South Jersey field hockey notes

Posted: October 03, 2012

Last spring, Tara Vittese earned a spot on the U.S. under-21 field hockey team, although she did not play with the team this fall.

The reason was not because she did not want to, but the junior could not afford to miss school at Camden Catholic to attend the training for the Junior World Cup qualifier in Mexico.

Vittese, who will turn 17 on Oct. 22, already has 20 goals for the Irish and has proven to be wise beyond her years.

"It's amazing," Irish coach Maureen Casserly said. "At times, I learn from her. She's just able to lead on the field with fire.

"She just has so much training at the highest level. She just has been in intense international competition that she's been able to pick up and emulate the qualities of elite national players. She has elite ballhandling skills, and ability to finish scoring opportunities."

Vittese is not the first member of her family to have success in field hockey. Her sister Michelle represented the United States in London at the Olympics.

"She definitely inspires me, and I love watching her play," Tara Vittese said. "She definitely makes me want to get better."

Vittese began playing in grade school and began to see improvements in her game when she entered the Field Hockey Futures Program four years ago.

"It definitely helps improve your stick skills, and you learn how to play the game and the coaches teach you basic skills and you apply them in scrimmages," Vittese said.

After finishing high school, Vittese plans to play in college, although she will not commit to the route most expect her to go, the University of Virginia, where her two sisters play field hockey.

"Most people expect me to go where my sisters go," Tara Vittese said. "But I'm open to look."

But she will try to follow her sister's path in another way.

"I want to be able to play in the Olympics," she said. "That would be amazing."

Moorestown lockdown. After going 15-6-1 and reaching the state Group 3 finals last season, Moorestown is unbeaten in nine contests in 2012 thanks to its dominant defense.

"We are returning a very strong midfield and defense and goalkeeper," coach Ali Collins said. "They have just really buckled down and played smart.

The Quakers, who have allowed only five goals this season, have had success in the middle.

"I think we have one of the strongest lines down the middle of the field," Collins said. "We have senior Mary Flick, a center midfield. Behind her is a sophomore, Rachel Stefano, who plays defensive center-mid. Our center-back is Lex Massa, a junior."

Although Moorestown features young players, Collins believes last season provided her team with experience.

"The success of last season when we lost in the Group 3 finals directly impacts this season," Collins said. "We return a really strong group. They're a really young group, but they're very experienced because of the success they had last season.

"I think we're happy with how we've played, but we really haven't reached where we need to get. We really want to make it back to the finals and not come up short this time."

Eustace revenge. After going to the drawing board, Bishop Eustace emerged with the formula to take down Camden Catholic in their second showdown this season, decisively winning, 5-1, Monday night.

"I told the girls it was a must-win situation," first-year coach Danielle Senior said. "We're usually the two teams vying for the conference championship. If we lost, it would have been very difficult for us to win it."

The Crusaders, who finished atop the Olympic Conference National Division last season with a 7-0 record, dropped the first meeting with last season's runner-up on Sept. 11, 2-1.

This time around, Bishop Eustace took advantage of prime scoring opportunities. Eileen Dwizzle, Montana Fleming, and Lauren Crudele scored goals off corners.

"I think in the beginning of the season we were trying to be too simple and just get a shot off," Senior said. "Then we became too indecisive.

"We've practiced them a lot. We didn't want to be too fancy and just get the ball in. But we wanted to be patient and read defense. Think quickly."

With the win, the Crusaders improved to 7-2 overall (3-1 Olympic National) and Camden Catholic fell to 7-2 (4-1).

"When we get to playoffs, we have to play at our peak," Senior said. "There are only so many games you can lose, but you feel like you dominate. We needed the girls to show they not only are able to dominate but they can win close games."


Contact Nick Carroll at ncarroll@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @NickJCarroll.

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