No matter what your favorite type of field hockey is, area teams will likely be able to satisfy everyone’s tastes during the upcoming high school season.
Like the high-scoring games that feature plenty of skills inside the circle?
Millville’s Corrine Etter, Schalick’s Jessica Harrell and Buena’s Casey Sturts have you covered. The trio combined for 70 goals in 2011 and each has the potential of putting up a 30-goal season, a feat that has only been accomplished twice in the last eight years (Buena’s Karlie Gruccio/2010 and Samantha Horner/2004). Delsea’s Lexi Brown is another scorer to watch as she comes off a 15-goal season as a freshman.
Schalick and Buena each possesses the firepower to light up a scoreboard. The Cougars rung up 81 goals on their way to a berth in the Group I state championship game. Ashley Creighton and Laura Olbrich, both double-digit scorers for Schalick, are also back. Buena chimed in 61 goals en route to a second-round playoff appearance. Along with Sturts, Carly Linus knocked in 11 goals last season.
Is defense more your style?
Delsea goalie Kelsey DiBenedetto posted an area-best nine shutouts last fall and she will be the backbone of a young, but improving, Crusader defense.
Watch out for Cumberland. The Colts return the bulk of their defense as they try to establish residency in the penthouse of the Tri-County Conference Diamond Division.
What’s new around the area’s hockey pitches for 2012?
Millville’s Claudia McCarthy has coached 41 years and chalked up a South Jersey record 511 wins, but she experiencing a rebuilding program like never before. The Thunderbolts have a lot of new faces in the lineup after 13 seniors graduated from the team. Despite the inexperience in the lineup, one can never count out the Thunderbolts.
Buena and Schalick will likely battle for the area’s No. 1 ranking. Both teams return a solid nucleus from last year and each could make a significant run in the playoffs.
Cumberland’s move to the middle-tier division in the Tri-County Conference should help the Colts and their quest to reach the .500 mark. Delsea remains in the Royal Division and could be a spoiler in the larger-school division.
Vineland and Bridgeton will continue to build their programs.
Following the lead set by boys’ and girls’ soccer last season, field hockey will implement a power ranking to determine seeding for the state tournament.