Washington Township is facing adversity in the South Jersey Times field hockey notebook
Jeannine OConnor has spent the last 21 seasons as the head coach of the Washington Township High field hockey team on the sideline.
I am extremely fortunate to love what I do, she added. This season has been a challenge, but I look forward to every day.
Calling this year a challenge is putting it mildly.
The Minutemaids entered the 2021 season expecting to field an inexperienced team at the varsity level. The growing pains have been compounded by the fact that they compete in the Olympic Conference.
Washington Township held on to a comfortable three-game winning streak after losing once in its first six games. But it then hit a slew of tough games, including an always-tough Shawnee squad, an Eastern team that is ranked No. 1 in the state in NJ.com's latest Top 20 and ''Creole' team who is ranking 13th. Needless to say, the Minutemaid went 0-3 and were outscored 26-0.
We've got 6-7 new varsity starters, O'Connor said. Keeping the players motivated is difficult, especially in this group of teams," he added. We are struggling to score and not doing a good job of team defense. We wont have many games with those issues.
I have to say, though, that we dont feel like we are 4-8, which is a good thing. Our Cherokee game was a tough one, and we'll have to compete for 60 minutes. No matter how much better and more talented our opponents are, my teams have always competed. I believe that must be taught and accepted by the players.
We're continuing to be challenged, but we'll try to do more, learn more and expect more. We will compete harder and play one game at a time. This season, we've had a very strong team culture. Were getting strong leadership from our captains and seniors, and we enjoy working hard and being together.
With all that said, OConnor stated that the team is improving.
We have definitely seen improvement in our team," she added. Players, who had no varsity experience, have now competed against outstanding teams, and we try to take the good from each game and celebrate those victories as well as learn from our mistakes. It's what experience and a good team culture should feed the season. Players are improving and working on their weaknesses, and they are continuing to improve.
Grace Kim and Taylor Knox, as well as freshman Ryli Zee, were praised for their efforts.
Grace Kim, our center mid, is again having a great season, OConnor said. She is the quarterback and captain, on and off the field. Grace is under a lot of stress to perform well, and she attracts attention from other teams. Her daily challenge is to find a method to get the most out of her teammates as well as elevate her game no matter who the opponent is.
Grace is a warrior, he is also incredibly gifted. She is up to the task. Taylor Knox is once again a strong defense in the back. Taylor is a three-year starter who brings tremendous experience, knowledge, and leadership to the team. She enjoys the game and her teammates. Ryli Zee, a freshman who has become the team's sparkplug, is aspiring to be rylis Zei. She has a great speed and is tenacious. She plays 100 yards, supports play on both sides of the ball, and continues to demonstrate outstanding abilities.
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Tori Griffiths, already the programs all-time leading scorer, scored the 100th goal of her career in a 9-0 victory over Gloucester Tech. Griffiths will play at Liberty University next fall.
Surprisingly, there is still some confusion over the state overtime rule, which exacerbated some problems in the Winslow Township at Paulsboro game. The NJSIAA requires that all varsity games, regardless of league, conference, or non-conference match-ups, have a 10-minute, 7-on-7 overtime period when 'a game ends in tying'. One coach refused to play overtime at the preceding game. Another was unaware. So, no overtime was played.