OC Field Hockey Blanks Rival Mainland
OCEAN CITY — There is brand new artificial turf at Carey Stadium in Ocean City. One thing that isn't new? The Red Raiders field hockey team dominating Cape-Atlantic League competition.
The Red Raiders forced the issue with a relentless offensive attack almost from the opening whistle on Monday night and cruised to a 10-0 victory over arch-rival Mainland Regional. Ocean City held a 25-0 advantage in shots and scored five goals in each half, putting the game out of reach with a four-goal barrage in the opening 10 minutes.
"Mainland is one of our toughest competitors, but coach (Terry) always tells us to come out thinking of our own game and not the other team," said Shannon O'Reilly, who scored a game-high four goals, including three in the second half. "We always try to focus on our plan. We don't expect anything, we just try to play our game and if we do that, we know we're going to score goals."
Rialee Allen, who finished with three goals, got the scoring going early when she found the back of the cage less than a minute into the game. Less than three minutes later, O'Reilly scored the first of her four goals, and Britney Stein and Nicholl Fenton also tallied goals in the first 10 minutes as Ocean City (2-0) sprinted to a 4-0 lead. Allen added another goal with less than three minutes left in the first half to push the lead to 5-0.
"We want to try to get as much competition as we can in the beginning of the season because we have some powerhouse teams coming up on Saturdays, like Oak Knoll and West Essex, and Eastern Regional later in the season. So we want to try to prepare as much as we can," said Alexis Paone. "We came out on fire, which is one of our goals this year. We want to come out with as much intensity as we can and get a couple of goals (early). At the end of the first half we were a little flat, but at halftime coach Terry motivated us again and we came out strong in the second half."
Mainland goalie Sam Morton played well, making a ton of saves in the first half, but she was forced to face 25 shots and relentless pressure from both sides of the field and from all angles. Along with Allen, O'Reilly, Stein and Fenton, Grace Steele racked up a goal and two assists.
"I think that's what makes this team different. It's not one person scoring every goal, it's everyone scoring, everyone passing — everyone is contributing, so we're like a family and everyone has to contribute in a family," O'Reilly said.
Ocean City players said they would love to play every home game on the new artificial turf, but the Red Raiders only have a couple of games scheduled at Carey Stadium this season, as the football and soccer teams also are vying for time on the new field. So the Red Raiders are soaking up the experience of being able to play night games in front of larger crowds.
"It's amazing. We love it. It's so much easier playing on turf," O'Reilly said. "The passes are so much faster and more accurate. The transition from grass to turf is amazing. It's a nice, because we do play some big games on turf (later in the season)."
"I love it. This is what we've been waiting for," Paone said. "This makes field hockey such a better game and we want to get as much time as we can on this field. It's definitely a different atmosphere and we like when there are a lot of people here cheering us on."
The next game scheduled for Carey Stadium is Saturday, Oct. 1, when Ocean City welcomes North Jersey powerhouse Oak Knoll at 5 p.m.
Contact Dave O'Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays