The Buena Regional High School field hockey team flies a bit under the radar, but the Chiefs are a solid group of mostly seniors and have beaten some good teams en route to a 12-5 record.
Buena is overshadowed by St. Joseph, the undefeated Cape-Atlantic League National Conference champion and a National Division II rival. St. Joseph topped Buena 5-1 and 5-0 this season.
But the Chiefs have also beaten Glassboro, a perennial South Jersey Group I power, 2-1. Buena also beat Hammonton twice (2-1 and 3-2), Delsea Regional (4-0) and Mainland Regional (1-0). Seven of Buena’s wins have come against teams with winning records.
“I’m happy with the way they’re playing, and they’re having a lot of fun,” said Barb Meyrick, Buena’s coach since 1976. “We’ve pulled some upsets this year. Delsea (at 8-9-1) is a bit down this year, but we’ve never beaten them before. Hammonton just dropped down to our conference from the American Conference, and they’re Group III.”
Senior forward Casey Sturts, a first-team Press All-Star in 2011, leads Buena with 16 goals and has seven assists. Carly Linus, another senior forward, has eight goals and a school-record 12 assists. Kaitlyn Wilson, a junior forward, has seven goals. Junior goalie Elena Sneathen has six shutouts, and has given up one goal in seven other games.
A win today at Lower Cape May Regional would be especially important to the Chiefs, and not just because they’ll be playing a 5:30 p.m. game under the lights.
Buena would tie a school record for victories in a season with a win. The mark is held by the 1992 Chiefs, who were 13-1-5 and conference champions.
“We’re definitely looking forward to breaking the record, but we don’t want to stop there,” said senior midfielder Emely Ramirez, an 18-year-old Buena resident. “We want to go as far as we can (in the South Jersey Group II playoffs). We want to get past the second game. We haven’t been able to do that.”
Sturts and Ramirez are also members of Buena’s South Jersey Group II champion 4x400-meter relay team during spring track.
“Track helps in field hockey, on breakaways,” said Sturts, 17, of Dorothy in Weymouth Township. “It helps to be fast and able to pass people on the field.”
Linus scored one goal and earned her 12th assist Friday in a 2-1 win over Middle Township. The old Buena mark was 11 assists by Megan St. Marie in 2004.
“It’s nice to have the assist record. I wasn’t expecting it,” said Linus, 17, a Mays Landing resident. “I’m not really a scorer. I bring the ball up and look for the open person. I switch the field (passing from either side). If I’m open and it’s one on one, I’ll take the shot.”
Linus and midfielder Janessa Rios are also standouts on Buena’s softball team, which went 23-4 last year.
Sturts missed four games in the middle of the season with a high ankle sprain, and the Chiefs lost three of those games. Others have been out of the lineup for various reasons.
“The whole season we’ve juggled the lineup,” Meyrick said. “We don’t have a lot of depth. One girl had a foot injury and then some had the flu. There were a couple softball visits (to colleges). I don’t think we’ve had the same lineup for any one game. It’s been quite a juggling act.”
Forward Alaina Seyler, a transfer from Holy Spirit, has five goals. Other defenders are Eden Wilcox, Amy Levari, Alexandra Zanghi and sweeper Brianna Cerione.
Buena, the No. 5 seed in South Jersey Group II, hosts 12th-seeded Cedar Creek in its first-round game, probably Saturday.
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