Monday, September 22, 2014

Field hockey: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex rankings

As we head into the third full week of the season, it's already time to talk about the sixth annual Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament which gets underway with preliminary round games on Saturday.

Pairings and seeds should be announced on Wednesday. Like last year, power points through a team's first seven games or at Tuesday's cutoff, along with head-to-head results, are used to determine seeds. There is one bracket for Sussex and another for Hunterdon-Warren. We will take a closer look at the tournament on Tuesday.

If last week's slate of games is any indication, there should be some interesting results. Take Newton's 2-1 win over Lenape Valley last Tuesday for an example. The Braves played High Point to a 1-1 tie six days earlier, while the Patriots dominated the Wildcats in a 2-0 win on opening day. Both games were played in Wantage. Lenape also earned a 2-1 win over a pretty good Hackettstown team on Sept. 12.

Undoubtedly, Warren Hills will be the No. 1 seed and Voorhees the No. 2 on the Hunterdon-Warren side. Both teams enter the week unbeaten with huge independent games on tap this weekend.

The Blue Streaks (6-0), who will face New Jersey's No. 1 team Eastern on the road on Saturday, are off to their best start ever to this point, outscoring opponents, 39-0. The only other team in program history to post shutouts in its first six contests was 2002, when it outscored the opposition, 38-0. The 2014 squad is also the sixth team overall to start at least 6-0 and the fifth to do it since '02. The 2011 Streaks opened their season with a program record 10 straight wins.

The Vikings (7-0-1) are also piling up the goals behind junior forward Kathryn Roncoroni, who leads the tri-county area with 18. She's already more than halfway to the school's single-season record of 33, shared by her and Colleen Boyce (2010). Coach Taylor Webb's team will travel to state-ranked Shore Regional on Saturday.

Now onto this week's rankings:

1. Warren Hills (6-0) -- Blue Streaks capped a 3-0 week with a 5-0 win over No. 4 Lenape Valley at home on Saturday. Talented sophomore forward Dani Profita scored a goal to go with two assists in the victory, which raised her season totals to nine goals and seven assists. Profita scored a career-high four goals in the team's 9-0 win over Ridge last Tuesday. Senior forward Sydney Muntone continued her torrid pace with five goals and four assists last week, including three goals and an assist in Wednesday's 10-0 win over Phillipsburg. Senior forward Jessica Nissen had a four-goal week.

Up next: at Hillsborough on Tuesday; at Eastern on Saturday.

2. Voorhees (7-0-1) -- Vikings went 3-0 last week with road wins over Mount St. Mary (6-0 on Tuesday) and Somerville (5-0 on Thursday) before capping the week with an impressive 5-0 win over No. 3 Hunterdon Central on Saturday, its most lopsided in the series since a 4-0 victory over the Red Devils in 2010. Roncoroni finished a stellar week with three goals and an assist after scoring five goals in the win over Mount St. Mary. Forward Hannah Ryan scored a pair of goals in the Skyland Conference Valley Division clash with Somerville. Vikes have outscored their opponents by a 32-3 margin.

Up next: at Hopewell Valley on Tuesday; at Shore Regional on Saturday.

3. Hunterdon Central (4-1) -- Red Devils suffered their first loss -- 5-0 at Voorhees on Saturday -- after posting an 8-1 win over North Hunterdon last Tuesday. Leading scorer Kendall Nickel scored two goals and added two assists in the win over the Lions, while Kailey Dalgauer and Maddie Freeman each had a pair of of goals. Goalie Hannah Cecchini made nine saves in the loss to Voorhees. Coach Jenn Sponzo's team will likely earn the No. 3 seed in the Hunterdon-Warren bracket for the tri-county tournament.

Up next: Montgomery at home on Tuesday; Lawrenceville at home on Saturday.

