In their third matchup of the season, the Old Bridge and Piscataway High School girls soccer teams played an absolute classic in the semifinals of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament on Thursday night.
For 100 minutes, both squads traded punches, with each team having prime chances at notching a knockout blow.
But anybody who has followed these two Red Division powers will tell you it was destined to end this way, destined to head to penalty kicks.
And it did.
Thanks to a key stop by senior goalkeeper Kristyn Shea and senior Tamara Greene icing the game in the final penalty kick attempt, the second-seeded Chiefs defeated third-seeded Old Bridge 1-0, (5-4 in penalty kicks) advancing to the GMCT finals for the second consecutive year.
“I would’ve preferred not to have gone to penalty kicks,” Piscataway coach Adrian McConney said after the game. “Nobody likes going through penalty kicks. Before we even came here we practiced penalty kicks. We’ve been doing three, four, five rounds in practice throughout our practices.”
The old adage is practice makes perfect and Shea certainly lived up to it in crunch time.
On Old Bridge’s (13-4-1) third penalty kick attempt, Shea sprawled out to her right, stopping a Courtney Durstewitz shot that set up the Greene heroics thereafter.
“That’s why she is going to play in college,” McConney said of the Providence bound senior. “I’ve watched her grow for four years. She’s phenomenal. She said to me this year that she didn’t want to play the field. She said she just wanted focus on the goal and do the best I can with it. And, she’s playing in college because of it.”
The victory for Piscataway (15-2-2) enables the Chiefs to defend their GMCT title against another Red Division foe, top-seeded East Brunswick, on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Woodbridge High School.
It’s a matchup that should be similar to the one with Old Bridge.
“They have a few players that can really put something on you,” McConney said of East Brunswick. “We’ll figure it out. It was a long game today. First, I have to get these ladies to recover.”