VOORHEES, N.J. — Maybe Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) senior Mackenzie Keegan knew that Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) had only one player from its starting lineup graduate from last year’s team. Maybe she didn’t.
But she did know the 13 penalty corner plays taped to her stick. She pounded in a 1-Up penalty corner in the third minute, and finished off a neat passing play designed to eliminate the corner flyer and trailer just two minutes later. That opening brace set the tone for Eastern’s comprehensive 6-2 win over the Oak Knoll team that met them in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final last November.
“The start of the game was really important, for us to come out with a great amount of energy,” Keegan said. “We worked on our corners in practice yesterday, knowing how they were going to come out on their corner defense.”
Though both teams have had statement wins this season, the statement that the Vikings made against a very good Oak Knoll side was much, much louder. Eastern was playing in very much in playoff mode: flood the midfield, double-team the ball, hard in the tackles. Everything was done at speed with a remarkably high level of skill.
“For us to come out here with three freshmen, and to play this well, I’m stoked,” said head coach Danyle Heilig, who is used to this level of play, having won the last 17 state Group IV championships. “And for us to get the two quick goals like that, I’m very happy. But even more, the way they handled the remaining 25 minutes, emotionally.”
Oak Knoll had to make its own adjustments, especially in corner defense. Without its starting corner flyer, the team was altering formations and coverages in front of goalie Jordan McGinley on the Vikings’ 14 corner chances.
“Eastern has a great offensive attack, and Jordan is an mentally tough goalkeeper,” said Oak Knoll head coach Ali Good. “Once she is comfortable and in her game back there, she makes good saves.”
If there was one sequence that typified the game, it happened in the 18th minute. Eastern had gotten a penalty corner, and the indefatiguable Oak Knoll penalty corner defense unit were able to make enough adjustments in order to cut out the pass play, with Gabby Andretta absorbing the foul.
But Eastern applied its usual high line on Oak Knoll’s free out from the 16, and the ball found its way to an unmarked Kasey Quicksill, who had just triggered the previous corner. She found the backboard to give Eastern a 3-0 lead.
Oak Knoll, pressed into response, tried everything it could. About eight minutes after Quicksill’s goal, Oak Knoll junior Ali McCarthy ran a 3-on-1 snowbird after yet another Eastern corner. Cassie Kincaid made an initial stop on McCarthy, then rescued the ball from her pads for a backhand follow-up. The shot, on an open cage, unluckily managed to find the one spot which would not result in a positive for her team: the foot of a teammate.
McCarthy and her teammates would not quit, however. On a late corner, Bridget Murphy shephereded the ball over the line, and McCarthy potted a stroke three minutes from time.
“At the end of the day,” Good said, “I don’t play this game to get our kids to feel bad about themselves. I play this game to learn and to grow from it. And that’s what they’ll do.”
OAK KNOLL (3-1) 0 – 2 — 2
EASTERN (4-0) 3 – 3 — 6
E: Mackenzie Keegan (Kasey Quicksill), pc, 3rd minute
E: Keegan (Jessica Maute), pc, 5th
E: Quicksill, fg, 18th
E: Alexis Pettisani (Keegan), pc, 34rd
E: Quicksill (Kara Heck), fg, 42nd
E: Maute (Heck), fg, 50th
OK: Bridget Murphy (Bella Brosie), pc, 55th
OK: Ali McCarthy, ps, 57th
Shots — OK: 15; E: 18. Saves — OK: Jordan McGinley 12; E: Cassie Kincaid 13
POSTGAME Thanks for reading, everyone. Good night and good hockey
POSTGAME Credit Oak Knoll for not quitting, however. They were unlucky on the attack end until breaking through in the last five minutes
POSTGAME Eastern came out, played the kind of hockey to which it is accustomed, and scored six goals in 50 minutes. An incredible performance
POSTGAME It was a surprisingly comprehensive victory for Eastern, who graduated nearly half its starting lineup. Oak Knoll lost only one starter from last year, but that hardly mattered for the hosts
POSTGAME At the final horn, Eastern wins 6-2
59:55 EHS PC Heck with the uncontrolled stick
58:45 OKS PC Defensed by Keegan!
58:00 OKS PC Andretta misses the cage with her blast
57:30 OKS PC McCarthy’s shot is saved! Will re-rack
56:17 OKS PS McCarthy puts it in but Eastern still leads 6-2
56:20 OKS PC A shot hits an Eastern defender on the goal line and a stroke is called
54:24 OKS PC and GOAL A well-worked pass play gives Bridget Murphy the goal; Eastern still leads 6-1
49:16 I don’t believe what I’m seeing here
49:15 EHS GOAL Maute with a fine goal off a fast break; Heck did a lot of the work on the right wing and rewarded her teammate; it’s 6-0 Eastern
48:54 TIMEOUT EASTERN
48:00 OKS PC Andretta shoots wide!
