Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Field hockey: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex rankings

Very light week schedule-wise around the Open Mike area but there are a few big showdowns on tap.

On Thursday, No. 3 Voorhees travels to No. 4 Phillipsburg in what has been a good rivalry over the years, particularly at the Phillipsburg Athletic Complex. The Stateliners play regularly on turf, while the Vikings still play on grass at home. Should be interesting after the Vikings posted a 3-1 at home in the first meeting on opening day.

Also, the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament kicks off on Saturday with two pigtail round games. Seeds  and pairings will be announced midweek. Check back here for all of the tournament information.

On to this week's edition of the rankings:

1. Warren Hills (6-1) -- Blue Streaks took their first loss on Saturday -- 3-1 to powerhouse Bridgewater-Raritan, the perennial Group 4 state finalist. Sophomore forward Sydney Muntone scored the lone goal as leading scorer Niki Miller was held without a point for the first time this season. Warren Hills, which leads 24-7-1 in the all-time series since Bridgewater merged East and West schools in 1991, has lost six of the last seven meetings with the Somerset County power since 2006 after winning 14 straight from 1997 to 2003. Earlier in the week, Hills knocked off nemesis Voorhees, 3-1, at home as Miller scored a goal and added an assist.

Up next: at Hackettstown on Tuesday; at Montgomery on Thursday.

2. Hunterdon Central (5-3) -- Red Devils earned a 2-0 win over No. 4 Phillipsburg on Mondayand will likely garner one of the top three seeds for the upcoming Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament. Sophomore forward Taylor Barrett and junior midfielder Ally Baligian scored goals for the Red Devils, who have won three of the last four by shutout, in the win over P'burg. Goalie Fran Orella made nine saves against the 'Liners for her fourth shutout.

Up next: at Hillsborough on Thursday.

3. Voorhees (3-1-1) -- Vikings lost a tough 3-1 battle with No. 1 Warren Hills last Wednesday before rebounding with a 4-0 victory over Hunterdon County rival Delaware Valley the following day. The game was the school's annual fundraiser for the Save the Cherubs campaign against Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). Former coach Beth Stocker -- one of the driving forces behind the campaign -- was on hand with her 2-year-old daughter Maddie, who was born with CDH. The birth defect also hit second-year coach Taylor Webb's family, whose nephew, Bryce, was also born with it. Up next for the Vikes is their sister-school rival North Hunterdon, which has lost 25 in a row to Voorhees dating to 1992.

Up next: North Hunterdon at home on Tuesday; at Phillipsburg on Thursday.

4. Phillipsburg (4-4) -- Stateliners dropped a 2-0 decision to No. 2 Hunterdon Central on Monday and has losses to the top three teams in the rankings by a combined score of 9-1 -- scoring in a 3-1 loss to No. 3 Voorhees in the season opener. Coach Jen Paulus' team defeated Ridge, 2-1, on Alumni Saturday at the Phillipsburg Athletic Conference. After the contest, field hockey alumni from years past played a game against each other and the day was a big fundraising success for the program.

Up next: Delaware Valley at home on Tuesday (rain makeup); Voorhees at home on Thursday; at North Hunterdon on Saturday (if the Lions are not involved in an HWS pigtail).

5. High Point (5-1-1) -- Wildcats were dealt their first loss on Saturday -- 4-0 to Skyland Conference unbeaten Pingry. It was a big step up in competition for coach Bev Keur's team -- which won five NJAC American Division games by a combined score of 24-2 -- and kudos to her for scheduling it. Senior midfielder Darby Smith, who is the tri-county scoring leader, was kept off the board for only the second time this season in the loss. Big showdown with American Division leader and unbeaten Morris Knolls this week.

Up next: Morris Knolls at home on Thursday; at Morristown-Beard on Saturday.

6. Hackettstown (5-2) -- Tigers are enjoying a renaissance this season, scoring a nice 1-0 win over defending NJAC Freedom Division champion Wallkill Valley on Friday. Senior forward Stefania Swider scored the winning goal and has four total in her last three games, including two in Monday's 3-0 win over Kittatinny. Swider leads the team with six goals. Goalie Jessie Huffman earned her fourth shutout in the win over Kittatinny. Big step up in class with Tuesday's game against Warren Hills.

Up next: Warren Hills at home on Tuesday; Union at home on Thursday.

7. South Hunterdon (5-1) -- Eagles rebounded after a 5-0 loss to Montgomery with two wins last week -- 7-0 over Mount Saint Mary on Thursday and 3-1 against Stuart Day in an independent clash on Friday. South is a perfect 4-0 in Skyland Conference Valley Division play. Forward Kaycee Zelkovsky tallied a total of four goals in the two wins.

Up next: at Bernards on Thursday; at Princeton on Saturday.

8. Wallkill Valley (5-2-1) -- Rangers stumbled in a 1-0 loss to No. 6 Hackettstown on Friday and bounced back with a 1-0 victory over winless Lenape Valley on Monday. Forward Casey Pustelniak scored the game-winner -- Wallkill's sixth goal this season -- off a feed from senior forward Andreanna Nordland. Senior goalie Emily Stukenborg stopped four shots for her fifth shutout.

Up next: Blair Academy at home on Monday, Oct. 1.

9. Newton (5-3) -- Braves tumble down the rankings following back-to-back losses to Parsippany, 1-0, on Friday and Jefferson, 2-1, on Monday. The offense clearly misses senior forward Melanie Rudio, who is out for the season following knee surgery. Newton has scored a total of two goals in its last three games, going 1-2. The win was a 1-0 affair with Kittatinny.

Up next: Roxbury at home on Tuesday.

10. Delaware Valley (3-3) -- Terriers were rained out against No. 4 Phillipsburg last week and dropped a 4-0 decision to No. 3 Voorhees on Thursday. Del Val capped the week with a 7-0 thrashing of a very overmatched Notre Dame-East Stroudsburg (Pa.) team on Saturday. Senior captain Caitlyn Slusser and sophomore Caroline Vath scored a pair of goals in the win.

Up next: at Phillipsburg on Tuesday; at Somerville on Thursday.

On the bubble: Belvidere (3-3-1); Pope John (3-3-2).

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