Devon Freshnock and Jillian Richards each scored in the first half to help Middletown North High School defeat Howell High School, 2-1, on Friday afternoon in a Class A North contest.
“This was a big win for us,” said Middletown North head coach Bill LaFalce. “We were a little tired when we started the game because of our late game against Middletown South the other night, but than we started to pick up the pace, and play a good game.”
Howell controlled possession for most of the first half with a consistent attack often led by senior midfielder Maria Madsen, but failed to take an early game lead. Eight minutes into the game the Lions offense finally began to attack as senior forward Richards dribbled the ball down the field, and stroked a bullet into the lower left hand corner of the net putting her team up 1-0.
With 13 minutes remaining in the first half, the Lions had a breakaway as they tried to build upon their 1-0 lead, but with the help of Madsen’s quick defensive stop Middletown North was unable to capitalize.
With time dwindling down in the first half, the Rebels began to gain momentum putting several shots on net. At the 23:47 mark, Madsen fought off a pair of defenders, and took a shot at the top of the circle giving the Lions goalie no chance to react to knot the game at 1.
A little more than five minutes later, the Lions chalked up their second goal of the game when a penalty corner was taken by Freshnock, and teammate Richards deflected the ball into the upper lefthand corner giving Middletown North a 2-1 advantage before halftime.
The second half was a back-and-forth contest that featured several scoring opportunities for both teams, but the defense on both sides held up.
With four minutes left in the game the Rebels had a scoring opportunity but sophomore goalie Gabby Tsakiris made an impressive pad save off a blistering shot by a Howell midfielder.
Besides her goal and assist Freshnock also turned in a solid effort at midfielder. In the closing minutes of game she cleared any shots complied by the Rebels offense as she helped her team hold on for a 2-1 victory.
“Devon has been a big part of what we do here,” said LaFalce. “No matter where she is on that field she always comes out and plays hard for us.”
The Rebels, who outshot Middletown North 9-6 on the afternoon, had some chances to get on the scoreboard early but were turned aside by the Lions’ stellar defense. The Lions senior goalie Tsakiris made seven saves, and Howell senior goalkeeper Jen Jamieson made five saves.
The Lions improved to (4-2, 4-0) on the season and moved securely into second place in the division. They will face off against Montgomery Township today at 10 a.m. at home.
“We have another game tomorrow, but we are also looking foward to a big game on Monday against Freehold Township,” said LaFalce. “They are in the lead in our division right now, and they are undefeated so it’s going to be a tough hard fought game between both sides.”
The loss dropped the Rebels to (1-3, 1-3), and they will travel to Manalapan on Monday for a division matchup.