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Sept. 15, 2018 — Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 5, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 3

VOORHEES, N.J. — It always seems as though, at the highest levels of field hockey, an incident happens in a game that isn’t covered by the rule book. Such was the case when Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) played Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) in a rematch of last year’s NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final.

While today’s game was won 5-3 by Eastern, the game was unorthodox to the point of being bizarre. For one, it was an eight-goal thriller between two teams which had conceded exactly two goals in their combined nine games in the 2018 season.

It was a game that could not have pleased either coaching staff. Oak Knoll had to have felt hard-done as the team received six bookings, and the team’s most dangerous attacker, Bridget Murphy, spent a fifth of regulation in the sin-bin. Too, the Royals’ corner flyer, Joli Porto, missed the final third of the game with a lower-body injury.

For its part, Eastern was definitely not happy conceding a pair of goals in the final three minutes of play, and head coach Danyle Heilig burned a timeout with 30 seconds left in the game, something you do not see from a team two goals to the good.

But there was one situation that nobody in attendance had expected. In the game’s 19th minute, one of the two umpires made a sudden cut and went down on the McAleer Stadium turf. She tried to break her fall by putting her hands down, and fractured her wrist. This necessitated a call out for a replacement umpire, and delayed the game for some 40 minutes.

“It’s the first time that has happened in either my playing or coaching career,” Heilig said. “She wanted to continue, but the wrist was severely broken.”

It’s a situation that isn’t found in either the rule book or in coaching manuals. But the teams kept loose as best they could during the delay.

“I give credit to our team and to Oak Knoll; that’s a great adversity to have to deal with,” Heilig said. “You have to keep talking to the girls about the things you’re thinking about during the game, and keep them focused on that.”

“It’s not like we practice these types of scenarios,” Good said. “But we’re a real focused group. As much as they were focused on the game plan, they also have to stay loose. They were having a little dance party, trying to keep loose, and doing what they had to do to keep it light and fun, and that’s what this team is about.”

But what Oak Knoll is also about is defense, especially on penalty corners. It’s notable that Oak Knoll’s opening goal came just three minutes after Porto’s injury, when forward Annabelle Brodeur latched onto a diagonal through ball from Murphy and sliced it into the cage to level the score.

What that did, however, was shake the Vikings into action. Eastern scored the next four goals, including three on penalty corners. About a minute after the game was made level, the Vikings worked the ball around to an open Ryleigh Heck at the stroke mark for a short flip.

Ten minutes later, senior Madison Guyer took a different route, flipping an aerial over the Royals corner defense and goalkeeper. And Kara Heck, the team’s leading scorer the last two years, had a brilliant slaloming solo effort to eliminate three players on a 57th minute corner.

“I’m sure we’re going to see them again (in the Tournament of Champions),” Heilig said. “This is why we schedule them.”

But even with Eastern holding a 5-1 lead, the Royals kept coming back in the final three minutes, giving both teams something to think about for a potential rematch later in the year.

“Our girls have confidence in ourselves, and confidence in each other,” Good said. “Losing seven starters from last year, we needed a test to see where we are. It’s game five (of the season), and at this point at the season, I’ll take it.”

OAK KNOLL (4-1) 0 3 — 3
EASTERN (6-0) 1 4 — 5
E: Riley Hudson, fg, 10th minute
OK: Annabelle Brodeur (Bridget Murphy), fg, 40th
E: Ryleigh Heck (Kara Heck), pc, 41st
E: Madison Guyer, pc, 50th
E: Linsey Champa (K. Heck), fg, 54th
E: K.Heck, pc, 57th
OK: Lily Ramsey (Avery Donahue), fg, 58th
OK: Megan Joel (Murphy), fg, 60th
Shots: OK: 9; E: 16. Saves: OK: Colleen Quinn 9, defensive 2; E: Nina Santore 6.

POSTGAME Both teams laid down chits for a future meeting, perhaps late into November in the Tournament of Champions

POSTGAME We thought there might be seven or so goals in this match, but given the fact that both teams had combined for just one goal conceded on defense, there is going to be a lot of work done in the next few weeks to shore up the rearguard

POSTGAME Neither team or coach could be truly happy with the result; Oak Knoll because of the defeat, and Eastern because they conceded a pair of goals in the last three minutes

FULL TIME The horn sounds with Eastern beating Oak Knoll 5-3 in a bit of a bizarre contest


59:30 OKS GOAL Murphy with a late goal in acres of Eastern backfield; Oak Knoll still trails by two

57:32 OKS GOAL Lily Ramsey takes a bouncing ball from Donahue and finishes it; Oak Knoll still trails 5-2

56:24 EHS PC and GOAL Kara Heck slaloms through three Oak Knoll defenders and scores it! Eastern leads 5-1

53:51 EHS GOAL A through pass from Kara Heck finds a wide-open Linsey Champa and she makes no mistake! Eastern leads 4-1

52:10 EHS PC Pass into the circle is cleared by Emily Antunes

50:23 OKS YELLOW Bridget Murphy is off for five minutes

49:43 EHS PC and GOAL An aerial from Madison Guyer finds net! Eastern up 3-1

48:25 OKS PC Murphy gets space but the ball gets her foot

47:10 TIMEOUT, OAK KNOLL Royals are playing a lot better than in the first term; can they execute when it counts?

