SJSW Notebook: Trophies galore in South Jersey field hockey

South Jersey will be represented all five field hockey state championship games on Saturday at Bordentown High School.

South Jersey Sports Weekly is a publication that launched in April. It’s produced by Sun Newspapers and appears in the physical copy within the Suns throughout South Jersey (in Moorestown, Medford, Cherry Hill, Washington Township, Deptford, etc). each Wednesday. Most of the content also appears online. The weekly, online notebook will provide you with even more of the content within SJSW’s physical pages.

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It’s now the heart of championship season for fall sports and there was a lot to celebrate for field hockey teams in South Jersey last week. Six teams in the South Jersey Sports Weekly coverage area won sectional titles in field hockey and more than half of those teams will play for a state championship this Saturday at Bordentown High School.

Arguably the best game of the field hockey sectional finals was in Central Jersey Group 4, where Lenape and Rancocas Valley went down to the wire. The two teams were tied 1-1 for much of the second half. Clutch plays from defenses kept the game tied through 20 minutes of 6-on-6 overtime. The game was decided in penalty strokes, where Lenape goalkeeper Kayleigh Kmet came up big, making two saves to lead the Indians to a 4-3 win in the shootout and the program’s second sectional title in three years. Lenape’s season ended last night in a loss to national powerhouse Eastern in the Group 4 state semifinals.

In the Central Jersey Group 1 final between Collingswood and Haddonfield, it was business as usual for the Bulldawgs. Haddonfield defeated Collingswood, 6-1, for the program’s fifth consecutive sectional title. Haddonfield is poised to try and win the program’s 10th state championship on Saturday. They will take on Shore Regional in the Group 1 state final.

One of the biggest stories from the sectional finals was Burlington Township. The Falcons won their first-ever sectional championship with a 5-0 win over Brick Township last Friday in the Central Jersey Group 3 final. In order to reach the final, the Falcons had to defeat an old nemesis, Moorestown. Burlington Township’s 5-3 win over Moorestown on Oct. 29 snapped a string of six consecutive years where the Quakers eliminated the Falcons from the postseason.

Junior Vanessa DiDonato was featured as the SJSW’s Player of the Week for efforts in the win over Moorestown. DiDonato scored two goals for the Falcons, including a penalty stroke goal toward the end of the first half for Burlington Township’s fifth goal of the game.

Burlington Township’s Vanessa DiDonato.

“Her vision and ball handling skills alone are phenomenal,” head coach Adrienne DiSipio said. “I’ve been able to watch her develop over the last three years and it’s amazing to see how much she has pushed herself to be a top competitor and true leader on the field. She has been known to do it all and when I see she has the opportunity to carry the ball in a game, I tell her, ‘do it yourself.’ This season has been a transition year in positions for her and she has been open to doing so. In fact, at one of our summer league games she told me she’s been playing midfield for her club team and that she would really like to play there in the fall. I laughed at first and then when we started getting into the season, I let her prove it to me. Looking back, it was the best decision we could have made.

“Her penalty stroke certainly was the icing on the cake and added to our momentum going into the second half,” DiSipio added about DiDonato’s contributions in the win. “Without it and without her, things may have gone differently. Not to discredit any of the three other goals that gave us the boost … Vanessa’s two goals were definitely monumental.”

Burlington Township’s season ended on Tuesday in a 4-1 loss to Clearview. The win was monumental for the Pioneers as they will play in a state final for the first time in program history on Saturday. Clearview will take on Warren Hills for the Group 3 title.

In Group 2, Seneca will play in the state final for the third consecutive season. The Central Jersey Group 2 champion Golden Eagles defeated West Deptford on Tuesday to advance to the state final against West Essex.

A fifth South Jersey team will qualify for the state finals this afternoon as Camden Catholic hosts Moorestown Friends in the Non-Public South sectional championship game at 4 p.m. Check back with South Jersey Sports Weekly for coverage of that game.

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ICYMI: Stories from Last Week

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Games to Watch: Nov. 6 – Nov. 12

Thursday, Nov. 7
Girls Soccer: Public Sectional Finals
South Jersey Group 4: Toms River North at Eastern, 11 a.m.
South Jersey Group 2: Cinnaminson at Haddonfield, 2 p.m.
South Jersey Group 1: Woodstown at Audubon, 2 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 7
Boys Soccer: Non-Public Sectional Finals
Non-Public South B: Moorestown Friends at Wardlaw-Hartridge, 2 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 8
Boys Soccer: Public Sectional Finals
South Jersey Group 3: Ocean City at Triton, 2 p.m.
South Jersey Group 2: Oakcrest at Delran, 2 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 9
Field Hockey: State Championships at Bordentown High School
Non-Public: Teams TBD, 10 a.m.
Group 2: Seneca vs. West Essex, 12 noon
Group 3: Clearview vs. Warren Hills, 2 p.m.
Group 4: Eastern vs. Hunterdon Central, 4 p.m.
Group 1: Haddonfield vs. Shore, 6 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 9
Cross Country: South Jersey sectional meet
Races begin at 10 a.m. at Delsea Regional High School

Sunday, Nov. 10
Boys and Girls Soccer: Non-Public State Finals
Games begin at 10 a.m. at Kean University

Tuesday, Nov. 12
Girls Soccer: Central Jersey vs. South Jersey state semifinals
Group 4: 6 p.m. at Rowan University
Group 3: 6 p.m. at Toms River North High School
Group 2: 6 p.m. at Hopewell Valley High School
Group 1: 6 p.m. at Paul VI High School

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Scenes from Last Week

Boys Soccer: Deptford at Triton – South Jersey Group 3 Playoffs
All photos: Ryan Lawrence, South Jersey Sports Weekly

Field Hockey Central Jersey Group 1 Final: Collingswood at Haddonfield
All photos: Ryan Lawrence, South Jersey Sports Weekly

Field Hockey Central Jersey Group 4 Final: Lenape at Rancocas Valley
All photos: Mike Monostra, South Jersey Sports Weekly

Football: Cherry Hill East at Seneca
All photos: Mike Monostra, South Jersey Sports Weekly