The Vernon High School field hockey team, under the guidance of head coach Kieran Killeen, has earned its share of success and winning seasons in the past several years. But, while Coach Killeen and the players on the Vikings’ roster are proud of past accomplishments, they aren’t dwelling on them as they look forward to more accolades now and in the future on the field.
The Vikings have already earned a shutout regular season victory this fall (5-0 over Pequannock on September 10) and they are scheduled to host High Point on September 26.
“We plan to compete for the title in a tough division,” Killeen said. “We want to make another run in the County Tournament, last year falling just short of making the final with a 0-1 loss to Warren Hills. We’d like to push past the second round of [NJSIAA Sectional] States and give ourselves a shot at reaching another state sectional final.”
Key returning student athletes for the Vikings this fall include Lauren Waschek (senior, defender), Shaelynn Castanaga Acerra (senior, goal keeper), Bailey Mann (junior, midfielder), Grace Tavares (junior, defender), Sidney Van Tassel (junior, midfielder) and Abigail DeYoung (sophomore, forward).
Among the newcomers looking to make a consistent positive impact at the varsity level this year are Jalyn Day (junior, forward), Michaela Woolley (junior, forward), Chloe DeBonta (sophomore, defender), Abigail Mundhenk (sophomore, midfielder), Taryn Picariello (sophomore, defender) and Abigail Cawley (freshman, midfielder).
Leadership will be an ongoing key component for the Vikings this season.
“Lauren and Shaelynn [will be looked upon as leaders on the roster this year],” Killeen said. “They are both seniors and have been in the varsity mix for the past few years. So, their on-field and off-field experience will be vital for our young team.”
The Vikings tallied a very strong overall record of 15-6 in 2021, and they advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Group 2 Sectional Tournament where they were defeated by West Morris. They toppled Westwood in the opening round of the sectional tournament.
This year, they compete in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference along with Lenape Valley, Hackettstown, Wallkill Valley and Newton.
“We are definitely a contender,” Killeen said. “Hackettstown is returning a lot so I think they would start the season as the favorites.”