The field hockey season is only one week old, yet things in the Colonial Conference Liberty Division are already becoming clear.
Currently, Collingswood is the team to beat.
Two days after , the Panthers answered back with a statement of their own, defeating West Deptford 4-1.
Emily Madden scored a pair of goals for Collingswood, including a goal with 1:23 left in the first half to give the Panthers the lead for good.
“It means so much to us,” said Madden. “Our team is like a family and we have come together and worked so hard during all of these practices. To win our biggest game is awesome.”
“I’m thrilled,” said Collingswood coach Valerie Dayton. “I knew this was going to be a tough test. I think we started off a little slow, a little shaky, so I switched a couple of things around and I think they just woke up and started clicking. I couldn’t be happier.”
Madden stretched the lead to 3-1 seven minutes into the second half on a tip-in, but it was her first goal that really established the tempo of the game.
“I actually didn’t know how much time was left when it went in but I heard my assistant saying, ‘All right girls, one-and-a-half minutes left,’” said Dayton. “That’s when I knew if we could stay strong and not let in a goal before halftime, that would be huge.”
Ellie O’Neill iced the game with a goal with 1:33 left in regulation.
In the early stages of the game it looked as if (3-1) would carry over the momentum from Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Haddonfield. Senior captain Rachel Krott opened the scoring seven minutes in. However, Krista LaMania answered with a goal six minutes later to level the score.
“I think we started off strong, but I think we lost a lot of that and let them set the tempo, rather than continue with the tempo we had started,” said West Deptford coach Linda Decker.
The Eagles played toe-to-toe with the Panthers for much of the second half, but were unable to take advantage the opportunities they created.
“We played hard the whole game; I won’t take that away from the girls at all,” said Decker. “I don’t think we played as smart after they scored the first goal. I think we started getting a little choked up and weren’t passing like we needed to.”
There is still plenty of season to go for both teams, so the division has hardly been decided. The two team’s will meet in Collingswood next month, and it is far to early to rule Haddonfield out of the race.
For now though, it’s advantage Collingswood.
“I think this definitely does (give us an edge),” Madden said. “I don’t think we can look past Haddonfield just because they lost two other teams, though. We will still need to play them hard.”