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Holmdel, N.J. - An offensive clinic was put on display by the Holmdel High School field hockey team on Saturday in its home opener against Keyport.
Led by senior Natalie Grana and junior Sara Safari, the Hornets roared to a season-high 12 goals scored in dominating a 12-0 win over Keyport to improve to 2-1 on the season.
“It was really exciting to see our forwards do a good job attacking the cage,” said Holmdel field hockey coach Melissa Murphy. “The more we play, the more confident we get in scoring goals. Our leadership up front was really good.”
Grana got her career day started right away for the Hornets, scoring her first of a game-high five goals on the day off the rebound to put Holmdel up 1-0.
After Safari knocked home back-to-back goals to make it a three goal lead for Holmdel, Grana followed up her teammate with a little hot streak of her own to finish out the first half.
Gaining great position in front of the cage, the senior tapped in her second score of the game to make it 4-0, Holmdel.
With 9:49 to go in the first half, Grana scratched off her first hat trick of the season, again gaining great position in front of the cage and scoring off a nice pass from teammate Catherine Haggerty to make it 5-0.
That wasn’t the end of Grana’s impressive first half as the senior had another score up her sleeve before halftime.
Off a nice pass by teammate Allie Geller in front of the cage, Grana skipped in her fourth goal of the contest to give Holmdel a commanding 6-0 halftime lead.
“It was all about goal scoring position,” Grana said. “I was really just in the right place at the right time. It wasn’t a solo effort. My teammates helped me out a lot.”
Safari joined Grana in the hat trick circle to start the second half for the Hornets, circling past a Keyport defender and slapping home the first goal of the half to make it 7-0.
Grana scored her game-high fifth goal moments later to make it 8-0, putting a nice end to a day she says she will always remember being her last home opener as a Hornet.
“It sets a really great tone for the season,” Grana said. “I played really hard and hoping to keep that same energy going the rest of the season.
Safari notched a milestone of her own for Holmdel as well, scoring her fourth goal of the game to give the Hornets nine goals on the day.
Only scoring four goals all of last season, Safari now has five goals on the year for Holmdel.
“It shows a lot of improvement from last year and shows that all the hard work I’ve been putting in all offseason is paying off,” Safari said. “I’m really happy with how we played as a team. I think it shows that we are going to have a good season.”
Sophomore Ashley Bararino scored her first goal of the season to make it 10-0, Holmdel.
Junior Dagney Phothimat scored the last two goals of the game for the Hornets.
Geller and Brianna Cabunag each finished with a game-high two assists for Holmdel in the win.
Sophomore Bella Campillay added in an assist for the Hornets.
It’s the first time in 10 years that Holmdel has scored more than 10 goals in a game.
Coming off a tough 1-0 loss to Raritan on Friday, Murphy was happy to see her team bounce back against Keyport and feels the win will pay big dividends for the team in its next stretch of games.
“I’m happy with our start to the season,” Murphy said. “We’re really excited to play our next opponent Manasquan. I think we’re going to be ready to take them on as a competitor this season.”
Holmdel will next host Manasquan on Tuesday.
Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports