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Sept. 17, 2022 — Woolwich Kingsway (N.J.) 3, Clinton North Hunterdon (N.J.) 1

WOOLWICH TWP, N.J. — The 2022 field hockey season is the first that the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association will not have a postseason Tournament of Champions.

That being said, the array of teams contending for the five available state titles are a diverse lot. Two such teams met this afternoon, as Woolwich Kingsway (N.J.) defeated Clinton North Hunterdon (N.J.) 3-1.

Kingsway is a South Jersey field hockey team, but does not have the same kind of Constance Applebee-tinged history as some of its neighbor teams, as the school opened in the early 1960s. But the Dragons have pulled themselves into the upper echelon of teams from the eight-county region. Part of it was because of progress made when Dana Ramsden was a two-time Gloucester County Player of the Year. One of the measures of that progress came in 2005, when Kingsway tied Voorhees Eastern (N.J.).

Now Dana Ott, the Kingsway head coach is not only looking to match that level of greatness, but to exceed it. In her fifth year at the helm, she has assembled a Murderers’ Row of opponents, and has added today’s win over state Group III champion North Hunterdon to last week’s win at Non-Public champion Summit Oak Knoll.

“Anything to strengthen our program is what our goal was coming in,” Ott said. “In everything that we do, we are out to win a state championship. This has been brewing for a while, and this year is the first time we can say that every player is a threat.”

Kingsway won yesterday’s game on sheer discipline. The team’s press was outstanding, with great spacing and defense by all three lines of the Dragons’ formation, cutting off space and passing angles. On the day, they held North Hunterdon to precious little in the way of attack chances. The Lions only had two shots on goal.

“Every layer is a strength,” Ott says. “If it wasn’t for our forwards doing what they needed to do, then our mids wouldn’t be as successful. And the same can be said of our backs.”

North, despite losing its second game of the week, is taking its opportunity to look forward. The Lions, like their opponents, will take part in next weekend’s National High School Invitational in Conshohocken, Pa.

“Part of our culture is that we don’t hang our heads, and we don’t complain,” said NH head coach Geoffrey Chrisman. “We just deal what we have to deal with; we talk about ‘the next three minutes’ all the time. We can’t go back; we just have to get ready for the next three minutes.”

North Hunterdon has a superb attacking midfielder in Lauren Masters, who was one of a baker’s dozen of players to score more than 50 goals last year. But this game featured the Lions’ defense, led by fullback Sarah Bisson and defensive midfielder Sara Roberts. They along with Molly Claus, Brooke Cahill, and Caroline Mueller, were strong all day with a number of remarkable takeaways and defensive plays on the day. Bisson, who had a key defensive save in last year’s state final against Moorestown, had two more stops on the goal line against Kingsway.

“They are a solid group that trusts each other,” Chrisman said. “That helps our goalies, who are all sophomores. We only gave up goals on strokes and corners, so we played a good defensive game. That was some of the best defensive I’ve seen in the past few years, and it will provide a springboard for us going forward.”

North Hunterdon (3-2) 0 0 0 1 — 1
Kingsway (4-0) 0 1 1 1 — 3

K: Sabrina McGroarty, ps, 23rd minute
K: Ella Stephenson (Isabella Sanchez), pc, 32nd
K: Stephenson, ps, 52nd
NH: Kendall Varty (Lauren Masters), fg, 55th
Shots — NH: 2; K: 11. Saves — NH: Zoey Zahorchak 6, defensive 2; K: Soren Kipphut 1.

FULL TIME That’s all for today; good night, good hockey

FULL TIME Next week, both teams will be participating in the National High School Invitational. North Hunterdon takes on San Marcos (Calif.) on Friday at 3 p.m., and Glenelg (Md.) Saturday at 3 p.m. Kingsway’s opponents are Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) Friday at 5 p.m., and Norfolk (Va.) Academy Sunday at 11 a.m.

