Bucks County Herald

Eagles fall to Belvidere

DAVID CAMPBELL



South Hunterdon junior Sophia Petrucci and the Eagles dropped their season opener to Belvidere, 3-0, last Thursday afternoon.

Sophia Petrucci was born to play South Hunterdon field hockey.

Her grandmother, Patricia Masterson, played for the Eagles in the 1950s; her mother, Kathleen Petrucci, played for the Eagles in the ’80s.

“My grandmother and my mom have a very strong influence on me,” Sophia Petrucci admitted, “and I didn’t really play a fall sport. So when it came down to it, they kind of influenced me to start playing.”

Petrucci, who got serious about field hockey in seventh grade, is now a junior midfielder for the 2017 South Hunterdon varsity. She, among many others, is expected to help lessen the blow of losing seven seniors from a season ago.

“We work very well together because we’ve all been on the same team. We all played on JV together,” Petrucci said, “so we just kind of moved up and filled in the gaps.”

The Eagles (0-3 overall) opened their campaign with a 3-0 setback to visiting Belvidere last Thursday afternoon. South Hunterdon trailed 1-0 at the half. It would have been 2-0 if not for first-year varsity goalkeeper Kerry Coleman saving a penalty stroke about halfway through the first 30 minutes.

“She did a great job,” head coach Stephanie Davis said, “and we were really proud of her. It definitely picked the girls up in a moment of needed pick me up.”

Coleman finished with 14 saves. Melanie Clark, Samantha Dultz and Madeline Call had the Belvidere goals; ’keeper Anya Logan was credited with nine saves.

“I think the girls stayed composed the whole game,” Davis said. “Their three [goals] were rockets. I told the girls there wasn’t much we could have done to stop them. I think the positives were all the opportunities that we got on offense; however, some negatives were not [taking advantage of] those opportunities and scoring.”

The goals should eventually come. Carly Leary, who led the Eagles in goals (10) and assists (six) last season, has departed, but Julia Kreider, who tallied five goals and four assists a year ago, returns. She is one of three seniors, along with Claire Greenwood and Brooke Tumler. Davis also has six juniors.

“We have a totally new team this year,” Kreider said, “and I think that’s a good thing. I think moving forward we’re going to be able to learn how to work together and I’m really excited to see how we’re going to do that. We have a lot of talent.”

Davis started two freshmen, Rebecca Phillips and Chandler Storcella, last Thursday. Davis said they held their own.

“We kept our confidence in each other rather than just giving up,” Petrucci said.

South Hunterdon was stung by Princeton Day, 6-0, on Friday. Coleman came up with a dozen more saves. The Eagles were outshot 18-8.

“We’re glad we have that foundation for our defense,” Kreider said of Coleman.

“I think we did a good job keeping the ball out of the circle [against Belvidere],” Kreider continued. “I know that they scored three times, but they had a lot more opportunities to score and our defense did an amazing job keeping the ball out [of the cage] and giving it to our offense.”

South Hunterdon got off to a slow start in 2016, as well. The Eagles lost their first three games, won their next four and closed out their season the winners of five of six, including knocking off Riverside, 3-1, in the first round of sectionals.

Belvidere went 13-3-2 a year ago and made it as far as the sectional semifinals.

“I’m really proud of them,” Davis said of the Eagles, who soared to a record of 9-7-2 last season. “Belvidere is always a tough game to open up with.”

Davis is excited to see how South Hunterdon performs in the next few weeks.

“I think that even with losing the seven [seniors],” Davis said, “our leadership has definitely not dwindled at all. Our three seniors have definitely picked those responsibilities up very quickly.

“We miss the seven terribly,” Davis added, “but our girls have risen to the occasion and they’re doing a great job.”

It is, after all, a long season, Kreider insisted.

“This is just our first game,” she said in the wake of the Belvidere loss, “so we have a lot of good stuff ahead of us.”

dcampbell@buckscountyherald.com

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