Old Bridge seniors excited for field hockey season

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Now is the time for the senior class to cap their field hockey careers in style.

Old Bridge High School will have eight senior players this year. They are all multi-year starters. Four have been starting on varsity since their freshman year, 2015.

The Knights are experienced, and good.

In 2017, Old Bridge reached the semifinals of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament and of the North Jersey, Group 4 state sectional tournament.

Nine starters return for 2018, the eight seniors and one junior. After multiple years together, they are confident.

As freshmen in 2015, they beat the seniors in a scrimmage and began taking over the starting lineup. Since then, they have lifted Old Bridge from a three-victory team in 2015 to a state title contender. They are ready for a banner send-off as seniors.   

Old Bridge starts the 2018 field hockey season on Sept. 4 at South Brunswick High School.

“It’s very exciting. We have a lot going for us right now. If we put the puzzle pieces together and execute, we’ll have a good season,” said Old Bridge coach Danielle Toth. “I’m hoping to go deep in GMCs and states, but it’s in the girls’ hands.”

“We are going to accomplish what we’ve wanted since we were freshmen. GMC champs,” said senior center midfielder Abigail Zimmerlink.

“I feel like this year is our year,” said senior goalie Emma Bennett.

Toth’s puzzle pieces are all established varsity players.

Senior forward Mikayla VanHorn posted 25 goals and seven assists in 2017. She has 51 career goals. Zimmerlink registered nine goals and 13 assists last fall.

They were Old Bridge’s big scorers. But the Knights have a lot of options. Alexis Zimmerlink and Alyahna Marrero added six and five goals, respectively. Zimmerlink also assisted on four goals.

“I have a lot of people who can score, which is amazing. You usually don’t get that,” Toth said. “And it’s not just one or two goals.”

Old Bridge is just as talented and experienced in the back. Marrero, Isabella Marte and Paulina Piekiewcv started on defense last year.

“Defensively we’re very strong. Isabella stepped up in the center role last year. Alyahna too,” Toth said. “Paulina was a newcomer and she really stepped up as a right back.”

Toth also returns two seniors goalies, Bennett and Madyson Gray. Bennett started last year, but Gray played a lot, too.

“We are very lucky to have two talented goalies back,” Toth said. “It’s very close between them. The preseason will be a very interesting time.”

Old Bridge only has one group with limited experience, its midfielders. The projected starters are juniors.

“They are versatile,” Toth said. “I’ve used them in many different positions.”

Other than that, Old Bridge is already a complete team.

“Our offense is very strong and our defense is very strong,” Van Horn said.

“We don’t have one weak link,” Marrero added.

“And all of us make each other better,” Marte said. “We practice hard all the time, so we are getting the most out of every practice.”

The seniors are not just trying to have a memorable 2018. They want to leave a legacy with their younger teammates.

“We start running and training in June, right before school ends,” Van Horn said. “Once July comes around we run every morning, six times a week. Then we have practices at night two times a week.”

“We just make sure to push the underclassmen to be at our level and never slack off,” Gray said. “The way you practice is the way you play. Toth puts that in our heads.”