Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Field hockey: Vikes stun rival Blue Streaks in OT

WASHINGTON TWP. -- What would the 59th meeting between rivals Voorhees and Warren Hills be without another overtime classic? You almost come to expect it.

Senior midfielder Hannah Schiavo picked the right time for the first game-winning goal of her high school career, a nifty dodge-and-go with 4:46 left to give Voorhees a thrilling 1-0 win on Tuesday night in a Skyland Conference Raritan Division clash at Warren Hills School District Stadium.

For the second straight year, Voorhees (7-2, 7-1 division), ranked No. 2 in the area by Open Mike, knocked off No. 1 Warren Hills on its home field. The Vikings scored a 2-1 win early last season before the Blue Streaks, the two-time defending Group 3 state champions, turned the tables with a 2-1 win on strokes in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament semifinals.

"It's good to get that first win and against a big team like this is great for us," said sixth-year coach Taylor Webb, now 5-7 overall vs. Warren Hills. "We've had a competitive schedule so far [with losses against state powers West Essex and Bridgewater-Raritan]. We worked on a lot of things based on those two losses [both on grass]. This was on turf."

Warren Hills (7-1, 6-1) came into game having reeled off six straight shutout wins and had yielded just one goal in its first seven games -- a 2-1 win over Hunterdon Central on Sept. 10. The Streaks, now 21-32-6 overall in the series dating to 1975, were without star forward Dani Profita, whose senior season ended abruptly with an ACL injury sustained in a 6-0 win over Phillipsburg on Thursday.

Voorhees, now alone in first place in the division, was well aware of Profita's injury, but Schiavo said it didn't alter the game plan.

"I feel so bad [for Profita], it's the worst thing that can happen," said Schiavo, who plays club hockey with several of the Warren Hills players. "We didn't really think about her not being there. They're still a really strong team, so you don't think about it. These games are so intense. It steps up everyone's game."

Voorhees certainly stepped it up in the seven-aside overtime period. Schiavo and her teammates took control right away, creating two penalty corner opportunities in the first two minutes. Schiavo got off a shot on the first one, while outstanding Warren Hills goalie Jackie de Raismes made a great play by coming up to the top of the circle to deny another surge.

After that save, Warren Hills came right down the field as junior Tali Popinko got loose on a breakaway down the left sideline. But the momentum was fleeting as Voorhees stopped the drive and proceeded to bring it back up the field.

Inside the circle, Schiavo collected the ball and made a great dodge to her right to get around de Raismes, tucking the ball into the right corner of the cage to set off a wild celebration.

"I got a really good pass from [senior midfielder] Danika [Berman] and I knew [de Raismes] was going to come out and the defense wasn't back there," Schiavo said of her first goal in this rivalry and her fourth of the season. "I anticipated and it worked."

As a midfielder, Schiavo hasn't had as many opportunities to score, especially with Kathryn Roncoroni, the school's all-time leading scorer who is now at American University, doing major damage on the forward line the previous four years. But Webb made a move that smart coaches tend to make -- putting her best player in position to impact the game by moving her up in the seven-on-seven.

"We want her up by the goal and possessing the ball," Webb said. "She's a strong, confident and experienced player. She wanted that goal."

A defensive struggle for the most part, Voorhees finished with 3-0 edge in shots in OT and 5-2 for the game, which was the third in the last seven meeting to go overtime. Vikes goalie Annie Weiler made two key saves, including a rifle shot by Mikayla Dugan off the pads on a corner in the first half.

"We had a lot more scoring opportunities, and we haven't been scoring as many goals as we need to," Webb said. "Our seven dominated in overtime. We had really clean skills in the open field. Our corner defense was very strong today.

The teams will get a rematch at Voorhees on Thursday, Oct. 20. As the top two seeds in the HWS Tournament, they could very well meet a third time in the championship game two days later at Hackettstown High School. No. 1 seed Warren Hills has won the last three tri-county titles, including a 5-0 win over Voorhees in 2014.

"It's always good to get the first one over with," Schiavo said. "The second one will be like a new start. You have to take it like you didn't win at all."

Voorhees (7-2, 7-1)                        0                0              1    --    1
Warren Hills (7-1, 6-1)                   0                0              0     --    0


Overtime -- V, Hannah Schiavo, 4th, 4:46.

Shots -- Voorhees 5; Warren Hills 2.

Saves -- Annie Weiler 2 (V); Jackie de Raismes 4 (WH).

Penalty corners -- Voorhees 6; Warren Hills 5.

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