Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Skyland Conference Field Hockey All-Stars

Delaware Division


Forwards -- Kim Engelhart, Hunterdon Central, sr.; Caroline Murphy, Bridgewater-Raritan, sr.; Julia Mallozzi, Hillsborough, sr.; Catherine Caro, Bridgewater-Raritan, jr.; Rachel Yaney, Bridgewater-Raritan, jr.; Sam Brown, Ridge, jr.; Nicole Barrett, Hunterdon Central, jr.

Midfielders -- Kristen Givens, Hunterdon Central, sr.; Ashley Hough, Pingry, sr.; Katie Ruesterholz, Pingry, jr.; Taylor Mygatt, Bridgewater-Raritan, sr.

Defenders -- Emma Meany, Hillsborough, sr.; Kayla Sullivan, Bridgewater-Raritan, sr.; Jen Finnott, Watchung Hills, sr.

Goalie -- Christen Piersante, Bridgewater-Raritan, jr.


Forwards -- Rebecca Jaeger, Hunterdon Central, sr.; Jackie Schwankert, Hillsborough, jr.; Brigid Bruno, Pingry, jr.; Nicole Arata, Pingry, jr.; Annie Vreeland, Pingry, sr.

Midfielders -- Julie Earle, Hunterdon Central, sr.; Lauren Belskie, Hillsborough, so.; Maryanne Myers, Hillsborough, sr.; Jess Casterline, Bridgewater-Raritan, sr.; Ellexa Thomas, Ridge, so.

Defenders -- Lauren DeVito, Pingry, jr.; Dayle Paustian, Bridgewater-Raritan, jr.; Rachel Longenecker, North Hunterdon, sr.; Claudia Emaunel, Watchung Hills, jr.

Goalies -- Felicia Heard, North Hunterdon, sr.; Maddie Taddeo, Ridge, jr.

Raritan Division


Forwards -- Katie Decker, Phillipsburg, jr.; Lauren Nunes, Phillipsburg, sr.; Lindsey Schott, Warren Hills, sr.; Erica Hrudowsky, Montgomery, jr.; Antoinette Metzler, Voorhees, sr.

Midfielders -- Niki Miller, Warren Hills, jr.; Shari Jones, Montgomery, sr.; Whitney Kowski, Warren Hills, sr.; Nikki Schott, Warren Hills, so.; Erin Miller, Voorhees, sr.

Defenders -- Allison Mannheimer, Montgomery, so.; Jen Hylkema, Warren Hills, sr.; Taylor Irving, Voorhees, sr.; Brie Petrone, Somerville, sr.

Goalies -- Kimmie Pianucci, Voorhees, sr.; Mary Drabich, Delaware Valley, sr.


Forwards -- Priscilla Howell, Phillipsburg, sr.; Rebecca Ramdeo, Franklin, sr.; Kayla Grater, Warren Hills, sr.; Diane Opeikun, Delaware Valley, sr.

Midfielders -- Philly Lumsden, Montgomery, so.; Molly Zgoda, Phillipsburg, jr.; Cat Chen, Voorhees, sr.; Sara Diacik, Voorhees, jr.; Maria Sacchi, Somerville, sr.

Defenders -- Caitlin Clark, Warren Hills, sr.; Courtney Sisputowski, Franklin, sr.; Natalie Colonna, Montgomery, jr.; Caitlyn Slusser, Delaware Valley, jr.; Alex Barish, Voorhees, so.; Juana Guglielimino, Voorhees, sr.

Goalie -- Katie Wintersteen, Warren Hills, jr.


Forward -- Kat Francis, Voorhees, sr.

Midfielders -- Olivia Brogan, Delaware Valley, jr.; Jess Hopf, Somerville, sr.

Defenders -- Jamie Miller, Warren Hills, sr.; Kaelin Conover, Franklin, jr.; Tori Rudo, Montgomery, jr.

Goalie -- Brittany Lavin, Phillipsburg, sr.

Valley Division


Forwards -- Tiffany McKenna, Belvidere, sr.; Kaycee Zelkovski, South Hunterdon, so.

Midfielders -- Kasey Keenan, Belvidere, sr.; Laura Cheatham, Belvidere, sr.; Kelly Albanir, South Hunterdon, sr.; Karli Ribsam, South Hunterdon, sr.; Sarah Knap, Mount St. Mary, sr.; Emma Christus, Bernards, fr.; KeeKee Winslow, Bernards, sr.

Defenders -- Abby McMorrow, Bernards, sr.; Grace Dienes, South Hunterdon, sr.; Katie Murray, Mount St. Mary, sr.; McKenna Kels, Belvidere, sr.; Laurel Shnider, Bernards, sr.

Goalie -- Geolenne Velasquez, North Plainfield, sr.


Forwards -- Jess Towey, North Warren, fr.; Sarah Dickert, Mount St. Mary, sr.; Jenny Reis, Mount St. Mary, sr.; Alexa Beaumont, Belvidere, jr.; Nicole DeHerde, Belvidere, jr.; Rachel Alberti, Bernards, so.; Amber Dey, South Hunterdon, so.; Becca Hendricks, South Hunterdon, sr.

Midfielders -- Morgan Lucas, Belvidere, sr.; Jenny Reilly, North Plainfield, sr.; Brett Lelie, South Hunterdon, so.

Defenders -- Shannon West, North Plainfield, sr.; Sarah Pakrul, Bernards, sr.; Nicole Corcoran, Bernards, sr.

Goalie -- Josee Ritter, Belvidere, sr.


Forwards -- Liz Martinez, Belvidere, sr.; Annie Maass, Bernards, sr.

Goalies -- Sam Soscia, South Hunterdon, so.; Alyssa Torres, Mount St. Mary, jr.

Bold denotes-- Players from Hunterdon and Warren counties

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NJSIAA: Central's loss doesn't spoil fantastic run

Hunterdon Central's field hockey team wasn't pleased with the outcome on Thursday, but the Red Devils are proud of a season that ended with a championship during one of the greatest comeback stories.

Senior right inner Rebecca Jaeger pulled Central within one goal late in the first half, but it wasn't enough to fuel what would have been an improbable comeback in a 4-1 loss to Bridgewater-Raritan in a Group 4 semifinal contest at Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights.

Central (14-10), a No. 6 seed, claimed the North 2 sectional title, the program's first since 2007, just three days earlier to set up a third meeting with Skyland Conference nemesis Bridgewater-Raritan (21-3), who had beaten the Red Devils, 7-1 and 4-1, in regular season meetings.

Coach Kathie DeBonis and the Panthers advance to meet 12-time defending champion Eastern for a seventh straight year in the Group 4 final on Sunday at Toms River East. Bridgewater-Raritan, the North 1 sectional champion, has now won 10 straight over Hunterdon Central dating to 2007. Central's last win was 1-0 on Sept. 10 in a regular season meeting that year, which ended with a 2-1 loss to Bridgewater-Raritan in the Group 4 semis. The Devils have also been outscored, 44-6, in those 10 losses.

"Hunterdon Central, for me personally, when I started coaching, they were the team I aspired to be," said DeBonis, whose teams have won seven straight sectional titles dating to 2005. "Going back to [former coach] Sandy Chronic, they were what we tried to emulate. I have an amazing respect for that program. If you want to be the best you study the best. This program wouldn't be where it is if it wasn't for [Central] beating us all those years."

The Hunterdon County school got back onto the state map this season, following back-to-back losing campaigns in 2009 and '10. A year ago, Central coach Jenn Sponzo's team went 3-12-1 and scored a total of 11 goals.

"It's a humble feeling to go [3-12-1]," said Sponzo, the program's winningest coach who captured her sixth sectional title this season. "Going into this season the girls worked hard every day and worked to get that respect [for the program] back."

The Red Devils trailed 2-0 early after junior forward Rachel Yaney popped in one off the pads of Central goalie Fran Orella for her team-leading 25th goal with 19:54 left before halftime. The Panthers got their first off a corner -- a rocket shot into the right corner by Taylor Mygatt -- just under 8 minutes into the contest.

But Central hung tough the rest of the way and made it a one-goal game when Jaeger redirected a ball from senior forward Kim Engelhart inside the right post with 6:27 to go before the break. Suddenly, the Red Devils had the momentum.

But Bridgewater-Raritan got it back early in the second half. Senior midfielder Kayla Sullivan, who played a fantastic game, all but sealed it when she converted a penalty stroke with 23:14 left in the game. The stroke was awarded when a Central defender stopped a shot with her body near the goal line.

Mackenzie Knouse put the finishing touches on the win with an unassisted goal near the six-minute mark.

"Until the stroke I thought we kept it very respectable," Sponzo said.

Central just couldn't quite duplicate it's solid play from the last 10 minutes of the first half in the final 30 minutes.

"After halftime we realized that this is it and we've got to put two goals in to win," Jaeger said. "Maybe we were trying to focus more on putting the ball [in the cage] than working more as a team."

Jaeger was inspired by her team's comeback this season to get within one game of playing for a Group 4 title after a pair of rare down years at the Flemington-based school.

"I could've only dreamed it after last season," she said. "I'm absolutely proud of how far we've come from last year. We all had the teamwork and desire to be here. Everybody here wants to win. It's what helped us get this far."

Hunterdon Central (14-10)               1                   0             --   1
Bridgewater-Raritan (21-3)              2                   2             --   4


First half -- BR, Taylor Mygatt, 11th, (Kayla Sullivan), 22:17; BR, Rachel Yaney, 25th, 19:54; HC, Rebecca Jaeger, 4th, (Kim Engelhart), 6:27.

