BY MIKE WHITE
EWING — For the past two years, the New Egypt High School field hockey came away from the NJSIAA Group I championship with heartbreaking losses to Pingry. Both times the Lady Warriors left the College of New Jersey with devastating one-goal losses.
At the start of the 2005 season, returning members vowed to set its sight on getting back to the title and this time capturing the elusive crown.
New Egypt took advantage of scoring opportunities and shut down a potent Pingry offense en route to an exciting 2-1 victory Sunday to capture its first Group I crown at TCNJ.
“These girls have had their hearts set on getting back to this game from the outset of the season,” New Egypt coach Patti Nicholson said. “They were not going to be denied this time around. We suffered a couple of very tough losses the past two years in the final. Our girls were focused and driven. The third time was a charm for this group.”
New Egypt took full advantage of a Pingry mistake to take an early 1-0 lead. When the Pingry defense failed to clear a loose ball bouncing in front of the net, Horner slapped a shot into the back of the cage with a little more than seven minutes remaining in the first half to take a 1-0 lead.
“Their defense just stopped playing the ball, and Brittany scooped it out of the air and drove it home,” Nicholson said. “They looked very surprised that there wasn’t a whistle on the play. I think they expected something was going to be called. But Brittany just kept playing and knocked the ball in.”
New Egypt took a 1-0 lead into intermission. Pingry, the two-time defending champions, weren’t going away without a fight. Katrina Pregieone tied the game at 1-all with a goal at the 24:45 mark of the second half.
A little more than six minutes later, Messinger scored the game winner. Messinger took a pass from Houston off a penalty corner and scored to give the Warriors a 2-1 lead.
“They had been defending our corners by sending a player to the top,” Nicholson said. “Well, we had put a play in this week where we would suck the defense to the top then send the ball down low. It worked perfectly and Sara was there to give us the lead.”
New Egypt’s defense did the rest.
“For the last 18 minutes of the game we held them scoreless,” Nicholson said. “That is not an easy task to do against a team of that caliber. They had a lot of penalty corners and we were able to defend them well.”
New Egypt had an easy go of it against St. Joe’s of Hammonton in the semifinal. Messinger scored two goals and added two assists as the Lady Warriors rolled to a lopsided 8-1 victory at Bishop Eustace Prep.
In a span of 10 minutes in the first half, the Lady Warriors registered three times to blow the game open. New Egypt led 4-0 at intermission and tallied four more times in the second half.
“We looked really sharp in that game,” Nicholson said. “Our offense did a good job of getting to the ball and moving it around. We were patient and looked for good shots.”