Field hockey teams aiming for titles
HAMMONTON—High expectations are normal for Hammonton High School’s field hockey team, and the 2023 season is no different, as the Blue Devils are once again aiming to be at the top of the Cape Atlantic League standings.
Last year, Hammonton won the Cape Atlantic League American Division title and lost to rival Ocean City in the CAL championship game.
First year head coach Kristen Silvesti was pleased with the season and expects to see the Blue Devils repeat that success this fall.
“We have a great group of girls back and there’s no reason to think we can’t be just as good or even better this year,” Silvesti said.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Hammonton this season is its schedule. The Blue Devils will compete in a division that not only includes defending CAL champion Ocean City, who Hammonton split a pair of regular-season games with last season, but also perennial contenders Egg Harbor Twp., St. Joseph and Millville, some of the top-ranked teams in the region. Add in non-conference matchups against West Deptford, Paul VI and Collingswood and the Blue Devils have one of South Jersey’s most difficult slates.
“We’ll be up against some really strong teams. It’s definitely going to be challenging for us,” Silvesti said.
Silvesti and Hammonton’s coaching staff are confident because Hammonton returns a lineup filled with varsity veterans who have been teammates since before they became high school players.
“Many of our girls grew up together playing on the same club teams. They’re very familiar with each other and they communicate well on the field, they know each other’s tendencies, strengths and weaknesses,” Silvesti said.
Like many top teams, Hammonton will need to replace strong players lost to graduation, but the Blue Devils will bring back many key components of last year’s roster.
Gracie Donio was a CAL All-Star last season and the senior gives Hammonton a player who can score, pass and defend with the best in the area. Donio scored five goals and had four assists last season.
Senior Abby Goblirsch is a four-year starter and another CAL All-Star. Goblirsch brings a fiery presence to the field for Hammonton and was among the team’s top scorers last year with nine goals.
Hammonton’s top goal-scorer from last year also returns, as junior Kiley Kozlowski is back to lead the offense after collecting 14 goals in 2022.
Another top scorer back this season is junior Madison Gazzara, who found the back of the cage 11 times a year ago.
Gazzara, Kozlowski and Goblirsch will be joined on the attack by senior Chloe Comunale (six goals in 2022) as well as Emma Longo and Skye Weisbecker.
Defensively, Hammonton also brings back a strong group of athletes. In addition to Donio, who will play all around the field, Sophia Penza, Angelina Cortellessa, and Brooklyn Ravenstahl return, providing ball movement and defense in front of the goal for the Blue Devils.
In front of the cage, Hammonton has one of the region’s best goalies in senior Angelina Catania, who earned a shutout last year against Ocean City and recorded 95 saves last season. Junior Kelly Crescenzo is a strong backup who will likely see increased playing time this year.
In addition to its returning letter-winners, Hammonton has a deep bench, one filled with capable underclassmen who are ready to step into the lineup and contribute.
“We’re growing as a program and getting better every day. I can’t say enough about how hard our girls work and how much they want to bring a championship to Hammonton High School. We know it won’t be easy, but I’m very happy with how hard they work. Our players do everything I ask of them and I think if they work hard, they can be very good,” Silvesti said.
Hammonton opens its 2023 season on September 7 on the road at Delsea at 4 p.m.