Second half -- BR, Sullivan, 6th, (penalty stroke), 23:14; BR, Mackenzie Knouse, 2nd, 6:09.

Shots -- Hunterdon Central 5; Bridgewater-Raritan 12.

Saves -- Fran Orella 7, Emily Zengel 1 (defensive) (HC); Christen Piersanti 2, Emily Howart 1 (defensive), Nicole Braun 1 (defensive), (BR).

Penalty corners -- Hunterdon Central 8; Bridgewater-Raritan 19.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Warren Hills finally sees the light with Lockhart

When I heard the news that Bob Lockhart was hired to be Warren Hills' new athletic director, two things came to mind.

Good for Bob Lockhart. Great for Warren Hills.

Lockhart, after being passed over a year ago for the same position, was unanimously approved by the nine-member school board on Tuesday. The same board that shot him down at the end of 2010 when Nick Holgash retired. Rarely do we get a second chance to do the right thing. And make no mistake, this is as right as it gets.

Lockhart beams with pride for the school he graduated from in 1977. The former star quarterback also served as the Blue Streaks' head football coach, guiding the 2000 team to the program's first and only sectional championship and retiring with the most wins in school history. His teams won three conference titles and qualified for the state playoffs in five of his final six seasons.

Bottom line: Lockhart was a winner on the field and Warren Hills is the big winner today with him heading up its athletic program. Check out what he told me during our phone conversation on Wednesday afternoon and see if you agree.

"I just have so much pride in Warren Hills and the kids are going to see that," he said. "I take pride in the Blue and White. The expectations [with me as AD] will come from us working hard together. I want to see all of our programs be champions. We have a lot of great coaches. The people I've been in contact with make all the work we've done worthwhile."

Lockhart, a 2006 inductee into the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame, knows winning and he expects all of the sports programs to compete at a high level. Another one of his goals is to get students, parents and other athletes to come out and support all of the teams.

"Our girls basketball coach Meghan Ruppert came up with a great slogan, I think it's from Maryland: 'Twenty-four sports, one team,'" Lockhart said. "I'm full of energy and I want it to be infectious."

Lockhart certainly had a groundswell of support. I've heard from hundreds of current teachers, coaches, parents and former athletes who always supported his hiring and are extremely happy he's finally getting his due. He taught health and physical education at Warren Hills for 25 years and also coached basketball, baseball and track. During his playing days, Lockhart was an All-Conference quarterback at Trenton State (now The College of New Jersey).

It's refreshing to see a school that has seemed to go out of its way not to hire its own people make the right call.

The man known as "Lock" is also the father of two former standout athletes at Warren Hills. A son, Rob, was a star quarterback following in his father's footsteps and led that 2000 team to the championship. A daughter, Stephanie, was a standout defender on three field hockey teams that won sectional titles and played in the Group 3 finals under coach Laurie Kerr.

Still a young man in his early 50s, Lockhart recently became a grandfather. Rob Lockhart's son, Luke, is four months old. In typical fashion, Bob is already grooming the third generation QB.

"I've already got him throwing [a football]," said a proud grandfather.

Luke Lockhart sure sounds like a quarterback's name to me. Bob Lockhart as Warren Hills' athletic director has a nice ring to it as well.

UPDATE: Lockhart excited to be Streaks' new AD

It was a long time coming, but Warren Hills finally approved Bob Lockhart as its new athletic director during Tuesday night's board of education meeting. He was among two finalists, along with an unnamed candidate from the Dayton, N.J. area, for the job.

Lockhart, a Warren Hills alum and former successful football coach, was turned down for the job at the end of 2010. The Warren County school instead hired Clegg "Buddy" Freund, who was removed from the building at the start of the school year. School administrators said that Freund, who was involved in a sexual assault coverup at Roxbury High School as its AD in 2003, resigned for "health reasons."

Lockhart said he attended Tuesday's meeting and was unanimously approved by the nine-member board.

"I'm just happy it happened," Lockhart said on Wednesday afternoon as he was headed to Lafayette College for football practice where he serves as the Leopards' tight ends coach. "It was something I've wanted and I'm excited to have the opportunity now."

Lockhart has some detractors on the current school board, which obviously made the smart decision this time to hire the man who should've gotten the job the first time around. The board would have looked foolish a second time to turn down a Warren Hills icon and a stand-up guy with high values.

Despite being passed over a year ago, Lockhart held no hard feelings and said he only has love for his alma mater.

"It's a place I always wanted to be," said Lockhart, a 1977 graduate of the Warren County school and former teacher. "My feelings the whole time never changed. It's a great place to work. I always enjoyed being at Warren Hills."

During Lockhart's tenure as football coach, he guided the Blue Streaks to their only sectional championship in 2000. He also served as the school's assistant AD under former boss Nick Holgash, who retired in 2010.

"The most rewarding part about coaching is seeing all the men and women you coached and what they turn out to be," Lockhart said.

Lockhart will resume duties as the AD effective Nov. 21. Interim AD Sal Patti has done an excellent job despite poor health issues. Patti, a former AD at Voorhees, is a true gentleman and should be applauded for his efforts under very difficult circumstances.

Longtime secretary Joan Duryea also stepped in between and basically ran that office until Patti came aboard. The school also owes her a ton of thanks.

NJSIAA: Red Devils looking to continue fantastic run

Hunterdon Central's rich field hockey tradition wasn't lost on a group of players that endured back-to-back losing seasons in 2009 and '10. Their mission from the start of preseason was to return the program to its glory days.

Central hopes to continue what has been a remarkable turnaround campaign on Thursday when it meets Skyland Conference rival Bridgewater-Raritan in one of the Group 4 semifinals at Governor Livingston High School. Game time is 2 p.m.

Freehold Township meets 12-time defending Group 4 champion Eastern in the other semifinal on Thursday. The semifinal winners meet for the state title on Sunday at Toms River East. Eastern defeated Central in four straight Group 4 finals from 2001-04.

Senior forward Kim Engelhart was in eighth grade the last time Hunterdon Central (14-9) advanced this deep into the state playoffs. Her second-half goal against No. 1 seed Montgomery on Monday lifted the sixth-seeded Red Devils to a 2-1 victory in the North 2, Group 4 sectional final. It was the Hunterdon County school's 12th sectional title and first since 2007.

"It's amazing. We did the impossible in a way," said Engelhart of her team's title after a 3-12-1 season a year ago in which it scored a total of 11 goals in 16 games. "We really came together as a team this year."

Junior midfielder/back Chloe Maurice has been at the forefront of a defense that's helped pave the way for a championship. Central has allowed two goals in four postseason games and really did a nice job against Montgomery senior Shari Jones, the Maryland-bound midfielder, in the sectional final. The Cougars had 15 penalty corners in that game and managed only two quality shots, scoring their only goal on one in the first half.

"We definitely went in really determined to shut them down," Maurice said. "We wanted to prove to everybody that we're better than a six seed."

Coach Jenn Sponzo, who picked up her sixth sectional title in her 12 seasons, is really proud of the turnaround this season. Her 2010 team posted the lowest win total of any at the Flemington-based school since the 1986 team won two games. You also have to go back to the 1970s for the last time Central endured consecutive losing seasons, doing so from 1970 through '79.

From one highly-regarded coach to another, Sponzo sought out advice on a preseason conditioning regimen from Warren Hills' Laurie Kerr, whose team lost a one-goal heartbreaker in the North 2, Group 3 final on Tuesday.

Sponzo, who this season passed her former coach Sandy Chronic for most field hockey victories in school history, said that being in better shape this season and having dedicated players was critical to the team's success.

"We call it the pursuit of excellence [at Central]," said Sponzo, whose teams are 177-84-16 overall with four losses in the Group 4 final. "We've peaked at the right time. We have nine losses to all quality teams. We knew we had it in us to win a championship. These kids are great."

Central will continue playing the underdog role against Bridgewater (20-3), which defeated Montclair, 4-0, for the North 1 championship. Coach Kathie DeBonis' Panthers, who have lost to Eastern in the last seven Group 4 finals, beat the Red Devils twice this season, 7-1 and 4-1, in Delaware Division matchups.

In fact, Central has lost nine straight to Bridgewater dating to 2007, including a 7-0 loss in the sectional quarterfinals in '09, a 3-2 loss in the '08 sectional final and a 2-1 loss in the '07 Group 4 semis. In those losses, Central has been outscored by a combined margin of 40-5.

The Red Devils' last victory over the Panthers was 1-0 on Sept. 10, 2007.

"[We're the underdog] whether we like it or not," Maurice said. "We're going to play as hard as we can and fight to the finish. Seeds and being the underdog doesn't really matter."

Win or lose, Central has already put the program back on the map.

"We started the season with a goal of winning the first game, which we didn't even do losing to Pingry in overtime [2-1]," said Engelhart, who leads the team with 19 goals. "But we knew we were headed in the right direction. We're back and it feels amazing."

Now Central would love the feeling of once again playing for a Group 4 title.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NJSIAA: Streaks lose heartbreaker in title game

Warren Hills field hockey team made a valiant effort on Tuesday against a strong team with a great player.

But in the end, the Blue Streaks came up short in their quest for a championship.

Senior Emily Wold scored all three goals, including the game-winner with 1:13 left to play, as top-seeded Freehold Borough prevailed with a 3-2 victory over third-seeded Warren Hills in the North 2, Group 3 sectional final in Freehold.

Warren Hills (22-2) saw its 12-game win streak and its bid for the program's 10th sectional crown end with another tough finals loss. The Warren County school, now 9-4 all-time in sectional title games, had a tremendous season -- winning its first Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex championship and establishing a new program record for wins in a season.

