HomeHillsborough BeaconHillsborough NewsRaiders surge into sectional quarterfinal with 13-0 victory over Columbia

Raiders surge into sectional quarterfinal with 13-0 victory over Columbia

The Hillsborough High School field hockey team began the NJSIAA North Jersey, Group IV Tournament “on fire” during its first-round matchup against Columbia High School on Nov. 1 in Hillsborough.

No. 3 Hillsborough scored seven goals in the first quarter and rolled to a 13-0 victory over No. 14 Columbia to advance to the sectional quarterfinals for the second straight season.

“It’s a great mood booster to start the tournament,” said coach Jennifer Puritz after the victory over Columbia. “It sets the tone for the rest of the tournament. Getting all those goals in was a great confidence booster for each individual.”

Junior Kaitlyn Williams scored three goals in the first seven minutes of the contest to get the Raiders’ offensive attack started.

Williams tallied two straight goals in the first three minutes of the game to give Hillsborough an early 2-0 lead.

After senior Madelyn Kidd gave Hillsborough a 3-0 lead, Williams struck again moments later to record her first hat trick of the season.

Williams placed herself perfectly in front of the cage to deflect senior Lauren Flynn’s shot in for a goal off the Hillsborough corner attempt to extend the Raiders’ lead to 4-0.

“We really wanted to win (this game). We came out really strong and had that intensity to win (today),” Williams said.

Williams finished with three goals and two assists in the victory over Columbia, giving the junior forward nine goals and a team-high 15 assists this season.

Senior Giulia Cicciari kept the Hillsborough offensive attack “on fire” by scoring two straight goals to give the Raiders a 6-0 lead heading into the final two minutes of the first quarter.

Hillsborough’s explosive first quarter of play was ended in style by sophomore Hannah Bianchino during the final 10 seconds of the quarter.

Bianchino outran a host of Columbia defenders to the box and tapped in the loose ball to cap off the seven-goal display by the Raiders in the first quarter.

The sophomore forward extended the Hillsborough lead to 8-0 by scoring the only goal of the second quarter.

“It’s really exciting to see the whole team work together,” Bianchino said. “As we work together, we’re seeing the opening passes and are able to get (the ball) in the goal.”

Cicciari notched the second hat trick of the contest for Hillsborough in the third quarter, scoring her 11th goal of the season to put the Raiders up 9-0.

Hillsborough took a 10-0 lead into the fourth quarter with Flynn tallying her fourth goal of the season.

Bianchino became the third player to record a hat trick for Hillsborough by extending the lead to 11-0 to begin the fourth quarter. It’s the first time in Bianchino’s career that she has scored three goals in a game.

“It was really exciting to get (a hat trick),” Bianchino said.

With her first hat trick of the season, Bianchino now has a team-high 16 goals on the season and has scored nine over the last night games for Hillsborough. The sophomore also had two assists in the victory.

Bianchino said she has really “enjoyed” seeing all her hard work pay off this fall by having a great first season at the varsity level.

“I work really hard, so it’s really nice,” Bianchino added.

Kidd and senior Kylie Marley tallied the final two goals of the afternoon for the Raiders. Kidd now has 15 goals on the season.

Hillsborough (16-3-2) will host Princeton in the quarterfinals of the sectional tournament on Nov. 4. A win over Princeton will send Hillsborough to its first sectional semifinal since 2019.

Over the last three seasons, Hillsborough has won 38 games and has not finished with a record below .500.

The Raiders notched their first winning season since 2015 last year by finishing with a record of 14-6.

“It feels good that all the hard work these girls have put in has paid off,” Puritz said. “I’m definitely happy with our team’s success.”

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