Jaguars in hunt for a title

Jaguars in hunt for a title

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Jaguars in hunt for a title

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With the Jackson Memorial field hockey team off to one of the best starts in school history, there is still something that is on the mind of the Jaguars coach Jenna Blondina.

“The athletic director and principal have told me multiple times that the field hockey team at Jackson Memorial has never won anything. The team has no titles and the girls remind me often that there are no banners in the gym,” Blondina said. “When I played at Toms River South, we often played Jackson Memorial since they are in Class A South and I thought Jackson Memorial had won a division title. But I didn’t know Jackson Memorial hadn’t won a division title until someone told me last year.”

Last year was Blondina’s rookie season as head coach.

She’s a 2006 graduate of Toms River South, where she played field hockey, and she also played at Rowan University. Now, Blondina, 25, is a freshman English teacher at Jackson Memorial and one of the youngest head coaches in the Shore Conference. She has the Jaguars (9-1 overall, 8-1 Class A South as of Sunday, October 6) off to a remarkable start this season. But if you asked Blondina what’s the secret to the team’s success, she’ll heap all the praise on her nine seniors.

“They work as a team and they are nine outstanding seniors, which is rare,” Blondina said. “They all have the exact same goal. If we give up a goal, they all get mad. If we don’t score enough goals, they all get mad. You don’t really have to motivate these girls.”

These nine seniors already have enough motivation, the absence of any banners regarding field hockey in the school’s gymnasium. It is a powerful reminder, but if seniors like Kara and Kayla Molnar (two-thirds of the fraternal Molnar triplets), Teresa Carr and Rianna Jackson have their way, that division title drought ends this season.

Kara leads the team in goals (9) and assists (7), Kayla has four goals and four assists, Carr has five goals and three assists and Jackson has seven goals (second on the team) and one assist. And the Jaguars have underclassmen making big contributions like sophomore Kayla Skodmin with eight goals and four assists and sophomore goalie Morgan Novak with 25 saves. The Jaguars are a well-balanced team on offense and pose as an equal threat on defense.

“We are a very good defensive team and our defense is what keeps us in games,” Kayla Molnar said. “The main goal is to win Class A South. Our other goal is to make it past the second round of the NJSIAA Tournament. I don’t think we’ve ever made it past the second round of the NJSIAA Tournament at least since I was a freshman.”

So, the goals are stacking up like the wins this year.

Just two years ago, the Jaguars were 8-8-2 overall and 3-6-1 in Class A South. In Blondina’s first season in 2012, the Jaguars went 11-9-1 overall and 7-5 in Class A South. Halfway through the regular season this year, the Jaguars are close to matching their win total from last year and closer to one of their two goals for this season, the Class A South title.

The Jaguars go with a starting lineup consisting of four forwards, three midfielders, three defenders and one goalie. Nine of those 11 spots are occupied with seniors and two of those nine seniors happen to be the energetic Molnar sisters. Kayla is the oldest by one minute while her sisters Kara and Kaitlyn, the Jackson Memorial volleyball player, were both born in the same minute. They are 17 and share the birthday of May 31st.

“When I came on as head coach Kayla was playing midfield and Kara was playing forward,” Blondina said. “Kayla has outstanding stick skills as a center midfielder and Kara is a natural left forward and she’s always in the right spot and it helps that she is fast. They aren’t identical in looks and they have opposite personalities.”

But they have the same mindset as the other seven seniors and, quite frankly, the rest of the team. The time to add a field hockey banner to the gymnasium is this season while the Jaguars have the coaching and the talent to make it happen.

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