Senior forward Lindsey Schott also broke the school's 15-year-old record for goals in a season (27) and finishes her fine career as the all-time goals (72), assists (46) and points (190) leader. She also has the single-season points mark with 70 in 2011 and came within two of tying the assists mark with 16.

"They can't hang their heads," said veteran coach Laurie Kerr, now 5-2 all-time in sectional finals in 12 seasons in charge of her alma mater. "They were down 0-2 and never gave up. These kids were determined. They worked so hard."

Freehold (20-1) picked up its second straight sectional crown and its third, all under coach Jerrilyn Acevedo. The Colonials, who beat the Blue Streaks, 2-0, in the 2007 final, also avenged a 1-0 loss in overtime to Kerr's team on the same field in 2009. They move on to face North 1 champion West Milford (20-1) in the Group 3 semifinals on Thursday in Clark.

Wold, a sophomore on that 2009 Freehold team, almost single-handily kept her team in that one. On Tuesday, she took over the game at its most critical juncture, something that great players often do in big games. She scored all three goals in her team's 3-2 win over Wall in last year's Group 3 final.

All of the scoring on Tuesday came in the second half.

"She's very, very good," Kerr said of Wold. "You can't slow her down. She's quick and all over the place. Emily is probably one of the top players I've ever seen in the state. We came out really tight and on our heels. We were trying to react to them rather than set the tone."

The North Carolina-bound midfielder started the scoring with a penalty stroke early in the second half, awarded after a  shot went off the upper body of Warren Hills senior back Caitlin Clark in front of the cage. Wold followed about nine minutes later with her second goal of the game and 43rd of the season, giving Freehold a commanding 2-0 lead after a scoreless first half.

On that one, Kerr said that the officials ruled that Clark didn't stop the ball before it crossed the goal line.

"The officials said that [Clark's] stick and the ball were over the line," Kerr said. "You don't know if it was a goal or not. Caitlin said that ball didn't go over the line."

That's when Warren Hills mounted its comeback. Senior midfielder Whitney Kowski, who's been outstanding all season, made it a one-goal game when she converted off a pass from junior midfielder Niki Miller on a penalty corner with 5:17 left in the game.

"It was a perfectly-executed corner," Kerr said.

Just as the Streaks were clawing back, Lindsey Schott was hit with a yellow card for a high stick with 3:59 left in the game. Earlier in the half, her sister, sophomore Nikki Schott, received a yellow card for delay of game. Now a player down, Warren Hills charged ahead and senior forward Kayla Grater connected for her 16th goal of the season with 3:30 left to tie it at 2.

"That's the story of her season, her hustle again," Kerr said of Grater.

But Wold was able to find the cage for a third time this season to end what would have been one of the greatest comebacks in Warren Hills' history. Despite the three goals, Kerr said that junior Katie Wintersteen played a strong game and made 18 saves in the loss.

"Katie didn't give up any easy shots," Kerr said. "She played very well and rose to the challenge. She's capable of doing that."

Despite losing several talented seniors, including back Jen Hylkema, Kerr firmly believes the Streaks will be back in the championship mix again in 2012. Miller and Nikki Schott both return in the midfield, while talented freshmen Nikki Profita, Amanda Crampton and Sydney Muntone all have bright futures ahead of the them. Just as important, Wintersteen returns for a third season in goal.

"We're going to be just fine," Kerr said. "We lose a lot of talented seniors that have done great things for the program. We'll have to work hard, but we're going to be right back in the thick of things."

Warren Hills (22-2)                          0                   2             --   2
Freehold Borough (20-1)                 0                   3             --   3


Second half -- F, Emily Wold, 42nd, (penalty stroke), 26:05; F, Wold, 43rd, 17:19; WH, Whitney Kowski, 9th, (Niki Miller), 5:17; WH, Kayla Grater, 16th, (Nikki Profita), 3:30; F, Wold, 44th, 1:13.

Shots -- Warren Hills 8; Freehold Borough 21.

Saves -- Katie Wintersteen 18 (WH); Taylor Martino 6 (F).

NJSIAA: Wildcats' run ends in sectional final

High Point's field hockey team finished with the statistical edge in every category on Tuesday, except the only one that counts.

When it was all said and done, the top-seeded Wildcats came up short on the scoreboard, falling 2-1 to second-seeded West Milford in the North 1, Group 3 sectional final in Wantage.

High Point (20-2), seeking its first championship since 2002, finished with advantages in shots (19-6) and penalty corners (16-2), but couldn't make the most of its opportunities. It was the final game for eight seniors, who came up short for the second straight year in the title game -- losing 4-3 in overtime to West Morris in 2010.

"We never expected this, we thought we had it today and could go far [in the postseason]," said senior midfielder Sashal Hagan, who was outstanding for the 'Cats all season. "Having the season end today is the hardest thing I've had to deal with in quite awhile."

Instead it's West Milford (20-1) moving on to the Group 3 semifinals after claiming the program's second sectional crown and first since 1985. Coach Jill Cullen's Highlanders will meet North 2 and defending Group 3 champion Freehold Borough on Thursday for the right to play in Sunday's state title game at Toms River East.

The 1985 sectional title for West Milford was never won on the field because no other team qualified that season in the North 1, Group 4 bracket. So, this is actually the Passaic County school's first victory in a championship game.

"This is my seventh and last season [as head coach] and I said I wanted to go out with a bang," Cullen said. "I didn't know it would be this big of a bang, being Passiac County championss and winning the sectional title. We knew High Point was a good team, but I'm confident in my team."

A ton of credit for the victory goes to West Milford goalie Jenna Bednarovsky, who was sensational in the cage. The junior registered 18 saves, most of which were on point-blank shots sprinkled in with some amazing acrobatic stops as well. The defense fended off 11 penalty corners in the first half, which was completely dominated by the hosts for the first 20 minutes or so.

Regardless, the Highlanders led 2-0 on goals by seniors Samantha Browne and Stacie Csakvary.

Browne struck first on the team's first penalty corner with 6:44 left before halftime, positioned at the left post to receive a perfect pass from Deborah Wolfe for her team-leading 35th goal. Csakvary cashed in nearly four minutes later, redirecting a deflected shot into a wide-open cage.

"Our goalie saved our butts more than once," Cullen said. "This was probably the best game I've seen her play. She was very impressive today. We played a good defensive game in the first half. We were a little sluggish in warm-ups, so I was concerned."

Junior Darby Smith got High Point on the board about nine minutes into the second half with her team-leading 25th goal. It gave her 109 career points, leaving her three shy of the school record held by Lesley Dube (112). Senior forward Nikki Hull was credited with the assist, giving her a final career total of 109 points.

Down by one goal, the 'Cats kept pounding away with 11 shots in the final 30 minutes, but to no avail as the Highlanders fended off one last corner in the final seconds.

"[Bednarovsky] was great, she made some amazing clears," Hagan said. "Good for her. She's a good goalie."

Veteran High Point coach Bev Keur was obviously disappointed with the loss, but not the effort of her team.

"I think we prepared them well and they took some beautiful shots," said Keur, whose teams are 311-113-14 over three stints in 21 seasons. "I thought we made some good adjustments at halftime and put the pressure on. Their goalie did a great job, but we've got to finish. Those two quick goals blind-sided us."

The not-so-small feat of reaching consecutive sectional finals held little comfort for Keur and the seniors afterward.

"We would like to be back-to-back sectional champions," Keur said.

West Milford (20-1)                   2                   0             --   2
High Point (20-2)                      0                   1             --   1


First half -- WM, Samantha Browne, 35th, (Deborah Wolfe), 6:44; WM, Stacie Csakvary, 10th, (Nicolette Rich), 2:54.

Second half -- HP, Darby Smith, 25th, (Nikki Hull), 21:04.

Shots -- West Milford 6; High Point 19.

Saves -- Jenna Bednarovsky 18 (WM); Kelsey Stoll 2, Shannon Havens 1 (defensive), Kelsey Fleury 1 (defensive) (HP).

Penalty corners -- West Milford 2; High Point 16.

Monday, November 7, 2011

NJSIAA: Wildcats set for championship challenge

High Point's field hockey team got its wakeup call in a sluggish semifinal performance.

And the top-seeded Wildcats hope to answer the bell on Tuesday when they host No. 2 West Milford in the North 1, Group 3 sectional final in Wantage.

High Point (20-1) is playing for the program's sixth sectional title and first since 2002. Coach Bev Keur's 'Cats have won five straight since a 3-1 loss to Warren Hills, which is vying for the North 2 title on Tuesday, in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex final on Oct. 22.

"I'm really excited to go to the finals," said senior midfielder Sashal Hagan after High Point's 1-0 win over Northern Highlands in Saturday's semifinals. "I think we have an advantage after last year's loss [4-3 in overtime to West Morris in the title game]. I think we're ready for anyone."

West Milford (19-1) enters the championship game riding a 10-game win streak since a 2-1 loss to Northern Highlands on Oct. 4. a defeat the Passaic County school avenged with a 3-2 win on Oct. 25. West Milford is seeking its second sectional title and first since claiming the North 1, Group 4 championship in 1985.

High Point is looking to get back to form after a sometimes lackadaisical effort on Saturday. The 'Cats feature a well-balanced offensive attack, led by senior forward Nikki Hull (18 goals, 13 assists) and junior forward Darby Smith (24 goals). Both were quiet against a Northern Highlands team that game planned to take them out. Hull (108 career points) and Smith (107) are chasing the school's points mark currently held by Lesley Dube (112).

