By LESLEY GRAHAM
The Ocean City High School field hockey team outlasted Egg Harbor Township, 2-1, in double overtime Saturday to capture the Southeast A championship.
Ocean City added a trophy to the case with a 12-2 finish, including a perfect 9-0 in conference play, while Egg Harbor Township finished the season with an 11-2 record.
Carly Hanin scored the game winner for the Red Raiders in the second overtime period, with teammate Tara McNally scoring first for Ocean City off a pass from Alexis Smallwood.
In a unique twist on the season, Ocean City was dealt a blow losing four starters for the remaining three games of the season.
But the team rallied and fought through the unforeseen circumstances to come out on top, winning their final three games with a completely different lineup than the one that started the season.
That showcases the depth of talent and team-first mentality the Ocean City field hockey team possessed, Head Coach Kelsey Burke said.
“What a testament to the girls who stepped in and stepped up when we needed them to,” said Burke, who was thrilled with the season outcome.
“I am so proud of the girls for overcoming all the adversity they faced this season. It was a total team effort,” Burke added.
In what was a statistically dominant performance by Ocean City, the Eagles of EHT were able to hang tough and keep it a close game.
Senior Tara McNally scored her team high 27th goal of the season off a pass from fellow senior Alexis Smallwood to give the Raiders a 1-0 advantage late in the third quarter.
EHT answered back on a stroke penalty, knotting the game at 1-1 and sending it into overtime.
The first overtime would roll into the second when Ocean City was able to pressure in the circle with a shot in from McNally. Carly Hanin tipped the rebound from the EHT goalkeeper, securing the victory for the Red Raiders.
“It felt amazing and surreal all at the same time,” Hanin said after the game. “I was so happy to be a part of the win for the team and especially for our seniors.”
The seniors who donned the red and white Ocean City colors for the last time included Tara McNally, Sophia Ruh, Katie Bowman, Nya Gilchrist, Morgan Decosta, Alexis Smallwood, Tess Grimley and Chelsea Stack.
Burke said the seniors left a lasting impression on the field hockey program.
“This group of seniors were all in from day one and determined to leave their mark on the program. I am so proud of all they’ve accomplished and truly sad to see them go,” Burke said.