A strong first-half start helped keep Wall undefeated by edging Manalapan 13-8 on Thursday.
The Crimson Knights (7-0) took a 6-1 lead in the first half, but came out a little flat in the second half and the Braves made the game interesting midway through the second half. After falling behind 8-1 early in the second half, Manalapan responded with four unanswered goals, cutting the Crimson Knights lead to 8-5.
After goals from Manalapan’s Carly Niro and Brianne Nealon and two more from Erin Rotondo, Wall coach Bill Chiesi called a timeout to settle his team down.
“This team is very resilient this year and someone always seems to step up for us when we need it,” Chiesi said.
This time it was senior four-year varsity player Sophie Lozowski, whose two big goals gave the Crimson Knights an 11-7 lead that was too much for the Braves to overcome. Lozowski displayed blazing speed and her play in the midfield will be something the Crimson Knights will rely on this season. It came as no surprise to Chiesi, as Lozowski was able to net those two big goals to put a stop the Braves’ run.
“She’s been doing this for us for four years now,” Chiesi said. “It seems every time we need that turnaround goal to get that momentum back on our side, I can count on her to take over the game.”
Lozowski’s distribution of the ball in the midfield is another thing that has Wall off to this fast start. Along with her four goals, Lozowski made some history on Thursday, becoming Wall’s all-time career assist leader. She recorded her 57th career assist, passing 2013 graduate Colleen Knier’s previous record of 56.
“It’s really exciting,” Lozowski said. “I wasn’t really getting that many assists in the last two games, so I was wondering if I was ever going to get it, but yeah it’s just really exciting to be able to get something like this.”
As Wall continues to get important Shore Conference Class A North wins early this season, Lozowski and Chiesi credited the strong start to teamwork.
“Our team in general, and the way we are a unit has been big for us so far this season,” Lozowski said. “Being on varsity four years, this is definitely the most I have seen a team be able to mesh on the field and it really benefits us and helps us stay together and strong as a team.”
Besides Manalapan’s small run in the second half, Chiesi liked what he saw from his defense. The Crimson Knights played in front of freshman goalie Brenna Arey, who will be in net for Wall for the next couple of games according to Chiesi.
“They played very confident in front of her, which gave her some confidence in net for us today,” Chiesi said. “The fact that they worked very well together is a good thing for us.”
Lozowski finished with four goals and two assists and Kate Kinsella netted three goals for the Crimson Knights. Rotondo finished with three goals and an assist for the Braves.