Pinelands Field Hockey Team Bounces Back From Loss With Three Straight Shutouts

Sep 26, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Jamilyn Hawkins advances the ball on offense during the Pinelands Regional field hockey team’s 2-0 victory over Toms River North on Sept. 22.

Following a 3-0 start, the Pinelands Regional field hockey team was knocked back a step on Sept. 14 during a 2-0 loss to Shore Conference Class B South rival Point Pleasant Borough.

“That was our wake-up call,” said senior Rachel Papernik, who scored the second of the Wildcats’ two goals with 10 minutes left on Sept. 22, as Pinelands upended Toms River North, 2-0. “The loss to Borough put a spark up our butts, and now we can use it for motivation for the rest of the season.”

Of course, the best way to come back from a shutout loss is to shut out your next opponent. Pinelands did that on Sept. 20 against Donovan Catholic – bouncing the Griffins, 6-0. But going up against a formidable opponent from the A South division was a solid test to see if the Wildcats had indeed turned things around.

They definitely passed the test.

“Defensively, our communication was really good,” said senior goaltender Ally Vezos, who decided to play field hockey for the first time this season and has been nothing but stellar thus far. “We did a great job with our blocking tackles and everybody worked super hard at keeping the ball away from the front of the goal.”

The Mariners had a few penalty corners during the first half, and then mustered a few more in the second half, but the defense, anchored by Kamryn Levance and Katie Keeney, did a great job of limiting North mostly to sharp-angle shots Vezos easily could see. Meanwhile, the Wildcats (6-1) continually peppered the opposing goalie and with 14:34 to go in the first half took the only lead they needed.

During a corner opportunity, Sarah Keady played the ball out to Karianna Eagle along the right side of the circle. Eagle delivered a ball to the far post through traffic and Adrian Dieckman was there to sweep the ball into the right side of the goal.

Pinelands kept up the attack in the second half, again utilizing excellent play through the midfield to develop scoring chances. Eventually, the Wildcats broke through one more time when Papernik swiped a ball from an opposing defender near the top of the circle, worked the ball forward a few yards and unleashed a hammer shot which sent the ball sizzling past a pair of defenders and into the right side of the goal.

“Our passing was really good today, along with our communication,” Papernik said. “We really worked the ball well on offense and got the goals we needed.”

Despite an increase in North’s desperation, Vezos and the Wildcats’ defenders kept the Mariners’ side of the scoreboard lit up with a goose egg. Vezos ended up with six saves.

“Toms River North is a great A South team and we knew they’d be very good,” she said. “This is a big win after losing to Borough.”

Going through Donovan Catholic seemed easy enough, as Pinelands fired 24 shots on goal. Brianna Triebel scored the first three of the contest – all within a 3:09 span – while Papernik, who assisted on two of Triebel’s goals, delivered the next three. Jamilyn Hawkins, who coach Liz Law said has been playing outstanding so far, assisted on Triebel’s third goal.

On Monday, Sept. 24, Dieckman started the scoring with 7:16 left in the first half, before Pinelands exploded for three more cage rattlers during the final 5:2. Papernik banged in a pair of unassisted goals to make it 3-0 and Hailey Nutt capped the scoring off an assist from Hawkins with 1:57 left. Vezos needed just two saves for the shutout – the Wildcats’ fifth of the season.

“What we’re really waiting for is consistency,” Law said. “But not consistency in their playing ability and skill, but instead bringing the same energy they had today to every game. We want them to become consistent in their confidence, knowing that they can get out there and play with anybody, but if they get schooled on something they will come right back and play through it with confidence.”

— David Biggy

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