Trailing by a goal late in the first half and facing a possible four-game losing streak, the Piscataway High School girls soccer team turned things around in time to gain a 2-1 victory over J.P. Stevens behind a Lela Allen goal and a Maia Williams penalty shot Monday afternoon.
Allen took a perfectly placed through ball off the foot of Danielle Grant and shrugged off a J.P. Stevens defender to tie the score just before halftime, giving the Chiefs the boost they needed to secure a road victory in the ever-challenging Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division.
“Danielle played very well today and it was a great ball to Lela,” head coach Jen Vroman said. “We were able to connect better today than we have most days so far this year and Lela did well; she was strong on the ball and had composure to put it away.”
With the score tied, the two teams played even soccer through most of the second half, but in the 65th minute things changed. Piscataway carried the ball down the right wing and eventually worked it into the box, where a foul was called in a crowd, awarding the Chiefs a penalty kick. Vroman didn’t hesistate to put Williams on the line, even though they haven’t worked on taking penalty shots much this season.
“(Williams) brings a lot of energy, so it was an easy decision to put her in there and we had 100 percent confidence that she was going to score,” Vroman said.
And score she did, blasting a shot into the back of the net to the left of J.P. Stevens goalkeeper Erin Shea. From there, Piscataway played keep-away, not allowing the Hawks to get a legitimate shot at the net for a tying goal.
But when the Hawks had looks at the Piscataway net, sophomore goalkeeper Jacqueline McEvoy thwarted their chances time after time. McEvoy made 10 save and came out from the end line to punch away several crosses.
“Jackie was incredible and she took command of the box for us today,” Vroman said.
J.P. Stevens got the game’s first goal when Karen Eng found herself with the ball inside the box in the 10th minute after the Hawks had worked the ball all the way downfield. Eng settled the ball to her right foot and blasted a shot over McEvoy’s outstretched arms for the goal.
Shea finished with five saves for J.P. Stevens. But in the end, it was Piscataway emerging with a victory that Vroman believes can propel her squad to go on a winning streak in the season’s second month.
“I think that this kind of play has been here all season, we just haven’t performed to our potential and today we came out and decided that we were tired of losing and we were going to win a game,” she said. “We’re so young and we have a lot of underclassmen, but we have the confidence after winning a game like this.”