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first_imgOcean City junior quarterback Joe Repetti scores a rushing TD against Long Branch. (Photos courtesy of OCHSfootball.com) By TIM KELLYEverybody loves a winner, and an underdog winner gets extra love.At least that seems to be the case for the seventh-seeded Ocean City High School football team, which lines up at top-seeded, two-time defending champs Shawnee’s Medford campus 7 p.m. Friday for a shot at the South Jersey Group 4 title.The Red Raiders, currently 8-2 overall, including two come-from-behind playoff wins on the road against higher seeded teams, have been attracting a lot of attention lately.They are the lowest seeded team in the state playoffs to advance to the sectional finals. If they win, it would be O.C.’s first state championship since 2000.“We are hoping everyone picks against us,” O.C. Head Coach Kevin Smith said in an e-mail. “The underdog role suits us well.”Maybe it’s time for Ocean City fans to dust off those dog masks from the Eagles’ 2017 Super Bowl run. The Raiders have drawn big crowds of supporters on the road all season. But with the games available for viewing live on the internet, Raider Nation has gone national and even international. “I have heard from people all over the country the past few weeks who have watched us live from California, Florida, Washington, Arizona and Connecticut,” Smith said.He added that one of the player’s grandparents were heard from during a vacation in the Caribbean. “You all are experienced road warriors,” Smith told supporters. “Let’s do it again and pack the house at Shawnee Friday night.” Ocean City Head Coach Kevin Smith will match wits with 37-year veteran Shawnee coach Tim Gushue.Ocean City’s season, remarkable on its face, seems even more impressive given that the team has played only three games at home at Carey Stadium.The Raiders punched their ticket to the finals last Friday with a 21-20 thriller at Long Branch, a 90-mile drive from Ocean City. Before that, they avenged a bitter regular season loss at Mainland with a 21-14 victory in the tourney’s opening round, also at the Mustang Corral in Linwood.Shawnee didn’t have it any easier. The Renegades traveled to Neptune to post a hard-fought 31-21 opening round win and then came from behind to defeat Millville, also on the road, 27-18.Junior two-way back Nate Summerville was the star of the game for Shawnee, catching a crucial fourth quarter TD pass and breaking up a two-point conversion pass attempt that would have tied the game earlier in the period. Shawnee is coached by Tim Gushue, one of the longest tenured coaches in the state and a member of the school’s first graduating class. He has led the Renegades for 37 seasons, including four after undergoing successful quadruple bypass heart surgery. His teams are always tough and prepared. They have shown themselves to be mortal, though. The Renegades have two very bad losses on the books, including a 48-0 blowout at home to Woodrow Wilson and a 17-0 defeat to Williamstown two weeks later, also at home.If you want to play the common opponents game, Shawnee has a 14-7 overtime win at home over St. Augustine Prep, a non-public playoff semifinalist, which beat O.C. 35-3 in Week 5. However, Shawnee’s win was prior to the Hermits’ addition of two key transfer players becoming eligible to face Ocean City.None of that mattered to Smith during this week’s practice schedule. What mattered was his squad’s work ethic and resiliency.“I can’t express how proud I am of this team for their effort and determination,” Smith said. “They stayed focused, never quit and just kept playing football. The result is we are headed to the championship game.”The Red Raiders celebrate after their semi-final playoff win at Long Branch.last_img read more

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first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 13, 2016 at 8:37 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] Nijsje Venrooy fell to her knees, with her head on the ground and her hands wiping away the tears in her eyes. Serra Degnan lay on her back, in front of the goal, hands above her head, stick beside her. Waiting to re-enter the game, Lies Lagerweij sunk to her seat. She dropped her stick and put her arms around her knees, with Emma Lamison coming to comfort her.While No. 3 seed Syracuse (15-4, 4-2 Atlantic Coast) players sat in shock of what they had witnessed, the No. 6 Connecticut (22-1, 7-0) bench rushed the field. The players and coaches mobbed defender Charlotte Veitner, who in double overtime led her team to the Final Four and ended the reign of the defending national champions.