Senior forward Brittany Papa (14 goals) and junior Maureen Gill (7 goals) have shown they're up for the challenge should opposing defenses key on High Point's leading scorers. Sophomore Carly Satter showed some flashes this season, but has missed the last two games with an illness. She is expected back for the final.

"We have about nine girls that can score," Hagan said. "Teams try to mark, but you really can't with our team because there are so many."

Defensively, senior back Bea Cannavale anchors a unit that has yielded 15 goals all season and has produced nine shutouts. Cannavale is a talented two-way threat with eight goals and seven assists. Goalkeeper Kelsey Stoll made the biggest save of the season when she stopped a penalty stroke on Saturday in the first half of a 0-0 game.

West Milford, which averages four goals per game, is led by outstanding senior forward Samantha Browne (34 goals, 10 assists), along with senior midfielder Deborah Wolfe (14 assists) and senior forward Stacie Csakvary (12 assists). Junior goalie Jenna Bednarovsky has recorded nine shutouts.

The High Point defense, which has been solid in key games this season, must be on top of its game. Veteran coach Bev Keur, who has 311 wins in her 21 seasons, doesn't game plan to stop an opponent's top guns.

"I believe in playing straight up," Keur said.

Skinny: High Point has rebounded nicely from its lone loss this season, but the stakes are raised in this one. No one is really talking too much about a pretty good West Milford team that comes in as the underdog. Hull and Smith must get more involved in this one if the 'Cats are going to claim their first title in nine seasons. Regardless of Keur's defensive philosophy, Browne must be contained. The 'Cats' success may depend on it. I think the 'Cats are the deeper team and get it done at home.

Pick: High Point, 3-2.

NJSIAA: Blue Streaks eyeing championship prize

Warren Hills' field hockey team has been down this same road before en route to a championship.

And the Blue Streaks certainly hope there are a few more trips toward their desired destination.

But first thing's first as third-seeded Warren Hills faces No. 1 seed and defending champion Freehold Borough in Tuesday's North 2, Group 3 sectional final in Freehold. The game is a rematch of the 2009 final, a 1-0 overtime thriller won by the Streaks.

Coach Laurie Kerr's Warren Hills team comes into this one on a major roll having won 12 straight since a 2-1 overtime loss to Voorhees on Oct. 6. The Blue Streaks (22-1), who established a new school record for wins in a 1-0 victory over No. 2 seed Hopewell Valley in the semis, have outscored the opposition, 61-7, during their current win streak which is three shy of another school record.

Warren Hills is shooting for its 10th sectional title and second in three years. The Streaks are playing in their 13th sectional final overall and seventh in Kerr's 12 seasons in charge of her alma mater.

Senior forward Lindsey Schott and junior center midfielder Niki Miller have been the driving forces, along with senior midfielder Whitney Kowski.

Schott is the program's offensive record holder in all major categories, career and single-season. Her 27 goals eclipsed the previous mark that stood for nearly 15 years. She also has 16 assists this season, two shy of the record held by Lauren Cuff (18 in 2002). The Streaks share the wealth offensively, as freshmen Nikki Profita and Sydney Muntone, along with senior Kayla Grater (15 goals) and sophomore Nikki Schott, are all capable scorers.

Miller, a three-year starter, has really opened eyes with her play this season. The talented midfielder has 20 goals and 13 assists this season and assisted on Grater's game-winner in the team's 1-0 victory over second-seeded Hopewell Valley in the semifinals. Grater has four postseason goals.

Miller and Kowski will need to control things in the middle as Freehold features one of the state's top players in senior Emily Wold.

Wold gave the Streaks a major headache with her play in the 2009 final as an up-and-coming sophomore. Last year, Wold scored all three goals in her team's 3-2 win over Wall in the Group 3 final. Coach Jerrilyn Acevedo, whose teams are 159-49-16 in 11 seasons, also guided the Colonials (19-1) to a Group 3 runner-up finish in 2007, beating Warren Hills, 2-0, in the sectional final on the Streaks' home field.

Freehold's lone loss this season was 1-0 to Shore Regional in the Shore Conference final on Oct. 30. Shore knocked off the state's consensus No. 1 team Oak Knoll, 2-1, on Monday in the North 2, Group 1 final. The Colonials also opened some eyes with a 6-1 win over fourth-seeded West Morris in the sectional semis.

Backs Jen Hylkema, Caitlin Clark, Jamie Miller and Amanda Crampton have helped anchor a defense that's produced 13 shutouts this season. Junior goalie Katie Wintersteen also has been exceptional in the cage as the Warren County school has yielded only one goal in its last four games and seven in its last 12.

Skinny: This game will be won in the midfield. Miller vs. Wold is a matchup to keep an eye on and that should be a great battle. Warren Hills' defense, which has risen to the occasion all season, must contain Wold enough to not let her create scoring chances in and around the circle. It also must be quick to the point of attack on corners, where Wold is deadly. The game is on grass and that certainly helps the hosts, but I think the difference in the game will be the well-balanced offensive attack of the Blue Streaks.

Pick: Warren Hills, 2-1.

NJSIAA: Red Devils return to glory with title victory

Hunterdon Central's field hockey team made it a top priority this season to restore the program's winning tradition.

Mission accomplished.

The sixth-seeded Red Devils continued their amazing postseason run with a stunning 2-1 victory over top-seeded Montgomery on Monday in the North 2, Group 4 sectional final at Cougar Stadium in Skillman.

Central (14-9) captured its 12th sectional title and first since 2007 -- an outstanding accomplishment considering the Hunterdon County school won only three games a year ago.

"The kids are great and they wanted to bring Central hockey back to what it's known for," said veteran coach Jenn Sponzo, who has guided the program to six sectional titles in her 12 seasons. "Too many people wrote us off. I knew they had it in them [to win a championship]."

Hunterdon Central will meet a familiar foe in the next round as it faces North 1 champion Bridgewater-Raritan in Thursday's Group 4 semifinals. Coach Kathie DeBonis' Panthers swept both of the Skyland Conference Delaware Division meetings this season, 7-1 on Sept. 26 and 4-1 on Oct. 25.

Perennial champion Eastern and Freehold Township meet in the other semifinal. The winners will play for the Group 4 title on Sunday at Toms River East. Central won the last of its Group 4 titles in 1996, losing four times to Eastern in the final since in 2001, '02, '03 and '04.

Winning the sectional title was certainly sweet for a program that went a combined 8-26-1 the last two seasons after reaching its last sectional final in 2008. The Red Devils did it the hard way, beating the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds in the draw.

Senior forward Kim Engelhart, who scored the decisive goal in the second half, was proud to bring honor back to Hunterdon Central field hockey.

"It's amazing. We did the impossible in a way," said Engelhart, who leads the team with 19 goals including three in the playoffs. "No one expected us to do it. Last year [going 3-12-1] was rough. We really came together as a team and our coaches believed in us. I commend Montgomery, they played a great game."

Montgomery (15-5-1) was seeking its first-ever title in its first championship game appearance. The program was started in 2002 and the Cougars fell, 1-0, to eventual Group 4 runner-up Bridgewater-Raritan in last year's semifinals.

Central came out firing and grabbed an early 1-0 lead that helped set the tone. Senior midfielder Kristen Given connected for her seventh goal of the season just over six minutes in and the Red Devils gained the early momentum.

"That first goal was huge," said Sponzo, whose 2009 team beat Montgomery, 4-2, in their previous meeting after the conference realigned the divisions and eliminated crossover games for the 2010 season.

Montgomery got the equalizer right before the half, as junior forward Erica Hrudowsky knocked in a rebound off a penalty corner.

After a back-and-forth second half, Engelhart found the back of the cage with 13:24 left to play. Her shot was a slow roller that somehow slipped in behind the defense and goalie Sarah Zach, who made several outstanding kick saves in the second half, robbing Engelhart of what looked to be a sure goal on a corner at the 23-minute mark.

"I hit it and I thought, 'That's not going in,'" Engelhart said of her game-winner. "You can usually tell. It did and we were winning. Kristen got us going early and as a six seed to score the first goal is big. The same thing happened on Friday [when Engelhart scored first in a 2-1 win over West Windsor-North in the semifinals]."

The Central defense played a huge role in winning this championship. The Red Devils were particularly outstanding on corners as they barely allowed any quality shots to the Cougars, who had 15 opportunities.

Junior goalie Fran Orella, in her first varsity season, stopped six shots including one off the pads on a drive by sophomore Philly Lumsden with 20:17 left in the second half. Central also held Montgomery's outstanding midfielder Shari Jones in check for most of the day.

"We really worked on [corners] and our defense did a phenomenal job," Sponzo said.

Junior midfielder/back Chloe Maurice was at the forefront of helping to shut down the Cougars and controlling the middle of the field.

"We came in really determined to shut them down and we rose to the occasion," Maurice said. "We wanted to prove to everybody that we were better than a six seed. The past few years haven't been that great and we really wanted to bring [a title] back. Central has always had a great field hockey program."

And now it has another trophy to add to its collection.

Hunterdon Central (14-9)                 1                   1             --   2
Montgomery (15-5-1)                       1                   0             --   1


First half -- HC, Kristen Given, 7th, (Nicole Barrett), 23:44; M, Erica Hrudowsky, 16th, 1:35.

Second half -- HC, Kim Engelhart, 19th, (Ally Baligian), 13:24.

Shots -- Hunterdon Central 6; Montgomery 6.

Saves -- Fran Orella 4, Emily Zengel 1 (defensive) (HC); Sarah Zach 4 (M).

