Thursday, September 3, 2015

2015 Field hockey preview: Hunterdon-Warren

Belvidere County Seaters

Coach: Beth Franceschino (second season of second stint, 10-8-1)

2014 record: 10-8-1, 5-1 (first place Skyland Conference Mountain Division)

Key returnees: F-MF Hannah Koch (5 goals), sr.; MF Elizabeth Dalrymple, sr.; F Kara Tipton (5 goals, 6 assists), jr.; GK Maddie Beaumont (8 shutouts), sr.; D Mackenzie Sera, sr.; MF Paige White, sr.; D Erin Bronico, jr.; D Rachel Dultz, jr.; F Katie Spadaccini (4 goals), sr.; D Rayna Harrison, sr.; MF Traci Kieffer, jr.

Key losses: F Erin Sassaman (17 goals); D Haley Enslin.

Top newcomers: F Maddie Call, fr.; MF Sam Bittenbender, so.; D Jenna Schaffer, sr.; MF Alex Navarra, so.

Outlook: The County Seaters rebounded from a sub-.500 campaign in 2013, winning 10 games and capturing the first Skyland Conference Mountain Division title, while dropping a 1-0 decision to North Warren in the North 1, Group 1 playoffs. There is enough experience back to make another run at the division, but the offense took a hit with the graduation of leading scorer Sassaman. Koch, a three-year starter, and Tipton will be the go-to players on the offensive end. Beaumont has been solid in the cage and will lead what could be a formidable defensive unit that yielded only 22 goals last season and two or fewer in 16 contests.

Delaware Valley Terriers

Coach: Stephanie Cirino (fifth season, 30-41-4)

2014 record: 9-11-1, 3-5 (third place Skyland Conference Valley Division)

Key returnees: F Ann Bill (6 goals), jr.; F Katie Maddalena (4 goals), sr.; F Courtney Soper (4 goals), sr.; F-MF Kerrianne Blankenship (4 goals), sr.;GK Morgan Davies (8 shutouts), sr.; D Cassie Blankenship, sr.; D Jeanne Harabedian, jr.

Key losses: MF Caroline Vath; MF Alyssa Orrico (5 assists); D Brianna Skripko (6 goals, 4 assists); MF Tina Crotty (6 assists); D Abbey Ferdinando.

Top newcomers: F Riley Ferrera, jr.; Trinity Perini, fr.; D Kathryn Schutta, jr.; MF Clare Nugent, fr.; F Sarah Babcock, so.; F Megan Donnelly, fr.; F-MF Rachel Orrico, so.; MF Alanna Crotty, so.; MF Erin Pfreundschuh, jr.; MF Sarah Bobrowski, jr.; D Sarah Saccal, jr.; GK Jillian DePinto, jr.

Outlook: After three straight 6-10-1 seasons, the Terriers are coming off back-to-back nine-win campaigns and a trip to the North 2, Group 2 semifinals. The improvement can be attributed to more consistent offensive production with 29 goals in 2014 after being shut out 10 times and scoring a total of 22 goals in 2013. No other game produced more than two goals. Defensively, Davies returns for a third season in the cage, but she will need help against the better teams on the schedule. In two regular-season losses to Voorhees a year ago, the Terriers yielded a total of nine goals and five to Hunterdon Central. In the other 18 games, the opponents scored a total of 17. If the offense can keep improving, this team could very well break the .500 mark.

Hackettstown Tigers

Coach: Stephen Speirs (sixth season, 50-43-2)

2014 record: 15-5, 4-2 (second place NJAC Freedom Division)

Key returnees: F Kayli Yeisley (8 goals), sr.; F Molly Gorczyca (6 goals, 10 assists), jr.; D Michaela Sass, sr.; MF Samantha Strathern (3 goals), sr.; GK Rose Bishop (10 shutouts), sr.; MF Cayla Andrews (4 goals, 3 assists), sr.; D Madison Kennedy (3 assists), sr.

Key losses: F Kelly Healy (14 goals, 3 assists); D Allana Fitzgerald; MF Kaitlyn Keiser; F Ericka Salus; D Marissa Siconolfi.

