State Tournament Field Hockey

Southern Regional Field Hockey Team Gives Seniors a Positive Ending on Their Home Field

By David Biggy | Oct 30, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy Southern Regional senior defender Priscilla Nicolini moves the ball upfield during the Rams’ 2-0 win over Egg Harbor Township in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV quarterfinals on Oct. 23.

Stafford Township — Before the Southern Regional High School field hockey team took the field on Oct. 23 for what likely was going to be its last home contest of the season as well as the seniors’ last game on their field, Erika Barbera and Maitland Demand took a few minutes to remind their teammates what their NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV quarterfinals match against Egg Harbor Township was all about.

“I just reminded everybody that we wanted to really enjoy today,” said Barbera, who scored the Rams’ second goal with 8:42 left in a 2-0 shutout. “You don’t want your last memory on your field to be a bad one. I just wanted us to have a good time playing together for our last time on this field.”

In the Rams’ previous victory – a 4-1 triumph over Toms River North on Oct. 21, as Southern closed out another 14-0 season in the Shore Conference Class A South division – Demand said they didn’t play well as a team.

“Today was about coming together and playing as a team one more time on this field,” said Demand, who scored the first of the Rams’ goals during the first half. “We just kept telling everybody that it really wasn’t so much about the game today as it was about what was happening within us as a group. But we had to leave our field with the W.”

Third-seeded Southern (18-3) grabbed the initial lead when Demand hammered in a goal off a corner with just over 13 minutes left in the first half, and the defense stifled the sixth-seeded Eagles on the other side, giving up only a handful of opportunities against goaltender Maddie Brown, who made four saves.

Still, up by a goal with 10 minutes to go was not a comfortable position in the state tournament. Eventually, another one of the Rams’ 16 penalty corners led to a goal, when Emily Raylman’s delivery for Demand seconds later ended up on the stick of Barbera, who scooped up a loose ball about 12 yards from the circle and fired it in to make it 2-0.

From there, EHT (13-8) mustered one more offensive spurt, barely moving the ball into the circle for a shot that went wide of the cage, but the Rams continued to pressure the Eagles’ defense as the time ticked down, and the seniors walked off their field as winners once more.

“Since middle school, all my best friends have come from field hockey, and we’re all really close,” said defender Priscilla Nicolini. “We played hard and really well as a team today. We kept up the intensity until the end, and this was the way we wanted to end the season on our field.”

Raylman said she’s very much enjoyed the last few years with her teammates.

“We’re like a big family,” she said. “There’s no drama. We just have fun playing together.”

Unfortunately, the Rams didn’t have much fun in the semifinals against second-seeded and unbeaten Kingsway (20-0-1), dropping a 2-0 decision against the Dragons, who will advance to meet top-seeded Eastern Regional in the sectional final.

Bengals Exit
In Quarterfinals

Following a thrilling, overtime win over Deptford in the first round, the Barnegat field hockey team fell short of advancing to the South Jersey Group II semifinals, as the sixth-seeded Bengals lost a 1-0 contest against third-seeded Lower Cape May on Oct. 25. Reese Hacken scored the only goal of the game in the first half, while Tigers goalie Makayla Hueber managed 11 saves. Barnegat goalie Patricia Tanola made seven saves, as the Bengals completed their best season in school history at 16-5-1.

Wildcats Bounced
In Quarterfinals

Sometimes, receiving a bye for the first round of the state tournament isn’t always a good thing, and it wasn’t for Pinelands Regional on Oct. 25, as the Wildcats came up empty in a 2-0 loss to Sterling in the South Jersey Group II quarterfinals. Adrianna Jones gave the Silver Knights (9-13) a 1-0 lead with 10:52 left in the first half, and Allena Donohue added another goal with 8:47 to go in the game as the seventh-seeded Knights shocked the second-seeded Wildcats, who had 13 shots on goal and nine corners. Pinelands goalie Mickenzie Horay had nine saves.

— David Biggy

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