Penalty corners -- Hunterdon Central 7; Montgomery 15.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NJSIAA: Red Devils ready for their title shot

Hunterdon Central's field hockey team has absolutely nothing to lose heading into its championship showdown on Monday.

However, the Red Devils will be looking for exactly the opposite outcome when sixth-seeded Central travels to No. 1 seed Montgomery in a battle between Skyland Conference rivals for the North 2, Group 4 sectional crown.

Hunterdon Central (13-9) is back in the title game for the first time since 2008 and is seeking the program's first sectional championship since winning the last of its 11 titles in 2007. Coach Jenn Sponzo's team won three games a year ago, scoring a total of 11 goals in 16 games. It was the program's lowest win total since 1986.

Senior Kim Engelhart (18 goals) has been at the forefront of an offensive resurgence for the Hunterdon County school, which has scored 45 goals this season. Engelhart failed to score in 10 games this season and the Red Devils lost six of those contests.

However, Central has been getting it done of late on the defensive side with two 1-0 wins in its first two playoff games before a 2-1 triumph over West Windsor-North in the semifinals.

Junior goalie Fran Orella and junior back Chloe Maurice have helped anchor a defense that's produced seven shutouts this season.

Montgomery (15-4-1) features the best player on the field in senior midfielder Shari Jones, the team's leading scorer with 15 goals and 10 assists. Junior forward Erica Hrudowsky also has 15 goals for the coach Tiffany Trockenbrod's Cougars, who advanced to the title game with a 2-1 win in overtime against Middletown North.

Because the teams play in different divisions of the Skyland Conference, they did not meet during the regular season.

Skinny: The teams have a number of common opponents this season, but that really doesn't mean a whole lot at this time of year. Central has been on fire in the second half, winning eight of its last 10 games. The offense hasn't gotten much going with five goals in the last six games, so the Red Devils will need to get that corrected in this one. In games like this I tend to go with the team that has the best player and that would be the host with Jones. She's that good.

Pick: Montgomery, 2-1.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NJSIAA: Voorhees falls short in sectional semis

Voorhees' field hockey team has enjoyed plenty of postseason success over the years. Unfortunately, the Vikings have also endured some heartbreaking moments along the way.

Fourth-seeded Voorhees came up a little short in Saturday night's 1-0 loss to top-seeded Johnson in the North 2, Group 2 semifinals in Clark. The Vikes (14-4) had their five-game win streak snapped with the loss, their second to Johnson (18-4) in the last two years.

Voorhees dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to Johnson in last year's sectional final played over two days due to poor weather and field conditions. First-year coach Taylor Webb's team was seeking the Hunterdon County school's first championship since 2006 when the Vikes went to the Group 3 final.

Senior forward Amanda Wnorowski scored the winning goal for Johnson off a penalty corner with 11 minutes left before halftime. Senior forward Nicole Imbriaco assisted on the game-winner, just like she did a year ago in the title game.

Voorhees goalie Kimmie Pianucci recorded 14 saves in her final high school game. The outstanding keeper recorded nine shutouts this season and held opposing teams to one goal or fewer in 17 of the team's 18 games. Only Bernards, which lost 4-3 to Voorhees in the semifinals, scored more than one goal against the Vikes.

Johnson, which won its only two sectional titles in 2008 and 2010, will host third-seeded Rumson in Tuesday's championship game. Voorhees was trying to give the Skyland Conference five teams in sectional finals, joining Bridgewater-Raritan, Hunterdon Central, Montgomery and Warren Hills.

Voorhees (14-4)               0                   0             --   0
Johnson (18-4)                 1                   0             --   1


First half -- J, Amanda Wnorowski, 14th, (Nicole Imbriaco).

Shots -- Voorhees 4; Johnson 15.

Saves -- Kimmie Pianucci 14 (V); Becky Brattole 4 (J).

NJSIAA Sectional Finals schedule

Here is next week's schedule for the NJSIAA field hockey sectional finals. All games played at the higher seed. Monday's games involve Groups 1 and 4, while Tuesday's schedule features Groups 2 and 3.

Winners advance to Thursday's state semifinals to be played at neutral sites. The Group finals are slated for Sunday at Toms River East High School.

Monday's schedule
Group 4
North 1
Montclair at Bridgewater-Raritan

North 2
Hunterdon Central at Montgomery

Central Jersey
Freehold Township at Toms River East

South Jersey
Shawnee at Eastern

Group 1
North 1
Boonton at Mountain Lakes

North 2
Shore at Oak Knoll

Central Jersey
Haddon Heights at Audubon

South Jersey
Schalick at St. Joseph's-Hammonton

Tuesday's schedule
Group 3
North 1
West Milford at High Point

North 2
Warren Hills at Freehold Borough

Central Jersey
Moorestown at Wall

South Jersey
Kingsway at Ocean City

Group 2
North 1
Ramsey at West Essex

North 2
Rumson at Johnson

Central Jersey
Camden Catholic at Collingswood

South Jersey
West Deptford at Haddonfield

Streaks prove Grater against Hopewell Valley

Warren Hills' field hockey team had plenty of motivation heading into Saturday's playoff rematch with a Hopewell Valley squad that ended the Warren County school's title run a year ago.

It wasn't any easier this time around, but the third-seeded Blue Streaks are still dancing after a 1-0 win over the No. 2 seed in a North 2, Group 3 semifinal matchup in Hopewell.

Warren Hills (22-1), which has won 12 in a row, travels to top-seeded Freehold Borough (19-1) for Tuesday's sectional final. The two schools have previously met twice in the title game. Freehold won, 2-0, at Warren Hills in the 2007 final and the Streaks' avenged that one with a 1-0 victory in overtime at Freehold en route to a Group 3 runner-up finish in 2009.

The Streaks also established a school record for wins, eclipsing the 2009 team's total of 21.

Warren Hills senior forward Kayla Grater notched the decisive goal on Saturday, her 15th of the season early in the first half. Junior midfielder Niki Miller sent a long hit into the circle and Grater, who was unmarked in the circle, maneuvered around a tightly-bunched defense to finish it off.

A strong Blue Streaks defense made it stand, as goalie Katie Wintersteen stopped six shots for her 14th shutout of the season. Warren Hills has outscored three postseason opponents by a combined 15-1 margin.

"Both teams struggled to stop the ball on offensive corners," Kerr said. "The [grass] field was nice and fast, but bumpy inside the circle. We had our sticks down and the ball just jumped right over the sticks. We had a lot of balls just miss the post wide."

Warren Hills is now 54-35 all-time in postseason games dating to 1972. Kerr is 25-11 in her 12 seasons at the helm of her alma mater in the playoffs and has guided the Streaks to five of their nine sectional titles.
Warren Hills (22-1)                   1                   0               --   1
Hopewell Valley (17-2)            0                   0               --   0


First half -- WH, Kayla Grater, 15th, (Niki Miller), 25:34.

Shots -- Warren Hills 9; Hopewell Valley 6.

Saves -- Katie Wintersteen 6 (WH); Kristin Olszuk 8 (HV).

Gill's goal pushes Wildcats into sectional final

It wasn't pretty for the most part, but High Point's field hockey team learned a lot about postseason survival on Saturday. And rule No. 1: Any win, aesthetics aside, is a beautiful thing this time of the season.

Junior forward Maureen Gill was the offensive hero of the day, scoring the decisive goal early in the second half to help top-seeded High Point escape with a 1-0 win over fourth-seeded Northern Highlands in a North 1, Group 3 semifinal clash in Wantage.

High Point (20-1) will host second-seeded West Milford (19-1), a 3-0 winner over Wayne Hills in the other semifinal, for the championship on Tuesday at 2 p.m. The Wildcats are seeking their first sectional championship since 2002.

"I'm so excited," said Gill, who has seven goals this season, but none bigger in her career. "This feels great. I'm so proud of everyone. It was such a tough game. I'm happy to come through at a good time."

Veteran High Point coach Bev Keur, whose team has won five straight, had some stern words for her team at the half and after the contest. The 'Cats overcame a very sluggish first half to keep their title hopes alive.

"I thought we won ugly today," Keur said. "Ugly or not, we're still happy with the win. Once we settled down in the second half and played smarter, we forced [Northern Highlands] to be on their heels. We came on quick, but we didn't finish. We made some adjustments at halftime and we knew that if we lost today all that hard work the seniors have done for four years was over."

Northern Highlands (15-5-2), which was denied in its bid for the school's first title since 1993, came out strong and pretty much owned the first 15 minutes of the first half. Coach Rich Smith's Highlanders missed a golden opportunity just about nine minutes in when sophomore Lauren O'Keefe, the team's leading scorer with 16 goals, couldn't convert on a penalty stroke.

O'Keefe telegraphed the shot to the left post and High Point goalie Kelsey Stoll read it perfectly to deny the shot. The Bergen County-co champions were also denied on a penalty corner in the final seconds of the game.

"[If we scored on the stroke] it may have knocked [High Point] down a peg and killed their confidence," said Smith, the Allendale school's head coach for nine seasons. "We controlled the tempo [early], but in the end we were trying to catch a break and we almost did. We had opportunities. That's all I can ask for."

Keur said that Stoll has been taking extra practice on strokes in case such an occasion presents itself in the playoffs. The only other penalty shot Stoll faced in a game this season was in the team's 2-1 win over Vernon on Oct. 25. The Vikes' Rachel Colvin beat Stoll on that one.

"I was more concerned about [Stoll] not having the experience," Keur said. "Kelsey came up big today."

