Field hockey does their job and goes back to back


(Photos courtesy of Lisa Manuzza Photography and Staff) Field hockey maintained their position as one of the top teams in the state with a second-straight Group 2 title and TOC semifinal berth.

By Ciara Morrissey, Senior Chief Sports Editor

“I play for the United States of America.” team captain Mike Eruzione yells, giving Herb Brooks the answer he was looking for to the question “What team do you play for?” The 2004 film, “Miracle” tells the story of the 1980 United States men’s ice hockey team that won gold at the Winter Olympics.

It would become the foundation for the West Essex field hockey team’s theme for the 2019 season as the Lady Knights rolled to their second-straight Group 2 state title and TOC semifinal appearance.

The movie has an underdog feel to it, as did the team. The Knights lost key players, such as Ellie Decker and Lexi Palko, to graduation. Throughout the state, there were doubts about the team’s ability to repeat as state champions. The captains chose the word ‘miracle’ for their theme, for the meaning behind it, held a deeper meaning to the team than its definition.
“You can’t say ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it.’” sophomore Julianna Tornatore said. “No matter what you can do, you just have to put your mind to it and you can do it.”

The back-to-back state champions dominated from start to finish, with their eyes locked on a state title. An intense preseason transitioned into an action packed September and October where the Knights captured big wins against nationally ranked teams. The wins racked up and the chemistry amongst each other blossomed. On each player’s stick was the team’s motto: Do your job. Three simple words that led to 24 girls becoming one unit, no matter the grade nor the kind of person.

“The most fun part of coaching is taking a group of different people and making them fall in love with each other from one to 24,” head coach Jill Cosse said. “So that on all the opposite ends of the spectrums, senior to freshman, person and personality wise, they love each other equally. That’s the trick.”

That unbreakable bond shines at every game, both on the field and the sidelines. The bench is never quiet, with players lined up next to each other, encouraging their teammates on the field. When close, high intensity games come around, the bench matches the intensity with supporting their teammates.

“Just the support is so crucial to winning,” senior Julianna Mirable said. “There’s nothing better than the people who you’re with everyday, like them being the first ones to tell you you did something good. They especially are the ones who you don’t really realize how much they contribute just by being the competition for the people on the field.”

The program’s consistency, on all three levels, has been a key factor in its success and high standard in the state. Consistency is earned, not given and has become a norm for the program due to the coaching staff.

“I think I have the best coaching staff in the state of New Jersey for field hockey from seventh grade up,” Cosse said. “Not just because of what they know, just because of how much they care about what they do. They’re all great role models, all very talented hockey players that have come into the game. I just think they’re exceptional people and they bring all those skills to the field for the girls.”

The season came to a close against defending TOC champion, Eastern. However, the 2019 West Essex Field Hockey accomplished, what was for some, the unimaginable. The impact of the program speaks volumes, both on the field and off the field.

“I think it made me into the strongest person that I can be.” senior captain Cameron Kinsella said. “It pushed me physically and mentally in ways no will know. Everyone always asks, ‘Why are you guys like this?’ I always give them the answer, you’ll never know until you’re a part of it.”