An improved defense is the goal for Saint John Vianney High School, while gaining experience is the task at Red Bank Regional High School.
Those were the rallying calls for both field hockey teams when they met on Oct. 11 in Holmdel.
Saint John Vianney emerged as the 9-1 winner on its home field.
“Our expectations are to at least get through the first round of the Shore Conference Tournament, as well as qualify for the state tournament,” coach Gabrielle Burgo of Saint John Vianney said.
The Lancers received the No. 14 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament but were unable to get past No. 19 seed Henry Hudson Regional High School in the preliminary round on Oct. 14. Saint John Vianney fell by a 4-1 score in Holmdel, dropping its record to 8-7 on the season.
Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School received the top seed in the tournament.
In order for Saint John Vianney to move forward with its eyes on the state tournament, Burgo is requiring that her Lancers step up on defense.
“We need to improve on protecting the cage defensively,” Burgo said. “Also, not giving up defensive corners, and we need more scoring on offensive corners.”
The coach likes how her offense is coming together.
Junior center forward Lauren Tuschmann was the ringleader of the Saint John Vianney offense against Red Bank Regional, as she amassed four goals.
Teammates Caryn McGrory, Grace Langdon, Aleeyah Goode, Ashley Casucci and Jackie Ballarino each contributed one one goal. Tuschmann and Goode ended with two assists each, and Dominque Patella added another helper.
“We passed the ball down the field with intensity,” Burgo said. “When we got into the circle, we were able to finish the ball.”
“I think our team played well together,” Tuschmann said. “We got a lot of good passes and played well as a team.”
Tushmann believes some more precise hits on offense will help.
“I want to improve on my hits — definitely on my corners and my hits offensively,” she said.
Red Bank Regional coach Whitney Breckenridge and junior right forward Penelope Buchanan remain positive despite the Buccaneers’ falling to 1-11 with the defeat to Saint John Vianney. Buchanan scored the loan goal for the Buccaneers.
“They were communicating a lot today on the field, which was good,” Breckenridge said about her team’s performance against the Lancers. “We saw a lot of leadership from our underclassmen like Penelope, which was a plus. We couldn’t really put it all together today, but we saw a lot of good passing, leadership and communication today.”
“We definitely have stepped it up since last year,” Buchanan said. “We have a lot more teamwork; we’re a lot closer. We just haven’t gotten the outcomes we wanted. But next year, we’re optimistic. We’re hoping for that better record.”
Red Bank Regional finished last season with a 6-11-1 record.
Buchanan and her coach both believe the team’s defense will be a point of emphasis going forward.
“Definitely, defensively, marking is something that we’re still struggling to work on,” Breckenridge said. “But I think that will come in time. We have a younger team. We only have four seniors this year, but we have about seven or eight juniors for next year and a lot of freshmen and sophomores behind that. So we have a young team, and we just have to work on the maturity on the field.”
“We definitely need to work on our marking,” Buchanan said. “We definitely need to work on our offensive push down there. We just can’t get [the ball] in. But we can improve, so we will.”
They are hopeful for a strong finish to the season.
“All of the games that we have left are winnable,” Breckenridge said. “So for the rest of the year, we want to see an increase in our intensity in the circle, which will hopefully lead to more points on the board at the end of the game.”
“We just need to get our heads in the game,” Buchanan said. “We need to want it, and I think it’s possible that we can win all of our remaining games.”
The Buccaneers fell to Red Bank Catholic High School, 5-1, at home on Oct. 14. They were scheduled to travel to St. Rose High School in Belmar on Oct. 16 before returning home against Manasquan High School on Oct. 18.
Red Bank Regional visits Monmouth Regional High School in Tinton Falls on Oct. 20 and Ranney School in Tinton Falls on Oct. 23. Both games are at 4 p.m.