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Warren Hills’ golden goal denies Ocean City field hockey team a state championship 3-peat

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher BORDENTOWN – In an ironic twist, Warren Hills was awarded an untimed corner at the end of regulation, a chance to beat playoff rival Ocean City and walk off as Group 3 state champions. One year ago, Ocean City’s Kelly Hanna scored on an untimed corner at the end of double-overtime to lift the Red Raiders to their second straight state championship. Ocean City goalie Charity Beckert made a save, however, and the Red Raiders’ defense cleared the ball to force overtime. The Blue Streak (23-3) got their long-awaited revenge five minutes, 25 seconds later, when Amanda Crampton scored to give Warren Hills a hard-fought 5-4 victory, denying Ocean City a three-peat of state championships. Ocean City (22-2) had beaten Warren Hills the past two seasons to win the Group 3 title. The win was the first for Warren Hills in a state championship game, and the Blue Streak handed Ocean City its first loss in a title game. It was a tough end to two of the most storied careers in Ocean City field hockey history. Senior stars Hanna and Lauren McNally piled up four straight Cape-Atlantic League American Conference titles, three straight South Jersey Group 3 crowns and a pair of state championships during their 4-year careers. “That’s how it has been, historically, with Warren Hills, we just didn’t come out on top this time. I thought we had plenty of opportunities. … They came out hard, but we’ve beaten them, what, nine out of the 10 times we’ve played them,” said Ocean City coach Cory Terry. “It’s like that speech, the 10th time they might come out on top and they did. That happens sometimes. I think this is a great learning experience for our girls.” Teammates rush to celebrate with senior captain Lauren McNally after McNally tied the game at 4-4 by scoring a goal with less than six minutes left in the Group 3 state championship game on Saturday at Bordentown High School. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Teammates rush to celebrate with senior captain Lauren McNally after McNally tied the game at 4-4 by scoring a goal with less than six minutes left in the Group 3 state championship game on Saturday at Bordentown High School. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) McNally had a tremendous game, scoring three of Ocean City’s four goals while also being the primary defensive stopper in front of Beckert. “This has been the best team, probably, in my five years of being the head coach. Lauren and Kelly are just phenomenal players and have been phenomenal leaders,” Terry said. “We have six sophomores out on the field, so we had quite a few players who hadn’t been in this kind of high pressure situation before, but I felt they did a good job of holding their own. I’m just so incredibly proud. We’ve had some huge triumphs throughout the season. I’m disappointed that we didn’t win states, but I’m really happy about the season.” Ocean City found itself in unfamiliar territory early in the game, as Warren Hills’ Nikki Profita scored off a corner in the eighth minute. It was only the second time all season the Red Raiders had trailed in a game. The only other time came against Eastern Regional, the top-ranked team in the nation. The Red Raiders answered two minutes later when McNally scored the first of her three goals, getting a penalty stroke past Blue Streaks goalie Jackie de Raismes. From there it was a see-saw battle, as Warren Hills pulled ahead on a goal by Allie Brouhard before Ocean City tied the game at 2 on another penalty stroke goal from McNally two minutes before halftime. Ocean City took a 3-2 lead with 22:31 left in the game when Rialee Allen punched one in off a corner, but Warren Hills responded about five minutes later when Profita scored off a restart. The Blue Streak then took a 4-3 lead when Dani Profita punched one in off a restart, but Ocean City answered again. With 5:48 remaining, McNally ripped a shot off a corner pass from Allen. The ball was deflected by a Blue Streak defender and clanged off the back of the goal, setting up the tense last moments of regulation. Kelly Hanna gives chase for a loose ball during the second half against Warren Hills. Hanna and the other Ocean City seniors finished their high school field hockey careers with three sectional titles and a pair of state championships. Kelly Hanna gives chase for a loose ball during the second half against Warren Hills. Hanna and the other Ocean City seniors finished their high school field hockey careers with three sectional titles and a pair of state championships. “I thought that our girls responded nicely every single time. I didn’t get the feeling they were taken aback by (trailing by a goal), I think it was just silly things that our girls didn’t make adjustments on,” Terry said. “In my heart and in my mind, I still think they are a bunch of warriors and could have come out on top. Unfortunately, we didn’t.” Terry said the loss didn’t put a damper on another amazing season by the Ocean City field hockey team. “It doesn’t take away anything that these girls have done throughout the season. Every moment is its own individual battle, and, unfortunately, in the last moment they scored and we didn’t win that battle,” Terry said. “But we had so many triumphs throughout the season. I could not be more proud of these girls. I’m absolutely thrilled for all that they have done. It’s tough to lose, but in the end I still think we are one of the best teams in the state. We just didn’t win it all in the end.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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