HARDYSTON - The standard has changed for the Vernon field hockey team.


After a hot start to this season following a year in which Vernon finished 8-9-2, the Vikings expect to play complete games.


Even when they get out to a big lead early on, they want to keep the pedal to the metal for the full 60 minutes without any letdowns. Vernon knows that when the opponents eventually get tougher as the season goes on, it will be necessary to maintain focus.


On Monday, in its road game at Wallkill Valley, Vernon came out on fire with four first-half goals and was able to cruise to a 5-0 victory. The Vikings were thrilled with how they started the game, but not as pleased with not controlling the possession as dominantly in the second half as the first half.


“I think that overall, we played a really hard game in the beginning, and then we slowed down a little closer to the end,” senior Carlie Van Tassel said. “We talked about that in our group talk at the end. We need to pick it up. We discussed how we need to keep the intensity.”


“I think we’re starting games very strong,” Vernon head coach Kieran Killeen said. “I think we push very hard in the beginning, and once we’ve gone up on a few teams we kind of feel like we can coast. I think it’s a case of knowing we have to play the full 60 minutes and not just the beginning of the game. We’re really trying to focus on finishing games.”


The win moved Vernon to 5-0 through its first five games, which has been a remarkable turnaround. The Vikings have outscored their opponents 16-3. Vernon does not have a ton of seniors, but with a go-to scorer in Van Tassel, who is a four-year varsity starter, surrounded by a talented supporting cast, Killeen felt from the start this year would be different.


“To be honest, we did feel like this would be a strong year for us,” Killeen said. “We brought back eight starters from last year with a couple of girls who are seniors who started on varsity as freshmen. I think the difference is this year we’re taking opportunities. As I say to the girls, 5-0 means nothing. You still got another 15 games to go. We’re just trying to focus on one game at a time.”


In the win over Walllkill, Vernon came out from the jump with three chances off early corners. None of them converted, but it just seemed like a matter of time. That happened just a little over seven minutes in when sophomore Julia Gregory slid the ball into the cage off an assist into the circle by Alyssa Van Dalinda.


“We were communicating a lot better and connecting passes,” Van Dalinda said. “We kind of stopped doing that, so we really need to keep doing that.”


That opened up the floodgates as Van Dalinda was able to get a stick on a bouncing ball in front of the cage and put it in for a 2-0 Vernon lead. Van Tassel, who came in with six goals, then began to take over.


With 4:46 remaining in the first half, she put a shot on the pads of Wallkill goalie Jade Lally from out wide, and Gregory was there to clean up the rebound to give Vernon a three-goal lead. For Vernon’s final goal of the half, Van Tassel wrestled the ball away from a Wallkill stick right in front and turned it into a goal.


Last week, Vernon gained a ton of confidence from defeating Newton - a program that has been a dominant force in the area for decades and has been to the sectional finals four of the past five years - in a 2-1 win.


It was the kind of statement win to show the Vikings have truly arrived.


“It felt amazing,” Van Dalinda said. “We walked off the field almost crying because it felt so good. I think that game made us really think that we could do this because they are such a good team. That really helped us a lot.”


With this winning streak to start the season, Vernon wants to make sure it has staying power and is not something that ends up a blip on the radar.


“I think that we have a lot of speed on our team,” Van Tassel said. “I think that we have a lot of power in the back with our defense and our midfielders have really good skill. We’re able to talk between midfielders, forwards and defense. I think that works really well for us. We want to make sure we keep grounded and play our game at all times.”


Vernon 5, Wallkill Valley 0


V;4;1 -- 5


WV;0;0 -- 0


Goals: V -- Julia Gregory 2, Carlie Van Tassel, Alyssa Van Dalinda, Mia Annunziata


Assists: V -- Gregory, Van Tassel, Van Dalinda, Annunziata, Alicia Mihalko


Saves: V -- Alice Beutel 4; WV -- Jade Lally 15


Records: Vernon 5-0, Wallkill Valley 1-3