The Vineland High School field hockey team didn’t bother thinking about championships this year. After going 0-17-2 last year, the Fighting Clan just wanted to win some games.

With the season only about half over, Vineland has three wins along with seven losses, the program’s first three-win season since 2008 when the Fighting Clan went 3-16.

Vineland beat Bridgeton 1-0 on Sept. 14, defeated Absegami 1-0 on Sept. 24 and edged Highland Regional 3-2 on Friday.

Mixed in are mostly one-sided shutout losses to the more dominant teams in the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference, but the Fighting Clan are happy with their progress.

“I told them (before the season) to go out there and be optimistic, and play the way I taught them to play,” said coach Kate Cronk, a 31-year-old Vineland resident. “We’ve definitely made progress. We lost 10 seniors, but the returnees have played together a while. No one is playing club hockey, so I just make sure they’re keeping up with their stickwork and that they have the stamina to work through the game. We don’t have a lot of substitutes.”

Bryanna Luciano scored the game’s only goal in the win over Bridgeton, and freshman goalie Angelica You made nine saves for the shutout. Lourdes Monje had the game-winner against Absegami, and Rosalyn Rivera assisted. You again made nine stops.

Riley Guinan scored twice for Vineland and Alex Steen once in the win over Highland.

Cronk has been the Vineland coach since 2004. She’s a former Vineland field hockey goalie who started all four years. She graduated in 1999.

“We just try to get the girls fired up,” Cronk said. “I’ve been told, even by the refs, that the girls have great spirit. If someone makes a mistake, their teammates won’t let them get down.”

Two of Vineland’s leaders are senior defender Steen and junior center midfielder Sasha Ostapenko.

“I’m so happy we’ve gotten three wins. After last year, I didn’t think it was possible” said Steen, 17. “It’s a lot of hard work, but when you win, it’s worth it. I love my team and the coaches. I would love to keep winning, but I hope we do our best. We never give up and we keep a good attitude.”

The forwards are Luciano, Guinan, Rivera and Monje. Other midfielders are Miriah Loatman and Tumela Nwanma. Layla Shakir is a defender.

As the center mid, Ostapenko plays end to end,

“We’re definitely communicating more, and we have returnees who know more what they’re doing,” said Ostapenko, 16. “I’m personally hoping to score a goal and get an assist. As a team, we want to win some more games and have a good time doing it, as we always do. We’re a pretty close team.”

Ostapenko was also the bow of the girls crew junior eight last spring.

Vineland travels to Millville today for a 4 p.m. game. The Thunderbolts blanked Vineland 9-0 on opening day Sept. 7. The rest of the regular season has away games against Atlantic City, Ocean City and Oakcrest, home games against Middle Township, Absegami and Mainland Regional, and then away games against EHT and Buena Regional.

“We’re looking to keep compiling wins,” Cronk said. “A six-win season would be fabulous. We hope to keep rolling with it. We’ll take as many as we can get.”

Breast Cancer Awareness

The CAL field hockey teams will be painting their fields pink throughout October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month. There will be various fundraising efforts and pink gear will be worn to raise awareness.

The highlight of the month will be Oct. 21, when several CAL field hockey teams will walk in the Ocean City Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk.

Mainland plays at Egg Harbor Township next Tuesday. All money raised will be donated to Gilda’s Club in Linwood.

The Hammonton Lady Blue Devils’ Zumbathon will be held Oct. 13 at the school gymnasium. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Fund.

The third annual Spartans For A Cure will be part of the Lower Cape May Regional-Holy Spirit game in Absecon on Oct. 15. There will be a bake sale, raffles and items for sale. All proceeds go to the Shirley Mae Breast Cancer Assistance Fund of South Jersey.

Anyone wishing to support the CAL teams’ fight against breast cancer can visit makingstrides.acsevents.org.

Contact Guy Gargan:

609-272-7210