Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Field hockey: Streaks clinch Raritan Division title

Warren Hills' field hockey team captured the first of what it hopes is a few more titles this season -- making this one even sweeter by knocking off its biggest rival in the process.

The Blue Streaks scored three first-half goals en route to an impressive 3-0 win at Voorhees on Tuesday afternoon to secure a second straight Skyland Conference Raritan Division crown.

Warren Hills (12-1 overall, 9-0 Raritan Division), ranked No. 1 in the Open Mike area, can run the table in its division with a win at home against Somerville on Thursday. Coach Laurie Kerr's team, which has won six straight since a 3-1 loss to Bridgewater-Raritan, claimed the Warren County school's 11th conference title and its seventh in the Skyland Conference -- winning four others in the old Delaware River Conference.

"Our kids were just amazing today. ... They played as a team," said Kerr, who is 209-61-11 overall and 6-15-3 all-time against Voorhees in 13 seasons. "We have a lot of momentum now right when we need it."

No. 3 Voorhees (7-3-1, 5-2-1) lost both regular season meetings -- 3-1 at Warren Hills on Sept. 18 -- in the series for the first time since 1981, when both schools were in the DRC. Since joining the Skyland Conference, the Vikings are 25-7-3 against the Streaks, including four tournament meetings, dating to 1990 and lead 28-17-6 in the overall series since 1975.

"It's been a great rivalry for many years," said Kerr, who lost, 2-1, to Voorhees as a player her senior at Warren Hills in 1986. "

The Streaks scored all of their goals off penalty corners and struck twice in the first 18 minutes of the first half. Warren Hills added one more before the half for a commanding lead. In the first meeting, the Warren County school popped one in late to break a 1-1 first-half tie in Washington.

Needless to say, a three-goal lead after 30 minutes was huge in this rivalry.

"We definitely had the momentum and confidence," Kerr said. "We got [our third goal] about four minutes before halftime. I think it kind of took the wind of [Voorhees'] sails a little bit."

Sophomore midfielder Nikki Profita scored twice and assisted on the opening goal by sophomore forward Jessica Nissen. Profita raised her season totals to 10 goals and six assists. Senior forward Niki Miller notched her team-leading 13th assist, while sophomore forward Sydney Muntone got her 10th assist.

"Nikki Profita probably played the game of her life in the midfield. ... She stopped everything and made every tackle. She was amazing today," Kerr said. "Our corners were very good. We were firing on all cylinders today."

Senior goalie Katie Wintersteen made four saves for her sixth shutout -- the fourth in the last five games. Voorhees goalies Lauren Pianucci and Kathryn Boyce combined for 13 saves in the loss.

Defending champion Warren Hills closes out the week on Saturday at home against Pope John in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex quarterfinals. Game time is 10 a.m.

Elsewhere on Tuesday:

Phillipsburg 1, Delaware Valley 0 -- Senior forward Katie Decker notched her team-leading seventh goal in the second half and senior Molly Zgoda got her team-leading eighth assist to lead the No. 4 Stateliners (8-6, 4-5) to their second win over the Terriers (5-6-1, 2-6-1) this season -- both 1-0 scores -- in Raritan Division action. Goalie Brittany Lavin made one save for her sixth shutout and third in four games. Goalie Jackie Compta stopped one shot in the loss.

Hunterdon Central 4, North Hunterdon 0 -- Forwards Nicole Barrett and Kendall Nickel were among four different goal scorers for the No. 2 Red Devils (8-5, 5-4), who also got contributions from junior juniors Ally Baligian and Carissa Benedickson. Barrett also chipped in with two assists. Goalie Fran Orella had four saves for the shutout -- her fifth. Goalie Bridget Walsh made nine saves for the Lions (0-12-1, 0-9) in the Delaware Division clash.

Belvidere 4, Franklin 1 -- Senior forward Nicole DeHerde knocked in her fifth goal of the season as four different players scored for the County Seaters (6-4-1, 4-2) in a Valley Division contest. DeHerde and senior forward Alexa Beaumont share the team lead in goals. Erin Sassaman, Kristen Ostrzyzek and Sarah Granitzski also scored goals in the win, Belvidere's third in four games.

South Hunterdon 5, North Plainfield 0 -- Kaycee Zelkovsky and Ashley Eick scored a pair of goals to lead the No. 6 Eagles (8-3-1, 5-1) to their third straight win. Sarah McCaffrey also scored, while Amber Dey recorded two assists. Goalie Samantha Soscia earned her fourth shutout.

Pope John 2, Morris Knolls 1 -- Senior forward Rachel Spetz and sophomore wing Sarah Bramley connected on second-half goals to erase a 1-0 deficit and power the No. 9 Lions (6-4-2, 5-3-1) past the second-place Golden Eagles in an NJAC American Division clash. Coach Gina DiMaio's team, which has won five of its last six, avenged a 3-1 loss to Morris Knolls on Sept. 10.

Sparta 1, Vernon 0 (OT2) -- Gretchen Bowie connected off a feed from Lauren Hunt in double overtime as the Spartans (3-6, 2-5) pulled the upset in an NJAC American Division game. Goalie Julia Keenan recorded her first shutout of the season. Goalie Clara Mikaeil made five saves for the Vikings (3-8, 3-7), who have dropped four in a row, the last three in OT. Vernon, which beat Sparta 8-0 and 7-0 last year, won the first meeting, 4-0, this season on Sept. 10.

High Point 7, Mount Olive 1 -- Senior Darby Smith scored three goals and added two assists as the No. 5 Wildcats (10-1-1, 9-0) rolled to their fifth straight win for a three-game lead in the American Division standings. Smith, who holds school records for career goals and points, leads the team with 15 goals and 10 assists on the year. Junior Brittany DeLima had two goals, while sophomore Rachel Orr added two assists.

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