Oct 28, 2012
Shore gains 14th consecutive title
HOLMDEL — The top-seeded Shore Regional field hockey team continued their dominate run in the Shore Conference Tournament on Saturday afternoon by defeating the No. 2 seeded Rumson-Fair Haven, 2-1, to capture their 14th consecutive championship.
“This is a whole different group of kids, and when you win it with different girls playing, it feels like you are winning it for the first time,” said head coach Nancy Williams.
With this win it increases Shore’s overall record in the Shore Conference Tournament finals to 18-3 with 15 outright titles and two co-championships (1993 with Lacey and 1987 with Toms River North).
The Blue Devils (16-1) started the first half with three penalty corners within the first four minutes of the game, but each shot was fed off by Rumson senior goalkeeper Sarah Moore.
Seven minutes into the game Shore’s Katie Mannino had a breakaway down the left hand side of the field that caused a scramble in front of the cage creating a penalty stroke for the Blue Devils.
Junior Carol Middough took the penalty stroke but her shot just missed hitting the post to keep the game scoreless.
At the 22:12 mark, Rumson’s Meghan Drastal took a pass across the goal from Emma Fitzgerald and slapped it in to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
After the Bulldogs (17-2) took the lead, the Blue Devils offense started to pick up with less than five minutes remaining. Shore’s Grace Santi passed the ball to Katie Mannino who charged the net creating a scramble in front of the net that awarded the Blue Devils their second penalty stroke opportunity of the game.
Carol Middough took her second penalty stroke of the game, and this time she buried it in the lower right hand corner of the net to knot the game at 1.
“It was hard to miss the first penalty stroke, “said Middough. “I came back at the second one refocused, and made sure I executed it.”
Middough stroked a bullet shot from the top of the circle to add her second goal of the game, which proved to be the game-winner to put the Blue Devils up 2-1 with 2:34 left in the half. In the second half, emotions were running high on a lot of questionable calls that resulted in green cards issued by the referees. The intensity grew among the players on the field, as each team became frustrated trying to gain momentum.
After a back and forth battle, both teams were scoreless in the second half as the Blue Devils held on for the 2-1 victory.
Players from both teams played hard the entire game, and never gave up until the final whistle was blown.
Shore got strong midfield and defense from Middough, Santi, Mannino, Morgan Jones and Michaela Curtis.
“It’s really great, and it felt special to be part of this tradition,” said Middough.
Rumson’s Drastal, MaryKate Dengler, Tori Hunter, Madison Maguire, Clare Fitzgerald and Emma Fitzgerald all played exceptionally well against the reigning champions.
Shore finished with a 12-4 advantage in shots. The Bulldogs keeper Moore made four saves, and Shore’s Shannon Johnson made four saves as well for the win.
“We got down by one goal, but I felt like that changed the momentum of the game, and we came back right away, “said Williams.
The convincing win also gives the Blue Devils a team with legitimate state aspirations, when they play the sixth-seeded Bordentown in the North 2, Group I state tournament on Wednesday afternoon.
Rumson earned the top-seed in the North 2, Group II NJSIAA bracket and will look to bounce back when they face the ninth-seeded Holmdel on Thursday.
“Rumson played an excellent game, and we thought from the beginning of the year that it would come down to the two of us which is tough, “said Williams. “I coached Rumson’s head coach Julie Vaccarelli and she’s had a tough year, but she did a remarkable job bringing her team to this point.”
Mia Costello:Mcostello @njpress media.com