Junior forward Rebecca Sigman was among three players to score goals as Warren Hills rolled to a 3-0 win over Freehold Borough in the Group 3 semifinals on Thursday at A.L. Johnson High School in Clark.
The Blue Streaks (20-4) advance to their 11th Group 3 final and will play for a third straight title at 6 p.m. on Saturday when they take on nemesis Ocean City at Bordentown Regional High School. This will be the fifth straight meeting between the teams in the Group 3 final, with Warren Hills winning in 2014 and '15.
"There is something special about [playing at Bordentown]," said second-year Warren Hills coach Kate Rothman, who is now 9-1 in postseason games. "Win or lose, and we were on the winning end last year, to go down there as one of 10 teams playing for a state title ... the whole experience is great for the kids."
Ocean City (21-3), which scored a 2-1 win over Moorestown in the other semifinal, won five straight finals meetings against Warren Hills from 1999-2013. In fact, the South Jersey power was 9-0 overall in state title games until that loss in '14. Only Eastern (19), Moorestown (16), West Essex (16), Shore Regional (15) and Shawnee (11) have won more state titles than Ocean City.
Warren Hills led 1-0 at halftime against Freehold Borough before adding two goals in the second half. Junior forward Alyssa Appleby and senior Caroline Cotte connected to seal the Blue Streaks' victory. Cotte gets the chance to play in her first state final -- she was on the sideline for last year's game as the team's scorekeeper -- after missing all of last season with a knee injury.
Senior goalie Jackie de Raismes, one of the heroes in last year's championship game, had just one save in recording the team's 12th shutout. Freehold Borough is the last program to beat Warren Hills in a sectional final -- winning the North 2, Group 3 final in 2011.
The Streaks appear to be peaking at the right time. They have had to overcome the loss of senior star forward Dani Profita (ACL injury), the school's all-time leading scorer, and it took awhile for the offense to round back into shape. Sigman leads the team with 17 goals. The defense, anchored by senior Brie Schwab (Kutztown University recruit) and de Raismes, has yielded just two goals this postseason.
"They played great tonight," Rothman said. "They passed great, they looked good. They're playing well."
Vikes fall short in Group 2
West Essex 7, Voorhees 1 -- Forward Brooke Hyland scored her team-leading 17th goal, but the Vikings' season ended with a loss in the Group 2 semifinals at A.L. Johnson High School.
Voorhees (19-3-1), which won its first sectional title since 2006, was looking to get back to the state final for the first time in 10 years since dropping a 1-0 decision to Moorestown in the Group 3 title game in '06. The Hunterdon County school, which has never won a state championship, also lost in the 2000 Group 2 final.
West Essex (21-1), which is seeking its 17th championship, raced out to a 7-0 lead in the first half and never looked back. Hyland, a freshman, got Voorhees on the board about midway through the second half. The Knights, now 9-1-2 all-time in this rivalry, opened their regular season with a 3-0 win over the Vikes on Sept. 10.
"The second half we did great, which I was most proud of," said sixth-year Voorhees coach Taylor Webb, now 11-6 in postseason games.
With only four senior starters, Voorhees is expected to make another run in 2017. However, the Vikes will miss midfielder Hannah Schiavo, forward Lindsay Fritz, midfielder Claire Whiston and goalie Annie Weiler.
"We have a great group," Webb said. "We should be back."
Braves bested in Group 1
Madison 4, Newton 1 -- Senior Natalie Rivas connected for her team-high 23rd goal, but it wasn't enough as the Braves fell for the third straight year in the Group 1 semifinals at Boonton High School.
Newton (17-4), which won a third North 1, Group 1 sectional title, saw its four-game win streak end with the loss. The Braves were looking for the program's second trip to the state final and first since 1984. Sussex County has not won a final since Vernon claimed the Group 4 crown in 1996.
Madison (16-4), last year's Group 2 champion, advances to play Haddonfield for the Group 1 title on Saturday at Bordentown Regional High School. The Dodgers have won five championships and will appear in their fifth straight final and 12th overall.
Senior forward Nicole Rizzo was credited with the assist on Rivas' goal. Rizzo had at least one goal or an assist in the Braves' final eight games.