Friday, September 4, 2015

2015 Field Hockey preview: Sussex

High Point Wildcats

Coach: Bev Keur (25th season, 350-131-22 over three stints)

2014 record: 5-12-4, 2-4 (third place NJAC Freedom Division)

Key returnees: F Kelsey Little (5 goals), jr.; F Kayla Halloran, sr.; MF Jordyn Martin, jr.; MF Marissa Sinacore, jr.; MF Melissa Way, jr.

Key losses: F Rachel Orr; MF Kristen English; F Victoria Hennion; MF Cassie O'Hern; D Danielle Price; GK Autumn Smith; D Lexa Sabo; GK Amy Aroune; F Lizzy Aroune; F Nicole Chirico; F Sabrina Vealey.

Top newcomers: F Mikayla Schappert, sr.; GK Mindy Steiger, sr.; MF Emily Bove, jr.; D Alyssa Merwin, jr.; F Cassidy Brunning, so.; GK Brittany McKenna, so.

Outlook: The biggest question for the Wildcats, as it was a year ago, will be lack of offensive firepower. Last year's team scored a total of 12 goals in 21 games, and the result was the program's first losing season in recent memory. After reaching the North 1, Group 2 semifinals in 2014, the 'Cats were bounced for the second straight year by West Essex -- 5-0 in the quarterfinals. The program's 54-game unbeaten streak division streak ended with a 2-0 loss to Lenape Valley in season opener. Keur's squad graduated 13 seniors -- eight starters -- so this year's group will be young and inexperienced, especially on defense. Little, who led the 'Cats with five goals a year ago, is a good athlete. Expect this group to struggle, at least early on, and be improved by season's end.

Kittatinny Cougars

Coach: Emily Murray (third season, 23-15-4).

2014 record: 15-7-1, 6-0 (first place NJAC Colonial Division)

Key returnees: F Holly Reznik (18 goals, 5 assists), sr.; F-MF Christina Chernati (8 goals, 6 assists), sr.; F-MF Ashley Brown (3 goals, 4 assists), sr.; D Maureen Douglas, sr.

Key losses: F Alexis Ambrosino (20 goals, 13 assists); F-MF Melissa Toye (7 goals); D Dana Yanvary; MF Sunshine Karns; MF Jenn Makarevich; GK Julia Pevarnik (10 shutouts); D Lindsay McKim.

Top newcomers: MF Carly Gerth, sr.

Outlook: After going 30-47-9 in the previous six seasons, the Cougars enjoyed one of their finest seasons a year ago in Murray's second year at the helm, stunning Lenape Valley, 2-1, in the North 1, Group 1 semifinals before dropping a 1-0 decision to Newton in the sectional final, a team the Cougars had beaten, 2-0 and 3-1, earlier in the season. The loss of Ambrosino hurts an offense that recorded 59 goals in 2014, but Reznik and Chernati return to lead the unit. Questions are more on the defensive side with a new goalie and basically a new backfield with only Douglas returning. With eight new starters, expect this team to go throw some growing pains this season.

Lenape Valley Patriots

Coach: Lauren Fasano (second season, 14-6)

2014 record: 14-6, 6-0 (first place NJAC Freedom Division)

Key returnees: F Hollis Smith (6 goals, 4 assists), sr.; GK Kaylee Gentilucci (7 shutouts), jr.; D Kristen Rafferty, jr.; D Nicole Guisewhite, sr.; MF Bridget Togno, jr.

Key losses: MF Sally Olson (8 goals); F Alyssa Falleni (12 goals); F Kassidy Forik (14 goals); MF Isabelle Becker (4 assists); MF Julia Leyden; MF Autumn Davidson; F Bianca Hernandez; F Judy DeFronzo.

Top newcomers: MF Bailey Connery, jr.; D Sarah Canfield, jr.; D Madyson Griswold, sr.; F Jill Amato, jr.; F Lindsey Bicher, fr.

Outlook: After posting 15 wins during a run to the North 1, Group 1 semifinals in 2013, the Patriots came up short in the semis again last season with a 2-1 loss to Kittatinny. With the bulk of last year's team gone, second-year coach Fasano, a former star athlete at High Point, will begin the rebuilding process. Offensively is where the Pats need to focus after scoring 38 goals in 2013 and 43 in '14, which was a huge improvement over the six goals in 18 games in '12. Smith scored six goals as a junior, but she benefited from a good supporting cast. Defensively, Gentilucci has been solid in her two seasons in the cage with a combined 25 shutouts.

Newton Braves

Coach: Lisa Bechtel (26th season, 361-131-16)

2014 record: 13-6-5, 3-2-1 (second place NJAC Colonial Division)

Key returnees: MF Hannah Ervey, sr.; MF-D Jordan Coiro, sr.; F Brittany Schumann (9 assists), jr.; MF Natalie Rivas (11 goals, 6 assists), jr.; F Emily Weiss (6 goals, 4 assists), sr.; F Kate Barbato (6 goals), jr.; F-MF Brianna Monahos, sr.; F-MF Olivia Weiss, sr.; GK Amanda Alessandra, sr.; GK Katie O'Brien, sr.; D Lily Estevez, sr.; MF Caitlyn McAdams, sr.; MF-D Emma Orabone, jr.; MF-D Jordan Pavlishin, sr.; D Becky Powers, jr.; F-MF Nikki Rizzo, jr.

Key losses: GK Jenna Zawislak (11 shutouts); MF-D Sara Smith; F Sarah Parks (4 goals).

Top newcomers: MF Taylor Boyer, jr.; MF-D Lisa Qarmout, jr.; F Emily Herring, so.; F-MF Katy Van Orden, jr.

Outlook: After a rare sub-.500 season in 2013, the Braves bounced back in a big way by capturing the program's first sectional title in the Bechtel's tenure -- avenging a pair of regular-season losses with a 1-0 win over Kittatinny in the North 1, Group 1 final. With the bulk of that championship squad returning, expect the Braves to make another run. Rivas, who led the team in scoring a year ago, will anchor a unit that only produced 33 goals in 24 games and struggled at times. On defense, replacing Zawislak in the cage is the priority for a unit that carried the team for the most part last season. Big game with Sparta at home on Oct.19, which should determine top team in the county.

Pope John Lions

Coach: Laura Kasa (first season; 22-70-4 in five seasons at North Warren).

2014 record: 10-9-1, 6-2 (second place NJAC American Division)

Key returnees: F Maddie Jordan (1 goal, 9 assists), so.; D Katie Callahan, sr.; MF Adriana Purcell, so.

Key losses: MF Carleen O'Connell (23 goals, 7 assists); MF Sarah Bramley; F Molly Romania (5 goals); D Baylee Vozza (9 assists); D Sarah Gonzalez; GK Sam Scalabrini (7 shutouts); MF Taylor Bailey.

Top newcomers: MF Jordan Gulick, fr.

Outlook: Lions challenged for the division title last year and went 1-1 in the rugged Non-Public North section, beating Mount St. Dominic, 2-0, before dropping a 4-0 decision to Kent Place in the quarterfinals. Kasa comes over from North Warren, where she guided the Warren County school to its first winning season in recent memory a year ago. Now, she has the task of rebuilding with the Lions, who took a big hit with graduation, including the loss of O'Connell, who scored 23 of the team's 32 goals in 2014. Jordan, who shared the team lead in assists last season, will be counted on to help guide the offense as the only player on the roster with a varsity goal.

Sparta Spartans

Coach: Kristin Lindsley (fourth season, 29-25-2)

2014 record: 13-6-1, 8-0 (first place NJAC American Division)

Key returnees: MF Gretchen Bowie (6 goals, 9 assists), sr.; F Rhett Curran (20 goals, 11 assists), sr.; F Jackie Hallack (8 goals, 5 assists), jr.; D Alex Curran, sr.; GK Courtney McKenna (7 shutouts), sr.

Key losses: MF Julia Silvestri (4 goals, 5 assists); F Abby Tracey (8 goals, 7 assists); MF Kelly Nam; MF Shannon Monahan; D Nicole Gerardiello; D Isabella Ardizzone.

Top newcomers: MF Isabel Passerini, jr.; MF Isabella Candeloro, jr.; MF Kelly Martin, jr.; GK Angela Elzind, so.; D Paige Ryan, jr.; D Carol Mathusek, sr.

Outlook: The amazing transformation of this once doormat program continued last season with 13 wins a the program's first division title. After going a dismal 8-56-2 from 2009-12, including an 0-16 campaign in '11, the Spartans have reeled off 24 wins the last two seasons. Offensive consistency has been the key, scoring 36 goals in 2013 and 48 in '14, after just two in '11 and 19 in '12. Bowie and Curran are back to lead that unit, along with Hallack, who scored eight goals as a sophomore. Defensively, Alex Curran and McKenna will anchor a unit that yielded 29 goals in 20 games a year ago and produced seven shutouts If the Spartans can tighten up on defense, a sectional title run isn't out of the question for one of the top programs in the county.

Vernon Vikings

Coach: Hollyce Schoepp (sixth season, 44-48-3)

2014 record: 5-12-2, 3-5 (third place NJAC American Division)

Key returnees: F McKenzie Alter (5 goals, 3 assists), jr.; F Emily Garofalo, sr.; D Lindsay Verrico, sr.; GK Lauren Incarnato (3 shutouts), sr.; F Brenna DelBagno, jr.; F Brianna White, jr.; F Danielle Ward, sr.; D Savannah Artsma, sr.; MF Montana Avagnano, sr.; D Jenna Day, sr.; MF Abie Leggour, sr.

Key losses: D Regina Incarnato; D Marissa Molloy.

Top newcomers: D Keri Stefkovich, sr.; GK Kaitlyn Gallaugher, jr.

Outlook: Vikings have enjoyed success in the odd years of late, rebounding from a tough 4-win season in 2012 to notch double-digit wins in '13 for the second time in three seasons after winning 15 games in '11. As was the case last season, the offense will be key this fall. The Vikes scored 17 goals, and no more than two in all but two games last season. Defense has been the calling card for Schoepp's teams during her tenure and this year should be no different, despite the graduation of Regina Incarnato, one of the area's top backs. With nine returning varsity players, expect this group to improve on last year's win total and hover around the .500 mark.

Wallkill Valley Rangers

Coach: Irene Chernati (30th season, 363-194-9)

2014 record: 7-10-2, 1-4-1 (third place NJAC Colonial Division)

Key returnees: F Morgan Carr (9 goals, 4 assists), so.; F Danielle Seabeck (9 goals, injured), jr.; MF Erica McNaulty (3 goals), sr.; MF Leah Struble, sr.; F Caitlyn Mizeski (3 goals), so.; F Fiona Blake, so.; MF Nicole Hopper (4 assists), sr.; D Angelique Wygonowski, jr.

Key losses: D Meg Good; GK Merinda Gruszecki; D Casey Murphy; D Laura David.

Top newcomers: F Sam Hopper, jr.; D Celena Persuad, sr.; D Kylee Nicolai, sr.; D Lousieth Nazairre, jr.; D Lexi DeOliveira, jr.; GK Sam Hutnick, jr.; F Legend Hicks, jr.; D Jada Martin, jr.; F Kristina Delgado, jr.; F Tara Brod, so.

Outlook: Rangers made a third straight run to sectional quarterfinals, dropping a 5-1 decision to Lenape Valley in the North 1, Group 1 quarters last season -- after avenging a loss to Mountain Lakes, 1-0 in OT, which bounced Wallkill the year before. Offense, which was a question mark in recent seasons, picked up a year ago with 30 goals after scoring 27 in 2013. The loss of Seabeck (ACL injury) is a tough blow. Defensively, there are some question marks with a new goalie and the graduation of several starting backs. If this group can improve quickly, the Rangers could surprise behind a solid coaching staff.

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