Lady Eagles win two of three

By John E. Powers, Sports Writer
   South Hunterdon Regional High School’s field hockey team had a very productive run last week.
   The Eagles (8-6-1) won two of three, losing 4-0 to Warren Hills in the Hunterdon-Warren Tournament.
   But Andrea Gurba’s team did qualify for the North Jersey, Section 2, Group I tournament, and avenged an early season loss to Mount St. Mary.
   South Hunterdon started the week beating North Plainfield 4-0 as senior Brittney Shurts scored twice, and freshman Becca Hendricks and senior Brittany Ennis had the others.
   Junior Kayla Ribsam assisted on the first Shurts’ goal; the others were unassisted. Freshman keeper Andrea Wsinewski made four saves.
   The Eagles avenged a 3-2 overtime loss to Mount St. Mary earlier in the season with a 5-3 win Thursday. Shurts scored twice, Ribsam, Ennis and sophomore Emily Marley had the other goals.
   Shurts, Ribsam and senior Stephanie Davis had the assists, and junior keeper Leslie Salsbury made 13 saves. Ribsam had both goals in the first Mount St. Mary game.
   ”We just don’t have one scorer,” Gurba said. “We really have a variety of scorers.:
   The win gave South Hunterdon an 8-5-1 record, which meant that with the cutoff date for the state tournament Wednesday, the Eagles couldn’t fall below .500. The Eagles missed the tournament last season.
   Friday, the Eagles fell to top-seed Warren Hills 4-0. Tori Popinko had two goals, and Aimee Smith and Meredith Jefferis had the others. Salsbury had 33 saves.
   Gurba said Warren Hills made crisp on the tape passes and moved well in pairs.
   ”We definitely held our own in the first half, but the second half was draining and after they scored that second goal,” Gurba said. “It is no doubt that Warren Hills is a good team, but I know in my heart that if we could have done a few little things different, we would have had a chance.
   ”We are a strong team and when we are on, we are on! It was definitely a tough game, but we now have to move on and focus on the rest of our season.”
   The rest of the season also means the state tournament, something the Eagles missed last year. Two years ago, the Eagles lost to Oak Knoll. Playing teams like Warren Hills will help the Eagles come tournament time.
   ”We won’t be seeing Group III and IV schools in the tournament, but teams like Oak Knoll play at that level,” Gurba said.
   The Eagles were scheduled to play at Somerville Tuesday, then play host to Bernards Thursday afternoon.
   The previous week, the team had an unusual schedule twist.
   The Eagles had Skyland Conference rival Delaware Valley Oct. 10 in a regular season game, then met the Terriers again the following day in the Hunterdon-Warren Tournament first-round game.
   South won the more important of the two.
   Ribsam scored a goal in each half, and Shurts had the other goal as the eighth-seeded Eagles beat ninth-seed Delaware Valley 3-1 to advance to play top-seed Warren Hills. Salsbury made 12 saves in the county tournament.
   The Eagles lost to the same team 2-1 Friday. Salsbury made 13 saves, and Shurts scored at 6:35 of the second half after Del Val had taken a 2-0 first half lead on goals by Chloe Warmbold and Dana Opeikum.
   ””We gave up a few fast breaks in the game on Friday, leaving our goalie all alone. It was hard for us to recover from that,” said Gurba, whose team lost to North Warren in last year’s tournament’s preliminary round 1-0 as a ninth seed. “When we scored first (Saturday), it really helped our confidence. The kids knew what to expect. It was definitely an advantage to see them a second time.”
   The Eagles also played Belvidere that week, topping the County Seaters 3-0 as Shurts, Ribsam and Marley scored goals, and Salsbury had five saves. Sandra Edwards made 11 saves for Belvidere.
   ”Brittney and Kayla have really been stepping up in big in tight spots,” Gurba said. “They have been putting their shots away.”
   Gurba also said defender Angelique Platas has been playing very well.