Moorestown blanks Shawnee in field hockey

Posted: September 23, 2012

The Moorestown field hockey players would run sprints together - informally during the summer, then when practice began in August - and one word would be uttered upon completion of the grueling exercise in the searing sun: "Shawnee."

Last season, the Quakers won a sectional and division title and played in the state Group 3 final, but there was something missing - a win over Shawnee. Last year, the Renegades beat Moorestown, 3-0.

When these two play, there is nothing at stake, such as league or sectional titles. Instead, old-fashioned pride and the desire to compete in one of South Jersey's best fall sports rivalries is enough.

So imagine how the Quakers seniors felt after earning a win over Shawnee during Saturday's 4-2 victory over the visiting Renegades.

"It's just great," said Moorestown senior Sarah Powell.

That's actually the way one could describe Powell's play. She not only earned her first win over the Renegades, but deposited three goals in the process.

"This was a total team effort, and for it to happen my senior year is so exciting," Powell said.

The reason this is such a long-standing rivalry is due to the success of the respective Burlington County powers. Both are annually in the running for the unofficial title of South Jersey's best team not named Eastern.

The teams rarely have a drop-off, regardless of how much is lost to graduation. Moorestown this season is 5-0. Shawnee is now 5-1.

"It's a very intense rivalry with two highly skilled teams," Shawnee coach Renee Phelps said. "Playing against such a talented team, it shows us what we have to work on."

This was a back-and-forth affair. Powell opened the scoring, hitting the ball in while she was on the ground, another sign that she didn't plan to be denied. Shawnee's Julie Duncan scored, and the game was tied at the half.

Moorestown's Jess Dadino scored in the first minute of the second half, but Shawnee tied it again on a goal by Haley Canuso.

At this point, Moorestown started to gain the advantage. Powell scored twice, and junior Alexa Massa, a third-year starter and somebody used to these tussles, led the defensive effort.

And afterward the players had the look that is found when a team wins a postseason game.

"It felt like a playoff game," said Moorestown coach Ali Collins, a Shawnee graduate.

Collins didn't derive any extra satisfaction from beating her alma mater. No, the joy came in seeing her team play so well against one of the best programs in the state.

Both teams look to face the toughest competition. For Shawnee, that comes naturally from competing in the Olympic American, which includes two games a year with the likes of Eastern and Washington Township.

Moorestown not only schedules Shawnee, but will play Eastern down the road as well.

"If you want to be the best you have to play the best," Collins said.

Funny, but that is what Moorestown opponents have been saying for years, and what Shawnee again discovered in another impressive chapter of this ongoing rivalry.

Shawnee   1 1 - 2

Moorestown   1 3 - 4

Goals: S–Julie Duncan, Haley Canuso. M–Sarah Powell 3, Jess Dadino.

Saves: S–Elina Pereira 3, M–Laya Mallela 5.


Contact Marc Narducci

at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @sjnard.

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