Friday, October 19, 2012

Field hockey: HWS semifinals preview

What: Fourth annual Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament semifinals.

When: Saturday.

Matchups: Hunterdon Central at High Point, 3:15 p.m.; Voorhees at Warren Hills, 2 p.m.

Hunterdon Central Red Devils

Record: 10-7.

Coach: Jenn Sponzo (14th season, 187-99-16).

How they got here: Beat Sparta, 4-1; Phillipsburg, 2-1.

Tournament history: Lost to High Point, 2-1, in 2009 first round; Lost to Newton, 2-1, in 2010 first round; Lost to Wallkill Valley, 5-1, in 2011 first round. Overall HWS record: 2-3.

Probable starting lineup: So. F Kendall Nickel (12 goals-4 assists-28 points); Sr. F Nicole Barrett (8-9-25); Jr. F Carissa Benedickson (7-0-14); Jr. F Sarah Pulkowski (3-1-7); Jr. MF Ally Baligian (5-4-14); Jr. MF Jane Higley (1-1-3); Sr. MF Chloe Maurice (0-0-0); Jr. MF Morgan Lojek (0-0-0); Sr. D Megan Brady (0-0-0); Sr. D Nicole Grube (0-0-0);  Sr. GK Fran Orella (113 saves, 6 shutouts, .785 save percentage, 1.82 goals against).

Notes: Red Devils hadn't won a HWS game until this season, even though they won the North 2, Group 4 sectional title last year. Coach Jenn Sponzo's teams reached five Hunterdon-Warren finals, winning titles in 1999 and 2003. Strength of schedule will help Central in tournament action -- playing Bridgewater-Raritan and Pingry, twice, while taking on Warren Hills in an independent clash. The Devils played two tight contests against Pingry -- losing 3-2 and 5-4 in OT. Pingry defeated High Point, 4-0.

High Point Wildcats

Record: 14-1-1.

Coach: Bev Keur (22nd season, 325-114-15 in three stints).

How they got here: Beat Belvidere, 1-0, in first round; South Hunterdon, 2-1, in quarterfinals.

Tournament history: Beat Hunterdon Central, 2-1, in 2009 first round, Lost to Warren Hills, 4-0 in 2009 quarterfinals;  Beat South Hunterdon, 5-0, in 2010 first round, Beat Phillipsburg, 3-0, in 2010 quarterfinals, Lost to Voorhees, 1-0, in 2010 semifinals; Beat North Hunterdon, 3-1, in 2011 first round, Beat South Hunterdon, 2-0, in 2011 quarterfinals, Beat Belvidere, 5-1, in 2011 semifinals, Lost to Warren Hills, 3-1, in 2011 championship game. Overall HWS record: 8-3.

Probable starting lineup: Sr. F Darby Smith (24 goals-11 assists-59 points); So. F Alexis Ambrosino (11-4-26); Jr. F Carly Satter (4-9-17); Sr. F Maureen Gill (3-6-12); Jr. MF Brittany DeLima (9-1-19); So. MF Rachel Orr (3-6-12); So. MF Tierney Clark (1-1-3); Sr. D Michala Macken (0-0-0); Sr. D Danielle Stetzel (0-0-0); So. D Kristen English (0-0-0); Sr. GK Erin Williams (64 saves, 9 shutouts, .865 save percentage, 0.63 goals against).

Notes: Wildcats have yielded a total of 10 goals this season. Coach Bev Keur's team is making its third straight appearance in the semis and clinched its third straight NJAC American Division title on Thursday with a 1-0 win over Montville -- stretching its divisional win streak to 39 in a row. Smith leads all HWS scorers in goals and points. She is the Sussex County school's all-time leader in goals (72) and points (168).

Voorhees Vikings

Record: 10-4-1.

Coach: Taylor Webb (2nd season, 24-8-1).

How they got here: Beat Kittatinny, 2-0, in first round; Wallkill Valley, 3-0, in quarterfinals.

