Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Eastern takes record 10th straight title

Some things never get old, especially when they have to do with Eastern field hockey and championships.

Some things never get old, especially when they have to do with Eastern field hockey and championships.

The Vikings yesterday defeated Bridgewater-Raritan, 3-0, to claim the NJSIAA state Group 4 title at Toms River East.

The crown was their 10th in a row, a national record.

"A national record is a great thing," said Gabby Kozlowski, who scored the first two goals for Eastern, her 24th and 25th of the season. "Tradition has set the precedent here. "

But Eastern (23-2), ranked No. 1 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, is not through yet. The Vikings will play West Essex on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. in a semifinal of the Tournament of Champions at Hunterdon Central High. The winner will advance to the final at 1 p.m. Sunday at the College of New Jersey.

Last year, the Vikings did not advance past the semifinals because Oak Knoll, a Group 1 school, knocked them out

"Ten [state titles] is amazing," Eastern coach Danyle Heilig said. "Obviously, when I took over here 10 years ago I never thought this would happen. I credit this team a lot. "

The score yesterday did not reflect Eastern's domination.

In the first half alone, Eastern outshot the Panthers (20-3) by 10-1 and had a 7-1 advantage in penalty corners. But the Vikings led only by 2-0 at the break.

After intermission, Eastern added 14 more shots and another 14 corners and scored one goal, by senior midfielder Janine Kovach, for a 3-0 lead with 2 minutes, 37 seconds left.

"The ball was off a defender's stick, about shoulder high, I got my stick on it and it went to the right of the goalie," Kovach said.

"This win was for us and our coach. "

Panthers keeper Erica Perrine did an extraordinary job in facing 21 shots, two of which got past her on deflections off her own defenders' sticks.

Two other Eastern goals were disallowed.

About nine minutes after Kozlowski's second goal at 14:39 of the first half, senior midfielder Geena Lesiak fired a shot that hit the left post and ricochetted into the net. The the goal was disallowed because the shot was too high.

With 13:27 remaining in the second half and Eastern leading, 2-0, the Vikings' top scorer, Kelsey Mitchell, appeared to have her 37th goal of the season, but the official ruled that the ball had bounced off her hip and into the net.

Contact staff writer Bill Iezzi at 856-779-3826 or