VIRGINIA BEACH, VA - Day 5 of the Junior Women’s National Championship began in front of the largest crowd the venue has seen thus far. To start the day, New England faced Mid Atlantic on pitch one, and Pennsylvania took on the South on pitch two. The result of the four teams competing at 4:30 was a four way tie for third place, with Midwest, Mid Atlantic, Midwest and Pennsylvania all earning 7 points for the tournament. In the final match of the day, Midwest had the opportunity to take first place with New Jersey, but New Jersey would prevail.
On first pitch, New England seemed to have set the precedent early, with a goal in the 4th minute of play by Alex Sikalis (Acton, MA). New England sent the ball down the left side of the field and drove hard to the circle to draw the corner. After the initial shot, the scramble in front of the net left Sikalis able to poke the ball past the Mid Atlantic goalkeeper.
As New England seemed to have gained immediate confidence from their quick goal, it appeared that their lead would spread to 2-0 as Erica Borgo (Randolph, NY) beat the goalkeeper on a wide pull and pushed it towards net. But before the ball crossed the line, defenseman Kelly Bonner (Elverson, PA) had the chance to stop it, and she did. The teams resided back to the bench at halftime with New England up one.
It wasn’t until 7 minutes into the second half that Mid Atlantic tallied their first goal to tie the match at 1-1 on a field goal by Kristin Dennig (Pocomoke, MD). Dennig was left unmarked by defenders in the left side of the circle. Less than five minutes later Mid Atlantic proved they had more and Carissa Vitesse (Woodbury, NJ) ripped a shot from the top of the circle to take the lead 2-1. Vitesse’s goal was decisive of the match, which ended in the Mid Atlantic victory, 2-1.
Over on pitch 2, Pennsylvania continued their winning momentum, tallying their second win in a row after beginning the tournament with 2 losses and a tie. Scoring started early for Pennsylvania when, in the 16th minute, Jenna Chrismer (Mountaintop, PA) put PA on the board.
The South had several scoring chances in the last five minutes of the half, but were unable to capitalize on odd-man breaks and open shot opportunities. With no time left on the clock the South piled their players along the circle for a penalty corner. Nearly in celebration after Emily Kole (Chapel Hill, NC) fired a shot on net, the Pennsylvania goalkeeper stopped the chance for a tie at half time; PA lead 1-0.
Pennsylvania came out with a fire in them for the second half, scoring within the first minute. The goal again came from Chrismer; this time off of a pass from a teammate in front of a wide-open net, Chrismer collected it and put it in for her second of the match.
Alyssa Chillano (Phoenixville, PA) would strike next for Pennsylvania, also knocking in two back-to-back goals. Chillano’s goals both came off penalty corners, the first a direct shot and the second an option to the left allowed her free for a shot to the back of the cage. The goals came within five minutes of each other, and Pennsylvania wasn’t done there. Just five minutes later they marched down again, driving the ball hard to the baseline and curling around to find Anna Dessoye (Mountaintop, PA) open on the post for the sweep to finish.
The South by no means gave up on their efforts to recover from the five goal deficit, but despite their hustle and grit, the Pennsylvania defense remained consistent in warding off any chance of a South come-back. The match ended at Pennsylvania 5, the South 0.
In the final match of the night, NJ made their statement clear: they were not going to give up their first place spot easily. Within 3 minutes of play NJ marched down to earn a penalty corner. The ball was ejected to the top of the circle and despite the first shot being blocked, NJ powered on. Meghan Plank (Glen Mills, PA) moved quickly to gain an advantage on her defender and move in front of the Midwest goalkeeper, she then collected the ball and lifted it in to gain the early advantage 1-0.
After the initial goal, Midwest settled down and maintained the consistent play that they’ve shown throughout the tournament. Both teams had good offensive ball movement to create scoring opportunities, but likewise, the defense on both sides was strong. The remainder of the first half was played evenly ending in a 1-0 lead for New Jersey.
Ten minutes into the half, Midwest showed that they could, and were going to compete for the first place spot along with New Jersey. Nikki Parsley (Milford, DE) dribbled the ball around a defender, pulled to her left nearly around the goalkeeper before she was taken out and a stroke was called. Parsley was called upon to take the stroke that she drew, and she made sure to finish strong. The stroke tied the game at 1.
As the game was getting fierce, both teams even at 1 vying for the first place spot, New Jersey made a distinct move towards victory. In the 56th minutes a NJ corner shot went to the right post and sat between two New Jersey attackers and 2 Midwest defenders. MarieElena Bolles (Phoenixville, PA) was the one to come up successful in the scramble, to put New Jersey back in the lead. Less than two minutes later, New Jersey capped the game off with a goal from Tara Vitesse (Cherry Hill, NJ). The Midwest had three corners in the last three minutes of the game, but were unable to capitalize and the match ended in a 3-1 victory for New Jersey, keeping them on top.
The finals for tomorrow are as follows:
Saturday, June 25
- New England(5) vs South (6) @4:00PM on Field 2
- Midwest (3) vs Mid Atlantic (4) @4:00PM on Field 1
- New Jersey (1) vs Pennsylvania (2) @6:00PM
Admission and parking are free and open to the public. All matches are played at the Virginia Beach National Training Center located at 2181 Landstown Road, Virginia Beach, Virginia, 23456.
Live match information can be found on Twitter @USAFieldHockey.