Top 10 of 2005

Individuals, teams had plenty to celebrate

By: Bob Nuse
   The past year was another successful one for schools and athletes in the Princeton Packet area.
   There were championships, both individual and team, as well as outstanding individual performances. While some usually successful programs struggled, others flourished.
   Here is a look at the Top 10 accomplishments and stories from 2005 in the Packet area.
   10. PHS on top again: Earlier in the season, the Princeton High boys’ ice hockey team had dropped a 6-0 decision to Notre Dame. But when the teams met again in the Mercer County Tournament, Princeton got the better of the Irish, 3-2, in overtime.
   Kyle DeBlois scored the game-winning goal for the Little Tigers, who captured their first title since 1992. Peter Teifer and Peter Miller also scored for Princeton, which received 45 saves in goal from Shane Leuck.
   Princeton went on to advance to the second round of the state tournament with an overtime win over Morris Hills. The Little Tigers finished the year 19-5-1.
   9. Wild about those ‘Cats: Princeton resident Vince Baldino always had a dream of bringing the best soccer in the world to the Princeton area. This summer he achieved that goal, as his New Jersey Wildcats women’s soccer team captured the W-League championship and established itself as one of the world’s top clubs.
   The Wildcats, whose roster was filled with some of the best players in the sport, hosted the W-League championship at Mercer County Community College, topping the Ottawa Fury, 3-0, in the title game.
   8. Pirate pride returns: It had been 18 years since the West Windsor-Plainsboro High South football team had won a game in the playoffs. It had been seven years since the Pirates had won more than six games in a season. But this year’s team made history on several counts.
   The Pirates won their first nine games of the season, the best start ever at the school. They also won the school’s first playoff game since 1987 with a 24-21 win over Colts Neck in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group III playoffs. And even after falling to Nottingham in the CJ III semis, the Pirates topped Lawrence in their finale to finish 10-1, the best record in school history.
   7. Repeating on the links: The Princeton High golf team proved that its success in 2004 was no fluke when the Little Tigers repeated as Mercer County champions. Princeton used the same recipe of balance and depth it used a year earlier to capture a second straight MCT.
   Unlike a year earlier, Princeton did not finish the season with an undefeated record. But this time around, the Little Tigers were able to finish the season strong, winding up sixth at the Tournament of Champions.
   6. New kid on the block: Prior to last season, Montgomery High was certainly not known as a boys’ lacrosse power. The Cougars had enjoyed some success, but nothing like the year they had in 2005. Montgomery captured its first Somerset County Tournament title with a 6-3 win over Pingry. The Cougars were the first team other than Pingry or Bridgewater to even reach the final game.
   The Cougars also captured a Bianchi Division championship and came within a 9-8 loss to West Essex of reaching the state Group II championship game.
   5. It’s about time: It had been 10 years since the Princeton University football team was in first place in the Ivy League so late in a season. This year, the Tigers surprised everybody in the league by going into week nine of the season still in the hunt, before falling a late victim to Yale to end their title hopes.
   Even so, the Tigers’ 7-3 mark and second-place finish was their best since 1995 when they last won an Ivy title. Jay McCareins spearheaded the Tigers’ return to prominence as the senior cornerback was named Princeton’s first All-America position player since 1993.
   4. Seems like old times: During the mid-1990s, the West Windsor-Plainsboro High boys’ tennis team was one of the top teams in the state. The Pirates advanced to the Tournament of Champions five straight years, including three trips to the finals against Newark Academy.
   This year, the Pirates returned to the T of C, winning the state Group IV championship and advancing to the semifinals before losing to Delbarton. WW-P South went 25-0 before falling in the T of C. Along the way the Pirates captured the Mercer County Tournament championship, as well as the Colonial Valley Conference Colonial Division.
   3. Girls of summer: If it’s summer time, it must mean another state championship for the West Windsor Little League softball 12-year-old all-stars. West Windsor topped Pequannock, 5-4, in the championship game to capture a second straight New Jersey state championship.
   West Windsor then won the Mid-Atlantic Regional and advanced to the championship game of the Eastern Regional, before falling to Orange, Conn., 4-0. A year earlier, West Windsor had lost in the single-elimination portion of the regional. As a program, West Windsor has won four state titles in the last four years.
   2. Second to none: After losing a very good group of seniors to graduation, who could have foreseen the kind of season the Montgomery High girls’ soccer team was about to have? And after being upset in the quarterfinals of the Somerset County Tournament, who would have thought the Cougars would begin a run that would eventually lead to a share of the state Group III championship?
   Montgomery entered the North Jersey, Section 2 Group III tournament as the No. 3 seed. After allowing a goal in a 6-1 win over Nutley, the Cougars posted four straight shutouts, including a 1-0 win over Ridge, to capture the sectional title. Montgomery then topped Ramapo, 1-0, in the Group III state semifinals before playing Moorestown to a scoreless tie in the Group III championship game at The College of New Jersey.
   1. Boys of summer: One year after reaching the Cal Ripken World Series as 12-year-olds, a group of all-star baseball players from Montgomery went one step further this summer. The Montgomery Babe Ruth 13-year-old team started the summer by winning the District One championship. After that, Montgomery captured the Southern New Jersey championship, then the Mid-Atlantic championship on its own home field.
   With a berth in the Babe Ruth World Series, the team from Montgomery traveled to Jamestown, N.Y., where it reached the championship game before falling to Jefferson Parish, La., 7-5.