Highlanders complete another successful field hockey season

West Milford. The Highlanders completed the fall 2023 season with an 18-3 record, and they were undefeated champions in NEFHL Division 1.

| 30 Nov 2022 | 12:09

The fact that the West Milford High School field hockey program was highly successful once again in 2022 isn’t surprising.

It’s remarkable and worthy of praise and pride, but because of all of the attributes including knowledgeable coaching, solid leadership and focused and determined student athletes on the roster, it’s not surprising.

The Highlanders finished with a stellar 18-3 overall record and they were undefeated champions in NEFHL Division 1.

“There are a few games that really standout as the most impressive games this season for my team,’’ West Milford head coach Krista Provost said. “I would have to say our final game in the Conference against Ramsey (1-0 win on Oct. 27) is definitely my number one game to remember. In all 11 years as the head coach, I have never had a team beat Ramsey, and therefore, we have never won the Conference title. Our energy was high, our composure was right, and we played like a unified team out on the field.

“Another game that is a standout was in our (NJSIAA North Jersey Group 2 Sectional) State Tournament quarterfinals against Vernon (a 1-0 win on November 3). Vernon is a well-skilled team and we usually struggle against them. We went into overtime this year and captain Avery Vacca scored the winning goal. It was incredible and definitely the game that I will remember as we head into the off season.’’

A number of players on the team were impressive by their steady improvements on the field as the season progressed.

“I definitely have girls in mind [as to being most improved], but sophomores Lily Kreutzer, Laurel Space and Vivian Sirnik are the ones I think about right away,’’ Provost said. “Coming into the preseason I was not sure what to expect from my sophomore class, but these three really stepped up. Laurel and Vivian secured a starting defensive position in every game and also got some Conference and County recognition for their low block tackles. Lily worked the front line and was our third leading goal scorer.”“In addition, Destiny Looker (senior, defense) and Lexi O’Flaherty (senior, forward) impressed me this season. These two girls did not play on the youth team, but by time their senior year came around they were something special.’’

The leaders on the squad were a consistently strong presence for West Milford this year.

“My captains Meagan Van Kirk, Jacquelyn Galella and Avery Vacca were wonderful leaders and did an outstanding job preparing the team in the offseason and throughout our season this fall,’’ Provost said. “Their leadership sparked the team and helped us earn our 18-3 overall record, including the Conference title.

“Additional leaders were goalie, Sam Krautheim, right midfielder Amelia Pilatowski and forward Hayley Allwood. The girls worked hard and their hustle on practice days set the tone.’’

The Highlanders advanced to the semifinal round of the Sectional Tournament before losing a close 1-0 game to Hackettstown on Nov. 7.

Not surprisingly, optimism abounds for the future for the Highlanders.

“I am very optimistic for next season as I have a core group of starters returning for fall 2023, including goalie, center midfielder, left and right defenders and the majority of my forwards,’’ Provost said. “We will definitely be missing some key girls to graduation, but I hope that motivates my returners to work even harder this offseason. We have big shoes to fill.’’