Vineland High School girls’ tennis coach Harry Silverstein had a familiar feeling about an hour into the Fighting Clan’s match with Millville Wednesday.
Vineland hadn’t beaten the Thunderbolts since Oct. 20, 2005, a string of 14 consecutive losses, and Millville was up a set on two courts and leading on two others.
“I thought we were in trouble today,” Silverstein said, “… it didn’t look good.”
An hour later he was singing a different tune as Sacred Heart transfer Amanda Goff rallied for a 0-6, 6-1, 6-0 victory over Harmony Brecht at first singles to clinch Vineland’s 4-1 win and first victory over the Thunderbolts in nearly eight years.
“It’s always special,” Silverstein said. “Any coach at Vineland, when you beat Millville, that’s one of your goals.”
It didn’t even bother him they needed an ex-Lion to finally get the job done.
“She could be from the planet Pluto, we’ll take her,” assistant coach Vince Luciano joked.
It wasn’t just Goff’s performance they needed though.
The Fighting Clan (7-3) were in big trouble in the early going as both Millville doubles teams, Brecht and No. 2 Danielle Orlov were in control of their matches.
The Thunderbolts (6-6) even grabbed a 1-0 lead when Rosalena Ficcaglia and Shannon Burns cruised to a 6-0, 6-2 win at second doubles.
But then the tide started to turn.
Goff put Brecht on her heels to take control of her match, Neeraja Thakur rallied to win her first set after trailing 4-3 and Mia Massaro and Nandni Patel, behind 5-2 at first doubles, began a stunning comeback of their own.
Once Sejal Menghani evened the match at 1-1 with her triumph at third singles, Vineland had taken the upper hand.
Thakur would go on to win at second singles and Goff would clinch the match just a few minutes later. And for good measure, Massaro and Patel would win in three sets as well.
“If feels so great,” Thakur said.
“I mean, coach has been after us for so long, ever since I came he’s been like, ‘We have to beat Millville.’ And every year he’s been disappointed and this is the year we finally beat them.”
Goff, who’d never played in the Vineland-Millville rivalry before, said it was an exciting experience.
“You can see the hunger in their eyes and you get excited, you get into it much more and to be a part of it is really phenomenal and I’m really happy that I could be a part of it,” she said.
Millville coach Tom DeCou wasn’t happy his team lost, but wasn’t overly disappointed either.
“I’m proud of everybody,” he said.
“We fought, we played hard and that’s all I can ask for. We lost the match, I’m never happy with losing, but I’m happy with their effort.
“It is what it is. Believe me I’m not upset we lost to Vineland. It was actually a little bit of a fluke that we won 14 in a row to be honest, but it was nice while it lasted. I enjoyed it.”