EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — An hour or so ride to Egg Harbor Township, then waiting another hour for the junior varsity game to finish up didn't seem to affect the West Deptford field hockey team on Thursday evening. The Eagles came out hot, scoring five first-half goals — including the first four by senior captain Miranda Mason — en route to a pretty comfortable 8-0 win over EHT's Eagles.
"We've been off-and-on lately, but most games we're quick to score. We knew before we got on the bus that we would be playing (after the JV), and we kind of enjoyed it rather than them having to play after us," Mason said.
Mason said West Deptford has been inconsistent lately, but the ship seems to be steadying lately as it has ripped off three straight wins following a 1-0 home loss against Kingsway on Sept. 15. During the three-game winning streak, West Deptford has outscored Collingswood, Overbrook and EHT 20-2.
"We've been talking a lot about "Team 18" and trying to form our team, and I think this game really showed a lot. We played with a lot of teamwork today and really came together as one. That's our goal every game, we want to get a lead right away and not give the other team any chance, and not play back or anything, which we've done before but we've learned from our mistakes. Once we're up, we want to keep going until we win," Mason said. "We have a really strong midfield and defense and that's one of the reasons we're a strong team."
West Deptford dominated in the midfield almost from the first whistle, and that put a lot of pressure on EHT's defense and freshman goalie Rebecca Macchia. Macchia played well, though, recording seven saves in the first half (15 overall), and midway through the first half West Deptford led just 3-0. But Mason scored again to push the lead to 4-0, and Brooke Bailey added a tally to give West Deptford a 5-0 advantage at the break. EHT (5-2) never could recover or mount any sustained offensive attack, and coach Kristi Troster-Carelse said her team got a good look at what the next level of field hockey is like in South Jersey.
"That's a really good team. They're a team that's in the running for a state championship every year. We've been struggling a little bit since our Ocean City game (on Sept. 20), so we're trying to get things back on track," the coach said.
"We would have been better off having a test like this at a different point in the season, but it gives us some definite things we need to work on, and now we're in a stretch of our season where we can really work on some of those things to move forward and get better.
"I hope at some point in time we'll be able to get to (West Deptford's) level as a program, they run a good program and have things set up early on (with feeder programs). We played better this year against them than we did last year, so we're already a step in the right direction. I could give our players a list of all the things (West Deptford) does in season, in the offseason — they do all the right things, so at a certain point you have to take a look at yourself and what you're doing, and if it doesn't match that, that's what it's going to take to get there.
"Mentality-wise, it's kind of comparing apples to oranges because they have their program set, it is what it is, and you're either in the boat or out of the boat. That mentality is something we're working toward here. Our girls know they are talented and have a lot of potential in us, but when it comes to playing against teams like this, we have to put our best foot forward. We definitely didn't play our best hockey tonight."
Allison Flynn, Grace Hoelbinger and Kara Yarusso each scored second-half goals to help West Deptford improve to 6-1-1 ahead of a big Saturday matchup at Rancocas Valley. EHT, which is trying to keep pace with Ocean City in the Cape-Atlantic League's American Conference, has a tough matchup against Millville at home on Saturday at noon. Troster-Carelse said she's hoping for a much better start against the Thunderbolts.
"(An early deficit) makes you play more defensive, and that doesn't help you. It creates more gaps on the field, and it actually works against you when your defensive instincts take over," she said. "I tell them you have to have a short-term memory. We have our 'Big Three' things we work on in practice, so we're going to take the three biggest things from this game and work on them because we need to get a win against Millville. You don't forget the sick feeling you have after a loss, especially a bad one, but you have to find a way to put it in its place and move forward."
Contact Dave O'Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays
Tag(s): Home Schools Cape-Atlantic League Colonial Conference West Deptford Egg Harbor Township Field Hockey Cape-Atlantic League American I Egg Harbor Twp. Field Hockey Colonial Conference Liberty West Deptford Field Hockey