WEST LONG BRANCH
Rumson-Fair Haven senior midfielder Schuyler DeBree was always in the right place on Friday afternoon at Shore Regional High School.
DeBree scored her team’s first goal and started the play for the game-winning goal as freshman forward Grace Forsyth cleaned up the rebound just 3:24 into double overtime as the Bulldogs defeated Shore Regional, 3-2, in a nondivisional girls soccer game.
DeBree officially finished with only one goal, the first score of the game, as she dribbled along the left side of the goal and fired a shot to the upper right corner that went in for a 1-0 lead at 22:39.
“They really played with a lot of heart today. The weather was hot and no one expected this type of weather,” Rumson-Fair Haven coach Mary Beth Coleman said. “We were tired and we had lapses where we looked really sluggish too.”
Shore (4-2-2) responded with a nifty play just a short time later.
Freshman forward Katie Stephens outran her defender and as the goalie was coming out of the net, Stephens slotted a ball to the lower left corner and that tied the game at 1-1 at 23:58.
“It was a hard fought game,” Shore coach George Moutis said. “We had some chances. They had some chances. Anybody could have won the game.”
And for a while it looked like the game would be a rollercoaster ride right down to the last second on the clock.
Rumson-Fair Haven (6-2-1) would take a 2-1 lead on Jacqueline Littleson’s header at 44:18 and Shore would almost copy the same play as Stephens headed the Blue Devils’ next goal in at 50:18 to tie the game, this time at 2-2.
“We always expect our forwards to attack and Katie Stephens was attacking the far post and that’s normal for her to do that,” Moutis said.
But two goals by each team weren’t enough to decide the game in regulation. The defenses dug in and the teams played almost 22 minutes of scoreless soccer from Stephens’ last goal until Rumson-Fair Haven found an opening in Shore’s defense in double overtime.
“This is a big rivalry game for us. We love playing Shore because we always know it is going to be a great game,” Coleman said. “Normally it isn’t a high-scoring game. It is more like a 1-0 or 2-1 game.”
But three goals were needed on Friday afternoon to break the almost 22-minute deadlock between the evenly matched teams.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games. We had a tie earlier in the season and we just play to the last minute,” Coleman said. “A lot of it is a gut check to the girls to not give up and push through. Tournament time is coming up and we want to qualify for the Shore Conference Tournament and do well in the postseason.”
All Rumson-Fair Haven needed was a temporary opening in Shore’s defense and the Bulldogs found it just 3:24 into double overtime. DeBree took the initial shot from the right side of the goal and the shot was saved and deflected toward the middle of the field.
The ball caromed toward Forsyth and she kicked in the rebound for the game-winning goal as her teammates ran down the field to bear hug her just a few feet away from the spot where she kicked the ball.
The Shore Conference Tournament as Coleman mentioned will be seeded on Monday, Oct. 21 with the first round games played on Oct. 23. The second round games will be played on Oct. 25 and the quarterfinal round games on Oct. 28. The semifinals are a doubleheader at Neptune on Oct. 30 and the final is also at Neptune on Nov. 2.
Shore’s next game will be at Mater Dei at 4 p.m. and Rumson-Fair Haven’s next game is at Holmdel today at 2 p.m.