The 5th Annual Junior Premier Indoor League (JPIL) came to a close on Super Bowl weekend with the crowning of three Champions. Those in attendance witnessed intense competition throughout and some very thrilling finishes, including the U19 Championship decided by an FIH Shoot-Out.
After six league dates of competitive Indoor hockey on a consistent and regular basis, we can truly say that the benefits can been seen in the improvements by all participating Clubs from the games played on the first League date on December 27TH to this JPIL Super Championship weekend. Even with the severe weather conditions we experienced on the Eastern seaboard a few weeks ago, we were still able to have a successful conclusion to this premier indoor event. It is very commendable and is attributed to the commitment made by the players, parents and coaches alike.
In the U-14 Division, Jersey Intensity FH, after leaving it all on the court in the semi-finals, succumbed to a strong Xcalibur FHC team in the Championship match. With the first half ending at 2 – 1, Xcalibur took control of the game in the 30th minute and retained their Championship with a comfortable 6 – 2 victory. Jersey Intensity had quite a few sparks led by their top Goal Scorer Lily Santi, but Xcalibur was solid, strong and comfortable, let by the eventual MVP recipient, Jenna Kirby.
With the weekend excitement in full swing and as we move to the Sunday Championship, the question on most minds is, can Xcalibur make it a sweep this year and take home all three Trophies?
The day started off with the U-16 division. With FSC unable to defend their championship, the question loomed larger. In time the truth be told and Xcalibur FHC captured their 2nd JPIL Championship of the 2016 season by defeating Freedom HKY. From the first whistle, Freedom was up for the challenge. Their performance was reflected in the 2 – 1 half time score, with Xcalibur converting on a Penalty Corner at the end of the regulation of the half to break the 1 – 1 tie. Early in the second half, Freedom standout and Junior National Indoor player, Margot Lawn, had to be taken off the field and Xcalibur was able to take advantage of this unfortunate situation and cruse to the finish line to claim the Championship with a final score of 6 - 1.
IFHCK, who traveled all the way from Kentucky each weekend to compete, did remarkably well to claim a 3rd place finish and an automatic invite to participate in 2017. They overcame a strong Gottaloveit-Oranje team by a slim 3 – 2 final.
Can or will, Xcalibur FHC defend their Championship and make it a clean sweep on this Super Bowl evening? Only one team stood in their way - Hudson Valley.
In the semi-finals, Xcalibur survived and came away with a tough 4 – 3 victory over East Coast FH, while Hudson Valley claimed their spot in the final with a 3 – 1 score against 2015 Champion FSC. The stage was now set for the super royal rumble between these two power houses.
Hudson Valley came out attacking and was rewarded with a goal in the 3rd minute. It took Xcalibur 10 minutes to get on the scoreboard. Both teams maintained the offensive pressure and at the end of the half we saw eight goals with Xcalibur leading 5 – 3.
Seven minutes into the second half, Xcalibur extended their lead by three more goals giving them a comfortable lead and smelling victory. Was that the knockout punch? Apparently not! Hudson Valley would not stay down and was able to nudge in a goal of their own to keep the Championship within reach. With five minutes remaining, Xcalibur had a 7 - 4 lead, But Hudson Valley continued to fight. Coach Sarsen was getting ready to pull her goal keeper when her team scored again making it a 7 – 5 game. Two minutes later Hudson Valley scored yet again.
With 2 minutes left and Xcalibur holding on to a slim 7 – 6 lead, they can feel the pressure and hear the excitement in the air. The clock was running down with seconds left, when they give up a Penalty corner. With a hat-trick already in hand and the game on the line, Dana Bozek stepped up on top of the circle focused as ever and the parents of the Xcalibur players holding their breath.
Dana Bozek and Hudson Valley tie the game with a well-executed corner and seconds remaining. But the game was not over. Xcalibur, led by Lexi Davidson, was able to receive and take the ball into Hudson Valley’s circle and generated a Penalty Corner at the sound of the buzzer.
With the game on the line and with a hat-trick of her own in this Championship game, Davidson was unable able to convert thus sending the game to Shoot-Out.
After the first round of the shoot-out, the game was tied at 1 – 1. The championship would now be decided by sudden victory shoot-out. Xcalibur went first and Sheridan Messier (GK) denied a goal. Then Hudson Valley stepped up and Brianna Muniz was able to convert earning Hudson Valley the 2016 JPIL U19 Championship trophy.
Hudson Valley’s win denied Xcalibur a clean sweep of the JPIL Championships. Because of her composure, strong defense and smart decision making, Julia Kim of Hudson Valley was named Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Special Recognition was given to the following individuals who were each presented with a $150.00 Gift Certificate thanks to the generosity of our Award‘s Sponsor, Dita USA:
- U-14 Most Valuable Player: Jenna Kirby, Xcalibur FHC
- U-14 Most League Goals: Kyle Kirby, FC United
- U-16 Most Valuable Player: Sophia Gladieus, Xcalibur FHC
- U-16 Most League Goals: Rachel Fleig, The Gaels FHC
- U-19 Most Valuable Player: Julia Kim, Hudson Valley
- U-19 Most League Goals: Erin Shanahan, The Gaels FHC
With the NIT’s format of two periods of 20 minute the same as ours, all of the JPIL participants will be well prepared and ready to compete at this final competition of the indoor season.
The present and continued success of this League is not possible without the support of others who we would like to recognize.
The Umpire Managers, Dean Wenrich and Fran Corl, and all of the dedicated Umpires Officers, we appreciate your commitment and support for this event and hope you will continue to make yourselves available.
Technical Director, Lurah Hess and her Technical Officers including the parents who provided technical assistance by keeping the games running on time with accurate results reporting. We thank you all!
We also want to give recognition to the University coaches who took the time to be present and hope that you all were pleased with the level of competition.
Last, but not least, many thanks to our 2015-2017 Title Sponsor, Get Good, and our Award and Ball Sponsor, Dita USA, for seeing the need and value for such an event in the development of our kids, the sport and for agreeing to support this event. We ask that you all to show your appreciation by visiting them at NIT or go online and show your support for their products.
On behalf of the League Organizers, Rachael Bloemker and Nigel Traverso, we thank you for your hard work, commitment, support and cooperation in making this fifth year another successful one.
Congratulations to our 2016 Champions, Xcalibur FHC (U-14), Xcalibur FHC (U-16) and Hudson Valley (U-19) and to all the Clubs for your participation! Good Luck to all at NIT!For all results and final rankings, please log on to our web site at www.JuniorPremierHockey.com.