The Ocean City and St. Joseph high school field hockey teams both meet familiar opponents today in their state championship games at Toms River East High School.
Ocean City (18-5), ranked fifth in The Press Elite 11, plays Warren Hills Regional at noon in the state Group III championship game. O.C. beat Warren Hills 2-0 last year for the state crown.
St. Joseph (20-0-2) , the Elite 11's sixth-ranked team, meets Oak Knoll School at 6 p.m. in the first state Non-Public title game. Oak Knoll topped St. Joe 7-1 last year for the state Group I championship.
In previous years, New Jersey's NJSIAA non-public field hockey teams were in Groups I, II, III and IV with the public schools. This year North and South Jersey Non-Public brackets were created.
Ocean City defeated Mainland Regional 1-0 on a goal by Leah Davies on Monday in the South Jersey Group III title game. Kelly Hanna scored as O.C. beat Allentown 1-0 Thursday in a Group III state semifinal. The Red Raiders have won nine of their last 10 games.
"This year we've tried to grow a little more each game, both individually and as a team," Ocean City coach Cory Terry said. "I was pleased at times with the way we played (Thursday). I hope they keep the intensity up, and I hope all the pieces come together."
Davies leads the Red Raiders with 21 goals and Hanna has 20. Lauren McNally and freshman Rialee Allen have 14 and 13 goals, respectively. Goalie Sarita Charap has 13 shutouts.
Warren Hills (22-3-1), of Washington in Warren County, started at 2-3, but has also had an excellent second half of the season. Scorers for the Blue Streaks are Sydney Muntone and sisters Dani and Nikki Profita.
"I definitely think it helps that we've played them before," said senior April Stein, 18, an Ocean City resident. "It helps our confidence and gives us a glimpse of what to expect. I think we're confident and ready."
St. Joseph upset Bishop Eustace 2-1 Wednesday in the South Jersey Non-Public title game on senior Emily DeMarco's 41st goal of the season with under two minutes left. Carlina Sacco has 21 goals and Molly Mullee has 20. Goalie Mikaela Power has 12 shutouts.
"We have a lot of seniors who have played four years and know what to expect," St. Joseph coach John DeMarco, Emily's father, said. "We've played them twice (also losing to Oak Knoll 8-2 in the Group I final in 2010). They're a very strong team, but me and the coaching staff have come up with a better way to play them."
Oak Knoll (22-1), of Summit in Union County, is led by scorers Ryan McCarthy and Caroline Andretta.
"We beat Camden Catholic and Bishop Eustace, and they're only a little under (Oak Knoll)," Emily DeMarco, a 17-year-old Hammonton resident,said. "It's a great test for us. We'll give it our best shot."
Contact Guy Gargan:
State Group III
Who: Ocean City (18-5) vs. Warren Hills Regional (22-3-1)
When: Noon today
Where: Toms River East High School
Who: St. Joseph (20-0-2) vs. Oak Knoll School (22-1)
When: 6 p.m. today
Where: Toms River East High School.