Goalie Kacey Lambertson dives for a shot on goal during second half of Matawan vs Holmdel Girls NJSIAA Soccer in Holmdel, NJ on November 4 2014. Peter Ackerman /Staff Photographer
HOLMDEL – Holmdel’s Gabby Bair and Hannah Lee have continued to form a chemistry up top all season for the Hornets, and it paid off in a big way on Tuesday night in their NJSIAA Central Group II first round game against Matawan.
With the game tied late in the second half, it was Lee who crossed a ball to Bair in the box for the Hornets. Bair took a touch, then found the back of the net, in what would prove to be the game-winning goal for the No. 4 Hornets 2-1 win over the No. 13 Huskies.
“We were just working trying to get the ball down the field,” Bair said. “As soon as she played the cross in I knew I had to get in front of their left back, my one thought was to just kick it softly and not over the net.”
Bair did just that, hitting the ball with the inside of her foot with just enough pace to get by the Matawan keeper. Bair and Lee also put together the Hornets first goal of the game in the 15th minute of the first half.
The Hornets broke on a counter, and it was Bair who slipped a through ball to Lee who got behind Matawan’s back line, and drove the ball past the diving Matawan keeper.
Holmdel had two comfortable results against Matawan in the regular season, but it was a different story between the two on Tuesday. Matawan head coach Ken McCabe had his team competing until the final whistle, as the Huskies were able to equalize late in the first half after a goal from DoraAnn Marshall off a cross from Samantha Anderson.
Holmdel head coach Jennifer Conroy knew it was going to be a battle between two teams who were very familiar with each other.
“It’s tough to play a team three times in a year,” Conroy said. “They know your style of play, Ken did a great job of having his girls prepared for us today.”
Although Matawan equalized late in the first half, it was the Hornets who controlled most of the possession in the second half. Freshman sisters Abbey and Kailey Flynn were a big part of a midfield that began to create several chances for the Hornets.
“I felt like we were eventually going to get one, the girls really continued to battle out there,” Conroy said. ” My midfield did a great job of winning the 50-50 balls, and I thought our defense was also very solid today.”
The Hornets will host No. 5 A.L. Johnson on Friday in a Central Group II second round game. Bair and her teammates continue to remain optimistic about their chances in the next round of states.
“We know we have a really good chance,” Bair said. “We have to come out and play our best, it’s anyone’s competition from here on out, so we have to come out and just play hard.”
Chris Parker: firstname.lastname@example.org