Gill also came up big on her opportunity as she finished off a nice play, started by senior midfielder Sashal Hagan's drive in that was tipped by senior forward Brittany Papa. The ball crossed the cage and Gill was able to push it home with 24:50 left in the game. Leading scorers Nikki Hull (18 goals) and Darby Smith (24 goals) had relatively quiet games for the 'Cats, who needed others to step up in big spots.

"Different people always get marked and whoever is open has to put it in," Gill said.

Also credit Hagan for starting that winning drive.

"Today was a really intense game and [Northern Highlands] was very skilled and fast," Hagan said. "We stepped up to the challenge and it was a great game. We have about nine girls that can score. I knew Stoll had it in her to stop that [stroke]."

High Point managed nine first-half shots, but the only threatening ball came off the stick of senior Sarah Clark, who was denied with a nice stick save by Northern Highlands goalie Paulina Marino.

After a disappointing loss in last year's final, High Point gets another chance for a title that's eluded the program for nine years.

"I'm really excited to go to the final again," Hagan said. "I think we have an advantage after last year's loss [to West Morris]."

Northern Highlands (15-5-2)              0                   0             --   0
High Point (20-1)                               0                   1             --   1


Second half -- HP, Maureen Gill, 7th, (Sashal Hagan, Brittany Papa), 24:50.

Shots -- Northern Highlands 4; High Point 16.

Saves -- Paulina Marino 13, Casey Colangelo 1 (defensive), Maryclare Mastriano 1 (defensive) (NH); Kelsey Stoll 3, Bea Cannavale 1 (defensive) (HP).

Penalty corners -- Northern Highlands 5; High Point 18.

Friday, November 4, 2011

'Cats, Streaks, Vikings ready for next step

It's getting down to crunch time in the field hockey season. With Phillipsburg's loss and Hunterdon Central's win on Friday, the Open Mike area is down to four teams still vying for sectional championships.

Here's a look at Saturday's semifinal schedule involving three locals:

North 1, Group 3
4-Northern Highlands (15-4-2) at 1-High Point (19-1)
Skinny: Coach Bev Keur's Wildcats have rebounded nicely from a 3-1 loss to Warren Hills in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex final on Oct. 22, winning four straight including a 3-0 win over No. 8 Montville in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Northern Highlands, seeking its seventh sectional title and first since 1993, beat Vernon, 4-3, in the quarters. High Point defeated Vernon twice this year, 6-1 and 2-1. Forwards Nikki Hull (108 points) and Darby Smith (107) are closing in on the school record of 112.

Other semifinal matchup: 3-Wayne Hills (16-4-1) at 2-West Milford (18-1).

Championship: Tuesday.

Players to watch: NH -- So. F Lauren O'Keefe (16 goals, 4 assists), Sr. MF Meghan Weiss (15 goals, 13 assists), Sr. F Catherine Peebles (12 goals, 11 assists). HP -- Sr. F Nikki Hull (18 goals, 13 assists), Jr. F Darby Smith (24 goals), Sr. F Brittany Papa (14 goals), Sr. D Bea Cannavale (8 goals, 7 assists).

Interesting fact: High Point is seeking its sixth title and first since 2002. No Sussex County school has won a championship since Wallkill Valley claimed the North 1, Group 2 crown in 2006.

Prediction: The hosts are too well-balanced and extremely battle-tested this season and that will be the difference in this one. High Point, 3-1.

North 2, Group 3
3-Warren Hills (21-2) at 2-Hopewell Valley (17-1)
Skinny: There isn't a hotter team around right now than the Blue Streaks, who have won 11 in a row since a  2-1 loss in overtime against Voorhees on Oct. 6. Since then, Warren Hills has outscored opponents, 60-7, during the current winning streak and has yielded just one goal in two playoff wins (Mendham, 8-1, and Ocean Township, 6-0) while reaching the semis for the sixth straight year. There's also the extra motivation of a loss in this round to Hopewell Valley a year ago, decided on penalty strokes. The Mercer County school, which is seeking its first title since 1988, lost its first game on Monday, 4-3 to Lawrenceville in the county final.

Other semifinal matchup: 4-West Morris (18-2) at 1-Freehold Borough (18-1).

Championship: Tuesday.

Players to watch: WH -- Sr. F Lindsey Schott (27 goals, 16 assists), Jr. MF Niki Miller (22 goals, 12 assists), Sr. MF Whitney Kowski (8 goals, 10 assists), Sr. F Kayla Grater (14 goals), Sr. D Jen Hylkema. HV -- Sr. F Alicia Wagner, (37 goals, 8 assists), Jr. F Colby Hussong (12 goals, 18 assists), Sr. F Grace McCabe (13 goals).

Interesting fact: Warren Hills is 53-35 all-time in postseason games dating to 1972, including a 10-2 mark against Mercer County schools. Besides last year's loss to Hopewell Valley, the only other loss to a Mercer team was 3-0 to Princeton in the program's very first state playoff game in 1972.

Prediction: The Blue Streaks are on a major roll right now and would love to avenge last year's loss in the semifinals. The key will be not looking ahead to a potential showdown with Freehold, the defending section and Group 3 champion, in a much-anticipated final. Again, caliber of competition plays a big factor in this one. Warren Hills, 4-0.

North 2, Group 2

4-Voorhees (14-3) at 1-Johnson (17-4)
Skinny: Rematch of last year's final won by Johnson, 2-1 in double overtime. The game had to be played over two days due to poor weather and field conditions at Voorhees and was coach Beth Stocker's final game. First-year coach Taylor Webb has the Vikings primed for another title run, seeking the Hunterdon County program's seventh championship and first since reaching the Group 3 final in 2006. Johnson, which lost to West Essex in last year's Group 2 semis, is gunning for its third title overall after winning its first in 2008 under coach Katrina Anderson.

Other semifinal matchup: 7-St. John Vianney (12-6-1) at 3-Rumson (13-4-1).

Championship: Tuesday.

Players to watch: V -- Sr. F Antoinette Metzler (12 goals), Sr. F Kat Francis (7 goals), Sr. F Taylor Irving (11 goals, 7 assists), GK Kimmie Pianucci (9 shutouts). J -- Sr. F Nicole Imbriaco (30 goals, 19 assists), Sr. F Amanda Wnorowski (13 goals, 8 assists), F Margaret Sinnicke (12 goals), GK Becky Brattole (12 shutouts).

Interesting fact: Voorhees is 51-30 all-time in postseason games since the program's inception in 1975. The Vikes also have 537 overall wins during that span.

Prediction: No disrespect to the teams in the bottom bracket, but this should be the final. Johnson has the best player on the field in Imbriaco, who assisted on the winning goal in last year's final. Brattole is also a very good goalie. However, the Vikings play great defense having held opponents to a collective 10 goals this season in 17 games. Pianucci is one of the top keepers in the state and is tough to get one in on. Voorhees will need to put a few goals in the cage and that's been a struggle this season. I'm making this one my upset special. Voorhees 2-1 OT.

NJSIAA: Red Devils still going strong in playoffs

What a difference a year makes.

No. 6 seed Hunterdon Central continued its Cinderella run this postseason with a stunning 2-1 win over second-seeded West Windsor-North in Friday's North 2, Group 4 semifinals.

Central (13-9) will meet top-seeded Montgomery (15-4-1) in an All-Skyland Conference final on Monday.

It's the Red Devils' first trip to the title game since losing to Bridgewater-Raritan in the 2008 final. Hunterdon Central won the last of its 11 titles in 2007.

Coach Jenn Sponzo's team, which won three games and scored only 11 goals in 16 games a year ago, did not play Montgomery during the regular season since the schools are in different divisions.

Senior forward Kim Engelhart led the offensive charge for Central with her team-leading 18th goal and an assist on the decisive goal by Kristen Given in the second-half. Goalie Fran Orella made nine saves.

Devin Brakel scored for West Windsor-North, the first goal allowed by Hunterdon Central in three postseason games. The Red Devils defeated Hillsborough, 1-0, in the opening round, followed by a thrilling 1-0 win in overtime against third-seeded East Brunswick. Engelhart scored the game winner in that one.

Hunterdon Central (13-9)                  1                   1               --   2
West Windsor-North (13-5)               0                   1               --   1


First half -- HC, Kim Engelhart, 18th, (Chloe Maurice).

Second half -- WWN, Devin Brakel; HC, Kristen Given, 6th, (Engelhart).

Shots -- Hunterdon Central 12; West Windsor-North 10.

Saves -- Fran Orella 9 (HC); Christina Hayduchok 10 (WWN).

Stateliners' rally falls short in sectional semifinals

Forwards Katie Decker and Lauren Nunes led a second-half charge with goals, but Phillipsburg's field hockey team didn't have enough to complete what would have been a tremendous comeback.

Jillian Alonzo scored twice and Jessie Kent-Cutillo added another score as second-seeded Montclair held on for a 3-2 win over sixth-seeded Phillipsburg on Friday in a North 1, Group 4 semifinal clash on the turf at Watchung Elementary school in Montclair.

Alonzo, the team's leading scorer with 17 goals, knocked in the decisive goal with 4:47 left in the game. Montclair (10-6-4) will meet top-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan (19-3), winner of six straight titles and an 8-0 winner over Randolph in the other semifinal, for the championship on Monday.

Phillipsburg (10-11), which had won four straight coming in, saw its season end with the loss after a tremendous postseason run in which the Warren County school knocked off No. 11 North Hunterdon (3-1 on Oct. 26) and Westfield (2-1 on Monday) to reach the semifinals.

First-year coach Jennifer Paulus' team fell behind, 2-0, in the first half before storming back with a pair of goals in the first 12 minutes of the second half.

