Barnegat Field Hockey Team Falls Short Against Lacey in State Tourney

Oct 24, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Barnegat defender Alayna Galati helps prevent a Lacey goal during the Bengals 1-0 loss to the Lions in the first round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II tournament on Oct. 23.

In the state tournament, a bad bounce here or an errant shot there can end a field hockey team’s run very quickly. Barnegat’s young team learned that lesson the hard way on Oct. 23, as the Bengals lost a 1-0, overtime contest against Lacey during the first round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II tourney.

“We just got unlucky,” said coach Jaime DiStefano, whose squad dipped to 10-8-1 with a divisional matchup with Jackson Liberty still to play. “There’s not much else to say about it. We played well. Our defense was really good. We were unlucky today.”

During the two regular-season contests within the Shore Conference Class B South season, the Bengals lost by a goal in overtime and tied the Lions. On Tuesday, the unlikely occurrence of beating a team three times in a season bit the Bengals, despite a fairly even matchup.

Throughout the first half, the 10th-seeded Lions maintained sustained pressure on the Barnegat defense, securing four penalty corner opportunities during the first 13 minutes and pinning the seventh-seeded Bengals in their end for minutes at a time.

However, at one key juncture – with just under three minutes left in the first half – Barnegat had two players sitting on the sidelines for nearly two minutes due to penalties. The Bengals fought off Lacey’s two-player advantage and managed to escape the first half with a scoreless tie.

“Our defense has been solid all season, even on corners,” DiStefano said. “Last season, I felt that was the downfall of the team, so we focused a lot on improving our defense this year. Today, our girls played really well in the back.”

Unfortunately, the problem for the Bengals was more on offense – particularly maintaining possession for long stretches and developing sustained pressure on the Lacey defense. Still, Barnegat had a great opportunity to end the game in regulation time.

With 7:05 left, one of the Lions was sent off with a five-minute penalty, and almost two minutes later another was sent off for two minutes, giving the Bengals a two-player advantage until the 3:19 mark and a one-player advantage until the 2:05 mark. But Barnegat didn’t register a shot during the power play, and during the final four minutes the Bengals were awarded three corner chances but weren’t able to get the ball on goal.

“Keeping control was our problem today,” DiStefano said. “We couldn’t contain their big hits, and at times we tried to match their big hits, which isn’t our game.”

Nearly five minutes into overtime, which is played 7-on-7, the Lions ended it. On a penalty corner, the ball was worked toward the goal, and a bit of scramble developed in front of Barnegat goaltender Patricia Tanola. Camille Tomko banged the ball into the cage for the win.

DiStefano expects her young group to bounce back and get better from the loss, especially as they look toward next season when the Bengals return all but one player, senior defender Alayna Galati.

“We definitely have room to improve, and this is a building block for next year,” DiStefano said. “We have the second-most wins in the program’s history. We’ve lost only to good teams and haven’t played down to anybody this season. And next season, we’ll have 11 experienced seniors back. I’m already confident about next season.”

— David Biggy

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