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Archive for November 15, 2018

Nov. 15, 2018 — The perfect storm

Last night, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.), the No. 3 team in the Top 10, won its semifinal game in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions. By the same token, so did Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), the No. 1 team in the Top 10.

With No. 2 Emmaus (Pa.) having fallen 5-3 to Hershey (Pa.) on Tuesday evening, this sets up a dream matchup Friday evening at a patch of artificial grass a scant nine miles west of Lower Manhattan. Tomorrow at Kean University, the Tournament of Champions concludes.

Though these two sides have met nine times with high stakes, this game does not fit the definition of a “rivalry,” since these teams are not guaranteed to meet each other in league play. And even though the No. 1 slot in the Top 10 is at stake, this game does not fit the definition of a “National High School Championship,” since the term is trademarked by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

But given the remarkable circumstances surrounding the games these two sides have played over the last 11 years, it is appropriate that this game, the latest chapter in the saga of Who Runs Field Hockey in New Jersey (and, sometimes, nationally), is the climax. Here’s the rundown of the scores:

(Eastern leads series 5-3-1)
2007: Oak Knoll 3, Eastern 2 (OT)
2010: Oak Knoll 4, Eastern 2
2013: Eastern 3, Oak Knoll 0
2014: Eastern 3, Oak Knoll 2
2015: Eastern 3, Oak Knoll 1
2016: Eastern 6, Oak Knoll 2
2017: Eastern 2, Oak Knoll 2 (tie)
2017: Oak Knoll 2, Eastern 1 (OT)
2018: Eastern 5, Oak Knoll 3

We saw these two sides only about seven weeks ago on a warm evening at McAleer Stadium. And each member of the fanbase will look at tomorrow’s match through that lens. Viking fans will remember the first 56 minutes of the contest, in which Eastern rolled up a 5-1 lead. But Royals’ supporters will remember the last three minutes, in which Oak Knoll scored a pair of quick goals and forcing an Eastern timeout.

It should be an awesome denouement to the season.

Who you got?