Above, this year’s PDS Fall Athletics award winners: Lily Nyce ’22, Neha Khandkar ’23, Jadyn Huff ’23, Ngozi Mahjied ’22, Ally Antonacci ’22, Milan Shah ’22, Todd Devin ’25, Emily McCann ’24, Arun Patel ’24, Ali Surace ’22
Princeton Day School Athletic Director Katie Fay said it perfectly as she welcomed attendees to the Fall Athletics Awards Assembly: “WHAT. A. SEASON!”
The campus felt alive with energy and school spirit as the community came out to support our student-athletes this fall. Pep rallies, Zoo games, course records, exciting and competitive play throughout the season capped off by Mercer County and Prep tournament actions, complete with Sectional Championships and state championship finalist competitions in our fist season as part of the NJSIAA. Our athletes’ success was felt throughout the county, region and state. It has truly been an unforgettable season, and the coaches’ season recaps and awards, presented at Tuesday’s Fall US Athletics Assembly (below), reflect the determination and grit of each team and participant.
A member of each team is chosen for the following awards:
Junior Varsity Coaches' Award
Presented seasonally to one athlete who exemplified a special quality deserving of recognition, such as leadership, sportsmanship, most improved skills or unsung hero, etc.
Varsity Team Award
Presented seasonally to the athlete who made the greatest contribution to the success and growth of the program, be it through leadership, sportsmanship, positivity, work ethic or athletic excellence.
The volleyball program exploded in size this year with 40 players coming out to practice and compete. Each of the three teams managed to find a level of success. The season was defined by competitiveness, as the schedule provided many close matches. Over the course of the last few months, the program went from winless to winning 5 matches – a huge jump in a short period of time. The upperclassmen led the way this season and the future is incredibly bright with many freshmen and sophomores getting lots of playtime and experience. This bodes well for a big uptick again next season!
JV Award – This athlete deserves recognition for her dedication and effort she puts towards the team. Regardless of whether the team is winning or losing, she always brings energy and enthusiasm. She has been trusted to play in every position on the court willingly and without hesitation. Not only has she acted as a utility player, she even goes the extra mile to do the best that she can to support the team on or off the court. This player steps up with her work ethic and it did not go unseen!
Congratulations to Nala Verlus ’25!
Varsity Award –- This award goes to a player who exemplifies our culture on and off the court in the way she carries herself among the team and the school community. She led the team to multiple match victories this season with her individual game performances in kills and blocks. Many of the younger players look up to her, and she has brought in players that helped the program grow. She concluded her high school volleyball career yesterday when she represented PDS at the Conference All-Star game.
Congratulations to Ngozi Mahjied ’22!
The theme of this year was transition, with new coaches, players, formations, philosophy and culture. As with any transition this season had its ups and downs with some frustrating away losses and thrilling victories. The most exciting win perhaps was the first state win in Panther girls soccer history to a higher ranked opponent, playing with a Goalkeeper who had exactly one day of practice and trailing by 1 with 15 minutes left. The team rallied to make a triumphant comeback with their “never give up” attitude.
Over the course of the season the team progressed well despite small numbers, lots of injuries and all of the transitions. A new culture was formed, a style of play created and the foundations for future success was laid.
Varsity Award –- This player is a 4-year Varsity player and team captain. She is the ultimate team player. This season in particular, she sacrificed her own personal strengths and desires as a player for the greater needs of the team, moving into more of a defensive role, though she was an important factor on the offensive side, finishing the season with 5 goals and 7 assists.
While her performances on the field were impressive, she also set the standard off the field for her teammates to follow. She was a great mentor to the younger players around her and really was the metronome for the team's new possession style of play. Additionally, she played an instrumental role in team chemistry and bonding throughout the season. Her contributions to the program will be felt for years to come.
Congratulations to Ali Surace ’22!
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
Varsity Boys Cross country had a season of rebuilding after losing 7 of their top 11 runners from last year's team. The team kept improving with each meet and finished the season remarkably strong. They defeated arch-rival Pennington and put up the best performance by a PDS boys team in 11 years at the Mercer County Meet. They ran even better in the final meets of the season, finishing 4th at the Prep B meet and 5th in the State Group Championships. This team only graduates one senior and they hope to build on this year for a run at the Prep Championship next year.
