Friday, October 23, 2015

Field hockey: HWS starting lineups, facts, prediction

Who: Hunterdon Central Red Devils vs. Warren Hills Blue Streaks.

What: Seventh annual Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament championship.

When: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Where: Morrison Field, Hackettstown High School.

Records: Hunterdon Central 14-4; Warren Hills 16-1.

Coaches: Jenn Sponzo (17th season, 238-119-16); Kate Rothman (1st season, 36-35-3, including a 20-34-3 mark in 3 seasons at Lenape Valley).

Series history: Warren Hills, which owns a 38-28-10 edge dating to 1967, has won nine straight meetings, including a 7-1 win at home on Oct. 6. Central's last victory in the series was 1-0 at home in 2007 and it holds a 5-2 edge in county tournament matchups dating to the former Hunterdon-Warren event. Blue Streaks won the last county clash -- 3-0 at home in 2008. This is the first meeting on a neutral field.

Previous champions: Newton/Warren Hills co-champs in 2009 (final was never played); Voorhees in 2010 and '12; Warren Hills in 2011, '13 and '14.

Note: Here's a closer look at both teams with probable starting lineups:

Hunterdon Central Red Devils

How they got here: Beat North Hunterdon, 6-0, in preliminary round; Wallkill Valley, 3-0 in first round; Newton, 2-0, in quarterfinals; Hackettstown, 1-0, in semifinals.

Previous tournament history: Lost to High Point, 2-1, in 2009 first round; Lost to Newton, 2-1, in 2010 first round; Lost to Wallkill Valley, 5-1 in 2011 first round; Beat Sparta, 4-1, in 2012 first round; Beat Phillipsburg, 2-1, in 2012 quarterfinals; Lost to High Point, 1-0, in 2012 semifinals; Beat Newton, 6-0, in 2013 first round; Beat Sparta, 2-1, in 2013 quarterfinals; Lost to Hackettstown, 4-3 in overtime, in 2013 semifinals; Beat Pope John, 5-1, in 2014 first round; Beat Lenape Valley, 2-1 in overtime, in 2014 quarterfinals; Lost to Voorhees, 1-0, in 2014 semifinals.  Overall HWS record: 10-6.

Probable starting lineup: Sr. F Maddie Freeman (12 goals-6 assists-30 points); Sr. F Jillian Murray (15-4-34); Sr. F Amanda Whitlock (7-4-18); Jr. F Catalina Weber (2-1-5)/Jr. F Elizabeth Webb (3-3-9); Jr. MF Nikki Freeman (6-10-22); So. MF Brittany Bill (5-3-13); Sr. MF Adrianna Ruggieri (0-2-2); Jr. D Dayna DeVincentz (1-4-6); Sr. D Megan Fisher (0-0-0); So. D Lauren Howarth (0-0-0); Sr. GK Molly Lafferty (98 saves, 5 shutouts, .778 save percentage, 1.56 goals against).

Warren Hills Blue Streaks

How they got here: Beat Phillipsburg, 4-0, in quarterfinals; Voorhees, 2-1 on strokes, in semifinals.

Previous tournament history: Beat Delaware Valley, 8-2, in 2009 first round, Beat High Point, 4-0, in 2009 quarterfinals, Beat Pope John, 3-0 in 2009 semifinals; Beat Sparta, 6-0, in 2010 first round, Beat Wallkill Valley, 4-1, in 2010 quarterfinals, Beat Newton, 2-1 in overtime, in 2010 semifinals, Lost to Voorhees, 1-0, in 2010 championship game; Beat North Warren, 9-0, in 2011 first round, Beat Newton, 5-0, in 2011 quarterfinals, Beat Wallkill Valley, 8-1, in 2011 semifinals, Beat High Point, 3-1, in 2011 championship game; Beat Lenape Valley, 5-1, in 2012 first round, Beat Pope John, 8-0, in 2012 quarterfinals, Lost to Voorhees, 2-0, in 2012 semifinals; Beat Kittatinny, 6-0, in 2013 first round, Beat High Point, 3-0, in 2013 quarterfinals, Beat Voorhees, 2-1, in 2013 semifinals, Beat Hackettstown, 1-0, in 2013 final; Beat Wallkill Valley, 6-0, in 2014 first round; Beat Hackettstown, 3-0, in 2014 quarterfinals; Beat High Point, 8-0, in 2014 semifinals; Beat Voorhees, 5-0, in 2014 final. Overall HWS record: 22-2.

Probable starting lineup: Jr. F Dani Profita (28 goals-15 assists-71 points); Sr. F Megan Thompson (15-9-39); So. F Rebecca Sigman (16-4-36)/So. F Alyssa Appleby (1-3-5); Sr. MF Katie Thompson (12-13-37); So. MF Tali Popinko (4-10-18); So. MF Mikayla Dugan (2-4-8); Sr. D Rachel Phillips (7-15-29); Jr. D Brie Schwab (1-0-2); So. D Sydney Moskal (0-0-0); Jr. D Tyler Stoner (0-0-0); Jr. GK Jackie de Raismes (49 saves, 7 shutouts, .766 save percentage, 0.94 goals against).

Analysis: Blue Streaks are riding high after a 2-1 win on penalty strokes against nemesis Voorhees in the semifinals -- a game that many feel should have been the championship game -- that avenged a 2-1 loss to the Vikings on Sept. 15. Warren Hills handed Hunterdon Central a 7-1 loss on Oct. 6. Profita will be the best player on the field on Saturday. With 67 career goals, she recently passed her sister and current Rutgers player Nikki Profita for sole possession of third place on the school's all-time list. Dani also needs two goals to surpass Sydney Muntone (29 in 2014) for the single-season mark. Profita's 41 career assists rank fifth on the school's list, while her 175 points are good for fifth overall. Her 71 points are a career high and the third-highest total in a single season. A powerful offense doesn't revolve around just Profita, as the Streaks have several players who can find the cage. Defensively, Phillips is a rock on the back line in front of goalie de Raismes, who is having another solid season. The Red Devils, who dropped a 3-2 decision to Bridgewater on Thursday to snap a seven-game win streak since the loss to Warren Hills, are playing in their first tri-county final after three straight losses in the semifinals in 2012, '13 and '14. Central has not won a county title since 2003, when MVP Hollee Hooven led the Devils to their fifth Hunterdon-Warren crown. Defensively, this year's group has been solid, allowing a total of 21 goals in its other 17 games minus the seven allowed to the Streaks. But the Red Devils will need to score a bunch to stay in this one, tough to do against the Blue Streaks' D, which has yielded just 15 goals all season.

Pick: Warren Hills, 4-1.

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