HIGHTSTOWN — The Ocean City High School field hockey team fashioned an incredible season, and not even its 7-0 loss to Moorestown in the state Group III semifinal at Hightstown High School on Wednesday could change that.
The Red Raiders captured the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference and South Jersey Group III titles.
Ocean City finished 19-4-1, and was undefeated in conference play. The Red Raiders are currently ranked No. 4 in The Press Elite 11.
It was a successful campaign.
“Definitely, from last year to this year, we improved,” second-year Ocean City coach Kelsey Mitchell said. “Last year we fell short in the South Jersey Group III final, and this year we won that. Our program has the mantra of getting better every day, so if you expand that to getting better every year, hopefully this time next year we are moving on from this game.”
And senior Reese Bloomstead agreed.
“There was definitely a difference from last year, and the young girls stepped up this year,” Bloomstead said. “We were definitely a lot stronger from last year, and we knew our expectations.
“Obviously we would’ve liked our season to go a little longer, but they (Moorestown) were the better team.”
Bloomstead scored 27 goals and had 14 assists this season. The 17-year-old from Upper Township finished with 44 goals and 31 assists on her career.
Bloomstead, who received an athletic and academic scholarship to continue her field hockey career at Monmouth University, became emotional talking about her final game with Ocean City.
“It’s definitely upsetting,” Bloomstead said with tears in her eyes. “I’m just going to miss all the girls. They are all my best friends. We spend every day together, even when we don’t have practice. (I’m) really going to miss the program and the coaches a lot.”
The Quakers’ Kayla Frank scored three goals, while Morgan Darmo scored twice. Madison Sever and Catherine Dare each scored and Delaney Lawler added two assists.
Moorestown (21-1-1) is the defending state Group III champion and No. 2 in The Press Elite 11.
The Red Raiders’ Maddie Kahn made 14 saves, while the Quakers’ Lauren Pickul made five.
“Moorestown was the better team today,” Mitchell said. “Those kids are on a mission, so best of luck to them.
“I felt, like, we gave it everything we had.”
The Red Raiders played hard until the final whistle like they have all season. The team drew five corners in the game.
Bloomstead had a message for the underclassmen on the team for future seasons.
“Just step up as a leader,” she said. “A freshman can be a leader, it doesn’t matter what age you are. Don’t let down and don’t be afraid to correct girls. Do whatever you think is right, and just go out there like you have nothing to lose.”
Mitchell told her team one thing before the game.
“I told them ‘we were the underdogs, so we have nothing to lose. So go out there and leave everything you have on the line, and then you have nothing to feel bad about.’”