Holmdel: With “Count Stormula” heading our way, field hockey supporters from both Rumson and Shore Regional met at Holmdel High School for the Championship game of the Shore Conference Tournament on Saturday, October 27th. Although slated to play each other earlier in the season, the natural rivalry between these two Field Hockey powerhouses never happened. The mystique surrounding this game added to the tension that was in the air.
Although seemingly confident, several parents from Shore Regional and Rumson openly talked about their levels of excitement, assurance, and fear going into the mid-morning contest. Although parents from both sides refused to comment on the records, it was clear that there was a lot of worry on both sides of the field before and during the game.
The game itself started out very quickly with both teams moving the ball from end to end. Neither team had a real scoring opportunity because the game was being called very closely. Depending who you asked, and which side you rooted for, the referees were call incidentals and letting major penalties slide. It was clear, for the first half at least, that the referees were letting the girls play the game.
At 23:35, Shore Regional was awarded a penalty shot, which would be the first real scoring opportunity of the game. With a swing of the stick Carol Middough, pinged the ball off the left post, keeping the score knotted as zero.
At 22:12, scored what would be the first goal of the game; unfortunately, it was called off because the shot was deflected off a Rumson player’s foot and into the net. The score was still 0 – 0 and the tension was beginning to boil.
At 7:48 in the fist half, Rumson broke through, setting one past a diving Shannon Johnson. Though disappointed, the Blue Devil’s recomposed themselves by quickly and efficiently pushing the ball the Bull Dawgs’ zone.
After being down 1 – 0, Shore kept pressing, and pressing keeping Rumson in their own end. Their efforts were rewarded with another penalty shot at 3:42 left in the period.
With the ball placed on the marker, and the goalie set, Shore Regional called on Carol Middough to take her second penalty shot of the half. Using all her might, and bit of backspin, and some Shore Regional luck, the ball trickled past the goalie, tying the score at 1 – 1.
Less than two minutes later, Shore’s relentless attack left Carol Middough open in the slot, where she blasted the ball from the point past the goalie and into the net. Shore’s lead was now 2 -1.
The second half continued with back and fourth play. However, it was clear that neither side was happy with the number of whistles and stoppages of play. Both teams were having a hard time creating flow, thus interrupting any offensive rhythm.
Although choppy, there were burst of action by both teams; however, Rumson seemed to have the advantage during the second half. Even though they were on the offensive most of the period, Shore kept their opposition at bay by playing shut-down defense and clearing the ball to the sides as much as possible.
At one point, Rumson had three consecutive corners, all of which were scoring opportunities. Shore’s ability to shut them out time in and time out was the turning point of the second half, and arguably the game.
The last five minutes of the game flew. Players from both sides were visibly tired from playing such a high-paced and emotional game. This is not to say that anyone quit, but rather it is a testament of how much emotion, physical endurance, and strength this game took out of each player.
With seconds winding down, Nancy Williams, her assistant coaches, and fellow team members knew that they were going to win their fourteenth consecutive Shore Conference Championship.
When the game was over, the girls from Shore celebrated near midfield, while the girls from Rumson stood watching. Within two minutes the teams and coaches shook hands at midfield, sealing the end of the tournament.
After the game was over the team was presented with the trophy and the team posed for photos for several minutes.
Parents, family, friends, and sports lovers alike saw a great game. Regardless of sides, this matchup was just what the Shore Conference had envisioned when the tournament started.
Shore Regional starts their run to the State Championships sometime next week. The dates are TBD due to hurricane Sandy. Once an announcement is made, Word On The Shore will post the day, date, and time.