Morris Catholic wins its second straight Non-Public B North title

Morris Catholic wins its second straight Non-Public B North title


Morris Catholic wins its second straight Non-Public B North title



The Morris Catholic girls soccer team had a simple game plan heading into the Non-Public North B final on Wednesday night: score a goal as fast as possible.

And that’s exactly how it went down at The College of New Jersey.

The Crusaders scored two quick goals in the first six minutes and ended up with a 3-1 victory over St. Rose to win their second-straight state championship and 14th overall.

“We’re so close, we’re such a family and we just love being out here and playing with each other and we just love playing the game and doing it for each other,” Morris Catholic senior midfielder Taylor Shannahan said. “I’m so proud of them, they’re honestly my sisters and this is the greatest moment ever.”

Last season Morris Catholic (16-5-1) defeated St. Rose 1-0 for its first state title since 2003, and would up scoring with three minutes remaining in the game for the win. This time around, the Crusaders knew they had to score first and score fast in order to set the tempo of the game.

Five minutes into the game Shannahan took a free kick from the 10-yard line that St. Rose goalie Jordan Nash just couldn’t hold on to for the 1-0 lead.

Less than a minute later senior forward Sam Garzon scored her fifth goal of the postseason on a pass from sophomore forward Stella Johnson for the 2-0 advantage.

“We knew that we just had to come out, get the ball and take it right at them because we had to finish it early,” senior defender Charlotte Schum said. “We didn’t want to wait around until the second half because then it’s anyone’s game and we just really had to show that we were here to play.”

Despite scoring two quick goals to open the game, St. Rose (15-4-2) outshot the Crusaders 8-4 in the first half. With 3 minutes 54 seconds left in the half, St. Rose senior forward Lauren Gates almost got one back but her shot went over the crossbar.

At the start of the second half Morris Catholic got its momentum back when Johnson took a feed from freshman midfielder Sarah Racine and sent it past Nash, who had come out to challenge, for a 3-0 lead.

“We just knew they were going to come out attacking right from the beginning because they’re a great team,” Shannahan said. “They had great players up top and we just knew we had to keep the momentum going forward and not hang back and we just wanted to play our game and not get away from it.”

The Purple Roses finally got on the board with 26:04 left in the game thanks to Gates. She took a pass from sophomore forward Seneca Kinn-Gurzo and in a momentary lapse from the Morris Catholic defense, sent it past Jeannie Kivlon for a 3-1 game.

Despite the lone goal the Crusader defense gave Gates, St. Rose’s leading scorer, a hard time all game, double- and triple-teaming her whenever she so much as looked at the ball.

“It was really a team effort, we all took turns on her,” Schum said of defending Gates. “Nicole Csutoros had her throughout the middle, we knew she was a really dominant player and our main goal was not to let her turn with the ball and face us because we knew she was dangerous.”

The Purple Roses stepped up their offense late in the second half, forcing Morris Catholic to focus all of its efforts on defending. St. Rose outshot the Crusaders 4-2 in the second half, but only managed the one goal before time expired.

Wednesday night was the third time in four years St. Rose and Morris Catholic faced off in the Non-Public B final. In 2010 the Purple Roses walked away champions with a 2-1 victory.


More USA TODAY High School Sports