Tuckerton Leader

Pinelands Field Hockey Has Holes to Fill But Still a Contender

Sep 07, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Pinelands senior Rachel Papernik

Losing a few players from a 12-5 team isn’t a big deal for some field hockey programs. But if one of those players was among the best goaltenders in the Shore Conference, filling that void can present a challenge.

With Julia Kline now at Longwood University, Pinelands Regional field hockey head coach Liz Law has to figure out who will anchor the defense in between the pipes. The choices are senior Ally Vezos, mostly known for her ability with a bat during softball season; or sophomore Mickenzie Horay. Both are newcomers to the varsity squad this season.

Still, whichever goalie Law chose to face the fire against Shore Conference Class B South rival Jackson Liberty in the season opener on Sept. 6, she was going to have a good crew in front of her, even without two solid players graduated from last year’s division-winning squad: Brianna Suralik and Madison Hawkins.

“This year we will be working hard to come back as division champions,” said Law, the fifth-year coach whose team has won or shared division crowns for three straight seasons. “We lost a few key players but have girls who are stepping in to fill those roles. And we have a lot of adaptable players and girls who can play fluidly together.”

No doubt about that. The Wildcats have returned 11 players who either started or played significant minutes in backup roles last fall, and the defense should be really solid this season.

Leading the charge on defense will be seniors Katie Keeney and Kamryn Levance, along with juniors Sarah Keady, Sam Kline, Alyssa Rodriguez and Hailey Nutt. Sophomore Kennedy Heinrichs also is expected to see some time on defense.

But the bigger question will not be whether Pinelands can stay in games defensively. Rather, the question mark primarily lands on whether the Wildcats will be able to score goals in significant numbers to knock off the other prominent teams in B South.

With Suralik’s scoring punch now at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Pinelands has to rely more heavily on players who were developing their experience a year ago. Senior Brianna Triebel had a solid season a year ago and will be at the forefront of the attack this fall, alongside sophomore Jamilynn Hawkins and freshman Kamryn Borden.

The midfield will be led by senior Rachel Papernik, who last season burst onto the scene and became one of Pinelands’ big guns on offense. She will be joined by junior Adrian Dieckman and sophomore Karianna Eagle, both whom fared well during significant roles last fall.

After opening up against Jackson Liberty, the Wildcats were scheduled to travel to Lakewood on Sept. 7, before returning home on Wednesday, Sept. 12, to take on Manchester.

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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