Ashana Makhija (VI)
This year, the varsity girls’ tennis team has maintained a strong performance throughout the season. After losing only one match, they are ranked fifth in the state, up from tenth at the beginning of the season. At the end of September, the team won the county tournament, while third singles, Gabrielle Billington, first doubles, Lily Schiffman and Lynn Robinson, and second doubles, Sabrina Schneider and Olivia Gallucci, went on to individually win their county matches.
Although the team works hard, Lily Schiffman (VI) described the positive atmosphere on the team: “Even though girls tennis can get very competitive, we’ve been able to come together as a team and support each other throughout the season.”
The girls’ team has a few weeks left in their season, as they hope to continue their success in the state tournament.
Burke Pagano (VI)
The boys’ varsity football team has started off their season with a relatively strong record. The team has been working hard since the start of preseason in early August under the leadership of Head Coach Chris Shilts.
Captains James Wang (VI), Lance Perlow (VI), Patrick Birotte (VI), and Sam Williams (VI) have tremendous faith that their team will further its success as the season progresses. Senior Ryan Smith (VI) said, “It’s a close-knit team with a lot of great chemistry and that’s a recipe for success.” Teammate and captain Birotte added that “they have high expectations for the end of the season.”
The team has shown resilience throughout this season which has, unfortunately, been riddled with injuries. Despite these setbacks, the team still has much potential for greatness. The highlight of the season so far was when Williams was awarded the Jersey Sports Belt of the week for pulling off a cheeky hook and ladder play. The boys are looking forward to finishing the season strong.
Justin Li (V)
The day preseason began, Head Coach Aleksandar Breznikar stepped down from his position. The team received this news only one year after losing its previous Head Coach, Misha Klochkov, to the Lawrenceville School.
In spite of these obstacles, the water polo team, now co-coached by Jeffrey Jenkins, Steve Droste, and Kevin Schroedter, has maintained a 5-2 record and, more importantly, has shown tremendous resilience. The captains, goalies Mason Stahl (VI) and Dilan Bhat (VI), have stepped up to play key roles in leading practices and facilitating gameplay. Returning players have cultivated their skills to fill the gaps that have formed with the departure of last year’s seniors. The team has also gained a group of promising freshmen.
The Big Blue team competed in the Beast of the East tournament in late September, where it faced more established water polo tournaments in the region. Though the players did not meet their goal of winning their division, sharpshooter Noah Bergam (V) saw a net positive from the team’s participation: “Playing against teams we’d never competed against forced us to adapt our strategy to unfamiliar game styles. We were able to learn a lot from the more experienced teams at the tournament.” So far, the water polo season has forced the team to adapt in the face of unforeseeable difficulties. Regardless, they hope to challenge their rival, The Lawrenceville School, for the state championship and secure a place in the Easterns Prep tournament at the end of the season.
Brian Li (VI)
The boys’ cross country team is hoping to repeat their successes from last year. Despite losing four seniors, two of whom were exceptional runners, captains Roger Matthews (VI) and Henry Wood (V), along with Coaches Matt Horesta and Tim Lear are leading a team ready to embrace new responsibilities.
With eight new freshmen joining the team this year, Coach Horesta remarked that the team has “a younger feel” to it. “They’ve been a great addition to the team,” Horesta said, in regards to its future.
When asked about the season so far, Coach Horesta said that the team has already improved but is “only halfway to where we need to be to compete at our best in late October through the middle of November. We’ve just been getting ready more than anything else so far.”
After the season’s first meet against Bernards on September 12th, which Coach Horesta described as a “starting point which gave us a sense of where we were at and how much we need to do to keep going,” the team ran its second meet in Morristown with “important improvement.”
The team, aiming to win the Prep “A” Championship for the fourth consecutive time, will have its work cut out against Lawrenceville and Oratory Prep. The team also hopes to match last year’s achievements, including placing third in Somerset County and reaching the top five teams of the Skyland Conference.
Brooke Pan (V)
The girls’ cross country team is looking forward to a promising season. Led by captains Nicole Vanasse (VI) and Alina Irvine (V), the team is off to a great start with the varsity team placing third overall in the Ocean State Invitational.
The team’s main goal for this season is to qualify for the Meet of Champions—a highly competitive meet which admits only the top two teams from each division.
To achieve this goal, Coach Grant’s priority is for the team to stay healthy.
“If everybody’s healthy at the end of the season, I think we’ve got a very good opportunity to win,” he said.
Reflecting on last year’s season, Coach Grant is thrilled by the addition of five new freshmen, a refreshing increase from last year. With a bigger team, Coach Grant is excited for the possibilities that new freshmen will present for the team.
Irvine (V) expanded on this idea, emphasizing the role of individual and team improvement: “It is the most rewarding thing for a runner to see that all of their hardwork and dedication paid off when they run a personal record.”
