The Ocean City High School field hockey team has never slipped to an average season the year after winning any of its state championships.
That pattern figures to continue.
The Red Raiders, state Group III champions last fall for the eighth time in program history, are ready for the new season. The team must partially rebuild, but might be as strong as last year.
Ocean City coach Cory Terry never looks too far ahead.
"It's great to win a state title, whether it's as a player or a coach, but now we want to focus our energy on the present," said Terry, who's in her fourth year as head coach. "Every day our focus is on working hard to get better. Each team is very different, and the individual players have to mesh well together."
O.C. went 21-1 last year and won its 16th straight Cape-Atlantic League American Conference championship. The Red Raiders, who finished No. 2 in The Press Elite 11, lost only to No. 1 Eastern 8-1 in a nonleague game.
Graduations took leaders Jacquie Fenton and Casey Hanna, The Press Co-Female Athletes of the Fall. Two other departed seniors were midfielder Courtney Allen and goalie Katie Johnson. Another key player, Paige Broadley, is injured.
The Red Raiders will be led this year by senior captains Leah Davies, April Stein and Rachael Young, and by junior Lauren McNally, an end-to-end player. Davies, a forward, and McNally were Press first-team All-Stars last year.
"Obviously we're going to depend on the them for leadership to replace the seniors and captains who graduated," Terry said. "We'll need them not only to step up as players, but to bring the team together."
The Red Raiders have a tough schedule of nonleague games. They play Eastern, Washington Township, Camden Catholic, Sacred Heart Academy (of Kentucky, at Eastern), Rancocas Valley and Haddonfield.
"We know we have to work 10 times harder this year," said Davies, a 17-year-old Ocean City resident. "We play some really good teams. We lost some key players but we have a lot of freshmen moving up and getting the feel.
"I'm pumped. I'm so ready. I love the team and I wouldn't want to part of any other team."
Davies, a forward, scored 13 goals and had 11 assists last fall. She scored the winning goal in overtime that beat Moorestown 3-2 in the state Group III semifinal on Nov. 16.
"Leah is very fast and dynamic," Terry said. "She creates a lot on attack."
McNally scored 18 goals and added 12 assists while playing a dual role as a key defender. She scored the winning goal in a 2-0 win over Warren Hill in the state championship game on Nov. 18.
"Lauren is tremendously skilled and very smart," Terry said. "She's great at distributing and sees the passing lanes. She has a strong hit."
Stein, a midfielder, added nine goals and six assists. Young, a defensive leader, helped the Red Raiders to 19 shutouts last year. O.C. gave up only 12 goals, and none in CAL games.
"April is always giving her all for the team," Terry said. "She's a key distributor at midfield and she's always making the other players better. Rachael is probably the most seasoned defender. She's very smart, composed and consistent. We look for her to anchor the defense."
Kelly Hanna, Casey's sister, and Jordan Allegretto will add scoring. Hanna scored 12 goals in 2012, while Allegretto had nine. Seniors Abby Lyons and Julie Campbell are varsity returnees. Caroline Bowman is a senior back.
Senior Sarita Charap, moves up from JV to be the goalie.
"We're taking it day by day," said Stein, 17, an Ocean City resident. "The returning players know what to expect. We'll focus on ourselves and not let anyone get into our heads. We'll work together."
Freshman forward Julia Herrington is a player to watch this year. Rialee Allen (Courtney's sister), Izzy Gilhooley, Britney Stein (April's sister) and Grace Steele are freshmen who will see some varsity time.
"I feel like we'll have a good season," said McNally, a 16-year-old junior from Marmora in Upper Township. "Practices are going well and we're working on getting our intensity up. We'll have a target on our back, so we'll have to play hard. We play some really tough teams, but that will help us get ready for states."
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