Varsity Award –- The Varsity award for Boys Cross Country for the 2021 season goes to the runner who led the team as the top performer in 8 of 11 meets. He ended the season with an 11th place finish at the Prep B Championship, but it was really his dedication to the sport, and his strong work ethic, that set him apart. He set the tone and the pace in almost every workout. He loves running and he also has grown in his ability to help his teammates. His efforts were instrumental in his team's success.
Congratulations to Arun Patel ’24!
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
Varsity Girls Cross Country enjoyed another great season following their undefeated campaign from 2020. Their record was 7-2 with early losses to Lawrenceville and Wilberforce. They then went on a 6 meet winning streak to end the dual meet season. The girls finished 3rd in the Prep B championship, only 4 points out of 2nd place. This was the highest finish for a PDS girls team at this meet since 2013.
Varsity Award –- The Varsity Award for Girls Cross Country for the 2021 season goes to an athlete who had perhaps the finest season for PDS girls XC in the history of the program. As the Individual Prep B Champion, she led the girls team to a 3rd place finish, the best since 2013. Additionally, she also shattered the PDS home course record for the girls 5K. She grew in her confidence and her work ethic this season and helped her young teammates to improve which has strengthened the team.
This was an historic season for this year’s Varsity Award Winner, Emily McCann ’24!
The girls' varsity tennis team put up an 8-6 record this season on their way to winning the school's first-ever state sectional championship. The Varsity team finished the year as State Runner-Ups in the Non-public A Division and third at the Prep B tournament. Along the way, the team had strong showings at the Mercer County tournament and individual state tournament. There was incredible talent and depth in the team with 15 players getting time in varsity matches. The JV team also yielded some great wins and it is safe to say the future is bright for the PDS Girls Tennis Program!
JV Award – The JV Award goes to a player who capped her 4 years of tennis at PDS by earning a spot as a "swing player.” In the JV line up, she had wins over Notre Dame, Hun and Moorestown and losses to perennial powerhouse squads from West Windsor South and Pingry. She has been dedicated to her sport, practicing hard in preseason and throughout the fall, and was always eager to represent either JV or Varsity squads in match play. PDS Tennis will certainly miss the good vibes from this athlete - a ready smile, optimism, respect for teammates and coaches and hustle on the court.
Congratulations to Lily Nyce ’22!
Varsity Award –- This award goes to a player who always leads by example in dealing with adversity by thinking critically and composing herself. She played in the top position all season facing the best players in the state. In her first individual state tournament, she made it to the round of 16, representing Princeton Day School with grit and grace.
For her leadership, talent and poise, the Varsity Award goes to Neha Khandkar ’23!
Field Hockey - JV
The JV team had an outstanding season and finished with an overall record of 11-0. The athletes played well together and improved their stick skills and team play from one game to the next. Highlights of the season included an early victory over Lawrenceville and solid wins against Stuart and Hun.
JV Award – This athlete was a dual player for Junior Varsity and Varsity this season. She is versatile and can play as a back, a forward and on the midfield line. She has a strong hit, a steady block tackle and does well in 1v1 situations when on defense. This player has the potential to become an impact Varsity player and be one of our strikers on offensive corners. She has a quiet confidence and stepped into playing left back for us in the Varsity game against MKA during the 2nd round of the New Jersey Non-Public State tournament when our starting left back was sick. We look forward to coaching this athlete in the years to come and we are thrilled to have her in our program.
This year’s Junior Varsity Field Hockey Award goes to Peyton Richardson ’25!
Varsity Field Hockey
The Varsity field hockey team had an outstanding season! Highlights included a 2nd place finish in the Mercer County tournament where the game tying goal was scored with 1 second left on the clock, and a game winning goal scored with no time left on the clock in the 2nd round of the Mercer County tournament. This is the 2nd Mercer County Championship game the seniors have played in and the team finished with an overall record of 13-6. Congratulations to the athletes for all of their hard work!
Varsity Award – When this athlete arrived for preseason her freshman year, it was clear she had the potential to be a great field hockey player. She has excellent game sense and was able to transition her ice hockey stick skills to field hockey. She is successful in 1v1 situations and eliminates defenders with ease by quickly changing direction and utilizing her 3 dimensional ball handling skills. This athlete has been our inserter on offensive corners and sets up our hitters with consistently accurate passes.
She is a selfless player who combines with her teammates to create one of the most potent offenses in the county. This athlete led the team in total points this season with 18 goals and 16 assists for a total of 52 points. She earned Central Jersey Field Hockey Coaches Association First Team Honors for her outstanding play
In Coach Farlow’s words “She scored the best high school field hockey goal I’ve ever seen when she scored the game tying goal in our Mercer County Championship game with 1 second left on the clock.”
