Reese Bloomstead led the way as the Ocean City High School field hockey team returned to its championship form this fall.
The senior midfielder scored a team-high 27 goals and had 14 assists as the Red Raiders went 19-4-1 and won the South Jersey Group III title.
Bloomstead is The Press Field Hockey Player of the Year.
“It feels really good (to be chosen for the award), but the coaches and my teammates really helped me,” said Bloomstead, a 17-year-old resident of Seaville in Upper Township. “I feel really honored to be the Player of the Year.
“We had a strong team. Expectations were very high, and we did a good job reaching that. I thought I came in more confident on the ball and off the ball.”
Bloomstead will play for NCAA Division I Monmouth University next year.
“I’m really excited to be going there and playing,” Bloomstead said. “It’s in the state, so my family can come watch me. I really loved the school, and once I visited there I compared every other school to it. It’s also close to the beach, which is a plus.”
Bloomstead played in several games but scored only one goal as a sophomore in 2016 when O.C. went 22-4 and won its most recent state Group III title. She returned as one of the leaders of the Red Raiders last year. Ocean City was 14-8 in 2017 in coach Kelsey Mitchell’s first year, but failed to win the CAL American title for the first time since 1996. O.C. also lost 1-0 to Clearview Regional in the South Jersey Group III final.
Bloomstead’s all-around play helped Ocean City regain both titles this year. The Red Raiders topped Clearview 3-1 in a rematch to regain the S.J. crown.
“Reese can do it all, and she is the ultimate team player,” Mitchell said. “She can score, distribute and defend, but her main goal every day is for her team to succeed and win. She is coachable, hard working and a great teammate.”
Team of the Year
Ocean City, The Press Team of the Year, earned the nod as it dominated the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference and was the area’s only South Jersey champion, winning in Group III. O.C. finished with a No. 4 ranking in The Press Elite 11.
The Red Raiders (19-4-1) went 14-0 in the conference, outscoring their American opponents by a combined 94-1. Ocean City scored 119 goals overall and gave up 19.
“I am proud of the girls for their relentless effort this season in pursuit of our goals,” Mitchell said. “Every day we were committed to improvement and our S.J. Group III championship shows that our work paid off.”
O.C. lost only to state powers West Essex (2-1), Oak Knoll (5-0), Bishop Eustace (3-1) and Moorestown (7-0 in the Group III state semifinal game). The tie was with Haddonfield, 1-1.
Oak Knoll, the 2017 Tournament of Champions winner, got to the final again this fall but lost to Eastern Regional 3-1. Moorestown took the state Group III title and lost 1-0 to Oak Knoll in a TOC semifinal. West Essex won the state Group II title and lost to Eastern 10-0 in another TOC semifinal. Bishop Eustace lost to Oak Knoll 3-1 in the state Non-Public final. Haddonfield lost to Shore Regional 2-1 in the state Group I final.
Coach of the Year
Cedar Creek coach Kim Briles, The Press Coach of the Year, guided the Pirates to their greatest season ever and the program’s first CAL National championship. Cedar Creek went 13-4-2 overall and 10-1-1 in the conference.
“I’m humbled,” Briles said. “There are so many great coaches in the (CAL) National and American, and great programs. I really don’t know what to say. (Former Cedar Creek coach) Linda Brennan worked so well with the team starting in 2010 and I took over two years ago. She worked with my seniors their first two years.
“This Cedar Creek field hockey team could be summed up in one word — determination. The focus these players brought to each practice and game was tremendous. They were able to balance that intensity all winning teams need with some laughter too. They truly enjoyed playing together. It was an honor and pleasure to coach these athletes.”
FINAL PRESS FIELD HOCKEY ELITE 11
1. Eastern Regional 27-0
2. Moorestown 22-2-1
3. Bishop Eustace 16-3-2
4. Ocean City 19-4-1
5. Kingsway Regional 19-1-1
6. Haddonfield 19-3-2
7. Southern Regional 17-3
8. West Deptford 16-4-2
9. Shawnee 13-6-1
10. Clearview Regional 17-4-1
11. Woodstown 16-6-1