Eastern coasts into T of C final

Eastern's Austyn Cuneo (left) looks to pass the ball as Shore's Carol Middough defends in the first half. "We wanted to win big," Cuneo said. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Eastern's Austyn Cuneo (left) looks to pass the ball as Shore's Carol Middough defends in the first half. "We wanted to win big," Cuneo said. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Posted: November 22, 2013

LAWRENCE TWP., N.J. - Austyn Cuneo scored her first goal 32 seconds into the game.

She scored her second goal 88 seconds later.

Cuneo, an Eastern junior, is the most prolific goal-scorer in the history of scholastic field hockey, so it's not unusual to see her slam the ball into the back of the cage.

But this was different.

Cuneo and her teammates were on a mission in a 9-1 victory over Shore Regional in the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions on Wednesday night at Rider University.

"I wanted to redeem myself," Cuneo said.

Cuneo scored six goals, and Eastern (25-0-1) dominated play from the start in advancing to face Oak Knoll in the T of C final at 7 p.m. Friday at the College of New Jersey.

"They wanted to bring their 'A' game," Eastern coach Danyle Heilig said of her players.

Eastern prides itself not only on winning but also on playing its best in the biggest games.

The Vikings felt as if they didn't do that in a 3-0 win over Bridgewater-Raritan in Saturday's Group 4 state final. They were determined to change things against Shore (23-1-1).

"We had kind of a flat game on Saturday," Cuneo said. "I let myself get a little frustrated because I was being face-guarded and I let it bother me.

"We knew every team we would play [in the T of C] would be a great team. We wanted to win big."

The Vikings were open for business. Cuneo's scoring was a big factor, but Heilig said it was an "overall team victory" and praised the play of young athletes such as sophomore Maddie Morano as well as freshmen Alexis Pettisani, Mackenzie Keegan, and Cassie Kincaid, the Vikings' goalie.

Cuneo extended her national records for goals in a season (95) and in a career (232). She will have a chance to reach 100 goals for the season in Friday's finale.

"I've thought, 'How cool would that be?' " Cuneo said of scoring 100 goals in a season. "But it's nothing that I'm focused on. The only thing I care about is that we win the game."

Eastern 5 4 – 9

Shore 0 1 – 1

Goals: E-Austyn Cuneo 6, Jade Dixon, Mackenzie Keegan, Karlee Spirit; S-Carol Middough.

Saves: E-Cassie Kincaid 5; S-Sarah Dwyer 14.


panastasia@phillynews.com

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