Two freshmen provided an early spark and a veteran defense made the lead stand up as No. 2 Freehold outlasted No. 7 Wall in a Class B North showdown of unbeaten teams on Thursday afternoon.
The aforementioned freshmen were forward Jenna Huskey and midfielder Ashley Latona. On a corner kick play at 19:30, the ball was lofted toward the goal where the Colonials made it count.
“It was two-touched on that corner kick. For every corner kick, we have a player stand by the goalie and that girl did her job,” Freehold co-coach Jody Smith said. “Jenna Huskey scored the goal and Ashley Latona had the assist. They are girls that come off the bench and they are doing a great job.”
That goal was more than enough for the undefeated Colonials (5-0, 5-0) and their defense as they outshot Wall, 10-4.
“Obviously, you are always concerned with getting a goal and we got two in the first half, which is always good. You can’t say enough about our back four,” Smith said. “Yes. It is 5-0 (our record) but it is also five shutouts. Lindsay Cerio, Sophia Duffy, Christina Stabile and Chelsi Bender have locked down every challenge. Sara Cobb is a great goalie but she’s been pretty untested so far and that’s something that we are very comfortable with.”
It appeared that the Colonials were going to take a 1-0 lead into halftime when they got another scoring opportunity late in the first half.
Sophomore forward Sara Grace Johnson stole the ball from a defender deep in Wall territory and Johnson sprinted toward the goal with only the goalie to beat.
“We got a break. We had sort of packed it in to try to get to halftime and Sara Grace Johnson is hot,” Smith said. “That is her eighth goal in the past four games. It was a great finish from a quality forward.”
That Johnson goal came with 30 seconds left in the first half and that was all the Freehold defenders needed to get closer to the team’s fifth shutout this season.
Cerio, Duffy, Stabile and Bender took away most of the four Wall challenges from Cobb, who finished with three saves, and a light day’s work didn’t bother Cobb at all.
“How could I not be happy as a keeper? My defense is playing great and that’s something that we need to continue doing,” said Cobb, who along with the five shutouts this season now has 37 shutouts for her career. “I’m there if they need me. But as long as the defense continues to play great. I’m totally fine with that.”
With the victory, Freehold gained sole possession of first place in Class B North over Wall (4-1, 4-1), which takes second place. The rematch is set for Wednesday, October 10 at 3:45 p.m. at Wall High School.
“We had a difficult time even transitioning to offense,” Wall coach Jaimie Silva said. “We played so much defense that even getting the ball up there or getting everyone up there just wasn’t happening. So, offensively we didn’t have many opportunities.”
On the defensive side, Wall senior goalie Madi Mitchell made six saves against 10 Freehold shots.