Saturday, October 25, 2014

Field hockey: Streaks storm past Vikes for HWS title

HACKETTSTOWN -- Dani Profita watched most of last year's Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament final from the bench after getting whacked just below her right knee with a stick and sustaining a laceration that required several stitches.

But the Warren Hills sophomore forward certainly gave her team a leg up this time around -- scoring three goals in helping the Blue Streaks repeat as champions in an impressive 5-0 win over archrival Voorhees at Morrison Field.

For her efforts, Profita was named the Most Valuable Player of the championship game. Her older sister, senior midfielder Nikki Profita, took home the honors after last year's 1-0 win over Hackettstown.

"I'm so happy. This is so great," said Dani Profita, who has worked back from an offseason ACL injury to regain her status one of the top young players in West Jersey. "I feel 100 percent and I was motivated to come back stronger for these moments. The team played so well."

Warren Hills (17-3) was on top of its game from the very start. Veteran coach Laurie Kerr's team came out on fire and got on the board early with Dani Profita's first goal -- one of three for the Streaks off penalty corners -- just 2:41 into the contest. What was expected to be a tight and hard-fought battle quickly went out the window when Nikki Profita, who assisted on the first goal, made it a 2-0 lead with her 14th goal of the season with 17:09 left in the second half.

"After we got the second goal, we kicked it into high gear," Dani Profita said.

The Streaks certainly did -- adding three more goals over the next 15 minutes to run away with the program's fourth title in the tri-county tournament's six year history. All of the titles have come in the expanded tourney after not winning any championships in the former Hunterdon-Warren version.

"In 2009, we got turf [on our home field] and it's helped us maintain a consistent level of play," said Kerr, now 10-17-3 all-time against Voorhees in her 15 seasons. "I feel like the program has continually gotten stronger. [Today] we had great execution and when we scored that second goal, I was able to take a deep breath. It seemed our intensity continued to skyrocket."

Voorhees (16-2-2) was unable to match that intensity and was never able to maintain any kind of pressure or rhythm, while playing well at times in short spurts. It was very uncharacteristic for coach Taylor Webb's team, which had tied state powers West Essex and Shore Regional earlier this season and was shut out for the first time this season while yielding a season-high five goals on Saturday.

It was the most goals ever scored by a Warren Hills team in the all-time series and the most lopsided result other than Voorhees' 4-0 win in 1993. In the 34 meetings since that one coming in, all were decided by three goals or fewer, sans three ties. The Vikes still own a 30-20-6 edge in the series dating to 1975.

"We lost today not playing our best and it's not a good feeling to have," said Webb, a former star player for the Vikings who also coached the 2010 and '12 teams to HWS titles on this field. "I'm at a loss. It's a matter of showing up and choosing to play. We just have to adjust and move forward.

"It was a mental switch we never turned on. [Early in the second half] we had an eight- to 10-minute span where we didn't capitalize on. I think this is the best Warren Hills team I've seen or played against."

Not to be lost in the shuffle was a record-setting day for Warren Hills senior forward Sydney Muntone, who became the program's career goals leader at 73 by notching her 25th of the season with 9:41 left to play to surpass Lindsey Schott's total of 72.

"To be completely honest, I didn't even know I was close until about a week-and-a-half ago," said Muntone, a Drexel commit who also supplanted Schott as the Streaks' all-time points leader (200) with that goal. I don't pay attention to stats. It's a team thing. It's not one person."

Defensively, Warren Hills was able to shut down Voorhees' leading scorer, junior forward Kathryn Roncoroni, who entered the game with a tri-county best 39 goals. Senior backs Amanda Crampton, Allie Brouhard and Amanda Oberly, along with junior Rachel Phillips, helped out sophomore goalie Jackie de Raismes by allowing just two shots-on goal the entire game.

"We work so well together," said Phillips, who admitted that there was no designed game plan to stymie Roncoroni. "We play better when we just play our game."

"We have a very strong defense," Kerr said. "We have three seniors and a junior, Rachel, who is a Division I prospect  and the others are all going to play at the next level. "We have a sophomore goalie, who stepped up and made some nice saves."

Leading just 1-0 at the half, Nikki Profita's goal gave Warren Hills, now 3-5 all-time against Voorhees in county games, some much needed breathing room.

"We wanted [the title] really bad this year," said Profita, a Rutgers commit whose teams have won three titles in her four years. "I couldn't be more proud of [sister Dani]. She had a great game."

Voorhees (16-2-2)                       0                  0              --    0
Warren Hills (17-3)                     1                  4              --    5


First half -- WH, Dani Profita, 17th, (Nikki Profita), 27:19.

Second half -- WH, N. Profita, 14th, (Allie Brouhard), 17:09; WH, D. Profita, 18th, (Megan Thompson), 10:44; WH, Sydney Muntone, 25th, (M. Thompson), 9:41; WH, D. Profita, 19th, (Katie Thompson), 2:24.

Shots -- Voorhees 2; Warren Hills 16.

Saves -- Lauren Pianucci 11 (V); Jackie de Raismes 2 (WH).

Penalty corners -- Voorhees 4; Warren Hills 13.

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