If the Somerville High School girls soccer team wants to roll with the big guns in the Skyland Conference, handling one of Union County’s best is a good start.
The Pioneers welcomed Governor Livingston to Brooks Field on Saturday, and thanks to two goals and an assist from junior Maxine Blackwood and a pair of goals from freshman Alexis Williams, Somerville dealt the Highlanders just their second loss, 5-2 on senior day.
“We were able to tie it all together, that’s our motto,” said Blackwood, who got things going with the game’s first goal in the 18th minute. “We include everybody and we try and get everyone to play great. We play as a team and get it done.”
“I believe in this group,” said Somerville coach Michael Kydonieus, whose team outshot the Highlanders 18-12 and 13-9 on goal, though most of Governor Livingston’s shots were unanswered prayers from outside the 18. “I don’t have to motivate them, they self-motivate. They love each other, they play for each other and they work for each other. It’s a special group.”
After Blackwood gave the Pioneers (7-1) the early lead, it looked as if Governor Livingston (7-2) had climbed right back into it as Lauren Jankowski buried a 25-yard direct kick into the far corner.
But Blackwood immediately grabbed the momentum back after the ensuing kickoff, taking a tap from Emily Lockwood, who had assisted on the first goal, making a run down the middle and beating the keeper 1 v. 1 to make it a 2-1 Pioneers advantage.
It was her team-high ninth tally of the season.
“It was frustrating that we gave up that goal,” Kydonieus said. “We scored and then we kind of just exhaled, and that was a mistake. After that, they stepped it back up and put it in, and that’s what we needed.”
“We know not to drop our heads and keep playing as hard as we can,” Blackwood said. “At 1-1, anything can happen, and we knew we could get it back.”
Williams, who has proven to be one of the area’s most impressive freshmen of 2013, helped Somerville pull away, scoring off a Brooke Benner pass with under a minute left in the opening period to make it 3-1, before adding another off a Benner dish 13:25 into the second half, her seventh of the season.
After Jankowski scored on a flick from inside the 18 with 23:49 left to cut it to 4-2, Benner celebrated senior day by adding to her two assists, scoring her seventh of the season with 6:09 left off a Blackwood pass.
“We didn’t handle pressure well today,” Governor Livingston coach Mike Roof said. “That first 40 (minutes) was a prime example of us not being able to play the way we’re used to playing. I always knew coming to Somerville was going to be a difficult task and we didn’t react well to all that pressure. Their team speed hurt us.”