MORRISTOWN _ The typical high school freshman athlete most often is a combination of uncertainty, raw talent and, sometimes, hesitation, willing to defer to upperclassmen.
Morristown forward/midfielder Britt Hoftijzer is just the opposite. The Colonials' standout ninth grader has started every game this fall and, according to coach Katherine DeBiasse, "always makes smart decisions."
Hoftijzer's talent, poise and ability to analyze and capitalize played a large role in Morristown's 3-2 overtime victory over Montclair in the North Jersey Section 1, Group IV final on Thursday, Nov. 1.
With 2:03 remaining in overtime, Hoftijzer, who moved with her family to the United States from the Netherlands 10 months ago, knocked in the decisive goal, helping the Colonials notch their third consecutive sectional title, this one under DeBiasse, a first-year head coach.
"This is amazing," Hoftijzer said. "It's an amazing job by the team. We all played so well together. I'm very happy. It was exciting to score in a game that is really important."
Nervous at crunch time? Not at all. The jitters were long gone by then.
"I'm nervous 24 hours before games," Hoftijzer said. "I step on the field and they go away. I play with all I've got. I try my best."
Morgan Mastracchio, who assisted on the gamewinner, and Hoftijzer celebrated in front of the goalcage before the rest of the team, led by Olivia Graham, raced over to join in.
"For Britt being a freshman... She's a great asset," Graham said. "Field hockey is very big over in the Netherlands. Britt is soooooo good."
Hoftijzer's goal was a result of her ability to detect an opening.
"I saw space," she said, recounting her thought process leading up to the score. "The (Montclair) goalie had the long corner but not the short one. I usually pull to the right."
DeBiasse noted that Hoftijzer has "one of the hardest shots I've seen during my time at Morristown."
"Britt has got a gift," DeBiasse said. "Not only that but she's a nice person, a nice kid. She fit right in. She's coachable. She's goofy. She talks to everyone. Britt knows the game and makes smart decisions. I'm thankful for a player with skills like that."
Hoftijzer began attending school in Morristown in January after her family moved from Arnhem, a city of 156,600 in the eastern part of the Netherlands. The Hoftijzers came to the U.S. because her mother took a job with Merck. She has been playing field hockey since the age of 4 and was a member of high-level teams in her native country.
Morristown, which will meet Bridgewater-Raritan in a Group IV semifinal on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. at Boonton High School, has been rejuvented since falling to Madison in overtime in the MCT semifinals.
"We were really upset about the MCT but we bounced back," Graham said. "Things have been completely different. Our passing, our energy, not only at practice but overall, keep going up."
The two teams alternated goals with the Colonials getting on the scoreboard first. Graham scored 4:32 into the opening period off a corner. Montclair evened the score when Elizabeth Haefeli pushed the ball into the goalcage. Indira Summerville put Morristown (12-5-2) in front, converting 4:05 into the second half. The Mounties received a goal from Sosi Korian with 12:43 remaining for 2-2. Before Korian scored, the Colonials fended off five corner attempts.
"The girls put their hearts on the field every game," DeBiasse said. "They deserve this."
It was the first sectional crown with DeBiasse at the helm. DeBiasse, who hails from Brooklyn, N.Y., took over for Diane DeSalvo, who headed the Morristown program for 33 years. She became a volunteer assistant in 2013 and served as junior varsity coach from 2014-2017. DeBiasse felt that the transition went smoothly.
"The girls knew me because I coached many of them on the JV level," she said. "They were familiar with me and we discussed things. It was an easier transition than bringing in a totally new person."
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