By LESLEY GRAHAMThe Ocean City High School girls soccer team has had a stellar season thus far. But that’s not surprising to head coach Kelly Halliday.Halliday, who has been a part of Ocean City girls soccer for the past seven seasons, is proud of what the players have accomplished this season but has her sights set on more.“This is a special group of young ladies. Their passion and determination to compete every day at practice has directly led to their success on the field,” Halliday said in an interview.The Red Raiders are 16-1 on the season, including a perfect 12-0 record in conference play. Led by a talented group of seniors, the Red Raiders captured the 2019 Cape-Atlantic League title this past week with a victory over previously undefeated Millville.“We have great leadership, in addition to great soccer players,” Halliday said. “That combination has allowed us to elevate our level of play as well as continue the rich tradition that is Ocean City girls soccer.”The Red Raiders previously won the CAL title in 2016 and 2017.Halliday credits the team-first mentality that her group of “fab five seniors” has brought to the table.“I have never had a group so bought-in before. It really positively affects the team dynamic,” she said.The Red Raiders are 16-1 on the season, including a perfect 12-0 record in conference play.In addition, Ocean City has a strong leadership contingent with four uniquely qualified captains. Three seniors and one junior comprise the leadership of the Red Raiders.Senior goalie Abbey Fenton sets the tone for the squad, pushing her teammates every day to be better, according to Halliday.Delaney Lappin, a senior bound for Drexel University next season to continue her soccer career, is the utility player for her team.“She will do anything from any position, whatever her team needs from her,” Halliday said.Carly Reighard, the final senior captain who will continue her career at Jefferson University next year, is the heart and soul of the team.“She is a difference maker out there on the field,” Halliday said.Faith Slimmer, the lone junior captain, is a force to be reckoned with on the pitch. Slimmer, who has verbally committed to Rutgers University, leads the team with 26 goals and 17 assists on the season so far.“She elevates the play of those around her,” Halliday said.The Red Raiders are participating in the South Jersey Coaches Association Tournament, receiving the No. 3 seed. The tournament invites the top 16 teams in South Jersey, regardless of group size, as a tune-up for the state playoffs.Ocean City will host conference foe and the 14th seeded Egg Harbor Township Eagles 10 a.m. Saturday at Carey Stadium. From left, seniors Carly Reighard, Delaney Lappin, Abbey Fenton, Hannah Keane and Katie Mazzitelli provide experience and talent.
The unusual warm weather in March has helped drive UK retail sales values up by 1.3%, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).Compared to last year when figures had declined by 3.5%, overall, this March saw a 3.6% rise in total sales, against a 1.9% decline in 2011. Food sales growth has remained steady and unchanged since February, while non-food items saw improvement. This included online, mail-order and phone sales, which were up 13.9% on a year ago – the best since December 2011.Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said: “It’s worth remembering the sales comparison is against the weakest month of last year, largely caused by the movement of Easter in the calendar, and we’ll have to see whether this is additional spending or just shopping that has happened earlier than usual. Food sales growth continues to be largely underpinned by food inflation rather than by customers buying more.”The overall retail environment is still difficult. Discounting remains a key tactic for retailers trying to encourage consumers to spend, particularly on big indoor items. People are still struggling to balance household budgets against expensive fuel and utilities. The warmth of March was a help, but it will take more than a week of sunshine to transform retailers’ fortunes.”Helen Dickinson, head of retail, KPMG, said: “Increases in food prices rather than volumes was one of the factors behind the uplift in this month’s figures. Rising petrol prices continued to drive up transport and manufacturing costs, causing food prices to increase each month since the start of the year.“Retailers will be hoping Easter provides a much-needed boost, but many are not holding their breath and continue to focus on controlling margins and costs.”