It may be early, but when the No. 1 field hockey team in Middlesex County scores eight goals to notch its fifth win without a loss, it’s hard to keep undefeated out of the conversation.
And after high-powered South Plainfield defeated Piscataway (1-5) on Wednesday, 8-0, it’s hard to envision the Tigers being beaten.
“We set a goal at the beginning of the season to go undefeated in the (Greater Middlesex Conference),” South Plainfield senior Danielle Butrico said. “We want to win GMCs and we want to go far in states, of course.”
Butrico, the team’s assist leader, scored a game-high three goals to propel an impressive South Plainfield squad past the host Chiefs. In doing so, the Tigers posted another victory and additional accolades to an already booming resume.
South Plainfield has outscored its opponents 19-2, the defense has produced three shutouts and the offense has adept passers and scorers up and down the roster. But head coach Cheryl Hughes has the Tigers taking it one game at a time, and Piscataway was not to be overlooked before a big game against Metuchen (4-1) today.
“(Piscataway’s) goalie is excellent and we never take anything for granite,” Hughes said. “We don’t try to look too much ahead because you never know. I’m a firm believer, any given day, anything can happen.”
Junior Hannah Isaacs, the Chiefs’ goalie, entered the matchup leading all of New Jersey in saves, and against South Plainfield, she recorded 22 more to give her 104 on the season.
The Tigers, though, didn’t take long to strike against Piscataway. Only a few minutes in, senior Cassidy Gillis put one in the back of the cage, and on the ensuing possession, Butrico hammered a shot from the center of the circle to score her first of the game. Then, junior Jess Bishop set up another score with a perfect pass to Gillis, who deflected a shot off Isaacs’ leg pad to give the Tigers a quick 3-0 cushion.
“I told my kids they would have to work to score,” Hughes said. “We don’t want to put too much pressure on the kids to score a goal early, but I tell them as soon as they get in the circle, shoot. Let’s get a corner or a shot as soon as possible.”
For the Tigers, junior Shannon Hughes handed out two assists and scored her team-best sixth goal of the year, while junior Emily Lubach fired home her second goal of the season and sophomore Holly DeLair delivered her first score of 2012.
Now, South Plainfield takes its unbeaten march back home to face the Bulldogs of Metuchen.
“Kelly Evans is a great coach and they can play with anybody,” Hughes said.
Metuchen will get its chance to give the Tigers their first blemish of what could be a season to remember.
“Everything’s falling into place,” Hughes said. “It’s just one of those years, I think.”