The 9th Annual Junior Premier Indoor League (JPIL) ended on Saturday, February 15 at the 422 Sportsplex in Pottstown, PA with the crowing of new U16 and U19 Champions. The U14 Championship was held on February 8 at the Total Turf facility in Pitman, NJ.

Those in attendance witnessed intense competition throughout and some very thrilling finishes, including the U19 Championship decided in shootout after SParks tied the game at 5 – 5 with no time left on the clock and sending it to several rounds of shootouts.

After six league dates of competitive indoor hockey on a consistent and regular basis, all participating clubs were now ready for success at any level of competition at their respective upcoming National Indoor Tournaments (NIT). Huge improvements can be seen by all participating Clubs. There hard work is commendable and attributed to the commitment made by the players, parents and coaches.

In the U-14 Division, Central Penn FH and SPark made it an intense, competitive and marathon of a Championship match. The first half ended at 1 – 1, then Central Penn took the early lead in the second half, with a goal from Gianna Caperelli. SPark answered right back with a field goal from Marisol Torreyson, her second of the game. A few minutes later Holly Deangelo of Central Penn scored to take the lead and within seconds and in the thirty-sixth minute of play, Kylie Corcoran tied it up for SPark at 3 – 3, sending the game into a shootout. After three rounds of Sudden Death shootout, Kylie Corcoran of Spark and eventually Dita Player of the Tournament, sealed the deal to earn her team the 2020 JPIL U14 Championship.

The following weekend, in the U16 and U19 Division, two new first-time Champions were crowned at the JPIL Invitational.

First -up was the U16 Division Finals between Central Penn and Freedom HKY. Undefeated after pool play, Central Penn were the odds-on favorite. With an easy semi-final win over Uprise FHC, they now had to face a very talented Freedom HKY Club who also coasted to semi-final win over SPark.

From the sound of the first whistle, Freedom proved worthy challengers and struck first in the 1st minute on a field goal from Madeline Vasilios. That lead did not last long and in the 4th minute Central Penn equalized on a field goal from Kristin Sconyers. With solid defense demonstrated by both clubs, the first half ended at 1 – 1. Six minutes into the second half, Central Penn took the lead on a penalty corner goal from Camryn Standish. They held on to the lead until the 33rd minute when Sophia Baxter, Freedom scored to tie the game. With time running out and the Championship at stake, Freedom stepped up their game and in the 36th minute, Madeline Kandra finally found a crack in the solid Central Penn’s defense and scored to put Freedom up by one.

With only four minutes remaining, Central Penn pressed hard and threw everything they had at the Freedom defense, with coaches urging on the players and parents on their feet shouting from the stands on every position and opportunity. Puja Nanjappa, the Dita’s Player of the Tournament and her teammates were not ready to give into the pressure. They held their ground as the seconds ticked away and the sweet sound of the buzzer signaled the end of game, with a slim 3 – 2 margin and Freedom HKY crowned 2020 JPIL U16 Champions.

In the U19 Division, the first semi-final between Freedom HKY and South Jersey Edge was no contest with Freedom winning 8 – 1. The second semi-finals between Philly HC and Spark was much more evenly matched. With Philly HC down 4 – 1 and only a few minutes left to play, they pulled their goalkeeper and earned two quick goals with one-minute remaining on the clock. But without a goalkeeper, SPark was awarded a short corner in the final seconds. Lila Slattery stepped up and converted her fourth goal of the game, ending Philly HC hopes of advancing to the finals. Final score was 5 – 3, SPark.

The stage was now set for the finals, Freedom HKY vs Spark, two top clubs who demonstrated their speed, skills and abilities all season long and ranked 1st and 3rd respectively going into Championship weekend.

SPark took control early in the game with Carson Smith converting a goal in the 4th minute, but that did not last long. In the 7th minute Freedom equalized on a penalty corner from Peyton Hale. Two minutes later SPark converted another field goal from, none other than the League’s top goal scorer, Lila Slattery to bring the first half to an end with the score at 1 – 2 in favor of SPark.

With excitement in the air, both Freedom and Spark started the second half with a flurry of attack. Over the span of ten minutes five goals were scored and the game was all tied at 4 – 4 and 10 minutes still to play.

Freedom HKY broke the tie in the 36th minute on a field goal from Daniela Mendez to take the lead. With the clock winding down and the Championship in sight, Freedom was holding on to the slim one goal lead. Tick Tock, Tick Tock, a penalty corner was awarded, and the sound of the buzzer went off signaling the end of regulation. All Freedom had to do now is defend the penalty corner to claim the Championship. But wait, Lila Slattery, Spark PC specialist who had shown perfection on set pieces every weekend was on the line.

Parents and supports from both teams were on their feet, and nothing but silence. Insert, stop, shoot, goal!!! The match continues to a shootout after a 5 -5 score at end of regulation. Slattery comes through again, scoring four of the five SPark goals, of which three were penalty corners. This final goal in regulation launched SPark to the 2020 JPIL Championship that was won in sudden death shootout.

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 Sponsor, Dita USA.

U-14 Most Valuable Player: Kylie Corcoran, SPark

U-14 Top Goal Scorers: Taylor Pendergast, South Jersey Edge and Holly Deangelo, Central Penn

U-16 Most Valuable Player: Puja Nanjappa, Freedom HKY

U-16 Top Goal Scorer: Madeline Vasilios, Freedom HKY

U-19 Most Valuable Player: Kendyl Underwood (GK), SPark

U-19 Top Goal Scorer: Lila Slattery, SPark

With the NIT’s format of two periods of 20 minutes the same as JPIL, all participants should be well prepared to compete at their final competition of the indoor season. The NIT results will reflect the hard work and preparation put in by all the participating clubs.

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, Donny Gobinsingh and Fran Corl and all the dedicated Umpires. 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 Club parents who provided technical assistance as Judges 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 Award Sponsor, Dita USA and the Official Ball Supplier, Mercian (dba Savage Field Hockey) and Exeter Foot and HomeLight for seeing the value for such an event in the development of our youths, the sport and for agreeing to support this event. We ask that you please show your support to these Sponsors throughout the year and by visiting them at NITs and the other National events or go online and show your support by purchasing their products and services.

On behalf of the Junior Premier Hockey Directors, Rachael Bloemker and Nigel Traverso, we thank you for your hard work, commitment, support and cooperation in making this ninth year another success.

Congratulations to our 2020 Champions, SPark (U-14), Freedom HKY (U-16) and SPark (U-19) and all the Clubs for your participation!

Please note that we are looking for a Title Sponsor for both out JPIL and JPOL events for the period from 2021 – 2023. If you or anyone you know who may be interested, please contact us at your earliest.