Vineland improved; Bolts eying playoffs

Vineland improved; Bolts eying playoffs


Vineland improved; Bolts eying playoffs


A closer look at the local high school field hockey teams in the Greater Cumberland County area:


Coach: Kate Cronk (10th season, 14-151-8)

Conference: Cape-Atlantic League American I Conference

Group: IV South

Last year: 3-16

Returning starters: 9

Key Players: Bryanna Luciano (Jr., M); Angelica You (Soph., G).

Top newcomers: Megan Fanelli (Fr., F/M); Emily Torres (Fr., M).

Outlook: Cronk continues to build up the program at Vineland, sending 13 girls to Columbia University over the summer for a field hockey camp and putting together a new weight-training program.

The Fighting Clan still have to deal with the likes of powerhouses Ocean City, Egg Harbor Township and Millville in the CAL, but Cronk says she is optimistic for a .500 season.

The team does return nine of its starters from last year, so experience won’t be an issue. The key to success for Vineland will be, of course, scoring more goals. The Fighting Clan tallied just seven in 19 games last season. Cronk said her team also has to draw more corners and avoid the little mistakes.

The Clan also brings back Luciano, one of the best players in the area. She will switch from the front line to midfield to take advantage of her overall skills. Also look out for Fanelli and Torres, a duo Cronk hopes will make an impact in their first season.

Prediction: Vineland is still not ready to compete for divisional or sectional titles, but this may be the best year in a decade for the program. If the team bonds and plays consistently, the Fighting Clan can pick up a lot more wins this season.


Coach: Claudia McCarthy (43rd season, 522-181-113)

Conference: CAL American II

Group: IV South

Last year: 11-5-1

Returning starters: 7

Key players: Corrine Etter (Sr., F/M/B); Katherine Handy (Sr., B/M); Megan Hoffman (Sr., F); Kate Reed (Jr., G); Julia Limbeck (Sr., F); Rebekah Clements (Jr., M); Caylin Thompson (Soph., D).

Top newcomers: Gabby Banks (Sr., F); Ki-Jana Shockley (Jr., D); Amanda Kilhenny (Sr., D); Abby Cossaboon (Sr., S).

Outlook: It’s déjà vu for coach McCarthy.

One year after taking a team with two returning starters to an 11-5-1 record, the Thunderbolts will have to try and win again with a lack of starting experience. However, the team does bring back Daily Journal Player of the Year Etter. She totaled 21 goals and eight assists last year. With 62 career goals, she is fifth on the all-time scoring list in school history.

Millville also brings back second leading scorer Limbeck, who had ten goals in 2012, as well as Hoffman, who scored six. Sophomore starting goalie Reed is also a player to watch. She had five shutouts last season.

McCarthy once again considers this a rebuilding year, with what she calls a “promising group” of 13 freshmen. However, history suggests Millville will be in the mix. McCarthy’s teams have been .500 or better in 40 of the last 42 seasons.

Prediction: Despite losing seven starters from last season, it’s impossible to count out the Bolts. The team’s three top scorers will be back, as well as its starting goalie and other key players. Expect Millville to be at least .500, if not better.


Coach: Laurie Abbott (1st season, 0-0-0)

Conference: CAL National I

Group: II South

Last year: 13-7

Returning starters: 4

Key players: Elena Sneathen (Sr., G); Kaitlin Wilson (Sr., F); Alaina Seyler (Sr., F); Alexandra Zanghi (Sr., B).

Top newcomers: Samantha Monfredo (Soph., M); Ashley Julia (Sr., F); Nicole Mitchell (Sr., F).

Outlook: Buena will be going through plenty of big changes this season.

After 37 years led by coach Barbara Meyrick, Abbott takes over the program for her first season. Meyrick won 245 games in her career, with a 13-7 record last season that was tied for the school’s all-time best and gave the Chiefs a share of the Cape-Atlantic National I title. But a new coach and just four starters remaining from that team means it will take a lot of hard work to match last season’s success.

Buena does have one of the area’s best goaltenders in Sneathen. She stopped 137 shots and recorded seven shutouts in 2012. The Chiefs also have Wilson back, who finished with eight goals. However, Buena will still have to find a way to replace a combined 30 goals lost from the graduation of Casey Sturts and Carly Linus.

Prediction: With so many big changes, it’s likely that Buena will take a step back this year. Abbott is implementing a new system and is working with an entirely different starting lineup. Expect Buena to be competitive and play spoiler for a lot of teams. And if things fall their way, a .500 record may not be out of reach.