46:05 OKS PC Whistled for a dangerous stick

44:00 OKS PC Whistled for a dangerous stick

42:58 EHS PC Ryleigh Heck with a backhander, which is saved!

40:40 EHS PC and GOAL An option-left off a Brooklyn insert finds Ryleigh Heck for the flip from the stroke line; Eastern leads 2-1

39:08 OKS GOAL And just like that, Murphy thunders up the field and draws defenders, makes the diagonal pass to Brodeur who puts it in! Game tied 1-1

38:30 EHS PC Defensed by Avery Donahue

37:55 EHS PC Option right is broken up; will rerack

37:55 A collision fells Porto, who has been awesome as Oak Knoll’s corner flyer; a corner is called on the Royals, adding a bit of insult to a literal injury

36:43 EHS PC Quinn makes three saves on the flurry; a long hit is the result

34:05 OKS GREEN On the bench for dissent

30:15 Eastern presses forward with eight players off the hitback

30:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME It will be interesting to see how the Royals handle being down two for the start of the half

HALFTIME The horn sounds with Eastern holding a 1-0 lead

29:33 OKS YELLOW Murphy is off for a late tackle and the Royals are down two players

28:15 OKS GREEN Megan Joel is off for as a result of the late stick tackle

26:15 OKS PC Defensed by Kylie Zielinski

24:00 An Oak Knoll pass in front just misses Brodeur

20:55 EHS PC The hi-lo to inserter Kara Heck is dealt with by Quinn

19:50 EHS GREEN Ryleigh Heck is off for two minutes for delay of game: interestingly, the call was made by the replacement umpire. She was evidently briefed on the game situation where greens were being handed out for playing the ball after the whistle. Good work by the game officials here

18:44 We are back under way

18:44 A replacement umpire has arrived; we will get started momentarily

18:44 Oak Knoll’s corner defense is its usual excellent self, and it took a bit of fortune for Eastern to wrest the lead on a field goal. Oak Knoll has been able to make dangerous attacking runs with the ball, but has yet to manufacture a good-enough goal shot

18:44 So, let’s analyze what we have seen thus far. Eastern has the lone goal and has had the lion’s share of the play inside the attacking circle

18:44 It’s been a decade and a half since I have seen a substitution for an umpire; it was the ACC final at the University of Maryland and Richard Kentwell injured a hamstring. There was a third umpire at the table and the switch was made

18:44 Timeout is called; one of the umpires is injured and will need to be replaced

17:58 EHS PC Blown down for a raised ball

17:35 EHS PC Heck beats Porto off the dribble but can’t beat Quinn

12:58 OKS GREEN Bridget Murphy is off for two for delay of game

11:50 EHS PC Blocked down by the flyer again

9:59 EHS GOAL An innocuous play in front results in the ball finding Riley Hudson for a putaway; not the prettiest finish but they all count; Eastern leads 1-0

8:57 OKS GREEN Brodeur is off for a bad tackle

7:40 EHS PC A hi-lo is saved by Quinn and the rebound cleared by the resolute Royal rearguard!

6:45 EHS PC Defensed by Joli Porto, the team’s corner flyer

6:00 Eastern with a flurry in front of goalie Colleen Quinn; she makes a save and the rebound saved off the line!

5:10 EHS PC The passing play breaks down, and Oak Knoll clears

3:30 Kara Heck, from her knees, shoots just inches wide!

1:30 Deep cross from Isabella Brodeur almost finds an Oak Knoll teammate inside the D, but Tara Somers intercedes

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Oak Knoll is wearing navy with gold trim and white numbers; Eastern is in the white tops with maroon kilts and numbers with blue trim

PREGAME The teams are warming up on the pitch under partly cloudy skies, temperatures around 80

PREGAME Please read the blog entry from two days ago for an in-depth preview of this match

PREGAME Hello, and welcome to McAleer Stadium in Voorhees, N.J. for this interconference match between the Oak Knoll Royals and the Eastern Vikings

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