Decker, a junior who was outstanding down the stretch, knocked in her ninth of the season with 26:18 remaining. Nunes, last year's leading scorer, evened the game just eight minutes later with her ninth goal of the season. Senior midfielder Cassie Fortuna assisted on both scores.

Phillipsburg's offense totaled 13 goals in its final five games. Decker helped lead the way with five goals in that stretch.

The 2010 Stateliners were denied a chance to play Montclair in last year's title game after being declared ineligible for playing too many games following an 8-1 win over Vernon in the semifinals. Phillipsburg is now 1-3 against Montclair in postseason meeting dating to 2005.

Coach Mary Pat Mercuro's Huskies are seeking the Essex County school's second straight sectional title and 10th overall.

Phillipsburg (10-11)                  0                   2               --   2
Montclair (10-6-4)                     2                   1               --   3


First half -- M, Jessie Kent-Cutillo, 6th; M, Jillian Alonzo, 16th.

Second half -- P, Katie Decker, 9th, (Cassie Fortuna), 26:18; P, Lauren Nunes, 9th, (Fortuna), 18:40; M, Alonzo, 17th, (Cara Riordan), 4:47.

Shots -- Phillipsburg 6; Montclair 9.

Saves -- Brittany Lavin 6 (P); Katie Cantine 4 (M).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NJSIAA: Wildcats claw their way to semifinal round

Senior forwards Nikki Hull and Brittany Papa connected for goals to help top-seeded High Point cruise to a 3-0 victory over eighth-seeded Montville on Thursday in the North 1, Group 3 sectional quarterfinals in Wantage.

The Wildcats (19-1), seeking the program's sixth sectional title and first since 2002, will host No. 4 Northern Highlands (15-4-2) in Saturday's semifinals. Northern Highlands advanced with a 4-3 win over No. 5 Vernon on Wednesday. High Point defeated Vernon twice this season, 6-1 on Sept. 21 and 2-1 on Oct. 25. The 'Cats also beat Montville (10-8), 2-0, in a Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference clash on Sept. 19.

No. 2 seed West Milford (18-1) will host No. 3 Wayne Hills (16-4-1) in the other semifinal on Saturday. The championship game is slated for Tuesday. It will be the third meeting between the two Passaic County schools, as West Milford won the first two, including a 3-1 decision in the county final on Oct. 22.

High Point has now won four straight since a 3-1 loss to Warren Hills in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex final on Oct. 22. Coach Bev Keur's 'Cats have outscored their opponents 26-8 in their last seven contests. Keur also picked up career win No. 310.

Hull continued her pursuit of the Sussex County school's career points record, currently held by Lesley Dube (112 from 1994-97 with 50 goals and 12 assists). Hull now has 18 goals and 13 assists this season, putting her career totals at 39 goals and 30 assists for 108 points. Teammate Darby Smith, a junior who didn't score a goal or have an assist on Thursday, has 107 points.

Papa recorded her 14th goal of the season, giving High Point an early 1-0 lead. Hull connected two minutes later off a feed from senior midfielder Sarah Clark, who capped the scoring with 16:30 left in the game. Goalie Kelsey Stoll made it stand with eight saves for her ninth shutout.

Schott continues record run as Streaks keep rolling

Lindsey Schott keeps adding to her record collection as Warren Hills' field hockey team piles up victories.

The senior forward registered a pair of goals to establish a new single-season record as the third-seeded Blue Streaks rolled to a 6-0 victory over No. 11 Ocean Township on Thursday in a North 2, Group 3 quarterfinal contest on the turf in Washington.

Schott notched her 26th and 27th goals of the season to esclipse the previous mark of 26 set by Kate Alleger in 1996. Junior forward Niki Miller and senior forward Kayla Grater also scored a pair of goals for the Blue Streaks, who are seeking the program's 10th sectional title and third in the last three years since winning the school's last championship in 2009. Goalie Katie Wintersteen made two saves for her 12th shutout.

Warren Hills (21-1), which has now won 11 straight, advances to meet No. 2 Hopewell Valley, a 5-2 winner over No. 7 Cranford in another quarterfinal, in Saturday's sectional semifinals. Streaks coach Laurie Kerr, now 24-11 all-time in postseason games, said the semifinal game may be played at the Stuart Day School in Princeton depending on whether or not Hopewell Valley's field is playable after the recent bad weather.

Top-seeded Freehold Borough (18-1) hosts No. 4 West Morris (18-2) in the other semifinal. The sectional championship game will be played on Tuesday.

Hopewell Valley (17-1), which has won five sectional titles and none since 1988, beat Warren Hills on penalty strokes at home in last year's semifinal round.

Schott now holds just about all of the Warren County school's offensive records, including career goals (72), career assists (46), single-season points (70) and career points (190). At 16 this season, she is two assists shy of matching Lauren Cuff's single-season mark of 18 set in 2002.

On the record-breaking 27th goal, Schott dribbled into the circle from about the 25-yard line on a free hit and blasted a shot past Hopewell Valley goalie Bailey Herr. Miller followed 41 seconds later with an identical score, her 22nd goal of the season.

Schott has scored at least one goal in six straight games and in 16 of the team's 22 contests this season. Miller, who has been outstanding at the center midfield spot, has at least one goal or one assist in 13 consecutive games and in 19 of 22 this season. Nikki Schott and Whitney Kowski added assists in Thursday's win.

Warren Hills has reached the sectional semifinals in six consecutive seasons dating to 2006, falling in three of those contests. The 2009 team claimed the title en route to a runner-up finish in the Group 3 state final.

Stateliners ready for redemption in sectional semis

Phillipsburg's field hockey team is getting two for the price of one.

The sixth-seeded Stateliners will take on an opponent they weren't allowed to compete against a year ago on Friday when they face second-seeded Montclair in a North 1, Group 4 semifinal at the Watchung Elementary School.

This was supposed to be a rematch of last year's sectional final. However, Phillipsburg was disqualified from playing in the title game -- after an 8-1 semifinal win over Vernon -- for having played too many regular season contests. It left a talented group of seniors heartbroken and denied the Warren County school a shot at its first championship since 1999. Instead, Montclair beat Vernon, 5-0, in the final.

"In a way we're playing last year's game and this one on Friday," said first-year coach Jennifer Paulus, an assistant under former head coach Carrie Saul the previous two seasons. "I'm really excited. It's really sad what happened last year. I wasn't the head coach, but it was awful. The opportunity [to play for the title] was taken away from those seniors and the team."

So, here we are again, this time with Phillipsburg (10-10) and Montclair (9-6-4) in the sectional semifinals. These programs are no stranger to one another, squaring off for a fourth time in the playoffs since 2005.

The 'Liners won the last meeting, 1-0, in the 2009 quarterfinals. The Huskies prevailed in the 2005 and '06 semifinals, including a controversial 1-0 win in the latter. In that one, Jess Kasza scored what appeared to be the tying goal on a penalty corner with no time left in regulation. The goal was incorrectly waived off, as several high-ranking officials later confirmed after the contest.

So you could say that Phillipsburg is not only playing for the present, but its past as well. The 'Liners have won four sectional titles (1972, '77, '98, '99), while Montclair is seeking to become only the 13th school in New Jersey history to win 10 championships.

"I didn't expect us to be in the states. It's exciting to have the opportunity to go and win this year," Paulus said. "We're coming to play. Some of the girls weren't on the [varsity] team last year, but we're all supposed to be in this together. The girls want to play Montclair."

Phillipsburg is playing some of its best hockey of the season at the right time. The 'Liners, after falling to 4-7 on Oct. 7, have gone 6-3 since and have won four straight including a pair of state playoff wins against No. 11 seed North Hunterdon (3-1 on Oct. 26) and No. 3 Westfield (2-1 on Oct. 31). In between, P'burg beat Belvidere, 2-1, a meaningful victory for Paulus and assistant Shannon Kadi (O'Neil), who both played for the County Seaters. Paulus was a freshman on the 1996 team, guided by legendary coach Sally Ueberroth, that claimed the school's seventh and last sectional title before falling in the Group 1 final.

Paulus, whose sisters, Taylor and Cassie Rudd, also played at Belvidere, said one of the reasons for P'burg's improved second half is a lighter schedule. During the first half of the season, P'burg played Skyland Conference heavyweights like Warren Hills, Voorhees and Montgomery.

"We're clicking at the right time," Paulus said. "We played a lot of tough teams early. We lost some close games, twice to Voorhees by a goal and we were 0-0 with Warren Hills [in the second meeting on Oct. 18]. We lost to Montgomery [on Oct. 6] in double overtime on a [penalty] stroke.

"I told the girls that I've been in their situation. I told them this is what they've been practicing for and all the hard work in the offseason. It's great to see them doing it right now."

A talented forward line, anchored by seniors Lauren Nunes (8 goals, 9 assists) and Priscilla Howell (12 goals) has accounted for 11 goals in the team's last four games. But it's primarily been the emergence of junior right wing Katie Decker that's fueled the Warren County school's postseason run. Decker, who has four goals in the last four games, has eight for the season to go with 10 assists.

"She's a class act and a great kid," Paulus said of Decker. "She's a captain, an outstanding athlete and a true leader. Her speed is ridiculous. She doesn't stop playing the ball. I'm very pleased to have her back next season."

The defense was a big question mark coming into the season. But Mariya Saydek, Renee Custodio and Autumn Marinelli have pulled together as a completely new backfield from a year ago.