Coach: Dannon Mehaffey (4th season, 4-44-1)

Conference: CAL National I

Group: III South

Last year: 1-17

Returning starters: 10

Key players: Claudia Hawse (Sr., M); Deja Mosley (Jr., F); Destiny Thompson (Jr., D); Sydney Hall (Jr., G).

Top newcomers: Kimberly Pantaleon (Soph., M/D); Tajeh Moreno (Fr., M).

Outlook: The Bulldogs bring back nearly their entire starting lineup from last year as they continue to build up the program. Bridgeton needs that experience to go a long way, especially for a team that only scored four goals last season.

Mehaffey said the team has played aggressive in the preseason, and that the players’ skills have improved too. An interesting storyline to follow will be Hall. After playing defense last season, the junior will be the starting goalie this fall.

Prediction: The Bulldogs should be more competitive this year. However, the program is still probably not ready to take that next step and be in the mix for a divisional title. However, if the team continues to build chemistry on the field and can find a way to finish inside the circle, Bridgeton may pick up a few more W’s this season.


Coach: Dana Meyers (4th season, 12-37-2)

Conference: Tri-County Conference Diamond Division

Group: III South

Last year: 3-14-1

Returning starters: 5

Key players: Alyssa Anderson (Sr., F); Raykena Brown (Sr., F); Jenna Falzone (Sr., B); Sarah Smith (Jr., M); Courtney Birdsall (Jr., G).

Top newcomers: Jordana Ambrose (Fr., F); Courtney DiAgostino (Fr., M).

Outlook: After hovering around three to four wins over the last three seasons, Cumberland has higher expectations for this season. Meyers said her girls worked hard over the summer and that the Colts could be a .500 team this year.

The Colts have been strong on defense the last two seasons, with five shutouts over that span. The key to success for Cumberland will be finishing in the circle. They’ll need more than the 13 goals they put in last year to reach Meyer’s expectations of a .500 record.

Prediction: Although the Colts bring back just five starters, the team has 12 letterwinners returning this season. That experience, along with its disciplined defense and possibly more scoring, could make the Colts a surprise team in the area.


Coach: Meg Unger (26th season, 204-148-60)

Conference: TCC Royal

Group: III South

Last year: 10-10-1

Returning starters: 8

Key players: Lexi Brown (Jr., F); Emily Mancini (Sr., M); Destini Parker (Soph., F); Lacy Spinelli (Jr., F); Olivia Hennelly (Jr., F).

Top newcomers: Danielle Ziegler (Sr., G); Aybrie Weyhmiller (Jr., M/B).

Outlook: After a playoff run that went into the quarterfinal round of the Group III South tournament, Delsea looks to improve on its success from last year. Whether or not the team takes that next step will depend on how much, and how quickly, the Crusaders can get on the scoreboard, Unger said.

Delsea put in 32 goals last season, led by Brown who notched nine. Unger wants her team to score even more this year, and register them earlier. Parker and Mancini will try to contribute to that chore, as they scored six apiece in 2012.

Prediction: By returning much of last year’s starting lineup, and its three leading scorers, Delsea could be ready for another deep playoff run. The Crusaders will get tough competition from Kingsway and Clearview in the Royal Division, but expect Delsea to be .500 or better.


Coach: Mary Brown

Conference: Tri-County Diamond

Group: I South

Last year: 9-9-1

Returning starters: 5

Key players: Paxton Allen (Jr., G); CeCe Sharp (Sr., M); Ciera Ismail (Sr., M); Maddie Richie (Soph., G); Taylor Hughes (Sr., M/F); Victoria Lovelle (Sr., D); Cierra Savidge (Sr., D); Maritza Philbert (Sr., D).

Outlook: The Cougars welcome back Brown to the sidelines. The former Schalick standout player and coach was pressed into duty when Lauren Frazier accepted a physical education job at Hammonton.

The Cougars have established themselves as a player in the Group I South scene in recent years, but will need to step up their game if they want to stay there.

Schalick returns a solid defense, anchored by Allen between the pipes. Ismail is a standout player in the midfield with blazing speed and smooth stick skills. Brown will call upon a strong senior class to provide leadership to the younger players.

Prediction: While Schalick may struggle against the perennial powers in the conference and Group I South, the Cougars should challenge the .500 mark and maybe even win more if they can put the ball in the cage with consistency.


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