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Archive for November 6, 2021

Nov. 6, 2021 — It’s not a “race”

Yesterday, a pair of significant results took place in scholastic field hockey. In the Group III North bracket in New Jersey, Clinton North Hunterdon (N.J.) beat Lawrence (N.J.) by a score of 12-3. An hour south, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) bested Sewell Washington Township (N.J.) 10-1 to advance to the Group IV South final next week.

In those games, senior Talia Schenck of Lawrence scored a goal to bring her season total to 113, while fellow senior Ryleigh Heck brought her career total to 109.

Given the fact that Heck has games ahead of her, while Schenck doesn’t, it is tempting to say, “Oh, the race is over.” We disagree.

Field hockey is, and always has been, a team sport. The immense goals totals which have been recorded since the turn of the century are a function of not only good individual skills, but the willingness of coaches to take advantage of them in a team setting.

You look at, say, the totals of Austyn Cuneo, who was the first player to record more than 300 goals in a career. She had a number of tremendous players alongside her, such as Kasey Morano, Karlee Spirit, and Jade Dixon, and they played seamless hockey during an unprecedented career.

Heck’s goal-scoring acumen has bolstered its front line, which always has to be ready to grab rebounds if goalkeepers are able to fend off her blistering backhanders. Too, there’s Izzy Bianco, who broke the state record for assists in a career, and is only six behind Cassidy Goodwin for the all-time single-season lead in helpers.

Speaking of helpers, for all of Schenck’s goals this year, her biggest play of the season was an assist. In overtime against Princeton (N.J.) Day School, she pinged a self-start pass to teammate Caroline Rotteveel for the game-winning goal. The goal gave Lawrence its first major trophy since the early 1980s with the championship of the Mercer County Tournament.

Now, I can’t tell you whether Heck will be able to approach two major milestones — the career and single-season totals of Mackenzie Allessie. Eastern, surely, is looking at the bigger picture, the team goal of winning the Tournament of Champions.

Individual numbers, while a nice sidebar to the main story, are just that — numbers and records that can be broken at any time thanks to a post-Katie O’Donnell boomlet of skilled and fast players who are capable of scoring amazing goals.