first_imgBY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer After a series of successful years and three consecutive NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I playoff berths, things looked bleak for the Keyport High School field hockey team as it prepared for the season. In fact, it looked like the Red Raiders would not even field a team. At the first meeting for players, only six turned out. Dismayed, coach Sal Principe started working the phones. He called all incoming freshman girls, as well as a host of others, asking them to try out. Many said they would consider it. When tryouts began, Principe had plenty of girls show up, including 18 freshmen and nine sophomores, along with a handful of senior newcomers. Many of these girls had never played field hockey before, but they took to the sport and stuck it out – enough so that Principe gave out 36 uniforms, filling both the varsity and JV rosters. “When you get a group like this, you’re not going to square one you’re going to square zero,” he said. “We have done a lot of teaching, and the girls are working hard. I see a tremendous amount of potential after just five weeks, but they all know that to make this work they have to continue working hard all year-round.” With nine starters and a reserve lost to graduation, the Red Raiders fielded a rather inexperienced lineup and struggled out of the gate with a 0-5 start. The coach continually encouraged his crew, and Keyport posted its first win a week ago, a 1-0 triumph over Roselle Park. Bridget McCann scored the lone goal and goalie Megan Kelly made it stand up. The Red Raiders gained their second win Saturday with a 2-1 overtime success against Mater Dei. McCann scored during regulation on a penalty corner and Sabrina Kemp netted the game-winner in the extra session. “It was great for the girls’ confidence to get a few wins,” Principe said. “They’ve really improved and they’re starting to see the results. They’re going to continue to improve and they should get some more wins.” Kemp and Kelly have been the mainstays. Kemp leads the team in scoring with three goals and an assist, while Kelly has been splendid in goal as Keyport has been regularly outshot in the early going. Jenna Stumpf has played well as has fellow senior Jessie Carroll, a forward. Steph Capone, a senior fullback, has been playing through a sore ankle. Other seniors include wings Jessica Walling and Gabrielle Santopietro and fullbacks Ashley Steffens and Heather Woolley, who missed most of last season with a foot injury. McCann and link Soraya Quezada, both juniors, also play key roles and are expected to be team leaders next fall. Sophomore link Damara Viray has displayed some impressive stick-handling to go with good speed. Violet Ries and Anna Czech, both sophs, are fullbacks. Brittany Pompliano, Justina White and Brandi Yard, who can all play link, and fullback Jenna Ruge are all seeing playing time. Principe was also impressed with the play of his freshmen, most of whom are playing for the JV, although Stephanie Kaplan joins the varsity as a reserve netminder. The coach said he’s hoping to schedule a few freshmen-only games for his JV group. “There’s a lot to work with and, hopefully, over the next three years the girls will put in the time and effort,” Principe said. “They’re raw with a capital ‘R’, but there’s a lot of athletic ability and desire. I think they can accomplish a lot if they stick with it.”last_img

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