EAST BRUNSWICK Cloudless skies and a temperature of 80 degrees set the stage as the East Brunswick High School field hockey team hosted Piscataway, but even in perfect conditions only one squad could walk away victorious.
East Brunswick managed to outscore its Greater Middlesex Conference and North 2 Group IV rival 1-0 Thursday afternoon.
“We changed our defense a little bit, and today we played a delayed defense because Piscataway breaks so well and they just played beautiful plays defensively,” Bears head coach Cindy Todoroff said. “They forced the ball out and made great plays.”
The lone goal was caged by East Brunswick’s young offensive weapon Sydney Huang with 26:09 left to play in the first half.
“Piscataway is a really good team, so we had to step it up to their level, and I think we did that,” said Huong, a freshman. “For me to score means a lot, and for us to come back and beat our rivals was really good, so I’m very happy.”
Huong now has five goals and two assists in nine games.
“Sydney is a tremendous athlete,” Todoroff said. “Any sport she would play she would do well. She’s just going to get better and better, and today she was just in full control of herself from the beginning. She’s kind of a slash-and-burn player, but now I’m starting to see lots of finesse.”
East Brunswick (4-5) looked strong from the opening whistle. It commanded the first half, which was spent predominantly in Piscataway’s (2-4-1) end of the field.
With 10 minutes left in the first, Piscataway finally began to settle in. The Chiefs reeled off three shots in a five-minute span, but to no avail. However, they did manage to keep the ball in East Brunswick’s end, putting pressure on a rearranged Bears defense.
The Chiefs carried that momentum with them into the second half. They spent the first three minutes maintaining their poise deep in their adversaries’ end of the field but were unable to capitalize. Throughout the rest of the second, possession went back and forth between the two teams.
Piscataway’s Achilles heel seemed to be in its defense, which was riddled with inaccurate passing and missed blocks, although it did manage to keep the score differential within one point.
With 11 minutes left in the game, it looked like Piscataway would finally chalk up a point, but as the ball went in the goal, an official called a dangerous-play penalty that nullified what would have been the tying goal.
With this win, the Bears even the record at 1-1 against the Chiefs this season. In their first matchup, the season opener for both teams, the Bears were edged on a 2-1 decision in Piscataway.
“It shows that we’re improving,” Todoroff said about beating Piscataway. “We played Monroe and South Plainfield and went to school basically, and after coming off two games where you’re totally dominated, you question your hard work. But we have to judge ourselves against teams in our league, and I would consider Piscataway to be in our league. I think those two losses made us see what we’re really up against, and they made us better coming into this game.”
Bears sophomore goalkeeper Kayla Silva was asked to fill in after the regular starter separated her shoulder before the season began. She had big shoes to fill but proved her capability with her lights-out performance and 10 saves. Chiefs goalie Nadya Kahn had 12 saves.
The numbers show that East Brunswick and Piscataway were very closely matched. Piscataway had 14 shots on goal to East Brunswick’s 17 on-target shots.
Next up, East Brunswick will face Metuchen at home, and Piscataway will play host to Sayreville.
Staff writer Alyssa Davis: firstname.lastname@example.org