Tournament history: Beat Kittatinny, 3-0, in 2009 first round, Beat Hackettstown, 3-0, in 2009 quarterfinals, Lost to Newton, 2-1 in double OT in 2009 semifinals; Beat Delaware Valley, 3-0, in 2010 first round, Beat North Hunterdon, 1-0, in 2010 quarterfinals, Beat High Point, 1-0, in 2010 semifinals, Beat Warren Hills, 1-0, in 2010 championship game; Beat Kittatinny, 2-0, in 2011 first round, Lost to Wallkill Valley, 1-0, in 2011 quarterfinals. Overall HWS record: 9-2.

Probable starting lineup: Jr. F Ashley Kerekgyarto (7 goals-1 assist-15 points); Sr. F Sara Diacik (4-3-11); Sr. F Rachel Lewis (1-4-6); Jr. F Tori Crans (2-1-5); Sr. F Kelsey Fischer (0-1-1); Fr. MF Kathryn Roncoroni (9-3-21); Jr. D Alex Barish (0-0-0); Sr. D Angie D'Armiento (0-0-0); Sr. D Anna McLees (0-0-0); Sr. D Michelle Gaykowski (0-1-1); So. GK Lauren Pianucci (26 saves, 4 shutouts, .788 save percentage, 0.47 goals against); Jr. GK Kathryn Boyce (28 saves, 4 shutouts, .800 save percentage, 0.47 goals against).

Notes: Sophomore forward Hannah Ryan is the top option off the bench with five goals this season. Vikings owned the former Hunterdon-Warren tournament with a record eight titles. The Hunterdon County school won its ninth county championship in 2010 -- beating Warren Hills in the final at Hackettstown in former coach Beth Stocker's final season. Her teams won four county titles in eight seasons and had an 11-game county win streak snapped in the 2009 semis. Webb, a star midfielder for the Vikes, won two titles as a player under longtime coach Ann Bonavita, now Webb's No. 1 assistant. Bonavita built Voorhees into a state power -- going 202-29-8 in 11 seasons from 1992-2002.

Warren Hills Blue Streaks

Record: 16-1.

Coach: Laurie Kerr (13th season, 213-60-11).

How they got here: Beat Lenape Valley, 5-1, in first round; Pope John, 8-0, in quarterfinals.

Tournament history: Beat Delaware Valley, 8-2, in 2009 first round, Beat High Point, 4-0, in 2009 quarterfinals, Beat Pope John, 3-0, in 2009 semifinals; Beat Sparta, 6-0, in 2010 first round, Beat Wallkill Valley, 4-1, in 2010 quarterfinals, Beat Newton, 2-1 in overtime in 2010 semifinals, Lost to Voorhees, 1-0, in 2010 championship game; Beat North Warren, 9-0, in 2011 first round, Beat Newton, 5-0, in 2011 quarterfinals, Beat Wallkill Valley, 8-1, in 2011 semifinals, Beat High Point, 3-1, in 2011 championship game. Overall HWS record: 12-1.

Probable starting lineup: Sr. F Niki Miller (18 goals-21 assists-57 points); So. F Sydney Muntone (14-10-38); So. F Nikki Profita (12-10-34); So. F Jessica Nissen (10-7-27); Jr. MF Nikki Schott (3-5-11); Jr. MF Melanie Loth (1-2-4); So. D Amanda Crampton (2-2-6); Sr. D Meghan Dempski (0-3-3); Fr. D Rachel Phillips (0-0-0); So. D Allie Brouhard (0-0-0); Sr. GK Katie Wintersteen (68 saves, 9 shutouts, .861 save percentage, 0.69 goals against).

Notes: Blue Streaks are riding a 10-game winning streak and have won six in a row in HWS play dating to the loss to Voorhees in the 2010 title game. Warren Hills captured its only on-field county title last year with the win over High Point at Vernon. In 2009, the Streaks were slated to play Newton for the first HWS championship, but the game was never played due to scheduling conflicts. Miller, a UMass recruit, recently became the Warren County school's all-time assists leader and holds the single-season mark with 21 this year.


Hunterdon Central 3, High Point 1

Warren Hills 2, Voorhees 1

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