturday at West Windsor-Plainsboro South. “Elijah Smarr is playing a great central midfielder and we will look for him to control the middle of the field. Gibson Cambell will anchor the back with Brian Spencer and Andre Balian.
“There has been a good goalie battle between Chris Pontrella and Coleman Chiurco. I think we have a talented group of guys who are still figuring each other out. But the work rate and competitiveness they have in training make me believe once they are on the same page we can play very good soccer.”

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