By Josh Lashley
One of the most important qualities that a sports program could possess all boils down to one word-pride.
The Madison High School field hockey team certainly has that attribute in abundance which is a main reason why they were able to compete at such a high level against some of the very best competition to be found anywhere not only in the entire state, but indeed the entire country as well.
The results for the Dodgers were positive-to say the least. They finished with an overall record of 16-5 overall and they were 6-0 in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference Liberty Division. Madison was the Liberty Division champions.
The Dodgers captured the NJSIAA North 2 Group 1 Sectional Tournament title with a 1-0 victory over Shore Regional on Nov. 3. Madison then toppled North 1 Group 1 winner Newton, 4-1, in the State Group 1 semifinals on Nov. 10. In the State Group 1 finals, Madison lost a 2-1 game to South Jersey Group 1 champion Haddonfield on Nov. 12.
Memorable was “Our win against Shore Regional who has been a perennial powerhouse,” said Madison Head Coach Ann Marie Davies said. “We were able to capture a Sectional State title in a very competitive top level hockey game. We earned that victory and the right to move forward in our state journey. Our win against Newton to win the North 2 Group 1 title where we outperformed a talented Newton team, we were peaking at the right time as the team gained confidence which enabled us to play a high level of field hockey.
“On a different note the loss to Morristown in the semifinals of Morris County Tournament,” on Oct. 15 was also memorable. “This was a character building moment for our team. After winning it for five years in a row we had to take the defeat and learn how to pick ourselves up and work harder to improve.’’
One place where they Dodgers most assuredly excelled this fall is in the leadership department.
“Senior Catherine Crowley was not a surprise this season as a leader but went above and beyond in fulfilling her captain’s role,’’ Davies said. “Her energy on and off the field is contagious and her athletic presence on the field was a pleasure to watch. Junior forward Elizabeth Romano led the team with goals and assists. With her high level stick work she was able to elude opponents and finish with a score. On the other hand she had the ability set up others and assists in the scoring process. Opponents feared her skill and labeled her as a dangerous player that had to be marked.
“Junior Sage Geyer was the nucleus of the team as she played the center midfield position. As the season progressed and she worked hard she developed the ability to distribute the ball strongly and transition the team from defense to offense quickly. She was also on the corner unit offensively as well as defensively. Her speed and endurance allowed her to recover when needed. Junior Caroline Blount was the last line of defense as a sweeper before the goalie. Her strong block tackles and ability to elude an opponent and distribute the ball up-field was thankfully so consistent.’’
Davies mentioned junior Maddie Farrell, left back; junior Maddie Stein, right back; sophomore Nicole Ducey, goalie; sophomore Kerry Ann McClay, center midfield; and freshman Margaret Sheeleigh, forward/midfield, as being among the student-athletes on the roster who constantly found ways to improve as field hockey players throughout the course of the season.
“We will miss the seniors but on the flip side the younger players learned how to win and lose this season,’’ Davies said. “They learned how to be humble after a win and know that we must work harder from that point on. We learned how to pick ourselves up after a loss and never give up. This season gave the younger players the time to develop. We now have the players to reload for next season.
“Our coaching staff was so happy about what this young inexperience team was able to accomplish this season. We thank the seniors for their leadership and how well they mentored the younger players and the remaining players for being fearless in their journey to a successful season. This team became a family of fire and desire and the chemistry formed from this enabled our team to become champions.’’