To fill the void left by a legend, Central Regional's athletic department has hired one of its former star as its next field hockey head coach.

Agnes Whitfield, who was a standout field hockey player under for the Golden Eagles in the early-1980s, was approved as its new head coach by the Central Regional Board of Education on Thursday night. Whitfield was formerly the longtime head coach at St. Rose.

Madeline Dutton with one of her earlier Central teams (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)

Whitfield will take over a position that had been occupied by one of the all-time great field hockey coaches in Shore Conference history, Madeline Dutton, who retired following the 2016 season. Dutton had a 40-year stint at Central's head coach, starting as a health and physical education teacher in 1969 before being hired as the field hockey coach in 1976. During that span Dutton won more than 490 games and coached the Golden Eagles to 16 division titles. She was selected as either division, conference or state coach of the year nine times.

In 1986 Central reached the NJSIAA Group III final and finished 14-4-1. Her coaching tree includes Colts Neck head coach Maria Merlucci, who played at Central from 1988 to 1991 and was a first-team All-Shore player, and Whitfield, who graduated in 1984 and was a great three-sport athlete (basketball and softball). Dutton was inducted into the Central Regional Athletic Hall of Fame in October and is also a member of the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Whitfield will take over a program that went 9-4 last season, including 7-2 in Class A South.


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