By Brian Deakyne
TINTON FALLS – Playing without a single senior on the roster, Red Bank Regional High School field hockey coach Maria Heininger was impressed with the Lady Bucs’ first half of its season opener Monday afternoon.
It was the second half against Monmouth Regional High School that irritated Heininger and ultimately doomed Red Bank to a 5-1 loss.
Red Bank allowed just one late Monmouth Regional goal over the first 30 minutes of the game, but the Falcons outscored the Bucs 4-1 in the second half to run away with the win.
“I was hoping that they would be aggressive from the get-go and I was impressed with the way that they played in the first half, holding it off to 1-0,” Heininger said. “I think then we were a little more tentative in the second half and we got a little too comfortable.”
Sophomore Natalie Johnson and senior Gianna Mauro each finished with two goals for the Falcons. Junior Gabby Sabin added a goal late in the second half.
Liz Doherty scored the lone goal for Red Bank Regional in the second half.
While Monmouth Regional controlled time of possession and had a cluster of chances throughout the game, the Lady Bucs defenders stood tall in the first half. The Falcons entered halftime with a 1-0 lead but led in corners, 8-1. Monmouth led Red Bank 10-2 in corner chances for the game.
“Our defense is definitely our strong point, we have a couple of really good girls back there, especially our goalie (Makayla Henderson). She was a soccer player and came over to field hockey,” Heininger said. “She’s really been holding it together back there.”
The Falcons, far more experienced, appeared to wear down Red Bank in the second half and created several scoring chances – much like the first half – but converted on them over the final 30 minutes.
Still, with a 5-1 loss, Heininger’s assessment of her team’s first game?
“I think we played pretty good. We’re a very young team. We have no seniors; we’re made up of only sophomores, juniors, and freshmen. So, as a young team with a lot to learn, I think they did pretty good today,” she said. “We’re just hoping for our first win and we’re going to take it from there.”