Barbera, Demand Deliver in Southern Field Hockey Winning Week

Pin First Loss on Jackson Memorial
By DAVID BIGGY | Sep 25, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy Southern's Kate O'Boyle scores the Rams' first goal of a 4-1 victory against Jackson Memorial on Sept. 21.

Stafford Township — When a high school game has to be won, a coach often looks to the seniors to lead the way. Southern Regional field hockey coach Jenna Lombardo is no different in that regard. And why shouldn’t she? As the season began, she said the Rams had the best senior leadership she’s ever seen.

Erika Barbera and Maitland Demand are the two who top that leadership chart. They delivered in a big way on Sept. 21, when the Rams scored three times during the final 15 minutes and handed Shore Conference Class A South division rival Jackson Memorial its first loss of the season, 4-1.

“We have a really different team this season, one that truly plays together, from the sophomores up to the seniors,” said Barbera, who scored a goal and recorded an assist. “We’re really a solid unit, and we can get on the field and play with anybody. And, right now, we’re really playing well.”

During the first half against the Jaguars, Southern dominated much of the play, spending a lot of time deep in Memorial territory and sending shots at opposing goaltender Mildred Trembley, who played a tremendous game and was the sole reason the Rams didn’t win by a greater margin.

Through the first 19 minutes, the game remained scoreless as Trembley – who entered the game with six straight shutouts to start the season – denied several chances in close or on shots from corners. Eventually, the Rams (8-1) broke through when junior Kiera Lyons sent a ball into the circle and a scramble for it ensued.

Ultimately, the ball squirted free of several players and right onto the stick of junior Kate O’Boyle, who worked the ball around a challenge from the goalie and popped the ball into the cage, past a diving Trembley, with 10:36 left in the half.

On a penalty corner just over five minutes into the second half, the Jaguars (5-1-1) knotted the game at 1-1 when Claudia DiStaso took a Sydney Walter pass and sent it past Southern goaltender Maddy Brown. Not surprising, the tie contest didn’t bother Barbera much.

“I had no doubt we’d get it back and win,” she said. “It was more like a fire was set within us at that point. We had trained too hard for this game, and we knew we were the better team. We had almost 25 minutes and couldn’t get down at all. That just brought up our intensity.”

Roughly 23 of the next 24 minutes were played in Jackson Memorial’s half of the field, as the Rams poured on the offensive pressure. During the next eight minutes, Trembley did everything she could to prevent Southern from regaining the lead, which included several lunging saves, two in traffic at the front of the cage and even one attempt in which Lyons, surrounded by a pair of defenders, just missed getting to a ball while bulldozing the goalie.

But again, eventually, the Rams found the back of the cage during one of their 19 corners. After senior Emily Raylman delivered a crisp pass to Demand at the top of the circle, the Louisville-bound senior cranked a hammer shot that found its way through a screen and into the cage with 14:27 to go.

Almost eight minutes later, while Southern continued to break down the Jackson Memorial defense, Barbera ran onto a loose ball in the circle, carried it to the middle and sent a wrist shot on goal. Trembley nearly made the save, but the ball somehow skipped into the goal, giving the Rams a 3-1 lead with 6:37 left.

With 3:11 left, Raylman sent another perfect corner pass to Demand at the top of the circle and she smashed another shot into the cage for the exclamation point. Southern finished with 17 shots on goal.

“I’ve been saying it to everybody,” Lombardo said afterward. “In terms of leadership, this is the best senior class we’ve ever had. Our girls play really well together, but when you have the leadership we have, it just makes things so much better.”

On Monday, Sept. 23, the Rams celebrated their leaders on “senior night” and cruised past division foe Brick Memorial, 7-1. Demand fired in six goals, while the other was scored by classmate Samantha Zarillo. Barbera gave out two assists, while Raylman and senior Grace Cartagena each handed out one assist. Senior goalie Kate Bevilaque made one save.

Earlier last week, Southern scored a 5-1 win over Toms River North on Sept. 16, and followed it with a 2-0 victory over Central Regional the next day.

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