4. Lenape Valley (4-2) -- Patriots went 1-2 last week, rebounding from Tuesday's 2-1 loss at then-unranked Newton with a 4-0 win over Mount Olive at home on Wednesday, before closing the week with a 5-0 loss at No. 1 Warren Hills. Senior forward Kassidy Forik, who led the team with 15 goals last season, has picked it up with four goals in her last four games, including a pair against Mount Olive. She also scored the goal against Newton. Goalie Kaylee Gentilucci made three saves against Mount Olive for her second shutout.

Up next: Jefferson at home on Tuesday; Belvidere at home on Saturday.

5. Hackettstown (3-2) -- Tigers holding steady here after a 2-0 win over North Warren last Tuesday in their only game of the week. Forwards Molly Gorczyca and Kayli Yeisley scored the goals, while senior forwards Kelly Healy and Erica Salus had assists. Junior goalie Rose Bishop made three saves for third shutout this season and No. 10 in her career. Coach Stephen Speirs' team, which lost to Warren Hills in last year's title game, will likely be a No. 6 or 7 seed on the Hunterdon-Warren side for the tri-county tournament.

Up next: High Point at home on Tuesday; at Delaware Valley on Wednesday.

6. Sparta (3-3) -- Spartans' record is a bit deceiving with losses outside the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference American Division to Montville, Randolph and Mendham. Coach Kristin Lindsley's team has handled business in two division wins, including a 3-0 win over Vernon on Friday. Junior forward Rhett Curran has at least one point in every game thus far, including a goal in Friday's win. Curran leads the Spartans with eight goals. Junior midfielder Gretchen Bowie and senior forward Abby Tracey are tied with Curran for the team lead in assists with three.

Up next: at Pope John on Monday; at Butler on Tuesday; Newton at home on Saturday.

7. Delaware Valley (3-3) -- Terriers move up a couple of spots despite going 0-2 last week with losses to Bernards (1-0 on Thursday) and Montgomery (2-1 on Saturday). Senior back Brianna Skripko scored the goal on Saturday off an assist from senior midfielder Tina Crotty. Junior goalie Morgan Davies recorded six saves. Coach Stephanie Carino's team is 0-2 in the Skyland Conference Valley Division with losses to first-place Voorhees and Bernards.

Up next: North Plainfield at home on Tuesday; Hackettstown at home on Wednesday.

8. Kittatinny (3-1-1) -- Cougars have had an interesting season through five games. After three straight 2-0 wins, they played unranked High Point to a 0-0 tie on Tuesday before a 4-3 loss at Ridge on Saturday. Senior forward Alexis Ambrosino, a transfer from High Point, was held without a goal for the first time by her former team, while coming back to score all three for the Cougars against Ridge. Junior forward Christina Chernati had a pair of assists.

Up next: at North Warren on Tuesday; at Pequannock on Thursday.

9. Newton (3-2-2) -- Braves stunned No. 4 Lenape Valley in a 2-1 win on Tuesday before a 3-0 win over Vernon on Wednesday. Coach Lisa Bechtel's team closed the week with a 6-0 loss at home to state power Madison. Sophomore forwards Brittany Schumann and Kate Barbato scored the goals against Lenape, while senior goalie Jenna Zawislak made seven saves. Sophomore midfielder Natalie Rivas scored two goals against Vernon. Based on power points, the Braves could earn the No. 1 seed for the tri-county tournament, but they do have a 2-0 loss to Kittatinny on Sept. 12.

Up next: at Wallkill Valley on Tuesday; at Sparta on Saturday.

10. Pope John (5-1) -- Lions enter the rankings for the first time this season after making their last appearance in 2012. A year ago, coach Gina DiMaio's team went 1-17, so this is shaping up as quite the turnaround. It all starts with senior midfielder Carleen O'Connell, a transfer from Madison. She leads PJ with 11 goals, including one in each of its three games last week. The Lions opened with a 3-1 win at Morris Knolls last Monday before a 7-1 loss to Chatham on Wednesday. A 2-1 win over Mount Olive capped the week on Friday. Freshman forward Maddie Jordan is making an impact with four assists, while senior back Baylee Vozza has a team-high five assists.

On the bubble: Belvidere (3-3); South Hunterdon (3-2); Phillipsburg (2-3-1).

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