Old Bridge’s record may not be eye-catching, but the field hockey program’s future is certainly bright.
Head coach Tammy Heitmann and her hard-working staff of Andrew Boriello, Amanda Walsh, Danielle Tribuzio and Shannon Babrio are setting up the Knights for tremendous growth.
The Old Bridge coaching unit has created a middle school program this season to go along with spring clinics and a summer camp — all of which help teach the game at an earlier age, while the current varsity squad continues to improve.
“Hard work pays off — that’s our motto,” Heitmann said. “We say we are a family, and we work together as a family and you work for your family.”
The Knights are 1-4, but have lost games in which they were on the brink of wins. Old Bridge dropped a heartbreaker to Metuchen (4-1) on Sept. 12 — a 1-0 double overtime defeat that saw the Knights outshoot the Bulldogs 20-5.
Old Bridge also has a 1-0 overtime loss to South Brunswick and a pair of tough defeats against South Plainfield and East Brunswick.
But the Knights have received solid contributions from seniors Megan Larson and Lauren Santoro, as well as underclassmen defensemen Brooke Chlebowski and Rebecca Tomanzewski, while DeMeira Lockhart is getting acclimated in her first year as starting goalie.
“We’re very close,” Heitmann said. “We need to stay positive, put our head down and keep working.”
South Brunswick field hockey is off to a 3-2 start, and its losses aren’t shabby either.
The Vikings, who finished 10-10 last season, have fallen only to East Brunswick (4-1), the reigning Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament champions, and unbeaten South Plainfield (4-0), the Home News Tribune’s preseason No. 1 ranked team.
Not bad considering they have wins against Metuchen, Old Bridge and Sayreville, while competing with a relatively inexperienced defense.
“They’re learning by fire, that’s for sure,” South Brunswick head coach Danielle Matlack said. “We’re making some adjustments and we’re really trying to focus on them.”
The Vikings graduated the services of Amanda Zecca and Emily Broxmeyer, key ingredients to 2011’s defensive line. On top of that, juniors Megan Moran and Allie Fahl shifted to midfield after starting as backs last season.
“We lost basically everyone back there,” Matlack said.
As the defense gains experience, South Brunswick effectively utilizes two goalies — a major plus to back up its youth.
“I’m flipping them (Elizabeth Ruedemann, Luisa Hill) every game right now and I’m fortunate to have two of them who can do a nice job,” Matlack said.