Monday, September 29, 2014

Field hockey: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex rankings

As we head into October -- the field hockey season really flies by -- the sixth annual Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament began with two preliminary round games on Saturday, as North Hunterdon and Wallkill Valley advanced with wins.

First-round games are set to be played on Friday and there are several intriguing matchups, including No. 5 Hackettstown at No. 8 Sparta. Hackettstown was a finalist a year ago, dropping a 1-0 decision to Warren Hills, the favorite to repeat as tri-county champion.

Also, No. 6 Delaware Valley travels to No. 3 Newton in what should be an interesting and low-scoring affair at Palmer Field, the site of this year's championship game.

It was great to see No. 1 Warren Hills and No. 2 Voorhees travel out of the area to take on two of the state's top teams.

The Blue Streaks made the trek to South Jersey for a clash with top-ranked Eastern and dropped 10-1 decision. Eastern, which is head and shoulders above everyone in New Jersey and could probably beat some college teams, has won a record 17 Group 4 titles to go along with 21 sectional titles, including 15 in a row.

The Vikings rallied for a 2-2 draw with Group 1 power Shore Regional, which has won 22 sectional titles, second only to West Essex (32) and Moorestown (24). Disappointingly, both Voorhees and Shore agreed before the game that no overtime would be played to potentially declare a winner.

This to me is a disturbing trend in the HWS area, where teams are forgoing overtime in non-division games. Newton and High Point have already combined for six ties on the season.

I always thought the goal was to win the game, but apparently the affect on power points is a major reason why OT is not being played in these games. I mean what's next, we don't keep score at all?

That's my rant for the week. Now onto the rankings:

1. Warren Hills (7-1) -- Blue Streaks went 1-1 last week, beating Hillsborough 7-0 on Tuesday before a 10-1 loss to Eastern, ranked No. 1 in New Jersey, on Saturday in South Jersey. Before that loss, coach Laurie Kerr's team had outscored its first seven opponents by a combined 46-0. This year's squad is the first in program history to win its first seven games via shutouts. Senior back Allie Brouhard had a goal and an assist in the win over Hillsborough and scored the lone goal against Eastern. Sophomore forward Dani Profita continued her strong season with a goal and two assists vs. Hillsborough. Senior forward Sydney Muntone (13 goals) tied Niki Miller for second place on the school's career goals list with two against the Raiders for Nos. 60 and 61. Lindsey Schott holds the record with 72 and has the single-season mark of 27.

Up next: at Watchung Hills on Tuesday; Bridgewater at home on Thursday; Wallkill Valley at home on Friday in Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament.

2. Voorhees (8-0-2) -- Vikings opened last week with a 4-1 win at Hopewell Valley on Tuesday before rallying back for a 2-2 tie at Shore Regional, one of the state' top-ranked teams, on Saturday. Junior forward Kathryn Roncoroni moved closer to the school's single-season goals mark of 33 that she shares with two against Hopewell and one more against Shore -- giving her a tri-county best 21 for the year. Hannah Ryan also had two goals against HV. Coach Taylor Webb's team earned the No. 2 seed on the Hunterdon-Warren side for the tri-county tournament. Voorhees has made a record 15 county finals appearances (including H-W title games before Sussex joined in) and has won 10 championships.

Up next: North Plainfield at home on Thursday; North Hunterdon at home on Friday in Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament.

3. Hunterdon Central (5-2) -- Red Devils went 1-1 last week, opening with a 4-0 win at home against Montgomery as senior forward Kendall Nickel connected for her seventh goal before adding two more in a 4-3 loss to Lawrenceville on Saturday. Nickel, who got her 100th career point earlier this season, leads the team with nine goals. Junior midfielder Amanda Whitlock had a goal and an assist last week. Coach Jenn Sponzo's club is the No. 4 seed on the Hunterdon-Warren side for the tri-county-tournament.

Up next: Ridge at home on Tuesday; at Phillipsburg on Thursday; Pope John at home on Friday in Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament.

4. Lenape Valley (5-2) -- In their only action last week, Patriots posted a 2-1 win over Jefferson in a Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference clash on Tuesday. The win improved coach Lauren Fasano's team to 3-0 in the division. Senior forward Kassidy Forik has been on a tear of late and scored the winning goal -- her team-leading fifth of the season -- off a feed from senior midfielder and Bucknell commit Sally Olson.

Up next: Vernon at home on Monday; Kittatinny at home on Tuesday; North Warren at home on Friday in Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament.

5. Hackettstown (5-2) -- Tigers capped a 2-0 week with a 1-0 win at No. 6 Delaware Valley on Wednesday, as sophomore forward Molly Gorczyca scored the lone goal off an assist from junior forward Kayli Yeisley. Junior goalie Rose Bishop stopped four shots for her fourth shutout of the season. Coach Stephen Speirs' team opened last week with a 2-1 win over High Point at home. Yeisley and junior forward Cayla Andrews scored goals in the victory.

Up next: Newton at home on Tuesday; at Sparta on Friday in Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament.

6. Delaware Valley (4-4) -- Terriers went 1-1 last week, opening with a 3-0 win at home against North Plainfield on Tuesday. Senior midfielder Tina Crotty scored a goal and had an assist in the win, while senior back Brianna Skripko and junior forward Katie Maddalena also connected for goals. On Wednesday, coach Stephanie Carino's team dropped a 1-0 decision to No. 5 Hackettstown in an independent matchup between former Skyland Conference rivals.

Up next: Franklin at home on Tuesday; at Belvidere on Thursday; at Newton on Friday in Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament.

7. Kittatinny (5-1-1) -- Cougars are coming off a 2-0 week, opening with a 2-1 win at North Warren as senior forward Alexis Ambrosino moved closer to the 100-points mark for her career with a goal and an assist. The transfer from High Point enters this week with 98 points, including 40 career goals. In last Thursday's 3-0 win at Pequannock, Holly ReznikChristina Chernati and Melissa Toye all scored goals, while senior goalie Julia Pevarnik stopped nine saves for her fifth shutout in seven games. Big week on tap for coach Emily Murray's team, which drew the No. 2 seed on the Sussex side for the tri-county tournament.

Up next: at Lenape Valley on Tuesday; West Morris at home on Thursday; Phillipsburg at home on Friday in Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament.

8. Sparta (5-3-1) -- Spartans opened their 2-0-1 week with a 4-2 win over crosstown rival Pope John on Monday, as senior forward Abby Tracey connected for a pair of goals, while junior forward Rhett Curran added two assists and a goal. Junior midfielder Gretchen Bowie scored a goal in the team's 2-1 win at Butler on Tuesday, while senior midfielder Julia Silvestri scored in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Newton.

Up next: West Morris at home on Wednesday; Hackettstown at home on Friday in Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament.

9. Newton (4-2-3) -- Braves went 1-0-1 last week, opening with a 2-1 win at Wallkill Valley as sophomore midfielder Natalie Rivas and senior forward Sarah Parks connected for goals, while sophomore forward Brittany Schumann added her team-leading fifth assist. In Saturday's 1-1 tie against Sparta, junior forward Olivia Weiss scored her first goal. Coach Lisa Bechtel's squad is the No. 3 Sussex seed and will host No. 6 Delaware Valley in a first-round HWS game.

Up next: at Hackettstown on Tuesday; Delaware Valley at home on Friday in Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament.

10. Wallkill Valley (4-4) -- Rangers capped a 2-1 week with a 2-1 win in overtime against Belvidere on Saturday in a Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex preliminary round game. Sophomore forward Danielle Seabeck and talented freshman Morgan Carr scored the goals, while senior goalie Merinda Gruszecki stopped three shots. In Thursday's 3-2 win over Pope John, Seabeck scored a goal, along with freshman midfielder Caitlyn Mizeski and junior midfielder Erica McNulty. Coach Irene Chernati's team opened the week with a 2-1 loss to No. 9 Newton.

Up next: at High Point on Tuesday; at Parsippany on Thursday; at Warren Hills on Friday in Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament.

On the bubble: Pope John (5-3), Belvidere (4-5), South Hunterdon (5-2), North Warren (3-5-1)

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