Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Field hockey: Braves eye 3-peat; Vikes, Tigers win

Senior forward Nicole Rizzo scored a pair of goals as top-seeded Newton held on for a 3-2 win over No. 5 Glen Ridge in the North 1, Group 1 semifinals on Tuesday at Palmer Field.

Newton (16-3), which advances to the sectional final for a third straight year, will next host No. 2 Mountain Lakes (12-6-1) at 2 p.m. on Thursday. The Braves, who boast a Sussex County record 11 sectional titles, are seeking their third in a row after capturing the program's first championship in 2014 -- its first since 1986.

Newton jumped out to a 3-1 lead at the break against Glen Ridge (10-10-1). Senior forward Brittany Schumann chipped in with two assists, while junior Morgan Mendel scored her 13th goal of the season and her sixth in the team's last six games.

Mountain Lakes advanced with a 1-0 victory over No. 3 Belvidere, which had its five-game win streak snapped in the other semifinal on Tuesday. The County Seaters' season ends at 13-3-2 after capturing the Skyland Conference Mountain Division title and making a second straight run to the sectional semis. Last year, coach Beth Franceschino's team dropped a 2-1 decision to Newton.

North 1, Group 2

West Essex 8, High Point 0 -- Junior goalie Brittany McKenna recorded 33 saves as the fifth-seeded Wildcats saw their season end with a semifinal loss to state power and No. 1 seed West Essex on Tuesday.

High Point (11-8-3), which has not won a title since 2002, reached the semifinals after a thrilling 3-2 win on penalty strokes over Montville in the quarterfinals, and was eliminated by West Essex for the fifth straight year, including a 5-1 loss in last year's quarters. The 'Cats, who lost in the North 1, Group 3 finals in 2010 and '11, also dropped decisions to West Essex in 2012 (4-1 in the final), '13 (8-0 in semis) and '14 (5-0 in quarters). West Essex has won a state record 33 sectional titles.

'Cats coach Bev Keur, who will enter the 2017 season with 368 career wins, loses nine seniors, including forward Kelsey Little (five goals), and midfielders Jordyn Martin, Missy Way and Marissa Sinacore.

North 2, Group 2

Hackettstown 5, Cranford 0 -- Sophomore forwards Jordan Vandermark and Ashley Zellars each scored a pair of goals in leading the fourth-seeded Tigers to a semifinal win over No. 9 Cranford. Hackettstown (16-4) advances to play Voorhees in Thursday's title game -- its first sectional final under seventh-year coach Stephen Speirs -- who picked up his 80th win -- and the program's first since 2007.

Vandermark continues to fuel the offense, scoring at least one goal six straight games and nine overall during that stretch. She leads the team with 19. Zellars now has five goals in the team's last five contests. Hackettstown has won six in a row since a 2-1 loss at Voorhees in the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament quarterfinals on Oct. 8.

Voorhees 3, Bernards 1 -- Freshman forward Brooke Hyland scored her team-leading 16th goal of the season as the No. 2 seed Vikings ousted No. 3 Bernards in the semifinals on Tuesday on the turf at North Hunterdon.

Voorhees (17-3-1) advances to its third straight sectional final and will host No. 4 Hackettstown at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday at North Hunterdon. The Vikes, who have made 20 finals appearances in their fine history, are seeking the Hunterdon County school's first championship since 2006. Coach Taylor Webb's teams lost in the two previous North 2, Group 2 finals -- 1-0 in OT to Summit in 2014 and 3-2 to Madison in '15.

Hyland has now scored goals in five straight games. Senior forward Lindsay Fritz and junior back Sarah Matyas also chipped in with goals against Bernards.

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