LINWOOD — After a scoreless first quarter, Ocean City High School field hockey senior Olivia Vanesko and her teammates realized they needed more intensity.
“We lacked communication,” Vanesko said. “Our defense, our offense, everything was pretty slow in the first quarter.”
The 17-year-old opened the scoring early in the second quarter to lead the Red Raiders to a 5-0 win over rivals Mainland Regional in an American League Cape-Atlantic Division game on Wednesday.
Ocean City (6-1) is ranked No. 6 in The Press Elite 11.
“The continent has always been a big rival for us,” Vanesko said. “Regardless of our levels that season, we always fought well. Mainland put up a very good fight (Wednesday).
“After the first quarter we got together and said, ‘We have to pick it up or they’re going to come for our throats. And they fought very well, but we made adjustments and worked as a team,” added the striker.
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Four players scored for Ocean City – Vanesko, Brooke Hanley, Racheli Levy-Smith and two from Julia Neff, scoring in the third and fourth quarters.
Ocean City manager Kelsey Burke preaches a balanced offense, saying “I don’t care who it is, as long as they’re in red.”
“It motivates me because we definitely share the ball,” Burke said. “It makes us dangerous. (It’s) hard to tag just one person. … We move the ball well.
Mainland (3-3-1) started the game strong, especially on offense. The Mustangs got four corners and attacked the cage in the first quarter.
But the Red Raiders became more disciplined with their defense as the game unfolded, cleaning up their footwork and winning more tackles to go on the attack more smoothly, Burke said.
“I’m glad we made some adjustments after that first quarter and started to build momentum,” Burke said.
Vanesko scored with 10 minutes and 15 seconds left in the second quarter. Hanley scored 9 minutes later to give the Red Raiders a 2-0 half-time lead.
Levy-Smith and Neff scored in the third quarter to make it 4-0. Neff netted an assist from Andi Helphenstine in the fourth to cap the scoring.
Tricia Nicoletti added two assists.
Ocean City defeated Mainland 21-5. The Red Raiders had 12 corners to the Mustangs’ five.
“The first goal is always a huge change of momentum, especially after we started the game slowly,” Vanesko said of his goal. “That’s when we started scoring more and more.
“As I said, Mainland are our rivals in all sports. It feels good. Again, they put up a huge fight. They did very well (Wednesday).
Farley O’Brien made 19 saves for Mainland.
In the first quarter, Mainland coach Jill Hatz said her team played very well, connected on their passes and found the holes. The Mustangs continued to play hard all game, but Ocean City started making better saves and the Mustangs’ passes weren’t as strong as they were early on, Hatz added.
“We kept fighting until the very end,” Hatz said. “I’m very proud of them.”
Ocean City;0 2 2 1 — 5
continental; 0 0 0 0 — 0
Goals— Neff (2) Vanesko, Hanley, Levy-Smith (OC)
Goalkeepers—Bridgeford (OC) 5; O’Brien (MR) 19
Contact Patrick Mulranen:&rdpStrong> 609-272-7217