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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Nov 13, 2017

Colts Neck Field Hockey in Pursuit of Divisional Championship

By Les Pierce

Senior forward Amy Flood (right) leads the Cougars in scoring.

The Colts Neck field hockey program has never won a division championship. This season, the Cougars are undefeated through 12 games and focused on bringing home the A North title.

The Cougars posted a winning record of 9-8-2 in 2016 with six starters returning; a good sign for 2017. However, the staunchest supporter would likely not have anticipated their current successes. Colts Neck started their campaign with three lopsided victories: 5-1 over Neptune, 4-0 over Middletown North, and 6-1 over Manalapan. Through 12 games, they have outscored opponents 47-7.

The streak of victories was nearly interrupted in a road game versus perennial rival and preseason division favorite Freehold Township on September 25. However, the squad was lifted to victory by a 3-2 tally on a pair of goals by Ally Royle.

Leading the team in scoring are Amy Flood (14 goals), Amy McGee (11 goals/7 assists), Aryana Muscara (7 goals/5 assists), and Taylor Schandall (3 goals/10 assists). Fifth year head coach Maria Merlucci spoke of her backfield, stating, “Madison Bellows is the anchor of our defense.” Merlucci also cited junior defenders Kayla Wade and Elizabeth Whalen as key players. Goalkeeper duties are shared by junior Helen Keichlin and sophomore Stephanie LoNano. The pair has collaborated to deliver seven shutouts and allow only seven goals through 12 games.

Coach Merlucci described the Cougars’ transition over the past four years by stating, “In 2013, we were 4-10-3. In 2014, a strong freshman class came in and bought into our philosophy, committing themselves to a 12-month program with a focus on skill and fitness. Their hard work and dedication have made us the program we are now.”