By Matthew Rocco
In 2015, the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School field hockey team won its second straight Shore Conference Tournament (SCT) championship, which was just the second in school history.
The Bulldogs, armed with a long list of returning players, are in the mix to compete for a third SCT win this season. With a win over a Shore Conference powerhouse, their quest got off to the right start.
Rumson-Fair Haven opened the new season facing Shore Regional High School, the defending NJSIAA Group I champion, and came away with a down-to-the-wire victory. Off a penalty corner, junior Makenna Maguire received a pass from sophomore Ana Claire Piacentini in the circle and knocked the ball into the net, giving the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead with 22 minutes to go.
No lead is safe against a team like the Blue Devils, but the Bulldogs kept their opponent off-guard with plenty of defensive pressure. Shore Regional managed only seven shots on goal compared to the Bulldogs’ 16 shots. A strong showing by the defense, plus five saves by senior goalie Alexandria DeVito, secured a 2-0 shutout for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs got on the board late in the first half on a goal by junior Lily Croddick.
Rumson-Fair Haven (3-1) followed its season-opening win over the Blue Devils with shutout victories against Red Bank Regional High School and Raritan High School. The Bulldogs lost to Moorestown High School in an out-of-conference matchup, 3-2.
The Bulldogs had 17 shutouts in 2015, when they posted a dominant 21-1 record. Their one loss came in the Central Jersey, Group II finals against a top-seeded Wall High School, which won the sectional title game, 1-0. Rumson-Fair Haven has unfinished business this season, and the team has 11 players back from last year’s SCT-winning club to help the Bulldogs advance deeper into the postseason.
Maguire, a midfielder, and Croddick, a Stanford University-bound forward, lead the team alongside DeVito and junior midfielder and defender Kaitlyn MacGillis, who is committed to Cornell University. Those four veterans are captains this season.
The Bulldogs’ supporting cast includes Piacentini and fellow sophomores Bridy Molyneaux and Elena Werner. Emma Damelio, Julia Hearn, Elizabeth Horan and Megan MacGillis comprise the team’s junior class.
Under head coach Julie Brewington, the Bulldogs went 64-4-3 over the past three seasons. Rumson-Fair Haven recorded three state sectional championships and one group title to go with its two SCT trophies.