Congratulations to Ally Antonacci ’22 for earning the Varsity Award for Field Hockey!
Boys Soccer - JV
JV Boys Soccer had a busy season, playing more matches than in many recent years. Despite competing with many schools that are considerably bigger with much larger programs, the team entered every match with enthusiasm, vigor, and desire to improve. They put up big wins against George School and Peddie.
The players fostered this camaraderie in our practices, where they worked hard to develop as both soccer players and as teammates. They made particular improvements in moving the ball around the field effectively. Every player was eager and willing to step up and take on whatever role was asked of him - the mark of a true teammate.
JV Award – This year’s JV Soccer Coaches’ award goes to a player who was a lynchpin of the defense as well as one of the first to make everyone laugh during training sessions. Frequently one of the smallest players on the field, opponents were often caught off guard by the ferocity of his tackles. This player also helped to ensure that the team maintained organization and the coaches could rely on him to shout out encouragement to his teammates when they needed to sprint back on defense or clear the box to release a counterattack.
This year’s JV Coaches’ Award goes to Max Schragger ’25!
Boys Varsity Soccer
In a year where the boys played arguably the hardest schedule in the state of New Jersey, fighting throughout the season to maintain a .500 record, they found a way to come together during tournament time, winning the program's first-ever state Sectional championship by defeating The Ranney School 3-1 on November 11th and earning a spot in the State Championship Final. Their strength of schedule, state tournament run, and the brotherhood these boys cultivated throughout the fall contributed to memories the program will never forget as this team has left a lasting legacy and have set up the program for years of upcoming success moving forward.
Varsity Award – This athlete led his team on and off the field and was a true leader for the PDS Boys Soccer program during the 2021 season. He contributed 17 goals and 6 assists while leading his team to a Sectional title. His passion for his team and his school are evident.
It’s my pleasure to present the 2021 Boys Soccer Varsity Award to Milan Shah ’22!
Rookie of the Season Award
Presented to an athlete who is new to the Varsity program and made a significant impact on their team. Nominated by coaches and determined by the Athletic Department, this award is given seasonally.
This athlete made an immediate impact as soon as he stepped onto campus and helped lead the Boys Varsity Soccer team all the way to the State Final this past weekend. Mostly used on the defensive line or in the midfield, his tenacious ability to defend and break up plays helped disrupt opponents throughout the season. He came up with some big offensive plays as well, scoring 3 important goals and dishing out 3 assists throughout the year. The biggest goal he scored for his team happened against Bishop Eustace in the Sectional semifinal game where he helped the team even the score to 1-1, energizing the attack throughout the rest of the game. We look forward to seeing this player continue to develop as a leader and a pivotal member of the PDS Boys Varsity program in his remaining three years with the team.
Congratulations to Todd Devin ’25!
Athlete of the Season Award
Presented to an athlete whose athletic performance provided the greatest contribution to the success of the Princeton Day School Athletic Program. Nominated by coaches and determined by the Athletic Department, this award is given seasonally.
Every time this player takes the field, it is clear she is one of the best, if not the best, field hockey athletes in the game. She is tenacious and eliminates the other teams’ defense with her individual stick skills and her accurate passes. She is also a natural leader who organizes the team on the field by giving direction to her teammates and setting up our defensive structure.
This athlete is selfless and works tirelessly in the off-season. As a result of her hard work, she anchors the PDS offensive corner unit, contributing 10 goals and 12 assists this season. One of her most impressive goals occurred during the Mercer County game against Stuart when she scored with no time left on the clock. She earned Central Jersey Field Hockey Coaches Association First Team Honors for her efforts. We can’t wait to see what she does in her senior season next fall.
It’s my pleasure to present this award to Jadyn Huff ’23!
Want to enjoy more peeks at this unforgettable PDS fall athletics season?
Please enjoy our many PDS Fall athletics team Flickr albums, which showcase team photos and more!
Also make sure to scroll back through our news feed, which features a series of Friday posts on each head coach and team.
And don’t forget to follow us on our @pdsathletics Instagram and our main PDS Instagram, Facebook and Twitter platforms!
Finally, enjoy this slideshow of the season’s highlights, prepared as always by Athletics Coordinator Emily Shircliff: