Monday, September 21, 2015

Field hockey: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex rankings

It's that time again to start talking about the seventh annual Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament, which gets underway with preliminary games on Saturday.

There's a new format this year as the 18 teams will be seeded on power points (six-game maximum) as opposed to being split into two nine-team brackets -- Hunterdon-Warren and Sussex. Obviously, this is a change that's been needed for a few years now. The strength lies in the Hunterdon-Warren area once again this season with Voorhees and Warren Hills as the undisputed top two teams.

Seeds and pairings are expected to be released early this week. Let's look at how the teams line up by power points entering the week. These totals are unofficial.

1. Voorhees 61; 2. Hackettstown 58.5; 3. Newton 56.5; 4. Warren Hills 53; 5. Wallkill Valley 47; 6. Kittatinny 46.5; 7. (tie) Belvidere and Sparta 46; 9. Lenape Valley 40; 10. (tie) Delaware Valley and Hunterdon Central 39; 12. Phillipsburg 36; 13. North Warren 19; 14. South Hunterdon 18; 15. (tie) High Point and Vernon 16; 17. North Hunterdon 14; 18. Pope John 13.

Now, two things jump out here.

Warren Hills as the No. 4 seed would be absurd, potentially setting up a rematch with Voorhees, which scored a 2-1 win over the Blue Streaks on Tuesday night, in the semifinals. Vikes also made a nice pickup this week by getting a game with Madison on Thursday. The game with Warren Hills was another classic installment to a great rivalry. You also couldn't beat the atmosphere under the lights and on turf. It's a crying shame too that Voorhees still plays home games on a sub-par grass field.

"It's great for the girls to get the same opportunity that boys get every Friday [for football]," said Vikes coach Taylor Webb on the nighttime contest on turf. "These teams love to play each other. There's a mutual respect."

Also, how could the Streaks be that far behind in the power points with a win over Group 2 runner-up Madison? If the committee doesn't take into account the strength of schedule and leaves the brackets as is, that would be a shame. No slight to Hackettstown or Newton, but Warren Hills, the defending champ and Group 3 winner last year, deserves the No. 2 seed.

Hunterdon Central also is behind the 8-ball in points with only three games to date.

Stay tuned her for all of the news and coverage of the tri-county event. Now onto this week's rankings.

1. Voorhees (4-1) -- Vikings have reeled off four straight wins since a 2-0 loss to state power West Essex in the season opener. Senior forward Kathryn Roncoroni had a huge week, scoring twice in a 2-1 win over No. 2 Warren Hills on Tuesday and getting the hat trick in Saturday's 7-0 win over Mount St. Mary in the annual Save the Cherubs charity game. Roncoroni raised her school-record goals total to 101 on Saturday, as the Vikes' all-time leading scorer and American University recruit continues her rapid pace. Voorhees also scored a 4-0 win over Delaware Valley on Wednesday.

Up next: Somerville at home on Monday; at Madison on Thursday; Shore at home on Saturday.

2. Warren Hills (4-1) -- Blue Streaks rebounded from a tough 2-1 loss to Voorhees on Tuesday -- snapping their 10-game home win streak dating to 2014 -- with an 8-1 thumping of Montgomery and a 9-0 blasting of Ridge. Junior forward Dani Profita logged five goals in the three games, including two each in the victories along with a combined five assists. Profita leads the Streaks with nine goals this season and has 49 for her career -- needing one more to become just the sixth player in program history to reach 50. Senior forwards Katie Thompson and Megan Thompson each had hat tricks against Ridge.

Up next: at Phillipsburg on Monday; Hillsborough at home on Thursday; Eastern at home on Saturday.

3. Hunterdon Central (3-0) -- Red Devils had a light week with a 3-2 win over Pingry in their lone game on Wednesday. Senior forward Maddie Freeman scored a pair of goals and senior forward Amanda Whitlock also scored. A scheduled game against North Hunterdon on Saturday was postponed.

Up next: at Lawrenceville on Monday; at Montgomery on Thursday; at Ridge on Saturday.

4. Hackettstown (4-0) -- Tigers still have not allowed a goal this season after win over Jefferson (8-0 on Wednesday) and Wallkill Valley (4-0 on Friday), outscoring their opponents by a combined 24-0. Junior forward Molly Gorczyca scored six goals against Jefferson to raise her team-leading total to 11. Senior forward Kayli Yeisley notched a pair of goals in the win over No. 10 Wallkill Valley. Showdown at No. 5 Newton on Oct. 5 will be the first test for this team.

Up next: at Lenape Valley on Monday; North Warren at home on Thursday.

5. Newton (4-0) -- Braves, who also did not allow a goal in their four wins, squeaked by No. 7 Belvidere with a 1-0 win last Monday and capped a short week with a 3-0 victory over High Point on Saturday. Junior midfielder Natalie Rivas scored the winner against Belvidere and added two more against High Point. Best wishes go out for a speedy recovery to the Newton players involved in a car accident last week.

Up next: Kittatinny at home on Monday; at Lenape Valley on Thursday.

6. Phillipsburg (3-1) -- Stateliners opened last week with a 6-2 win over Watchung Hills before dropping a 4-1 decision to Hillsborough on Friday and capped a Skyland Conference trifecta with a 3-1 win over Ridge. Sophomore forward Abby Evans had the hat trick against Watchung Hills, while freshman Gabby Dudek added three assists. Senior forward Ellie Zgoda had a three-goal week for the 'Liners.

Up next: Warren Hills at home on Monday; Bridgewater-Raritan at home on Thursday; at North Hunterdon on Saturday.

7. Belvidere (3-2) -- After a 1-0 loss to No. 5 Newton last Monday to open the week, County Seaters blanked No. 8 South Hunterdon, 2-0, on Wednesday and scored a 3-0 victory over Franklin on Saturday in a pair of Skyland Conference Mountain Division clashes. Junior back Erin Bronico and junior forward Kara Tipton scored the goals against South, while senior forward Katie Spadaccini found the cage twice against Franklin.

Up next: at Mount St. Mary on Monday; Bernards at home on Thursday; at North Plainfield on Saturday.

8. South Hunterdon (1-4) -- Eagles have dropped four in a row since a season-opening win over Mount St. Mary -- dropping decisions to No. 1 Voorhees (4-0 on Monday) and No. 7 Belvidere (2-0 on Wednesday) before a tough 3-2 loss to Somerville on Friday. Senior forward Ashley Eick and sophomore forward Julia Kreider scored the goals in that loss. Look for South to get back on track this week against three Skyland Conference foes.

Up next: at North Plainfield on Monday; Franklin at home on Thursday; at Mount St. Mary on Saturday.

9. Sparta (3-1-1) -- Spartans went 2-0 last week with a 4-2 win over High Point on Tuesday and a 1-0 victory over Randolph on Saturday. Senior midfielder Gretchen Bowie and junior midfielder Isabella Candeloro each scored a pair of goals against High Point, while senior forward Rhett Curran had the game-winner against Randolph.

Up next: at Mendham on Tuesday; at Roxbury on Thursday; Vernon at home on Friday.

10. Wallkill Valley (3-3-1) -- Rangers are coming off an up-and-down week with a 2-0 win over Kittatinny on Wednesday sandwiched by losses to Mount Olive (3-2 on Tuesday) and Hackettstown (4-0 on Friday). Against Kittatinny, sophomore forward Fiona Blake and Francesca Caisullo scored goals. Sophomore forwards Morgan Carr and Caitlyn Mizeski found the cage.

Up next: North Warren at home on Monday; at Jefferson on Thursday.

On the bubble: Lenape Valley (3-2); Kittatinny (3-1).

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