By Noah Bergam ’21
The Pingry boys’ soccer team is aiming high this season. With expectations to win the county championship and make a run at the Non-Public “A” title, the team has maintained an impressive record so far.
Captain Drew Beckmen (VI) recognizes that “alhough we lost our goalkeeper and two all-county defenders to graduation, we have an extremely talented junior class and strong senior leadership leading the way this year. Hopefully, we can combine our strong defense and dynamic attack to be one of the strongest teams in the state.”
The team looks promising, but the hardest is yet to come. Hunterdon Central, a big Group 4 school, and Peddie, which Pingry has not beaten in two years, will provide some serious competition in coming weeks. Recently, the boys defeated Staten Island Academy with a score of 6-0 during Homecoming, on the 90th anniversary of the program’s inception.
Beckmen added that in regards to the Non-Public “A” championships, “We have come up short to Delbarton two years in a row in States, so we are determined to beat them this year. Though Non-Public “A” features the best soccer talent in the state, including the boys attending Seton Hall Prep, Christian Brothers Academy, and Delbarton, we are confident that we can compete with these teams. Hopefully, our good play will continue, and we can continue to show the state that we are a team to be reckoned with.”
By Ryan Geller ’20
The Pingry football team is heading into its second year in the Metropolitan Independent League with a new sense of confidence and excitement. Coming off the team’s first winning season since 2003, head coach Mr. Christopher Shilts looks to continue his recent success alongside senior captains Nate Hefner (VI) and Zach Dobson (VI) as well as co-captains Jack Baulig (VI) and Joe Shilts (VI). The team replaces the position of Obi Nnaeto ‘18, who rushed for 1,526 yards and 18 touchdowns, with a new group of running backs led by Hefner and Brian Benson (VI). “It’s nice to have a different kind of mindset, not hoping to win anymore, but expecting to win. Our goal is to be the best Pingry team ever,” said Mr. Shilts. He means business.
The team has started the season 2-2 after beating Newark Academy and Morristown-Beard. Pingry lost 43-42 to Pennington in a hard-fought battle at Homecoming. Next, the team will face Montclair-Kimberley Academy at Friday Night Lights. However, Mr. Shilts’ philosophy remains the same, which is to always focus on “the next one.”
By Josie Jahng ’19
The girls’ varsity field hockey team is off to a solid start. Led by captains Avery Didden (VI), Josie Jahng (VI), and Margot Present (VI), the team has held an even record as they head into county games later this month. Despite graduating a strong senior class, many players are stepping up and taking advantage of the newly-open opportunities. Didden addressed this development by saying, “this first month, we have been getting back into the swing of our play and re-bonding as a team again after the summer.” By focusing on fundamentals during each practice, “such as stick skills, as well as game-like positioning,” everyone on the team has greatly improved their play in recent games. This growth was clearly highlighted in a recent Homecoming game against Pennington; the team won 7-0 and six different players scored. The players are optimistic about the rest of the season, with important games against Basking Ridge High School, Bridgewater-Raritan High School and Hunterdon Central High School coming up. Didden noted that “everyone on the team this year is very committed, and we know this intensity is going to take us far, especially during those big games and tournament time!”
By Josie Jahng ’19
Starting off the season with a winning record, the varsity girls’ soccer team is off to a strong start. Led by Captains Abby Beckmen (VI), Ava Dziadzio (VI), and Caroline Friend (VI), the team has held their own in the Skyland Conference. Dziadzio noted that “our team has clearly proven that we are up there with some of the big-name programs.” Recent highlights include crucial wins against Ridge High School and Hunterdon Central High School, as well as a hard-fought 2-3 loss against Bridgewater-Raritan High School. The team has been working hard on the field and in the weight room, which has translated to strong performances in games.
“This season should be particularly successful, especially with the return of several skilled players from the Academy program and an overall deep, talented roster,” said Dziadzio. As for now, the girls are putting in lots of effort to prepare for their upcoming games as well as for the county and state tournaments that start later this month.
By Walker Johnson ’21
The girls’ varsity tennis team is off to a remarkable start this year, winning the Somerset County Tournament on Saturday, September 22. In addition to their tournament win, the team holds a winning record. Their goals, according to Coach Marion Weber, “are to finish in the top 3 of the conference, win the county tournament, win sectionals, and make it to the group finals.”
The team has changed considerably since last year, with key seniors graduating and three talented freshmen joining the team. Captains Nicole Kloss (VI) and Allie Matthias (VI) are focused on working with the new team to achieve the goals set by their coach. However, in light of their early achievements, it seems that the team has a good chance of not only achieving their goals but exceeding them.
With much of the season still to be played, the team looks to carry its earlier success into sectionals and the group finals. Above all, Coach Weber is most excited about having “a fun and competitive season.”
By Justin Li ’21
In a few ways, varsity co-ed water polo has been reborn.
Weeks before preseason started, previous Head Coach Misha Klochkov unexpectedly departed to coach water polo at the Lawrenceville School. With a number of strong seniors and underclassmen leaving as well, much of the team’s firepower and leadership seemingly vanished. However, under new Head Coach Aleksander Brezikar and captains Kevin Ma (VI), Grace O’Mara (VI), and Ben Ingrassia (VI), the team is ready is bounce back and rebuild its ranks.