“I can’t really put it into words,” Veitner said. “We knew we were not going to lose the game.”On Sunday, the Huskies came into J.S. Coyne Stadium and defeated Syracuse 3-2 in double overtime to advance to the Final Four for the fourth consecutive year. The Huskies prevented the Orange from reaching its fourth-straight Final Four.In 2014, UConn defeated the Orange in the national championship. In 2015, Syracuse defeated the Huskies in the Final Four before defeating North Carolina to win the national championship. Now in 2016, the Huskies are moving on after defeating Syracuse in the quarterfinal.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“You had the past two national champions playing today,” UConn head coach Nancy Stevens said. “It felt like a Final Four game.”The seniors finished their careers with a winning percentage of 82.4 percent and as one of only five classes in Syracuse history to finish with 70 wins.Most of the game, though, was one-sided. Heading into the final five minutes of regulation, with UConn leading 2-1, the Huskies had limited the Orange to only two shots and two corners.But with four minutes left in regulation, after failing to capitalize with a two-person advantage only minutes before, the Orange got one more chance to tie the game with a penalty corner.Off of the Venrooy insert, Roos Weers wound up and sent a rocket underneath UConn goalkeeper Nina Klein to tie the game at 2. Weers turned and spiked her stick. Pushing her fists down, she yelled to the crowd. Laura Hurff and Lagerweij threw their sticks down and jumped on Weers.Syracuse clawed its way back into the game after looking disheveled through the first hour. The team and the stadium had new life. One minute later, UConn’s Barbara Hoogen earned a 10-minute yellow card, forcing UConn to play a player down for the final three minutes of regulation and the first seven minutes of overtime.The advantage was eerily similar to its opening ACC tournament game against Wake Forest. After trailing the Orange nearly all of regulation, SU forced its way back in and had an opportunity to win. The Demon Deacons, however, won 4-3 in overtime to eliminate SU from the ACC tournament. All three SU losses coming into the game came in overtime.During the first overtime period, the Orange dominated. With Connecticut playing one player down, SU head coach Ange Bradley moved Lagerweij to forward. SU recorded five shots to UConn’s one. The Orange controlled possession and tempo. On any UConn possession, the Huskies stalled to get back to full force.Stevens called a timeout once her team regained full strength, and the Huskies stalled for the remainder of the period, waiting for the second overtime.The second overtime was back-and-forth. With only seven players on the field for each team, there were constant long passes and counterattacks. The game moved quickly and Syracuse struggled to keep pace. Lagerweij and Emma Lamison substituted in and out for each other because Lagerweij was gassed, and Bradley tried finding some remaining life in her offense.Five minutes into overtime, and SU was on the attack. The ball was flying across the field, with Liz Sack and Lamison passing back and forth, moving toward the UConn net. But an interception by UConn sent the ball to the right side of the field.Connecticut’s Amanda Collins received a pass on the right side of midfield and sprinted down the side. She sent a long, quick ball ahead for Veitner, UConn’s all-time leading scorer. Veitner turned over her left shoulder to the end line. She brought it back to the left side of her body, shielding SU defenders on her right. She made it back into the middle of the arc, and sent a roller to the left corner, past SU goalkeeper Regan Spencer, and into the back of the net.Spencer dropped to her knees. Heads lining the entire SU sideline fell. Emma Tufts, who was getting ready to sub back in, sprinted over to her fallen goalkeeper.Erin Gillingham walked over to assistant coach Tara Zollinger and put her head against her chest. Tears dripped down the junior’s red face.Veitner was at the bottom of a pile of her entire team, but she came out on top, picking up Hoogen as they ran toward their coaches.“The first thing I thought of is our seniors,” Lagerweij said. “This was their last game and we couldn’t give them another game. That’s really tough.”A little girl in the stands began to cry. Her father picked her up, holding her close.“It’s OK,” he said. “They gave it all they had.” Commentslast_img read more