Irvine hopes that “consistent, hard-effort training,” while still “giving each girl a chance to recover,” will enable each runner to achieve her goals.
Matthew Lee (VI)
The boys’ soccer team started the first month of their season strong. Ranked as the third-best team in the state, their expectations are sky-high. With goals to win Somerset County and Non-Public “A” state titles, the team’s mentality this year has been “championship or bust” since the first day of preseason.
“The Pingry soccer program has the goal of winning County’s and State’s every year,” captain John Robertson (VI) said.
Although these are high standards, he knows that “if we can go five or six games in a row without conceding a goal, and the offense can do its job, the wins will come.”
Pingry currently has a 9-2 record and looks to build upon the success they’ve had so far. Unlike last year, the team has been finding ways to win close games. Two weeks ago, they won a two-overtime thriller against a top-twenty Hunterdon Central team. During Homecoming, they defeated Princeton Day School 6-0. Robertson attributes their success to “the depth we have at many different positions.”
Heading into the home stretch of the season, the team will lean on its senior leadership.
“The soccer team has a huge group of seniors with a lot of talent who lead by their play on the field,” Robertson said. “Four captains are super helpful because we can pick each other up, and there are also multiple seniors on the bench who have amazing energy and who support the team in any circumstances.”
The boys look to continue their great season against Gill St. Bernard next week and into the county tournament.
Dean Koenig (V)
The girls’ varsity soccer team has had a successful season thus far, winning nine of the team’s first twelve games. The team, led by captains Emma Capanna (VI), Sofia Lombardo (VI), and Leah Mangold (VI), has been dominant in their wins; the goal differential for all nine wins has been greater than one, while only one of the team’s losses has been decided by more than one goal. The offense has managed to score forty-six goals so far, achieving an average of almost four goals per game. This powerful offense is complemented by an unwavering defense that has allowed only twelve total goals this season.
Head Coach Lauren Molinaro says, “We are in control of our own destiny… if we focus and put in the work, we will see results.” The players have a reputation to uphold their great work this season, as they won the sectional title last year. With great confidence in her team, Olivia Volpe (V) says, “We are beginning to hit our stride and we all know this year is going to be special.”
Carolyn Coyne (V)
Big Blue field hockey is off to a strong start this year, with senior captains Hannah Dillon (VI), Liv Nugent (VI), and Caroline Dannenbaum (VI) leading the team to unprecedented victories in a difficult division. Dillon believes that the team is “looking really strong going into tournament season,” especially in terms of passing. Nugent agrees, claiming that the “team culture is better than ever.” Senior player Lizzie Gilfillan (VI) adds that being this “tight-knit family off the field translates onto the field with our passing connection.”
This strength in passing has been developed by the new varsity head coach, Mr. Izaak Pels. Coach Pels believes that the team is receptive to the ideas and culture he is instilling. He says that the team’s “ability to adapt and change culture has been a remarkable aspect of our versatility.” He thinks that what has happened this year will change team culture for years to come. Head JV coach Margi Dillon agrees, believing that the huge group of dedicated freshmen on JV will help build the program. Indeed, as Coach Decatur says, the future is bright for Pingry field hockey.
By Eva Schiller ’21
The girls’ ice hockey team, led by captains Clare Hall (VI) and Sophia Smith (VI), has powered through the season to finish with six wins and eleven losses. Despite having only thirteen members and facing large, competitive teams, the team has stayed resilient, and in the end, made it all the way to the MSU league semifinals. Although they unfortunately lost to Chatham-Madison, the team is new to the league, which makes their success in the tournament impressive nonetheless.
Perhaps more important than their record is their energy and how close they are as a team, both of which can be attributed to their relatively small size. “We’re always really supportive,” team member Anushka Agrawal states (IV). They are also very excited for success in the future. As Co-captain Clare Hall says, “Although the team was small this year and will be losing two seniors, we hope that many girls join next year and that the team has a successful season!”
By Brian Li ’20
The girls’ squash team had a successful season with a final record of 6-6 and finished 16th at the U.S. Squash High School National Championships. Many of the team’s members also competed in the NJ High School Squash Championship on January 6th. Renee Chan (V) secured a victory for Pingry, Alisa Chokshi (VI) took second, and Olivia Hung (III) finished third.
Coaching a young team with lots of potential, Head Coach Tina Rix-Stout is excited to see how the team’s players develop and progress in the future. Although captains Chokshi and Aashiya Jaggi (VI) are graduating this year, the addition of four new freshmen on the team makes its future very promising.
Despite performing well over the season, the team recognized a few areas they need to improve in. In order to prepare for next season, Coach Rix said, “[As] a team, we need to work on our fitness and endurance. By doing this, the players will be more confident in their skills and able to withstand matches that are longer in duration and intensity.”
The team is excited to continue building a supportive culture and strong connections with each other. Coach Rix explained that “Everybody should put all their effort into the team to ensure we put our best foot forward at the start of the new season.”