Get ready for another exciting fall! With three of the six varsity fall programs returning to defend their Friends Schools League titles -- Boys Cross Country, Girls Soccer, and Tennis -- expectations are high and preparations intense. The Tiger teams took the fields, courts, and course in mid-August; have played a short list of non-league rivals; and kick off FSL competition later this month.
Previewing the varsity fall teams:
Varsity Boys Cross Country look for their 20th consecutive FSL title this season. With the core group of returning runners, the milestone looks well within reach, barring injury. In addition to capturing the league crown, the Tigers finished 2nd overall in the 2021 Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletics Association (PAISAA) State Championship and 1st among all FSL teams. Top runner Simon Donovan '23 (photo) captured gold in the state meet and will pace the Tigers in 2022 along with fellow seniors Shuford Kirk and Jiasheng Shi and junior PJ Kresloff. Kirk and Mason Kresloff '25 also finished in the top-10 at State, at #6 and #10 respectively. The team graduated varsity runners Charlie Brodkin (Vassar XC) and Sam Rekulak but runners from the '21 JV squad, which landed second at State, are vying to replace their spikes.
"This group has an opportunity to be special, as we return a number of athletes that have developed a lot and learned a great deal since last fall. I'm excited for the possibilities that lie ahead, as the team does a great job of helping to elevate one another while in pursuit of their individual and collective goals," said Varsity Head Coach Conrad Haber.
Varsity Girls Cross Country has its eye on the prize, one meet at a time. The team finished 2nd in the league last year for the fourth consecutive season. Despite graduating top runners Anna Macdonald (2021 PAISAA State Champion and Nike Regional Champion, now at Pomona XC) and Annika Marcelis (3rd at State), the team builds on a solid foundation and tradition of excellence, and will be led by seniors Katya Henisz, Emma Nam (photo), and Cora Rosin, all seniors. Henisz and Nam finished in the top-10 at State, at #6 and #8 respectively, and will pace the Tigers along with a talented group of newcomers and experienced returners.
"While the team lost the top two cross country runners in school history to graduation (Anna and Annika), the team has been training hard all summer and has already started to establish a new identity. With a fantastic mix of experienced returners and talented newcomers, I'm confident that the team is going to build on the momentum from last year; I'm excited for what lies ahead," said Haber.
The Boys and Girls teams will open their seasons this Saturday, September 10, at the annual Cherokee Challenge in Marlton, NJ.
Varsity Girls Soccer looks to build on their success as 2021 league champions. Despite graduating five starters, of which three were All-League honorees, the Tigers have strong leadership in senior captains Ella Shay (2X captain, photo), Margaret Harvery (All-State), and Alessandra Fusaro, all of whom were starters and impact players in '21. Also returning to the starting lineup: Katie Day ‘25, Maya Orenstein ‘23, and Caroline Putnam ‘23. Be on the lookout for May Gomez-Younkin '25, Stella Ragas '23, Hannah Farber '25, Claire Rigdon '25, and Mia Rutledge '25 to add depth to the squad. In addition to winning the FSL, last year's Tigers went undefeated in league play (9-0 including playoffs) and finished with an overall record of 10-4-1. The team also advanced to the first round of the PAISAA state tournament.
"We are looking forward to having a really strong season. We have a great leadership group, as well as a talented and motivated squad. If we can stay healthy, we hope to have another successful year!" said Coach Manolo Sanchez '10.
Games to watch: September 16 vs. and at Penn Charter, October 11 vs. Moorestown Friends (FSL Championship rematch) at home; October 14 vs. Westtown on the road; October 20 vs. Friends Central (Senior Day) at home.
Varsity Girls Tennis aims to retain the FSL crown -- one which they absolutely relished after advancing to the FSL finals, but falling short, eight of the ten last seasons. The '21 team finished with a 9-1 league record and 12-2 overall. This year's returning squad has big tennis shoes to fill and entered the August practices well oiled and ready to roll.
"The tennis players have really put in their time during the off season and this summer, and have come back strong! We should have another great year!" said Head Varsity Coach Chris Booth.
That training will be essential as the Tigers look to fill the top two positions vacated by graduates Taylor Ford (#1 singles, now at Tuskegee Tennis) and Mariel Kavanagh (#2 singles).
The team will be led by the three seniors Riley Helfrich, Cece Idinopulous, and Alice Mather. Helfrich and Indinopulous will continue as #1 doubles partners; the pair were consistent performers throughout the '21 season. The team will also look for strength from #1 singles Madalyn Shen '25 (photo) and at #2 singles will be Lucy Gerber '25.
The Tigers will face Moorestown Friends -- the team they beat in the FSL Championship -- on October 3, at home.
Varsity Boys Soccer looks to "bounce back into contention for the FSL playoffs," said Varsity Head Coach Sam McIlvain. "With a strong core of returning players, a few key additions, impressive chemistry, self-belief, and a desire to win, the team looks ready to compete and earn their spot. As always, remaining healthy and injury-free will be important, but the Tigers have gotten a little deeper and a 'next man up' mentality is working its way into their DNA. After a strong preseason with some impressive results, the squad is hungry for the season to begin so they can test their mettle."
Despite falling short of the FSL playoffs, the '21 Tigers captured the Quaker Cup beating Academy of the New Church after 80 minutes of regulation play, two overtime periods, and penalty kicks.
This year's seniors Jacob Burnett and Isaac Okewole (photo) will lead the Tigers as captains and skilled players on the pitch. Other returning starters include Conner Clark '25, Ben Goldberg '23, Eli Laskawy '23, Da’Vid Robinson '23, and Ezra Stern '23.
Varsity Field Hockey will be led by tri-captains Isla Ablin '24 (photo), Anna Pendse '25, and Halle Smoger '25 this season. The veteran players were all starters and key contributors for the Tigers in '21. The team graduated five players, all starters, and will look to the underclassman to help rebuild the program.
The Tigers non-league schedule includes a few teams that the Tigers haven't faced in recent years, with the goal of providing competitive match-ups en route to FSL games.
"I'm feeling confident in this young group of athletes. They come to practices and games looking to improve and learn. If we continue to work hard and compete, we will be successful during league play," said Varsity Head Coach Rachel Steinman.
The Tigers open their FSL slate on September 14, against Friends Central, at home, at 4:00 PM.
The Crew team, in its fall season, will row in several regattas in preparation for the competitive spring season. Varsity, JV, and novice athletes will compete in races, as follows:
King's Head Regatta: Sun., September 25 (King of Prussia, PA) - JV/V
Head of the Christina: Sun., October 2 (Wilmington, DE) - JV/V
Navy Day: Sun., October 16 (Philadelphia, PA) - JV/V & N
HOCR Charles: Thur.-Sun., October 20-23 (Boston, MA) - JV/V (select boats)
HOSR Schuylkill: Sun., Oct. 30 (Philadelphia, PA) - JV/V & N
The team will be lead by captains Cara Appleberry '24, Joshua Cappiello '24, and Aiden Cusack '23.