Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Field hockey: Streaks surge into sectional title game

WASHINGTON TWP. -- Home is certainly where the winning has been done for the six senior starters on Warren Hills' field hockey team. Facing the prospect of playing one last time on their turf, the group made sure to go out in style.

Senior back Amanda Crampton scored the game's first two goals to set the tone as No. 2 seed Warren Hills rolled to a 4-0 victory over No. 3 Princeton in an NJSIAA North 2, Group 3 semifinal clash on Tuesday night.

The Blue Streaks (20-3), who are seeking their third straight title and 12th overall,, easily advanced to the program's 16th sectional final and its fourth in as many years. But they'll take their act on the road from here on out as coach Laurie Kerr's team will face top-seeded Mendham for the championship on Friday at 2 p.m.

"It's a good feeling leaving this field with a win," said Crampton, who scored off two penalty corners to give Warren Hills a 2-0 lead just 9:07 into the contest against a Princeton team that bolted to a 2-0 lead before dropping a 3-2 decision in last year's sectional meeting here. "We knew they were going to come out on fire after we took it away from them last year. Our goal this season is to [win the Group 3 title]."

"Never. It gets more exciting," said Kerr, when asked if reaching sectional finals -- she has guided her alma mater to 10 in 15 seasons -- ever gets old. "I told them before the game, 'Seniors own your field.' They've made this field their home for four years."

Crampton, along with forwards Sydney Muntone and Jessica Nissen, midfielder Nikki Profita and backs Allie Brouhard and Amanda Oberly, were the senior starters playing in their home finale. As a group, they've gone an impressive 50-3-1 in home games -- 11-1 this season -- and 86-12-1 overall during the last four seasons. It all began with an 8-0 win over Hackettstown at home on Sept. 10, 2011.

"We were all emotional knowing this could be our last home game," said the Rutgers-bound Profita, whose 18th goal of the season gave the Streaks a 3-0 lead -- all off corners - with 12:59 left before the break. "Everything clicked really well. Last year, we were down, 2-0, and we didn't panic at all. We didn't want the season to be over."

Princeton (18-4), now 1-2 all-time in playoff meetings with Warren Hills since a 3-0 win at home in 1972, was simply overmatched in this one. The Tigers managed just six shots-on-goal and were on the short end of a 20-2 differential in penalty corners.

Warren Hills, which has won eight in a row since a 1-0 loss to Madison on Oct. 13, scored all of its goals off corners and nearly missed on several other attempts. Junior midfielder Katie Thompson assisted on the first three, while Muntone collected her 18th assist of the season on the final goal by Brouhard -- matching former Blue Streaks midfielder Lauren Cuff for the second most in a single season and moving the Drexel commit within two of Niki Miller's school record of 57. Muntone leads the Streaks with 27 goals and is one shy of claiming that single-season record.

Profita, now with 18 goals and 12 assists overall and nine goals in the last eight games, is part of a dynamic offense that really spreads the wealth. On most teams, the talented center midfielder would be the main scorer. Crampton is noted for her stellar defense, yet she has 12 goals this season.

"Scoring is awesome, but as long as we get that 'W' it doesn't really matter who scores," said Profita, who ranks fourth on the school's all-time goals list with 60, trailing only Muntone (75), Lindsey Schott (72) and Miller (61).

"Our corners are our strong point," said Crampton, who also scored two goals in last Thursday's 4-0 win over Hopewell Valley in the quarterfinals. "We practice them every day over and over. We need to execute. They're crucial at this time of year. When you get a defensive corner that's big."

Warren Hills is hoping the upcoming road trip, starting at Mendham, results in three more wins and the elusive Group 3 title.

"My sophomore (2012) and junior year ('13) we won the sectional title at home, but we can win anywhere," Crampton said.

Princeton (18-4)                         0                  0              --    0
Warren Hills (20-3)                     3                  1              --    4


First half -- WH, Amanda Crampton, 11th, (Katie Thompson), 25:54; WH, Crampton, 12th, (K. Thompson), 20:53; WH, Nikki Profita, 18th, (K. Thompson), 12:59.

Second half -- WH, Allie Brouhard, 9th, (Sydney Muntone), 16:35.

Shots -- Princeton 6; Warren Hills 16.

Saves -- Kate Rogers (12); Jackie de Raismes 6 (WH).

Penalty corners -- Princeton 2; Warren Hills 20.

North 1, Group 3

West Morris 2, Sparta 1 -- Junior forward Rhett Curran scored her team-leading 20th goal of the season off a feed from junior midfielder Gretchen Bowie, but it wasn't enough for the fourth-seeded Spartans (13-6-1), who had their eight-game win streak snapped with the loss. Top-seeded West Morris, which beat Sparta, 5-2, earlier this season, advances to meet No. 2 Northern Highlands in Friday's title game.

North 2, Group 4

Hunterdon Central 2, Monroe 1 -- Senior forward Taylor Barrett and junior forward Maddie Freeman scored goals and senior midfielder Kailey Dalgauer added two assists to lead the third-seeded Red Devils (16-6) past No. 2 Monroe in a semifinal clash. Central, which won titles in this section in 2011 and '13, advances to meet top-seeded Bridgewater in Friday's title game,

The Red Devils are 0-2 against the Panthers this season, dropping decisions of 7-2 and 8-2 in Skyland Conference Delaware Division clashes on Oct. 7 and 28. Coach Jenn Sponzo's teams are 8-17-2 in the series dating to 1999, including a 4-0 loss in last year's sectional semifinals. Bridgewater is seeking its 10th straight sectional title, while Central is aiming for its 14th overall.

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