Catherine Caro is back for her last hurrah at the high school level, and that’s bad news for the rest of Somerset County field hockey.
The 2011 Courier News field hockey player of the year returns to Bridgewater-Raritan for her senior season to lead the perennial state-power Panthers.
“She has all the skills and tools that are needed to be successful,” Bridgewater-Raritan head coach Kathie DeBonis said.
Caro, a 5-foot-5 midfielder, steered Bridgewater-Raritan to a 21-4 record, finishing as one of New Jersey’s top squads. The Panthers won the Somerset County Tournament championship, took the Skyland Conference crown and captured the NJSIAA North I Group IV championship.
The only shortfall came in the Group IV title match, where Eastern, the 13-time defending champions, won 5-2. It was the seventh straight year Bridgewater had lost to the South Jersey team.
And the loss certainly isn’t forgotten.
“We always revert back to it,” DeBonis said. “(Eastern’s) real quality. They’re dominant and they do the simple things to perfection, and we just have to realize that we have to do that, too.”
Caro enters her senior season with big expectations. In 2011, she scored a county-best 31 goals and ranked fourth in the state with 27 assists.
“She’s very quick, she’s nimble and she has great ball control,” DeBonis said. “She sees the entire field.”
Caro, who has verbally committed to the application process at Princeton, is just one of many talented pieces that have made Bridgewater-Raritan so special. Despite the graduation of Kayla Sullivan, Taylor Mygatt, Jessica Casterline and Caroline Murphy, DeBonis still inherits a strong roster of players.
High-scoring senior Rachel Yaney, a Rutgers commit, had her 24 goals and 16 assists last season.
“Rachel really elevates the entire team play,” DeBonis said. “She’s the catalyst a lot of times in starting a forward or high attack.”
Penn State-bound goalie Christen Piersanti recorded 15 shutouts as a junior, while the team’s No. 1 defender, Dayle Paustian, returns before heading to Division II West Chester.
“Ultimately, we want to get to the end (the Tournament of Champions),” DeBonis said. “We want to get to the big dance.”
Hunterdon C. building
In 2010, Hunterdon Central won only three games and scored 11 total goals.
In 2011 it was a remarkable turnaround for the Red Devils, who won 11 of their final 15 games, posting a 14-10 record and riding the momentum to the North II Group IV championship game, where they upset top-seeded Montgomery as the sixth seed.
The bounce-back season earned coach Jennifer Sponzo the Courier News coach of the year award.
“Coming off a great end of last season, winning the sectionals, we are looking to come back with the same desire and intensity,” Sponzo said.
The Red Devils lost only four starters, and senior forward Nicole Barrett leads the charge this season.
Replacing Jones, Zach
The bad: Shari Jones (15 goals, 10 assists) has graduated to the college ranks, playing for No. 1 Maryland, while Sarah Zach and her 10 shutouts have also departed.
The good: Erica Hrudowsky, the team’s leading scorer a year ago, is now a senior and ready to shoulder the load, and juniors Philly Lumsden (five assists, four goals) and Marina Reed (six goals, one assist) return after strong sophomore seasons.
Coach Tiffany Trockenbrod and Montgomery set a program record with 15 wins in 2011, a mark the Cougars will try to break this season.
Lee nearing mark
Pingry coach Judy Lee is four wins away from 400 with the school.
With athletic Katie Ruesterholz leading the Big Blue (14-6 in 2011), it shouldn’t take long for her to get No. 400. Ruesterholz, who also plays basketball and softball, scored 18 goals and distributed 17 assists last season.