Junior Samantha McDonough was a catalyst for the Shore Regional girls soccer team on Tuesday night in the Group I state semifinal at Haddonfield High School.
She assisted on the team’s first goal. She scored the team’s insurance goal. Overall, she finished with one goal and one assist as the Blue Devils defeated Gateway, 3-0.
McDonough’s efforts helped Shore Regional make school history again as the Blue Devils will make consecutive state finals appearances for the first time in school history.
“In the beginning of the season, I knew it would take a little time because I have six sophomores starting,” Shore Regional coach George Moutis said. “In the past three weeks, we’ve gotten everyone together and we started playing our game.”
That game was more than evident on Tuesday night.
Katie Stephens put Shore (10-8-2) up 1-0 via a pass from Samantha McDonough at 19:56 and that’s all Shore would need in this game to advance to Saturday’s Group I state final against Glen Ridge at 3 p.m. at the College of New Jersey.
“There aren’t too many players like Samantha McDonough. She can take two, three or four players on and create things. Not only that, she’s a great passer,” Moutis said. “She made a beautiful pass to Katie Stephens when Katie scored that first goal. It is not only that she can score but she can create great opportunities for the other players.”
Lauren Britton pushed Shore’s lead to 2-0 at 27:14 with Samantha’s freshman sister, Devon, having the assist on the play. Then it was up to Samantha McDonough to close the door on Gateway (16-8) for good with her impressive breakaway goal. She outran a defender and then angled a shot around the goalie’s reach to give Shore an insurmountable 3-0 lead at 70:02.
“Normally on one on one, I get nervous when I see the goalie coming. But I felt like today we were just on,” Samantha McDonough said. “Today, we were just having a great game. I could hear my family screaming from the sidelines that ‘I could do it’ and I looked up and shot it in.”
While Samantha McDonough put the thought of a Gateway comeback out of reach, Shore had a 2-0 lead at halftime thanks to Stephens and Britton’s efforts but that was only one of the factors that coach Moutis said won the game.
“Kaite Colaguori, our goalie, played a tremendous game and she made some great saves. She’s a great keeper,” Moutis said. “The first 10 minutes of any half are the most critical moments of the game. You want to score on the other team but you don’t want to get scored on. We played it a little safe in the first 10 minutes (of the second half).”
Colagouri made seven saves against eight Gateway shots while Shore kept the pressure on Gateway goalie Antonia Pote. Shore had 19 shots and Pote made 12 saves.
Saturday’s Group 1 state final against Glen Ridge will be a rematch from last year when Glen Ridge defeated Shore, 2-0, in Shore’s first appearance in a girls soccer state final in school history.
Goals/Assists: K. Stephens (S. McDonough) 19:56; Britton (D. McDonough) 27:14; S. McDonough 70:02. Saves: (G) Pote 12; (S) Colaguori 7. Shots: Shore, 19-8.