This sure has the look of a special season for the Collingswood High School field hockey team, and the number 100 seems to be a big part of things.
Panthers head coach Valerie Dayton recorded her 100th career victory last week in the program’s 100th season. Dayton, who is in her eighth season, was presented flowers after she reached the century mark in a 9-0 win against Overbrook.
As big as the milestone was, Dayton was most pleased about a victory over West Deptford a couple days later. The field hockey season is only two weeks old, yet things in the Colonial Conference Liberty Division are already becoming clear: Collingswood is the team to beat.
Two days after West Deptford made a statement by knocking off defending champions Haddonfield, the Panthers answered back with a statement of their own, defeating West Deptford 4-1. Emily Madden scored a pair of goals in the win.
“It means so much to us,” said Madden. “Our team is like a family and we have come together and worked so hard during all of these practices. To win our biggest game is awesome.”
“I’m thrilled,” Dayton said. “I knew this was going to be a tough test. I think we started off a little slow, a little shaky, so I switched a couple of things around and I think they just woke up and started clicking. I couldn’t be happier.”
Any concerns of a letdown by Collingswood were alleviated this week when the Panthers defeated Sterling and Lindenwold with ease.
There is still plenty of season to go, and the division has hardly been decided, with the Panthers still scheduled to face Haddonfield twice and West Deptford once more.
For now though, it’s advantage: Collingswood.
“I think this definitely does (give us an edge),” Madden said. “I don’t think we can look past Haddonfield just because they lost to other teams, though.
"We will still need to play them hard.”