Lions team hoping for pair of titles to cap its stellar season

first_img BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer The Middletown High School North field hockey team won the Shore Conference’s Class A North crown last week and was set to meet St. John Vianney on Monday in the conference tourney. Middletown North’s triumph over Howell last week gave the Lions the A North title. Coach Bill LaFalce’s team also defeated Point Pleasant Boro, 5-2, to set up a quarterfinal match with Red Bank Catholic. Danielle Tarallo then scored the lone goal on Saturday, and goalie Megan Trivett made it stand up for a 1-0 success, sending the Lions on to the semifinals. The coach said that his team’s balanced offense – Middletown North has scored 41 goals – has been a major factor in the team’s success. The Lions’ overall mark is a fine 14-1-1. “We have a lot of girls who can put the ball in the net, but we’re also able to score from different parts of the field,” LaFalce said. “Our opponents aren’t able to key on any one player. That flexibility has served us well.” A year ago Kelly Crist, who graduated in June, carried the bulk of the offensive load for the Lions. This time around, there are plenty of threats. Freshman Danielle Freshnock leads the way with 11 goals, followed by Tarallo with eight and Alyssa Hansen, who has seven goals. In addition, fullback Danielle Susi has scored four goals, and forwards Brittany Scibetta and Jen Battistoni, midfielder Lisa Dean, and sweepers Nicole Pinero and sophomore Jade Yelk have scored as well. The Lions’ defense, meanwhile, has been just as effective. Trivett has established herself as a force to be reckoned with in goal. Over the season, Middletown North has allowed just 11 opposition goals. Susi, Pinero, Janna Harrington and Ashley Jeleniewski form the core of an experienced defensive corps. “Our defense has been outstanding right from the start,” LaFalce said. “They’ve been the real backbone of our success. But it’s also the result of a strong team effort. The girls take pride in shutting down other teams.” Middletown North’s midfielders have been solid, too. Dean provides good senior leadership for a group that also includes sophomores Pinero, Amanda Svenson and Gina Bellifemini, along with Freshnock. Last season the Lions also reached the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV playoffs, where they lost to Rancocas Valley. LaFalce’s team has qualified for that tournament as well. Seedings were expected to be announced on Monday, but he noted that the girls need to remain focused on the Shore tourney. “I’m very pleased with the girls’ success,” the coach said. “It was a good season and the girls gained some valuable experience in the tournaments last year. Right now that’s where our focus is. They know what to expect, and they just need to take things one game at a time and things will fall into place.” Postseason notes… Middletown North got the top seed in the North Jersey II Group IV bracket, and will face the winner of Sayreville-East Brunswick on Nov. 1 in the second round of that tournament. Meanwhile, Middletown South is the sixth seed in North II Group III, and will take on third-seeded Voorhees in the second round of that tournament on Monday. Holmdel, seeded seventh in the same bracket, opens with 10-seeded Ridge on Friday, with the winner to get second-seeded West Windsor-North on Monday. Ocean Township is the top seed in the bracket. The Spartans were also the top seed in the Shore Conference Tournament, but were upset by St. John Vianney, 2-0, on Saturday. Sophomore forward Karissa Battaglia notched the game-winner in the 12th minute, and Corinne Freeman scored the Lancers’ second goal in the 40th minute to seal the shocking victory. That set up Monday’s SCT semifinal against Middletown North on Monday. The Lancers are also looking forward to the North II Group II tournament, where they are the second seed and will host Parsippany, seeded seventh, on Tuesday. BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer last_img read more