FULL TIME The final whistle sounds with Kingsway winning 3-1. Interesting bit here: it is Kingsway’s second win over a sitting NJ state champion this week

58:10 NHHS PC Long shot hits the tire on the outside of the cage

54:46 NHHS GOAL The Lions pull one back through the efforts of Kendall Varty, but Kingsway still leads 3-1

51:52 KHS PS Stephenson pings the inner back post; fine stroke! Kingsway leads 3-0

51:30 KHS PC A long shot hits a North defender behind the goalie and a stroke is duly called

48:20 NHHS GREEN Lions penalized for a 5-yard encroachment

47:50 Kingsway forward Karlie Mertz attacks a wedge of space on the right wing but runs out of room

45:00 The fourth quarter is on

END 3rd The siren ends the third term with Kingsway leading 2-0

41:00 Masters comes in from the left wing, aims a backhander that just misses the top corner

37:30 KHS PC Masters interposed herself in a three-way passing play; 16y free-out is the result

36:56 KHS PC Long angled shot put on cage but saved off the line by senior Sarah Bisson!

36:30 KHS PC Masters sniffs out the corner but a foot committed by North; will re-rack

33:59 Timeout, North Hunterdon

31:30 KHS PC A deflected shot finds its way over the goal line! Ella Stephenson is credited with the goal that stakes Kingsway to a 2-0 lead

30:00 The third quarter is under way

HALFTIME The Lion defenders have been resilient and smart in cutting out Dragon offensive chances; can this continue in the second half?

HALFTIME The stars are out to play today on the offensive end, as Sanchez and Masters have each threatened the goal. But give a call to North Hunterdon’s backliners, who have been outstanding thus far

END HALF Going to the break, Kingsway has a 1-0 lead

26:30 Masters with a free hit in a promising position; the angled pass somehow eludes two open teammates and goes over the end line for a 16y free-out

22:35 KHS GOAL Sabrina McGroarty pings the stroke and Kingsway leads 1-0

22:35 Kingsway runs a 2-on-1 and beats the goalie; a defender falls on the ball and a stroke is called

22:00 Bella Sanchez breaks in on the left wing for Kingway. She aims a shot but the goalie is equal

17:00 KHS PC Hi-lo to the left wing is read and cleared by the North Hunterdon defense, who has been playing very well today

15:00 The second term is under way

END 1ST The sides are scoreless at the siren

12:30 Kingsway works it to the second-goal area for a pass to the stroke mark but the North Hunterdon defense sniffs out the play and clears

9:30 KHS PC Option-right whistled down for danger

8:30 KHS PC Option-right is whiffed

7:30 KHS PC Option-left is blocked over the end line for a 23m free-in

5:06 Masters thunders into the circle and blasts her shot attempt wide of the cage

0:45 KHS PC Shot too high coming in

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME North Hunterdon is in the all-green with gold trim and numbers; Kingsway is in the white with black kilts and red numerals

PREGAME The teams are warming up under bright blue skies, temperatures around 75 degrees

PREGAME A common opponent for these two sides is The Lawrenceville (N.J.) School. Kingsway beat Lawrenceville 5-0 and North came out a 1-0 victor

PREGAME A huge key for both these teams is their ability to focus on the here and now. Both teams would not be blamed for looking forward to their participation in next weekend’s National High School Invitational, but their coaches will have them focus on the task at hand

PREGAME There have been some significant results on both sides of the ledger, ones which jumble up the rankings like a game of Boggle. This week, the Lions lost to Basking Ridge Ridge (N.J.). Also in the last week, Kingsway went up north and beat Non-Public champion Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)

PREGAME Kingsway, coached by Dana Ott, could be the Group IV team that unseats Eastern in the South Jersey ranks this season. The Dragons are led by forward Isabella Sanchez

PREGAME North is the defending state Group III champions. It is a team that truly found itself last year, winning the treble (county tournament, sectional, and state championship) thanks to Geoffrey Chrisman’s coaching. The Lions are led by senior Lauren Masters, a forward with tremendous skills

PREGAME Kingsway is 3-0 this season; North Hunterdon is 3-1

PREGAME Hello, and welcome to Barchuk Field for this intersectional field hockey game between Clinton North Hunterdon (N.J.) and Woolwich Kingsway (N.J.)

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