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Allentown field hockey off to strong start in defense of division title

Scott Jacobs
Allentown High School Girls Field Hockey Head Coach Mary Ellen McCarthy explains the next drill at practice on August 23, 2017

Allentown High School opened up its field hockey season in dominant fashion with a 6-0 victory over Hamilton High School West.

That home game on Sept. 7 featured a hat trick by Allentown’s Mary Bellotti and two-assist games for both Sierra Wojcik, and Brielle Uher, who also scored a goal. MacKenzie Hultberg and Alex Pritchard both found the back of the net once as well.

Goalkeeper Katie White only had to make one save for the shutout.

The rout was not surprising for Allentown. Last year, the Lady Redbirds won the Valley Division of the Colonial Valley Conference (CVC) with a 12-5 record and made it to the semifinals in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 3 tournament. The team also made it to the Mercer County Tournament semifinals.

The Redbirds hoped to eclipse their success from last year, and that triumph against division rival Hamilton West was a great start to the 2017 campaign.

Allentown’s second game of the season was a memorable one as well, albeit it in a much tougher match.

In Allentown, the Redbirds were locked in a battle with Shore Regional High School on Sept. 9.

Fourth-year Shore Regional coach Kelly Koenig was matched up against Allentown coaching legend Mary Ellen McCarthy, who returned to the sidelines this year after retiring in 2014. Allentown coach Dana Wells is on maternity leave this year.

In a tightly contested bout, the Blue Devils were able to come away with a narrow 1-0 victory. Shore Regional forward Talia Cantaffa scored off a corner from midfielder Abby Kopec. White made 20 saves in the losing effort in goal for Allentown.

For Allentown, the loss dropped the Redbirds to 1-1 on the young season. McCarthy’s expectations remained the same, even after the loss.

“The goal is always to improve on what you did last year,” McCarthy said. “They made it to the [semifinals] last year, so we want to be able to compete for the division again, Mercy County Tournament championship and then make it far into the Central Jersey tournament. They won the Mercer County Tournament in 2014, so they want to win that again. We want to win the Central Jersey tournament, so if they can make it to the final, that’s a successful season.”

The Redbirds will continue to try to build on the highs and lows of last week’s games as the season rolls on. Allentown is still a favorite to win the Valley Division.

Allentown’s next two games are on the road. It faces Steinert High School on Sept. 15 at 4 p.m. and Toms River High School North the following day at 10 a.m.

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