Jackson Township teams look ready for another successful fall campaign

Scott Jacobs
Jackson Memorial High School's Natalie Knauf (15) clears a ball down the field during an away game against Howell High School on Sept 12. The Jackson Memorial Jaguars went on to win the game 3-0.

Both Jackson Township high schools, Jackson Liberty High School and Jackson Memorial High School, had a group of successful varsity sports teams last fall.

The Jackson Liberty girls’ soccer, field hockey and girls’ volleyball teams all finished above .500 and made the NJSIAA playoffs. The Jackson Memorial girls’ soccer, field hockey and girls’ tennis squads all did the same.

Each program brings back enough talent to compete again in 2019. With the fall season about a month away, here’s a brief preview of the upcoming campaign for these six Jackson Township programs.

The Tri-Town News has already previewed the Jackson Memorial football and boys’ soccer teams’ upcoming seasons, so now her is a look at the other successful Jackson scholastic teams from last fall.

Jackson Liberty Girls’ Soccer

In 2018, the Jackson Liberty girls’ soccer team went 10-8-1 and reached the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 3 sectional tournament quarterfinals, losing to Brick Township High School, 6-1.

The Lions won with offense last fall, scoring multiple goals in nine of their 10 victories. But all of their top scorers are gone now.

This year’s team will have to depend more on senior goalkeeper Kayla Nelson, a capable returning starter who made 68 saves in 2018.

Jackson Liberty will open its season on Sept. 5 at rival Jackson Memorial.

Jackson Liberty Field Hockey

These Lions finished 9-6-1 and advanced to the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 sectional tournament quarterfinals in 2018, falling to Robbinsville High School, 3-0.

Leading scorer Natalie Wood, who notched 13 goals a year ago, is back for 2019. So is third leading scorer Samantha Granza, who recorded four goals last fall.

Jackson Liberty will begin its season on Sept. 5 at Pinelands Regional High School in Tuckerton.

Jackson Liberty Girls’ Volleyball 

A year ago, the Jackson Liberty girls’ volleyball team recorded a 15-9 record and qualified for the NJSIAA Group 2 Tournament, losing in the first round to Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest, 2-0.

All of the key contributors are back from that strong team. That group includes ace leader Sam Hills, service points leader Riley Elias and kills leader Skylar Kowalski.

The Lions should take a step forward in 2019. Their new season will start on Sept. 3 at Toms River High School South.

Jackson Memorial Girls’ Soccer 

Last fall, this squad went 9-7-2 and got all the way to the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament quarterfinals, falling to Eastern Regional High School, 5-0.

Jackson Memorial should be able to build on that success in 2019. Its top scorers, Jessica Wanzor and Natalie Knauf, and its two goaltenders, Brooke McKown and Kristina Donza, are all returning for the upcoming season.

The Jaguars will open their new campaign on Sept. 3 at home versus Pinelands Regional.

Jackson Memorial Field Hockey

The Jackson Memorial field hockey team had a great year in 2018, going 13-5-2 and reaching the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament championship game, losing to Rancocas Valley Regional High School, 4-0.

The team’s goal this year is obviously to finish the job, and it may just be able to. Four of the team’s top five scorers, Claudia DiStaso, Kyra McKeegan, Sara Floyd and Mackenzie Dakin, are back for 2019. Starting goalkeeper Mildred Trembley is also returning.

Jackson Memorial will start its season on Sept. 3 at home against Freehold Township High School.

Jackson Memorial Girls’ Tennis 

The Jackson Memorial girls’ tennis team was just as good as the school’s field hockey team a year ago, finishing 17-3 and advancing to the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 3 sectional tournament championship, losing to West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North, 4-1.

In 2019, the Jaguars will have to replace a singles player and three of four doubles players.    But they will bring back their top two singles players in No. 1 Kaitlyn O’Connor and No. 2 Hannah O’Connor. And those are the most important spots on any high school tennis team.

Jackson Memorial will begin its new season in late August.