Monday, October 13, 2014

Field hockey: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex rankings

We're down to the Final Four in the sixth annual Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament.

To no one's surprise, No. 1 Warren Hills and No. 2 Voorhees advanced toward an anticipated finals clash with easy quarterfinal wins. In an upset by seeds only, No. 3 Hunterdon Central knocked off Lenape Valley, the top Sussex seed, in an overtime clash.

Somewhat surprising was High Point's 1-0 win against No. 2 seed Kittatinny. The teams played to a scoreless tie in Hampton on Sept. 16 during the regular season. Sophomore Kelsey Little scored the winning goal for the No. 6 seed 'Cats in the rematch and leads the team with three on the year. Coach Bev Keur's teams improved to 12-5 in tri-county play and have reached the semifinals four times, losing in the 2011 and '12 title games.

Warren Hills and Voorhees have dominated this event since its inception in 2009. The Blue Streaks are 18-2 in tournament games, while the Vikings are 15-3. They've combined for five titles. With Voorhees' refusal to play Warren Hills this year in the regular season, it will be one hot ticket to see these rivals collide should they advance this weekend.

On Saturday, Warren Hills will host High Point in one semifinal, while Hunterdon Central travels to Voorhees. The winners will meet in the championship game at Hackettstown on Saturday, Oct. 25.

Now onto this week's rankings:

1. Warren Hills (12-2) -- Blue Streaks cruised into the tri-county semifinals with a 3-0 win over rival Hackettstown on Saturday night. Senior forward Sydney Muntone continued her assault on the school record books with her team-leading 18th goal, giving her 46 points for the season and tying her with Niki Miller at 179 for second on the all-time career points list. Earlier in the week, Muntone moved into second place on the career assists list with 47 -- just 10 shy of Miller's record -- and the goals list with 66 -- six shy of Lindsey Schott's record of 72. Coach Laurie Kerr's team also posted a 4-0 win at North Hunterdon and a 2-1 victory over No. 3 Hunterdon Central. Senior midfielder Nikki Profita's three-goal week gave her 53 for her career, as only five Streaks have ever reached that mark.

Up next: at Madison on Monday; Montgomery at home on Thursday; High Point at home on Saturday in HWS semifinals.

2. Voorhees (13-0-2) -- Vikings kept rolling along with a 3-0 week that was capped with a 4-0 win over Newton in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex quarterfinals. Junior forward Kathryn Roncoroni is having a season for the ages with 32 goals and 75 points on the year, as she enters the week just three shy of setting a school record for goals in a season. Roncoroni currently shares the mark (34) with Colleen Boyce. Roncoroni knocked in six last week, including a four-goal game in the team's 5-0 win over Franklin in a Skyland Conference Valley Division clash. A win over Bernards this week would give coach Taylor Webb's club a big leg up toward winning the division title.

Up next: at Bernards on Tuesday; at Delaware Valley on Thursday; Hunterdon Central at home on Saturday in HWS semifinals.

3. Hunterdon Central (9-4) -- Red Devils made it 3-for-3 in the tri-county quarters for Hunterdon-Warren schools with a 2-1 win in overtime against No. 1 seed Lenape Valley on Saturday. Senior forwards Taylor Barrett and Kailey Dalgauer scored the goals as coach Jenn Sponzo's team reached the semifinals for the third straight year. Central, which has never reached the championship game, will look to avenge a 5-0 loss to Voorhees in Saturday's semis. Central suffered a pair of losses to state powers last week -- 7-2 to Bridgewater and 2-1 to Warren Hills. The loss to Bridgewater was Central's first this season in Skyland Conference Delaware Division play.

Up next: at Hillsborough on Tuesday; Pingry at home on Thursday; at Voorhees on Saturday in HWS semifinals.

4. Hackettstown (9-3) -- Tigers capped a 2-1 week with a tough 3-0 loss at Warren Hills in a Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex quarterfinal round game. Junior goalie Rose Bishop made nine saves in the loss, the Tigers' second to the Blue Streaks this season. Credit coach Stephen Speirs for getting this matchup on the regular-season schedule. It's helped as is club is 3-1 in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference Freedom Division race after a 3-1 win over Jefferson last Tuesday. Sophomore forward Molly Gorczyca had a solid week with a pair of goals and one assist. She leads the team with six goals.

