BRIDGEWATER, NJ -- The Bridgewater-Raritan field hockey team faces the 2019 season with the task of replacing 18 seniors who graduated.
But the Panthers have a remarkable history of reloading, as new players have, for so long, stepped in and shown the ability to replicate the success of their predecessors. In fact, BRHS has reached the NJSIAA Group 4 championship game 14 years in a row – and each time they've been unable to get past the final hurdle: Eastern Regional High School, of Vorhees in South Jersey.
Second-year BRHS coach Lydia Pinto feels confident that the Panthers' team-oriented system will again help facilitate the blending of new players into the lineup this season.
"We have some talented individuals returning, but we do great job playing the team game rather than allowing those individuals to carry the team," Pinto said.
Senior forward Madison Bray, junior midfielder Rayhanah Ahmed and senior defender Alex Hobbs give Bridgewater a strong returning player in each third of the field. Bray led BRHS with 27 goals last season and also doled out 10 assists. Ahmed handed out four assists to go with a pair of goals, and she will be counted on to take on a larger role in the attack this season.
Bridgewater-Raritan went 19-5-1 last season, and Hobbs' play in the back contributed greatly to the team's total of 10 shutouts.
Senior Makayla Choy will take over as the starting goalkeeper. Freshman Lea Ciocon could step in right away and supply a spark for the offense.
"We are looking for players to step up to replace those individuals and still be a top competitor in the county, conference and state," Pinto said.
Bridgewater-Raritan opens its season at home against Hillsborough Sept. 3. The Panthers also have a home game Sept. 5 against Phillipsburg.