Sussex County Sports Blog

By Dan Cleary

10/24/2014 - Newton Gets Tops Seed In Field Hockey

    Lisa Bechtel’s coaching career at Newton has been nothing short of spectacular.

   With 357 wins, numerous league titles and an outstanding record of sending players onto the next level, there is not much the veteran mentor hasn’t accomplished on the field hockey field except for one thing--a section crown.
   Bechtel and the Braves have made it to the final many times only to be turned away by a West Essex or a Pequannock or someone from the old Sussex County Interscholastic League like Kittatinny, Pope John or Wallkill Valley.
   Being the competitor she is, the Hall-of-Famer would love to win a section title but that doesn’t define her.  No way.
   I’ve known her for all 25 years she has been at Newton and Bechtel has been just as successful or more so in her role in the guidance department at the school.  She has affected the lives of many students in a positive way students at Newton and not just those who put on a maroon kilt.
   She is a class act all the way and I have been fortunate enough to work with her all these years along with her trusted assistant Mary Licata, one of the best around.
   That’s why a title would be nice but her legacy at Newton is far more than wins and losses on the field hockey field.
   So why am I talking about Bechtel like she is leaving?  Well, she is not, as far as I know, but I do know the Braves were awarded the top seed in North 1, Group 1 playoffs and a bye for the first time in a while.
   And looking at the bracket the Braves have their best chance of winning Bechtel’s first title and the school’s first since the 1980s in a long time.
   Newton dropped to Group 1 two years ago and no longer sees West Essex or Madison and in a wide open section Newton has as good as a chance as anyone to win it all.
   Newton (9-5-3) has a very young, but talented team.  The Braves sport Natalie Rivas (10 goals)  Kate Barbato, Emily Weiss, Brittany Schumann and outstanding keeper Jenna Zawislak.
   They will play the winner of No. 9 North Warren (8-7-1) and No. 8 Belvidere (9-7-1) in the second round next week.  Newton has two wins over North Warren in Colonial Division play this season.
   North is having a very solid year for coach Laura Kasa and has won four in a row and owns a 3-0 win over the County Seaters this season.
   North Warren counts on Jess Towey, Megan Stevens and Jen Sagan in goal.  Belvidere will look to Erin Sassman (17 goals) to exact some revenge.
   Here is a look at the rest of the locals and their matchups.
NORTH 1, GROUP 1
    Lenape Valley (12-4) and Kittatinny (11-4-4) also received byes as the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively. 
   Lenape lost to eventual champ Mountain Lakes last year as the top seed and is looking to win its first title since 1990.  But the Pats, who recently won the Freedom Division crown, have two losses (1-0, 2-1) to Newton which is tough to overlook.
   Bucknell-bound  Sally Olson, Kassidy Forik, Alyssa Falleni, Isabelle Becker and goalie Kaylee Gentilucci pace the Pats who will play the winner of No. 10 Mountain Lakes (5-10-1) and No. 7 Wallkill Valley (5-9-1).
   Wallkill coach Irene Chernati was the last Sussex County coach to win a title back when the Rangers won the North 1, Group 2 crown in 2006.
   The young Rangers, who start three freshman up front, count on Erika McNulty, Danielle Seabeck, Leah Struble, freshmen Fiona Blake, Cailtyn Mizewski and Morgan Carr, as well as  senior goalie Miranda Gruzecki.
   Mountain Lakes was hit hard by graduation last year and is paced by Kate Todero and Kaitlyn Dock.
    Kittatinny is having a marvelous season and is close to wrapping up the Colonial title under coach Emily Murray. The Cougars will host the winner of No. 11 Pequannock and No. 6 Boonton.
   Kittatinny has one of the top scorers in the area in Alexis Ambrosino (12 goals) as well as Holly Reznik, Mel Toye, Christina Chernati and Jen Markevich.  Goalie Julia Pavernick has been super and Dana Yanvary anchors the defense.
   More importantly, Kittatinny has defeated Newton twice this season, 2-0 and 3-1.
   So which team will win?  Your guess is as good as mine.
NORTH 1, GROUP 2
    There are two local teams in this bracket in No. 9 High Point (4-9-4) and No. 10 Jefferson (2-13) but most likely neither will see the final with state powers No. 1 West Essex (16-0-1) and No. 2 Madison (13-1) standing in the way.
   High Point will travel to Wanaque to face No. 8 Lakeland (8-8-2) which just lost in the Passaic County final to Wayne Hills.
   If you remember in 2012 Lakeland was ranked No. 7 in the state and High Point knocked them off 2-1 in double OT on a Darby Smith goal to advance.
   High Point does have a chance to pull the upset again behind the timely scoring of Kelsey Little and the defense paced by Kristen English, Lexa Sabo, Cassie O’Hern and Danielle Price.
   High Point has two top notch keepers in Becca Morrison and Autumn Smith.
   Lakeland counts on Sarah Anthony and Molly and Daphne Leenas.  The winner gets West Essex.
   Jefferson (2-13) will look to keeper Monica Kulbacki to keep the Falcons in the game as they travel to take on No. 7 River Dell (7-8-1) and its top player Marina Reilly and her 15 goals.  The winner gets Madison.
NORTH 1, GROUP 3
   Sparta (9-5-1) is the No. 4 seed and is back in the states again after making it last year for the first time in a long time.
  Coach Kristin Lindsley, a former Wallkill Valley star, along with assistant  Melissa Kistle, a former Kittatinny standout, have done a marvelous job rebuilding a once dormant program.
   The Spartans are on the cusp of winning their first ever field hockey crown as they are 5-0 in the American Division.  The Spartans are deep and talented with Rhett Curran (15 goals), Jackie Hallack, Abby Tracey, Gretchen Bowie, Alex Curran, Julia Silvestri and keeper Courtney McKenna.
   But the Spartans received a tough draw against No. 5 Montville (9-6-1) which topped Sparta 3-1 earlier in the season.  The Mustangs are paced by Allie Pierson, Kellie Vizzuso and Sarah Karback.
   West Morris (15-1) is the class of the section and should win the title.
NORTH NON PUBLIC
   There is no mystery here as longtime state-power Oak Knoll should walk away with the title but Pope John (8-6-1), the No. 7 seed, has a chance to advance against a very solid No. 10 Mt. St. Dominic (8-8-2) of  Caldwell and the Super Essex Conference.
   PJ has the top scorer in the area in Carleen O’Connell with 21 goals.  If she gets in the circle she is very tough to stop, but some of the other Lions like Baylee Vozza must step up and give her a hand if they are to win.
   Goalie Sam Scalabrini, maybe the best in the area, will keep PJ in the game, but can the field players do the same?
   Mt. St. Dominic, which plays a very good schedule including West Essex, is paced by Lauren Callahan.
   So with North 1, Group 1 loaded with local teams I will be very surprised if the area doesn’t see its first section champ since 2006.
   That’s it for now see you on the sidelines.
PLAYOFF PAIRINGS

