Friday, November 11, 2016

Field hockey: Streaks looking to complete title 3-peat

Stop me if you've heard this before: Warren Hills vs. Ocean City in the Group 3 state final.

It's almost become a rite of fall.

The field hockey rivals are set to meet for a fifth straight year at 6 p.m. in Saturday's title game at Bordentown Regional High School.

Warren Hills (20-4) advanced to the program's 11th state final with a 3-0 win over Freehold Borough in Thursday's semifinals. This will be the rubber match after splitting the last four championship games with Ocean City (21-3), which has won nine titles overall, including wins over the Streaks in 1999, '2001, '09, '12 and '13.

"Ocean City is a name we all knew on the high school level growing up," senior back Brie Schwab said following Warren Hills' 2-1 victory over West Morris in the North 1, Group 3 final on Nov. 4, the program's 14th sectional title and fifth in a row.

Schwab is part of just the fourth senior class to win sectional titles all four years for the Warren County school. The Kutzown University recruit also anchors a defense that will need to be on top of its game. Ocean City features a potent offense, led by all-time leading scorer Rialee Allen, one of nine seniors who has scored 45 goals this season and had the go-ahead goal in the 2014 final, which the Red Raiders eventually dropped, 5-4, in overtime. Juniors Shannon O'Reilly (23 goals) and Nicholl Fenton (19), two of eight returning starters in last year's final, are also players to keep an eye on.

Ocean City, which was a 2-1 winner over Moorestown in the other semifinal on Thursday, will certainly be fired up to redeem the losses in 2014 and '15.

"Sometimes it's nice to play different teams, but [my team] is playing really well right now," said second-year Warren Hills coach Kate Rothman, who is 9-1 overall in postseason games.

Here's a capsule look at the Group 3 final:

Coaches: Warren Hills (Kate Rothman, 43-7 in two seasons, and 63-41-3 overall, including stint at Lenape Valley); Ocean City (Cory Terry, 144-16 in seven seasons).

Group history: Warren Hills (Group 3 champion in 2014 and '15, runner-up in 1996, '99, 2000, '01, '03, '09, '12, '13). Ocean City (Group 3 champion in 1997, '98, '99, 2001, '02, '05, '09, '12 and '13, runner-up in '14, '15).

Players to watch: WH -- Jr. F Rebecca Sigman (17 goals, 10 assists); Jr. F-MF Tali Popinko (13 goals, 9 assists); Jr. F Alyssa Appleby (14 goals); Sr. F Caroline Cotte (11 goals); Jr. MF Mikayla Dugan (6 goals, 4 assists); Sr. GK Jackie de Raismes (10 1/2 shutouts). OC -- Sr. F Rialee Allen (45 goals, 30 assists); Jr. Shannon O'Reilly (23 goals, 9 assists); Jr. Nicholl Fenton (19 goals); Sr. Julia Herrington (18 goals, 9 assists); Sr. Britney Stein (16 goals); Sr. Grace Steele (10 goals, 6 assists).

Interesting fact: Warren Hills is the only school to beat Ocean City in a state final. Only Eastern (19), Moorestown (16), West Essex (16), which is in the Group 2 final, Shore Regional (15) and Shawnee (11) have won more titles than Ocean City.

Skinny: Unlike last year's defensive struggle, a 1-0 win for Warren Hills, expect this year's game to be more of an offensive showcase. Ocean City, which has to rate as a slight favorite in this one, has produced double-digit goal totals seven times and has logged 156 overall for an average of 6.5 per game. The Red Raiders scored a total of four in their three losses (4-2 to West Essex, 3-2 to Camden Catholic and 5-0 to Eastern). Warren Hills has scored 84 goals overall for an average of 3.5 per contest after scoring 33 in the first six games with senior forward Dani Profita (14 goals), who was lost for the season with a knee injury on Sept. 22. The revenge factor for Ocean City can not be overlooked, but Warren Hills needs to rely on its past experience and not be overwhelmed by the moment. The Blue Streaks have been a little up-and-down, but appear to be peaking at the right time. Warren Hills goalie Jackie de Raismes was fantastic with six saves in last year's victory and always seems to rise to the occasion when the pressure is on. These meetings never seem to quite the way you might think, so be ready for another entertaining final.

Prediction: Warren Hills, 3-2.

Saturday's schedule

Group 4

Bridgewater-Raritan vs. Eastern, 10 a.m.

Group 1

Madison vs. Haddonfield, noon


Oak Knoll vs. Bishop Eustace, 2 p.m.

Group 2

West Essex vs. Rumson-Fair Haven, 4 p.m.

Group 3

Warren Hills vs. Ocean City, 6 p.m.

No comments:

Post a Comment