A span of three minutes decided the outcome of Wednesday’s Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division contest between the Metuchen and Middlesex girls soccer teams.
After an own goal opened up the scoring for Metuchen, Middlesex came roaring back with a tally of its own just 21 seconds later. Sophomore Rory Josell didn’t allow the tied game to last too long as she was able to find the back of the net with an equalizer at the 25-minute mark.
The Bulldogs were able to rally for three unanswered goals after they allowed Middlesex to tie, winning the game 4-2.
“The ball came back to me,” Josell said. “We relentlessly hear from our captains, ‘If you have the opportunity, then shoot.’ ”
Josell is only a sophomore, but her play on the field is that of an experienced athlete. Josell has shown no signs of a sophomore slump, as she is currently second on the team in scoring. She credits starting as a freshman as a key component to her recent success.
“There’s more confidence this year knowing that it’s my second year,” Josell said. “I was obviously a little more afraid to shoot last year. The support is all from the girls, so it’s much easier.”
The Bulldogs were on a consistent attack to begin the contest. They created opportunities and were rewarded for their relentless hustle with an own goal midway through the first half. The Blue Jays answered when Nicole Fallon punched the ball in to tie things up.
It was make-or-break time for Metuchen. Josell’s goal opened the floodgates for the Bulldogs as they went on to score the next three goals. Taylor Hueston and Molly Walters both bulked up the score
“When they scored the goal, we were trying to stay with our rhythm and keep everything up,” Hueston said. “We just came back at them; we didn’t want to have a tie like our last game.
“We tried to play our game and settle the ball down a little bit. When they pushed the ball up. we wanted to get the ball out as calmly and quickly as possible so they had no chances on goal.”
The front line played strong throughout a majority of the game, and Hueston’s leadership on the field is one of many reasons why Metuchen is in contention for a conference crown.
“She is a definite leader,” Metuchen coach Val Gazda said. “She is one of those players where she connects the defense with the offense at midfield. I’m fortunate to have the group that I have out there because they are all talking, and Taylor is a big part of that mix. She is a good student of the game.”
Middlesex came back in the second half and forced overtime in the previous encounter on Sept. 9. They played hard until the last whistle and once again created chances to make the game interesting. Although the Blue Jays have a blurry fate within the Blue Division, coach Timothy Morris is appreciative of the growth his team has displayed over the past month.
“I look at two different scores,” Morris said. “I look at the final score being 4-2, but if I look at quality goals, the game is 2-2. I was very happy with the way our team responded after the own goal. A minute later we connected with five passes and tied it up. That’s something we haven’t always done. The fact that we had that energy and didn’t give up on each other was a step in the right direction for us.”
Every win matters for the Bulldogs with Spotswood and Wardlaw-Hartridge breathing down their necks. After allowing Middlesex to string together a comeback during the previous meeting, Metuchen held its composure and grabbed the victory.
“We learned that we can’t let down,” Josell said. “Our intensity dropped in the second half because we thought we had it. This game, we knew we had to play the whole time through.”
Staff Writer Steven Macri: email@example.com