Friday, November 16, 2012

Warren Hills tops West Morris in Group semifinals

One more win.

That's all Warren Hills' field hockey team needs to end the program's state championship drought after a hard-fought 6-4 win over West Morris -- the first meeting between the schools -- on Friday in the NJSIAA Group 3 semifinals in Washington.

Warren Hills (22-2), which has won six in a row, will play nemesis Ocean City -- a 3-2 winner in overtime against Moorestown in the other semifinal -- for the Group 3 title at 2 p.m. Sunday on the turf at The College of New Jersey. The Blue Streaks, who matched the 2011 team for most wins in school history, will be looking to snap an 0-for-6 skid in state finals. Ocean City (20-1) beat Warren Hills in the 1999, 2001 and 2009 title games.

"It's exciting," said veteran coach Laurie Kerr, whose teams were the Group 3 runner-up in 2000, '01, 03 and '09. "It will be nice to replace that zero [in state finals] with a one."

On Friday, the Streaks, now 7-3 in state semifinals, jumped out to a 4-1 halftime lead before West Morris (13-7-1) came storming back with a pair of goals on penalty strokes, and another off a penalty corner, to knot the game at 4. Both strokes were converted by Mikayla Young, while Lindsay Roller notched her 16th goal on the corner.

Sophomores Nikki Profita and Sydney Muntone helped Warren Hills regain the lead for good with goals in the final three minutes. Profita, who notched three goals on the day and has 19 for the season, broke the tie off a feed from assists leader Niki Miller. Profita assisted on Muntone's goal that iced it with just over a minute remaining.

Miller and sophomore Jessica Nissen also scored first-half goals for the Streaks, who claimed the program's 556th victory. Kerr is now seven wins shy of matching her former coach, Luanne Ferenci, for the most coaching wins in the Warren County school's 48-year history. Miller's 25th goal leaves her two shy of Lindsey Schott's school record of 27 in 2011.

"I think once we got up, 4-1, the kids started thinking about [the magnitude of the game] a little bit," Kerr said. "But they finally snapped out of it. Our sophomores really stepped it up."

Defensively, backs Allie Brouhard and Stephanie Collins made goal-line saves to aid senior goalkeeper Katie Wintersteen, who stopped seven shots. Collins had a pair of saves in Wednesday's 4-1 win over South Plainfield in the North 2, Group 3 sectional final.

The Streaks have outscored their opponents, 19-9, in four postseason games. The nine goals allowed is significant when factoring in that the defense yielded a total of 13 in the team's first 19 games this season.

West Morris (13-7-1)               1                   3             --   4
Warren Hills (22-2)                 4                   2             --   6


First half -- 
WH, Jessica Nissen, 16th, (Nikki Schott); WM, Mikayla Young, 6th, (Emily Rubright); WH, Nikki Profita, 17th, (Sydney Muntone); WH, Profita, 18th, WH, Niki Miller, 25th. 

Second half -- WM, Young, 7th, (penalty stroke); WM, Lindsay Roller, 16th; WM, Young, 8th, (penalty stroke); WH, Profita, 19th, (Miller); WH, Muntone, 19th, (Profita).

Shots -- West Morris 13; Warren Hills 19.

Saves -- Cristina Eichelosdoerfer 13 (WM); Katie Wintersteen 7, Stephanie Collins 1 (defensive), Allie Brouhard 1 (defensive) (WH).

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