When it comes to the 2019 Vernon High School field hockey program, the record truly does speak for itself, as the Vikings tallied a stellar overall mark of 16-3 against exceedingly difficult competition.
The Vikings were co-champions in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Freedom Division along with Newton.
Kieran Killeen, Vernon’s head coach recalls some of the top moments for his team from this past season.
“The first time we played Newton this year was a big game for us,’’ Killeen said. “Newton is an incredible program and always very difficult to beat. Winning that game gave us a level of confidence we had been looking for and it set us up for a special run of 12 games undefeated.
“Beating Hackettstown 4-3 at home was a very special game. Even when we went two goals down early in the game, the girls never doubted themselves. Winning that game in overtime was definitely the highlight of this season as it gave us our first Division title in 25 years.’’
The Vikings were beneficiaries of strong leadership this fall.
“Captains Haley Debonta and Carlie Van Tassel did an incredible job on and off the field,’’ Killeen said. “But it really came down to a team effort; every player played a vital role in the success of this season. At the beginning of the season, we set ourselves the goal to be the best team in Sussex County and get a Division title. Every single player who stepped onto the field this season worked towards those goals.
“We had setbacks along the way, sometimes due to our own nerves but the girls always gave everything on the field. Even when we weren't having the best game, grit and heart took over. As a coach, I cannot ask anything more from my athletes. It's a group of girls I am incredible proud of and they deserve to have a banner hanging in our gym that reminds them of all their hand work and achievements.’’
Vernon made a very good run in the NJSIAA North 1 Group 2 Sectional Tournament, advancing to the championship round before losing to top seeded West Essex, who went on to win the State Group 3 title. The Vikings topped High Point and Hackettstown two advanced to the championship round.
The team is optimistic about 2020.
“We're losing four seniors who played a big role in our success this year, four players we are going to really miss,’’ Killeen said. “But we have a lot of experienced players returning excited to continue growing Vernon field hockey and build on the achievements of this season. This year gave us a lot of confidence in our ability to win the big games. I believe if we continue to put the work in, next year could be another great year for us.
“Something the field hockey program is proud of is the fundraising we do for the community. Every year, we raise money for a Vernon family in need. This year, the field hockey program raised $1900 for a member of the community who was recently diagnosed with ALS.’’