Field Hockey season ends in ToC Championship Loss to Oak Knoll


Ryan Lawrence

Defender Kylie Zielinski high fives her teammates as Eastern gets ready for their ToC Final matchup with Oak Knoll. (Ryan Lawrence, South Jersey Sports Weekly)

  Girls field hockey fell just short of their ninth Tournament of Champions title with a heartbreaking 4-1 defeat to Oak Knoll (NJ), the number one team in the country, according to MaxPreps. 

  It was fitting that the two national powerhouse field hockey programs faced off at Kean University on November 15 to determine the New Jersey state champion. Eastern held its ground for most of the first half until Oak Knoll broke the scoreless tie with 4:54 left in the first. Eastern was never able to recover, allowing 3 more goals in the next ten minutes. 

  Sophomore star Ryleigh Heck gave Oak Knoll the credit they deserve but was unsatisfied with her teams’ performance. Per Ryan Lawrence of South Jersey Sports Weekly, “Oak Knoll is a great team. They’re No. 1. …. By the end they just kept going and we collapsed. I don’t think we brought it all out tonight,” Heck said.

  On a brighter note, the field hockey team won their twenty-first consecutive Group 4 State Championship this season while finishing with a final record of 23-2-0, with both losses coming against Oak Knoll. 

  Looking ahead to next season, the team will lose a handful of players seniors, such as Rutgers-bound midfielder Elise Pettisani and goalie Nina Santore. 

  The Senior Class finish their high school careers with a staggering final record of 97-6-1, including one ToC title. 

  Overall, legendary Head Coach Danyle Heilig was very pleased with their season, per Ryan Lawrence of South Jersey Sports Weekly. “They had a great state tournament run. Winning a 21st straight state championship game was outstanding. This would have been great icing on the cake but it just wasn’t our time this year.”