In championship games, it often comes down to one or two plays that ultimately determine who goes home a champion and who simply goes home.
Those who were in attendance for the Greater Middlesex Conference field hockey tournament final at East Brunswick High School’s Jay Doyle Field on Thursday night saw just that.
With the game scoreless for almost 59 minutes of play, South Plainfield High School’s Jess Bishop knocked home the game’s only goal, giving her top-seeded Tigers a 1-0 victory over second-seeded East Brunswick and their second consecutive conference title.
“It was a corner and a straight shot out to me,” Bishop said after the game, describing her game winning goal. “I took a shot and it was a great save by the East Brunswick goalkeeper.”
A great save indeed by the Bears’ Emily Polinski, who made six saves on the night.
Polinski defended the shot through traffic and was able to make a leg save out of the zone. However, the save went directly back to Bishop who made it stick the second time.
“I was able to get the ball back on a rebound and put it on the opposite post,” Bishop said, who’ll be attending Richmond University to further her playing career next year.
For a squad that lost 13 seniors to graduation after last years’ group posted 21 victories, South Plainfield (17-2) never skipped a beat and it showed throughout the regular year.
“Having Jessie Bishop in the middle of the field has been amazing,” South Plainfield coach Cheryl Hughes said. “She’s been amazing in the center of the field for us, really being the glue that has kept us together this year. A couple of the younger kids stepped up, Meghan Hughes stepped up, Carly Miceli stepped up and my kids never gave in today and through the year.”
It marked the third time this season that East Brunswick (15-4-1) was beaten by the Tigers.
With the game being decided in the final 72 seconds, you could imagine how heart-broken the Bears faithful were after game.
“I’m absolutely sick to my stomach with this loss,” East Brunswick coach Cindi Todoroff said. “I’m very disappointed, very disappointed. I give the South Plainfield coaching staff a ton of credit especially after they graduated all those players from what was one of the best teams’ they’ve ever had. It says a lot about their players and their program.”
Up next for both squads will be the NJSIAA Tournament, beginning next week.