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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Rivals clash ends in Blue Devils victory

Dan Russoman/THG. St. Joseph goalie Katie Canova (center) tries to keep the ball away from Hammonton’s Kiley Kozlowski (left) and Gabriella Teti (right).

HAMMONTON—In a game that could impact the race for the Cape Atlantic League American Division title, Hammonton High School’s field hockey team rode two early goals to a 3-1 victory against rival St. Joseph Academy on September 13.

“This was a big win for us. Especially after last year, when I felt like we did not play well. I was curious to see how it would go,” Hammonton coach Kristen Silvesti said.

A year ago, the rivals battled to a 0-0 tie. Unlike that matchup, last week’s contest featured some early scoring.

Chloe Comunale put Hammonton on the scoreboard less than two minutes into the game, converting a pass from Kiley Kozlowski and giving the Blue Devils a 1-0 lead.

About two minutes later, Madison Gazzara scored an unassisted goal for a 2-0 lead.

“I was happy because we were not warming up great,” Silvesti said of the quick start.

Down a pair of goals, St. Joseph picked up its intensity, and with 6:49 left in the first quarter, the Wildcats cut Hammonton’s lead in half when Stella Devlin scored.

Despite the setback, Hammonton continued to dictate the action and pace of the game. The Blue Devils applied pressure on St. Joe’s defense throughout the first half and ended the game with a 14-9 shot advantage.

Early in the second quarter, the Blue Devils added a goal off the stick of Skye Weisbecker, assisted by Gazzara, for a 3-1 lead.

St. Joe was able to generate more scoring chances in the second half, but the Wildcats were held in check by a stingy Hammonton defense in front of goalie Angelina Catania, who finished with eight saves.

“The middle of the third we were running around a little frantic. I saw that they were getting a little tired and it was written on their faces. But in between the third and fourth quarters, I asked them if they were going to dig deep or roll over and they wanted to win and you could tell that by the way they played,” Silvesti said.

Silvesti credited her team’s improved communication and unselfish play for the win.

‘We’re starting to work together and it’s really nice. They’re talking, they’re communicating on the field they’re passing, they’re switching positions, subbing very seamlessly. They know what the job is and it’s nice,” Silvesti said.

Hammonton’s players have embraced the team win concept well this season.

“We are very lucky that they play together and they get the concept that it’s about the team. It’s not ‘one of us scored,’ it’s ‘we all scored.’ And I think if we keep that going, then they’ll have a good season.

You never see what the defender does, you see what the goalie does and who scores and it’s hard to get them say this is a team goal. That girl’s name goes on it, but all 11 worked for that goal,” Silvesti said.

Both teams are competing in the American Division this season, which is the strongest in the Cape Atlantic League. Perennial league title contenders Egg Harbor Twp., Ocean City and Millville are also in the division.

“It’s a tough schedule, so to come out and get a win against a team like St. Joe, it’s huge for us,” Silvesti said.


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