Salem High School field hockey defeats rival Pitman, gives coach Donna O'Leary her 200th career win.
SALEM — The Salem High School field hockey team picked up its second straight win to start the season Monday, defeating Tri-County Conference Classic Division rival Pitman, 2-0.
“It definitely feels good because I guess you could say we were the underdog after losing eight people (to graduation) last year,” said Rams defender Kayla Chapman. “We didn’t know what to expect this season, but I’m proud of the way we played.”
“We’re a young team so it feels great to start off 2-0,” added senior captainShanna Scott.
But the win was more significant than just an early-season victory.
The win was Rams head coach Donna O’Leary’s 200th of her career.
“It feels really good,” she said of reaching the milestone. “It means a lot, it really does.”
The game was tightly contested, as the first goal of the game didn’t come until there was 16:23 left in the first half.
“It was a well-played game by both teams,” said Panthers head coach Tracey Pinque. “Our conditioning still isn’t where it needs to be and that little bit of fatigue is keeping us from finishing.”
Scott got the scoring started, taking the ball through the Panther defense before finding the back of the cage.
“I just tried to get the ball and work my way up and dodge a couple of defenders,” she said of her goal. “I knew I had to score it on my side, I was just confident enough to take it.”
The defense for the Rams was solid all game led by Kayla Chapman. She helped keep the ball out of the circle and away from goalkeeper Tiasia Tatem.
“I was just concentrating on helping the goalkeeper out,” Chapman said. “I was just trying to make it as easy as possible for her to get the ball up (field) and give the offense a chance to score.”
Chapman also got in on the offense, adding the Rams’ second goal with just more than five minutes left in the first half.
But the savior of the defense — and on more than one occasion — wasOlivia Harris.
Harris cleared multiple free balls rolling in front of the cage to help preserve the shutout.
“Kayla Chapman played phenomenal back there. Shanna in the front...Olivia helped the goal from the sweep,” said O’Leary. “They are the mainstay of the team and they did a lot of talking. Just real proud of them today, they played a nice game.”
Pitman’s freshman goalie Annie Beato had another great game in the cage. She kept the Rams off the board in the second half, giving her team a chance to come back.
“My goalkeeper for a freshman did an outstanding job making some stops,” Pinque said. “(Scott) is a very talented player and we helped keep that to a minimum today.”
The Panthers (1-1) will have a chance to exact some revenge, as the two teams will meet again on Oct. 16.
“We get to play them again, on our field,” Pinque said. “Hopefully it will be a different outcome and we will be in top shape by then. And it’s going to be just as good a game as it was (Monday). It’s always a good game when we play Salem.”