Tess Fisher put away a volley at the net, pumped her fist and shouted, ‘C’mon!’
The Vineland High School senior was finally a state champion.
Fisher defeated Ashley Hess of Holy Angels 6-4 6-1 to win the state individual girls singles tennis championship at Mercer County Park on Oct. 21.
Fisher had lost in the semifinals twice and in the final once in the past three years.
“It feels amazing,” Fisher said. “It’s been a dream since freshman year, and having it come true as a senior is even better.”
Fisher is The Press Female Athlete of the Fall. Few Cape-Atlantic League athletes in any sport can match Fisher’s record of success.
Fisher won four straight CAL and South Jersey Interscholastic championships. She went 45-0 as a senior to finish her career with a state-record 159 wins.
Fisher lost just three matches and dropped only 10 sets in her high school career.
She also led the Fighting Clan to the South Jersey Group IV team title this fall.
Fisher will continue her education and tennis career at Rutgers University.
“I never realized it until now since I’ve just been taking it one match at a time,” she said. “Now that I’m done, I get to look back on everything, and it’s amazing.”
Fisher’s success highlighted an outstanding fall by Press-area female athletes.
Alyssa Aldridge remembers Sept. 16.
That’s the day she began her comeback from a right foot injury with her first training run of the cross country season.
The Mainland Regional High School senior also will remember Nov. 11,
That’s the day she completed the comeback by making history.
Aldridge won her third straight state Group III title by outsprinting Monica Hebner of Northern Highlands over the final 60 yards of the 3.1-mile race at Holmdel Park in Monmouth County. Aldridge finished in 18 minutes, 18 seconds, while Hebner ran 18:20.
Aldridge, who will continue her education and running career at Georgetown University, is the first CAL girl to win three consecutive state cross country championships. She also won her third straight South Jersey and CAL titles and her fourth consecutive Atlantic County championship this fall. Aldridge finished second at the Meet of Champions.
“It’s crazy,” Aldridge said after the state championship. “Never would I have imagined this going into my high school career. I’m kind of awestruck. It’s hard to describe the feeling, but it’s incredible.”
O.C. wins elusive girls soccer title
Ocean City High School girls soccer player Delaney Lappin didn’t feel the pressure when she took her team’s fifth penalty kick Nov. 9 at Carey Stadium, and it showed.
Lappin blasted the ball into the lower-left corner of the goal to give the top-seeded Red Raiders a 2-1 win in the shootout after their South Jersey Group III championship game against 10th-seeded Cherry Hill West finished scoreless after 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtimes.
It’s the first South Jersey title for the Raiders since 2000.
The Red Raiders were a surprise success. They started four freshmen. They reached the state semifinals and finished the season 19-4-1.
“We found out what it takes to win the South Jersey championship,” coach Kelly Halliday said, “and now we have to find out what it takes to win a state championship.”
Care leads Mainland field hockey team
Paige Care was the driving force behind the Mainland Regional High School field hockey team for the past three seasons.
Though always closely watched by defenders, the senior scored 30 goals this fall as the key player in the Mainland offense, and she finished with a school-record 99 career goals.
Mainland finished 14-4-3.
Most of Care’s goals had a big impact. She scored twice in a 2-0 win over Rancocas Valley, had a hat trick in a 3-0 victory over Middle Township and got the winning goal in a 2-0 victory over Atlantic City. Care scored the winning goal on a tip-in in the second half of a 2-1 win over Ocean City.
“It felt good to be one of our leaders,” said Care, who was The Press Field Hockey Player of the Year. “We worked really well as a team and had a good season.”
Red Raiders win S.J. cross country championship
The Ocean City girls cross country team showed its depth at the South Jersey championships on Nov. 4 at Delsea Regional.
The Red Raiders placed five runners among the top 13 to win the Group III championship for the first time since 2013.
Alexa Weber led the way by finishing third. Alexa Palmieri (fourth), Casey McLees (sixth), Michaela Baker (11th) and Brooke Farr (13th) followed.
Ocean City also finished 8-0 in dual meets to win the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference championship. Ocean City won the Cape May County title for the eighth straight season.
Distance running is part of Ocean City’s culture. Hundreds of people of all ages run regularly on the Boardwalk.
“Fitness is what they see,” coach Trish Henry said of the Red Raiders. “They’re surrounded by people working out. It helps motivate them knowing there’s other people out there doing it.”