A strong second half led No. 3 Freehold to an upset 3-2 Shore Conference Tournament semifinal victory over No. 2 Rumson-Fair Haven on Wednesday.
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The Colonials’ Lauren Bock controlled the ball and made a move to the right corner of the field crossing the ball to Tori Tiefenthaler, who drove the ball past the Bulldogs goalie for the game-winning goal with seven minutes left in regulation.
It was a tale of two halves for the Colonials, who trailed 2-1 at the end of the first half of play. Freehold head coach Kelly Craig watched her team come out in the second half determined to get the win. The tone was set just 50 seconds into the start of the second half after Haley Meade scored the important equalizer for the Colonials.
“We went right out in the start of the second half and knew we needed to tie it up,” Meade said.
“It just happened to be me that scored that one, but it very well could have been anyone else on the team.”
The Colonials came out with an attacking mind-set, and it showed very early in the second half with the quick goal from Meade to tie the game at two.
“They had the ball to start the second half and we just full forced attacked them right from the whistle,” Meade said.
“We got the ball into the circle, and I was able to just get a rebound off the goalies pads and direct it in, it was amazing because we really needed that one.”
The game was still deadlocked at two a piece with about 10 minutes left in regulation, prompting Craig to call a timeout to talk to her team.
“I just told them that this was their game, they are the ones who can decide if we are going to win this game or lose this game,” Craig said.
“They definitely turned their attitudes around and got it done.”
After the go-ahead goal there was still time for the Bulldogs to respond, but it was the defense of the Colonials that stayed composed turning away Rumson-Fair Haven’s final chances on goal. Freehold goalie Alyson LeBlanc had a strong day in the net, coming up with several key saves in the second half.
“We definitely worked on defending their four forwards, and we also talked about maintaining possession all the way through,” Craig said.
Rumson head coach Julie Vaccarelli was proud of the tournament her team put together, reaching the semifinals for the second straight season.
“The girls have been working hard all season, they are doing the things they need to be doing, but we just couldn’t put everything together to make it count today,” Vaccarelli said.
The third-seeded Colonials will face top-seeded Shore in the SCT finals on Saturday at Holmdel High School, something Meade and her teammates have been looking forward to all season.
“We have played them in the finals my freshman and sophomore year, and it’s always been a close game,” Meade said.
Last season Shore was able to get the best of Freehold in the SCT semifinals 5-0, but Meade believes her team will be ready on Saturday.
“We have been looking forward to this game all season,” Meade said.
“It’s such an honor to be able to play against them, and we are just going to go out and give it our all.”