Each team has had a great season. The top-seeded Bulldogs came into the game with an 18-2 record which saw them win the outright A Central division title. Their path to the final showed just how dominant of a team they are, winning each of their first three games of the tournament by a least three goals. The team opened with a 16-6 win over Howell in the first round, a 19-3 win over Wall in the second round, and 12-6 victory over rival Red Bank Regional in the semifinals.
The run for the Bulldogs continued on Saturday when they earned their seventh straight SCT title, defeating Red Bank Catholic, 9-6. RBC never backed down and proved that they can certainly make some noise as state sectional playoffs commence later this month.
Overall, the Caseys had a very good tournament run as third-seeded Red Bank Catholic rolled to wins over Jackson Liberty and Middletown South in the opening two rounds. The biggest test for the Caseys came in their semifinal win against Manasquan. RBC and Manasquan have always been rivals, so the emotions during the game were at an all-time high. With that said, RBC was able to advance to the final by defeating Manasquan, 9-8. Not only did the win send the Caseys to the Shore Conference final but it also erased some sour feelings after falling to Manasquan by one game in the A Central Division. It was RBC’s first appearance in the Shore Conference Final since the 2014 season. Red Bank Catholic came into Saturday’s came with a 16-3 record.
RFH and RBC previously met back on April 11. In that game, Rumson-Fair Haven found a way to keep their Shore Conference winning streak intact, winning the game, 11-10.
In the final, RBC once again gave the Bulldogs all that they could handle as they opened the game with two straight goals. It was Riley O’Connor who converted twice from the free position to give the Caseys the early lead.
Rumson knew that this game would come down to execution and from there the Bulldogs showed everyone why they are one of the best teams in the entire state. Shortly after RBC was staked to a two- goal lead, RFH was able to get on the board via a Cassie James goal. Chase Boyle then converted a nice shot as Rumson drew even at 2-2. Rumson earned their first lead of the game with 10:53 in the first half as Jordan Johnson made it a 3-2 game. RBC, however, would not back down as O’Connor scored once again for the Caseys.
Rumson would add two more goals before the break as they went into the half with a 5-3 lead. The second half would go down as a competitive one as Mackenzie Boyle and Ava Smith helped get the game within a one- goal margin. At 6-5, it was looking as if this game could come down to the wire. With continuing persistence, Rumson knew that they would have to give it all they had if they wanted to continue their Shore Conference winning streak. They did just that as James once again found the back of the net to stake Rumson to a 7-5 lead.
RBC then came back once again to make it a one-goal game when Smith netted what would be the last RBC goal of the game. From there, RFH would tack on two more goals, eventually coming away with the 9-6 win. It was a close game which showed RBC’s ability to keep pace with the Bulldogs throughout the entirety of the game once again.
One of the added story lines of the game was the battle between sisters Mackenzie Boyle of RBC and Chase Boyle of RFH. After today’s game, Chase explained that it is ultimately an exciting time playing against her older sister, one that she is quite grateful for.
“I love playing against my sister. It’s a great opportunity because she calms me down easily and I can calm her down easily when we are playing against one another. Even though we are playing on different teams we are still working together throughout the field,” Chase said. “This is my favorite thing to be able to play against my sister.”
Chase also spoke of her team’s big win and what the Shore Conference final meant to her and her team. “We have one of the most competitive leagues in the state in the Shore Conference. We know that when we play a team like Manasquan or RBC that we are going have a competitive game. Those are our favorite games to play,” she explained.
Of course, the Bulldogs knew just how much work they were going have to put in to achieve a “seven-peat” in the Shore Conference Tournament.
“We knew that RBC was going to come out here and play like they had nothing to lose. We knew exactly what we had to fight for and I think that is what kept us going in this game,” Chase added.
RFH’s dominance has been nothing short of one of the greatest Shore Conference runs. That run should ultimately help them in their state sectional bracket as well. With a core group of seniors and underclassmen, RFH will be looking to make a deep state tournament run.
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