By TOM WILLIAMS
The calendar year 2021 is about to end, another difficult year under the cloud of a pandemic.
But Ocean City High School sports continued to succeed.
Teams that hadn’t won championships, won them. And OCHS athletes accomplished fetes that hadn’t been accomplished before. In the recently completed fall season, for example, the combined record of the seven Raiders teams was 102-18.
The year started off with basketball seasons that were sort of thrown together on the fly. Wrestling and swimming were a little better then a full spring season followed with much Ocean City success. The fall was remarkable.
One of those spring teams was the 20-7 baseball team, which finished the season winning 10 of its final 11 games. The big win, however, was No. 20 as Andrew Bristol’s team defeated Pascack Valley, 3-2, in 14 intense innings to become the first OCHS baseball team to win a state championship.
It wasn’t easy. In fact, the Raiders had to escape from a South Jersey semifinal at the 5th & Bay field against Central Regional, winning 3-2 in 11 innings. It is believed that those two games marked a first for the NJSIAA tournament by the Raiders – 25 innings in two games.
Ocean City went to Linwood for the South Jersey final and defeated Mainland, 6-1. They had lost to the Mustangs, 8-3, back in early May.
Bristol and his extraordinary coaching staff kept this team focused throughout a regular season filled with challenges – games with powers like Bishop Eustace, Gloucester Catholic, Shawnee, Williamstown and the many strong baseball teams in the Cape-Atlantic League. Plus the health concerns that included masks and separation.
Seniors Gannon Brady and Matt Nunan teamed with junior Tom Finnegan and sophomore Duke McCarron to provide the team with an impressive pitching rotation..
Nunan also led the team in hits and RBIs, Joe Repetti led in stolen bases and was second in RBIs and runs scored. Ben Hoag led in runs scored and was second in hits. And Brady, Finnegan, James Mancini and Jack Perry all made significant contributions on offense.
This team faced every challenge and emerged as the first Ocean City state baseball champions. They are also the 2021 Boys Team of the Year at OCHS.
The Ocean City girls soccer team finished 21-1-1. Lisa Cuneo’s Raiders won their first 11 games by a combined score of 73-4 before losing a thriller, 1-0 in two overtimes, to Mainland at Carey Stadium. It ended a 45-game winning streak over two seasons. OCHS had beaten the Mustangs, 3-0, in Linwood a few weeks earlier during that winning streak.
After that tough loss, this team won 10 more in a row by a combined score of 34-9 to reach the South Jersey Group 3 final at Carey Stadium. The opponent was Mainland and the game was a classic. It actually finished in a tie but somebody had to win the championship and advance so they had a shootout. And Mainland won.
It wasn’t the way the Raiders hoped their season would end. But, along the way, they did something no CAL girls soccer team had ever done – they won the South Jersey Coaches Tournament with victories over Delsea, Clearview, Rancocas Valley and Bishop Eustace, all within eight days.
And they also defeated Mainland, 2-0, to win the CAL Girls Soccer Tournament.
Summer Reimet led the state in scoring and broke virtually every OCHS school scoring record. Hope Slimmer was the perfect compliment, leading the state in assists and also setting new school records. While these two seniors were dominant, sophomores McKenna Chisholm and Joy Slimmer; and freshmen Naomi Nnewihe and Coryn McDonnell showed what the future offense might hold. And junior Tori Vliet was strong in goal. The team’s game-by-game results are HERE.
In 2021, for the third straight year, the girls soccer team was the OCHS Girls Team of the Year.
Next – the 2021 OCHS Athletes of the Year.