They will have to be on top of their game to stop a potent Montclair offense, led by senior Jillian Alonzo (15 goals) and Heather Hammerling (10 goals).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NJSIAA: Voorhees moving on to sectional semis

Senior back Taylor Irving converted a pair of penalty strokes as fourth-seeded Voorhees scored three times in the second half to edge fifth-seeded Bernards, 4-3, in a matchup of Skyland Conference teams in the North 2, Group 2 quarterfinals on Wednesday at North Hunterdon's Singley Field.

Senior forward Kat Francis, a goalie her freshman year, scored the decisive goal with 3:20 left in the game.

Voorhees (14-3), which has now won five straight, advances to Saturday's semifinals and will meet top-seeded Johnson, a 1-0 winner over eighth-seeded Summit. Johnson beat Voorhees, 2-1 in double overtime, in last year's final that had to be played over two days and on two different fields due to poor weather and field conditions in Glen Gardner.

Coach Taylor Webb's Vikings are bidding for the Hunterdon County school's seventh sectional championship and first since 2006. Voorhees has reached the sectional semifinals seven straight years dating to 2005 and is now 51-30 all-time in postseason contests.

Bernards (12-6), which led 2-1 at halftime, got two goals from KeeKee Winslow and another by Rachael Alberti.

Outstanding Voorhees goalie Kimmie Pianucci made 12 saves, allowing more than one goal in a game for the first time all season. The Vikings' defense had yielded a total of seven goals coming into this one.

In other action:

Northern Highlands 4, Vernon 3 -- Junior forward Rachel Colvin struck for a pair of goals and senior right wing Melody Prisco added another, but it wasn't enough as the fifth-seeded Vikings (14-6) fell in the North 1, Group 3 quarterfinals. Lauren O'Keefe scored twice for the fourth-seeded Highlanders (15-4-2), who will face the winner of Thursday's quarterfinal between No. 1 High Point and No. 8 Montville in Saturday's semifinals.

Ramsey 2, Newton 1 -- Stephanie Mocerino scored the lone goal for the seventh-seeded Braves (9-6-1) in a North 1, Group 2 quarterfinal against second-seeded Ramsey (15-3-2). Junior Melanie Rudio assisted on Mocerino's goal. Newton, which has won eight sectional titles and none since 1986, reached the final last year under veteran coach Lisa Bechtel, who has yet to win the elusive title in 22 seasons at the helm of the Sussex County school.

NJSIAA: Rangers suffer early postseason exit

The postseason is once again history in the making for Jefferson's field hockey team.

After reaching the semifinals for the first time ever a year ago, the No. 11 seed Falcons will make a return appearance after Wednesday's 2-1 upset win over No. 3 Wallkill Valley in a North 1, Group 2 quarterfinal matchup.

The game was moved to the turf at Vernon Township High School after the recent snow left Wallkill Valley's home field unplayable. The artificial surface, which Jefferson enjoys playing on, may have been a blessing. The Falcons (13-5-1) advance to meet No. 2 Ramsey, a 2-1 winner over No. 7 Newton, in Saturday's semifinals.

"We knew Wallkill was going to be a tough team, but if we played our best we would be able to get a win today," said first-year coach Kasey Farris, who is guiding the Morris County team for this season while coach Danielle Ryan is out on maternity leave. "I think if they play the way they did today, they can beat anybody."

Wallkill Valley (14-5) saw its season end with a tough loss. Coach Irene Chernati's Rangers, who were seeking the Sussex County school's eighth sectional title and first since 2006, never quite overcame a sluggish first half that was completely one-sided in Jefferson's favor. Wallkill also had two goals waived off, as both balls hit off bodies inside the circle.

Outstanding senior midfielder Brittany Harlos, in her final game, made it a one-goal game about midway through the second half -- converting a penalty stroke after a Jefferson defender played a ball off her body in the circle.

But the Falcons' defense, led by senior back Vivianna Samite, held it together down the stretch despite yielding 12 corners in the final 30 minutes. Just when it appeared Wallkill Valley was threatening late, Jefferson pressured and was rewarded with three penalty corners in the final three minutes.

"This was great. We really played as a team," said Samite, who was all over the field making big defensive stops in this one. "We had some struggles, but we pulled it together in the second half. I had a lot of faith in our team."

Jefferson struck for both of its goals in the first half, as the Falcons racked up 12 penalty corners to only one for Wallkill Valley.

Junior Katelyn Cannarozzi opened the scoring with her fourth goal of the season on the team's eighth corner, making a nice dodge on Wallkill Valley goalie Emily Stukenborg and finding an empty cage. Senior forward Lauren Ferguson made it a two-goal lead, receiving a nice cross pass from Vienna Castrignano and firing a shot past Wallkill Valley defender Kristin Garrera, who attempted what would have been an incredible back-line save.

"[Stukenborg] was coming out really far and coach [Farris] told me to dodge her when I had the opportunity." Cannarozzi said. "I did that and I was able to score.

"Our defense had a really strong game and we knew where to place the ball, and we were able to switch fields."

Farris, whose team has won five of its last six games, said getting an early jump on the hosts played a huge role in the outcome.

"Scoring early is something we've had a problem with all season," the coach said. "It really boosted their confidence and it was huge for us to get those two goals early."

This Jefferson team, the first in school history to play in back-to-back semifinals, is playing with a lot of confidence overall.

"This is shocking. I wasn't expecting such a great senior year," Samite said. "It's a great run and we didn't want it to end [today]."

Jefferson (13-5-1)                     2                   0               --   2
Wallkill Valley (14-5)               0                   1               --   1


First half -- J, Katelyn Cannarozzi, 4th, 15:07; J, Lauren Ferguson, 6th, (Vienna Castrignano), 7:51.

Second half -- WV, Brittany Harlos, 14th, (penalty stroke), 15:24.

Shots -- Jefferson 5; Wallkill Valley 3.

Saves -- Lexi Taveras 2 (J); Emily Stukenborg 2, Andreanna Nordland 1 (defensive) (WV).

Penalty corners -- Jefferson 15; Wallkill Valley 13.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NJSIAA: Streaks, Red Devils earn playoff wins

Junior midfielder Niki Miller scored a pair of goals and assisted on two other scores as third-seeded Warren Hills rolled to an 8-1 win over No. 14 Mendham on Tuesday in Flemington.

The game was played at Hunterdon Central Regional High School due to the recent storm and power outages. The Blue Streaks (20-1), who have won 10 in a row since a 2-1 overtime loss to Voorhees on Oct. 6, hadn't played a game in a week.

Warren Hills advances to the quarterfinals and will host No. 11 Ocean Township, a 2-0 winner over No. 6 Princeton, in Thursday's quarterfinals. Tuesday's win was the Warren County school's second in two postseason meetings with overmatched Mendham (6-12-1), which lost, 2-0, to the Streaks in 1982.

Warren Hills defeated Ocean Township, 2-1 in overtime, en route to the sectional title in 2009.

Coach Laurie Kerr's teams are now 23-11 overall in the postseason and the program is 52-35 all-time in playoff contests dating to 1972. Warren Hills is seeking the program's 10th sectional title and its first since 2009.

Miller, the center midfielder who is having an outstanding season, now has 20 goals and 12 assists. She is only the sixth player ever to record a 20-goal season for the Blue Streaks. Teammate Lindsey Schott, the school's all-time goals, assists and points leader, added a goal and an assist on Tuesday, raising her season totals to 25 and 15.

Schott, who has 21 goals last year, is one goal shy of matching Kate Alleger (26 in 1996) for the single-season record. Megan Springmeyer (23 in 2007), Lori Toole (23 in 1979) and Gail Petteruti (21 in 1984) are the others to notch 20 goals in a season.

Freshmen Sydney Muntone and Nikki Profita combined for four goals and two assists. Muntone recorded her first-ever hat trick.

In other action:

Montclair Kimberley 2, Belvidere 1 -- Senior forward Tiffany McKenna concluded her fine career with a goal, her 28th of the season, as the County Seaters (15-5) came up short in the North 1, Group 1 quarterfinals. Belvidere also lost to MKA, 2-1 on strokes, in last year's opening round. Coach Kristin Gaitan's team was trying to earn the program's first playoff win since capturing the 1996 sectional title.

Florence 3, South Hunterdon 1 -- Kaycee Zelvosky scored the lone goal for the Eagles (12-6) in their North 2, Group 1 quarterfinal loss. South was looking to capture its 15th sectional title and first since 2002. Only West Essex (29), Moorestown (21), Shore (21), Shawnee (20), Eastern (18) and Haddonfield (16) have won more sectional championships than the Hunterdon County school.

On Monday:

Hunterdon Central 1, East Brunswick 0 (OT) -- Senior forward Kim Engelhart scored the winning goal just 1:37 into the seven-a-side overtime as the sixth seeded Red Devils continued their amazing comeback season with a win over the third-seeded Bears in the North 2, Group 4 quarterfinals. Central (12-9), which won only three games in 2010, will meet No. 2 West Windsor-North in Friday's semifinals. Coach Jenn Sponzo's team is seeking the school's 12th sectional title and first since 2007.

Phillipsburg 2, Westfield 1 -- Senior right wing Lauren Nunes notched one goal and assisted on another to lead the sixth-seeded Stateliners (10-10), who have won four straight, in the North 1, Group 4 quarterfinals. Junior foward Katie Decker had one assist, giving her four goals and one assist in the team's last four games. P'burg, which beat Westfield, 5-0, in last year's quarterfinals, will travel to second-seeded Montclair for Friday's semifinals. The 'Liners were to play Montclair for the title last year, but were disqualified for playing too many games. P'burg is 1-2 against Montclair in three postseason meetings dating to 2005, including a 1-0 win for the 'Liners in the 2009 quarterfinals.