Top newcomers: D Sierra Castiglia, fr.; F Kaitlyn Cogan, jr.; F Madison Hoskins, fr.; D Nicole Jerome, jr.; F Kayla Nicholls, so.; F Jessica Scheper, fr.; D Cheyenne Scudder, jr.; F Jordan Vandermark, fr.

Outlook: Tigers rose above the .500 mark for the first time since 2009 two years ago, and made another leap forward with a 15-win season in 2014, dropping a 4-0 decision to Group 2 runner-up Madison in the North 1, Group 2 semifinals. This year's group has enough experience back for another solid season. The defense is a bit of a question mark, but Bishop is coming off back-to-back solid campaigns in her first two seasons in the cage. The Tigers are overwhelming favorites to win the Freedom Division title. Their second game against Warren Hills could tell how they will do against some of the tougher teams on the schedule this season.

Hunterdon Central Red Devils

Coach: Jenn Sponzo (17th season, 224-115-16)

2014 record: 16-7, 6-2 (second place Skyland Conference Delaware Division)

Key returnees: F Maddie Freeman (14 goals, 8 assists), sr.; MF Nikki Freeman (3 goals, 4 assists), jr.; F Amanda Whitlock (3 goals), sr.; F Jill Murray, sr.; MF Adrianna Ruggieri (3 assists), sr.; GK Molly Lafferty, sr.

Key losses: F Kendall Nickel (21 goals, 8 assists); F Taylor Barrett (10 goals, 7 assists), sr.; MF Kailey Dalgauer (15 goals, 10 assists), sr.; D Erin Vecchio, sr.; GK Hannah Cecchini.

Top newcomers: MF Brittany Bill, so.; F Madi Colon, sr.; D Dayna DeVincentz, jr.; D Megan Fisher, sr.

Outlook: After winning back-to-back North 2, Group 4 sectional championships, the Red Devils' run ended with a 2-0 loss to nemesis Bridgewater in last year's final. Sponzo's teams have won seven sectional titles and this program is annually among the area's elite. Offensively, Central has gone from 11 goals in 2010 to 48 in '11, 51 in '12, 69 in '13 and 74 in '14. The loss of Nickel, Dalgauer and Barrett -- who combined for 46 of those 74 goals last season -- hurts, but Maddie Freeman returns to anchor that unit. Defense, which is usually a hallmark of Sponzo's teams, is still a bit of a question mark after giving up high goal totals to the better teams on the schedule last year. Lafferty assumes the full-time duties in the cage after spot play last season. Consistency on both sides of the ball will be the key to another successful campaign.

North Hunterdon Lions

Coach: Suzanne Toke (third season, 5-31-1).

2014 record: 3-16, 2-6 (fourth place Skyland Conference Raritan Division)

Key returnees: GK Liz Rotolo, sr; MF Jenna Macri, sr.; F-MF Amy Sroka, sr.; MF Alara Murphy, sr.; D Natalie Thompson, sr.; D Taylor Danson, sr.; D Catrina Nelson, sr.

Key losses: MF Grace Plassche; F Jamie Ruggiero (3 assists); MF Caroline Coleman; F Molly Walsh (3 goals); D Sarah VanDuynhoven; D Alyssa Bennett; F Emily Fiorelli. F Christina Chamberlin, (moved out of state), sr.

Top newcomers:  F Haley Chioda, sr.; F Jasmine Perez, sr.; D Sam Slapa, sr.; D Clara Fischer, jr.; D Mackenzie Gilvey, jr.; F Abby Miller, jr.; F Courtney Nealon, jr.; MF Nicole Perez, jr.; MF Lexi Ponitowski, so.; D Lauren Wagner, so.; GK Wesley Taylor, jr.

Outlook: Lions have fallen on hard times in recent years, going 39-106-3 over the last seven seasons. The losses of Plassche and Ruggiero will hurt an offense that struggled to score 13 goals and was shut out 10 times last year. In fact, no returning player has a goal or an assist on the varsity level. Needless to say, offense will be the key to a turnaround. Defensively, Rotolo returns in the cage for a unit that yielded 67 goals in 19 games in 2014.

North Warren Patriots

Coach: Brian Gravatt (first season).

2014 record: 10-9-1, 1-5 (fourth place NJAC Colonial Division)

Key returnees: GK Jenna Sagan (8 shutouts), jr.; F-MF Gianna Lorusso, sr.; F-MF Kelsey Conlon, sr.; F-MF Claudia Wetzel (6 goals, 4 assists), sr.; F-MF Sydney MacDonough (3 goals), jr.; D Elinor Dowd, jr.; D Carly DeSanto, sr.; GK Mackenzie Cyr, so.; GK Jenna Sagan, jr.

Key losses: F-MF Jessica Towey (8 goals, 8 assists); F Megan Stevens (8 goals, 7 assists); MF Elena Benson; MF Kaitlin Bertholf; D Amanda Konecnik; F Laine Ivey.

Top newcomers: F-MF Julia Wetzel, so.; F-MF Sydney Janerio, so.; F-MF Danielle Pergola, jr.

Outlook: Gravatt takes over for Laura Kasa, now at Pope John, whose teams went 22-70-4 over the last five seasons. After a combined 13 wins the previous three seasons, the Patriots broke out a year ago with their first winning season in recent memory. Towey, a four-year starter, and Stevens will be missed on the offensive side, as they produced 16 of the team's 31 goals in 2014. Lorusso and Claudia Wetzel will be counted on heavily to anchor this year's unit. The defense was much improved last season, yielding 33 goals after allowing nearly twice as many (61) the previous year. Having a returning goalie with two years of varsity experience under her belt in Sagan will help.

Phillipsburg Stateliners

Coach: Jennifer Paulus (fifth season, 29-45-4)

2014 record: 7-11-2, 6-2 (second place Skyland Conference Raritan Division)

Key returnees: F Kylie Marhold (9 goals, 6 assists), sr.; F Ellie Zgoda (7 goals), sr.; MF-D Lacey O'Dowd (3 goals), sr.; F Abby Evans (3 goals), so.; GK Samantha DeRogatis, jr.

Key losses: MF Emily DiMarco; GK Rachael Horun; MF Viktoria Schultz; F-MF Kerianne Vianden.

Top newcomers: GK Lauren Viscione, so.; MF-B Gabby Dudek, fr.; F-MF Allison Horton, fr.

Outlook: Stateliners improved on a tough two-win season in 2013, going 6-2 in a tough Skyland Conference Raritan Division and 1-1 in the North 2, Group 4 playoffs, beating Union, 2-1, before ending the season for the second straight year with a loss at Randolph. Another step in the process will be finding consistency on the offensive side. Last year's team scored a total of 28 goals after tallying just eight goals in 2013. Marhold will again be counted on up front, while O'Dowd will help lead a young group in the midfield. Another plus was retaining assistant coach Toni Popinko, the former Warren Hills star who interviewed for the head coaching job at her alma mater.

South Hunterdon Eagles

Coach: Stephanie Davis (second season, 8-10)

2014 record: 8-10, 3-3 (third place Skyland Conference Mountain Division)

Key returnees: F Ashley Eick, (2 goals) sr.; F Carly Leary (6 goals), jr.; F Kate Shaffer (5 goals), jr.; GK Giovanna Rubino (4 shutouts), jr.; D Kendall Storcella, jr.; D Rachel Knappenberger, sr.; D Emily Carrier, jr.; MF Mae Dienes, jr.; MF Rebecca Godown (3 goals), jr.; D Carolina Restrepo, sr.; F Julia Kreider, so.; F Brooke Tumler, so.

Key losses: MF Natalie Muscatell; D Lena Sabidussi.

Top newcomers: D Claire Greenwood, so.; F Maggie Morrison, so.; D Norah Clifford, fr.; GK Kerry Coleman, fr.; D Nicole Costantini, fr.; MF Jenna Godown, fr.; MF Jada Kauth, fr.; D Hannah Kozuhowski, fr.; F Ashley Lucarini, fr.; F-MF Sophia Petrucci, fr.

Outlook: After losing eight starters from a 16-win team in 2013, the Eagles predictably struggled last season. Davis begins her second season with renewed optimism coming off an appearance in the North 2, Group 1 quarterfinals. Eick, who scored 14 goals two years ago, will be counted on to help lead an offense that produced just 20 goals in 18 games. Leary and Shaffer were the leading scorers in 2014. Defense was a question mark last year with a new goalie, but Rubino returns in the cage along with nearly the entire backfield to anchor a unit that yielded one goal or fewer in 11 games. Expect the Hunterdon County school to improve on last year's win total.

Voorhees Vikings

Coach: Taylor Webb (fifth season, 62-17-3)

2014 record: 19-3-2, 7-1 (T-first place Skyland Conference Valley Division)

Key returnees: F Kathryn Roncoroni (44 goals, 16 assists), sr.; MF Hannah Schiavo (8 goals, 6 assists), jr.; MF Isabelle Houser (11 assists), sr.; D Lexi Crans, sr.; D Morgan McCord, sr.; F Emma Frost, sr.; F Cori Lenzinger (3 goals), sr.; F Jenna Smego (6 goals), sr.; D Sam Nicol, sr.; D Hannah Parnham, sr.; D Gillian Panreck, sr.; D Sarah Matyas, so.

Key losses: F Hannah Ryan (13 goals); GK Lauren Pianucci (16 shutouts); F Abby Flagler (4 goals, 8 assists).

Top newcomers: GK Laura Chen, so.; GK Annie Weiler, jr.; GK Stevie Lynn Ader, jr.

Outlook: Vikings are primed and loaded once again after sharing the Skyland Conference Valley Division title with Bernards last season and dropping a heartbreaking 1-0 decision in overtime to Summit in the North 2, Group 2 sectional final. Roncoroni is one of the area's most prolific and talented offensive players, setting the school's single-season goals record as a junior. She also owns both the single season (104) and career points mark (203), as well as the career goals record with 89. Plenty of talent surrounds her, including Schiavo who is one of the more unheralded players around. Defense is always the glue, but a big key will be replacing Pianucci in the cage. Expect this well-coached program to again challenge for division, county and sectional titles.

Warren Hills Blue Streaks

Coach: Kate Rothman (first season, 20-34-3 in three seasons at Lenape Valley)

2014 record: 23-4, 8-0 (first place Skyland Conference Raritan Division)

Key returnees: F Dani Profita (24 goals, 16 assists), jr.; MF Katie Thompson (8 goals, 20 assists), sr.; F Megan Thompson (12 goals, 7 assists), sr.; D Rachel Phillips, sr.; MF Julie DeSanto, sr.; MF Tali Popinko, so.; F Caroline Cotte (6 assists, injured), jr.; D Brie Schwab, jr.; GK Jackie de Raismes (17 shutouts), jr.

Key losses: F Sydney Muntone (29 goals, 20 assists); MF Nikki Profita (20 goals, 15 assists); F Jessica Nissen (19 goals, 6 assists); D Amanda Crampton (13 goals, 13 assists); D Allie Brouhard (10 goals, 6 assists); D Amanda Oberly.

Top newcomers: F Rebecca Sigman, so.; MF Mikayla Dugan, so.

Outlook: Blue Streaks are coming off their fourth straight division title and its first Group 3 state championship, while also setting a school record for wins. Can they do it again? One look at the graduation losses may seem a reach, but this loaded group is plenty talented and ready for another run. Dani Profita, a three-year starter, is fully healthy after starting last season off ACL surgery. With 40 goals in two seasons, she will now anchor the offense. Katie and Megan Thompson are also star players, while Phillips is one of the top defensive players around on a unit lost big performers in the backfield. de Raismes stepped in as a rookie in the cage and did a fine job, so having her back with a full season of experience is a huge plus. Rothman, who previously turned around Lenape Valley's once doormat program, stepped into a very tough spot late this summer after Laurie Kerr resigned in early June following 15 highly-successful seasons. It's an all new staff for 2015.

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