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Eastern captures field hockey championship

Jaclyn Beasley was beaming Tuesday after the Eastern field hockey team defeated visiting Washington Township, 3-0, for the South Jersey Group 4 championship.

Jaclyn Beasley was beaming Tuesday after the Eastern field hockey team defeated visiting Washington Township, 3-0, for the South Jersey Group 4 championship.

Beasley, a senior center-midfielder, scored a pair of goals in a game that had nonstop action and a vocal crowd urging players on.

The victory, which gave Eastern its 11th consecutive sectional crown, propelled the Vikings (22-2) into the state Group 4 semifinals against the Central Group 4 winner, Freehold Township.

The teams will meet at 2 p.m. tomorrow, at Shawnee.

Eastern has won 10 straight state Group 4 titles, but you would never know it by the enthusiasm Beasley and her teammates showed.

"We're in a zone right now," Beasley said. "We're playing well together. We have a lot of things we need to work on, but we're doing good."

The third-seeded Vikings, ranked fourth in the nation by, lost only to teams ranked higher nationally. Their goalie, Alana Barry, a sophomore, has 17 shutouts. They were leading the country in goals scored as of Nov. 4 with 162, and have 175.

They also have Kelsey Mitchell, New Jersey's all-time leading scorer. Mitchell, a center-forward, scored the second goal Tuesday. That gave her 57 goals for the season and 159 for her career, tying her with Carla Tagliente.

Tagliente, of Marathon, N.Y., played from 1993 to '96 and is fourth on the goals-scored list in the country.

Beasley scored the first goal with 7 minutes, 50 seconds remaining in the first half, after an insert by Alyssa McFerron on a penalty corner. Mitchell got the assist.

Mitchell made it a 2-0 game 5:54 into the second half, and Beasley scored the final goal with 2:24 left.

But Township kept coming, especially after each score. Township defenders Laura Rose and Stephanie Gardner continually cleared the ball in front of goalie Brianna Shea - who has 15 shutouts - and stifled shots.

"Early in the game, if you score, it changes the game," Washington Township coach Jeannine O'Connor said.

"If you put a ball in the goal, then you know you can put a ball in the goal," she said. "We had shots going wide and corners not being executed. You want to get the defense to question themselves. Keep putting pressure on them."

A big scoring opportunity for the fifth-seeded Minutemaids (17-3) surfaced on a breakaway by junior forward Lindsey Hatch with 6:20 left in the second half and Township trailing, 2-0.

Hatch never broke stride as she raced to the circle with the ball on her stick. Teammate Caitlyn Tauland was on Hatch's left, but Barry smothered the shot.

"It was a great play," Hatch said of Barry's move. "I wanted to show her a really good dodge. I tried my hardest."

"I didn't hear her," she said of Tauland. "I just saw the goalie coming up, and I was trying to think as quick as I could about what would beat her."

Eastern outshot Township by 16-9 and had 10 corners to the Minutemaids' 8.

"This game, we tried our hardest and gave 100 percent, and left it all out on the field," Hatch said. "It's disappointing to end your season, but it's also good to know that we have no regrets.

"This is the first time this year that we've given 100 percent throughout the whole game. It's the finals. You don't want to let up once they score one or two, because there's always the opportunity."

Washington Township   1 2 - 3

Eastern   0 0 - 0

Goals: Jaclyn Beasley (2), Kelsey Mitchell.

Saves: WT-Brianna Shea 8. E-Alana Barry 5.

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