Up next: at Kittatinny on Wednesday; Belvidere at home on Thursday.

5. Lenape Valley (9-4) -- The rankings are getting trickier in this area every week, but the Patriots have a win over Hackettstown (2-1 on Sept. 12) that keeps them here for now, despite a pair of losses to No. 6 Newton, which has losses to No. 4 Hackettstown and No. x Kittatinny. The Pats dropped a tough 2-1 decision in overtime to No. 3 Hunterdon Central on Saturday in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex quarterfinals after a 1-0 loss at home to Newton on Thursday. Senior Kassidy Forik continued her fine offensive season, scoring two goals, including one in a 3-0 win over High Point last Tuesday. Forik leads the team with 10 goals and 22 points.

Up next: Delaware Valley at home on Monday; at Wallkill Valley on Wednesday.

6. Newton (7-4-3) -- Braves have had a strange season so far, losing to both Hackettstown and Kittatinny, but owing two wins over No. 5 Lenape Valley, which beat both teams. Sophomore forwards Kate Barbato and Brittney Schumann were the winning combination in two games last week, as Barbato scored goals off feeds from Schumann in 1-0 wins over North Warren and Lenape Valley. The win over North ran their record to 3-1 in NJAC Colonial Division play. On Saturday, coach Lisa Bechtel's team was blanked 4-0 by No. 2 Voorhees in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex quarterfinals, denying the Braves a return to the semis for the first time since 2010.

Up next: Whippany Park at home on Monday; Jefferson at home on Wednesday.

7. Sparta (7-5-1) -- Spartans rebounded from a 4-2 loss to No. 4 Hackettstown in the first round of the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament with back-to-back wins over Morristown (1-0 on Wednesday) and No. 9 Wallkill Valley (4-2 on Thursday). Senior forward Rhett Curran scored a pair of goals against Wallkill -- giving her a team-high 13 on the season. She trails on Pope John's Carleen O'Connell for the county lead. Sophomore forward Jackie Hallack had a big week with the winning goal against Morristown, while adding a goal and one assist in the win over Wallkill.

Up next: at Mount Olive on Tuesday; at Morris Hills on Thursday.

8. Kittatinny (8-4-1) -- Cougars fall several spots following a 1-0 loss to No. 6 seed High Point in Saturday's Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex quarterfinals. The week began with a 3-2 win in overtime against No. 9 Wallkill Valley, followed by a 3-0 win at Mount Olive. Senior Melissa Toye and junior Holly Reznik each had two-goal games, while senior forward Alexis Ambrosino collected three assists. Coach Emily Murray's team is sitting atop the NJAC Colonial Division at 4-0 entering this week.

Up next: at Mountain Lakes on Monday; Hackettstown at home on Wednesday; at Boonton on Friday.

9. Wallkill Valley (4-7-1) -- Rangers hold steady in the rankings despite dropping three of their last four, including 3-2 losses to No. 7 Sparta and No. 8 Kittatinny. Coach Irene Chernati's team last won against No. 10 Belvidere -- 2-1 in overtime on Sept. 27 in a Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex preliminary round game. Freshman forward Morgan Carr continued her fine rookie season with a goal and an assist against Sparta and a goal in the loss to Kittatinny.

Up next: Lenape Valley at home on Wednesday.

10. Belvidere (7-6-1) -- County Seaters move back into the rankings following a 1-0 win over High Point on Friday. Sophomore back Rachel Dultz scored the winning goal, while junior goalie Maddie Beaumont made nine saves to record her seventh shutout of the season. On Thursday, coach Beth Franceschino's team dropped a 2-0 decision to No. 2 Voorhees. The Seaters are still in the hunt for a Skyland Conference Mountain Division title at 3-1.

Up next: Mount St. Mary at home on Tuesday; at Hackettstown on Thursday.

On the bubble: Delaware Valley (6-6-1); Pope John (6-4); High Point (3-6-4); South Hunterdon (6-6).

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