River Dell Varsity Girls Field Hockey Team advances to Bergen County Women Coaches Association Tournament Semifinals

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The River Dell Varsity Girls Field Hockey Team hosted Dwight-Englewood in the first round of the Bergen County Women Coaches Tournament at River Dell High School.

Entering the tournament, the Golden Hawks were the fourth seed, while the Bulldogs earned the fifth seed. On September 21st, the teams faced off against each other, with River Dell emerging victorious 5-0.

On a glorious day filled with golden sunshine, deep blue skies, and crisp temperatures with an enthusiastic crowd in the stands and standing along the fence, the first quarter was a defensive battle with no score at the end of the quarter.

Dwight-Englewood broke the stalemate with a goal in the second quarter and took that advantage into the halftime break.

River Dell Head Coach Jessica Rickershauser, in her message to the team at intermission, "My message to the team is we know the adjustments that we need to make, and that frustration needs to turn into action." "Our senior leadership drives us and halftime; they were not very happy with their play." They're the ones on the field that can make the changes.

Senior Caroline Burmaster, on the halftime speech from Head Coach Jessica Rickershauser, "Coach talked about the improvements to the offense we had to make because sometimes in games we have trouble scoring." "We do a great job of bringing the ball up the field, but once we get the ball to the circle, we usually bring the ball up so fast we don't have enough time for our offensive players to get into the circle."

"It's difficult to keep the pressure up and our coach just made sure to tell us that we need to have enough people in the right spots to sustain the offense." "In the first half we had a little bit trouble communicating so they were able to get that goal at first."

The message resonated with the Golden Hawks in the third quarter displaying more pressure in the Dwight-Englewood zone that led to scoring changes.

River Dell finally broke through with four minutes remaining in the quarter as senior Kylie Hay gathered a rebound shot by senior Marisa Schoenberg and flicked the ball into the net.

Head Coach Jessica Rickershauser on the game-tying goal, "It was an excellent goal, once that happened, you could see their demeanor changed, and they got their confidence back."

The Golden Hawks kept the intensity on the offensive end in the fourth quarter. Marisa Schoenberg chopped down a long pass to Kylie Hay by the right side of the field; Hay slid the ball across the goal mouth to a wide-open Caroline Burmaster, who buried the ball into the back of the cage with less than eight minutes left.

Caroline Burmaster on the go-ahead goal, "I was able to creep down a little bit because we had a lot more players down in the circle, saw the post was completely free the opposite post." "Kylie(Hay) had the ball down by the cage, she just passed it right across the goal, and I was in a good spot to tap it in." We did a better job of communicating in that quarter and put a lot more offensive pressure.

Three minutes later, River Dell extended the lead to 3-1. The Golden Hawks offense got a shot on goal from a corner play, with Kylie Hay in the perfect spot to gather the rebound and poke the ball into the cage.

Caroline Burmaster on the offensive performance by Kylie Hay, "Kylie is a great player with quick skills, she's so fast that she can blow right by any of the defenders." "It's extremely helpful when we have a player like her whether she passes it right into the circle or takes it down there by herself and how we get a lot of our goals."

The Bulldogs refused to go away, quietly notching a goal late in the fourth quarter. When it appeared Dwight-Englewood might be on the verge of tying the game up, the River Dell defense rose to the occasion preventing any open passes or shots on goal as they held on for the 3-2 win.

Head Coach Jessica Rickershauser on the victory, "We needed that breathing room, and Dwight-Englewood was hot on our tails." "They scored another goal afterward, and the game wasn't over." That's the way counties are and why it's such an exciting tournament because you don't know what will happen. You play these teams in the regular season; we see them now, and it's different conditions.

"Kylie, Caroline, Marisa, and Bella(Isabella Gilmour) are our four captains and stole the show, especially after halftime." "Kylie certainly heard the call and was all over the place trying to make things happen." Even after she got on the scoreboard, she was doing many things that maybe non-field hockey people wouldn't recognize, like forcing a ton of corners. She was getting people out of position and giving us all those opportunities.

"Bella plays at the bottom of our diamond, was trying to help sustain pressure and taking a lot of those big hits coming in." "Marisa is always involved as well as Caroline on the offensive end."Marisa fed the ball to Kylie and then Caroline, trying to get the ball moving." We have a senior-heavy team, but those four captains drive the rest of the group.

"They really fed off the energy of the crowd, I definitely heard the cowbell and JV team was here." "We love having our offense in front of our bench in the second half because they're motivated to play and love having their cheering section."

"That's what's nice about a Sunday game because a lot of times, the parents don't get to see these games, and it was nice to have that support." "Field hockey is not a big sport around here, and we don't have a youth program, so not many people know what's happening.

On the win, Caroline Burmaster said, " We're still trying to keep the pressure up even though we were up." "We just had to make sure they couldn't get that goal, and that get the ball out of the circle as quickly and mostly our strategy."

"Aashna Pandya is a great goalie, her first year playing field hockey and our goalie from last year left." "She stepped up to play especially for a first-year player and not knowing much about the sport."

"It meant a lot that our parents and families were able to come out because a lot of people are not working on Sunday morning, so they can come out to support us." "Whereas games during the week are a lot harder because 4:15 is a little bit awkward time for parents and families working." The weekend games are great, and families can come out and support us; hearing them cheer on the side gives us a little extra boost in the game.

Next up for the Golden Hawks is a semifinal showdown against a number one seed Northern Highlands at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, New Jersey, on Sunday, October 16th at 11 a.m.

The Highlanders earned a bye in the tournament's first round, undefeated at 10-0, and registered nine shutouts. On September 24th, River Dell fell to Northern Highlands 6-0.

Head Coach Jessica Rickershauser on the upcoming semifinal match-up against Northern Highlands, "We played them at the beginning of the year, but it's a different animal just like with Dwight-Englewood, who we beat handily, and teams change." "I told the girls on any given day, look at what happened recently with our football team." You don't know until you play and take that field."

"It came down to that last quarter with Jake(Sconza) and we talked about that." "That's how we have to play it and play our best and let the chips fall where may."

Caroline Burmaster, on playing in the semifinals, "I think the most important thing is a mindset, and we when we played other teams such as Westwood and Wayne Valley, we played a great game." "I think we played well against them even though they beat us last time, and they're a great team." If we believe in ourselves, we can do great things together."

"We love playing other teams and it's a really fun sport and love to play together." "We work really well as a team, all the seniors on the team are great friends and we communicate really well."

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