Ocean City field hockey captures another state title
BORDENTOWN — When Britney Stein was a freshman, she watched from the bench as older sister April led the Ocean City field hockey team to a state championship as a senior in 2013. The next two years, Britney came out on the losing end, as the Red Raiders fell to Warren Hills in the title game.
Now a senior, Britney has a trophy of her own, as she played perhaps the best game of her life in leading Ocean City back to the top of the mountain.
Stein scored a hat trick as the Red Raiders blitzed the Blue Streaks from the very first minute and cruised to a 5-0 victory on Saturday night in the Group 3 state championship game at Bordentown High School. The title was the third in the last five years for the Red Raiders, who have battled Warren Hills in the championship game for five straight seasons.
"It's definitely the best game of my life. My sister won one when I was a freshman, and now, as a senior, I get to take another one home to the family. We controlled the game last year and remembered what it felt like to lose. We were not walking off this field with a loss this year. We knew that, for sure," Stein said. "I couldn't have done it without Rialee Allen. She put me in position for all those shots, and all my teammates positioned me great with their shots. I just couldn't let a ball over the end line, that was my job."
Ocean City (22-3) has struggled with slow starts throughout much of the season, but that wasn't the case Saturday night, thanks to Stein. Stein deflected a Shannon O'Reilly shot off a corner before even a minute of regulation had gone by, giving the Red Raiders an early 1-0 lead. It stayed that way into the second half, despite the Red Raiders out-shooting Warren Hills 9-2 in the first half and having a 6-2 advantage on corners.
"That definitely gave us the momentum. In the first minute, Britney Stein had a goal, and we knew we were going to get this and win," said Allen, one of 11 seniors on Ocean City's roster. "We were a little flat at times in the first half, but in the second half, coach (Cory) Terry told us what we needed to work on, we worked on it, and that showed on the scoreboard."
In the second half, Ocean City's relentless pressure finally got to the Blue Streaks (20-5), as Allen got a pass over to Stein on another corner and Stein converted, make it 2-0 with a little more than 26 minutes left. Stein scored her third goal of the game about five minutes later on another corner, and Ocean City began to take control.
"We weren't letting (a loss) happen again. There was no other option, we had to figure it out," Stein said. "That's what our coaches said, that we had to figure it out and it was our year. We put a few goals up and we wanted to protect that lead."
Sophomore goalie Maddie Kahn, a transfer from state and national powerhouse Eastern Regional, did her part to protect the lead, making several key saves. Ocean City padded its lead with 15:42 to go, as O'Reilly redirected a shot off a corner to make it 4-0. Grace Steele added the Red Raiders' fifth goal with 10 minutes remaining to help seal the title.
"It's the best feeling ever. We couldn't have done it without every single one of these girls. We've worked so hard for four years, and to get it our senior year, nothing beats it," Allen said. "It's literally amazing. I'm so proud of Britney and everything she does. She was moving around the whole game, and I can't thank her enough for getting those goals and keeping us alive. It definitely sucked having lost the last two years, but senior year it's do-or-die, so we had to come out and win or our season was over. That's exactly the mentality we had, and we came out and we won it."
"It's so awesome, senior year, there's no better feeling. We wanted it so badly. There was no losing for us this year. All 11 of us have worked so hard these past four years, and everyone on the team has worked so hard this year, too," said Nicholl Fenton, another senior. "When the time was running out, it just seemed like all the pieces had come together. We can go home victorious now and know that every single sprint we did this year and every workout was worth it. The bus ride home is going to be bumping, and it will continue when we get back."
Contact Dave O'Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays