South Jersey field hockey notes

Posted: September 23, 2012

Florence's Lexi Smith, who broke her aunt's school record in field hockey when she scored 52 goals last season, could make national history this season.

"Ever since I started playing in high school, it was sort of a personal goal to beat my aunt's record," Smith said. "I would like to break the national record this year."

Smith has 12 goals in four games this season and 149 in her career, 25 shy of the national record set by Sharon Landau of Rye Neck (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) in 1985. Smith's 52 goals last year surpassed Diane Carey-Stranko's single-season record of 46.

"She's worked very hard for those goals," said her mother and coach, Gina Smith. "It hasn't been easy."

In addition to her record-setting scoring, Florence (3-2 overall, 1-1 Burlington County League Freedom Division) relies on Lexi Smith in all facets of the game.

"We wanted to play her at center midfield, but she had to play center forward because the team realized we needed her offense," Gina Smith said.

"But she's still playing end line to end line. What she's doing is out of the norm. She's in both the defensive and offensive corner."

Even though she is on the horizon of personal triumph, Lexi Smith is focused on her team's success in her senior season.

"We have a strong senior class," she said. "We want to get as far as possible."

Big Eastern comeback. Eastern rallied for four goals in the second half to top visiting Penn Manor - which made it to the Pennsylvania state quarterfinals last season - 5-4, in a nonleague match on Sept. 15.

"It's exciting," Eastern coach Danyle Heilig said. "To step on a field with a returning state-champ [contender] team who's returning a good bit of their team, and to beat them, it feels really good. It's a great measuring stick."

After falling behind, 3-1, in the first half, the Olympic Conference powerhouse stormed back to tie the game with 6 minutes, 42 seconds remaining when Carly Celkos scored her second goal of the game on a corner.

Then, on a scramble in front of Penn Manor's goal after a broken-up corner, Karlee Spirit deposited the loose ball into the net with 42 seconds left to give Eastern the lead.

"I think the biggest thing I was proud of was the determination to win," Heilig said. "When we took a timeout with 6:35 left in the game, there was just a great determination that the kids knew they were going to win.

"There was just a feeling in the timeout that we weren't walking off the field with a loss."

Key Colonial match. Visiting Collingswood scored four unanswered goals to top West Deptford, 4-1, Sept. 15 in an early-season matchup between two of last season's top three finishers in the Colonial Conference.

"West Deptford and us are two very good teams," Collingswood coach Val Dayton said. "We play hard. It's always a physical, aggressive game. It's early. It gives us some momentum."

Rachel Krott scored first for West Deptford at the 7-minute mark, but Krista LeMaina tied the game six minutes later when she beat West Deptford's aggressive goalkeeper, Dahlia VanDorick.

Emily Madden scored on a pair of tip-ins, the eventual game-winner in the final minute of the first half and again seven minutes into the second half, to put Collingswood up by two. Ellie O'Neill scored in the last minute to account for the final score.

West Deptford (5-1) will get another shot at Collingswood (5-0) on Oct. 5.

"We know they'll come back strong," Dayton said. "We need to bring our 'A' game and play better than we did on Friday. It's early. A lot can still happen.

"No matter what the year, it's always a big game. It's always a hard-fought game. The kids are always up for it. It's always a fun game to watch and a fun game to play."

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