By Matthew Rocco
The Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School field hockey team’s postseason run ended in the NJSIAA Group II finals, but there’s likely more to come from these Bulldogs.
Playing in the group championship held at Bordentown Regional High School, the Bulldogs were stuck in a 2-0 deficit at halftime, and West Essex High School tacked on another goal to open up a three-goal lead. Rumson-Fair Haven kept things close, as Lily Croddick and Elena Werner scored a goal apiece.
The Bulldogs’ offensive attack ultimately came up short in a 5-2 loss that propelled West Essex to the Group II title.
“It was tough because we really started to battle in the second half. It was sort of too little, too late,” head coach Julie Brewington said.
Despite the outcome Nov. 12, the 2016 season was a successful campaign for a Bulldogs team that dropped just two games: an early-season loss to Moorestown High School and the Group II championship game against West Essex.
To kick off tournament play, Rumson-Fair Haven won its third Shore Conference Tournament in a row. The Bulldogs survived a 1-0 battle with rival Shore Regional High School, joining the Blue Devils as the only programs to post a three-peat in the tournament.
The Bulldogs proceeded to work their way through the state tournament. After knocking out Lawrence High School and Robbinsville High School, the second-seeded Bulldogs scored five times with five different players to topple Wall High School for a sectional title. Croddick, Emma D’Amelio, Kaitlyn MacGillis, Makenna Maguire and Bridy Molyneaux all scored to carry the Bulldogs to a 5-2 win in the Central Jersey, Group II finals.
Rumson-Fair Haven advanced to the Group II title game by edging West Deptford High School, 2-1, in the semifinals.
The Bulldogs expect to welcome back several key players following the team’s 22-2 season, including most of the starting lineup from a junior-heavy roster.
Croddick, a Stanford University-bound forward and a team captain in 2016, is slated to return next season. Fellow captains Maguire, a junior midfielder, and MacGillis, a junior midfielder and defender who committed to Cornell University, are also sticking around.
The Bulldogs have high hopes for 2017. Not only will the team have a deep pool of seniors, but those Bulldogs battled through plenty of high-pressure games as sophomores and juniors.
“[The Group II final] was a great game and a great experience for the girls. Being in that kind of a championship setting was huge for them. We said after the game that this is where we want to be next year and possibly go even further,” Brewington said.
“A lot of people didn’t expect us to accomplish all that we did this season because we lost a big senior class after last season. They definitely had a great season, and they have a lot to be proud of. We accomplished a lot.”
This year’s senior class was led by goalie Alexandria DeVito, who recorded seven saves against West Essex. DeVito also made a critical stop in the Shore Conference Tournament finals to secure the 1-0 shutout.
“We’ll definitely miss our senior class,” Brewington said. “They brought a lot to the program and played with a lot of heart.”