Eastern captures T of C title

Eastern's Karlee Spirit holds the trophy as she and her teammates celebrate the program's fifth field hockey Tournament of Champions title after beating Oak Knoll, 3-0. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Eastern's Karlee Spirit holds the trophy as she and her teammates celebrate the program's fifth field hockey Tournament of Champions title after beating Oak Knoll, 3-0. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Posted: November 24, 2013

EWING, N.J. - Eighty games ago, Jade Dixon experienced losing for the first and only time of her high school career.

Her Eastern field hockey team had fallen in the 2010 Tournament of Champions final to Oak Knoll. It was a crushing and rare setback for the nation's most decorated field hockey team.

Like the rest of her teammates who remember the loss, Dixon waited three years for Friday night's rematch.

It showed in the game's opening minutes.

Dixon weaved around three defenders and scored just 1 minute, 7 seconds into the game, setting the tone in Eastern's 3-0 win over Oak Knoll in the Tournament of Champions final at the College of New Jersey.

"All of us were really pumped, really excited for this game," Dixon said. "After losing to Oak Knoll as a freshman, it was really good to come out as a senior and win it.

"We had a really great team this year. All of us were so close. We were like a family."

The win extends Eastern's unbeaten streak to 79 games. It capped a 26-0-1 season and marked the team's fifth Tournament of Champions title.

"This is icing on the cake," said junior Austyn Cuneo, the face of her team's success.

Cuneo scored the game's final goal with 57 seconds left, extending her national single-season record to 96.

She entered the game averaging almost four goals per contest. But it's a testament to Oak Knoll's tenacious defense that she was kept scoreless until the final minute.

Eastern held possession for virtually the entire game, finishing with 22 corners to one by Oak Knoll (24-2).

But the Royals continually turned away quality chances, including numerous shots by Cuneo.

"Oak Knoll plays a really hard game. They play with a lot of passion. . . . They have a great corner defense," Vikings coach Danyle Heilig said. "We really demonstrated a ton of character and persevered and came through with a solid 3-0 victory."

Heilig broke down in tears as she addressed reporters after the game.

"It's really hard to think that the season's over," she said. "It's been an awesome year from beginning to end. These seniors are so special. It's hard to know that this is the last game with this group. But it's a great way to end it, for sure."

Oak Knoll 0 0 – 0

Eastern 1 2 – 3

Goals: E-Jade Dixon, Kasey Morano, Austyn Cuneo.

Saves: OK-Colleen Conway 5; E-Cassie Kincaid 1.


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