A pair of local field hockey programs, Newton High School and Sparta High School, both competing in the ever difficult Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) are looking to continue their winning ways this year.
The Lady Braves who play in the NJAC Freedom Division finished with a mark of 15-6-1 and captured the NJSIAA North 1 Group 1 Sectional championship in 2018. Key returning student athletes for Newton this season include Abby Berkowitz (senior, goal keeper, 153 saves, 12 shutouts last season), Emily Pappas (senior, half back), Angela Melillo (senior, forward/midfield, six goals in 2018), Aubrey White (senior, half back), Erin Fucito (midfield/half back), Dominique Simeone (midfield, four assists in 2018), Elissar Abou-Jaoude (junior), Sammie Delorio (junior, forward/midfield), Julia Fitt (sophomore), Bridget Kerrick (sophomore) and Sidney Pavlishin (sophomore, three goals, seven assists in 2018). Newcomers hoping to make a positive impression on the varsity roster include Krista Leonardo (senior), Sami Samiljan (senior), Jess Vasquez (senior), Naya Pereira (junior), Julia Decker (sophomore), Abigail Nicholas (sophomore), Maddie Freda (sophomore) and Corinne Crowley (sophomore). The Lady Braves are scheduled to host Hackettstown on September 4.
“[We are looking to] remain competitive in the NJAC,’’ Newton head coach Lisa Bechtel said. “[We are also] looking to make a reappearance in the Group 1 Section 1 finals. The team is led by a highly motivated group of seniors. [The strengths of this team include] an experienced and competent goal keeper.’’
After finishing with a winning record of 9-8-1 and advancing to the NJSIAA North 1 Group 2 Sectional Tournament last season, the Spartans are focus upon success this fall. Taylor Canfield (senior, defense/midfield), Allie McGuire (senior, midfield), Audrey Kraijek (senior, midfield/defense), Lauren Groff (senior, forward/midfield), Kenzie Merwin(senior, forward/defense), Stephanie Villar (senior, midfield/forward), Maya Tomko (junior, midfield), Kayla Collinson (junior, forward) and Claire Siipola (junior, defense) are among the key student athletes on the varsity roster this year.
“The entire senior class [will be looked upon as leaders],’’ Sparta head coach Corinne Bright said. “This group will lead by example through their positive attitude, work ethic and experience.’’
Sparta plays in the NJAC Colonial Division and they are scheduled to host North Warren on September 4.
“We are looking to maintain a consistent rate of play, take advantage of all corner opportunities and win our Division,’’ Bright said. “Jefferson and Lenape Valley [are top team to beat in the Colonial Division].
However, the entire Division is very competitive with each other. “The new turf is going to allow us to play at a faster rate of play and take advantage of the speed we have on the team.’’