BORDENTOWN — There are elements to building a field hockey dynasty.
First, you need great players. Shore Regional has that. Second, you need great coaches. Shore Regional definitely has that too. And finally, you need a little luck, which Shore Regional creates with superior play in big games.
So, Saturday, Nov. 14 at Bordentown Regional High School was just another game for Shore Regional, the defending NJSIAA Group I state champion. But this year, the opponent was different but the result was the same as the Blue Devils defeated newcomer Haddonfield, 3-0, to win the NJSIAA Group I state title.
“It is a familiar situation for a lot of the upper classmen but for the younger girls it is a new team. So every time we get here, you can’t underestimate anyone,” Senior Jessica Welch said. “You have to come in with a calm head and stay composed throughout the game because there are so many factors. You can’t just assume you are going to win.”
And Welch took those words to heart by making sure the Blue Devils (22-4) got off to a good start. On a penalty corner play with 6:35 left in the first half, senior Annie Deusch passed the ball in the circle to Welch, who scored to put the Blue Devils up 1-0.
And that goal was truly all Shore needed to win the Group I state title, which was the program’s third in a row and 15th overall. Saturday, Nov. 14, also marked the second time in the program’s illustrious history that the Blue Devils won three state titles in a row after accomplishing the feat once before from 1992-1994.
“Although the press (media) might pick us to win, we always respect our competitor and believe they are going to challenge us especially in a state championship game,” Shore Regional field hockey coach Kelly Koenig said. “No one is going to let you get anything.”
And Haddonfield (21-2) didn’t surrender the game even though the Bulldogs fell behind 1-0. The Bulldogs finished with a 19-14 advantage on shots, which forced Shore Regional’s talented senior goalie Sarah Dwyer (13 saves) to spring into action.
While Dwyer and Shore’s defense kept Haddonfield off the scoreboard, the offense kicked into high gear in the second half. First, Abby Kopec scored on a penalty corner play as Welch had the assist with 26:40 left in the second half. Next, Welch scored her second goal from a pass from Deusch with 19:54 left in the second half as the Blue Devils inched closer to the milestone moment.
“Success isn’t given. It is earned,” Deusch said. “The past three years that we’ve won the state title, everyone has worked so hard to win those games. And that is the outcome of working hard.”
Shore Regional will represent Group 1 in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions on Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. against Eastern at West Windsor Plainsboro North High School.
Shore 3, Haddonfield 0
Haddonfield (21-2) 0-0= 0
Shore (22-4) 1-2=3
Haddonfield – Megan Maynes 11
Shore – Sarah Dwyer 13
S – Jessica Welch (Annie Deusch) 23:25
S – Abby Kopec (Jessica Welch) 33:20
S – Jessica Welch (Annie Deusch) 40:06
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