Toms River North junior Erika Pita provided the first-half spark and the Mariners defense and goalie sophomore Alyssa Dell’Acqua did enough to hold off a late rally from Brick Memorial as the Mariners defeated Brick Memorial, 5-3, in a Shore Conference Class A South showdown on Tuesday afternoon.
The game was for control of first place in Class A South and Toms River North’s Pita took over the game in the first half as she recorded a hat trick.
Her final goal of the game came in the 28th minute when she drew Brick Memorial goalie Ciara Korber out of the net. Korber tried to cut off Pita’s momentum to the ball on the left side but Pita had just enough time to fire a shot from the left side into the center of the net for a 3-1 lead with 2:29 left in the first half.
“It is a big win. Whoever won this game takes a game up on the division,” Toms River North coach Jerry Klimek said. “I told the girls after the game that our next game on Thursday is just as important as today’s game.”
And there is a big reason why Klimek said that.
Toms River North moved to 10-1 overall and also in Class A South with only three division games left as Mariners are slated to face Lacey at home on Thursday, Oct. 11, Brick at home on Friday, Oct. 12 and Toms River East on the road on Monday, Oct. 15. If the Mariners win all three games, they’ll be the Class A South champions outright.
Brick Memorial fell to 10-2 overall and also in Class A South with only two division games left as the Mustangs play at Brick on Thursday, October 11 and home against Toms River South on Monday, October 15.
Despite falling behind, 3-1, at halftime and it was 4-1 at 54:18 after freshman Nicole Logan scored, the Mustangs mounted a rally that put Toms River North in a defensive mode for the latter part of the second half.
First, it was Jenna Wallace with a goal at 64:29 after Dell’Acqua made the initial stop to make it 4-2. Next, it was Dana Fontana with her second goal of the game at 75:00 that gave the Brick Memorial crowd some life as it was a one-score game with less than five minutes to play.
“We tried to keep our composure. You have to give Brick Memorial some credit, they came back and didn’t give up,” Klimek said. “We made some mistakes in the back and the grass was wet. But hopefully, we learn from this.”
Toms River North junior Krista Federici then closed the door on the Brick Memorial comeback attempt with a nifty goal with 3:55 left. She broke free down the left sideline and blasted a shot across the field which clanged off the right post and into the net.
“Those two goals in the second half were huge. We pride ourselves on working hard in every game,” Brick Memorial coach Billy Caruso said. “I would have been so disappointed if we had quit. And we didn’t and that’s a tribute to my girls.”