Any discussion of top tier field hockey teams in South Jersey, an area loaded with talented programs, should rightly include Ocean City High School.
The Red Raiders, with an exceedingly difficult schedule this year, once again rose up to expectations. Ocean City completed the season with an overall record of 17-6, and were 13-1 in the Cape Atlantic League (CAL), tying for first place in the American Division.
The Red Raiders advanced to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group III Sectional Tournament championship game, but lost to Clearview. Clearview went on to capture the title.
Kelsey Mitchell, head coach for the Red Raiders, recalls the wins that were the most memorable from this season.
“Haddonfield (3-2, Sept. 21), Bishop Eustace (2-1, Oct. 21) and our game at Egg Harbor Township (3-2, Oct. 11) stood out as most impressive for our team this season,’’ Mitchell said. “Haddonfield and Bishop Eustace were non-conference games against traditional powerhouse teams in New Jersey. Haddonfield eventually fell in the (NJSIAA) Group I State finals, and Bishop Eustace had a great season prior to being knocked out of the playoffs by a strong Camden Catholic squad.
“Both of those games were overtime victories for us, where we worked together and played hard. Our away game at Egg Harbor Township was impressive because we were down 2-0 and had to really dig deep and scrap to secure the victory. I think that throughout the season, our team showed a lot of heart and a never-say-die attitude, with the win at EHT being a true demonstration of that.’’
Coach Mitchell mentioned a senior on the roster as being one of the most improved players for the Red Raiders this season.
“Grace Burke, a senior defender for us really committed to learning her position and became a steady presence in our backfield,’’ Mitchell said. “She played a very disciplined defense, and was one of our top transition defenders.’’
Next year, 2020, should once again prove to be productive for the program.
“We return six starters next season and have a group of very talented, eager underclassmen ready for their opportunity,’’ Mitchell said. “Throughout my tenure as head coach thus far, we have focused on building a culture of toughness and team hockey, so I am excited to continue working with the girls and see what we can achieve.’’