Southern Field Hockey Squad Starts Off With Four Victories
Following the Southern Regional field hockey team’s shutout of Jackson Memorial on Sept. 15, the Rams had scored 24 goals and allowed just two during the first four contests of the season. And that was cause for celebration, pasta and chicken style.
“We’re all coming together and working well together right now,” said freshman Mailtand Demand, who had both assists on the Rams’ goals as they knocked off their Shore Conference Class A South rivals, 2-0. “We’ve been capitalizing very well on offense, and everybody on the team has created a lot of good opportunities for the forwards to put the ball in the cage.”
Prior to ousting the Jaguars, Southern shut out Toms River East, 7-0, to start the season on Sept. 9, followed by a 9-2 victory over non-conference foe Oakcrest, 9-2, on Sept. 10, and another shutout, 6-0, over Toms River South on Sept. 13. The Rams’ 3-0 start in A South had them tied with Toms River North, which also is 3-0, atop the division standings with the two scheduled to meet next week.
“This is better than the way I thought we’d start off,” said senior defender Lauryn Flynn, who has been phenomenal so far in leading the team’s defense in front of goaltender Kaitlyn Spaschak, who registered three shutouts in four games. “Starting off 4-0 and scoring so much, while giving up so little, is incredible. I couldn’t imagine a better start to the season.”
Unfortunately, Southern sustained its first loss of the season on Sept. 17 – a 3-2 decision against Freehold in what was an early test to gauge the strength of the Rams within the Shore Conference. Another such test was scheduled for Sept. 21 against Shore Regional.
Against the Colonials, Katlin Conroy and Kelly Fontana each scored second-half goals, but they were nullified by Freehold goals from Alyssa Barba, who scored in the first half to give her squad a 1-0 lead at the half, and from Nicole Fossani. Spaschak and Maddie Leyh combined for seven saves for Southern.
Two days earlier, the Rams dominated for much of the contest, putting several shots on goal during the last 10 minutes of the first half and carrying the momentum into the second.
“We made a couple of little changes with our corners,” Demand said. “We made the adjustments and had our minds set on achieving the win, no matter what. We were more passionate in the second half.”
With 23:31 to go in the game, Demand hit Samantha Minafo with a pass near the left post, and Minafo banged it in from 5 yards away to give the Rams the initial lead. A few minutes later, the Rams converted when Demand corralled a loose ball near the middle of the circle, spun to her right and made a backhanded pass to Minafo, who again was waiting at the left side of the cage to send in her second goal of the game with 20:03 left.
The Jaguars managed a couple of shots on goal late, but the Rams’ defense was stalwart.
“Our chemistry is great right now,” Flynn said. “But we know we can climb higher on the pyramid. We’re definitely going to be facing some difficult teams, and we’re going to do whatever we can to rise to those challenges.”
— David Biggy