45:00 EHS PC The Vikings run a shotgun corner; corner criteria off, but Elise Pettisani has her shot repelled by McGinley
41:30 EHS GOAL Quicksill gets it in after Heck’s air dribble and it’s a 5-0 Eastern lead; the clock runs
40:32 EHS PS Keegan’s shot is saved by McGinley
40:32 Eastern’s Kara Heck is plowed into from the side by Oak Knoll defender Bella Brosie, denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. A stroke is called
39:30 EHS PC Madison Guyer’s shot is saved
37:20 EHS PC Madison Guyer’s shot is cleared
37:00 EHS PC Will rerack after the stick foul
34:45 OKS PC Ball falls to Bridget Murphy, and Kincaid makes the stop!
33:10 EHS PC and GOAL Alexis Pettisani slips it in off a Keegan feed; the lead is 4-0
30:00 The second half is under way
HALFTIME It’s sometimes called The Eastern Express, and it would appear as though it has left the station already; if this is where I think it’s going, the rest of the nation needs to take heed
HALFTIME The Eastern program is known for getting on a run of form sometime during the season when they flood the midfield, swarm hard on the tackles, and score in bunches, especially on penalty corners
HALFTIME And the horn goes with Eastern leading Oak Knoll 3-0
26:00 EHS PC Angled shot is saved by McGinley
25:00 Ali McCarthy runs a 3-on-1 and Cassie Kincaid makes the stop! McCarthy works hard for an open follow-up that hits a teammate in the foot! How unlucky is that?
24:30 EHS PC Cleared by Andretta, who starts a snowbird
23:45 EHS PC Shot is saved by Jordan McGinley
21:49 EHS PC Keegan’s shot is bundled harmlessly over the end line
19:30 OKS PC Ali McCarthy with two good attempts but the Eastern defense is solid
17:34 EHS GOAL But on the redirect, Quicksill finds net! Eastern leads 3-0 and is seemingly in control of this game!
17:20 EHS PC Gabby Andretta with the block; she sensed where the ball was going and made the stop!
15:28 EHS GREEN Jessica Maute is off for two minutes for the push
14:00 Eastern shot is cut out by Elizabeth Denehy
10:00 EHS PC Keegan’s attempt is whistled back for an uncontrolled stick
4:35 TIMEOUT, OAK KNOLL The Royals are stunned; can they come back from this?
4:35 EHS PC and GOAL Keegan, cool as you like, finishes a four-way pass play! Wow! Eastern leads 2-0
2:22 EHS PC and GOAL Mackenzie Keegan blasts the 1-Up from Kasey Quicksill! A dream start for the Vikings! Eastern up 1-0
0:00 The game is on
PREGAME Eastern is in the white tops with maroon kilts and navy trim; Oak Knoll is in the black with white numbers and royal trim
PREGAME The teams are warming up under bright skies with temperatures around 80
PREGAME In the contrast between Oak Knoll and its defensive coaching philosophy, and Eastern’s attacking propensity, it is going to be interesting to see what happens. It goes particularly for Eastern, a program which team which has had five straight 200-goal seasons and has had a leading scorer with 60 or more goals in each. Can the Vikings maintain this incredible run of form?
PREGAME Both teams have had statement wins in the young season. On Thursday, Eastern beat Olympic Conference rival Sewell Washington Township (N.J.) 6-0. Oak Knoll, for its part, beat defending state Group II champion Madison (N.J.) Borough 5-0 in the season opener
PREGAME These teams are meeting for the fifth time since Nov. 2013, and the Vikings have won the last five. The last time Eastern lost to Oak Knoll was the last time Eastern lost a game; the Vikings are on a 136-game unbeaten streak, the third longest of all time
PREGAME In a season which is seemingly bereft of big-time interstate and interconference matchups, it is a measure of great respect that the contestants in four of the last five NJSIAA Tournaments of Champions have scheduled each other for a second straight time in the regular season
PREGAME Oak Knoll is led by the sisters of two Division I players, Ali McCarthy (U-17 national team) and Gabby Andretta. Jordan McGinley is a fine goalkeeper, and Bella Brosie is a solid defender
PREGAME Eastern is led by senior Mackenzie Keegan, who is headed for the 100-goal pleateau soon for her career. Look also for contributions by veterans Jessica Maute and Kasey Quicksill. But the team’s leading goal-scorer, with nine, is Kara Heck, a freshman who is on the United States U-17 indoor field hockey team
PREGAME Oak Knoll, the No. 2 team in the TopOfTheCircle.com preseason Top 10, is 3-0 this season. Eastern, the No. 7 team in the TopOfTheCircle.com preseason Top 10, is also 3-0
PREGAME Hello, and welcome to McAleer Stadium in Voorhees, N.J. for this interconference match between NJSIAA Non-Public champion Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) and NJSIAA Group IV champion Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)