RUMSON — Most soccer players feel some sort of pressure when taking a penalty kick, doesn’t matter the circumstances.
For Holmdel’s Maggie Matthijs that didn’t seem to be the case as she stepped up with a chance to give the Hornets the NJSIAA Central Group II title against Rumson-Fair Haven on Thursday afternoon.
“I was kind of psyching myself out at first, but once I saw Hannah’s face I just told her I was going to do this for you,” Matthijs said.
It was Holmdel’s Hannah Lee that scored both goals in regulation for the Hornets, but in a cruel twist of fate, Lee also missed her penalty kick in the second round.
However, after two Rumson-Fair Haven misses in rounds four and five, Matthijs stepped up and buried the game-winning penalty kick, as the Hornets defeated the Bulldogs, 4-3, in penalty kicks for the Central Group II title.
100 minutes of regulation and overtime could not separate Holmdel and Rumson-Fair Haven, as the game remained tied at 2-2.
It’s the second straight NJSIAA Central Group II title for Holmdel.
“It feels great to get this win for the seniors,” Matthijs said. “We are really going to miss them next season, and it’s just great that we got this one for them today.”
Holmdel head coach Jennifer Conroy said the team had been battling injuries all season, and she believes the Hornets are playing their best soccer now.
“Our defense was really solid today, they (Rumson) have some dangerous players up top,” Conroy said. “They played together and our goalie made some tremendous saves for us today.”
The defense is once again led by Casey Matthijs in the back, and keeper Matilda Milkowski has improved since getting her first year of varsity experience under her belt.
Holmdel’s Gabby Bair nearly gave the Hornets a 3-2 lead in the second half off a set piece about 20 yards out. It was in a similar spot to where she netted the game-winner for the overall Group II title at Kean University last year.
“It means everything to get this win, and I know that I can speak for the rest of the seniors when I say that,” Bair said. “We have worked so hard, and we knew this season we wanted to get back to back titles.”
Penalty kicks are a tough way to go out, but Rumson FH head coach Mary Beth Coleman won’t let that take away the achievements the Bulldogs had this season.
“Our girls played their hearts out, it was a tough physical game and unfortunately it came down to penalty kick’s and they made their shots,” Coleman said. “This group did so much this season, 18 wins, made it to the final four of the SCT, won the division, so they should keep their heads up.”
Holmdel’s Abbey Flynn, Gabby Bair, Cat Cirigliano, and Maggie Matthijs converted the penalty kicks for Holmdel.
Rumson-Fair Haven’s Sofi Giglio scored the first goal of the game off a deep set piece from Margot Ridgeway, and Hannah LoSavio scored the second goal of the game for Rumson-Fair Haven off an assist from Grace Forsyth.
Staff Writer: Chris Parker email@example.com