By Mike Weilamann
Warren Hills’ field hockey team, fresh off winning its second straight Group 3 title, dropped a 4-1 decision to Eastern on Wednesday in the Tournament of Champions semifinals at West Windsor North High School.
The Blue Streaks (23-3), who had their five-game win streak snapped, finished arguably the greatest season in program history by matching a school record for wins — set last year — as well as the program’s 13th sectional championship. First-year coach Kate Rothman’s team earned its second TOC appearance with a 1-0 win against Ocean City on Saturday in the Group 3 final.
Eastern (26-0) advances to face Oak Knoll (24-1) — a 4-3 winner in overtime against Madison in the other semifinal — in Friday’s championship game at Kean University. The unbeaten Vikings, who defeated the Royals in the last two TOC finals, fell to Oak Knoll in the 2010 title game.
Eastern, along with any knowledgeable field hockey fan, was miffed by its ridiculous No. 4 seed in the TOC, which seeded all five qualifying teams by power points (through its first 13 regular-season games) for the first time in tournament history. Eastern is the consensus No. 1 team in New Jersey and the nation.
Warren Hills, the No. 1 seed, was hosed most of all by the new seeding process by having to face an Eastern squad that is ranked No. 1 in the nation and is riding a 132-game unbeaten streak since the loss in the 2010 TOC final.
Junior forward Dani Profita complete a record-setting season with her team-leading 41st goal in the loss to Eastern. Her 41 goals and 107 points are single-season records for the Blue Streaks, while she also holds the career mark for goals with 80. The goal also raised Profita’s career points total to 211, tying her with Sydney Muntone (2011-14) as the school’s all-time leader in that category.
Profita will enter her senior season just six assists shy of the career record of 57 shared by Muntone and Niki Miller (2009-12). Miller still holds the single-season record of 29, set in 2012. Profita led the Streaks with 25 assists this season.
Warren Hills finished with 136 goals as a team, nine shy of the record of 147 set in 2014.
The loss also marked the final game for three senior starters — Rachel Phillips(Vermont), Katie Thompson (West Chester) and Megan Thompson (undecided).
Katie Thompson ranks seventh on the school’s all-time assists list with 36 — behind Muntone and Miller (57), Dani and Nikki Profita (51), Lindsey Schott (46) and Nikki Schott (38).
Mike Weilamann is a veteran sports writer who has covered high school, college, and professional sports. This post was originally published on Mr. Weilamann’s blog, Open Mike, and has been re-published with his permission.