After seeing a number of scoring opportunities throughout the game just miss, and the game still scoreless with the time in regulation slowly diminishing, the Bishop Ahr High School girls soccer team finally saw a ball go its way.
Senior Jillian Vassallo finished inside the 18-yard box, tapping in a long-ranging free kick from Dana Desantis in the 75th minute for the game-winning score to lift the top-seeded Trojans to a 1-0 victory over second-seeded Holy Cross in the NJSIAA Non-Public South A final on Thursday, the first sectional title in the program’s history.
Bishop Ahr will face the Non-Public North A champion Immaculate Heart, which defeated Pope John on Thursday night, for the Non-Public A title on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at The College of New Jersey.
“It was such an amazing feeling, such a rush after I scored,” Vassallo said. “We’d been knocking on the door the whole time, the whole game we didn’t let up and finally we knew we were going to get one, we just couldn’t let up and finally one went in and it felt great.”
The Trojans captured the win in front of a raucous student fan base of approximately 100 who made the 140-mile round trip from the Edison school to Eastern High School, as they paid their own way to get two buses to make the trip.
“It was pretty hectic during the week trying to get these fan buses to come and as soon as we got permission to do it, everyone wanted to come and it was just great support from the school,” Vassallo said. “Our fans really love us and we love them back and it was a great feeling to show they really love and support us.”
Bishop Ahr (18-2) controlled the play throughout for the most part, outshooting Holy Cross (19-3-2) 17-3 and saw a number of close chances miss, including two first half shots that hit off the crossbar.
“We had our chances,” Bishop Ahr coach Jim Tavormina said. “We just told them one was going to go, just keep the pressure up, keep shooting, and we finally got one.”
After barely surviving the previous two rounds in penalty kicks, the Trojans were relieved to be able to win this one without any extra time need, as goalie Brianna Foster only needed to make three saves.
“Thank god it wasn’t in PKs again,” Vassallo said. “It was great just to win this one in regulation, we really needed it, and we really worked hard to get here and we deserve it.”
“After we lost in the semifinals of GMC’s, we really wanted to go all the way through states and now we’re here and we really need to bring it next time, we can’t hold anything back,” Vassallo said.