They opened the season with convincing wins against St. Peter’s Prep and Choate Rosemary Hall, performances that have allowed Kevin Ma to state with confidence, “Despite the setbacks we have faced, we may be capable of much more than first expected.” When it came time to face their former coach and his more experienced Lawrenceville team, Pingry held down a tied score into the third quarter. Although they ultimately did not emerge from the competitive game with a win, the team will train for their home rematch later this season.
To onlookers, water polo may seem to be only a shell of last year’s team, but the resilience the young team has exhibited so far proves there is more than meets the eye.
By Lauren Taylor ’20
Led by captains Cathleen Parker (VI) and Nicole Vanasse (V), the varsity girls’ cross country team is looking forward to another fantastic season. “Expectations are high for this team,” Head Coach Tim Grant remarked, with the girls coming into preseason ranked ninth in the state. Unfortunately, the team has faced some challenges along the way, with Ryan Davi (IV) and Elina Irvine (IV), two of the team’s strongest runners, both currently injured.
Still, Coach Grant and the team captains have ambitious goals for the season. Coach Grant declared, “Our main goal this year is to qualify for the Meet of Champions and to try to advance to Non-Public A State Championships.” To do this, the team will have to have strong performances at the Shore Coaches Invitational in early October, the Prep State Championship at the end of October, and then the Groups Meet in November. The team placed at all of these meets last season and they hope to defend their title at the Prep State Championships.
Captain Nikki Vanasse, along with the rest of the team, is “really excited for the upcoming meets. . . The team has been training hard and we’re excited to see it pay off!”
By Jeffrey Xiao ’19
Despite losing two varsity runners, the boys’ cross country team, led by captains Tom Drzik (VI) and Jeffrey Xiao (VI), is looking forward to another successful season.
Even after last year’s record-breaking season, the team still fields one of its strongest teams in recent memory, thanks to its chemistry and depth. According to Drzik, “the team currently has a tight pack consisting of 8 or 9 runners. During all practices, everyone works to stay as close to each other as possible.”
The team has already shown strong potential when it opened the season on September 11th with a home meet win against Bernards, Somerville, Immaculata, and Gill St. Bernards. Since then, Coaches Matt Horesta and Tim Lear have helped the team gear up for October’s championship meets through a variety of road runs and workouts.
“As for the rest of the season,” Xiao said, “the team hopes to win the Prep ‘A’ championship for the third consecutive year and break the top three at Non-Public ‘A’ Championships, among others.”
Outplay, Outwork, Outlast! Pingry boys’ lacrosse is certainly on their way to do all three of these things this season, which began in early March. The team has participated in eleven games so far, and has won the majority of their meets, with a record of 11-7. “We are up and down in terms of wins and losses, but the boys have steady growth in terms of skills,” says Head Coach Michael Webster. Their best game was against Hunterdon Central, in which Pingry won 8-5.
“My favorite part of the season was the Hunterdon Central game, because the team came together and rose to the occasion to beat a strong team,” says Jason Weiss (VI), one of the captains. Most of the boys’ lacrosse team members have high hopes about the rest of the season. “I am extremely optimistic about the rest of our season. We are heading into the county tournament and are trying to achieve our team mission of winning the state title after it. All eight seniors have stepped up this year trying to lead a much younger team than there has been in years passed, and the team is excited to try and win its fourth state championship in a row,” says Weiss (Fifteen freshmen have joined the team this year, with five on varsity and ten on JV). “They have been extremely helpful, with two entering into the starting lineup and others helping out as role players.”
Coach Webster also expressed high hopes for the season. “I am optimistic that we can defend our state championship from last year in the Non-Public Group ‘B’ tournament,” he says. Good luck, Pingry lacrosse.
“Lacrosse: Turning violent personalities to world class athletes.” If this statement is true, then most of the twenty members of Pingry girls’ varsity lacrosse team must be in dire need of anger management. Their final regular season record stands at a whopping 14-6. According to Varsity Coach Carter Abbott, the team’s best game was against Hunterdon Central. “The Pingry team hadn’t been leading the game until the last four seconds. Then they really went for it, bringing the final score to 15-14.” Abbot continued, “Also, one of our players scored nine goals in this game, which was amazing.” Currently, the team is ranked fourteenth in the state on nj.com, and is currently seeded third in the Somerset County Tournament.
“This is the best we’ve done in a while, and the best rank we’ve had in about five years. It’s really exciting,” says Abbott. She attributes much of the success of the season to the leadership of the seven seniors, Mairead Higgins (VI), Shea Smith (VI), Sana Sheikh (VI), Josie Cummings (VI), Elle Braveman (VI), Tea Simon (VI), and Jenny Coyne (VI), and the other coaches, Assistant Coach Meredith Finkelstein and Goalie Coach Courtney Tierney. Abbott also says that the team’s “versatile attack” and “experienced defense” are their best weapons. “In each meet, we have four of five different people scoring, which makes us difficult to stop. Having a lot of weapons makes it difficult to stop them all.” she says. Additionally, Abbott states that the twenty-three new freshman, one of whom is on varsity, have contributed much to the team.