Peyton McCauley played the role of super sub Thursday.
The junior forward scored with 1:14 left in regulation, giving the Rumson-Fair Haven field hockey team a 1-0 win over Arthur L. Johnson of Clark in the NJSIAA North II Group II semifinals at Borden Stadium.
The top-seeded Bulldogs (18-1-1) will host South Plainfield, a 2-1 winner over Holmdel, in the championship game 2 p.m. Monday.
McCauley drove the ball into the lower right corner of the cage from five yards for the top-seeded Bulldogs. It was her fifth goal.
“She missed the whole first half,” said winning coach Julie Vaccarelli, whose team hopes to win its second straight sectional title. “She could have sulked. She came in, stepped up and played her role perfectly. She was in places where and when she was supposed to be in them. I am real proud of her. She has improved greatly since last year when she was a role player. This summer, she worked extremely hard on her game. She has given us the speed and spark we have needed in several games.”
McCauley said she was confident the shot would find its target.
“I felt it would go in,” she said. “I had my stick down and was ready for the ball (she scored off the 11th assist of the season from sophomore forward-midfielder Madison Maguire). Their keeper was out of position. I am real excited. This is the best feeling I have had all season. We try to be in our spots and it worked out. I was not real nervous when I shot it. I felt adrenalin and intensity.”
Rumson outshot the fourth-seeded Crusaders 17-4 on the soaked FieldTurf. Rumson junior goalkeeper Megan Kane turned back two shots. Rumson owned an 8-3 shots-on-goal advantage in the first half. The teams tied at four on corners in the opening 30 minutes.
“When it started pouring in the second half, I got real excited,” she said after the Crusaders ended their season at 14-8-1. “It’s harder to tend goal as the water coming off the helmet blinds you for a second, but I really like playing in the rain.”
Kane, junior centerback Bridget Miles and junior Catie Ebner keyed the defense Thursday.
“Megan definitely rises to the occasion,” Vaccarelli said. “We have seen her play better under pressure. As long as she keeps focused and keeps her composure … she is a talented keeper. Her defense gives her some confidence.”
It was the Bulldogs’ 11th shutout.
“When we keep composed, we play our best,” Miles said. “When we keep the pressure on, it results in success. The team has been working hard since the summer with the coaches. Their attitude has rubbed off on us. They don’t like to lose.”