RANDOLPH, NJ- The Randolph field hockey team stormed out of the gate in 2020, ripping off nine straight wins before they met their first defeat. But after defeating Mt. Olive in the first round of the NJSIAA state playoffs, they ran into an old nemesis in West Morris, and came up just short in a close-knit 1-0 game to end their season. (Additional Game Photos in Link at end of story)
“West Morris has always been one of our top competitors,” said senior captain Sidney Lusardi, a four-year varsity player for the Lady Rams. “They definitely hustle to every ball, and they gave us a run for our money. Every individual on the West Morris team has a very strong stick, so they can stop any ball that comes at them. They also have very good passing combinations and have always been a strong team all over the field.”
While the game might appear to be a big upset with a No. 3 seed falling to a No. 10 seed, the seeding is a bit misleading in this altered and abbreviated season of Covid-19. The Wolfpack are a perineal power, having put up a 70-16 record over their previous four seasons. They knocked off No. 2 seed Wayne Valley in the first round and will now face No. 1 Seed Warren Hills for the fifth straight year in the Sectional Finals, where they have lost four straight times.
Randolph thought they got on the board first just a few minutes into the game, but the goal was called off and the game remained 0-0. West Morris then put the Rams on their heels when they scored the first goal that counted, knocking the ball into the Rams net off a penalty corner with five minutes left in the first quarter.
Having won ten of their 13 previous games by shutout, Randolph only trailed in two games this year, which were their two losses to Montclair and Vorhees - both who boast powerful programs.
“I think we got a bit discouraged after they scored; they definitely out hustled us to every loose ball, and I believe that was the game changer for them,” said Lusardi. “They were stopping every ball, whether it was a pass or blocking one of our free hits. I think we struggled with cutting to the ball, and they were able to cut off many of our passes.”
Randolph was never able to get consistent flow or pressure throughout the game, and every time it appeared a good scoring chance was about to develop, a Wolfpack defender was there to thwart the opportunity. The Lady Rams had a last-ditch chance when they earned a penalty corner as time expired, but just like the rest of the game a defender was in the right place at the right time to break up the play and end the game.
The season was a resounding success however, and with Lusardi being the only graduating starter, the program appears well stocked to continue this year’s rebound from two sub .500 seasons in 2018 and 2019. Their 11-3 record returns the Rams to winning form and is the best since Lusardi’s freshman year in 2017 when the team finished 15-4-3.
“It was absolutely remarkable to be a captain of this team the past two years because I was able to witness firsthand how much all the girls have grown individually and as a group,” said Lusardi. “I definitely saw many similarities between this season and my freshman year; both teams had a passion for the game and for each other which is what truly makes a great team. Next year the Lady Rams are in the hands of two phenomenal leaders Jordan Saybe and Sarah Bona, and I am so excited to see everything they accomplish.”
Extra Game Photos: CLICK HERE