I n the last two years, nine players from the Freehold Township High School field hockey program have gone on to play in college. It was only natural, considering the talent that has graduated, that coach Beth English looked at the 2011 season as a rebuilding campaign. However, the season has been anything but a rebuilding year.
With a 2-1 win atManalapan on Oct. 11, the Patriots sewed up the Shore Conference ANorth Division title. It is Freehold Township’s first outright division title.
The Patriots (8-4-2) survived a competitive and balanced division and won the A North title with a 5-2-1 mark. Middletown North was second in the division at 4-3-1.
“I really saw this as a rebuilding year, considering that from the past two years we now have nine girls playing in college,” English said. “But (this year’s players) have fight and a winning mentality. The team gets along and that makes a difference.”
Senior Jenna DeMarinis is a differencemaker in goal, English said. DeMarinis has more saves (134) than any goalie in the Shore Conference and has allowed only 22 goals. She has recorded four shutouts.
Helping her out in the back are Jess English, the only returning starter from 2010, freshman MaKayla Pak, who earned her starting slot, and Heather DelGuerico. Ari Bellafiore andAlyssa Moore have been outstanding as reserves.
English said there is little difference on the field between her starters and the substitutes, and that gives Freehold Township significant depth.
Midfield play has been very important for Freehold Township and it starts with Sydney Weise, a junior.
“Sydney Weise controls the game with help from returnee Rachel Swenarton and newcomers Mandy D’Amico, Tori Boylan, Steph Belli and Lindsey Tobey,” English said .
With nine players having scored, “that makes our offense very spread out and hard to defend,” English said. “Senior captains Shannon Hancock (midfield) and Jenna Cassara (forward) play the whole game and lead by example on and off the field.”
Cassara leads the Patriots with six goals and she has added two assists. Weise is the team’s leading playmaker with seven assists and she has added three goals.
Other scorers are Swenarton (three goals, three assists), Boylan (four goals), Hancock (two goals, three assists), Danielle Hallacker (two goals, one assist), Belli (three assists), D’Amico (one goal, one assist) and DelGuercio (one goal).
The Shore Conference Tournament is under way and the Patriots were seeded No. 6 and drew a bye in the first round. Freehold Township was scheduled to play on Oct. 18 at home against the winner of the Howell vs. Ranney School first-round match.
Howell (5-4-1) is the No. 11 seed in the tournament.
Defending champion Shore Regional High School of West Long Branch is the No. 1 seed, and the Freehold High School Colonials are the No. 2 seed. Shore Regional beat Freehold in the 2010 finals.
The Shore Conference Tournament field hockey semifinals (Oct. 25) and final (Oct. 27) will be played at Holmdel High School.
Oct. 19 is the deadline for teams to have a .500 record or better in order to automatically qualify for the NJSIAA state tournament. Freehold (12-0), Freehold Township (8-4-2) and Howell (5-4-1) are in. Colts Neck (4-6-3) and Manalapan (4-6) need wins before the deadline to gain automatic qualification. The state tournament will begin Oct. 26.