RUMSON Makenna Maguire can now check ‘score game-winning goal’ off her career to-do list.
The Rumson-Fair Haven sophomore midfielder scored a penalty corner goal as time expired as the No. 1 Bulldogs held off a fierce challenge from No. 2 Shore Regional for a 3-2 nondivisional victory on Saturday morning at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.
The spotlight couldn’t have been any bigger as it was opening day for both teams and it was a battle of No. 1 vs No. 2 in the Shore Conference and a rematch of last year’s Shore Conference Tournament Final.
“The ball just came at me and I felt that I needed to score and that we needed to win this game. It was the season opener and everyone was watching us,” Makenna Maguire said. “I felt I needed to get the ball at least to the goalie’s pads or keep the ball in the circle. When the ball went in, I was jumping for joy.”
She leaped high into the air to celebrate the first game-winning goal of her young, but very promising career.
That pass came from her older sister, Madison Maguire, the 2014 Asbury Park Press Field Hockey player of the year. It was a sister-to-sister combination that made the difference on Saturday in the highly anticipated rematch.
“Makenna is usually at the top of the circle and she’s our stick stopper and she’ll also take shots on some of our plays,” Rumson-Fair Haven coach Julie Brewington said. “But that goal was huge but not just for Makenna but for the entire team because we had that letdown in the second half after we worked so hard in the first half.”
Rumson-Fair Haven (1-0) had built a 2-0 lead in the first half via an unassisted goal from Madison Maguire with 27:19 left and also via freshman forward Bridy Molyneaux converting sophomore forward Lilly Croddick’s pass into a goal with 5:25 left.
“I don’t know if we’ve had an opener to our season that was that dramatic. But I think it is a great way to start the season to play such a strong team and be able to hang in there with them,” Brewington said. “We came out so strong and then had that letdown at the beginning of the second half. We talk about that all the time, you can’t have that letdown especially against such a skilled team like Shore Regional.”
And Shore Regional changed the momentum of the game by scoring two second-half goals in a span of less than four minutes to make it 2-2.
First, Freshman forward Maggie Lamb tallied with 28:35 left as senior midfielder Jessica Welch assisted on the play. Then, senior defender Annie Deusch took an inserted pass from Lamb on a penalty corner and converted that into the game-tying goal with 25:49 left.
“I think they did a nice job responding and we made some minor adjustments in the second half,” Shore Regional coach Kelly Koenig said. “I think that we could have capitalized even more and I know that this team is not satisfied with the final outcome of the game.”
Three takeaways from Saturday’s Rumson-Fair Haven vs Shore Regional field hockey game
Outstanding goalie play from both teams: Shore Regional’s Sarah Dwyer (the APP’s All-Shore First-Team goalie) and Rumson-Fair Haven’s Anna Babiak were the main reasons this showdown was so close. Each goalie made at least two game-changing saves by being aggressive and coming out of the cage to stop an offensive player from getting a quality shot on goal. Overall, Dwyer faced more shots (14) and made more saves (nine) but you can’t discount Babiak’s six saves against nine shots from Shore Regional.
Young players making huge contributions in clutch moments: In a game featuring two heavyweights in the Shore Conference field hockey scene, someone had to make some big plays and quite a few of them were made by young players on both teams. Shore Regional’ freshman forward Maggie Lamb’s recorded the first varsity goal and assist of her career on two spectacular plays in the second half. Two of Rumson-Fair Haven’s goals were scored by a freshman (Molyneaux, for her first career goal) and a sophomore (Makenna Maguire, the seventh goal of her career) and one of Rumson-Fair Haven’s two assists were by a sophomore (Croddick, the 12th of her career).
Preview of this year’s SCT final?: It is early but Saturday’s showdown between Rumson-Fair Haven and Shore felt like a postseason game with a title on the line. What the Bulldogs and the Blue Devils proved on Saturday is that they are the two best teams in the Shore Conference, without question, until someone else in the Shore Conference beats either team, which is unlikely. Both teams are coming off state championship years (Rumson-Fair Haven won group II and Shore won Group I) and last season Shore only lost to Rumson-Fair Haven twice and Rumson-Fair Haven didn’t lose to a Shore Conference team in 2014.
Sherlon Christie: email@example.com