Here are the pairings for the NJSIAA field hockey state tournament which gets under way Monday with Groups 3-4 and Tuesday with Groups 1-2.

The complete pairings:

North 1, Group 1
9-North Warren at 8-Belvidere, winner 1-Newton, 10-Mountain Lakes at 7-Wallkill Valley, winner at 2-Lenape Valley, 11-Pequannock at 6-Boonton, winner at 3-Kittatinny, 12-Butler at 5-Pompton Lakes, 13-Whippany Park at 4-Westwood

North 1, Group 2
9-High Point at 8-Lakeland, winner at 1-West Essex, 10-Jefferson at 7-River Dell, winner at 2-Madison, 11-Parsippany Hills at 6-Parsippany, winner at 3-Hackettstown, 5-Chatham at 4-Ramsey

North 1, Group 3
9-Mount Olive at 8-West Milford, winner at 1-West Morris, 10-Roxbury at 7-Wayne Valley, winner at 2-Northern Highlands, 6-Passaic Valley at 3-Wayne Hills, 5-Montville at 4-Sparta

North, Non-Public
9-Dwight-Englewood at 8-Mount St. Mary, winner at 1-Oak Knoll, 10-Mount St. Dominic at 7-Pope John, winner at 2-Kent Place, 11-Koinonia at 6-St. John Vianney, winner at 3-Morristown-Beard, 5-Pingry at 4-Montclair Kimberley

North 1, Group 4
9-North Hunterdon at 8-Columbia, winner at 1-Ridge, 10-Hackensack at 7-Morris Knolls, winner at 2-Montclair, 11-Livingston at 6-Westfield, winner at 3-Millburn, 12-Union at 5-Phillipsburg, winner at 4-Randolph

North 2, Group 1
9-Riverside at 8-Metuchen, winner at 1-Bernards, 10-Florence at 7-Henry Hudson, winner at 2-Shore, 11-Keyport at 6-South Hunterdon, winner at 3-Bordentown, 5-New Egypt at 4-Glen Ridge

North 2, Group 2
9-Somerville at 8-Cranford, winner at 1-Voorhees, 10-Matawan at 7-Johnson, winner at 2-South Plainfield, 11-Raritan at 6-Gov. Livingston, winner at 3-Summit, 5-Holmdel at 4-Delaware Valley

North 2, Group 3
9-Hightstown at 8-Middletown North, winner at 1-Mendham, 10-Red Bank Regional at 7-Hopewell Valley, winner at 2-Warren Hills, 11-Nottingham at 6-Middletown South, winner at 3-Princeton, 5-Morristown at 4-Ocean Township

North 2, Group 4
9-Franklin at 8-Montgomery, winner at 1-Bridgewater-Raritan, 10-Old Bridge at 7-Hillsborough, winner at 2-Monroe, 11-Piscataway at 6-East Brunswick, winner at 3-Hunterdon Central, 5-South Brunswick at 4-West Windsor-Plainsboro North

Central, Group 1
9-Paulsboro at 8-Haddon Heights, winner at 1-Collingswood, 10-Palmyra at 7-Audubon, winner at 2-Gloucester, 6-Cinnaminson at 3-Haddon Township, 5-Haddonfield at 4-Maple Shade

Central, Group 2
9-Manchester Township at 8-Delran, winner at 1-Rumson-Fair Haven, 7-Pemberton at 2-Robbinsville, 6-Ewing at 3-Long Branch, 5-Manasquan at 4-Point Pleasant Boro

Central, Group 3
9-Hamilton West at 8-Jackson Liberty, winner at 1-Moorestown, 10-Brick Township at 7-Pennsauken, winner at 2-Wall, 11-Neptune at 6-Northern Burlington, winner at 3-Allentown, 5-Burlington Township at 4-Toms River South

Central, Group 4
9-Toms River East at 8-Toms River North, winner at 1-Freehold Borough, 10-West Windsor-Plainsboro South at 7-Brick Memorial, winner at 2-Freehold Township, 11-Cherry Hill East at 6-Lenape, winner at 3-Jackson Memorial, 5-Rancocas Valley at 4-Cherokee

South, Group 1
9-Buena at 8-Schalick, winner at 1-Clayton, 7-Gateway at 2-Woodstown, 6-Overbrook at 3-Middle Township, 5-Salem at 4-Pitman

South, Group 2
9-Cedar Creek at 8-Highland, winner at 1-West Deptford, 10-Sterling at 7-Bridgeton, winner at 2-Delsea, 11-Barnegat at 6-Deptford, winner at 3-Lower Cape May, 5-Pinelands at 4-Oakcrest

South, Group 3
9-Cherry Hill West at 8-Gloucester Tech, winner at 1-Hammonton, 10-Winslow at 7-Mainland, winner at 2-Ocean City, 6-Seneca at 3-Central Regional, 5-Lacey at 4-Cumberland

South, Group 4
9-Millville at 8-Atlantic City, winner at 1-Eastern, 10-Absegami at 7-Kingsway, winner at 2-Southern, 11-Vineland at 6-Washington Township, winner at 3-Clearview, 5-Shawnee at 4-Egg Harbor

South, Non-Public
9-Red Bank Catholic at 8-Camden Catholic, winner at 1-Bishop Eustace, 10-Holy Spirit at 7-Moorestown Friends, winner at 2-Holy Cross, 11-Gloucester Catholic at 6-Paul VI, winner at 3-St. Rose, 5-Notre Dame at 4-St.Joseph (Hamm.)
 
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11/8/2008
Other Side of Cinderella


10/31/2008
Edelman, Vikes Make Good Point


10/23/2008
Rangers Riding High


10/16/2008
Old Lion Still Roaring


10/9/2008
State Plays 52-Pickup


10/3/2008
SCIL Soccer Plan Perfect


9/25/2008
NJSIAA Lacks Direction


9/17/2008
High Point's Keur Happy To Be Back


9/11/2008
We Should Never Forget


9/1/2008
Football Deaths Sobering Reminder


8/25/2008
State Plan Needs Second Look


8/14/2008
Realingment Plan Disbands SCIL (Exclusive to MugsMedia.Com)


8/11/2008
Martinek Gives Me Knight Fever


8/6/2008
Remembering Ryan Olsen


7/30/2008
No Place Like Home For Crespi


7/21/2008
Trudgeon, Braves Had Great Run


7/13/2008
Safety First For Little Leaguers


7/6/2008
Wolf, Nottle Find Winning Ways


6/29/2008
Are You Ready For The Summer?


6/22/2008
Lanier Right Man For Skyhawks


6/15/2008
A Special Thanks to Dad


6/7/2008
Defense Never Rests


5/30/2008
Kittatinny Crew Saves the Day


5/23/2008
Bello makes right call


5/16/2008
Great to be back at Festival


5/9/2008
Softball Should Have Tourney


4/25/2008
Realignment Could Be Done Deal


4/18/2008
SCIL Teams Born to Score Runs


4/11/2008
SCIL Home to Top Hurlers


4/4/2008
Lacrosse Teams Riding the Wave


3/28/2008
Wallkill's VanZile Set to Retire (Exclusive to MugsMedia.com)


3/21/2008
A Little "Mercy" for Football Teams


3/14/2008
Valenti's Title Caps Banner Year for SCIL Wrestling


3/7/2008
Taking a Hard Look at the New Transfer Rules


2/29/2008
Giving SCIL Basketball a Boost


2/22/2008
Rasslin' to the Top... Finally


2/15/2008
Handicapping the Festival


2/8/2008
The Power of Power Points


1/31/2008
SCIL Adopts Innovative Soccer Plan (Exclusive to MugsMedia.com)


1/25/2008
On the Track to an Elite Program


1/18/2008
Adding Up the Numbers


1/11/2008
Dominating the Paint


1/3/2008
Bowling with the Knights


12/27/2007
Playing Games Over the Holidays


12/20/2007
The Mitchell Report Hits Home


12/13/2007
Are You Ready for the Winter?


12/6/2007
Reform Comes Slowly to New Jersey High School Sports


11/28/2007
Handing Out the Golden Statues


11/21/2007
Time for Change in NJ High School Sports


11/14/2007
Going a Little Extra


11/7/2007
The Single-Sport Athlete Dilemma


10/31/2007
Friday Night Lights


10/23/2007
Kicking Around Re-alignment


10/1/2007
I'm baaaack...


3/17/204
Great Run For Braves